A Silver IPPY Medal for A Family by Any Other Name!

FamilyByAnyOtherName_cvr_catAs you all may recall, I had an essay in the anthology A Family by Any Other Name, published by TouchWood Editions (it was my first Canadian publication!). The anthology, edited by Bruce Gillespie, has won a silver medal in the LGBT non-fiction category in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards. And—and!—the other award winners include my friend D.L. King who won silver for the anthology she edited, The Big Book of Domination; Bridget Birdsall, who took the gold in LGBT fiction for Double Exposure—she and I were on the YA fiction panel at Saints & Sinners this year; and Victoria A. Brownworth, whose novel Ordinary Mayhem won the bronze in the Horror category.

Check out all the winners here. Congratulations, everyone!

Unplugging in Vermont

It’s May in St. Louis, which means the mercury is creeping up into the 80s and that means there’s only one thing for someone coldblooded like me to do: get the heck out of town!

For the month of May, I’ll be hiding out in the woods of Vermont and working on a manuscript. Well, not exactly hiding—I’ll be at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, which is a very small town in the northern part of the state. (Where exactly, you ask? Right here, actually.) What’s close by? Zoom out on that map view. Zoom out again. A little more.

Get the picture? Exactly.

Well, to be honest, it’s not that far from Montreal, but my French is too rusty for that.

Anyway! If things are quiet around here, that’s why. I’ll have internet access, but I’ll be doing my best to hunker down and finish a draft of the next novel. And maybe I’ll be sending out a few more stories. And sending out that other novel manuscript and seeing if there’s an agent out there for it.

But mostly I’ll be working on the next novel. Because Amazons. And gods. And stuff.

This week in “OMG I have so many talented friends!”

So, Canada’s National Magazine Award nominees were announced this week. (This week? Maybe it was last week. Time is wibbly wobbly timey—well, you know.) And I’m not at all surprised to see that some of my writing friends are among those nominees this year. Kim McCullough is nominated for her piece “Night / Light” in Grain magazine. Kayla Czaga is nominated for her poetry “Song; Funny” in Arc Poetry Magazine. And—and!—andrea bennett is nominated for her piece “Water upon the Earth” in Maisonneuve. You all rock.

Check out the whole list of nominees here.

Sierra Skye Gemma at The Globe and Mail

globe-and-mail-illustrationMy friend and colleague Sierra Skye Gemma recently had a fantastic piece published in The Globe and Mail (for those who are south of 49, that’s like the equivalent of The New York Times in Canada). Titled “My Sexual Education,” it’s both a tough read as well as an affirming and positive one. (And the illustration by Rob Dobi that accompanied it is AWESOME.)

Check it out. And congratulations, Sierra!

Slow down, cowpoke—plus, an interview with (you guessed it) me

Sometimes life tells you that maybe, maybe you’re trying to do a little too much all at once? I think that may have been the case with me the past couple weeks. When you get that message? Let me tell you: Listen to it. Three nights later of skull-crushing headaches later due to an apparent sinus infection (I won’t go into detail because ew, gross) and a week of miserable allergy symptoms meant that I got about this much done this week:

slimandnun

Say hi to Slim and Nun.

 

I seem to recall getting this birthday card at some point in my life. Also, I never pass up a chance at a pun. Anyway, moving on!

A little while ago I was interviewed by Ghanian writer and blogger Geosi Gyasi for his website Geosi Reads. Check it out! He’s also interviewed a couple authors you may already have heard of if you hang around me long enough: the delightful Ruth Daniell and the equally delightful Ngwatilo Mawiyoo. He’s also looking for other writers who’d be interested in talking to him for the site, so you know, get on that.

Right! I’ll have more news and stuff to share later this week, and I’m planning for something big starting next weekend, which I’ll tell you all about, but not now, because as River Song would say:

I bloody love Alex Kingston

A sale at Untreed Reads for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! This is the day where you’re supposed to give more of a damn about the planet and the environment, because we’ll miss them when they’re gone. I feel the same way about my knees.

But anyway! Untreed Reads (which has published three of my short stories over the years) is having a 50% off sale for the occasion. They’re a digital-first publisher, so saving trees has been important to them from the get go. How does a story about a homemaker dealing with her transformation into a vampire relate to the theme of environmental awareness? I’ll leave that for brighter minds than my own to figure out. Meanwhile, though, check out my stories, as well as all the other titles, including stories by my friends Jeff Howe, Trey Dowell, Sandy Murphy and others.

Straightening Up

Maternal Instincts

New Normal

The current soundtrack to my novel in progress

As careful readers might have noticed in the past, I like to make playlists for my works in progress even though I am constitutionally incapable of listening to music while I write. I’ve tried, but it turns out I’m one of those people who needs either white noise or near total silence to write. I can work in a crowded public place as long as I can’t single out any one voice or conversation. If I can, then I might as well pack up and go. Or play Candy Crush Saga, because that’s about as productive as I’ll be.

But anyway! I’m working, slowly but surely, on the sequel to The Unwanted, and when I’m not writing, these are the songs that I find myself listening to:

The Flesh Trap Mix, as of 20 April 2015

The Flesh Trap Mix, as of 20 April 2015

Recognize anything? Relatively speaking, nothing in the mix is particularly new (not that I am either, mind you). Some of them are going on thirty years old (I’m looking at you, “Watching You without Me”). Hopefully you won’t judge me—or prejudge the book—too harshly based on what’s here. (I make no apologies for that Katy Perry song, as I had no street cred to begin with. I could have put a Geri Halliwell song in here, but I’m saving that for book three.)

What about you? What do you listen to when you write, anything? Nothing? The cries of your vanquished oppressors?

#Protip: Listen to Your @$&#! Editor

I’m gonna get a little soapbox-y here. So all that froth you see is not me foaming at the mouth. Read on without fear of contacting rabies….

I was reading something on social media (I forget where, but it was probably while I was supposed to be doing something else, like oh, I don’t know, actually writing) and it came around to a topic that I’m sure is of burning interest to all of you out there: whether you put one or two spaces after a period when you’re typing on a computer.

Now, fans of typography know that in the modern era, you only need to put one space after a period. Because fonts on a computer are by and large proportionally spaced. This means that a thin letter like lowercase i takes up much less space than a wider letter like an uppercase W.

Ah, but it used to not be like that, kids. If you’ve ever been on an archeological dig (or gone into, say, an antique store or your parents’ attic), you may have unearthed an artifact known as a typewriter. Typewriters were the equivalent of Microsoft Word in ancient times. You used them to write things like letters (similar to email but they were on paper and you had to put them in an envelope and use these things called postage stamps to send them to someone through a thing called the mail; so in case you ever wondered where the word “email” came from, that’s where), or you wrote your school papers on them. Now, a typewriter used the same amount of space to type an i as it did to type a W, or a period. So, at the end of a sentence, you’d type two spaces to make it clear that hey, sentence over, moving on.

Some people who, like me, are old enough to remember when you used a typewriter (we call people like that “fossils,” and us fossils should be handled with care) persist in putting two spaces at the end of a sentence. Which brings me back to the social media post I was talking about, where writers were weighing in on the one space or two space rule, and basically, the two-spacers were really vehement about it. “Your can’t make me stop typing two spaces! If we all type one space after a period then THE TERRORISTS WIN! Fascists! Blasphemers! BURN THEM WITH FIRE!”

Okay, so I’m totally exaggerating, but only for effect.

I pointed out “you know, if you type two spaces, as an editor I’m just going to have to take them out, so you’re making more work for your editor.” As you might expect, people weren’t having it. I quietly bowed out of the conversation before people started lobbing flaming bags of poo.

(Please note, no poo was flung.)

Here’s the thing though. Sometimes I wear an editor’s hat (usually in my day job, where more often than not I’m an editor and proofreader) and other times I’ve got my writing cap on. (I like hats, what can I say?) when I’m in writing mode, or more precisely, when I’m being edited, I try to pay close attention to what my editor tells me to do as far as formatting and preparing my manuscripts. And I especially do this when I’m submitting to a literary magazine; I follow their guidelines to the letter because I don’t want to be that guy who gets rejected without even being read because I used single line spacing instead of double or used Comic Sans instead of Times New Roman.

Just kidding. I would never use Comic Sans.

But anyway, my point (and I do have one) is this: listen to your editor. They will save your skin more often than you can possibly realize. They will catch inconsistencies that went right by you, they will notice when your point of view has shifted, and they will sure as hell see when you used it’s when you should have used its.

And if they want me to use one space after a period instead of two, even if it seems silly to me, I’m going to bloody well do it.

A Trip to Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop in New Orleans

(Or “I Solemnly Swear That I Am up to No Good”)

Whoa! Time flies when you’re having fun. It it’s it time’s fun when you’re having flies? Either way, time flies regardless, ago you might as well have fun.

Anyway, speaking of fun! Careful readers (all three of you; good morning! Can you tell I haven’t had enough coffee?) will recall that recently I went to New Orleans for the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, an annual queer writing conference that’s a lot of fun and inspiration. More on that later, I hope, if I have–you guessed it–time. What I want to tell you about it’s a field trip I took with some friends on the last day off the conference to Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop.

The dragon in their logo should tell you that this is no ordinary book shop.

The dragon in their logo should tell you that this is no ordinary book shop.

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of independent bookstores. This one is no exception. Owner Candice Detillier Huber has created a magical place here. It shows in the sandwich board outside the shop too:

2015-03-29 16.47.20

Let’s see what’s inside, shall we?

Continue reading

New Orleans Bound

March 9? Has it really been that long since I posted something here? I wish I could say that it was because I’ve been doing something productive, like writing up a storm, but that would be a big old lie. So let’s move on, shall we?

When ninja lesbians attackSpeaking of moving on, I’ll be in New Orleans this coming weekend for the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. Longtime readers (all three of you) will know that this is one of my favorite writing conferences. I’ll be on a panel about YA fiction on Saturday morning, and that afternoon I’ll be giving a reading with a bunch of other people (including Shawn Syms!). Then, later that evening, I’ll be giving yet another reading (I know, by then surely they’ll just want me to shut up!), this time from my story “Snowblind” in The Bears of Winter at a place called the New Orleans Phoenix (where I will not burst into flames only to magically rise from the ashes, I trust).

But the best thing about this conference is catching up with so many people I know and love, like ’Nathan and his husband Dan, Greg and Paul, Carsen Taite, Famous Author Rob Byrnes, Jerry Wheeler, William Holden, and lots of others. (Like ninja lesbians Lindsey and Rhonda, shown at right, who stealthily pounced on us in 2011. That was a good year.)

And of course, there will be lots of beignets and coffee with chicory and—okay, fine—a lot of adult type beverages. We’ll be in the same city with Rob Byrnes. It’s a given.

Thursday can’t come fast enough.