Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Winners and Good Advice for Writers from a Composer

Congratulations to Josh Ennis and William Ward for their victory in names out of hats!

They have their choice of prize, and will receive what they prefer best!

William's Winning Review was one of the two reviews for Death Mask and Eulogy, reposted to Barnes and Noble:

Josh Ennis' winning review was for LAST DRAGON:

Thanks to everyone who posted a review!

Remember, as readers, that reviewing books on Amazon and GoodReads and LibraryThing is one of the two things you can do to help the world make more of the books you like. Buying books you like, and telling other people about them to encourage them buying books, is the way to make sure the world produces more of the kind of books you love! Doing a favor for an author is also doing a favor for your future reading habits!

In other news, I came across this interview of a famous conductor, Sir Colin Davis, and it seems to accurately depict my own, personal theory of writing, pretty closely. 


"The less ego you have, the more influence you have as a conductor. And the result is that you can concentrate on the only things that really matter: the music and the people who are playing it. You are of no account whatever. But if you can help people to feel free to play as well as they can, that's as good as it gets."


Replace "the music" with "the words" and "the people who are playing it" with "the characters who are living it", and you get a pretty good insight into the writing process of novels, in particular. Novels don't really have the room or structure to be as clever as short stories can get sometimes, because clever ideas rarely extend successfully to any great length. At length, it's all about characters, and their cleverness or failure to cleave.

(I made up a new usage of "cleave" as a verb of "clever". I think it works, as sharp wit is a dividing thing.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

There is a CONTEST so what are the prizes?

As I mentioned yesterday, there is a contest. By the end of day, Saturday, post a review of any of my available titles, and you will be entered into a drawing. Each review you post and repost at any of the review sites of the world will get you entered into the contest.

There will be two winners. There are two prizes. You get one.

First, for any aspiring writer out there, one prize is a critique of up to 8,000 words of fiction, wither a story or part of a story. I've published dozens of stories in magazines as prominent as Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Weird Tales, and Escape Pod!

Second, for any interested readers, I've got a PDF of my forthcoming novel MAZE. People have been asking me about MAZE. People have called me on the phone to ask about MAZE. Apex is running behind schedule in all their publications, and MAZE is not scheduled for sometime! But, you could get it early! All you have to do is enter this contest, and if you win, you get a copy of MAZE early!

Post a review to any of my work, NEVER KNEW ANOTHER, LAST DRAGON, the short, inexpensive novelette DEATH MASK AND EULOGY, or even the very short I AM NATURE released with Alien Shots, and you can review them anywhere, like Librarything, Amazon,, GoodReads, Barnes and Noble, your personal blog, or anywhere else at all! Just link me to your review to be entered (sankgreall gmail com). Reposting your review counts as a new entry, and will get you entered again.

But, when I'm drawing names out of a hat, I will make sure there are more than one winners. You can only win once!

Not a lot of folks have entered, yet, so your odds are very good!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CONTEST: Write a review of NEVER KNEW ANOTHER or LAST DRAGON, and...

I want to encourage everyone to post a review of NEVER KNEW ANOTHER or LAST DRAGON at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GoodReads, LibraryThing, and etc. Heck, let's go ahead and throw in I AM NATURE from Alien Shots, and DEATH MASK AND EULOGY, too. The digital shorts could use some review love!

Many of you fine folks already have done this. Some of you have not. I want to encourage everyone who has written a review or thinks they could to write a review.

For the rest of this week, send me a link to any original, newly posted review by you that posts sometime this week. This review can be just about anywhere. Your personal blog,, Barnes&, GoodReads, LibraryThing, a message board, a website where you write reviews... You write it, and you get entered into the contest.

Have you already written a review? Awesome. Just take that review and re-post it to new places. Every new spot is a potential winner!

Everyone who posts a review somewhere, anywhere, is entered for every website where a review is put. Of these, I will randomly select two winners by drawing a name out of a hat to receive a totally awesome, super-secret prize via e-mail!

(I will announce the prize soon. It will be awesome. You will love it. Ooh... What could it be? It might even be a choice between two totally awesome things... Ooh... Exciting!)

This ends on Saturday, at noon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Poland, and Penelope Wove Her Husband Back to Life in Nineteen Years

Angie and I drove from Philadelphia to Atlanta in one, long day. We drove up slowly, stopping along the way to visit with family members. But, we had to get back for her job, so we had to make the trip back in one. Along the way, I experienced an amazing, terrible allergy attack when we stopped for a picnic in Virginia in a freshly-mowed park. My eyes are still recovering.

I'm sore. If you're waiting to hear from me, I'll start getting through my e-mail this afternoon.

Before I left, I got some excellent news from Poland!

I have accepted an offer from Polish publishers Proszynski for NEVER KNEW ANOTHER! Polish fantasy fans, I hope, will be pleased to discover the world of Dogsland. I'm sure they'll do a great job! This is my first work to be translated into a foreign language, and I'm very excited to work with Proszynski to help the book succeed! 


Want to read it before it goes to Poland?

In other good news, Penelope wove her husband back to life in 19 years. Arachne wove greater than this.

Arachne is live at the Journal of Unlikely Entomology's Inaugural Issue, leading off the exciting new publication!


If it bends, it can be woven. Hair braids, rivers braid, and fingers fold together in prayer. Cars crash into each other; the metals bend around the engines. With a strong enough machine, cars could be woven into each other — crumple zone to crumple zone, gas lines snaking like Hermes' staff between two twisted engine blocks. I'm too disciplined to stop what I'm doing to doodle the weaving of cars on the naked particleboard walls of this café. In a few weeks, I don't know if I will still have that discipline. I may lose my mind if I keep this up.
I sit in a corner of an abandoned café, and weave endlessly, endlessly, with all the threads and yarns and found things from the empty café. The weave of my own life bent me here. My back is hunched over. My fingers are long and nimble. I never abandon my weave.
Dr. Paris, Karen if we're being friendly, brings me food. She used to be my professor. I haven't been to class in a long time. She brings me new threads, new yarns. She lingers long enough to ask if I've heard Nicole's ghostly voice falling into my weave, yet. I don't answer her. Nicole is gone, and I'm trying to save her. I'm trying to catch her in my weave. Until I'm done, I have nothing to say.

Go over and read the rest?

This story is part of a whole series of stories I wrote, including Gaia in the Raleigh Review, that feature surreal re-imaginings of women and monsters and monstrous women from Greek Myths, that should start appearing here, there, and everywhere. Maybe, if we're lucky, someone will put them all together into a whole collection of stories.
Right, I'm going to go do laundry and take care of all the exciting things that need taking care of after a road trip...

Friday, May 13, 2011

With an excellent illustration from Michael Kaluta!

New INTERFICTIONS ZERO essay by Joseph M McDermott is up! Edited by Delia Sherman & Helen Pilinovsky, IF0 is a rolling online anthology of criticism of interstitial texts. This essay cites work by Maureen McHugh,Jeff VanderMeer & Charles Stross, among others. Please read, enjoy & respond!

With an amazing illustration from Michael Kaluta!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In Case You Were Wondering, I'm an Interstitial Artist...

I bet regular readers may be bone-weary of this material by now, but if you aren't, I wrote an article for Interfictions Zero about the Mosaic Text, and it comes with a beautiful illustration by Michael Kaluta!

I am going to make a huge presumptive leap. I'm going to propose that there exists such a thing as a Mosaic Novel, as I will define it contrary and in addition to any definitions that may already exist from any number of critics. In this imaginary category, individual pieces of story, potentially disjointed from other pieces of story, are arranged into the shape of a narrative. This whole shape, comprised of and beyond the individual pieces, reveals more than the sum of the parts of each of its fictional segments or sections. In fact, placing the pieces into this shape invites interconnectivity that allows the imagination to fill in the blank spaces.

Read the rest over there!

(Of note, my google alerts tells me my notion is catching on across the internet: I hope I started something good among writers!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ekaterina Sedia's House of Discarded Dreams Should Not Be Discarded Lightly

We carry memories with us, and memories that don't necessarily belong to us. We carry cultural memories, the imposed memories of science and theology. We carry our heartache's memories. We carry our loneliness and our despair and our hope for a better, brighter future.

Consider the memories of horseshoe crabs. They have lived and thrived since before the dinosaurs stomped upon their lonely beaches, and continue on, drained of blood by pharmaceutical companies that use their blood for serum. What strange dreams haunt their memories and societies?

In Ekaterina Sedia's latest novel, House of Discarded Dreams, Vimbai is adrift in life, caught between the African culture of her immigrant parents in Boston, and the strange, bright, loud America. She doesn't fit in. She doesn't have close friends. She lives at home and studies biology at the University where her mother teaches. Growing tired of her family's constant pressure to conform to an African and an American ideal, both at the same time and contradictory, she decides to move out. She locates a house that should probably be condemned, where strange creatures live under the porch, and a young man named Felix has a black hole where other people would have a head of hair. She is drawn to this house, bound up in it like the other residents here, who are also adrift. The house accumulates people's lost hopes and dreams, and the people who carry too many of them.

Soon, the house takes to the sea. The ghost of Vimbai's African grandmother is doing the dishes in the kitchen. Felix catches a psychic energy baby by sticking the phone (where a psychic energy baby is hiding) into the pocket universe upon his head. The only way anyone is going to get home is to trust int he horseshoe crabs, who promise to carry Vimbai home, as long as she promises, as in any good fairy tale, not to peer under the water where the horseshoe crabs pull at ropes cast into the water.

Ekaterina Sedia's House of Discarded Dreams is a beautiful book. It is probably an important book. I hope more people find out about it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Want to hang with all the cool kids next week?

Well, do ya?

Go get this book:

Read it. Review it. Next Week. Starting Monday. 9 AM.

Feel free to drop me (or Paul Jessup) a line to let us know where you reviewed it.

And if you don't know what I'm talking about with this one, you're missing out and I hope you spend some time this weekend correcting the error of your ways.

(Watch here for more, starting Monday!) 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My little experiment stumbles forward

So, as I've recently mentioned, I'm experimenting with self e-Publishing. So far, I can safely say my agent's job is more secure than it was ten days ago, because I have numbers to back up my impulse to remain with an agent, and keep publishing through trade publishers like Nightshade and Apex.

The novelette experiment, a story too odd in many ways (an odd length, a gay main character, grotesque and gruesome subject matter) has stumbled onto the Nook at Barnes and Noble, thanks to someone showing where to go to do it. (Thanks, Paul!)

This little novelette has also garnered exactly one review, from Paul Jessup, at the site:

Paul Jessup says, "McDermott is at the top of his game in this one, and it will haunt you for days afterwards. Really great stuff"

Here's a link directly there, if you want to know how many stars it got from Paul:

In a totally related note, my sales remain in the single digits. The low single digits.

So, there's a lot of hype in the world about the eBook revolution, and I can say that I honestly have done more promotion of this little novelette in its first week then I did for NEVER KNEW ANOTHER, and my sales in the first week for that book, published through Nightshade and available wherever books are sold, has a pretty significant difference in units sold. (Specifically, more than two units have sold.)

I'm going to leave my little experiment up and out in the world, because this is an interesting experiment, even if it is not a lucrative one. I have heard that you have to give people time to find your book and see if something happens. Naturally, I did not expect to stumble into riches through self-publishing. (In fact, I'm doing about what I expected to do with this, if not less, and am relieved to see my anti-self-publishing prejudices justified by SCIENCE!)

Okay, the experiment must continue. There's something funny about my eBook: the cover. If I want to take this experiment to the next level, I'm going to need a cover that's built and designed "better", with an image that might have something to do with the actual story.

Anyone want to volunteer to make a new cover sometime next month? I'll pay you with free books.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Woman on a Mission, a Review of Maureen McHugh's "Mission Child"

What is Colonialism, anyway? It'a word thrown around so much that it has become pretty devoid of meaning. Colonialism has become a dirty word. But, if you add the word "space" in front of colonialism, it becomes the greatest thing in the world: Space Colonialism! Colonizing space is not only a moral imperative, it is also probably going to be a messy affair, with waves of colonization following waves as the wide, vast distances we must cover to reach new worlds creates strange economic and social constructs once people get down onto the ground.

What is appropriate technology? If we think about a global economy, should we be flooding deserts with water to grow out-of-season bananas? Should we be flooding Africa with our cast-off clothes as charity until no African textile industry exists to make their own new clothes?

In space, colonialism can still become a problematic thing. Maureen McHugh brilliantly explicates the life and travels of a young woman, Janna, who experiences firsthand the effects of a colonial system that is hauntingly reminiscent of our own. Her planet was abandoned for centuries after initial colonization. When new waves of settlers come, the economic balance of native goods and services are torn asunder as guns, medicine, plagues, and computers sweep over a world that was not prepared for these things. The world that had evolved and settled into place is quickly destroyed and remade into something different, and often lesser. McHugh aptly portrays the marauding hordes that use guns to take what they want from the Mission that does not embrace off-world technology. The city, then, with refugee camps, and ill-prepared native peoples living in poverty working in low-paying, rote positions and dabbling in black markets and crimes, is no place to live with the old ways. Janna runs across a planet, always struggling to get ahead of the off-world technology that ruins everything that is beautiful and established in their worlds, until, in the end, a plague comes and the off-world tech is all that can save the people.

By presenting this familiar theme, of the technological imbalance of cultures in contact with each other, on a foreign planet in deep space, McHugh is able to sidestep a lot of the resistance to the ideas one would find by dabbling in anti-capitalist ideas. The economy of the planet is one of self-sufficiency, where things grown and produced on-world are kept on-world and people live in peace. Once that balance is destroyed, the power structures of the world are quick to turn against the weak and the helpless. Don't mistake that message for Marxist or anti-capitalist. It's simply a fact that when power is available over others, the weak and the helpless are quickly tossed aside. This message is an important one for anyone interested in acting appropriately with appropriate charity in a world where aid sent to regions can often end up in the hands of the warlords that cause the suffering. McHugh's message is human, and pro-human.

And heartbreaking. And beautiful.

Is this novel not in print anymore? That's a shame, if true. Someone should pick this up and reprint it.