Harlan Ellison, Alan Dean Foster…and Courtney Cantrell

YEAH BABY.

I’ve known for just over 48 hours, and I’m sure it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But, lack of sink-innage notwithstanding, I’m a-gonna blare it out to the world anyway:

Around Christmas of this year, I shall have a story in the SAME short story collection as HARLAN ELLISON and ALAN DEAN FOSTER.

As my friend Josh (who’s gonna have a story in the same collection) says,

“This is what we in the business call a pretty big deal.”

In case you’re unaware, dear inklings, Ellison and Foster both are so well-known in the sci-fi world, it would be downright silly for me to tell you about them here. Really that’s why God gave us Google and Wikipedia. Thus, if you go get Googwikified over these two gents, you’ll find out everything you need to know.

But. I’ll say this much: Ellison has been in the writing biz since the late 1950s, and Foster made me fall in love with him when I read his “Pip and Flinx” novels as a teen. If that gives you even a slight reference point for my excitement, we are good to go.

So! The short story collection in question is KINDLE ALL-STARS: RESISTANCE FRONT, the brainchile of one Bernard J. Schaffer.

Sometime around three months ago, Bernard put out an intarwebz call for short stories: He wanted to do a ground-breaking anthology to showcase independent authors in today’s e-media. The “resistance” aspect of the project refers to our collective determination no longer to let the traditional publishing model squelch our writerly voices. Bernard writes,

“Whole generations of authors have been lost to us because they could not penetrate the murky swamps of corporate publishing. I imagine all the works of art that we’ll never know of simply because the vicious cycle of query-letter, agent, synopsis, publisher, book-seller, and eventual consumer did not work out for that individual.

“When an industry coins a phrase like ‘Slush Pile’ to reflect their opinion of where your work belongs, you get a pretty clear idea of your place in their world.”

You might imagine, my darlings, that every word of this resonates with me. : ) Not only that, but the proceeds of the project all go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These people find kidnapped kids and fight child porn. No question that I can get on board with that!

So. Longish story shortened, I finished up the short story I’d been working on and sent it in to Bernard. He sent it back with edits, and I had a mild freak-out while my writer self dealt with the knowledge that I’d not only sent my work to a total stranger, but now he was asking me to change it. And I mean change it. The dude wanted me to clip an entire thread from the story. And it was a thread I happened to like. Zoinks.

In the meantime, I found out that Ellison and Foster both had donated stories to the project. So now, if I got in, I’d be getting in with Ellison and Foster.

Have I mentioned that this is kind of a big deal?

Here I am, trying to edit and re-write a story, and the deal just keeps getting bigger and bigger. No pressure, right? I had to get over myself — no, really, I had to get over my fear. Why does it always come back to that?

Fear holds me back again and again. This time, it was fear of rejection…and maybe even a little fear of success. I have no idea where all of this might lead. But some possible future paths aren’t necessarily grand.

But I sucked it up, did my re-write, sent it back to Bernard — and waited. Ten days, y’all. I kept telling people it wouldn’t ruin my day if my story got rejected in the end…but that was only a half-truth. I wanted this bad. And during those 10 days, the fear kicked in again.

I rode it out. Did other stuff. Painted a crimson dragon. Published a whole magazine. You know, the usual. ; )

Then, two nights ago, the final participant announcements rolled in over Twitter, and I was on the list. Even better, Josh was on the list, too. Spider Robinson Wisdom ruled my personal celebration:

“Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased -— thus do we refute entropy.”

I love it when entropy takes one in the kisser.

For the record, applying Bernard’s feedback to my story was fun, once I got over myself. (Strangely enough, I’m wanting to paraphrase Pumbaa from The Lion King: “once I put my behind in my past”; but I don’t think it really applies here.) As I trimmed and re-wrote and copypasted, I saw a startling new shape emerge from the story…and it was a shape I very much appreciated.

It was the shape of a story that was better for the changing. Having an editor’s feedback made me a better writer for the story. Who’d a-thunk? ; )

My horror short “If This Were a Stephen King Story” will appear in Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front in December 2011.

“Few projects slung my way, these days of electronic idiocy and bad writing, can perk me up and get the fireworks. This is one of the best, sweetest ideas I’ve heard in years. Nothing but the smiles of Success are due the project, the people putting it together, and the good kids who will benefit from every penny garnered. I am 100% and a bag of marmosets behind it!”
— Harlan Ellison.

“Growing up, I had access to all the books I wanted to read, and they made my life. This is a project to benefit kids who have nothing. I can think of no better cause.”
— Alan Dean Foster

This really swings my verge, y’all. : )

Of Figs and the 9th Circle of Hell

Sometimes, I am a nerd.

Okay, yes, most of the time. And nerdery happens on this blog pretty much all of the time. This post about Google Analytics is a good example.

I had an awfully cramazing good time with that post, and a few days ago I was tooling around in Google Analytics again, and I thought to myself, “Self, you really should write another blog post about keywords, because that was just rockin’ awesome fun,” and myself replied, “Heck YEAH.”

So. Here are a few recent keyword phrases that have led people to my blog. Some of them make sense. Some of them, in the timeless tradition of haiku about refigerators* ***, do not. But I am going to answer them anyway. Because that’s just the kind of sweet, kind, helpful person I am. Booyah.

Six Keyword Searches…

…in order of my amusement:

1. three creative sins

Not sure what we’re talkin’ about here, y’all. If it’s three sins in creativity, how’s about this?

  1. Letting other people tell you how to be creative.
  2. Telling yourself “I’m not good enough to (insert creative activity here).”
  3. Neglecting to hone your craft.

If it’s creatively-executed sins you’re looking for, this might not be the blog you’re looking for.

(Email me.) ; )

2. what is the german word for “here”

The German word for “here” is “hier.”

BANGERANG. Next question.

3. what to write on my first blog post?

Most importantly: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? Why are you blogging? Why do you care? This is pretty much The Question you should answer for yourself before you even write that first blog post. If you do that, you’ll forge a connection with your readers before you even have any. Readers, that is. I know this is very meta, but trust me, I’m an expert**.

4. why are short stories short?

Um.

Because they’re not long?
Because they’re not novels?
Because short story cat is short story?

It’s because of reasons.

Oy.

5. why grocery shopping is the 9th circle of hell

Shopping carts in parking spaces. Packed aisles. Twenty-five cash registers and only 3 checkers. Sugar cookies jumping out at you from every endcap. The woman in bunny slippers, curlers, and a see-through blouse. The guy at the meat counter who turns to you with wide, shining eyes and says, “Have you tried this ground chuck? You should try this ground chuck!

I really don’t think I need to elaborate on this.

6. writing a story about court

You’re writing a story about ME? You are fantabulous! I love you! You are my new favorite person for the next ten minutes! Do I get a superpower? Oooooh, can I be telekinetic? And have vorpal unicorn morphing powers? I wouldn’t mind a teleporting ability, too, since I’ve kind of been wanting to go to Australia lately. Thanks!

_______________________

* I misspelled “refrigerator” as I was writing this post. I happened to be writing this post while at Consortium Time. I turned to Aaron and Becca and said, “I need someone to write a sci-fi story about a device that regenerates figs. It would be called a ‘refigerator.'”

They were not amused.
Although Becca said I had her until “figs.”

** Also, I seem to be a pathological liar.

*** Jessie mentioned haiku this week, which is why Japanese poetry is so randomly present in this blog post. Gadzooks, Brain.

Okay, Scifi & Fantasy Fans, This One’s for You


Ladies and gentlehobbits, I present to you:

A Consortium of Worlds, Vol. 1 (Fall Issue)

This is the first issue of the new Consortium Books quarterly, speculative fiction, short story e-magazine for Kindle and Nook. If you don’t know what spec fic is, just think sci-fi and fantasy with, in our case, a little dash of steampunk and mythology thrown in. It’s a yummy stew of otherwordly writerliness, and, as you might have guessed, I highly recommend a generous helping!

Buy A Consortium of Worlds, Vol. 1 (Fall Issue) for $2.99 on Kindle!

Buy it here for $2.99 on Nook!

My ingredient for this recipe comes in the form of a high fantasy short story, “Dead Reconning.” I’ve set it in what’s known anecdotally in Consortium circles as my “Triad universe.” You’ll find out more about the Triad universe in Fall 2012, when Consortium Books publishes my first epic fantasy novel, Legend’s Artisans: Schism (working title).

But. “Dead Reconning.” In this story, Wolf Dornsson and Lendry Bersallir, his lady fair, are trying to escape both Lendry’s disapproving father and the general, countrywide menace of undead elven soldiers. There’s adventure, romance, heroicness, argument, grotesqueness, grossness, and sword-fighting. It’s a light-hearted romp with a backdrop of darkness, and I kinda like it. I hope you will, too!

My fellow cooks in the Consortium of Worlds kitchen are:

Buy A Consortium of Worlds for Kindle or for Nook. Happy reading!

Cover art: Image by Yours Writerly Drawingly; trade dress by Amy Nickerson Design.

Cat Vomit and Temper Tantrums

Over at UnstressedSyllables.com, I’ve posted my weekly column What I Learned About Writing This Week. Click on over to find out what cat vomit has to do with my short story crafting and National Novel Writing Month!

There’s a connection. I promise. ; )

Thanks for reading, y’all!

IT’S ALMOST TIME.

Music To Demon By

Once upon a time, dear inklings, I told you the story of how my Demons of Saltmarch came into being.

To recap: I dreamed about a forbidding figure on a bridge, and I recorded the imagery in my dream journal. I knew that at some point, those images would turn into a fantasy novel. A few months later, I was pushing and prodding my vacuum cleaner into sucky submission whilst listening to the INXS album The Greatest Hits.

And BAM! there was the rest of the story.

There is an entire blog post, by the way, on receiving creative inspiration while engaging in the mundane. But that is another story and shall be told another time.

Anyway, the song that really got me that day in my hallway was “Suicide Blonde.”

Got some revelation put into your hands
Save you from your misery
Like rain across the land
Don’t you see
The colour of deception
Turning your world around again
.

And that, my loves, was how Colors of Deception was born. As of last week, you are now acquainted with its younger sibling, Shadows after Midnight, as well.

Recalling the INXS lyrics that helped bring my demons to paper (in more ways than one), I realized I’ve been remiss in sharing my writing playlists with you. So, without further ado or adon’t, here are the songs that inspired scenes and characters for the first two Demons of Saltmarch novels:

Colors of Deception


All songs by INXS.

Suicide Blonde (Dante)
The Strangest Party (Holly and Peter)
Taste It (Dante and Holly)
Devil Inside (Holly in chapel)
Heaven Sent (Holly, driving)
Disappear (Dante)
The Gift (Dante in the cave)
Need You Tonight (Dante and Holly)
Deliver Me (Dante)
Baby Don’t Cry (Dante’s denouement)
Afterglow (Dante’s epilogue)

Shadows after Midnight


All songs by INXS. The Shadows playlist also included all the songs from Colors.

Original Sin (Dante)
I Send a Message (Dante and Holly)
The Swing (Peter)
Johnson’s Pendulum (Eileen)
Love Is What I Say (Peter and Dante)
Burn for You (Dante and Holly)
 

 
 

For Stains of Grace, I branched out from INXS. But if I share that playlist with you, you’ll get all sorts of icky spoilers, so I don’t wanna do that. ; ) I can tell you, though, that it includes Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Porcupine Tree, and Apocalyptica.

Yeah. I mix stuff. ; )

And with that, I’ll leave you with the words of Dante’s favorite musician:

Yes, it’s me,
I am the one
To make you see
Where we belong.

To dream
All the time
Without a scream
In the dead of night,
All those faces
Come back to me.
I’ll be begging
To swim that sea.

A need to quench
The thirst of many
To justify
And make ready

This realization
Owes us strength to show.
If you’re uncertain
You’re invited to believe.*

______

*Lyrics by Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farriss.

My Horizon Got Embiggened

So. Thanks to Josh and a rollicking romp of insanity, I somehow got myself involved with the Kindle All-Stars Project.

In short, KAS is the brainchild of one Bernard J. Schaffer, who is putting together a short story anthology for Kindle of various independent authors. The proceeds of the anthology will go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Who wouldn’t want to throw their writing hat into a ring such as this?

So, I did. I submitted a horror short story. And, two days ago, I got an email from Bernard….

Click here to read the rest of this post!

SotU: Birds Carrying Twitterwhales

Twitter Whale by Yiying Lu. Text by Douglas Adams.

So. As I type this, Twitter seems to be down. I can’t access it on my iPhone, and online access seems limited to the all-too-familiar Twitterwhale with his unlikely, aviary transportation system.

I can’t tweet about the prewriting I’m engaged in.

To post #amwriting here would be rather fruitless.

But here I am, doing it anyway.

My conclusion is that when Twitter goes down, my Spidey senses tell me to go blog something. This is not a bad thing, my dear inklings, as I have been shoulding to blog many somethings that I haven’t done recently. Which is my way of saying that I’ve been neglecting you all recently, and I know it. Mea culpa.

Anyway. When Twitter’s down, I blog.

What about you? What do you do when Twitter’s down? What do you do when Facebook makes more user interface changes than you want to deal with? What do you do when the intarwebz are fritzing?

Oooooh, we could even pretend there’s an apocalypse if you want. What’s your first step?

Tell, tell!

SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT live at Amazon!

Hello, my dears! I know it’s been a stupid long time since you’ve heard anything substantial from me here. I am so very sorry! But it’s because I’ve been working hard to get you this:

The paperback of SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT is now available at Amazon. Click here to buy your copy, and happy reading!

For those of you who want a little more detail:

Peter Townsend is not normal and doesn’t play well with normals. He belongs to the ancient line of auguren, demon hunters with only one goal: Protect ordinary humans from their demonic tempters.

But last year, protecting Holly Idaho shattered Peter’s world. When Dante Mullins, the demon hunting Holly, spirited her away to the infernal realm of Saltmarch, Peter went through hell to save her. Falling in love with her wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was leaving Dante alive.

Now Dante is back, and Holly is missing. Holly’s friends Anne and Owin insist on joining Peter in the furious search. But when a new demon enters the fray, one that makes Dante look angelic, its nightmarish power threatens to consume them all.

The loyalties of friendship might be more help than Peter can deal with. This time, saving Holly might just cost him his soul.

BUY NOW:
SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch 2)

Many thanks to Julie V. Photography, Amy Nickerson Design, and model Andy Sawatzky for the cramazing cover art!

And do click to embiggen. It’s way cool. : )