Monthly Archives: August 2017

Announcing Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol. 2

I’ve been sitting on this for a while. The official announcement has been made, so I think I can talk about it now.

I’ve got a story in the forthcoming Road Kill Vol. 2.  You may have remembered I reviewed the first volume last year.

The launch date is October 21. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to make the launch party. It’s on the opposite side of the state.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Texas, you can drive all day and never leave the state.

Anyway, I’m very pleased and honored to have been included in this book.  I’ll post more details when I have them, such as how to get a copy for your very own.

Thoughts on Novellas

There has been some talk about novellas lately, mainly how they are a good fit for sword and sorcery.  Check out one such conversation over at Fletcher Vredenburgh’s site.

But that’s not really where I want to go. I had a conversation on Twitter this morning that started out about how to find markets. No, that’s not where I’m going either, but feel free to make any suggestions you have about markets in the comments.  I want to discuss how best to sell novellas.

My natural length to write seems to be novelette and novella length. Mark Finn made a throwaway comment on one of the last panels I attended at Armadillocon, and the basic framework of a story popped into my head.  I came back and immediately started on it. In just over 2 weeks I was finished.  The first draft came in at 21.5k words.  The thing pretty much wrote itself.  I’ve let it sit, not only to put some distance between me and the story before I start editing, but classes have started.  The two weeks before and after classes start tend to be pretty hectic, with extra headaches this year I’m legally prohibited from discussing.  (I’m not kidding. Can you say FERPA?  I knew you could.) I’m hoping to do a cleanup pass this weekend and send it to a beta reader while launching into my next, which will be a hard science horror story.

One of the things about this morning’s conversation, aside from an agreement that we need to write shorter, was the lamentation made by more than one person that most markets want shorter pieces.

This didn’t so much get me thinking as it brought some thoughts to the surface that have been rattling around looking for a hole in my head through which to escape.

I wrote a sword and planet novel for NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. It needs a lot of work before it’s ready to see the light of day, but I wrote a novella set in that world earlier this summer. I’ve got at least two WIPs that will be novelette or novella length, along with a few other pieces sitting on my hard drive.

I’m thinking about self-pubbing these since most of them are longer than what I’ve seen in guidelines for most markets they would be suitable for.  The question is what is the best way to go about this?

Do I publish each one separately?  If so, how do I determine price?  Anything less than $2.99 on Amazon gets a much smaller cut of the sale price, so I’m reluctant to price below that amount.  On the other hand, I want readers to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.

Should I bundle some or all of them together?  The one just completed is a stand-alone that I don’t think needs a sequel. So is one of the WIPs. The other is part of a series, an installment of which has seen print in StoryHack Issue 0.  I have several completed entries in this series of varying length, so a collection of them isn’t out of the question.

What does the market want?  Would you rather read a collection of novelettes and novellas (with maybe a short story or two) where the stories have no connection to each other?  Is the better approach to collect stories in a series or common setting?  Does it even matter?  Befuddled minds want to know.

A Look at Dark Screams, Volume 7

Dark Screams, Vol. 7
Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, eds.
ebook, $3.99

The Dark Screams series is one of the best horror anthologies out there.  I’d like to thank Brian James Freeman for the review copy of this volume.

The earlier volumes in this series tended to feature five stories.  This one has six, and I liked all of them. Some of the stories are reprints, but not all. The copyright page of the review edition lists four of six as having copyrights of 2017. The mix of new and reprint stories is a good format. Continue reading

Kelly Freas at 95

Frank Kelly Freas was born today, August 27, in 1922. He passed away in 2005.  Freas’s artwork graced the covers of magazines and books.  His style was unmistakeable. Some of his covers, such as “Martians Go Home”, are classics.  One of my most prized possessions is a signed print of Skylab that appeared as the cover of the June 1973 issue of Analog.

I never had the pleasure of meeting him.  There was a calendar of his art in the 1990s. I still have it. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any others that I know of.

Rather than write about him, here are some of the covers he did. These are all from my library that I could put my hands on quickly. I’d post images without the writing, but I don’t want to violate copyrights.

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

Bradbury as a young man

Douglas Ray Bradbury was born on this date, August 22, in the year 1920. He passed away on June 5, 2102. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years already.

Bradbury was one of the first science fiction and fantasy writers I ever read, back when I was in grade school. It was a life changing experience.

I’ve always preferred his fiction from the 1940s and early 1950s, the stuff published in Weird Tales and Thrilling Wonder Stories, to his later works, However, it’s been a few years since I read some of his later fiction. It’s about time I returned to it. I’m older now and my tastes have changed.

I’ve got a little bit of time free this evening, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than with a few Bradbury short stories.

Rather than say anymore about him, I’ll leave you with this quote:


Announcing The Vampire Stories of Robert Bloch

If you get the Haffner Press newsletter in your inbox, then you already know about this. But if don’t (and why not, I might add), then you’ll want to know.

One of the greatest writers of the macabre in the 20th Century was Robert Bloch.  I’ve written about him before. Like here. And here. And here. While he will probably always be best known as the author of Psycho, Bloch was many other things as well, including but not limited to a master of the short form. a member of the Lovecraft circle, and an accomplished screenwriter.

Haffner Press has announced The Vampire Stories of Robert Bloch.  Tentative publication date is sometime next year. Here’s the table of contents: Continue reading

Another Lovecraft Birthday

Another year has passed, and it’s Lovecraft’s birthday again. (It’s also my mother-in-law’s but that’s beyond the scope of this post.) I’ve been planning a post on Lovecraft (yes, Dave H., the one we discussed at Howard Days and Armadillcon), but it’s not the right time for it. It’ll piss people off. Trust me.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was one of the most influential writers of the weird and fantastic of the 20th Century.

I was thinking the other day about my own writing, and I realized that I have written more fiction with lovecraftian themes in the last year than I have in all other years combined. No, you can’t read these stories. They haven’t been published, although not for lack of trying. Two are under consideration and one isn’t quite finished.

I’ve seen more anthologies devoted to Lovecraft’s works this year. Maybe I’m just paying more attention, but it seems like there’s not going to be a decline in interest in his works.

I will make this observation, though. I don’t see a lot of middle ground with Lovecraft these days. Among the people who are familiar with his work, and by familiar I mean have actually read his stories as opposed to hearing about them from others, people seem to either love him or hate him.

That is influence.

To Book the Face or Not?

I don’t do Facebook. My wiseacre reason for not doing so is that lost friends from high school are lost for a reason and should remain that way. That’s not entirely a joke.

Six or so years ago, I had an account for about a week and quickly deleted it. It kept trying to put me in contact with people who didn’t even rise to the level of lost friends from high school. About a decade and a half ago, I made a joyful noise sang in the choir at the church I attended, which is on the other side of the state (TX) from where I live now. I was flooded with suggestions to send friend requests to a number of people I had known at that time. Several of them were children of a woman in the choir. I had almost no contact with them when they were kids, didn’t really know them then, and had had no interactions with them since I’d moved. I found the whole situation a bit creepy. Send friend requests to kids I barely knew a decade previously? No thanks.

I deleted the account. Someone later told me that Facebook made friend suggestions based on your email address. Made sense, I guess.

Since then, I’ve from time to time considered getting a new account, one attached to the email address associated with this blog. That email is primarily for writing and blogging activities, not personal things. James Reasoner told me at Armadillocon I’m the only one of the authors he’s published who doesn’t have a Facebook account. Then Charles Gramlich posted earlier today about his experience being off Facebook for a month. His point #8 was about missing calls for submissions from certain markets. That got my attention.

On the other hand, Adrian Simmons, the editor of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, once told me Facebook in some ways is like a nonstop online convention and can be a real time sink. I don’t need another distraction. I have Twitter for that.

So I’m going to throw the question out there. Should I get a Facebook account or not? Will the advantages out weigh the disadvantages? What do you guys think?

Report on Armadillocon 39

(i. to r.) Bill Crider, Joe Lansdale, Scott Cupp, William Browning Spencer on Telling Tall Tales

I’m somewhat tardy in getting this written, but I’ve been focusing on fiction writing this week.  Last weekend I attended Armadillocon 39.  It was something of a last minute decision. I had a choice, either go to Armadillocon or go to prison (cuz I was gonna go postal and kill somebody). As I have no aspirations to end up as some lifer’s wife, I chose the former rather than the latter.

The headliners (with one exception) weren’t a draw for me this year, although I did have a brief conversation with the GoH, Nisi Shawl. I found her to be a very nice lady, and I enjoyed my interaction with her. Otherwise I hung around with friends and went to some panels on writing. Continue reading

This Isn’t Really Turning into a Birthday Site, but…

F. Marion Crawford

…there was another birthday I wanted to mention.  Francis Marion Crawford was born on this August 2, 1854 and died on April 9, 1909.

Crawford wrote in a number of genres, but he’s remembered today for two stories that are considered classics of the macabre.

“The Upper Berth” is a ghost story that can be found in many anthologies, while “For the Blood is the Life” is a vampire tale.  Both are worth seeking out.  It’s been a number of years since I read them, and a reread of both is overdue.  Maybe this evening, after everyone has gone to bed and the lights grow dim…

Crawford only wrote one volume’s worth of weird fiction.  The definitive edition is Uncanny Tales, edited by Richard Dalby and published by Tartarus Press.

I’m really not planning on making Adventures Fantastic a birthday tribute site, in spite of the number that have popped up lately.  I’ve noticed the birthdays and have dashed the posts out over lunch or when I have a few minutes free.  They’ve kept the blog fresh, but I am going to be doing some other posts soon.