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Aberrations: Flash Fiction for the Ears

October 6th, 2014

Aberrations EyeSince launching this blog a few years ago, I’ve written a bit about the art of storytelling and flash fiction. Along the way, I’ve posted a few samples from Aberrations,  a  radio demo featuring stories from Visions: Short Fantasy & SF and This Way to Egress.

Now, while preparing a couple audio samples to promote the forthcoming Vortex: Book Three of the Veins Cycle, I thought I might offer the full audio of Aberrations.

It’s a 20 minute program with a wrap-around narrative that frames three stand-alone stories. It comes complete with intro and outro credits and some cool music.

If you give it a listen, let me know what you think.

More audio coming soon. Until then, scop on!

Image Credits:

The Aberration Eye, illustrated by Nathaniel G. Sawyer from Visions: Short Fantasy & SF, published by Fantasist Enterprises, copyright © 2014 by Nathaniel G. Sawyer.


The 21st-Century Scop at the World Fantasy Reading Cafe, photo by Scop Media, copyright © 2014 by Lawrence C. Connolly.

Hallowen: Magic, Mystery & the Macabre Trick or Treating with Friends

September 8th, 2013

HalloweenMagicMysMacabre-500Halloween comes early this year, with the September release of Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre – another terrific anthology from award-winning editor Paula Guran and the good people at Prime Books.

The book is a follow up to Paula’s 2011 anthology Halloween, which featured 33 classic reprints by the likes of Ray Bradbury, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and F. Paul Wilson. It also featured a thoughtful essay about the origins and traditions of Halloween, which you can read here.

Unlike its predecessor, the new book features all-new Halloween-themed stories. I’ve just finished reading my copy, and it’s a terrific book – perfect material for a cool autumn night.

scent-of-magicAmong the standouts is “The Halloween Men,” a horror story by my good friend Maria V. Snyder, a writer more often associated with romantic fantasy than horror fiction. She and I currently serve as residency writers in the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, and at this summer’s residency she attributed her foray into the macabre to hanging out with Michael A. Arnzen and me. She was being generous, of course. But regardless of how the story came to be, it’s a terrific read. Set in a strange world where the wearing of masks is enforced by mysterious men in black robes, “The Halloween Men” displays the kind of spare yet fully-realized fantasy that has made Maria one of the best fantasy writers working today. If you haven’t discovered her yet, consider checking out her books Scent of Magic, Poison Study, Touch of Power, and all the other titles that you can read about at MariaVSnyder.com. Good reading awaits.

TimeAnother standout story is “All Souls Day” by Barbara Roden, who in recent years has established herself as one of the contemporary masters of short fiction. Publishers Weekly, in a review of her collection Northwest Passages, refers to her work as “deftly executed tales of subtle horror,” and her story in this collection continues that tradition. Barbara is also a multi-award winning editor who, along with her husband Christopher Roden, has been running critically acclaimed Ash-Tree Press since its inception in 1994. I first met Barbara and Christopher at World Fantasy 2007, and we’ve been good friends ever since, getting together at the major conventions at least once or twice a year. In 2010 they edited and published This Way to Egress, the definitive collection of my horror stories.

Jack Pumpkinhead by William Wallace DenslowHalloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre also features terrific new stories by Laird Barron, Laura Bickle, Jay Caselberg, Brenda Cooper, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jonathan Maberry, Norman Partridge, John Shirley, Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem, Carrie Vaughn, A.C. Wise, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro – some of the modern masters of magic, mystery, and the macabre.

Oh yes, it also contains one of my stories – a new tale of physiological horror titled “Pumpkin Head Escapes.” And since the book releases this week, my friends and I get to do some early trick-or-treating.

Care to join us?

Image Credits:

Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre,  Prime Books 2013. Scent of Magic, Harlequin 2013. Northwest Passages, Prime Books 2010. Jack Pumpkin Head, illustration detail by William Wallace Dinslow from L. Frank Baum’s The Road to Oz (1909).

The Portal Closes: Looking Back @ GenCon

August 23rd, 2013

GenCon 2013 crowd 2Imagine 50,000 people packed into a single indoor space. Now add a 20-foot tall Cthulhu (made entirely of balloons), a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (in a top hat, no less), armies of warriors and monsters, and a roster of top sf and fantasy writers. Yes, it got crowded. But that’s GenCon.

Never mind that the Indiana Convention Center provides 500,000 square feet of sprawling indoor space. There were still times when I found it impossible to walk without bumping into someone or something.

And did I mention that there was also a motorcycle convention in town. Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up. I can only imagine what it must have seemed like to the residents of Indianapolis, seeing their city overrun with bikers and mythological beasts (there’s a high-concept Hollywood film in there somewhere). Indeed, it must have seemed as if a trans-dimensional portal had opened.

I was in town as part of the GenCon Writer’s Symposium, a large writing convention that coexists within the sprawling wonder of GenCon. Its panels, readings, and workshops often attract standing-room crowds, and the attending writers provide a fine cross-section of the field.

Larry Dixon and Matt O'DwyerThe Symposium kicked off with a Wednesday dinner, where I shared a table with writer Brandie Tarvin, editor W. H. Horner, and up-and-coming novelists Jeffery Brooks and Matthew O’Dwyer (both MFA candidates at Seton Hill University). Along the way, we were joined by Larry Dixon, who contributed to the digital effects on Lord of the Rings and collaborated with his wife Mercedes Lackey on a number of terrific fantasy novels.

the writing process according to Oscar WildeThe next morning W. H. Horner and I launched Fiction Fundamentals, three days of workshops covering the essentials of genre writing. The sessions explored writing as a process rather than a product, looking at how the experience of reading a novel (moving page-by-page from beginning to the conclusion) has little in common with the act of writing one. The graphic on the left illustrates this difference, showing how the manuscript for one of Oscar Wilde’s plays progressed circuitously from concept to finished work – passing through a series of handwritten and typing-pool drafts along the way.

I also did a couple of readings, one featuring selections from Visions and This Way to Egress, the other centering on an abridged version of “The Fourth Sign” from Paul Genesse’s The Crimson Pact. I did both readings from memory, a form of delivery that harkens back to the roots of storytelling (think Homer or the Beowulf poet).

The Crinson PactI particularly enjoyed presenting “The Fourth Sign.” It’s a rather subversive story, one that gradually removes the wall between reader and story. It opens with a few references to the reader’s world and builds from there, drawing the reader in until it becomes clear that he or she has been a character in the story all along, and that the act of reading the story (or attending the reading) is actually the story itself.

It was fun watching the audience as they sensed everything coming together, and having the story memorized helped me keep the performance in synch with their dawning realizations. You can read Paul Genesse review of the reading (and the convention) at his blog.

I also took part in panels on Steampunk (where Jennifer Brozek, Paul Genesse, and Sara Hans talked about ways in which Victorian-age science fiction can reflect 21st-century inclusivity) and Hard SF (where Wesley Chu and Jason Sanford urged beginning writers not to get bogged down doing research). I may go into more detail on these topics in future blogs, but right now I sense the portal is closing. I need to get out while I can.

Till next time, I’ll see you between the pages.

Scop on!

Image Credits:

GenCon Crowd by Mike Olson Spirit of the Blank.

Larry Dixon and Matt O’Dwyer by Lawrence C. Connolly.

The Writing Process According to Oscar Wilde by Lawrence C. Connolly.

Lawrence C. Connolly, Karen Bovenmyer, Paul Genesse, Patrick Tracy, Stephanie M. Lorée, and George Strayton at the Crimson Pact reading. Photo by Tammy Lyn Genesse.

Fantastic Fiction at the KGB

June 16th, 2013

KGB“Admission is free, drinks are cheap and strong, and the level of excellence is such that KGB has been named best literary venue in New York City by New York Magazine, the Village Voice, and everyone else who bestows these awards of recognition.”

That description is right from the source, Denis Woyochuk, co-founder and president of the KGB Bar in New York’s East Village, where I’ll be reading this week as part of the Fantastic Fiction Series hosted by Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow.

Sharing the bill will be Sarah Langan, three-time sarahlwinner of the Bram Stoker Award and one of my favorite writers.   As Tim Pratt put it in Locus a few years back: “Sarah Langan is one of the bright new hopes of horror– an intelligent, literary, ambitious author capable of scaring the ever-loving crap out of her readers.” It’s going to be a fun evening.

Sarah Langan’s novels include The Keeper (2006), The Missing (2007), and Audrey’s Door (2009). At the KGB, she plans to read from The Clinic, a work in progress.

VortexI’m planning on reading some stand-alone selections from Voices, all tied together with an overarching vignette.  In addition, I’m planning on unveiling (with the help of Will and Meesh Horner of Fantasist Enterprises) the preliminary cover art for my next book, Vortex: Book Three of the Veins Cycle.

The art is by Rhonda Libbey, and it’s jaw-dropping. Rhonda will also be doing the interior illustrations for Vortex, and if you’re able to make it Wednesday, you’ll be among the first to see what she will be bringing to the concluding arc of the Veins Cycle.

I’m looking forward to this trip. I’ve been away from the city for too long, and I intend to make the most of it while I’m there.

In addition to the reading, I hope to visit with T.E.D. Klein, who purchased some of my early stories for Twilight Zone Magazine back in my salad days. I also plan to meet with a young filmmaker who is planning a short adaptation of one of my stories from This Way to Egress before I hurry back in time to do a Friday show at Riley’s Pour House.

Busy week.

Nevertheless, I hope to get a chance to blog about some of the trip’s highlights before heading out to Seton Hill University at the end of the month, where I’ll be giving presentations for both the Writing Popular Fiction program and the In Your Write Mind writing workshops.

No rest for the wicked!