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Unknown SkeletonAt the start of this decade, I made my first-ever professionally-qualifying sale. (Pro rates were somehow even lower then than they are now.) I had been writing since I learned how, and seriously attempting to publish since I graduated college not quite a decade before that.

In 2012, the first edition of my first collection, Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, came out. In five years it would be out of print, then back in print, in a new, hardcover deluxe edition from Strix Publishing.

Looking back, it came out too soon. Not that I’m not proud of the collection – I am, completely, if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have allowed it to be reissued. I just wasn’t at the “first collection” stage in my career quite yet, but I didn’t know that then.

In the years since, I’ve published two more collections of stories, both with Ross Lockhart’s Word Horde press, not to mention two collections of essays on vintage horror films, both with Innsmouth Free Press. I’ve published more than fifty short stories, and been in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year three times.

I co-edited my first anthology with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which got translated into Japanese.

I’ve done work for Privateer Press, writing short fiction and in-game content, adventures, and even a licensed novel that is technically my first published novel-length work. In the last year alone I’ve written nearly fifty movie reviews for Unwinnable and Signal Horizon, where I also now co-host a podcast.

I’ve written introductions for reissues of some of my favorite books, including Benighted and collections by Robert Westall, from Valancourt Books, and introductions to collections by some of my favorite contemporaries, including Nick Mamatas and Amanda Downum. I have nonfiction bylines in places like Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Nightmare Magazine.

I’ve been a guest at several wonderful conventions and festivals, gone on a great many podcasts, introduced movies at the local movie theatres, and much more. There are so many things on this list that, had you told me about them ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Of all the many surprising things that have happened to me over the course of the last decade, though, perhaps the most surprising is that I quit my day job to write full-time all the way back in 2013, and I haven’t had to give it up yet.

Fiction writing certainly doesn’t pay the bills, so most of my time is dedicated to freelancing, but, as they say in Major League 2, a day of playing baseball is better than whatever most people have to do for a living.

It wasn’t until Grace was asking me if I was planning to do some kind of decade-in-review that I realized how much my life has changed in these past ten years, so it seemed worth taking note. I went from being virtually unpublished (I had sold a few stories, but not many) to having six or more books (depending on how you count) with my name on the spine and writing for a living.

Not too shabby, all in all.

Never Bet the Devil CoverAs you have no doubt gathered by now, the brand-new deluxe edition of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings from Strix Publishing is a real, physical object that has actually happened and is currently sitting on my shelf. What you may not yet know is that it can also be sitting on your shelf, even if you missed out on the Kickstarter and/or didn’t see us at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Through the magic of something called “the internet,” you can now order your very own copy of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, featuring two (2) new stories not published in the previous edition, all new illustrations and header images for every story by the phenomenal M.S. Corley (who is also responsible for that amazing cover), and a new (and very kind) introduction by Nathan Ballingrud!

(And hey, if you’re going to pick up a copy, now’s the time to do it, because you can get it at 15% off thanks to Strix’s Halloween sale!)

Speaking of Halloween, I recently wrote up a recommendation list of five vintage vampiric movies for you to watch on Halloween, which you can read over at Innsmouth Free Press? Why would I do that, you ask? The better question might be, Why wouldn’t I? But in this case it’s actually all part of an elaborate scheme meant to help promote Monsters from the Vault, my collection of essays on vintage horror cinema, collected from across more than five years of writing columns for Innsmouth Free Press. Why vampires, though? Well, that just kind of happened. But you’re certainly not limited to vampires. Pick up a copy of the book and you can find plenty of mad scientists, alien invaders, werewolves, mummies, murderers, unusually large insects and rodents, blobs, apes, skeletons, cults, and just about anything else you might want for your seasonal viewing pleasure.

The list also serves double duty by making me feel a little less bad about not being a very good contributor to the Countdown to Halloween. This October has been a little rough. It got off to a good start with the HPLFF, but there have been a variety of other setbacks that have kept me from celebrating the season with the same vigor that I might have on previous occasions. Fortunately, I have at least gotten Halloween decorations up, and tomorrow night I’m heading out to the Tapcade for a horror anthology triple feature courtesy of the Nerds of Nostalgia. I attended the first of these “Nerdoween” triple-features a couple of years ago, and they’ve since become an annual tradition. Thanks to them, I’ve discovered both Demons and Night of the Demons and, to a somewhat lesser extent, both 28 Weeks Later and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Since this year’s entertainment is anthology film-themed, the odds of me not having already seen all of them decrease sharply, but we’ll see what they can dig up!

I’ve been having adventures!

Two weeks ago today, I left town to spend a week in Colorado, just a few minutes outside of Denver. I didn’t spend much of my time there sightseeing, though I did visit a cool movie theatre, catch up with a couple of writing acquaintances, and make several trips to the Flatiron Crossing mall where I bought cool shirts, ate delicious crepes, and picked up a vintage Warhammer Armies book complete with Zoats, Fimirs, and really racist Pygmies. Most of the time, though, I was in the hotel room working while Grace was attending an alto flute workshop. I wrote a 5,000 word story in a day, and also caught up on a bunch of freelance projects.

On the way back from the trip, I stopped off at a dinosaur museum in Hays, one that I had passed I don’t know how many times on similar trips but had never visited. It was amazing, though perhaps the best exhibit wasn’t any of the dinosaur stuff but a giant alligator snapping turtle in a tank just inside the entrance. His name was Levi, and he was apparently unusually active that day, and watching him was pretty much exactly like watching a kaiju swim around.

After I got home I had to start playing catch-up on everything that didn’t get done while I was out of town, including finally getting around to buying a new desk and a new laptop. I’m still working on getting the laptop set up and configured the way I want it, so I’m currently still doing work (and typing this) on my old laptop until I get used to the new one. I got a Lenovo Yoga 910, in case anyone is curious. So far I like it, though I haven’t actually done much with it yet. I also made it out to our local cool movie theatre the Screenland Armour to catch a double-feature screening of Creature from the Black Lagoon and the practical suit-monster short film “Shallow Water.”

Catching up got interrupted a bit, however, in order to have more adventures when, for various reasons, Grace spontaneously decided that she wanted to go fishing and rock hunting his past weekend. I tagged along, made friends with a snapping turtle and a bug, explored what was clearly some sort of troll tunnel, found a mess of snakes and a tide pool, wandered among the flotsam on the shore of a big lake, and mostly had a great time. Shortly after I got back from that trip, I found a box on my doorstep containing a whole pile of copies of the first Japanese edition of Fungi, the anthology of weird fungal fiction I co-edited with Silvia Moreno-Garcia. (The Japanese edition is getting split into two volumes, so this one is just the first half.)

As you can imagine, I’m still recovering from so much adventuring, and also still catching up on work, so if I owe you anything, including responses about getting copies of Fungi from Japan for those of you who were contributors, please bear with me.

I’ve got two books coming out this year. One of them I wrote, the other I co-edited. I’d be hard pressed to tell you which one I’m more proud of.

The first is my debut short story collection Never Bet the Devil and Other Warnings, due out pretty much any day now from Evileye Books. What you see up above there is the full cover spread for the collection, and over the weekend I got the uncorrected proofs in PDF. As soon as I get through those and get any notes sent back to the publisher, it should be on its way to the printers. It features ten stories (including my out-of-print novella The Mysterious Flame) and every story has an illustration by the great Bernie Gonzalez, whose work you can also see there on the front cover. It’ll be available in paperback and ebook formats, and I’ll be posting more about it just as soon as it’s ready to order.

The second is Fungi, the anthology of fungus-themed stories that I co-edited with Silvia Moreno-Garcia for Innsmouth Free Press. I’ve talked about it at some length before, and you can learn more and see the full table of contents at its website. It’s going to be coming out in ebook, paperback, and hardcover (what you see above is the cover spread for the hardcover edition), and it’s available for pre-order at 20% off the cover price from now until November 16. I know that I’m a bit biased, but personally I’d recommend picking up the hardcover. It’s got three extra stories, and ten illustrations, these also by Bernie!

As you can imagine, October is a busy season around our household, and this year that’s been especially true. Last weekend, Grace and I got dolled up and went out to see a ballet interpretation of the Carmina Burana at the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It was the first professional ballet for either of us, and we were duly impressed. (The Kauffman Center was pretty nice, too.) Tonight, we’re heading to the Plaza to see The Oatmeal talk about his new book. And this coming Saturday we’re having some people over to watch Monster Squad, since the Alamo Drafthouse is being renovated for the month of October.

In spite of all that, I still managed to watch The Tall Man, Pascal Laugier’s follow-up to Martyrs. While it was pretty enjoyable, it wasn’t really as suitable for Halloween viewing as I had hoped. (For those of you thinking maybe it has something to do with Phantasm, sorry to disillusion you.) It’s really only a horror movie for about the first third, before it switches pretty sharply into something else entirely. It didn’t keep me as on my toes as Martyrs did, but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed where it was headed from the first reel, and that’s something.

There’s been a lot of stuff happening that relates in some way to books that I’ve been meaning to mention but, frankly, just haven’t had the time. Still don’t, really, but I’m going to try to wedge as much of it as I can conveniently remember in here. Bear with me.

Progress on my own two books is still proceeding apace, and they should both be out this year. Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings any day now, and Fungi in December. Fungi has a website, which Silvia and I are updating every Friday with tidbits about the book, authors talking about why they wrote their fungal stories, and other bits of fungal weirdness.

Speaking of Silvia and the good people of Innsmouth Free Press, they’re currently doing a campaign to fund their next anthology, the very-excitingly-themed Sword & Mythos, and there’s only five days or so left to contribute, so toss some coins into that bucket. If you contribute at the right level, you can even pre-order a copy of Fungi that way. I’m not directly involved in this one in any way (besides that I hope to sub a story, if it gets off the ground), but I’m excited about the theme, and I know that the Innsmouth folks do good work. (And I’m not just saying that because they frequently buy mine.)

Speaking of the Mythos and books with which I am at least tangentially involved, The Book of Cthulhu II, which features a reprint of my story “Black Hill,” is now shipping from Amazon. I haven’t seen my copy yet, but I’ve talked to folks who got theirs. The Book of Cthulhu II also features a new story by Molly Tanzer, which continues the bizarre genealogy she began in “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins,” one of my favorite new short stories in years. The rest of that mad family history can be found in her new book A Pretty Mouth, which, as fate would have it, is also shipping from Amazon, and early to boot. It’s like Christmas in September. If Christmas were a lot more squamous and eldritch.

Molly’s book is one of my most anticipated releases of the year, which is pretty impressive, since this is a year that’s seeing a lot of great stuff coming out, including a new collection by Richard Gavin, as well as John Langan’s second collection, both from Hippocampus Press. (Langan’s collection doesn’t seem to have a spot on their website yet, but I have it on good authority that it’ll be out soon, and I know from the stories in it that I’ve already read in their natural habitat that it’s going to be simply amazing.)

There’s a ton of other exciting stuff, either out now or on the horizon (including this incredible-sounding anthology, which is also available from Amazon, so you could grab it and the other two I mentioned and get super-saver shipping!) but I’m running out of time, so I’ll wrap this up and say my apologies to anyone I forgot to mention in this quick-and-dirty recap of exciting book times. More soon!

Today I’m celebrating the birthday of H.P. Lovecraft by watching The Call of Cthulhu and reading “The Picture in the House,” along with whatever else comes to hand. I might also watch some of Bride of Re-Animator or play a bit of Night of the Cephalopods! 

If you’re looking for something to commemorate the occasion, the Lovecraft eZine has posted a couple of lists (here and here) of Lovecraftian movies that you can watch online. I trust that everybody’s already got their favorite collection of Lovecraft stories laying near to hand, but if you’re looking to expand beyond the tales of the Old Gent himself, you can’t do much better than The Book of CthulhuAnd if you’re already in possession of that fine tome, you can pre-order the second installment, which features my story “Black Hill,” alongside many others.

Or of course you might check out Historical Lovecraft or Future Lovecraft from Innsmouth Free Press, featuring the original appearance of “Black Hill” and my story “The Labyrinth of Sleep,” respectively. And if you’ve got a Kindle, you’ve still got a little bit of time to take advantage of the absolutely free edition of Innsmouth Magazine: Collected Issues 5-7 that they’re giving away in honor of the occasion.

So that’s how I’m celebrating, and some suggestions on how you can, too, and to paraphrase my good friend Jesse Bullington, a very happy birthday to you, HPL, you cranky old weirdo!

Well, it’s been close to a month. So what’s been going on? Well, quite a lot, but not much that actually bears talking about. I was going to come at you with some links to a bunch of the movie trailers I’ve been watching and enjoying lately, and I may yet do that down the road, but some actual business came up first, so I figured I’d better go with that.

The official release dates and pricing have been announced for Fungi, the anthology of fungal fiction that I’m co-editing with Silvia Moreno-Garcia for Innsmouth Free Press. It’ll be out in December, which should be right on the heels of my collection, which is expecting a late-October or November release in paperback. As a further connection, I can now finally reveal that the (very reasonably priced!) hardcover version of Fungi will feature, in addition to three additional stories, ten new illustrations by the great Bernie Gonzalez, who’s also doing the illustrations for my collection. So when the time comes to pre-order, you should get that version, is what I’m saying.