Author: JD Blackrose

Apex Magazine Runs Kickstarter to Fund 2022 after EIC Health Scare

Apex Magazine is running a Kickstarter to raise at least $10K with hopes of reaching their last Kickstarter total of $38K.

The pro-paying magazine went on hiatus eighteen months ago due to Editor-in-Chief, Jason Sizemore’s fight with mandibular cancer. Doctors replaced his entire jaw with his left fibula and a titanium plate. He jokes about it, saying, “I’m the cyborg editor now.”

Sizemore reports that Apex lost over one thousand subscribers when Kindle Periodicals cancelled the Apex account during the hiatus. KP refuses to renew it, saying they’re not open to ‘new’ periodicals. Sizemore argued with them that they aren’t new, but he’s gotten nowhere. If you were one of those subscribers, you can renew directly through the Apex website. Total cost is $24.00 for a year. (more…)

ConCarolinas 2021: A Fun, Exciting Return to Conventioning

ConCarolinas 2021: A Fun, Exciting Return to Conventioning

Maya Preisler, costume contest winner in the novice division.

Another ConCarolinas in the bag and I can’t say enough about this small convention that is becoming not-so-small. Con organizers report they had more than 1200 attendees, thirty-two in-person author guests, six virtual author guests, and seventy vendors selling merchandise or promoting events and businesses. Tracks included Writing, Gaming, Costuming, Film, Science, and Geek Life. There was also a Costume Contest Sci-Fi Karaoke, and a charity auction.

Held at the Hilton University Place in Charlotte, NC, con attendees were giddy with excitement at seeing friends again. Everyone was masked and I had my temperature taken when I got my speaker’s badge. Another temperature check happened on Saturday, and they marked my badge to indicate I’d done it. The people I spoke with were vaccinated. Do I think we can be perfectly safe at a large gathering of people? Probably not. But with my vaccination and the safety precautions, I felt as safe as I could be. 
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Epeolatry Book Review: Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire

Disclosure:

Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Bloodlaced
Author: Courtney Maguire
Genre: Paranormal fantasy romance 
Publisher: City Owl Press
Release Date: September 21, 2020

Synopsis: Kanjin hardly view their servants as human. Even less so when they are different.

Asagi is different. Both a man and a woman.

In the wake of his failure to protect a boy he saw as a son from their abusive master, Asagi is sold into the house of a young nobleman, Mahiro, who is the opposite of everything Asagi has ever known—gentle, kind, and generous.

Mahiro bonds with Asagi and their friendship blooms into a deep and profound love. But when Asagi is poisoned out of jealousy, Mahiro reveals himself to be youkai, a demon who feeds on blood, and he has no choice but to turn Asagi to save his life.

Asagi awakes reborn, strong, and eternally youthful. But the price for Asagi’s new life is high.

The blood of the innocent.

Just as Asagi’s trust in Mahiro falters, the boy he failed to protect, now a man, reappears.

New master, same threat.

With both a literal and proverbial monster at the door, Asagi must decide what it means to be human to protect what he loves most.

Content Warnings: physical abuse, sexual abuse (off-page), self-harm, blood, graphic violence

Bloodlaced is fascinating on many levels. It is a new take on the vampire mythos, a look inside feudal Japan, complete with wonderful words and imagery describing the clothing and makeup, and, probably most importantly, a serious representation of gender fluidity.

Asagi is enslaved after her mother sells her, due to poverty caused by her father’s death. We understand that is common, and that many underprivileged classes sell children for money and to get rid of a mouth to feed. Children litter the streets, stealing food, wondering how to survive.

This main character, who is born male but lives mostly as female, finds themselves in a horrific situation as the slave to a cruel master who is both repulsed and attracted to him/her. Asagi is not only are mistreated, but the master takes a liking to a little boy Asagi loves. The feelings of hopelessness, frustration, powerlessness, and the drive to avenge those who have wronged them pervade the book and lead to the rest of the plot.

Rescued from this deplorable situation by a mysterious master, Mahiro, Asgai experiences kindness and love for the first time. But, inevitably, terrible secrets are revealed and Asagi must make equally terrible choices and live with both the positive and negative consequences.

Bloodlaced will be followed by Bloodpact on May 4th. It is worth the read for its unflinching portrayal of a human who is both male and female, who literally has a male side and a female side to their closet, and the unrelenting, fearless exploration of slavery, love, and revenge, all wrapped up in a fascinating new type of vampire story.

Available from Bookshop and Amazon.

WiHM 12: An Interview With Rachel A. Brune Of Crone Girls Press

Hi Rachel, Thanks for being with us at Horror Tree in celebration of Women in Horror Month. As editor of Crone Girls Press, we are thrilled, and maybe a little chilled, to talk to you about the darker side of speculative fiction. – JD Blackrose

Can you tell us how your first horror anthology came about?

It’s because my sister is the slowest writer ever…

I had been editing some horror short stories for my sister, Thea, and had been encouraging her to submit some for publication. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I’ve always loved horror, especially in short story form, both reading and writing it. It seemed almost a natural progression to go from wanting to read a story in an anthology, to taking the reins and making an anthology happen. I reached out to my writing community, found a number of writers to send me their work, and started putting it together. And once I started working on what became Stories We Tell After Midnight 1, it was too late. The horror antho bug had bit, the rash had spread, and Crone Girls Press was on its way.

 

What is it about anthologies that you like so much?

I’ve compared anthologies to mixtapes before, so I think I’ll stick with that analogy. I love short stories, first. The form is so versatile and impactful, with room to play for the writer, and I feel like that really shows in the best short stories. In an anthology, you get to spend time with a range of different settings and characters and emotions, like the very best kind of mixtape, and that is the sort of journey that I love reading.

 

Tell us a little about Midnight Bites.

Midnight Bites started because I was having trouble saying no to a bunch of the novellas that people had submitted for our 2020 publications. After considering a couple of different ways I could publish the novellas and novelettes as standalone projects, I decided that the best way would be to offer readers a selection of three authors and three stories–long enough to really sink their teeth into, but not requiring so much time as a novel would to get through it. We are about to publish our third of the series; each has a general theme to it, although in some it’s a little flimsier than others. For example, we started off with military/paramilitary horror, and that first volume includes a World War I story a mercenaries-in-Antarctica story, and a paranormal-hunting, shadowy-government-agency-in-San Antonio story. We’ve got another four volumes scheduled for 2021, and more planned for after that.

 

Where do you think women authors stand in horror today? Have they made strides into the mainstream?

From speaking with women who were writing and publishing in the genre even five, ten, fifteen years ago, and hearing some of the struggles they dealt with, I would say yes, women have definitely made strides within the genre, and mainstream. I don’t think that this standing is completely even; I don’t think I would compare my experience to that of women of color or trans women working or trying to work in the genre. But there are now multiple examples that we can point to of women killing it (metaphorically speaking) like Nia DaCosta directing Candyman, as well as venerable names within the genre who have always been there, such as Ellen Datlow’s incredible editorial work, and women writers who are telling me there is less of a: “Oh, you write vampires? Romance is right over there…” (Not that I don’t read my fair share of PNR!)

Do we still have a ways to go? Yes. Am I optimistic we’ll get there? Yes. And I intend to do what I can to make it happen.

 

What’s ahead for Crone Girls Press?

This February, we’ll release our third Midnight Bites, “Hard for Hope to Flourish,” a three-novella collection of literary horror. Also on the slate, we’ve got another four mini’s, as well as a full-length anthology, the third and final volume of Stories We Tell After Midnight, which we’ll start reading for this spring. We also have a pretty fun Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/cronegirls) to share new work from our authors, Halloween memes (who doesn’t need more of these?), and articles of interest to those writing in the darker side of genre fiction. And from there… who knows? Horror is a genre of possibilities.

 

Thanks again!

#Audiblegate: When Audiobooks Go Bad

Creators of stories, those who tell them, produce them, and help sell them, are under attack on multiple fronts by large corporations that seek to control the market, control what you see and hear, and most importantly, make the most money they can at the expense of the little guy. This sentence could have been written at almost any time in the history of storytelling, but I am writing it today because it is stunningly on display as we speak.

One of the most egregious examples is what we now know as #Audiblegate. While adding the suffix “gate,” to the end of anything has become its own overblown trope, in this case, it fits. Right now, an Audible member can use a credit to buy a book, then can listen to that book in its entirety, return that book for any reason for up to 365 days, and then use that same credit to purchase another book. 

Let’s review that.

  1. A member uses a credit to buy a book.
  2. Listens to the book. Enjoys it, possibly. Loves it, even. 
  3. Returns the book, at any time during a year, for any reason, no questions asked.
  4. Gets their credit back and uses that same credit to buy another book, perhaps the second book in that series.
  5. This can continue, endlessly.

For the reader/listener, this is marvelous and no doubt, the reason he or she has this membership. What the member does not know, however, is that each time this happens, Audible claws back the royalty paid to the writer/narrator/publisher (creators) of that book. Anybody who earns a royalty upon purchase of that book gets it taken away once the book is returned. 

On top of this, Audible does not give creators insight into how many times this happens. There is virtually no transparency in reporting because they do not include a returns line on the reports we receive. If we see one purchase, we don’t know if one person bought a book, or if two people bought it and one returned. 

To top this off, keep in mind these facts:

  • Creators do best, royalty-wise (40%) if they go Audible exclusive with their books.
  • Doing so locks creators into a 7-year contract, with no way out.
  • Audible controls 90% of the audiobook market.
  • We only uncovered this issue because Audible made a mistake on one single day in October and accidentally released returns data. 

Due to pressure from indie writers, narrators, small and mid-sized publishers, and their fans, Audible responded to concerns about this by saying they will no longer accept returns after 7 days, which sounds great but isn’t. They still won’t provide data. This implies that most returns happen well within 7 days and they know it and won’t share it. Without transparency, this isn’t a solution to the problem. Most audiobook readers can easily plow through a book in two to three days.

What can you do to help?

  1. Please enjoy audiobooks, but do not abuse the return privileges. This literally takes money out of your favorite writers and narrators’ pockets. 
  2. Please sign the letter from The Author’s Guild to Audible CEO Bob Carrigan and General Counsel Zakharenko and invite friends and family to sign as well. This letter is sponsored by a number of national and international organizations including The Author’s Guild, Equity (UK), Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and many others. There are tens of thousands of signatures at present. Add yours.  https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/sign-our-letter-and-tell-audible-to-stop-charging-authors-for-returns/

 

#DisneyMustPay and The Merger of Simon & Schuster with Penguin Random House

There are other issues clamoring for attention including #DisneyMustPay, which involves Disney not paying prominent author Alan Dean Foster royalties they owe him because, their words, “they bought the contract but did not buy the obligations of that contract.” The mind boggles. https://www.sfwa.org/2020/11/18/disney-must-pay/ 

And, to add to the complications, publisher Simon & Schuster is being sold to Penguin Random House, creating a mega publishing house that would account for approximately 50% of all trade books published. This would reduce the current Big 5 to only 4. It would have huge ramifications on the publishing industry. You can read more about it here: https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/ag-statement-on-proposed-sale-of-simon-schuster-and-its-ramifications-for-authors/

 

References:

File 770: http://file770.com/how-audibles-returns-policy-exploits-writers/comment-page-1/

Susan May: https://www.susanmaywriter.net/single-post/audiblegate-the-incredible-story-of-missing-sales

Glitchy Pancakes: https://open.spotify.com/episode/22QYuMACJu1lKh24co6gzd?si=1Pzt1H4vQUGvJtMFiyLpgQ

Video Refresh: Rejections and a Crisis of Confidence

Who hasn’t gotten the dreaded email that starts with the word, “Unfortunately, we received…?” Ugh. The humiliation. The stab to the heart. I don’t care that they got 500 submissions for twelve spots. They should have chosen mine, darn it. Mine! Don’t let rejections create a crisis of confidence. Here are things you can do to shove that crisis back in the bottle where it belongs. (And one you shouldn’t…)

Video Refresh: Interview with G.A. Miller

Today we revisit an interview with horror author G.A. MIller. After you watch the video, read the entire article. Interviewer Stacey Jaine McInstosh asks some interesting questions not included here, such as what is G.A.’s favorite band. Hint: Their initials are L.Z.