Almost but not quite to the end, and new CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 reviews

/ May 29th, 2013 / 1 Comment »

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.

CP4box

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.

ImmigrantBox

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.

Previous reviews of Clockwork Phoenix 4 can be found here, here, here and here.

The CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 Bag of Books reward

/ May 22nd, 2013 / No Comments »
These are going to be a bear to ship internationally.

These are going to be a bear to ship internationally.

Mastering the whirlwind. (And sometimes tumbling about.)

/ May 19th, 2013 / No Comments »

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.

Claire, Nicole and Dominik at CoalCon.

Claire, Nicole and Dominik at CoalCon.

Learned while at CoalCon that the entire shipment of trade paperbacks for the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter had arrived at our house in Roanoke.

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.

PhillyFolk

Waiting in the wings at the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society meeting.

Started sending out the remaining Clockwork Phoenix 4 rewards, both in ebook and trade paperback form, to everyone I owe them to. I’m not done yet, and really won’t be done for months yet, but the overwhelming bulk of the shipping and e-mailing will be finished by the end of this week.

The unveiling of the special singular signed edition of CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 in the special padded case Anita made for it to travel in.

The unveiling of the special singular signed edition of CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 in the special padded case Anita made for it to travel in.

Booked our room and rental car for ReaderCon in July. Started to fill out the giant programming sign-up, haven’t quite finished.

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.

The Black Fire Concerto cover + a new interview

/ May 1st, 2013 / No Comments »

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.

black_fire_concerto_front_cover

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.

Two Mike Allen titles

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.

A little bit of poignance

/ April 25th, 2013 / No Comments »

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.

MD6

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.

CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 Kickstarter: rewards finished or nearly there

/ April 14th, 2013 / No Comments »

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:

Cover by Paula Friedlander

Pretty sweet, eh?

More reviews: SOLARIS RISING 2, CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4

/ April 10th, 2013 / No Comments »

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.

SOLARIS RISING 2 book launch

/ April 8th, 2013 / No Comments »

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.

The Silence of the Busy

/ April 5th, 2013 / No Comments »

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.

A guest post at Solaris

/ March 29th, 2013 / No Comments »

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. …”

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