last call re: Clockwork Phoenix 4 submissions

/ December 18th, 2012 / No Comments »

At this point, if you haven’t heard from myself, Anita, Sally or Sabrina about your submission to Clockwork Phoenix 4, either you are a finalist or you slipped through the cracks somehow. Feel free to query at

If you are a finalist, I’m afraid you shouldn’t celebrate yet. The stories we’re holding add up to almost 130,000 words, and the book can only hold a little over 80,000. I’ve never faced a situation quite like this before — it’s a good thing, but there are some tough decisions ahead — so please bear with us.

Clockwork Phoenix 4 now closed to submissions

/ December 15th, 2012 / No Comments »

We finished up with more than 1,450 submissions in the pile. That’s by far the most received for any of the books in the series.

I expect to have all the finalists chosen by the end of the weekend … Then it’s time to select which of them actually go in the book. That’s going to be a huge challenge, because, even though I’ve been extremely selective, my cup still runneth over with great stuff, more than my budget can accommodate.

Thanks to all of you for giving us so many good stories to sort through.

The Clockwork Phoenix pins went out in the mail today

/ December 12th, 2012 / No Comments »

So yet another step in the Clockwork Phoenix Kickstarter reward process done.

Next up, the special chapbook edition of Cherie Priest’s The Immigrant.

Click photos to see the Facebook album.

Anita has finished the Clockwork Phoenix pins (a Kickstarter update)

/ November 30th, 2012 / No Comments »

Anita has completed the Clockwork Phoenix pins promised as rewards in the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter. Check ’em out! (You can see more pictures at the Facebook page for her craft store, The Fairie Emporium.)

Just a reminder: my “Evil Friday” Kindle story giveaway ends tonight

/ November 27th, 2012 / No Comments »

Get ’em while they’re hot.

My ongoing free Kindle story giveaway: things I have observed and learned

/ November 25th, 2012 / 1 Comment »

Friday I launched a promotional giveaway of my three short stories available through Kindle. It continues through Tuesday night. Here’s what’s happened, what it may or may not mean, and what’s meaningless but definitely fun.

I have six e-books uploaded to Kindle. Three of them are, of course, the three Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, which sell on their own at a slow, steady trickle. (For what it’s worth, the first volume consistently outsells both sequels combined. This is also true of the paperback edition.)

Then there’s my three short stories, weird sf novelette “Stolen Souls” (trivia: this piece was my first-ever SFWA-qualifying sale, 13 years ago (!)), and weird fantasy tales “She Who Runs” (from the anthology Sky Whales and Other Wonders) and “Sleepless, Burning Life” (a novelette, from Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories). I picked these for a variety of reasons. They don’t fit in the collection (The Button Bin and Other Stories) I have forthcoming from Dagan Books. Neither “Stolen Souls” nor “She Who Runs” were seen by many people in their previous appearances, and I was able to find art I liked that matched thematically. Steam-Powered, on the other hand, has sold well on a small press scale, and a number of the stories from it have been reprinted in even bigger anthologies. But I don’t think “Sleepless,” being very long and very strange, has much chance of further reprints — and perhaps more importantly, it already had a full color illustration plum for the picking as a cover, created for a promotional post card that was never printed.

So I released these stories, to, frankly, not much interest at all, heh. I’ve observed that free promotions on Kindle don’t necessarily do a lot for a book’s sales — once the promotion ends they tend to snap right back to the sales rank they maintained previously. However, it became clear I’d have nothing to lose by trying a free promotion — I did, after all, write these stories wanting them to be read — so I bided my time until now and went for it.

The thing you fear most with something like this is that you’ll offer your wares for free and still have no takers. I figured if at the end of five days I had 500 individual downloads, I’d call it a goal met.

As of this morning, the start of day three of the Evil Friday Giveaway (because really, every day is Evil Friday,) I’m past 900 downloads. Um, goal met? Goal met!

I’ve learned that achieving an Amazon “sales rank” above 2,000 (at least when it comes to free offerings) works out to about 100+ downloads a day.

Of course, I had to screencap this special achievement, which “Sleepless, Burning Life” managed yesterday. Note the sales rank.

Here’s what’s sobering. For all the flurry of activity, I’ve noticed no effect whatsoever so far on the sales of my not-free books. They’re selling no more or less than usual.

Here’s what’s fun. Seeing that hundreds of copies of these stories of mine really are in people’s hands (and hopefully they’ll actually read them!) Amazon “category bestseller lists” are basically meaningless unless your overall ranking has reached 4 digits or lower (and you’re not, um, giving your books away) but it’s been a trip to see my three strange stories suddenly climb their respective lists like a surprise last minute rappelling team.

Here’s a silly part: watching the download scores go up, I found it impossible not to think in terms of a race. Throughout the first day “Sleepless” had the most downloads, with “Stolen” hanging in at a close second and “She Who Runs” firmly in third place. But yesterday “Stolen” blasted ahead and built what looks like an insurmountable lead. “Sleepless” and “She Who Runs” are now vigorously competing for second.

And here’s something nice: after 13 years, “Stolen Souls” finally got its first new review (5 stars on Amazon, yay!) from Liz Campbell at Dark Cargo:

Stolen Souls by Mike Allen is a future Earth story, a far, far future, peopled by humans, things that were once humans, aliens, and Frankenstein-esque constructs of improved beings and stolen parts.

It opens with a guy being mugged…for his brain. His true love was stolen from him, destroyed when her assailants stole her cortex like a radio from a car. However, he refuses to accept her death as a permanent event and this begins a space-opera sized story of seek and revenge efficiently packed into a novelette.

Allen doesn’t do anything without a bit of horror loaded into his paintbrush, and for me, the horrifying question he presents in Stolen Souls is whether or not we retain our humanity if defying death becomes an option. Grief, death, learning to pick up and move on, accepting death as final, are part of what makes us human, defines much of our spiritual beliefs and the desire to move beyond death has shaped humanity. Are we still human if we don’t have to do that anymore?

Free Kindle stories! A sinister Black Friday celebration

/ November 23rd, 2012 / 5 Comments »

In honor of the wickedly dubious achievement of the three volumes of Clockwork Phoenix having sold a total of 666 copies in e-book form as of today, I am making my three strange short stories on Kindle (“She Who Runs,” “Sleepless, Burning Life,” “Stolen Souls“) available free for any and all to download on Amazon, starting today and continuing through Tuesday. Consider it an Evil Friday gift. (Click on the covers below or the links above to go nab. Also, any help anyone can give signal boosting much appreciated, desperately needed, in fact — feel free to repost this in total or in part.)

(Interested in the promotion? Don’t have a Kindle? E-mail me and we’ll chat.)

“Machine Guns Loaded with Pomegranate Seeds” appears at Strange Horizons

/ November 19th, 2012 / No Comments »

My tongue-in-cheek anti-Persephone-poem poem “Machine Guns Loaded with Pomegranate Seeds” appeared today at Strange Horizons. My thanks to Sonya Taaffe for giving this piece a home. My thanks also to Amal El-Mohtar for this delightful Twitter review:

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

/ November 16th, 2012 / No Comments »

The latest Tales to Terrify podcast contains my newest “Tour of the Abattoir” column, in which I review stories from the first two issue of John Joseph Adams’ new publishing venture Nightmare Magazine, by Jonathan Maberry, Genevieve Valentine, Sarah Langan and Desirina Boskovich.


Mythic Delirium 27 on its way to mailboxes around the world

/ November 15th, 2012 / 3 Comments »

Cover by Paula Friedlander.

The newest issue of Mythic Delirium shipped out yesterday to destinations in all corners of the globe. There’s a darkly romantic theme to its offerings, with a new steampunk sonnet from Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winner Ken Liu, as well as contributions from Rachel Swirsky, Theodora Goss, Sonya Taaffe, Shira Lipkin, Sofía Rhei (translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel,) Sandi Leibowitz, Rose Lemberg, Alex Dally MacFarlane, S. Brackett Robertson, Alexandra Seidel, Gwynne Garfinkle, Anna Sykora and Lida Broadhurst. If you want your own copy, here’s how you get one (there’s just a few of the first run left.)

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