1 Comment » Written on February 5th, 2015 by
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Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet, may I present for your anticipation, gradual build-up of ultimately brain-wrenching desire, and immediate viewing pleasure, the cover of my forthcoming novel, Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard.

My editor informs me that the release doesn’t happen until December, but the way I choose to spin that is it creates an opportunity for a solid ten months of buzz, and a cover reveal is an awesome beginning.

The cover art is by Victo Ngai, a Society of Illustrators NY Gold Medalist (she actually has a stack of gold and silver medals), and depicts her conception of one of the artificial “vents” that occur within the rainforests of the islands of Barsk. Specifically, a shaft visited by Pizlo, a young boy whose very existence is outside the strictures of Barsk culture.

He hung in open air, ruminating, suspended upside down in a well-tended shaft walled on all sides with living green. Seven such chimneys existed on the island of Keslo; every island on Barsk boasted at least one. Fant society created the insubstantial monuments as part memorial and part warning. Few reached all the way to the uppermost limits of the forest, or ran all the way down to its roots.

Barskg is a world of almost constant rain and breaks in the cloud cover are infrequent. Rarer still are the times when the clouds happen to part and allow a glimpse of any of the planet’s moons. In the scene Victo Ngai referenced for the cover, Pizlo has gone to a specific chimney at a specific time, following the urging of the voices in his head, to see his third of Barsk’s seven moons. Pizlo is a weird little kid, and he’s convinced the moon not only speaks to him, but tells him secrets.

So, now that you’ve seen the cover and read a snippet, it’s time to tease you a bit more. How am I going to do that, you ask? Why, by sharing with you some of the remarks from other folks, Big Name Authors all, who have already read the finished book:

“The second you encounter the arboreal uplifted elephants who speak with the dead, you know you’re reading a work of singular imaginative power.  It’s a delight from beginning to end.”

Walter Jon Williams, Nebula Award-winning author of The Green Leopard Plague

“Weird, wise, and worldly, Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard is a triumph.”

—Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

“Grand in scope, yet deeply intimate. Schoen gives anthropomorphism some serious spirituality. It got inside my head in the way that only an exciting new idea can.”

Howard Tayler, Hugo Award-winning creator of Schlock Mercenary

“Combines excellent characters and a fascinating world.  What really makes it work is how he deftly weaves together startling SFnal ideas with character-based intrigue.  You’ll really care for these characters, even as you find them believably alien.”

Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep

“A heartfelt and wonderfully weird book: a space opera about kindness and memory. Read it. Meet these people. Listen to their dreams, and to their moons.”

Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence

And that’s going to have to hold you for a while, but I promise, there’ll be more hooplah in the weeks and months to come.


2 comments Written on February 2nd, 2015 by
Categories: Plugs
J. S. Bangs

Last week, here in the greater Philadelphia area, we were all battening down the hatches for this year’s version of the “Snowpocalypse.” But it didn’t happen. Instead of dumping two feet of snow on us, winter storm Juno came in and went out on the same night, continuing along its eastward path to a much greater distance than the models had suggested, and leaving us with a disappointing four inches. Okay, sure, it then headed north and proceeded to hammer Boston, but that’s just for karma’s sake so I don’t get snowed in there in two weeks during Boskone. All in all, I’m a bit disappointed, though it has been pretty cold the last few days, so I guess that counts as something.

And now, this is the point where I manage a lame segue, probably something about how EATING AUTHORS is here to warm you up (yeah, that’ll work), and introduce you to this week’s guest, J.S. Bangs.

I’m really happy to have J.S. (aka Jesse) here, and not just because his first novel, Storm Bride, only recently came out from Red Adept, but also because he has a degree in linguistics and admits to inventing languages. That’s a rare quirk, and there’s a sacred bond between those of us who have fallen down that particular rabbit hole. As you’ll quickly infer as you read his account below, he speaks Romanian, but surely it’s only a matter of time before I manage to lure him over to joys of Klingon.

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Eating Authors: Sharon Lee

3 comments Written on January 26th, 2015 by
Categories: Plugs
Sharon Lee

Monday has come around again, and to my astonishment we’re already on our way out of January. How this happened I can’t say. Nor do I trust my own suspicions on the subject, as my wife has been forcing me to watch three seasons of Sherlock at a fiercesome pace. It’s all cheekbones and far too many floating typefaces.

Fortunately, we have a new visitor here today to distract all of us. Sharon Lee is of course a novelist in her own right, crafting a Maine-based mysteries (her Jennifer Pierce series) as well as a Maine-based fantasy (Her Carousel Tides fantasy series latest book, Carousel Seas, came out earlier this month from Baen). But she’s perhaps best known as the co-creator (with her husband, Steve Miller) of the popular Liaden Universe and its vast, multi-generational cast of characters. I confess, I’m a huge fan of the books (and have already pre-ordered the next one, though it won’t be released until June).

This past November, Sharon and Steve were the Guests of Honor at Philcon, basically in my backyard. The convention organizers asked me to write an appreciation of them for the program book, which was a great pleasure to do. And too, it gave me an opportunity to invite Sharon to drop by the blog and muse on meals past.

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EATING AUTHORS: Stephanie Burke

No Comments » Written on January 19th, 2015 by
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Stephanie Burke

And now, as they say, time for something completely different. My guest this week on EATING AUTHORS is Stephanie Burke, and she is probably the most prolific writer I know. I still vividly recall the first time we met, sitting side by side on a panel at a Balticon. We were doing the introduction thing, each of the panelists saying who they were, what they’d done, and so forth. I described myself, and mentioned that my second novel had just come out. Stephanie was up next, talked a bit about herself, and then said her nine hundred twenty-seventh book had just been released. Okay, maybe my recollection is more vivid than accurate; I may have that number wrong, but it was a stupidly high number.

Stephanie writes paranormal romance and erotica, of every flavor and combination imaginable. She’s so prolific that she seems to always be having different titles coming out at the same time from such places as Changeling Press, Ellora’s Cave, Loose-Id press, Red Rose, Renaissance E Books, Tease Publishing, Broken Sword Press, and Beautiful Trouble Publishing (and I have it on good authority that she’s looking for a few more venues as well). Her latest work came out just last week, a digital boxed set entitled Space Opera.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “force of nature” used to describe someone, only to find the description a bit over the top when you actually meet the individual. In Stephanie’s case this is not hyperbole (as her response to this blog’s question aptly demonstrates). Whether sharing a convention panel with her, enjoying a conversation, or simply reading one of her books, you need to be ready for a tsunami, trust me.

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No Comments » Written on January 12th, 2015 by
Categories: Plugs
Shannon Page

As I prepare this week’s EATING AUTHORS post, I am deep in the throes of the copyedits for Barsk: The Elephants Graveyard (though the book itself doesn’t come out until December). It’s distracting work, but “the blog must go on,” as I’m sure someone has paraphrased, and so here we are.

This week’s guest is Shannon Page, who, in addition to authoring her own fiction, has co-authored a number of works with the late Jay Lake, and more recently completed some of his posthumous projects. Last month saw the release of Our Lady of the Islands (from Seattle-based Per Aspera Press), which landed on Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2014 list. Not a bad way to end an otherwise difficult year.

Her own first novel, Eel River, comes out from Book View Cafe in April, and by autumn you’ll be able to read The Queen and The Tower, the first volume in a new urban fantasy series.

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Boskone 52 Schedule (more than a month out!)

No Comments » Written on January 11th, 2015 by
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Bucking the trend of recent conventions, this morning I received an email from the programming people at Boskone revealing what they referred to as my “final schedule,” and including a note that the full schedule is up on their website

I am agog!

Not just because lately it’s been much more common to get my schedule in the final week before the con (and often much less), but because of the incredible array of authors who will be showing up at the convention, folks like Elizabeth Bear, Charlie Stross, Karl Schroeder, Allen Steele, Carrie Vaugh, Walter Jon Williams, and many more. And, it certainly doesn’t hurt that Steven Brust is their GoH, as I am a long time fan and collector of his work.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my schedule:

Friday, February 13th
3:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. | Burroughs | Food in Fiction
Stories that make you go, “Yum!” How do you describe food to convey mood or set the scene? Join our panelists as they dish on the culinary delights that tantalize us in fiction, from regional teas to kingly feasts. What works? What doesn’t? And what should you know about a food-centric scene?
with Carrie Cuinn (M), Steven Brust, James Cambias, Fran Wilde, and me!

4:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. | Galleria-Kaffeeklatsch 2 | Kaffeeklatsch
Let’s talk about psychology, linguistics, Klingon, hypnosis, small press publishing, award nominations, my forthcoming book from Tor, or whatever else you want to ask me about as we enjoy coffee, tea, or in my case a Diet Coke™. Sign-up is required at Program Ops in the Galleria, but I’m sure we can fit you in.

Saturday, February 14th
10:00 a.m. – 10:25 a.m. | Independence | – Reading
I’ll likely read from my new novel, Barsk: The Elephants Graveyard, unless people would rather hear a bit from my recent Amazing Conroy novella, Calendrical Regression. Either way, come on by, show me some love, on this cold Valentine’s Day morning (sniffle, cuz my wife is back in Philadelphia).

2:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m. | Galleria-Autographing | – Autographing
This is your chance to bring stuff for me to sign! I know, it’s exciting!
with M.L. Brennan, Daniel M. Kimmel, and me!

5:00 p.m. – 5:50 p.m. | Burroughs | – Rejectomancy
Is there really a blue sheet of death? Does an encouraging form letter mean less or more than a generic personalized response? These are just a few of the questions that new writers ponder as they try to read between the lines of the rejection letters they receive. Every new writer goes through this dreaded stage (better known as “rejectomancy”) as they try to glean some hidden meaning within the text. Writers who have been there share their own rejectomancy stories and give some helpful advice on ways to avoid the “rejectomancy” trap.
with Stephen P. Kelner (M), Craig Shaw Gardner, James Patrick Kelly, Margaret Ronald, and me!

And of course, Barry will be on hand to pose for photos with you. See you in Boston!

My Awards Pitch for 2015

2 comments Written on January 11th, 2015 by
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Calendrical Regression

It’s that time of year where authors flock to the internet to blatantly proclaim all that is mighty and good of their works from the previous year. Some people consider this a tad unsavory, while others have pointed out that if the author cannot stand proudly for his/her own stuff, then who can?

Speaking as someone who is published by small presses, I tend to err on the side of pragmatism: the odds are good that most people haven’t seen my work and anything that helps them to encounter my fiction is a “good thing.”

And that includes an annual bit of blog-inspired self-promotion, so let’s get to it.

For your reading pleasure and award consideration, I present my novella, Calendrical Regression, published by the fine folks at NobleFusion Press as a slender trade paperback, but also available from their site as a free ebook (both ePub and mobi formats).

This is the third novella in the past three years that I’ve written in the Amazing Conroy series of tales. It came out late in the year (November 6th, 2014) and from an even tinier small press than ever before, which basically means despite the thing being an utter delight (hey, would I lie?), most people simply haven’t seen it.

So let me tell you a bit about it.

Calendrical Regression features Conroy, my stage-hypnotist-turned-wealthy-CEO protagonist as he attempts to slip away for a little downtime performing for conventioneers in the midwest. Some well-meaning aliens show up, intent on luring him down to Mexico with the promise of gourmet cuisine. They want him to hypnotically regress the descendant of a Mayan priest, with the intention of unraveling the mystery behind the ancient calendar that apparently predicted Earth’s contact with the rest of the galaxy when its grand tun ended in December of 2012. I could tell you more, but, spoilers! Suffice to say that complications ensue, some amusing and some dire, and the whole wraps up at under 20K words.

This is probably a good place for a bit of the ol’ “full disclosure.”

I mentioned above that this is my third Conroy novella in as many years. I should add that the previous two efforts both landed on their respective Nebula Award ballots. I’m not sure if that’s happened before, consecutive novella nominations from the same universe, but I feel confident that if SFWA members decide to put me on the ballot again this year, the resulting “hat trick” will be something of a record. And that’s kind of cool.

But that can’t happen if people don’t read it, which, again, is why we have posts like this one. I encourage you to follow the link, download a free copy of the ebook, and give it a read.

If you’re a SFWA member and you’d prefer a different format, this URL ( will take you to my page in the SFWA 2014 Fiction archive where “Calendrical Regression” is available as a downoad in not just ePub and mobi, but in PDF and DOC formats as well.


creative commons licencse

This novella is released under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.
Follow the link if you’re not sure what that means.

Eating Authors: James Morrow

No Comments » Written on January 5th, 2015 by
Categories: Plugs
James Morrow

Welcome to a new year. 2015 looks like it’s going to be freaking glorious (and not just because I have a novel coming out from Tor Books in December) and so it’s only appropriate to begin another 52 weeks of EATING AUTHORS by setting a very high bar. We’re accomplishing that by having none other than James Morrow as the year’s first guest (and not just because he’s a native son of Philadelphia).

Along with multiple nominations, Jim’s fiction has won numerous awards including the Nebula (twice!), the World Fantasy (twice!), the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, and the Sturgeon. And if you’re not acquainted with his Godhead Trilogy (Towing Jehovah, Blameless in Abaddon, and The Eternal Footman) then now’s time to crawl out from under that rock and put these books at the front of your reading list. And don’t even get me started on his other novels, short story collections, or the various award anthologies he’s edited.

His latest book, Galapagos Regained, comes out from St. Martin’s Press tomorrow and promises another compelling venture into the existence (or not) of a supreme being, presented as a riotous romp around the world with Darwin’s personal zookeeper as a protagonist. Seriously. Can you think of a better way to start a great year of reading?

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