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Top five reads of 2009, a novel update, and shout outs
In no particular order, these are the five best books I read in 2009.

Await Your Reply- Dan Chaon
Controlled Burn- Scott Wolven
One Foot in Eden- Ron Rash
Rain Gods- James Lee Burke
Smonk- Tom Franklin

Obviously these books weren't all published in 2009, but that's when I read them, so there you go.

Novel update:

I'm closing in on the second draft of this thing I call SLIP. I plan to be finished by February. I hope it will appeal to both teenagers and adults as it is told from an adult perspective though the events take place when said adults were fourteen. It's got a little mystery, a little horror, and a little fantasy. I will be seeking an agent very soon.

Shout outs-

Sam W. Anderson, better known as that guy who almost quit writing a year ago and since deciding not to quit has taken over the world, just sold a story to Blood Lite II. Nice work, Mr. Anderson.

Also, Erik Williams, better known as that bastard who writes three novels in the time that I write one, has recently been reviewed here for his participation in this.

The Water Tower live at Fantasy Magazine
My story "The Water Tower" just went live at Fantasy. Here's a link, if you would like to give it a read:


I'd love to hear what you think, so use the comment feature at Fantasy or leave a note here.

Also, check out the podcast:


The Nihilistic Kid
My writing group had the pleasure of chatting with Nick Mamatas last night. He was a great guest who had a ton to say about writing, publishing, MFA's, and his brilliant short story collection YOU MIGHT SLEEP. I'm jealous of him for two reasons: his ability to type so fast and that he does not, I repeat, does not revise his stories. If you don't read his blog, you might be the only one. Links below:

Nick's blog

Chat transcript

Erik Williams is everywhere
Erik Williams is a good friend of mine. He's in my writing group, Snutch Labs. That's the disclaimer. But even if he wasn't, I would promote his stuff because it's good. Heck, you don't need me to tell you, he's everywhere these days. The thing that is most impressive about Erik, I think, is that he's young, yet also extremely dedicated to his craft. I envy him for both of those things. Here's where you can find him (like I said, he's everywhere):

Issue 7 (and the first print issue) Necrotic Tissue is available and features his story Restaurant Talk. Find it here: http://www.necrotictissue.com/subscriptions_O.html

Polluto 5 features his story Silent Treatment. Grab it here: http://www.polluto.com/issues.htm

And if all of that isn't enough, his novella Gone The Day is making quite a splash on Amazon as a Kindle download:


He also maintains a pretty active blog (wish mine were that active) at: http://erikwilliams.blogspot.com

Now go check him out.

Snippet from WIP
This is from my YA novel tentatively titled THE SLIP.

It's a very short section from the beginning:

Three weeks after the trial ends, I wake up to a noise below my window.  Like almost every other time I’ve been awakened since the disappearance of my mother and sister, there is an instant where they are not gone, and I am a normal boy, and my life has not taken a turn for the worse.  It’s like waking up in a cocoon; first you’re just awake, insulated by the silk around you.  Thing is, the silk is just imaginary, and as your eyes adjust, it vanishes.  That’s when the world knocks you right in the mouth.  

Fully awake, I slide out of bed and over to my window.  There’s a wind blowing across the cotton fields and the big oak tree in front yard throws shadows across the yard.  Leaning forward a little more, I see Harold Pike dragging his oxygen tank up our front steps, his long, stringy hair flying wild in the wind, a burning cigarette clutched tightly between his knuckles.  He climbs the last step and puts his tank down near the door.  Shaking the hair from his face, he pulls the apparatus from his nose and the cigarette glows hot orange as he takes a hit off it before dropping it on our porch and grinding it out underfoot.  

Three loud knocks followed by a silence that makes me feel uncomfortable, edgy.  Far away, somewhere near town, maybe, I can hear a big rig shift gears.  Closer to home, the cicadas murmur.  Then, the sound of Dad’s bare feet across the hardwood.


TOC- Haunted Legends Announced
Ellen Datlow has announced the semi-official order of the stories in the upcoming Haunted Legends antho:

I'm kind of giddy about this.

"Introduction: Saying Boo" Nick Mamatas

"Knickerbocker Holiday" Richard Bowes

"That Girl" Kaaron Warren

"Akbar" Kit Reed

"The Spring Heel" Steven Pirie

"As Red as Red" Caitlín R. Kiernan

"Tin Cans" Ekaterina Sedia

"Shoebox Train Wreck" John Mantooth

"15 Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku & the Jotai" Catherynne M. Valente

"La Llorona" Carolyn Turgeon

"Face Like a Monkey" Carrie Laben

"Down Atsion Road" Jeffrey Ford

"Return to Mariabronn" Gary A. Braunbeck

"Following Double-Face Woman" Erzebet YellowBoy

"Oaks Park" M.K. Hobson

"For Those in Peril on the Sea" Stephen Dedman

"The Foxes" Lily K. Hoang

"The Redfield Girls" Laird Barron

"Between Heaven and Hull" Pat Cadigan

"Chucky Comes to Liverpool" Ramsey Campbell

"The Folding Man" Joe R. Lansdale


In other news, I defend my thesis today. I'm a little nervous about it, but I keep remembering what a friend told me: "They're your stories. Nobody knows them better than you." I hope she's right. :-)

Thugs R Us
My story "Halloween Comes to County Road Seven" went live today at Thuglit.

Check it out: http://www.thuglit.com/zine/thug31/thuglit31.html

Thesis = finished
I finally finished my thesis, a collection of short stories called SHOEBOX TRAIN WRECK. Thanks to my writing group Snutch Labs for all their help. Thanks also to my committee chair and advisor, Larry Wharton.

Here's the TOC:

Slide- this is a highly autobiographical story that won the Barksdale-Maynard award for fiction

Chicken- this one appeared in the first issue of GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator). You can read it here:

Saving Doll- this story used to be "The Nature of Power." Totally revised now. Still unpublished.

Halloween Comes to County Road Seven- I've been trying to find a home for this one since I wrote it in 2005. After probably thirty revisions, it finally found a home at http://www.thuglit.com/home.html --It should be live soon. Speaking of Thuglit, they don't pay, but they do give you a t-shirt. I got my yesterday. Badass.

Highway Noise- used to be "On the Mountain" which was published in Shroud. I like this version a lot better though.

The Water Tower- this one will appear in Fantasy Magazine (http://www.darkfantasy.org/fantasy/) in the fall. It's a surreal tale about some kids who find something strange in an old water tower.

Litany- published in Shimmer. It may be the oldest story in the collection, but it holds up pretty well, I think. It received a year's best honorable mention from Ellen Datlow a couple of years ago (2006, I think).

Shoebox Train Wreck- this one will appear in 2010 in the Datlow/ Mamatas anthology from Tor called Haunted Legends.

I've got two or three more stories that are probably good enough to go in the collection, but they didn't really fit the tone and theme of my thesis which is basically Southern Gothic, redemption through violence, type of thing. One day, I hope I can get this baby published, but it seems all the publishers these days are closed to submissions. Must be the economy. Anybody got any suggestions?

Nice guy, great writer
Paul Tremblay stopped by the Snutch Labs last week for a chat. I knew he was a great writer because I'd read some of his short stories and The Little Sleep, but what I wasn't prepared for is that he's also a hell of a nice guy. He talked about The Little Sleep as you might expect, but he also played along with the shenanigans my group has been known to engage in. He also bragged about being the best speculative writing basketball player on the planet, though fellow Snutcher, Sam W. Anderson's told me the same thing before. Maybe they can go one on one. No offense, Sam, but my money's on Paul. He's got the height advantage.

If you haven't read The Little Sleep, go buy a copy and get started. The novel is well-written, insightful, and frequently hilarious.

As for future chats, we've got Peter Abrahams (Stephen King calls him his favorite suspense writer), Jack Ketchum, Joe Lansdale, and Nick Mamatas. Should be a fun summer!

A little personal news, while I'm here. I won the Barksdale Maynard fiction award at UAB (where I'm working on my Master's) for my story "Slide." 200 dollars and publication in Aura, the university's literary zine. I also found out my story "Halloween Comes to County Rd. Seven" has been accepted at Thuglit. Don't know when it will be up yet, but in the meantime, check out their site:


Oh and I almost forgot--check out the chat with Paul Tremblay here:



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