Clockwork Phoenix 4 is fully funded! And has a new $8,000 stretch goal

/ July 22nd, 2012 / No Comments »


If anyone had told me that I would wake up on the twelfth day of our Kickstarter campaign and discover that WE ARE ALREADY FULLY FUNDED I am not sure what I would have said to them.

But I can tell you what I have said this morning: many, many iterations of, “OH MY GOD WE DID IT!”

Thank you, all of you, so much!

Reaching $5,000 means that this book will happen. We’ve reached the minimum Anita and I need to make it work.

But I’d probably best repeat what I said yesterday: we hope to do better than the minimum. Both with this new book and with our future endeavors to come.

Our first stretch goals are simple. At $6,500, I can guarantee paying 4 cents a word to the contributors to the fourth CLOCKWORK PHOENIX volume. At $8,000, we’ll be able to pay 5 cents a word, which is considered professional rate.

This is what our sights are set on next. All the rewards we have listed are still available (except for the Clockwork Phoenix pins available at $60, which sold out; they remain available at $125) and we’re probably going to add a couple more things before it’s over.

Feel free to spread the news, and to let folks know about our next phase. A phase that all of you made possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!

The latest issue of Goblin Fruit is out

/ July 21st, 2012 / No Comments »

For poetry lovers, this is always great news.

Shira Lipkin’s “The Library, After” from Mythic Delirium 24 wins 2012 Rhysling Award for short poem

/ July 18th, 2012 / No Comments »

One of the surprise delights of ReaderCon this past weekend was learning via word of mouth that my buddy Shira Lipkin had won the 2012 Rhysling Award for short poem with her surreal prose piece “The Library, After,” which I published in Mythic Delirium 24. Shira ended up giving a reading of the poem during my Sunday morning workshop.

She describes how this poem came to be on her website. Excerpts below:

I originally wrote “The Library, After” at the very end of 2008 … I started reading it at conventions – I tend to prefer to read flash and poetry, because it keeps a reading moving, switching gears. It built a small following. … I had such affection for this story that, when I attended the Meet the Pros(e) party at Readercon 2009 (writers get one line from their work printed up on stickers and share it with people, creating a sort of absurdist poetry as you collect other people’s lines), I used a line from it: “Awakened, the library went feral.” I bounced up to Mythic Delirium editor Mike Allen and traded lines with him, and he said “Where is this from?” and then, “Has it been published?”

I sent him the story. And proceeded to forget that I’d ever done so. It was too short for his Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, and Mythic Delirium is a poetry magazine, so I was expecting nothing except that hopefully he’d enjoy it. But he ended up e-mailing me and asking if he could buy it for Mythic Delirium.

But – it’s not a poem, I said.

It’s poetic, he said.


Illustration for "The Library, After" by Paula Friedlander

I’m pleased to add that this is now the fifth poem from Mythic Delirium to land a Rhysling Award. Here’s the complete list (with links):

  • “The Library, After,” Shira Lipkin, 2012

Post-ReaderCon Clockwork Phoenix 4 update

/ July 18th, 2012 / No Comments »

NOTE: This is taken from my most recent update posted on the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter page. I hope to have time for something like an actual con report later today or this week; Kickstarters apparently eat one’s life whole.

Anita and I have just gotten back from our extended trip to Boston and New York, which included all four days of ReaderCon. (Which was wonderful, by the way — but I’m really exhausted, so I’m sorry if this comes out discombobulated.)

My seat-of-the-pants plan had been to launch the Kickstarter just before the convention, and then tout it heavily once I was there in hopes of getting it rolling. (I am proud to report a public relations coup of sorts, as Eric Van, host of ReaderCon’s tongue-in-cheek Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition, in which I was a contestant, got the entire 400-strong audience to repeat after him, “Mike Allen has a Kickstarter for Clockwork Phoenix 4, an original anthology.” You had to be there, but if you were you were hopefully laughing your head off.)

Frankly, I had thought I might be getting my first donations by now, NOT that I would already be over halfway there. I am amazed and delighted by those who’ve chosen to back the project and those who’ve signal boosted and those who’ve done both — people I know from many different walks of my life and people I’ve never met before (though I’m happy to make your acquaintance.) I’m astonished that we’re 58% funded in eight days. [This morning it’s 62% funded.] Heck, at least for the moment, we’ve even made the “Popular This Week” page for fiction.

Mind you, this experience has been much more of a roller coaster ride than a smooth rocket launch. During that first giddy 48 hours, when we made it past $2000 with startling speed, I started thinking I’d better break out those stretch goals now, because at this rate securing $8,000 to pay pro rates for all the stories would take no time at all, and of course I’d love for this book to be the best yet in the series in all possible ways…

And then we had a couple days where no new backers pledged, which had me sweating bullets. As I’m sure all of you know, Kickstarter is all or nothing, and if this campaign fails there won’t be a Clockwork Phoenix 4.

But that trend didn’t last either, and here we are almost at $3,000, with 22 days still to go. This is wonderful. Thank you all. Thank you.

Please forgive my first-time jitters. Of course, I’d love to see this campaign cross the $5,000 threshold with time to spare, so that I can be certain that this book will be something you can hold in your hands (where in a perfect-bound paper back or within an iPad, Nook or Kindle). And also so that I have time to work toward goals that will take this project beyond the bare minimum. I want this book to be the best I’ve ever assembled.

But for now, it’s clear I need to concentrate on shortening the long march to fully-funded. Anything you can to to further signal boost and get the word out to more people will make a difference. (I know it will, because I’ve been watching it happen!) I’ll be doing a lot of promoting in the next couple weeks (I already have some guest blog posts lined up in various places) but I certainly can’t do it alone.

By the way, if any of you have suggests for things I ought to try, I’m all ears.

Anita, for her part, has already begun making Clockwork Phoenix pins for those who’ve pledged at those levels. More on these anon. With pictures.

Please spread the word: Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter now live

/ July 10th, 2012 / No Comments »

I am very pleased, thrilled, chuffed (and perhaps even a little nervous) to announce that Anita and I have launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising the funds to assemble and publish a fourth volume of Clockwork Phoenix. It has a convenient Tiny URL:

We very proud of the first three anthologies and we want to read for a fourth; but it’s absolutely clear — even as successful as those first three books were, with the great reviews and award nominations our authors received — in this economic environment, if we want to continue making these books at the standard we want to hold them to, we have to crowdsource the funding and publish the next one ourselves.

If the project is a go, we’ll open to submissions in September and aim for a June 2013 release.

I could go on about all the rewards we came up with and what we hope to accomplish, but it’s probably much simpler if you just click the link (here! here!) and have a look at the Kickstarter page, where it’s all spelled out.

Please help us spread the word! (And please feel free to repost this entry if you like.)

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

/ June 29th, 2012 / No Comments »

In which I discuss horror stories that have unnerved me over the years, share a very short story of my own, “Six Waking Nightmares that Poe Gave Me in Third Grade,” and review Chesya Burke’s short story collection Let’s Play White. There’s also a short story by Kim Newman and the delightfully creepy voice of host Larry Santoro. Click here to listen.

Rescuing a poem from the Wayback Machine…

/ June 28th, 2012 / No Comments »

…which was the only place where it could be found until I reposted it just now. I’m not even certain if Christina or I still have copies.

By Christina Sng and Mike Allen

Shark soldiers descend the Great One’s gullet,
teeth painted for battle, eyes lighting the way.
Polyp villages rise to defend, baleen swords
clenched in colonies of tentacles.

Spider-goats spin silk in the crevasses
of the Great One’s hide, their ambidextrous arms
outstretched languorously into Its depths,
picking at the stardust that molds their universe,

While beneath, leviathans drift
within the catacombs of Its bloodstream;
gargantuan antibodies feeding on the anomalies
spontaneously blossoming with chaotic regularity.

Desperate six-limbed squatters huddle by
the bonfires on Its ice-crusted eyelids,
too frightened to cross the event horizon,
to risk the black holes of the Great One’s eyes,

Singularities leading to another unknown
landscape, another to fell or worship,
another pecking order cold and sentient
as their frost-covered god.

Soft hummings ebb from the caldera,
faint swan songs, the winding down
of the eternal machine as Its denizens,
the spiny cats who know the truth, know

that Great One is dying, celestial synapses
contracting out of existence one by one,
prowl the brainbowl devouring each withered neuron
in hopes of preserving Soul once Body is gone.

New e-book release: “Sleepless, Burning Life”

/ June 26th, 2012 / No Comments »

As long promised: with a lovely illustration by Avery Liell-Kok and a gracious introduction by Shira Lipkin.

“Mike Allen’s ‘Sleepless, Burning Life‘ is a very Moorcockian trip through cosmic clockwork, in search of ‘the dark-eyed dancer who made the cosmos turn.’ The worldbuilding is beautiful, and I’d have loved to see a full-length novel with a similar conceit in the same setting.”
— Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

In the afterlife, the warrior Jyshiu searches for her lover Amritu, a goddess cursed to dance eternally inside a cage that hangs at the top of the clockwork universe. Kitsartu the Engineer imprisoned Amritu when she created the cosmic spheres; Amritu’s dance powers the gears that make the stars turn. Should the goddess ever escape her cage, the universe will end.

Jyshiu intends to set her free.

“My favorites … Mike Allen’s ‘Sleepless, Burning Life,’ perhaps the strangest story here, and the most erotic, about a woman punished for defying her religion by an epochs-long climb up a clockwork structure to meet her sleepless goddess.”
— Locus

“Mike Allen’s gorgeous ‘Sleepless, Burning Life’ bases the mythology of a universe on something that feels like clockwork.”
— The Future Fire

This clockpunk novelette first appeared in the pages of JoSelle Vanderhooft’s ground-breaking anthology STEAM-POWERED: LESBIAN STEAMPUNK STORIES. Now it appears for the first time as a standalone e-book, revised and updated by the author, with a beautiful illustration by Avery Liell-Kok and a new introduction by author and activist Shira Lipkin.

Allow me to now pretend I’m a book company instead of a self-promoting author and editor (though I suppose I’m both) and suggest you might also like these other titles:

And there’s more to come.

ReaderCon schedule (includes Interstitial Arts Foundation town hall meeting)

/ June 26th, 2012 / No Comments »

Man, have I got a lot of stuff going on. Anita and I will be there starting Thursday, July 12.

Friday July 13

11:00 AM NH    Group Reading: Mythic Poetry. Mary Agner, Mike Allen, Erik Amundsen, Leah Bobet, C.S.E. Cooney, Gemma Files, Gwynne Garfinkle, April Grant, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Shira Lipkin, Adrienne J. Odasso, Julia Rios, Darrell Schweitzer, Sonya Taaffe. Over the past decade, speculative poetry has increasingly turned toward the mythic in subject matter, with venues such as Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Stone Telling, Cabinet des Fées, Jabberwocky, and the now-defunct Journal of the Mythic Arts showcasing a new generation of poets who’ve redefined what this type of writing can do. Come to the reading and hear new and classic works from speculative poetry’s trend-setters.

4:00 PM CL    Kaffeeklatsch. Mike Allen, Ellen Kushner. [Please note: this is the Interstitial Arts Foundation town hall meeting.]

6:00 PM ME    Podcasting for the Speculative Fiction Author; Or, Will the Revolution Be Recorded? . Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Jim Freund, Alexander Jablokov, Alison Sinclair, Gregory Wilson (leader). Building on last year’s talk at Readercon about promotion for the speculative fiction author and drawing from an upcoming SFWA Bulletin article, Gregory A. Wilson and discussants will focus on the pros and pitfalls of podcasting for fantasy and science fiction authors, looking at some examples of successful podcasts in the field, different types for different purposes, and the basics of getting started with podcasting.

8:00 PM RI    The Works of Peter Straub. Mike Allen, Ken Houghton, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, Henry Wessells (leader), Gary K. Wolfe. The biography on Peter Straub’s website cites works of poetry, mainstream literature, supernatural and psychological horror, and the simply unclassifiable. All come from that moment when he first “gathered up his ancient fears and turned them into fiction.” 1979’s Ghost Story and 1988’s Koko demonstrated Straub’s talent for digging deep into the darkest areas of the psyche and turning his findings into gripping prose, well-seasoned with the rhythms of his beloved jazz. This panel will chart his trajectory from those early successes to his present position as a master of the compellingly disturbing.

9:00 PM E    Autographs. Mike Allen, Barry B. Longyear. [I’ll have all the Clockwork Phoenix books with me and hopefully some news to share.]

Saturday July 14

3:00 PM NH    Group Reading: Ideomancer Speculative Fiction. Mike Allen, Leah Bobet, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda Downum, George Galuschak, Claire Humphrey, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Kenneth Schneyer, Sonya Taaffe. Authors and poets read work from Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, one of the longest-running speculative fiction webzines still publishing.

8:00 PM F    The 26th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. Mike Allen, Rose Fox, Craig Shaw Gardner (leader), Yves Meynard, Eric M. Van (moderator). Our traditional evening entertainment, named in memory of the pseudonym and alter ego of Jonathan Herovit of Barry N. Malzberg’s Herovit’s World. Here’s how it works: Ringleader Craig Shaw Gardner reads a passage of unidentified but genuine, published, bad sf, fantasy, or horror prose, which has been truncated in mid-sentence. Each of our panelists then reads an ending for the passage. One ending is the real one; the others are impostors. None of the players knows who wrote any passage other than their own, except for co-ringleader Eric M. Van, who gets to play God as a reward for the truly onerous duty of unearthing these gems. Craig then asks for the audience vote on the authenticity of each passage (recapping each in turn by quoting a pithy phrase or three from them), and the Ace Readercon Joint Census Team counts up each show of hands faster than you can say “Twinkies of Terror.” Eric then reveals the truth. Each contestant receives a point for each audience member they fooled, while the audience collectively scores a point for everyone who spots the real answer. As a rule, the audience finishes third or fourth. Warning: the Sturgeon General has determined that this trash is hazardous to your health; i.e., if it hurts to laugh, you’re in big trouble.

Sunday July 15

10:00 AM RI    Speculative Poetry Workshop. Mike Allen (leader). Speculative poetry can be defined a number of ways, but one way is this: a speculative poem uses the trappings of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or more unclassifiable bends in reality to convey its images, narratives and themes. The speculative poetry can unfold with the same subtlety and power that speculative fiction does, with considerably fewer words. Come prepared to write. Workshop led by Mike Allen.

Short story “Strange Wisdoms of the Dead” reprinted in Ocean Stories

/ June 18th, 2012 / No Comments »

Update: There’s a Goodreads giveaway of Ocean Stories open for entries through June 25.

Continuing the curious wave of reprints I’ve had this year, my short story “Strange Wisdoms of the Dead,” co-written with Charles M. Saplak, has just (re)appeared in the anthology Ocean Stories, edited by Angela Chairman Craig. The book is available at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and at the publisher’s website, Elektrik Milk Bath Press.

“Strange Wisdoms” first appeared in 2006 in the late lamented H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, and was also (at the publisher’s insistence) the title story of my poetry and prose collection that came out that same year. The collection, and the story, received a nice nod from The Philadephia Inquirer:

As in a really good etching, Allen’s landscape may be gray, but the gray scale has a remarkably wide gradation of shades. Touches of humor are like flecks of light in the gloom … there’s the moment when Starkey, the protagonist of the title piece—a prose fiction that concludes the book—comes upon a ghostly navigator on the corpse-laden ship Starkey is supposed to be taking out to sea to set afire:

““You’re using our known course and speed to chart our position?” Starkey asked.

“Yes,” the man answered.

“I believe we call that ‘dead’ reckoning,” Starkey said, grinning.

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