Publishing News: Into This Darkness Peering Now Available for Kindle Preorder

Into This Darkness Peering, written by me and illustrated by Marika Brousianou is now available for preorder on Amazon Kindle. The book, which will be released in print and Kindle Unlimited soon, features 32 full-illustrated gothic horror poems and flash fiction pieces.

You can preorder your copy now leading up to the official release on August 26th.

Preorder your copy by clicking any hyperlink or image in this post, or by clicking here.

Here is the official book description, along with some sample interior pages.

Peer into the darkness of midnight and the macabre with these 32 illustrated gothic horror poems and micro-fictions. From the dark, enchanted forest, to the furthest reaches of cosmic space; from the collective memory of myth and story, to monsters conjured from our own subconscious minds, these are the tales of the abyss. We invite you to gaze beyond the boundaries of reality and into the nightmare realms. Join us if you dare…

Interior page, Into This Darkness Peering
Interior page, Into This Darkness Peering
Interior page, Into This Darkness Peering

The Three Capitalist Pigs (Excerpt)

My story, The Three Capitalist Pigs was recently published is Once Upon Another Time: Fresh Tales From The Far Side of Fantasy. I’ve included the beginning of the story below. You can download the rest–for free–by clicking on any of the hyperlinks in this post. Enjoy.

The wayward wolf wandered the enchanted forest. As the runt of the litter—abandoned by the pack—he had learned to live on his wits. He couldn’t hunt deer, that required a team, and the trolls and ogres were stiff competition for the other carnivorous forest-dwellers like himself. Though he wasn’t proud of it, the wolf sometimes scavenged amongst the humans. He had, on occasion, poached sheep from their farms, and for this, those uppity apes had labeled him “Big” and “Bad.” They made up stories to scare their young into obedience—stories that made the wolf shudder. Over time, people came to believe those tales, and he gained a reputation as a nefarious villain. Truthfully, it was the humans—those hypocritical alpha predators—who ate other species’ young. They even, ironically, made a hunter his nemesis in many of their fables.

Still, humanity wasn’t the enemy on the wolf’s mind that evening. No, the real villains were the capitalist pigs who set up shop at the edge of the forest. Those three brothers bought up land at an alarming rate, especially woodland, which contained an abundance of natural resources. Now, deforestation was becoming the most pressing issue for the residents of that enchanted woods.

The wolf, who had always had a way with words, started a petition amongst the forest’s residents. He collected signatures and filed the complaints with the proper authorities, but, alas, his pleas were ignored by the powers that be. It was almost as if the castle was still under the enchantment of the hundred-year-sleep. Truth be told, the bacon had greased the royalty by funding all their charming balls. 

To read the rest of the story, download the FREE ebook.

News and Notes: Publishing News and Broken Hands

I apologize for missing last week’s post. I recently broke bone in both of my hands, and typing remains difficult.

I do have some publication news to report: My short story, “The Three Capitalist Pigs” has been published in Once Upon Another Time: Fresh Tales From The Far Side of Fantasy, which is available for FREE download now on Amazon. The book includes stories by 13 members of the vibrant Twitter writing community, and can be downloaded here.

Nassau County Voices in Verse was also released this past weekend. The annual collection of poets from Nassau County includes my gothic poem, “The Wolf in Me.” It can be ordered directly from the publisher here.

I also received word that my poem, “When the House of Usher Falls,” will be published in volume 2 of Love Letters To Poe. My poem, The Widow’s Walk was published last year in Vol 1. More information to follow.

Here are a few photos from the poetry reading in support of the Nassau Country poets book launch on Saturday. I look a bit different because I was unable to put in my contacts with my broken hands.

Publishing News: Deronda Review

Happy #NationalPoetryMonth. My new poem, “Earth, 2022” was recently published by The Deronda Review. While the physical book is not yet printed, the issue is available on their website.

The poem responds both to a famous Wordsworth sonnet and to the current state of education.

My poem is on p27, right beneath on by Pablo Neruda.

https://www.derondareview.org/vol9no2.pdf

I hope you enjoy.

You can also order paper copies for 7 dollars plus shipping by emailing derondareview@gmail.com.

Marking a Milestone on my Creative Journey

Believe it or not, I was not always into comics. Sure, I had a Spider-Man light switch in my room growing up, and sure, there was a period in junior high school when I read the Daredevil and Thor comics that were in my orthodontist’s waiting room pretty consistently, but from the time I graduated 8th grade until the time I graduated college, I hardly read comic books at all.

The same held true for my writing. At that point in my life, I was torn between writing “serious” literary prose and scifi/fantasy. I thought it would be my project to marry the speculative and the literary, perhaps incorporating fantasy elements into my writing the way Vonnegut incorporated science fiction into his. I was writing a lot of short stories during this period, and perhaps influenced my writing-workshops at Columbia, where I majored in writing/literature, I had not even begun to consider writing in the comics medium.

My attitude toward comics changed in the early 2000s, because of my love for Neil Gaiman’s writing. I had read and enjoyed Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy early in college, and having completed that series, as well as his two Dirk Gently books, I was eager to read more clever, British speculative humor. I had a friend who had an internship with Adam’s company (where she was working on the Starship Titanic text-based video game), and I asked her what I should read next. She suggested Good Omens, by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a book which has had a profound impact on my creative life.

From that point forward, I started working my way through Gaiman and Pratchett’s novels, alternating between books like Neverwhere and American Gods and Pratchett’s Discworld, happy to find authors I enjoyed who were both prolific and coming out with new material.

At this time, I also began to lean into writing witty humor. I had dabbled with it since reading Vonnegut—and after watching Monty Python, which, seemingly, was on a loop in our dorm-room common area—but as I read more Pratchett and Gaiman it began to seep into my writing more and more.

Fast forward to 2003, when I met Neil Gaiman after a reading he did promoting Sandman: Endless Nights. As I blogged recently, during this meeting, he gave me some great writing advice. It was a pivotal moment for me as a young writer with just two published stories to my name.

During the reading, I noticed something else: The majority of the attendees were fans of Gaiman’s comics work. This is not surprising, as the event was in support of the Endless Nights release. I was struck both by the enthusiasm of the crowd for The Endless, and by the quality of the prose in the passage that Gaiman read at the event, which came from the Despair story.

I decided to give comics another try.

At that time, I was working at trade magazine house located on 31st street and Park Avenue in New York City. I was living in Inwood, a neighborhood about as far north in Manhattan as you can get. Every day, on my walk to the subway, I passed by Jim Hanley’s Universe, a large comic book store, which was located directly opposite the Empire State Building on 33rd Street.

My old office building at 460 Park Avenue South

One day soon after Gaiman’s reading, I went in and purchased the first volume of The Sandman in trade paperback. The rest, as they say, is history.

I consumed the Sandman series voraciously. I was in Jim Hanley’s about once a week, to buy the next volume in the (of the at the time 12 volumes of the series) over the next few months, and when I finished the series, I continued to visit the store to buy other Gaiman titles.

Eventually, I branched out to other comics creators. Through reading Gaiman, I was introduced to other writers. I started reading Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, and Frank Miller (whom I remembered had written some of those Daredevil books I had read at the orthodontist’s office).

There was something in their writing that I really liked. They were doing something different than what the so-called-literary writers were doing at the time, something innovative, without the pretensions of that was so rampant among the darlings of the moment of the literary world.

Personally—and this is just my preference—I preferred Moore to Franzen, whose prose I always found overwrought, and Gaiman, whose allusions seemed more natural, to Lethem. I not only enjoyed these comics writers, I studied them, and incorporated what I learned into my own writing.

I learned so much about structure from Alan Moore, especially about the circular narrative, a technique which I’ve used in so many of my stories.

Purchasing “Genesis, Jiggered” inside JHU

I learned so much about dialogue from Frank Miller, both about brevity and about how to write distinct character voices.

I learned so much about characterization from Garth Ennis, both in his Vertigo work, and his more mainstream work.

Eventually, there was Will Eisner, who combined character and setting masterfully in his Contract With God trilogy.

And of course there was Gaiman, from whom I had already learned so much.

This was a literary community with which I wanted to engage, a literary community, which unlike so many of the literary communities which I loved—was contemporary and active.

When I, eventually, decided to try my hand at writing comics, I began by studying Gaiman’s script excerpt, which I found at the back of one of the Sandman trade paperbacks.

This newfound interest in writing comics led me to attend New York Comic Con for the first time, where I discovered Buddy Scalera’s Comic Book School, whose panels furthered my education as a writer and as a fledgling comics creator.

Beyond the influence these trips to Jim Hanley’s Universe had on my writing, they rekindled my love of comics. Gaiman and Moore had both written Batman, and reading their Batman stories reintroduced me to a character I had not been involved with since I watched The Animated Series in the 90s. I revisited the Daredevil and Thor titles I remembered from those visits to the orthodontist slightly earlier. I began to go back even further to characters I enjoyed when I was a kid, like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.

Moreover, I enjoyed the sense of community I found at Jim Hanley’s universe. The staff, unlike the reputation that many comics stores had at the time, was helpful and enthusiastic. They were kind to me as I was learning, patiently answering my questions and offering recommendations. I remember one employee in particular, I think his name was Larry, who had a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the store’s back issues. Based on minimal clues I provided about comics I had read 10-15 years prior—and without my knowing the publication date, writer, or artist—he went through the back issues, and found, more often than not, the book for which I had been looking.

Inside of the current iteration of JHU.

Beyond the comics, however, I found that comics fans were also fans of other nerdy things I loved, like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and in another circle back to the beginning of this post, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. There was a used prose books section in the store, stocked with out-of-print science fiction titles, and my first introduction to the great Chris Claremont was through a prose novel (autographed) which he had co-written with George Lucas.

Hanging around the store, I made friends and had (let’s call them) discussions about a wide range of film and literature. These were my people, and I found them at Jim Hanley’s Universe.

Eventually, I moved on. I left the job at the magazine, and my next job was not in the same neighborhood. Jim Hanley’s has moved twice since then, further east, making it less convenient for me to get to. Still, the store held—and continues to hold—a special place in my heart. It still is, n my mind, my local comics shop, though it is no longer, truly, local. Whenever I need a title which I can’t find at the small store in my neighborhood, I order it from Jim Hanley’s, and whenever I happen to be in that part of the city, I make sure to stop in.

Like a good Alan Moore story, life tends to run in circles. And so, after many years of attending the Comic Book School panels at cons, I now co-edit their annual anthology. I’ve had comics published by Comic Book School, in literary magazines, and in anthologies. I’ve continued to publish my prose stories as well, and have won prestigious awards for my writing. I’ve also become a poet, something that young writer who met Neil Gaiman all those years ago would never have imagined in his future. I have had a good deal of success with my writing, and even though I aspire for more, I am grateful for everything that I’ve accomplished thus far on my journey.

My journey is far from over, however. A few months ago, I watched an episode of Comic Book School’s YouTube channel which featured Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle of Ahoy! Comics. After listening to them discuss their company’s vision—and describe their company’s open submission policy—I thought it would be a good market for my writing. The blend of literary and humor which permeated their conversation spoke directly to that part of me who fell in love with Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams back in the day (there go those circles again). I submitted a story to them, and it was accepted.

I was thrilled by the email I received from my editor, Sarah Litt, and eagerly awaited the day when my work would appear in a book which would be available at comics shops nationwide.

Thus, it was one of the great thrills of my creative life to walk into Jim Hanley’s Universe last week, and purchase Black’s Myth 5, the comic book in which my story Genesis, Jiggered first appeared, and to see my work on the shelves in the place where my passion for comics was rekindled so many years ago.

Appropriately enough, my first “professional” comics work is actually a prose story—and here is another of those Allan Moore circles coming around again at the conclusion of this post—a satirical fantasy in the mode of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman.

Though the story is now available for free on the Ahoy! site, if you like it, I encourage you to order the issue to your favorite local comics shop. I hope you have had similar experiences there as I had in mine.

With my story, “Genesis, Jiggered”, in front of JHU

News and Notes: “Genesis, Jiggered” to be published in Ahoy! Comics (November 24th); Appearance on Flying Ketchup Radio

My short story, “Genesis Jiggered,” a satyrical retelling of the biblical creation story, which posits the creator was drunk, will be published by Ahoy! comics in Black’s Myth, issue 5 on November 24th.

Get it at your local comics shop, or wherever comics are sold.

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Comic Book School mentioned my story in a recent episode of it’s Tuesday night YouTube show.

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And speaking of the CBS YouTube show and Ahoy!, I also interviewed Stuart Moore and Mark Russell about the process of creating their stories in the latest issue of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Death.

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I also recently appeared on Flying Ketchup Press’ Ketchup•Pedia radio. I read two pieces on the program, a sonnet which I wrote upon finding my first grey hair, and a flash fiction story which was published in the Comic Book School Panel 1 anthology.

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My poem “snow ghosts” will be published in The Bard’s Annual 2021 from Local Gems Press on Dec 5th.

I will be reading at Bard’s Day the annual release event on Long Island. Tickets to the reading and links to buy the book can be found here.

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Publishing News: Remnants Back In Print

The Remnants shared-world, post apocalyptic science/fiction/horror anthology is back in print, this time from Fedowar Press. The book features two of my short stories, “The Forgotten” which was included in the original publication, and “The Kings of New York” which is new for this edition.

In the world of Remnants, strange clouds on the horizon herald the coming of the swarm. The undulating masses of the horde cannot be stopped. Terrifying creatures roam the Earth, seemingly with no aim but to devour all that stands before them. Experience the end of the world as we know it with these seventeen tales of horror, survival, and hope. The world ends in a frenzy of death and miasma of terror, but what will become of the remnants of humanity?

The edition includes 17 takes of post-apocalyptic horror, including the two stories I mentioned above.

My story, “The Kings of New York” follows the eight remaining survivors in post-apocalyptic New York City as they prepare for the dreaded inevitable return of the monsters who killed the 8-million people who used to live there. It is written in a lyrical style, which is atypical of the horror genre, and yet it still fits into the shared, nightmare world of the anthology.

“The Forgotten” is a dark Freudian tale of young orphan who tries to remember the sound of his mother’s voice on the eve of his first battle against the monstrous horde and swarm, and his initiation into a band of children on there own against the terrible monsters.

Remants is a shared-world, created by Stephen Coghlan. It was originally published by Kyanite Publications.

The new edition is available on Amazon, in ebook, paperback, and hardcover editions. Get yours today.

Publishing News: Comic Book School Presents, Creator Connections, Panel 2

Comic Book School’s second annual anthology, Creator Connections, Panel 2 is now available as a free download from the CBS site. I co-edited the anthology, and have two stories, Mr. Stupendous: In the Clutches of Doctor When (Illustrated by Arielle Lupkin, D. Alley, Michael Grassia, Sebastian Bonet, and Evan Scale), and There Are No Ghosts Here, Only Memories (Illustrated by Joel Jacob Barker). I am really proud of the book generally, and the stories specifically.

I’ve pasted the official press release below, in case you want to find out more about the project or Comic Book School.


Comic Book School Publishes Creator Connection: Panel 2, The Time Inn, its Second Annual Comics and Flash Fiction Anthology Based on the 8-Page Challenge

October 11—Comic Book School is proud to present Creator Connection: Panel 2, The Time Inn,  a comics and flash fiction anthology. The anthology, which is the culmination of the second annual Comic Book School 8-Page Challenge, is now available to download for free at https://www.comicbookschool.com/8-page-challenge-2-introduction/ 

Creators in the Comic Book School Community were challenged to create an 8 page comics story—from start-to-finish—over the course of the last year. They were mentored through the challenge by Buddy Scalera, the anthology’s publisher and Comic Book School’s dean of students, who wrote a series of blog posts that covered the creative and publishing process of a story which he wrote for Marvel Comics from start-to-finish. The creators where also mentored through the process by Scalera and pros from his network through a series of live seminars on the Comic Book School youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1_zRjwaA_rcwLD0HtyiK7w).

“Last year, during the height of the pandemic, I pulled together a group of ambitious, scrappy creators who worked together to create an amazing publication,” Scalera said. “To date, the anthology has won three awards, so, of course we capitalized on the momentum. This year’s anthology—the second annual—continues to give new and developing creators a platform to develop their craft and build their respective audiences.”

This year, creators were given a prompt—The Time Inn—which had to be incorporated into each story. The participants interpreted the prompt in a plethora of ways, producing a diverse array of stories and genres.

“The supportive community that has come together to make this second book inspires me,” said D. Alley, the anthology’s editor.  “I am extremely proud, once again, of the Comic Book School Community for this great accomplishment.”

The anthology includes seven comics stories, created by members of the Comic Book School Community. Throughout the challenge, the members of the community posted their progress and gave each other feedback on the Comic Book School Forums (create.comicbookschool.com). The forums, which are housed on the Comic Book School website, are the home of the Comic Book School community. They are designed to foster community and collaboration, and to allow members to build connections, interact with and support one another, access educational resources, and share news and accomplishments. Many of the creative teams in the anthology met on the forums, which were crucial, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when in person meetings and comic cons were not always an option.

“There’s so much talent in this collection,” said Kris Burgos, the anthology’s managing editor, “The stories and artwork will have readers on the edge of their seats. I truly feel that Panel Two is something fresh and exciting that rivals last year.”

The anthology also features illuminated flash fiction pieces—one-page of flash fiction accompanied by a single, full-page illustration. The Flash Fiction Challenge ran concurrently with the 8-page challenge and was also open to all members of the Comic Book School community. This year, the flash fiction content in the book increased exponentially. There are 11 flash pieces in the book, up from 3 a year ago.

“This year, we have flash fiction from a diverse array of authors and artists, ranging from established industry professionals to art students for whom this is their first published work,” said A. A. Rubin, the anthology’s co-editor. “Their creations are weird and wonderful, and represent the myriad permutations of ‘The Time Inn’ across space, time, and genre.”

Additionally, the anthology features articles by comics pros Jamal Igle and Brian Pulido, which offer advice to up-and-comic creators. Both Igle and Pulido also appeared on the Comic Book School YouTube channel over the course of the year-long challenge.

“The hope for 2021 to be “a better year” was often repeated to me with a tired sense of resolve,” Alley said. “Some people worked to advance with determination, others are still dealing with the results of those changes, and time moves forward for everyone. Comic Book School is no different: always teaching, always learning, about all the different aspects of being creators and making comic books.” 

“I developed Comic Book School on the simple premise that experience and a strong network can help many creators reach their professional goals,” Scalera added. “I focus on shared, community-based experience around the craft and business of making comics. This second anthology continues to provide those craft and business experiences.”
For more information, contact Buddy Scalera at buddy@comicbookschool.com.