Publication news you don’t want to miss, even if you feel you do

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Get deep enough into the writing of a story and the characters you’ve created tend to become rather tough to shake. In fact, they can be downright self-centered, occupying your thoughts and demanding your attention to the exclusion of the flesh and blood human beings in your life. You know, like body snatchers. . .

Help! I’m being held prisoner by Pod People in an undisclosed location.

This is exactly what has been happening with me these past several weeks, as I wade deeper and deeper into a novel. So I hope you’ll understand if this entry feels a little rushed. I’ve managed to slip away, but I doubt I have more than a minute or two before the goons discover my absence and come racing out to drag me back.

Quick! Read this news before it’s too late for me. (And especially for you.)

First off, I’ve just made another sale to ASIMOV’S. Last I heard from editor Sheila Williams, the new novelette will be appearing in the October/November issue. The story is a tough one to categorize, so I’m not going to try, other than to say it’s an offbeat tale likely to carry a “mature reading” advisory.

Imaginarium 4: The Best of Canadian Speculative Fiction

In gossip news: Margaret Atwood and me, together again for the 2nd time

The other news is that the much delayed IMAGINARIUM 4: THE BEST CANADIAN SPECULATIVE WRITING (published by ChiZine) is available now online and in bookstores.

If you haven’t read my World Fantasy Award-nominated novella, HOLLYWOOD NORTH (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) here’s your second chance. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Along with an introduction by Margaret Atwood, this 542-page collection is jam-packed with some outstanding reading. It’s well worth springing for even if you’ve already read HOLLYWOOD NORTH. You’ll find the complete table of contents here.

Lastly, I am very excited to tell you that I—  Ah, jeez! Oh, no! I hear them coming now. Gotta run. Just don’t forget t—

 

 

 

Hey! Did you hear the one about The Grocer’s Wife in Asimov’s?

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This one qualifies more as news than a blog, so should you feel offended or misled in any way, I will understand your rapid retreat to a safe space.

For those without a safe space to run to…

Considering all my blabbing about it on Facebook, this website, and other venues, real and imagined, you should be well aware by now I have a new story in the February 2016 issue of the esteemed Asimov’s Science Fiction. This marks my first appearance in Asimov’s and, after so many years of reading the magazine, it is undeniably exciting to be a part of it. If this is the first you hear of it, please do yourself (and my ego) a favor by rushing out immediately and buying the magazine. It’s digest size, costs about the same as a Starbuck’s Latte in a Venti cup, and looks like this:

Asimov's Feb 2016

Squint. (If you need to fetch your glasses to read the fine print, don’t worry, I’ll wait.) See, that’s my name on the cover. That’s how you’ll know for sure it’s the correct issue. Better yet, there’s a lot more to read inside than just me. You can’t help but get your money’s worth.

While I talk briefly about the story elsewhere on my website, I figure a few points are worth repeating, especially because I don’t want this post to be overly short.

Compassion. Terror. Mindfulness… Everything  you want a good read to be.

THE GROCER’S WIFE (ENHANCED TRANSCRIPTION) is another of those tales that floated around my brain for a few years before being put to paper. The seed was planted after I accompanied my mother to a clinic for a geriatric assessment. That’s where the opening “drawing the clock” scene of the story comes from. But the story didn’t come together until a more recent conversation with a friend, an evangelist for Mindfulness Education. If you’re not sure exactly what Mindfulness is, I suggest you head over to Psychology Today. You may still not fully grasp the concept, but at least you’ll possess sufficient superficial knowledge to bandy about the word the same as I do.

Sheila Williams, Editor of Asimov’s, has described THE GROCER’S WIFE (ENHANCED TRANSCRIPTION) as “compassionate, yet terrifying.” From my perspective, that pretty much sums it up. As they say, old age ain’t pretty.

Anyhow, get your hands on the magazine. Read my story. Review it with a critical eye. And then be sure to tell me how much you loved it…even if you didn’t. No writer ever asks for more.

My first ever writing meme and me

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As the frequency of my posts reveal, you can probably tell I’m not what you’d call committed to this blogging thing. It comes down to choices, where I can best allocate my time. And when I’ve got a project underway, especially a big one, like now, I look to minimize the distractions, which puts this blog on the back burner behind the back burner. Still, today was a good day of writing (quota met) and I figure I’d better squeeze this in before the stretch between my posts stretches any further.

Feedback proves that launching a new website is fraught with risks

Mariam Kirby, a visitor from Texas, felt the photos of me were too dark and moody, conflicting “with the wry humor of your blog. In general, they do not reflect your personality.”

Well, sure, that’s easy for you to say, Mariam; you don’t live with me. Ask my wife, Pat, about dark, moody, wry humor and me. What’s more, had you looked closely at the photos, you would see that I am, indeed, chuckling heartily. I have always been deceptively photogenic in this way.

Here’s what I meme

Another visitor, a Canadian residing in Japan, wrote: “The website looks good . . . it’s not blaring music at me or threatening to murder my bird if I don’t subscribe. It’s not addressing me as ‘My Lovies’ or ‘Dear Ones.’ There isn’t any chain mail terrorism or empty weekly bullshit writing memes . . .”

My response is clear: Wait. Wait. Give me time, especially with the empty “bullshit writing memes.” I got a million of ’em. My favorite is to keep your mouth shut about the stories you’re working on. While I know a lot of writers like to workshop their fiction or chat it up with friends, describing this character or that character, outlining every plot and subplot, the approach has never worked for me.

The more I used to talk about my works-in-progress, the more bored I was when it came to sitting down and putting words on the page. I’d not only talked the ideas out, I’d talked them to death. These days, not even my wife knows what I’m writing until it’s done. This applies to short stories and novels. Not only does the method keep the ideas fresh, it serves to motivate, pushing me to get the story finished so I can have people read it and, with any luck, gush about how freaking wonderful both me and my story are. God, I love that! And if there’s a pay check involved at the end of it, well, all the better.

Speaking of writing . . . go watch TV

California’s Amy Stirling Casil has posted a nifty little essay on her website. While I’ve never met Amy in person, we share SFictional roots. We both appeared in the July 1996 “new writers” issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. My story was SITTERS, while hers was the impressive JONNY PUNKINHEAD. Check out her essay, The Path To Publication May Take Many Forms, by clicking here and read how her first published genre story came to be. As you’ll see, rejection isn’t always rejection. Her essay neatly complements my own, GENREALITIES (click the Essays button above), which, I guess, in certain ways, details how my first story came to be.

Okay. Enough blogging, if that’s what this is. And if you haven’t watched seasons 1 and 2 of the FX series FARGO, please do so soon. Best thing on TV. Of course, I watched it long before I got wrapped up in the big thing I’m currently wrapped up in. Honest. I swear. Which brings me to a Stephen King writing meme: Stop watching TV. Read instead

To blog or to blah, that is the question…

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…Well, my question, anyhow. And it doesn’t even include the question mark, which is something I’ve never understood about Shakespeare, either.

I’ve never seen the need to blog.

Who isn’t a writer, nowadays? Who doesn’t have a blog? By remaining a non-blogger, I might well distinguish myself as a celebrated exception. Besides, I’ve always figured that anything I had to say could be better (and more safely) expressed in my fiction. A better use of my time, too, certain critics notwithstanding. I still believe this to be true. But since I now have a website and there’s this blank space staring me in the face, I feel obligated to fill it with letters and words. So please keep reading. At worst, you’ll have stumbled upon the cure for your insomnia.

Sure, call me an apathetic sophomoric milquetoast. (Love them words!)

I will not share my opinions on politics, religion, social justice or political correctness, as many writers do. I simply do not have the stomach for the blowback such blather engenders, be it from the Left, Right or mealy-mouthed Center. (Oops!) So do not expect me to climb onto a soapbox anytime soon. Besides, today’s soapboxes are made of corrugated cardboard and would not support my weight. Unless, I guess, I kept the soap inside. Yeah, that might work. Wow. Good thinking, Mike. The boy’s a genius!

Even the occasional recipe, as long as it’s pie.

Do not despair. In the absence of controversy, you’re still left with loads of swell content. Stay tuned for: Amusing anecdotes! Snacking updates! Epiphanies on the art of fiction! Publication news! Appearances! Disappearances! Ocular migraines! Blackened toenails! Pro tips on how to wean yourself off exclamation points! And a colossal lot more!

Now, back to the question that isn’t a question: Blog or blah. I’ll let you decide what this thing is. Frankly, the only thought on my mind right now is who the heck I have inadvertently offended and how soon I’m going to hear about it. All others, please wish me luck.