Storm Update

Cliff Mass and the meteorologists have an update on our incoming multi-storm system. Lots of moisture right now and increasing. Wind may be a little lighter initially, with the big bad hitting late on Saturday night. At the moment potential windspeed has been downgraded a bit, but it’s still dangerously high. It may not exceed 1962’s epic storm but it’s still looking like a rough ride all weekend. Be careful, friends and neighbors!

Posted in Uncategorized

Storm Warning

So, here’s the thing: I should be posting some stuff, but at the moment the weather is clear, yet we’re expecting a storm that might prove to be the worst on record for this region since 1964. Or just the worst in a LOOOOONG time. So I’m off to make sure I have batteries, bottled water, and dog food, just in case. If it blows over, I’ll be laughing at myself like the rest of you. If you live in the Puget Sound area–West, East, North, or South, take an hour to look at your situation and have emergency plans in place. If you don’t need ’em–cool. Otherwise, stay safe, folks.

(You know it’s bad when Cliff Mass says he’s never seen anything like this.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Read. The. Guidelines

The Death Of All Things anthology is looking for short story submissions until December 31. But let me tell you a little story before you rush off to email your work to us.

Long ago, I was a full-time magazine editor. I do not remember slush-reading fondly. It’s a pain, and as a pro, I want to lighten my workload of “pain” projects as much as possible. All of us at the publisher looked for reasons to reject work so we didn’t have to spend any extra time in pain and could get on to the “good parts” of the process. So, if you want to raise your submission’s chance of acceptance, make it harder for the editor to reject it out-of-hand without even reading past the info blocks. Seriously. We’re mean, petty, short-tempered, and really want a drink long before we’ve gotten through the first half-dozen submissions of the day. Coffee is only the jump-starter for our spite. So take my advice:

Read the guidelines, submit your best stuff, and please format it correctly. I really want to like everything, but I don’t have time to read badly formatted work that hasn’t been spell checked and doesn’t fit the theme. Did I say “read the guidelines”? Yes? I mean it. All of the guidelines–scroll to the bottom of the submission info to find the description of The Death of All Things anthology and the theme (please, no torture porn–we’re talking Death, here, not torment). I will reject things for petty reasons as well as large, just to make my workload lighter. (And you thought I was “nice”….) I want to have too many good stories. I want to cry over rejecting great stories I just don’t have room for. You have three months to make it good–you don’t have to rush. So, please, make me work for it.

If you don’t know what “standard manuscript formatting” is, here are some directions, and an old, but still useful example here (but don’t include the membership info–no one really cares).

Posted in anthologies, editing, short stories, Writers Hints and Tips

Enter The Slush


The anthology Kickstarter met its minimum funding goal, so Laura Anne Gilman and I will be posting submission guidelines and putting on our slush-reading hats soon. If the project hits $25,000 by early morning Friday–and I know that’s a long shot, but it’s still possible–we’ll be able to add two more stories to each book, so it’s still worthwhile to let friends, family, and fellow book-fiends know about the project–especially if you’re thinking of submitting a story yourself. So continue spreading the word and let’s make books!

Update: Guidelines are here

Posted in anthologies, short stories

Poor Jack Puppikins

morose jack
So… Banjo and Jack were tussling in the yard last night and suddenly there was a long yelp of pain followed by several more. We ran out to see what was up and found Jack limping and looking very upset. Long hard night, trip to vet… Long story short: Jack has a blown out cruciate ligament in his right (rear) knee (not that dogs have “knees” in front–they aren’t elephants, after all). Orthopedic surgeon won’t be available for 3 weeks, so we’ll be babying (from his POV, tormenting) Jack along on pills and limited activity until then. And then surgery, more pills, limited activity, and doggy PT for 6-8 weeks afterward. Good thing we have pet insurance, though it’s still going to hurt financially. Hardest thing will be making sure Banjo gets enough exercise and attention, and doesn’t pester the hell out of Jack. Well and seeing poor Jack mope around, doped up and bored to tears. Luckily, he is a Labradork and can be placated with food. Unluckily, he is a Labradork and can be placated with food, thus becoming Jabba the Hutt if allowed to eat as much as he wants without getting plenty of exercise.

Hey, I needed to lose some weight and work out more anyhow. How many calories will I burn doing “dog curls” to lift the 74 pound Labra-Hutt on and off the porch at “potty time”?

Posted in dog, Jack

Upcoming Stuff!

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Yesterday I went to consult with Vlad Verano at Third Place Press in Lake Forest Park, WA about the limited edition chapbook for my upcoming guest appearance at Bellingham ComiCon on October 22. Here is the proof for the front cover of said chapbook, (art and design ©2016 Vladimir Verano. Click to enlarge):chemofrontcoveronly

Plainly this is a lot nicer than anything I could produce myself and, while it’s not the cheapest option, it is not super-pricey and the quality is fantastic. So, if you’re coming to the con, you might be able to pick up one of these signed, limited edition beauties–they’re free, but there are only 100 copies, so… you know the drill.

In other news, the Zombies Need Brains Kickstarter for the Water! Robots! Death! anthologies is struggling to make its funding goal by the end of the month, so if you want to read the stories, please let your friends, family, coworkers or whoever you think of know about the project. We all really want to make these books, but we can’t do it if the project doesn’t make–or better yet, exceed–its funding goals.

And last but not least, Brian Thronton and I will be teaching and talking about writing mysteries and thrillers on the fifth of November at the Cascade Writers Workshop in Tacoma Washington. If you’re interested in attending, get registered soon–these spots go fast!

I’m hoping to see some of you around, and to be creating more fun books for you guys!

Posted in anthologies, blatant self-promotion, cheap, Conventions and signings, kickstarter, short stories, workshop/teaching

Upcoming Con News!

In addition to the November 5 Mystery workshop (see below) I’ll be the Guest of Honor at Bellingham Comic Con on October 22 and I’m bringing exclusive swag!



Posted in Conventions and signings

Mystery Workshop in November–Register now!

It’s official! Brian Thornton and I will be at Cascade Writers November 5, talking and teaching about Writing Mysteries. Register soon for this all-day workshop!

Posted in Uncategorized, workshop/teaching

More Kickstarter news

Oh my! The Kickstarter for The Death of All Things and 2 other new anthologies from Zombies Need Brains is over 50% percent funded. And there’s still 27 days to go. Spread the word and let’s hit those stretch goals! Special reward levels include tuckerizations, extra stories, and special swag!

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapbookery (Using Cheap Impostor)

I decided to create a small chapbook of a short Greywalker story that I did back in 2007, so I’d have something to take to Bellingham Comic Con. So, I’m relearning how to impose and mock up a small booklet. I have a journalism degree, but I haven’t had to use this knowledge in 25 years, so I’m a bit rusty and had to start over from scratch. After a bit of looking around on the internet for a cheap alternative to professional software, I found several options and, in this case I’m using Cheap Impostor and a cranky HP printer at home.

The chapbook mock-up (on the right), with a sample imposition page with notes for various pdf and printer adjustments. (The dragon is just being a paperweight.)

The chapbook mock-up (on the right), with a sample imposition page with notes for various pdf and printer adjustments. (The dragon is just being a paperweight.)

This is a bit of a best-guess-rough-and-ready sort of process here, but after a lot of investigation and ruined paper, it did work, and produced a useable PDF (or in my case several variations) that can be sent to a print shop to create a 2-up print-and-bind imposition for the interior of a small book. The software can produce multiple signatures (it’s explained in the pdf manual that comes with the download) if one is a little mental and desperate to create a whole novel-length book, but it takes a bit of mucking about to figure all this out. On the other hand, it’s $35, instead of several thousand for a pro set up.

The annoying thing about this specific process is that you have to create a pdf of your text with the formatting already in place (I used Libre Office, but with a longer piece I’d be using a compiled files from Scrivener that had been tweaked in LO-pretending-to-be-Word). A big professional set up just flows the raw text into the print format, allowing you to tweak things like font size, leading, kerning, and so on as you set up the print file. This software is not that flexible. Once you’ve got a pdf that’s basically what you want, you feed it to Cheap Impostor and the software then reduces your original pdf pages to fit in a 2-up imposition of 2 pp per side, double-sided, in a landscape orientation (basically a standard letter-sized paper, folded in half to create 4 page positions). The default is standard signatures of 32 pages, but it happily creates sub-standard sigs of any multiple of 4. In this case a “half sig” of 16 pages, which is 4 sheets of standard US letter paper.

But because the software is, essentially just reducing photos of the pages and moving them around, the print gets tiny and big white spaces develop at the top and bottom of the page while side margins and gutters get a bit thin. The answer, I discovered, was to reset my paper size from US letter to A4, which, once reduced, is closer in proportion to a half-sheet of folded US letter paper than an unfolded sheet of US letter is and produces a more pleasing proportion and margins–though I did still have to tinker a bit with the margins a bit.

First page, interior of chapbook mock up with full, printed imposition.

First page, interior of chapbook mock up with full, printed imposition.

The other thing I had to figure out was the font size. The standard 12pt Times becomes an unreadable 9 point nightmare at the standard 69% reduction required. So I had to go back into my .docx file and tinker with the font sizes, effects, headers, footers, white-space blocks, and so on, reflow, check in the print preview and then adjust again until I got it right (or acceptably close.) In my case I ended up with 18 pt Baskerville–it is a little thinner and taller than Times and “shoots down” a little less bulky, but Times would have worked all right.

Because my HP OfficeJet 7500A wide format printer doesn’t do automatic double-sided printing, I had to set Cheap Impostor’s output preferences to “manual duplex,” and (because the HP collates back to front) set the duplex printing order to “reverse odd pages.” I also had to reprint a few times to figure out exactly how to flip the paper when I reloaded it for its second run through the printer. Needless to say, I wasted a lot of paper figuring it out, but in the end, I got several pdf print files which will work for whatever type of print set up I run into.

Mock up interior showing final page (and copyright information) of the full, printed imposition.

Mock up interior showing final page (and copyright information) of the full, printed imposition.

Now I just need to do something about that lack of proper cover, but I do have one interior page and up to three cover positions (besides the front exterior, where the art or title or something will go) on which to put additional information about the book series, my website, bio, social media contacts and so on.

Posted in book business, diy, print-and-bindery, short stories, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Death of All Things Anthology Kickstarter is LIVE!

SUBMERGED_Final.jpgThe Kickstarter for the next Zombies Need Brains Anthologies is now open for pledges! Laura Anne Gilman and I are the editors for The Death of All things–a collection of stories featuring Death itself (himself? theirselves?) in many variations and incarnations– and the line up is stellar! Which is not to say that the other anthologies in this set are not going to be superb as well–just look at the lists of contributors who are already on board and you know they’re going to kick some ass. You really want these–yes you do–so go, pledge, and pass on the news to your friends, family, and coworkers who love a good read!#KickZNB4

Posted in Uncategorized

Urban Allies Reviewed

Urban Allies got a nice review at Publisher’s Weekly last week! “Readers will undoubtedly get a kick out of seeing their favorite heroes solving cases together and will enjoy being introduced to new characters and settings.”

It’ll be out on July 26 so… if you want to read some really cool crossover fiction, be sure to pre-order. (Easy ordering links to all your favorite sites are available on the Harper Collins site: )

Posted in anthologies, blatant self-promotion, Book reviews news and 'zines, Cool writerly people, short stories, Stuff about the book(s) | 1 Comment