Reading “Delirium Sings…” at Powell’s, Nov. 2015

I recently posted video of my reading from “Firedancing” in The Children of Old Leech at BizarroCon. Link HERE.

A few days after that reading, several Portland writers who all happened to appear in Word Horde’s anthology CTHULHU FHTAGN! had a group reading at Powell’s Books, the SE Hawthorne location.

My wife took video of my portion of the reading, in which I read the middle of my story “Delirium Sings at the Maelstrom Window.”

My thanks to Nathan Carson (who also read) for setting up the reading event, and also to Ross E. Lockhart for publishing Cthulhu Fhtagn! and selecting my story for inclusion. You can order a copy of the book at Word Horde.

Reading “Firedancing” at BizarroCon Nov. 2015

I’ve had two opportunities to read my work this month. First was the Word Horde group reading at BizarroCon. I read the middle of my story “Firedancing” from the Laird Barron tribute anthology, The Children of Old Leech published by Word Horde last year.

My wife Lena was good enough to record video of my reading.

Video also exists of the second reading at Powell’s Books in support of Cthulhu Fhtagn!, and I’ll post that soon.

Varieties of Weirdness Panel at BizarroCon 2015

Still in the middle of a busy couple of weeks here, between BizarroCon last weekend, the Cthulhu Fhtagn! reading at Powell’s last night, and Living Dead Horror Con this weekend.

I’ll have more to say on some of these matters too, but for now I’ll just link to Scott Nicolay’s The Outer Dark podcast, a recent episode of which featured a recording of the Varieties of Weirdness Panel at BizarroCon 2015. I was on that panel along with moderator Ross E. Lockhart, Rios de la Luz, G. Arthur Brown and Garrett Cook.

The link is HERE.

Varieties of Weirdness panel photo by Helen Hopley

Varieties of Weirdness panel photo by Helen Hopley

The panel discussion began just minutes after those of us in the room heard the news that Scott Nicolay had won the World Fantasy Award. Congrats to Scott for the huge honor, and thanks for featuring “Varieties of Weirdness” on The Outer Dark.

Reading at Powell’s Books Tonight

Several Portland locals with stories in CTHULHU FHTAGN! will be reading at Powell’s Books (note: SE Hawthorne location) tonight.


The Ross E. Lockhart-edited, H. P. Lovecraft inspired Word Horde press anthology CTHULHU FHTAGN! features 19 macabre tales. Five of these are from authors who call Oregon home.

Wendy Wagner
Edward Morris
Mike Griffin
Christine Morgan
Nathan Carson

Thursday, Nov 12
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne

The event page on Facebook is HERE.

Check out this lovely book!


BizarroCon 2015

It’s been a year of many conventions, and I’m not done yet. Today is the beginning of BizarroCon 2015 at the McMenamins Edgefield. The Edgefield is a cool historic place that was the county “poor farm” in the days of my grandparents.

The McMenamins company has turned it into a whimsical, sprawling entertainment complex with hotel rooms, restaurants and bars, a golf course and assorted other fun stuff.

As a genre, Bizarro is slightly different from what I normally write, though I believe there’s a lot of crossover between Bizarro and the weirder end of the Weird. Some of my favorite publishers like Word Horde and Lazy Fascist Press have one foot in each territory, as I see it.

Though the con will be underway Thursday afternoon, I won’t be showing up until later Thursday night. I’ll be delivering Michael Cisco from the airport.

Friday will be a long day of workshops and other entertainments. Early in the morning I’ll be participating in a “Perfecting Your Pitch” workshop led by Ross E. Lockhart, and after lunch I’ll be in the “Chunk-Style Plotting” workshop led by John Skipp.

Saturday I’m taking part in the Word Horde Reading Block (2:30-4PM) along with Ross Lockhart, Nathan Carson, Nikki Guerlain, Edward Morris and M.P. Johnson.

Sunday I’m on the “Varieties of Weirdness” panel (in which I hope to touch on the crossover I perceive between Bizarro and Weird fiction) along with Ross again, G. Arthur Brown, Garrett Cook, Cameron Pierce and Rios De La Luz. This panel will be recorded, with the approval of all participants, for inclusion in a future edition of Scott Nicolay’s excellent podcast series The Outer Dark.

Last year I only attended BizarroCon for a single day, but I had such fun I wanted to be part of all three days this year. If you’ll be there, I look forward to seeing you. Lots of fun to be had!

Late 2015 Writing

Many of my posts lately have been about conventions and publishing, but most of my time is spent writing, so what about that?

I spent much of the last half of 2015 writing and revising a short novel, about 51,000 words. Non-writers will wonder, “How long is that in pages?” Well, it’s longer than The Great Gatsby or Slaughterhouse Five, but by the standards of today’s publishing environment, 51k words is an odd length. It’s too long to be a novella (17,500 words up to 40k), so while it’s technically a novel, most agents and publishers want to see something like 80-100k word novels.

This project is on submission to a publisher that seems not to mind the in-between length, so we’ll see what happens with that.

I’ve really enjoyed working longer, and intend to start a full-length novel early in 2016, after I finish writing four stories for anthology projects to which I’ve been invited to submit.

I haven’t had quite as many stories lined up for publication in 2015, due to spending much of 2014 wrapping up my first collection, which should appear in 2016. I hope to be able to say more about that before too much longer.

“The Slipping of Stones” in Strange Aeons 17

I forgot to mention this in the lead-up to the HPL Film Fest, but one of my stories has just appeared in a very cool place.

Issue 17 of Strange Aeons magazine is now available, and includes my story “The Slipping of Stones.” There are also stories by outgoing fiction editor Ted E. Grau and incoming fiction editor Justin Steele, along with an interview with Mike Davis of Lovecraft eZine and reviews and comics. Check out this great cover art by Lee Moyer.

Strange Aeons Issue 17

Strange Aeons Issue 17

My thanks to Kelly Young and Rick Tillman for making this happen. You can order Strange Aeons HERE.

Another H.P. Lovecraft Film Fest Done

I’ve been to several different conventions – NecronomiCon, Readercon, BizarroCon – but nearest to my heart is the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon here in Portland, Oregon.

It’s my hometown convention, the first convention I ever attended, and the one I’ve attended most of all (maybe 6-7 times now). It’s the first convention that ever featured me as a guest, the first place I did a public reading of my work, and the first place I sat on a panel discussion.

Usually we spend a lot of time wandering around, talking with people on sidewalks and in the dealer room and in bars. Actually, we usually spend most of our time in Columbia River Brewing and that held true again this year, though we also passed some hours in Sam’s Billiards on the same block.

We watched a few movies, including several blocks of shorts. The highlight was seeing Reanimator introduced by our guest Pete Rawlik, and followed by a Q&A with Jeffrey Combs who told funny, smart and interesting stories.

Combs also did a dramatic reading of Lovecraft’s story “The Outsider” to a packed room, and talked briefly after. He was an excellent Special Guest, and everyone seemed to enjoy having a chance to see him speak.

I read the beginning of my story “The Slipping of Stones,” which appeared in last month’s issue of Strange Aeons, in a reading block with Scott Nicolay and Peter Rawlik. I also moderated a panel on “Mythos and Music,” sort of a sequel to a panel held at CthulhuCon in April, but with several different panelists.

Last and most surprising, at the film awards ceremony (where they usually give prizes for best feature, best short film, best screenplay and so on), this year they had 2 special awards for “Patron of the Arts.” The first went to long-time HPLFF volunteer Greg Lowney and the other went to me and Lena Griffin.


Our award was for hosting many visiting guests at our home over the years. Of course this was not quite as altruistic as it might sound, since all the people who stayed with us were friends, so it was fun for us. Still, we really appreciated the recognition!

NecronomiCon 2015 Post-Con Summary

If you care to zoom back-weird through time and read my preview of NecronomiCon Providence 2015, zoom HERE.

So, now it’s over, in fact it’s been over for a month already!

I used to write a lengthy and extremely detailed report after every convention. While I love reading posts like that, and they’re actually fun to write, they’re just too time consuming.

So instead, how ’bout a photo or two, and a brief rundown of highlights?

NecronomiCon 2015 in Providence seemed to be the big 2015 convention most people were anticipating with excitement. The 2013 event was a lot of fun for everybody I spoke with. It was the last opportunity I had to meet some of my favorite writers like Laird Barron and Richard Gavin, who don’t attend a lot of events. I heard from several people who said they may not make it to any other conventions in 2015, but they were definitely not going to miss NecronomiCon.

Our room in the Omni Hotel

Our room in the Omni Hotel

At the 2013 NecronomiCon, almost everyone stayed at the Biltmore Hotel, where most of the panels and readings were held. This time, though, many of us stayed at the Omni Hotel, on the other side of the road destruction between the two main hotels. We were pleasantly surprised at our room — big and modern and clean!

The bathroom (not pictured) was almost as big as the rest of our room, and included not only a huge stone tile walk-in shower, but also a giant tub. If I ever need to stay in Providence for weeks on end, this is the room I want. As it turned out, we were so busy on this short trip, we didn’t spend much time here.

An interesting thing about the Omni is that the rooms are primarily split into two towers (secretly code-named Barad-dur and Orthanc), and each tower’s elevators require a room key card. But the key cards from one tower are compatible only with the one elevator, not the other. This created a situation where we wanted to meet up with friends who were staying in the very same hotel, but we couldn’t take the elevator up to get to each other’s rooms, and had to text each other and meet up down in the lobby. I can’t think of a great reason why your room key gets you access to half the Omni’s zillion rooms, but not the other half.

Shoggoth at the Omni

Shoggoth at the Omni

Speaking of the Omni’s lobby, it had the most interesting glass sculpture hanging overhead. Everyone who saw the photos compared it to a shoggoth, so the shoggoth sculpture it will forever be named.

Wild Pulver

Wild Pulver

A few people had gifts for Joe Pulver (photo above) since his birthday was the month before, and mailing gifts to Germany is all insane-crazy expensive.

Our first dinner was in a big group at the Viva Mexico Cantina. The food was pretty good, but down at the end of the bar, the music was loud and TV sports blared, creating a pretty awful cacophony which left even those of us with perfect hearing unable to follow conversations happening only a few feet away.

Every time I go to a convention, one of the main things I come away with is a determination that next time I will avoid large group meals in noisy venues!

Toasting to Caligari

Toasting to Caligari

Late at night, after at least one of us had a successful business meeting, my wife Lena and I had a drink with Joe Pulver and his wife Kat to toast Joe’s brand-new contract with publisher Fedogan and Bremer for an anthology in tribute to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

I love this movie, and know how long this project has been a dream of Joe’s, so it’s wonderful that it has the support of an excellent publisher. Many great writers have already agreed to participate. I’m sure we’ll hear more information from Joe and F&B soon about this very promising book.

My contributor's copies of The Doom That Came to Providence

My contributor’s copies of The Doom That Came to Providence

… and speaking of Joe, AKA Joseph S. Pulver Sr., one of my first priorities upon arriving in Providence was to get my hands on copies of The Doom That Came to Providence, the round robin project Joe edited as a special treat related to this event. All the stories relate to the “Water Fire” event from the 2013 con, with everybody taking a different angle on strange happenings that may or may not have gone down that night. The books turned out great – check out the beautiful cover art by Nick Gucker!

Reading from "I'm Looking For Nick Cowan or Cody Steele"

Reading from “I’m Looking For Nick Cowan or Cody Steele (photo by Matthew Carpenter)”

Here I am reading my story “I’m Looking for Nick Cowan or Cody Steele from The Doom That Came to Providence. I thought the reading went pretty well, and a very good crowd attended. I read along with Scott Thomas, David Neilsen and Peter Rawlik.

Above photo by Matthew Carpenter.

Cisco and Nikki

Cisco and Nikki

Speaking of the audience for my reading, I snapped a couple of pictures of those assembled. Above you see the kind of wild and crazy folks who show up to events like this. That’s the reclusive genius Michael Cisco on the left and darling Nikki Guerlain on the right. See, public readings of weird fiction inspire folks to all kinds of public displays of affection, and the crowd was generally draped all over one another!

Above photo is a treatment by Nikki Guerlain of my original photo.

The Future of Weird Fiction panel (photo by Scott Nicolay)

The Future of Weird Fiction Panel (photo by Scott Nicolay)

The other programming I participated in was the panel discuss, “The Future of Weird Fiction,” moderated by SJ Bagley and with fellow panelists Simon Strantzas, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Justin Steele and Joe Pulver.

The panel was well attended, and the discussion was a very good one, with lots of interesting talk about the state of weird fiction, how it’s changed since the old days. Most interesting was the section in which each of us suggested writers (or in a few cases, editors or publishing venues) we thought likely to be part of the vital future of our subgenre.

One disappointing aspect of the panel is that I had offered to help Scott Nicolay record the audio of the panel, which Scott hoped to feature on his interview podcast The Outer Dark. Unfortunately, we must have fumbled the handoff of my digital voice recorder, and we only captured the first few seconds of preliminary murmuring, and none of the good stuff. My apologies! This would have been an interesting recording to revisit later.

Above photo is by Scott Nicolay.

Lena Griffin, me and Scott Nicolay at Viva Mexico Cantina breakfast

Lena Griffin, me and Scott Nicolay at Viva Mexico Cantina breakfast

Speaking of Scott and The Outer Dark (note my t-shirt), here we are after breakfast at Viva Mexico Cantina.

Two Lagavulins are better than one

Two Lagavulins Are Better Than One

All these photographs of readings and panels and other such events might lead one to believe the convention experience to be something formal or at least organized. This is not true. The most important aspect of the convention experience is the informal meeting with friends and associates we meet in hotel lobbies, on the sidewalk, in various bars, or in that most honored off-schedule event, the room party.

I photographed these bottles of Lagavulin in John Langan’s room party. I brought the bottle of Lagavulin 16 in honor of the 2013 Langan/Barron room party, where both Michael Cisco and I brought a bottle of the same, without advance planning.

This is the kind of thing you might get when you come to these conventions. Remember, kids, when the writing pros say “conventions are important for networking,” what they really mean is good Scotch whisky.

Prosecco Sangria at McCormick's

Prosecco Sangria at McCormick’s

Room parties are great, but I also mentioned hanging around in bars. Here’s a photo of me in the McCormick’s bar. At this event, I met for the first time (in person) my wonderful friend, the excellent writer Damien Angelica Walters. She was drinking many, many of these light, fragrant and sort of flowery beverages, the Prosecco sangria. I told her these were eroding her talent and weakening her writerly fortitude, and that she’d be much better off to drink good, brown Scotch and bourbon.

She convinced me to try one of these. Look, I’m drinking it! I tried to make the most insipid face I could for this photo, but I don’t look appreciably more or less silly than usual. What conclusions should be taken from this, I remain uncertain.

The drink sure did smell pretty, though. All herbs and sugar and spice and flower petals and unbearable lightness.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Damien Angelica Walters

Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Damien Angelica Walters

Speaking of Damien, here she is alongside Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who was a Guest of Honor at the event, as well as my co-panelist on the Future of Weird Fiction panel (see above).

It’s a wonderful and unusual thing to see convention attendees wearing something other than black t-shirts with pictures of tentacle things!

Everyone was lining up to touch Simon's beard

Everyone was lining up to touch Simon’s beard

More loitering and tomfoolery in hotel lobbies. Here Paul Tremblay and John Langan gather to stroke the sultry facial hair of noted Canadian beardist, Simon Strantzas.

This takes place in the lobby of the Biltmore hotel, a classy joint, despite the presence of persons such as the ones shown here.

Lena with Charles (left) and Sean (right) of Miskatonic Musings podcast

Lena with Charles (left) and Sean (right) of Miskatonic Musings podcast

Speaking of disreputable types, here we have Charles (left) and Sean (right) of Miskatonic Musings podcast, with my wife Lena in the dealer room. I should have spent more time in the dealer room this year! It was a wonderful thing.

Matthew Warren Richey carrying the Word Horde banner in the dealer room

Matthew Warren Richey carrying the Word Horde Banner in the Dealer Room

Also in the dealer room, here we have Matthew Warren Richey in his excellent shoggoth costume, carrying the Word Horde Banner. This costume is the boss of all costumes. Good job, Matthew!

From what I was able to tell, at the Word Horde vendor table Ross Lockhart sold out everything, and his table-mate Scott R Jones did as well. I also know Sam Cowan was happy with how sales went at the Dim Shores table. I love to hear of vendors doing well, because it means publishers and sellers of books are moving lots of the things, and that readers are eager to grab them up.

Cross-town trek seeking dinner, with Lena, Erin, Nathan, Ross, Scott, Heidi, Justin and Tom

Cross-town trek seeking dinner, with Lena, Erin, Nathan, Ross, Scott, Heidi, Justin and Tom

Here a large group of us dared to leave the immediate circle of the Omni and Biltmore, and ventured across Providence in search of food. I love a good walk, and it was nice to see a different part of town.

Everyone wanted to stop by this creepy old horror house (sorry if you live there and are offended by this characterization, but it can’t be helped — a bunch of visiting weirdos wanted to be photographed in front of your place for a reason) just down the street from the restaurant.

Pictured here (L-R) we have Lena Griffin, Erin Jane Laroue, Nathan Carson, Ross E Lockhart, Scott Dwyer, Heidi Ash, Justin Steele and Tom Lynch. I was also present, behind the camera, and will forever regret not appearing in this photograph.

Conversation with the nightmare demon John Langan

Conversation with the nightmare demon John Langan

At every horror-centric convention, it’s best to expect to rub shoulders on at least one occasion with true horror.

Here I am in conversation with the nightmare demon who had taken the form of John Langan just moments before.

Nick Gucker carrying great reading material for the trip home

Nick Gucker carrying great reading material for the trip home

All good things come to an end… don’t they?

Deliriously happy yet exhausted, we made our way to the airport for our return home. But the convention was not yet over! Right behind us in line, who should appear but artist extraordinaire and all-round top fellow Nick Gucker, cover artists of The Doom That Came to Providence (see above).

Nick was carrying some excellent reading material for the flight, one of my very favorite short story collections of the past half-decade or so, AT FEAR’S ALTAR by Richard Gavin.

You see, even when you think the time of your life is done, it’s not really over. See you next time!

Autumn Cthulhu Coming Up

One of the books I’ve been really looking forward to this year is AUTUMN CTHULHU, edited by Mike Davis and to be published by Mike’s Lovecraft eZine Press.

I’m excited about it because I really like my story “The Smoke Lodge” and look forward to getting it out into the world, and also because it’s fun to appear in a book alongside many of my favorite writers.

There’s not an exact release date yet, nor final cover art, but Mike Davis has released the final Table of Contents along with this very appealing piece of promotional art by Dave Felton (not the actual book cover).


Table of contents:

Laird Barron – “Andy Kaufman Creeping Through the Trees”
Nadia Bulkin – “There is a Bear in the Woods”
John Langan – “Anchor”
Richard Gavin – “The Stiles of Palemarsh”
Scott Thomas – “The Night is a Sea”
Damien Angelica Walters – “In the Spaces Where You Once Lived”
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. – “Trick or the Other Thing”
Gemma Files – “Grave Goods”
Jeffrey Thomas – “After the Fall”
Daniel Mills – “A Shadow Passing”
Ann K. Schwader – “Lavinia in Autumn”
Pete Rawlik – “Memories of the Fall”
Michael Griffin – “The Smoke Lodge”
Trent Kollodge – “The End of the Season”
Wendy Wagner – “The Black Azalea”
Evan Dicken – “Cul-De-Sac Virus”

This looks to be a great mix of established superstars of weird/horror fiction, and newer or emerging writers. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and check it out!