Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Release Flash Flood

On March 3, 2013 our small family ventured north to our new house (actually, Xanadu's almost a century old) in the mountains. Before the week was through, my soon-to-be-new writing room on the ground floor was being pulled apart so that it could be redesigned to my specifications, and I had claimed office space at our dining table in our new kitchen as temporary accommodations (also the sofa in Xanadu's living room for afternoon work sessions). There wasn't much of a lull between our old digs and new -- I wrote on the long drive up here and through the morning of closing, the stress of which should have driven me to distraction but didn't.

During those kitchen table and living room sofa spells, I penned quite a few flash fiction stories inspired by our adventure to this mysterious and magical town.  One morning soon after landing, the Eureka! moment struck, and I collected together twenty of my wee stories into Shrunken Heads: Twenty Tiny Tales of Mystery and Terror.  I wrote up a proposal, fired it off, and in record time my wonderful editor, Angela Craig at Elektrik Milk Bath Press, requested a read.  The book was turned in, and this past September my terrible infant was born. Petite in size (it's smaller than a paperback and weighs in at only 106 pages), Shrunken Heads is a miniature monster that packs -- I hope -- plenty of bite!

I've also enjoyed several exciting new releases in addition to my short fiction collection.  Over the summer, editor Shawna Bernard approached me about writing for her new project, Cellar Door: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror V1.  Cellar Door contains two of my original short stories -- "Stray Cat" and "November Comes Too Early" (formerly titled "There's Someone in the Basement").  In the first, a shady apartment dweller mistakes noises in the hallway for a stray cat and devises a violent solution, while in the latter, a woman wakes each night, convinced there's someone moving around down in the basement as the autumn days grow shorter and colder.  I had a great time writing both stories; "Cat" tested me and made me feel quite dirty, truth be told.  On the afternoon I hit 'send' from my laptop, my good pal Esther M. Leiper-Estabrooks, read the guidelines and was instantly inspired. Esther is one of many wonderful new friends I've made since moving north, and a powerhouse poet, columnist, and fiction writer.  We were enjoying a big Sunday dinner and, by dinner's end, she had a draft of "Behind the Cellar Door", a wonderfully creepy epic poem, which also appears in the collection. Rounding out the Table of Contents are such luminous authors as Tracy L. Carbone, J. Daniel Stone, K. Trap Jones, and David North-Martino.  It's always a pleasure to have my work included among such wonderful scribes.

Late last winter, right before the move, I was contacted by the brilliant minds behind the Gay City series of books, which featured my story "The End of an Era" in Volume 4. Editors Vincent Kovar and Evan J. Peterson invited me to submit to their newest, which would pay homage to monsters -- one of my favorite writing subjects! While waiting to close on Xanadu and packing up our lives for the new adventure, I got lost in my longish short story "B.E.M.s", which came to me during a visit to Los Angeles, circa 1999.  In my story, a hardened he-man actor starring in the lead role on a spooky network TV show lives a secret life fighting the Bug-Eyed Monsters that lurk and slither in the back lots and back alleys of Tinseltown, preying upon dreams and the innocent. I had more fun than should be legal writing the story, enjoyed sharing it with my southern NH writers' group in those final weeks leading up to the big move, and fired it off to patient editors who made it very clear that they wanted my work included in the collection. On the first Saturday in our new home, I woke and moseyed downstairs to find the acceptance for "B.E.M.s" waiting in my email.  The end result of the book -- like the previous volume -- is visually stunning, from cover to contents.  "B.E.M.s" appears alongside work by heavy hitters like Steve Berman and Bastard Out of Carolina author Dorothy Allison.

In November 2012 at Anthocon, I met the brilliant Dr. Alex Scully, who approached me about contributing quite a unique story to a new project in the works at her press, Firbolg Publishing, for their Enter at Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences. I was tasked with telling the story of H.P. Lovecraft's classic "The Call of Cthulhu" from the perspective of the author's most famous baddy himself. Talk about a challenge -- and a rare treat! I immersed myself in the original story, got into Cthulhu's head space as best as I could, and penned "The Whisper of Cthulhu", in which the cosmic giant wakes early from his eons-old slumber to find himself in a reality he never dreamed possible.  Not only does Dark Muses, Spoken Silences include a reprint of Lovecraft's tale, the book also features Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", Polidori's "The Vampyre: A Tale", and Edgar Allen Poe's "The Black Cat", each classic bookended with alternate takes from different perspectives as penned by some of today's most exciting literary voices.  Poe is my favorite author of all time, and to be included in a book with him is a dream made manifest.  My contributor copy arrived recently late one gloomy, cold afternoon -- mail delivery in our neighborhood switched from mid-morning to seemingly mid-night -- and my hands trembled as I opened the package, knowing what it contained.  A stunning and humbling collection to have a story in, truly.

Four books of more than a dozen I've had stories published in since the summer, each one is a reminder of how lucky I am to be living the writing life.

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