Since the beginning of May I have:
Spent a weekend at the home of writer Nicole Kornher-Stace and her husband Dan at a gathering that was informally dubbed “CoalCon,” with the likes of Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney, Francesca Forrest, Julia Rios, Caitlyn Paxson, Dominik Parisien, Paula Friedlander, Shveta Thakrar, Katie Redding and various lovely spouses and partners. We shared embarrassing early-years writing, had an evil laugh contest, ate at a wonderful Indian restaurant, and consumed much rum. (Or at least I did.) A special thanks to Autumn Canter for schlepping me partway to CoalCon and back. She’s a gracious hostess.
Managed to finally finish the first draft of a new short story during a write-in held at CoalCon.
Traveled to Philadelphia to give a talk to the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society that turned out to be about Clockwork Phoenix 4 and Kickstarter with a dash of my new novel The Black Fire Concerto thrown in for good measure. I think I ended up spending more time answering questions than I did actually making the presentation. My thanks to Lee and Diane Weinstein for inviting me up and taxiing me around.
Got a couple invitations to a couple cool projects. Can’t say more.
Read through two months of submissions for Mythic Delirium. What’s left is what I’m holding for further consideration in putting together Mythic Delirium 29, the second-to-last print issue. If you haven’t heard from me at this point you’re more than welcome to query.
Contemplated whether I need to launch a Kickstarter to get the new version of Mythic Delirium where I want it to be. I think I will have to (ulp.) At least it won’t need to be as epic as the Clockwork Phoenix one was.
I’m thrilled to at last be able to publicly reveal the amazing cover for my first novel, The Black Fire Concerto, which makes use of a spectacular digital painting by Lauren K. Cannon.
Plans were made to be foiled, but at present the plan is to release the novel in ebook and trade paperback formats in time for Readercon, so that would be, yes, July 11.
Folks who saw the interview with me at Bookstore-Bookblogger Connection over the weekend got a sneak peak at the cover. In the interview, conducted by the spirited redhead behind Little Red Reviewer, I talk about both The Black Fire Concerto and Clockwork Phoenix 4.
Last year the balancing act got really tricky, because I had two huge projects on my plate: the Clockwork Phoenix 4 anthology and the Kickstarter that funded it, and then there was my first novel, The Black Fire Concerto, my tale of magic-wielding musicians battling ghouls and sorcerers that I wrote on deadline for the folks at Haunted Stars Publishing. Somehow in there I also finished two short stories. I think I pulled that off by treating the novel as a break from editing (or vise versa) and viewing the short stories as breaks from the other stuff.
Speaking of Clockwork Phoenix 4 — I’ve been so busy getting stuff done that I’ve had no time to pause to post anything about what is getting done. So let me say while I’ve sort of caught my breath that everything is done. All the Kickstarter rewards have been made and/or ordered. All that’s left is for them to arrive at my house, and then for me to start sending them to your domiciles, if you’re either a contributor, a backer, or someone who had the wherewithal to order early. And we’re right on budget, shock of shock of shocks.
I’ve begun the process of changing Mythic Delirium from a print ‘zine to an e-zine. I received this touching note today from a longtime subscriber.
Been reading since Issue 6 — I will miss you! (I don’t have a computer.) Thanks and best of luck in the future.
Issue 6 came out in 2002, and featured several creative and off-kilter poems by Ian Watson and David C. Kopaska-Merkel, as well as one of the last poems by the late Keith Allen Daniels to see print and a poem by Sonya Taaffe, “Sedna,” that’s still one of my favorites. At that time we were officially part of DNA Publications — Weird Tales was our sister magazine! It surprises me, sometimes, how long this little zine has been around and what adventures it’s had.
Of course I’m writing a nice note back to go with the copy of my very first issue that he requested to satisfy his subscription.
By the way, the latest print issue is out (I’ve been too busy to promote it! But it is out, nonetheless), and early subscriptions to the electronic version are available too.
It ain’t over yet.
We’re definitely approaching the end game in the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter. The proofreading is done. I’ll be making the e-book edition of the anthology available to backers by the end of the month if not sooner, with the print edition to follow in May. (That’s for backers only, mind you — the book won’t be on Amazon et.al. until July — though if you’re not a backer, you can preorder. Every bit helps.)
A number of the other rewards we’re offering are finished or in the final stages.
Here’s the hat and the e-reader case Anita made that are going to two lucky backers:
Here’s a close up of the e-reader. Click the photo to go to Anita’s album where she documented creating it.
And for those who are going to be getting the special chapbook edition of The Immigrant by Cherie Priest, here’s what the wraparound cover by Paula Friedlander looks like:
Pretty sweet, eh?
Writer and poet Francesca Forrest, who took on the daunting tasking of proofreading the soon-to-be-finalized (VERY soon!) manuscript of my Clockwork Phoenix 4 anthology, brazenly took to the Internet to share how much she liked what she had just read. I’m pleased to point people at her “partisan review” (click to read in full):
Clockwork Phoenix 4 is nearly out, and oh my goodness, the stories. There’s not a single bad one, and there are some amazing gems. I know whereof I speak; as the anthology’s proofreader, I read each one very carefully. (I apologize in advance if any typos got by me!) So, this is not a disinterested review, it’s a partisan recommendation.
And in the meantime, a delightful surprise — Starburst Magazine has published an extremely enthusiastic review of the Ian Whates anthology Solaris Rising 2 that highlights my contribution:
It’s difficult to pick out a ‘best’ story when all possess such quality, but there are two that leave the greatest impression. Of all the stories, Mike Allen’s Still Life with Skull is arguably the least human, yet it contains much emotion and some of the strangest — and therefore attention-grabbing — imagery I’ve ever read.
It’s always nice to be reminded that I’m a creator myself, not just someone who artfully showcases the creations of others. Though I try my best at both.
I couldn’t attend the book launch of Solaris Rising 2 (lacking the financial and temporal freedom to jet to the U.K. and back for a weekend) but Solaris released this interview with editor Ian Whates and several of my fellow contributors that makes for a decent substitute.
I’m thrilled my bizarre “Still Life with Skull” story gets to be part of this.
Contemplating the balance the modern writer/editor has to strike between maintaining a social media presence and actually getting work done, I decided now would be a good time for an update on my juggling act.
There’s a lot of exciting behind-the-scenes stuff going on with my novel, The Black Fire Concerto, though nothing is to the point that I can show off anything publicly yet, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I suppose I can tell you though about what is going on, aside from much copy-editing: the novel and the imprint publishing it, Haunted Stars, will have a snazzy website; the first portion of the novel, “Part One: The Red Empress,” will be available as a free-to-read sample, something I’m really excited about, especially as Claire Cooney, my editor for this project and an all-around awesome person, has recorded a kickass audio reading of the same excerpt. All of it Coming Soon.
Clockwork Phoenix 4 is in the final stretch of the proof-reading phase, which is giving me a little bit of a case of butterflies-in-the-stomach, as that means we’re that much closer to releasing the book for real, not just to a handful of reviewers. My thanks to the invaluable Francesca Forrest for taking on the proofreading duties. My thanks too to Elizabeth Campbell, who took it on herself to create the anthology’s EPUB/MOBI editions.
The artwork is due in soon that will let me finish up the special edition of Cherie Priest’s The Immigrant for Kickstarter backers; I’ve already got the cover and one of the five interior illustrations. It won’t surprise any of you familiar with her work to know that artist Paula Friedlander is doing some amazing stuff.
Mythic Delirium 28 is ready to go; there’s a little bit of a delay happening that’s completely on my end; I need to create a form that allows subscribers to figure out their options as I prepare to introduce the all-new and very different electronic version of the magazine, and as you can see, finding the window to work on that hasn’t been simple. But it’s coming.
To help promote the new anthology Solaris Rising 2 (which contains my short story “Still Life with Skull”) I wrote a guest post for the Solaris blog in response to a request by editor Ian Whates to discuss my favorite sf short story.
“When Ian Whates asked me to write a few words about my favorite science fiction story, it surprised me how quickly my mind turned to Harlan Ellison’s ‘I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.’ … I read that story at an age when I was mentally unprepared for its merciless postulations: that a machine could become an all-knowing, all-powerful god driven by hatred and psychosis; that a desperate, heroic act of mercy could be rewarded with eternal damnation. …”
Pandora continues her publicist duties.
The newest preview/review of Clockwork Phoenix 4 popped up this week, this time from Tangent Online. (No one seems to want to wait till June — thank goodness the buzz is so good so far.)
Here’s the crux of it:
This 4th volume of Clockwork Phoenix contains an excellent diversity of speculative fiction ranging from cold and hopeless to harsh but victorious and warm and fulfilling. It was a pleasure to read.
Reviewer Louis West has kind words for almost all the stories — I’m not sure if there’s a system here, but I count three stories as “highly recommended,” four stories as “definitely recommended,” four stories as “recommended,” one “simple but profound,” one “thought-provoking” and one “poignant and compelling.” We’ll take it, yes we will.
Since reviewers aren’t waiting to share their opinions, I’ve made the book available for pre-order in e-book and trade paperback form for anyone who isn’t already getting a copy through Kickstarter. (The Kickstarter folks will get their copies first, of course.)