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Weldon Writes ... Almost a Blog

The Multi-talented Aaron J. French Discusses Writing, Editing, and His Love for Anthologies

Aaron J. French is one busy guy! Besides being a prolific writer, he is an accomplished editor and has pulled together some of the best horror and weird fiction anthologies now available. His story, "Whirling Machine Man," appeared in the Smart Rhino anthology, Zippered Flesh. His latest novella, The Dream Beings, is a hard-boiled Lovecraftian tale involving a serial killer and an investigator who is pulled into cosmic horrors.

Aaron agreed to answer some questions for us--and we hope you'll learn something from his vast experience!

Aaron, you and I have similar backgrounds: writer, editor, anthologist. Let’s start with your own fiction. Your collection of stories, Aberrations of Reality, has been described as a “modern grimoire of mystical horror,” and you’ve also written a zombie collection, Up From Fresh Soil. Your The Dream Beings is an incredibly creepy serial killer/occult novel. Plus you’ve written a number of novellas. How do you manage to juggle your time to write your own work, considering your many other obligations? Do you have a defined routine?

Thanks. Yes, it’s a lot of work, there’s really no getting around that. But it’s work I love to do, so that makes it worth it. I used to have a steady routine of writing 1000 words a day, and I did that for many years. But at this point, I’m basically just working all the time, whether writing, editing, and working academically (still writing). So I basically just do as much as I can on all fronts, but focus on whichever one has the nearest deadline (ha). But whenever I have a break, I try to write a new short story, or at least revise one that I have already written. It’s a way of keeping myself working on my own fiction, given everything else I do. And yet,  Read More 

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Interview with Michael Bailey, Bram Stoker Award Winner

Michael Bailey is a multli-award-winning author, editor, and publisher of incredible speculative fiction. He recently won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology for The Library of the Dead. His nonlinear horror novel, Palindrome Hannah, was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Awards. His follow-up novel, Phoenix Rose, was listed for the National Best Book Awards for horror fiction, was a finalist for the International Book Awards, and received the Kirkus Star, awarded to books of remarkable merit. Scales and Petals, his short story and poetry collection, won the International Book Award for short fiction, as well as the USA Book News “Best Books” Award. His short fiction and poetry can be found in anthologies and magazines around the world, including the US, UK, Australia, Sweden, and South Africa.

Michael has published a number of anthologies (including Pellucid Lunacy, Qualia Nous, The Library of the Dead, and the Chiral Mad series) and has just released Chiral Mad 3, published by his own imprint, Written Backwards, at Dark Regions Press. He is currently the Managing Science Fiction Editor at Dark Regions. Michael took some time off from his busy schedule to talk with us.

Chiral Mad 3 was just released, and you must be ecstatic. An introduction by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, stories and poetry by incredible writers (Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Mort Castle, Gary Braunbeck, Gene O’Neill, and 15 others). Wow! This is your most ambitious project to date. Can you share with us some of your process when pulling together such an impressive anthology?

I’m not even sure where to begin. I knew there would be a third Chiral Mad someday (I was hounded for it immediately upon release of the second volume). I knew if it were to exist, the book would have a specific story by King: “The Last Rung on the Ladder,” so I guess it all started with Steve. Apparently he digs my anthologies, or at least I hope he does, since he’s found his way into three of my books. “The Jaunt” appeared in Qualia Nous last year (a literary blend of science fiction and horror), and “I Am the Doorway” will appear later this year in You, Human, my first science fiction anthology with Dark Regions Press.

I designed the cover for Chiral Mad 3 and on a whim decided the entire book should be chiral in structure, with an odd amount of stories and an even amount of symmetrically-placed poetry. I reached out to a handful of writers I wanted in the book (for both fiction and poetry). Before I knew it, I had a dozen stories and a dozen poems; every single one of them spectacular. Chaos quickly took over.

I had so much fun  Read More 

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Meet Suspense/Thriller Writer and Publisher Austin S. Camacho

Austin S. Camacho is the author of five novels in the Hannibal Jones Mystery Series, four in the Stark and O’Brien adventure series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. Austin is deeply involved with the writing community. He is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. He is part owner of Intrigue Publishing, and was the chief organizer for the annual Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity (C3) Conference near Baltimore.

I had the pleasure of meeting Austin two years ago at the C3 conference, as well as working with him on his story “One of Us” for the Insidious Assassins anthology, published by Smart Rhino Publications. I recently managed to catch up with Austin and used the opportunity to talk with him about latest projects.

 

Weldon Burge (WB): You’ve written a good many suspense/thriller novels, including the Hannibal Jones mystery series, the Stark and O’Brien adventure series, and most recently a detective novel, Beyond Blue. Let’s start with the series. What do you find most appealing about writing series? Do you find the series easier to market than stand-alone novels?
Austin Camacho (AC): The most important point about character development is that people are changed by the events they experience. So the most appealing part of writing a series is that I get to follow up on those changes. I’ve followed the rising and advancing of Hannibal Jones’ spirit, and the rocky path along which Stark (a mercenary) and O’Brien (a thief) are following toward becoming actual heroes, in part due to their friendship. And I think series are easier to market because readers get caught up in characters more than in plots.

 

WB: Your latest novel, Beyond Blue, is about a team of detectives whose only purpose is to help police officers in trouble. What sparked the idea for this novel? How much research was involved in pulling the book together?
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Meet Debut Horror/SF Novelist Christian A. Larsen

Chris Larsen’s first novel, Losing Touch, has garnered much praise and acclaim since it was published by Post Mortem Press last year, winning several awards and receiving rave reviews. The horror/sci-fi novel focuses on a typical beleaguered husband/father, Morgan Dunsmore, who is not only watching his life dissolve around him, but is also losing physical tangibility. Being able to “phase” through solid matter sounds like a superhuman ability, but for Morgan it proves to be more horrific than heroic.

 

Chris has also written numerous short stories for anthologies and other publications. I had the pleasure of working with him on his story “The Little Things” for the Zippered Flesh 2 anthology. I recently managed to catch up with Chris and used the opportunity to talk with him about his book, his writing, and his future.

 

Weldon Burge (WB): Your novel, Losing Touch, won the Preditors & Editors Award for “Best Horror Novel” of 2013. The book has been well-received just about everywhere. Not bad for a debut novel! To what do you attribute your success?

 

Chris Larsen (CL): I was talking to my wife, Maureen, about this the other day. I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much, but if you would have told me five years ago that I would have a novel published with a foreword by Piers Anthony—and won an award for it to boot—I’d have told you that you were shitting me. I think what I mean by that is that “success” is a relative term, kind of like “old” or “rich.” It’s not the sales or the accolades that make me feel successful—it’s the positive comments and reviews. When I know that I’ve reached a reader, that’s success, and it’s measured one reader at a time.

 

I really couldn’t tell you how I achieved that success, though. I just wrote a novel that I wanted to read. Or I tried to, anyway. There were times (many times) that I finished writing for the day and I thought that what I put on paper (read: “the screen”) was absolute crap. But a writer writes. You just keep pushing forward until people starting reading and liking what you’ve written. And it took me a while. I mean, I started “writing” when I was 10, finished my first novel at 27 (don’t look for it on Amazon—it’s safely locked in a trunk where it will stay, forever and always), and published a couple of dozen short stories before I even took a crack at novel writing.

 

WB: What does your family think of all this?

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Moving From Anthologies to Novels: Interview with Weldon Burge by Suspense Magazine

The following was published in the June 2011 issue of Suspense Magazine. I enjoyed the interview. Thanks to Shannon Raab for the great questions!

Being best known for his gardening articles hasn't stopped Weldon Burge from trying all sorts of things, literary-wise. He does freelance writing for many nonfiction and fiction publications. His nonfiction has appeared in Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Gardening How-To, Birds & Blooms, Flower & Garden, National Gardening, Delaware Today, Country Discoveries, Grit, Back Home, The Almanac for Farmers & City Folk, and other national magazines.

His fiction has been showcased in Suspense Magazine, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, Grim Graffitti, The Edge: Tales of Suspense, Alienskin, Glassfire Magazine, and Out & About (a Delaware magazine). His stories have also been adapted for podcast presentation by Drabblecast, and have been accepted for the anthologies Don't Tread on Me: Tales of Revenge and Retribution, Pellucid Lunacy: An Anthology of Psychological Horror, Ghosts and Demons, and Something at the Door: A Haunted Anthology. Weldon had several projects brewing, including a police procedural novel and an illustrated chidlren's book. He is also one of Suspense Magazine's book reviewers.

Currently, Weldon is a full-time editor for Independent School Management, which provides a wide range of products and services for private schools. He's been the editor of Ideas & Perspectives, the company's flagship publication, since 1993. He created, posted, and maintained ISM's initial Web site starting in 1995, and is still involved in its development and content. He is also highly involved in the production of the company's other publications.

This month, we showcase our own Weldon Burge. He is always ready to do whatever we ask, and we are so honored to bring him to the forefront in Suspense Magazine's Contributor's Corner for the month of June. Enjoy!

Suspense Magazine (S. Mag.): Fiction, nonfiction, blogging, full-time job, and a family. How do you juggle it all?

Weldon Burge (WB): I do most of my writing around 2 a.m. on Saturdays.

Just kidding—but not entirely. I write wherever and whenever I can find the time: during my lunch break at work, in the evenings after dinner, or even at 2 a.m. on Saturdays. I live a life of deadlines (I’m a full-time editor), and I learned long ago how to prioritize my time. Family comes first. Everything else shakes out from there. So, I set deadlines for myself, but often find that I certainly can’t find time for everything—and that’s when prioritizing comes into play. The projects I deem the most important are the ones that get done. I have an extensive, ever-growing to-do list.

S.MAG.: You’re active in your local writing group, what is the biggest personal benefit of that association?


WB: The writing life is a lonely one. I welcome any opportunity to collaborate with other dedicated writers, both for the camaraderie and for the learning experience—and those are the biggest personal benefits I get from the writing group. My group, the Written Remains Guild, has been instrumental in helping me gain focus on my work from other member perspectives, as I in turn help them by providing my thoughts on their work. The critique sessions are illuminating as well as fun.

Being with the group has also given me the opportunity to perform my first public reading of my own work, alongside four fellow members, at a public library. What I assumed would be a terrifying event was actually fun, and gave me a chance to talk with the audience members afterward. It was a rewarding event, one I look forward to doing again in the future.

S.MAG.: What’s left on your creative “bucket list”?

WB: Novels! I’ve written many short stories and have seen them published in anthologies. I love anthologies, by the way. And I write a lot of nonfiction, particularly gardening articles. But my dream is to publish as many suspense novels as possible before I kick that bucket. I’m currently writing a police procedural set in my home state of Delaware. It involves voodoo, drug running, and freaky violence. I’m having great fun writing it, and I hope it eventually becomes a series. Literary agents out there, please take note!

S.MAG.: What did you want to be when you “grew up”?

WB: A chemist, believe it or not … well, up until I actually took a chemistry class in high school. Ugh! When I was around 10 years old, I loved the idea of taking different chemicals and combining them to create a wholly different product. There’s something magical about that. When I began writing short fiction in high school, I found out that it was much like chemistry, taking raw and often disparate ideas and turning them into a story. Not much difference between good storytelling and alchemy, is there?

S.MAG.: If you could write a message to future aspiring authors and place it in a time capsule for them to read years from now, what would you write?

WB: START NOW!

My only regret is that I didn’t take my writing career more seriously earlier in my life. My advice to aspiring writers is simply don’t put things off. Just do it, whatever it takes. Pay your dues. Churn out writing and market it. Always keep your work on the market. You get a rejection, fix the manuscript if you must, and send it out again. I’ve always believed that the key to successful freelance writing (aside from talent, of course) is momentum and persistence. You just keep at it, evolve as a writer, and success will be your reward.

S. MAG.: Weldon Burge, always at the ready with great advice and an honest opinion of a book he's just read. What more can you ask for! Suspense Magazine is proud to have him on our team. Thanks, Weldon. Keep up the great work. If you'd like to see more of what this very talented man is all about, check out his Web site at www.weldonburge.com.

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Something Dark in the Doorway: A Haunted Anthology

There's nothing like a collection of ghost stories for late-night reading, and Static Movement's Something Dark in the Doorway: A Haunted Anthology certainly fits the bill. But, as editor Greg Miller noted in his introduction, stories about hauntings can take many forms: "While reviewing the submissions ... I simply didn't anticipate the extraordinary variety of ways in which the word [haunt] can be interpreted." Here you will find stories of people haunted not only by ghosts, but by other supernatural creatures as well as human emotions, regret, and worry.



My story, "DWF," is the first of the 22 stories in this volume, and it was written in the classic ghost story style (e.g., M.R. James, Arthur Machen), with a decidedly modern slant. It was first published in the Delaware magazine Out & About (October 1996), and won First Place in its "Fright Fiction" contest.

Other stories I enjoyed in this anthology include:

  • "Haunted by the Self" by A.J. French—a study in ego and paranoia that is provocative and tests the imagination
  • "The Door of Gingercove Hotel" by Joshua Brown—a haunted hotel tale with a Lovecraftian flavor
  • "An Apple for Teacher" by Anthony Cowin—about a teacher and one of her problematic students, and fruit trees
  • "The Patience Factor" by Rick McQuiston—sometimes patience isn't golden
  • "My Ghost" by Gregory Miller—a poignant story about how childhood memories can be haunting
  • "The Doll Keeper" by Mason Kuldinow—a story involving a sea monster and a bizarre "collection" beneath the sea
  • "Mirror, Mirror" by Bruce Harris—sometimes even reflections can prove to be "haunting"



If you enjoy horror stories, especially those involving hauntings in various forms, you're sure to find stories in this anthology that you'll enjoy!
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Ghosts and Demons

Who doesn't like ghost stories? (Heck, the Ghost Hunters show on Syfy is one of my guilty pleasures!) Not only do I love reading ghost stories, but I love writing them.

Static Movement just released the anthology Ghosts and Demons, with 33 stories filled with apparitions, demons, and paranormal mayhem of every stripe. My short story, "Blue Eye Burn," is included. This is one of my favorite stories, originally published in Out & About, a Delaware magazine, back in 2004. The tale is about a Vietnam vet who is visited by a child from his past, a child long dead.




Some of the many other stories I enjoyed include:

  • "Death Comes for Gil Bates" by William Wood—what the future holds for the Grim Reaper
  • "Walking the Dog" by Rick McQuiston—will make you take a second look at man's best friend
  • "The Green Washing Machine" by Gayle Arrowood—a different take on appliance hell
  • "The Winter Experiment" by William Todd Rose—a chilling encounter with Yuki-onna, the mythical snow woman
  • "Happy Slapping" by Jason D. Brawn—a violent street punk gets his just reward
  • "The Rendezvous" by Gregory Miller—sometimes it's better to avoid old loves
  • "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" by Ken Goldman—a story involving a langsuyar, a malevolent ghost of a woman who has died in childbirth ... but much more


This anthology also contains five works by Yolanda Sfetsos, a writer hailing from Australia. The book ends with three of her stories, which are preludes to her novel HELLBLAZE.

If you enjoy horror stories—and ghost stories in particular—you'll find plenty to enjoy in this anthology! Halloween is just around the corner (hint, hint).
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Don't Tread on Me: Tales of Revenge & Retribution

I've always been a fan of themed anthologies, particularly collections of horror, suspense, and mystery stories. It's not surprising, then, that I enjoy writing short fiction in the same genres.

One of my stories, "Welcome to the Food Chain," was recently published by Static Movement in the anthology Don't Tread On Me: Tales of Revenge & Retribution. The story is about a hit man, a particularly nasty couple, and crabs caught fresh from the Chesapeake Bay. The story has never been published anywhere else, so I was happy it finally found a home!



But mine is only one of 30 stories in this fine anthology. You'll also find:

  • "A Small Sand Storm" by Kenneth Goldman—offers a different take on the bully-on-the-beach, kick-sand-in-your-face confrontation
  • "Angela's Rising" by Kevin Brown—a rape victim who takes revenge a little too far
  • "Inheritance" by Matt Carter—has a Saturday afternoon "Creature Feature" feel to it
  • "The Impact" by Jim Bronyaur—a disturbing attempt at double revenge, involving adultery and speeding cars
  • "The Shock Value of Bad Magic" by Mark Anthony Crittenden—a party magician's act goes horribly awry, leading to a bloodbath
  • "Good Morning" by Jessy Marie Roberts—an especially sadistic breakfast


One of my favorite stories in the anthology is "Wood Smoke" by the editor, Greg Miller. Short and supremely subtle, the story is about an old man who is semi-swindled out of his farmland by a conniving grandson, and Grandpa's sweet revenge in the end. I saw it coming, but it brought a smile to my face nonetheless.

There are some formatting issues and grammatical errors in the book, but the overall content is superb. As one of the writers included in this anthology, I'm very proud to share the pages with such a wide range of talent. Some stories are subtle, some slam you in the face. There's something here for everyone looking for vicarious thrills!

If you enjoy "tales of revenge and retribution," you can't go wrong with this selection of wonderful stories!  Read More 

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