I just heard back from editor Elisabeth Waters of the Sword & Sorceress series, and it’s a yes to my submission for Volume 29. This makes five years running that I’ve sold to Sword & Sorceress, one of the premier fantasy anthologies. The story, “Dead Hand of the Past,” continues the adventures of Jenna the tavern wench turned exorcist who was also the subject of last year’s story “Dead Salt” and the year before that with “Grave Gold.” If you notice a certain pattern to the titles, remember the protagonist talks to ghosts, and the plots necessarily revolve around dead people. This year I debated whether to continue with another Jenna story, but the debate is over for a while. This third story has spawned related ideas for a fourth and fifth story for the next two volumes of the anthology. The new Sword & Sorceress 29 will be published as print and ebook in November of 2014.
On May 10, 2014, the winners of the Bram Stoker Awards for works published in 2013 were announced at the World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon. The awards have been presented by the Horror Writers Association since 1987. Stephen King won “Superior Achievement in a Novel” with Doctor Sleep (Scribner), but that’s not what grabbed my attention. In the category “ Superior Achievement in an Anthology,” the winner was . . . After Death (Dark Moon Books). That’s one of my anthologies with my short story “Like a Bat Out of Hell.” Editor Eric J. Guignard is no stranger to awards and this his latest anthology has been well reviewed since publication. And now it’s an award winning anthology as well. Named for the 19th century author of Dracula, these awards represent the pinnacle of dark fantasy and horror fiction, and being part of the win is a heady feeling. To date, my writing process has been included writing, revising, and being published. Now suddenly I’m aware of a whole new layer at the top end called “winning an award.” It’s a pleasant discovery.
You can find After Death on Amazon .
I received notice that my story “Safe Haven” has been accepted for the anthology These Vampires Don’t Sparkle. It’s a measure of the impact of the Twilight series on vampire lore and our culture in general that such a title immediately tells the reader so much about the vampire stories included in the anthology. My “Safe Haven” story is about friendship. When Foxfire, a newly turned vampire goes off to find his own kind and stops checking in, his non-vampire artist friend goes in search of him. And it’s fortunate that he does since some old nests are extraordinarily unfriendly to newbies. This will be the first publication of my characters Foxfire and Chapman who populate a number of unpublished novels and short stories. Despite the rampant vampirism, this is actually a comparatively light Chapman story. Once he becomes demon-possessed, all his tales become dark, dark, dark.
Today I received a link from editor Alex Shvartsman to a great review of Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic, an anthology that appeared last December. My story, “From the Shores of Tripoli,” was one of several cited in the Word of the Nerd review. My favorite sentence: “Jonathan Shipley penned a masterwork for there to be a range of interpretive options.” For the full review, check out Word of the Nerd at http://www.wordofthenerd.com/coffee
Volume 28 of the Sword and Sorceress fantasy anthology series went live at the beginning of November, and I’m just now catching up with reality. The book is now available in trade paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats. This volume has my story “Dead Salt,” a sequel to last year’s story about a young exorcist finding her place in the world. When your talent is dealing with vengeful spirits, finding one’s place is not an easy task. “Dead Salt” (and other stories) and be found at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1938185315/elisawater-20 .
The Kindle edition of Phobos Magazine’s zugzwang issue is now available on Amazon for $1.00. PDF and print editions are still coming. My story “Under Two Moons” in this issue with the protagonist forced to make a bad decision because no good options are available. Click here to find this on Amazon
“Grandma on Her Rocking Chair,” the dead-relatives-on-the-stairs story, is now available. Strange Lucky Halloween is out from Whortleberry Press and can be ordered at http://www.lulu.com/shop/jean-goldstrom/strange-lucky-halloween/paperback/product-21183612.html. And there’s more news . . . Phobos Magazine that publishes weird tales in Philadelphia has accepted “Under Two Moons” for its zugzwang-themed issue. Now zugzwang is an interesting word, a term less German than chess. It refers to having to move when there are no good options available and your move will only worsen your position. That’s what the Phobos editors wanted for this issue of the magazine — protagonists forced to make impossible decisions where there’s no good outcome in sight. My science-fiction story follows a low-level diplomat who is thrust into an interplanetary murder investigation that gets worse and worse as the facts become clearer. This issue should be out soon.
I heard back from the anthology Coffee: Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic published by UFO (Unidentified Funny Objects). They are accepting from me a tale called “From the Shores of Tripoli” that originally appeared in 1996, the third story I ever had published. I remember one friend read this back then and commented how much she enjoyed the “ghost story.” This was a surprise since I hadn’t written a ghost into the story, although there is obviously ambiguity with one of the characters. I wonder how people will read it this time round. The reprint market is fairly limited and I am delighted for the chance to bring out a vintage Shipley story a second time. Getting paid two times for the same piece isn’t half bad either.
Third Flatiron’s LOST WORLDS, RETRACED is now out in Kindle edition and available for $2.99 here). This anthology contains my story “Gods and Emperors” that explores the concept of lowercase “g” gods in a far-futuristic society with preter-human beings. The same character who is working through the divinity questions — Ydaire — is also currently visiting England as the protagonist of my 140,000-word manuscript SIREN’S CALL that I just sent over to Tor-UK for consideration. The Tor editors promise a decision within 12 weeks, which is lightning-fast for novels. One fervently hopes that it is not only a fast decision, but also a favorable one.
Yesterday — the last day of July — I spontaneously decided to submit a story to the Whortleberry Press Halloween anthology. I hadn’t planned to submit anything, even though Whortleberry has published three other stories of mine in previous books (Strange Halloween, for example), but because the end of July was the deadline, I found myself thinking, What can I send? I settled on a quirky, short — barely a thousand words — story entitled “Grandma on Her Rocking Chair” that revolves around unseen dead relatives going up and down the staircase at Grandmother’s house. Resetting the time to October 31 was all that was needed to make this into a Halloween story. In truth, all those dead relatives actually made more sense in the context of All-Hallows. Then I sent the story off for consideration. A mere three hours later — fastest time ever — I received back a message from the editor, saying they liked it and wanted to buy it for the anthology. So another short story sale, this one unplanned and triggered by a sudden urge to meet a Halloween deadline in July.