First new short story of the year!

/ January 21st, 2014 / No Comments »

My brief, strange short story “The Lead Between the Panes” has just appeared at the new online fiction and poetry zine Lakeside Circus. My story falls somewhere between an M.R. James pastiche, a dark meditation on life’s cruelties, and a tone poem. (EDIT LONG AFTER THE FACT: In hindsight, I was going for the sort of thing Robert Aickman did.)
 
I first got the idea for it after visiting the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and noticing a curious trick of light and reflection that made a stained glass window appear to float disembodied above an atrium. A conversation with my wife about why the fat spiders clustered around our porch light kept disappearing also factored in.
 
The story also contains a Tuckerized shout out to our buddy Paul Muse. Luckily he doesn’t mind having his name associated with evil, heh, heh.
 
You can read the story here. Check out the rest of the issue too, there’s a lot of cool people involved.
 
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The end times are here (2013 edition)

/ December 30th, 2013 / No Comments »

Last year this time I was ill and bedridden. This year, I’m simply inconvenienced thanks to a kaput computer. I consider this a step up.
 
In fact I was so sick at this time in 2012 that my year-end summary didn’t turn up until mid-January. At least 2013 lets me be a bit more on the ball.
 
My 2013 writing, editing and publishing adventures amounted to a kind of small press triathlon, all intertwined, all the culmination of groundwork laid in 2012.
 
First — maybe biggest in the long run? — my first novel came out, a dark fantasy titled The Black Fire Concerto. This novel’s appearance resulted from some cool and sometimes nerve-wracking small press strangeness — after spending five years writing my first novel (which remains unpublished) I was among those solicited to contribute to a line of books from the folks behind Black Gate Magazine … and as it turned out, my book, written and rewritten in five months, was the only one to actually make it to print. No pillars shook at my novel’s arrival, but I had two fun launch parties, got some nice reviews, and also demands for a sequel, which I’m two thirds of the way through writing, because why not?
 
Part one of the novel, “The Red Empress,” was published in full at the Haunted Stars website and also as a podcast on Tales to Terrify read by C.S.E. Cooney. The beginning of part two, “Bone Mosaics,” has been a popular read at Black Gate.
 
Second, at more or less the same time as the novel, my newest anthology, Clockwork Phoenix 4, came out, published by … me! This was the culmination of last year’s giant Kickstarter, and it was refreshing, sobering, and incredibly demanding of my time, to be in charge of every aspect of the book’s fate. (Last year this time I was on the verge of picking the final lineup for the anthology when the flu or whatever the heck it was flattened me.) Clockwork Phoenix 4 has gotten a ton of laudatory reviews (with one sour note sounded by Publishers Weekly, heh) and I don’t think it’s done yet. There’ll be more good news to come.
 
Third, and heavily linked to item two, I launched the Mach 2 version of Mythic Delirium, funded in part by last year’s Kickstarter and the rest of the way by a second Kickstarter held this past summer. This new format is still finding its sea legs, but I’m ever grateful to the community support that’s made this possible.
 
By the way, never say never, but I’ve sworn off Kickstarter for at least the next year. Heck, I’ve still got rewards to produce for the first two (they had some overlapping prizes, natch) that won’t be out until at least late spring 2014.
 
I’d say that I didn’t have much of my own writing published this year … except, you know, novel. I had two new short stories appear, fairly par for the course in that department, both written in response to invitations.
 
“Still Life With Skull,” in Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction, is a sideways sequel to last year’s “Twa Sisters,” set in the same far future world. Like the first story, it made Rich Horton’s monthly recommended reading list in Locus.
 
The Helping Hand: A Ghost Story” was written for my employer, The Roanoke Times, and picked up by the McClatchy-Tribune wire service (!) — it’s a spooky little piece of Halloween entertainment that had readers calling me to tell me about their own ghostly encounters.
 
Now here’s a big difference from years past — only two poems of mine appeared in 2013.
 
“Darksein the Diabolic Plots His Comeback from Beyond the Grave” is a goofy bit of doggerel that I was delighted to contribute to Michael Damian Thomas and Shira Lipkin’s Flying Higher: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry.
 
Hungry Constellations,” the longest poem I’ve ever written, and one I’m extremely proud of, had the honor of being the autumn feature presentation at Goblin Fruit. It will also be the title piece of my forthcoming poetry collection (which is one of those Kickstarter rewards I need to deliver.)
 
Last but not least, I managed to record nine “Tour of the Abattoir” columns for the Tales to Terrify podcast this past year, some with help from buddy in horror Shalon Hurlbert. (It’s supposed to be monthly. I was close!) At least I already know what my January column will be about.
 
Much unfinished business in the air. Onward to 2014!
 
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The Black Fire Concerto most read at Black Gate in November

/ December 30th, 2013 / No Comments »

black_fire_concerto_front_coverThe week before Christmas, a power surge took out my computer and our stove. The night of Christmas Eve, I learned that once again the excerpt from my novel The Black Fire Concerto was the most read story at Black Gate Magazine — Olyssa and Erzelle and their friends and enemies claimed the top spot back in October, and have held their ground through November.
 
Does the one counterbalance the other? Well, not really, but you take the small victories where you can get them, hee.
 
One way that the news was encouraging — while I wait for my replacement machine, I’ve been hogging Anita’s computer in order to make progress on the sequel to Black Fire Concerto, working title The Ghoulmaker’s Aria. As of this afternoon I’m 53,000 words into the new adventure. In another version of this reality I’ve had to spend my Christmas vacation retyping the first 25,000 words instead of adding 28,000 more — so we’ll call that a small victory too.
 
By the way, the release of Mythic Delirium 0.3 remains on schedule; or maybe it’s more accurate to say it’s not yet off schedule, heh. Stay tuned.
 
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Stunning cover art for my next poetry collection

/ December 17th, 2013 / No Comments »

I’m thrilled to be able to show off Paula Friedlander’s amazing cover art for my next poetry collection, Hungry Constellations.
 

Hungry Cover Mockup 0

 
This collection originates with the Mythic Delirium Kickstarter. None of my poetry collections are available in ebook form, so as incentive to make that happen I offered an omnibus poetry collection as one of the Kickstarter prizes…
 
…and in a fit of sobriety assessed that such a volume would not only be a nightmare to format, but be both massive and repetitive — and what I needed to be putting out was a good book, a fresh book, not an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink book.
 
So my thanks to Dominik Parisien as well for stepping in to serve as editor, whittling down almost 20 years of my work to a streamlined exhibition of 61 poems, old and new (one previously unpublished); beginning with “The Strip Search,” ending with “Hungry Constellations,” in between encapsulating a lot of the themes I keep coming back to, deliberately or not. (It was a really cool experience, seeing my work curated. Dom did a great job.)
 
Hungry Constellations will be available in trade paperback too. We’re shooting for March.
 
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The Black Fire Concerto storms the Black Gate on Halloween

/ December 3rd, 2013 / 2 Comments »

black_fire_concerto_front_coverOver the Thanksgiving holiday I was delighted and pleasantly surprised to learn that the excerpt from my novel The Black Fire Concerto was October’s most read story at Black Gate Magazine.
 
Black Gate overlord John O’Neill told me the excerpt not only won the month among its peers, but achieved the highest ranking ever for a fiction post on the site (as far as he can recall.) Here in Small Press Land we celebrate the small victories, so I’m celebrating this one.
 
I’ve rather rashly begun work on a sequel — in no small part because those few and proud who’ve read the book and reported back to me all say they want one — working title The Ghoulmaker’s Aria. As of the end of November I’m over 15,000 words in and the path to the end is slowly coming into focus. We shall see what December holds.
 
I’ve also been working on putting together Mythic Delirium 0.3, though that’s a matter best reserved for the new Mythic Delirium site, where you can now read all the featured poems and stories from Mythic Delirium 0.2. Small Press Land is a busy place.
 
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Tour of the Abattoir, Tales to Terrify, Laird Barron, Clive Barker

/ December 1st, 2013 / No Comments »

The-Beautiful-Thing-That-Awaits-Us-AllMy latest “Tour of the Abattoir” audio column is up at Tales to Terrify. This time I talk about horror master Laird Barron’s new short story collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, and also touch on a book that collects some obscure early stories from Clive Barker.
 
Click here to give the show a listen.
 
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The hardest part of writing a novel

/ November 7th, 2013 / No Comments »

It’s different from writer to writer and from novel to novel. The Bull Spec blog has a series called the “The Hardest Part” in which writers confess what was most difficult about scribbling out their books. Samuel Montgomery-Blinn generously invited me to share what made The Black Fire Concerto hard to finish. Check it out here.
 
An excerpt:
 

There was little time for longhand drafting like I normally do, and hardly any time to plot and plan — it was either sprint to the finish or miss the deadline. Not that anyone was going to punish me if I did miss the deadline, but as a newspaper writer I take deadlines very seriously. So I plunged ahead, basically running on sheer storytelling instinct. I knew there would be walking dead and other monsters, apocalyptic magic, hidden cities, fox people, surprise family connections, flying horses and epic battles, but I was connecting these dots on the fly. Naturally the story went longer than I originally shot for, which didn’t help that deadline problem. When I reached the end, I didn’t have a complete grasp of what I’d written, because so much of that first draft was made up on the go.

 
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A new Tour of the Abattoir at TALES TO TERRIFY

/ November 7th, 2013 / No Comments »

In which Shalon Hurlbert and I talk about two seriously flawed yet intriguing films in which characters travel into the woods and lose their grips on sanity, The Corridor and YellowBrickRoad. Fiction is by S.A. Partridge and Brendan Detzner. Click here to have a listen.
 
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Fiction uploaded to SFWA Forums

/ November 2nd, 2013 / No Comments »

This notice is mainly for those associate and active SFWA members who have access to the private forums. I’ve made all of the following available there for those looking for material for Nebula consideration. #SFWApro
 

fictionuploads

 

 

    From Clockwork Phoenix 4
    novelettes:

  • “The Canal Barge Magician’s Number Nine Daughter” by Ian McHugh
  • “A Little of the Night” by Tanith Lee
  • short stories:

  • “Our Lady of the Thylacines” by Yves Meynard
  • “On the Leitmotif of the Trickster Constellation in Northern Hemispheric Star Charts, Post-Apocalypse” by Nicole Kornher-Stace
  • “Beach Bum and the Drowned Girl” by Richard Parks
  • “Trap-Weed” by Gemma Files
  • “Icicle” by Yukimi Ogawa
  • “Lesser Creek: A Love Story, A Ghost Story” by A.C. Wise
  • “What Still Abides” by Marie Brennan
  • “The Wanderer King” by Alisa Alering
  • “I Come from the Dark Universe” by Cat Rambo
  • “Happy Hour at the Tooth and Claw” by Shira Lipkin
  • “Lilo Is” by Corinne Duyvis
  • “Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer” by Kenneth Schneyer
  • “Three Times” by Camille Alexa
  • “The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
  • “The Old Woman with No Teeth” by Patricia Russo
  • “The History of Soul 2065″ by Barbara Krasnoff

 

 

 

 

My ghost story The Helping Hand in THE ROANOKE TIMES

/ October 29th, 2013 / No Comments »

Today, for the sake of the Halloween season, The Roanoke Times (my employer!) published my new ghost story “The Helping Hand.” This was an unexpected boon! I’m honored that my colleagues in the Features Department gave me a chance to exercise my fiction-writing chops for the paper, something I’ve only gotten to do once before.* This tale is much more family-friendly than my usual work, but it was still a lot of fun to write.
 
And talk all you want about the problems newspapers are having: this story was seen by thousands upon thousands more people than would ever see it in any given genre venue, hee. (Alas, too bad I can’t do this every day.)
 
On my work blog, I offered a little explanation of what I had in mind when I put the story together. Click the photo illustration by my co-worker Stephanie Klein-Davis below to give the tale a read.
 

Helping_Hand

 
*The first time was in 2004, when I wrote a Christmas story with a sci-fi twist called “A Ghost of Christmas Future.” No literal ghosts in that one — it was all metaphor. Trust me. #SFWApro
 

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