Speculative poetry editors make Best of 2012 recommendations

/ January 31st, 2013 / No Comments »

Writer and editor Rose Lemberg today posted a round-up of a weeklong project she organized in which editors of speculative poetry publications listed their top five favorite poems published in 2012 by venues other than their own.

Individual recommendations come from Amal El-Mohtar (Goblin Fruit,) Romie Stott (Strange Horizons,) Mitchell Hart (Through the Gate,) Samantha Henderson (Inkscrawl,) Rose Lemberg (Stone Telling,) Adrienne J. Odasso (Strange Horizons,) Alexa Seidel (Niteblade) and Erzebet YellowBoy (Cabinet des Fées.) Reviewer Bogi Takács of prezzey.net also made a list of recommendations.

I hope you’ll all follow the links and make new discoveries.

(Full disclosure, because a few have asked: I was invited to participate but couldn’t carve out enough time from my other projects to do the reading I felt would be necessary to make informed recommendations. I’m grateful that a couple of my poems received nods, and three poems from Mythic Delirium also received mentions. To see which ones, you’ll have to go read.)

Picking the Clockwork Phoenix 4 stories: The Process (part 2)

/ January 22nd, 2013 / 2 Comments »

I’m back with part two of my explanation of the Clockwork Phoenix 4 submission process, this time breaking down the most crucial piece of the process: what happens while the submission window is open. (Part One can be found here.)

There’s all sorts of misconceptions out there about how short story slush reading works. I’m pretty sure the way I handle it is close to how most pro and semi-pro outfits do things, so hopefully elucidating will be helpful all around.

Here’s metaphor #4. A story submission essentially works like an audition for a part in a play. I think some writers lose sight of this aspect, because sending in an e-mail and waiting for a response feels much more impersonal than waiting to be called in front of the director to start your monologue or demonstrate your dance skills.

And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening. Your story is your performance. And in the case of Clockwork Phoenix, I’m the director.

Read the rest of this entry »

Picking the Clockwork Phoenix 4 stories: The Process (part 1)

/ January 21st, 2013 / 2 Comments »

I’ve split this long, long post about the inner workings of the Clockwork Phoenix 4 submission process in twain in an attempt to make it more digestible. Part Two will appear tomorrow. (Click link to read.)

When announcing the Dark Faith: Invocations table of contents, Jerry Gordon put up a post explaining the process involved in selecting the stories. Based on his example, I thought it might of interest, and perhaps even educational, if I offered the same information for Clockwork Phoenix 4.

So how do you get from more than 1,400 submissions down to a final lineup of 18 stories?

I’ll share the brutal truth. But first, a preamble or two.

Read the rest of this entry »

New reviews of my e-book short stories

/ January 21st, 2013 / No Comments »

My thanks to William D. “Dusty” Wallace (known here in Roanoke as the man behind the Dusty on Movies blog) who checked out my three short stories available on Amazon as e-books and wrote a review for each one. Generously, all are five-star.

I share snippets from each:

She_Who_Runs She Who Runs

For a short story this feels big. The main events are influenced by ages of cosmic unrest that came before and the story progresses eons into the future. In context it’s awe-inspiring and never seems like it’s cutting corners to maintain its status as a short story.

Steamexp Sleepless, Burning Life

This story portrays a tangible creation myth that’s inhabited by headless men, mechanical objects and lesbian goddesses. Personally, I’m ready to attend mass at that cathedral … Beautifully written, erotic, imaginative and with a host of alternate endings built in.

cover Stolen Souls

This is really about a detective who can’t cope with the murder of his beloved and ends up flying off the rails in a selfish attempt to right the wrong. By the end of the story the author is working in a realm of pure imagination but it never gets confusing. This is a winner that you’ll read to the end in one sitting.

A new “Tour of the Abattoir” at Tales to Terrify

/ January 18th, 2013 / No Comments »

In which I discuss the novel This Book Is Full of Spiders and the movie John Dies at the End. Our main feature is a reading of “The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall” by Kaaron Warren.

Winter storm bonus: best photo of my house ever

/ January 17th, 2013 / No Comments »

My own ghostly winter wonderland.

CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4: official table of contents

/ January 15th, 2013 / 3 Comments »

(NOTE: This is culled from a recently posted update on the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter. If you’re a backer, and you haven’t read the full update yet, I recommend that you do. It’s chock full of things you need to know, much of it time sensitive.)

I’m thrilled to be able to share the official table of contents of Clockwork Phoenix 4.

This is a truly international anthology – with contributors hailing from seven countries – that encompasses off-beat takes on sf, fantasy, horror, or combinations of two or more, as well as interstitial works that just can’t be easily classified.

We received more than 1,400 story submissions during our reading window, and we whittled them down to sixteen short stories and two novelettes that all together total 87,000 words, making this the largest volume in the series by far. All of the writers have received their contracts and I’ve begun sending them their payments. This crucial stage is what the Kickstarter was all about; I wouldn’t be able to pay the writers at all, much less offer them a worthy pay rate per word for their work, without the generosity and support of all our backers, and of those who helped us out in other ways.

I’ll be publishing Clockwork Phoenix 4 simultaneously in trade paperback and e-book formats. I’m aiming for a June release, and then an official reading and launch party at ReaderCon in Boston in July, the same convention where I officially launched the Kickstarter last summer, and where I’ve launched all three of the previous volumes.

A teaser Clockwork Phoenix 4 post

/ January 12th, 2013 / 2 Comments »

Clockwork Phoenix 4I’ve selected all the stories for Clockwork Phoenix 4. All contracts have been sent, and payments have started going out. This is what the Kickstarter was all about — without all your generous pledges, I could not make this part happen.

There are 18 stories, the same number I had in the first volume of Clockwork Phoenix. However, at 87,000 words (not yet counting the yet-to-be written introduction or the “Pinions” section with author bios and story notes) this is easily the largest installment in the series.

I hope to follow up by Monday with much more detail, including the actual table of contents. I’ll be recording my first (and maybe even my second) “Tour of the Abattoir” column of the new year tomorrow with buddy Shalon Hurlbert, so I’ll need to squeeze it in around that, somehow.

But stay tuned. It’s coming.

So what on Earth happened in 2012?

/ January 7th, 2013 / 4 Comments »

I’m still asking myself this.

In terms of writing, editing and publishing, this was easily my biggest year since 2009 (when I was up for the Nebula for “The Button Bin” and had released the 10th anniversary issue of Mythic Delirium and the second volume of Clockwork Phoenix.) But it’s such a big year for some pretty off-beat reasons.

My brain definitely divides 2012 into pre- and post-Kickstarter. I can barely remember what happened before I launched the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter in July — though a lot of things did.

But, might as well deal with the biggest thing first. After months of talking about it, I decided to use Kickstarter to revive the Clockwork Phoenix anthology series. Anita helped come up with reward prizes; we asked for $5,000 and raised $10,000. So Clockwork Phoenix 4 will be coming out in time for ReaderCon 2013. I should be able to make an announcement really soon about the book’s table of contents. There’s a lot of moving parts to the Kickstarter; it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever tackled. I expect to be assembling a much more detailed update about where things stand with all those moving parts at the same time I announce the Table of Contents, so I’m going to save those particulars until then. I will say it’s exhilarating to have Clockwork Phoenix back by undeniable popular demand. Thanks again to all who supported this, whether you’re a backer, a behind-the-scenes brainstormer, or one of those who added to the 1,400-strong pile of stories I had to choose from to make this book reality (or all three!)

As a corollary to kickstarting Clockwork Phoenix 4, I made the first, second and third volumes available as e-books. This proved a very worthwhile endeavor.

The other project that consumed huge chunks of my year is even more experimental. I wrote my second novel, The Black Fire Concerto, specifically to be published as an e-book by the folks behind Black Gate Magazine. There were plans to release it before Christmas, but I had suspicions that this was perhaps too optimistic a timetable, and that proved true. At present the plan is for the novel to launch under an imprint called Haunted Star; we’re now on a search for cover art. I’ve at least learned that I can write an entire novel (70,000 words in this case) and redraft it on short notice; I don’t recommend duplicating the pace I set for myself, but I hope to be reapplying this skill in moderation in the new year.

Short-fiction-wise, I had two new tales appear, the dark fantasy “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade” at Beneath Ceaseless Skies #93 and a bizarre sf piece, “Twa Sisters,” in Not One of Us #47. “Twa Sisters” made the June 2012 Locus Magazine Recommended Reading List.

Something I’m about equally proud of is that I wrote a companion piece to “Twa Sisters,” its weirdness only slightly toned down, called “Still Life With Skull,” that’s going to appear this coming spring in Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ian Whates.

I’m not sure if this counts as a short story, but I had an odd little microfiction-thingie called “Coelcanzetl” appear on the Shared Worlds website as part of a marvelous text-and-visual ensemble piece.

I also had a few stories reprinted. My weird apocalyptic tale “Let There Be Darkness” was adapted to audio by Pseuedopod. Another odd apocalyptic story, “Strange Wisdoms of the Dead,” co-written with my buddy Charles M. Saplak, reappeared in Ocean Stories, edited by Angela Craig. And yet another offbeat sf story, “Dee-Dee and the Dumpy Dancers,” this one co-written with buddy Ian Watson, popped up in Ian’s new collection, Saving for a Sunny Day. The story was accurately described in The Guardian as as a “bizarre vision … featuring aerial ballet and alien turkeys.”

Last but hardly least I sold my first short fiction collection, The Button Bin and Other Stories, to Apex Books, then wound up parting ways with Apex, and resold the collection to upstart newcomers Dagan Books. I’m very hopeful, and very excited, about the upcoming release of this book, for a number of reasons — generally, I’m hopeful that the collection will help people perhaps at last grasp that there’s more to me than “editor and poet”; and specifically, the collection holds “The Quiltmaker,” the direct sequel to “The Button Bin” — and though at least some of the few and proud who’ve read “Quiltmaker” have told me it’s my best work, it has yet to see daylight. (Such is the novella curse.) It also holds “Condolences,” a really dark, very personal horror story written after my father’s death.

Though I would like it to stick in folks’ long-term memories that I write things besides poems … well, I wrote poems too! And had a number of them published, though not at the prolific pace of past, um, decades. Here’s that list:
• “Budding,” Phantasmagorium 2, Jan. 2012
• “Carrington’s Ferry,” Strange Horizons Jan. 23, 2012
• “A Prayer,” Fandom Forever 1, March 2012
• “Kandinsky’s Galaxy,” Strange Horizons, April 9, 2012
• “Surcease,” Inkscawl 3, April 2012
• “The Duelists,” Star*Line 35.3, July-Sept. 2012
• “The Vigil,” Goblin Fruit, Issue 27, Autumn 2012
• “Machine Guns Loaded with Pomegranate Seeds,” Strange Horizons, Nov. 19, 2012
I had a number of poems reprinted as well, though it feels excessive to list them all here.

As for the poetry journal I edit, Mythic Delirium, I’m proud to crow that this past summer Shira Lipkin’s prose poem “The Library, After” from Issue 24 won the 2012 Rhysling Award for short poem, becoming the fifth poem from our pages in the last 10 yeas to land a Rhysling Award. We published our usual two issues, #26 (which got a nice review at Tor.com) and the current one, #27, and our subscriber base got a boost thanks to the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter.

Because of the Kickstarter, there will be some big changes to Mythic Delirium in the coming months, but that’s also a topic for another post. So stay tuned on that front.

So a lot did happen in 2012, but what does it all mean? It means I still have a lot of work ahead of me in 2013, heh.

No “Tour of the Abattoir” this month

/ December 22nd, 2012 / No Comments »

For the few and the proud who watch for it, I won’t be recording a “Tour of the Abattoir” column this month for Tales to Terrify. I had spent most of last week wrestling with the Clockwork Phoenix 4 submission pile, with plans to draft the column and make the recording by today. I did start writing the column, but unfortunately, some microbes had other plans for me. As of today my fever has broken but I have no voice to speak of, so to speak. I pledged to Larry and Tony that I’ll rev up again with a vengeance in the new year.

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