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!

An anthology I edited, The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) is out today!

Thomas full cover_rev

I’m thrilled to announce that The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers is finally out, TODAY! Three years in the making, I’m honored to have been a part of this. Not only did Diane Goettel do an excellent job overseeing this project that I pitched to her what seems like a million years ago, but we got a wonderful photo from Jennifer Moore for the cover, and a fantastic foreword from Alissa Nutting. The stories, do I have to even talk about the stories? When I think of literary fiction, these are the women that I think about, and not only are these stories thoughtful, lyrical, and packed with power, but they step into the darkness, where they take on provocative material in a variety of ways. Who is in this collection? Let me tell you:

Laura Benedict, Paula Bomer, Karen Brown, Shannon Cain, Kim Chinquee, Monica Drake, Kathy Fish, Amina Gautier, Tina May Hall, Nancy Hightower, Jessica Hollander, Holly Goddard Jones, Stacey Levine, Kelly Luce, Nina McConigley, ŸJanet Mitchell, ŸEthel Rohan, ŸKarin Tidbeck, Damien Angelica Walters, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

And how about these blurbs:

“These are stories that live on the edge of the cliff. They’re wild and unpredictable and important and wonderfully unsettling. Somewhere in this volume, you’ll find your new favorite voice.”—Rebecca Makkai

The Lineup is full of ferocious, dark, and brilliant voices. The book as chorus both troubles and dazzles, as all great fiction does.”—Lauren Groff

“The writers that make up The Lineup are more than just provocative. With its anorexic ragamuffins and organ-thieving medical students, its doomed shot-girls and exterminator-besotted housewives, this anthology will pry your eyes open wide and weeping with gratitude to the spectacle of lives being lived under transcendent duress. By turns searing, heartrending, hilarious, grim, profoundly tender and indelibly macabre.”—Adrian Van Young

Pick up your copy today.

Book Covers: Work Edited and/or Published by Richard Thomas

I wanted to start a list of the beautiful book covers that I’ve either edited or published or both. I hope you enjoy the art and if you want more information, I’ve included links to Amazon, for those books that are already on the website. They are in reverse chronological order.

UPDATED: July, 2016

ScratchScratch by Steve Himmer
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: Alban Fischer
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: October 11, 2016

PaperTigersPaper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters
Publisher: Dark House Press Cover
Cover Art: Alban Fischer
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: February 29, 2016

VileMen Vile Men by Rebecca Jones-Howe
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: Alban Fischer
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: September 8, 2015

ExigenciesCover_FinalExigencies, edited by Richard Thomas (anthology)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: Daniele Serra
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Stories by David James Keaton, Letitia Trent, Kevin Catalano, Usman Malik, Faith Gardner, Axel Taiari, Damien Angelica Walters, Kenneth Cain, Amanda Gowin, Jason Metz, Joshua Blair, Rebecca-Jones Howe, Brendan Detzner, Sarah Read, Bill Johnson, Barbara Duffey, Adam Peterson, Marytza Rubio, Nathan Beauchamp, Heather Foster, Alex Kane, and Mark Jaskowski.

DoorsFinalCoverThe Doors You Mark Are Your Own by Okla Elliott and Raul Clement (novel, trilogy)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Cover Art: George C. Cotronis
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: April 28, 2015

ThomascThe Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, edited by Richard Thomas (anthology)
Publisher: Black Lawrence Press
Cover Photo: Jennifer Moore
Foreword: Alissa Nutting
Release Date: November 1, 2015
Stories by Laura Benedict, Paula Bomer, Karen Brown, Shannon Cain, Kim Chinquee, Monica Drake, Kathy Fish, Amina Gautier, Tina May Hall, Nancy Hightower, Jessica Hollander, Holly Goddard Jones, Stacey Levine, Kelly Luce, Nina McConigley, Janet Mitchell, Ethel Rohan, Karin Tidbeck, Damien Angelica Walters, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones (stories)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Introduction: Joe R. Lansdale
Cover Art: George C. Cotronis
Interior Illustrations: Luke Spooner
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Release Date: September 30, 2014
WINNER: Best Short Story Collection of the Year, This is Horror
NOMINATED: Best Short Story Collection of the Year, Bram Stoker Awards
NOMINATED: Best Short Story Collection of the Year, Shirley Jackson Awards

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00001]US Version (Medallion)

BTUK_TitanUK Version (Titan)

Burnt Tongues, edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer (anthology)
US Publisher: Medallion Press / UK Publisher: Titan UK
Introduction: Chuck Palahniuk
Cover Design: US – Jay Shaw
Release Date: US August 12, 2014 / UK September 5, 2014
Stories by Neil Krolicki, Chris Lewis Carter, Gayle Towell, Tony Liebhard, Michael De Vito, Jr., Tyler Jones, Phil Jourdan, Richard Lemmer, Amanda Gowin, Matt Egan, Fred Venturini, Brandon Tietz, Adam Skorupskas, Bryan Howie, Brien Piechos, Jason M. Fylan, Terence James Eeles, Keith Buie, Gus Moreno, and Daniel W. Broallt.
WINNER: Best Anthology of the Year, This is Horror
GOD MEDAL WINNER: Best Anthology of the Year, INDIEFAB
NOMINATED: Best Anthology of the Year, Bram Stoker Awards

Cover_ECHOLAKEEcho Lake by Letitia Trent (novel)
Publisher: Dark House Press
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Photography: Helena Kvarnstrom
Release Date: July 22, 2014

Cover_TNBThe New Black, edited by Richard Thomas (anthology)
Foreword: Laird Barron
Publisher: Dark House Press
Design/Layout: Alban Fischer
Interior Illustrations: Luke Spooner
Date: May 13, 2014
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.
NOMINATED: Best Anthology of the Year, This is Horror (2nd Place)

Interview Up At Mourning Goats. The Goat Asks Me 20 Questions.

So, I finally got the call. I made the big leagues! Mourning Goats has been doing interviews with some of the most compelling, visionary, and talented authors out there—so many of my idols, mentors and peers. I’m thrilled that I got to sit down with the smelly beast and answer some of the most thoughtful and challenging questions of my career. They obviously did their homework. I join the ranks of Stephen Graham Jones, Monica Drake, Craig Clevenger, Paul Tremblay, Chelsea Cain, Donald Ray Pollock, Lidia Yuknavitch, Joe Lansdale, Nik Korpon, Rob Roberge, Megan Abbott, Brian Evenson, Holly Goddard Jones, Paula Bomer, Cheryl Strayed, Shya Scanlon, Craig Wallwork, and so many others.

The Next Big Thing!

Today I am taking part in the networked blog interview, The Next Big Thing. I was nominated last week by Joe Mynhardt, a gifted editor at Crystal Lake Publishing. A preview of the novel that my agent (Paula Munier at Talcott Notch Literary Agency) and I are shopping, Disintegration, can be read below:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Disintegration

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

After writing my first book, Transubstantiate, I wanted to write something that was not nearly as complicated. So a first-person, linear story was what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to tap into some of my personal fears and the worst possible situation that I could imagine was losing my family, seeing them die in front of me. That was the inception for this story. It’s basically Dexter meets Falling Down.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I call it a neo-noir, transgressive thriller.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ve always been drawn to Viggo Mortenson as an actor, he’s intense. I’m also a big fan of Christian Bale, he’d be perfect, I think. This is for the unnamed protagonist, the man who falls apart.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a man sees his family die in a horrible car accident he quickly falls apart, disintegrates, into a life of vengeful crime and dark deeds.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My agent is shopping it now. I think it’s only a matter of time.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wrote the first half over six months in my first semester at Murray State University, under Lynn Pruett, as part of my MFA. I later wrote the second half in one week on a massive purge between freelance art direction gigs the following year.

8)8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Well, obviously the Darkly Dreaming Dexter series, as well as work by Dennis Lehane, Will Christopher Baer, Craig Clevenger, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay. Maybe American Psycho.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The original push came from Christopher Dwyer, who wanted to see something neo-noir but simplified. And I wanted to honor my family, if that’s possible, by “killing them off” in this book.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s a tragedy, for sure. There is a lot of misery in this book, but there’s also love, hope, sex, drugs, violence, redemption, and vengeance. I think it works on several levels—as a fun, fast read, as a layered, dense, immersive cautionary tale, and also as a literary work filled with metaphor and imagery. Hopefully you won’t see the ending coming. I didn’t.

FOR A ROUGH DRAFT OF THE FIRST CHAPTER GO HERE!

Up NOW, December 5th, is Nik Korpon, Caleb J. Ross, Simon West-Bulford, David James Keaton, and Monica Drake.