Advanced Reviewers Wanted

Dear Readers (specifically, dear book review bloggers),

As a lead-up to the release of my first full-length collection of short stories, I’ll be giving away an advance review PDF copy to book bloggers who promise to write an honest review of the book in the months prior to the release date.

Before and Afterlives will release on March 18, 2013. I’d love to give away enough advance review copies that would enable a book review per week between the months of January and late March. If you review books regularly, and aren’t back-logged, and would be able to read and write a review of the collection within that period of time, please contact me at christopherbarzak AT gmail DOT com.

I’m excited for this collection to appear.  Here are the two initial blurbs from the authors Jeffrey Ford and M. Rickert:

“Although Christopher Barzak is now better known as a novelist, I’ve always been an admirer of his short stories. His new collection, Before and Afterlives, will make you one too. This generous offering of his best work displays impressive range, depth of feeling, a sharp sense of humor, and a fantastic imagination both lyrical and dark.”

-Jeffrey Ford, author of Crackpot Palace and The Physiognomy

“How to conjure souls? Resurrect the past? Speak to the dead? Christopher Barzak has a talent for ghosts. In a world composed of more than its material aspects, Barzak seems to know that the things unsaid are what haunt us most. He offers his considerable gift of story as a talisman. Before and Afterlives is a generous contribution to the art of being human.”

-M. Rickert, author of Map of Dreams and Holiday

I’d love to have reviewers join into the conversation about the book as it gets nearer to launch date. So please send me an email with a link to your book blog to join in.

Thanks very much, and feel free to link to this post in your own networks.

Turning Points

This post is short, but I wanted to point any of my readers over to the blog of writer Nova Ren Suma (author of the fantastic novel, Imaginary Girls), where I’ve guest blogged in Nova’s Turning Points series.

My turning point:  turning from writing the short story to the novel, and then from the novel to a novel-in-stories.

There’s also a giveaway for copies of both of my books, so do leave a comment to be entered!

New Pics, New Blogging (maybe)

My adopted Japanese mother recently complained that I no longer take pictures of things and post them online.  She questioned whether this was because I needed a new camera.  Maybe my old one no longer worked?

And so when my birthday came, a package from Japan arrived at my house.  Inside the package was a new Canon digital camera.  Now I am compelled to post photographs.  Those Japanese ladies are sneaky!!

Here are the first ones I’ve taken.  I do remember taking lots of photos while I lived in Japan, and posting them here for friends and family and interested parties to see what life was like where I was living.  And I remember that it was fun to do this.  In the past two years, though, life became very busy for me, teaching full time, taking classes toward an MFA degree that I’ve finished this summer, and trying amid all of this to continue writing.  I had to stop doing lots of things I enjoyed doing, things that added to my happiness in life quotient, while managing these other pursuits.  Writing a blog and taking photographs and posting those was one of those things that stopped, not completely, but to a trickle.  I want to get back into the habit of it, though, because keeping a blog wasn’t only just fun, it satisfied my desire to have a space in which to meditate out loud, and to share things from my life with people I want to keep in touch with but live far from.  Even though I’m back in the U.S., I have lots of friends who live far away, in other states.  And also in other countries.

So here are a few photos I took recently.  Home, garden, cats (Kokoro first, Yuki second), and an amazing Tom Kha soup that Tony made tonight.


Joseph Mallozzi hosts a book of the month club over at his very popular blog.  This month The Love We Share Without Knowing is the selection.  Joe posted a great response to the book and then opened the comments section up for questions from his fellow readers.  Today my responses went up.  We talked about all sorts of things:  genre writing versus literary, Japan, my life there, the making of my book.  If you’re interested you should teleport over to Joe’s original post on the book, and then move onto the Q&A post.

Thanks again, Joe.  It was fun!

Good times

Tonight I was looking through some old posts in this blog on writing.  I’ve been so immersed in work and school for the past year and a half that I forgot how much I used to write on this blog.  And the kind of conversations I was able to hold on it.  Reading some of those old posts, I realize the difference in my contact with the online world that I once had and enjoyed having.  I have another semester to go before I finish my degree, which means I will probably be sparse in writing here as I have been for the past year and a half, but I’m looking forward to when I have a bit more free time on my hands to write here again, and hope that there will still be people around with whom I can hold these sorts of conversations:

Jump to blog nostalgia-inducing post by clicking here.

An end, a beginning

I’ve been coming up for air, over and over, for the past few weeks.  It’s been nice to sequester myself away from the rest of the world (okay, except for Facebook, which seems to be the only online social hangout that I will venture into these days, mainly because I don’t feel like it will consume me in quite the same way as writing, say, a blog post).  It’s been nice to get some writing done.  One short story for a YA anthology, and some novel revisions.  I’ll be working on those for quite some time, I think.  And still haven’t actually finished the book, which will probably not occur until I’m finished completing coursework for my MFA degree at Chatham University.  Which will be done this summer.  I’ve enjoyed the courses I’ve taken and the professors and writers and poets with whom I’ve worked over the past year and a half, but I’m also looking forward to having all of my writing time back to devote to the book in a concentrated way (which is the way a book, at least for me, needs to be written).  I’m going to keep progressing at a snail’s pace until I can burst free of teaching responsibilities at the end of spring, and then hopefully I will eventually find myself at the end of a book by end of summer.  Whenever it does occur, it will be a happy day for me.

Over winter break, I’ve given myself some time to be unproductive (mainly Christmas week), to enjoy being around friends and family, and not to worry about something that needs to be done.  Pretty soon, I’ll be back to fretting anyway, so I figured, here, take a week to not fret about anything at all.  It’s been nice not fretting.  I could get used to that.

And here we are at the turn of the year again, the new staring down the old.  I used to get sort of down about the turn of the year, but this year I’m trying to gear myself up to take it on, kick-boxer style.  The past couple of years have been exhausting for me in a number of ways, but 2010 promises at least a little bit of relief, so I’m being grateful in advance about that.

I’m also thinking about resolutions, which I used to think were kind of silly.  It seems so easy to say on New Year’s I’m going to do something-something, and then not follow through.  I think that’s probably what happens for a lot of people.  But resolutions are only as good as the will you provide to make them happen, and I intend to make a couple of resolutions for 2010 that I plan to keep.  It’s good, I think, to give ourselves permission to start something new, or to start something over, to provide ourselves with a blank slate every now and then, to not get caught up in past failures or disappointments.  So I’m using the new year as a marker for earnest changes, and instead of this sounding silly or random as it has in the past, it’s providing me with a bit of hope and motivation at the moment.  I’ll take those two things wherever I can get them.

As for blogging, anyone who is reading this knows I’m not much of a blogger anymore.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  On one hand, I miss it.  On the other, I don’t.  I don’t find myself reading many blogs very much any longer either.  Whenever I do, I have the same reaction that I often do when I check back in with the television:  Oh, it’s still the same stuff.  (With television, this provides a more surreal response due to the amount of years that have gone by with me not being a regular TV watcher: Wow, it’s really still the same stuff it was ten years ago!).  In terms of blogging, though, I think I might return to it more regularly when, again, I’m finished with my degree and have a bit more time to write things that aren’t assignments.

For now, though, I leave you with this farewell to 2009 greeting.  Everyone needs a little ABBA, right?  See you on the flipside.


Author Nicola Griffith has blogged a call to action, which you can find here, in regards to a woman dying in the hospital whose same sex partner and children were not allowed by law to see her or receive any updates on her condition.  The hospital was later sued and the state awarded the hospital the win.  Complete insanity, complete and utter discrimination, all made somehow legal.  A woman died alone without the ability to see her loved ones, her children, because she was a lesbian.  That’s it, that’s all.

As another writer, Jeffrey Ford, states in his blog, “I’m sure many of those enforcing this law think themselves “good Christians,” but that’s the problem with too many Christians these days — they know all the dogma but forget about Christ’s most important message — Compassion.  There were also those involved, no doubt, who let the stupid Law grind itself out because they couldn’t think through to the point of how heinous it is.  I didn’t see anything about this case on the news — just endless stories about the publicity stunt with the kid in the UFO.  Sometimes I just get disgusted with America.  The open and government sanctioned persecution of gays in our culture shows us at our absolute worst.  Here we are in the 21st century and this situation, instead of getting better, is a Civil Rights crisis.”

Go read Nicola’s blog first, then blog about this crime yourself.  Yes, that’s what it is:  a criminal act justified as legal by an unfair, discriminatory legal system.

26 to 50

While I was in Pittsburgh, I received news from Japanese translator Yoshio Kobayashi, alerting me to a new website (in both English and Japanese), called 26 to 50. The site will host fiction, reviews, interviews, discussion, news, etc. about the field of fantastic literature.  Right now the site has short interviews with Lucius Shepard, Tim Pratt,Gordon Van Gelder, Alan Deniro, Ben Rosenbaum, myself, and others about a prospective “generation gap or lack there of” in the genre. It looks like the site may be a good place for English language spec fic and Japanese spec fic to change hands, always a nice bridge to cross.  It’s worth checking out, so get to it.

Media mashup

Last week I was suddenly being followed by a lot of people on my Twitter site than made any logical sense to me, until my friend Gwenda twittered/tweeted/whatever-ed me to ask if I knew I was one of’s 100+ Best Authors Twittering.  Here’s a link to the article.  The authors are broken up into they category of fiction they write.  I’m in General Fiction, though most of my homeboys and girls are in the Scifi/Fantasy section.  

8396078-15dc35e36bf517fd2604bdee1d15a099.4a08adea-fullAnd then today, also via Twitter, my friend Jem linked to a picture she took of Outlook Magazine (a Columbus, Ohio magazine) with a HUGE picture of me on a full page, blocked by a listing of what I think might be an article about the Thurber House literary picnics that occur over the summer months.  I’ll be reading there this July 22nd, so if you are in or around Columbus then, come over and visit.  

The funny thing about both of these items is that several months ago when I finally opened a Twitter account, it was with great reluctance, as I sometimes feel more sapped of energy by the variety of social networking devices that continue to crop up in internet-land every year.  And I’ve certainly been twittering since opening the account, but hadn’t realized I was doing anything of particular interest (I find myself to be a pretty boring broken record sort of person, at least for the past year, grumble grumble, complain complain).  It seems it’s always the things one doesn’t want to do that turn out to surprise you with how surprisingly fun and connecting they can be.  

In fact, I’ve even added a Twitter box to the sidebar of this website.