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This was an actual break in writing.

I should probably not swear in blog titles, right? That’s a “don’t” in blogging, I think. Well…whatever…

About three months ago, just after my little episode, I wrote a 66k-page novel in just under 2 1/2 weeks. Despite being manic, pharmaceutically fucked up, and emotionally-driven to do it, the revision process (or, the editing-in-order-to-do-a-proper-revision process) revealed that it’s actually pretty decent. But I still need to actually do the revision. At this point, facing it seems too difficult, considering the conditions under which it was written. I just need some time away from it, but hopefully not too long. It’s practically finished. I know what the cover will look like. If I sucked it up and worked hard, I could put it out next month.

But I’m not going to do that. It’s just too hard, even if the story itself is probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written.

But I do have a MS that is all ready to go. Here is something I’ve learned about myself: I really have no patience, and by that, I mean, I have no patience with the publishing submission process–certainly in terms of novels. Short stories–I would just sort of send it off and forget about it until the rejection/acceptance email. Not usually something I get bunched up about. Though, short stories aren’t really my thing, I realize. This I’ve learned. I write long. It takes a real effort on my part to keep short stories, well, short, and frankly, that cramps my style. Fucks up the flow. It just isn’t where I’m going when I sit down to write, and the end result, to me, always feels stilted. Sitting down and trying to tell the story I want to tell in the way I need to tell it, while trying to keep it 3k words or fewer–you know, if I ever want to see it published, which is sort of the end goal, really–it’s a pain in the ass. So…novels. Maybe novellas, I haven’t really tried that yet.

That’s not to say I write long novels. I don’t. As far as novels go, they’re fairly short, falling between 60k-70k words. That seems to be my sweet spot. And no, they’re not the 100k+ monstrosities some folks like to churn out, but despite my tendency to go on, I do also know when to edit myself. So, mine lean short. But they’re still work. They’re still often difficult to get out. I outline like a crazy person, so I cut down as much “writer’s block” as possible, but still. It’s work.

So, when an agent sits on it for 6+ months, or a press for even longer, with no word…I mean, what the fuck, folks? I know you’re busy and all. I do. But the MS I have right now, that’s all finished and ready to be read–I finished it more than three years ago. And I understand and am fine with rejection. But…tell me, right?

I’ve considered resubmitting it elsewhere. But I kind of know how these things work. We all do. It enters the slushpile and it sits there. And sits there. And sits there. And that’s sort of wasting my time. And here’s the thing, and this is going to sound egotistical, but since ego has been in such short supply for me these days, I’m just going to let it rip. The book is good. I read through it and even I–who is the very last person to give myself any credit for just about anything–even I have to say, hey, it’s good. It’s a good book. I did a damn good job with it. So, I’m not waiting for some gatekeeper to give their blessings. Especially with the industry as it is nowadays anyway.

There’s the self-publishing stigma, but really, who gives a shit? How can I possibly give a shit? Will published authors look down on me? Sure, but, you know what? I’m an editor. I’ve read some of their submitted, unpublished work, and guess what: A lot of it is crap. Not all, but a lot. There, I said it. And there are Stoker award winners I’ve started and just couldn’t get past the first fifteen pages because, Holy Christ, where was the editor? Who on earth accepted this for publication? (And yeah, it kind of makes me wonder what the fuck goes on there over at the Stokers). So, do I really need to be worried about what published authors will think of my self-published book? I’m leaning heavily toward “no.” All I guess I could say to them is, “read it.” Yeah, I’m actually that confident with this one.  “Read it and then come back and tell me it’s crap.” This one, at least. We’ll see what happens after it, but this one is good. It’s better than good.

And, I’m pushing 42 years old–I don’t really feel like waiting to find just the right publisher who thinks it fits their general marketing strategy, which, let’s face it, is never much to begin with. Again, I know. I edit. I publish. I do have a pretty fair idea how micro-small-to-medium presses function. And the way I see it, the only thing I have to gain with a publisher is “cred.” The rest of the work is up to me. I know what it takes to publish a book. I have enough experience in both traditional publishing and print-on-demand to not fuck this up too badly. So, basically, I can do what a publisher would do for me, work wise. Otherwise, the work is the same. If I published with someone else, I’d still be doing the bulk of the promotion and whatnot, if not all of it. I’m not bagging on presses…this is what it is when you either don’t have the budget, or you don’t know how to use your budget. Shit happens. Things are what they are. But I just don’t have the patience for the time it takes to deal with all that shit when the reward is so minuscule. The fact is that I could likely do just as well self-publishing, or better. Yes, it’s work, but it’s nothing I don’t do already anyway, so, again, it comes down to respectability and pub street cred.

So…fuck it. I’m no longer tying myself to this dying industry just because I’m a-scared of what anyone thinks–writers, editors, publishers, reviewers, etc. The times, they are a-changing, some douchebag once said. Other than myself. So, watch this space.

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Here’s me in a sweet-ass Rush shirt being all like, “Fuck it.”

The novel in question is the Robert Louis Stevenson werewolf piece I blogged about here forever ago. Yes, it’s a historical mystery horror novel. Tough to categorize, but still not unusual. I’ll eventually get around to revising the one I crapped out a few months ago. That is a somewhat bizarro adventure/love story involving meth labs, dildos, and extreme social anxiety. And the WIP, thus far, seems to be indescribable (I need to work on that). But it’s about a group of people set in the factual town of my upbringing, Fairchance, Pa. The main throughline character is a black albino former mortician named Ludlow. There’s death and ghosts. There’s child molestation and burning buildings. There’s religious fanaticism and explosions. I’ve been working on it on and off since about 2008, but I’m coming up on finishing it, finally. Then revision, but that generally goes pretty quickly. I think it’s more literary in terms of the writing and maybe the subject matter, but, again, I’m shit with that sort of thing. I appreciate labels and genres–they’re obviously helpful. But I kind of write what I write and unless I make a real effort to fit a certain genre, it can really be anything. I gave an large chunk of it to a writer whom I respect greatly and he liked it a lot, so, I’m pretty confident about this one, too. But, in time. It’ll get done.

I’m looking to get these three books out before the end of the year. Maybe more. I do have some fairly lengthy outlines sitting around and being tinkered with. We’ll see. So, here we go…

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Predator ripped off Carl Weathers's arm, and now he's got a stew goin'.

Predator ripped off Carl Weathers’s arm, and now he’s got a stew goin’.

It’s March. I’m going to be honest. It’s never thrilled me that February was designated Women in Horror Month because, well, February is Black History Month. Turns out, black folks doing things and chicks doing things are both pretty important to me. And my Facebook friendslist is made up, primarily, of horror community people. So, every February, my feed gets a slight bump in look what horror chicks do posts (and I mean slight), and occasionally I’ll see a look what black folks did post. What I don’t see happening in March, though, is any sort of uptick in look what horror black folks are doing posts. I don’t know. I guess I just don’t see how it could hurt to move WIHM to March, to coincide with Women’s History Month and not compete with the information trying to get out there about Black History. Just seems like the right thing to do.

So, I decided, just now (I literally just decided this right now), to post here and share posts on Facebook about black folks in horror throughout March. It might be sporadic. It’s very likely going to be lifted from others better knowledgeable than I am about such things. See, kind of like the massive glut of straight, white, male-written fiction easily available, right at our fingertips, this applies to horror in general (and the world, in general). You really have to go out of your way to find this information and these people. Which is bullshit, but I guess this is why we have special months set aside, so we don’t all have strokes trying to find this stuff throughout the year. And, like I said, I just decided this now, so…it’s going to be sucky and really disorganized. But I think next year will be different.

I’m going to be the only one doing this, and that’s fine, but I’m not celebrating Women in Horror Month in February anymore. I hereby declare February, on this blog, on my Facebook feed, and in my head, Big Black Horror Month, to coincide with Black History Month. And in March, I will celebrate Women in Horror as well as Women in History. Because that makes logical sense.

In terms of working/struggling for equality, women, minorities, and gays (not to mention the poor) are too often at each others’ throat because there just doesn’t seem to be enough equality to go around. It’s like a competition to see who’s more oppressed, who is more brutalized, who is more stigmatized. The fact is, though, that there is an endless supply of equality once we stop looking at it as something doled out by the one(s) in power. Because it’s not. It’s the natural, normal, decent, humane state of things, and there is an endless supply that we insist on, that we simply take. But, that way of thinking is easier said than done when you have several hundred years of socialized and systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, and class discrimination to contend with. We’re all in the same damn boat.

The very least we can do for everyone is not exacerbate the problem and step on each others’ toes with what we’re trying to do for ourselves. So, yes, as far as I’m concerned, I, personally, just won’t do that anymore (and I won’t as far as I can be aware of it).

So, let me start educating myself and see what I can do for March (this year’s makeshift Big Black Horror Month), and I’ll be better prepared next year to start my new policy. Feel free to join me, or not. I’m not doing this to upset anyone or start an argument. I’m doing it so I can stop feeling like I’m doing the wrong thing (because, in my opinion, I am) and start doing what I feel is right.

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Super happy to be in Shock Totem’s Halloween Issue!

shocktotem95Nice cover, eh? The kindle version will be up a little later today, print next week. Here’s the TOC:

* Halloween On, by John Boden and Bracken MacLeod
* Night in the Forest of Loneliness, by David G. Blake
* Kore, by John Langan (Holiday Recollection)
* Out of Field Theory, by Kevin Lucia
* Tricks and Treats, by Rose Blackthorn
* Witches and the March of Dimes, and Mike Warnke, by Babs Boden (Holiday Recollection)
* Howdy Doody Time, by Kriscinda Lee Everitt
* When I Scared Myself Out of Halloween, by Jeremy Wagner (Holiday Recollection)
* Untitled, by Barry Lee Dejasu
* The Mansion, by Lee Thomas (Holiday Recollection)
* Allhallowtide (To the Faithless Departed), by Sydney Leigh (Poetry)
* Flay Bells Ring, or How the Horror Filmmaker Stole Christmas, by Mike Lombardo (Holiday Recollection)
* The Candle Eaters, by K. Allen Wood
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

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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’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.

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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!

 

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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…

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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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