Con-Eire FREE!


In honour of SFF con season, my short play Con-Eire from today through Thursday will be completely FREE! It’s appropriate for this season as it’s a love letter to the hard-working folks behind the scenes putting the madness all together:

It’s three days before the start of Con-Eire, the best Irish-themed science fiction and fantasy con in the tri-state area, when a phone call sets the entire Convention Committee into panic mode. Is Big Name Writer going to pull out at the last minute? What does Very Famous Artist have to do with that decision? And what do the fairies have to say about all this? Follow the hilarious mishaps as the committee members work desperately to salvage months of planning and hard work, all of which are about to be undone by a well-known prima donna.

This half-hour radio play for voices features a cast of six and little in the way of props and sound effects, making it suitable for impromptu or amateur performances.

Don’t just listen to me: it has a bunch of great reviews, too. Here’s a snippet of a five star review from someone I don’t even know:

Before I was 4 pages in, I was laughing out loud, and before I was done, I thinking, “I know some of these people…don’t I?” Great fun! Read it!

Deliberately Lost SF Classics

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Llama Riders 3

Can they actually be classics if they were deliberately lost? I don’t know, but inspired by Jane Gutter of the Cultural Gutter with all her movie-watching shenanigans, I decided they needed to exist. The hard part was stopping once I started…

Thanks to the Short Humour site for being willing to host my nonsense. Thanks to the Pulp-O-Mizer for the cover mock up.

A snippet to whet your appetite:


Despite a cast that included several purebred llamas and enthusiastic jockeys, the film failed to take off—perhaps for the same reasons. Rumour had it that producer Alana Perez refused to work the llamas for the grueling shifts that director Jimenez Arlberg demanded, citing the concerns of the Quechua handler of the beasts who claimed they were never used as mounts at all. Indeed throughout the production it is possible to see llamas doing their best to dislodge riders with bucking, rolling and lying down on top of them. By the end of the shoot, the disgusted breeder took off with his llamas and it became necessary to shoot several key scenes with large dogs. It is to the credit of editor Roberta Santiago that in most of the scenes the change is hardly obvious. However, with the majority of the budget spent on acquiring the llamas, the sets were rushed and poorly constructed. In fact during the infamous crater scene, it is possible to glimpse the surprised crew revealed as one panel of the set falls away. Arlberg’s attempts to connect the script to a Ray Bradbury story for publicity purposes backfired when the angry writer sent him a fake vicuña scarf in retort.

Read the rest here.

Albacon 2016 This Weekend

2016-01-13 14.33.21I will be making an appearance at Albacon this weekend, the local speculative fiction conference. Say hello if you’re around. I can’t promise dragons but I have two panels on Friday at 2 and at 3:

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and one on Sunday at 11:

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See the complete schedule here.

I’ll finally get to hang around with Debi whom I haven’t seen since World Fantasy because we’re both so busy. I do believe she’s planned a high tea. I’ll try to remember to bring some books. I’ve got the last few ‘I’m Pledging Sigma Tau Nu’ badges for Satan’s Sorority, so grab one if you can.

FFB: The Devil’s Mistress

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The Devil’s Mistress
J. W. Brodie-Innes
The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult
Sphere 1974 (original novel 1915)

I taught a course on witchcraft and the witch hunts in the fall semester. Don’t ask me what took so long to get around to it. As usual with new courses I stuffed far too much into it, so I’m going to have to rethink before I teach it again.

Among the fun things was getting a little obsessed with Isobel Goudie, the Scottish witch whose confession is responsible for a lot of modern views on witches. There have been novels written on her (this is one, I’ve got another to come, both picked up for pennies here) but also a symphonic work and a pop song.

As Wheatley points out in his introduction, one of the first things to intrigue is Brodie-Innes’ dedication in the volume: ‘To the memory of my dear friend the author of Dracula to whose help and encouragement I owe more than I am at present at liberty to say.’ He also mentions the continuing history of which Brodie-Innes writes. In his own introduction the author reiterates the historicity of the narrative: ‘All the leading characters in the story are actual historical persons, and the incidents told of them vouched by contemporary writings.’ In fact, many from his own family’s history like Patrick Innes.

This reliance on historical record makes the opening pages a little dry, rather like Harker’s diary entries at the start of Dracula but soon we are in the mind of Isobel and things pick up. The old story of beauty married to age (as well as a sour and miserly disposition) gets the added complication of a woman with ambitions for art and knowledge.

So yes, Isobel sells her soul to the Dark Master, who promises her that ‘Knowledge is power’ but with a loophole: he cannot affect her Catholic baptism, only her false Reformed one. This loophole is important and she holds onto the gold cross hidden within a simple shift for it works a magic equal to if different from that of her dark lover. It also provides an important theme in the clash of the Cromwellian reformers with the royalists — a lot of the trials of ‘heretics’ and ‘witches’ had a deeper political cause.

Then there’s the world of faerie, which delights Isobel even more than the wild hunts and tasty revenge that her dark lover gives her. From their realm only does she see the whole of creation and realise what power the devil has — and has not. She’s torn between that land’s delights, her loyalty to friends and the perilous struggle for her eternal soul.

All of which makes for a fun read. Lots of folklore and old rhymes, too. There are rituals, Hecate, fae fun, wild hunts and even a Hand of Glory. Some snippets:

‘Nay, she would not be chattel; she refused to be bought. She belonged to herself. No human being can be bought thus in free Scotland.’

‘Horse and hattock! Mount and go! Horse and hattock! Oh, ho ho!’

‘The Lord rade fair and free
Ower the hills til Galilee;
He pat the blood to the blood till all upstood,
The lith till the lith till all took with.
Owr Ladie charmed her dearlie son, with her tooth and with her townge
And her ten fingaris.
Be ye then hail and well,
In the name of the Father, Son, and Halie Ghaist.’

I suspect I will be digging more into Goudie’s confessions as I explore some more. You can explore more overlooked books at Patti’s blog. Todd’s blog this week.

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Free Magic

I’m working on Abra Cadavra, also known as Hard-Boiled Witch 4, so all this week I’ve put up book 3 for FREE (click the picture for US, for UK click here):
HBW 3 Charms O'erthrownHard-Boiled Witch: Charms O’erthrown
Book three in the series
Print Length: 25 pages
Hecate Sidlaw finds herself in a wild storm of shady folks all looking for a priceless artifact that’s gone missing. With all the double dealing and surprising murders, it’s a wonder she and Henry can find out what’s really going on — and what this precious treasure could be. An ancient alchemical text may hold the answers if only Hecate and Henry can live long enough to get to the library!

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The other two are only 99¢/99p so if you like what you read, there’s more Hard-Boiled Witch! You can read them out of order and each stands on its own as a tale. There is an overarching link that will tie together by book 10, but who knows when I’ll get it done. So many things going on!

Also a free read if you’ve not caught up with it yet. I’ve mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook: I have a short story up at Spelk Fiction called ‘Pink’ — a very dark little tale of small town crime and its repercussions. You can sign up to get Spelk fiction sent to your inbox three times a week. Nice to have a little story to start your day, eh?

And now — to work.

VexMosaic & Medieval Masculinities

Today I’ve got an essay up at a new site, VexMosaic, along with folks like the esteemed Alasdair Stuart. What is VexMosaic, you ask?

Good Speculative Fiction transforms “what is” into “what could be”.

It vexes, disturbs, and inspires us, becoming a catalyst for new ways of thinking
that expand our awareness and subvert the status quo.

We want to amplify that discussion.

Read the brief here and take a look around. In short if you like spec fic narratives and discussions, you’ll like the Vex.

My first essay for the site has to do with how medieval films appropriate the era to talk about very modern anxieties about the roles of men. I’m not so much concerned about how accurate they are or aren’t, but how their choices illuminate the ways we see the past — and how we manipulate it for our own purposes.

Check it out and see what else you might enjoy: this is a promising new venture. Help get the word out!

Albacon This Weekend!

Dream BookUPDATED!

Hey, kids in the capital region, I’ll be among the attendees at Albacon — which surprisingly has nothing to do with bacon at all but is the local SF/F/H/anime/manga/comics/costuming etc con. Plenty of fun people will be there: GoH is Mur Lafferty and Ghost of Honor is jan howard finder a.k.a. wombat. Doubtless I will be doing my best to flog Dream Book to all and sundry.

My schedule includes:


(possibly taking Debi Chowdhury’s place on the 9 and/or 10 am panels too)

Getting it Published
Laity, Hartwell, Chowdhury, Willis
Getting the Word Out
Laity, Chowdhury, Shvartzman
Social Media
Kressel, Lafferty*, Laity, Shvartsman
Flash Fiction
Hammond*, Laity, Schneyer, Shvartsman, Rothman
Noir in SF Cinema (or, perhaps,SF in Film Noir!)
Doyle, Laity*, Barnett/Grant

Full program here. Sorry for the rush job: trying to finish grading!