Borderlands Press announces 8th Annual Writers Boot Camp

Saturday, July 31st, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

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Borderlands Press, who’ve been publishing specialty books for collectors since 1989, announced their 8th Annual Writers Boot Camp, January 28th – 30th , 2011 in Towson, Maryland.

They call it “Boot Camp” for a reason. You won’t wandering through lonely forests, wondering what it means to be a writer for countless hours. This from the website:

You will be expected to log in many hours of intensive analysis and criticism from your peers and the four guest instructors who will be guiding you through all the major elements of writing fiction. You will be required to read (in advance) the submissions of your fellow workshop participants. (ALL OF THEM)

The weekend-long boot camp consists of lectures, round table critiques, readings of your work, Q&A panel discussion, and analysis of your work by the instructors. Instructors this year include Gary Braunbeck, Mort Castle, Ginjer Buchanan, Richard Chizmar, Douglas Clegg, Jack Ketchum, Elizabeth Massie, David Morrell, Thomas F. Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and Douglas E. Winter.

There will be two Sessions, Novel and Short Fiction, and each accepts only 16 to 20 participants, so be sure to get your application in early. Any and all genres are accepted; fee is $995.

Complete details are on the Borderlands Press website.


Norman Spinrad on The Publishing Death Spiral, Part One

Saturday, July 31st, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

void-captain2Science Fiction author Norman Spinrad, author of Bug Jack Barron, The Void Captain’s Tale, and the classic Star Trek episode that introduced the world to cigar-shaped starships of death, “The Doomsday Machine,” talks about the cruel math of “order to net:” 

Here’s how it works. Barnes and Noble and Borders, the major bookstore chains, control the lion’s share of retail book sales… Let’s say that some chain has ordered 10,000 copies of a novel, sold 8000 copies, and returned 2000, a really excellent sell-through of 80%. So they order to net on the author’s next novel, meaning 8000 copies. And let’s even say they still have an 80% sell-through of 6400 books, so they order 6400 copies of the next book, and sell 5120…. You see where this mathematical regression is going, don’t you? Sooner or later right down the willy-hole to an unpublishablity that has nothing at all to do with the literary quality of a writer’s work, or the loyalty of a reasonable body of would-be readers, or even the passionate support of an editor below the very top of the corporate pyramid. Voila, the Death Spiral. And I too am in it.

Read the complete article at his blog, Norman Spinrad At Large.


Short Fiction Roundup: The Year’s Best

Saturday, July 31st, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

ed-al906_bkrvsc_dv_20100722175927Over at The Wall Street Journal, Martin Wooster has reviewed this year’s annual of Gardner Dozois picks so I don’t have to. What’s particularly interesting about this review is the contention that while most short fiction today is the output of navel gazing MFA candidates (and could not be possibly of interest to normal folks, like those who read The Wall Street Journal), genre magazines still publish quality traditional plot-driven stories once characteristic of mass circulation magazines that have long ago succumbed to short-attention reader spans and market vicissitudes.

As it happens, I stopped reading Asimov’s, which Dozois formerly edited, because I was coming across too many traditional plot-driven hard SF tales that are okay once in awhile, but, for my tastes, make for a kind of bland diet.  For largely the same reason, as well as for lack of time, I’ve become less obsessed with studying every iteration of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, though Wooster’s review may make me reconsider (even the ones he doesn’t like sound intriguing too me).  But as for whether genre magazines are the only home of short fiction that isn’t willfully obtuse in focusing on obsessions that matter only to a self-conscious elite (a charge frequently made of genre’s pulp forebears, funnily enough), I don’t know.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read much from the so-called literary magazines, and I probably haven’t read enough of them to know if this is more canard than truism.  I did use to get Glimmer Magazine, which, if I recall correctly, was the first place where I read anything by Junot Diaz, who wrote The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Depending on what you thought of that book may either prove or disprove Wooster’s point.


Bram Stoker’s Dracula in Comics, Part One – The Novel Adaptations

Friday, July 30th, 2010 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

compdracWhile Bram Stoker’s infamous vampire count has been prevalent in comic books whenever the prevailing bluenoses of each generation have deigned to allow horror books to be printed, there have been surprisingly few attempts to faithfully adapt the classic novel in comic book form.

Classics Illustrated tackled the book shortly before Dr. Frederick Wertham got his dirty little hands on the comic business and did his best to keep the children of the world safe from twisted people just like himself. The Classics Illustrated adaptation was professionally produced, if somewhat anemic.

Marvel Comics would later reprint it in the 1970s with new cover art to make it appear consistent with Gene Colan’s magnificent portrayal of the character for Marvel’s long-running Tomb of Dracula title. Happily, a superior adaptation was brewing in Marvel’s companion magazine, Dracula Lives.

Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano teamed up to provide a faithful, elegant, and leisurely-paced adaptation of the Stoker novel as an ongoing feature in the black & white comic magazine.

Unfortunately, sales were not on their side and the title was cancelled. The one unpublished chapter they had completed turned up in the pages of another magazine title, Legion of Monsters, before it too was cancelled. Their masterful adaptation was left incomplete for nearly thirty years.

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Climbing Aboard the Dragon: Battles Inside and Out

Friday, July 30th, 2010 | Posted by Michael Jasper

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
— James Michener

So you’re ready to embark on writing your new fantasy story, hopefully one that the folks at Black Gate will want to snatch up as soon as you type the words “The End” on it.

You’ve got your story idea, sitting there like a lump of Play-Doh that still conforms to the shape of the plastic container you just shook it out of.  You know, that perfect cylinder shape that is exciting to absolutely no one.

Time to start squishing and pulling and twisting. But where to begin, you ask? It all starts, of course, with your main character.

As we discussed earlier, most people tend to start a story with a person, in some sort of situation. But let’s just say you haven’t even gotten that far. You just have an average person, sitting in a white room. Nothing’s happening.

Let’s start by getting inside that character’s head. Which you can do most effectively by asking questions:

  • What is the one thing he or she (or it — this is speculative fiction, you know) wants the most out of life?
  • What’s the one thing your protagonist will do nearly anything for?
  • Is it an object? Another person? A goal? An idea?

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Exploring the WORLD WITHOUT END

Friday, July 30th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz

wwe1Great stories never get old.

Back in 1990 DC Comics launched WORLD WITHOUT END, a “mature readers” miniseries by Jamie Delano and John Higgins. It was everything comics have the potential to achieve…a psychic thought-bomb of words and pictures that blew my mind to bloody smithereens. Twenty years later it still leaves me in awe.

Delano is a gifted British comics writer who at the time was known best for writing DC’s HELLBLAZER title. Artist Higgins had done a lot of work for England’s 2000 A.D. and worked as colorist on Alan Moore’s landmark WATCHMEN series. When Karen Berger and her assistant editor Tom Peyer put Delano and Higgins together, they were mixing gasoline with fire. Delano and Higgins make these pages glow with volatile brilliance. I’m not being hyperbolic…this book was (and is) THAT good.

The first thing that catches the eye is Higgin’s painted artwork. Every single panel is a fully painted masterpiece, in all six issues. Higgins also painted the spectacular covers himself. Handing a virtuoso painter/storyteller like Higgins to a literary madman like Delano was a stroke of genius. Did I mention already that Karen Berger is a genius? She went on to form the legendary VERTIGO imprint a few short years later.

Delano’s concept was epic, a vast story set millions of years in the future, in a world that literally grew over the old one. A world made not of earth, stone, but of LIVING FLESH. Instead of seven seas, the “chemotion” churns with typhoons of acidic corrosion. The global continent is a colossal organism, dead and rotting at its edges, ripe with gangrene swamps and jagged mountains of bone; yet its center pulses with sunken rivers of lifeblood and hordes of bizarre living beings.

wwe2At the center of this seething world-organism lies BEDLAM: “That proud city, whose taut towers have bountifully reared and nurtured the parasitic multitudes through scuttling millennia of zealous growth.” Bedlam is a grotesquely beautiful mass of bone-carved towers inhabited by a race of male beings called Gess.

Everything female in Bedlam is suppressed and dominated here…but the moon rises over Bedlam, shining with a dangerous glow of femininity upon this hive of masculinity. The rigid structure of this society is being threatened by mutates, abominations led by a mysterious female presence called Rumour. Here’s the back cover copy from issue #1, “The Moon Also Rises,” which says it all:

“IN A FUTURE WORLD GROWN ENTIRELY OUT OF FLESH, THE ULTIMATE MAN AND THE ULTIMATE WOMAN FIGHT THE FINAL BATTLES OF THE SEX WAR–AND PUSH GHASTLY VIOLENCE AND CORRUPT SEXUALITY TO THEIR RIDICULOUS EXTREMES.”

That “Ultimate Man” comes along in issue #2. He is Brother Bones, a “genetic supercommando” sheathed in an ebony metallic armor. He is masculinity personified, a destroyer of flesh, a brutish warlord of unstoppable means. Brother Bones leads armies of the Gess in a war against the female presence that has been “poisoning” Bedlam. When he speaks, his dialogue is a collection of symbols and strangely altered letters that slows the reader down just enough to evoke the character’s towering inhumanity.

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Goth Chick News: Do the Dead Really Matter In the Movies? Thirteen Questions for Midnight Syndicate’s Edward Douglas

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

dead-matter1All right movie fans, its here! We’ve been telling you about it for months and today is finally the day when Midnight Syndicate’s new horror flick The Dead Matter goes on sale nationwide at Hot Topics stores and on Amazon.com.

As I may have mentioned once or twice at most, Ed Douglas and the gang gave me a sneak peek at their creation last week and as a fan of the drive-in-horror-movie genre, I can tell you The Dead Matter is quite an amazingly fun ride. If that’s not enough, the DVD comes packaged with two new Midnight Syndicate music creations; the original motion picture soundtrack and the Halloween Music Collection.

For me, it’s like Christmas Halloween in July…

And for those of you who may be entertaining the idea that I’m just a hopeless sycophant with an ongoing crush on a bunch of bad-boy musicians, PIFFLE I say to you! They’re not at all bad boys; they’re actually nice and highly articulate, and have a lot of really entertaining things to tell us about.

See for yourself in the interview below.

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Shira Lipkin Blogathon and Auction for Boston Area Rape Crisis Center

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

shira3aFantasy author Shira Lipkin, last seen here as the poster child for our Readercon report, is holding a Blogathon on Saturday, July 31, to raise money for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

What’s a Blogathon?  We’ll let Shira explain it, as she’s so much cooler than us:

I’ll be posting short fiction and poetry, composed spontaneously, every half hour for 24 hours. That’s 49 pieces of story, automatic for the people. I’m also running an auction of wonderful stuff donated by wonderful people; each post will have a link to an auction item, and the story therein will be inspired by said auction item. (Auction will run July 26-August 2.) Yeah. Other people just post “I am so tired” for hours. I do Blogathon backwards and in heels. Because it wasn’t hard enough?

Man, that’s impressive. I get tired just writing about it.  In fact, I think I’m going to go lie down.

More details are available at Shira’s blog, Scheherazade in Blue Jeans. Check it out, and help support a good cause.

Author photo by C.S.E. Cooney.


Goth Chick News Mini Blog: The Dead Matter in Stores Tomorrow

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

dead-matter21Here at the Black Gate offices we’ve sent the entire gaggle of lazy summer interns to the local Hot Topics store to camp out in the 100% humidity of a Chicago summer to wait for tomorrow’s release of Midnight Syndicate’s movie The Dead Matter. We could have let them stay in the air conditioning and buy it off Amazon.com, but what fun would that be?

Wonder how long it will be before the interns realize there is mayonnaise in their sunscreen bottles? Oh well…

Back here in the 70-degree underground bunker that is the Goth Chick offices, I’m putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s interview with Ed Douglas about this long anticipated gothic flick while listening to Midnight Syndicate’s 13th anniversary CD The Halloween Music Collection. Oh the bliss!

Tomorrow’s the big day! Stay tuned!


Gobsmacked: Tangent Online reviews Black Gate 14

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

bglgSteve Fahnestalk is a little overwhelemed with his first issue of Black Gate:

When I first opened the very thick envelope from Kansas City, I thought that Dave had messed up and sent me a Black Gate anthology… Full-color glossy perfect-bound wraparound cover on 380-plus pages containing not one, but three novellas, and sixteen stories. Plus poems, book and game review columns, letters, editorial and a comic strip — and handsomely illustrated throughout. I was poleaxed, banjaxed, gobsmacked and just plain overwhelmed. For those of you who bewail the terminal illness of the publishing industry, the loss of the midlist, the paring down of the professional story market and the death of the illustrated magazine, ease up. I’ve seen more professional-quality short stories in the last month in my mailbox, half of them in this magazine, than I had in the previous six months.

He draws special attention to “The Hangman’s Daughter” by Chris Braak:

Cresy has a problem. Night after night, she wakes from a dream of suffocating (as many children do) — but one particular night she thinks she saw something sitting on her chest and drawing the breath from her lungs. In these dreadful dreams she is paralyzed and can only wait for the dream to end so that she may draw a full breath again. Then, questioning the boys she plays with, she finds that all the children of Corsay have this problem. “Everyone gets those. It’s the bogeymen,” says Ally. How Cresy finds her personal center and gains the strength to face her nightmares face on (and what she finds when she does) is the crux of the story. A nice little tale of personal growth set in a less-than-usual fantasy world.

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