I love synchronicity. And I don’t mean the Police album (though that is actually my favorite Police album… a bit of synchronicity right there, though more than a bit of tangent as well, so I’ll refrain!)
Samhain, or Halloween, is a time of endings. This is evident even to people who don’t subscribe to a Pagan or similar spiritual system, what with the costumes and the emphasis on fear and gore. Of course, my take on the fact that our society sees fear and gore as the logical connections to death is yet another tangent I’ll avoid at this time. The point is, the end of October and the beginning of November, whatever holiday name you choose to call it by and experience it through, is thematically linked to death. All Hallows, All Saints, Day of the Dead… throughout history and across cultures, this is a time of ending and closing.
Of course, with death comes rebirth. Even if your spiritual path doesn’t include the concept of actual reincarnation, the idea of death making way for new birth/new growth is all around us in nature. The trees lose their leaves in order to fertilize the earth. Plants and animals must die in order for others to feed and live.
And why am I waxing poetic about Samhain/Halloween on a writing blog? It’s that synchronicity I talked about at the beginning, because I have my own ending and new beginning going on right now. C. Bryan Brown and I have decided, for reasons I won’t go into, to close up our publishing company, Misanthrope Press. It’ll be sad to see it go; I’ve met some fantastic authors, and we’ve produced some books that I’m extremely proud to have been a part of.
But… At the same time, I’ve read submissions from people who told me in their cover letters that it was their first acceptance, or even their first submission, who now talk casually about their long list of publications, things they’re going to buy with their writing income, etc. In other words, people who once came to me completely green, seeking publication and advice, have now surpassed me as writers. Why? Because I’ve been too busy editing and publishing to spend time on my own writing.
This is the rebirth part. Because the death of publishing means the rebirth of my writing time. So while I’m going to miss working with Chris, and our fabulous authors, I’m rather over the moon at the thought of all the wide-open time ahead of me. Already, this is my second blog post this week, something I’m not sure has ever happened. I’m starting NaNo WriMo tomorrow, and am looking forward to actually reaching the 50k word goal, something I haven’t been able to do for a few years.
I’m going to be spending the next few weeks organizing and making plans for the coming year, which will include taking stock of all of my open and half-finished writing projects and setting up a plan to get them all finished so I can move forward. Even though I’ll still be fighting for time with my day job and its hour-long commute and all the other obligations in my personal life, it still feels a little bit like winning the time lottery right now. I’m sure the feeling will fade, so I want to take as complete advantage of this honeymoon period as possible while it lasts!
My official All Hallow’s Read book drop has begun.
I’ve decided to honor this budding annual tradition by dropping labeled copies of (mostly) used books at random locations where people will find them. I’m sitting at Starbucks as I write this, and so far I’ve left one book, a copy of Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, on the waiting-for-your-coffee bar. I have seven more to find spots for. I’ll leave one or two more here when I leave, then one or two in the waiting room at the garage where I get my oil changed. Not sure after that, but that’s the fun of it!
This is my second year participating in All Hallow’s Read, but the first conscious one. I was introduced to All Hallow’s Read by Cory Hutcheson at New World Witchery last year, when I was honored to have my story “A Flash of Red” included in the All Hallow’s Read episode of their podcast. If this is your first time hearing about All Hallow’s Read, be sure to check out the website, www.allhallowsread.com. There’s not a ton of information on the site, so it won’t eat up your day reading about it or anything. Basically, it’s an annual tradition started by Neil Gaiman, wherein you give the gift of a scary book to friends for Halloween. Some people, rather than buying new books and giving them as gifts to friends, choose instead to gather up a stack of books, whether new or used, and drop them where lucky strangers will happen upon them. This is the approach I’ve chosen. (The website has printable stickers you can use to mark the books you drop, so people who find them know what’s going on.)
I hit Half Price Books first, and found four books on the clearance shelf for $1.00 each. I added a couple more from the regular “half price” shelves, plus one from my bookshelf at home that I knew I wasn’t going to read. My offerings to spooky literacy are: “The Shining” and “Bag of Bones” by Stephen King, “The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty, “The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snickett, “Imajica” and “Weaveworld” by Clive Barker, and ”Frankenstein” by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson. I also threw in a copy of my own novel, Act 3 Scene 4, which I signed with a special All Hallow’s Read greeting.
My hope is, of course, that the people who find these books read and enjoy them, but also that they look up All Hallows Read and decide to participate next year (or even this year still; it’s only the 29th after all!). I also hope those reading this post will do the same! There are lots of ways to do so. Author Laura Bickle is giving away a copy of her newest novel, “The Hallowed Ones” via a drawing in honor of the event. Others very specifically focus on giving books to kids, using the event as a way to get kids reading. You can follow the hashtag #AllHallowsRead on Twitter to see examples of what others are doing, as well as suggested books lists etc.
And finally, since we live in a digital age, I’d like to also extend my All Hallow’s Read giving to cyberspace. Therefore, I’m giving away ALL of my short-story eBooks at Smashwords for free from now through this coming weekend (November 4th)! Just go to www.smashwords.com and search my name, then enter the following coupon codes at checkout:
Violin Concerto No. 9 in A Minor – QF79T
The Seventeenth Sphere – SG36R
The Death and Permanent Storage of Picket Fence Pete – KG42Z
Services Rendered – SJ74R
Ophelia Doe – PJ48H
Happy reading everybody!Read More
OK, I’m a few days late posting this, but Misanthrope Press’s latest anthology, A Rustle of Dark Leaves, is finally available! This one was edited solely by me, and I couldn’t be prouder of it! Check it out in either print or eBook now! (The print link goes to our website, but it’s on Amazon, too, if that’s more your style.) This one took forever to get together, and I’m truly graetful to my amazing authors for their patience throughout the process! If you’ll indulge me a bit, I’m going to ramble about it for a while…
This anthology was conceived almost exactly one year ago, in a rented SUV on the way home from Mythic Faire in Hunt Valley, MD. Chris and I had made the decision that we were going to each edit a new anthology, and were discussing what theme we’d each choose. For Chris, it was a no-brainer–he couldn’t edit his first anthology and it not be werewolves!
We were already doing my go-to theme–Pagan–in Etched Offerings, which we were editing together. That meant I needed a new theme for my book. I kept looking around the landscape as we drove (or rode, technically; I think Chris’s wife was doing the actual driving), hoping that something I saw would spark an idea. We were on a freeway in rural Pennsylvania, though, and the only landscape there really was was trees.
Lots and lots of trees.
And then, it hit me: the forest! Why not do a whole anthology with no more specific a theme than “Set in the forest”? OK, I also wanted dark and preferably strange, because this is me we’re talking about, but dark and strange in the forest.
So, my decision was made. I actually remember asking Chris if he was sure he wanted to do just a general werewolf theme, and not something a bit more specific. I figured everybody who’d ever written a werewolf story (and what spec fic writer hasn’t written a werewolf story?) would pile them all on him and he’d be overwhelmed. Meanwhile, though, I actually worried that my odd little forest theme wouldn’t get enough submissions to even fill the book.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Chris managed to get enough subs to put together a great book (Children of the Moon), but he was by no means overloaded with them. I, on the other hand, received at least twice as many as he did, maybe more. And yes, a few of them came from people who’d obviously thought “well, this one has a tree in it, why not give it a try?” but the vast majority of them were right on target. It’s never fun to send rejections to authors, of course, but all the same it was such a great feeling to be able to reject every story that wasn’t right for whatever reason and still have enough to fill the book!
Once the final acceptances were sent, I actually had to put the whole project aside for several weeks while we finished up Etched Offerings and some other projects. Once I got back to Rustle, and went back through the stories to do the line edits, they were pretty fresh for me again, and I was amazed at how good they all were! The first time through, of course, I was reading these stories mixed in with the ones that didn’t make the cut. Reading just the accepted ones together, I was astonished at what a great book this was going to be!
Meanwhile, I received an email back from artist Edison Yan, replying to my query about his gorgeous painting I’d found on DeviantArt. He gave me permission to use the image for the book cover, and it’s just the perfect final touch to the whole project.
Oh, and speaking of final touches… This book was originally intended to come out in the fall of 2011. I found out after starting the project that 2011 was “The Year of the Forest.” I’d planned on tying into that theme for the introduction, but once it became obvious that I wasn’t going to make it by the end of the year, I decided to step aside and let someone else write the introduction. I reached out to Cory Thomas Hutcheson, figuring who better than a folklorist and traditional witch to write the introduction for a book of magical forest stories! To my delight, he jumped at the offer, and gave me an excellent intro to go with these excellent stories. Thank you, Cory!!!
Oh, and one other bit of Rustle trivia, then I’ll let you get back to your lives. You’ll notice that the first story in the book, by Seth Drake, is actually titled “A Rustle of Dark Leaves.” You might be having a chicken/egg moment with this, so let me confirm. The book is not named for Seth’s story. Rather, he finished it and decided that the most fitting title for it was the same title I’d given the anthology. I remember the submission coming into the MP gmail during one of Chris’s and my weekly coffeeshop business meetings, and seeing the title on the story and rolling my eyes, saying ”Aw shit, we’ve got another yahoo!” or some such. But, just another of the many wonderful surprises this book has given me, Mr. Drake absolutely 100% backed up the ballsy move with the most perfect lead story I could have asked for!
OK, plugging and yammering complete. And to the three people still reading this far in: thank you for indulging me!
The anthology is available now at Amazon. Static Movement’s anthos are usually also available in the bookstore at Pill Hill Press, but I haven’t gotten an email notice on this one yet, so I can’t guarantee you’ll find it there. Probably, though
In other news, I’ll be doing a panel at Genericon in Troy, NY March 2-4. We plan to keep it pretty general, just talking about the ins and outs and whys and wherefores of writing speculative fiction. I’ll be joining Seth Drake, who’s moderating, and possibly a couple of others. If you’re in the area, why not swing by and see us?
That’s it for today. More soon, I’m sure!
It’s been a while since I posted, so I’ve got quite a bit to talk about. So let’s get on with it!
The most recent news is that Etched Offerings, the Pagan fiction anthology Chris and I have been working on for a very long time, is finally published! This is Misanthrope Press’s second short fiction anthology that isn’t specific to our writers’ group (Creative Minds Collective), and it has some really great stories in it. It also has some pretty exciting names inside, including S.J. Tucker (who did the introduction for us) and Llewellyn author Kenny Klein! We also have stories by three Pagan podcasters: Cory Hutcheson (of New World Witchery), Saturn Darkhope (of Pennies in the Well) writing under her pen name Samantha Herne, and Oraia Helene (of Between the Earth and Stars, formerly Media Astra ac Terra) writing under her pen name of… well, that one you actually have to figure out on your own! If you follow her show, then reading the author bios should make it pretty clear, even if the story itself doesn’t. Also the totally awesome cover you see to the left was done by yet another Pagan podcaster, Christopher Orapello. I have a story in the book myself, and I’m very excited to be among such great company!
So, let me get the little commercial plug out of the way: you can get your very own copy of Etched Offerings at our website, www.misanthrope-press.com, or on Amazon. Or, if eBooks are more your style, you can get it at Smashwords instead!
And it’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, publication-wise, as another anthology (not published by Chris and I this time) I’ve been waiting for has finally been made available. Grim Fairy Tales, from Static Movement and edited by Dorothy Davies, is a collection of twisted fairy tales, including two of mine,” A Flash of Red” and “A Midsummer’s Nightmare.” ”A Flash of Red” is my twist on Little Red Riding Hood, and was also included in audio form (read by yours truly) in New World Witchery’s All Hallows Read episode this past October. “A Midsummer’s Nightmare” is seeing its first time in publication, and is my twisting of the Titania-meets-Bottom scene of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And another quick plug, you can get Grim Fairy Tales at Pill Hill Press or Amazon.
I’ve also recently had my second appearance on a podcast! Chris Orapello interviewed me about Etched Offerings and Misanthrope Press on episode 24 of his show The Infinite and the Beyond. The Infinite & The Beyond is one of my very favorite podcasts, and even though I’ve known Chris for a while now (he does all that fabulous cover art you see on the covers of Title Goes Here: !) it was just unbelievably exciting to actually be on the show! The bulk of the episode is an extensive interview with another of my podkin faves, the previously mentioned Oraia Helene. It’s a seriously great interview, and in addition to the expected metaphysical topics, they talk a lot about Oraia’s fiction writing.
Oraia’s new episode also came out this week, Episode 39 of Between the Earth and Stars (though the first episode under its new non-Latin name.) She talks about Etched a bit at the beginning, and mentions me by name—I’ve had a very famous-feeling week!
And I suppose that’ll be all for now. I could probably find more things I’ve failed to mention in my extended posting delay, but at this point, who’s really still reading this long thing anyway?
Thanks for reading!!
A couple of weeks ago, I got an exciting email from Cory Hutcheson, one of the hosts of the podcast New World Witchery (which, for those unfamiliar, is exactly what it sounds like it is!) NWW’s October tradition is to suspend their normal episodes for the month and instead to offer us listeners a great selection of spooky/scary stories. Stories picked by Cory, a genuine folklorist, so you know they’re good. This year, for most of the month, he’s done stories by historical American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.P. Lovecraft, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and (of course!) Edgar Allen Poe.
For the final episode of the month, however, they decided to do something different. Cory, being an excellent fiction writer himself, decided to include stories by authors he actually knows personally (or as personally as online, at least), and I made the list! Cory sent the authors the file early, so I’ve already listened, and can assure you I’m in excellent company!
Now, I do want to apologize to all of you, because he wanted the authors to read our own stories, so instead of Cory’s deep, resonating voice, you get me and my little Skype microphone. Also, I’m the only one included who’s not a podcaster–yikes! Hopefully, I held my own OK I do want to thank Chris Orapello profusely for his assistance while I was fighting with recording programs!
The other authors included are Saturn Darkhope (from the podcast Pennies in the Well), Oraia Helene (formerly Oraia Sphinx, of the Media Astra ac Terra podcast), Ben Reeder (read by Peter Paddon of The Crooked Path podcast), Scarlet Page (of the Lakefront Pagan Voice podcast) and Cory Hutcheson himself, of (of New World Witchery, of course!) They’re all great authors–three of them are actually in Misanthrope Press’s soon-t0-be-released Pagan fiction anthology Etched Offerings, in fact, and one (so far) has also appearedin Title Goes Here:. I’ve published these people myself, so you know I’m not full of shit here!
And one last thing I want to go into before I shoo you off to go listen. As his theme for this episode, Cory directs us to the infant tradition of All Hallows Read. I hadn’t heard of this before, and it’s just simply brilliant! Begun last year by Neil Gaiman, All Hallows Read is the tradition of giving the gift of a scary book for Halloween. Cory goes into it a bit more in the episode, and there’s a lot more detail still on the official website www.allhallowsread.com, so go check it out. There’s even a “book drop sticker” you can download, so you can simply label a book (or a stack of ‘em!) and leave them around for lucky people to find and claim as their own! (and maybe drop again next All Hallows, if we’re all even luckier?)
OK, that’s it for me… go listen to the podcast!