“The Vigil” appears at Gobin Fruit

/ October 20th, 2012 / No Comments »

My poem “The Vigil,” dedicated to Nicole Kornher-Stace — and also one of my “Claire-dare” series of poems from late 2010 — has just appeared in the newest issue of Goblin Fruit.

Making this appearance extra special, the audio reading is by Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney herself. And making it extra, extra special, artist Elisabeth “Liz” Heller based her illustrations for this issue on my poem — check out the steed of bone and straw below, and the imposing woman you see riding it when you click through. I think it’s the best illustration of one of my own poems I’ve ever seen. And even sweeter than that, the next poem in the issue, “Blueshift” by Sonya Taaffe, is dedicated to me. What a great early Halloween present.

New Tour of the Abattoir column at Tales to Terrify

/ October 19th, 2012 / No Comments »

My “Tour of the Abattoir” audio column for Larry Santoro’s Tales to Terrify horror podcast skipped the month of September so that I could finish novel edits for The Black Fire Concerto, coming very soon as an e-book from the fine madmen at Black Gate.

But now “Tour” is back. In this installment I review Laird Barron’s slightly hard-to-find first novel The Light Is the Darkness as well as the recent theatrical release The Possession (with a little bit of snark tossed in for The Devil Inside, from earlier this year.) Then, in the “live” segment of the column, my buddy Shalon Hurlbert and I compare and contrast two films about zombie sieges at radio stations, Dead Air and Pontypool. It’s an “Abattoir” feast!

Let’s not forget the main fiction feature, “The Stuff of the Stars, Leaking” by Tim Lebbon. And if you’re a Laird Barron fan like I obviously am, last week TtT presented Laird’s new darkly funny novelette, “Frontier Death Song.”

“The Magic Walnut” from Mythic Delirium 25 a Dwarf Stars nominee

/ October 19th, 2012 / No Comments »

Congratulations to poet Sofía Rhei (and translator Lawrence Schimel) whose poem “The Magic Walnut” from Mythic Delirium 25 is a contender for the 2012 Dwarf Stars Awards.

(I’ve mentioned earlier that my own poem co-written with Anita, “Unland, Unlife,” is also in the running, along with many other worthies. May the best poem win!)

Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter update

/ October 14th, 2012 / No Comments »

This is a reposting of the progress report I posted on the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter page this morning.

Hello, CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 backers!

I’ll feel I’m overdue in letting all of you know how things are going, so here’s an update.

1) First, CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 opened to submission on Oct. 1. (The guidelines are here.) Again, thanks to all of you … without your help this step would be unthinkable. We’ve already received over 200 submissions, with more coming in every day. I’ll keep you folks updated as the book comes together.

2) Second, with the exception of CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 (obviously) all of the e-books that are being offered as Kickstarter rewards are ready. Kickstarter allows me to send official backer surveys only once, so if you pledged $20 or more, I will not be sending your official survey until CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 is ready. However, if you’d like me to go ahead and send you the e-books of the previous three CLOCKWORK PHOENIX volumes and the three bonus stories, here’s what you need to do: send me an e-mail at mythicdelirium@gmail.com, or message me through Kickstarter, and in that email message tell me what format(s) you want to receive the books in: your options are PDF, EPUB, MOBI, a combination of any two, or all three. It would be helpful if you also tell me the amount of your pledge, to make it easier for me to check you off in my spreadsheets. (IMPORTANT: If you message me through Kickstarter, tell me what email address you want the books sent to. Because if you don’t I’ll have to ask you anyway.)

3) Third, a detailed breakdown of how rewards are going.

3a) Because this Kickstarter has a lot of moving parts, my goal has been to tackle it a piece at a time. My first goal was to collect all the backer names for those who want to be listed on the CLOCKWORK PHOENIX website acknowledgement page and in the acknowledgements of the completed CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 anthology. At present there are 208 names on that list. However, there’s still room for more. If you’re a backer and you’re not on this list (click here to view) and you want to be on it, send me an email at mythicdelirium@gmail.com, or message me through Kickstarter and spell your name out for me exactly as you want it to appear.

3b) My second goal was to take care of the rewards for the people who pledged in the $5 to $15 range. This is mostly done. To my puzzlement, two backers in the $10 category have not yet filled out their reward surveys. I very much want to give these two people their rewards. So if you happen to be one of those people and you’re reading this, please fill the survey out — or, if for some reason you can’t do that, email me at mythicdelirium@gmail.com and I’ll get you squared away.

3c) My third goal was to take care of the people whose rewards include a 1-year or 2-year subscription to Mythic Delirium. All of those folks have responded to my request for their addresses: thank you so much! The monkey wrench here has been than I’ve had unanticipated problems with cover art that have delayed the release of Issue 27, the newest issue. I’ve taken steps to take care of this, but it will still be a couple weeks yet before it’s ready. So stay tuned.

3d) My fourth goal is to get the remaining e-book rewards (again, with the exception of CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 itself, which isn’t ready) out to those who’d like them now. I am going through category by category and sending messages to backers asking them their ebook format preferences. However, if you don’t want to wait for me to message you, you’re welcome to follow the steps I outlined in paragraph 2 above.

3e) At present, my plan is to send all rewards that involve the shipping of physical books out at the same time, which means they’ll go out once the CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 paperback is in hand. This includes the Cherie Priest chapbook, copies of the first three CLOCKWORK PHOENIX volumes and of my poetry collection, THE JOURNEY TO KAILASH, and the tote bag rewards.

3f) Craft items by Anita, on the other hand, will likely go out as they’re completed. (She’s still working on those pins.)

4) Okay, fourth, I thought I should mention that the new web market for fiction and poetry made possible by that final $2,000 push (again, thank you) is in progress, though in its very early stages. The new website that will house it is in the process of being built. My plan is to open a submission window in the spring that will seek stories and poems for the first six months of the new webzine and also collect poems for issues 29 and 30 of the print edition of Mythic Delirium. It should be quite the bonanza.

5.) Further complicating these things, though at present not causing any schedule problems: CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 is not my only book project at the moment. My first novel, THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO, is scheduled to to appear in late November/early December as an e-book from Black Gate. My first short story collection, THE BUTTON BIN AND OTHER STORIES, is scheduled to appear this coming March from Dagan Books.

6) Still have questions? If any of you have any questions, at any time, feel free to shoot me an email at mythicdelirium@gmail.com or message me through Kickstarter.

7) I will alert all of you if anything changes, and as more things develop. Whew!

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!

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