Caught on the Web

Oftentimes, we are blocked for good reason. Maybe our standards are too high for our best creative self to want to show up. Maybe we’re taking ourselves and what we can produce too seriously. Sometimes, your block is fighting for you just as much as it is fighting against you.

Elizabeth Percer at Lithub.com.

Amelia Gray talks revision at Realpants : amelia-gray-labyrinth

BRACE YOUR MIND: THIS GRID FROM TOR.COM via Seanan McGuire WILL EXPLODE IT!EveryHeartADoorway_Seanan-McGuire

Blood under the bridge

v4i23-cover-front-copy-200x300Monday morning. Holy finish line. I could kiss my desk, which is almost clean enough to eat off again, now that I’ve scraped off all the blood. Barely a trace of the last three months left, and the bones are beginning to set. Feeling a twinge of wonder at having pushed through 4 part time jobs and a bunch of other hurdles, working 7 days and 3 nights a week, since the beginning of March, and coming out of it with just the regular teaching left ongoing, a two book deal, a new column gig, and two new stories sold. It doesn’t get easier and the stakes get higher, and it’s true, you do fail better.

It’s all true. Everything they tell you.

One thing is that I want to add Jacob Haddon, at Lamplight Magazine to the list of editor/writers without whom this whole “golden age” of smart genre fiction wouldn’t be possible. I’ve talked about this before. Zack Wentz, Keith McCleary and Matt Lewis, Tobias Carroll, Cameron Pierce and Kirsten Alene. J.W Wang, Richard Thomas, John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Joshua Chaplinsky, J. David Osborne, Joe Pulver, Neil Clarke. And now Jacob Haddon, whose eye and sense of story is behind the classy Lamplight Magazine, where you’ll find my new story, “Fairy Tale,” as well as work by Tim Deal, Gwendolyn Kiste, Subodhana Wijeyeratne, Matt Mikalatos, Douglas F. Warrick, Leanne Karwatowski, and Kevin Lucia returning for his Horror 101 series.. Please consider buying the double issue for $4.99 or subscribing to this dark drink of water. $10/year for four issues to mess with your dreams.

A rising tide lifts all boats…

Congrats to my student Melina Anderson for her first published piece, finessed from an exercise we did in our Tues night SFF workshop. Antipodean Sci-fi snapped it up, and I’ll post the link as soon as I have it. I get pretty pumped when this happens.

Speaking of Australian talent, here is poem I had the privilege of teaching last week. It’s by Omar Sakr, called The H Word, and I haven’t been able to let it go.

The H Word

My suburbs had hoods.
They weren’t neighbours – just hoods.

And the kids were the lums born of them.
Hood-lums hood-winked into dark spaces,

into tunnel vision: that this is all there is.
Just pockmarked streets and bruised knuckles

for homes. Another H-word.
The scariest one. Not horror or homicide

or haemorrhage or hate. Not hope.
Home. Continue reading A rising tide lifts all boats…

New article up at LitReactor: Six Killer Death Scenes

in which I talk about Laird Barron, Don DeLillo, Shirley Jackson and others. Here is a taste but you can read more at LitReactor. Image courtesy of LitReactor.

When my kids were little we had a family fun game called “Death Scenes.” We’d gather in the back yard or in the playing fields behind our house—the same fields, by the way, where Peter Jackson shot his matricide movie, Heavenly Creatures—and we’d compete to see who could die the best. Enter alien sniper, medieval archer, Zombie-werewolf, or evil wizard/giant/ogre guy, and… action. My son’s death scenes were of the running start-spiralling-fall-anguished-yowl-false-alarm-staggering-second-wind-high-pitched-screech-down-but-not-out-oh-wait-feotal-curl-is-it-over-yet-maybe-not variety. His four year-old sister in contrast went for a speedy demise followed by an unsettling open-eyed stare, and my death involved much thrashing and gnashing and pounding of fists. As the, um, adult I had to make sure that I went for just enough dramatic effect to win my son’s wide-eyed admiration, but not enough to make my daughter cry.

Thing was, I sometimes failed. I mean I failed not to make my daughter cry. I’d try to wink or smile or get up at exactly the right moment to make sure that she knew I was okay, but it was often too late. By which time her mouth would be quivering, and her brother’s eyes would be clouded over with concern (for her, not me) and Eugene the Killer Dog would be at her side and I’d be lying alone on the grass beneath the great pink expanse of New Zealand sky, just another drop-dead mom.

Lamplight Magazine to pick up “Fairy Tale.”

It can be a long time between drinks in the writing life, either because the day job gets in the way of making stuff up and subbing it, or because rejections tend to come in swarms and leave you allergic to your keyboard…. or you get caught up in a novel. Last year I was caught up in writing Aletheia and I pretty much only wrote one story. Thank you to Jacob Haddon’s Lamplight Magazine, the very classy publisher of dark fictions from Tim Waggoner, Damian Angelica Walters, Mercedes Yardley and the like, for picking up “Fairy Tale,” my story about a war veteran haunted by the fourteen year old shooter who put him in a wheelchair.

More good news in tomorrow’s post.

Caught on the web

Submitting opportunity at Tor.:

The mighty Vincenzo Bilof on This Is Horror.

William Vandenburg’s Punctures at Pank

The human body is generous. The hole healed over. In our remaining months, he referred to it as a puncture.

I disagreed with him. I said that a puncture only goes in one side. A hole is all the way through.

Cath Murphy at LitReactor gets iconoclastic: Four Famous Authors Whose Prose was Crap

Crystal Lake Publishing picks up Aletheia and book number 2.

Crystal Lake Publishing Logo.png.opt266x188o0,0s266x188Crystal Lake, awarded Best Horror publisher of the year in 2013, and currently in the ring for a slew of Stokers, has picked up my new novel, Aletheia, to be released late in the year (cross fingers) as the first of a two book deal. Stoked for sure, and grateful to my agent, and to the kind, smart people in my corner who keep my eyes on the prize and my nose to the grindstone. Above all, pumped to be working with the tireless Joe Mynhardt and the CL team.

HOLY SHIT: LAZY FASCIST STORY BUNDLE OF THE CENTURY.

Go here now, if you want nine of the best weird books you’ll ever read. Ever. Here is a list, with selected reviews, and don’t forget, you can get these, all of these, thanks to the good folks at Lazy Fascist Press, and Story Bundle, and PAY WHATEVER YOU WANT, yeah that, at Story Bundle.

The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones

“Perhaps the smartest send-up of slashers ever, a brainier, brawnier, literary SCREAM; the ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN of the genre […] the greatest slasher movie never made. Yet.” – Jesse Bullington, Innsmouth Free Press

The Art of Horrible People by John Skipp

“The Art of Horrible People may very well be one the best collections published this year, and we certainly hope to read more by John very soon. By using the genres that made him a household name in Horror fiction, John Skipp’s stories transcend those genres, proving art is alive and well and exists in the first place you need to look.” – Bob Pastorella, This Is Horror

Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson

“A nightmarish yet hilarious journey that begins in the ugly world of toxic mortgages and progresses to the slightly uglier world of brain-eating monsters lurking in dark alleys. You’re in for an entirely unpredictable ride, the tale spinning ludicrously out of control as the hero uncovers layer after grotesque layer of a vast macabre conspiracy. Skullcrack City is original, utterly insane, and a shitload of fun.” – David Wong, author of John Dies at the End

Animal Money by Michael Cisco

“Brilliant and demanding […] Simultaneously the strangest high-finance thriller ever and a rumination on value theory and the financial shituation (sic), it deserves to provoke as much excitement among philosophers of money as it does among aficionados of weird fiction.” – China Mieville, The Guardian

American Monster by J.S. Breukelaar

“The closest a book’s come to Samuel R Delany’s Dhalgren probably ever. Breukelaar is one of the best new writers around and I can’t wait for whatever comes next. Read this book. There’s really nothing else like it.” – Edward J. Rathke, The Best Indie Press Books I’ve Ever Read

The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr

“The Last Horror Novel is quick and strange, its pleasures diverse—from the poetic prose at the beginning, to its riffs on small town life and the horror genre, to the creep out of a swarm of hands. Unlike life in Scrape, it’s always exciting. And unlike the citizens of Scrape, it never stays in the same place for too long.” – American Book Review

The Pleasure Merchant by Molly Tanzer

“The Pleasure Merchant is a hilarious, sensuous, and ultimately ferocious quasihistorical novel about that most crucial of periods: the dawn of the modern era. The merchant class flexed its muscles, scientists turned their attentions to the workings of the human mind, sexual mores were challenged in public and in secret, and in every corner of society the unseen hand of the marketplace dominated all. Tanzer’s clever slicing of the era reveals every social stratum of her world-their conflicts, their compromises, and their kinks. Read this book to learn what you’ve been soaking in your whole life.” – Nick Mamatas, author of Love is the Law and I Am Providence

Where We Live and Die by Brian Keene

“…Last year, the modern-day dark-fiction icon released this particularly powerful collection of pieces ‘deconstruct[ing] the mystique of the writing life.’ Keene’s “metafictional” ghost story ‘The Girl on the Glider’—probably the most thought-provoking skeptical inquiry into the supernatural since WILL STORR VS. THE SUPERNATURAL nearly a decade ago—is the centerpiece, though the ensuing stories, poems, harangues and incitements do not disappoint.” – Shawn Macomber, Fangoria

Witch Hunt by Juliet Escoria

“Unrelenting, violent, often scary: Juliet Escoria’s debut collection of stories will likely have you begging and crying for salvation a few pages in. She’s just that good.” – Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

2.5 less on the pile: North American Lake Monsters, Zero Saints, and Innocents and Others.

North American Lake Monsters I read North American Lake Monsters once before, or most of it, but maybe I didn’t have time to absorb itZero Saintsit exactly, or all of it, but this time I did. I could get into the language and the way Balingrud twists up the tension, especially, in a story like Way Station, with the transitions. And the weirdness, which Balingrud knows from. After Way Station, the Crevasse has to be one of the North American Lake Monster tales that gnawed the deepest, but Sunbleached tore me apart. I’d read The Visible Filth around the new year, and, maybe because I didn’t go into it cold, was prepared for the ending, so I was able to allow the in media res disintegration of the main character to be my focus, let it chew at me for a while.

And Zero Saints, Gabino Iglesias’s debut novel. Lots of us know him from his reviews and non-fiction, which is always nuanced, self-aware, and funny as hell, so it’s no surprise to me that I’m loving the loco ride of Zero Saints, Iglesias’s control too, and, okay, it’s still on the pile, but not for long.

And Diana Spiotta’s Innocents and Others. I reviewed that for LitReactor, here.

Keith McCleary reviews American Monster

This on Goodreads from Keith McCleary. It’s my blog, so I can brag if I want to – here’s the whole damn review. Thanks to Mr McCleary for taking the time. For getting it so completely. Please click the link to check him out.

Matt E. Lewis described this as “Under the Skin meets Mad Max with a sprinkle of The Road,” which is funny not because any of those references really occurred to me, but because when I was reading I also couldn’t help but attempt to process the story by way of combining things I already knew. I think what I came up with was “Species meets Netrunner with a sprinkle of Nicholas Sparks,” and since Matt’s references are much cooler you should listen to him, but the result is actually sort of the same.

So: an alien creature is sent to Earth to save its species by finding the perfect mate, and takes the form of a woman who kicks a lot of ass. The world she travels through is, by turns, either a pre-apocalypse or post-cyberpunk version of San Diego, which has become an urban sprawl called Spill City. She is driven by lust so deep that it’s tearing her body apart. There’s a lot of men in her life, but she’s looking for The One With The Perfect Horn (which is exactly what you think, because yes, it matters). The men she follows have their own stories– some bigger, some smaller. She lives in a trailer park and rescues an orphan and fights with the alien godmind in her head and tries, most of the time, not to be a horrible person despite not being a person at all. Continue reading Keith McCleary reviews American Monster