Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas,
Happy Hanukkah,
Kool Kwanzaa,
Fabulous Festivus,
and a Happy New Year!
pant pant pant!!

--Misty (Tom and Wilma, too -- but mostly Misty)

Writer's Quote:
"Writing is a dog's life, but the only life worth living."  
---Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Dog from L.I.G.H.T.N.I.N.G.


Ellen Datlow recently gave my story "Lightning Rod" an honorable mention in her The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 21st Annual Collection, 2008. I've collected Ellen's TYBF&H series for several years now, always looking forward to reading the stories in these hefty volumes, and scanning her short list of honorable mentions to see what I missed during the previous year. I can't describe how thrilled I am to find my name on this year's list. Ellen Datlow is one of the most respected editors working in the field, and it means a lot to me that "Lightning Rod" got a "thumbs-up."

But what a long road the story has traveled: it was written in the dead of Winter, January 2004, as a remembrance of my dog Windy, who was hit by a car a few months before; accepted for All Hallows September 2005; and finally appeared in issue #43 in the Fall of 2007.

Finally, "Lightning Rod" is being reprinted in another "best of" collection, this one being
Horror: The Best of the Year, 2008, edited by the incomparable Stefan Dziemianowicz and published by Prime Books. Although the book has been delayed, I'm still looking forward to seeing Windy live again in its pages. As you can see by the photos, she occupied a special place in my home.
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And still she occupies a special place in my heart.

Writer's Quote:
"There's a difference between writing for a living and writing for life. If you write for a living, you make enormous compromises, and you might not even be able to uncompromise yourself. If you write for life, you'll work hard; you'll do what is honest, not what pays."
--Toni Morrison

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We really poured our Dead Souls into these stories!

Heh! Feast your spider-bitten eyes on the distinguished list of authors (and stories) appearing in Dead Souls, the new horror anthology edited by Mark Deniz and due out March 2009 from Morrigan Books:

Elizabeth Barrette - Goldenthread
Ramsey Campbell - The Dead Must Die
Stephanie Campisi - The Ringing Sound of Death on the Water Tank
Michael Colangelo - Poseidon’s Claw
Brendan Connell - Black Tiger
Tom English - Dry Places
Paul Finch - June
Catherine J. Gardner - When the Cloak Falls
Ken Goldman - Mercy Hathaway is a Witch
Robert Holt - In the Name
Robert Hood - Sandcrawlers
Sharon Irwin - Begin with Water
Carole Johnstone - The Blind Man
Christopher Johnstone - The Unbedreamed
Lisa Kessler - Immortal Beloved
Lisa Kessler - Subito, Piano
Rebecca Lloyd - Contaminator
Anna M. Lowther - The Price of Peace
Gary McMahon - A Shade of Yellow
Bernie Mojzes - The Collector
T. A. Moore - Genus Loci
Reece Notley - Tatsu
James R. Stratton - Your Duty to your Lord
Michael Stone - The Migrant
Simon Strantzas - More to Learn
Ben Thomas - The Pagans
Bill Ward - When they Come to Murder Me
Kaaron Warren - The Blue Stream
Ron Yungul - The Lords of Chickamauga

And yes, that second name on the list is THE Ramsey Campbell. It doesn't get much better than this!

Writer's Quote:
"The chief glory of every people arises from its authors."
--Dr. Samuel Johnson

Friday, October 3, 2008

Be on the lookout for Dead Souls

My story "Dry Places" will be appearing in the new horror anthology Dead Souls, due March 2009 from Morrigan Books.

Get a load of the creepy cover! (Spiders have always creeped me out!)

As I announced back in June, "Dry Places" was chosen for a project tentatively called Blood & Snow. Since then, the book has morphed into the terrifying anthology Dead Souls :


"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

--Genesis 1:2

Darkness was first, before God brought the light, yet the light could not cover all, for shadows remain. They grow and fester and infect.
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Dead Souls contains tales that explore the darker side of the soul, those that could not escape the shadows that followed them and even those that embraced them....
(from an early blurb from Morrigan Books)
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What really excites me about this new anthology is its roster of talented writers, including my pals Simon Strantzas and Gary McMahon, both of whom I worked with in Bound for Evil. Definitely two guys to watch. (See my previous post, below.)
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Writer's Quote:
"More people have talent than discipline. That’s why discipline pays better.” --Mike Price

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Three Books, Free Books

Three books to read in September:

Beneath the Surface by Simon Strantzas
Strantzas is breaking out from the pack and headed for big things. He recently appeared in Steven Jones' Best New Horror 19 (2008).

How to Make Monsters by Gary McMahon
Lately, this guy has been eating everybody's lunch. He appears in Steven Jones' Best New Horror 19, as well as in Ellen Datlow's The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 2008.

Want a chance to win a FREE copy of the $80 limited edition Bound for Evil? Simply buy a copy of Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty. To be eligible you need to buy the book directly from the publisher (SkullVines Press) and then you're automatically entered in a contest to win some nice horror-related books (including BfE, close to 800 pages of horror, fantasy and SF by some of the best writers in the field).

Writer's Quote:
"It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
--Peter Benchley (author of Jaws)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Birth of an Evil Book, Part 2

Here's the second part of my radio interview on Metal Crypt, in which I discuss writing part-time, the origins of the Literary Vampire series, and the chapbook Phantasmapedia by my friend Mark McLaughlin.


Writer's Quote:
"A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men."  ---Proverbs 18:16

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Birth of an Evil Book

Here's part one of my interview, conducted by the ghouls of Metal Crypt, a show heard weekly on HardRockRadioLive.com. Among other things, I discuss the conception of Bound for Evil: Curious Tales of Books Gone Bad.



Writer's Quote:
"What nature delivers to us is never stale. Because what nature creates has eternity in it."
---Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Isaac Bashevis Singer Talks…About Everything,”
Time Magazine, 11/26/78

Saturday, June 28, 2008

At the End of the Day


The end of another day: my wife, Wilma, snapped this photo back in January. Here you see one spent writer -- oh, and one spent pooch, too. (That's right, we don't use the "D" word around my house!)
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After writing the introduction for Bound for Evil: Curious Tales of Books Gone Bad, I collapsed from exhaustion. The intro was the capper of a year-long editing process that kept me up way past my bedtime far too many nights. As you can plainly see, Misty, having sat at my feet for so long during the editing of the book, has literally grown into my leg. But that's okay: a boy and his dog should be inseparable.
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Thought for the Day:
“Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul.”
---Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)
The Prison and the Angel
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blood & Snow: By Its Cover

What can I say about the cover design for The Age of Blood & Snow? Other than FABULOUS!!!

The image conveys perfectly the Heroic Ages which are the focus of the anthology. The stories, including my own, "Dry Places," contain elements of the fantasy and horror genres (including the supernatural).

This image looks as though it were lifted from one of those multi-million dollar Hollywood spectacles, but it's not. The photo comes from Nikki Phillips, and the concept design is by Reece Notley and Mark S. Deniz (the publisher of Morrigan Books, and also a successful writer and editor). I think they did an exceptional job.

Oh, and here's another Writers' Quote:

“The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique.”

---Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Isaac Bashevis Singer Talks…About Everything,”
Time Magazine, 11/26/78
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Friday, June 13, 2008

A Few Bad Books

Here's a few quotes (as reported in Andre Bernard's Rotten Rejections, Pushcart Press, 1990) from rejection letters received by writers with whom you may be familiar (heh!) :


“It is interesting and has several good points, but it is not quite suitable for our list.”
---from a letter to Agatha Christie, 1920,
for The Mysterious Affair at Styles
(The first of many cases featuring the fastidious
Belgian private investigator, Hercule Poirot)
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“...Neither long enough for a serial nor short enough for a single short story”
---from a letter to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1887,
for A Study in Scarlet

“It is not at all probable, we think, that we can make use of the story of a Virginia soldier of fortune miraculously transported to Mars…”
---from a letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912,
for Under the Moons of Mars
(serialized in All Story; later published in book form as
A Princess of Mars, the first title in an eleven-book series)
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“A very bad book” ---from a letter to Pierre Boulle, 1954, for The Bridge on the River Kwai


Wise Words:
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
---Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
Life (1932)
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

THE AGE OF BLOOD AND SNOW: TOC

Here's the complete lineup for The Age of Blood and Snow, edited by Skadi meic Beorh (and due December 2008 from Morrigan Books):

"Mercy Hathaway Is A Witch" - Ken Goldman
"Your Duty To Your Lord" - James R. Stratton
"The Price Of Peace" - Anna M. Lowther
"Be Ye Silent, Sons Of Man" - Brad C. Hodson
"Eckbert & Mortimer" - David Ripley
"The Collector" - Bernie Mojzes
"Licwiglunga" - Tammy Moore
"Poseidon’s Claw" - Michael Colangelo
"The Unbedreamed" - Chris Johnstone
"The Waiting" - Aliya Whiteley
"When The Cloak Falls" - Catherine J Gardner
"Tricksters" - Jeff Parish
"Immortal Beloved" - Lisa Kessler
"Into The Demon Cosmos" - William Blake Vogel III
"Cold Fire" - Brian Dolton
"Goldenthread" - Elizabeth Barrette
"Thorvold’s Tale" - Jason Thummel
"Black Tiger" - Brendan Connell
"Dry Places" - Tom English
"When They Come To Murder Me" - Bill Ward
"Enclosure" - Ayne Terceira
"Begin With Water" - Sharon Irwin
"In The Name" - Robert Holt
"She Burned With God-Breath; Burned Within" - Skadi meic Beorh
"The Pagans" -Ben Thomas
"The Lords of Chickamauga" - Ron Yungul
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Writer's Thought:
“When the writer becomes the center of his attention, he becomes a nudnik. And a nudnik who believes he’s profound is even worse than just a plain nudnik.”
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---Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Isaac Bashevis Singer Talks… About Everything,”
Time Magazine, 11/26/78

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sometimes "No" is NOT the Final Word

Thought for the Day:

"Beware of allowing a tactless word, a rebuttal, a rejection to obliterate the whole sky."

---Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, January 1944

An encouraging anecdote for writers:

Irving Stone's first book was about Van Gogh. Stone took it to Alfred Knopf, and "they never opened it---the package with the manuscript got home before I did." After fifteen more rejections the book, Lust for Life, was finally accepted and published in 1934. It has now sold about twenty-five million copies.
(from Rotten Rejections, edited by Andre Bernard for Pushcart Press, 1990)
Not to mention the book was the basis for a major motion picture starring Kirk Douglas.

In one of the 16 rejections Stone received, an editor described the work as "a long, dull novel about an artist." Moral of this story: everybody gets rejections; in fact, many of the best-known and best-loved books of the past 200 years were initially rejected. Obviously, the authors of these works did not take the rejections (however numerous) as the final word. They persevered until they found good homes for their literary children.

Manuscripts get rejected for a number of reasons: sometimes the reason is poor writing, murky plot, or lack of originality. Certainly we need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to our own work: it may need polishing, we may need polishing. But many times a rejection simply means "not here, try another market." Oh, and it's the writing that's being rejected---not the writer!!

My story "Lightning Rod" was rejected a few times before All Hallows accepted it. One of the rejections turned out to be extremely ironic, and I'll explain this in a later entry. The heartening news is that this summer the story will be reprinted in Horror: The Best of the Year, 2008. Glad I kept sending the story out.

I'll share about other famous books that were initially rejected, over the next few days. I feel these anecdotes help take out some of the sting of our own rejections. Chat with you later.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Meet the Creature from My Bloody Blog!!

Welcome to my writer's blog. I'm not new to the internet: as a publisher of quality fantasy fiction, such as the limited-edition hardcover anthology Bound for Evil: Curious Tales of Books Gone Bad, or the brilliant portmanteau novel, Engelbrecht Again! by absurdist Welsh writer Rhys Hughes, I maintain an active web presence at my Dead Letter Press site. Lately, however, my own fiction has been receiving some nice recognition. My ghost story "Lightning Rod" (which originally appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of All Hallows ) has been selected to appear in Horror: The Best of The Year, 2008 (edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz for Prime Books, and due July 2008). "A Handful of Dust" will appear in an upcoming issue of All Hallows and "Dry Places" will appear in The Age of Blood and Snow, an anthology of fantastic stories set in the Heroic Ages (edited by Skadi meic Beorh for Morrigan Books, and due December 2008). So, a blog empasizing my role as a writer seemed like a good idea. (Yes, another bloody blog to clog the Information Superhighway we fondly call the 'net!) And what better title for it than "The Literary Alchemist"! After all, by day I am a chemist---trying hard, by night, to transmute words and ideas into literary gold. cough... well, entertaining fiction, at any rate.

I hope you'll drop by again to see what's new. I promise I'll try and make it worthwhile. I realize many of us have literary aspirations, so to help feed our dreams I'll be posting a "Writer's Quote for the Day." I'll also post encouraging anecdotes about writing. I'll sprinkle in background pieces on how the ideas for some of my stories developed, and keep you posted on upcoming projects, both by me and some of my writer-friends. For the more general reader I'll post "Wise Words," about twice a week. And what blog would be complete without photos of friends, family, special events, my dog, my neighbor's cat, my...you get the picture (pun intended)!

Best Regards,
Tom

New article: 7 Weird Facts You Didn't Know About Comic Books

My new Comics article is now live at WhatCulture.com 7 Weird Facts You Didn't Know About Comic Books