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.

Coming in 2015: THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO audiobook

/ December 16th, 2014 / 1 Comment »

So this was a surprise. A reader (or is that listener?) contacted me in late September via Twitter to tell me how much he enjoyed The Black Fire Concerto excerpt that appeared on Tales to Terrify (“Part One: The Red Empress,” read by the amazing C.S.E. Cooney) and to ask if there were any plans to release the entire novel in audio form. When I replied that there were not, he came back with, I know a guy…
That guy turned out to be Robert G. Davis, a voice over artist in Los Angeles who does freelance book narrations through the Amazon satellite program ACX. He worked with astonishing speed — the complete first draft of the 8-hour-plus recording was in before Thanksgiving, and he turned around the extensive and nitpicky changes I asked for within a day or two of when I asked for them, sometimes within an hour. Just as vitally, he was extremely patient, as I was already overbooked with other projects, and it took me quite a while to weave hours upon hours of sitting and attentively listening into my schedule, heh.
But now I’ve listened to my own novel twice (and what a curious experience that was!) and I’ve clicked the “approve” button, and this totally unexpected audiobook should be available in January.
For the record, for my fellow writers who might be interested in trying this, I endorse both trying out ACX and working with Rob.
Those few and proud who have actually paid attention will note that this edition of the The Black Fire Concerto is billed as “Book One” and the series now has a name. This might have something to do with the existence of “Book Two,” The Ghoulmaker’s Aria, which I also plan to release in 2015, though making the time to do that will be a peril-fraught venture…

My poem Hungry Constellations is a Rhysling honoree

/ December 15th, 2014 / No Comments »

Hungry Constellations coverMy thanks to the voting membership of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, who bestowed a 2nd place Rhysling Award (in the “long poem” category) on my poem “Hungry Constellations,” which first appeared as a feature presentation in the absolutely essential Goblin Fruit, and is now the title poem of my latest collection. This poem means a lot to me, so to have empirical evidence that it resonates with others is wonderful.
Regarding the other winners, I’m compelled to show off some of the hard-won Rhysling expertise I acquired back when I was president of the SFPA. First, congratulations to Mary Soon Lee, who actually won the long category, her first win. She’s been producing great poetry for many years and I’m glad to see her at last get the nod. Her poem “Interregnum” is part of an extensive interconnected cycle “The Sign of the Dragon,” of which I’ve read a few others; I look forward to seeing the completed book. Congratulations too to third place winner Rose Lemberg, an incredible poet receiving her first Rhysling nod for “I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz.” Her piece is also a part of a cycle of “Birdverse” poems and stories.
A special congratulations to Amal El-Mohtar, whose “Turning the Leaves” won the short poem category. This makes Amal the first woman to win the Rhysling Award three times. To my knowledge, she was already the first PoC to win the award (in 2009, with “Song for an Ancient City,” from Mythic Delirium, and don’t you think I’ll ever let anyone forget that watershed moment for the zine.) In addition, she also published this year’s 2nd and 3rd place long poem winners (by me & Rose!) — and this kind of writer/editor sweep isn’t new to her. In 2011, when her “Peach-Creamed Honey” won the short category, she was also the publisher of the long poem winner, C.S.E. Cooney’s “The Sea King’s Second Bride.”
I’d say “Congratulations to the following Mythic Delirium contributors who are winners…” but actually all the winners have appeared in Mythic Delirium over the years, heh.


/ December 12th, 2014 / No Comments »

Hungry Constellations coverWell, hey, here’s one of those rare and elusive poetry reviews one occasionally hears rumors of, spotted in the wild: Nameless Digest has published a very flattering review (by contributing editor Sunni Brock) of my new poetry collection Hungry Constellations:

Allen’s fiction ideas are very weird, and his poetry is weirder still. Wonderfully weird. … Classical themes combine with modern stylistic license in verses that defy the rules yet satisfy a timeless beauty. … It is rare to find genre poetry so artfully rendered. It is full of stars.

Let me once again thank Dominik Parisien for his efforts editing down 20 years of my work into something shiny. You can read the full review here.

Fun with Amazon, second UNSEAMING edition

/ December 5th, 2014 / No Comments »

As I’ve said, Amazon “bestseller” lists don’t mean much. That reiterated, Unseaming has so far been successful enough (by my standards) to afford me a fair amount of fun as it bobs up and down in the Kindle “Horror Short Stories” rankings.
This is by far my favorite screen capture from the entire affair:
And this one, which became possible when the paperback edition made a brief appearance on the list, is a close second:
And for sheer vanity’s sake, proof that the book actually broke into the top 10 in its category for about five minutes:
So suddenly I feel slightly less like a scribble in the margins. My thanks to all of you who’ve helped make that so. 😉

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