Thanks again, Norm!

Once again, Norm Partridge tosses a few nice words my way, this time in regards to He Stepped Through.

Strangely, it does appear He Stepped Through is no longer available in paperback format.  I’ll look into this some more, as I could have sworn there were at least 100 copies available.

Universally Loved

Okay, well maybe that’s a stretch.  Still, this weekend left me feeling pretty damn good about myself.

First off, an email I received from the amazing Norm Partridge regarding “That’s All Right” turned into this.  Norm’s one of the best guys in this genre, and a thumbs up from him is one of the best things I can imagine.

Later in the weekend, I discovered a new review of He Stepped Through.  It’s in French, but a quick run through Babelfish leads me to believe it’s positive.

Well, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got to keep hitting refresh on my browser until the first wave of Fantastic Fest movies is revealed.

“You hear about that shit up in Abilene?”

So this past weekend, my friend Kevin had a birthday party up in Abilene.  It was a little more than 200 miles away, and I’d been itching to take a longer ride on The Late Late Show, so I packed a bag with clothes, sunblock, and tools and headed north, Miss Tessmacher, north.

The trip was a great one, with The Late Late Show running perfectly and me dealing with a sore ass and road grit that left most of my body a dark gray.  Within four hours, I was in Abilene and feasting on barbeque.

And then the kickball started.

Now, my friends are largely hippies or recovering hippies.  I’ve never met a more easy going group of people in my life.  Slap a few bases on the ground though, and everything goes straight to hell.  I had no idea kickball could turn hippies into raging assholes, but soon everybody was screaming at each other.

“He left the baseline!”

“That’s not the right way to steal!”

“The runner wins on a tie!”

“Like hell he does!”

“I will brick-fuck your entire skull!”

I might have made up that last one.

After three innings in 100+ degree heat, it was decided to call the game, which was fine with me, as (by my count) my team was ahead 8-7.  Of course, everybody had a different score, ranging from 12-4 to 9-6 1/2 (I have no idea how the fuck they reached that one).  A blast was had by all, though, and not a single brick or knife was drawn.

The rest of the night went down pretty easy with a fish fry, some water volleyball, and plenty of friends.  I crashed on a deck chair right beside the chair Shawna crashed on, and (aside from the drunk who fell on top of me in the middle of the night) slept like a baby.  The next morning, I woke up and hit the road for the 200+ mile trip back.

All in all, a damn good weekend.  It’s good to leave the house now and then.

Chasing the Dragon

This past week, I read an amazing novella by Nicholas Kaufman.  You should do the same!  Chasing the Dragon is a work of modern day fantasy and horror with enough action, whimsy, and darkness to fill a three voume epic.

Chasing the Dragon stars Georgia, a descendant of St. George.  What most people don’t know is that St. George failed to slay the dragon all those years ago, and now Georgia is the latest in a long line of slayers who must destroy the dragon before it destroys the world.

Georgia has some issues, though.  Among them is a powerful heroin addiction.  She’s as damaged as she is tough, and she’s one of the most fully realized heroines I’ve seen in a long time.

Kaufmann writes some amazing action.  The scenes of Georgia battling the dragon’s minions are some of the best sequences I’ve read in years.  You really owe it to yourself to check out this one.  Chock full of shotguns, zombies, history, action, and emoion, Chasing the Dragon is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  Go pick it up.  You won’t be sorry.

2009 Shirley Jackson Award Nominees

In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.

The Shirley Jackson Awards are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors. The awards are given for the best work published in the preceding calendar year in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology. The Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented at Readercon 21, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Massachusetts. Nalo Hopkinson, Readercon Guest of Honor, will act as host.

The nominees for the 2009 Shirley Jackson Awards are:

NOVEL
Big Machine, Victor LaValle (Speigel & Grau)
Last Days, Brian Evenson (Underland Press)
The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters (Riverhead)
The Owl Killers, Karen Maitland (Delacorte Press)
The Red Tree, Caitlin R. Kiernan (Roc)
White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi (Nan A. Talese)

NOVELLA
The Language of Dying, Sarah Pinborough, (PS Publishing)
Midnight Picnic, Nick Antosca (Word Riot Press)
“Sea-Hearts,” Margo Lanagan (X6, coeur de lion)
Shrike, Quentin Crisp (PS Publishing)
Vardøger, Stephen Volk (Gray Friar Press)
The Witnesses are Gone, Joel Lane (PS Publishing)

NOVELETTE
“Catch Hell,” Laird Barron (Lovecraft Unbound, Dark Horse)
“Each Thing I Show You Is a Piece of My Death,” Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer, (Clockwork Phoenix 2, Norilana Books)
“Lonegan’s Luck,” Stephen Graham Jones (New Genre 6)
“Morality,” Stephen King (Esquire)
The Night Cache, Andy Duncan (PS Publishing)

SHORT STORY
“The Crevasse,” by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud (Lovecraft Unbound, Dark Horse)
“Faces,” Aimee Bender (The Paris Review, Issue 191, Winter 2009)
“The Jacaranda Smile,” Gemma Files (Apparitions, Undertow Publications)
“The Pelican Bar,” Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse 3, Night Shade)
“Procedure in Plain Air,” Jonathan Lethem (The New Yorker, April 5, 2010)
“Strappado,” Laird Barron (Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, Solaris)

SINGLE-AUTHOR COLLECTION
Everland and Other Stories, Paul Witcover (PS Publishing)
Fugue State, Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)
Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, Robert Shearman (Big Finish Productions)
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (Penguin)
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, Kevin Wilson (Harper Perennial)
Zoo, Otsuichi (Haikasoru/VIZ Media)

EDITED ANTHOLOGY
Apparitions, edited by Michael Kelly (Undertow Publications)
British Invasion, edited by Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon, and James A. Moore (Cemetery Dance)
Exotic Gothic 3: Strange Visitations, edited by Danel Olson (Ash Tree Press)
Lovecraft Unbound, edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse)
Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Ellen Datlow (Solaris)

Dead Set

Dead Set, a charity zombie anthology edited by Michelle McCrary and Joe McKinney, is now available from 23 House Publishing.  It contains my story “In the Middle of Poplar Street,” as well as new fiction by Lee Thomas, Bev Vincent, Harry Shannon, and a host of others.  Proceeds go to a good cause, so pick one up today!

All Good Things

Last week, I received both the contract and preliminary layout for my first novel, which should be available later this year. 

This week, I’m finishing the second draft of a novella that marks my first ever deadline.

Yesterday, I got Shawna on the back of The Late Late Show and took her to lunch.  It was her first time on the back of the bike (well, the first time she went further than around the block).

Friday, I’ll be putting her back on the bike and taking her to the Lone Star Roundup to look at cars that are both old and bad ass.

Saturday, I’ll be hosting a gathering of friends so that we can gorge ourselves on pollo pibil and talk writerly bullshit.

These are all good things.

Most of the time, my brain can turn even the best day into a full-blown catastrophe.  That’s just the messed up way my head works.  Every now and then, however, I wake up and realize I’m surrounded by good things, that life is pretty goddamn awesome most of the time.  Today’s one of those days, and I’m thankful.