Interview up!

Just an FYI:  Lydia Kurnia, one of my fellow authors in the anthologies Trespass and Unburied Treasures (for sale here and here, respectively) put up an interview with me regarding my writing habits and life.

Anyone interested – all three of you – can find the interview over here at her site.

My first interview.   Flattering and nice of her to do.


Cold Fusion Media Goes Cold

So ….

Trolling the internet, as I often do-

(Muse:  For porn?  You were trolling for porn right?)

Not tonight.  I was actually in my submissions tracking system and looking back at some of my stats when I came across my entry for "A Capella," which ended up in the Arcane anthology about two years back.  I had not been to Cold Fusion Media's webpage in a while, so I sauntered over to take a look.  I thought about maybe going and buying Arcane II, since the first one was pretty decent.  Well, I went over there and found this:

Sorry to announce that there will be no Arcane III — at least, not for the foreseeable future.  Both of the first two anthologies are solid, enjoyable work that I’m fiercely proud of (without foundation, as I didn’t actually write any of those incredible stories), but sales have been sluggish; at the current rate, even the first volume is years away from breaking even.

Two points.  One, this would make me feel like a failure – as in my writing was not good enough to help keep them afloat, so I share the blame for this; except, I am a sociopath, so I don't feel too guilty.  But a little, like if I had been a better marketer or something, they would have done better.

My second and more important point is that I do feel like an abject failure when it comes to supporting the smaller publishers.  The big conglomerates are going to be out there and I read plenty of big-press books.  But I have been remiss when it comes to smaller shops.  Look, even without my participation in the first one, the first Arcane anthology had a number of awesome stories in it.  I can't imagine the second one is any worse, so what have I got to lose?  Besides CFM's Nathan Shumate (editor of the Arcanes) offered me some really timely encouragement and praise on "A Capella," at a time where I was really doubting my future in the industry.  If for nothing else, I owe him for that.

(The good news here is that CFM still has some projects in the pipeline.)

So here is my pimping appeal:  if you like this genre and even if you only have $4.99 to spare for the Kindle version, I'm asking you to go pick this up.  I am going to splurge and buy a paperback cover version, just 'cause I feel it is on us to support those publishers making an effort.

And if you're reading this, know me personally and don't own the first one?  Well, shame on ya.  Buy it.  I'll buy you a beer.

Arcane I on Amazon
Arcane II on Amazon

Requiem in dragons


I came off my much needed vacation yesterday.  Some health issues made the time off really necessary but I am back now, feeling hale and hearty.  The high desert air of the Mogollon Rim and a couple weeks off did me some good.  More good news:  Mrs. Axe returned my draft of Omega Mage, all marked up, so I am running through that and making updates.

Over the last few months, I’ve been providing a beta review of a trilogy called Song of Dragons, by a certain Daniel Arenson (website here).  The story concerns a race of shape-shifting dragon humanoids, hunted to near extinction by a jealous rival.  The names of the main characters are taken from the Requiem Mass by Mozart but the naming conventions blend nicely with the rest of the story.   The characters are decently fleshed out – including a very chilling antagonist – and the setting carries an air of sad nobility coupled with the decay wrought by the villains.  Daniel’s writing is straightforward; he made some word choices I would not have but the story reads decently and provides enough imagery so that the reader should always be able to visualize what’s happening.

(I’ll give him this, too:  Dan’s tips for writing – also on his website – are presented in a far better manner than my collection of drivel on writing plots on this very blog.)

Overall, the first two books read well.  I was probably a little harsh on Daniel in my reviews, but my that’s just me.  I’m looking forward to the third, to see how the plot threads tie up.

Daniel has the first book of the trilogy up for sale at his site.  Check it out.

Ice cream and mud

First, the ice cream:  my story "A Capella," about an unusual music-maker, was picked up for publication by Arcane Magazine.  The editor, Mr. Nate Shumate, offered some particularly kind words and for those words and taking a chance on a rusted old axe such as myself, I thank him.  Arcane is a relatively new venture but is already generating some good buzz here (and he is interviewed here at Black Gate).  I wish Mr. Shumate and his partner, Sandy Peterson, the best of luck.

Now, the mud:  I read that my friends Carol and Sarah are wrapping up their e-zine, Moon Drenched Fables, and that the June issue will be their last one.  That’s too bad; it was never a large publication but featured some nice prose that had not found a home.  Sarah and Carol are wonderfully nice folk, so I read this with regret but hope that they move on to bigger and better things.

So you take the good with the bad.  An e-zine folds, another begins … a lot like the rest of life.

Daily Update #8


In the last few days, I:

– Sent out five submissions, including stories I had not sent out before.  I also inquired on a couple still pending.  Please cross your fingers, toes, eyes, breasts – whatever you can cross for me.
– Wrote a few reviews for various websites.
– Logged about 3K words on my latest novel effort.

I was mildly productive.  I think I have an apartment scoped so once I get settled I’ll get a good writing rhythm down.

Ah, check this out:  the magazine Shock Totem, while young, is developing a strong reputation for publishing good horror.  The current issue has a story published by a friend.  Leslianne Wilder wrote the story Sweepers, and it is quite good (check this review).  I had a chance to read Sweepers way back when (long before publishing) and offer some feedback to Lesli.  She is a talented writer and so very modest that you alternately want to hug her and slap some sense into her.  Anyway, if you like horror, support Shock Totem.  They haven’t accepted a story by me yet but I keep trying.

Oh yeah.  Did I mention that my slush pile gig got put on hiatus?  The submissions editor at the company resigned so everything went to standby.  I was just getting into to it, too … you know, the power that came with crushing dreams of fledgling writers.  No, I kid, I kid.  But being part of a greater effort was fun.  I’m looking for another gig doing the same thing.  As I did, I started looking at the bios of slush readers for other publications.  All of them were published themselves, and multiple award winners.

Hmmm.  This put me in mind of reading the classifieds.  For example:  "Plumber wanted desperately.  Must have five years experience."  It’s the same Catch-22:  you need experience to get the job – but need the job to get the experience.  Well, I have a little experience now.  Maybe I can move on up.

I have an idea for my next blog entry but I’m afraid it will come across as whining.  So I’ll have to see….

Varmints? No, Critters!

Life comes at you in bunches, doesn’t it?  No?  Well, it does me, which is why I’ve been gone for so long.

Mrs. Axe is away in the west, looking for a house for us.  I am wrangling with insurance companies, pestering people about my move, and prepping a second car for sale.  Also juggling work and a few other things….

I haven’t gotten much writing done in the last month, which is actually good news.  Yesterday, my main writing computer went "Tango-Uniform," which is military-speak for "Tits Up," – kaput and dead in other words.  The dreaded BSOD (Google that term, if you don’t know it.) reared its head ….  The end result is that I have a massively corrupted drive and recovery will be sporting.  Since I have irregular backup habits, I would have lost whatever was written recently.  I lost very little since my last backup about five weeks ago.  One positive:  I did have a story come up on last week, and received some great feedback.

(Begin shameless plug)

I really like the critters site.  It was founded by Andrew Burt, a former VP of Science-Fiction / Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).  He’s been running the site for about fifteen years and in that time, the all-volunteer reviewers have critiqued over 18K pieces of speculative fiction.  I’ve put up fifteen or so pieces in the last few years and received 10-25 in-depth and thorough reviews [edit:  10-25 per entry, I meant].  One of the real benefits is the lack of forums and discussion boards (they exist but are, in style, archaic), which prevents any socializing, which – IMO – becomes an impediment to objective review.  Getting the reviews to authors (and getting credit!) is easy and works well.

There are some downsides.  Anyone submitting their work has to review a minimum of three other stories every four weeks.  You can review more but have to maintain a "ratio" of 75% of higher.  I get annoyed by the ancient standards for posting manuscripts (70 character width lines, on the basis that someone might be using a Commodore 64, abacus, or other ancient system).  Also, getting a story up for review takes some time and you can only have one in the queue at a time.

But I think these are worthwhile endurances, for the quality of reviews you get – which have been better than anything else I have ever received, minus the gentle bite of Mrs. Axe’s impeccably high standards.

(End shameless plug)

Okay, enough outta me.  I’m getting back to work.  I’ll check back in soon.  Ciao!

Website Plug – Scribblers and Ink Spillers

Ah, Friday.

So ….  Believe it or not, I have a few friends.  Not many, but a few.  One of them is named Diana Lyles, who runs a publishing company by the name of Scribblers and Ink Spillers.  I remember when Diana started this up; she took a some chances to get it going and is extremely hard-working and has poured all of her heart and soul into the business.

S&IS has a couple of publications.  Their main publication is called "Emerald Tales," which is a themed bimonthly journal of short stories and poetry.  S&IS also has "Crystal Codices."  The stories in Codices are of any fantasy subject that catches their eye, up to novella length.  These publications are available as PDFs online or as bound manuals.  Emerald Tales is listed on Ralan’s as a paying market.

Also, S&IS have material available on their website.  "Crimson Wire" are short stories that supplement Emerald Tales and have other catchy odds and ends of stories and poems.  Those stories are free to read.  Last but not least, a young lady by the name of Mette Pesonen has an entire array of stories up known as "The Annals of Hypnosia."  It is a light-hearted fantasy following the adventures of Serafyr Halfdrake.  Most of these are very tongue-in-cheek and a lot of fun to read.  The Annals are also available on the website.

Finally, Diana blogs at The Scribbling Sea Sprite.  She does all this by herself.  How, I ‘ll never know.  I ‘m gonna guess caffeine.

Link added to the left.  Pay them a visit, please.

And best of continued luck, Diana.