30 September 2011

“Foolish Mortals” to appear at Every Day Fiction

Some good news this morning: the popular and influential flash fiction site Every Day Fiction has purchased my story “Foolish Mortals.” The date that it will go up on the site hasn’t been announced yet, but it will either be in October or November. (The monthly Table of Contents are usually put up on the last day of the month, so if “Foolish Mortals” is going to appear in October, I should know by today.)

Update: It is now slated for October 19.

Every Day Fiction is run by Jordan Lapp, a Writers of the Future winner whom I got to know at this year’s workshop, where he helped out the new winners feel more at home around a pack of famous writers. Jordan is a great guy, and was very helpful in getting me to overcome the shyness I felt toward approaching legendary authors (some of whom I was reading in junior high school!) while at the workshop. I even mentioned him in my acceptance speech. So it’s a great privilege to be selected to appear in the online magazine that he founded and which has become one the top spots for flash fiction.

27 September 2011

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Venus, Part 4: Escape on Venus

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

I love Edgar Rice Burroughs. His novels have had an enormous influence on me as a writer and as a pulp fan. But, I must admit, sometimes he wrote . . . this kind of thing. . . .

Oh, let’s just leap into this and get it over with.

Our Saga: The adventures of one Mr. Carson Napier, former stuntman and amateur rocketeer, who tries to get to Mars and ends up on Venus, a.k.a. Amtor, instead. There he discovers a lush jungle planet of bizarre creatures and humanoids who have uncovered the secret of longevity. The planet is caught in a battle between the country of Vepaja and the tyrannical Thorists. Carson finds time during his adventuring to fall for Duare, forbidden daughter of a Vepajan king. Carson’s story covers three novels, a volume of connected novellas, and an orphaned novella.

Previous Installments: Pirates of Venus (1932), Lost on Venus (1933), Carson of Venus (1938).

Today’s Installment: Escape on Venus (1942)

20 September 2011

Candle in the Attic Window is here!

My newest published short story, Gothic horror tale “The Shredded Tapestry,” is now on sale in the anthology Candle in the Attic Window. It’s available in print and in a Kindle edition from Amazon.

“The Shredded Tapestry” takes place in early nineteenth-century Bavaria, and pays homage to the great weird tale author Algernon Blackwood with its story of a cursed monastery, a lone English traveler and seeker of curiosities, a dark secret in the catacombs, and a stalking supernatural feline.

Here is a sample from the story:

Today’s Post Brought to You by Every Letter Except “E”

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

The English alphabet contains twenty-six letters. They all have their uses. Some more than others. The letter “E” gets the most use: how could we live without it?

Not easily. But it can be done.

The French Oulipo group advocates experiments that purposely limit the tools in a writer’s toolkits. Most famous of these experiments is the “lipogram,” which excludes some letters of the alphabet. Of all lipogram experiments, the excision of the letter “E” has caught the most attention. Georges Parec’s 1969 novel La Disparition contains no letter “E” outside of its author’s name. Perhaps more astonishing is that the English translation of the novel, A Void by Gilbert Adair, also contains no occurrence of the letter “E.” Another example, predating the Oulipo group by twenty years, is Ernest Vincent Wright’s novel Gadsby (1939).

So it can be done. But why do it? Shouldn’t writers make use of every object available in their arsenal to tell a story, make a point, or convey information?

I think so. That’s one reason I’ve defended the semicolon from detractors who want it exiled from fiction. It’s also why I think “e-prime,” writing without the verb “to be,” should not be pushed as a replacement for writing with the verb.

However… I love writing exercises. I write every day, and since I’m not always in the middle of a novel or a short story, exercises fill in the gaps. They keep the writing muscles of the brain tones, inspire new ideas, and show writers different paths to expressing themselves.

This weekend, I tackled writing sans the letter “E” for the first time, thinking I would never get far with it. However, I managed to write a 1700-word story—one with a comprehensible plot—in the space of two hours. I present the complete text of “A Ghost’s Claim” below.

12 September 2011

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Venus, Part 3: Carson of Venus

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

Five years have passed since Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Lost on Venus, and the world has undergone a startling and disturbing metamorphosis. Something sinister and confusing is taking place in Europe, and across the Atlantic waters the people of the United States are growing concerned at the saber-rattling of Nazi Germany. The poverty-crippled period in which ERB wrote the previous Venus books has given way to a time of escalating fear of a second great war.

Does this have anything to do with the next novel of the Venus saga, 1938’s Carson of Venus? Of course not. That the villains of the book are called “the Zanis,” and that they rule through a tyrannical personality-cult dictatorship complete with ritualized salutes, concentration camps, and rampant murder of political undesirables is mere coincidence.

Our Saga: The adventures of one Mr. Carson Napier, former stuntman and amateur rocketeer, who tries to get to Mars and ends up on Venus, a.k.a. Amtor, instead. There he discovers a lush jungle planet of bizarre creatures and humanoids who have uncovered the secret of longevity. Carson finds time during his adventuring in the various warring countries of the planet to fall for Duare, forbidden daughter of a king. Carson’s story covers three novels, a volume of connected novellas, and a final orphaned novella.

Previous Installments: Pirates of Venus (1932), Lost on Venus (1933)

Today’s Installment: Carson of Venus (1938)

07 September 2011

Candle in the Attic Window Pre-Order Sale

Candle in the Attic Window, the Gothic horror anthology that features my short story “The Shredded Tapestry,” has an official release date: September 20th.

Innsmouth Free Press is offering a 20% discount on the volume for orders placed before the 20th, so grab one early. You’ll like my story: it has a killer ghost cat and a Bavarian monastery.

And if you’re reading this after the 20th, go purchase a copy here.

06 September 2011

Remembering The Rocketeer

The Rocketeer (1991)
Directed by Joe Johnston. Starring Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, Alan Arkin, Paul Sorvino.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

Update: The Rocketeer is out on Blu-ray! Nix my complaints about the old DVD. But—no special features. Sigh.

The summer is over, and it was a good one at the movies. It was certainly better than 2010, known as the year that Inception made everyone else look like idiots. This year the movies gave us more variety, more base hits, and a few home runs. Unfortunately, it also gave us the tremendous flop of Conan the Barbarian, but in a summer that took one of my beloved heroes and put him in a great movie (Captain America: The First Avenger) and also refreshed one of my favorite film series with a stunning new kick-off (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), I have plenty to feel thankful for. Other films I enjoyed: X-Men: First Class, Hobo with a Shotgun, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (and I’m not even much of a Potter fan), Attack the Block, Midnight in Paris, and Thor. I didn’t hate Green Lantern either!