The Sample Copies of Yesteryear

sample copies

Let me tell you of the days of print magazines!

For those of you who don’t publish or aspire to publish your writing, part of the process often involves familiarizing yourself with magazines. Back in the print-only days, that meant ordering sample copies from a publisher, or subscribing, or (increasingly rarely as newsstands waned) going somewhere to purchase a copy in person. These days even print-only magazines often have samples of their fiction online, partly to lure would-be readers, partly to give writers an idea of what (not) to submit. This summer I was doing some cleaning and was reminded that over the years, I’ve amassed a small horde of sample copies. What you see here is a tiny fraction of it, as I have piles elsewhere of magazines I subscribed to or bought an issue or two of, including Cemetery Dance, F&SF, Grue, Deathrealm, Weird Tales, etc..

A pleasant surprise was seeing names that are familiar to me today from tables of contents, social media, conventions, and other parts of the publishing world: Allen, Cisco, Kilpatrick, Pugmire, Schwader, Schweitzer, Thomas, and many more. Some of those authors are still publishing in magazines, big and small. Some write full time, some part time. Some have had a lasting impact on readers and writers who came after them and, in some cases, followed their models.

tales of lovecraftian horror toc

A squamous menagerie…

I’d like to think the continued presence of these authors in the field says something about continuity, and about what makes a writer a writer (writing, yes, but publication, too). Once upon a time I bought into the idea of a standard template for authors’ literary lives, and up until a few years ago I was still thinking in those terms. The disruptions caused by publisher consolidation, e-books, etc., has changed that for me, but also taking a long, hard look at the market, and realizing that the Big 5 currently have only a sliver of a sliver of a niche for dark fiction, and it’s parceled out across the bookstores. (I’m skipping over YA and graphic novels, which are different kettles of fish, and neither of which I really write.) Instead, there are—as there were hundreds of years ago—various means for making your work public. The familiar names that I see belong to people who learned that lesson and published consistently wherever there was room, or who found a way to make room for themselves.

Less happily, the names I didn’t recognize in these magazines are as disproportionately female as those I do recognize are male. What happened to them? Hard to say, given how many writers publish a story or two and then vanish, and I don’t know every corner of the field, but many of the TOCs I saw do clearly uphold the idea of horror as a boys’ club (awareness of which has led to various attempts at correction), and there is a host of reasons why women historically have published less often than men. Personally I love the broadening of the field in recent years. Long ago I was reading Brite, Jackson, Rice, etc., and in the last decade authors like Carter, Kiernan, Link, Llewellyn, etc. The writer just starting out today who looks back in twenty years will have a new group of authors  to consider foundational, and I think it probably goes without saying, but that group will look different in more ways than one.

From ALA Returned / News

This year’s ALA Annual happened in San Francisco, and it was a pleasure to be there when the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal across the U.S. I can’t recall the last time I was in a city that was as universally excited. Librarians generally trend left, radical, and queer-friendly, so the conference was pretty much jubilant, too.

My haul:

books from SF

One travels, and one acquires books.

The books above were mostly freebies. Some notes:

  • I met Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at a promo/release party, where he signed my book. Nice guy, and I loved how he articulated his interests in fiction.
  • Friend and colleague Alex P. Watson gifted me with The Loud Adios.
  • I picked up the O’Hara collection at City Lights, which I visited for the second or third time. I’ve read all of O’Hara in past, but it’s a pleasure finally to own a collection from him.
  • Birth of a Bridge is from the good folks at Talonbooks, who publish some amazing stuff.

My short story, “Wolf of Hunger, Wolf of Shame,” is forthcoming later this year in the revived Weirdbook, issue 31.

I will have a post down the road about putting together the list of Weird Fiction Publishers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s here — https://jtglover.wordpress.com/weird-fiction-publishers/

Happy Canada Day!

Out Now: The Big Bad II

Cover for the anthology The Big Bad II

The Big Bad II

Those of you hungering for some Big Bad in your life need look no further: The Big Bad II is available for purchase. If you want a teaser about my story, “Mercy’s Armistice,” you can read my guest blog post, “Quieter Horror,” over at John Hartness’ website. Prices below current as of 6:30 a.m. this morning…

Amazon: Kindle ($2.99)
Amazon: Paperback ($15.96)
Amazon: Hardback ($29.95)

B&N: NOOK ($2.99)
B&N: Paperback ($15.96)
B&N: Hardback ($29.95)

I’m grateful to John Hartness and Emily Leverett for taking my story for The Big Bad II, and to Allan Gilbreath for publishing it. Thanks also to my friend and colleague, Gregory Kimbrell, who shared a video of two very desultory dancers with me last year and thereby sparked one of the scenes in my story.

If you read this anthology, please consider posting a review wherever works best for you, whether the bookseller, your blog, or Goodreads. Thanks!

Throwback Thursday, You Say?

In the mood for some Throwback Thursday action? Below are links to the top five posts I’ve written here…

On the Existence of the Female Tentacle” — 312 views — All about women who write Lovecraftian fiction.

Release the Leeches!” — 175 views — Release day and my writeup, lo those several months ago, for The Children of Old Leech.

Mary Chiaramonte / Land of Strangers / Eric Schindler Gallery” — 134 views — Review of Mary Chiaramonte’s 2012 show.

All the Colors of the Night” — 134 views — Review of Thomas Van Auken’s 2012 show at Eric Schindler Gallery.

Writing Year 2013: Statistics, Lies, Stagnation, and the Human Heart” — 115 views — An analysis with charts and statistics of my writing activities over a seven-year period.

In Belgium, No One Can Hear You Fhtagn

What waits between the stars? Story illustration by Peter Szmer

What waits between the stars? Lovecraft eZine illustration by Peter Szmer

It’s been a pretty good month. I’m delighted to announce that I have sold French-language translation and publication rights for my Lovecraftian SF story, “How Rare Are Light and Life.” My first foreign rights sale! They were acquired by Patrick Dechesne for a Lovecraftian anthology forthcoming this autumn. Patrick is starting a French-language house, entitled “Les Editions de l’Instant,” which will publish anthologies and novels, including some translated from English. I’ll share more information about this project as I have it.

Big thanks to Mike Davis for first publishing this story in The Lovecraft eZine, a year ago this month. I’ve been pleased to hear from both friends and strangers who have read and enjoyed it over the last twelve months, and I’m glad to see its wings tentacles spread a little farther.

Writing year 2014: Blog Readership Interlude

This morning I’m doing a little spreadsheet upkeep, and I thought I’d look at my blog’s reach. This is over a few years, but still: I never would have expected this as a kid. I had high hopes in terms of productivity that haven’t worked out, and my younger self says “Closing in on 40, and you haven’t published a novel yet, let alone 20? Loser!”

That said, my blog is read by robots people from around the world, and by year’s end I’ll have published at least a dozen stories in toto. I’m shooting for more, but it’s a milestone. Maybe one of these days I’ll start thinking seriously about a short story collection, and how to make that happen. Until then, the work reaches where it reaches, be it short story or blog post. To wit:

country of origin for blog viewers

International Renown, What Ho!

My Next Novel Will Be a Smelly Cat with Blue Hair and Cholera

Another Day at the CircusI have not yet determined whether “magical realist murder mystery” or “literary novel of the fantastic” or “contemporary novel of memory, ecology, and inheritance” is the key to attracting an agent’s attention, but thus far we’re at (D) none of the above. That said, I’ve gotten some personal rejections with compliments on my writing. Onward, onward. At some point I’ll throw in the towel, but I ain’t there yet.

Since describing my current novel on submission has involved a certain amount of query letter contortion, I figure I’ll make it easier to categorize next go-round. Near as I can tell, Knife Fighting with Mondrian is an “anti-bildungsroman about an unsuccessful middle-aged artist fixated on the work of a celebrated rival.” It’s going to be the next sparkly vampires, I tell you what.