Almost a year gone by. Twenty-nine years old now. Health: 95% healed. Still the occasional nasty round of dizziness, but I’ve been mostly okay and functioning. Bounced through more than a dozen doctors, from G.D to ENT to neurologist. X-rayed and MRIed and blood tested. Never ended up with a proper diagnostic other than something ruined your inner ear but it’s gone now, the damage will heal. A year down the drain.
Writing: had a story published in the lovely Solarcide. Vanished through the cracks when they redesigned their site, but co-head honcho Nathan Pettigrew told me the story should pop up again in the Vault at some point. Got a story accepted in the upcoming Booked. Podcast anthology, and I can’t wait for that one to hit the shelves. Chris Deal’s story in that book is stunning, and with people like Craig Clevenger, Paul Tremblay, Cameron Pierce, Richard Thomas and so many others, I’m in good company. Got a very kind, very unexpected review of A Light To Starve By at Lurid Lit, too.
Have five stories making the rounds at various magazines. Decided to step away from “small” online zines and will now focus on the semi-pro/pro markets if it kills me. Time to get serious, aim higher, get better. Also means it’s now a waiting game. Small zines will get back to you within a month, often within a fortnight. Some of the places I’m trying for, man—six, eight, nine months, a year. Sub 3% acceptance rate according to Duotrope. But I’ll find a way. And in the meantime: keep writing, keep submitting. I see people like Richard Thomas with over a hundred stories in-progress/queued up in various places and that’s incredibly inspiring.
Hopefully more posts and good news soon. Or maybe another year-long disappearance. I’m good at those.
Time to briefly break the white noise and throw a few words on here. I’ve been down for the count for a few months now. Diagnosis is still pretty muddy but it boils down to a nasty virus that’s been feasting on my left inner ear and having a good old time fucking about with my balance organ. Had three straight months of daily vertigo and brain fog and anxiety and general feelings of doom. I’m never been prone to panic attacks, went twenty-seven years without a single one and I’m not keen on having any more, thank you kindly. Virus means the docs can’t do shit except tell me to sleep ten hours a night, no exercise, not allowed to get exhausted. The real bitch of it is I can’t drink tea or coffee, because that seems to make my brain think it just jumped on a roller-coaster headed straight to hell at mach one. For the past week, I’ve had no dizziness at all and the brain fog’s gone. Still feel very weak, but it looks like there’s some dim light at the end of this particular tunnel.
Been surviving and shuffling shit-jobs around and writing when the room stops spinning, or at least slows down its spinning. I have a handful of short stories in my pockets that have been sent into the wild. I’ve still managed to be productive, but mostly I used the past few months in order to really dig into my prose and see where I have room to grow (everywhere, really) and making sure I keep cranking out quality work. I took a class with the ever-fantastic Stephen Graham Jones and I’ve been devouring a whole lot of books. I have a folder chock-full of experiments and whacked out stories that’ll never seen the light of day, but they provided some insight into what it is that I do, or at least what I try to do. Stories all in caps, or without punctuation, or without any dialogue, or only dialogue, or not a single human character, and so on. You get the drill. The vast majority of them are utter shit but they helped me along the way. I expect folks to be pretty weirded out by the next couple of shorts that’ll pop up in magazines before the end of the year, but that suits me fine.
Speaking of folks, I’ve been received a pretty steady stream of emails from strangers, either regarding some older stories they’ve stumbled upon, or A Light To Starve By. To this, I can only say, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It only means everything. I know some links are dead, that’s the way things go with e-zines, and I swear I’ll re-upload all of my shorts in a doc/PDF format within the next month.
Rotten Leaves is also dead. No drama, no particularly interesting story. Being sick as a dog and barely able to function put a lot of things in perspective for me. My time is so limited that I can’t spend what little hours I have on a magazine, as much as I enjoy editing and publishing other writers’ work. Nik Korpon and Christopher Dwyer also have their hands full, so it was time to put it to rest. Not with a bang, but with a whisper. Thank you to the people who read it. The monthly hits on Rotten Leaves were in the thousands (dozens of thousands, when we published new issues/posted up new shorts) and I was always pretty shocked by the attention the mag got. The three of us deeply cared about it and looking at the non-bot, individual IP hits never failed to bring a smile to my face.
To end this on a positive note: I’ve got a noir novella all cooked up, and it’s now in the hands of an agent, and my fingers are crossed so tight I’m surprised blood still flows in there. It’s a sort of secret project and I’m not sure what to say about it other than if you liked ALTSB, and dig three other writers who gravitate around The Velvet, you might be pleased. But we’re still a long way from publishing, so don’t hold your breath, yeah? You’ll go blue.
And another good thing: I’ll be taking a writing lockdown next week. My first in over a year. Seventy-two hours in a bunker with a laptop and a few packs of smokes and no internet. Which means I’ll probably emerge with 40k words or more. No novel work, just short stories. I figure it’s time to get back into the publishing game and beef up my authorly resume before I try to sell a certain stack of five hundred pages that’s been sitting here, glaring at me for the past year.
I might just update this page after the lockdown next week. Or maybe I’ll disappear for another six months.
Either way, I expect to have a handful of short stories published in the next few months, so keep your ear to the ground.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam, and such.
This story just won’t rest, it seems. Unless something major happens, this will be my last update regarding A Light To Starve By. It’s been a beautiful trip. Over the past few months, aside from a couple of people I’ve contacted myself, reviews have been coming in from all over the place. I figured I’d gather them all in one post, have a nanosecond of self-indulgence before I go back to the blank page. I would like to thank all the folks out there who’ve reviewed this dark little e-story, either via Amazon, Goodreads, or various blogs and websites. Not to forget all the kind readers who have sent me very sweet emails or asked what else have you written? I haven’t found a single negative review so far - and trust me, I’ve looked. For that, I am truly grateful. And I mean, it’s always cool to see this happen:
(Sales were even higher than that, cracked the top 50 in horror e-books, but I somehow lost the screenshot somewhere in the digital abyss. A shame.)
Reviews and articles:
- The Velvet
- BigAl’s Books And Pals
- Jay Slayton-Joslin
- Obscuradrome / Bob Pastorella
- What Does Not Kill Me / Richard Thomas
- Booked Podcast
- Sean P. Ferguson
- Outsider Writers Collective And Press
- Under The Cover #1: Boden Steiner
The question I’ve been asked a few times, and asked myself, too: would I do this again? Take a story that appeared in print, didn’t get the attention I wanted, and sell it for pennies in digital format? The answer is complicated. Yes, no, perhaps, maybe. We’ll see what the future has in store. We’ll see where the publishing industry is headed.
In the case of ALTSB (that sure is one long acronym), the situation was so unique I just had to take the chance. Because the original print anthology it was featured in received so little attention, and by little I mean none, I felt the whole Kindle-thing was an adventure I ought to try. The story was long enough to not be considered a short story, yet way too short to be a novel. And it was a thrill to try something new.
At the end of the day, though, I’ve never seen myself as one of those Kindle authors. Nothing wrong with it, no judgement call here. I think some of them might be pioneers, way ahead of their time. People like Anthony Neil Smith are incredible at it. He turns the endeavour into an art form. Just take a glance at his Twitter.
It just doesn’t work for me, though. I need, and want, an editor to call me out on my shit when needed. I want proofreaders to put band-aids on the wounds I unwillingly inflict on the English language. Because I love print, and the feel of physical books. Most importantly, though, it all boils down to exposure. Don’t get me wrong - I greatly enjoyed pimping out the story for a few weeks. Getting a chance to work with and feature Boden Steiner’s gorgeous art on the cover (you deserve all the credit in the world, my friend), using social media platforms, spamming Twitter, setting up reviews, purchasing ad space, maniacally tracking click-through rates and sales rank. I actually found marketing fun.
But if relentlessly promoting my own work means time spent away from writing - thanks, but no thanks. That’s not what I’ve been put on this Earth for. Twenty four hours in a day. If I have to work and keep a roof over my head, attend to my duties, have a healthy relationship, a social life, and above everything, write - there’s no time left. I’d rather have an agent, a press and/or a marketing team (mostly) handle the publicity for me. So, in short: maybe it’ll happen again, but it’s highly unlikely.
Last thing. I’ve also noticed the story being stripped of its DRM and shared on a couple of websites. I won’t link them here, because I’d hate to bump up their Google search results. Still, I can’t find it in me to be mad. I’ve looked at the number of downloads and seeds, studying the whole thing from a very geeky angle. While I generally do not “approve” of piracy, and while it’s sometimes a struggle for me to actually afford food. I’m just glad folks out there are reading my work. That’s all it comes down to. Ideally, I would rather have people purchase it - not for the financial angle, but for the reviews, Amazon ratings, and general word of mouth, the sales ranking. Things that can lead to more exposure, more readers. It’s not like the 30 cents I make on each copy sold will give me a chance to pay rent any time soon, right?
If you can part ways with less than a dollar, you know where to go. Read it on your tablet, phone, computer, it all works.
In the US? Here: http://www.amazon.com/Light-Starve-ebook/dp/B004OR1U5O
Or here for Brits/Europeans: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Starve-ebook/dp/B004OR1U5O
If not - go ahead, unleash your Google-fu and scream yaaarrr as you steal my words. It’s okay. I hope you enjoy the ride, and hey, an extra Amazon/Goodreads review wouldn’t hurt, you know? Doesn’t matter how you acquired the story. I know, I know. Time is money but since you just saved some money, perhaps you can spare some time. Thanks. I love you. Godspeed.
P.S: Yes, there’s a sequel coming. SPOILER ALERT: werewolves.
The fantastic Warmed And Bound has now been released, and is available from the usual suspects: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, you know the drill. Once the dust has settled, I will write a proper update about it. I’ve been burning through my copy, reading everyone’s stories, and I have to say, it’s a damn good anthology. I had very high expectations, and yet I still found myself gasping, turning the pages faster and faster, not wanting to stop. I had never read anything by Matt Bell or David J Osborne before, and they’ve completely blown me away. I already knew what to expect from the likes of Clevenger, Carrella, Jones, Evenson: pure awesomeness. But it’s the unknowns, or at least the previously unknown to me, who have managed to move me the most. What an honour to be published in this book.
I have been interviewed by the really kind folks over at Booked Podcast, which has easily become my favourite book-related podcast. It’s been a pleasure to talk to them, and I would strongly recommend that you check them out, give them a good listen, and enjoy. They’ve been doing an amazing job, and their kindness and talent should not go unnoticed.
I got a chance to mumble about my writing, Rotten Leaves, my e-novelette experiment A Light To Starve By, I’ve blushed while praising Vincent Louis Carrella’s Serpent Box and Steve Erickson’s Rubicon beach, jokingly called Richard Thomas a “big sissy” (I love you, Richard) and generally had a blast.
Go listen to the interview, and please make sure to check out the rest the other interviews too, and all the book reviews. They’re doing such an amazing job.
Finally, I’ll just drop this here, since I seem to be getting a lot of hits today and new friend requests on Facebook, thanks to a nod from Craig Clevenger. For people wanting to read more of my stuff, there’s always that: http://www.axeltaiari.com/works
And without a single doubt, the story I’m most proud of at this point in time, A LIGHT TO STARVE BY, a reprint from an anthology, is available on Amazon as an e-book for $0.99. http://www.amazon.com/Light-Starve-ebook/dp/B004OR1U5O
The guys at Booked also reviewed that story in a previous episode, over here: http://www.bookedpodcast.com/2011/06/10/episode-13-interludea-light-to-starve-by/
That’s it for now. Expect another update in a few hours with a brand new short story to read, courtesy of Dirty Noir.
The release date of Warmed And Bound is inching closer and closer.
First, the cover art. Goddamn does it look gorgeous.
My story, DEATH JUGGLER, opens up the anthology. The story of a circus freak who kills himself on stage night after night. Call it noir sci-fi. I will make sure to talk more about it on the Booked Podcast soon.
We also managed, and by we I mean the fantastic Pela Via, to get a mind-blowing foreword from Steve Erickson. At this point, you should do yourself a favor and pick up, say, at least one of his books. There is no doubt in my mind that he is one the most under-appreciated yet most important writers working today.
I won’t spoil anything about the foreword, but let’s just say that the man gave us what is essentially a love letter that stands for everything The Velvet community is about.
One of the most poignant bits is featured on the back cover. “The writers of the Velvet are contemporary fiction’s most effective and least self-conscious aesthetic guerillas (…) The result is fiction at once conceived from high artistic intent and executed with depraved populist energy.”
The foreword goes much deeper than that, taking apart and highlighting some of the book’s content.
I reached out to Steve Erickson, to thank him not only for his fiction, but for his contribution to the anthology. He sent back a very kind reply, and added a little something about my story:
I was very struck and impressed by “Death Juggler” which, like the keynote address of a political convention, perfectly set the tone for the rest of the anthology. Congratulations.
Yeah. That, um, broke me.
In many ways.
In many happy ways.
Needless to say, I can’t wait for people to read the entire book. It won’t disappoint, I’m sure of that.
So until the release date is made official (won’t be long, now), head over to:
And of course, here is the complete list of contributors, stolen from Richard Thomas’ page:
- Amanda Gowin
- Anthony David Jacques
- Axel Taiari
- Blake Butler
- Bob Pastorella
- Bradley Sands
- Brandon Tietz
- Brian Evenson
- Caleb J. Ross
- Cameron Pierce
- Chris Deal
- Christopher J. Dwyer
- Craig Clevenger
- Craig Davidson
- Craig Wallwork
- DeLeon DeMicoli
- Doc O’Donnell
- Edward J. Rathke
- Gary Paul Libero
- Gavin Pate
- Gayle Towell
- Gordon Highland
- J. David Osborne
- Jeremy Robert Johnson
- JR Harlan
- Kyle Minor
- Mark Jaskowski
- Matt Bell
- Nic Young
- Nik Korpon
- Paul G. Tremblay
- Pela Via
- Richard Thomas
- Rob Parker
- Sean P. Ferguson
- Stephen Graham Jones
- Tim Beverstock
- Vincent Louis Carrella
Oh hell yes. Warmed And Bound, the Velvet anthology, is finally on the way. I’ve also reviewed Christopher Dwyer’s fantastic WHEN OCTOBER FALLS, over at We Are Vespertine. Back to writing.
Oh hell yes. Warmed And Bound, the Velvet anthology, is finally on the way.
I’ve also reviewed Christopher Dwyer’s fantastic WHEN OCTOBER FALLS, over at We Are Vespertine.
Back to writing.
After getting sick of Wordpress and how clunky my previous website had become, I decided to give it a new face. So behold Tumblr.
And I picked the worst possible time, too, since I’m now going on a month-long writing lockdown.
I’ll update this page as much as I can, fill in the gaps, import what truly matters from the previous one.
Here’s to a fresh start.