Mythic Delirium update

/ October 13th, 2012 / No Comments »

I’ve reached the stage in assembling Mythic Delirium 28 where I’ve read all the submissions, and now have a pool of finalists. Anita will look over the poems too to help me decide what I accept, which pieces I might ask to be tweaked, and which I’ll decide ultimately don’t fit. Usually I wait until this process is finished before telling people they should query if they haven’t heard from me — so I can make sure I haven’t missed anyone — but on reflection I’ve decided that’s not soon enough. So if you want to query me about submissions status, now is a good time.

Mythic Delirium 27, which I had hoped to have out in September, remains delayed because of unexpected complications involving the cover. I remain hopeful that I’ll have it out by the end of the month.

Black Gate website to publish excerpt from my novel The Black Fire Concerto

/ October 11th, 2012 / No Comments »

The guys behind Black Gate have announced that they’ve started publishing fiction on their website, which is great news for those who love fantasy short fiction in general, and also great news for me, as they’ll soon be publishing the standalone novelette that opens my novel, The Black Fire Concerto. (Links to the stories published to date can be found here.)

The novel itself is scheduled to be released as an ebook by Black Gate sometime before Christmas.

It will be exciting to finally introduce the world to Olyssa and Erzelle.

Short story sale: part 2, the thank you note

/ October 10th, 2012 / No Comments »

Monday, I mentioned selling my new short story “Still Life With Skull” to Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction.

What I didn’t mention was the minor miracle involved in finishing it and the people I need to thank.

See, as it so happened, the deadline to turn the story in fell right in the middle of the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter. As a result of this, I faced a situation when I had to get the story from rough draft to finished draft during a period when I was so busy that I was absolutely unable to hold the story in my mind the way you need to in order to figure out what to add, what to subtract, what to patch, what to leave alone.

So basically, I flew blind, relying totally on the instincts of my beta-readers. My thanks to Elizabeth Campbell, Virginia Mohlere, Amal El-Mohtar, Nicole Kornher-Stace, and of course, Anita, for having such damn good instincts.

In other writerly-related things, here’s a photo from my performance of my poem “The Strip Search” at The Best of the Best of No Shame Theatre this past Saturday. I’m fairly sure this is right after I’ve spoken the line, “sent me rolling down the path to my final destination.”

Short story sale to Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction

/ October 8th, 2012 / 1 Comment »

At last it can be told (as the contract has been received and replied to): my science fiction short story “Still Life With Skull” has sold to editor Ian Whates for inclusion in Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction, which is scheduled to appear in March 2013. The anthology lineup includes folks like Norman Spinrad, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Nancy Kress, Eugie Foster, Paul Cornell, Allen Steele, Kay Kenyon, Vandana Singh, Robert Reed and more, so to say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement.

It’s a bit of a personal coup for me, too. “Still Life” is a slightly less (but only slightly) off-the-chain companion piece to my zany sf short story “Twa Sisters” that appeared earlier this year in Not One of Us. In fact, several of the same characters turn up — though, except for the ruling Hierophant, they all have different names.

I can haz sci-fi universe?

Performing “The Strip Search” tonight

/ October 6th, 2012 / No Comments »

Tonight I’ll be performing my poem “The Strip Search” at The Best of  the Best of No Shame Theatre, 8 p.m. at Mill Mountain Theatre’s Waldron Stage on Church Avenue in downtown Roanoke. The show is close to sold out already, but I believe there will still be $10 tickets at the door.

This poem, a TSA riff on Dante’s Inferno, was originally written to be performed on stage at No Shame. It went on to sell to Strange Horizons, and then to win the 2006 Rhysling Award. The print version, though, lacks the specific stage choreography I worked out. It’s always fun to dust this one off.

It will be a fun reunion, too — the show features a lot of people who, like me, were at one time regulars at No Shame but now don’t participate as much, if at all (though No Shame still continues.) For me, it’s a combination of several factors. One, Anita’s schedule rarely leaves her with time free to us to go as a pair. Two, and really much more important, my writing is now skewed much more heavily toward fiction, novels even, so I’m not producing many poems at all, and those much better suit No Shame’s 5-minutes-or-less format. Alas, alack.

A work-in-progress meme (Carrie Cuinn made me do this)

/ October 4th, 2012 / 5 Comments »

UPDATE 10/17: Claire Cooney’s response to this meme can be found here, and there’s a roundup by Rose Lemberg of several more here.

UPDATE 10/11: Juliette Wade’s response to this meme can be found here.

UPDATE 10/10: Nicole Kornher-Stace’s response to this meme can be found here.

UPDATE 10/6: Rose Lemberg’s response to this meme can be found here and here.

My future publisher (of The Button Bin and Other Stories,) Carrie Cuinn, filled out a “Next Big Thing” meme over at her blog, and then tagged me, among others. At the time she did the tagging, I was working on the final edits (perhaps,) for the novel I have coming out through Black Gate. The ms. is now turned in to other future publisher John O’Neill, but I ran with it as my work in progress. The idea, Carrie says, is to “to answer ten questions about your current work in progress. That might be a novel, a short story, an anthology … whatever. What are you working on? they asked me.”

So here goes:

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing

1. What is the title of your book?

The Black Fire Concerto (formerly The Reed Player)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Hoo boy. There isn’t a short answer to this question, though I will attempt it.

The Black Fire Concerto began life as a novelette called “The Reed Player.”

The “Reed Player” novelette starts from two completely different points of origin. The first, an idea for a character that’s been with me a long time, a tall, broad-shouldered, dark-haired woman, deadly accurate with a firearm, who travels from town to town and has encounters along the dark fantasy and horror spectrum, only a few shades removed from Stephen King’s Roland.

The second: a fellow I know in Roanoke, Jonathan Overturf — when we were both regulars at the local No Shame Theatre skit/music/poetry/storytelling/unclassifiable/whatever venue — shared a dream with me that he’d had about a restaurant where the patrons eat zombies, and send unsuspecting tourists into the cellar, where the zombies are kept, to be bitten and then become dinner. He welcomed me to make use of it.

I am not sure what inspired me to apply the first to the second, but the result radically transformed both. The setting became a post-apocalyptic world where magic works. The restaurant became a moored riverboat modified into a fortress. The patrons became wealthy cultists and a black-clad crew. The gunslinger became a musician named Olyssa, who plays a unique sorcery-empowered pipe. This alchemy also required two new characters: a villain named the Chef — inspired by a figure in a nightmare I had as a teenager — who is my riff on Cormac McCarthy’s The Judge; as well as a young girl, a harpist, held prisoner in the riverboat after her parents are murdered. The girl, Erzelle, ended up being the story’s protagonist, the events that unfold seen through her eyes. The first draft was written in 2009. It underwent many beta readings and was bounced from many markets.

Fast forward to Autumn 2011. My buddy Claire Cooney approaches me with a mad idea to contribute to a line of e-books that John O’Neill of Black Gate wants to launch. After hemming and hawing I ask Claire to read “The Reed Player” and ask if it would work for her as an idea for a longer book. See, I always had this idea that Olyssa and Erzelle could have many more adventures — I’ve always wanted my own sword-and-sorcery style wanderers — though there seemed little point in generating more when their first adventure hadn’t seen daylight.

Claire called me after reading it, and I believe her exact words were, “Please, please, please, make this a novel for me, please?” OR something, awfully close to that. It’s also of note that Anita’s words on the matter were, “Oh, you’re doing that.”

In “The Reed Player,” Olyssa is searching for her lost sister. Not long after that early draft, my longtime buddy from Hollins University days, Cathy Reniere, suggested to me that in expanding that world further I should consider tying the story of the missing sibling to the story of how the entire world was transformed. There were also, in the original draft, later trimmed, references to a wolf-like people. I made them vulpine instead and decided to find out who these vulpines were. Those two threads fueled the next 61,000 words of what turned out to be a 69,000-word novel. I was originally shooting for a total of 40,000. Oops!

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Though some sf leaks in at the very edges, and there’s horror throughout, I’d say fantasy. There’s definitely sorcery. Even a sword!

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I never think about my work in these terms. That said, though she doesn’t look like how I picture Erzelle in my head, I think Jodelle Ferland could have played her quite effectively (I suppose now she’s too old unless you want to pull a Judy Garland.) Olyssa is much more difficult to cast. I know of no Hollywood actress that fits. A turn to Bollywood shows me Bipasha Basu, who is the closest I’ve spotted, though they would have to do some things with her stature along the lines of what was done for Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises. (Addendum 10/7: Having seen John Carter, I think Lynn Collins could probably do it, though Olyssa has dark eyes, is taller than most men, and would never dress like Dejah Thoris.)

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

Magic-wielding musicians battle the undead in a post-apocalyptic world.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As if that’s an either/or question! Neither. It will be published as an e-book by Black Gate. At present it’s scheduled to appear before Christmas.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

That’s complicated. I no longer remember how long it took me to write the first draft of “The Reed Player,” though I recall it as being fairly painstaking. The first draft of the remainder of the novel, though, was written in two months. Though I’m pleased to know I’m capable of that level of word-gushing when the need arises … I definitely do not recommend this approach to anyone. Kids, don’t try this at home.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

I’m sure similar books are out there somewhere, though I haven’t read one. There are certainly books I’ve read that inspired elements of this one — there’s some seriously, almost ridiculously over-the-top Eternal Champion-level magic in there, some blasts of raw magical force akin to the power of the white gold in Donaldson’s The Wounded Land, some madcap Zelazny weirdness, maybe a wan shadow of Wolfe’s wandering torturer.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See answer to #1.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hmm. Sly fox-people in hidden cities. An enchanted rifle that never misses. Some seriously troubled family histories. Spells woven through improvised music. War machines made out of the undead. Wooden horses that fly. The highest corpse count (not death toll, mind you, corpse count) of anything I’ve ever written.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

I did that in the beginning. Now, to do some tagging of my own. Hmm … Nicole Korner-Stace. Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney. Rose Lemberg. Juliette Wade. Alex Dally MacFarlane. Sonya Taaffe. Consider yourselves tagged.

That was fun!


/ October 1st, 2012 / 1 Comment »

Today Clockwork Phoenix 4 opens to submissions.

Today is also the final day you can submit to Mythic Delirium 28.

Did I mention today is also when the edits to my novel The Black Fire Concerto are due in to Black Gate?

Bring it on.

Bring it on.




My poem with Anita, “Unland, Unlife,” up for Dwarf Stars Award

/ September 24th, 2012 / 2 Comments »

I learned last night that my poem “Unland, Unlife,” co-written with Anita, has been selected to be one of the contenders for the 2012 Dwarf Stars Award. This is the first time we’ve been up for a writing award for something we’ve composed together. Way cool!

And even more mockup fun (cover in progress)

/ September 10th, 2012 / 2 Comments »

More fun with logos and mockups (work in progress)

/ September 9th, 2012 / No Comments »

I’ve also updated the Clockwork Phoenix guidelines. Though this too is still a bit of a work in progress.

Page 30 of 48« First...1020«2829303132»40...Last »

As publisher and editor

Blog archives

On Twitter