Just a short note to say my novelette, “Invisible Men,” has been published on Eclipse Online. You can read it by clicking here. And don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of the story’s page if you enjoyed it. It’s a retelling of The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells. Thanks for reading!
Category Archives: Recommendations
New Music Crush
Robyn is weird. I barely remember her former early 90’s self, which was largely forgettable over-produced, mediocre dance music/love ballads that sounded like the dance music/love ballads of the time. But thanks to the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, I was turned on to Robyn’s reinvented contemporary self, and she made some really cool choices. She still is a pop dance type, but she’s a totally weird diva, instead of trying to fit in. This is probably made more possible by the Coming of Gaga, but after obsessively reading interviews with Robyn, this sound and look was a long time in coming. I look forward to listening to all three parts of her 2010 triptych, Body Talk.
Try out a few other songs after this one: Indestructible, Call Your Girlfriend, and Be Mine (the Nobel Convention performance of this last one is fantastic).
Attack of the Killer Collections
Every year around this season of gift giving, I see lots of posts by writers and readers and online stores, advising people what books would make great gifts. Usually, these lists consist entirely of novels. I’m a big fan of novels, but I might be an even bigger fan of short story collections. But even I can be swayed by novel-fever, and in the past (not the recent past, but back when I did blog regularly past), even I’ve recommended buying novel A and novel B, etc. This year, I’m recommending three killer short story collections that I’ve read in 2011. Of course they’re all published by small presses, because the large press publishing industry has this idea that people don’t want to read short story collections. I think that’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that’s another blog post. For now, here’s my advice: buy these three collections. They’re awesome, and they each have killer covers.
Collection A: After the Apocalypse, by Maureen F. McHugh
Maureen McHugh is well known in science fiction circles, mainly in the circles that admire high quality, character centered scifi. Back in the 90s, she debuted with a hugely awesome novel-in-stories (before that term was conceived of) called China Mountain Zhang (read that book, too!). She went on to write a number of other novels, and one other collection (Mothers and Other Monsters, also recommended), and has been spending time writing Alternate Reality Games and is now writing film scripts. So the scifi short story world is always very eager to read when a story of hers appears. This collections revolves thematically around the idea of apocalypses, endings, both literal and metaphorical, both in the epic scifi sort of way, and in the ordinary individual’s self-implosion sort of way.
Cover comment: Fantastic design that makes the book look old and battered, but isn’t in fact. Very cool.
Collection B: Unpossible, by Daryl Gregory
Daryl Gregory and I won the same award (the Crawford Award) for best first fantasy book. Different years, of course! His first novel, Pandemonium, reminded me of a newish, leaner, sometimes scarier (is that possible? or unpossible?) Stephen King. His follow-up novels were just as good as the first, but I’d never read any of Daryl’s short stories until this collection came out from Fairwood Press last month. The stories range from good to great, and a couple are straight-up knockouts. Really idea-oriented speculative fiction that doesn’t lose sight of its characters and the human drama unfolding around them.
Cover Comment: Fantastic. This is a wonderfully weird piece of art. If Gregory’s previous books hadn’t already sold me on him in general, I would have bought this book for the cover alone (yes, I’m one of those sorts).
Collection C: Sleight of Hand, by Peter S. Beagle
Does Peter S. Beagle really need an introduction? Probably for some. Can’t I just say, The Last Unicorn, and leave it at that? (And if you haven’t read The Last Unicorn, do yourself a favor and get it too).
Beagle has made something of a comeback in the last decade, publishing several short story collections with Tachyon Publications, and all of them bear the hallmarks of his wit, wonder, and deep sympathy for ordinary characters caught up in extraordinary fantastical events. This particular collection seems to revolve mostly around magicians, dragons, gods and enchantresses. There’s light and dark both in these stories, a wide range of types of fantasy stories.
Cover Comment: Gorgeous. That is all.
Now, go forth and buy short story collections as gifts. For yourself, and for others. Because, really, collections rock, and these ones are killers.
Pre-viewing, pre-ordering, pre-mourning
There have been lots of pre-reviews of this anthology popping up in the past month or two, all of them positive. I’m happy to be included in this review as one of the reviewer’s “favorites”. If you go to Amazon.com right now, you can pre-order the book at an extremely reduced price.
Incidentally, this story is also a story thread of the YA novel I’m working on at the moment. It’s been great fun to write so far, and I’m two-thirds of the way into it. I’m actually pre-mourning the day it’s done.
Map for a Forgotten Valley and 631
Dear Locals (and those traveling nearby) who will be around Youngstown on February 15th. I am giving a reading from my series of creative nonfiction vignettes called “Map for a Forgotten Valley”, along with a showing of Derek Jones’ short film “631”. Here is a blurb of what the evening will look like. Please click on the image to make it larger.
Please come, listen, watch, speak.
Also, the image of the feral house on this flyer was taken by Tony Romandetti, photographer extraordinaire. 😉
Another piece of the map
For those of you who may have read the vignettes in Map for a Forgotten Valley that I published last month, another piece of that map has recently been published by Muse, a Cleveland magazine. You can read the whole issue of Muse by visiting their website and downloading the pdf of the issue. Along with my story, “The B&O, Crossroads of Time and Space,” the poet Nin Andrews has interviewed me for the issue as well.
Here’s a link to Muse.
And here’s a direct link to Muse 12 JAN11.
Thanks for reading!
This Year/New Year
Happy New Year to everyone! I’m excited to start over, however arbitrary a choice in time to do so it is, or perhaps however traditional/stereotypical a time it is to start anew, and look forward to a year of pursuing new writing, new relationships, new growth in myriad dimensions (I’m considering a move to an alternate world, don’t you know?) and new newness. New new new. Now now now.
This past year I published a couple of things: a story called “Map of Seventeen” in the Beastly Bride (eds. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) which has been selected by the editor Jonathan Strahan to be included in his annual anthology The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (due out from Night Shade Books in March 2011). The other thing I published was a collection of place-based vignettes I’ve been writing called Map for a Forgotten Valley, which The New Haven Review released in its most recent issue just a few weeks ago. It’s the year of maps for me, apparently. Hopefully next year I can begin to travel them and chart new territory.
As usual, at the beginning of the new year, I’m wondering what others have read in the past year that knocked the back of their heads off (or their socks, or whatever). The Nebula Awards are coming up soon. I have until February 15th to make my nominations. So if you have any Scifi/Fantasy recommendations in short story, novelette, novella, and novel forms that you think I should look at, please leave me a comment pointing me in the right direction. I always read as much as I can each year, but there’s always HEAPS of books and stories that I miss completely. So recommendations, please!
Looking forward to another year of writing, reading, teaching, running, eating good food, enjoying, laughing, and looking around at the world.
Last minute shoppers, looking for a good book to give at the holidays? Take a chance on M. Rickert’s new short story collection, Holiday. Mary Rickert’s stories are absolutely full of wonder and frightening circumstances, sometimes creepy and other times sad or joyful. She’s one of the best short story writers out there, period, in the category of fantasy and out. I can never get enough of them. Highly recommended. For a limited time the publisher, Golden Gryphon Press, is selling all of their books at a 50% discount, so please take advantage of the sale!
HOLIDAY by M. Rickert
Ghosts and mythic beings populate this holiday-themed collection of eleven tales to read by candlelight. “Holiday,” where a story of all holidays for a dead girl and the man who sees her, is followed by New Year’s Day and “Memoir of a Deer Woman,” a woman’s transformation into a deer leaves her husband desperate for her words. Valentine’s Day is celebrated with “Journey into the Kingdom,” winner of the World Fantasy Award, where a young girl falls in love with a ghost. A May Day wedding in “The Machine” is a tale of innocence lost and terrible revenge, a story not for the faint of heart. Mother’s Day brings us a future where women who have had abortions are punished in “Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment: One Daughter’s Personal Account.” Father’s Day is marked by asking what is lost forever when a stolen boy returns, in “Don’t Ask.” In a story for Independence Day, a nine-year-old girl’s first act of independence is also an act of revenge, in “Traitor.” Not all anniversaries are happy occasions and in “Was She Wicked? Was She Good?” one family copes with the damage that remains after being victims of a home invasion. A surreal Halloween story, “You Have Never Been Here,” asks if the body is the mask we all wear. A Veteran’s Day story, “War is Beautiful,” features a soldier in the Vietnam War who befriends a local girl-or is she a ghost? The collection ends with a Halloween to Christmas tale, “The Christmas Witch,” where a lonely, little girl struggles to survive in a town of children that collect bones. Holidays are days of honor.
These eleven tales, eerie, mysterious, and creepy, honor the human experience of death and redemption. They might keep you up at night, but why not extend the celebration?
As an added bonus, each story has two illustrations by Thomas Canty.
To order single copies, order them at our website
(www.goldengryphon.com), or send $24.95 (no shipping charge) to:
Golden Gryphon Press
3002 E. Perkins Road
Urbana, IL 61802-7730
We also accept MC/VISA.
Send name of cardholder, card number, and expiration date.
You can also purchase the book at sites like Amazon and Powell’s.
The end of autumn. It’s been a busy semester. The student group I advise has created an awesome new online literary magazine called “jenny”. I posted about this a little over a month ago, and now the site is live. We had a launch party with over a hundred people in attendance at Dorian Books on the Northside this past week, and presented the site and held excerpt readings from those writers in the issue who were local or who traveled to be at the launch. It was an awesome evening, and the magazine has been well-received so far. We’ve received a lot of support in the local community and people from other states and even countries (!) have sent us email saying how much they like the magazine. We have probably a 75/25 ratio of local or regional writers to writers from the wider world in this issue, and hope to bring it to a 50/50 balance as we continue to produce more issues. One of the main goals in the magazine is to bridge the local with the global, if possible. I keep hearing that we live in a global world–it’s all over the internet and in magazines and newspapers, right? But I also keep hearing this call for local cultures to be lived in, embraced, encouraged, from buying locally grown food to growing a local literary culture. Jenny will hopefully serve to be a bifocal lens, through which we can see the local and the global in one place. Do take a look at the first issue. It’s really beautifully designed and I think we’re going to just keep getting better. You can read it at www.jennymag.org. For those readers of my blog who love SF, at least three or four of the stories in this issue should ring some of your bells.
Otherwise, my fall was busy for reasons beyond launching a new magazine. Classes, classes, and more classes. Lots of local events to attend and support. I remember a time in my life not long ago when I had buckets of free time to sit within and dream for hours, but that seems like another life to me right now. I’m looking forward to the winter break to rejuvenate and replenish my well.
I was also busy, though, because I did some rewriting on the novel I’d finished a first draft of this past summer, and I started writing a new one not long after. A young adult novel. I’m three chapters in and really having so much fun with it. Not going to say much about what it’s about, though, until I get further in. Mum’s the word for now.
Soon my Map for a Forgotten Valley series of flash nonfiction or meditations or vignettes (I’m not sure what to call them) will be published by the New Haven Review and Muse (in December, I believe), so I’ll be popping back in here to point you in the right direction soon.
Last week of classes this week. I’m pumped for the holiday break, but I’ll also, as always, be sad to not see some of these people I’ve spent the last fifteen weeks with as often or possibly ever again. It’s weird, being a teacher, getting close to people quickly, lots of people, and then saying goodbye to the majority of them four months later. And then, a month after that, starting up that same process all over again.
“jenny” is something my students in the Literary Arts Association at YSU have been busily preparing as a new online literary magazine. This is a radically energetic and creative group of students, and I’m really proud to be working with them as they put together something new and electric like this. Please take a look at the site preview. The debut party will be on November 24th at 7PM at Dorian Books in Youngstown, OH. Details on the front page of the “jenny” magazine site itself. If you’re around the area, please join us. And if you’re not, please give the magazine a read when it debuts and consider sending your own work in the meantime!
Youngstown State University’s Student Literary Arts Association is proud to invite you to submit work to our new online literary magazine: Jenny.
Allow us a moment to explain the title of our venture.
Like many struggling postindustrial cities across the country, Youngstown, Ohio is a place defined by images of ruin and rust, and there are few images more striking than that of the Jeannette Blast Furnace. “Jenny,” as plant workers called her and as Bruce Springsteen referred to her in his 1995 song “Youngstown,” was one of two furnaces located at Youngstown Sheet and Tube. It was a place where things were made, shaped, created.
The blast furnace was shut down in the late 1970s and was demolished in 1996. Steel was one of many industries that left this region built on manufacturing in the last four decades of our history. While the absence of our blast furnaces has been felt in terrible ways throughout our region, our fire has not gone out. In the aftermath of de-industrialization, we are not a people without industry. Youngstown is not done creating, not done making. We are each of us, every day, telling stories. Here in the pages of Jenny, we aim to display some of those artifacts made by wordsmiths and visual artists alike.
Jenny will publish short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and interviews with artists and writers. We hope to bring together writers and artists both from the local region as well as the wider world, connecting our stories with yours, yours with ours here in America’s heartland and America’s rustbelt. Submissions do not have to be set in Youngstown, or in rustbelt or postindustrial settings at all, though we do encourage writing and art that speaks to that experience.
Jenny will appear twice a year, in late fall and spring. We will be publishing 5-7 pieces of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry per issue. We ask that prose not exceed 7,000 words (preferably 5000 or under), and that poetry submissions not exceed 5 pages (or 5 poems).
Each issue will also include a featured artist. If you are interested in being a featured artist, please contact us with a proposed series of images or photographs.
Along with writing and art, we will also feature interviews with authors and artists, and podcasts of selected stories and poems.
Please direct all submissions and questions to email@example.com. Please submit all work as an attachment in .doc or .rtf format. Deadline for the Fall issue is October 29th. If your submission arrives after that, we will consider it for our Spring issue, the deadline for which is April 2nd.
We look forward to your contributions.
YSU SLAA (Student Literary Arts Association)