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World Horror and its Aftermath Part II

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Saturday started with vampires. I was the lone female and the one who hadn’t published a vampire novel on the vampire panel at 10 am, a full 1.5 hours. Other members of the panel were Steve Niles, Marcus Pelegrimas, Joe Garden, David Wellington and Nate Southard moderating who confessed to disorganization. However they started the panel with a short video highlight movie vampires and various book titles.

The interest in vampires seems as eternal as the creatures themselves. We talked about the monster vs humanity aspects, the romance vs grotesqueries, the myths, legends and variations throughout place, time and culture, memorable vamps both horrific or noble, movies and books. We talked about our portrayals of vampires in our stories (I have three published stories and two unpublished) as well as other author portrayals, and once in a while zombies and a few other monsters like werewolves would sneak into the discussion. All in all the panel went well and we didn’t run out of topic.

I had my pitch sessions in the early afternoon, where each person who signed up had about 10 minutes with an editor or agent. I

Horror Library Vol. IV

pitched to agent Robert Fleck (who does indeed look like Clark Kent) and to Katharine Critchlow of Tor. Both said to send the novel on but now I must work to finish it. There were many readings throughout the convention besides those as part of book launches. Unfortunately I missed many of them though I did catch Claude Lalumiere’s dramatic presentation. I then read “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” published in Horror Library Vol. IV and an honorable mention in the Year’s Best Horror. While my name hadn’t been on the program and I was replacing Wayne Allen Sallee who couldn’t make it, I think it went well. I’m used to having not many people at a reading because you tend to stay relatively unknown until you have a book published but there was enough of an appreciative audience.

Many of the panels throughout the weekend involved selling, publishing, writing, editing and what happens along the way, as well as the future of books, horror and writing. I missed the rest of the panels and opted to wander through the dealer’s room again. I chatted with the people at Damnation Books and Dark Continents, including Sylvia Schulz, Adrian Chamberlin (who had the hugest Cadbury chocolate bar I’ve ever seen) and J. Prescott. I also met S.L. Schmitz as well as writers Brent Hayward, Bob Boyczuk, Ron Marks, Lincoln Crisler, Ron Marks and John Nakamura Remy who read a sick and twisted tale from Edge Publications’ Rigor Amortis (zombie love). There were so many people and conversations that I just can’t list them all.

I went off for dinner with a few Canadian writers to Papadeux, a Cajun restaurant that was across the street. I didn’t find it fantastic but I did find the prices high for what it was. After we came back and mingled through the mass author signing. I chose not to have a spot as I have no book published except for a chapbook of my speculative verse (which I forgot to bring) so I grabbed a drink and wandered through the signing talking with authors. I met fellow poet, the lovely Rain Graves and bought a book of her poetry.

Saturday night wound up with the Cutting Block Press party. The Austin publisher includes R.J. Cavender as editor on some of the anthologies and Boyd Harris. I have to give a special shout out to Boyd and award him the most awesome host dude award. Not only did he open his house to some authors the night before the convention he ferried us back and forth for dinners and lunches, constantly schlepped hot dog and margarita machines, kegs of beer, bottles of wine and other items for all of the parties. The parties were all in the con suite and Boyd never stopped, even on Saturday which was his birthday. I got to see what was meant by Southern hospitality and Boyd embodied that. We need more people like him in the world, so thanks very much, Boyd.

If I had a criticism it’s only that some of the rooms in the hotel were far too cold and it would have been great if there been a band because Austin is famous for music. The hotel was too far from the downtown so it’s the one thing I missed. The committee should have supplied itineraries for all those doing readings or panels and updated changes on schedules. Some were updated, others weren’t. But those are fairly minor criticisms. I’ve been to many World Fantasy cons and this was my first real World Horror con. I can say it rates as one of the top four cons I’ve attended for content, friendliness and never-ending amounts of food and alcohol.The Austin crew should be proud of the convention they put on and the overall camaraderie of the attendees. It’s sold me to attend another.

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World Horror and its Aftermath Part I

World Horror Convention 2011

This last weekend I was in Austin, Texas for the World Horror Convention. I arrived on Wednesday, relishing the heat after our record cold April, and was picked up by Portland author Camille Alexa, former resident of Austin. We were meeting up with Boyd Harris, publisher of Cutting Block Press and one of the committee members for the convention. Since Camille was off to her own meetings Boyd pretty much did two round trips from the hotel to the restaurant to get fourteen people together for dinner.

Now Texas is the land of tequila and barbecue; oh and Tex Mex so we ate at Polvos, a Mexican restaurant, with pitchers of tangy Margaritas. There were many people including Bailey Hunter, of the retired Dark Recesses magazine and cover artist for some (maybe all) of the Cutting Block covers, R.J. Cavender, editor with Cutting Block; Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi of Chizine Publications and many other people. I ate camerons diablos, or spicy prawns. I would say it was pretty good but a couple of my prawns were off and with such a crowd I couldn’t get the waiter. After a seafood poisoning experience in Baltimore at a World Fantasy Con I decided not to eat the suspicious prawn. The salad that Camille had was pretty bland and unimaginative. She had to ask for salad dressing; what kind of salad has no dressing. That’s just rabbit food.

Afterward, many people went back to the hotel but Boyd dropped Bailey, Rena and me off at an Irish looking pub called Il Fado. I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings with its organic, meandering interior, polished trees crawling up the walls to the ceiling and various Viking art and plaques. Boyd and R.J. joined us after the two trips for dropping people off. By the time we got back to Boyd’s to sleep that night, and more talking it was about 4am, a typical start to a convention.

The next day we went off to the Crown and Anchor for lunch. In Austin, whose logo is “Keep Austin Weird” food and well-drinks can be very cheap with beer and hard alcohol only costing around $3. Wines are more on the average of $6-$8. Crown and Anchors food was pub food. My chicken sandwich was standard fare. Then we hit the Doubletree Austin, a nice and airy hotel with a central courtyard consisting of trees and fountains an a swimming pool on the second floor.

I missed the opening ceremonies, as I always seem to do and ended up spending most of the time in the bar, drinking and chatting with people. Friend and past editor (of a story of mine) Claude Lalumiere, an excellent writer, also met up with us. We walked down the street (Austin has a ring road/highway that encircles the downtown and it’s busy) to a little Japanese restaurant. I ate light since I’d had a late lunch. Friday truly began the convention.

I began with a pitch workshop. This is something unique to any con I’ve attended. Kudos to the WHC folks and Rhodi Hawk for putting together the workshop, and letting us practice how we would pitch our novels to agents or editors. I had to really work mine out as it’s a complex storyline so this truly helped. In the afternoon I interviewed Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi, editors and owners of Chizine Publications. The hour-long interview covered Brett and Sandra’s writing careers and reasons for getting into dark fiction, as well as publishing. When I asked Brett, why dark fiction, his answer was “Why am I bald?” It’s that inherent to him. Sandra read a piece of Brett’s work and two of her poems, then we talked about the evolution of the magazine, the style of printing they do as well as where CZP is going and the bumps along the way. I hope to publish the full interview at some point in the near future.

After that I checked out the dealers’ room. Dark fiction has a lot of independent presses and there were publishers from the US, Canada and Britain. I might be biased since I edit for Chizine but by far the covers on CZP books are more imaginative and the best compared to the others. Edge Publications is getting better covers too. There are far too many red, bloody, skull-covered books in horror writing. CZP goes farther with great design and concepts. I’m going to do a cover art review of the books I brought home with me at some point soon.

The evening wound up…or began…with the art reception, which was small but had some stellar art, the Damnation Books launch party and then the Chizine launch party. Here we chatted, drank margaritas and wine, ate hot dogs (for those who dared like Dave Nickle and Peter Straub) and looked at the goods. A few people read excerpts from their stories so it was a great way to sample the merchandise and the hospitality. I met so many people, which to me is the sign of a good con, that I can’t remember them all. I met the minotaur guys who are working on a full length animation. I chatted with a writer who is slow on submitting, and I sampled wine and margaritas, Texas style. Most attendees are writers, editors and publishers but there was also the magician Jonathon Frost who’s interested it putting a dark slant to his prestidigitation. I should also mention that I got to put faces to all of the CZP staff since I’d only talked with them through email before the weekend.

The night was still young at 2 am but since I was fighting a cold I chose to go to bed and not be completely insane. This post will be continued in the next day or two with the rest of the convention.

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Writing News For August

In the last two months several of my pieces have finally been published. In a way, this is delayed reaction because the pieces were “bought” a long time before this. However, sometimes publishers have a long lead time to publication and other times as in the case of both poems published there are other issues, such as computer meltdowns.

In March, my story “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” came out in Evolve, an anthology published by Edge publishing. Any review is better than none, as far as I’m concerned and the comments on my story have been good overall. A reading is scheduled for Sept. 27th at the Vancouver public library and there will be more details as soon as I learn them. http://www.edgewebsite.com/

Country Connection, published by Pinecone carried my poem “Bones of the Earth” in issue #60. http://www.pinecone.on.ca/MAGAZINE/current.html It came out in July. My poem, “Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence” just came out in Witches & Pagans #21, by BBI Media. The magazine deals with neopaganism and this particular issue deals with gardening. The poem itself is one of my Greek revisioning poems. http://www.witchesandpagans.com/ There are many different poetry markets and I’ll send  my poetry or fiction to any market that will pay me.

Also, “A Taste for Treasure” came out last month in Alison’s Wonderland, an erotic fairy tale anthology through Harlequin Spice. eHarlequin.com This tale is based on one of the more obscure Grimm’s tales of which there are many. So overall, it’s been a pretty good summer for me. White Dwarf, our local speculative bookstore (and the only surviving one) reports that the book is selling quite well and even men are buying it because the cover is not too gooey romantic. That’s good news.

I still have “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” to come from Cutting Block Press, and I’ve just resold my story “Lover’s Triangle” to New Vampire Tales, which will be published by Books of the Dead Press. It’s a reprint anthology and this story, my second ever sold, will be seeing its third reprint. Not bad for one story.

In the meantime, I’ve finished my draft of my Mary Magdalene story which is going through a title change. I now have the second draft to do after getting comments from a couple or readers. It shouldn’t take a lot to make the changes, polish it up a bit and then send it out on the submission wheel. I have big hopes for the story but sometimes the stories I love the best are the ones I never seem to be able to sell.

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Writing Update: March/April

I’ve been busy working on a couple of stories…still…always. Rewriting a couple after some constructive rejections. And still researching my biblical Mary Magdalene story. I’m writing as I research but I have about seven books by my bed on the Dead Sea scrolls, Christ and Caeser, the Gnostic Gospels, the Gospel of Mary, etc. You’d think I was entering the church. I find it very fascinating stuff, the history of the Christian church and the bizarre and sometimes malicious and frequently controlling twists it took to control wealth and people. Amazing. Some day I might research and do a story and have to research Buddhism or read the Qur’an or stock up on Hindu gods. It’s all truly fascinating, and should the Mary story work, I have other ideas there.

I also managed to take the long weekend in Easter and progress on my novel. Not a lot but I was getting to a worldbuilding stage where I needed to figure out the size of the continents as well as how long it would take them to travel by horse and foot. I think I will still have to adjust those numbers downward. You can read the reviews by following the links.

Scarabae

In the meantime, the Evolve anthology is getting some very good reviews. Vampchix says, “Colleen Anderson’s AN EMBER AMONGST THE FALLEN is strong and disturbing, but an interesting take on the new vampire.” You can read the reviews by following the links.

http://vampchix.blogspot.com/2010/04/review-evolve-vampire-stories-of-new.html

http://www.parajunkee.com/2010/03/evolve-vampire-stories-of-new-undead.html

http://anovelapproachto.me/book-reviews-2/

http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com/?p=5607

http://whatbookisthat.blogspot.com/2010/03/bwb-review-evolve.html

And last but by no way least, I have sold a story to Harlequin’s erotic wedding anthology. I don’t know the title of the book yet and it will probably be another year till it comes out but the story is titled “Better Wed Than Dead.”

And Cutting Block Press’s Horror Library Vol. 4 has accepted my story “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha.” They loved the story so much (and I love that they loved it) that at first I thought it was a rejection but they said, “It simply…defies definition and certainly skips genres. There was a good deal of debate, not as to if we should take it or not. But, more so, at to what our own personal definition of ‘horror’ is here at +The Horror Library+ and how that definition is totally challenged when facing an incredible story like yours.

Needless to say, we’d like to ACCEPT this story. It’s just…amazing and thought-provoking and quite sinisterly clever. It’s an absolute one-of-a-kind, and we’d love to include it in this year’s collection.”

It should be out sometime this summer and I’m looking forward to seeing who the other 26 authors are. More as I find out.

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