Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Russell Dickerson's Cover Art for the Skillute Cycle

At his Web site, artist Russell Dickerson writes about our 3-year, 4-book collaboration on the Skillute Cycle. Before a reader buys a book, before she considers the synopsis or reviews, something has to catch her eye. That something is the cover art and design, created by Russ Dickerson to convey the world and characters of Skillute.

Many thanks, Russ.

Friday, August 08, 2014

October Dreams II

Great news! My story, "Death and Disbursement" will appear in October Dreams II edited by Richard Chizmar and Robert Morrish, published by Cemetery Dance Publications. This Halloween-themed anthology, a follow-up to the popular and acclaimed October Dreams from the same editors, will feature the following authors.

"Mr. Dark’s Carnival" by Glen Hirshberg
"Universal Horrors" by Stephen Graham Jones
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Perspective" by Michael McBride
"The Scariest Thing I Know" by Dean Koontz
"Guising" by Gemma Files
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Gort Klaatu Barada Trick or Treat" by Nancy Holder
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Under the Autumn Stars" by Tim Waggoner
"Monsters" by Stewart O’Nan
"Death and Disbursement" by S.P. Miskowski
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "All the News" by Karen Heuler
"Dear Dead Jenny" by Ian McDowell
"What Blooms in Shadow Withers in Light" by Richard Gavin
My Favorite Halloween Memory by M. Rickert
"The ’Corn Factory" by Benjamin Kane Ethridge
"In a Dark October" by Joe R. Lansdale
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "The Real Darkborn" by Matthew Costello
"The October Game" by Ray Bradbury
"Fear of Fallen Leaves" by James Newman
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Costume" by Melanie Tem
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Dancing With Mr. Death" by Kealan Patrick Burke
"Scarecrow" by Roberta Lannes
"Strange Candy" by Robert McCammon
My Favorite Halloween Memory by Harry Shannon
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "That Which Doesn’t Kill You Earns You Candy" by Nate Southard
"The Pumpkin" by Robert Bloch
"Mr. and Mrs. Werewolf " by Whitley Strieber
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Rescuer?" by Nicole Cushing
My Favorite Halloween Memory by Ray Garton
"Great Pumpkins and Ghost Hunters: Halloween on TV" by Lisa Morton
"The Pumpkin Smasher" by Al Sarrantonio
"The House on Cottage Lane" by Ronald Malfi
My Favorite Halloween Memory by Tim Curran
"The Dry Season" by James A. Moore
"The Spirit of Things" by John Skipp
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Haunting Season" by Orrin Grey
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "The Witch of Walnut" by Elizabeth Massie
"The Little Werewolf Who Cried" by Al Magliochetti
"The Boy in the White Sheet" by Bev Vincent
My Favorite Halloween Memory by Richard Gavin
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "The Last Halloween" by Ronald Kelly
"Sexy Pirate Girl" by Lisa Morton
"Monster Night" by Brian James Freeman
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Screams in the Asylum" by James Newman
"Underfolk" by Tina Callaghan
My Favorite Halloween Memory: "Pumpkin Parade" by Sephera Giron
"October Dreams" by Michael Kelly

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Knock Knock - an excerpt

The rain was starting to come down like mad. In this torrent, anyone dashing from one end of the house to the other, outside, would fall down; but there was no sign of anyone, no matter how fast Beverly charged from door to door.
It had to be kids playing pranks, probably more of the Dempsey boys, some of the pathetic cousins from those little trailers up in the woods. They drank whiskey, all of them, and they played cards late into the night sometimes.
She would look up into the woods and see the amber lights of kerosene lamps, because most of them didn't have electricity. There were five or six trailers and vans parked on one piece of land. The grownups kept pretty quiet except during hunting season, but the kids were bored. The kids got into trouble. Not like Connie Sara, just the usual kind of trouble, stealing cigarettes at Misty Mart. Dumb stuff.
Beverly took a detour into the kitchen. She knelt on the checkerboard floor and opened a cabinet under the sink. She grabbed the first thing handy, a can of foaming cleanser. That would give them a surprise!
She shook the can hard and strode toward the front door, ready for action. Then she looked up, and froze. The stimulated contents of the can crept out the nozzle like drool and ran down onto the carpet. She dropped the can.
On the opposite side of the glass and aluminum door someone was watching her intently, facing the door, so close to the glass that Beverly couldn't make out any features, only the outline of a head, shoulders, and arms.
"Hello?" She said.
The person didn't answer or move.
Beverly thought: Halloween pranks in the spring! Stupid kids!
But she didn't laugh.
"Is that Darrell Joe Dempsey?" She asked.
"Rodney Junior?" She said. "You better answer me."
Not a sound. She tried to move, but she couldn't force herself to go forward. She wanted to slam the wooden door shut against the security door and lock it, but she couldn't.
Whoever it was grabbed the handle and shook it hard. The door made a tin, shuddering noise. Beverly thought it was coming off the hinges.
She stayed frozen. As suddenly as the shaking had begun, it stopped. The figure outside let go of the handle, drew back, and spat a wad of phlegm at the glass. The mess stuck and dripped down leaving a slug trail.

-- from Knock Knock, the first book in the Skillute Cycle

Delphine Dodd - an excerpt

My sister Olive was lighter than me, in her skin tone and hair and eyes, but also her voice. She had what people called a musical voice. She was pretty but sort of soft and pudgy. She smiled too much, I thought, even when there was no reason to smile. I used to ask her, sometimes, what she was smiling about, but she would just shake her head and laugh. That made me mad. I still don't know why.

It had been a long trip. Two days of intermittent drizzle and the usual mechanical trouble. Now we stood holding hands, waiting. Everything could change in a minute. We knew that well enough. Mama might shout out for John Dee to turn around. She might come back to fetch us. This had happened twice the year before, in Portland and then Astoria.

The toes of our shoes lined up along the border where a patch of rough moss spread out to meet the muddy road. The night rain cast its sheen across the woods, trapping spots of moonlight in puddles that glowed like paper lanterns among the ferns and cedars.

From the spot where we stood that narrow dirt path climbed gradually away, then snaked left and continued uphill. I couldn't see it any more but nearly a quarter of a mile off the automobile rattled its way into the night. The machine was a Tin Lizzy. Mama called it the Contraption. For weeks she had tried to wheedle the promise of a better vehicle out of John Dee. She had her heart set on a Marmon, but I figured she would never get one of those. John Dee and his friends were lowdown criminals. Their money came and went like water.

Even after the sound of the Tin Lizzy died away, we waited. Finally Olive spoke.

"Is she coming back?"

"No," I said. Might as well face the truth and let it bleed out. "Not this time."

-- from Delphine Dodd, second book in the Skillute Cycle

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Moon Will Look Strange by Lynda E. Rucker

For several years I’ve been collecting horror anthologies. Some have focused on a theme and some have been “best of” annuals. In the second category I’ve found certain editors can be counted on to gather and reprint truly exceptional stories. Stephen Jones’s Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Paula Guran’s The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year have no reason to apologize for hyperbole. These are editors who read widely and with great respect for the genre. The work they deliver is extraordinary and well worth the cover price.

While making my way through annual anthologies and reading magazines such as Black Static, Supernatural Tales, Shadows & Tall Trees, and Nightmare Magazine, certain names turn up time and again. One writer whose work I’ve come to admire very much is Lynda E. Rucker. In fact, after reading a couple of her stories I began to look for her name as a sure-fire sign that the volume before me was going to be good.

Karoshi Books, a British small press, is run by award-winning editor Johnny Mains, Peter Mark May of Hersham Horror Books, and Cathy Hurren, a production editor at Routledge. Last September Karoshi Books released The Moon Will Look Strange by Lynda E. Rucker, one of the best story collections of 2013. This is another instance in which a small press identifies an undeniably superb talent far ahead of bigger, more bureaucratic publishing companies.

The Moon Will Look Strange pulls together some of the Rucker stories that appeared earlier in magazines and anthologies (some a few years old and some quite recent) as well as three new stories original to the collection. It’s a beautiful book full of strange, dark-edged, eerie tales. I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you like weird fiction, or horror with an emphasis on literary excellence and precise psychological insight set in fascinating, dreamlike locations, you will fall in love with Rucker’s world.

Among the many delights of The Moon Will Look Strange:

“The Burned House,” in which a woman is inexplicably drawn to the remnants of a personal tragedy.

“No More A-Roving,” about a young traveler who can’t seem to move on from the hostel where he’s chosen to rest, and where odd little occurrences remind him of his longing for connection and his perpetual need to remain in transition.

“The Chance Walker,” a story that will keep you up all night double-checking the windows and doors, and that one spot where it seems there ought to be a door.

“The Moon Will Look Strange,” a sharp, painful study of a father’s grief and the length to which he will go to reclaim what he’s lost.

“These Things We Have Always Known,” one of the first Rucker stories I encountered, and still quite impressive after several reads. This is a perfect illustration of the author’s gift for marrying a character’s state of mind to the physical environment.

“The Last Reel,” first published in Supernatural Tales, a very creepy story about a woman who returns to her deceased aunt’s house and makes a shocking discovery, all the while carrying on a cinematic trivia game with her boyfriend.

These are tales you will not forget. The settings seem familiar and yet off-kilter, like landscapes in a dream, or places remembered from a journey years ago. The loneliness and complex desires of the characters will haunt you. No one is better at capturing rare (and terrifying) moments of numinous wonder.

2013 was a year of many fine novellas and story collections. I’d place The Moon Will Look Strange near the top of the list. If you love short fiction as an art form and as a deeply emotional/psychological experience, you can’t miss with Lynda E. Rucker.
For more Rucker fiction read Supernatural Tales 24, Shadows & Tall Trees #5, and Nightmare Magazine (June 2013), as well as Little Visible Delight, an anthology I co-edited with Kate Jonez, published by Omnium Gatherum Media. For non-fiction read Rucker’s brilliant column, Blood Pudding, in Black Static and her blog, in the pines. You can also hear an audio version of “The Last Reel” at Pseudopod.

Monday, January 27, 2014

ASTORIA on the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot

It's always a pleasant surprise to be recognized for something special in your writing. This month my novella Astoria is included on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards. The awards are administered by the Horror Writers Association. To be on the preliminary ballot does not make the book a nominee. In the next few weeks members of HWA will vote to trim the list down to four (or five) nominees in each category.

There were many excellent books published in 2013, and in all likelihood Astoria will be eliminated in the next round. But it's nice to be recognized and lovely to be (as my husband calls it) a Preliminee. Many thanks to my fellow writers and members of HWA for including my novella. And congratulations to everyone on the ballot.

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Michaelbrent Collings – Darkbound (Amazon Digital Services)
Michaelbrent Collings – The Colony: Genesis (Amazon Digital Services)
John Harwood – The Asylum (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Joe Hill – NOS4A2 (William Morrow)
Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)
Lisa Morton – Malediction (Evil Jester Press)
Fuminori Nakamura – Evil and the Mask (Soho Crime)
Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson – A Necessary End (Thunderstorm/Maelstrom Press)
Christopher Rice – The Heavens Rise (Gallery Books)
Gord Rollo – Only the Thunder Knows (JournalStone)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

L.C. Barlow – Pivot (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
Michael Bray – Whisper (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
J. Lincoln Fenn – Poe (47North)
Geoffrey Girard – Cain’s Blood (Touchstone)
Kate Jonez – Candy House (Evil Jester Press)
Christian A. Larsen – Losing Touch (Post Mortem Press)
John Mantooth – The Year of the Storm (Berkley Trade)
Rena Mason – The Evolutionist (Nightscape Press)
Jonathan Moore – Redheads (Samhain Publishing)
Royce Prouty – Stoker’s Manuscript (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Charles Day – The Adventures of Kyle McGerrt: Hunt for the Ghoulish Bartender (Blood Bound Books)
Patrick Freivald – Special Dead (JournalStone)
Kami Garcia – Unbreakable (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Geoffrey Girard – Project Cain (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Hannah Jayne – Truly, Madly, Deadly (Sourcebooks Fire)
Tom Leveen – Sick (Harry N. Abrams)
Joe McKinney – Dog Days (JournalStone)
Cat Winters – In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Harry N. Abrams)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Ed Brubaker – Fatale Book Three: West of Hell (Image Comics)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)
Brandon Seifert – Witch Doctor, Vol. 2: Mal Practice (Image Comics)
Cameron Stewart – Sin Titulo (Dark Horse Comics)
Paul Tobin – Colder (Dark Horse Comics)
NOTE: As there are only five selections, the Graphic Novel category will not appear on the Preliminary Ballot but will move directly to the Final Ballot. Word of warning: these are not considered “nominees” until the Final Ballot is announced.

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Dale Bailey – “The Bluehole” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2013)
Gary Braunbeck – “The Great Pity” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
James Chambers – Three Chords of Chaos (Dark Quest Books)
Benjamin K. Ethridge – “The Slaughter Man” (Limbus, Inc., JournalStone)
Gregory Frost – “No Others Are Genuine” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Oct./Nov. 2013)
Greg F. Gifune – House of Rain (DarkFuse)
Eric J. Guignard – Baggage of Eternal Night (JournalStone)
Dustin LaValley – The Deceived (Thunderstorm Books)
Rena Mason – East End Girls (JournalStone)
S.P. Miskowski – Astoria (Omnium Gatherum)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Colleen Anderson – “The Book With No End” (Bibliotheca Fantastica, Dagan Books)
Michael Bailey – “Primal Tongue” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
Max Booth III – “Flowers Blooming in the Season of Atrophy” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Patrick Freivald – “Snapshot” (Blood & Roses, Scarlett River Press)
David Gerrold – “Night Train to Paris” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2013)
Lisa Mannetti – “The Hunger Artist” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
Samuel Marolla – “Black Tea” (Black Tea and Other Tales, Mezzotints)
Helen Marshall – “The Slipway Grey” (Chilling Tales, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)
John Palisano – “The Geminis” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Michael Reaves – “Code 666” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2013)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Fabien Adda and Fabrice Gobert – The Returned: “The Horde” (Ramaco Media I, Castelao Pictures)
Brad Falchuk – American Horror Story: Asylum: “Spilt Milk” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Bryan Fuller – Hannibal: “ApĂ©ritif” (Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production, Gaumont International Television)
Daniel Knauf – Dracula: “A Whiff of Sulfur” (Flame Ventures, Playground, Universal Television, Carnival Films)
Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead: “Welcome to the Tombs” (AMC TV)
NOTE: As there are only five selections, the Screenplay category will not appear on the Preliminary Ballot but will move directly to the Final Ballot. Word of warning: these are not considered “nominees” until the Final Ballot is announced.

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (ed.) – Horror Library: Volume 5 (Cutting Block Press)
Marc Ciccarone (ed) – Blood Rites: An Invitation to Horror (Blood Bound Books)
Eric J. Guignard (ed.) – After Death… (Dark Moon Books)
Michael Knost and Nancy Eden Siegel (ed.) – Barbers & Beauties (Hummingbird House Press)
Ross E. Lockhart (ed.) – Tales of Jack the Ripper (Word Horde)
Lori Michelle (ed.) – Bleed (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (ed.) – The Grimscribe’s Puppets (Miskatonic River Press)
Jeani Rector (ed.) – Shadow Masters: An Anthology from the Horror Zine (Imajin Books)
Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson (ed.) – Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror, Volume One (Grey Matter Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Nathan Ballingrud – North American Lake Monsters: Stories (Small Beer Press)
Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)
Max Booth III – They Might Be Demons (Dark Moon Books)
Kenneth W. Cain – Fresh Cut Tales: A Collection of Dark Fiction (Distressed Press)
James Dorr – The Tears of Isis (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
K. Trap Jones – The Crossroads: A Collection of Narrative Horror (Hazardous Press)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories (Subterranean)
Chantal Noordeloos – Deeply Twisted (TMH Publishing)
Gene O’Neill – Dance of the Blue Lady (Bad Moon Books)
Reggie Oliver – Flowers of the Sea (Tartarus Press)
S. P. Somtow - Bible Stories for Secular Humanists (Diplodocus Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan (ed.) – Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Gary William Crawford (ed.) – Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Modern Master of Horror (Scarecrow Press)
William F. Nolan – Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction (Hippocampus Press)
Jarkko Toikkanen – The Intermedial Experience of Horror: Suspended Failures (Palgrave Macmillan)
Robert H. Waugh (ed.) – Lovecraft and Influence: His Predecessors and Successors (Scarecrow Press)
Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock (ed.) – The Works of Tim Burton: Margins to Mainstream (Palgrave Macmillan)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Vincenzo Bilof – The Horror Show (Bizarro Pulp Press)
Bruce Boston – Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems 1971-2012 (Dark Renaissance Books)
G.O. Clark – Scenes Along the Zombie Highway (Dark Regions Press)
David C. Kopaska-Merkel – Luminous Worlds (Dark Regions Press)
Helen Marshall – The Sex Lives of Monsters (Kelp Queen Press)
Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca – Dangerous Dreams (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob, and Linda Addison – Four Elements (Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press)
Bryan Thao Worra – Demonstra: A Poetry Collection (Innsmouth Free Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – Hysteria: A Collection of Madness (Raw Dog Screaming Press)