Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excellent Review

Rick R. Reed reviewed Alive on the Inside for Dark Scribe Magazine.

He calls it "by turns gruesome, shocking, tender, poignant, and nauseating (but in a good way fans of horror will understand)."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Guest Blogger: David Sklar

Everyone welcome David over here to the Den.

Hello everybody in BlogLand! I'm David Sklar, author of Shadow of the Antlered Bird from Drollerie Press and coeditor (with my friend and colleague Sarah Avery of the anthology Trafficking in Magic/Magicking in Traffic , for which submissions are still open until February 28th.

This month's blog tour crept up on me, in part because I've been busy, in part because the date was changed (because of people's schedule conflicts), and in part because I've been dreading writing this post. See, this month's topic, aside from a general introduction of oneself to new readers, is one's worst experience with a work in progress, and I'm afraid my worst experience with a work in progress may well be the worst thing I've ever done to another human being.

It was almost 2 decades ago, and I was a summer student at the Naropa Institute's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. And I believed, then, that the work of a writer took precedence over everything, including one's own comfort, including basic human decency.

I was walking into a reading I didn't care much about, when I saw someone I kind of knew walking out, with a distressed look on her face. I asked what was bothering her, and she took me out back and told me in extensive detail about her experience being acquaintance-raped, the night before, by a friend of a friend.

A couple days later, I ran into her again, and she thanked me for being there for her, and told me she'd written a poem about it. I told her I had too. She told me that her poem made a great deal of the moment at the end when I handed her a rock from the ground and told her to throw it in Boulder Creek. I didn't tell her about the focus of my poem, which was about the sensual intimacy of shared secrets, even when circumstances make sensual intimacy entirely inappropriate.

A while later, the program had a works-in-progress reading. I thought about asking before I read this story, but it seemed an empty gesture--that is, if I asked permission and she gave it, then she still wouldn't know what she was in for, what the story was really about. And at the time I didn't know how to explain it.

So without warning, I performed, before a live audience, my account of trying to hide my arousal while a woman told me about her rape. Not because the rape itself was erotic, but because the tenderness, the intimate moment of the telling, made it hard to stay away.

The crowd loved it, but I lost some friends. Deserved to, too.

I still value my craft above my own comfort; if I didn't, I wouldn't be telling this story now. But violating another person that way--even if it was only with words, I don't know how I ever believed I could justify that, even half my life ago.

My stories are still sometimes shocking. Not that I write for shock value, but when you look for insights a person wouldn't expect, sometimes what you find is dark, unpleasant, and shocking. Sometimes my stories deal with the worst in people, sometimes the best. But these days my characters live inside my head, and their public humiliation, if the story requires it, really is mine to give.

Doesn't justify what I did 20 years ago, but it lets me continue writing now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Release: Showdown at Yellowstone River

Showdown at Yellowstone River is currently available from Pink Petal Books.

This is a heterosexual (for certain values of that orientation) Western.

Since I can't access the publisher's site (someone on past Dallas is too slow on the uptake and we keep timing out), have an excerpt rather than a blurb.

~* * *~
On a gray Saturday afternoon in mid-October, when his bad leg said snow was on the way, Matt had finished laying up his supplies and stopped in at the Purple Garter for a drink. He took a single glass of whiskey at the bar and sipped it, watching the men around him. Cowpokes in off the trail and ranch-hands eager to spend their pay crowded the tables. The Professor plunked away at the old piano, with more enthusiasm than skill, and Ardis did her best to keep the song on key. He was glad she was busy. She teased him now and then about his proposal. Never unkindly, true, but he disliked making a fool of himself.

Matt glanced through the front window and saw Luke Smith hesitating just outside, a look of distress on his young face. He caught Matt's eye and twisted his kerchief in his hands, the picture of indecision. Matt gulped the end of his drink and hurried out just as Luke laid a hand on the saloon doors to enter.

"Luke, you can't go in such a place," he said. "You're too young and your Ma would skin me alive."

"Mr. Court--" He saw the boy's face was paper-white. "Mr. Williams is trying to have you killed. He just put it out on the telegraph wire for Paz. I saw the topaz this morning at the bank. A rider brought it in from Utah territory." Luke pulled a penny-dreadful out of his pocket. Matt knew most of the boys in town collected and traded the serials. This one showed a gunslinger with a gem-studded hatband, his face so shadowed as to be invisible.

“They say he never misses a kill, Mr. Court.” Luke flipped to a passage he'd clearly read many times. “See? Here. Paz moved like a ghost through the streets hunting his prey. While Braynard had considered absquabulating, under the notion that discretion is the better part of valor, he had decided to stay. He regretted that decision when the gunslinger stepped into the mouth of the alley where he was hiding and said, 'Draw.' Braynard drew, but too slowly. The shooting irons fell from his cooling fingers and Paz walked away from him to collect another stone.”

Luke's voice carried into the saloon. The men nearest the door fell silent. The silence spread to the surrounding tables, creeping over the whole establishment until even the Professor took his fingers off the keys.

Matt felt his face go hard. Paz was an outlaw, a hired killer with a name that ironically meant "peace." The only peace Paz dealt in was eternal peace. The serial novels and hack writers had built him up into a folk-hero of sorts, but Matt knew the truth of it. Wealthy men called him in to do their dirty work and paid him well to vanish. Vanish he did, every time, and when the U.S. Marshals arrived, nobody knew anything about the newest grave in the town burying ground.

Matt had actually seen Paz once, at a distance in Denver, but the outlaw didn't mingle, and he wasn't the target, so they'd had no congress. He had, however, taken the two dollars to help bury the poor fellow Paz had been gunning for.

"Mr. Williams wired for him," Luke repeated, "and he's coming to kill you, Mr. Court. Go to Montana. Hide in your mustang herds, until this blows over.”

Matt shook his head and rubbed his jaw. "Winter's coming, kid. A man doesn't run. If it's time for me to be sent on, nothing can stop it happening. I'll take Paz's bullet or I'll fall off a horse and break my own fool neck." He looked at the boy, almost a man. He guided Luke into the saloon and sat them down at a table. A half-dollar on the table got them drinks. Luke just stared at the amber liquid.

“Come on, boy. Let your doomed boss buy your first drink.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Reviews by Jessewave interviewed Naomi and me.

Hello Ladies and welcome. Why don’t we start by having each of you tell us something about yourself?

Angelia: I’m Han Solo.
Naomi: I’m Errol Flynn.

And it only gets sillier from there.