New with UNSEAMING: KGB reading Feb. 18; bonus story for Kindle

/ February 12th, 2015 / No Comments »

Fans of weird fiction have been very good to my debut collection, Unseaming — it’s easily the fastest-selling title I’ve ever produced in my 20 years of doing this kind of thing. (And though out-selling my previous titles leaps a pretty low bar, had you told me four months ago that my royalty earnings were going to surpass the equivalent of 6 cents/word for all 14 stories, I would have laughed at you.) I put a lot of work into this book, but I sure didn’t make that happen alone, so again, again, thank you to everyone who has helped out this strange little tome.
I’m reasonably certain that at least some of the folks who like Unseaming would also get a kick out of my dark fantasy novel The Black Fire Concerto. The overwhelming majority of sales for Unseaming have been Kindle sales, specifically American Kindle sales. So, operating on the principle that too late is better than never, and with thanks to publishers Antimatter Press and Haunted Stars for making this easy, part one of The Black Fire Concerto, “The Red Empress,” has been added to the Kindle edition of Unseaming. (Rose Lemberg’s idea, thank you!) If you bought Unseaming before I added “The Red Empress,” my understanding is that you can update your copy; at least the information linked here strongly implies it.
The book also newly contains a link to register for my fresh-minted newsletter (thanks for this idea to Shveta Thakrar), which, if anyone actually subscribes to it, I will use to provide updates on my next ventures into The Weird. (I do have things planned, oh yes I do.)
I hope to see you there if you can make it.

Something completely different: THE SKY-RIDERS, in ebook and audio

/ February 12th, 2015 / No Comments »

So I waited until all the pieces were in place before formally announcing this one, though I’ve been plugging it on Twitter for a lil’ while now. Behold The Sky-Riders, a new novelette that’s quite a departure for me, available in numerous online places in electronic and audiobook editions.

Electronic edition

Electronic edition

Audiobook edition

About five years ago I got a hankering to create a story that would be nothing like the dream-like dark fantasy and horror I tend to produce when left to my own devices. It would be fun! Upbeat! Retro! A Western, even, a steampunk Western! I didn’t intend, however, to try this dangerous stunt alone. I turned to my longtime friend and newspaper colleague Paul Dellinger, whose knowledge of both the Western genre and the Old West is jaw-dropping. (And I knew it would be fun to collaborate with Paul, so this was a great excuse.)
Paul and I and Anita began to brainstorm characters and plotlines; my friend Shalon Hurlbert, too, contributed some ideas about how a solar-powered airship built in the 1890s might work. I ended up asking Paul to tackle the first draft, because what I wrote to start us off with had the wrong feel, or so it seemed to me. And I loved what Paul came up with; the final story is altered from his first draft only in subtle ways, so his name goes first as far as I’m concerned.
We think we concocted something fun and, in its own way, refreshingly different, but we didn’t connect with an editor, as happens, y’know? Paul and I had already discussed going the self-publishing route when I saw some samples of artwork from Orion Zangara and Derek L. Chase that made me realize they would do a wonderful job of creating a cover to go with our story. That sealed the deal.
I have a number of e-books out, but Sky-Riders is my first ever straightforward direct-to-self-publishing venture. Paul’s as well. When he met Anita and I for dinner prior to the book’s release, Anita suggested that perhaps Sky-Riders could also be an audiobook, especially given my experience working with Robert G. Davis on The Black Fire Concerto — Davis works at what a great science fiction film labeled “ludicrous speed.”
And lo! And behold! Here it is. I hope you’ll check it out. This link leads a page that shows all the places you can buy it.
Paul also has a wonderful collection out with a Golden Age of SF feel from start to finish, Mr. Lazarus and Other Stories. I hope you’ll check that out too.

My novel THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO gets a makeover, more editions, more vendors

/ February 11th, 2015 / 1 Comment »

My first published novel, The Black Fire Concerto, started its term of undeadness in this world as an Amazon exclusive. This past year I’ve been gradually pulling all my books (or having them pulled out) of all such Amazon-only deals, and Black Fire Concerto is the last to make that change.


Audiobook edition


Electronic book edition

Coincidentally, through an unrelated confluence of circumstances (detailed here), narrator Robert G. Davis recorded an audiobook edition of the novel, which required me to relicense the wonderful digital painting by Lauren K. Cannon that Haunted Stars Publications acquired for my cover.

Trade paperback edition

And on the third hand, between the Summer 2013 release of Black Fire Concerto and now, I drafted a sequel, The Ghoulmaker’s Aria (which will also have cover art from Lauren). So — though I want it known, I was absolutely delighted by John Woolley’s original design for Haunted Stars — creating the new audiobook cover demanded a design that lets listeners know the first book is part of a series. (Which I decided to call The Stormblight Symphony; I imagine it as a grim score played out in four movements.) Once I did all that for one edition, it only made sense to change the rest.
And so, The Black Fire Concerto has a new look and new hangouts. (And new prices, with the paperback now set to $14.95 and the e-book to $4.99.)
Here’s where you can find it now:
trade paperbacke-bookaudiobook

The Ghoulmaker’s Aria (forthcoming)

Amazon UK:
trade paperbacke-bookaudiobook
Amazon DE:
trade paperbacke-bookaudiobook
Barnes & Noble:
trade paperbacke-book
Kobo: e-book
Scribd: e-book
Google Play: ebook



/ February 9th, 2015 / No Comments »

Though it’s possible I still looked productive to most everyone else, I went through a long spell in 2013 and the first half of 2014 where I wasn’t selling any new work. (These things happen to writers, heh. Perhaps worth noting, if you don’t believe me, that all the stories that appeared in Unseaming were written in 2012 or earlier.) In mid-2014 my dry spell thawed (mangled metaphor!) and it appears things remain too warm for now for the drought to return.
I’m honored that the following places will showcase works of mine in months to come:
Lackington’s has accepted my new short story “The Spider Tapestries,” a surreal piece that’s perhaps set in a fantasy milieu, or an alien world, or maybe even a far-future dreamscape. The story’s scheduled to appear in October.
• Rhonda Parrish’s avian-themed anthology Corvidae will feature my new short story “The Cruelest Team Will Win.” It’s a dark fantasy from the same world visited in my stories “The Hiker’s Tale” and “Follow the Wounded One.” This will be the first time I’ve had a third story in a series published, I’m quite thrilled about that; I’m also thrilled to return to this setting and these characters. I’ve written a whole novel (still unpublished) set in this universe. “The Cruelest Team Will Win” takes place after the events of the novel, but makes use of one of the novel’s nastiest villains. My thanks to Rhonda for the opportunity to do this.
• Not new to me but new to the rest of the world: a poem I co-wrote years ago with C.S.E. Cooney, “Toujours Il Coûte Trop Cher,” sold last week to S.T. Joshi for use in his dark poetry journal Spectral Realms. The topic of the poem was Claire’s idea, rooted in the curious fact that famed martyred heroine Joan of Arc and reviled serial killer Gilles de Rais once fought side by side against the British. Back when we first wrote the poem, we tried it out a few places, it didn’t sell; we set it down, contemplating whether or not it might need more work, and let it sit, and sit, and sit. And then, this month, we dusted it off after all that time in storage, tried it on S.T. first thing and he snatched it up. I guess we just needed to wait for the right market to come along.

ARC Giveaway: BONE SWANS by C.S.E. Cooney

/ January 28th, 2015 / 21 Comments »

UPDATE: And the winner is … Shawna Lenore Kastin. Thanks to all who participated!

Bone_Swans_ARC_frontSo, first, the giveaway rules: If you want to enter this giveaway for C.S.E. Cooney’s beautiful debut fantasy collection Bone Swans (introduction by Gene Wolfe, coming in July from Mythic Delirium Books, i.e. Anita’n’me) just leave a comment on this blog post (or the duplicate ones at Mythic Delirium Books or The Plasteel Spider Factory). Creativity encouraged, but not required: “Me! Me! Me, please!” will suffice. I will take entries until midnight EST Thursday. Then Anita and I will randomly draw the winner of the first ever ARC of Bone Swans to ever be printed.
We’re doing this cross-promotion (my thanks to Shveta Thakrar for the idea!) as a gonzo way to celebrate the early birthday present Anita and I received today (both of our birthdays falling within the next four days). To give some perspective: at the beginning of October, when my debut short story collection, Unseaming, was about to launch, Anita asked me what I was hoping would come of it. Being quite familiar with the limits of small press publications, I said something to the effect of, “I would love for this book to sell 1,000 copies. But realistically speaking, we’ll be lucky if it breaks 500.”
Unseaming_MD_webWell, as of this evening, Unseaming has passed 1,000 copies sold — and it’s still going! In my career, this is a true watershed moment. Thank you, world! Thanks to everyone who chose to promote the book and to all of you who chose to buy it!
Offering a copy of our next project is one way we are giving back. However, as the giveaway is open to everyone, and as Unseaming is a very different book from Bone Swans, and as some of you bought Unseaming just to help make this giveaway happen (and others, presumably, because you actually wanted Unseaming), Anita and Claire and I want to make sure that those who helped bring this about get something out of it regardless of who wins the copy.
So, if you bought a copy of Unseaming, send an email to that says “I helped!” and I will share with you a never-before-published epic horror poem that Claire and I co-wrote. I ask that you not share it publicly anywhere. (Unless you are a publisher and are interested in sharing it that way. Then we’ll talk!)
Thanks, folks! Comment away!


/ January 16th, 2015 / No Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webThe New York Review of Science Fiction just published a review of my collection Unseaming; I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever been mentioned in that journal. Reviewer Peter Rawlik has both praise and criticism to offer my book, but ultimately the raves outweigh the rants:

Unseaming is not a perfect collection, but overall, Mike Allen’s debut marks him as a writer to watch and should please fans of Laird Barron, Simon Strantzas, Richard Gavin, Caitlín Kiernan, and Gemma Files. Indeed, while Unseaming may not gain Allen a place on the faculty of what might be considered the school of the New Weird, it certainly places him on the Dean’s list for outstanding achievement.

I’ll take it. I’m sure honored to be listed in that company.
The review highlights most of the stories in the collection: “The Blessed Days,” “Humpty, “The Hiker’s Tale,” “Stone Flowers, “Condolences.” He singles out “The Button Bin,” “Let There Be Darkness,” “Her Acres of Pastoral Playground” and “Monster” for in-depth praise. On the flip side, he contends that “An Invitation via E-mail” and “The Quiltmaker” don’t work, but with the latter story he concedes, “it is a valiant attempt at experimental storytelling … I can see the attraction that some have for the story.”
Fair enough!


/ January 13th, 2015 / No Comments »

Unseaming_HCSunni K. Brock of Nameless Digest has reviewed two of my 2014 books, horror story collection Unseaming and poetry collection Hungry Constellations, and she has flattering things to say about both.
About Unseaming:

This book is positioned to hit the mark squarely within the Lovecraftion/True Detective “New Weird” fiction movement … The themes explored are varied and fascinating … It is beautifully written, poetic and deeply emotional … Highly recommended.

About Hungry Constellations:

Allen’s fiction ideas are very weird, and his poetry is weirder still. Wonderfully weird. … Allen is an artist and words are his clay, his ink, his notes, his instruments … An excellent collection. It is rare to find genre poetry so artfully rendered. It is full of stars.

Sunni’s husband, Jason V. Brock, edits Nameless and also edited the 2014 anthology A Darke Phantastique, which included my horror story “Tardigrade.” To complete the trifecta, the Brocks posted a preview of “Tardigrade” here.

First poem of 2015: Sad Wisps of Empty Smoke

/ January 11th, 2015 / 2 Comments »

The eclectic interview site Van Gogh’s Ear has published the first new creative work of mine to appear in 2015, my poem “Sad Wisps of Empty Smoke.” It certainly nestles well with the dark work I’ve had published of late. For all its baroque imagery, it’s a pretty personal poem.
Sad Wisps
In late 2010, after a fallow period wherein I’d had a block when it came to writing poetry, my buddy C.S.E. Cooney piled a ton of poem prompts on me and encouraged friends and family to do the same. It worked; I started writing poetry again, producing a series I now refer to as the “Claire-dare” poems, posted in locked entries on my LiveJournal. “Sad Wisps of Empty Smoke” was the first of these poems, but it wasn’t in response to a prompt. It was the poem I had to get out of the way before the others could emerge.
Four years later, it’s nearly the last of the series to see print (so to speak). There’s one more Claire-dare poem remaining to be published, “The Bone Bird,” forthcoming in S.T. Joshi’s poetry magazine Spectral Realms, scheduled for its very next issue. I imagine I’ll do a bigger roundup post once they’re all in the world.
(For the curious, the first of the series to see print was “The Unkindest Kiss,” published January 2011 in Apex Magazine by then-editor Catherynne Valente; the final poem written in the series, “La Donna del Lago,” dedicated to Claire, was bought by Sonya Taaffe for Strange Horizons and appeared August 2011.)
My thanks to Tina Ayres for giving “Sad Wisps” a home.

THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO audiobook available now

/ January 7th, 2015 / No Comments »

Actually, it’s been available since New Year’s Eve, but I’ve only now gotten around to writing a blog post about it. If you’re willing to brave a 30-day free trial of, than you can get my new book free along with it. I’m thrilled it came together so fast (and that’s all due to the work of narrator Robert G. Davis.)

UNSEAMING a nominee for This Is Horror best story collection award

/ January 7th, 2015 / No Comments »

I woke up this morning to the news that my book Unseaming is a nominee for the 2014 This Is Horror Awards in the category Short Story Collection of the Year. Both nominations and awards are chosen by popular vote, and the competition is fearsome, including Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Off, Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Simon Strantzas’ Burnt Black Suns (which I just read and enjoyed) and John F.D. Taff’s The End in All Beginnings.
Voting is open to all. These are the instructions:

The This Is Horror Awards 2014 are now open. Please send your votes to with the subject line ‘Awards 2014 Votes’. To cast a vote simply write the category and your vote for each award. You may vote for your top two in each category. For example:
1. First choice
2. Second choice

Just as exciting, as Nicole Kornher-Stace pointed out to me: my book is on an awards list with the best movie I saw last year, Snowpiercer. It’s not really sinking in.
Thanks to all who voted, and to everyone who has given Unseaming such amazing support.

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