My 2019 Award Eligibility Post

/ November 25th, 2019 / No Comments »

After a couple of years of what has felt to me like relative dormancy, I actually have a reasonably extensive list of shiny new stories and poems to highlight for the consideration of those who concern themselves with nominating and voting for awards, genre-related and otherwise.

I’ve already written an eligibility post about books and stories put out through my publishing imprint, Mythic Delirium Books: that post is here.

I’d like to put special emphasis on my new fantasy story “The Butcher, the Baker” that appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies in October, not just because you can read it with a click, but because I feel like it’s a particularly strong piece and the reactions to it appear to support my hunch.

I’ve had three new stories come out in 2019.

  • The Butcher, the Baker” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies #289, edited by Scott H. Andrews, also available as an audio podcast read by Michael J. DeLuca.
  • “Nolens Volens,” first published in April in Eyedolon magazine, scheduled to reappear in December in the anthology Nowhereville: Weird Is Other People, edited by Scott Gable and C. Dombrowski. Both magazine and anthology are published by Broken Eye Books.
  • “With Shining Gifts That Took All Eyes,” published in Pluto in Furs: Tales of Diseased Desires and Seductive Horrors, edited by Scott Dwyer of Plutonian Press. (I have good luck with Scotts!)
  • In addition, the following poems of mine appeared this year, including three collaborations with S. Brackett Roberston. By the standards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award, all would be considered short poems.

  • The Sacrifices,” Sycorax Journal #2, February
  • Seed Our Marrow With Glass” (co-written with S. Brackett Robertson), Sycorax Journal #4, October
  • “shore skin” (co-written with S. Brackett Robertson), Not One of Us #62, September
  • “Supernumerary” (co-written with S. Brackett Robertson), Spectral Realms #10, Winter
  • Vacant,” Sycorax Journal #2, February
  • Anybody curious to learn more about any of these works is welcome to contact me.

     

    A double horror special

    / November 19th, 2019 / No Comments »

    Over at my low key Patreon page, I have begun serializing the latest draft of my new horror novella of more than 30,000 words, “The Comforter,” the third installment in the series that began with my Nebula Award-nominated story “The Button Bin” and continued in a 20,000 word sequel, “The Quiltmaker.” My Patreon only has one pledge level, $1 a month, so if you’ve read those stories and you’re wondering how that storyline could possibly go further (in multiple meanings of that phrase) I hope you will check it out.

    I just uploaded the second installmentthe first one went up on Halloween.

    At the same time, and not entirely coincidentally, I’m running a 99 cent e-book special on my multiple award-nominated horror collection Unseaming, which contains “The Button Bin” and “The Quiltmaker” and several other stories. If you don’t have it already, here’s links to where you can snatch it up!

    Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE
    Amazon AU | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play


     

    Artwork by Jason Wren (left) and Danielle Tunstall

    When it rains … (new stories, new podcasts, new poem, & more)

    / November 4th, 2019 / No Comments »

    Rain has been a theme here in Roanoke this Halloween season.

    As sometimes happens to everyone in this business, a number of things going on behind the scenes have kind of built into thunderheads at once, resulting in something of a downpour of publication news after months of drought.

    The loudest thunderclap: I’m delighted to return to the electronic pages of Beneath Ceaseless Skies (whose editor and publisher, Scott H. Andrews, just won the World Fantasy Award!) with my dark fantasy tale “The Butcher, the Baker.” I’ve described it as “The Gingerbread Man” meets “Macbeth.” I also think it’s one the most-life affirming stories I’d have published, even as complimentary reviews have called it “tragic” and “grisly.”

    From Charles Payseur’s Quick Sip Reviews: “a dark piece, and rather heartbreaking, but worth spending some time with. A fine read!”

    The 1000 Year Plan blog included “The Butcher, the Baker” in a roundup of The Best Short SFF of October 2019: “Trukos is the golem-like protagonist of Allen’s gripping dark fable about the relationship between creator and creation … The setting and backstory are unique, and Trukos’ journey is memorably grisly.”

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies also released “The Butcher, the Baker” in audio format, read by Michael J. DeLuca, the first time I’ve been part of the BCS podcast.

    (For the record, “The Butcher, the Baker” is set in the same darkly magical city of Calcharra that provides the setting for my previous tales published at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” and “Longsleeves.”)

    And a lightning strike: Tales to Terrify has released an audio adaptation of my Cthulhu Mythos tale “Drift from the Windrows,” that imagines what Lovecraft’s creations might accomplish were they involved with developing GMOs, and also tells an extremely dysfunctional love story.

    (The story originally appeared in 2016 in the Broken Eye Books anthology Tomorrow’s Cthulhu: Stories at the Dawn of Posthumanity.)

    And another lightning strike: my latest poetic collaboration with S. Brackett Robertson, “Seed Our Marrow with Glass,” just appeared in Issue #4 of Sycorax Magazine, edited by Sandi Leibowitz.

    This is my third collaboration with Brackett to appear in print this year, following “Supernumerary” in Spectral Realms #10 and “shore skin” in Not One of Us #62.

    This also my third poem to appear this year in Sycorax, following “The Sacrifices” and “Vacant” from Issue 2.

    Saturated ground: I received my contributor copy of Pluto In Furs: Tales Of Diseased Desires And Seductive Horrors and I just had to show it off. It includes a new horror tale from me, “What Shining Gifts That Took All Eyes.”

    Now that I have the book in hand I can share with you the amazing lineup that editor Scott Dwyer put together, that I’m proud to be a part of.

    An Abysmal Masochism (An Introduction) • Scott Dwyer
    The Tangible Universe • Jeffrey Thomas
    With Shining Gifts That Took All Eyes • Mike Allen
    The Wolf at the Door or The Music of Antonio Soler • Devora Gray
    Dermatology, Eschatology • Kurt Fawver
    Headsman’s Trust: A Murder Ballad • Richard Gavin
    It’s Hard to Be Me • short fiction by John Claude Smith
    The Gutter at the Bottom of the World • David Peak
    Worm Moon • Gemma Files
    Walking in Ash • Brendan Vidito
    The Silvering • Thana Niveau
    Other Yseut and Romance Tristan • Adam Golaski
    Tender is the Tether • Rhys Hughes
    Stygian Chambers • Orrin Grey
    Behemoth • Clint Smith

    Finally, a prediction of future flurries: I’ve not mentioned here before that I sold a new poem, “Urban Renewal,” to S.T. Joshi for Spectral Realms #12, scheduled to appear in January.

    Morgan Scorpion presents “Let There Be Darkness”

    / October 2nd, 2019 / No Comments »

    Vlogger Morgan Scorpion has a YouTube channel in which she narrates new and classic horror tales in her delightfully stentorian voice. The likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Oliver Onions and M. R. James mingle with many of today’s most fascinating writers of horror and the weird: Simon Strantzas, William Meikle, Cody Goodfellow and the late W.H. Pugmire.

    Scorpion (a.k.a. Julia Morgan) asked me earlier this year if I’d be willing to let her record “Let There Be Darkness,” one of my earliest published fictions, and one that’s been reprinted several places, including Pseudopod and The Bible of Hell. (At the moment it’s readily available in my horror collection Unseaming.)

    In August, Scorpion shared the final result, and bowled me over. It’s sinful that I took so long to share it here. (And so perhaps I deserve to have my soul devoured for all eternity in a monstrous cosmos-spanning perpetual motion machine.)

    Delight in the end of the world:

     


    Hear Morgan Scorpion read my short story “Let There Be Darkness

     

    In particular, this comment in response to the video brings a wide, evil smile to my face. If you give this tale a listen, you’ll understand why.

    For what it’s worth, the idea came from a fugue of imagery I experienced in my youth every time I listened to a certain heavy metal song.

     

    NOWHEREVILLE available for pre-order

    / October 1st, 2019 / No Comments »

    Having gone many months without a new short story publication to squee about, we’ve got a bit of rain in the forecast that is threatening to become a downpour.

    The latest Broken Eye Books anthology, Nowhereville: Weird Is Other People, has officially become available for preorder. The book includes my horror tale “Nolens Volens,” a story of court system corruption and gruesome supernatural vengeance.

    For me, there’s an especially cherished bonus to seeing “Nolens Volens” reach print that won’t be immediately evident to readers who encounter this story for the first time. Though “Nolens Volens” stands alone, it’s strongly connected to my story “Gutter” that appeared in Unseaming, and also my story “The Sun Saw,” slated to appear in The Leaves of a Necronomicon, and also my novel-in-progress, These Bloody Filaments, and at least one more unpublished story. It’s also distantly connected to an older story, “One Shoe Left,” which I just made available on my Patreon page in a patrons-only post.

    My thanks to editors Scott Gable and C. Dombrowski for including me!

    In addition to a new work from yours truly, Nowhereville contains tales from an amazing mix of writers: Nuzo Onoh, Maura McHugh, P. Djèlí Clark, Evan J. Peterson, S.P. Miskowski, Craig Laurance Gidney, Lynda E. Rucker, Tariro Ndoro, D.A. Xiaolin Spires, Jeffrey Thomas, Erica L. Satifka, Kathe Koja, Leah Bobet, Ramsey Campbell, Wole Talabi, Stephen Graham Jones, R.B. Lemberg and Cody Goodfellow.

    The release date is Dec. 17.

    Pre-order link here!

    Nowhereville

    Cover art by Meredith McClaren

    By the way, this is not the first Broken Eye Books anthology edited by Gable & Dombrowski that I’ve popped up in. My story “Drift from the Windrows” appeared in Tomorrow’s Cthulhu: Stories at the Dawn of Posthumanity, which you can order here.

    #SFWApro

    A new horror story in PLUTO IN FURS

    / September 30th, 2019 / No Comments »

    Atoning for more crimes in delayed blog posts: back in August, Plutonian Press released Pluto In Furs: Tales Of Diseased Desires And Seductive Horrors at Necronomicon 2019 in Providence. I’m incredibly honored that editor and publisher Scott Dwyer included me in this project.

    My contribution, “With Shining Gifts That Took All Eyes,” began as as a challenge to me from my wife to write something that would scare her. What I came up with did not scare Anita (and no one who knows her will be surprised by that, she’s pretty unflappable) but it turned out to be a tale well in line for what Scott was looking for, so providence provided, so to speak.

    How to summarize the story? It’s about a couple with cracks developing in their marriage, and how those cracks further widen after they collect a strange flower during a trail hike and bring it home.

    Here’s the full list of stories and contributors, which you can see is pretty incredible.

  • “The Tangible Universe” by Jeffrey Thomas
  • “The Wolf at the Door or The Music of Antonio Soler” by Devora Gray
  • “Other Yseut and Romance Tristan” by Adam Golaski
  • “Dermatology, Eschatology” by Kurt Fawver
  • “Headsman’s Trust: A Murder Ballad” by Richard Gavin
  • “It’s Hard to be Me” by John Claude Smith
  • “The Gutter at the Bottom of the World” by David Peak
  • “Tender is the Tether” by Rhys Hughes
  • “With Shining Gifts That Took All Eyes” by Mike Allen
  • “Stygian Chambers” by Orrin Grey
  • “Behemoth” by Clint Smith
  • “Worm Moon” by Gemma Files
  • “The Silvering” by Thana Niveau
  • “Walking in Ash” by Brendan Vidito
  • Cover art by Matthew Revert

    Pluto in Furs is only available in paperback: get it here.

    By the way, this is the second Plutonian Press anthology I’ve appeared in; and only the second they’ve ever published! The first, Phantasm/Chimera: An Anthology of Strange and Troubling Dreams, containing my short story “Binding,” you can find here.

    #SFWApro

    A new poem in NOT ONE OF US, written with S. Brackett Robertson

    / September 24th, 2019 / No Comments »

    I spent the last few months so busy that, though lots of things have happened, I’ve had almost no time and brainspace to post about them here and thus create a more permanent record than what appears on my Twitter and Facebook pages. (A well-meaning friend recently tried to persuade me to add Instagram to my repertoire of more immediate communications, but I have neither the energy for a third social network or an Instagrammable life, heh.)

    One of those happening things just yielded an extremely tangible result — that is, a magazine issue that I can hold in my two hands. So I though I would use that a springboard to posting here. More to come, very very soon, I swear.

    Last year I co-wrote three poems with S. Brackett Robertson. The first one to reach print, “Supernumerary,” appeared in February in Spectral Realms #10, edited by S.T. Joshi.

    That poem’s older sibling (as in, we wrote it first), called “shore skin,” has just arrived in Not One of Us #62. Click here to see the issue’s full table of contents, which includes Jennifer Crow, Sandi Leibowitz, Sonya Taaffe, Neal Wilgus and more.

    The concept involved imagining bodies of water disguised as humans and, you know, letting it run its course. (Hee hee.) This was the poem that brought me out of poetry retirement, and I have Sally Brackett to thank for that.

    John Benson has been publishing Not One of Us continuously since 1986 (whoa!). I first got to be part of his zine in 2008, when he published my novelette Follow the Wounded One as a standalone chapbook. It’s wonderful to be back in these pages, and if you’d like a copy of this new issue for yourself, John and his zine absolutely deserve your support. Click here to subscribe.

    #SFWApro

    My 2019 Readercon schedule

    / July 1st, 2019 / No Comments »

    Anita and I plan to be at ReaderCon 30 in Boston in July. Our primary purpose for turning up will be to hawk the 2019 releases from Mythic Delirium Books, Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss and The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff, but of course we’ll have the full range of Mythic Delirium Books with us.

    We also plan to host a launch party Saturday night for both books, details to come once we know which room we’re in, watch for those at @mythicdelirium.

    For anyone who wants to find us and catch up, just look for the Mythic Delirium banner in the bookshop. Or the purple hat covered with buttons and stranger objects. Here’s the scheduled hours:

  • Friday, July 12: 3–7 PM
  • Saturday, July 13: 10 AM–6 PM
  • Sunday, July 4: 10 AM–2 PM
  • There will be a couple times when I won’t be on the table because I’ll be on panels — even moderating a couple of them. That schedule, which is pretty exciting, looks like this:

    Thursday, July 11, 9:00 PM, Salon A

    Killing Characters 101
    Mike Allen (mod), Charles Allison, Karen Heuler, Miriam Newman, Robert V. S. Redick
    The decision to kill a character is fraught (as it should be) and often tied to thematic elements, audience expectations of genre, and concerns around representation. Panelists will deconstruct stories that handle these issues well or poorly, and discuss their own challenges in making characters’ deaths as meaningful as their lives.

    Friday, July 12, 4:00 PM, Salon 4

    The Spectrum of Short Fiction SF/F Editing
    Mike Allen, Scott H. Andrews, Neil Clarke, Ellen Datlow, Mary Anne Mohanraj (mod), Sheila Williams
    This panel of SF/F magazine and anthology editors will discuss different approaches to their work, from very hands-on to very hands-off. What are currently accepted best practices for editing—if consensus even exists on that—and how have they changed over time? Do editors still commission stories and collaborate almost to the point of coauthoring, or is that era over? And how can a writer submitting a story know what kind of editing they’re likely to get?

    Sunday, July 14, 12:00 PM, Salon 4

    Journalism at the End of the World
    Mike Allen (mod), Jeff Hecht, Betsy Mitchell, Cadwell Turnbull, T.X. Watson
    Journalism has always faced economic, political, infrastructural, and technological threats, and the current era is no exception. How are today’s journalists dealing with these challenges, and how can both problems and solutions be extrapolated into near-future or far-future science fiction? How would journalists cover apocalypses, alien invasions, or the singularity? What if those journalists were robots or AIs? What does journalism’s history hint at for its future?

    Sunday, July 14, 1:30 PM, Sylvanus Thayer.

    Reading: Mike Allen
    I’ve got no idea what I’m going to read. Open to suggestions…

    When we went to Readercon last year, Anita and I were sick and didn’t know it, though it became apparent after we arrived. To my knowledge we didn’t spread the norovirus, thank goodness. We hope not to arrive already ill this time, and thus hope we’ll be able to be more social overall, not just at our own table and party. Do say hello, even if (especially if) we’ve only met online.

    Patreon launch, new stories and poems, upcoming appearances

    / May 2nd, 2019 / No Comments »

    This week I launched a Patreon to support my writing. For now, I’m starting small. I actually have a grandiose plan for how I could use this page but I’m nowhere near ready to set that in motion — the announcement that Patreon intends to raise the percentage it takes from pledges in the very near future motivated me to get off the fence.

    I’ve made the first chapter of a new novel and an unpublished story that’s destined to appear in summer 2020 available exclusively to backers. More content is coming. Click here to check it over:

    Though I’ve let a lot of time pass between this blog entry and the last one, it’s not because there’s been nothing happening. The opposite, really: so much going on that I’ve had no brainspace for blogging.

    ONE: I can at last share the news that my truly nasty horror story “Nolens Volens” will be appearing in the upcoming Broken Eye Books anthology Nowhereville: Weird Is Other People (pre-orderable here) edited by Scott Gable and C. Dombrowski. You don’t actually have to wait until the book comes out to read the story, though; it’s accessible at the Broken Eye Books Patreon, called Eyedolon, if you pledge a dollar. Plenty of other good reading to be had there too. (And for what it’s worth, “Nolens Volens” ties together my story “Gutter,” which appeared in Unseaming, with “The Sun Saw,” forthcoming in The Leaves of a Necronomicon.)

    TWO: I’m pleased to share that I’ve sold a brand new short story, “The Butcher, the Baker,” to Scott H. Andrews for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. The story is set in the same fantastical city (Calcharra) as my previous stories published at BCS, “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” and “Longsleeves.” The new story in the series is essentially my version of the famed folk tale “The Gingerbread Boy,” but with way more murder. I’m super-proud to be back at BCS!

    THREE: My first new poem in two years, “Supernumerary,” co-written with S. Brackett Robertson, appeared in February in Spectral Realms #10, edited by S.T. Joshi. Sally and I have two more poems scheduled to come out this year, in print in John Benson’s Not One of Us and online in Sandi Leibowitz’s new poetry zine, Sycorax Journal.

    FOUR: Speaking of Sycorax Journal, my second and third published poems of 2019 appeared there in February and are free to read online: “The Sacrifices” and “Vacant.”

    FIVE: At the end of March, Anita and I went to the 2019 Outer Dark Symposium in Atlanta, where we got to hang out with a number of fellow travelers in the realms of disturbing, adventurous fiction. I love the Outer Dark Symposium for its erudition and its diversity. The folks behind the Outer Dark podcast have released the audio from Friday night’s program, in which I participated in a panel moderated by Gwendolyn Kiste, titled “Flora and Fauna: The Pervasive Presence of Nature in Weird Fiction”; several authors read terrific stories; and Chris Gavaler educated us all in the philosophy behind Swamp Thing. You can listen to the podcast here, and also peruse the reading list of flora and fauna-oriented Weird my fellow panelists and I put together.

    Photo courtesy Anya Martin. During the “Flora and Fauna” panel, Chris Gavaler and Eric Schaller enjoyed my karaoke rendition of Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me.”

    SIX: Speaking of the Weird, Anita and I will head to Washington, D.C. in the first week of June, to speak at the Library of Congress about Weird fiction. (My talk is imaginatively titled “Horror and the Weird.”) I’m thrilled to be headed back; I did a talk there in December 2008, during a very different epoch in my career, called “The Poetry of Science Fiction.” I’m very curious whether I’ll see any of the same faces all these years later . . .

    There’s plenty more, but isn’t “Six things make a blog post” the old saying? So I’ll save the more for later, and close out with a happy picture.

    Anita and I on the first night of Outer Dark.

    TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN is here!

    / January 7th, 2019 / No Comments »

    Released just before Christmas, this book with a new story from yours truly is not at all a holiday-themed book: rather the opposite!

    Transmissions from Punktown from Dark Regions Press is a shared-world anthology, and the world shared is Jeffrey Thomas’s Punktown, set in a far future city on a distant planet inhabited by humans and a multitude of extraterrestrial (and extra-dimensional) beings, with a gritty, grimy noir feel — an elevator pitch description might be The Fifth Element meets Chinatown, or Touch of Evil set in the Star Trek universe.

    It’s an enormous book, which I attempted to convey with this iPhone photo.

    TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN

    Jeff kindly asked me to write a story from this book after writing a blurb for my collection The Spider Tapestries. And as luck would had it, I had read his first Punktown collection, an excellent slice of dark worldbuilding, not long before the invitation came. (Extra thanks here to Scott Nicolay for putting me in touch with Jeff.)

    My story, “Aftermath of an Industrial Accident,” started with one of my few remaining spectacularly memorable childhood nightmares that I had not already worked into a piece of fiction, and from there evolved into a blacker-than-the-abyss workplace comedy. Here’s the opening, to hopefully lure you in:

    Shadeishi and I pushed the storage room door shut, not knowing whether anyone else had already dashed in to hide, or whether any of the creatures were waiting inside. The screams coming from the students down the hall deafened us to any telltale noise. My own panting breath whooshed in and out—I had a key and had spent precious seconds locking the door, as it couldn’t be locked from inside. Shadeishi’s face hovered an inch from mine the whole time, her wide, toothy, toothsome mouth silently shaping Hurry hurry.

    Neither of us were thinking past surviving the next few seconds. Our frantically chosen hiding place offered no other exit, unless we decided to break out a window and drop twelve stories. But that really didn’t matter. There was nowhere to escape to. Where the hall outside turned a corner, there were more windows, and as we ran past them I had snatched a glimpse of the company’s front lawn, its level green stippled with torn bodies. Outside and inside, we were all prey.

    I really need to mention that I am in intimidatingly impressive company in this book. Here’s the complete table of contents.

    Table of Contents

    • “Dreaming the City” – Jeffrey Thomas
    • “The Cyclops: Part One” – Jeffrey Thomas
    • “The Dilky Never Landed” – Paul Tremblay
    • “Bedbug Radio” – Ian Rogers
    • “Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring” – Nick Mamatas
    • “Growth Spurt” – Richard Lee Byers
    • “Novah On The Run (Her Blue Monday)” – Glynn Owen Barrass
    • “Ritual of Adoration” – W.H. Pugmire
    • “The Over and Under” – D.A. Madigan
    • “Lacunae and Nocturnes” – William Meikle
    • “Riding the Rainbow” – Don Webb
    • “Not For Human Consumption” – Peter Rawlik
    • “Sunup Over Misery Street” – Konstantine Paradias
    • “Blueshift Drive” – Edward M. Erdelac
    • “Aftermath of an Industrial Accident” – Mike Allen
    • “Less, Then Zero” – Jeff C. Carter
    • “Baphomet Descendent” – Scott R. Jones
    • “Crow-picked” – Christine Morgan
    • “The Monochromatic Betrayal of Frank Xerox” – Neil Baker
    • “Ksenija’s Pirate Prince” – Lee Clark Zumpe
    • “The Cherry” – Tom Lynch
    • “Payment for a Scar” – Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
    • “The Extremities of Godfrey Aquinas” – Michael Griffin
    • “The Cyclops: Part Two” – Jeffrey Thomas

    Paperback and e-book editions are available now. Dark Regions will also publish a limited edition signed and lettered hardcover later this year — if you’re a big spender on dark fiction (bless you if you are!), it goes for $250 and there are 11 still unclaimed as of this posting.

    I’ll finish with the softest of all official book announcements. I have a new collection of horror fiction planned for 2020, and Aftermath of an Industrial Accident will be the title story. More details to come when plans for the book are a bit less protean.

    #SFWApro

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