Unstrung Harp


Ride the Tiger

You can see his stripes but you know he's clean

Lovecraft! Lovecraft! Lovecraft!
Unstrung Harp

Popping in after a ridiculously long hiatus to make a couple of quick announcements before going back down into deep cover...and hey, both'em of relate to Old Uncle Howie. Will try to be better about updating this dusty site, but for now a quick entry on the fly'll have to do.

First up is my editorial debut, Letters to Lovecraft. It's an anthology of original stories written in response to HPL's essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," and will be put out later this summer by Stone Skin Press. It's been a real blast to work on the back end of a book for a change, and I'm rather chuffed with how it all came together--it's going to have 18 stories by some of my favorite working authors. More details are here in the official press release, and I'm sure I'll make some more noise about it here when it comes out.

The other thing that needs mentioning with the quickness is the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, which takes place next weekend. I'm going to be attending as a guest, and doing a reading at some point. Once I find out the time and room number I'll post an addendum, but for now suffice to say I'll be in attendance and would love to meet all and sundry who also make it out. A friend gave me a VHS copy of Lurker in the Lobby: The Best of the HPLFF over a decade ago, so this has been a con I've wanted to hit for a long time but never before managed. Should be epic--I love Portland, and I love some Lovecraftiana, so let's do this!

Oh yeah, and since there's three Lovecraft's in the title, have this. Cheers!

[Cross-posted to my website]

New Projects, Readings, and a Con Appearence
Unstrung Harp

It's been a long time since I dusted off the blog and made an update, but it's getting to the point where I couldn't put it off any longer, as I've got some things coming out imminently and am hitting up a con this weekend. There are also a couple of Big Things that I hope to be able to announce sometime soon, but I'm increasingly wary of announcing anything until it's reached and breached the point of no return, so will hold off on those for now. In the mean time, though, here's what I've got coming down the pipe:

"Escape from the Mummy's Tomb"--a new short story for Jurassic's anthology The Book of the Dead, edited by Anne Perry and Jared Shurin. It "will be published in collaboration with the Egypt Exploration Society, the UK's oldest independent funder of archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt, dedicated to the promotion and understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture."

As if that wasn't neat enough, here's what the limited edition looks like: "100 hand-numbered, hardcover copies, with gold embossed titles on midnight blue buckram, dark cream endpapers. The Book of the Dead limited edition is bound (literally) in cloth and sealed in wax, impressed with the seal of the Egypt Exploration Society. This edition also contains an exclusive illustration by Garen Ewing that will not appear in any other edition. Because of its unique construction, purchasers of the limited edition will also receive a copy of the ebook for free."

So yeah, stunning limited edition, beautiful illustrations by Garen Ewing, and all new stories for a good cause by myself, Gail Carriger, Molly Tanzer, Maurice Broaddus, Adam Roberts and many more. Here be all the ordering information, and check out Ewing's illustration for my story:

BoD - EscapeFromMummysTomb
"The Devil's Tontine"--a new story in Stone Skin's anthology Schemers, edited by Robin Laws. As with all Stone Skin projects, this anthology has a broad, interesting theme: plots, and the plotting plotters who plot them. I understand the stories run the gamut of genres; my own piece is a Gothic homage set in Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole's infamous folly of a castle. Other contributors include Ekaterina Sedia, Tobias Buckell, Molly von Tanzinghauer, Jonathan L. Howard, Nick Mamatas, Tania Hershman, to name a few, and you can find more information here or pre-order it here, as it drops November 14th.

"Dive In Me"--a new story co-written with S.J. Chambers for Stone Skin's anthology The New Gothic, edited by Beth K. Lewis. Selena and I go way back to Small Times, so we decided to write something inspired by our occasionally overlapping grungy adolescences in North Florida. There's a bit more about it here, and here's the pre-order link as it also comes out on the 14th. In terms of who else is in it, the only two names I know for sure are Richard Dansky, who I know worked on a bunch of World of Darkness books, and, um, Ramsey Campbell.

"The Door From Earth"--a reprint story appearing in Deepest Darkest Eden, an anthology of stories set in or around Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea, edited by Cody Goodfellow. I believe all of the other pieces in this collection are new, written by such badass new gods as Marc Laidlaw, John Shirley, Lisa Morton, Nick Mamatots, Zak Jarvis, and many others; my piece was an odd case, as it actually fit the theme perfectly despite being previously published, and Cody graciously let me take part. This was especially rewarding as I was always less than satisfied with the version of the story as it was originally published, and so it was a rare treat to be able to restore it to its intended form. Here be the ordering info, and hey, check out that rad throwback cover!

(fun fact: in high school I had a pet frog that I named Tsathoggua)

Also, today is launch day for Wonderbook, a new writing guide by Jeff VanderMeer and Jeremy Zerfoss. Jeff had a load of different authors chime in on this or that for the book, so it should offer a wide range of takes on a wealth of different topics, all crammed with neat diagrams by Zerfoss. By request I'm posting the excerpt containing my own small contribution to the project--Jeff asked a mess of authors to briefly talk about the revision process we underwent on a particular project. These responses were then Zerfossized into cartoon snakes with the number of drafts we went through appearing in the snake's eyeball. There's a whole dedicated website here.


So them's the short writings I've got coming down the pike, but before signing off I did want to mention a couple of upcoming appearences I'll be making in the Denver area. First up is Mile Hi Con, which is next weekend. I'm only doing programming on Saturday, but should be down Friday if anyone is around and wants to knock glasses. My Saturday schedule is as follows:

11:00 AM--Noon: "Strong Women in Fiction and Film" Panel
1:00--2:00 PM: Reading (Paired with Eric James Stone)
4:00--5:00 PM: "Best Fantasy Films" Panel

Plus lots of barconning, I'd imagine--of you see me, say hello! Or just scowl at me and walk away, that works, too.

And finally, on Saturday, October 26th, I am taking part in a group reading at Mutiny Information Cafe, a bookstore and coffee shop in Denver. The reading starts at 6 PM, and I'll be joined by Margaret Christie, J. L. Benet, Robert Davis, and DJ Death Fez. Here be the flier, it's free and should be a lot of fun:

books and funk

(Cross-posted to my wonky website)

Films of High Adventure Rises from its Grave; or, Volume 35: Masters of the Universe
Unstrung Harp

Back in the day, my friend Molly Tanzer and I had a column we ran on a semi-regular basis called Films of High Adventure. We got too busy to maintain it, unfortunately, but recently had a collective wild hair to do a one-off column, so hear it be. Our old intro read as follows, though that whole "every Wednesday" thing didn't hold up for long:

We both like watching cheesy fantasy movies, and we both like talking trash about the same, and so we're posting about our viewings of older “classics.” These columns will run every Wednesday on our blogs, excluding the last post of each month, which will appear on the (long-since defunct) Fantasy Magazine website. These were important childhood movies for at least one of us and so we'll be examining them with the oh-so-academic now-and-then approach, and, where possible, we will be cussing like sailors to show off how mature we are now. Feel free to offer suggestions/rebuttals/your own reminisces/cusses at either of our blogs.

The Film: Masters of the Universe (1987)

WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??? A Golan-Globus production (The American Ninja series), because of course it is. Direction by Gary Goddard, who never made another feature length movie but went on to direct numerous theme park attractions, including Star Trek: The Experience and Jurassic Park: The Ride. Written by David Odell, whose experience in writing dialogue for lifeless puppets in The Dark Crystal and The Muppet Show served him well when it came time to work with Dolph Lundgren. Shameless Star Wars rip-off soundtrack by Bill Conti. Acting, such as it is, by Dolph (chemical engineering Masters grad, Olympian at the 96’ Summer Games, and recipient of a Fullbright scholarship to study at MIT…and star of the first, fifth, and sixth Universal Soldier movies), Frank Langella (the world’s sexiest Dracula, at least until Gary Oldman came along), Meg Foster (They Live, Hera from Hercules and Xena), Billy Barty (Frequent Films of High Adventure alum; see our columns on Legend and Willow), Robert Duncan McNeill (uh, a leading role on Star Trek: Voyager? Molly adds: That… that was Tom Paris? WTF?!), James Tolkan (“hey, it’s the bald principal from Back to the Future!”), Chelsea Field (Dust Devil, The Birds II: Land’s End, and wife of Scott Bakula), and Courtney Cox (something called Cougar Town? Ouch). Aside from a bunch of extras, there are maybe five other people in the whole movie with speaking lines—one of said extras won a contest toymaker Mattel held to be featured in the film, and this lucky lad, Richard Szponder, got to play the stirring role of “Pigboy.”

Quote: “Where are your friends now? Tell me about the loneliness of good, He-Man—is it equal to the loneliness of evil?”

Alternate quote: “You mean this used to be an animal...?”

First viewing by Jesse: Right after the video release arrived at the local Uni-Mart gas station from which we rented most of our movies when I was a kid. So probably a few years after it actually came out, which would put me at maybe seven or eight years old.

First viewing by Molly: A few weeks ago. Jesse and I had wanted to do Masters of the Universe for Films of High Adventure when we were doing the column regularly, but the local video store doesn’t have a copy. Go figure. Anywho, somehow this became a topic of conversation at StarFest, a local Denver con, whilst hanging out with Stephen Graham Jones and Carrie Vaughn, both of whom were appalled I’d never seen it before (specifically because of the Teela-thinks-meat-is-gross moment I quoted above … they know me). Carrie very generously volunteered to loan me her personal copy, much to my husband John’s extreme pleasure, so we watched it on his birthday weekend.

Most recent viewing by both: A few weeks ago

Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Moderately high, but for all the wrong reasons—this turkey was the first time I remember experiencing deep, palpable disappointment from a film. I was young, stupid, and loved all things He-man, so a live-action movie couldn’t possibly let me down, could it? Turns out, it could and it did. I remember that right up until the end I kept expecting Battlecat to show up, or for Dolph to don a pink tunic and turn into Prince Adam, or even just have Teela pop her collar and/or take off her pants. Not even one maniacal Skeletor cackle? Weaaaak.

Impact on Molly’s childhood development: None. I totally played with He-Man toys (still have a scar from where one pinched me badly), loved the show. Loved She-Ra too, of course. I wasn’t aware there was a feature film until I think John told me about it.

Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:

"The Star Wars of the 1980s, they called it...read the rest behind the cut"Collapse )

Next Time: Only the gods know...

(Cross-posted to both my jacked-up website and Molly's good-lookin' one, so comment here or at Molly's)

Denver Comic Con and a Tallahassee Reading
Unstrung Harp

This year seems intent to get away from in record time, but so it goes--better to be too busy then not busy enough, what? What. Anyway, over the next month I have a couple of events lined up, so here be the line-up:

Denver Comic Con is next weekend! This is only the event's second year but it's already massive, and should be a helluva lot of fun. In addition to all things comic-related, DCC has a writing track, and I'm currently scheduled to speak on three panels:


4-5 PM: The Future of Storytelling, with Stephen Graham Jones, Molly Tanzer, Guy Anthony Demarco, and James Rourke
8-9 PM: Epic Fantasy, with Daniel Abraham, Molly, Betsy Dornbusch, and W.L. James


10-11 AM: How Are Baby Stories Made? If ever a panel description made one shudder...I'm moderating this sucker, I think, and have Warren Hammond, James Rourke, and Paul Lell on board.

Other than these panels, I'll just be doing the usual con thing--wandering around people-watching, mostly, and seeing if there's a bar where I can do the same. I'm always glad to meet new people, so if you see me about say hello. So long as you don't punch me in the root cellar, we'll get along famously!

Also! On Thursday, June 20th, at 07:00 PM, I'll be taking part in an epic reading event at Fermentation Lounge, my old haunt in Tallahassee. If nothing explodes between now and then, I'll be there with the aforementioned Ms Tanzer, Selena Chambers, and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Be there, or yanno, not be there...

[Cross-posted to my website]

Folly Book Giveaway--The Dog's, or Just Plain Old Bollocks?

I hate going to the post office, and I live in a shoe box. Thus, if I'm going to the PO anyway I damn well better make it worth my time, and since I can't buy any new books until I clear some room on my over-taxed shelves, it's time to give away some of my few remaining author copies. Contest time! Two copies of the UK edition and one copy of the US edition of The Folly of the World are on the block.

I obviously have a fondness for slang, cant, proverbs, and other such semi-ciphered language, with Folly perhaps taking the cake in this regard--it wasn't on a whim that I referenced Brueghel's Netherlandish Proverbs/The Blue Cloak so often in the text:

All you've got to do to win a free copy of the novel, then, is:

1) Leave a comment on this blog entry (either on my website or the LJ cross-post) naming a favorite proverb, idiom, or bit of slang/cant. It can be anything, really, from a brief but profound kōan to a bawdy euphemism.

2) That's it. I would also very, very much appreciate it if anyone who receives a copy of the novel agreed to review it once they were done (it takes all of a minute to set yourself up to review books on amazon, for example)--I'm only able to sell my work to publishers as long as people keep buying them, and maybe a brief review here or there will sway prospective readers (hopefully in the right direction!)...

At noon PST on Thursday I'll choose three winners through some peculiar system, solicit the addresses from these lucky ducks, and drop the books in the mail Friday morning. Everyone wins! Except for those who don't, but at the very least maybe we'll all pick up some new expressions to annoy our friends and family with.


[Cross-posted to my website]

Folly! Readings! Award Noms! Soundtracks! ME ME ME!!! Also, a Review for Somebody Else.
Unstrung Harp
Cats alive, if this year hasn't gotten off to a grand start. I've been informed that Folly has been nominated by the Kitschies for the 2012 Red Tentacle Award! Sponsored by the tasty Kraken rum, "The Red Tentacle is awarded annually to the novel containing speculative or fantastic elements that best fulfills the criteria of intelligent, progressive and entertaining," so obviously I'm chuffed beyond words. Last year Enterprise was nominated for the same award, and being up for this twice in a row is as thrilling as it is unexpected--last year I didn't take home the tentacle, of course, but I did receive a Kraken shower curtain as a runner-up prize, so even if I don''t swing a victory this time around I'll have a stylish barrier to keep my tears from getting onto the bathmat! In all seriousness, given the credentials of all involved with the Kitschies, it really is a vindication just to be nominated, and I can't tell you how happy I am to be thus honored--congratulations, and best of luck to all my fellow nominees!

Other Folly stuff:
  • I made a soundtrack for the novel on Spotify while I was doing my final revisions, so if you're inclined: The Folly of the World Soundtrack.
  • I'll be doing a reading at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax at 07:30 PM on Wednesday, February 6th.
  • I'll be taking part in a group reading with Stephen Graham Jones, Molly Tanzer, Mike Hance, and J.L. Benet on Friday, March 8th at the Broadway Book Mall. More details as it comes together!
So yeah, everything's coming up roses. Also, my review for Nick Mamatas' Bullettime is now live at Strange Horizons. It's mostly plot synopsis, which is something they prioritize, so if you haven't read the book yet you'd be better served by just picking that up instead--it's good, and has some of the most painfully realistic visions of high school life I've read, so, you know, fun times.

[Cross-posted to my website]

Year in Review + Folly Titbits
Unstrung Harp
(Tried to cross-post this yesterday, but LJ was being buggy. Alas! At least I have a lot of experience with being a day late and a dollar short...)

2012 rolled in like a hoop snake and crawled out like a tatzelwurm, if you follow me, a real cryptozoological clusterfuck. I'm glad to be shy of it, frankly, but that's not to say nothing of personal interest or import went down. With no further ado, then, this was 2012, or at least the bits I care to talk about:

  • I read quite a few good books, many of which I've talked about here. I took part in Strange Horizons' reviewer year in review round robin and briefly covered my favorite reads of 2012 (or at least the works that bubbled up to the top of my brain at the time).

  • My plans to attend Readercon and World Fantasy fell through, but I took part in paneling at several local cons, including Starfest and Mile Hi Con. The best part of these, as always, was meeting new people and seeing old friends. And talking shit in the bar, of course.

  • The Enterprise of Death was shortlisted for a Kitschie Red Tentacle Award, which was rather exciting. Better even than the mega ego-boost to find myself nominated alongside China Miéville, Lavie Tidhar, Jane Rogers, and the ultimately triumphant Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd was getting to know judges Anne Perry, Justin Shurin, and Lauren Beukes after the awards were concluded. All three are marvelous, brilliant, funny people, and I'm glad to have met them.

  • Two of the films I've been most looking forward to since, uh, ever came out! I talked about Prometheus here, because it was at least amusingly bad, but haven't been able to bring myself to talk about The Hobbit. I love Peter Jackson, have ever since I watched Bad Taste as a young creep, and love all three of his Lord of the Rings pictures. The Hobbit, though, was an unmitigated disaster of style over substance--gone were my beloved small scale conflicts and moral shades of grey, replaced with a LotR scale, gravitas, and black and white morality that I want no part of in my Hobbitses. So it goes.

  • The Man with the Iron Fists, on the other hand, was everything you could possibly want from a Rza-directed kung-fu movie. Dopey and problematic, but a lot of fun!

  • I was recently reminded of this gorgeous collection of (primarily erotic, NSFW) bookplates:

  • I've been primarily laboring on this and that longer project, but also had a couple of short stories come out last year, and sold a few more which will be dropping this year.

  • The first of the two pieces published last year was "HISTORYBOT Saves the Future," which appeared in Zombies vs Robots: This Means War! and is quite possibly the best short story I've ever written.

  • The second story published in 2012 was a collaboration with Molly Tanzer called "Tubby McMungus, Fat from Fungus," which appeared in Fungi and is quite possibly the weirdest short story I've ever (co-)written.

  • Some of the stories that I sold last year which should come out in 2013 are "Saturday's Children" (about NYC photographer Weegee teaming up with a local mambo to solve a rash of child abductions), "Porn Enough at Last" (gender-neutral erotica about a post-apocalyptic entrepreneur restoring the pornographic details to censored hentai), and "The Fox and the Quantum Physicist" (a modern fable).

Most important, though, is that my third novel snuck out at the tail end of the year. Since The Folly of the World has only been in the wild for a couple of weeks, I've got some links to interviews, guest blogs, etc. that have come out since my initial launch post:
As always, if you enjoy the novel I'd be most obliged if you could help spread the word about it however you can, be it through reviews on goodreads, Amazon, blogs, etc, or just telling your friends about it. This was the toughest novel I've yet written and took about three years to come together, so yeah, it obviously means the world to me to at last see all the hard work result in the beautiful edition Orbit has produced. I hope all that energy, time, inevitable frustration, and sure, love, has resulted in a work that you find worthy of your eyeballs ... and of course, thanks for reading!

Now, here's looking forward to '13--Cheers!

[Cross-posted to my website]

The Folly of the World Book Day
Unstrung Harp

Today marks the fruition of over three years of concentrated effort, my third novel, that shaggy sheep that started life under the title Hook and Cod and is now available at finer booksellers everywhere as The Folly of the World. I love it, and hope that you do, too. If you don't, well, there are plenty of Netherlandish proverbs that could be applied, but then there always are...

Here then are some salient facts and links for your perusal.

1. The marvelous Lauren Panepinto and Zelda Devon did the cover, which also underwent some changes along the way. Here's the final beast in all its beauty:

2. I'm greatly indebted to my editor Tim, my agent Sally, and my besties Raech and Molly for both helping me get this project where it needed to be and for putting up with my constant whinging about it. Hell, thanks to everyone who put up with over the last few years, period--this work took over my life, and I really, really appreciate the collective patience of everyone I know!

3. If you're the look before you leap sort, Orbit has posted the prologue and first chapter of the novel

4. This really is my favorite thing I've ever written. It certainly took the most work of anything I've yet done, and was the most emotionally draining writing experience I've ever had. If you enjoy the book, please feel free to sing its praises from the rooftops, read it aloud at libraries and orphanages, and/or review it online somewhere.

5. Holland is so cool. Thanks, Holland!

6. Link Party:

6. I'm sure I'm leaving something off, but will try to avoid cluttering the feed with constant noise about this, so will run another digest-style update on Folly further down the road: I've got some readings coming up in the new year down Denver-way, I did an interview for Clarkesworld that'll be out some time, and I might be doing another for the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. As always, I'm available to take about myself ad nauseam, if anyone's interested. So yeah, more in the coming days, and thanks again, most of you!

[Cross-posted to my website]

The Folly of the World Giveaway! Cocktails! What?
Unstrung Harp
I received my author copies of The Folly of the World, and that means it's time to hold a book giveaway contest. This book is seriously gorgeous--it's worth having for Lauren Panepinto and Zelda Devon's (textured!) cover alone. Also, it's good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolent, in my personal opinion. This here contest is being hosted on Molly Tanzer's newly revamped website, so get thee to armchair mixologist Molly's website and see how to win one of the four I'm giving away...we all get tipsy in any event, so everybody wins!

[Cross-posted to my website]

MileHiCon This Weekend--October 19-21
Unstrung Harp
I've obviously been keeping a low profile of late, but I'll be stepping out to MileHiCon this weekend in Denver. Very much looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, all that jazz. Details on the con are here, but the broad strokes are that this year's Guests of Honor are Cherie Priest, C.J. Henderson, Stephen Hickman, and Stephen Brust, with Stephen Graham Jones serving as Toastmaster--should be a blast!

Here's where I'll officially be found, if I owe you money or something:

Friday, 08:00-09:00 PM: Serving as part of the "Meet, Munch, and Mingle" Autograph Alley session. I'll sign the remains of any foodstuffs that you let me get a bite of.

Saturday, 10:00-11:00 AM: I'll be doing a tag-team reading with Robert Ziegler, whom I've heard good things about. Haven't decided yet what I'll read--maybe I'll see if Ziegler would be willing to trade whatever he was planning on reading with me, so I can have him read something of mine and then snicker when he gets to the inevitable boners. Like Uncle Klaus, I am a simple man with simple pleasures.

Sunday, 01:00-02:00 PM: Moderating the obligatory "Comedic Elements in Horror" panel, which consists of the aforementioned Stephen Graham Jones, Molly Tanzer, Wayne Faust, and James K. Burk. Come and see us trot out old saws like the "clown at midnight" principle! As moderator, I can 100% guarantee that we'll be talking in part about our favorite film examples, so if you're a cinephile looking for obscure Halloween-season suggestions, this should be a fun time, especially when I call Molly out for not liking the Evil Dead movies in front of a room full of people who can--and likely would, if I had any intention of allowing audience commentary before the final ten minutes--quote Bruce Campbell verbatim, ad nauseam.

Other than that, the bar is always a good bet, and there are some good-looking panels and readings lined up, too, which I'll be sitting in on; the full schedule and guest list is at the site I mentioned above. If you're attending and reading this, it's a pretty safe bet that I'd like to meet you, shake your head, perform an interpretive dance for you, whatevs, so by all means come up to the rare Shorn Bullingtonbeast and introduce yourself. Huzzah!

[Cross-posted to my website]


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