Posts Tagged ‘ Brian Keene ’

LIARS, FAKERS, AND THE DEAD WHO EAT THEM – NOW AVAILABLE!

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“Had it not been for Scott Edelman and the other comic book storytellers of that time, I would have never wanted to become a writer, I would have never persisted until I actually became a writer, and I would certainly have never written The Rising, which means that zombie literature might not have enjoyed this new heyday.”

So says Brian Keene in his introduction to Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them, a collection of zombie novelettes by seven-time Bram Stoker Award nominee Scott Edelman, which includes “Only Humans Can Lie” and “Faking It Until Forever Comes.

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A Vegan chef believes meat is murder. A determined waitress longs for stardom. He hopes to convince the world to abandon killing animals. She hopes to convince a director to make her a star. Both of those hopes are challenged when a zombie apocalypse traps them in small towns where their dreams might come true—or else be crushed under the weight of an invading undead horde. Join Tim and Shelley as they struggle to survive—and retain their sanity—in a world where death suddenly holds no dominion.

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Both novelettes are illustrated throughout by Italian artist Daniele Serra with half-page, full-page, and page-spanning artwork.  Check out some of these killer illustrations! Serra also designed the artwork used on the cover.

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Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them is the second book in the Allevon series by Written Backwards, following Gene O’Neill’s At the Lazy K (pictured below, and now only $8.95), which was illustrated by L.A. Spooner, and featured an introduction by Rena Mason.

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These specialty numbered books are a smaller 8″x5″ trade paperback size, each illustrated by a different artist, and the designed for those who enjoy literary/speculative fiction, as well as for book collectors looking for something unique to add to their libraries.

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Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them is available now at Amazon.com for the low price of $8.95, and will be celebrated with an official launch at StokerCon 2017 in Long Beach, California at the end of April, with author Scott Edelman.

BRAM STOKER AWARDS ® – THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD - DRP Edition* UPDATE: pre-order for the deluxe signed/limited edition of The Library of the Dead sold out within the first 24 hours, but the trade paperback is still on sale for 33% off at Dark Regions Press.

The Library of the Dead took home the Bram Stoker Award ® for Superior Achievement in an Anthology at the inaugural StokerCon in Las Vegas, NV, hosted by the Horror Writers Association.

I’m still in shock, and at a loss for words, so I’ll keep this short. StokerCon was quite an event, with a book-signing/release for both Chiral Mad 3 (which sold out!) and The Library of the Dead  (which moved quite a lot of copies). Many contributors from both anthologies were available and signed copies like mad. We filled out a bunch of  tip/signature sheets for the future deluxe limited editions coming soon from Written Backwards / Dark Regions Press, including Chiral Mad 3, The Library of the Dead, You Human (the first science fiction anthology in a long time from DRP), The Cal Wild Chronicles (Gene O’Neill), and Other Music (Marc Levinthal). The best way I can describe this mass-signing chaos is through pictures, which you can find at the end of this post.

CHIRAL MAD 3 - DRP Edition

A few copies of the deluxe signed/limited hardbound edition of Chiral Mad 3 remain, which can be pre-ordered by clicking the cover image above; this will be signed by everyone involved, except for King. Chuck Palahniuk, Glenn Chadbourne, and all other contributors will be signing these books, so you will want to pick up a copy. The trade paperback is available for purchase now if you don’t want to wait that long.

As for the conference, I served on only one panel this year alongside fellow anthologists Ellen Datlow, Thomas F. Monteleone, and Stephen Jones, attended a few readings, and kicked back to enjoy the company of longtime friends alongside my better half, Kelly Rumble (who for some reason thinks we’re getting married in a few weeks). Some of the highlights of this ultra-packed weekend include hanging out (lunches and drinks and aftermath shenanigans of celebratory Irish Car Bombs) with mentors Tom Monteleone and F. Paul Wilson (who Kelly Laymon calls ‘Pauly’), my own past HWA mentoree, Meghan Arcuri (an excellent writer), and one of the best damn female voices writing today, Erinn Kemper. And who can forget the wonderful Jack Ketchum, who I was able to dine/drink with on two occasions over the last few weeks (thanks to the World Horror Convention two weeks prior). And of course Gene O’Neill, who is always a treat, meeting Scott Edelman for the first time (after publishing a few of his works), as well as hanging with Hal Bodner, Jason V Brock, Stephanie Wytovich, Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Mercedes Yardley, Marge Simon, Lucy Snyder, Eric Guignard, Rena Mason, and I’m sure I’m missing a few names here, but basically a who’s-who of Written Backwards titles. The most horrific part of weekend was standing in front of a room packed full of my peers to accept not only one Bram Stoker Award ® for The Library of the Dead, but a second statue on behalf of Mort Castle, Sam Weller, Chris Ryall, and Carlos Guzman for Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, which won for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. So many great memories… One of the most bizarre, perhaps, was accepting both awards on behalf of Brian Keene, who could not be there (an inside joke).

13179348_10206412283767871_5977074888684614861_nTo help celebrate the Stoker, Dark Regions Press is offering 30% off the trade paperback edition of The Library of the Dead, as well as on pre-orders for the deluxe signed/limited hardbound edition to be released later this year (limited to 26 lettered A-Z). Click the book either above or below, or click here, and enter BRAMSTOKERAWARD as your coupon code when checking out for a 30% discount. If you prefer Amazon, or you run into any problems, you can find it here.

Anyway, the chaos I promised…

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THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD - DRP Edition

 

 

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.

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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?

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD

What is The Library of the Dead? It’s the next anthology by Written Backwards.

Imagine a cathedral-like building set on the west coast of California, where the rich and famous have been buried for generations, as well as the surrounding area’s infamous citizens. Imagine walking into the building, expecting a church, but instead you find yourself within a maze of corridors and small, oddly shaped rooms. In each of these rooms are rows upon rows of golden books, filling shelves from floor to ceiling. And it takes your breath away. A secret library.

The Library of the DeadBut this isn’t a library at all (well, it is, of sorts, just not like any you have ever seen), and the countless golden volumes within are not even books, but funeral urns filled with the ashes of the dead. Side-by-side they wait to be opened, like hardcover novels. On the spines of these “books” are names of the deceased and dates they’d lived carved in intricate script.

You find yourself lost in this labyrinth. You walk the endless rows and read the names. You could easily reach up and slide a “book” from its shelf to take a closer look, but perhaps something keeps you from doing such a thing. These are the dead, and you must respect them. The names on these books are people you have admired over the years, names like Brian Keene, and Gene O’Neill, and wait… some of these names you may not recognize, but should. There are countless golden books/urns, but perhaps you only have time to pull down a dozen to see what they hold… or perhaps a few more.

Somewhere roaming the quiet hallways in this glorious building, this Library of the Dead, is a librarian. He waits until dark to show you around, to perhaps pull down a few of these “books,” to read to you the stories of the lives and deaths of those he watches over.

Coming this fall.

WRITTEN BACKWARDS AWARDS® / DRAWA (2014)

Written Backwards Awards

Written Backwards Awards

Also known as the DRAWA, the Written Backwards Awards® celebrates the recognition of a literary marvel. The prestigious 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 Stephen Hill publishes an award-winning masterpiece in December 2014, he is not eligible for a 2013 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 currently includes the following anthologies: Pellucid Lunacy (2010), Chiral Mad (2012), Chiral Mad 2 (2013), the upcoming Pellucid Lunacy 2 (TBD), and the upcoming Qualia Nous (TBD). 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, in this first annual event, Written Backwards is proud to introduce the first winners of the Written Backwards Awards®, also known as the DRAWA (name not yet a registered trademark). The following works were admired greatly, and can forever be considered literary marvels from this point onward.

Gary A. Braunbeck – Rose of Sharon (fiction collection)

David Morrell – Murder as a Fine Art (historical novel)

Christian A. LarsenLosing Touch (first novel)

Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane (fantasy novel)

John Boden – Dominoes (kids book, sort of…)

Joe HillNOS4A2 (horror novel)

Stephen KingDr. Sleep (horror novel)

Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel (screenplay)

David Petersen – Mouse Guard, all volumes (graphic novel)

Special Written Backwards Awards® may be given out each year 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, with strong viral marketing / social networking skills, and a blog people actually follow; this person must regularly crank out quality work and have a recognizable ‘presence’ in their field of work; this is the top dog, the lifetime achiever, the… well, you get the idea. 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 – Brian Keene

DRAWA Inspiration – Usman T. Malik

DRAWA Voice – Erik T. Johnson

 

THE LONELIEST PYLON

pylonA strange title for a blog, I know, but it sums up my stay in Maryland last weekend during the latest Borderlands Press Writers Boot Camp. Why the pylon? I woke up Friday morning in my hotel room after a long day of traveling, looked out the window, and noticed a lonely orange traffic pylon keeled over in the middle of an empty field blanketed in snow. My first thought: I’ve never written a story from the point of view of an orange traffic pylon. No joke. That was my first thought of the morning. Me and my roommate, Richard, then began brainstorming ‘what if’ story ideas. What if the pylon thought it was one of a kind? What if the pylon somehow made it to an Interstate repaving project, only to be placed alongside thousands of other identical pylons? Would it be happy? Sad? What if the pylon was sex-deprived? What would it feel if sandwiched between other pylons? What if the pylon didn’t have a hole? We created about 30 scenarios for this poor, lonely pylon stranded in the snow, which we then coined “The Loneliest Pylon.” That’s basically the mindset of sleep-deprived speculative fiction writers. We get weird. And those are some of the more tame scenarios…

Anyway, the boot camp. For the last few months, me and sixteen other writerly types edited and critiqued the short stories and novel chunks submitted. This was a lot of work, but an extremely healthy habit for fiction writers. Every writer should do this regularly. I tend to do it often (my fifth boot camp?) In the past, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Thomas F. Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, Douglas E. Winter, John R. Douglas, Mort Castle, Elizabeth Massie, Gary A. Braunbeck, and David Morrell. This year, Tom, Paul and Doug took the lead, with Brian Keene visiting Saturday night to give us the dirty on writing full-time.

Let me state something incredibly important right now, before I recap the camp (and this has nothing to do with Brian’s incredible speech, if you’re wondering)… I don’t plan to write full-time. Ever? Probably not. Writing full-time, I’m guessing I could crank out a few books a year, maybe edit an anthology or two, publish a bunch of short fiction, but full-time? No. Why? I’m not that crazy. A little crazy, but not that crazy. But, I will never stop writing, or editing, or publishing, and that’s the point. I’ve got this writer sickness in me. It’s terminal. Writing is a sickness, a disease. I had to state that because I get asked this question often. In fact, I was asked this question today at work. “Why don’t you just write full-time?” Well, now you have your answer.

After dissecting these submissions to death at home, we then met in Maryland to dissect them even further, as a group. Tom focused on plot, Paul on dialogue/voice, and Doug on character/point-of-view. After much instruction Friday night (lasting until 2-ish in the morning), as well as receiving a writing assignment to turn in Sunday morning (I’ll get to that later), we met Saturday morning bright and early in smaller groups for round-robin critiques. My room was used for Tom’s plot discussions, which means I work-shopped with him first and was able to sleep in for an extra 5 minutes (sleep-deprivation is common at these things, so 5 minutes of extra rest is a blessing). Each story received 20-30 minutes of intense discussion, with each grunt and lastly the instructor taking a turn. Then we room-hopped. I spent time with Paul next, and after lunch, took a hefty beating by Doug (as expected). I think we finished the round-robin critiques sometime around 5, which brings me back to the assignment.

bootcamp1We were each handed a random sheet of paper with a news headline. By Sunday morning, we had to produce roughly 750-1,500 words about that headline. My headline read: MAN HIRES HIT-MAN TO KILL HIMSELF, CALLS IT OFF… TOO LATE? or something similar. You get the idea. Leading up to that point, I was hoping to write my assignment from an orange traffic pylon’s point of view… Well, I had to change gears a bit. A few of my returning boot camp writerly friends, Richard Payne, Tracie Orsi, and my HWA mentoree, Meghan Arcuri (pictured, left to right), sacrificed sitting down for a nice dinner to instead participate in a foursome writer orgy. It’s not what you think… okay, maybe it’s what you think. The four of us returned to one of the rooms and sat quietly, writing our stories. We tossed around ideas and random chaotic thoughts (many laughs), but, for the most part, we remained silent and worked on our stories. We each cranked out about 200-300 words. Brian Keene was up next, so we snagged some food and brought it with us.

I need to interrupt myself here to tell a quick story. I found out late Thursday night (midnight maybe), that I barely missed seeing a good friend of mine, Susan Scofield. If you haven’t seen her artwork, you are missing out. Quality stuff. Anyway, I knew she’s neighbors and good friends with Brian Keene, somewhere in Pennsylvania, but my knowledge of eastern U.S. geography sucks, so I didn’t realize how close she was to the hotel in which we were staying. Before falling asleep for the night, facebook told me she had just returned home from Maryland. She was literally (I don’t use that word often) down the street with some writerly friends I knew as well. I flew over 3,000 miles, and we missed each other by minutes, by miles! “Have Brian slap me for you when he gets here,” I told her, but that wasn’t enough.

So, Saturday rolls around and I’m in a room chatting with some of the instructors and a few newbie writers as we’re wrapping up when Brian barges in. “I have to tell you this amazing story!” he says, and everyone turns around. “I was just standing around and this BEAUTIFUL blonde woman comes up to me, and I’m thinkin’ alright… and she says to me, ‘Hey! Are you Brian Keene?’ I tell her, ‘Well, yeah, I’m Brian Keene,’ thinking this is kinda cool and all, and then she says, ‘You’re going to the Borderlands boot camp thing, right?’ I tell her yeah, wondering where this is going because I’m famous and all, and she says, ‘Do you know Michael Bailey? Can you give this to him?'” He then gets all pissy at this point like I stole his girl and acted out this big scene and it was rather awesome, and he hands me this note…

susan_note

Message received, Susan, but I love you anyway.

Where was I?

“On Writing Full-Time (circa 2013)” followed later that night. Click the link if you want to read Brian’s speech. It’s incredibly informative and provides much perspective on writing full-time. I’ve met Brian a few times in the past, and look up to him (he even had some nice things to say about me). Please, read the attached speech, and read his work. He stayed around late to answer hundreds of questions and to discuss writing in general with the instructors and boot camp grunts. I can’t quite remember the time, but 12:30-ish ticked by when we headed back upstairs to finish our assignments. The foursome writer orgy continued for the next few hours. It’s quite liberating, really. Richard and Tracie sat at the table while Meghan and I kicked back on the couch. I’ve never written fiction while seated next to someone before. It felt strange at first, but I’m incredibly comfortable and open around these amazing people. Combined, we probably produced close to 5,000 words (Tracie providing the most pages). Laughs interrupted keystrokes every so often, but the four of us cranked out quality fiction. I will need to do this more often. I left the room with a writer high, and stayed awake another hour to read.

Coffee was definitely our friend during the stay. Sunday morning, each of us staggered out of bed, somehow dressed and made ourselves presentable, hashed out some last-minute edits, printed, and then submitted our work. To be read aloud…

Norman Prentiss (another friend and an amazing writer), read some of the stories, along with Doug and Paul taking turns. Tom read only one story… mine, and he read it well. In fact, if you click the link below, a 3-page story called “Fine Print,” you can listen to Tom reading the madness I produced during my sleep-deprived stay in Maryland. And yes, the story involves an orange traffic pylon and garnered some laughs.

“Small Print” – Read by Thomas F. Monteleone.

That’s the boot camp in a nutshell. There’s much more to it than that, but it’s difficult to express what goes on at the boot camp in so many words. The most difficult part is saying goodbye. Luckily, most of us stay in contact. I’ve been to five of these things now, and try to stay in contact with fellow grunts over the years. I’ve made some great friends along the way. And I always leave feeling inspired to write, and to edit, and to re-write, and to re-edit. It is definitely a sickness, or a disease, but I’m glad to share this disease with so many fine individuals.

I leave you with one final photograph from the boot camp, with Tom and Doug on the left, Paul on the right, and some of the grunts sandwiched in between.

bootcamp2