In mid-August I drove south to a spot in rural Texas. A friend of mine has bought some property and wants to develop it, and has hired me to help out. Sure, I’ve never actually built a house before, but how hard can it be? Those little worker guys in Civ V do it all the time.
Writing-wise, An Atlas Of Bad Roads is in production and should be headed out to the backers (Thanks, guys! You were great!) shortly.
Currently I have one story out that I am waiting to hear back on, for a new market I haven’t submitted to before.
I just finished up another Erik Rugar story. I have tentative plans to put together a collection of Dracoheim stories, some featuring Rugar, and some featuring Magus Leonid Vetch, the protagonist of the stories I wrote for the Magical Schools collections.
In another folder I’m collecting SF stories. I don’t have enough to even get a feel for it yet, but it’s good to see tangible evidence that the Muse has not deserted me.
Current WIP is a story for submission to Storyhack’s next Sidearm & Sorcery anthology. This one is going well, although it seems to be veering off into some pretty dark places. We’ll see how it goes.
As the days trickle down to a precious few on the Kickstarter for An Atlas Of Bad Roads, I want to collect all of the interviews I’ve done lately into one handy post. In order of their original broadcast:
That’s over four hours of me talking, which is probably more than most people need in their lifetime. I cover a lot of subjects, my philosophy of fiction chief among them, and I’ll admit that I repeat myself a lot. But if you’re interested in why and how I do whatever it is that I do, here I am in my own words.
We’re a little more than halfway through the Kickstarter for An Atlas Of Bad Roads, and while it’s more than met the goalCirsova set for it, I would really like to see it go farther. Not just for myself, but also because it will help the magazine buy more quality fiction for upcoming issues.
As always, I spend a lot of time going over the stories in a collection when it gets close to publication, both searching for elusive typos and in second guessing myself–why did I decide on this story, shouldn’t I have gone with that one instead?
Leaving my inevitable self-criticism aside, though, this really is a good collection. And while we decided to go with the Atlas conceit and focus on the locations of the stories, it could have easily been called, Want Ads For Bad Jobs.
The theme of identity through employment is a strong one in my work, as it has been in my life. Men, in particular, tend to define themselves by their trades. We spend a large percentage of our waking hours working, and it is, for most of us, the way in which we provide for ourselves and our family.
I go against the current somewhat in this. Modern writers tend to focus on personal relationships even in Action/Adventure Fiction. It’s rare to find a Police Thriller where the case doesn’t involve a threat to the cop’s family or romantic partner. Fantasy Fiction is full of blessings and curses bestowed by bloodlines. Characters find themselves struggling to prevent cataclysms not because it’s the right thing to do, but because the potential collateral damage includes spouses or children.
I went into some detail on this topic in a post a while back called “It’s Personal Every Time”. It’s something I feel strongly about. Sometimes a man finds himself rising to extraordinary heights for the seeming quotidian reason that it’s his job, and it’s a job that needs doing, and there’s no one else to do it.
And while most of us don’t have to fight actual monsters in the course of our professional lives, I think it’s a sentiment that will resonate with anyone who has had to leave a warm bed in the middle of the night to deal with an emergency at the work site because somebody had to do it.
In An Atlas Of Bad Roads you will encounter workplace hazards such as:
A surveyor who discovers strange and deadly squatters in an abandoned mall.
A railroad cop encountering a powerful evil force on a train.
A maintenance man tracking down an electrical problem the originates beyond the grave.
A convenience store clerk dragged into a battle between unseen entities and an unlikely paladin.
A groundskeeper who becomes aware that the cemetery he cares for is more than it seems.
A stoner whose career change is a symptom of a deeper, deadly change in identity.
A butcher facing a customer from a past he’d rather forget.
And nine more stories besides. Not every single one is about encountering the uncanny on the job, but I do have a strong blue collar esthetic and most of my characters tend to punch clocks and favor Carhartt over Brooks Brothers.
I could give you a lot of reasons why you should support this Kickstarter, and talk about the importance of Indie Publishing as an alternative to Random Penguin Megacorp Press, but honestly, I want you to buy because they’re good stories, and I think you’ll enjoy them, and they might just give you a shiver that will have you looking over your shoulder the next time you have to run into the shop for a night call.
A few years back, when I realized that what I wanted to do (and what I think I’m good at) is writing short fiction I came up with a goal for myself to publish three collections of my own short stories, one Fantasy, one Science Fiction, and one Horror.
The Kickstarter is actually for my fourth collection, since I ended up doing Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts which wasn’t part of my original plan, it just kind of happened.
I do have to admit that I have a bit of an inferiority complex about my chosen career path, both because I write so much slower than most of my peers, and also because I “only” write short fiction.
Everyone else is saying things like, “I just wrote the sixth book in my third series.” and I’m piddling around writing short stories and not even finishing all of the ones I start.
In my defense, though, I am creating a new world every ten thousand words or so, which takes time.
In any event, I am here to stand for the legitimacy of short fiction as an art form. Most of the writers I really admire wrote a lot of short fiction and some of them did so almost exclusively.
So, what can you find in this collection? Well, there are the original five stories from Duel Visions, which is now out of print. There are eleven other stories besides, some of which have been previously published and some of which are exclusive to this collection.
In addition, there are sixteen poems, most of which have been published on my blog, but have never been in print before.
Actually, no, despite the scary name I was neither criticized nor blasted. Instead I was given an opportunity to ramble on at length about fiction, technology, roadmaps, and my opinion of the Indie Short Fiction market. Also includes a special guest appearance by Butchie the Tuxedo Cat!
Wild Stars V is going to begin fulfillment as soon as the books show up! I know “on time” for us feels like “late” fulfillment, but I’m glad we held off, because Dark Filly was able to get two additional interior illustrations to us before the final cutoff.
As you know, Wild Stars VI is currently being serialized in the 2022 Cirsovas, starting with the Spring issue. Part two just dropped last month.
While he’s prioritizing finishing his Robert E Howard art history project, Michael IS working on Wild Stars VII and we are planning on serializing it next year.
Mongoose and Meerkat
Mongoose and Meerkat is moving into proofs phase. We’ve got some additional artwork in from Raven Monroe [who did the cover for our fall 2021 issue] that we’ll be putting into layout with the stuff from Dark Filly.
Let me start by saying that this is not about VengerCon itself or it’s founder Venger Satanis, both of which I wholeheartedly endorse.
Rather, it’s the fault of my failing health. I’m nearly 60 years old, and I’ve lived the kind of life that makes medical examiners call up their buddies and say, “You got to see this guy–I can’t believe he lasted as long as he did!”
I just had surgery, and I have to admit that I just don’t bounce back from being sliced open as quickly as I once did. The odds of me being able to sit in a car long enough to drive to Madison, WI in three weeks time are pretty slim.
Plus, I don’t have as much PTO accrued as I will be out of work, so there’s the whole money angle.
So I will have to bow out, and I apologize to anyone who was hoping to play in the game I was planning to run. I do still have the GM bug, and I may see if I can adapt it for Roll20…
Sword and Planet fiction. Think John Carter (Edgar Rice Burroughs), Flash Gordon (especially the comic strip, the early serials, and the movie – not so much the attempted reboots), and Leigh Brackett (Eric John Stark). Need more examples? Check here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_and_planet.
Word count is 5,000 to 10,000. This is for a one-off themed anthology, so no serials. Stories should be self-contained, with a readily identifiable beginning, middle, and end. Don’t send us a chapter of your novel unless it can completely stand on its own.
Payment is $40 flat plus an electronic comp copy, regardless of word length. If we manage to secure additional funding, the first thing we’ll be doing is upping the pay rate for contributors. Payment will be made through PayPal, no exceptions.
Submissions will open 12:01 AM EDT (GMT -4) July 1, 2022 and close…
We’re accepting all ads except for back cover [which has already been sold]
We’re still hoping to do submissions during the first week of August, but I just got hit with about $4k in plumbing expenses. The good news: I’ve got the money. The better news: Cirsova is already front-loaded with 75K words of fiction for 2023 by special arrangement. The bad news: Unless we get a major cash injection soon, we’ll probably be just looking at around 100k words and 2 issues next year, or kick back Open Submissions/go invite-only.
The two fastest ways for us to get the cash we need in time to buy things in August: