Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Underneath the Oversea: Now on Kindle

I don’t have much to add to that title. Underneath the Oversea, the Gorlen Vizenfirthe novel I wrote in 2018, is now in print as a Kindle ebook. You can see the cover and other details right here on the home page of my website.

Regular publishers wouldn’t nibble, let alone bite, so I hired a wonderful artist, Sylvia Ritter, to create a cover for me and I’m publishing it myself. I’m not a book designer so I’m not going to throw together a shoddy print-on-demand edition at this point. Perhaps there will be a high quality physical edition at some point. An audiobook, based on the freely available YouTube files, is in the works but there’s a lot more engineering to do and I’m not able to get to it just yet.

I wrote this under strange circumstances, after the floods of April 2018 destroyed the roads into our neighborhood on the north shore of Kauai and made it very difficult to go in or out for 14 months. I had started the novel just before the so-called “rain bomb” that sealed us in, and I was grateful to have it as a project to keep me going in those months of isolation. I thought of it as a life-line I’d thrown to myself, although I’m still not sure where I ended up once I’d climbed to the top of the rope. I am very happy with the book, but after a lifetime as a reader and writer of fantasy old and new, I feel very out of sync with the market. This one comes from a childhood love of Jack Vance and The Wizard of Oz, along with a much more recent love of Hayao Miyazaki and the films of Ghibli Studios.

If you take a chance on the novel, I hope you enjoy it, and tell your friends and/or leave an Amazon review. And if you have AmazonUnlimited, it’s free to read!

From the Outer Dark…to Your Ears

On March 24, 2018, I joined a small gathering of like-minded weirdos at the Winchester Mystery House to discuss and celebrate The Weird in art–film, fiction, poetry, paintings, wherever weirdness accretes.

The outward excuse for all this was the Outer Dark Symposium of the Great Weird 2018. I met a bunch of great people I only knew previously from the internet, and made many new friends as well. It was a blast. I took part in one panel discussion (and the great thing about the ODS is that there is only a single track of programming, so you never miss anything) and also read my story “A Mammoth, So-Called” ahead of its publication.

The Outer Dark Podcast has just posted its recording of that portion of the day’s events in which I took part, and you can listen to it here. The linked article supplies timestamps for various parts of the event, which includes the panel relating to weird themes in film and games, and readings by myself, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Gregory Norman Bossert.

Listen to it here!

First Draft

I discovered yesterday that my blog was no longer cross-posting to Facebook, which I assumed to be the way most people would ordinarily find out about a new post. Anyway, although I posted a couple months ago about working on a new novel (currently called Under the Oversea), I never did get around to posting the news that I had finished the first draft. Here was a picture of how it all began:


And here’s a shot of how it all ended:

Currently I’m in the midst of revisions, so it looks a bit like this:


I suppose I should have mentioned possible spoilers.

First draft is a slender 70,000 words. It’s a pure fantasy novel but decidedly not an epic. I’ve written a number of stories about Gorlen Vizenfirthe, the bard with a gargoyle hand, but this is the first Gorlen novel. It will be quite a while before there is any sort of publication information. I just want to get through this first pass of revisions. I’ve already used up one pen and broken out a second.

I haven’t written a book in a couple decades, so…wish me luck.

2018 Clarion West Write-a-thon

I haven’t been posting much lately because there hasn’t been much news that is new on the writing front.

Right now I am participating in this year’s Clarion West Write-a-thon, hoping to help raise some donations for that worthy organization while keeping on a good daily writing schedule. Last year I used the event to get myself back on track finishing up my Frankenstein project. This year, since I’m working on a novel anyway, I decided to tie it into that. Please consider sponsoring me or any other writer. Clarion is a fine group.

Here is my sponsorship page where I describe my current project and provide occasional updates.

The book in progress is called Under the Oversea, and it is the first novel-length adventure of Gorlen Vizenfirthe, the bard with a gargoyle hand. I’m planning to finish a draft this summer and it’s humming along.

If you are unfamiliar with Gorlen Vizenfirthe, the previous stories are mostly (all but the last) available right here on this website in the online fiction section.

A Swim and a Crawl

My short story, “A Swim and a Crawl,” appears in the March/April 2018 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which should start showing up on newsstands any day now, and is also available by subscription and via various electronic means.

I changed the title from “Longshore,” fearing readers might expect another entry in the Gorlen Vizenfirthe series, all of which have one-word titles.

It’s a short, dark tale about a man who goes for a swim in the ocean at night.


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Now with Extra Monsters)

Get your Frankenstein Bicentennial shopping done early! Avoid the crush of shoppers lined up at Mary Shelley’s Walmart on New Year’s Day, 2018!

All you need is 99 cents and a Kindle, or some sort of Kindle reader on your phone, computer, or other device.


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Now with Extra Monsters)!

Generations of readers have dived eagerly into Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, only to look up after several paragraphs, complaining, “This is just a bunch of travel writing. Where are all the monsters?”

No longer!

The culmination of seven years of laborious monster-insertion, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Now with Extra Monsters) absolutely guarantees that readers of this classic novel will confront monsters from the very first paragraph, and in each and every paragraph thereafter.

Not a word of that famous original Mary Shelley prose has been removed or tampered with; yet many new words, most of them referring to monsters of some sort, have been added to satisfy the horrific desires of the discerning (yet monster-craving) modern reader.

Each monster has been hand-selected by author and Frankenstein non-expert Marc Laidlaw with an eye to making the text more appealing to other Frankenstein non-experts who only want more monsters in their classic horror novels. From “Modern Prometheus” to “Monster Prometheus,” that’s probably what they will be calling Frankenstein from now on. Probably.



Frankenstein Fest for Clarion West

In past years, I’ve been honored to be asked to speak to students at Clarion West, an excellent six-week writing workshop that takes place each summer in Seattle. This year, since I won’t be around for it, I decided to join the annual Clarion West Write-a-Thon in order to help raise funds for the workshop.

I am but one of many, many writers participating. If you find someone here that you like, please consider sponsoring their participation.

For my own project, I’m going to use this excuse to focus on finishing my ridiculous Frankenstein remix, in which I add more monsters to Mary Shelley’s somewhat monster-deficient masterpiece.

Here’s where I’m at, as of today. There’s a long way to go:

I know that some, perhaps most, will find this entire project unsupportable. But it’s for a good cause, I promise!

And Then The Murders Began

It might be time to say a bit about this.

Explaining a joke is bad form.

A couple points though:

  • Purists will want to cleave to its precise form. The rest of us don’t mind skewing it for the sake of humor. Change the tense if it works better that way. Slide it to follow the second sentence if that makes a huge difference. The only goal is to get a laugh.
  • I first noticed the phrase in relation to an article The New Yorker posted, a very tragic and disturbing piece which does not lend itself to any sort of humor. I would never link it in relation to the joke, but others have noticed and I want to be clear that it sparked my tweet. I do think adding “And” gives my use of the phrase an extra florid, self-important note that puffs it up just enough to be suitable for narrative frivolity. I just wanted to be very clear that The New Yorker was not picking up on a silly meme and using it inappropriately. The inappropriation was all mine.
  • Maybe all Twitter memes start this way: Someone cracks a joke, expecting two or three of their friends to laugh, and the next thing you know it’s had 7,000 Likes. I think what happened here is that Neil Gaiman was one of the two or three. Neil has two and a half million followers on Twitter. I have fewer than two thousand.
  • Thanks for playing along.



The Stillborne Opening

It occurs to me, after posting the opening paragraph of “A Mammoth, So-Called,” that I never put up the opening of “Stillborne.” You may recall this is potentially the last of the Gorlen Vizenfirthe stories, and will be appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction at some point in the nearish future.

The pilgrims Plenth had been hired to entertain crossed the desert of Hoogalloor in caravans made of enormous dried-out caterpillars, tossed about in the lightly ribbed interior with an assortment of carpets and cushions, peering out at passing cacti through portholes that had once been breathing spiracles. Other vehicles, more utilitarian and less appointed for comfort, had been fashioned from different stages of the same species’ lifecycle. These included a pupal land-barge full of cookware and stores, from which the cook emerged each evening and prepared a variety of dishes according to the complicated dietary regimes of the travelers; and a wingless chrysalis which the caravan’s guardians used as a mobile barracks, filling it with the racks of insect integument they’d fashioned into armor and arms. The beasts that pulled these hollowed-out vehicles of glossy chitin and dull husk were themselves a type of large, docile beetle, referred to as “Garden Variety” by Sister Quills, assistant to the caravan’s Drover-Abbess. Plenth had nightmares concerning the nature of that garden, from which she woke feeling thankful that her route across the arid northwestern wastes would take her nowhere near the humid southern quarters where such creatures freely swarmed. Quills, who spoke with a southern accent, retained the customs of her birthplace, which included smashing the flies that constantly beset the caravan and sucking them off her fingers with an ecstatic expression, confiding to Plenth, “The little ones are sweet!” Plenth understood that in this harsh environment, one must exploit every resource to survive; but one didn’t have to act so delighted about it. Thankfully Plenth had brought along her own food, which she ate sparingly, that it might last until they reached Wumnal Wells.

There’s lots more where that came from. (This is the longest Gorlen story, at about 19,000 words.)

That image, by the way, is Bob Eggleton‘s cover for the first Gorlen story, “Dankden.” I believe it was nominated for a Hugo the year it appeared (1995).

The End of Gorlen Vizenfirthe?

Perhaps for now…

I’ve just sold “Stillborne” to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. This novella is intended to let me lay down the Gorlen Vizenfirthe series gently, and leave it in a good resting state, just in case I never feel inclined (or have a chance) to pick it up again. It doesn’t mean further adventures are out of the question, or that I might not go back and write some interstitial pieces from earlier in his life (the events of one night at Lake Vaug continue to defy telling, and I have been trying for years). The immediate result of having written this story is that I feel the tales so far are ready to be bound up in one volume, and, if read in sequence, might make for a satisfactory book. Not a novel! But still, a book.

To that end, with “Stillborne” as the final chapter, I’ve pulled all the stories together in one volume which I’m calling The Gargoyle’s Handbook, and set them out in search of a final home.

More news as I know it…

(“Rooksnight”: the last Gorlen story to appear in F&SF)