World Unknown Review Vol. II First Look

This is a post I’ve been meaning to make for the past week or so, but therein lies the unfortunate result of working in a grocery store before one of the biggest food holidays of the year. Amazingly, I managed to get today, the day before Thanksgiving off. I’m not complaining, especially since that means I can hopefully finish up some editing and formatting and, most importantly, finally announce all the great stories and authors t be appearing in this year’s World Unknown Review, tentatively to be released on December 15th.

Volume II will feature:

“Don’t Remember” by Garrett Marco
“First Symphony” by Russell Proctor
“The Grind” by S.L. Dixon
“Nanos Khund and the Traveller” by Luther M. Siler
“Monday Morning Coffee” by Shan Jeniah Brown
“The Melancholy of Devotion” by Helen Mihajlovic
“The Courier” by Shawn Proctor
“The Haunted Note” by Jennifer White
“Selective Memory” by Adam L. Bealby
“Into the Sun” (novella) by Fallon Brown

That’s nine great stories and one novella chosen from around 26 stories from 22 different authors in five different countries. The final selection span four different countries (the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia), which just blows my mind. WUR has now crossed two oceans! There’s a certain duality to a few of the stories in the volume, too, which urges me to say things like “zeitgeist” and “society” and “reflective of the nature of our world,” but I’ll save that for the introduction. There was a lot of doom-and-gloom futures, spooky ghosts and present tense narratives in the submissions as a whole, which may speak to something bigger or might just be an interesting coincidence. But, as with the last volume, secondary to just Really Damn Good Stories was Variety, so there’s a little slice of everything, each story unique in tone and atmosphere, even if, this year, quite a few of them shared oddly specific themes that compliment each other quite well.

I’d like to thank all the authors who sent me their stories; I had some really tough decisions to make in choosing these ten tales to share with the world under the World Unknown banner. And I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I did.

Quick WUR Announcement!

After a lot of reading and stressing out about not being able to get through all the submissions in a timely manner with my new job, I am very pleased t announce that I have finally decided on the stories that will be chosen for publication in the second volume of the World Unknown Review! Because I’ve been working a lot of full mid-day shifts on the weekends, which means my whole day is practically shot, I won’t be getting around to emails until Monday, but if you’re one of the fantastic authors who sent me work, you should hear from me then.

If all the authors I’ve chosen still desire to participate (and it seems absurd, but I did have one submitter turn down the offer for publication last year, and I don’t even think it was because the piece was accepted elsewhere; all I got was a simple, “No, that’s okay, I’m good”), this year’s volume will feature nine short stories and one novella. There is a vague theme in that many of the stories mirror each other, some strongly, some vaguely, which was wrought out of the fact that I received a startling amount of tales with similar topics. Mere coincidence, or is there something more going on in the zeitgeist to inspire these things? It really gets the gears in my brain going, and, while I don’t think there’s anything particularly meaningful behind it, it was kind of cool to put together a collection with this nifty little thread running through it.

There are some truly incredible stories that I’m going to have the privilege to publish and I can’t wait to bring them to you all in December.

Happy reading!

Cats are Jerks.

This is Genghis Khan. He’s a seven year old blue point Siamese cat that has been with me since he was about three weeks old.

This is one of my few remaining hair ties, sitting innocently next to the food bow Genghis shares with his brother Baldur Cat.

The thing is, that hair tie? Had previously been in my hair while I was sleeping the other night. I woke up, groggy and ready to fall back asleep because it was maybe all of four in the morning, and Genghis was curling up beside me. Nothing new there, especially since it’s getting colder and the cats get cuddly when it’s cold, except for one thing. I had worn my hair in two braids to bed that night, and Genghis had his paws right at the end of my braid…where he was actively pulling out the hair tie because he wanted to play with it. While it was still in my hair.

I was too sleepy to care to do anything about it, so I went back to sleep, half convinced I had imagined it. But then I found the irrefutable evidence the next morning by the food bowl.

Today has been a very good day, indeed.

With the exception of one hiccup that prevented my boyfriend from finally watching Skyfall before we head out to see Spectre tonight, today has been a pretty good day. It’s the first day off I’ve had where I’ve felt I’ve had some peace and quiet and been productive, without overextending myself and feeling like I’ve somehow wasted a day. Got some cleaning and reorganizing done in the apartment, finally set up my PS3 so that we can play Blu-Ray (which I hadn’t realized wasn’t set up, thus the Skyfall fiasco), got some scribbling done on Fearless for NaNoWriMo, returned to a short story I left hanging, cleared through some emails, read lots of chapters, and I got through a whole lot of my World Unknown Review submissions. Productive as hell, and there’s still more ahead (although it’s just going to go sit in a comfy theater seat and try not to fall asleep as I am wont to do with action movies these days).

The WUR stuff is easily the most exciting. It’s funny; when I first start picking through submissions, I’ll admit, I start to get a little worried. Not as many of the stories really resonate with me, and I begin to wonder if I’ll be mostly choosing out of necessity: stories that are good, but not great. But then I hit a sort of stride in the selection, and there’s a few stories that just shine and sing above the others and immediately make me feel proud that someone sent them to me in the hopes that I might like them enough to publish them. It’s inspiring and it’s humbling, to be sure. And the amazing thing about those stories is that they start to create an energy for the collection as a whole, and some of those stories that didn’t grab me before sudden take on a new light under the glow of the others, and I start to appreciate them in a new way, in the context of the other pieces, understanding how they work well together to make a more powerful and exciting experience for the reader. It even has me challenging myself to step up my own game for my story that I’ll inevitably include because I can and it’s cheap to add myself into the mix.

Long story short, World Unknown Review, Vol. II is going to be damn good, ya’all. And I haven’t even gotten through all the selections yet. I can’t wait to find the best way to cobble them together and bring a great new book to everyone’s bookshelves. And what’s even more? Every year, we’re going to get better, and better, and better.

Halloween Hangover (and Many Other Things).

Okay, so my little blip in activity here has been a bit too long to truly be a “Halloween Hangover,” and the cause of my inactivity has much more to do with starting my new job and getting acclimated to it than anything else, but, hey, it’s a catchy title, right? My Halloween was pretty great and, thanks to only have two beers (a nice dry raspberry cider and the Eliot Ness amber lager from Great Lakes Brewing), I didn’t have a hangover, but I did have to pull a full shift today, and it got weirdly busy this evening. I spent my Halloween at a small party thrown by my friend, where a good time was had by all listening to spoopy music and playing Utter Nonsense. I dressed up as Ness from EarthBound (sorry, no pictures).

Halloween is pretty awesome, but November’s pretty sweet, too. I just may have finally caught my stride at work, which means hopefully being more of a presence on-line again. Of course, there’s a whisper of a rumor that they might try to phase me into another department, one I’ve never worked before, which is cool, but then there goes my equilibrium again. Just in time to get cracking on NaNoWriMo and World Unknown Review!

NaNoWriMo is, of course, National Novel Writing Month, which I always participate in and never actually complete. This year is Fearless, the final installment of The Slayer Saga, which I’ve definitely been itching to get to. I broke ground on it today. Not a lot. Not as much as I should have, but it’s off to a good start (I think).

And then there’s World Unknown Review. This will be the second volume, which comes with a new brand of excitement, as it takes the something new I started last year and turns it officially into a thing, a series, an annual, recurring entity. This year, I received submissions from 26 different authors, 32 stories all together, from five different countries. The scope of that is still slightly staggering for me, and I’m really eager to see what I’ll be able to bring to my readers this year, and many more years to come.

How was your Halloween? Anyone got any exciting NaNoWriMo plans? What’s been going on, Intrawebz? I’ve missed you!

Wanna Play a Game?

I hadn’t done this intentionally, but I realized that I’m reading two very different books about essentially the same thing: people pretty much forced to participate in deadly games for potential monetary gain and the viewing pleasure of a jaded and disenchanted audience. I started reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Running Man by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) at about the same time, too, by complete coincidence. Both build a dystopian society where the main characters come from a life of destitution and wind up competing in a game where failure will cost them their lives.

But that’s not all. It’s been a while since I’ve read (or seen) Koushin Takami’s Battle Royale, but my boyfriend recently introduced me to the British show Black Mirror with the excellent and heartbreaking episode “15 Million Merits”, which has to deal with, guess what, competing in games for a mindless media-obsessed culture. To be fair, “15 Million Merits” doesn’t involve a battle to the death, but I could easily argue that what the main characters fight for is even more terrifying, because they have to still live with their choices. There are probably countless other that could be mentioned, too, I’m sure, but it got me thinking: what do we find so fascinating about having to fight for your life for the numb area of the uncaring masses?

And is it really frightening? Usually, the winners of these games are people who rebel against the system, rise up above the messed-up reality they exist in, causing the system to crumble and break while we cheer for their success all the while. But imagine if they weren’t successful, if we were in their places and, similarity, weren’t successful, either. Can you imagine how it would feel to be a seventeen year old in Panem, holding your breath as they called out the name of the tributes, dreading that yours would be called? Can you imagine being in Richards’s position, with a sick daughter and the only way to afford the medicine for her is to give yourself over to the sociopathic and sadistic whims of a bloodthirsty public? To be thrown onto an island with all your classmates, all the people you grew up with and knew and played and learned with, only to discover that you had to kill them all or be killed yourself? It’s the implications of these things that I feel makes them prime stuff of horror (and, by the way, that last one is why I tend to prefer Battle Royale over Hunger Games so far. Sure, they both involve kids fighting and killing each other, but in the Hunger Games, you really only know the other person from your district. In the Battle Royale, these are your friends that you’re going after, people you’ve known your whole life, and that makes it even more messed up, in my humble opinion).

What do you think? Do you think these deadly games have their place in the pantheon of Super Scary Stuff? Which is your favorite? What do you like to see in a dystopian fight-for-your-life (or, in the case of something like “15 Million Merits”, your dream or your pride or whatever else)?

Silly Rabbit, Trix are for Murderers!

Yesterday’s October Scary Movie choice was The Silence of the Lambs, because, quite frankly, it’s damn time I actually watched that movie. I was a little sleepy due to all the early shifts I’ve been having at the Day Job, but that is a freaking amazing movie right there. It got me thinking a little bit, too, on how I’ve yet to really develop a story idea that deal with a serial killer, and that’s kind of a shame. It’s always exciting to try to tread into new territory with my writing, and, if Silence of the Lambs displays so well, it’s also a great chance to delve into some cool psychological concepts.

Now, the first step before any of this hits the ground (other than the millions of other projects I should finish first), I know I want to track down the Thomas Harris novel and devour that as well. And then probably a million other books in the same ilk, as well as movies, and that’s when I realize that this isn’t a genre I know much about, which is probably why I haven’t thought of a plot or two in that vein yet. But I could definitely take some recommendations.

Then again, Se7en was one of those movies that I watched frequently enough that people kind of started to get a little worried about me. But a good psychological serial killer is something that you have to put a lot of thought into, I’d imagine, and I just never really bothered to work out a concept like that.

And, yes, now I finally have eradicated the one thing holding me back from getting into the Hannibal show, which I’ve wanted to do because holy crap, gorgeous.