What Have You Done This Year?

The year is almost over, and while I’m not quite ready to write my own year-end wrap-up post yet, several other intrepid people have started to do so. In the interest of signal boosting, and providing a handy reference for myself and others as the award season progresses, here are a few eligibility and recommendation posts I’ve come across thus far. I’ll do my best to keep updating, so if you have posts (your own or others) you’d like me to link, please share them in the comments or drop me an email.

Rose Fox: A Break Down of Long Hidden’s Eligibility

Rose Lemberg: Award Eligibility, “Stalemate” Reviews, Rhysling

Sunny Moraine: Here Be My 2014 Awards Post, Yarr

Daniel Jose Older: Award Eligibility Page 2014

Cat Rambo: The Inevitable Awards Post, Best of 2014 Version

Bogi Takacs: 2014 Award Eligibility

E. Catherine Tobler: 2014 in Review

Sabrina Vourvoulias: Looking for the Best Speculative Fiction of 2014 in Expected and Unexpected Places

LaShawn M. Wanak: 21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One) Eligible for 2014 Awards

Martha Wells: Award Eligible Work This Year

Caroline M. Yoachim: Stories in 2014

On a related note, as you’re thinking about awards, here’s a list of online publications that consistently publish impressive and lovely fiction (and in some cases poetry and non-fiction as well). While you’re catching up on what the authors above have published this year, and thinking about award nominations, these online magazines are ones I consider well-worth checking out. The list is by no means exhaustive, and only covers online magazines (though a few produce associated print anthologies and collections).

Abyss & Apex
AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review
Apex Magazine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Book Smugglers
Bourbon Penn
Crossed Genres (also check out their anthologies, which include the above-mentioned Long Hidden)
Daily Science Fiction
Innsmouth Free Press (alas, the magazine ended its run this year, but they are still publishing incredibly anthologies and other wonderful fiction in print form)
Lackington’s Magazine
Lakeside Circus
Strange Horizons
The Dark
Three-Lobed Burning Eye
Uncanny Magazine
Unlikely Story

Eventually I’ll be posting my ow eligible work and my favorite reads of 2014. In the meantime, feel free to send me post links, or recommend online magazines people should be reading.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

All That Glitters is Fabulous

LipsThis is a scary post to write. Because it’s about something amazing and terrifying that doesn’ta feel quite real yet. Part of me is afraid that saying it aloud will make it vanish – like the opposite of Beetle Juice or Bloody Mary. Talk about it too much and it will just go away.

… But, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Collection is going to be a real thing. A. Real. Thing!

The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron started with a short story in Ideomancer: Operation Annihilate Mars! Or, Doctor Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron. It was so much fun to write, but I thought that was the end of it. Then Bunny had different ideas. She stepped up and insisted her story be told. And so, there was How Bunny Came to Be, which appeared in Shimmer #17.

And after that, I fell in love. These incredible, fierce, amazing characters kept stepping up and insisting their stories be told. Their armor is glitter and sparkles and they are all the things that so many narratives tell us is the opposite of what ‘strong’ is supposed to be. They wear dresses and nail polish and high heels, and they fight and save the world over and over again. They think gender check boxes are stupid.  And they kick ass harder than you’ve ever seen ass kicked before. Did I mention I love them? I may be biased.

I was afraid no one would ever care except for me. But other people did, and as it turns out, Steve Berman of Lethe Press happened to be one of them, and is willing to take a chance on my gorgeous, glittering girls. I will be forever grateful. (Lethe Press is wonderful, by the way, and you should run out and buy books from them.)

If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to read all about The Glitter Squadron in Summer 2015. I’ll post more details as they’re available. But for now, I wish glitter to you all.


Image from flickr user Snowkei, cropped and used under Creative Commons License.


Filed under Short Story News, Uncategorized

Oculus: A Tale of Two (Or More) Movies


Being in the mood for a Halloween-appropriate movie, we watched Oculus last  weekend. Warning: mildly spoilersish stuff ahead. I was hoping for was a tragically bad movie that would be good for a hate watch and yelling at the screen. What I got was a frustrating movie that had the seeds of a lot of really good ideas in it, but utterly failed on execution. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with ambiguity, or narratives that hint at possibilities, but leave things open-ended. In fact, when well-executed, I love that kind of story.

Alas, in the case of Oculus, what could have been a Turn of the Screw-style story, with its multiple threads hinting at many possible narrative realities came off as a simple inability to make a decision. I’d compare it to a puppy, trying to bound off after every exciting thing all at once. Does it want to be a supernatural thriller, or a chilling examination of domestic violence? Is it a psychological horror movie examining the coping mechanisms people develop to deal with pain, or is there a freaky evil mirror hell-bent on destroying people? Is it a story about the past, or the present? Is it a movie that relies on cheap jump-scares, or legitimately creepy and disturbing imagery? Even the poster makes very little sense. A moment that is tense in the film, isolated as a still image, loses all impact. Maybe the kids are cowering in terror, or maybe they’re just having a bad reaction to pollen.

Oddly enough, for a story about illusion and perception, Oculus suffers from being told through a visual medium. For the most part, the acting and direction are poorly done, so scenes that should be intensely creepy or emotional generally fall flat. The movie borrows heavily from other, far better films, like The Shinning, and suffers from it. All Work and No Play Make the Guy We Don’t Care About and Whose Name I Can’t Even Remember Go on a Murderous Rampage Against His Family Because Some Ghosts Told Him To, I Guess.

The best parts of the movie are thrown away. The way it plays with time. The way it questions whether you can you trust your eyes and your memory. The notion that a malevolent, supernatural entity – implacable and unstoppable – could be more comforting and the truth. As a result of all the juggling the movie does, the most intriguing threads get lost – the dog, the fiance, the dead plants, the fixation on teeth, and broken glass, and fingernails. The imagery of broken glass/broken ceramic in particular could have served as a callback to disturbing childhood memories throughout the movie, but there is only an attempt to give it emotional weight as an after-thought. The opportunity to explore the origins of an entity that feeds off pain and insists on the suffering be self-inflicted is wasted. Similarly, the idea that the entity allows people to experience hints of that pain, then immediately erases it from their memory goes nowhere nowhere. The truly unsettling ways in which the entity forces people to die,for instance a woman putting her children to sleep inside a well, then shattering her own bones with a hammer, could could have stood more exploration. But the whole history of the deaths the mirror caused is glossed over in less than two minutes.

Oculus might have been a slow, creeping, suffocating suspense movie. Instead, some people it’s hard to care about do irrational things for 100 or so minutes, and then the movie ends. Except it does all this while giving you tantalizing glimpses of what the movie could have been. Frustrating.

1 Comment

Filed under New Movies

World Fantasy 2014

Next week, from November 6-9, I’ll be attending the World Fantasy Convention in Washington D.C. This is my first time attending, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m even on programming, which is pretty exciting. Here’s where I’ll be:

Fantasy Food: The Food in Fantasy
Time: 8 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, Tidewater 2
Panelists: Fran Wilde (M), Brenda Clough, Diana Peterfreund, A. C. Wise
Description: Elaborate feasts versus alien worms: is Fantasy Food really better than science fiction food. Adults report a life-long love of mushrooms dating back to an early reading of the Fellowship of the Ring. Meanwhile, the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, featuring butterbeer and pumpkin pasties, has sold more than 150,000 copies. There are also cookbooks available or in the works for The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Tolkien’s works, and Narnia. Why does fantasy literature often have a gourmet palette?

Unofficially, I’ll be taking part in the mass autograph session starting Friday at 8 p.m. in the Independence Center, where several of the authors whose stories appear in Nightmare Carnival will be sitting together in case you’re so inclined to have us sign your book. I understand there is also a cash bar involved in the mass signing event.

Also unofficially, I’ll be part of the group signing for The Cutting Room, along with several other authors in the anthology. We’ll be at the Tachyon table in the Dealers’ Room from 2:30-3p.m. on Friday.

If you’re curious, the full schedule for the convention can be found here.

Outside of programming official and unofficial, I plan to attend panels, go to the ice cream social, because freakin’ ice cream social, hang out in the bar, eat food, spend time with friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough, and buy books. I hope to see you there.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Giveaway: Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 1

Weird FictionYou like weird things, right? Who doesn’t! So how about a whole book of the very best weird fiction published last year. As the title implies, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 1 is the first in a new series published by Undertow/ChiZine Publications. The inaugural volume was edited by Laird Barron, along with series editor Michael Kelly. Next year’s volume will be edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly. (Authors, take note – vol. 2 is currently open to reprint submissions and that handy link I just pasted will take your straight to the submission page.) The first volume contains works by the likes of Jeffrey Ford, Livia Llewellyn, Sofia Samatar, Jeff VanderMeer, and yours truly. Wanna win a copy? Of course you do!

In order to enter, all you have to do is go to the comments and tell me something weird. For the purposes of this contest, I’m defining weird broadly. It could be a real life uncanny occurrence you can’t explain, a link to a piece of weird fiction, an odd coincidence, or even the lyrics to your favorite Weird Al song. The winner will be chosen by random number generator. The contest ends on Halloween. Get your weird on!

ETA: The random number generator has declared Sara Saab the winner! Thank you all for sharing your wonderful weirdness!


Filed under Writing

Notes on a Remake

Date: January 18, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Jimmy, can you please get me a fucking clean copy of this movie? How the hell am I supposed to do a shot-by-shot remake if I don’t even know what the fucking thing looks like? The one you left me is shit, skipping all over the place, audio all fucked up. Jesus fucking Christ. And yes, I fucking know how to use email. I don’t trust it. Just get me a clean copy.

Date: February 13, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

The message boards are blowing up. (I told you I know how to use a computer.) Fans are already shitting themselves, and we haven’t even starting casting. How’s that for market research? I’m telling you, Jimmy, we’ve got a goldmine on our hands, presuming we can ever get the fucking thing made.

Date: February 28, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

So there was a rumor a while back that Carrie Linden’s still around. Did you know about this? No, of course not, because you would have fucking told me, right? Think we can get her? Cast her as the grandmother or shit? Again, yes, Jimmy, I know there’s no fucking grandmother in the movie, but who cares. The dickweeds who hang out on these message boards will eat it up, I promise.

Date: March 8, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Okay, maybe bringing in a live snake for the screen tests is bad idea. Duly noted. We’ll CGI that shit. Nobody’ll know the difference. Any word on the Lyndon woman, whatever her name is? Maybe we ought to CGI her in, too.

Date: March 30, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Ever heard of a guy named Jackson Mortar? Apparently he’s some sort of Kaleidoscope super-fan. His name is all over the messgage boards. They invoke him like some kind of fucking god. He showed up outside the studio the other day, screaming at me as I got into my car. I couldn’t even understand what he was saying. Fucking frothing at the mouth lunatic. I called security to escort him off the premises, and come to fucking find out he’s been camping the gates for weeks. And of course nobody has any idea how he got in, but they promise it’ll never happen again Mr. Elgin, sir. Bunch of fucking assholes. Anyway, just keep an eye out, okay?

Date: April 11, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Do you mind telling me what exactly the fuck that tangle of rush print film was doing on my desk? Jesus fuck, Jimmy. Where’d you even find that shit? We’re shooting the whole thing on digital and you’re dicking around wasting antique supplies. However, if it gives you some sort of sick pleasure, you’ll be happy to know I did look at a few frames before I threw it in the trash. Did you shoot an entire reel of trees around an empty parking lot? Sometimes I really fucking wonder about you, Jimmy. Those few frames at the end, though? Pure fucking gold. Where’d you find that girl? Is she from make-up? She could be Kerry Lymon’s motherfucking twin. Maybe you could introduce me sometime? Unless you’re saving her for yourself. I know how you hate to share.

Date: April 29, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Again with the film, Jimmy? Raw fucking stock? Seriously? What am I even supposed to do with that shit? Leave your goddamn garbage some place other than my office.

Date: May 3, 2012
From: Thomas Elgin
To: James Heinz
RE: Kaleidoscope

Jimmy. Look, I’m sorry about last week. Legal’s on my ass. They think the kid’s family might sue. How the fuck did we get here, right? Didn’t we just want to make good movies? I mean, remember back in college, all those late nights we should have been studying, thinking we could do better than whatever shit they were running on IFC, calling those directors hacks and those writers pussies. Where did we go wrong, Jimmy? Shit. I’m going to take a couple days. Maybe we all should. My right eye has been bothering the fuck out of me lately. It’s like there’s always something right in my peripheral vision. Ever since Gina left, home alone at night, you know how it is. Anyway, more than once, it’s freaked me the fuck out. What was it your mother used to take to sleep? Maybe I should get some of that.

From: Thomas Elgin [telgin@studionice.com]
Sent: June 10, 2012
To: James Heinz
Subject: Kaleidoscope

jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjimmy. fuck.
they buried her where she could see the sky the sky could see her. fuuuuuuuuuck.
the glass goes in and it never comes out. it just keeps pushing through the flesh and through and though and through.
i’m tired jimmy. run.

From: James Heinz [jheinz@studionice.com]
Sent: June 18, 2012
To: James Heinz
Subject: Kaleidoscope – CANCELLED


I’ve spoken to most of you individually, but I wanted to reiterate how much I value your work on this project, and how much it pains me that it will never come to fruition. Some things simply aren’t meant to be. I sincerely hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with all of you on other projects.

As I’ve said many times over the past months, I have an open door policy. That hasn’t changed. If any of you have any questions or concerns, about anything, you know where to find me.

Finally, since many of you have asked, there will be no formal services, but I am organizing my own small get together for Tom. A wake, if you will. Those of you who knew him will take it in the right spirit, I trust: I know he would’ve hated it. Since he wasn’t religious, or charitable, and isn’t survived by any family, I’d suggest that if you’d like to do something to honor him, make a donation to the charity of your choice. He’d have hated that, too.


James Heinz, Acting President and CEO
Studio Nice

Leave a Comment

Filed under Writing

All Hallows Read 2014

All Hallows ReadSomehow it is not only October, it is mid-October. I suspect gremlins, or possibly mice, of sneaking in and stealing time when I wasn’t looking. Regardless, mid-October means it’s high time I put together another All Hallows Read Book Exchange! If you’ve not heard of All Hallows Read, in short, it is a glorious holiday dreamed up by Neil Gaiman where you give books and receive them in return. The original idea was to give scary books, but I know horror isn’t everyone’s thing, so the way I run my book exchange, you can send any type of book at all. It doesn’t have to be new. It can be something from your shelves that you want to pass on to someone else, or if you happen to be an author, it can even be one of your own books.

It’s good fun. You get to share a book you loved with someone else, and get a book someone else loved in return. It’s a great way to discover books and authors you might not ever have picked up on your own, and as a happy bonus, you get to connect with other readers. If you want to play along, drop me a note in the comments, or send me an email at a.c.wise [at] hotmail.com by October 24th. I’ll arrange a highly scientific flow chart so that everybody sends a book and receives one from someone else. Let’s swap some books!

All Hallows Read poster courtesy of Introverted Wife. Visit the website to grab your own.


Filed under Uncategorized

A Game of Cards

StreetsofShadowsI’m a sucker for noir. I love the shadows, the rain-slick streets, the down-on-their-luck characters, all the classic dingy and dirty trappings of the genre. Up until now, I’ve never tried my hand at writing it. As I’ve said before, I consider Jessica Rabbit to be the ultimate femme fatale, and the fact that the stylings of Who Framed Roger Rabbit imprinted themselves on me at such a young age made me fear my view might be a little too…skewed to pull it off successfully. But then Streets of Shadows came along, and couldn’t resist. After all, isn’t skewed a good thing?

So I thought about noir and the close, gritty, rain-soaked streets I associate with the genre. Then I took my story and plunked it in the desert, Las Vegas, Nevada to be exact (though I did sneak in a freak rainfall, cuz, y’know, noir). I thought about the archetypal tough-guy lead, the straight, white, male detective with the perpetual five o’clock shadow outlining his perfect jaw. Then I wrote a story with a black, lesbian boxer-turned-bodyguard as the lead. I threw in magic and luck and grifters and card games. There is a femme fatale of sorts, but she doesn’t look like Jessica Rabbit, and whether she’s bad or drawn that way, I leave it for others to decide.

Streets of Shadows is now officially available for purchase. It blends noir and urban fantasy in tales spun by the likes of Damien Angelica Walters, Paul Tremblay, Nick Mamatas, Nisi Shawl, Seanan McGuire, and many more. You can see the full ToC here, and read Tom Piccirilli’s contribution, What I Am, for free at Apex Magazine.

I’ll even give you a little taste of my contribution, A Game of Cards, to get you started…

Times like this, it’s like I never left the ring. The crack of fist to jaw, spitting blood, and that first bitter-sweet pulse of heat that’ll be a beautiful bruise by morning. Except there are no spotlights, no crowds shouting my name, and it’s a lucky elbow thrown with a wild prayer rather than a punch thrown with skill that catches me.

One thing is the same: It hurts like a motherfucker.

The blow lands in just the right spot to send pain along an old fault line, the one that ended my career. Now I’m pissed.

I’ve got at least ten pounds on this guy, all muscle. He’s skinny as a rag soaked in kerosene; wiry is one thing, if you know how to use it, but he doesn’t. He’s flailing, cornered. He got one lucky shot. He won’t get two.

To read the rest, you’ll have to pick up your very own copy of Streets of Shadows.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Writing

An Interview with Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein

KaleidoscopeJulia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein are the editors of Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, which was released from Twelfth Planet Press in early August 2014. They were kind enough to drop by to talk about the anthology, but before they do, allow me to introduce them by stealing from their bios.

Julia Rios is a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. She is one of the three fiction editors for Strange Horizons, and host of the Outer Alliance Podcast (celebrating QUILTBAG speculative fiction). To find out more about her work, including her fiction, non-fiction, podcasts, narration and anything else she might be working on, visit her website www.juliarios.com. You can also find her on Twitter as @omgjulia.

Alisa Krasnostein is World Fantasy Award winning editor and publisher at Twelfth Planet Press and part of the Galactic Suburbia Podcast Team. She was Executive Editor of the review website Aussie Specfic in Focus!. Currently working on a PhD in Publishing, in her spare time she is a critic, reader, reviewer, runner, environmentalist, knitter, quilter, and puppy lover. For more information, visit her website www.twelfthplanetpress.com. Or find her on Twitter as @krasnostein.

Thank you, Alisa and Julia for being here! First, could you start off by talking a bit about how Kaleidoscope came to be? Where did the idea for the anthology start? How did you go about making your vision into a reality?

We’ve both been passionate about new stories that challenge some of the dominant voices for a long time, so it’s natural that we’d team up for something like this. We got to know each other originally because we are part of the speculative fiction podcasting community (Alisa is part of the three times Hugo nominated Galactic Suburbia, and Julia hosts the Outer Alliance Podcast and is part of the Hugo nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show). In May of 2012, Alisa listened to an Outer Alliance Podcast recording of a WisCon panel on heteronormativity in YA novels, and was interested in developing a project in response to the discussion. The rest snowballed from there. A vigorous email volley turned into regular Skype chats, and by the time we met in person in Toronto at the World Fantasy Convention later that year, the planning for Kaleidoscope was well underway.

What was your editorial process like? I assume there were certain authors you knew you wanted to work with from the start. Did you have an open reading period as well? For the authors whose work you solicited, did you ask for a particular type of story, or let them run wild? Did anything surprise you about the stories you received?

We sent a lot of invitations to writers, and those invited submitters had the chance to send their stories in early. We bought a few stories before our crowdfunding campaign opened in October of 2013, but one of our goals was to have an open reading period so that we could find new voices. We asked everyone for the same thing: contemporary stories with diverse protagonists. We wanted the feeling of the settings to be relatable and recognizable to teens even while they were full of wonder. Within those guidelines, though, anything was fair game. We were surprised by the depth and variety of the stories we received. We started out thinking this would be a fantasy anthology, but very quickly decided to change the guidelines to allow for science fiction because the science fiction submissions were so good.

What made you decide to do a YA anthology in particular?

Alisa had been wanting to branch out into YA with Twelfth Planet Press, and Julia has always enjoyed reading YA, so it seemed like a great opportunity all around.

You’re working together again on Twelfth Planet’s Year’s Best Young Adult Speculative Fiction series. Aside from that, are there any plans for a second volume of Kaleidoscope? Or any other anthology projects you’re working on together?

We’d love to do a second volume of Kaleidoscope, but right now we haven’t made any firm plans beyond the Year’s Best YA Science Fiction and Fantasy. We’re in the process of putting together the 2013 volume right now, and we’re also reading for the 2014 volume.

Aside from your editorial projects with Twelfth Planet, is there anything else either of you are working on or having coming up that you’d like people to know about?

We’re both still podcasting, and Julia’s still editing for Strange Horizons. Alisa’s working on a PhD in publishing, managing Twelfth Planet Press, and wrangling her nearly one-year-old daughter. It’s safe to say we’re both keeping busy!

Thank you again for stopping by. Congratulations on Kaleidoscope. It’s a wonderful anthology.

Thank you for interviewing us. We’re thrilled that you asked.

Interviewer’s Note: I seriously cannot recommend Kaleidoscope enough. It is a wonderful anthology, and you all need to go out and buy a copy right now.


Filed under Author Interview

The Blair Witch Project Rewatch

Blair WitchThis year marks the 15th anniversary of The Blair Witch Project. (Do you feel old yet?) I re-watched it this weekend, and it still holds up. As the first widely acknowledged and successful (no one counts Cannibal Holocaust) found footage horror movie, it remains effectively creepy, but that’s not what struck me. On re-watch, I noticed something I’d never noticed before: the Blair Witch is the hero of the story.

The part of the movie most people forget (I certainly did), is the segment with the interviews that starts everything off. It’s possible those interviews are designed to be forgettable, but in reality, they give us the heart of the story. One town resident relates the tale of a hermit who lived in the woods and murdered seven children. Of course, as people have done for centuries, he claimed a witch made him do it. Other townsfolk recount instances of seeing a ghostly/inhuman woman, or tell second or third-hand stories about the Blair Witch. Only one story includes a first-hand physical encounter with the witch, and in it, the witch does nothing more serious than touch someone on the arm.

But the movie pulls engages in misdirection. It puts the story of the innocuous encounter with the witch in the mouth of ‘Crazy Mary Brown’, so of course we can easily dismiss it. The movie also puts the Blair Witch right up front in the title, so when spooky things start happening in the woods, she is in our mind, and of course she is to blame. We have a credible witness telling us she’s the root cause of all evil after all, the hermit who murdered seven children. Who could be more reliable?

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Random Rambling