Legends of the Mountain State 2 and Apex Books

Legends of the Mountain State 2 will be out in September 2008. It will be a trade paperback from Woodland Press. The official lineup for this one has been released.

Mark Justice
Jonathan Maberry
Bob Freeman
Lucy A. Snyder
Nate Kenyon
Steven L. Shrewsbury
Michael Laimo
Maurice Broaddus – “A House is Not a Home”
Gary A. Braunbeck
Brian J. Hatcher
Mary SanGiovanni
Rob Darnell
Nate Southard

Apex Books is discounting everything in the store 20% to celebrate four excellent events:

1) The release of Orgy of Souls by Wrath James White & Maurice Broaddus

2) The release of Beauty & Dynamite by Alethea Kontis

3) The release of Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel

4) THE COMPLETION OF OUR WEBHOST MIGRATION!

Just enter the code NEWHOST on checkout to receive your discount. Go to:

http://www.apexbookcompany.com

Speaking of which, here is a blog of nice words from Apex Publisher Jason Sizemore about Alethea Kontis.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

“Broken Strand” – Apex #12

I thought that I’d post a G-mail chat that I had with a fan a couple days ago (posted with permission):

Laura: I just got the new Apex, read your story. Awesome.

me: thanks!

Laura: I liked it many levels.

me: wow. that’s cool

Laura: pure entertainment (always an important reason to read, in my opinion). also thought-provoking.

me: jason always gets the darker side out of me. (that’s the excuse i’m using for that story and the novella me and wrath wrote)

Laura: I heard about that on RLD. Congrats. I have a lot of respect for Wrath’s work.

me: it was a blast writing with him

Laura: can’t wait to see what you guys came up with. kinda skeered though. ha

me: you should be

Laura: no doubt. if it’s not scary, you did not do your jobs.

me: oh, believe me, the job got DONE. even wrath thought that i am going to get letters of complaint over it.

Laura: I’ll pray for wisdom and grace be given to you. to answer your enemies.

me: thanks

Laura: with logic that cannot be argued with

me: although, right now, “bite me” has been way up there on my list of retorts.

Laura: yeah ha. how can you argue with that?

me: exactly!

Laura: Back to the story

me: k

Laura: Broken Strand

me: yup. one of the rare times that i liked a title i gave a story, btw.

Laura: I did want to say that I thought it was significant that you made the power of choice an element of
righteousness. It grabbed my attention. and shook me by the neck.

me: it’s an argument that wrath and i had one day, about why an all powerful God “couldn’t” make a creation that conformed to his will.

Laura: yeah…not Stepford wives

me: his argument said this pointed to the fallacy that God was all powerful and mine pointed to the fact that without choice, it can’t be good or love. we’d be pre-programmed automatans. (me and wrath do this a lot)

Laura: Also, I thought you did an excellent job of making your main character one that the reader could identify with, whether they were believers or not. Because as you said, we’ve all made bad choices.

me: yup. i try to be very conscious of letting my main character be a guide into whatever universe i’m creating.

Laura: Because like CS Lewis used to say, Christendom desn’t need more Christians to write “Christian stories”…it needs Christians to write GOOD stories. Broken Strand was great. Nice work.

me: you truly, truly humble me.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

DON’T BUY THIS BOOK!!!

Orgy of Souls: A Deadly Seduction

New Novella by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White offers sex, gore, blasphemy…and the unrivaled power of brotherly love
March 15, 2008 — Apex Publications announces the upcoming release of “Orgy of Souls,” a new novella by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White, on June 14, 2008 (just in time for Mo*Con III). Pre-orders begin March 23.

How pretty would a man have to be for you to sign over to him your immortal soul? If you’ve never asked yourself that question, it’s only because you’ve never read “Orgy of Souls.”

A thoughtful look at the role of God in the tragedies of the world might not automatically bring to mind visions of beautiful party boys and orgiastic bloodbaths, but in the hands of Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White, the melding of such opposites is the perfect backdrop for the story of two brothers, each trying to save the other from what he has become.

Samuel, a priest who questions his faith as he fights a losing battle with AIDS, struggles to retain his dignity and hide his doubts from those around him. His brother, Samson, a high-end fashion model who indulges in every excess and finds each one lacking, loves nothing in the world except for Samuel. As Samson sinks deeper into the darkness of violent rituals intended to barter for his brother’s life, Samuel must face up to his own doubts and fears in order to stop Samson’s growing lust for blood and souls.

Blood, sex, rage, repentance and otherworldly horror…all are invited to the “Orgy of Souls.”

Better your blasphemy and preorder “Orgy of Souls” on Easter Sunday: March 23, 2008. For details and updates visit www.apexbookcompany.com. Available in signed, limited edition hardcover (350 copies, bound tip-in signature sheet) and trade paperback (released in Sept. 08) from Apex Publications.

About the Authors
Maurice Broaddus’s work has appeared in Weird Tales, Horror Literature Quarterly, and a wide variety of anthologies. His story “Family Business” won first prize at the World Horror Convention Story Competition in 2003. Often known as the Sinister Minister, Broaddus says of the religious aspects of his writing: “As writers, our worldviews–from nihilistic to religious–are a part of us and thus a part of our writing. What we believe, why we believe, it’s all in there.”

Wrath James White is a professional fighter and writer, two pursuits that blend together to create unrelenting prose. His novels include Teratologist (co-written with Edward Lee), Poisoning Eros (co-written with Monica O-Rourke), and Succulent Prey. “If you have a weak stomach, a closed mind, rigid morals, and Victorian sexual ethics, then avoid my writing like the plague,” says Wrath. If, on the other hand, you want hard-hitting fiction where nothing is taboo, you’ve found the right author.

About Apex Publications
Apex Publications is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of dark science fiction and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the critically acclaimed Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest. In 2006, Apex Publishing branched into producing novellas, collections, and anthologies, earning a Bram Stoker Award nomination for the Aegri Somnia anthology in 2007.

***

How could you not see this coming? Wrath James White has guest blogged for me, I reviewed his Book of a Thousand Sins and I interviewed him (part I and II)

I already know that I’m going to get letters. You know it’s a bad sign when Wrath drops me a note saying “you may want to have a blog handy about how you can write horror and work in a church.” Luckily, I do.

Of course, I’m in a no lose situation:

Dear Mr. Broaddus, How can you call yourself a Christian and write … that “covenant” scene, to say the least? Sincerely, Pissed off, though well-intentioned, judgmental guy

Now, the simple response could go along the lines of

Dear fellow traveler, Wrath wrote that. In fact, he wrote every objectionable scene in the novella. Did you read Book of a Thousand Sins?!? Sincerely, Perfectly innocent co-writer

For those looking for my usual fare, save me the headache. Save yourself the headache. There are scenes where you can almost picture Wrath behind the keyboard trying to get me fired. Did I mention that I wrote none of those scenes? (Though Apex Publications does seem to draw out my darker, darker side. It should be noted, however, that my story appearing in Apex Digest #12 was written while under the influence of my collaboration with Wrath.)

I may have my church boycott the book.

Ignore Mark Rainey, too:

“ORGY OF SOULS is a gripping tale of two brothers whose lives have taken radically different paths — but those paths intersect via some surprising twists and turns. With raw prose, vividly drawn characters, and a chilling touch of the occult, Broaddus and White draw you in and belt you right in your emotional gut.” –Stephen Mark Rainey, author of BLUE DEVIL ISLAND and THE LEBO COVEN.

“Better your blasphemy”?!? Not helping, Mr. Sizemore. I’m REALLY going to get letters.

Also available on Horror Mall.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Hebrewpunk – A Review

“A vampire, a Wandering Jew, and a Rabbi walk into a story …”

It’s no joke, it’s the premise of the linked short story collection, HebrewPunk, by Lavie Tidhar. I am late to the Tidhar party, writer of weird fiction in such places as SciFiction.com, Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, PostScripts and Aeon. With this second collection, he combs through Hebrew mythology to come up with a sort of League of Extra-ordinary Mythic Figures. These action-driven horror tales mine new, scratch that … mine ancient legends and mythic traditions unfamiliar to the majority of us.

Mixing pulp tropes and rich historical settings, not all the stories work equally well but did get progressively better. “The Heist”, a forgettable caper tale, was the weakest of the lot for me. “Transylvania Mission”, set in World War II Transylvania, pitted a vampire against S.S. werewolves. “Uganda” mixes alt-history with the unknown story of a proposal to settle Jews in East Africa in 1905 (and was a favorite). “The Dope Fiend”, set in the drug underworld of 1920s London, was a tour-de-force.

“The Old World was dying; its dark forces powerless in the face of what later philosophers would call the banality of evil. Humanity could provide more evil, more pain and suffering and humiliation, than any legend up in the Carpathians.” (51)

So often, the rules—both within genre literature and without—are defined by the dominant culture. After awhile, the tropes become stale thus it is great when they are interpreted through a different cultural lens. Crosses and holy water should have no affect on a Jewish vampire. Not all mages are going to speak Latin. Elves and dwarves are fine denizens, but not everyone lives in Middle Urth and other cultures have other tales to tell.

Like all great fantasy, HebrewPunk brings along and explores both a sense of history and identity. Its menagerie of characters—from the shape-shifting Rat to the Golem to the Tzaddik—live outside the realm of conventional norms and lead lives of rarely told stories. Yet, their stories are ultimately universal in what they convey and wrestle with.

“Devil, the dead kings were shouting, and Hell. It was as if they had finally encountered a kind of evil they couldn’t understand, a precise and tidy kind, one that didn’t gloat over its mutilated victims but rather sat down to note the fact in volume after volume of leather-bound ledgers.” (48)

Evil is universal and transcends both race and culture. Evil is failing to live up to what we were created to be, eikons/image bearers of God. To not live up to that or, more on point, to turn your back to that is evil. In short, evil is that which dehumanizes us and in so doing, allows us to dehumanize others. Evil has a variety of faces, both human and not. Everyone has to grapple with the Dracul, the Devil, in their respective worlds, be it a Mengele, spiritual heir to Tepes/the Impaler/Dracula, or other creatures that go bump in the night.

Steeped in Jewish culture and tradition and combined with pulp adventure, HebrewPunk makes for a thrilling ride. Its heroes, like the Rabbi “a man of arcane knowledge and appetites who evokes unsavoury stories from those who know him” like a Jewish John Constantine, are every bit as memorable as the Doc Savages of the pulp era. It certainly stands to breathe new life into the more tired conventions of the fantasy-horror genre and will hopefully inspire others to explore their own cultural history, culture, and stories and share them with us.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Interview with Jason Sizemore


Every now and then, I think about what it would be like to start my own magazine venture. When that mild brain stroke hits me, I just ask friends of mine what it’s like and keep asking them questions until the fever passes. In this case, I cornered Jason Sizemore of Apex Digest of Science Fiction and Horror.

What made you decide to start your own magazine?
Friendly answer: I’d gotten the itch to start a small business around the birth of my first child. Call it a first-child crisis moment, whatever. Anyways, having created a little Sizemore minion meant I needed a business I could run from home. Being a science fiction and horror geek, who liked short fiction, who had some experience editing in the past, a genre magazine seemed like fun. Three years later, here I am with the tenth issue of Apex coming out.

Asshole answer: I’d grown tired of seeing so many magazines come and go. Failures. And assholes all over the web kept saying a print ‘zine can’t be done. I set out to prove them wrong because I’m weird that way. I wouldn’t say I’ve succeeded yet, not until Apex is able to pay professional rates (as defined by the HWA), but three yeras later, here I am with the tenth issue of Apex coming out.

Horror and science fiction seem like a strange pairing.
Not so strange…but not so obvious…in terms of novels, some of the most memorable works in the genres are a combination of the pair: I Am Legend, Frankenstein, McCarthy’s The Road. Let’s not forget a few of the best movies to come out of Hollywood: Alien, Aliens, The Thing, Dark City and so on.

What makes a good story for Apex?
There’s the obvious stuff: quality writing, unique ideas, strong characters. Then there’s the “type” of stories we publish. We tend to shy away from monster fiction (think Alien). Even though we like to print progressive fiction, we don’t like anything that’s trying to make a political statement. We do like to see stories dealing with the implications of science. The struggle between religion and technology. Speculation of what terrors might be waiting for us as humanity progresses.

How do you approach the dreaded slush pile. Do you read every story?
I’ve got four skilled editors (two of them dedicated to reading submissions): Mari Adkins, Jodi Lee, Deb Taber, and Gill Ainsworth. Between the five of us, we’ll read each and every submission that comes to us. Will we read every page of every story? No way. That would be torture.

It seems to me that a lot of folks seem to wake up, full of “love for the genre”, and decide to start a magazine, either print or e-zine. Judging from how many start up without seeing a second issue, it seems like the reality of running a magazine quickly catches up to them. With that in mind, what kind of research did you do before you started up?
Not enough, but more than most. I built a business plan. I covered my bases pretty well at the beginning. I knew how much printing would cost, how much my shipping costs would be, how much to pay people, etc. But I did not do enough research concerning the distribution system and it came back to haunt me.

Most magazine distributors ask for Net-90 from the time they receive an issue. This means if I release issue ten tomorrow, I probably won’t see payment for six months. Then there’s the multitudes of fees: you’re charged for returns, for their shipping costs, for everyone they sell, on and on. At the volume I’m moving to distributors, I make about $1.00 for each copy they receive.

This left me in a lurch. Suddenly my backup funds had to go to the printer. Then last summer I lost my job, and things started looking scary. Fortunately, the genre community came together and literally saved the publication. Everyday I strive to create a product worthy of such charity and kindness.

What are some of the costs to put together an issue?
Printing is about 60% of my costs. Shipping is 20%.

How much time do you end up putting into the magazine per month?
About 25 hours a week. It’s a labor of love, and even after three years I still enjoy publishing the magazine.

How did you go about getting distribution?
I called several large bookstores (local Barnes and Noble, Joseph-Beth Booksellers) and a couple of indy shops in Louisville and asked them who they used for magazine distribution. I researched these distributors, called them, then submitted an application package. It’s similar to submitting a story to a market. You put together your product, write a friendly cover letter, and you wait for that acceptance/rejection letter.

When Ingram Periodicals accepted me, I knew then that Apex had a real shot at being a major player.

It almost seems like some markets appear and expect people to just sign on as subscribers (for the love start-up with for the love sign ons). How do you get the word out? Review copies? Message board spamming? Other marketing?
At the end of issue 2, I had 40 subscribers. The distributors helped. With distribution comes visibility. You pressure your genre friends to subscribe. You ask a few family members. Review copies don’t do a whole lot. Not even in the beginning. I will admit to copious message board spamming. But I was always careful to ask the board mods if it was cool to spam.

I tried all sorts of marketing. Some failed, some succeeded. Our spokesmodel Amanda D. was a hit. Anytime she goes to a con and wears the Apex tanktops, we always receive a bump in business.

Did you just go out of your own pocket or did you raise capital?
At first, straight out of my pocket. These days, I have some private investors that help give the publication flexibility and to prevent another “ohmygodsaveapex” scenario that occurred last summer.

What sort of plan did you have for generating revenue/defraying costs?
Well…to generate interest in the magazine, I was able to hook a couple of “name” friends to contribute work to Apex in the first couple of issues. I called over 200 businesses soliciting for advertising and was able to sell all the ad space in issues 1 and 2. The first four covers a comic artist friend of mine did the work for free, saving me hundreds of dollars. And we were lucky to “discover” two talented new writers, Bryn Sparks and Jennifer Pelland, that quickly became fan favorites and moved many copies for us.

What are some common mistakes that writers make?
Not realizing we require a science fiction element to every story. Inconsistent verb tense. Weak openings.

How hands on are you with working with writers?
I’m extremely hands on, so to speak. Approximately one-third of the stories we accept are accepted “as is” with minor edits. The rest usually involve at least one minor rewrite. I tell the writer what I want from a scene or character, or what plot point is missing/needs to h
appen. It’s an enjoyable process with the writers that have a professional attitude.

I have zero patience or tolerance for unprofessionalism. The moment I sense a writer/artist is being an asshole, I drop the sale. I have no time for such nonsense.

Come on, dish, what is some of the most unprofessional behavior you’ve seen?
We once had to deal with a writer being a “diva” about their story, who refused any and all changes we requested to their manuscript. I’m glad they’re so confident about their work, but if you’re convinced you know better than me about what goes in Apex, then why are you bothering submitting to Apex?

Now Apex is expanding into books. Can you tell me how you choose your projects and what we have to look forward to?
Due to time constraints, we don’t open to submissions or pitches for book projects. This means you have to catch my eye with your work. For the anthologies, I target people who I think will bring an interesting story to the collection. Gratia Placenti (Latin for “for the sake of pleasing”) is our next antho. I grow giddy thinking about what writers like JA Konrath, David Niall Wilson, Adrienne Jones will bring to the book.

The collections…three story and one poetry…are all from writers I admire and believe to be stars in the making. So I approached them. Brandy Schwan, Lavie Tidhar, Steven Savile, and Fran Friel. I can’t think of a better roster to kick-start our book publishing efforts.

How much does this cut into your writing career/other business interests?
It cuts deeply into my writing career. But being an editor and seeing the types of errors I see day after day allows me to stay away from such pitfalls. So when I do write, the quality is higher than it used to be.

I’m careful to make sure Apex does not cut into my day job. It’s all fun and games until you’re standing in the soup line!

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Big Pimpin

Just a reminder, this month I am the featured writer on Apex Online. You not only get an interview of me, but also a free story (“In the Shadows of Meido” – originally published in IDW Publications comic book line).

Plus , go to my web site and sign up for my newsletter. I’ll be announcing some giveaways and other such splendidness soon.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Facing Your Friends Part II

Speaking of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, they were recently written up with some complimentary things said about them. So after being welcomed into the family, I read with interest about the upcoming APEX – Halloween Grab-Bag Raffle:

You’ll find nothing but TREATS here, guaranteed! Here’s a chance to fill your pillowcase with all sorts of goodies, including rare items from some of the biggest names in the field. For only $1.00 per ticket. And, a percentage of all proceeds made will go to the National Center for Family Literacy!

One “ticket” will be selected as the winner for each item. So, the more “tickets” you buy, the greater your chances… Winners announced on Halloween at midnight . To bid on any of the fantastic items, just visit www.ApexDigest.com and simply put a “1” in the quantity field (for a charge of just $1). For a better chance at winning your item, just put in a “2” or a “3” (or a “20”) and your chances will increase accordingly! Good luck!

This is just some of what you’ll find to bid on:
* In-depth short story critiques offered by famed writers and editors.
* Copy edited original manuscript of Titan signed by Ben Bova.
* Signed HCs of Homebody, Magic Street or Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card.
* Signed MMPB of The Keeper by Sara Langan.
* Signed TPB French edition of The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum.
* Promotional Moral Orel photo or t-shirt signed by actress Carolyn Lawrence (voice of Orel).
* Signed copies of award winning writer M.M. Buckner’s: Hyperthought, Neurolink, and War Surf.
* Original hand-written poem framed with signed photo of Grim Trixter author Brandy Schwan.
* Signed reader’s copies of Mary Doria Russell’s new novel Dreamers of the Day.
* Awesome stuff from Aradani Studios (Paul and Michael Bielaczyc).
* Signed, HC limited edition copy of Dreadful Skin by Cherie Priest.
* Giant gift box from Horrorview.com. including videos, shirts, etc.
* Signed copies of Steven Savile’s Warhammer trilogy: Retribution, Dominion, and Inheritance .
* Three signed, sexy PR photos of author Angeline Hawkes-Fulbright.
* HC of DUNE: The Machine Crusade or Ignition signed by co-author Kevin J. Anderson.
* Signed, HC of Metal Swarm by author Kevin J. Anderson. This is the UK edition.
* Signed, MMPB of The Freakshow by Bryan Smith.
* Signed Tales of… pack by Geoffrey Girard: Atlantic Pirates, Jersey Devil, and Eastern Indians.
* One year subscription to Shimmer Magazine
* Signed & Limited Edition of I Sing the Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury (retail value of $150).
* Signed copies of The Magic Goblet and The Magic Ring edited by Dr. Amy H Sturgis.
* HC of The Last Rakosh by F. Paul Wilson.
* TPB of Wet Work by Philip Nutman.
* Signed, limited HC of Offspring by Jack Ketchum.
* Signed Sterling Edition (publisher’s copy with slipcase) of The Tery by F. Paul Wilson.
* Galaxy Press/Writers of the Future Educators Pack – many books!
* Blood-signed (by contributor Jodi Lee) TPB of Echoes of Terror anthology.
* Extended Play: The Elastic Book of Music anthology edited by Gary Couzens.
* Abaddon Books Gift Pack – many books!
* Autographed ARC of Robert McCammon’s Speaks the Nightbird.
* Brian Keene pack: The Rising, City of the Dead, Terminal, Ghoul, Conqueror Worms, and Dead Sea .
* And much, much more………

I keep scanning and scanning and scanning, but I don’t see “win original Alethea Kontis” origami nor “win a date with Maurice Broaddus.” He knows nothing about how to market. I’d even wear the red suit.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Facing Your Friends

At Apex Day, I ended up in two separate discussions, one with Brian Hatcher and the other with Michael West, about their love of going into bookstores and “facing” the books of writers they know (Facing means turning books out so that folks can see the whole cover, not just a spine and allowing those writers more book shelf real estate). They were making an interesting case for how they support the genre.

Now, granted, I believe in “supporting teh genre” like I do apologetics: if God needs me to defend Him, we’re all screwed. Still, I’m always surprised when writers complain about there not being enough good markets and readers complaining about the cost of magazines, and quality free (and professional paying) magazines, such as Horror Literature Quarterly and Noctem Aeternus go under-subscribed.

Apex Day was a blast. I’ve talked about some folks being family, but it was cool being welcomed into the Apex family (of mixed nuts). Sure I’m going to be their featured writer next month, but I wanted to support Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder and Jason Sizemore and Geoffrey Girard and the rest of the Apex Crew. But there was a certain amount of self-interest involved: it was an excuse for me to hang out with Doug Warrick, Sara Larsen, Alethea Kontis and Debbie Kuhn (even if she makes you chase her down for a hug).

Too often we get bogged down in “how can I market me” spirals of thought. Granted, we have no obligation to advance the genre beyond writing our best stories. However, some of us are a part of communities despite our solo pursuits. It’s a lesson I need to keep learning. There are times when we can get pretty mercenary in our pursuits/networking. However, when you support your friends, you’d be surprised how many friends will bend over backwards to help you when your time comes. Consider this blog me facing some of my friends. But I’m still not going to buy a copy of Chesya’s novel when it eventually comes out. I’ve EARNED my free copy, dang it.