Coming Soon: Weird Noir

Cover art by S L Johnson

Yes, now it can be told! Coming very soon (as in, we’re rushing as fast as we can) from Fox Spirit Books is this fabulous new collection WEIRD NOIR! Dig that awesome cover art from the amazingly talented S. L. Johnson (AKA the Queen of Everything). It’s been tough sorting through the story submissions; some terrific stories that just didn’t fit the umbrella and some stories that just didn’t work for me. Each editor has their own tastes and pleasures, so this topic in other hands might well have come out differently. I kind of hope there will be other anthologies in a similar vein — we need more weirdness and more noir!

Here’s the table of contents: you’ll probably recognise some names — I wasn’t about to try something like this (however much Adele supported me and thank you for that, my friend) without a few ringers I could pester for a story. But you’ll likely see some names you don’t know — either folks who are newish to the writing game or folks who regularly work in another genre. Some people found themselves surprised by the twists their stories took. I was delighted. The tales veer from darkly horrific to wickedly funny (sometimes within the same story). But they all groove on the noir aesthetic and they’re all weird in some way: some subtle, some broad, some magical, some uncannily horrifying. I may play with the running order yet, but I think I have it sorted so each story surprises.

Thanks to Adele, Stephanie, Daz (in advance, as I know your hard work in the copy editing is just beginning) and all the writers.



A Kick in the Head by Chloë Yates

Violets and Furs by Richard Godwin

Sins of the Brother by Karina Fabian

Across the Border by Hector Acosta

Corkscrewed by Jan Kozlowski

East of Écarté by Andrez Bergen

3 Kings and The Mark by Carol Borden

Black Moon Rising by Paul D. Brazill

The Darkness Cult by Jennifer Martin

Identity Crisis by Katherine Tomlinson

A Diabolical Liberty by Jason Michel

Evil and Life by Asher Wismer

Gus Weatherbourne by Michael S. Chong

Wonder Woman Walks into a Bar by Leeyanne Moore

Charred Kraken with Plum Butter by Christopher L. Irvin

Yao Jin by Joyce Chng

Train Tracks by W. P. Johnson

New Release: Unquiet Dreams

Unquiet Dreams is the long, deep plunge in the coldest quarry in the woods; the lingering look under the rotting wood at all the writhing life there; the stare into the abyss until one realizes something is staring back.”

~ S. R. Bissette, creator of Tyrant, Taboo, Teen Angels & New Mutants and illustrator of Swamp Thing

Out now from Tirgearr Publishing, it’s my dark fiction collection Unquiet Dreams. Wow, what a nice pull quote from Steve, too! One of the stories in here is dedicated to him, the darkly comic ‘Another Metamorphosis’ which of course features dinosaurs. Most of the stories in this collection have dedications — either the person who inspired them or someone I immediately thought of upon writing them. Many of the stories have appeared in print, but not always in easy-to-obtain anthologies and some in magazines or websites alas, no longer with us.

I experimented with various ways of arranging the stories: by length, by theme, even by genre. The truth is most of the stories veer off into more than one category. Some are short and a couple are rather lengthy. I thought of breaking them up as ‘REM sleep, naps and fever dreams’, but the categories never pleased me. In the end I went with ‘higgelty piggelty’ and that seems to have suited the collection (and me, just because I like to say ‘higgelty piggelty’).

You’ll find my paean to Ray Bradbury that appeared in a literary magazine, my ultra-modern-meets-ancient office horror story, a couple of crime stories that veer into a hint of the supernatural, a zombie western and at least two dragons — much to my surprise. October always makes me think of Bradbury’s The October Country, itself a strange collection of tales that take unexpected turns into off corners and dark passages. It’s a grand tradition to follow, even in my own small way.

Are you feeling in need of something unsettling? Give them a try.

Madness (i.e. business as usual)

I’m off to Harrogate in the morning; not sure if I will have time to post while I’m there. But as I have a long train ride ahead of me, I do have time to read! Hurrah, the only difficulty will be choosing amongst the many things loaded onto the shiny toy. And not missing my changes: I have to change at York to a local. I’m looking forward to the fest I’ve heard so much about. It doesn’t quite make up for missing Camp Necon, but life is change. I will raise a glass to legend Beth Massie from England!

Bits and bobs:

My interview with Andrez Bergen over at A Knife & A Quill. Nice to find someone else with such a delightfully off-kilter imagination.

Here’s a good piece by Kristen Lamb about why the Big Six seem to be flailing in the digital age (fear, whodathunkit?).

Owl Stretching inching closer to publication; gathering stories for Weird Noir and the cover artist is busy working, too — hoping for an unveil of that soon. Lots of new things coming from Fox Spirit Books: Tales of the Nun and Dragon coming soon!

A good review of Drunk on the Moon.

Joe Lansdale writes about how he got an unexpected kick in the pants as a young writer.

The Cundeez celebrate a local hero with bagpipes and kilts.

Sigur Rós invites you to make a video for their new album.

Here’s a reminder all creative people need on occasion:

Six Sentence Sunday: The Price

Six Sentence Sunday has rolled around again: if all has gone well, I am in Dundee. After the long day of travel, I suspect I may still be in bed. Let’s hope!

In the midst of packing and tying up loose ends, I was also writing (well, when am I not?). One of the things I worked on was a little story called “The Price” which will appear in the inaugural anthology from Fox Spirit Books, Tales of the Nun & Dragon. Isn’t that just the loveliest cover?

I can’t wait to see how the anthology looks. I can’t wait to see all the projects lined up for Fox Spirit Books. Some terrific stuff; that Adele — she makes things happen. So I’m working on a story of a girl who has very little chance of making anything happen. It has a lot to do with it being CE 793 in England — might even end up having something to do with the evil portents in the sky…

Here’s the six:

“You sold me?!” Ælfgifu stared at her parents with disbelief.

Eadgifu winced. “Not sold, my dear. We’ve tithed you.” Her mother ran a hand through her hair, looking very tired…

I went with short and intriguing this time, not to mention rough and unedited (ah, first draft, how you creak). It’s meant just to tease you a bit. I promise to read this story before a big crowd when Adele opens the pub named after this book.

Heh. She probably will.

Writer Wednesday: Danielle Ackley-McPhaill

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over sixteen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, the upcoming Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and New Blood.

She is a member of The Garden State Horror Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit,, or

Q: What do you write on? Computer, pad o’ paper, battered Underwood? Give us a vivid picture.

Wow…it really depends on where I am. I grab every chance I can to write when I am in the middle of a project so I’ve written on my personal laptop, a previously finicky Gateway that had a backlighting short that made the screen go out on an all too regular basis, an ancient PalmPilot when I’ve gone back and forth to work, a lovely notebook—drattedly unlined—in a leather cover pressed with Celtic knotwork, and now my wonderful new Droid…which admittedly sees more game playing than writing at the moment, but only because I received it right as I was finishing the final pages of my new novel, Today’s Promise.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it influence what you write?

I almost always listen to music. Mostly Celtic instrumentals, or where they are singing in Irish, so that the content doesn’t distract me, but I’ve also been known to pull out the movie soundtracks when I need something with a really good sci fi or military theme. I don’t know about the music influencing me, exactly, but I do use it to get into a mindset. Not quite the same thing.

Q: Do you write in short bursts or carve out long periods of time to work? Is it a habit or a vice?

Wow…It depends. Above I mentioned I was working on Today’s Promise, the last book in my Eternal Cycle series. Through a moment of insanity I ended up with a five month writing window for that before it needed to be sent to press. I lost a month of that to illness and surgery. With only four months to write, revise, and then go through the formal edit process I was sweating it big time. At the very end I went 44 hours without a proper sleep and wrote about 12,000 words in that time. I finished the book in three months by dedicating every free moment obsessively to writing it. That’s not how I usually am, though. Mostly I’ll have a couple hours here and there when an idea comes to me, and more rarely I’ll write the day through to finish a short story. Of course, I’ve been known to go prolonged times without writing anything at all…

Q: What writer would you most want to read your work? What would you want to hear them say?

LOL…Well… I just gave my biker faerie novel, The Halfling’s Court, to Sherrilyn Kenyon…and I’m REALLY hoping what she says is that it doesn’t suck! [Ed. Fingers crossed!]

Q: On the days where the writing doesn’t go so well, what other art or career do you fantasize about pursuing instead?

You know I’d like to be a chef, or a vagabond…though costumer or make-up artist would be really cool too…not like Lancôme. Like Face Off!

Q: What do you read? What do you re-read?

I read just about everything except for Horror and Manga. Mostly fantasy, urban fantasy, some sci fi. My guilty pleasure is romance, which I call my junkfood reading. Not because there is anything wrong with the quality of the writing, but because I can read them quickly, easily and enjoyable without too much having to keep things straight, like alien names and who is scheming against who.

Q: Where did the idea for your latest publication come from? Do you have a surefire way of sparking inspiration?

Most of my ideas come from the odd connections my mind makes when I’m in conversation with other people, mostly other writers. The Eternal Cycle series started as the story Yesterday’s Dreams. Originally it was only supposed to be a short story just for the heck of it. I’d never even considered it would become a novel or get published. I was in a chat room with other writers and one of them, my friend Bill Hicks, was talking about all the different jobs he’d had. One of them was a pawn broker. That triggered in my mind the idea of a pawnshop where an evil man claimed items that had an attachment to the owner’s soul. In the end it turned into a Celtic themed story where the pawnbroker was a good elf, still collecting soul-imbued items, but for the purpose of protecting them, not exploiting them. Yesterday’s Dreams was followed by Tomorrow’s Memories, and in May, concludes with Today’s Promise, and none of them would exist if not for talking with creative, like-minded people and letting my mind play with the possibilities.

From Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s novel Today’s Promise, Book Three in the Eternal Cycle Series, Dark Quest Books, May 2012:

The hall was weighted with oppressive silence. Hushed and packed, with no unnecessary movement. Every member of the elven race the world over had been summoned. No. Compelled. Kara had been swept along, driven to follow by an impulse deep within. Though not precisely included in the charge, her way had not been barred. More, she figured, because she’d gone unnoticed than for any other reason.

She made her way to where Maggie stood, careful to draw no attention to herself. Not that that was likely as the Sidhe all stood bound together by tension, every eye drawn to the Great Wall. More than architecture, more than art, that one wall represented the experiences of every Sidhe alive…and ever born. The intricate knotwork was more than decoration; in color and shape, it grew and changed as the Tuatha de Danaan did. This was the living history of their race. For Bran to be stricken from it for all time was testament to the severity of his offenses. Kara was floored by the grave nature of what she was about to witness. Silently, she took in the changes that had been made to the Hall.

On the dais in front of the wall Goibhniu’s massive throne was gone from its place. Where once it rested an enormous wrought-iron anvil stood ready; ancient, dark and unyielding, like the Smith that worked upon its surface. Kara’s eyes grew wide and beside her Maggie gasped. Goibhniu’s expression was completely neutral, as was his voice when he finally spoke.

“Two things the Daoine Maithé honor above all else: kin an’ oath. To betray either is to be banned from the Land. To betray both is to be banished from all Lands. The Cursed One has added treachery beyond measure to his crime, betraying not one o’ us, but all o’ us. As ruler o’ this Land an’ first betrayed, I invoke the Unraveling.”

Women’s Day, Con-Eire & BitchBuzz

Happy International Women’s Day! A day to celebrate and a day to chastise because there’s a long way to go yet and I’m getting more than a little impatient at fighting the same battles I have fought since childhood. There has been progress, I remind myself, but there’s a long way to go until NO ONE gets dismissed or disrespected on account of gender. This is for all of us.

Of course, I celebrate the day in my usual way: a new publication. Well, not exactly new — Con-Eire has been available in an expensive print edition which kind of missed the point of it being a fun and light-hearted thing. Now it’s available for your Kindle or ebook reader for just $1.99.

Having just come back from a terrific con experience (which may have seemed anything but until it began), I had a lot of fun and chuckles while editing and updating this, including removing a couple of references to MySpace (!?) and some other tech innovations. Wow, so much has changed in just a few short years. But the over all issues remain the same for any event of this kind. I’m really proud that Lee Martindale (who also took a role in the premiere performance) gave me such a lovely blurb.

“From the bowels of back-of-house, from the deepest, darkest, most secret chambers of arcane ConComm knowledge, comes a screamingly funny glimpse into what’s behind the curtain at a science fiction convention. Fairy-dusted hilarity served with a side order of giggles.”

It reminds me of the good old days of Trinoc*coN and there’s a new dedication to Susan and Mildred (and Birdie and Ron) in it, with the hope that the next Three Mothers reunion won’t be too far away. In the meantime, it’s back to work including cleaning for the arrival of the Queen of Everything and Marko this weekend. Hurrah!  

One of the things that simplified the process of making an ebook of Con-Eire was the wonderful new open source platform called Booktype. I was so delighted with it, I wrote about it in my column today for BitchBuzz.  I was really glad to find that:
“Booktype has been developed by the folks at Sourcefabric who have an ambition to foster independent journalism around the world by creating software to facilitate its development for print, digital and on air delivery.”

P-Con Bound

Heading back to Dublin today for P-Con; looking forward to seeing friends and meeting new folks. Mary and Bryan Talbot will be signing Dotter of her Father’s Eyes at Forbidden Planet and I believe Pádraig said there’d be drinks after. Looking forward to more plotting with Maura and I’m on some panels that ought to be interesting.

The schedule here; my bits include:


12.00 -12.50: Myth and Folklore in a Modern World
KA Laity, Ruth F Long, Peadar Ó Guilín, Brian J Showers

17.00 -17.50: Who Really Needs an Editor? Quality Control in an Internet Age
KA Laity, Ian McDonald, and Peadar Ó Guilín ponder on what an editor brings to a book, and how to find something good to read in a jungle of misspellings and bad punctuation. 


11.00 – 11.50: Crowdsourcing and Other Alternative Funding Models
If you want to make money out of your writing, what other alternatives are open to you besides getting a publisher to take your book? With KA Laity, CE Murphy, and Brian J Showers.

16.00 – 16.50: Managing Social Media: Pros & Pitfalls
KA Laity, Alan Nolan, Sarah Pinborough, Brian J Showers

Hope it will go well. Doubtless I will write it up. In the meantime, here’s some photos from last weekend’s trip to Dublin with Robert.