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.

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.

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.


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.

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




    From Clockwork Phoenix 4

  • “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.


*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

Scenes from THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO launch party

/ October 27th, 2013 / No Comments »

The Roanoke launch party for The Black Fire Concerto took place this past Tuesday (Oct. 22) in a cozy space at the Raleigh Court Library. (Technically this is the second launch party for the book; the first one happened in July at ReaderCon.) Since I have a thing about performing in hats, I wore my recently acquired cowboy hat, heh. My friend Anne Sampson brought her dulcimers and provided a live soundtrack as I read. I read for about 40 minutes, then stayed answering questions and chatting until the library closed. Sold a handful of books, too. My thanks to everyone who came out, and to my buddy Shalon Hurlbert for organizing this in the first place.
(My mom showed up, by the way, to hear me read about ghouls, cannibalism and massacres by gunfire. No pressure there!) #SFWApro

Gathering around
Live soundtrack!
Sunlight for a dark story
Fliers left over


My Hungry Consellations poem cycle featured at GOBLIN FRUIT

/ October 19th, 2013 / No Comments »

There’s a new issue of Goblin Fruit out, which is always reason to celebrate.

I have a special reason beyond the norm to celebrate this particular issue. The Goblin Queens have honored me by publishing “Hungry Constellations,” a light-hearted (for me) meditation on the stars, alternate realities, storytelling, theater and the banality of evil (or something like that) that you can read either as one long poem or a 10-poem cycle. The Goblin Queens have made it work both ways by making my poetic thingamabob their 2013 Fall Feature.
There’s also an interview with me and a nice essay about how I’ve bedeviled the Queens from the get-go.

One week until THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO launch party in Roanoke

/ October 15th, 2013 / No Comments »

The Raleigh Court Branch Library is holding the Roanoke launch party for my first novel, The Black Fire Concerto, the story of a pair of sorceress-musicians who fight necromancers and ghouls in a post-apocalyptic future. My friend Anne Sampson will provide some beautifully eerie music for the occasion. The event, which is free, starts Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. I’ll have copies of my book to sell and sign, of course. Refreshments provided, too, courtesy of the wonderful folks at the library.



New poetry sale, new novel review, and a little more

/ October 14th, 2013 / No Comments »

I’m pleased to report that Strange Horizons is buying my new poem “The Paper Boy,” a grim meditation on a crime’s aftermath. Thanks go to Romie Stott for accepting it and to Dominik Parisien for motivating me to write it. #SFWApro
I’m also pleased to report another nice review for The Black Fire Concerto, this time from blogger Grace Troxal at Books Without Any Pictures. She writes:

The magical apocalypse envisioned in The Black Fire Concerto is unlike anything I’ve ever read. … Mike Allen’s imagery is incredible. He creates great machines fueled by rotting corpses, the friendly fox-like Vulpines, and villains that will give you nightmares and make you feel sympathetic at the same time. A blend of fantasy and horror, The Black Fire Concerto will leave you begging for more.

There’s a couple more Black Fire Concerto-related links I want to share:


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