I’m In Grimdark Magazine Issue #5!

Grimdark Magazine Issue #5 has gone on sale, which means my Fungi story “First They Came for the Pigs” gets a second kick at the can.

GDM 5 COVER SMALL

That cover looks great, and I’m very excited to be a part of this ToC.

And in an incredibly Winnipeg thing to happen, I have the pleasure of sharing this issue with friend and fellow Winnipeg author, David Annandale. Something about our freezing winters or summer mosquitoes must make grimdark an obvious niche for us.

The fine folks at Grimdark even made a trailer for the issue!

Write on!

 

Level Up!

I suppose I can share this now, as the contract is signed (and I’ve been paid).

Sold my first short story reprint!

Level-Up

Nice!

The story in question is “First They Came for the Pigs” originally included in the Innsmouth Free Press anthology, Fungi, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey, it’ll be appearing in Grimdark Magazine in the near future. Super stoked about this!

I also came home from work to this as a congratulations the day they made the offer:

Mushroom Congrats

(“First They Came for the Pigs” features people-eating mushrooms by-the-by.)

Thanks Silvia and Orrin for choosing the story in the first place (and for commissioning that amazing cover that made me want to write about mushrooms even if I’ll never eat them) and to Grimdark for giving this one another moment in the sun.

Write on!

(I’m In) Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe!

Very excited to finally be able to announce that my story “Midnight Man versus Doctor Death” will be appearing in Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe edited by Claude Lalumière & Mark Shainblum. This will be my second time dinging the Tesseracts bell, and my second time in one of Claude’s anthologies. I love selling to the same market again. It helps one feel like the first time wasn’t a fluke.

This sale also means a lot because superhero comics were my gateway to reading way back when. Between wishing I could draw better and playing various superhero roleplaying games, I have created more superheroes and supervillains than I can easily remember, so it’s a thrill to have one out there in the world officially.

I do hope readers will like Midnight Man (obviously), as the story ties into a couple of my other works-in-progress.

Here’s the complete list of contributors:

John Bell ~ P.E. Bolivar ~ Kevin Cockle ~ Evelyn Deshane ~ Marcelle Dubé ~ Chadwick Ginther ~ Patrick T. Goddard ~ Kim Goldberg ~ Geoff Hart ~ Sacha A. Howells ~ Arun Jiwa ~ D.K. Latta ~ Michael Matheson ~ Bernie Mireault ~ Luke Murphy ~ Brent Nichols ~ David Perlmutter ~ Mary Pletsch & Dylan Blacquiere ~ Jennifer Rahn ~ Corey Redekop ~ Alex C. Renwick ~ Jason Sharp ~ Bevan Thomas ~ Leigh Wallace ~ A.C. Wise

Write on!

One New Story And Two New Gigs: Three Fun Things Make A New Blog

So a few new things have been happening lately:

I’m leading ACI Manitoba‘s Teen Writing Workshop as part of their 16-19 year old mentorship program. I’ve been a guest speaker at the program twice, once as an author and once as a bookseller and it’s an honour to be taking it over from Anita Daher. I’ll be editing an anthology of their stories, and at the end of the program the students will be doing a public reading of their work. We’ve had one class so far and I’m enjoying it a lot. My students (it’s very weird to think that I have students!) are very keen and I’m looking forward to reading what they produce.

Also on the teaching front, I’ll be leading a fantasy writing workshop in Thompson, Manitoba in March. Details are still being firmed up, but I’ll post them as soon as I have them. I had a great time the last time I visited northern Manitoba (to do research for Thunder Road) and I’m very much looking forward to checking out a different corner of the north. Here’s hoping the weather co-operates!

Finally, my publisher asked for a blog post about Ted Callan’s resolutions for the coming year. Somehow, instead of a blog post, I ended up with a 600 word short story instead. It went live today, and I hope you’ll enjoy New Year’s Eve. (For those concerned about such things, there are maybe a couple small spoilers for Tombstone Blues in this one)

Write on!

August Goals

Checking in on my August goals, I see a number of them are left over from June, let alone July. Sigh. It’s been that kind of summer. I have made some progress on many of them, but between Tombstone Blues editorial and dealing with some bureaucracy and financial planning issues, July was not as productive as I’d hoped it would be.

So, how’d I do:

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3: This time I’m aiming for at least 60000 words in the manuscript by month end.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. Another one without Ted. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon!). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.
  • Write a short story for the Innsmouth Free Press “Wings” special issue.
  • I haven’t written any “Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology” blog posts in a while. I have two on deck that I’ve been meaning to get to.
  • Attend the kick ass launch of ChiSeries Winnipeg Wednesday July 17th, at McNally Robinson. I am the co-organizer of this along with the Tiny Godzilla of Winnipeg’s YA scene (AKA the awesome and talented Samantha Beiko) and it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally there! We’ll have readings from David AnnandaleAndrew Davidson, and Sierra Dean.

While that’s not a lot crossed off, progress was made on all fronts. I did keep working on Tombstone Blues, though I doubt I made it to 60K, I won’t know until I finish transcribing my notebooks, and I’m about 80 handwritten pages behind on that (and not all of it is Tombstone Blues, either). I managed one edit pass on my first short story on the list, but it’s not done yet. I drafted a story for “Wings”, unfortunately, I didn’t get it in shape for the deadline, but I still like the story, and I think I can do something with it. I posted one of the two Loki’s Guide blogs (Jormungandur), and the second (Ymir) should be showing up soon.

So here’s my goals for August (what’s left of it anyway):

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3. No word count goal, this time afraid. I need a win.
  • Catch up transcribing my handwritten notes.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Polish the short story formerly meant for the Innsmouth Free Press “Wings” special issue.
  • Write my Loki’s Guide to Ymir blog post.
  • Write up a blog post or two about my time at the Icelandic Festival in Gimli.

Write on!

July Goals And A Half-Year Check In On The Big Picture

Here’s my latest monthly goals post:

So, how did I do in June?

  • Keep writing Thunder Road book 3. I’m not going to set a specific word count goal, I just want to keep up the forward progress and keep momentum rumbling. Okay, who am I kidding, I want to hit at least 50000 words in the manuscript by month end (which is not looking promising), which brings me to the next item:
  • Revamp my writing routine. There’s a good reason for this (besides getting my ass off Facebook and Twitter a bit more).
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon! I’m waiting on the contract to make the announcement). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.

Not as good as I’d hoped, unfortunately. There are reasons for this. (*cough* EXCUSES! *cough* Ahem) I didn’t write for most of the first week on my new job. I had two book reviews (one for The Winnipeg Review, one for Quill and Quire) and an article for Prairie books NOW all show up close together, and with similar deadlines. My response to paying work is generally to say “yes” and then figure out how I’ll make the time later. For year’s it’s been these reviews and articles that have helped to pay for my out of town conference trips. I made an admirable run at my word count goal for the final book in the trilogy, hitting almost 47000 words, but that’s not 50000, is it? Sadly I didn’t even look at those two short stories. The big goal of revamping my writing has been working however, and while 500-700 words a day on my lunch break and another 300-400 on the bus ride home may not seem like much, that roughly 1000 words a day is considerably more than I was averaging before May.

So what’s on the deck for July?

How about everything left over from June, to start.

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3: This time I’m aiming for at least 60000 words in the manuscript by month end.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. Another one without Ted. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon!). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.

And on the new side:

  • Write a short story for the Innsmouth Free Press “Wings” special issue.
  • I haven’t written any “Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology” blog posts in a while. I have two on deck that I’ve been meaning to get to.
  • Attend the kick ass launch of ChiSeries Winnipeg Wednesday July 17th, at McNally Robinson. I am the co-organizer of this along with the Tiny Godzilla of Winnipeg’s YA scene (AKA the awesome and talented Samantha Beiko) and it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally there! We’ll have readings from David Annandale, Andrew Davidson, and Sierra Dean.

I think I’m already veering into “unrealistic goal territory” as there is editorial work on Tombstone Blues to take into account, so I’m going to leave it there and see what happens in August. But since we’re half way through the year, I thought I’d also check in on those goals for 2013 that I posted back in January:

  • Finish Tombstone Blues
  • Start writing the as-yet nebulously titled book 3 in the Thunder Road Trilogy (I’m thinking this will be a good year to return to NaNoWriMo).
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Start a new writing project, just for the fun of it.

Still some work to do there, I see. I’m not terribly worried.

Tombstone Blues will be finished, I’m not worried about that, but I don’t feel I’m done writing a book until I’ve approved the final page proofs. So until then, I’m leaving it on the list. I’ve probably hit the two-thirds point of my discovery draft of Book 3. There will be lots more work once that’s done, but things are going well, and I’m way ahead of schedule on that project, as I’d only anticipated starting to draft in November.

I’d thought the convention would be an easy one, when I first made that goal, it was my intention to hit World Horror Con in New Orleans. That plan got a bit waylaid when I switched jobs, so I couldn’t make it. I will get to World Horror some day. And I will get to New Orleans too (maybe for the Romantic Times convention next year). I will be going to Can-Con in Ottawa in October. I’ve been to Ottawa, but not  to that convention… I’ll leave it up to readers to decide if I can count that one and strike it off my list.

I’ve revised one of my old manuscripts, it’s still nowhere near submission shape, but it’s probably next on the list once the draft of book three is done. It’ll be good to take a little break and let the draft breathe before I get back to it.

So that leaves starting a project just for the fun of it. Looks like that will be my project for NaNoWrimo this year.

Write on!

June Goals

It’s that time again!

In the interest of keeping me honest, here are my latest monthly goals:

  • Keep writing Tombstone Blues. I’m not going to set a specific word count goal, I just want to keep up the forward progress and keep momentum rumbling. Okay, who am I kidding, I want to hit at least 50000 words in the manuscript by month end (which is not looking promising), which brings me to the next item:
  • Revamp my writing routine. There’s a good reason for this (besides getting my ass off Facebook and Twitter a bit more).
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon!). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.

How did I do last month?

  • Write at least 31000 words on the third book in the Thunder Road trilogy. Why 31000? It works out to 1000 words a day. 1K a day for May. I like the way it sounds. Also, somewhere around 30000 words is when a work in progress starts to actually feel like a book to me. My first drafts are usually in the 60K range (Thunder Road was 68000 in first draft, and Tombstone Blues was 62000 words in first draft), and so this will take me to roughly the halfway point of the novel (though I have a sneaking suspicion that Book 3, will be the longest of the trilogy)
  • Prepare for my Keycon 30 panels. I’ll be interviewing Ann Aguirre and moderating audience questions as a part of the “Hour with an Author” program. I’m also doing a panel on Myth and Folklore with Karen Dudley and Leia Getty, and sharing a reading slot with David Annandale.
  • Draft a new short story (I’m told there will be a post-Keycon write-off with some of my writing chums, and I always get lots of work done at these things, so what the hell, let’s add this to the mix).

Not too shabby! All goals made, despite spending three days at Keycon (and one day recovering from it), getting the vegetable garden in the ground, and a few days lost to a vicious headache.

Write on!

In The Spirit of Christmas, Have A Free Story

A few years ago, I extended a challenge to my writing group for our December meeting: write a 500 word Christmas-themed fantasy story. That meeting was mostly going to be a potluck anyway, so we agreed to read the stories aloud rather than critiquing them. Most of us played along, and it was a lot of fun (if you like stories about Christmas slashers and wishes gone wrong–apparently we had some issues with The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.).

So here is my contribution, which remains the first (and only) piece of flash fiction that I’ve written:

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Nicholas stepped nimbly over the coals, still smoldering, within the fireplace. He had years of practice, and nary an ash clung to his polished, gleaming black boot.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall. He smiled at the old joke. Practice.

But in all those years, this was something new. It was new, and that bothered him. He pulled the long parchment list from within his heavy coat. Checking it once, he didn’t like what he saw.

He checked it twice.

But there was no disputing it. This house wasn’t on his list. Nicholas shouldn’t have stopped here. There was no longer a reason for him to have stopped here. That poor little girl. He shook his head. There had been nothing he could have done. Not all wishes, he sighed ruefully, can be granted. And not all pains can be soothed with toys. It had broken his heart, what she had wished for, but it just wasn’t within his power to grant.

There were no decorations in this house. No tree. No garland. No mistletoe. Framed photographs lined the mantle of the fireplace, but no stockings dangled beneath the images of a once happy family.

Nicholas turned his back on the unhappy dwelling and started back towards the chimney. A creak on the stairs stopped him in his boots. It was a soft noise, followed by the shuffle of fabric over hardwood.

A child’s slippers.

“Santa?” a weak voice rasped from the stairs.

He couldn’t be seen, unless he chose to be. That was the one rule that governed, and protected him. Him, and the magic of Christmas both.

He often chose to be seen.

“Yes, my child,” Nicholas answered as he turned; ready to flash the hundred watt smile that would bring a rosy cheeked, dimpled grin to the girl’s face. Perhaps the list was mistaken?

The smile died as he saw her, now practically on top of him. She’d crossed the intervening distance between them in a flash. Her breath, coppery and rank, wafted over him, and her grip upon his mittened hand was too firm to shake.

“You didn’t bring me what I asked for last year,” she said petulantly as she pressed her tongue to an oversized canine. A bead of black blood welled up slowly from the small wound. “But someone did.”

Nicholas screamed as she jerked his head down by his snowy white beard. Blood sprayed across the girl’s little face.

His blood.

She lapped at the arterial spray, like an animal. Her face was a vision of ecstasy. His eyes stopped focusing as she whispered in his ear.

“Now every child in the whole world will get my wish.”

#

Later, in every house that still believed in such things – and there were many – children left out plates of homemade cookies, and tumblers of milk, beading with condensation. Wherever they had succumbed to slumber a voice whispered through teeth that glinted like knives, and a stained rusty beard.

“I never drink…milk.”

Fin

Chilling Tales And Apparitions Too…err 2

I just donated to Michael Kelly’s Apparitions 2 on Indiegogo.

Much like with my Kickstarter addiction, I am quite fond of this, the Canadian equivalent, and am hopeful that my streak of endorsing winners continues. I had a chance to interview Michael a while back, in fact, it was my first ever story for Prairie Books Now (it was also a lot of fun). I finally had a chance to Meet Michael in November during the 2012 World Fantasy Con. We also shared a table of contents in Tesseracts 16, and I can tell you, Michael is one hell of an author–and one hell of an editor.

Chilling Tales, also edited by Michael, was in my mind the strongest Canadian anthology of speculative fiction to come be released in 2011, and any number of its stories deserved a place on a year’s best list. If you’re into horror and crowdsourcing, Michael Kelly’s new anthology is definitely worth funding.

This interview originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Prairie books NOW.

chilling-tales

Chilling Tales Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd Did I Live

Michael Kelly, Editor

Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy

$14.95 pb, 224 pages

ISBN: 978-1-894063-52-4

Underneath that cool Canadian reserve, a dark heart beats, believes Michael Kelly, editor of Chilling Tales: Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd I Did Live.

Chilling Tales features stories from Canadian horror fiction mainstays Brett Alexander Savory, Sandra Kasturi, and Nancy Kilpatrick, as well as some of the nation’s brightest (or should that be darkest) up and comers such as Gemma Files. Robert J. Wiersema, best known for his literary fiction, leads off the collection with a honky-tonk infused ghost story.

Kelly sensed a distinctly Canadian worldview, a “tangible loneliness” and “disquieting solitude” permeating the stories of his collection. But he feels Canadian writers are “merely doing what comes naturally—in this vast, sprawling land of ice and prairies, of wind and rock and water, of major urban centres encroaching on the barrens with spreading tendrils—exploring the other, that vastness.”

Anthologies such as Chilling Tales have been something of a rarity, although Don Hutchinson’s Northern Frights series left “an indelible impression” upon Kelly.

“There’s no easy answer,” he says, of the dearth of all-Canadian horror collections. “Part of it, I surmise, might be that Canadian genre writing is somewhat marginalized by the bigger publishing houses.”

It’s no surprise to Kelly that the two most recent such volumes were published by Chilling Tales’s publisher, Brian Hades at Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy. “It is the smaller houses with an indie spirit that will take a chance on a project like this.”

Kelly felt it was time to showcase Canada’s dark heart. There was no open call for submissions; instead he went hunting for authors that “shared that strange dark worldview” he was conjuring.

“I also mentioned that they could recommend some authors to me, as well. It was a bit of word-of-mouth and also me soliciting authors I admired.”

A writer himself, the Pickering, Ontario-based, Shirley Jackson Award-nominated Kelly enjoyed the challenge of editing the collection.

“There’s a certain order to the stories, a flow, whether you’re moving from something short and shocking, to something literary and poetic, to something prosaic. It’s a balancing act,” he says. “When I’m writing fiction, I just want to tell a story. I’m writing for me, though, no one else. When I’m editing a commercial anthology, I’m cognizant of the reader.”

The result? An eminently readable, page turning collection, tales that leap from the page, burrowing into you. It is as if the authors are kids around a campfire, each trying to one up the other with the imaginatively macabre. From ghosts, to issues of faith, to the very unusual skin condition in David Nickle’s “Looker”, Chilling Tales has a velocity that keeps its reader huddled up for just one more story.

“I’m hoping this first volume will act as a benchmark for future volumes,” says Kelly. “I wanted to show that Canadian writers can be as literate, entertaining, edifying, and as scary as their contemporaries. Of course, I already knew that. Now, everyone will know.”

New Sale And Other News (Also, Sorry For The Radio Silence)

I haven’t been around the old blog much lately. It was my goal to finish Tombstone Blues and get it off to my first readers before Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, for my American friends). That didn’t quite happen, but it was close enough for government work as the saying goes. In any case, Book Two of the Thunder Road Trilogy is as done as I can make it without feedback, and it needed to go away for a while before I started dicking around (I believe this is the official term) with it just for the sake of dicking around with it.

If you can’t wait until next fall to read Tombstone Blues (and honestly, too bad, because you’ve got to) I did do this handy-dandy self interview on the book for travelling blog: The Next Big Thing. If you want to know more, it will require bourbon.

Turnstone Press is at Booth 13 (Lucky!) at the Scattered Seeds Craft Sale, and I’ll be signing copies of Thunder Road there today (October 19th, 2012), from 3-5 PM. I’ll be bringing some temporary tattoos if that helps to sweeten the pot.

I’ll also be doing a signing at Chapters Polo Park with my fellow fantasy writing rogue, Karen Dudley, Saturday, October 20th, 2012, from 12-2 PM. Again, there will be tattoos.

Thunder Road is back on the local bestseller list, at number 3! This list will be appearing in the Winnipeg Free Press Books section on Saturday.

Derek Newman-Stille interviewed me recently about Thunder Road, and has put a teaser from that interview up on his Speculating Canada blog. The whole interview will go live on Monday, October 22nd, 2012. Derek asked me some very interesting questions, so I hope you’ll like the final result.

A while back, I received my first invitation to submit a short story for an anthology. That story, “A Taste of the Other Side”, has now been accepted into Jennifer Brozek’s forthcoming anthology from Graveside Tales, The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls. I’m pretty excited about this. Gears and Growls mashes up lycanthropes and steampunk. Who wouldn’t want to read about steampunk werewolves? Now that I’m officially a steampunk author, I guess I’d better start working on my costuming…