The Human Alchemy Cover Reveal

Things are starting to move along more quickly for my upcoming collection, The Human Alchemy. The latest thing I have for you is a glimpse of the front cover.

Our intention was to create a cover that looked similar to The Lure of Devouring Light, so the books seemed to go together. The artist is the same, Jarek Kubicki, and Scott R Jones tweaked the layout just slightly.

My thanks to Jarek, Scott and of course Publisher Ross E. Lockhart for this great work. I feel like the cover is a great representation of what’s on the pages within.

The Human Alchemy will be out at the end of June, and can now be pre-ordered from Word Horde here.

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Two Years of The Lure of Devouring Light

My debut collection The Lure of Devouring Light came out April 30, 2016. Every publication is an accomplishment for a writer, but the first full-length book with your name alone on the cover, not a limited chapbook or an anthology shared with other writers but a full-length publication of one’s own, is a major landmark.

Now, two years on, I thought I might reflect on the steps and experiences involved in planning, creating and releasing that book into the world.

Preparation

I received a lot of early support from Joe Pulver, an amazing writer who may be better known as an editor of anthologies, including The Grimscribe’s Puppets, for which he won the Shirley Jackson Award. Joe was the first to tell me to start planning for my first collection at least two years before I had any hope of having the book come out, and preferably three years. He urged me to think about the ways my stories fit together, even stories written years apart, some of them for different themed anthologies. This helped me to think about the focus of my work, and the ways different stories often worked together. Another important consideration was to figure out which stories wouldn’t fit well in a book next to the others, and plan to exclude those.

From Query to Submission

Even before I had completed all the stories that would go in the book, Joe Pulver was suggesting a couple of possible publishers for my future collection, one of which reached out to me to discuss the possibility. By the time I actually had all the stories finished, a new publisher (other than those Pulver had told me I should consider) had started putting out interesting, great-looking books that were immediately well received. I made a mental note of this new press, Word Horde, and ended up getting to know Editor & Publisher Ross Lockhart as we attended some of the same conventions.

I submitted stories to Word Horde anthologies like Cthulhu Fhtagn! and The Children of Old Leech, and my stories made it into those books, by which time I decided Word Horde would be my first choice to publish the collection, if Ross could be persuaded to take on a first collection by a fairly new writer. By the time my complete manuscript was ready to submit, Ross agreed to take a look.

Manuscript Pending Consideration

Most writers entertain fantasies of their submitted work being accepted immediately, with promises to publish it as soon as possible. Real life doesn’t usually work like this.

Ross let me know he’d taken a look at the manuscript and he liked what he’d seen, but while he wasn’t rejecting it, he also wasn’t immediately prepared to accept it, either. I waited a length of time which, while objectively reasonable and understandable, also led to impatience or anxiety on my part. Others to whom I confided the situation, after months had passed, said I owed it to myself to submit the book elsewhere. I decided to let Ross reach a decision on his own time, believing the fit to be a good one, and feeling (as I still feel) that Ross was absolutely fair and honest, so if he were to determine he wasn’t interested in the book, he’d let me know.

Feedback from Others

While I waited, I continued writing, publishing new stories, attending conventions and doing all the other writer stuff. That’s an important point — while you’re waiting, don’t just stop! Keep working on other projects no matter what.

Writers, editors and publishers love to gossip at conventions. Everyone likes to hear the early news of which books are coming out when, and from which publishers, which writers and presses are on the rise, which press isn’t paying their royalties or sending statements, who’s making promises and not following through, and so on. One of the really fun things about convention-going is the chance to hear which book deals are in the works well in advance of the book being officially announced. I was asked many times about the status of my collection, and where I expected to see it published. People suggested other places that might be interested, while others said it made sense to be patient and hold out for my preferred publisher.

Some expressed surprise that I’d submitted to one of the better-regarded indie presses in the weird/horror corner, the implication being that I ought to have more realistic expectations. One writer at a ReaderCon dinner rolled his eyes and suggested a writer in my position needed to start out by aiming a bit lower.

Follow-up Query

While I hadn’t reached a point of losing interest in having my book come out from Word Horde, as another big convention approached, I queried Ross and said that if he was leaning toward a “no” on the book, I’d like to know so I could talk with other publishers at the con. This wasn’t meant to be an ultimatum, and didn’t seem to be taken as one, but did have the effect of eliciting the most solid response I’d received. Ross told me he was near to resolving another long-pending deal (which I now guess to have been for John Langan’s excellent novel The Fisherman), and promised a definite answer within two weeks.

Very soon my patience was rewarded, and Ross wrote to say he’d love to put the book out on Word Horde in 2016! My collection ended up in the best possible hands.

Incidentally, I don’t tell the story of my wait for a definite answer to suggest that Ross took too long. My point is that publishing often involves patience, and very often the best possible result is neither the easiest or quickest option. Writers who persevere are far more likely to end up reaching their goals, whatever those may be. It’s far better to be published well than to take the first, easiest path available, and hurry the work into print with sloppy or careless publishers, or those who say yes to projects they never manage to release. Too many publishers over-promise and under-deliver. You’re always much better off dealing with a partner who delays making any promises until they’re sure they can commit.

Introduction, cover art and blurbs

If you’re dealing with a big New York mega-publisher, it’s possible they make all the decisions and choices involved in turning your batch of stories into a book. They may purchase cover art, hand it off to their in-house cover designers, send out an advance manuscript hoping to get blurbs from a handful of famous writers, and so on.

One of the pleasures of dealing with a smaller press is the opportunity to have input on these important aspects of the book. I had already asked John Langan to write an introduction, and he’d agreed. Laird Barron had heard the book was coming, and offered to read it and give me a blurb before I could get around to asking him. I asked a few of my other favorite writers for blurbs, and all agreed. I’ve heard many writers say they hate asking for blurbs, but at least for my first book, the process was a breeze.

Ross asked me for suggestions for the cover, and I sent him a ranked list of three artists whose work I had seen around the internet. The second and third had done covers for many horror and fantasy books, but my first choice was Jarek Kubicki, a Polish artist and graphic designer whose images had a dark, almost Gothic elegance that I felt corresponded to the feel of the book. I didn’t know if he would be interested in making his work available for a book cover, but Ross made it happen.

The publication deadline ended up being moved up from late 2016 when another planned Word Horde book had to be delayed, opening up an April slot. John’s introduction came in just before the deadline, we got the proofreading and edits done, and Scott R. Jones did a great job on the cover layout using Kubicki’s art.

Stories Become a Book

It’s an incredible thing when a batch of my stories, along with the work and input of others, combine to become a finished book that people can buy and read.

The initial release was quite exciting. I received a very nice advance review from Publishers Weekly.

On the day of publication, when Ross and I were at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in San Pedro, California (in part to celebrate the release of the book), Laird Barron made a blog post mentioning the book and urging people to check it out.

As people who had pre-ordered the book began receiving it, many of them photographed their copies, often in interesting settings. It was wonderful to see instances of the book in the real world, often in the actual hands of people who would soon be reading it. Here’s one with Word Horde Assistant Editor, Elinor Phantom.

Two years on, I remain very proud of the book, and especially pleased to see people continuing to pick it up, read it and discuss it. Many books disappear without a trace, while others receive a lot of attention at first and quickly fade. My sense is that The Lure of Devouring Light has been very well received, has sold quite well, and continues to receive very positive attention even now.

I’d like to thank Joe Pulver for his advice and guidance, John Langan for his wonderful intro, Laird Barron, Jeffrey Thomas, S.P. Miskowski and Michael Cisco for their blurbs, Jarek Kubicki for the cover art and Scott R. Jones for the design. Of course, Ross E. Lockhart deserves special thanks for taking a chance on my book. Thanks also to everyone who has read, recommended and reviewed my book. It’s been a great first two years for The Lure of Devouring Light. I can only hope the second collection, coming soon, lives up to the fine example of the first.

The Human Alchemy is Coming From Word Horde

My first short fiction collection The Lure of Devouring Light was released just short of two years ago by Word Horde. I still vividly recall seeing for the first time the beautiful cover art Jarek Kubicki and layout by Scott R Jones, and feel the cover is a wonderful complement to what’s inside.

The book included a very nice introduction by one of my favorite writers, John Langan, and was overall quite well received. I obtained endorsements or “blurbs” from several more of my favorite writers, including Laird Barron, S.P. Miskowski, Michael Cisco and Jeffrey Thomas. I poured a lot of myself into that book, and I still feel it’s an expression I can be proud of.

Though the news of my forthcoming second collection The Human Alchemy has emerged in hints and whispers over the past six months or so, I think I ought to make a proper announcement. I’ll have more details to share between now and the release date, and of course I’ll likely be sticking the book in everyone’s face (virtually, that is), more than they might care to see it, once released. For now, I’ll give you this.

The Human Alchemy will be released in June, 2018 by Word Horde.

Editor and Publisher Ross E. Lockhart has been a never-ending pleasure to work with, both a solid and serious professional when there’s business to be done, and great fun when it’s time for chatting about books or getting beers at a convention. I couldn’t have been happier with the whole process of putting out my first collection, and always hoped it would do well enough that Word Horde would want to do another. I will now have the honor of being the first writer to have two books on Word Horde.

I’ll soon share the table of contents, information about the stories, the introduction, the blurbs, and eventually the cover art. Like the Beach Boys said in Surfin’ USA… Can’t wait for June!

Eternal Frankenstein Paperback

An anthology that came out in 2016 and never got quite the attention that it deserved was Eternal Frankenstein, edited by Ross E. Lockhart and published by his press, Word Horde.

I think the reason it sort of flew under the radar (aside from a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly) is that it was hardcover only, and on the expensive side at $30 cover price. It’s a beautiful book, but I didn’t notice many people talking about it.

I’m pleased to see that Word Horde is releasing a trade paperback version of the book, with new cover art by Patrick Jones. It looks fantastic!

Here’s a photo of an early proof edition of the book on Ross Lockhart’s shelf.

If you passed on this book before because of the price, give it another look.

Links to buy:
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/1939905370/?tag=wordhorde-20
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eternal-frankenstein-ross-e-lockhart/1124607225
Word Horde http://wordhorde.com/books/eternal-frankenstein-tp/

Guest Slot on Langan Episode of The Outer Dark

Scott Nicolay’s The Outer Dark podcast (now hosted by This Is Horror) has recently returned after a hiatus due to Scott moving and changing careers. The latest episode is one part archival interview with John Langan (from 2015, before the release of The Fisherman), one part new interview with Langan, and the usual News From the Weird feature.

tod-a04-john-langan-aspiring-to-restlessness

In the latter, I step in for usual NFtW co-host Justin Steele, and Scott starts us off with a few questions about my own recent and future publishing activities. From there, we discuss new and upcoming books in the field, culminating with my own review/discussion of The Fisherman.

The Outer Dark is a true must-listen podcast for those interested in Weird and Horror Fiction. Check out the latest sort-of-archival presentation HERE

TOD A04 John Langan: Aspiring to Restlessness and The Times They Are a-Fishin’

Look What Elinor Dragged In

Elinor Phantom, Editorial Assistant at Word Horde, poses with the proof copy of THE LURE OF DEVOURING LIGHT. Looks good!

elinor-and-book
Photo by Ross E. Lockhart

Should you wish to preorder the book, you have some options:

The Lure of Devouring Light direct preorder (paperback + ebook) from Word Horde

The Lure of Devouring Light from Amazon in Kindle format or trade paperback. Official release date is April 30, 2016.

The Lure of Devouring Light Having Been Announced…

Yesterday Word Horde announced the planned release of my collection The Lure of Devouring Light for this April. Yesterday it became official, and known to many.

I’ve known this was a “done deal” for quite some time, and didn’t for a moment doubt that Ross E. Lockhart would do what he said he would do… and yet, yesterday’s announcement was a relief to me, as well as a cause for excitement, for several reasons.

There was the obvious pride and pleasure of seeing the announcement met with interest and enthusiasm. Hey, people want to see my book when it comes out! Some people are even pre-ordering it without having seen the cover.

There was relief at being able to stop keeping the secret, especially from people I thought might be interested to hear it. Last October, Orrin Grey visited Portland for the occasion of his book release (Painted Monsters, which came out on Word Horde), which coincided with the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Orrin stayed the night before the HPLFF began at our house. Lena and I and Orrin had a nice time, chatting at the Edgefield about horror movies. I wanted to tell Orrin “Hey, guess what? Looks like we’re going to share a publisher,” but the deal wasn’t final yet and I didn’t want to go around talking it up prematurely.

There was the realization that now I get to share the wonderfully flattering blurbs I’ve received from four of my favorite writers. I’ll post these here soon.

There was knowing that I would be seen differently by a lot of people who hadn’t previously read my work, but might now give it a shot, whether because of the endorsement of Word Horde or the kind statements of respected writers in the blurbs I just mentioned. The point of this isn’t “I want to be perceived differently,” but that I hope my work will reach more people in the future, and I think this book will really help that happen.

Yesterday felt like a big deal. It was fun and exciting, and I have the sense the fun is just getting started.

I’ll have lots to say between the time of this announcement and the actual release of the book, so this blog space will be much more active for a while.

Word Horde to Release The Lure of Devouring Light

I will have oh-so-much more to say about this in the coming few months, but for now, I’m pleased to be able to let people know that debut collection The Lure of Devouring Light will be coming in April, 2016 from Word Horde.

wordhorde

I have enormous respect for Editor/Publisher Ross E. Lockhart and what he’s been able to accomplish in the relatively short time Word Horde has been in operation. There is no other publisher I would rather work with on my first book. The cover art is not yet complete, but the book is available for preorder directly from Word Horde, HERE.

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.