Archive for the ‘ Short Fiction ’ Category

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 

CHIRAL MAD 3 IN TRADE PAPERBACK and SIGNED/LIMITED HARDBACK!

Chiral Mad 3

With the recent announcement that Written Backwards is now an imprint of Dark Regions Press, many exciting things are emerging, such as signed / limited hardback editions of past, present and future Written Backwards titles. The first will be the highly-anticipated Chiral Mad 3, which you can pre-order now by clicking the image above. This will take you to the Dark Regions Press Ever-Expanding Grab Bag #2 campaign, where you can reserve your copy (only 200 will be made), and snag everything the ever-expanding grab bag has to offer while you’re at it. The more people contribute, the more will be included as perks.

Campaign-exclusive trade paperback editions of Chiral Mad 3 are also available for pre-order now for only $20! If you’re been waiting for this anthology, which is illustrated throughout by Glenn Chadbourne (with 45 images), now is the best time to snag a copy… and perhaps a few other goodies from this plethora of wondrous books recently announced by the epicness that is Dark Regions Press and Written Backwards. Here’s a peek at the Table of Contents:

Fiction:
01. The Poetry of Life – Richard Chizmar
02. The Last Rung on the Ladder – Stephen King
03. A Rift in Reflection – Hal Bodner
04. Windows, Mirrors, Doors – Jason V Brock
05. Prayer – Mort Castle
06. The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim) – Paul Michael Anderson
07. The Black Crow of Boddinstraße – Emily B. Cataneo
08. A Flash of Red – Erinn L. Kemper
09. Red Runner vs. The Surgeon, Issue 18 – Jessica May Lin
10. The Dead Collection – Mercedes M. Yardley
11. Watch Me – Meghan Arcuri
12. The Bigger Bedroom – Josh Malerman
13. That Perilous Stuff – Scott Edelman
14. Know Your Code – Ramsey Campbell
15. 3-Dot People – Gene O’Neill
16. Silver Thread, Hammer Ring – Gary A. Braunbeck
17. Those Who Watch From on High – Eric J. Guignard
18. Blood Dust – Max Booth III
19. The Offering on the Hill – Richard Thomas
20. The Whipping Girls – Damien Angelica Walters
21. Seconds – Jack Ketchum

Poetry:
01. Fair – P. Gardner Goldsmith
02. Fail-Safe – Jonathan Balog
03. Folie à Deux – Sydney Leigh
04. Reflecting on Reflections – Bruce Boston
05. Mirror Image – Marge Simon
06. Black River #1 – Elizabeth Massie
07. Prescience – Rose Blackthorn
08. The Speed of Sound – Ciarán Parkes
09. Welcome Home, Darling – Stephanie M. Wytovich
10. Whisper #1 (A Warning) – Erik T. Johnson
11. Whisper #2 (A Prophecy) – Erik T. Johnson
12. Put Me to Dream -Stephanie M. Wytovich
13. Recognizing Trees – Ciarán Parkes
14. Arbitration – Rose Blackthorn
15. Black River #2 – Elizabeth Massie
16. Reflections Through the Raven’s Eye – Marge Simon
17. Beyond Symmetry – Bruce Boston
18. Folie à Plusieurs – Sydney Leigh
19. Insomnia in Reverse – Jonathan Balog
20. Promise – P. Gardner Goldsmith

Yeah, it’s going to rock.

The Library of the Dead

Also available, as an addition to this campaign, is the signed / limited hardback of The Library of the Dead, illustrated in color by GAK. Scroll down toward the end of the campaign page for more information on how to reserve your copy. Similar to the other Written Backwards signed limited hardback editions, only 200 will be made. This anthology of entirely new fiction includes collaborative work by Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, and stories by Gary A. Braunbeck, Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Gene O’Neill, Erinn L. Kemper, Chris Marrs, Michael McBride, Lucy A. Snyder, Kealan Patrick Burke, Sydney Leigh, Rena Mason, and starts off with an introduction/novelette by Norman Partridge. The stories within are interconnected by a piece called “The Librarian” by editor Michael Bailey.

There are many other incredible books available in this campaign, including the first volume of Christmas Horror, edited by Chris Morey, which includes stories by John Skipp, Joe R. Landsdale, Jeff Strand, J.F. Gonzalez, Cody Goodfellow, and more.

m5h6ufuuadigzhxjzxx3

And what are these other two books?

Marc Levinthal’s debut novel, Other Music, is the first science fiction novel we will be releasing through Dark Regions Sci-Fi, a project I am proud to be working on as our first book in the newly revamped science fiction line at Dark Regions Press. This incredible novel features an introduction by John Skipp. The other is Stephanie M. Wytovich’s debut novel, The Eighth. Both of these incredible books are available in this campaign in both trade paperback and signed / limited hardback. The trade paperbacks are $20 each, and the hardbacks for a little more. Each will be beautiful, so you will definitely want to get your mittens on these.

Check out the campaign. Contribute. Take home some awesome books in the process. As of this evening, the campaign has reached initial funding, which means digital copies of Chiral Mad 3 will be going into the ever-expanding grab bag. The first stretch goal was also reached, which means a digital copy of Other Music will also be going in the bag. And the second stretch goal is nearly upon us, which means a digital copy of The Eighth will go in… and there are many more stretch goals in the works…

What are you waiting for?

CHIRAL MAD 3 – UPDATE #2

Chiral Mad 3

All poetry has been selected for Chiral Mad 3. It’s been a fun ride! As previously announced, there will be 20 poems from 10 different poetry contributors (2 from each) to be symmetrically placed around the fiction. The first half of the accepted poems (and their creators) were previously announced, and now we have the second half, which are listed in bold:

01. Elizabeth Massie: “Black River #1” and “Black River #2”
02. Marge Simon: “Mirror Image” and “Reflections through the Raven’s Eye”
03. Stephanie M. Wytovich: “Put Me to Dream” and “Welcome Home, Darling”
04. Bruce Boston: “Beyond Symmetry” and “Reflecting on Reflections”
05. Erik T. Johnson: “Whisper #1 (A Warning)” and “Whisper #2 (A Prophecy)”
06. Ciarán Parkes: “The Speed of Sound” and “Recognizing Trees”
07. Jonathan Balog: “Insomnia in Reverse” and “Fail-safe”
08. P. Gardner Goldsmith: “Fair” and “Promise”
09. Rose Blackthorn: “Arbitration” and “Prescience”
10. Sydney Leigh: “Folie à Plusieurs” and “Folie à Deux”

Illustration for Brock

Illustration for Brock

Unannounced until now, Glenn Chadbourne has agreed to provide illustrations around some the poetry; this is in addition to his illustrations for each of the 20 stories, some of which can be found scattered around this page. Glenn is cranking out some outstanding work, and at a remarkable pace. This guy is a machine! But, I’ll let his work speak for itself…

4 more stories have been accepted as well, bringing the count to 8. Fiction submissions are not yet open, and are currently by invite only. If the window opens, it will be brief, and most likely sometime around summer… if at all. I wish I could open the submission window completely for all to participate, but it is just not possible at this time. 12 spots remain to be filled, and there are more surprises.

Illustration for Thomas

Illustration for Thomas

The next set of accepted contributors includes Stephen King, whose story “The Jaunt” previously appeared in the Benjamin Franklin Award winning Qualia Nous, and is now in production to be made into a film as one of King’s “Dollar Babies.” His novel Revival was recently released in mass market paperback, and his novel Finders Keepers, the follow-up to his Edgar Award winning novel Mr. Mercedes, and the second book in this trilogy, is scheduled for release in hardcover June 2nd.

The list of acceptances has also expanded to include new fiction by Richard Thomas, whose stories “The Jenny Store” and “Playing with Fire” previously appeared in Qualia Nous and Chiral Mad 2, respectively, as well as new fiction by Mercedes M. Yardley (a newcomer to Written Backwards, but no stranger), and new fiction by Jason V Brock, whose novelette “Simulacrum” previously appeared in Qualia Nous. Richard, Mercedes, and Jason are outstanding writers, so if you haven’t yet had the chance to read their work, don’t wait for Chiral Mad 3, seek out their work now. It’s great having familiar names return to Written Backwards, but it’s just as great having new names as well. And if some of these names seem new to you, well, get to it. Here’s where the anthology stands in terms of fiction, with the latest acceptances in bold (in no particular order):

01. Gene O’Neill: “3-Dot People”
02. Ramsey Campbell: “Know Your Code”
03. Jessica May Lin: “Red Runner vs. The Surgeon, Issue 18”
04: Paul Michael Anderson: “The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)”
05: Stephen King: “The Last Rung on the Ladder”
06: Richard Thomas: “The Offering on the Hill”
07: Jason V Brock: “Windows, Mirrors, Doors”
08: Mercedes M. Yardley: “The Dead Collection”

That’s it for now. More surprises are on the way…

Illustration for Anderson

Illustration for Anderson

 

Illustration for Yardley

Illustration for Yardley

CHIRAL MAD 3 – UPDATE #1

Chiral Mad 3

After receiving over 300 poems for Chiral Mad 3, the submission window for poetry is now officially closed. The anthology will include 20 poems from 10 different poetry contributors (2 from each) to be symmetrically placed around the fiction. The first half of the accepted poems (and their creators) will be announced… right now, listed below  (in no particular order):

01. Elizabeth Massie: “Black River #1” and “Black River #2”
02. Marge Simon: “Mirror Image” and “Reflections through the Raven’s Eye”
03. Stephanie M. Wytovich: “Put Me to Dream” and “Welcome Home, Darling”
04. Bruce Boston: “Beyond Symmetry” and “Reflecting on Reflections”
05. Erik T. Johnson: “Whisper #1 (A Warning)” and “Whisper #2 (A Prophecy)”

Illustration for Lin

Illustration for Lin

The poetry received for this project has been astounding, to say the least. There are currently 20 contributors (40 poems) on the short list, and a few invited guests who should be sending in their work for consideration relatively soon. Hopefully, sometime within the next few weeks, the five remaining poetry contributors (and final 10 poems) will be decided, and announced in the next Chiral Mad 3 update. Fiction submissions are not open at this time (currently invite only until further notice); however, if you are a previous contributor to any Written Backwards project, feel free to query; if you received an email stating that your submission to a previous project is still in consideration for this or for any other Written Backwards project, feel free to send an email for a status update.

Illustration for O'Neill

Illustration for O’Neill

Chiral Mad 3 will include 20 stories, each illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne (some of his work for this project is sprinkled throughout), known for his black and white illustrations.

The first two accepted stories are new works by Ramsey Campbell, whose story “The Word” was reprinted in Chiral Mad 2, and Gene O’Neill, who will have appeared in all three Chiral Mad volumes once this one is complete, and whose novella At the Lazy K will be released later this year by Written Backwards, the first of the ALLEVON series of novellas. Gene also has a story called “Broken Lady” in the forthcoming The Library of the Dead, a project he and Gord Rollo imagined and brought to Written Backwards.

Illustration for ?

Illustration for ?

For Chiral Mad 3, the list of accepted fiction has expanded to include a short story by Jessica May Lin, and a novelette by Paul Michael Anderson, who recently helped proofread The Library of the Dead, and has a story in Qualia Nous called “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me.” Paul seems to have a record selling me stories with long titles (see below). And, as a side note, I asked to read this story after hearing about it on social media, and later received the story in an email from Paul with a subject line of “That realistic horror story that is SO not CM3.” Well, he was wrong. Jessica, on the other hand, is new to Written Backwards, thanks to a referral and some kind words by Jack Ketchum (who, like Gene, may also appear in all three volumes of Chiral Mad).

Anyway, here’s where the anthology stands in terms of fiction (in no particular order):

01. Gene O’Neill: “3-Dot People”
02. Ramsey Campbell: “Know Your Code”
03. Jessica May Lin: “Red Runner vs. The Surgeon, Issue 18”
04: Paul Michael Anderson: “The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)”

Stay tuned…

CHIRAL MAD 3 – POETRY

Chiral Mad 3

THE SUBMISSION WINDOW FOR POETRY IS NOW CLOSED.

Thank you to those who submitted poetry for the Chiral Mad 3 consideration. After receiving a little over 300 submissions, the anthology is now filled. Please note that a few websites and newsletters were erroneously reporting a March 31st end-date for poetry submissions, which was never the case; as mentioned below, this project considered poetry submissions until filled. Final acceptance/rejection emails will be sent out soon. See below for the original information re: poetry…

Chiral Mad 3 is developing.

Although the third in the series is not scheduled for publication until first quarter of 2016, the anthology is already in the works and promises to be nothing but stellar. Personal invitations for contributing fiction are going out now, and will most likely fill half the anthology; the other half will most likely come from open submissions later this year. More information coming soon.

There are a few things that will differentiate Chiral Mad 3 from past volumes:

1) The anthology will contain 20 stories (no more / no less), and anywhere from 10 and 20 poems to fit symmetrically around the fiction. Written Backwards is looking for two poems from each poetry contributor, so if you’re considering submitting a poem, consider submitting two.

2) The anthology will be fully-illustrated. Glenn Chadbourne is invited to take on this task, as he is familiar working with much of the invited talent. Yes, this project will rock your socks off!

Feel free to submit poetry now by sending your work to cm3@nettirw.com. Payment will be $1 per line, up to 50 lines per poem. Poetry submissions will be open until filled.

Please do not submit fiction until the open submission window is announced later this year. Written Backwards will be looking for dark / psychological fiction between 1,500 and 7,500 words and will pay pro-rates up to 5,000 words; no science fiction, fantasy, excessive violence, gore, sex, or discrimination of any kind, unless used tastefully and for a greater purpose.

Get chiral.

2014 BRAM STOKER AWARDS® PRELIMINARY BALLOT

The Horror Writers Association recently announced the Preliminary Ballot for the 2014 Bram Stoker Awards®, and I am proud to announce I have a few things that made the list this year. My story  “Fireman / Primal Tongue” made the final ballot last year for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, so I’m hoping this year to have all three of my works published last year make the final cut in their respective categories. If you are a voting member of the Horror Writers Association, you can email written@nettirw.com to request either a digital copy or a trade paperback of the following:

1. Qualia Nous – Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Along with the latest Written Backwards release making the ballot this year, two stories from the anthology are on the list for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, including “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” by Usman T. Malik (which is making some noise in the science fiction world as well), and “Ruminations” by Rena Mason. All 30 involved with this anthology are responsible, so thank you for your words. Qualia Nous is a literary blend of science fiction and horror, and people seem to dig it.

  1. Stephen King – The Jaunt (novelette)
  2. Usman T. Malik – The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family *
  3. Gene O’Neill – The Shaking Man
  4. Ashlee Scheuerman – Dyscrasia
  5. Emily B. Cataneo – The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles
  6. Erik T. Johnson – The Angel Chaser
  7. Ian Shoebridge – Psychic Shock
  8. D.J. Cockburn – Peppermint Tea in Electronic Limbo
  9. John R. Little – Second Chance
  10. Jon Michael Kelley – The Effigies of Tamber Square
  11. Lori Michelle – Shades of Naught
  12. James Chambers – The Price of Faces
  13. Jason V Brock – Simulacrum (novelette)
  14. Marge Simon – Shutdown / Tomorrow’s Femme (poems)
  15. Peter Hagelslag – Lead me to Multiplicity
  16. Christian A. Larsen – Cataldo’s Copy
  17. Max Booth III – The Neighborhood has a Barbeque
  18. Richard Thomas – The Jenny Store
  19. Erinn L. Kemper – Night Guard
  20. William F. Nolan – A New Man
  21. John Everson – Voyeur
  22. Pat R. Steiner – Kilroy Wasn’t There
  23. Paul Anderson – In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me
  24. Lucy A. Snyder – Dura Mater
  25. Rena Mason – Ruminations *
  26. Thomas F. Monteleone – Good and Faithful Servant
  27. Patrick Freivald – Twelve Kilos
  28. Mason Ian Bundschuh – Breathe You in Me
  29. Elizabeth Massie – 18P37-C, After Andrea Was Arrested
  30. Gary A. Braunbeck – No Fixed Address (novelette)

I hope to see Qualia Nous on the final ballot alongside those I admire in the world of anthologies: Ellen Datlow (Fearful Symmetries), Chuck Palahniuk / Richard Thomas (Burnt Tongues), and Jason V Brock (A Dark Phantastique). Not to single anyone out in the anthology category, but those three anthologies are incredible! I hope to see each of you on the final ballot this year so we can take a “final ballot selfie” holding each of these anthologies together at the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony in Florida.

Qualia Nous

2. Inkblots and Blood Spots – Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Villipede Publications took on this project, which was released November 2014, and have produced something stellar. My editor, Shawna Bernard, aka. Sydney Leigh (to be published in the upcoming Written Backwards anthology The Library of the Dead), and who is also on the preliminary ballot this year for her excellent short story “Baby’s Breath,” worked her tail off to make this second collection of short fiction and poetry a work of art. Bringing on Daniele Serra to create the cover and fully-illustrate the book was ingenious (he is also on the preliminary ballot for his graphic novel with Joe R. Lansdale called I Tell You It’s Love). I cannot begin to explain how well his art meshes and brings life to my work (see images below).

A special note of thanks to Syd the Kid and Villipede Publications for making me look good. They did a great job weaving short fiction with poetry around stunning illustrations. Plus, they convinced me to include a new novelette I was working on called “Dandelion Clocks,” a tribute story to 9/11, which has somehow made it on the preliminary ballot for long fiction.

This category has some incredible competition, so I hope to make the cut. Of the fiction collections I’ve read this year, I can say that John Little’s Little by Little, Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Off, Lucy Snyder’s Soft Apocalypses, and John F.D. Taff’s The End in all the Beginnings… well, damn, those are all great collections, and I hope Inkblots and Blood Spots is there alongside you on the final ballot.

Inkblots and Blood Spots

3. “Dandelion Clocks” – Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

What more can I say about “Dandelion Clocks” other than I feel it’s the best thing I’ve written to date. It’s my take on 9/11, about 8,400 words long, bounces around in nonlinear fashion through time from the point-of-view of a traumatized young woman, and I hope it makes the final ballot… and wins. I’m not sure I can write much better than this.

The long fiction category, like each year, is probably my favorite. I’ve watched Gary A. Braunbeck win this thing (what… 4 or 5 times now? I think he has either 8 or 9 Stokers to his name), and was at the Bram Stoker Award ceremony last May in Portland, Oregon to celebrate Gary taking home the Stoker for “The Great Pity” in Written Backward’s Chiral Mad 2 (even got to hold Gary’s envelope, thanks to F. Paul Wilson sitting next to me… who made the announcement), so to have a chance at taking home the same award for “Dandelion Clocks” would be a dream. Like I said, this is probably my favorite category. I love long fiction, and plan to publish 2 or 3 illustrated novellas next year, all from names mentioned previously on this page.

But, there’s some awesome competition. Along with rooting for “Dandelion Clocks,” I’m also rooting for “Ridin the Dawg” by Gene O’Neill, “Fishing for Dinosaurs” by Joe R. Lansdale, “Lost and Found” by Joe McKinney, “The Long Long Breakdown” by John F.D. Taff, “Ceremony of Flies” by Kate Jonez, and “Dreams of a Little Suicide” by Eric J. Guignard. All good stuff!

* If your name is not mentioned on any of the 3 lists above, it simply means I haven’t yet read your work)

Illustrations by Daniele Serra

Horror Writers Association voting members may request a PDF or print copy of Qualia Nous (anthology), and/or Inkblots and Blood Spots (fiction collection), and/or “Dandelion Clocks” (long fiction) for consideration by emailing written@nettirw.com. It is also available on the HWA message board.

A few more things to note:

Many Qualia Nous contributors (listed in bold above) are on the preliminary ballot this year in one way or another, so a special congratulations is in order for their work outside of Written Backwards. Marge Simon (with Mary Turzillo) is up for her latest poetry collection Sweet Poison, Patrick Freivald for both his novel Jade Sky and short story “Trigger Warning,” Gene O’Neill for his long fiction piece called “Ridin the Dawg,” John R. Little for his fiction collection Little by Little, Lucy A. Snyder for both her fiction collection Soft Apocalypses and nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, Richard Thomas (with Chuck Palahniuk) for their anthology Burnt Tongues, and Jason V Brock for both his anthology A Dark Phantastique and nonfiction book Disorders of Magnitude. And, of course, Usman T. Malik and Rena Mason, previously mentioned, for their short stories in Qualia Nous.

Other past/future Written Backwards contributors are on the preliminary ballot as well, including Eric J. Guignard for his long fiction piece “Dreams of a Little Suicide” and John Palisano for his short story “Splinterette.”

Last year, Chiral Mad 2 did not make the final ballot, but “The Geminis” by John Palisano made the final ballot for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, as well as “The Great Pity” by Gary A. Braunbeck, which took home the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction. Perhaps 2014 will be a good year as well!

Congratulations to everyone who made the preliminaries this year! And congratulations to those who did not make the list, but probably should have. 2014 was a great year for horror fiction. Whether or not you believe in the HWA’s means of compiling Bram Stoker Award recommendations, the preliminary ballot, or the final ballot, you cannot deny that 2014 was a great year for horror fiction. I see familiar names on the list this year, and names I don’t recognize, which is either a good thing, or a bad thing. Some I have published, some have published me, and some have shared the table of contents with yours truly in various anthologies or magazines over the years. And some, well, perhaps someday I can say I recognize those names as well.

Here’s the complete list, as plagiarized from the Horror Writers Association page:

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Tim Burke – The Flesh Sutra (NobleFusion Press)
Adam Christopher – The Burning Dark (Tor Books)
Michaelbrent Collings – This Darkness Light (self-published)
Lawrence C. Connolly – Vortex (Fantasist Enterprises)
Craig DiLouie – Suffer the Children (Gallery Books of Simon & Schuster)
Patrick Freivald – Jade Sky (JournalStone)
Chuck Palahniuk – Beautiful You (Jonathan Cape, Vintage/Penguin Random House UK)
Christopher Rice – The Vines (47North)
Brett J. Talley – The Reborn (JournalStone)
Steve Rasnic Tem – Blood Kin (Solaris Books)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Maria Alexander – Mr. Wicker (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
J.D. Barker – Forsaken (Hampton Creek Press)
Janice Gable Bashman – Predator (Month9Books)
David Cronenberg – Consumed (Scribner)
Michael Knost – Return of the Mothman (Woodland Press)
Daniel Levine – Hyde (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Josh Malerman – Bird Box (Harper Collins)
Whitney Miller – The Violet Hour (Flux)
Chantal Noordeloos – Angel Manor (Horrific Tales Publishing)
C.J. Waller – Predator X (Severed Press)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Ari Berk – Lych Way (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Jake Bible – Intentional Haunting (Permuted Press)
Ilsa J. Bick – White Space (Egmont)
John Dixon – Phoenix Island (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books)
Kami Garcia – Unmarked (The Legion Series Book 2) (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
S.E. Green – Killer Instinct (Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse)
Tonya Hurley – Passionaries (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Micol Ostow – Amity (Egmont)
Peter Adam Salomon – All Those Broken Angels (Flux)
Sam Swanson and Araminta Star Matthews – Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead (Curiosity Quills Press)
Johnny Worthen – Eleanor: Book 1 (The Unseen) (Jolly Fish Press)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Charles Burns – Sugar Skull
Emily Carroll – Through the Woods
Victor Gischler – Kiss Me Satan
Joe Hill – Locke and Key, Vol. 6
Joe R. Lansdale and Daniele Serra – I Tell You It’s Love (Short, Scary Tales Publications)
Jonathan Maberry – Bad Blood (Dark Horse Books)
Paul Tobin – The Witcher

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Michael Bailey – Dandelion Clocks (Inkblots and Blood Spots) (Villipede Publications)
Taylor Grant – The Infected (Cemetery Dance #71) (Cemetery Dance)
Eric J. Guignard – Dreams of a Little Suicide (Hell Comes To Hollywood II: Twenty-Two More Tales Of Tinseltown Terror (Volume 2)) (Big Time Books)
Kate Jonez – Ceremony of Flies (DarkFuse)
Joe R. Lansdale – Fishing for Dinosaurs (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Jonathan Maberry – Three Guys Walk Into a Bar (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Joe McKinney – Lost and Found (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Gene O’Neill – Ridin the Dawg (Mia Moja) (Thunderstorm Books)
John F.D. Taff – The Long Long Breakdown (The End in all Beginnings) (Grey Matter Press)
Gregor Xane – The Riggle Twins (Bad Apples) (Corpus Press)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Dale Bailey – Sleep Paralysis (Nightmare Magazine, April 2014) (Nightmare)
Hal Bodner – Hot Tub (Hell Comes to Hollywood II) (Big Time Books)
Patrick Freivald – Trigger Warning (Demonic Visions Book 4) (Chris Robertson)
* Sydney Leigh – Baby’s Breath (Bugs: Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl) (Great Old Ones Publishing)
Usman T. Malik – The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family (Qualia Nous) (Written Backwards)
Alessandro Manzetti – Nature’s Oddities (The Shaman: And Other Shadows) (self-published)
Rena Mason – Ruminations (Qualia Nous) (Written Backwards)
John Palisano – Splinterette (Widowmakers: A Benefit Anthology of Dark Fiction)
Sayuri Ueda – The Street of Fruiting Bodies (Phantasm Japan) (Haikasoru, an imprint of VIZ Media, LLC)
Genevieve Valentine – A Dweller in Amenty (Nightmare Magazine, March 2014) (Nightmare)
Damien Angelica Walters – The Floating Girls: A Documentary (Jamais Vu, Issue Three) (Post Mortem Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Michael Bailey – Inkblots and Blood Spots (Villipede Publications)
Stephen Graham Jones – After the People Lights Have Gone Off (Dark House Press)
John R. Little – Little by Little (Bad Moon Books)
Helen Marshall – Gifts for the One Who Comes After (ChiZine Publications)
David Sakmyster – Escape Plans (Wordfire Press)
Terrence Scott – The Madeleine Wheel: Playing with Spiders (Amazon)
Lucy Snyder – Soft Apocalypses (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Robin Spriggs – The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom (Anomalous Books)
John F.D. Taff – The End In All Beginnings (Grey Matter Press)
Alexander Zelenyj – Songs for the Lost (Eibonvale Press)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey – The End Is Nigh (Broad Reach Publishing)
Michael Bailey – Qualia Nous (Written Backwards)
Jason Brock – A Darke Phantastique (Cycatrix Press)
Ellen Datlow – Fearful Symmetries (ChiZine Publications)
Kate Jonez – Halloween Tales (Omnium Gatherum)
Eric Miller – Hell Comes to Hollywood II (Big Time Books)
Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer – Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press)
Brian M. Sammons – The Dark Rites of Cthulhu (April Moon Books)
Brett J. Talley – Limbus, Inc., Book II (JournalStone)
Terry M. West – Journals of Horror: Found Fiction (Pleasant Storm Entertainment)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Scott M. Gimple – The Walking Dead: The Grove, episode 4:14 (AMC)
James Hawes – Penny Dreadful: Possession (Desert Wolf Productions/Neal Street Productions)
Jennifer Kent – The Babadook (Causeway Films)
Alex Kurtzman and Mark Goffman – Sleepy Hollow: “Bad Blood” (Sketch Films/K/O Paper Products/20th Century Fox Television)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: Séance (Desert Wolf Productions/Neal Street Productions)
Greg Mclean and Aaron Sterns – Wolf Creek 2 (Emu Creek Pictures)
Stephen Moffat – Doctor Who: Listen (British Broadcasting Corporation)
Cameron Porsendah – Helix: Pilot (Tall Ship Productions/Kaji Productions/Muse Entertainment/Lynda Obst Productions/in association with Sony Pictures Television)
Jack Thomas Smith –Infliction (Fox Trail Productions)
James Wong – American Horror Story: Coven: “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” (FX Network)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Massimo Berruti, S.T. Joshi, and Sam Gafford – William Hope Hodgson: Voices from the Borderland (Hippocampus Press)
Jason V. Brock – Disorders of Magnitude (Rowman & Littlefield)
Hayley Campbell – The Art of Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins Publishers)
S.T. Joshi – Lovecraft and A World in Transition (Hippocampus Press)
Leslie S. Klinger – The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft (Liveright Publishing Corp., a division of W.W. Norton & Co.)
Joe Mynhardt and Emma Audsley – Horror 101: The Way Forward (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Robert Damon Schneck – Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist (Tarcher/Penguin)
Lucy Snyder – Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide (Post Mortem Press)
Tom Weaver, David Schecter, and Steve Kronenberg – The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Robert Payne Cabeen – Fearworms: Selected Poems (Fanboy Comics)
G.O. Clark – Gravedigger’s Dance (Dark Renaissance Books)
David E. Cowen – The Madness of Empty Spaces (Weasel Press)
Corrinne De Winter and Alessandro Manzetti – Venus Intervention (Kipple Officina Libraria)
Wade German – Dreams from the Black Nebula (Hippocampus Press)
Tom Piccirilli – Forgiving Judas (Crossroad Press)
Michelle Scalise – The Manufacturer of Sorrow (Eldritch Press)
Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo – Sweet Poison (Dark Renaissance Books)
Tiffany Tang – Creepy Little Death Poems (Dreality Press)
Stephanie Wytovich – Mourning Jewelry (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Good luck everyone!

INKBLOTS AND BLOOD SPOTS

Inkblots and Blood Spots

Inkblots and Blood Spots is finally here! Years after toying with this second collection of fiction and poetry, it has finally found a home with Villipede Publications, who have done a marvelous job orchestrating the complexity it takes putting a beautiful book like this together. Shawna L. Bernard, aka Sydney Leigh, edited the collection and went through hell and back again to bring you this book. And now the trade paperback is available at Amazon in the US and Amazon in the UK, and eventually through extended distribution channels.

From the back cover:

From the mind of award-winning author and editor Michael Bailey comes Inkblots and Blood Spots, a painfully beautiful collection of short stories and poetry that reaches deep into the imagination, breaking hearts and boundaries along the way…

In a lyrical and uninterrupted dance, Bailey entwines evocative literary short fiction with rhythmic poetry and comes full circle in one seamless collection. His stellar performance is accompanied by the stunning artwork of Daniele Serra, winner of the British Fantasy Award, and an Introduction by the legendary Douglas E. Winter.

Stories include the Bram Stoker nominated “Fireman / Primal Tongue,” which also received an Honorable Mention for Year’s Best Horror; “Dandelion Clocks,” a haunting, melodic tribute to the tragedy of 9/11; “I Wanted Black,” where a young boy’s birthday is anything but cause to celebrate; “Mum,” a tale of two sisters unfolding like the bandages on their mother’s badly burned body…

Take a surreal stroll through a carnival in “Underwater Ferris Wheel,” where the biggest attraction may be your last ride; witness a pregnant woman’s harrowing encounter with soul-stealing faerie in “Not the Child”; and find out why it gets cold in a little girl’s room at night when she sees “A Light in the Closet.

Danielle Serra provided the captivating cover, as well as provided half-page, full-page, and multi-page illustrations throughout for each of the stories. The book weighs a solid pound, runs 256 pages, and is chock full of surprises that will hopefully take your breath away in some way or another. These interesting thumbnails were stolen from the publisher’s website to give you an idea of what you can expect when cracking the spine.

Illustrations by Daniele Serra

The one and only Douglas E. Winter was kind enough to write the introduction, and there are some rather nice blurbs:

“Michael Bailey continues to amaze. He is on track to becoming his generation’s Ray Bradbury.” – F. Paul Wilson

“Vibrant, bold, and bursting with original concepts… a writer willing to bypass all the familiar territories and stake out a new narrative landscape all his own.” – Thomas F. Monteleone

“Haunting and poignant… filled with love and loss, the weight of these resolutions echoes out into the darkness with a heartbreaking permanence.” – Richard Thomas

“The stories and poems in Inkblots and Blood Spots bleed into our souls like knives and leave us breathless. Bailey is a fabulous writer, and these stories are his best. Go buy this book. Now. It has my highest recommendation.” – John R. Little

Inkblots and Blood Spots is a smart collection of stories that evoke real fear, because they’re grounded in emotional truth. Michael Bailey has that rare ability to terrify readers and break their hearts–often in the same paragraph.” – Norman Prentiss

“Most writers are either stylists or story-tellers. The stylists tend to be more common in literary fiction, the storytellers more common in genre work. Michael Bailey’s prose is highly accessible, but very precise… he’s a stylist, his prose very clean. Michael is indeed a very literate storyteller.” – Gene O’Neill

“Artfully executed. A unique and powerful contribution to speculative literature.” – Tim Deal

If you’re a fan of Goodreads to track your reading habits, there is a page setup for Inkblots and Blood Spots, which you can find here. And if you’re looking to see more, check out the latest blog by my editor, Shawna Bernard, at The Spider Box. I think she states it best:

“The work in Inkblots and Blood Spots has been carefully arranged so that it’s woven together with characters, settings, themes, rhythms, and voices that all connect and flow into the telling of one longer tale throughout.” – Shawna Barnard

The collection includes 15 previously published short stories, “Dandelion Clocks,” a new novelette, and a mix of 17 poems, some of which are previously published, and some that are new.

Dance with me.

Stories:

  • Hiatus
  • Bootstrap / The Binds of Lasolastica
  • A Light in the Closet
  • Mum
  • Skinny
  • Not the Child
  • Scrub
  • Eavesdropping
  • It Tears Away
  • The Dying Gaul
  • The Mascot
  • Coulrophobic
  • Underwater Ferris Wheel
  • I Wanted Black
  • Fireman / Primal Tongue
  • Dandelion Clocks

Poems:

  • Beneath Clouds
  • Alive
  • The Two of You
  • Bogey
  • Sticks and Bones
  • Void
  • Simon the Parasite
  • Ink
  • Listen To Me
  • All but the Things that Cannot be Torn
  • Twisted
  • Secret Smile
  • Open Auras
  • Though it Rains
  • Countdown to Null
  • Not Responding
  • Whisper Dance