The latest edition of Tales to Terrify contains a new “Tour of the Abattoir” column from me, in which I discuss why I’m not a Scott Sigler junkie. And I’ve been so swamped these past couple months that I completely neglected in this space to mention the previous column, in which Shalon Hurlbert and I examine Evil Dead. #SFWApro
I’m still too busy for my own good — in other words, nothing new under the sun. The writing life isn’t the only reason why I’m busy … but it’s reason enough!
So all but a handful of the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter rewards have gone out, and that remaining handful is earmarked for folks to whom I’ll be handing their bounty to in person. So now it’s time to finally get this book published, right?
Well, yes, but it’s not quite so simple as that. The final stretch goal of the Kickstarter provided funding for a year of a new webzine for fiction and poetry, and afterward I decided to transform Mythic Delirium into that new zine. And it’s coming up on time for that new zine to launch, which means, as I’d suspected it would, a month-long scramble before July 1.
It also means that I’m getting ready to launch another Kickstarter. Those of you with Kickstarter fatigue, I can hear your groans from here. I believe though that this is the sensible thing to do — the new Mythic Delirium needs a subscription drive to last past next June, and Kickstarter has been proven again and again to be about the only effective tool a small press guy like me can turn to these days. So there’s that! More about this very soon, you betcha.
It’s been comforting as I’ve plunged into this to see Clockwork Phoenix 4 continue its accumulation of accolades. The self-described “snarky redhead” behind the Little Red Reviewer blog has penned a review of Clockwork Phoenix 4 that’s the opposite of snarky. She writes:
What kind of stories will you find in Clockwork Phoenix 4? Only those that are magical, imaginative, heart-wrenching, just plain bizarre, forward-looking, backward-looking, biological, romantic, hopeful, darkly funny and openly frightening. All the words that describe the best speculative fiction you’ve ever read apply. In fact, if this isn’t the epitome of speculative fiction, I don’t know what is.
The review goes on to highlight stories by Patricia Russo, Richard Parks, Ian McHugh, Gemma Files, Marie Brennan, Corinne Duyvis and Benjanun Sriduangkaew.
A little closer to (my) home, a Roanoke business journal, Valley Business Front, has printed (print!) a review of Clockwork Phoenix 4 by Heather Brush (another redhead, for what it’s worth) that’s much shorter but just about as enthusiastic.
This anthology defies genre, offering bits and pieces of sci-fi, horror, paranormal and more, while a vein of plain creepy runs throughout. … Eighteen times the anthology offers a drink to appease the thirst of wanton readers, succinctly and precisely.
This shorter review gives special props to A.C. Wise’s “Lesser Creek: A Love Story, a Ghost Story.”
In the meantime, the single special edition of Clockwork Phoenix 4 that’s supposed to be signed by all the authors has been traveling back and forth across the U.S.
Here it is when Anita and I first unveiled it to its owner back in April, in the special padded case Anita made for it to travel in.
And here it is at Alisa Alering’s pad a couple weeks ago. #SFWApro
If all goes according to plan, it will come back home to me after visiting one more author (five in all), and then Anita and I will bring it with us to ReaderCon, where seven more contributors will sign it. And then it gets to travel internationally. Good luck, little book.
Funny how when I haven’t blogged in a while, I get worried. Yet I’ve just been flat out too busy to do it. Reason #1 pictured below.
For two weeks straight (maybe longer?) I’ve been mailing out the rewards for the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter, most of which are simply copies of the book itself, which exists, as you can see. It’s been wild raising and then spending so much money and distributing 100s of copies of a book that technically isn’t published yet. The official launch still takes place at ReaderCon, where seven of the authors — Gemma Files, Barbara Krasnoff, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Shira Lipkin, Yves Meynard, Ken Schneyer and A.C. Wise — will join me (hopefully!) in christening ye book!
(BTW, if you can’t wait to get one, and want to give a beleagured publisher a little boost, there is a way. The preorder buttons at clockworkphoenix.com are still live and kicking.)
I’ve been sending out other rewards, too. Here’s the special Cherie Priest chapbook (all copies signed by Cherie herself) that was created exclusively for the Kickstarter.
It looks like I may end up with a few left over. I’m going to have to figure out what to do with them…
In the meantime, advance reviews of Clockwork Phoenix 4 continued to come out, but I’ve been too busy to post links.
The fantasy and fairy tale webzine Cabinet des Fées says:
What makes this fourth edition so special is that it belongs to an impassioned community of writers and readers who went above and beyond to make it happen. … All eighteen [stories] have the power to pull the reader out of his own reality and transport or transform them entirely.
Here in my hometown, blogger Dusty Wallace of Dusty on Movies gives the book a thorough-going over, story by story:
Clockwork Phoenix 4 takes the reader on a journey through the outer reaches of imagination.
And a briefer summation at the book’s entry at GoodReads.
The cover promises “tales of beauty and strangeness” and by god it delivers. This is a collection of stories to boggle the mind and exercise the imagination. A must read for fans of weird speculative fiction.
And to be fair, Publishers Weekly has also reviewed the book, though the reviewer apparently was not as enthusiastic as whomever reviewed the first three volumes for that publication. Though I suppose the odds of four raves in a row were pretty slim. On the other hand, the fact that PW acknowledged this Kickstarted and self-published book is a bit of a triumph in its own way.
And there’s material to work with:
Yves Meynard’s “Our Lady of the Thylacines” is a tale of a young woman embracing her adrenalin-filled destiny. Alisa Alering’s “The Wanderer King” depicts a society collapsed into mutual extermination, and Barbara Krasnoff’s “The History of Soul 2065” manages to find a happy face for encroaching mortality. Of particular note is Gemma Files’s “Trap-Weed”; in its way the mirror image of the Meynard, it follows a Selkie determined to reject both the ways of its people and those of the humans it encounters.
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.