Tag Archives: Chizine Publications

Shitty Poetry Month

poetry, poems, shitty poems, CZP, Chizine Publications, contests

In a send-up of the WWW belt and poetry month, you can vote for the worst poet.

In a send-up of all those poetry months, (and of course you know April is National Poetry Month) the folks at Chizine Publications decided to honor “Shitty Poetry Month.” There are many abysmal poems that fill the ether and the void and in fact, probably a lot of them should be voiced instead of being put into books and sent around the world. The vanity presses are famous for taking every piece of drek to mar a monitor and putting them into a lovely hardcover book, that they then charge you, the writer of terrible poems, to buy and give to all your friends so you can say, “Look! I is a writer.”

Yes, it’s that terrible and terribly fun. With tongue firmly in cheek, we were all asked to write terrible poems. It’s the last week of the contest, where each week you could vote for the worst poem. The four finalists will be pitted against each other, where you, brave reader, can vote for the worst poem of the year. I’m afraid to say my poem was not terrible enough. (What a relief!)

You can also read just how awful we can be when we just spew out whatever comes into our minds. Yes, poetry actually takes work. I’ve been working on some poems for year and years, to get them just right. Which reminds me, I have sold poems to On Spec and Burning Maiden. It will take a while for them to come out, which I will of course announce here.

In the meantime, entertain yourself with some shitty poems. And if you’re not familiar with CZP, they put out very good books in the dark fiction world. They also won a British Fantasy Award last year. http://www.chizine.com

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How to Piss Off an Editor

I’m cleaning out my email files and getting back on track, so in the near future you’ll see some posts here about other than writing. I’m no longer slush reading for Chizine Publications but this one email was memorable. We asked for sample chapters for the first read-through. I received a manuscript that was so full of slang and vernacular as to be incomprehensible. I didn’t think I could give a constructive comment so I opted for diplomacy. Remember, editors are extremely busy people and they rarely will give comments. I’ve always tried to say something because it also hones why I’m rejecting a story.

Whenever I’ve received comments back on a story rejection I’ve found them at least steering me toward what didn’t work. That’s most of the time, not always. Sometimes editors might just be off their rockers or so bent on their own agendas that they make little sense themselves. I’ve had a magazine tell me they didn’t do religious stories because I sent a tale of Garuda (the Hindu god who is part man, part bird) and a lover. Hardly religious but well…they saw it that way. I’ve had rejection letters that are framed as breakup letters, which are annoying and immature, but I’ve never written them back to say so.

So, with that being said, here’s a short lesson in how to get yourself blacklisted from a publisher. This guy didn’t follow the guidelines and probably didn’t read them, so he was lucky that we even bothered to read the piece. Oh, and CZP is a Canadian publisher, and I’m Canadian with a BFA.

Dear X,

Thank you for the opportunity to consider your manuscript for publication by ChiZine Publications.  We enjoyed reading your novel, but, after careful consideration, we regretfully advise that we are unable to accept it for publication.

Please make sure you follow the guidelines in the future. Also submitting manuscripts in a standard submission format is much easier on the editors’ eyes.

You had some very interesting descriptive phrases but I did not find that the story grabbed me. Best of luck elsewhere with this.

Your interest in our press is genuinely appreciated, and we wish you the best for your ongoing writing endeavours.

Sincerely,

Colleen Anderson

Didn’t “grab” you – what exactly does that mean? Push the limits of form & vernacular and this is response you get. Jesus.

Don’t take it personally, Colleen. I’m sure you’re a victim of your own particular MFA program. Obviously Americans are too stupid generally. I’ll send it to Germany. Or Congo.

Dear X,

Editors have many manuscripts to go through and we don’t always have time to go into detail. And sometimes we don’t like something well enough to say what’s wrong with it. Doesn’t grab me is a polite way of saying it didn’t seem to go anywhere. The vernacular was heavyhanded and overdone. That’s not edgy; that’s going to be a book that won’t sell. But don’t take it personally. I’m sure you’re just a victim of your generation that doesn’t read more than the first paragraph, so why would you think we want to read the rest of your book? You did not even follow the submission guidelines or standard submission format. They’re there for a reason. And while some Americans may be stupid, calling most or all stupid and assuming you even know what nationality I am smacks of bigotry and your own stupidity.

Please, go bother Germany, the Congo and any other publisher you wish. Your submissions are no longer welcome at CZP.

Colleen Anderson

And really, unless you’ve been an asshat, don’t take it personally when you’ve been rejected. It’s about the piece, not the person.

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Book Review: The Steel Seraglio

seraglio, Arabian Nights, Mike Carey, Louise Carey, Linda Carey, historical fantasy

Available through ChiZine Publications and Amazon.

The Steel Seraglio is published by ChiZine Publications and written by  Louise Carey, Linda Carey and Mike Carey. The Careys ( mother, father and daughter) wrote the book together. Some people may be wondering what a seraglio is as it’s not a common word anymore. It is a harem or the palace of a sultan and well defines both the context and the characters of this book.

I cannot say how wonderful this book is. It is a world of wonderful. It is the djinni uncapped. It truly is the stuff of which dreams are made. If you combined the Arabian Nights and the Canterbury Tales, shook them with a pinch of magic in a djinni bottle, you would come close to the depth and breadth and breathlessness of this novel.  The Steel Seraglio tells the tale of a sultan’s harem, jeopardized when the sultan is overthrown and they are sent into exile, but amongst them is a surviving son of the sultan and the fanatical new sultan’s wrath descends upon them.

Like the Arabian Nights, there are tales within tales here, where a character in the book tells a story of their past or a fantastical mirage to save their necks. These concubines (a year’s worth), though in an ancient and mystical time of Middle Eastern romanticism and attitude, are not just victims and chattels to be owned by men, though many try. They survive by wiles and wits, compassion and passion, and by ruthlessness when needed. Like a seraglio that holds the concubines for one man, this book is a harem of stories woven together to create a society and a history.

REM_small

The Steel Seraglio has some interior art by Nimit Malavia.

It is lush and loving, horrific and petty, political and fanatical, mysterious and methodical. Each character, from the wise Gursoon and opinionated Imtisar, from the assassin Zuleika and the scribe-librarian with prescient vision Rem, from the flawed Jamal and rogue Anwar Das, all of these and more become real people, their personalities distinct and human. There are a pastiche of characters and even Stephen King would marvel at the mastery, and Dickens would weep. Some of the people have short roles within the tale but the journey of the City of Women moves through time and place, showing what a community (and a seraglio of once chattels) can become.

These women are strong, brilliant fighters. The moral undercurrent  is  not just a fairy tale of old. For at the very core of The Steel Seraglio is the rights of women to be treated as equals and not be used only as baby machines and whores. Lest someone think this is preaching against certain right-wing movements only in the Mid-East, it rings as true for people anywhere, where men try to lessen women and blame the world’s evils upon them. And if you think that’s farfetched, don’t forget we had a presidential candidate just saythat if a woman is “legitimately raped” her body has a way of shutting out such things and that children are never born of rape. Ignorance and fear still rule and are shown here in different ways by a fanatic psychopath who gains a following, and a disenfranchised dilettante.

The Careys are masterful in their telling, coming up with some brilliant solutions to the problems of survival that the seraglio faces. That each of them (writers in their own right) write different parts that still fit seamlessly together, speaks of a true piece of art. The tales in the book blend recipes with comments, council notes, mythic tales, journal entries, narratives and introspections. In some ways it reminded me of Ursula LeGuin’s Always Coming Home, which is  a blend of songs and tales and myths, a gathering of a culture’s ways so that you could read the book in any order. You could read certain chapters in this book and have a complete short story, but there is the tapestry that is formed from the sum of these tales.

I loved this book so much that I took my time reading it so that I could savor it, not wanting it to end, yet it has a perfect ending. The tone changes in the second part, the Book the Second. In the first, it is the struggle and the solidification of Bessan society, where they reach their pinnacle of art and politics, respect and peace. The second book deals with the unmaking of the city and the forces that cause it to change, for like any great civilization, it too has a lifespan. The great Roman Empire crumbled as did ancient Sumer, and the Celtic nations. So too must Bessa move along this path, bringing a poignancy and yet a well-earned place in the great history of the world.

These tales were accessible, enjoyable and made me both think and wonder at what they encompassed. The Careys should be well-please with this magnificent pastiche. Add this one to someone’s stocking for the holidays. I would have to uncork ten bottles and say this is worthy of ten djinnis out of ten.

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News in the Summer

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A collection of previously published speculative fiction, available through Smashwords and soon through Amazon.

Okay, it’s been a very busy couple of weeks. I was working hard to get my book up on Smashwords, and Embers Amongst the Fallen is available now there. It turns out that Smashwords, while they say they put it up on Amazon, doesn’t really because Amazon won’t accept from Smashwords. So I next have that to do.

I also put up two previously published erotic stories, under my pen name, T.C. Calligari. Those are all available now but will soon be up on Amazon. I’m still hoping to have my end of the month goal of the print edition of Embers.  I have other writing news, some that I can reveal and some that is in the works.

erotic, spanking, fetish, erotic fiction, T.C. Calligari, writing, short stories

Obvious what this one is about.

Imaginarium: the best Canadian speculative writing has come out through ChiZine Publications and is edited by Sandra Kasturi and Halli Vallegas. Any one who has had published speculative pieces for 2012 can submit to the next one, as long as you’re Canadian, living in Canada or expat Canadian. None of my pieces placed in it but I did received two honorable mentions fro poems:

  • Anderson, Colleen. “Darkside,” ChiZine.com, April 2011
  • Anderson, Colleen. “Shadow Realms,” Witches & Pagans #23

I did sell another poem to Polu Texni.It’s a villanelle titled “Mermaid” and I don’t know yet when it will be up on the site. As well, just before I left for holidays (hence the big lag in posts) I found out I had sold my flash fiction piece “Lady of the Bleeding Heart” to Fantastic Frontiers for their second issue. Their first issue will be coming soon.

anthology, speculative fiction, Bibliotheca Fantastica, Dagan Books, writing, dark fiction

Through Dagan Books, available soon.

I’m still waiting for another poem to go up at Bull Spec. Better ask them again as it’s been a year. And I think Bibliotheca Fantastica is coming out soon with my story “The Book with No End.” I’m negotiating a contract for a story right now and if we can agree on that contract I will be able to announce that information soon. As well, I will be editing an anthology and I’m just waiting for the moment to announce that, when the publisher gives the go. More details by September. So, yes, it’s been very busy in the writing front, and I’m certainly not done. Rewriting a story, working on several others and of course trying to get more works up on Smashwords in the near future.

The posts were on hold for the last two weeks because I drove from Vancouver to Calgary to visit family, friends and to go to the When Words Collide writing convention. The Aurora Awards were also being presented and I was a nominee in the poetry category. I did not win but Helen Marshall did for Skeleton Leaves and it was well deserved. If you can, go get a copy of this lovely book that is a poem that is a story.

When Words Collide was great fun. Held at the Best Western in NW Calgary, it wasn’t all about speculative literature but there was definitely a large portion that favored this area. The Romance Writers were also present. Panels abounded and numerous authors from across Canada were there to read, be on panels and hobnob. Jack Whyte was guest of honor but had to leave early due to a family emergency. But not before he showed up at a room party wearing a dapper shirt, singing in his deep voice, chatting amiably with his lovely thick accent and flirting with the crowd. I’m not sure he was responsible for all the scotch but he was definitely a major contributor. Perhaps it was the power of his dark sorcery that left a few people looking a little green in the morning.

There were book launches and parties by ChiZine Publications, Bundoran Press, the Steampunk group, Edge Publications and others. I got to meet many new people and put faces to some names. I bought a few books and am currently reading Nancy Kilpatrick’s collection Vampyric Variations.

The weather was hot, the hailstones, when they fell, the size of golfballs & then peas, and the company great. In between all that I made a trip to Edmonton to visit more family. It’s been a long time since I did the long drive out to Alberta. I broke it up by staying with friends in Penticton. Overall the trip was really good and that’s because I saw lots of people and visited with some great friends including Andy Tarrant, the talented artist of Trespasser Ceramics. If you’re looking for a gift, check out his site.

One thing I forgot on my drive, was how beautiful the mountains really are. Rogers pass was filled with blues; azure, indigo, phthalo, navy, and greens: emerald, kelly, peridot, lime, forest and more. The scenery is truly amazing and the weather was perfect. Of course I didn’t stop, thinking I would do this on the way back and then I couldn’t find my camera. I thought I had left it in Calgary until I got to Revelstoke and realized it was in a bag with books. Of course it was too late then. I love the scenery around Merritt as well where it turns into rolling hills spilling out of the Coquihalla, with ponds tucked in between. So lovely. Too bad the drive is so long and a bit hard for me. Next time I might see if I can snag someone to share.

I had limited internet and decided to just enjoy the break. I’m right back in the swing of things now, and on to the new writing projects. I expect to be quite busy this fall, and hope to even get a few readings going where my book will be available for sale. More on the writing front as it happens.

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Writing: Shopping for an Editor

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I recently rejected an author’s manuscript and gave him the possibility of rewriting and resubmitting at a later date; a very rare thing to do both. At Chizine Publications we ask for three or four sample chapters and a short synopsis. I had already asked the author to send the full manuscript, after he made corrections, fixed grammar and numerous homophonic typos (bare/bear, to/two, hare/hair, staid/stayed, etc.), as well as adding details to certain sections that I had read.

When I read through the full manuscript I found many of the same errors and it looked like little had been changed if anything at all. Editors have many manuscripts to read, and day jobs on top of it in most cases. We get irritated when people don’t follow instructions, which can be anything from not submitting in the correct manuscript format, to sending inappropriate material, to not making an effort to correct what we ask for. Of course, a writer can ignore all of these things and just send to someone else.

I concluded that the writer needed to learn grammar and punctuation better and overall, story structure, but feeling his story had worth I gave a caveat of retrying with a rewrite, in time, but not right away. He wrote back and was surprised to learn that most publishers don’t give feedback nor mark the manuscript unless they’re buying the story (I had done both).  I also explained my irritation at which point he apologized because he had felt rushed and hired an editor to do the changes requested.

I sincerely hope he didn’t pay the editor that much because I don’t know what that editor did. He/she certainly did not read the sentences to catch the homophone typos, nor to check the sentence structure and catch the run-on sentences. It is possible that the author asked the editor to make corrections in regards to my notes. If that was the case then my notes only gave examples, not the full extent of what was needed.

If I’d been given such a job as a copy editor I would have been fixing those sentences. I’ve found with a few other clients that they had gone to bigger, more expensive editors first, paid out a ton of money and came back with a manuscript measled with errors. Anyone who takes on copy editing (this is different from structural editing) should look for grammar, typo and punctuation errors as the most basic step. If one is a structural editor then you’re looking at the overall plot and structure of the story.

Almost everyone can use a second set of eyes to catch errors because our fingers like to type different words than our brains think. I often put down for done or type meanign instead of meaning. And then there is the too close to the forest to see the trees syndrome. If you’ve written something and gone over it a few times you might miss a scene or a description that the reader needs to be able to understand the story.

If I was hiring an editor I would lace in a couple of different errors in a sample page or three and see what they caught. But that only works if you understand grammar and sentence structure enough. As it was, this writer left too much to an unknown quantity and didn’t check over the manuscript first so he ended up with many errors. He would have had to flesh out his own scenes because an editor cannot necessarily write in the same style nor know where the writer’s mind is for the story.

I sometimes wonder why I don’t charge more when I see the work done by more expensive editors. Like anything else, there are good and bad editors. Learning how to write will of course save you money and mean you need a copy editor’s services less. Getting comments from an editor, even if you’re rejected, are a plus. Many magazines and even book publishers send out form rejections that say something like, “This didn’t work for us.” If you get comments, if you get an invite to resubmit and rewrite, take it seriously and feel lucky that you got that far. Magazine and book publishers always have limited spots are there are always other good works on their way so don’t take any feedback for granted.

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Editing

Here at the Chi hub (Chizine.com and ChiZine Publications…that’s online magazine vs paper books) I’m juggling my several hats, and getting ready for a short sojourn into the US. First, we’re accepting poetry again at Chizine as well as fiction, so get on it. I’ve just read two poems with provisional acceptances. What does that mean? It means we want a few changes but overall have accepted the poem. And Steve Vernon and I have  made our picks for the poetry winners of the Rannu competition. The winners will be announced next month (they still have the fiction winners to sort out).

Whats this got to do with editing?

Taking off my plumed poetry editor hat and donning my slush editor fedora for ChiZine publications, I’m almost through my part of the slush backlog. Only one manuscript left in that pile. But…I have about three full manuscripts to read where I asked for revisions and to see the whole thing. A couple more might come in. What I find fascinating is that when I send out a positive response–saying these things need fixing. Once you’ve done so, send me the full manuscript–I often never hear back from the person. You would think… Hell, I would think because I am a writer too, that if I had a reply from a publisher I would definitely jump on the wagon…unless of course I have so many publishers knocking at my door. That’s a rare occurrence. But even if some other publisher is looking at the manuscript I’d be sending a polite thank you to the publisher. You never want to burn possible bridges of crossing for the future.

Still, there are some fascinating ideas swirling around out there in people’s minds. My travels to the US are going to be pleasure. I’ll have to do some editing for the first part because I am getting snowed under. But I’m also on my way to the World Horror Convention in Austin, Texas next week. It’s going to be a great time with parties thrown by Chizine on Friday night and Cutting Block Press on Saturday. In personal editing, I’ve signed up for a pitch session where first there will be a workshop on how to pitch one’s book and then a one-on-one with an editor or agent to pitch. I’m a bit nervous about that as I’ve never pitched before but what have I got to lose. The worst they can say is no.

Besides sitting on a vampire panel Saturday morning I will also be interviewing Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi, owners of Chizine Publications and editor guests of honor at the convention. It’s an hour interview and I’m taking questions from the virtual audience to add to the list, so if you want to ask something of dark fiction and poetry writers, small press entrepreneurs and dark fiction editors, then post your comments here. I’ll be publishing the interview afterward, somewhere, maybe even here.

So, you’re possibly wondering, what does the above picture have to do with editing besides that I just wanted to stick a picture in here? Well, I am an editor and I am edited. I’m between a rock and a hard place. Because I wear the hat of a writer as well I see the writing world from two sides. Do I ever worry that someone I rejected, who also might be an editor, might reject me in revenge? No. We’re professionals and it’s the name of the game. I have a friend who is editor of one of the “Big Three” SF mags (which really is the big five) and he’s faithfully rejected me for years. It’s the way the world works. Likewise I don’t expect a writer to get all bitter and angry when I reject them. It happens to us all and yes, someone else might buy the piece. We’re human after all, with our own experiences, training and predilections.

It’s a business and that means the shopper and the contractor have choices. If more people actually looked at writing and publishing this way we’d have less bitter writers. Sorry I didn’t buy your lawn chair. I like this one better. I like that brand of makeup over this one. I like my produce from the mom and pop shop, not from Safeway. Someone else will like otherwise.

The blog entries could be sporadic this next week but I hope to blog about the con while I’m there. See you on the writing side.

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Chizine Shazam!

Imaginarium cover, due out this year from CZP

We are plugging along at the ole Chi factory. The Chizine (Chiaroscuro) website has been revamped and is up for viewing here: http://chizine.com It opens with a mega issue or a Super God mega issue as we’re calling it.Which means it’s chockablock full of good stuff. Lots of fiction and poetry by some fantastic writers, not to mention that we’ll be posting poems from Chizine alumni, every writer who has ever been published in Chizine, the online magazine. Take a look and keep checking back. And there is a handy little visual vial that readers and those who appreciate the arts and reading can fill with donations.

Besides Chizine there is ChiZine Publications, which publishes books, and there’s the Rannu competition. And…many other promotions and contests and readings and things that CZP is involved in doing. To help the avid dark fiction fan find all this fun stuff, we’ve created the Chi hub. You can check all sorts of info at this darkly awesome site: http://chizinehub.com/

You can even check guidelines! Gasp! Yes, before you submit to any publisher you should always read the guidelines. In fact we’re going to expand an explanation on what a synopsis is. When a publisher or agent asks for a synopsis it is not the short catchy description on the jacket flap of a book. Nor, especially not, is it a movie teaser. Teasers only present the highlights and tension and we need to know, after we’ve read your three sample chapters, if there is enough story and plot to want to read further. It behooves the author to make sure we know where your story is going and how it ends. None of: “Hamid realizes the world is not as he expected after he meets the carnivorous unicorn girl and events take a turn for the worse.” Tell us that Hamid fights off the carnivorous unicorn girl only to find out she is a virtual creation of his anima. He  conquers his fears, eats his beliefs and recreates himself, quelling the hallucinations. On a new day, Hamid has become a murderer, immersing himself in a shadow world of his own imagining, which is explored in book 2.

Synopses list the main events AND give a conclusion. Check out the Chi hub and if you have any comments, please let us know.

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Writing: And the Little Monkey

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News has just come out about the winners of Dark Scribe Magazine’s Black Quill award. Horror Library Vol. IV, which features my story “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” received the Reader’s Choice award for anthology. ChiZine Publications scored, with author Gemma Files getting the Reader’s and Editor’s choice awards for her A Book of Tongues in the best small press chills. http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/winners-of-the-4th-annual-blac/

As well the long list for the Stoker Awards, the internationally recognized award for dark fiction, has also just come out. ChiZine Publications showed up through nominees in two areas: Gemma Files again for First Novel, Nicholas Kaufman for “Chasing the Dragon” in long fiction. Congratulations to both of them. That’s not bad for a press that’s only been bopping two years. The dark fiction anthologies I was in last year, Evolve and Horror Library Vol. IV, have made the long list. My stories  have made no such lists but then I’m still a little monkey. What this means is that in the club of dark fiction I’m not that well known. One can say, well come on, it’s the merit of the work but that’s not completely the truth. Evolve is Canadian and though it got some distribution to the US that was new. Though I’ve been in other dark fiction mags before like Shroud I’m not prolifically published. This is evidenced by the fact that I was invited by the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) to be an affiliate member (not full fledged by pay rates) because of the Horror Library though in fact Evolve was out earlier and that story received many many reviews in comparison.

I’ve never paid much attention overall to the awards but I was told by one HWA member that other members who can nominate for a Stoker will make deals: you vote for mine and I’ll vote for yours. So it’s a surprise that I even got any nominations (which I was told I had) but not enough for the long list. Little monkeys must peel enough bananas and swing through the right number of trees before they’re noticed in the jungle.

I’ve been writing for years. I’m not unknown but I’m still just one monkey in a very big jungle. Chizine is a monkey that’s grown bigger with enough clout to be noticed, and head editors Brett and Sandra will be editor guests of honor at this year’s World Horror Convention. Some day I might be that monkey and it’s enough that I was thrown a few bananas with the reviews I received last year. They’re almost better than receiving an award. Here’s to all those monkeys who made it to the list. Good luck to them.

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
VIPERS by Lawrence C. Connolly (Fantasist Enterprises)
SIREN by John Everson (Leisure)
HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
IT CAME FROM DEL RIO by Stephen Graham Jones (Trapdoor Books)
SPARROW ROCK by Nate Kenyon (Leisure Books)
DESPERATE SOULS by Gregory Lamberson (Medallion Press)
THE FRENZY WAY by Gregory Lamberson (Medallion Press)
ROT AND RUIN by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
EMPIRE OF SALT by Weston Ochse (Abaddon)
DWELLER by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (DoubleDay)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
MR. SHIVERS by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
FREEK CAMP by Steve Burt (Steve Burt Creations)
THE MAN OF MYSTERY HILL by Tracy L. Carbone (Echelon Quake)
BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
CARNIVAL OF FEAR by J.G. Faherty (Graveside Tales)
A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
AT THE END OF CHURCH STREET by Gregory Hall (Belfire Press)
MADIGAN MINE by Kirstyn McDermott (Picador Australia)
CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
SPELLBENT by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
THE DOCTOR, THE KID, AND THE GHOSTS IN THE LAKE by Mort Castle (F Magazine)
REQUIEM FOR THE BURNING GOD by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Cthulhu’s Dark Cults)
THE PAINTED DARKNESS by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
CHASING THE DRAGON by Nicholas Kaufmann (Chizine)
DREAMS IN BLACK AND WHITE by John R. Little (Morning Star)
DISSOLUTION by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
BLEMISH by Joe McKinney (Dark Recesses #1)
THE SAMHANACH by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
JADE by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books)
INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
THE BEHELD by Paul Bens (Dark Discoveries #160)
RETURN TO MARIABRONN by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
SURPRISE! by G.O. Clark (Dark Valentine 2)
SEMINAR Z by J. Comeau (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS by Brock Cooper (The New Bedlam Project)
THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
1925: A FALL RIVER HALLOWEEN by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
SURVIVORS by Joe McKinney (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN by Weston Ochse (Dark Discoveries #16)
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE by David Sakmyster (Horror World)
TROOT by Margaret B. Simon (Null Immortalis)
THE DAYS OF FLAMING MOTORCYCLES by Catherynne Valente (Dark Faith)
FINAL DRAFT by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
DARK FAITH edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
HORROR LIBRARY IV edited by R.J. Cavender and, Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
CTHULHU’S DARK CULTS edited by David Conyers (Chaosium)
HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Griffin)
BLACK WINGS edited S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing)
EVOLVE: VAMPIRE STORIES OF THE NEW UNDEAD edited by Nancy Kilpatrick (Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing)
NULL IMMORTALIS edited by D.F. Lewis (Megazanthus Press)
DEAD SET: A ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY edited by Michelle McCrary and Joe McKinney (23 House Publishing)
SCENES FROM THE SECOND STOREY by Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
OCCULTATION by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
THIS WAY TO EGRESS by Lawrence C. Connolly (Ash-Tree Press)
WHAT WILL COME AFTER by Scott Edelman (PS Publishing)
FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
LITTLE THINGS by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
A HELL OF A JOB by Michael McCarty (Damnation Books)
A HOST OF SHADOWS by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)
FUNGUS OF THE HEART by Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog (Screaming Press)
HELLFIRE AND DAMNATION by Connie Corcoran Wilson (Sam’s Dot)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
WEIRD ENCOUNTERS by Joanne M. Austin (Sterling Publishing)
TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
SHADOWS OVER FLORIDA by David Goudsward and Scott T. Goudsward (Bear Manor Media)
THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
MASTERS OF IMAGINATION by Michael McCarty (Bear Manor Media)
LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY Collection
DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
LOVE CRAFT by Bryan Dietrich (Finishing Line Press)
CHEMICKAL REACTIONS by Karen L. Newman (Naked Snake Press)
WOOD LIFE by Rich Ristow (Snuff Books)
WILD HUNT OF THE STARS by Ann K. Schwader (Sam’s Dot)
DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
SAVAGE MENACE AND OTHER POEMS OF HORROR by Richard L. Tierney (P’rea Press)
VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White (Bandersnatch Books)

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Writing: Black Quill Nominees

Dark Scribe Magazine, a nonfiction magazine highlighting dark fiction started doing the Black Quill awards three years ago. As I talked about earlier this week in “What is Horror?” small presses especially are doing very well with the dark speculative fiction market. The Black Quills look at all presses, whether large or small. This resurrection of dark fiction, after the large publishing houses pooh-poohed “horror” had as much to do with dedicated small presses as it did with the growing trend of print-on-demand publishing, allowing presses without millions of dollars to put out quality fiction in a professional capacity.

And the Black Quills are an award looked at with respect and probably opens the gate to a few more choices, besides the Stoker awards, given by the Horror Writers Association at the World Horror Convention every year, and named suitably after Bram Stoker.

This year, the fourth annual Black Quill Awards, to be given out in February, have the following categories: Dark Genre Novel, Small Press Chill, Dark Genre Fiction Collection, Dark Genre Anthology, Dark Genre Book of Non-Fiction, Dark Scribble (stories in a magazine–paper or virtual), and Dark Genre Book Trailer. Why they limit the short fiction to magazines only and do not allow short stories in an anthology is beyond me. It seems an odd arbitrary choice. A collection is a selection of stories by one author and an anthology is a collection of stories by different authors. The collection award is given to the author and the anthology one to the editor. So the writers in an anthology are effectively barred from being nominated. Very odd. As well, there is no cover art award. Perhaps the trailer is seen as more effective because there is a script and that art really isn’t writing and belongs to someone else.

Several Chizine books authors have been nominated, specifically Gemma Files’ A Book of Tongues for Best Small Press Chill and Paul Tremblay’s In the Mean Time for Best Dark Genre Collection. That’s pretty good for a press that’s been going for about two years. The Horror Library Vol. IV anthology where my story “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” resides, is also nominated in the Dark Genre Anthology category. Without further ado, here is the full list.

DARK GENRE NOVEL OF THE YEAR:

(Novel-length work of horror, suspense, or thriller from a mainstream publisher; awarded to the author)
  • A Dark Matter by Peter Straub (Doubleday)
  • Kraken by China Miéville (Del Rey)
  • Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon (Leisure / Bad Moon Books)
  • The Caretaker of Lorne Field by David Zeltserman (Overlook Hardcover)
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin (Ballantine)
  • Under the Dome by Stephen King (Scribner)

BEST SMALL PRESS CHILL:

(Novel or novella published by small press publisher; awarded to the author)
  • A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files (ChiZine Publications)
  • Dreams in Black and White by John R. Little (Morning Star)
  • Invisible Fences by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)
  • The Castle of Los Angeles by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
  • The Wolf at the Door by Jameson Currier (Chelsea Street Editions)

BEST DARK GENRE FICTION COLLECTION:

(Single author collection, any publisher; awarded to the author)
  • Blood and Gristle by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
  • In the Mean Time by Paul Tremblay (ChiZine Publications)
  • Little Things by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
  • Occultation by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
  • Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse by Otsuichi (VIZ Media LLC)

BEST DARK GENRE ANTHOLOGY:

(Multi-author collection, any publisher; awarded to the editor)
  • Dark Faith Edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
  • Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology Edited by Michelle McCrary and Joe McKinney (23 House)
  • Haunted Legends Edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
  • Horror Library IV Edited by RJ Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
  • When The Night Comes Down Edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)

BEST DARK GENRE BOOK OF NON-FICTION:

(Any dark genre non-fiction subject, any publisher; awarded to the author[s] or editor[s])
  • Horrors: Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators by Rocky Wood (McFarland)
  • I Am Providence: The Life and Times of HP Lovecraft by S.T. Joshi (Hippocampus Press)
  • Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever by Joe Kane (Citadel)
  • The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
  • Thrillers: 100 Must Reads Edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner (Oceanview Publishing)

BEST DARK SCRIBBLE:

(Single work, non-anthology short fiction appearing in a print or virtual magazine; awarded to the author)
  • “Bully” by Jack Ketchum (Postscripts 22/23)
  • “Goblin Boy” by Rick Hautula (Cemetery Dance #63)
  • “Secretario” by Catherynne M. Valente (Weird Tales, Summer 2010)
  • “The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)
  • “We” by Bentley Little (Cemetery Dance #64)

BEST DARK GENRE BOOK TRAILER:

(Book video promoting any work of fiction or non-fiction; awarded to the video producer or publisher)

You can go to Dark Scribe’s site to view these trailers: http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/4th-annual-bqa-nominees/

  • Neverland / Produced by Circle of Seven Productions (for the book by Douglas Clegg)
  • Radiant Shadows / Produced by Circle of Seven Productions (for the book by Melissa Marr)
  • Specters in Coal Dust / Produced by Michael Knost & Black Water Films (for the anthology edited by Michael Knost)
  • Under the Dome / Produced by Scribner Marketing (for the book by Stephen King)
  • Unhappy Endings / Produced by Delirium Books (for the book by Brian Keene)

Nominations for the Black Quills are editorial-based, with both the editors and active contributing writers submitting nominations in each of the (7) categories. Once nominations are announced, the readers of DSM have an opportunity to cast their votes for their picks in each category. In a unique spin intended to celebrate both critical and popular success, two winners are announced in each category – Reader’s Choice and Editor’s Choice.

All dark genre works published between November 1st, 2009 and October 31st, 2010 are eligible. DSM does not solicit nominations, nor are there any fees associated with the Black Quills.

Please note that only one ballot per email/IP address will be accepted. Multiple ballots received from the same email/IP address will be discarded.

Reader voting closes at midnight EST on Friday, January 21st, 2011.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011.

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Writing: Sunburst Awards & CZP

A little Friday update on some things Canadian and some things writerly.

The Sunburst Awards is Canada’s equivalent of a high end literary award but for speculative fiction. As with meny things, especially culture, which the federal government decided isn’t very important, they are hoping to continue giving this award but need donors. Here is a little youtube piece with excerpts by a few Canadian authors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQuBSrUkAo0

And Chizine Publications has a little animation up for People Still Live in Cashtown Corners, by Tony Burgess, which is receiving good reviews. I find the little bear creatures somewhat disturbing, but then I get that way when things are too cutesy. Gah, death by sugar coating. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hfVFkjUwZU

Chizine Publications http://chizine.com/chizinepub/ is going strong and watch for a new web design for the online magazine Chizine in the new year. Other than that, rewriting continues and slush reading. A note to the wise; don’t slur the intelligence or the nationality (and get it wrong) of your slush reader. You’re bound to be banned from ever submitting again. Just sayin’.

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