WEBSITE UPDATES

The Written Backwards website (www.nettirw.com or www.writtenbackwards.com, whichever you prefer) is now updated with the most current book titles, information, cover designs, and purchase links for all past, present, and future releases. Check out the tabs on the top the page for NOVELS, COLLECTIONS, ANTHOLOGIES, and the ALLEVON series. More exiting projects coming soon!

ACCOLADES are also now listed for all Written Backwards titles, as well as CONTACT information and a few interviews, in case you’re interested in hiring Michael Bailey for freelance editing and/or book design in the near future. He’s currently available for all types of projects.

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* Dragon illustration by Daniele Serra (for Psychotropic Dragon)

BONES ARE MADE TO BE (RE-)BROKEN

UPDATE:

Bones Are Made to Be Broken is now available in trade paperback for only $14.95, and eBook for only $6.95! Hint: click either “trade paperback” or “eBook” for links to each. Over 120,000 words. Kind of a great deal.

Get ready to break some bones on July 24th, 2018, or re-break them if you’ve broken them already. Either way, mark your calendars for the re-release of Paul Michael Anderson’s debut fiction collection, Bones Are Made to Be Broken!

Some history: A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working on this collection in terms of editing and interior design. This project started out as a joke in that Pat R. Steiner produced a mock cover for a nonexistent Paul Michael Anderson collection and I commented on social media with “I’d publish that!” Well, that book eventually happened under an imprint from another publisher. It looked something like this:

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I now have the pleasure of reintroducing this book for its second printing, this time directly through Written Backwards. Paul has a thing with bridges, you see, and so the image below is my preferred vision for the cover, which also includes some incredible blurbs and review snippets, which we’ll get to shortly.

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What’s new? Well, the first thing is the price. We were able to reformat the book in a way that allows for a $14.95 price tag. This new version comes in at 426 pages, so that’s quite a steal! All the original stories are included, as well as artwork by Pat R. Steiner, a foreword by Damien Angelica Walters (author of Cry Your Way Home, Paper Tigers), yet this new version includes a few surprises : Story Notes (previously only included in the deluxe hardback), an updated acknowledgments, and a new afterword by Bracken MacLeod (author of Come to Dust, 13 Views of the Suicide Woods, and Stranded). This thing is packed with awesome content.

What do other writers think about Bones Are Made to Be Broken? How about some blurbs, for starters:

“A dark carnival of rigorous intelligence and compassion” – Jack Ketchum

“Moody, compelling, and drowning in wonder” – Erinn L. Kemper

“A treasure for any horror or dark SF fan’s library” – Marge Simon

“A deftly told, beautifully written collection of horror and humanity” – Mercedes M. Yardley

Challenges the mind and punches the gut” – Craig DeLouie

“Stories that creep inside and make a nest of your innards” – Kristi DeMeester

“Intense and emotionally crippling” – Stephanie M. Wytovich

“A truly superb collection of deeply unnerving short stories” – Jonathan Maberry

Yes, Bones Are Made to Be Broken is quite the collection, which includes fourteen short stories, one of which is a novelette and another the title novella (well worth the admission on its own, or so I’m told). But don’t take it from me, reviewers seem to like the collection as well. Here’s what a few of them have to say:

“Endlessly stunning, supremely disquieting” – Fangoria

“An outstanding collection” – Gingernuts of Horror

“A striking horror experience” – Splatterpunk

“Full of character-driven, emotionally-charged stories” – This is Horror

“Stories with depth, heart and soul” – The Grim Reader

“Hands down the best book I’ve read all year” – Horrortalk

“Riveting” – Litreactor

“An absolute must-read collection” – Unnerving Magazine.

So, mark your calendars. We’re going to reintroduce the world to Bones Are Made to Be Broken in trade paperback on July 24th, 2018, with a digital edition forthcoming.

DIVERSITY IN SMALL PRESS

There has been a lot of discussion lately about female to male ratios within anthologies, and a lack of female presence and diversity in general. Lisa Morton, president of the Horror Writers Association, recently recapped a study from 2010 of Women in the Horror Small Press, which is around the time Written Backwards first started publishing anthologies. This got me thinking about my own projects over the years, so I put all the data I have into a spreadsheet.

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My goal with these anthologies has always been to find new voices (the reason I started the press in the first place) and to place them alongside legends, no matter the individual. For the last five years, however, I have consciously widened my scope, reaching out to more diverse writers from all genres, hopefully to bring you some amazing books along the way.

Anyway, I encourage all small presses to research their own data, to see how they’ve either progressed or retrogressed over the years. One thing I’ve noticed (at least with Written Backwards) is that the percentage of women submitting fiction has grown from 10.53% to almost 50% in the last 10 years, which would lead one to believe the amount of fiction we should be seeing in anthologies today should reflect such higher numbers.

PRISMS

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Although this book will not be published through Written Backwards (scheduled to be released through PS Publishing in 2019), I am proud to announce the next dark science-fiction anthology co-edited by the always-incredible Darren Speegle, and by yours truly.

Prisms is perhaps the most diverse project I have ever had the pleasure of working on, and has a ratio of 50:50 male to female writers, which has been both a dream and goal of mine these last few years.

What is the prism, in this case? The dispersion of humankind into the spectrum of herself / himself; an object, a place, or something figurative; the human condition as it relates to the self, or to humankind in general; ascension; translation …

Prisms will include the following entirely original fiction:

“We Come in Threes” – B.E. Scully
“The Girl with Black Fingers” – Roberta Lannes
“The Shimmering Wall” – Brian Evenson
“The Birth of Venus” – Ian Watson
“Fifty Super-Sad Mad Dog Sui-Homicidal Self-Sibs, All in a Leaky Tin Can Head” – Paul Di Filippo
“Encore for an Empty Sky” –  Lynda Rucker
“Saudade” – Richard Thomas
“There is Nothing Lost” – Erinn L. Kemper
“The Motel Business” – Michael Marshall Smith
“The Gearbox” – Paul Meloy
“District to Cervix: The Time Before We Were Born” (novelette) – Tlotlo Tsamaase
“Here Today and Gone Tomorrow” – Chaz Brenchley
“Daylight Robbery” – Anna Taborska
“The Secrets of My Prison House” – J. Lincoln Fenn
“A Luta Continua” – Nadia Bulkin
“I Shall but Love Thee Better” (novelette) – Scott Edelman

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* Please note that these are not the official covers for Prisms; they are simply mock-ups I created during the conception stages of this project.

WiHM (WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH)

February is home to a few important things worth celebrating: Black History Month, my birthday (I turn 39 this year, in case you were wondering), and Women in Horror Month. WiHM for short. February is a strange month, no doubt. Sometimes it has 29 days, and sometimes 28. The word is even difficult to say: Feb-ru-ary (not like brewery, despite how some pronounce it) and it’s often misspelled with a third ‘r,’ making it sound more like library than the month it’s supposed to be. (And please note that library only has two r’s despite most mispronouncing it li-bary with only one). Where was I going with all this? Oh, yeah. Women in Horror Month!

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WiHM is no way implies that you should only read works by female writers in the month of February. That’s just stupid. You should be reading female writers as often as you can, horror or not. But this month, February, is an internationally-recognized time to celebrate women in horror, so that’s what we’re going to do, and I’m going to point out a few female writers that deserve more attention. These women are not arranged in any particular order; they are arranged chaotically, in fact, because that’s how my mind works. Some of these names you may recognize, some you may not; either way, you should be reading what these women are writing, and so I’m going to share a few places to perhaps start.

Emily B. Cataneo – She popped into my head first for three reasons: 1) Dallas Mayr (Jack Ketchum) originally ousted her as a writer to watch and he’s been on my mind lately; 2) She’s a brilliant new writer with indescribable prose; and 3) I published one of her first short stories (if not her very first) called “A Guide to Etiquette and Comportment for the Sisters of Henley House” for Chiral Mad 2Dallas asked if I’d be willing to give her a try, Emily sent me the story, and the rest is history. Since then, I’ve published “The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles” for Qualia Nous, “The Black Crow of Boddinstraße” for Chiral Mad 3, and will be publishing her again in the forthcoming Chiral Mad 4, a short story called “In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire,” co-written with Gwendolyn Kiste. Where else can you find her work? Buy her debut fiction collection, Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories, which made the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot. It’s incredible.

Gwendolyn Kiste – This is how my mind works. I think of one writer and it leads to another. I’d never heard of Gwendolyn prior to reading the collaborative “In her Flightless Wings, a Fire,” but quickly remedied that by reading And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe (which it does). This fiction collection shows her range with storytelling, and  rightfully made the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot this year. I also look forward to picking up her recently released novel Pretty Marys All in a Row

Notice all these hyperlinks? I’ve made it easy for you to click these titles and add them to your Amazon carts. You can thank me later, and your wallet can hate me later.

Damien Angelica Walters – If you haven’t read Damien, you should fix that. I’ve had the pleasure of publishing some of her short fiction, namely “The Whipping Girls” in Chiral Mad 3, “Filigree, Minotaur, Cyanide, Bloom” in Adam’s Ladder, and will be proudly publishing her again in Chiral Mad 4 with a novelette called “Golden Sun,” which she co-wrote with Richard Thomas, Kristi DeMeester & Michael Wehunt (can you imagine collaborating with 3 other writers?). She also provided the introduction to Paul Michael Anderson’s debut fiction collection, Bones Are Made to Be BrokenBut Damien didn’t seek me out, I sought her. This was after reading her novel Paper Tigers. Check out her new fiction collection, Cry Your Way Home.

Roberta Lannes – The female writers I’ve listed so far have incredibly powerful voices, which of course makes me think of Roberta Lannes. Gene O’Neill is responsible for pointing me in her direction. “She doesn’t flinch,” he said, which, if you know Gene, is perhaps one of the greatest compliments he could possibly give to a writer. And she later provided a short story called “The Raven in a Dove’s Nest” for The Library of the Dead, and later “Painting the Burning Fence” for Adam’s LadderI’m still discovering Roberta Lannes, but you should know that what I’ve read so far of her stuff is some of the strongest writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. She doesn’t flinch. Ever.

Lisa Morton – Most horror aficionados know her as the President of the Horror Writers Association. She’s also probably one of the most recognizable names on this list (both her fiction and nonfiction), so I’m not going to go into too much detail. Writing about Gene and about Adam’s Ladder lead my brain here, since her story “Eyes of the Beholders” appears in that anthology (the first time I’ve published her work, believe it or not), and she provided the introduction for Gene O’Neill’s re-release of The Burden of Indigo. I’ve read her fiction for years, but I’m just now getting around to her nonfiction. So where should you start? I’d recommend Ghosts: A Haunted History, or The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats. Especially if you love Halloween. Lisa’s a big fan of that holiday. Or simply Google- or Amazon-search her by name. She’s in just about every horror anthology out there, and rightfully so.

Rena Mason – The Horror Writers Association led me here, to Rena’s name. She’s been volunteering at the HWA for years, and over the years we’ve become good friends. But her writing is kind of spectacular as well. I highly recommend her debut novel The Evolutionist, which won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. And her short fiction can be found in a few anthologies I’ve edited: “Ruminations” in Qualia Nous (which I rejected for Chiral Mad 2 for consistency, but later specifically requested for Qualia Nous;  a good decision, ultimately, since she ended up winning the Stoker that year for short fiction), as well as “Jaded Winds” for The Library of the Dead, and most recently “I Will Be the Making of You” for Adam’s LadderCan you tell I’m a fan of her work? You should be too.

Hopefully, by this point, you’re not too taken aback by me mentioning a bunch of short fiction published in anthologies I’ve edited. That’s not the point. I’d like to think that I have good taste in female writers, and so I keep publishing them as I find them. Once you find something good, you tend to stick with it, right? There’s a reason these names keep popping up in my anthologies. They are all incredible writers, which leads me to …

Mercedes M. Yardley – I first met Mercedes at KillerCon in Las Vegas, around the time I first met Dallas Mayr and Gene O’Neill. I tried on a pair of her high heels, because we happen to share shoe sizes, and we accompanied Mason Ian Bundschuh’s ukulele renditions of Nine Inch Nails and, well, I should be mentioning her writing. Anyway, she took home the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction a few years ago for her story Little Dead Red. She also has a wonderful novel out called Pretty Little Dead Girls that you should add to your cart if you haven’t already. Unfortunately, I’ve only published one of her short stories, “The Dead Collection” in Chiral Mad 3. Yes, Mercedes likes the word “Dead,” and loves writing dark little things about death. Her most recent short story, “Loving You Darkly” is currently on the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot.

Okay, time to talk about some women I haven’t published. Agreed?

Sarah Pinborough – You probably know this name by now. If you don’t, there’s something missing from your library. Sarah’s been doing this for a while, and she’s damn good at it. One of my favorite novels last year was one of hers, called Behind Her Eyes, which is phenomenal. If you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn or J. Lincoln Fenn (don’t worry, I’ll get to them very soon), Sarah Pinborough is right up your alley. She’s written many books, such as The Language of Dying and a few fiction collections. Look her up, and start reading everything she’s given us so far.

Gillian Flynn – You probably know her; if not by name, by book title, or perhaps by movie title. She’s perhaps most well-known for her novel Gone Girl (which was made into a decent movie with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry, and the score composed by none other than Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails (See how my mind works? I’m already back to NIN)). Anyway, before that, Gillian was responsible for two books I love dearly: Sharp Objects, and Dark Places. Give those two books your time, and then read Gone Girl if you haven’t, or if you’ve only seen the movie. If you like those, you’ll probably like Damien Angelica Walter’s previously mentioned Paper Tigers.

J. Lincoln Fenn – What can I say about J. Lincoln Fenn? Well, if there’s a female version of Chuck Palahniuk out there (in terms of clean, quick prose), she’s it. I first learned of her work from the Bram Stoker Award novel jury. This was one of the books / authors I’d never heard of who submitted work for consideration. The book was Dead Souls, an incredibly well-written sophomore novel from a newish writer. Each word in that book packs a punch, not a single word wasted. Both Jack Ketchum and Chuck Palahniuk come to mind when I think of her self-editing pen. So, of course, I sought out more of her work and found Poe, which I also enjoyed. So much, in fact, that I reached out to J. Lincoln Fenn (I quickly learned this was a pen name), and I now have a short story of hers for a future anthology I’m putting together.

Tlotlo Tsamaase – You’ve probably never heard of her … yet, but Tlotlo is a writer from Botswana. I first discovered her while reading submissions for Dark Regions Press. I fell in love with a manuscript she’d submitted for consideration and desperately wanted to publish it. But she was seeking agents around that time, and so of course I wanted her represented instead of her book going to small press (I’m crazy, right?). I even created a book cover that will never be used. Anyway, I saw her incredible potential, in other words. I’m not sure what the current status is on that novel (I’m avoiding mentioning the title only for this very reason, or in case it changes), but I’m hoping we’ll see Tlotlo Tsamaase in print soon, anywhere and everywhere books are sold. So, where can you find her? Try her website for now. I reached out to her for a short story for the same anthology mentioned above (with new work by Fenn and perhaps others on this list).

Linda D. Addison – Okay, I have a confession. Until only a few years ago, I was under the impression that Linda was a poet. Well, she is a poet, but I thought she was only a poet. I know, kinda dumb on my part, but I have to say this: Linda’s poetry is so incredibly important to the horror genre (or any genre, for that matter), that perhaps this overshadowed her fiction writing talents, at least from my perspective. She’s also a brilliant editor and public reader. And I know she’s probably reading this, so I have another confession to make. Until only a few years ago, I was also under the impression that we were around the same age (her looking younger than me, of course). Not until I was in a hotel room with Brian Keene (who also thought she was much younger), Dallas Mayr (who is infinite), Linda Addison (the poet and writer), and a few others, did I learn that she’s in fact old enough to be my mother (my young mother and, of course, another part of me wishes she was my mother). Linda’s incredible. She’s also receiving the Horror Writers Association’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award this year, which is well-deserved. Her anthology, Sycorax’s Daughters is a good place to start to see her mad editing skills, and it’s currently on the preliminary ballot for the Stoker. I’d point you to some of her fiction, but I’m not there yet. I’m still learning what she’s done outside of poetry (forgive me).

Stephanie M. Wytovich – While we’re on this poetry kick, I can’t help but mention a few poetry collections by Stephanie M. Wytovich (who is also a fiction writer, which I already knew because I did some preliminary work on her first novel, The Eighth (although she is probably just learning this because I sometimes work behind-the-scenes)). The book was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, although that year she instead won a Stoker for her poetry collection, BrothelI was fortunate enough to get some of her poetry for  Chiral Mad 3She’s on the Bram Stoker Award preliminary ballot again this year with her new poetry collection, Sheet Music to my Acoustic Nightmare, and a Guest of Honor at next year’s StokerCon event in Michigan. She’s good people.

Lisa Mannetti – You’ll always see Lisa’s name pop up around award season, whether it’s the Bram Stoker Awards or the Shirley Jackson Awards. There’s a reason for that. She can write. My only regret is that I have never published one of her stories. I hope to someday fix that. And if she’s reading this … well, Lisa, let’s make that happen sooner rather than latter. So what of hers do I recommend? How about the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novella The Box Jumper? That’s where I’d start, anyway. Or perhaps The Gentling Box, which took home one of those awesome statues a few years ago. Or simply search her name at Amazon and you’ll get a boatload of anthologies containing her work.

How about some up-and-comers:

B.E. Scully – Along with Roberta Lannes, Bobbi Scully (aka B.E. Scully) has that same “no flinch” vibe with her writing that Gene O’Neill is so often talking about. In fact, Gene first introduced me to this wonderful writer, and now we’re close friends. “She doesn’t mess around,” he’d said, and he was right. Along with her involvement with Firbolg Publishing, Bobbi has been cranking out some incredible fiction. I know this, because I’ve placed some of her work in my anthologies. Look for her story “The Mythic Hero Most Likely to Squeeze a Stone” in Adam’s Ladder, “Dog at the Look” in You, Human, and a new short story in that same forthcoming anthology I’m editing that includes work by J. Lincoln Fenn and Tlotlo Tsamaase.

Erinn L. Kemper – Ah, one of my only beta readers. I don’t typically let anyone other than my wife read work before it’s published, but there are/were a few. Dallas Mayr was one of them. Gene O’Neill and Darren Speegle sometimes get the opportunity. And then there’s Erinn. For some reason she (and Meghan Arcuri, below) sometimes offers to read my ugly stuff before I can make it less ugly, and for some reason I let her. Why? Because she’s good. Very good. So good, in fact, that she and F. Paul Wilson have a collaborative novella appearing in the forthcoming Chiral Mad 4. Yes, F. Paul Wilson. And I know of some other incredible veterans with their eyes on her as well. If Paul thinks she’s good, and I think she’s good, she must be something brilliant, no? I’m desperately waiting on her first novel, but in the meantime, you can find her short fiction all over the place. I place her work whenever and wherever I can. She’s in just about every anthology I’ve ever worked on, and I’m constantly recommending her work to other editors.

Meghan Arcuri – We’ve gone through a few Borderlands Press boot camps together, and over the years we’ve become close friends. I was also her mentor in the Horror Writers Association (for as long as they’d let me; apparently there are time-limits), and even placed her first professional sale, a story called “Inevitable” in the first volume of Chiral MadI guess you could say that it was inevitable all this happened, because Meghan is going places. Her story “Watch Me” then appeared in Chiral Mad 3, and it was then I realized Meghan was trying to tell me something with her titles. Watch me, she was saying, as if she knew she was making a name for herself one story at a time. She doesn’t have a story appearing in the forthcoming Chiral Mad 4 (nor did she have one in Chiral Mad 2), but she’s odd, I guess, and will most likely appear in Chiral Mad 5 (because the number is odd, get it?) if such a thing happens, and her story will probably be titled something like, “See, I Told You!”

There are many women writing in the horror genre that deserve attention during Women in Horror Month (and every other month, for that matter), and I wish I had time to include every single one, and with recommendations and links. And there are many others involved in various book-related things composing their own lists of women in horror you should be reading. My advice? Start taking names. Start reading. Let’s celebrate!

Here are a few bonus names (some you may already know, some you may not) in no particular order): Jessica May Lin, Laura Lee Bahr, Yvonne Navarro, Mary SanGiovanni, Autumn Christian, Sarah Langan, Seanan McGuire, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Lucy A. Snyder, Rachel Autumn Deering, Kaaron Warren, Elizabeth Hand, Tananarive Due, Helen Marshall, Chesya Burke, Lucy Taylor, Kelli Owen, Elizabeth Massie, Chris Marrs, Amber Fallon …

I could go on and on, and wish I could write about every single one, but, you know, reality.

I WILL BE THE REFLECTION UNTIL THE END

The Horror Writers Association recently announced the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards, and my story “I Will Be the Reflection Until the End” (first published in Tales from the Lake, Vol. 4 by Crystal Lake Publishing) is on the long-list for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction. With permission from the publisher, you can read the story in its entirety here for a limited time. I hope you enjoy! (Updated: 02/09/18)

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“I Will Be the Reflection Until the End”

by Michael Bailey

 

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson, Admiral Guinea

“Life will find a way.” – Michael Crichton, Jurrasic Park

 

My sister used to collect cherry plum pits in her napkin, secretly, under the kitchen table. A strainer full of mixed yellow and red and deep-purple fruits would separate us each spring, with a small bowl next to it to collect the pits—although mine were typically the only ones in there—and a plate beneath the strainer to collect any drips from the rinsed fruit. My sister was coy like that. Her lie had become our lie, and every once in a while she’d throw a pit in the bowl to make it look like we were being honest. She knew I wouldn’t bring it up to Mom, because that meant I could have more if I kept my mouth shut. It was one of the few secrets we kept from Mom in our youth. Call it a sibling bonding moment.

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OUR CHILDREN, OUR TEACHERS

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2017 was not the greatest of years, so Written Backwards is starting off 2018 by publishing a few pocket-sized paperbacks by Michael Bailey.

Our Children, Our Teachers is a standalone novelette dedicated to (and written for) Jack Ketchum, and is available (as of January 1st) to purchase on Amazon.com for only $5.95. Either use the money to buy some kind of designer vente coffee, or buy the book. One will stay with you; the other will pass through you. Children are often our greatest teachers, but what happens if their lesson is too heavy to hold? In Our Children, Our Teachers, a high school in rural Brenden, Washington (a fictitious town from the novels Palindrome Hannah and Phoenix Rose) is taken hostage by a gathering of unlikely students trying to teach the world a new lesson …

And …

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Enso is available once again, also for only $5.95 as a pocket-sized trade paperback.  Previously only published in a 100-numbered / signed edition (most of which burned to ash in the California wildfires), the book is now available unsigned. Enso features four intertwined children’s fables about the circle of life, and illustrations by L.A. Spooner.