News and other recent stuff

Ronald Kelly announced this week that I’ll be appearing in his upcoming Southern horror anthology Somewhere South of Hell.  It’s a great honor to be a part of this one.  There are some incredible authors in that table of contents.  I’d be lying, however, if I said I wasn’t most thrilled to be sharing a TOC with Joe R. Lansdale.  I’ve dreamed of this for more than a few years, and now it looks like it’s happening.

I recently finished a pair of short stories.  One of them should be appearing at Horror World in July while another is for an anthology of New York-themed stories that isn’t scheduled to see print until 2010 or later.  More on these sooner or later.

Within the past few weeks I’ve signed a contract for my first novel and cemented plans for my first short story collection.  There will be news on both of these in the coming months, but I’ll tell you right now that I’m excited as all hell.  If I ever showed an emotion besides sarcastic amusement, it would be now.

Currently, I’m working on a novel that’s a bit of a departure from anything I’ve previously done.  It’s a difficult story to tell, but I think the effort is really going to worth it.  Time will tell.

Take care, folks.

Just Like Hell makes preliminary Stoker ballot

The Bram Stoker Awards are sponsored and run by the Horror Writers’ Association.  They honor superior achievement in dark fiction.  I remember first seeing the award mentioned on the back of a Kathe Koja paperback way back in the early nineties and thinking it was a great idea.

Well, I’m please to announce Just Like Hell made the long list for this year’s awards.

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
“The Lagerstatte” by Laird Barron (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy)
The Shallow End of the Pool by Adam-Troy Castro (Creeping Hemlock)
Miranda by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
Redemption Roadshow by Weston Ochse (Burning Effigy)
The Confessions of St. Zach by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books) Orpheus and the Pearl by Kim Paffenroth (Magus Press)
“Behold the Child” by Harry Shannon (Brimstone Turnpike)
Just Like Hell by Nate Southard (Thunderstorm Books)
Population Zero by Wrath James White (Cargo Cult Press)
Orgy of Souls by Wrath James White, and Maurice Broaddus (Apex Book Company)

I won’t know for more than a month if I made the final ballot of four or five contenders.  There’s an incredible amount of competition in this category.  It’s great to know my peers have enjoyed the book, though.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get to see my name on the ballot come March.

Tuesday’s Dash of Hope

I’m not somebody who prays or has any spiritual beliefs.  I don’t have a lot of faith in mankind, and I’m close to the most pessimistic person I’ve ever met.  My days are usually spent waiting for something to go wrong.

But I’m a fan of hope.

Maybe that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Sometimes it confounds me, this pessimist who wants to be an optimist.  I suppose there are worse things to be, though.

Today, the country is getting a much-needed shot of hope.  I’m sure it’s not enough to fix everything that seems to be going wrong, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll get us started.

Here’s hoping.

Learning to multitask

I don’t like to work on more than one project at the one time.  I feel I do my best work when I can sit down and crank out pages on a single piece of work until it’s finished.  I can get lost in the story that way, and I think it makes me work faster and cleaner.  And hell, it’s easier.  A lot easier.

Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be a luxury I can afford anymore.  Right now, I have six projects I’m working on: two novel rewrites, two short stories, a collaboration, and a secret thing that just popped up yesterday.  The short stories have deadlines.  Secret thing needs to be done rather quickly.  The novel rewrites can wait a bit, but not too long.  THey’ve been sitting around too long, and I need to see movement on them.

So I have to multitask.  I need to get better at jumping from project to project, working here and there and getting everything done in a timely fashion.  I’ve never had to do that before, and it’s freaking me out a little.  But hey, this job wouldn’t be worth doing if it didn’t throw fun at me at random intervals.  Right?

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Maybe it will be okay.  Personally, I foresee blood and anguish and death and a terrible debacle featuring a babboon and a stripper named “Micki.”

Organization and Shifting Focus (thinking out loud)

So I’m working on another rewrite these days.  I work a solid two hours on it every night, a little more if I can manage.  I tend to give up on things like word count when dealing with a rewrite.  The process is too intricate, requires too much concentration.

The two-hour block is part of my 2009 plan for organization.  I’m trying to keep regular office hours.  That way I can help Shawna around the house when I get home, eat dinner, and then disappear without fear of a knock on the office door followed by the words, “Did you take care of the litter boxes yet?”  Stuff like scooping cat poop tends to break the creative flow.

Of course, on weekends I plan to spend a lot more time at the computer (if Shawna allows it).  I guess we’ll see.

Anyway, back to this novel.  I took my first crack at writing something novel-length back in 2005.  Since then, I’ve written five of the bastards.  One has (tentatively) sold.  The others are being looked at by various publishers.  Every last one of them is a horror novel, no doubt about it.

This latest one, though… there’s something different going on.  Maybe it’s a straight up thriller.  Maybe it’s horror hiding behind something else.  Maybe it’s a modern day noir.  It’s all boiling to the surface and showing itself to me as I comb through the manusrcipt, and I gotta say it’s damned exciting.  I can’t wait for this sucker to take its final shape.

Looking ahead, a few of the ideas I have bouncing around in my noggin are similar.  Some are a little more out there.  Some play with storytelling conventions in ways I think are pretty fun.  We’ll see what happens next.  As long as it’s fun, it’ll be worth it.

This has been me thinking out loud.  Enjoy your Wednesday.

2008 Recap and 2009 Goals

Some might say this is at least five days late.  Maybe, but I figured more people would be at work looking for a distraction today.  No, it might not be the best reason for putting off something like this, but “I was watching TV” isn’t any better.


Despite most of the year resembling a trainwreck in slow motion, 2008 turned out to be a great year for writing.  I’m really not sure how that happens, but I’m grateful for it.

For short stories, I had my most prolific year to date.  Starting with the appearance of “Captain Jinkies” in Dark Recesses Press back in April, the hits kept on coming with “It’s Even Better the Second Time” at Horror D’oeuvres, “Another Lonesome Day” in Bits of the Dead, “For Just One Night” in Legends of the Mountain State 2, “Scenic Pastures” in A New Dawn, and “Inside the Box” in the latest issue of Shroud Magazine (not sure this is actually out yet, but it’s on their website, so I’m counting it).

The big news, of course, Was my novella Just Like Hell being released by Thunderstorm Books at the end of July.  I’m very proud of that beautiful little book, and my pride only swells when I think about the fact that it sold out in under six months.  A million thanks to everybody who made it possible.  I owe you one.  Of course, please don’t stop supporting me.  It only gets better from here!

As for work you haven’t seen yet, I had a ridiculously productive year.  I wrote the first drafts of three novels, finished two of them, and finished a third that was started in 2007.  Barring any scheduling snafus, the one from 2007 should see print in late 2009.

I also did something that can probably be considered insane.  Due to a friend’s suggestion, I wrote an 80k word novel in under a month.  First draft, second, and poilsh all in just over three weeks.  Without the help of Shawna and the incredible Lee Thomas, I never could have pulled it off.  It was a lot of fun, but I don’t think it’s the kind of fun I ever want to have again.


So what are my goals for 2009?  As with every year, they’ll change over the next twelve months.  Right now, my goal is to take care of the novels I’ve written.  They need homes, and I want to help them find those homes.  I owe short stories to two anthologies, and I’m working on those right now.  I’ll write at least the first draft of one new book, but I’m still trying to figure out which idea to flesh out.

I want to sell another novel by the time the first comes out.  Maybe that’s possible, and maybe not.  We’ll see.

My ultimate goal for the year, however, is simply to improve.  That’s something I want to do with every word I write, and I hope by this time next year I’ll be a much better writer than I am now.

So there you go: 2008 and 2009 in a nutshell.  Take care, everybody.  Writers, feel free to share your own goals in the comments.  I look forward to hearing from you.

RIP Donald Westlake

Reports have come in that writer Donald Westlake died of an apparent heart attack while vacationing in Mexico.  Westlake was one of the best crime writers of the last fifty years, a master of crackling prose and burning dialogue who also penned the gritty Richard Stark novels, which featured the ruthless protagonist Parker.

He will be missed.