The Campbell Rag

Back in August, that hot, dusty country that seems so long ago and far away, I woke up on the morning after the Hugos–groggy and hungover and blister-footed, as you may or may not often find yourself on the final morning of WorldCon–and fumbled my half-blind ass towards my laptop. Logged in. Wiped the sleep from my eyes. Checked the social network scene. Noticed people were pinging me. But why? I was pretty sure no serious faux pas had been made, as far as my foggy, fugue-y brain could recall. Hadn’t called Rory McCann ‘The Hound’ to his face, hadn’t given anyone’s Hugo statuette a handjob, hadn’t told the entire city of San Antonio to kiss my ass.

Turns out this was why. The Hugo stats were out. I had come within three votes of making the Campbell ballot, but missed the mark and landed atop the longlist instead. Which is nothing to fuckin’ scoff at, to be god-damned sure, as there were far better writers than I at the bottom or not even on there at all. Still, though. A double-edged sword down my throat first thing in the morning, and (as double-edged swords tend to be) it was rather hard to swallow.

Three votes. Three people. That’s all it would have taken.

ANYWAY. It’s that time of year again, again, and I have even less of a chance of making the ballot in 2014 than I did last year. Depression has cut my output to a trickle. I’ve only made one sale this year, to the wonderful Nightmare, and it sank almost as quickly as it surfaced, being a short, slight, angsty little thing. But my friends have poked me and prodded me and ever-so-gently bullied me into mentioning that, yes, I am still eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. It’s my last year. When 2015 rolls around, I will be, as they say, too old for this shit, and godspeed to the new recruits with their shiny button eyes and shiny button hearts just waiting to be ripped out.

If you enjoyed my stories last year and voted for me then and still like ‘em now, you can vote again, you glorious, stubborn mule, you. If you’ve just discovered my bibliography this year and you are so totally into what I’m peddling you will burst like a can of springy snakes and die if I don’t get on that ballot, vote for the first time! Anyone who buys a membership can vote. The rules:

Like the Hugo Awards, the Campbell Award voting takes place in two stages. The first stage, nomination, is open to anyone who had a Supporting or Attending membership in the previous, current, or following year’s Worldcon as of January 31. For Loncon 3, this means members of LoneStarCon 3 (the 71st World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio), Loncon 3 itself, and Sasquan (the 73rd Worldcon in Spokane) can nominate any eligible author.

(A Supporting membership, by the way, means you can still vote on the Hugos and the Campbell even if you’re not in the mood to fly to London this August, although it is a lovely city and if you can you really should try and manage it. Think of it as an Absentee ballot.)

Anyway, if you need a refresher course on what I wrote last year, here’s a quick list. If you’ve never read a word of my work, hey, now might be a good time to start! And even if you hate what I’m doing, try and vote for someone, dig? There are a lot of amazing writers up for the Campbell this year, including the bodacious Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, the eminent Emily Jiang, the terrific and foxy Tim Susman, and Andy Stewart, who has multiple sales to F&SF and thus needs no alliteration or introduction.

My bibliography:

Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring, Lightspeed, February 2012
Tornado’s Siren, Strange Horizons, February 2012
Sun Dogs, Lightspeed, September 2012
The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men, Nightmare, November 2013

I thank you for your consideration, I thank you for any votes you may or may not toss my way, and I especially thank you for getting me so very, very close in 2013. I may be a tiny fish in this great big pond, but for a moment you made me feel like Octoshark.


I move like a herd of turtles, but a herd of a turtles that will eventually reach its goddamned destination. A sale! A sale, by God! To Nightmare Magazine! First time placing in a horror market, and what a market it is. Look for “The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men” within the next few months!

I really hope you guys like this one. Despite being quite short it took me ages to write. Fingers crossed it was worth it.

Obligatory Awards-Post-Thing-That-You-Do-When-You-Do-These-Things.

So I guess if all my friends are doin’ it, that means I should too (and if they all jumped off a cliff fuck yes I’d probably join in as well). It’s awards season in SF/FLand, and while I don’t have an asthmatic’s chance in a roomful of cats of getting nominated for anything–far too many other beautiful stories came out this year, deep ones with deep things to say and not just OH SHIT ISN’T THIS COOL appeal–I might as well be all BUY MY BOOK and mention them. All three are eligible for the Hugos, the Nebulas, and any other short story categories you might care to mention in the 2012 horse races. Some of them have even been on the Year’s Best/Recommended lists of various cool people.

Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring, Lightspeed, February 2012
Tornado’s Siren, Strange Horizons, February 2012
Sun Dogs, Lightspeed, September 2012

In addition, I’m also in my first year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award For Best New Writer. So if you want to see me looking rather ridiculous in a little crown within the next two years, here’s your chance of making that vicious dream a brutal reality.

Thanks to everybody who votes, and everybody over the past year who has sent encouragement and/or praise for my silly little stories. You guys rock.

Trucker Puppy Goes To The Encyclopedia Depot

So by now we’ve already all read about the Undead Press debacle ad nauseum. I just wanted to throw a few of my own thoughts on this thing out there, because fuck knows the Internet needs one more opinion and the world was waiting for my royal decree.

Starting out is rough. You always stand the risk of being schnookered, there are unscrupulous people who want to schnooker you because of that inexperience, and you’re so desperate for validation, like a puppy trying to drive a big rig, that you’ll sell to pretty much anybody if it means your story is somewhere vaguely resembling the public eye. The problem with that, as with the aforementioned trucker puppy, is that it could all end in tears. Did that puppy get its CDL before it started? Did it do its research? No? Well, that dramatically ups the odds that Trucker Puppy is going to drive full-tilt into a knife factory, keep going, and plow through a home for tender-skinned hemophiliac children before plunging off a cliff.

We live in the Age of the All-Seeing Eye Of the Internet. It is easier to educate yourself about anything and everybody, from candiru to Camus, than it has ever been before. I am, in fact, talking to you across a great wide gulf of Pure Fucking Information. Small presses are numerous and many of them are absolutely goddamned fantastic, but for every Small Beer there are a handful like Undead Press just salivating at the chance to screw you. But! You have secret teeth, my darlings! Come close, so that I may plant my tender knowledge seeds in your fecund mind-dirt.

- Do your fucking research.
- Are you getting paid even a token amount? Can the editor spell their own name correctly? What kind of press have they gotten? Have you read anything they’ve published? Do you know other people who have worked with them? Can you find other people who have worked with them? Remember: Internet.
- Do your fucking research.
- Do your fucking research.
- Do not bend over just because you are The Tiny Fish or whatever the fuck. That’s your fucking name on the story; treat it like thunder crashes and demons make out every time someone utters the goddamned thing. Don’t be a dick. Be respectful. Do ask questions if you’ve got ‘em, though, and if the editor ignores you, belittles you, or otherwise treats you like shit, run like hell. Token payments, whether contributor copies or a bright copper penny, generally go a long way towards showing respect. They are there for a reason (unless we’re taking lit ‘zines; see below).
- Research your do.

Not too long ago, I got solicited by a lit ‘zine I had never heard of to do a story for no pay whatsoever. Now, immediately my bullshit meter started going off, as well it should have. In the SF/F world, at least, this is generally not how the game is played. So I whipped out GoogleTwit, asked around, and hey presto, they were legit. It took me all of an afternoon to dig up that info, simply because lit ‘zines are run differently and I don’t know a lot of people in those communities (if it had been a specfic market I’m sure it would have taken an hour, tops). But I had to do the research first, and until I did the research I didn’t agree to shit. I don’t know a fraction of everything about this business nor do I claim to; I’m just beginning my long journey upstream. What I do know about is staying suspicious when you’re small and the world is full of things that want to eat you. Christ, didn’t anyone else read Watership Down?

Give your Trucker Puppy CDL lessons, a map, and opposable thumbs before setting her off on the motorway. Puh-lease Do Your Fucking Research. Take a deep breath before you agree to anything and ask yourself if it smells right, even if the aroma of OMG! STORY! IN PRINT! is almost overpowering the fine bouquet of BS. You will be happier in the long run, this I promise you.


I got commissioned to write a pulp piece and guys, let me tell you, being Frank Miller without the insanity is all kinds of fun.

The mobster has a gun pressed to Rack’s forehead. The mobster has a god-shitting gun pressed to her partner’s fucking forehead, and the only thing Rhye can do is watch and scream as the scum smiles at her and pulls the trigger and blows Rack’s perfect brains out from between his ears.

Boom: Opening. Interested to see where this goes.


‘Vixens’ is up – for free! At Lightspeed! – and I’ve got a bad case of the post-publication ennui setting in. I’m not sure what I was expecting, really. Writing is not a thing where you get a lot of feedback, unless you’re extraordinarily lucky and/or popular. That’s part of what makes it so tough. You tear a chunk of your brain out, fashion it into a paper airplane with HI I’M STORY DO YOU LIKE ME Y/N scrawled across one wing, and send it spiraling out into the world, where it promptly lodges itself in the gritty crawlspace beneath a stack of extra desks. That’s just how things are. The best cure, I find, is moving on to the next project as fast as possible. If you don’t have a next project, you bloody well make one.

If you did read it and enjoy it, however, I am very, very happy, because that means it did what it was supposed to do. Stick around. There’s more where that came from (no, that was not a threat) and if you didn’t like this one, maybe the next will getcha. I’m tenacious like that.


So my totally awesome buddy Lauren Dixon asked me to write something for her totally rad ‘zine, Superficial Flesh. I did (in something like thirty minutes, no less; tea is a hell of a drug), she rather liked it, and it will be coming to an Internet Near You very soon. It is, I am told, squicky. Very, very squicky. Like ‘Ponies’ squicky, if nowhere near as brilliant as that masterwork. Be on the lookout for it. Bring your best ‘what the fuck is wrong with you, Bo?’ face.