Archive for the ‘ Novels ’ Category

THE FAR FUTURE – NOW AVAILABLE!

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The Cal Wild Chronicles is complete! This magnum opus by Gene O’Neill (illustrated throughout by Orion Zangara) concludes with The Far Future, the fourth and final book in the series. Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy … Gene blends them all.

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Each book features a separate introduction: John R. Little for The Confessions of St. Zach (Volume #1), Lisa Morton for The Burden of Indigo (Volume #2), Meghan Arcuri for The Near Future (Volume #3), and Scott Edelman for The Far Future (Volume #4).

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Book #4 will make its official debut at StokerCon 2017 at the end of this month, and the entire series will be available so you can complete your set. And did I mention the entire set looks gorgeous on bookshelves with its 4-part spine image?

The Cal Wild Chronicles

This four book series was a joint effort by Written Backwards and Dark Regions Press. Look below for the cover images for each book in the series. Clicking each will bring you directly to their Amazon.com pages for purchasing so you can collect the whole set in affordable trade paperback.

THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACHTHE BURDEN OF INDIGOTHE NEAR FUTURETHE FAR FUTURE

THE CAL WILD CHRONICLES

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All four books Gene O’Neill’s The Cal Wild Chronicles will be available soon in trade paperback from Written Backwards! The series that started with The Confessions of St. Zach (March 2016), and The Burden of Indigo (June 2016), continues with The Near Future (available January 2017), and lastly The Far Future (available March 2017). Need to catch up before the next two books are released? Simply click the links above, the book covers below, or search for their titles at either amazon.com or darkregions.com.

The series is illustrated throughout by Orion Zangara, with introductions by John R. Little (book #1), Lisa Morton (book #2), Meghan Arcuri (book #3), and Scott Edelman (book #4), collecting over thirty years of genre-bending fiction.

The four-book series cohesively connects past and present literary works by Mr. O’Neill in a fluid blend of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. With The Cal Wild Chronicles, Gene has created a world in which DP’s (or Dyed People), permanently dyed for their crimes (reds for violent crimes, blues for sex crime, greens for money crimes, and many more), do what they must in order to survive a post-apocalyptic vision of California, or “Cal Wild.”

All four front covers of this special collection symbolically fit together to represent California tilted on its side and void of color; the back covers combine to reveal a more colorful but upturned version of California with blending/smoking swirls of color, like the characters found within the series; and the spine creates a Rainbow Man, or sorts, one who holds a special place in Cal Wild.

THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH

“Gene transports his readers, taking them inside his imagination and not letting them escape until he is ready to let them go. Anyone who likes Bradbury (and really, is there anybody who doesn’t) will feel right at home in Gene’s world.” – John R. Little

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THE BURDEN OF INDIGO

“Even in a place reduced to little more than ash and dust, even when we are always pursued and nearly consumed by our own tension, we will still find moments of pleasure, of amusement, of wonder.” – Lisa Morton

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THE NEAR FUTURE

“Gene paints a picture of a post-apocalyptic world so complete, so compelling, it nestles into your subconscious and lives there for a while. He creates a world at once frightening and fascinating, desolate and colorful, but, above all, utterly believable.” – Meghan Arcuri

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THE FAR FUTURE

“Gene has always tried to speak truth for those who have no voice, and nowhere is that more present than in the stories contained in The Cal Wild Chronicles” – Scott Edelman

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Look for both The Near Future and The Far Future in trade paperback very soon, and collect the whole set so your bookshelves can adorn some awesome spine artwork!

The Cal Wild Chronicles

 

BONES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN / OTHER MUSIC / THE EIGHTH

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]Bones Are Made To Be Broken by Paul Michael Anderson is now available in trade paperback and eBook from Written Backwards, an imprint of Dark Regions Press. This is the first fiction collection by Paul Michael Anderson, and the first fiction collection published by Written Backwards. The book is also available at Amazon.com. Jack Ketchum calls the collection “a dark carnival of rigorous intelligence and compassion.”  Jonathan Maberry says it’s “a truly superb collection of deeply unnerving short stories.” And Craig DiLouie says “Bones Are Made To Be Broken challenges the mind and punches the gut.”  Is that not enough to convince you?

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Written Backwards, the multi-award-winning imprint of Dark Regions Press, continues its saga of producing some of the most beautiful books published today with Bones Are Made To Be Broken, a speculative blend of horror, science fiction, and raw unfiltered emotion by Paul Michael Anderson. 14 works of fiction are collected in this tome, including “All That You Leave Behind,” “To Touch the Dead,” “Love Song for the Rejected,” and a title novella written specifically for this collection. Every story is illustrated by Pat R. Steiner, an award-winning illustrator in the long-running Illustrators of the Future contest, and author of Enlarge Your Tentacles Overnight and Wyrd.

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Bones Are Made to Be Broken includes the following:

  1. Crawling Back to You
  2. Survivor’s Debt
  3. Baby Grows a Conscience
  4. A Nice Town with Very Clean Streets
  5. The Doorway Man
  6. Love Song for the Rejected
  7. Surviving the River Styx
  8. The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)
  9. The Universe is Dying
  10. Reflecting the Heart’s Desire
  11. To Touch the Dead
  12. In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me
  13. All That You Leave Behind
  14. Bones Are Made to Be Broken (title novella).

“Anderson’s style is tensely exciting. This collection is a treasure for any horror or dark SF fan’s library.” – Marge Simon, Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet

“Paul Michael Anderson writes like no other writer in dark fiction. Simply, he writes a Paul Michael Anderson story—the highest compliment any serious writer can hope to achieve.” – Gene O’Neill, The Cal Wild Chronicles

Yeah, it’s that good. Click the links, or the image of the book, and purchase a copy already!

OTHER MUSIC

Also available, Other Music, the debut solo novel by Marc Levinthal. This is the first novel in the new Dark Regions Sci-Fi imprint from Dark Regions PressOther Music features an introduction by John Skipp, who says the novel is “entirely the kind of forward-thinking, playfully-subversive, nobody-else-could-have-written-this-tickling-at-the-normosphere book I’ve always loved.”

What’s it about?

With the discovery of the Thompson Corridors, the universe has been opened up, connecting humankind with a vast network of sentient species. Xenosociologist Jesse Suzuki, a nanotech-rejuvenated “oldster,” has joined the forced exodus of the newly young, mandated by law to ship out through the Corridors after his 80th birthday. Jesse finds his way to Eastlink, a sprawling human habitat orbiting Shjodathz, home to a race of regenerating beings who maintain direct memory of all their past incarnations. While studying the Shjodathi and their planetary biomachine guardian Kedel, he discovers a strange anomaly within the AI’s mind that leads him on a perilous, mind-blowing adventure… Fans of David Marusek, William Gibson, R.A. Wilson and Philip K. Dick will find common ground here – it’s hard science fiction adventure with an eye toward metaphysics.

And last but not least, The Eighth, the debut novel by Stephanie M. Wytovich.

THE EIGHTH

After Paimon, Lucifer’s top soul collector, falls in love with a mortal girl whose soul he is supposed to claim, he desperately tries everything in his power to save her from the Devil’s grasp. But what happens when a demon has to confront his demons, when he has to turn to something darker, something more sinister for help? Can Paimon survive the consequences of working with the Seven Deadly Sins-sins who have their own agenda with the Devil—or will he fall into a deeper, darker kind of hell?

The Eighth is a stellar horror debut from Stephanie Wytovich. An intimate, painful map of personal and literal hells that would make Clive Barker proud.” – Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author.

Buy all three in either trade paperback or eBook, and / or pre-order the deluxe hardback edition of each now at www.darkregions.com.

What are you waiting for?

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WILL THERE BE A CHIRAL MAD 4?

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I have been thinking about CHIRAL MAD 4 for quite some time, and have decided that if CHIRAL MAD 4 were to happen, the entire book would spawn from the number 4 … because it’s the 4th volume in a series that may either end at 4, or continue onward indefinitely. But, in order to understand where this fourth volume would be coming from, you have to wade through some history on the series, and some other Written Backwards projects, because it’s all connected in one way or another …

cm_accoladesThe first Chiral Mad (yes, you can click that link to directly buy a copy from Amazon, or the book cover to the left) was a charity anthology. Not a single author was offered payment, other than a contributor copy. Everyone involved donated their work to help create a rather awesome anthology that ended up raising over $6,000 for various Down syndrome charities, the biggest chunk of that being a $3,000 donation to the Down Syndrome Information Alliance. Thomas F. Monteleone wrote an awesome introduction, various stories made various best-of lists, such as Gary McMahon’s “Some Pictures in an Album,” and so on. Lots of famous names, lots of new names now becoming more famous. The book was well-received critically, won some awards, and, well, sparked a series of anthologies.

CHIRAL MAD 2 - COVERChiral Mad 2 quickly followed (yes, feel free to click that link or the book image to purchase), but something new happened with this anthology. Knowing how well the first volume did monetarily, this second volume allowed Written Backwards (a newish small publisher at the time) to pay writers for their work at professional rates ($0.05 per word at the time). That doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but multiply $0.05 by 120,000 words, and you get $6,000, which was paid to the contributors, upfront, out of pocket. Long story short, the anthology did about as well as the first volume (broke about even, and also helped spark further sales of the first Chiral Mad), won some awards, and even won Gary A. Braunbeck one of his twenty-thousand Bram Stoker Awards for his long fiction piece, “The Great Pity.” John Palisano was also nominated for his short story “The Geminis.” The book did well, in terms of an anthology, which means it basically broke even and eventually the $6,000 was recuperated, and everything over that amount also went (and still goes) to charity. Anthologies are expensive, so remember that the next time you hound small publishers for “what’s next, what’s next, when can I submit to the next one” and so on.

Qualia NousChiral Mad 2 had an open call for submissions, and over 550 submissions were received, along with the 20 stories from invited writers. Now, 570 submissions may not sound like a lot, but multiply 570 by the average 5850 words (I did the math), and you get 3,217,500 words, which is approximately 50 or more novel-length works to sort through to find the perfect table of contents. Many rejections were sent, which is never fun. But, having so many submissions resulted in a great number of fiction stories that were a little too sci-fi for CHIRAL MAD, which sparked an entirely new idea: a science fiction anthology, Qualia Nous. How did this anthology do? Well, it was much longer, contributors were paid professional rates, and was much more expensive ($7,500 or so) to put together. It did well, critically, won the Benjamin Franklin Award, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, resulted in two stories winning the Bram Stoker Award for short fiction (Usman T. Malik and Rena Mason), as well as a Nebula nomination for Malik, and an award for the single poem in the anthology by Marge Simon. And some other awards. The CHIRAL MAD anthologies went on hiatus for a while to promote Qualia Nous. The book has made back about 1/2 of what it cost to put together, despite how well it’s done critically. That’s anthologies for you: everyone wants to be in one; no one wants to buy one.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]And then an idea for a new ALLEVON series of illustrated books popped into mind (the word “novella” backward), and thus a new series of physically smaller, illustrated trade paperback books began, starting with a novella called At the Lazy K by Gene O’Neill (feel free to purchase that one, too), which was illustrated throughout by L.A. Spooner. Later this year (next month perhaps), the second book in the ALLEVON series will be published, a collection by Scott Edelman called Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them, which is set of zombie novelettes: “Only Humans Lie” and “Faking It Until Forever Comes,” which features a cover and interior illustrations by Daniele Serra. This series will continue through the Written Backwards imprint, as there are already 4 or 5 future volumes already set in motion.

ENSŌSo, here I am, getting distracted by new projects, talking with Dark Regions Press about a possible merger, taking on project after project after project, and then I decide to write a children’s book called Enso to take my mind out of horror and sci-fi for a while (it’s a dark, dark place; a place I nearly left completely). I wanted to write something my kids (okay, not my kids, but my wife’s kids) could read, something other parent’s kids could read, something dark, but less dark. The book was illustrated beautifully by L.A. Spooner, who also illustrated At the Lazy K . I decided to do a signed/limited print run for these, so only 100 were ever made. I still have a dozen or so if you want a copy, but they are mostly gone. I tend to give these out to families with small children. It’s basically four children’s fables about the circle of life, but with my nonlinear spin.

Inkblots and Blood SpotsI keep telling myself that someday I’ll return to my own writing. I have two published novels under my name: Palindrome Hannahand Phoenix Rose, as well as two short story and poetry collections, Scales and Petals, (you can find all of these on the tabs at the top of the main www.nettirw.com page), and most recently Inkblots and Blood Spots (pictured), which hold some of my best work (and yes, you can purchase a copy if you want to make me happy). I don’t write a lot (maybe two or three stories per year on a good year), but people seem to like my writing when I decide to use my brain to craft something of my own, books that are mine. Inkblots was illustrated throughout by Daniele Serra, featured an introduction by Douglas E. Winter, and had some nice blurbs by some pretty awesome individuals. Villipede Publications did a great job putting this together. When I get around to it, I’ll finish novel #3, Psychotropic Dragon (which I’ve been working on for over 10 years), as well as a new mainstream novel I’ve started called Seen in Distant Stars. Other than that, I’m only writing short fiction when invited into certain anthologies, and only by certain people. I just don’t have the time otherwise …

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]And then The Library of the Dead fell into my lap. This project was originally conceived by Gene O’Neill and Gord Rollo. I was brought on as a co-editor, and then the publisher asked if I’d be the sole editor, and then later asked if I’d take on the project entirely, which of course I did. So, I put everything I had into this thing. I visited the real library of the dead, a place called Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California, took a photo-shoot of the place (see that awesome cover?), forked out just about all the money I had left in my bank account, worked with some amazing contributors, worked with GAK, who illustrated the entire book based on my photography, included some of that photography throughout the book, wrote a tie-in piece called “The Librarian” to guide the reader through the labyrinth … and then something terrible happened. J.F. Gonzalez died, one of the book’s contributors, and so we dedicated the book to him, added additional artwork, and an afterword by Mary SanGiovanni. The anthology won the Bram Stoker Award, and a few others. I’m damn proud of this book, and damn proud of everyone who helped bring this book together. It’s recouped about half of what it cost to build, but I think it’s worth it. Dark Regions Press has recently re-released the book in trade paperback, with a limited deluxe hardbound (illustrations in color) in the works, which sold out basically over night.

CHIRAL MAD 3 - DRP EditionThen came Chiral Mad 3, which was the first book released by Written Backwards as an imprint of Dark Regions Press. Yes, we joined forces, and it was a wonderful collaboration (I’ll get back to collaborations later …) And yes, please click the link and purchase a copy to support us. You will not be disappointed. I pulled every string I could find for this book, and it stands as the most expensive book I have ever made to date, by far. Like, lots of money. I used all my super powers to make this one happen. The entire anthology is illustrated by the legendary Glenn Chadbourne, features an introduction by the one and only Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), with stories by some of the best in the business, including Jack Ketchum, Stephen King, and, as with all my anthologies, it’s filled with a diverse group of both established, semi-established, and never-before-established writers. But I had to do something different with this book. Yes, there are 45 illustrations. Yes, these books keep getting bigger and bigger. But this time around, I needed more poetry. Lots of poetry. The book is structured chirally, story-poem-story-poem-story, all the way through. It’s a beautiful book. And I keep telling myself, as I do with all of these books, that there’s nothing I can improve upon. Nothing I can do differ–wait …

full coverYou, Human. That’s right, as part of Dark Regions Press’ return to science fiction, I’ve taken on two additional projects. One of these is Other Music, the debut novel by Marc Levinthal, which features an introduction by John Skipp and will be released sometime in August. The other is You, Human, the first science fiction anthology by Dark Regions Press in who knows how long. I pulled out all the tricks for this one as well, playing off Asimov’s I, Robot, but with a human twist, and three new Laws of Humanity. In fact, the anthology features an introduction on humanism by F. Paul Wilson, as well as dark science fiction and poetry by some of the best in the business. This will be released either late this summer or early this fall by Dark Regions Press.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]And I can’t forget Paul Michael Anderson’s first fiction collection, a beautiful book called Bones Are Made to be Broken, which will be released in trade paperback, ebook, and signed limited/deluxe hardback this fall by Dark Regions Press. I’ve published Paul in nearly every one of my anthologies, because he’s that damn good. And now all of his best short fiction (as well as a new novella written specifically for this book) come together in Bones Are Made to Be Broken. You do not want to miss this collection. As always, I am putting everything I have behind this book, because the spine of this book is made to be broken, by you, reading every story over and over again.

The Cal Wild ChroniclesAnd of course there’s the 4-book magnum opus by the legendary, genre-bending master of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. The Cal Wild Chronicles is a 4-book series of trade paperbacks I’m putting together for the one and only Gene O’Neill, which includes The Confessions of St. Zach (with an introduction by John R. Little), The Burden of Indigo (with an introduction by Lisa Morton), The Near Future (with an introduction by Meghan Arcuri), and The Far Future (with an introduction by Scott Edelman). Each book is beautifully illustrated by Orion Zangara, and each book, when put together completes the wonderful puzzle that is Cal Wild. In fact, when you put the spines together, they create the Rainbow Man from the series, and when you place either the fronts or backs of these books side-by-side-by-side-by-side, you complete yet another puzzle. Later this year, Dark Regions Press will publish the entire series within a single volume, which you can pre-order at darkregions.com.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]And before we get to Chiral Mad 4, I should mention the anthology that started it all, Pellucid Lunacy. This was the first anthology ever published by Written Backwards, and the cover featured a painting of the arachnid/human skeleton from my dreams that originally spawned the idea for the novel Psychotropic Dragon. Well, enough time has gone by, that the series deserves a reboot. So, as soon as thing slow down a bit (if they ever do), we will re-release this title through the Written Backwards imprint of Dark Regions Press to give this thing more legs. The cover will be getting a reboot as well, as you can tell from this new cover.

But what about Chiral Mad 4. Everyone wants there to be a Chiral Mad 4!

So here’s the deal. The entire writing community has been at war with one another for far too long. Finger-pointing, harassment, racism, bigotry, accusations (both false and allegedly true), people talking about people killing people, politicking, all that social justice bulls**t that seems to be tearing this writing community apart one writer at a time, senseless/endless arguing, blocking, unfriending, blah blah blah … It’s a mess. So here’s what we do … This is how we can (strike that), this is how you can make Chiral Mad 4 happen:

If, and this is a big if, you want CHIRAL MAD to continue, this is how it’s going to happen for a fourth volume. This is not a call for submissions at this time. This is simply an idea. This has the potential of either ending something that was once great (in a big fiery ball of flame), or continuing the evolution of something much greater.

You have to collaborate. You have to work together.

These would be the rules for Chiral Mad 4 (if the anthology were to happen):

  1. Each work has to be a collaboration by more than one individual.
  2. More than two collaborators may be part of the same collaboration (3 or 4 authors writing a story, for example, or more than 2 collaborators working on the same graphic/comic piece)
  3. The more unique the collaboration, the better. (Have someone in mind you’ve always wanted to work with but were too afraid to ask, then that’s most likely the person with whom you should collaborate)
  4. Unique collaborations will go to the top of the reading pile.
  5. Diverse collaborations will go to the top of the top of the reading pile.
  6. No pseudonyms (unless you publish under that pseudonym regularly), and no collaborating with your own pseudonym.
  7. Absolutely no gratuitous sex, violence, abuse, rape …
  8. Play nice.

This is what will be ultimately accepted for Chiral Mad 4 (if the anthology were to happen):

  1. 4 collaborative novellas (15,000 – 20,000 words)
  2. 4 collaborative novelettes (8,000 – 10,000 words)
  3. 4 collaborative short stories (3,000 – 5,000 words)
  4. 4 collaborative short stories adapted to graphic/comic format (1,000-1,500 words, 10-12 pages max)

That’s 16 projects total, and yes, that’s a hefty word count when you add the numbers. This could turn into a part 1 / part 2, depending on word count. There will most likely be a Kickstarter or Indigogo campaign to help fund this project if there is enough demand, and payment would be made close to publication date, most likely late 2017, because:

Payment would be as follows (if the anthology were to happen):

  1. novellas – $0.05 per word, $1,000 max (split between collaborators)
  2. novelettes – $0.05 per word, $500 max (split between collaborators)
  3. short stories – $0.05 per word, $250 max (split between collaborators)
  4. graphic/comic stories – $50 per page, $500 max (split between collaborators)

Play nice.

Collaborate.

Make something beautiful.

Email cm4@nettirw.com for more information, questions about collaborations, etc.

And if you want to keep seeing volumes of CHIRAL MAD year after year, please purchase a copy of volumes 1, 2, and 3. Tell our friends. Tell your family. Help spread the word about these anthologies (as well as other Written Backwards / Dark Regions Press anthologies), because that’s how we stay in business and keep producing such fine books.

Coming soon, a collaboration with L.A. Spooner to adapt my short story “Plasty” from Scales and Petals.

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THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH

The first book in The Cal Wild Chronicles by Gene O’Neill, THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH, is now available in trade paperback and eBook. This is the first book released by Written Backwards as an imprint of Dark Regions Press. Click the cover below to take you to the DRP ordering page. You can also order a copy on Amazon.com.

THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH

The book is illustrated throughout by Orion Zangara, and contains an introduction by John R. Little. All four books will act as puzzle pieces to Gene O’Neill’s magnum opus, with the front covers, back covers, as well as the spines, completing larger images when placed together. Here’s a synopsis of book #1:

A post-apocalyptic vision of California comes to life in the first book of The Cal Wild Chronicles, a series of novels by Gene O’Neill that span horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Over the last 30 years, Gene has explored this colorful world called Cal Wild through award-winning short fiction, long fiction, and novels, and now his magnum opus is collected within four volumes, and illustrated throughout by Orion Zangara. It all starts with this recently expanded version of the Bram Stoker Award nominated novella, THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH, where the accused are judged and permanently dyed for their crimes. DP’s, or Dyed People, roam Cal Wild, and every day they are faced with prejudice and brutality while they try to survive a new non-colored world. A crimson man, a lime green woman, the rightfully and wrongfully accused, some dyed amber, some dyed indigo… ST. ZACH will take you from the beginning of the end, and lead you to THE BURDEN OF INDIGO, the story that started it all.

Check out some of the amazing illustrations by Orion Zangara below, and make sure to start your collection by purchasing the first book in this amazing series by clicking on the cover above.

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WRITTEN BACKWARDS AWARDS ® / DRAWA

Written Backwards Awards

Also known as the DRAWA, the Written Backwards Awards ® celebrates the recognition of literary marvels. For those unfamiliar with this somewhat-annual tradition of virtual award-giving, here are the details (most plagiarized from the previous award year):

The prestigious DRAWA / AWARD is not determined by jury, not by recommendation counts of any kind, and not by a jury/rec superpac, but is decided upon by Written Backwards and its staff… meaning one person, Michael Bailey. He determines whether a literary work is DRAWA eligible by reading or looking at various readable or lookable things throughout the year, whether it be a short story, novelette, novella, novel, screenplay (which we all know is just watching a movie), soundtrack, grocery list, magazine, website article, literary journal, pretty picture/artwork, or whatever else he sees fit, mentally scores this work on a scale of suck to badass, and from that point creates a preliminary ballot in his head from which to randomly choose ballotees. From this “preliminary” ballot, he then carefully and skillfully and adverbly removes “preliminary” altogether, thus creating what is known as the Written Backwards Awards® final ballot, which may or may not have to include works from the previous year. DRAWA winners are determined from this mental list, if remembered, depending on eligibility.

There is no hindrance on publication date, as long as the publication date does not surpass the year in which an award is planned for issue. For example, if Joe King publishes an award-winning masterpiece in March 2016, he is not eligible for a 2015 award because, well, his work is from the future, and future literary works are prohibited, as mentioned somewhere in the figurative small-print. Awards can go to the dead, although they cannot be accepted in person.

Please note that all writers whose work appeared or will soon appear in Written Backwards anthologies are not only eligible for a DRAWA, but automatic recipients of the Written Backwards Awards ®. This includes the following anthologies not covered previously: Qualia Nous, The Library of the Dead, as well as the upcoming Chiral Mad 3 and You, Human. If your work appeared or will soon appear in the aforementioned anthologies, you are hereby or soonby an alumni recipient of the Written Backwards Awards ® for the given year of publication. See anthology table of contents page for a full list of alumni recipients.

So, without further ado, Written Backwards is proud to introduce the the latest winners of the Written Backwards Awards ®, also known as the DRAWA (name not yet a registered trademark). The following works were admired greatly since the last award season, and can forever be considered literary marvels from this point onward. If you haven’t read these books, do so now. I’ll even supply a direct link where you can buy these books, as well as a few kind words about each…

Slade HouseSlade HouseThere’s a reason writers such as Joe Hill, Dean Koontz, Anthony Doerr and Gillian Flynn blurbed this novel; while Cloud Atlas had its share of fictional history, science fiction, and even horror, Slade House is Mitchell’s first take on straight-up horror. Some are describing this book as our generation’s The Turn of the Screw. I read a lot of both published and unpublished dark fiction, and this is one of the finest, most well-structured short horror novels I’ve read in the last ten years. The book is a work of art, inside and out. I adore this book completely.

The Bone ClocksThe Bone Clocks
Just before so beautifully tackling the horror genre, Mitchell beautifully tackled the science fiction genre with The Bone Clocks, a novel composed of six interconnecting novella-length works. “Tackled science fiction” is not strong enough. “Crushed it” may fit better. In fact, he won the World Fantasy Award and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for this novel. And he should have won the Nebula, in my opinion. Again, one of the finest, most beautifully-constructed science fiction novels I’ve read in the last ten years.

The Reason I JumpThe Reason I Jump – Jon Stewart probably says it best: “One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.” And I agree 100%. This is a translation (by both David Mitchell and his wife) of a memoir by thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida, a boy living with autism. If you want to understand autism, this is the book to read. As Stewart said, “eye-opening.” This should be required reading in schools. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve loaned this book for someone else to read.

David MitchellSlade HouseThe Bone Clocks, and The Reason I Jump (yes, two novels and a nonfiction book from a single author made the list this year). I fell in love with Mitchell’s first novel, Ghostwritten, and then Number9Dream, and then Black Swan Green, followed by Cloud Atlas, which was adapted to the screen by the Wachowski’s, and although I haven’t read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, I highly enjoyed the audio book. In writing these books, which all connect in subtle ways, Mitchell has quickly become my favorite contemporary writer, hands-down. His latest three books are probably some of the most important books written in the last however-many years, and are some of the most literary/accessible works I’ve had the pleasure of reading (and re-reading, since I will be revisiting each of these books in the future). It’s probably safe to say that David Mitchell is the most important writer working today.

IQ84

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami caught my eye as I was perusing a bookstore in some airport a few years ago, mostly because of its size. This book could be a… well, a bookend, or a doorstop. It’s 1,184 pages, to be exact, which works well with the title. I’ve read this book in print, as well as listened to the audio book, and it’s a trip, a long trip, but one worth the journey. Part fantasy, part science fiction. My only regret is that I’m sure it’s lost some of its beauty in translation. If you’ve got some time to kill, kill it with this book.

Beautiful You

So Fifty Shades of Grey happened not long enough ago… Now imagine that book as not one of the worst things ever written, and imagine something better, so much, much better, written with… what’s the word… English, and then add a splash of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it horror, and let it come from the mind of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke, Survivor), and you have Beautiful You (novel), probably the strangest book to win a DRAWA. Nominated last year for the Bram Stoker Award, this is… well, interesting. I guess I should let the Amazon book description do its thing: “when Penny discovers she is a test subject for a line of female sex toys so effective that women by the millions are lining up outside the stores to buy it on opening day, she understands the gravity the situation. A billion husbands are about to be replaced.” Yep. It’s like that.

Lisey's StorySince we’re on the subject of love (sort of), Stephen King wrote Lisey’s Story (novel) over ten years ago, and it’s good enough to make it on my list this year, mostly because I want people to give it a shot. I’ve read it three times now. Some people love it; others hate it. My opinion? This is Stephen King’s best novel (yeah, I said it, so what?). Even Stephen King thinks it’s his best work. It’s sort of a ghost story about the secret language of love… of all things. I’m guessing you’ve never read it. If not, read it. Now. It was up for the World Fantasy Award, as well as the Bram Stoker Award for long fiction back when the original “Lisey and the Madman” was published a few years prior to the novel.

Bird Box

Birdbox (novel) by Josh Malerman is the first book in a long while that kept me riveted, to say the least, and the book refused to be put down for a break, and every time I did (sometimes I had to), it left me wondering “what’s next?” and wanting to finish the rest of it. I’d think about it all day, wanting to get home to read more. Why? A woman and two four-year-old children float down a river, blindfolded, with someone or something out there making noises, perhaps following them. Malerman’s debut novel deserved the Stoker for first novel, in my opinion (although there was some fierce competition), and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

The MartianWhether you loved it or hated it (seems to be a toss-up, either one or the other, and never anywhere in the middle), The Martian (novel) by Andy Weir made the cut for this year’s DRAWA. As of writing this, I haven’t seen the movie (although I’ve heard it’s Ridley Scott’s best thing since Alien and Blade Runner), but the book held me. I read this thing in three sittings. Plus, I love science, and this book was full of nerdy sciency stuff. If I were stranded on Mars, this would probably be close to my memoir. I guess you could say I liked it…

Burnt Tongues

I read a lot of short fiction for my anthologies (millions and millions and millions of words each year) so it’s a nice surprise to find a gem of an anthology from talented peers, such as Burnt Tongues (anthology), edited by Richard Thomas and Chuck Palahniuk. Although I’ve never heard of a single name in this book (other than its creators), this is a great collection of short fiction by some writers that should probably be a little more well-known (so give them a shot!), and an anthology deserving of the recognition its received. Kudos to Richard Thomas for putting together such a fine looking book, and to Chuck.

Head full of ghostsI wouldn’t be surprised if Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts (novel) takes home the Bram Stoker Award this time around. It’s a fine novel, one that gave Stephen King a scare, no less. I’d never heard of Paul Tremblay until this book was mentioned on Brian Keene’s podcast, The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Brian had enough kind things to say about this book that I gave it a read. And, well, it’s incredible. Slade House will probably be overlooked for the Stoker, so A Head Full of Ghosts would probably be my next vote.

Where We Live and DieSince I mentioned Brian Keene, and I’m sure he probably wouldn’t mind a nod, Where We Live and Die (nonfiction) made the cut this year. Brian Keene. Nonfiction. Enough said, right? This is how I like my nonfiction! Many know Brian’s work because of The Rising and The City of the Dead, or his novel about giant earthworms (all great books, by the way), but I discovered Brian by accident by reading a lesser-known novel of his called Terminal, which would make my list of all-time favorite books, if I were to make such a list. Jeff Strand‘s Pressure would probably make that list as well, which I’d consider his best book… But enough about fiction. Read this nonfiction.

The Art of Horrible PeopleThe last DRAWA this year goes to John Skipp for The Art of Horrible People (fiction collection). “Savor this book. Savor this writer.” Josh Malerman rightfully states this in his introduction. The Art of Horrible People collects Skipp’s fiction in a way I’ve never experienced before in a fiction collection, offering a reflection of our sick selves in the process, a look at just horrible we’ve become, and how beautiful that can be. Skipp is perhaps the living example that the phrase “there are no original ideas” is a load of crap. Skipp can crank out originality like it’s-not-going-out-of-style.

You have 12 new books to read (or perhaps re-read if you’ve read them already). Buy yourself something nice this holiday season. Like 12 books. And then read one each month for the next 12 months.

That’s it for this year, except…

Last year there were some special Written Backwards Awards ® given to those making a noticeable difference in the writing community. This year, Written Backwards proudly presents the DRAWA Presence, Inspiration, and Voice. (See how that works? AWARD is spelled backwards, with the subject of the award after… so, this would actually be a Presence Award, Inspiration Award, and a Voice Award… clever, right?)

Anyway, the DRAWA Presence recognizes an individual completely dedicated to the craft, someone who’s been around awhile and knows what they’re doing, and is not afraid to share that knowledge for the greater good. The DRAWA Inspiration recognizes an individual somewhat new to the craft, someone with emerging talent, a strong, literary powerhouse waiting to erupt; this is the person to watch closely. Lastly, the DRAWA Voice recognizes an individual  with a fresh, unique literary voice, someone who quite clearly knows all the rules, and is very good at breaking them; this person has their own genre of awesomeness, in other words. Who are these people?

DRAWA Presence – Mort Castle is a teacher, a counselor, a man willing to mold the future of all things literary. He is an inspiration, and he inspires.

DRAWA Inspiration – Emily B. Cataneo was first introduced to me by Jack Ketchum a few years ago when I was on the hunt for short fiction. Emily likes to send me stories with incredibly long titles, such as “A Guide to Etiquette and Comportment for the Sisters of Henley House” and “The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles.” I have now published three of her stories, and all three of them are golden. Keep an eye out. Her words are beautiful.

DRAWA Voice – Paul Michael Anderson also likes to send me stories with incredibly long titles, such as “The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)” and “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me.” And I publish every single one of them, because they are incredible.

And in case you missed last year’s Written Backwards Awards ®: http://wp.me/p2gHzu-9W 

THE CAL WILD CHRONICLES by GENE O’NEILL

The Cal Wild ChroniclesStarting this fall, Written Backwards will release The Cal Wild Chronicles, a four-book illustrated post-apocalyptic series of novels by Gene O’Neill. This is a highly anticipated trade paperback release of what some consider Gene’s magnum opus, a collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror that spans 30 years of his writing endeavors.

The spines of each book will work together to create a unique image for your bookshelves, and both the front and back covers, when placed side-by-side-by-side-by-side, will create additional panoramic images. Each book will include at least 10 black-and-white illustrations (artist to be announced soon), and each book will matte finish covers.

The front:The Cal Wild Chronicles - Front Covers

The back:

The Cal Wild Chronicles - Back Covers

THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH, the first in the series, will be released around October/November 2015, and will include an introduction by John R. LittleThis will be closely followed by THE BURDEN OF INDIGO around January/February 2016, which will include an introduction by Horror Writers Association president Lisa Morton. THE NEAR FUTURE will be released around April/May later in the year, and will include an introduction by Meghan Arcuri. Wrapping up the series will be THE FAR FUTURE around July/August 2016, which will include an introduction by Scott Edelman.