Card-carrying membership

If you’ve ever perused the mini-wiki on this site devoted to Kellan Oakes, you’ve run across the name-dropping assertion that my fictional creation is part of a “proud literary tradition of occult detectives”. In theory, this could be up for debate, as matters of official taxonomy often are. But as of today, I have a splendid piece of evidence supporting my side of the argument, to wit that a Kellan Oakes story has appeared between the covers of OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY. Behold my bona fides:

“One of the most important new fantasy magazines of the decade.” – Black Gate Online

The fourth issue of ODQ is now available and contains, among other tales, “Abduction in Ash” written by yours truly and starring Kellan Oakes, who takes on a missing person case and finds himself once again at the wrong end of some nasty, gnarly forest folk. To pull back the curtain a bit, this is a story I wrote quite some time ago, when the Kellan Oakes series started taking on a life of its own and I was doing research into creatures of legend to find likely pegs I might hang stories on. I wound up digging into some fairly obscure corners, and I can only hope that I ended up doing justice to the original lore.

Feel free to judge for yourself – you can obtain your own copy of Occult Detective Quarterly #4 right here!

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Convergent visions

I’m at the point where it’s still extremely gratifying and exciting to see a publisher go to the trouble of obtaining the services of an artist to illustrate one of my stories, particularly when said illustration turns out to be GORGEOUS:

This artwork is the handiwork of Russell Smeaton, who pretty much rules. It is intended to accompany my forthcoming Kellan Oakes tale, “Abduction in Ash”, appearing in the fourth issue of Occult Detective Quarterly any day now! The interiors of ODQ are black and white, so this will become a grey-toned rendering in the magazine, but I’m delighted to present it in glorious technicolor here.

Considering that Russell and I had never met before, and he had only the text of the story itself to work with, I think the manner in which he was able to capture something frighteningly close to my own mental constructs is phenomenal. I hope the story itself will live up to what’s promised here – watch this space for an update on the release soon!

Flattering comparisons

Feast or famine, as usual – I am loading up the blog with content right now because I happen to have projects popping left and right! If it were up to me I would distribute the releases more equitably throughout the calendar, but it very much is not up to me. So in a few months I will be scraping my second-hand advice barrel for a post about why stories should never start with nor end with a character waking up, but right now I’m sounding off every couple of days.

In any case, today I’m posting again about Red in Tooth and Claw because I just wanted to share a mood-altering review of the story provided by my old friend Derrick Ferguson:

Know what I really liked about RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW? The more I read, the more I felt like I was reading a prose version of “Marvel Feature” or “Marvel Premier” from the 1970s. You remember those comic books, don’t you? Of course you do. They were anthology titles, their main purpose being to try out characters and see if they had enough interest and popularity to be given their own books. I don’t know if that was your intent, Dale, but if it was, you pulled it off.

Copyright Marvel Comics Group, used without permission but, uh, Derrick brought it up!

It’s not easy to introduce a protagonist, an antagonist, secondary characters and wrap them up in credible, satisfying motivations and provide action scenes all in such a short amount of wordage. I mean, you could easily have made this story twice or even three times as long as it is. But then again you might have lost the relentless thrust of the prose as this thing just keeps moving and doesn’t stop for anything. But still, it doesn’t feel like you’re rushing anything, either. The story progresses in a logical manner, the events coming one after another in what feels quite natural.

I found myself enjoying the story so much, in fact that I cheerfully overlooked the tired old wheeze of having the hero fight a villain whose powers are the opposite of his because you explained later on why that happened. It just wasn’t a random thing.

If this is meant as a taste or tease leading into further adventures of Snow Wolf then you’re off to a good start. Good job, Dale and I’m looking forward to more.

If that doesn’t entice you to click on the link above and pay 99 cents to read the story for yourself, I do not know what will. And as far as Derrick’s curiosity about the potential for future adventures of Snow Wolf, I can say that it is a definite possibility! I truly did conceive of the story initially as a standalone thing, but as time has passed since then I’ve been collecting more and more ideas for building out that world. So get in on the ground floor while you can!

Bam! Wap! Zowie!

Cast your memory back a couple of yesteryears and you might recall I was eagerly anticipating the publication of my first stand-alone work. At long last, the wait is over! May I proudly present …

NB: Groovy cover imagery notwithstanding, this is a short story, not a novel. That said, it’s a fairly action-packed, cinematic short story if I do say so myself. And the asking price is a mere pittance at 99 cents.

Get your Kindle copy on Amazon, and thrill to the adventures of Snow Wolf, a hero who fights to save the world and finds the very planet more than willing and able to fight back on its own! It’s the classic conflict of Man Versus Nature with superpowers, monsters, metaphysical mysteries and geological disasters!

RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW – Available now from Phrenic Press!

Committing to the bit

Today is the official release date for CARNIVAL OF FEAR, which means you can get the anthology on Kindle and start reading it immediately, or you can order the paperback and start reading it eventually, depending on your delivery preferences. I’m not here to judge.

Normally I wouldn’t post yet another bit of hype so soon after the pre-order announcement but I am making an exception here for two reasons. First, there is an orchestrated publicity blitz happening today to drum up enthusiasm in the book, and I am a team player and doing my part.

Secondly, this gives me a chance to shout out to one of my fellow contributors to the collection, Jackie Sonnenberg. Not only did she write a fantastic story about a creepy little clown puppet’s revenge, she has been hitting the convention circuit DRESSED IN FULL COSTUME AS BOTTONI THE PUPPET:

Definitely something I deemed worthy of sharing with the widest audience possible.

Stock up on your nightmare fuel! CARNIVAL OF FEAR!

Midway mayhem

Today is pre-order day for CARNIVAL OF FEAR!!!

I teased this a while ago with the promo image for my story, The Tangler, which is about a couple of high school sweethearts, one of whom doesn’t like scary rides but gets talked into getting on one anyway, which opens her eyes to a special kind of nefarious nightmare. The rest of the anthology involves a collection of clowns, sideshow freaks, deadly games and other tainted treats. A furiously frenzied funland of horror!

Get your pre-order in RIGHT HERE!!!

Once more into the SCA clubhouse

I devoted numerous posts (see thus and thus and thus) to my short story “The Lengths That He Would Go To” a couple years ago, when it was first published in the Eldritch Embraces anthology. There’s not a lot I can add to all of that, but if you never got around to picking up the book where the story first appeared, you may be pleased to know that as of today you can read the tale online – no strings attached! – in Iridium Magazine’s premiere issue.

I’m very pleased to have found a reprint home for the story with this particular publication. Per the mission statement on the site, the high concept of Iridium is to spotlight “intersectional genre fiction with a focus on QUILTBAG+ characters” – all very good things I can totally get behind! While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and excerpt a longer passage from their About page:

We believe that to reconstruct the world, we must produce diverse genre fiction that never reduces characters down to their identity alone because people are more than labels. We believe that fiction should subvert power structures, empowering the disenfranchised, rather than exploit the oppressed. We believe that fiction should not only entertain, but provoke.

Word. I wish Iridium the best of luck, and hope that they are around for a good long while. Ideally I’ll submit more to them in the future! Please check them out, bookmark them, and if you enjoy what you find there spread the word!