The dark of the woods

The new releases are coming one on top of the other, and for the first time I am pleased to announce a story publication originally available for free online. Much thanks to Cheapjack Pulp magazine for hosting my short story “The Half-hidden Face”!

“The Half-hidden Face” is another installment in the continuing adventures of Kellan Oakes, private eye, son of a druid priestess, and hero of my annual contributions to the PulpWork Christmas Special. On this outing he takes what he assumes is an easy gig involving more art appreciation than investigation, but quickly finds himself face to face with an ancient power whose roots run deep: the Green Man.

Ludlow_Green_Man_misericord

Although the story is no longer available online, a physical issue of Cheapjack Pulp can be purchased on Amazon. Feel free to support the publisher by ordering a copy!

NOTE: This post was edited on June 15, 2016 to reflect the sunset of the free online version of the story.

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Swordplay with madness

A while back I was perusing various open calls for fiction submissions, as I’m wont to do, and I came across a solicitation for an anthology of Lovecraftian tales, the theme of which also insisted on avoiding modern or futuristic weaponry and arming the protagonists with ancient weapons. I admit I’m not a superfan of the Cthulhu mythos, but I’m familiar enough with the stories that tend to wind up in canonical dark fantasy and horror anthologies (and I’ve played in a Chaosium roleplaying campaign or two in my day, to the utter surprise of no one, I’m sure). The days of yore angle intrigued me as well, but even moreso the fact that the editors specified that they were looking for stories that were more enlightened about inclusivity than old Howard Phillips tended to be.

I wanted my story to stand out, to increase the odds of it being accepted, which led me down a couple of specific paths as I brainstormed. The first was to set the story in the present day, while still adhering to the rule that the battle against cosmic evil would be conducted entirely via archaic melee weapons. This turned into the notion of a college chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, combined with the creative license of incorporating a pursuit of fantastical occult tomes alongside their usual interest in fencing and jousting and homemade armor. The second was to make the main character gay, and given that I didn’t want to awkwardly shoehorn in a reference to sexuality for its own sake, that gayness had to matter. So my tale, “The Lengths That He Would Go To”, developed as a love story between two dudes, which happened to involve mind-meltingly horrifying beasts summoned from beyond and lots of stabbing thereof.

Backer rewards from the Eldritch Embraces IndieGogo
Backer rewards from the Eldritch Embraces IndieGogo campaign

My story was politely rejected.

But as fate would have it, while I was working on my story I happened to notice another, completely separate call for submissions, this one requesting Lovecraftian tales with explicitly romantic themes, which was a fairly apt description of the piece I was crafting. So I made note of it and filed the information away while I continued work on my story. Once I got my rejection from the first market, I turned the story around and sent it out to the second. And lo and behold, the story was accepted there.

So that’s the story of how “The Lengths That He Would Go To” came to be and also how it found its happy home in Eldritch Embraces from Dragon’s Roost Press. I wanted to provide the background because it’s got to be good karma to share a publication story where “if at first you don’t succeed, try again” was actually rewarded. And I wanted to offer a glimpse of what my story has to offer, to entice anyone reading this to pick up the book and check it out. (As I’ve mentioned before, it’s all for a good cause, to boot.)

To buy a copy of Eldritch Embraces head on over to Amazon.com – it’s available in paperback and Kindle formats now!