Monday, July 22, 2013

You Don't Know Jack....




Tales of Jack the Ripper, from Ross E. Lockhart and Word Horde. Official publication date is August 31, the 125th anniversary of the Whitechapel Murders. However, the anthology is shipping now....

The trailer was created by author Patrick Tumblety, whose story "Something About Dr. Tumblety" is included in the anthology. Here's the full press release with the complete table of contents.

Do You Fear Lovecraft's Monsters?

Lovecraft's MonstersRecently I completed my fiftieth book project for Tachyon Publications. That project milestone was a copy edit of anthology Lovecraft's Monsters, edited by Ellen Datlow, to be published in early 2014.

Back in June, while I was working on this project, I read Brian Hodge's story, "The Same Deep Waters as You," for the first time. (The story was originally published in Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, edited by Stephen Jones, Fedogan & Bremer, 2013.) And I posted elsewhere that this may just be one of the best stories of the year! I'm not a book reviewer, so I don't do review-speak at all. What I can say is that this story has just the right mix of intelligence, tone, anticipation, dread, etc. to make it one of the best stories I've read this year. What more can I say? The story just hit the right spot in my reading psyche.

I'm not particularly fond of stories with excessive blood & gore and/or nail-biting psychological horror. I'm not a "fright night" kind of guy. Which is why the stories in Lovecraft's Monsters appeal to my reading sensibility. The Brian Hodge story was the only one I actually posted about, but a number of the other stories were just as exceptional.

Lovecraft's Monsters has an April 2014 pub date, but you can order the book now -- and order often! Here's the complete table of contents.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Steven Utley's Silurian Tales

400-Million-Year ItchIn the latter part of 2002, as an acquiring editor for Golden Gryphon Press, I was happily working away on a second collection of George Alec Effinger stories. To that end, I had contacted George's fellow writers, editors, and friends for their favorite GAE story (and once they named their favorite, I then cajoled and begged them into writing a brief introduction to said story for the collection). 1

Gardner Dozois was one of the editors whom I contacted, and he responded to my query via email on December 24, 2002. After recommending a number of Effinger stories in his email, including the pseudonymously written "O. Niemand" stories (which he did, in fact, introduce in the collection), Gardner wrote:
Cheeky as it may be of me, I've also been meaning to write to you and suggest two other worthy collections that are floating around out there and which don't seem to be able to find a home anywhere in the commercial publishing world.
The first collection Gardner recommended was for "Avram Davidson's wonderful and as yet uncollected stories about Jack Limekiller, and his adventures in an imaginary but vividly detailed Central American country drenched with magic, strange creatures, and supernatural menaces." 2

As to the second collection, Gardner went on to write:
The other collection I'd like to recommend is Steven Utley's collection of Silurian Tales, which have been appearing in venues such as ASIMOV'S, F&SF, SCI FICTION, and elsewhere over the last decade or so. This probably will never appeal to the big trade publishers, since there are no dinosaurs in it, Steve somewhat perversely having decided to take us back in time to the Silurian Age rather than the dinosaur age, when the biggest things on land are segmented worms. But [the stories] have maintained a sustained level of brilliance all these years, with many of them making one or another Best of the Year collection, and I think a collection of them would make a worthy book.
After the new year (2003), I tracked down a number of Steven Utley's Silurian Age stories in my copies of Asimov's SF and elsewhere, and was intrigued enough to contact the author. And a few months later Steven submitted a full collection of his Silurian tales.
InvisibleKingdoms
At the time, Golden Gryphon Press was publishing eight hardcover titles per year, but unfortunately that level of production didn't last. Some months later I received an email from the publisher informing me that he wanted to reduce the number of books per year to a maximum of six titles. Given my current commitments, that meant my half of the schedule was already booked through the next two years. Consequently, were I to acquire the collection of Silurian tales, it wouldn't see publication for at least three years. I didn't feel that was right, to hold up the publication of Steven's collection for three years, when he might find another press who could publish the book sooner.

My rejection letter to Steven Utley is dated November 26, 2003, and concludes with the following paragraph:
If you’re up to it, I would be most grateful if you would keep me posted on your efforts to have the collection published. And, as I said, I would be pleased to put in a good word for the collection with another publisher, and explain why, given Golden Gryphon Press's current schedule, we're not publishing the book instead. In fact, I would like to know by whom and when the book will be published so that I may place an order myself for a copy!
Steven did keep in touch, at least for a while; I recall receiving group emails from him with links to this and that, whatever he felt might be of interest to his contacts. At some point the emails stopped, and I never did hear anything further from him regarding the publication of his Silurian tales. (Though I will admit that I hadn't been actively searching for information either.) And then early this year, on January 12 -- or maybe it was the 13th that I actually read the news -- Steven Utley passed away.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Editors/Agents: What would you like writers to stop doing?

Over the July 4th holiday weekend, I attended Westercon 66 at the Hilton Arden West Hotel in Sacramento. I participated in three group panels, and one solo panel, which is the primary focus of this blog post.

First, just for the sake of posterity, I'd like to list the three group panels on which I participated, with a special nod to my fellow panelists who helped make the respective panels enjoyable as well as educational (for me as well as the audience).
July 5, 11:15:00, Sonoma conference room
The Pain & Joy of Self Publishing
Self-publishing allows the author to retain total creative control, but means they forgo the benefits of being with a major label. Our panel discusses the benefits and drawbacks of self-publishing and how to compensate for not having an editor and publishing house.
Panelists: M. Todd Gallowglas (M); Valerie Frankel; Marty Halpern; Emerian Rich; Karen Sandler; Jean Marie Stine.

July 6, 11:15:00, Sonoma conference room
Secrets of Publishing
Nearly every SF/fantasy author has been published by a smaller press at some point in their careers. It is also known for publishing new authors, midlist authors, short story collections, and other "odd" books typically rejected by the big New York publishers. Our panelists represent a spectrum of publications, and can "tell
all."
Panelists: David Maxine (M); Marty Halpern; Jacob Weisman.

[Note: I was under the impression that the "tell all" part of this panel was for the panelists to share some of their "publishing secrets" with the audience. Unfortunately, though I had come prepared with plenty of secrets, this was not the case. Instead, the discussion concerned copyright, distribution, etc. -- and I left with all of my "secrets" intact. Maybe next time....]

July 6, 12:30:00, Folsom conference room
Publishing Options: Traditional vs On-Demand and Self-Publishing
The days of needing your own printing press are long gone. With modern publishing methods you can print one copy or 1 million. Our panelists will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the various publishing options.
Panelists: Ben Yalow (M); Kelley Eskridge; Marty Halpern; Phyllis Kalbach; Emerian Rich; Jean Marie Stine.
So these were the three group panels in which I participated. I've been on a number of similar panels over the course of the past few years, at Baycon, Fogcon, Convolution, and Westercon, but since the industry -- and technology -- change so rapidly, and the panelists differ from con to con, there is always an opportunity for the audience (and me as well) to learn something new or, at least, to learn how the industry has changed.

And here are the details for my solo panel:
July 6, 3:00:00 Merlot conference room
Ask The Editor
Join Marty Halpern for "Ask the Editor." Bring your general editing questions or specific editing questions. You may also bring a copy of your own work for demo editing.
Marty Halpern (M)
Fortunately, no one in the audience had brought manuscript pages to be demo-edited; I say "fortunately" because the projection system and flip chart that Westercon programming had promised to provide me were never delivered (which, in my overall experience at a number of Bay Area cons in recent years, is fairly typical; if you really need a projection system, flip chart, etc., bring your own).

Following my lengthy introduction and some general chatting with the audience, I asked for questions -- and Effie Seiberg posed the following: "What would you like writers to start doing?" and "What would like writers to stop doing?"

These were actually very good questions, and the first part -- What I would like writers to start doing -- was easily answered: spell check your work! I'm not talking about spelling errors like "their," "they're," and "there." I'm talking about blatant spelling errors that even Microsoft's lousy spell checker would catch. Not to spell check your work is, in my humble editorial opinion, nothing but pure laziness. Blatant spelling errors in a manuscript will easily turn off a potential agent, editor, or publisher, because it shows a lack of respect for your own work (and their time).

Of course, once I had given the "spell check" response, a second thought immediately came to mind: style sheet. I've previously written about style sheets in December 2010, in February 2011, and again in January 2012. As I've mentioned at least once in those three blog posts, in my near fifteen years as an editor, only two authors have ever provided me with a style sheet: Michael A. Stackpole and Mark Teppo. Style sheets should become a matter of habit for every author, for novels especially, but for short stories, too. I would argue that a detailed style sheet will eliminate a number of questions and mark-ups on the author's manuscript, thus making the editor's job easier and, in turn, the author's job when the manuscript is returned.

As to the second half of Effie's question: What would I like writers to stop doing? -- though I thought for a brief moment, nothing really came to mind then -- and nothing has come to mind since. I'm not a stickler for formatting guidelines, or grammar rules, as long as the author is consistent throughout the manuscript. So I guess I could add a third point to the "What I would like writers to start doing": be consistent.

Which brings me to the audience participation part of this blog post: If you are an agent, an editor, and/or a publisher, what would you like writers to stop doing?