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BeastGevaudan1For this was the land of the ever-memorable Beast, the Napoleon Bonaparte of wolves. What a career was his! He lived ten months at free quarters in Gévaudan and Vivarais; he ate women and children and “shepherdesses celebrated for their beauty”; he pursued armed horsemen; he has been seen at broad noonday chasing a post-chaise and outrider along the king’s high-road, and chaise and outrider fleeing before him at the gallop. He was placarded like a political offender, and ten thousand francs were offered for his head. And yet, when he was shot and sent to Versailles, behold! a common wolf, and even small for that.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

I just finished yet another revision of this story, the title of which has been changed a hundred times and, at this point, stands at The Wolves of Gévaudan (still not satisfactory). Although I am leaving for a week-long mindfulness retreat at the Blue Cliff Monastery from September 10th-18th, I still have a few days to work on the second Stevenson novel I’ve got in my head. It’s sort of in my head.

While Wolves is basically set against the template of RLS’s Travels with a Donkey Through the Cévennes, this second story will follow Louis to America–this time I’m using The Amateur Emigrant, Across the Plains, and The Silverado Squatters. Right now, I’m just figuring out the timeline, which characters I want to use and how I want to use them. In this book, we will actually meet Fanny Osbourne, so I’m thinking a little extra reading is in order. I think my favorite part of writing something like this is all the research/reading associated with it.

So, last time we had werewolves (and you really can’t go wrong with werewolves). This time, I think I’m going to be exploring a variety of geography-dependent folklore. Who’s with me?

August Update

Well, we’ve moved into the new house, and so far, it’s been great. There’s still a ton to do, but now that we’re here and don’t have to drive three hours every day, it makes it a lot easier to keep up with, oh, I dunno, the rest of my life.

Update-wise, I suppose the biggest update is that I’m no longer with Nightscape Press. We gave it about six months or so and concluded that our approaches/style/technique–whatever you want to call it–just wasn’t meshing. Which was entirely a possibility. If you’ve never really worked together in that capacity, you don’t know until you do it, and really, I think we’re all glad we discovered and acknowledged it sooner rather than later. Something like that can stretch out and then grind ugly until everything just shits the bed. This way, everyone’s still friends and no one’s feelings got hurt. I sincerely wish Nightscape all the best, and you can bet you’ll still see me posting about their new releases and such here.

Despumation, my metal fiction journal, has been going great. Now that things have settled down a bit and time has opened up, I’m getting back to reading submissions and doing what I need to do there. That’s really going to pick up in the next couple of weeks. I’m expecting to get some author interviews up on the site, so definitely look for links to those here when that happens.

HoWCrownToday, actually, I managed to finish a couple of big projects. First, I finished a first pass of Mara Valderran’s Heirs of War: Crown of Thorns. I edited Mara’s first in this series, Heirs of War. She’s been lovely to work with–the ideal editor’s writer. She doesn’t take edits personally and understands that I’m not trying to pick on her–we’re all here for the same thing: to make this book the best book it can be. And I think the reason she doesn’t take it personally is, frankly, because she’s knows who’s really in charge. It’s her. I think some writers forget that sometimes. I’m not her publisher; I’m her editor. She can tell me to hit the road whenever she wants. The other thing, too, is that…Mara’s a pro. If she’s got a weakness, she faces it head on and works to strengthen it. And her strengths, she works to make stronger. If you’re not doing that as a writer, you may as well pack it in. So, I’m glad, today, to have gotten to a point where this book is one step closer to getting into the hands of the readers Mara attracted with her first book (Mara is a marketing machine). You can expect to see this available October 13.

LNWYWSThe second project I finished today was an illustration that will accompany a piece in Michelle Kilmer’s upcoming collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poems, Last Night While You Were Sleeping (Michelle gives it a mention here, among other things–go look at what she’s got going on). Look at that cover–isn’t it lovely? I love it. She’s got a good eye, and I’m excited to see/read this when it comes out on October 31st in paperback.

I’m most excited, though, about returning to my own writing. I’ve got a few plans for the first Stevenson novel that I can’t really go into right now, but once that ball is rolling, I’m so very ready to get back to writing the second Stevenson novel. *taps head* Most of it’s up here. Most of it. Well, some of it, but most of the general idea–where it’s going. Up in the ol’ noggin’. And now I’ve got a little time to get back to the 13,600 words that have been sitting lonely, waiting, waiting…I’m coming, Louis. I’m coming. Keep yer ‘stache on.

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Pretty dern happy to have just had my short story, The Surprise, accepted into this sweet-looking anthology being edited by Michelle Kilmer & T.J. Tranchell! Best part: They’re open until September 30th, 2014, so get your creative caps on and submit. SUBMIT.

We want you to think beyond the traditional organs that get donated. Consider those parts of the human that come in pairs but aren’t necessarily donated. Everything is shareable, transplantable and rejectable, if you are creative.

We will be including only one story per body part, so if you are going to write about a more common body part, the story had better be special. Stories should be darker in nature. Horror, sci-fi, and dark humor are all appreciated.

For all the gory details, click here. (Seriously, look at that cover. You know you want to be in there.)

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I don’t usually write reviews. Maybe I should. I left this over at Amazon for the lovely and talented Mr. John Boden:

Given previous reviews here, it would be too easy to fall into repetition. Yes, this book is unique (for real, not incorrect “unique” as in “different,” but correct “unique,” as in “singular”.) It is a gritty, nihilistic tale slipstreaming behind the guise of our collective childhood nostalgia. Best, it’s subtle. This brand of unpleasantness has been done before, but always in a look-at-me manner that disarms the entire project from the start, rendering it toothless. I’ve never seen nor read anything along these lines that didn’t have me rolling my eyes and thinking, “Yeah, yeah…” long before finishing. With DOMINOES, nothing got rolled at any point, except perhaps my small, black soul. The overall experiment itself is unique as a collective assembly—beautifully constructed in every way. It is a book you do not want to have on your shelf because you’d rather it be lying around so passers-by can see not just the spine, but the whole thing. But the inside is where it gets really exciting…

…refreshing? I’m questioning this word because it feels wrong, but I know it’s actually right. As I said, this kind of thing has mostly waffled embarrassing, like, say, someone insisting that KISS is still shocking today. DOMINOES had finally gotten it right, and has set the bar high. Anyone attempting this from this point onward will have to top this, and to them I say, “good luck.” So, in that way, it is refreshing. But Boden’s style overall is refreshing in terms of horror. While this book seems short, seems like an easy read, it isn’t. It can be. If you want, I suppose. But it can, and probably should, be much more. It is a slow, burning read. You can skim the keywords and enjoy your stabs in the eye that way, or you can drag your stabbed eyes over each line slowly, carefully, and savor the embedding gravel from the pavement as you go. This is a thinker, and the more you think, the darker it gets and the sadder, more uncomfortable you feel inside. And if that isn’t getting what you paid for with some horror reading, I do not know what is.

Kudos to Boden, Bouchard, and the powers that be at Shock Totem. I need this to be a series. I need this to not be the end of this kind of experimentation. I need what’s next. We can all blame Boden for that.

Pick it up. No joke.

End of May Update

I’d have better post titles if I updated more often, I think.

So, very busy (shock and dismay!). My yoke-fellow (I’ve decided to refer to my husband as “yoke-fellow” from now on, because it sounds right) and I joined his family on a river cruise in April, down the Danube. We went through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. This would need its own separate post to tell you about all the wicked-cool things we saw and did. So, here’s a picture.

Durnstein

The view from the ruined castle in Durnstein, Austria.

We also bought a house. Back to the city we go, because the “country”…well, it sucks. Or, the people suck. Some of the people suck. Enough to ruin it in general.

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The stairs in the foyer.

This house…is amazingly cool. It’s big (we need big, not for kids, but because we work at home, so…space is good for not going insane). We got it for a steal, and because of that, there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done (and we’re chipping away at it). That said, though, when it’s done…it’s going to be amazing. Original woodwork, five beautiful fireplace mantels, separate little “butler’s kitchen” (which is cute), built-in cabinet in the dining room. And that staircase. I mean, look at it. Lots of work (carpet’s already off those stairs!) and it’s wonky (it’s old, whatchagonnado? 1913), but it’s going to be home. Now, if we can just get it livable, get out of this house, and sell this thing, we’ll be set.

I’ve been doing very little writing. Well, with thee above…it’s been tough. I’ve also been doing work on my lit mag (which I’ll get to), trying to fit in work for my other press (which I’ll get to), and various other things. But, there’s this…

FreeSnake Poems

 

Free Snake Poems About Snakes: Let’s Do This is available, right now!

I also managed to get a piece up over at Andrea Reads America (which is a fantastic idea, fantastic blog…I highly recommend it). It’s a creative nonfiction piece called Black Bull.

In Nightscape Press news, we’re happy to announce that our very own Rena Mason took home the Bram Stoker Award recently for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Her winning novel? The Evolutionist.

EvolutionistLast but not least, the first issue of Despumation went live today. In print only, for the moment, but it’ll only be a moment. We’ll get the Kindle version up very soon. After that, hopefully other eBook distribution channels.

Desp#1CoverPreviewDespumation champions fiction that explores the diverse themes metal music customarily addresses using language to evoke the feeling of listening to the music. This issue includes stories inspired by Dio, Voivod, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Meshuggah, and Candlemass, plus stories and poems inspired by the metal scene, metal sounds, and metal concepts.

Get ‘em while they’re hot! Tell your friends!

 

Finally, An Update.

Yea, yes, I know–how am I supposed to build a effective author platform if I never update my blog? I know. I won’t. And so, yes, I must update this more often. But I’ve had a good excuse, at least. I have been stupid busy. Agh, I know, aren’t we all? We are all so very, very busy. Okay. Okay! I suck. That is my excuse. I suck. But I have been busy. Really.

Well, I’ll start with my biggest and most exciting news.

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After much thought and negotiations, I have joined Robert Shane Wilson and Jennifer Wilson as a partner/editor over at Nightscape Press, for whom I had been doing some editing work. This is an exciting opportunity and I’m very much looking forward to working with them and helping make NSP the best little genre press out there. And, let’s face it, they’re already pretty great. They got two nominations and one win for a Stoker in Best First Novel last year, and this year they’ve (we’ve?) got another nomination in the same category. Stephen Graham Jones’s “Interstate Love Affair” (from NSP’s Three Miles Past) won This Is Horror’s 2013 Short Fiction of the Year last month. Must be doing something right.

So, that’s big news.

Despumation Press Logo
I’m also pulling things together for the first issue of Despumation, which is shaping up nicely. As of today, I have a bunch of submissions to read through. I am expecting to have enough stories accepted to be able to roll them over into the second issue, which is nice. I’m still working on some interior artwork, and the photo I’ve got from Rachael Deacon is going to make a sweet cover, which I will preview at some point. We’re shooting for a May 30th launch date. (And hey, if you dig metal and you write, then we’re open for the upcoming issues–send that shit in).

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I’m expecting the Winter volume of the Monsters and Monstrous journal, which contains an excerpt from my Stevenson/Werewolf novel, to be out any day now. They sent me a pdf not so very long ago and it’s looking rather good. But the excitement doesn’t end there. I just got news yesterday that the conference associated with this journal, aptly named the 12th Global Conference: Monsters and the Monstrous, accepted my paper proposal! It went a little something like this:

“Mutual Monsterization and the Meaning of Monstrosity in Metal Music”

When metal music became self-aware, there existed a mutually beneficial popular-monsterization/self-monsterization relationship between the mainstream and the music: society demonized bands to maintain the status quo and bands demonized themselves to boost their popularity among those outside the status quo, sometimes as a step toward eventual integration into the mainstream. In addition, there is another, more ethereal form of self-monsterization among metal bands that derives from what could be described as the band’s initial biosphere—a combination of the music, attitude, intention, and environmental background of the band as an amalgamated functioning entity. It is this more “spiritual monstrosity” that connects fans to the music.

In the case of extreme metal, all popular- and self-monsterization is based on the bands’ musical instrumentation, vocals, lyrics, and appearance. Little-to-no attention is paid by the entertainment industry to that difficult-to-define “spiritual monstrosity.” Ultimately, in terms of financial “success” (which primarily denotes a band’s apex), the only way for an extreme metal band to “make it” is to allow itself to be scrubbed of the monstrous identity it self-generated and allow itself to be re-shaped through the PR mechanisms of their record companies in terms of what mainstream culture considers a “safe,” popular monstrosity: edgy enough to satisfy the teens who listen to it, but socially harmless enough so that authority figures don’t feel too threatened. This process seems, in all cases, to kill that core, inherent monstrosity that defines extreme metal at its elemental base, causing friction between hardcore fans and fans whose attraction to the band is based more on trendy aesthetics than the essence of that “spiritual monstrosity.” I intend to explore the struggle between these forms of monsterization in extreme metal and how they define or destroy “true” metal.

Aaaand, now I have to write it. So, there’s that and then I’m off to Oxford for it toward the end of July. It’s been a while since I’ve given an academic paper. I will try not to be too pedestrian (or throw up on myself).

FreeSnake Poems
As for writing, I am slowly working on a Free Snake Poem for the soon-to-be award-winning FREE SNAKE POEMS ABOUT SNAKES event, which I regretfully cannot attend, but hope to have my free snake poem read in my absence. If you live in Pittsburgh, or near it, I strongly suggest you attend this destined-to-become-a cult event.

Otherwise, I’m working on the second Stevenson adventure novel, working toward something memoir-ish, and working on getting as many novel rejections as possible before someone finally accepts the first RLS novel. Not to mention accumulating rejections for short stories (Who’s with me? *high five!*). I have no complaints, really.

Add to this our house-hunting, the eventual pack-and-move, and then getting this place on the market ASAP. We’ve got a trip to Florida this month (oooo, in just a couple weeks, actually) and then a Danube cruise toward the end of April (both are family-visiting/spending-time-with trips). Then the Oxford trip in July (but that’s bidness). Yeah, busy. Productive, but busy. I need to update this blog more often. We’ll see about that…

RomsBombsZombs

Evil Girlfriend Media‘s anthology, Roms, Bombs, & Zoms launches in e-book format today; print version forthcoming (will let you know when that happens). If you’ve got a reader, you can purchase it here for a mere $3.99! For updates, info, video readings, etc., go ‘like’ the Facebook page. The anth features my short story, “The Second Battle of Gettysburg.” Here’s a taste:

All day, with each group, Caleb watched the men work. Some were Confederate prisoners not yet shipped off, others were Yankee deserters, now considered no better than the Rebs. There were a handful of negroes as well—the only men getting paid for this repulsive and back-breaking work. Some groups would dig while others hauled bodies to the area of burial. Caleb watched one man double over and vomit after an entire sleeve of skin from a dead arm came off in his hand. By afternoon they were primarily using hooks to snag and carry them. Now, as the sky changed gradually by turns from blue to pink and eventually to orange, the men moved slowly, faces haggard and arms, when not digging or hauling bodies, hanging limp at their sides.

Suddenly one of the women from his tour group screamed and the man with her cried out, “This man’s alive!”

Other men ran over to where they stood—over to what, to Caleb, looked like just another Rebel corpse. And then he heard, coming from over the field, from John Forney’s barn, such a racket of screaming and calling out for someone to save them, for God’ sake, save them. The boy strained to see as far as the source and noted a man running as best he could away from the barn, with another following. The soldier in front had only one arm, and Caleb wondered if it was the man he’d talked to the day before. His remaining arm on the right flailed wildly, trying desperately to find the balance that two arms gave, but he fell to the ground hard, and that’s when Caleb realized the man behind him was not merely following—he was in pursuit. Another woman screamed, but the boy paid no notice, figuring it was nothing more than the field of dead they stood in, as he watched the pursuing second man fall upon the one-armed man. His head went down and then came back up violently, blood spraying into the air. It was some distance and Caleb couldn’t tell for sure, but it looked like a fox he’d once seen out on Lightner’s farm, tearing up the coop. The one-armed man screamed and screamed before falling abruptly into a deathly silence.

Now don’t you want to read the rest? I think you do. Plus, a big bunch of other awesome tales by a big bunch of other awesome writers.

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