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Surfacing briefly to announce that I have a new story out. That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley (Mad Scientist Journal) containing my story, “The Crumbling of Old Walls” is now available for your digital devices and in good old fashioned paper. The trade paperback edition looks like this:

That-Aint-Right---paperback

Lovecraft fans will recognize the name Miskatonic Valley as a setting for many of his stories. Each contributor has written a first person account set somewhere in the valley. The book contains, “…eighteen tales of people who have either lived in this strange corner of New England or had the misfortune of visiting. Mixed in with nods to classic Lovecraft icons are stories that bring a new eye to the genre. Tales of horse drawn carriages share space with orbital shuttles, alternate worlds, and football.”

Thanks to editors Jeremy Zimmerman and Dawn Vogel for including me. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s work.

The publisher reports you can purchase the physical book at Amazon and possibly via special order at Barnes & Noble or Powell’s.

The ebook is available via Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Versent, Inktera, Scribd, and Kobo.

Oh, and the cover art by Shannon Legler is gorgeous.

Enjoy.

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shroud11_smallTo celebrate mid-summer and make sure you don’t run out of chilly reading material, Tim Deal at Shroud Publishing has announced that all titles in their catalog (except those subject to existing special offers) are on sale at 30% off. If you are interested in my work and don’t own the Shroud titles that contain them, now’s your chance to snatch them up.

Shroud Magazine #11 contains “Side Retired.”

Shroud Magazine #8 contains “Discounted.”

Northern Haunts – 100 Terrifying New England Tales contains “Broken Chain”

You can (and should) of course also take a look at all of the other goodies Shroud Publishing has to offer. Visit www.shroudmagazine.com and use the coupon code “30offjuly” at checkout. Enjoy!

I don’t know who the other authors are yet,  but The Unsettled Foundation teased a bit about the lineup for The Electronic Voice Phenomenon. A look at the neighborhood in progress.

EVP tweet

That Aint Right - Miskatonic ValleyI’m pleased to announce that my story, “The Crumbling of Old Walls” has been accepted for publication in That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley (Mad Scientist Journal) The anthology will be a collection of first person accounts told by people visiting or living in the Miskatonic Valley, the reimagined northeast and north central Massachusetts setting of many of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. My story is set in modern day Aylesbury, a small town well up the Miskatonic River.

I am not a Lovecraft scholar by any means. Nor have I read that much of his work. But I’ve always been interested in his mythos of “Great Old Ones” and the idea that there are immense beings/forces beyond our understanding in the universe that may not exactly wish us well. I am also a fan of linked stories that create a fictional world. Plus, I grew up in northeast Massachusetts and have spent almost my entire life in New England. Add it all up and Lovecraft’s world is a natural sandbox for me to play in. Lots of editors and writers and game developers do.

Lovecraft never wrote anything set in Aylesbury. It is mentioned in a poem and in two of his most famous stories, “The Lurker at the Threshold” and “The Dunwich Horror.” The latter story provided some key geography to connect my tale to Lovecraft’s world. Other Lovecraftian bits I picked up via research. Writer/editor Jan Kozlowski‘s popular knitted Cthulu items also get a nod.

Dogged followers of this blog will know that this isn’t my first forray into the Miskatonic Valley. I had a triptych of poems accepted for The Terror at Miskatonic Falls (Shroud Publishing). I’m hopeful they’ll become available someday. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to That Ain’t Right.

More news as I have it.

800px-Lovecraft_country

So called ‘Lovecraft country’ of Cthulhu Mythos, showing some of the most important cities of Massachusetts alongside with towns invented by Lovecraft. Imaginary towns are marked with square, real ones with circle. Map and description by Miihkali. Wikimedia Commons.

Unsettled Foundation - EVPA bit of news after all the silence on this blog. My story, “Resident Population” has been accepted for publication by The Unsettled Foundation for their forthcoming podcast, The Electronic Voice Phenomenon. The Unsettled Foundation is based out of Minneapolis and has been doing live readings in their neck of the woods. As they state on their website, “In the interest of expanding our icy grip beyond Minneapolis, the podcast will feature interviews, fiction, audio drama, and other concerns of the dark and dreary.” They plan to publish three episodes per year and I’m happy to be included in the evolving lineup.

“Resident Population” is a flash fiction story and is among my favorites. It’s also one of the stories that has had quite a few, “we love it, but not enough to take it because (fill in blank)” rejection letters. Sometimes without the blank actually being filled in. It’s about an aging widow who deeply misses her husband and feels a bit isolated in the world. And it’s about the birdhouse her husband built, which is possibly haunted.

More news as I receive it. Promise.

Photo by Jon Wiley. Used by permission under a NonCommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode) No changes were made to the photo.

Photo by Jon Wiley. Used by permission under a NonCommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode) No changes were made to the photo.

Happy 2014 all.

I’m among the millions trying to stay warm inside the massive ice ball of air hurled into North America by the “polar vortex.” It’s been at or below zero with the wind chill all day and waiting for my younger son at the bus stop was pretty darn unpleasant. Mind you, I know I’ve got it easy compared to many. All of my friends and former coworkers back in Chiberia (Chicago) for a start. Or I could be stuck in an airport or stranded on the opposite side of the country from home. Or not have a home at all and be in a desperate struggle to stay alive another day in this deadly cold. So…a dollop of perspective in my cocoa.

Having come out of my usual holiday season writing slumber I am back at work on the second draft of my novel.

It’s a learning experience for sure. Gene Wolfe says, “You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.” So I’m learning how to write this one.

The first thing I did was read the first draft through all the way. Tried not to stop for long. Tried to keep my note making and paragraph slashing to a minimum. Tried to stay away from sharp objects.

When I reached the end, I was relieved to have learned that there is, indeed, a story in there worth telling. It’s just not ready to be read by anyone but me. There are places where it goes wildly off course. In other places the story bogs down. Characters undergo personality shifts. Back story pieces and other details are in the wrong place and wind up told rather than shown. Etc. Normal first draft stuff. Except for one thing: the sheer scale.

I was a bit unprepared to discover how many people and moving parts there are in the manuscript. Keeping it all in my head so that I can focus in on a given character’s trajectory and behavior across the whole tale has proven difficult. Also, given the size, I couldn’t quite see the beats of the narrative as reliably as I’d like in my minds eye. I’ve been experimenting with ways to help myself.

I labeled an index card for each significant character in the story and tacked them up on my cork board. It looks like this:

Cards on Corkboard

I have them arranged by what section of the book they are primarily featured in or alongside characters that have the most interaction with them. I’ve been making shorthand notes about each character on the cards. Reminders about tendencies or traits.

The other tool I’m creating is something like an outline except there are no bullets. It’s more a super condensed version of the novel. Goes something like this:

Stave One – Marley’s Ghost

Summary: Christmas Eve. We meet Ebenezer Scrooge, learn about his work and life and meet some of the people around him. He goes home alone and is visited by the ghost of his dead partner who warns him he must change his life and that he will be visited by three ghosts.

P7 Narrator goes on at some length that Marley is dead and that Scrooge is a bitter, miserly recluse.

P10 Scrooge’s nephew arrives, tries, and fails to persuade Scrooge to come to Christmas dinner.

P16 Two men from a charitable organization appeal to Scrooge for a donation and are rebuffed. “surplus population.”

Etc. I’ve done this with half the manuscript so far and will complete it tomorrow. I’m finding it a useful exercise. Just the page numbers give me a sense of when the writing gets suspiciously long or suspiciously brief. I can see the major events and where they lie in relationship to one another. I can note major themes or important quotes that influence later events (or could, or should).

I’m getting my arms around the story and the characters. Or, perhaps, I’m making a map. Something to help me navigate. Because I’ve never been in these waters before.

( With the solstice upon us and finding that I’m feeling…well, more numb than joyful as the days count down to Christmas, I thought I would share this. )

It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

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