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The Book of Cthulhu II

My short story “Take Your Daughters to Work” will be reprinted in this anthology, which will be published sometime this fall (from Night Shade Press). Take a look at this cover – I’m so excited, coffee keeps coming out of my mouth! (and I’m not even drinking coffee, so that’s extra weird…)

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

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A Grievous wrong made right

I’ve been told that my post on my visit to the CIA compound left out one of the most important parts of the entire trip: after our daytrip to Virginia, we drove back to Brian Keene’s house in Pennsylvania, where he had prepared for me and Mary Sangiovanni what can only be described as one of the best dinners I’ve ever had in my life. Yes, people: when Brian Keene isn’t making the intarwebz cry, he’s also a fucking great cook. We had pork chops covered in some kind of sauce that was like some kind of heavenly sauce crack, a baked potato as large as my head that I insisted I couldn’t eat and then shoved directly and repeatedly into my face until it was mostly gone, and sautéed mushrooms that made me see stars and unicorns and shit. And they weren’t even hallucinogenic mushrooms, they were just That Damn Good. And the previous night, he made this jambalaya dish with shrimp and sausage and probably the tears of his enemies. Yeah, it was also that good.

I also want to mention that Brian lives with one of the biggest damn cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting: Max, a gigantic orange Maine Coon, who supposedly doesn’t like people in general but realized within five seconds of meeting him that I can scratch cats in all the secret places. Yep, I became Max’s bitch, and I’m completely fine with that. So, it was a really great couple of days, and Brian is a fantastic host, and I hope I get invited back someday. I think I will, because I gave him a huge bottle of bourbon. I totally know how to be a fantastic guest.

And: on the drive back to Jersey City on Wednesday, Mary and I drove through Bethlehem, PA – we were looking for a McDonald’s (don’t judge! we just really needed those fries), but in our search, we drove past one of the most awesome sites I’ve ever wanted to see in my life: Bethlehem Steel. I got so excited Mary almost had to stop the car and slap the shit out of me. Seriously, I was SO FUCKING EXCITED. Also a bit perplexed at the site of the ginormous Sands Casino built right next to the old blast furnaces and stacks. Whatever – it just makes it that much easier for me to plan my fall vacation. Yes, I’m going to go back to Bethlehem, request a room at the Sand Casino with a view of the factory, and then spend my days taking the factory tour and visiting the on-site arts center over and over again until they kick me out. No, this is not because I’m a crazy person – this is all part of ongoing worldbuilding research for my fiction set in my industrial Lovecraftian city-continent of Obsidia. Also, because I can’t afford to travel to this city. Also, I plan to gamble and buy discount purses and shoes and eat big buffet dinners and watch porn in my room. I am fairly certain that it will be the Best Vacation Ever.

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

Going forward, a small change

After some recent events, I’ve decided to no longer give my stories away to markets and anthologies that don’t pay me [edited to add: I'm talking about genre markets, i.e. sf/f/h - literary markets are an entirely different matter]. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to do this anymore for a number of reasons, the main one being that I don’t feel like I’m respecting myself much when I work on something for hundreds of hours and then cave in to the idea that I should give to anyone who wants to read it simply because they don’t think I should be paid. Their reasons for wanting free fiction should not be reasons that concern me. I have bills and one massive student loan to pay, and no one is helping me except myself. If this makes me a cunt or a bitch, so be it.

I also am no longer going to work with any publisher or editor who develops what I like to call “Shockline’s Disease”. In other words, if you take on a massive project, take hundreds/thousands of dollars in money, content and art from contributors and customers, suddenly develop an incurable, terminal disease, continue to take money from people, and then seemingly spend your days/weeks/years (and document them online) in glorious pain-free, healthy comfort as you publish your projects and keep all monies, then you’re not someone I’m interested in having any kind of business arrangement with. I’ve seen many talented, beautiful people die of terrible illnesses – friends, relatives and close family members – and I’m also not interested in pretending it’s totally cool to go alone with the pretense of someone wasting away from cancer or a tumor, when they’re simply a pathological piece of shit who has absolutely no idea how to behave morally or with any kind of ethics or compassion. I don’t need to give you my fiction for free – for exposure, to help my career, or because I’m a woman and you’re doing me a favor because normally you wouldn’t publish women so I should be so lucky that you’re even considering me because we all know the bitches can’t really write. I don’t need to give anyone anything, ever. And starting today, I’m not going to, ever again.

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In other completely unrelated news that in no way has anything to do with what I just spoke about: it would appear that the Aklonomicon anthology has been published, after all. I’ll update my bibliography accordingly, but I don’t feel inclined to link to the site where you can buy it, for reasons that have nothing to do with anything I’ve just said. Of course, if you have my email address you’re welcome to contact me, about, you know, stuff, like the weather and how I’m doin’ and shit.

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

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I was going to post about this yesterday, then realized it was April 1 and no one would believe me. Chances are most people will think this post is full of shit anyway, but whatever. About six weeks ago I received an invitation via Mary Sangiovanni from Scott M. Baker asking us, along with fellow writer Kelli Owen, to come down to the CIA headquarters in Langley to have a talk with their writing group. Yes, the CIA has a writing group, appropriately named Invisible Ink. Basically they’re just like any other writers who hold day jobs and struggle at night to find the time to work on their writing career. Well, just like other writers except for the part where they have a far more impressive and powerful employer than the rest of us. So, you know, don’t fuck with them.

Anyway! Last Tuesday, we got up at holy-fuck-o’clock and drove from York, PA (where Brian Keene graciously hosted us for the night) and drove down to Langley, where after some hilarious hijinks at the WRONG front gate involving security guards with gigantic rifles, we managed to find the right entrance to the CIA compound and check in. Scott was our very gracious (and patient) escort for the day – visitors can’t just wander at will – and gave us tours of the front entrance, the three on-site museums, the gift shop (I now am the proud owner of a CIA mug, to ensure my morning coffee is the most secretive beverage of all), and a cafeteria that pretty much drove home the point that the cafeteria at my place of employ, Wolfram & Hart, is complete shit. Yes, I’m jealous and not ashamed to admit it. We also saw a very large chunk of the Berlin Wall, and the Kryptos Sculpture, which is quite impressive up close. I was this close to solving the fourth panel, but damned if there wasn’t enough time. Maybe on my next visit…

The meeting itself? After brief intros from Scott, Mary, Kelli and I basically threw the floor open to questions, and it was as you’d expect – questions about technique, markets, marketing and publicity, workshops and cons, and talking about dealing with the same struggles all writers have with getting published. The only difference between this talk and the conversations I have with other writers was that I will never know the names of the people I spoke with, and if we ever interact online (or already are), I won’t ever know that those were the people I spoke with in that conference room. My only regret is that there wasn’t enough time to talk about all the things I wanted to talk about (we actually went half an hour over our allotted time), but that happens with pretty much every panel and talk. All in all, I think we did a pretty good job of answering questions. I mean, they let us leave the compound at the end of the day, so there you go. Success!

If this report seems a bit sparse on specific details, it’s because I’m deliberately leaving out a lot of what we saw, just to err on the side of caution. I’m really not interested in receiving one of those phone calls, if you know what I mean, and I’d like to go back for another talk with the group, so there you go. Mary Sangiovanni’s report is right here, if you’d like to read it, and Kelli’s post is here.

Ok, secret writers group at Quantico – time to step up and email me!

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

Between the screams, a brief update

The damaged nerves in my back are healing sloooooooooooooowly. Not much I can do about it – I’m doing some light physical therapy, but no heavy drugs for me. Yeah, I know myself far too well… This next week I have off from work – I wasn’t planning on going anywhere*, it was more of a “get ready for summer” vacation, with lots of sleeping and napping in between trips to the storage locker. I still plan on sleeping in, but with my back shot to hell, and with summer evidently all here and up in our goddam faces, I’m not going to be doing as much cleaning and throwing around of furniture and storage boxes as I’d planned. Not a big deal. First world problems. I will be fine. The ants agree.

In the meantime: I have a small article (entry? blurb?) up at the Weird Fiction Review, which has been celebrating monsters all this week. My blurb (blarg?) is about my favorite monster in fiction. My favorite monster in the movies would of course be Ripley… There’s also a cornucopia of favorite monsters here, and another long monster entry by Rochia Loenen-Ruiz right here.

And, a bit of housekeeping: I’ll be taking down the “to be published” stories and poems that were going to appear in the anthology </i>Aklonomicon</i>. The website for the press has disappeared, and there’s no word on it being published. I think it’s safe to say that it was a good and ambitious dream (probably too ambitious), but the dream has obviously died. No hard feelings to the publishers and editors, as these things happen all the time.

And now it’s time for my pre-bed nap. Yep, it’s a fucking rave here.

*That’s a lie, but I’m afraid I currently can’t make public the details of my impending tiny trip. It’s nothing exciting, believe me.

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

What’s been going on lately

1) severe insomnia and stress, due to external issues in my apartment building that I have no control over (no, not the ants)
2) pinched nerve in back, leading to stuPENdous amounts of pain, and an inability to focus on anything (like writing) for more than three seconds before BURSTING into sobs of pain

I’ll post again when I’m over this clusterfuck of physical problems. Right now, I need to return to my fistful of tears and drugs…

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

Cover for Best Horror 4

Best Horror of the Year 4

You can click on the cover to embiggen it. I’m quite excited – this is the first time I’ve been listed on the cover of a print anthology as myself, and not as “OTHERS”. Oh, I’m certain I’ll be an OTHER many more times in the future, but it’s still nice to see my name, this time around.

FYI, this is the second anthology I’ve been in which features a nude woman covering her crotch with her hands. Yeah, if you click on that, you probably should not be at work.

In other news, tonight is the KGB Fantastic Fiction Reading, with me and N.K. Jemisin. I’m a bit nervous. I’ll post about how it went tomorrow, along with an update on FrankenNovel.

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

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KGB Fantastic Fiction

...is where I’ll be next week. I’ll be reading about 15-20 minutes worth of FrankenNovel. For a few people who thought I’d be reading “and Love shall have no Dominion” – I honestly don’t think I could get through a quarter of that story without being set on fire by all the shocked and appalled listeners. Well, they may do that anyway, but at least it won’t be because of horrifying and triggery story content!

General Updates

Well, jury duty was a quick and painless affair for me, once again. I got as far as voir dir on a civil case involving a car accident, but was dismissed once I revealed that I’d also been in a car accident. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I’ve always wanted to serve on a jury, but never get picked. I know it’s considered a huge pain in the ass by most people, but the justice-loving bossypants in me would love to be able to debate the finer points of a case. Then again, that bossypants side of me might have been the reason I was dismissed. I noticed that everyone else answered the judge’s questions in a very subdued, small, deferential voice – as if that was the voice people thought they should answer with in a courtroom. By comparison, I spoke in diaphragm-supported all-caps: FUCK YEAH I AM ALL ABOUT SERVING PICK ME PLEASE! Yes, that might have influenced my being shown the door…

In writing news, I’ve had a ultra-short (1300 words) story accepted, but can’t divulge the name of the anthology until I get the go-ahead. Today I’m finishing up another anthology invite story – and this is how my weekends are going to be spent through all of February and part of March. Novel-writing will take place Monday through Friday in the late afternoons, and short story writing will be on the weekends. This type of compartmentalization isn’t something I’ve done before, but I wanted to try something new, and push myself a little in the process – in the past I’ve always maintained that I can’t write short fiction and long fiction at the same time, but that’s a luxury that I think best works for writers with more time at their disposal. My daytime job dictates that I need to learn how to do multiple things at the same time, or lose out on a number of opportunities. So, I’ll try it this way for a couple of months and see how it goes.

And now it’s back to writing. And possibly baking cookies later. Because apparently baking and writing is one group of things that I can do at the same time. Go figure.

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

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The title pretty much says it all. Two stories written over the past two weekends, a third story to be finished this weekend (in addition to working on the novel during the weekdays), and on top of this I’ve been battling the longest bout of insomnia I’ve ever had – maybe a couple hours of sleep total over the past seven days. I have hit the motherfucking wall. And, tomorrow I’m off to the courthouse in Journal Square to report for jury duty – hooray! Also, in the past two weeks I’ve been looking for a cheap, quiet writing space outside of my apartment – which I finally did find. I’ll blog more on that, and some other writing developments, when I’m not all hopped up on sugar and caffeine and sleep deprivation.

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Originally published at Livia Llewellyn.

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