Five things to do/not to do at your first World Fantasy Con

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Thursday October 27

4:30 AM. My cousin drives me to San Jose airport from Gilroy, CA, to make my 6:20 flight to Columbus, OH. Howard Stern is on the radio and Lady Gaga plays “A Million Reasons” live in the studio. I start to cry in the dark truck, and I cling to my cousin on the curb, gripped by separation anxiety. Seriously. WFC? What was I thinking?

Inside at the check-in desk, I apologize to the check-in attendant. ‘It’s all right, no problem,” she coos like a dove. She takes my phone and gets my luggage tagged. I tell her I suck at good byes.

‘Good byes?’ she says. ‘So you’re going home?’

I shake my head. I have no idea where I’m going….

Where I went was World Fantasy Con in Columbus, Ohio. You can read all about it, in my latest LitReactor column, here.

Review of “Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories,” and Gamut sale

My review of Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories is over at LitReactor. Neat collection, lots of stories and images that linger. Couldn’t really name a favorite, because of the breadth of styles and subject matter, loosely connected around the idea of naked souls bared to elements not always of this world, but I have to say that Josh Malerman’s story, “The One You Live With”‘d have to be one of the ones I read twice.

Also, Gamut Magazine picked up Rogues Bay 3013, my AI story with, I guess, Frankenstinian undertones. Or maybe they’re undertones. This Gamut, by the way, is the one to watch. Get your subscriptions in, is my thinking. And submit if you have anything. They tend to reach their 300 sub limit 24 hours after opening, so it might take some planning, but worth it. The main thing is to subscribe. That’s their model, and I think the ave subscription is $60/year, which is just a few bucks a month, well worth the incredible material they’re packing into every issue, from what I can see. And they’re using the money to pay writers pro rates, so you get pro fiction. All the way.

Is this my house?

It has been such a long time since I’ve checked in, that even my own blog doesn’t recognize me. Apologies for the absence. A tough month of personal loss. Hard to make sense of the universe right now. In “Emma Zunz,” Borges writes that after getting news of the death of her father, Emma realized that “it was the only thing that had happened in the world, and it would go on happening endlessly.”

Lots of work to keep me near dark, though. Correcting novel proofs, working on an exciting new piece for LitReactor, two stories anthology-bound. End of semester paper grading just for shits and giggles.

And I finally did manage to get Gabino Iglesias’s novel reviewed for This is Horror. Get this bad boy into you, mis amigos, where it will lay eggs on your subconscious, I guarantee, for hatching when you least expect it.

Managed, also, out of necessity, to keep reading. Polished off Scott Nicolay’s Ana Kai Tangata, and Years Best Weird Fiction, ed Kathe Koja. Caitlin Keirnan’s “Bus Fare” is numinousity on a whole new level, Nathan Balingrud’s “The Atlas of Hell” one of the most claustrophobically horrific stories I’ve read in recent memory, even for him, and back to Nicolay, hard to pick one, but if I had to, “Eyes Exchange Bank” and the title piece. This from EEB:

Route 202 was a tunnel through a shadowed world whose brightest color was brown. Woods that in spring or summer would offer green relief from the drab and dreary towns were gnawed to bleak orchards of black bone.

I know this road. Saw you there.

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.

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.

10 Reasons to Back Gamut Magazine

Here they are.

I am so behind this. I hope it happens. It’s going to be great. A magazine with the best of everything. Stories, poetry, podcasts, art. Backers get amazing prizes and rewards. Contributors get paid. I know, right? Super super hopeful that it happens. Getting close, but not close enough. Gamut magazine needs you. You need it. Please help.