Ten Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors This Holiday Season

So, you like to read, and maybe you like to write, too. You are a connoisseur, a patron, a Renaissance man (or woman). What can you do this holiday season to support those authors in your life? Here are ten ideas.

01. BUY THEIR WORK. I mean, I know it sounds obvious, but this is the most direct way to help out the authors you love to read. See if they have a new novel out, or a collection, or perhaps they just published in a journal or anthology (you get TWO gold stars for supporting small / indie presses here, as well). I know, it gets expensive. So, think about the voices that you really love, the people you want to succeed. Maybe you set aside a few dollars every month and then spend it at Christmas. Or perhaps you find the work on sale at Amazon, or directly from a small press. I have over 50 entries at my Amazon profile, and they range from 99 cents to 99 dollars. Something for everyone!

02. BUY SIGNED WORK DIRECT. Another possibility if you’re a collector, or really want to put extra money in the author’s pocket is buy directly from them. Most authors will get a few dollars per book when you buy at Amazon or B&N or your local bookstore. But many get extra copies from their publisher, at no cost to them. Some authors BUY extra copies of their own book (at cost, or a great discount) just to resell and help earn a bit of money. Recently I’ve bought signed copies directly from Brian Evenson, Priya Sharma, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay, and Maria Dahvana Headley. I love to have that personally signed copy on my shelves.

03. FOLLOW THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA. So, this doesn’t cost any money! Believe it or not some presses and agents actually LOOK at how many followers authors have, and that’s a BONUS. So, why not friend them on Facebook (or like their author page), and follow them on Twitter. Maybe Instagram, or subscribe to their blog, or their Amazon Profile. And then engage with them! You might learn something about their process, hear about an open call, or just be entertained by their witty comments, and ribald jokes.

04. REACH OUT AND SAY SOMETHING NICE. I know this can be a bit stressful, the idea of reaching out to your heroes and idols, or even just other authors and peers you know, but BELIEVE ME, a kind word about a new story or novel, or past work, can really make an author’s day. They may be struggling—to create, to believe, to push through a block. I love to hear from friends, peers, students, and strangers about my writing—it always thrills me when somebody says a story of mine scared them, or inspired them, or helped them to take chances with their own prose. Every year when I read the Best Horror of the Year, and other anthologies, when I read a story that blows me away—I reach out to that author. I connect on social media (see #3. I usually drop them a private message via Facebook, and then Tweet publicly to them on Twitter. Nothing fancy, just along the line of, “Hey Livia, I loved your story ‘Allochthon’ in Best Horror, wow, that was intense, so visceral, and unsettling. Keep up the great work.” I’ll do that for authors I’ve known for years (HI STEPHEN!) as well as voices that are new to me. ESPECIALLY if they are emerging, or new to me.

05. SPREAD THE WORD. Once you’ve followed them on social media, it’s easy to retweet, share a post, or engage. So do that. And if you go on to buy that book, or collection, talk about that too! Post pictures! Just be sincere and spread the word. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, it all helps. Support their Kickstarter, retweet about their new book, share that post about an upcoming class they are teaching, etc.

06. POST REVIEWS. If you read a novel, collection, or anthology, take a moment and post up some kind words on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Don’t worry about writing some eloquent review, just speak from the heart. Talk about what you liked, how it made you feel, what it reminded you of, how it was innovative, whatever you like. If you ARE great at writing reviews, then DO take the time to write something polished. Those deeper reviews not only sell books, but can help an author to get through a dark day as well. Whatever you can share—it all helps.

07. SEE THEM LIVE. If you get a chance to see one of your favorite authors speak, go do it! Not only is it a lot of fun, but nothing makes an author happier than reading to a packed bookstore or auditorium. To look out at a sea of happy, smiling, supportive faces? Wow, that’s a great feeling. (And while you’re there, buy a book and have them sign it.)

08. TAKE A CLASS. If you’re an author, and you have the extra money, and that author you love so much is teaching somewhere (online or in person) why not study with them? Part of what got ME writing at the age of 40 (I’m 51 now) was the chance to study with Craig Clevenger. He taught me so much, and pushed me to submit work from his class, which ended up being my first professional sale (“Stillness” in Shivers VI at Cemetery Dance, alongside Stephen King and Peter Straub). I ended up taking THREE classes with Craig. I also studied under Monica Drake, after reading her novel Clown Girl. And then Max Barry. Later, with Jack Ketchum (RIP, brother), and then Stephen Graham Jones. Those were all wonderful experiences for me. Each author taught me something different, and I’m friends with most of them in real life, as well.

09. DROP THEIR NAMES WHEN INVITED IN. Some of you may be at the point in your career where you have a little bit of influence. Kudos. Way to go. The next time you get invited into an anthology, be sure to ask if the TOC is full. If it’s not, and the editor needs names, share with them the voices that inspire you, and who knows—you may get to publish alongside a hero of yours. I not only drop names of authors I like, but I push for diversity and inclusion. I always ask about the ratio of men to women in the anthology (or just comment on it if the TOC they show me is all SWM). Nothing pushy, just, “Do you need any names? Are you short on women? Great, here are a few authors I love.” And I also look for authors of color, and suggest them as well. You may not be in this position now, and it may be awkward the first time you do it, but trust me—any editor that bristles at the idea of diversity, is probably somebody you don’t want to work with anyway.

10. INVITE THEM IN. Likewise, if you ever get to a position of power, say an editor at a magazine, or an anthology, be sure to reach out to those authors that inspired you over the years. Sure, the paycheck is great, but it’s just as important to show those authors that you value their work. Invite them in to that anthology you’re editing, reach out when you have a new issue of a magazine coming out and the theme submissions aren’t what you expected, or just make sure they know about the open call, and that you’d love to see something from them. Authors, we’re a bipolar bunch. One day we’re KING OF THE WORLD, the next an obvious hack and imposter. I can tell you that it is THRILLING to see authors I came up with, or past students that I’ve taught, evolve and grow, eventually running magazines, journals, and presses. Whenever they reach out to me and ask for work, it’s so flattering, so exciting. It means the world to me.

So, whatever you can do this holiday season (and all year long) it all matters, it all helps. Spending money on the authors you love is one way to support them, but it’s just as important to share your kind words, and help spread the word about the voices that haunt, entertain, and inspire you. Happy Holidays!

Release Day for Chiral Mad 3

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So, wow, this has been a long time coming. I’m a big fan of the work that Michael Bailey has been doing at Written Backwards (now a Dark Regions Press imprint). I was in Chiral Mad 2, and Qualia Nous, and if I can keep up with him, I hope to publish more stories with him in the future. I’m not only really impressed with the cover art, and interior illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne (see below), but by the extensive table of contents. My story, “The Offering on the Hill” (illustrated below, with the NORTH sign) is included in this wonderful anthology—over 6,000-words long, one of the longest stories I’ve ever written, and hopefully one of my best. In many ways this story is a bit of an homage to Stephen King and The Dark Tower series. I hope you’ll pick up your copy of Chiral Mad 3 today. I’m think it could be one of the best anthologies published this year. (NOTE: Don’t miss out on the $150 signed/limited edition. Everybody but King is going to sign it!) Introduction by Chuck Palahniuk, too!

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Fiction:
01. The Poetry of Life – Richard Chizmar
02. The Last Rung on the Ladder – Stephen King
03. A Rift in Reflection – Hal Bodner
04. Windows, Mirrors, Doors – Jason V Brock
05. Prayer – Mort Castle
06. The Agonizing Guilt of Relief – Paul Michael Anderson
07. The Black Crow of Boddinstraße – Emily B. Cataneo
08. A Flash of Red – Erinn L. Kemper
09. Red Runner vs. The Surgeon, Issue 18 – Jessica May Lin
10. The Dead Collection – Mercedes M. Yardley
11. Watch Me – Meghan Arcuri
12. The Bigger Bedroom – Josh Malerman
13. That Perilous Stuff – Scott Edelman
14. Know Your Code – Ramsey Campbell
15. 3-Dot People – Gene O’Neill
16. Silver Thread, Hammer Ring – Gary A. Braunbeck
17. Those Who Watch From on High – Eric J. Guignard
18. Blood Dust – Max Booth III
19. The Offering on the Hill – Richard Thomas
20. The Whipping Girls – Damien Angelica Walters
21. Seconds – Jack Ketchum

Poetry:
01. Fair – P. Gardner Goldsmith
02. Fail-Safe – Jonathan Balog
03. Folie à Deux – Sydney Leigh
04. Reflecting on Reflections – Bruce Boston
05. Mirror Image – Marge Simon
06. Black River #1 – Elizabeth Massie
07. Prescience – Rose Blackthorn
08. The Speed of Sound – Ciarán Parkes
09. Welcome Home, Darling – Stephanie M. Wytovich
10. Whisper #1 (A Warning) – Erik T. Johnson
11. Whisper #2 (A Prophecy) – Erik T. Johnson
12. Put Me to Dream -Stephanie M. Wytovich
13. Recognizing Trees – Ciarán Parkes
14. Arbitration – Rose Blackthorn
15. Black River #2 – Elizabeth Massie
16. Reflections Through the Raven’s Eye – Marge Simon
17. Beyond Symmetry – Bruce Boston
18. Folie à Plusieurs – Sydney Leigh
19. Insomnia in Reverse – Jonathan Balog
20. Promise – P. Gardner Goldsmith

Prose & Conversation: Richard Thomas & Leah Rhyne Talk About Books

TalkingSkulls.1-1024x685Here is the complete list of all of the Prose and Conversation columns that
Leah Rhyne and I have had over at LitReactor. Hope you enjoy them!

PROSE & CONVERSATION

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris – November 20th, 2014

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson – September 18th, 2014

Tampa by Alissa Nutting – June 30th, 2104

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – April 23rd, 2014

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum – February 21st, 2014

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville – January 16th, 2014

The Shining & Dr. Sleep by Stephen King – December 5th, 2013

The New Black (Dark House Press) releases TODAY!

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Today is the official release date of THE NEW BLACK! This neo-noir anthology is the first I’ve ever edited and it’s also the first Dark House Press title. I’m honored that so many gifted authors were willing to be a part of this book. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time, and for supporting this title, and the press. It’s getting great reviews everywhere, too. If you’re thinking of picking up a copy, consider doing so today, so maybe we can push it up the charts. If this book does well, and Dark House Press succeeds, we can continue to publish the kind of neo-noir, speculative fiction that needs to be read and experienced. Foreword by Laird Barron, with stories by Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger, Paul Tremblay, Lindsay Hunter, Roxane Gay, Kyle Minor, Benjamin Percy, Roy Kesey, Craig Davidson, Matt Bell, Richard Lange, Micaela Morrissette, Joe Meno, Vanessa Veselka, Nik Korpon, Antonia Crane, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Tara Laskowski, and Craig Wallwork. There are also 15 interior illustrations by Luke Spooner of Carrion House. Feel free to share this news, and to spread the word. THANK YOU!

The first blurb for THE NEW BLACK is Jack Ketchum

Copyright 2003 steve@stevethornton.com

The first blurb for THE NEW BLACK, a neo-noir anthology that I edited for Dark House Press, is now in. It’s from horror giant, Jack Ketchum:

“THE NEW BLACK ought to be the New High Standard for dark fiction anthologies. It’s loaded with intelligence and talent. Every one of the pieces in this extraordinary compilation is worthy of your full attention.”—Jack Ketchum

Thrilled to have this excellent blurb. This book will be out in May, with a foreword by Laird Barron. Stories by Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger, Paul Tremblay, Lindsay Hunter, Roxane Gay, Kyle Minor, Benjamin Percy, Roy Kesey, Craig Davidson, Matt Bell, Richard Lange, Micaela Morrissette, Joe Meno, Vanessa Veselka, Nik Korpon, Antonia Crane, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Tara Laskowski, and Craig Wallwork. 15 interior illustrations by Luke Spooner of Carrion House. Cover design by Alban Fischer.

“Playing With Fire” accepted for Chiral Mad 2, out in December

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Thrilled to join Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Mort Castle, Max Booth III, Gene O’Neill, Gary MacMahon, Erik T. Johnson,  Andrew Hook, David Morrell, and many others in this anthology of psychological horror, edited by Michael Bailey for Written Backwards press, and out this December. Chiral Mad was nominated for a number of awards, and even won a few, so I have great expectations for this anthology. 

In my story, “Playing With Fire,” expect wolves, fireflies, waking up in a field, a lost love, a hut on a hill—you know, the usual. Honored, humbled, and stoked.

FREE eSingle, “Transmogrify” to release before Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press)

We’re going to be giving away a FREE eSingle of my contemporary vampire short story, “Transmogrify” soon. Cinder (Cindy to her friends) feeds on negative energy—she’s a psychic vampire, or energivore, a bit of a twist on the classic tale. It’s in my upcoming collection of neo-noir and horror stories, Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press) which is out in March. I just wanted to share this excellent cover art by George Cotronis and get you excited about the collection.

There are some fantastic stories in here, including “Maker of Flight” which won a contest at ChiZine, “Stillness” which was in Shivers VI (Cemetery Dance) with Stephen King and Peter Straub, “Splintered” which was in PANK, “Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears” which was in Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books) with Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell and Graham Masterson, and “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave,” which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Metazen. So STAY TUNED!

Table of Contents:

Maker of Flight
Steel-Toed Boots
Freedom
Committed
Splintered
Fallible
Stillness
Fringe
Underground Wonder Bound
Amazement
Victimized
Twenty-Dollar Bill
Interview
Paying Up
Ten Steps
Honor
Stephen King Ate My Brain
Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave
Transmogrify
Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears