Vote Word Horde

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s Awards Season in the genre fiction community. This is your chance to suggest, nominate, and vote for your favorite books of the year. And if a 2016 Word Horde title made your list of favorites, we’d like to encourage you to suggest, nominate, and vote for it in the appropriate venues.

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Last year, we were honored with wins in the Anthology of the Year (Cthulhu Fhtagn!) and Publisher of the Year categories of the This Is Horror Awards. This year, the This Is Horror Awards have recognized Word Horde in five categories:

Nominated for the 2016 This Is Horror Award for Novel of the Year:
The Fisherman, John Langan

Nominated for the 2016 This is Horror Award for Short Story Collection of the Year:
Furnace, Livia Llewellyn
The Lure of Devouring Light, Michael Griffin

Nominated for the 2016 This is Horror Award for Anthology of the Year:
Eternal Frankenstein, edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Nominated for the 2016 This is Horror Award for Publisher of the Year:
Word Horde

We’d like to encourage you to visit the This Is Horror Awards website and VOTE for your favorite books of 2016. It only takes an email!

Another prestigious award that has just opened up for nominations is the David Gemmell Award for Fantasy. Please consider dropping by their website and nominating John Langan’s The Fisherman for The Legend Award for best fantasy novel. We’d love to see John win an axe. And once again, it only takes an email!

Christmas Ghosts: An Excerpt from Alan M. Clark’s A Brutal Chill in August

One of our favorite Christmas traditions, particularly popular in the Victorian era, is the telling of ghost stories. Something about the long nights of winter, the glistening of ice, and the clouds of breath that form as you step outside evokes the supernatural, the uncanny. Perhaps the most famous of these stories is Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, but other notable Christmas ghosts include Dickens’s “The Signalman,” M. R. James’ “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” Edith Wharton’s “Afterward,” and H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Festival.”

With all that in mind, Word Horde is proud to present a new Victorian Christmas ghost story, in the form of this excerpt from Alan M. Clark’s stunning tale of Polly Nichols, first victim of Jack the Ripper, A Brutal Chill in August

A Brutal Chill in August by Alan M. Clark

13
A Tempting Choice

On Monday morning, December 20 of 1875, Polly hid away the tinplate toys she’d bought for the children’s Christmas stockings—a steamship for John, a train for Percy, a horse-drawn carriage for Alice. As she imagined the children’s faces when they received their gifts, a knock came at her door. She answered the knock to find Judith had arrived early. Dorrie wasn’t with her. The cold and windy air outside tried to push its way in. Judith didn’t respond when invited to come in, so Polly stepped out and pulled the door shut.

“At first I couldn’t decide,” the woman said, “but I have, at present. Dorrie will begin school in the new year. She’s with her grandmother now and during the holidays. No longer shall I come on Mondays and Fridays.”

Perhaps Polly should have seen the day coming, since Percy was the same age as Dorrie, and he had already begun at the infants school. Polly had happily let go of her daytime duties of minding Percy, especially since the discovery she was pregnant again. She hadn’t told Bill or Papa about the pregnancy. Although she loved her children, she didn’t look forward to having yet another so soon.

Her surprise left her struggling unsuccessfully to think of a way to change Judith’s mind. Finally, Polly said simply, “I’m not prepared for the change.” Straining against the chill breeze, she knew she looked as if she might cry. “Could we do it just a bit longer until I can make other plans?”
Judith appeared unmoved. “No, I shall not have a child to keep during much of the week and shan’t need your help. I have plans for Christmas to think about today.”

Indeed, she wasn’t a good friend.

Polly hung her head wearily. “You’re lucky you don’t have the quick womb I have.”

“Are you knapped again?” Judith asked with a frown.

“Yes.”

“It’s not my luck,” Judith said. She grimaced slightly, then asked, “Haven’t you asked Bill to wear a sheath on his manhood?”

“He won’t.”

“Swaine does, and when that fails, I know how to end a pregnancy. There’s a woman can help you.”

“The Church tells us that’s murder.”

“Yes, well, a life unloved and spent in poverty,” Judith said, coldly, “what’s that?”

Polly had no answer. Judith started to turn away.

“Please,” Polly said, “I must have a drink today.”

“And that’s the difference between us,” Judith said. Shaking her head, she turned and walked away.

Polly stepped back inside, and slammed the door, shutting out the biting cold.

The woman’s abrupt manner aside, her suggestion about abortion made Polly uncomfortable because of the tempting option the procedure presented. She considered abortion wrong, and believed that if she took the option, she’d be guilty of murder. Apparently, Judith had chosen just such murders in the past.

Still, Polly believed the life in her womb would be better off if it never saw the world. With each child she’d had, her ability to provide for them, the time she had to share with them, her capacity for affection, and, yes, she admitted to herself, even to love them, had diminished.

What had Judith said? “A life unloved and spent in poverty.”

Perhaps if God knew how Polly felt, He would help. Yet, the Lord should know already what she held in her heart, even if the feelings were a jumble. Polly wanted the best for the three children she had, and if that meant she shouldn’t have another mouth to feed, another heart to soothe and love, then possibly He should take the infant in the midst of her pregnancy. The idea that she might have a miscarriage gave her a small hope which she knew must be dismissed, but which she clung to for fear that if she didn’t, God might not know her preference. The conflict within her turned to nausea. Although most likely mere morning sickness, the discomfort bore with it a chilling uneasiness.

She didn’t have time for such distraction, and tried not to think about the matter further. Her schedule for the afternoon required her to print a broadsheet that advertised a boxing match. She had the materials, including a nicely done woodcut of men preparing to punch each other while others in the background cheered. She needed to take care of Alice first. As she occupied herself, stoking the fire, cleaning the dishes and the pot used to prepare the meal from the night before, nausea and disquiet continued to hound Polly. Her hands trembled and her heart periodically hammered in her chest.

Finally, she promised herself that she’d find a moment to say a prayer for the infant in her womb and one for Judith. That did little to calm her.

She hurriedly fed Alice a midday meal of bread and butter, then placed her in the bed, wrapped in a faded red wool blanket, hoping the girl would take a nap. Before beginning work on her broadsheet, Polly found her moment for prayer. Alice had become quiet, and a calm came into the room, but not into Polly. The conflict in her heart had turned to an unaccountable foreboding. She voiced the words before she’d had a chance to think them through.

“Please O Lord, take this child now before it’s too late.” Polly regretted her plea immediately. While trying to persuade herself that God understood that she meant for the child not to suffer, she knew her true motive to be self-serving. After years of carefully avoiding any mention of herself in prayer, she’d found a new way to demonstrate her selfishness to God. She quickly said the penitent prayer from Mr. Shaw’s well-worn card, but she didn’t feel any better.

Polly couldn’t do her work. Feeling naked before the eyes of the Lord, she paced. When Alice began to stir, Polly knew she disturbed the child’s slumber. She had to get away.

Stepping outside, she had the intention of pacing the lane’s granite footway outside her door. Having traveled half a block up Trafalgar Street, she decided she should keep going. She imagined walking the two or more miles to the docks, and stowing aboard a ship headed to some land where people believed in a different god, one who would not know her so well.

Then, she remembered she’d left the front door open. She broke out in a sweat. Her heart moved uncomfortably as she thought of a stranger entering her room while Alice slept. She imagined John and Percy coming home from school to find nobody home, their confusion and sadness when they found out their mother had abandoned them, and so close to Christmas!

Polly turned and walked back the way she’d come.

Although the shame had become so large inside her that she saw little else, she knew that her children needed her.

* * *

Continue Reading →

Obligatory Awards Eligibility Post

As we come to the end of another year, it is traditional to look back through the last 365 days and take stock of one’s accomplishments. In 2016, Word Horde published five books: Furnace, by Livia Llewellyn; The Lure of Devouring Light, by Michael Griffin; The Fisherman, by John Langan; A Brutal Chill in August, by Alan M. Clark, and Eternal Frankenstein, edited by Ross E. Lockhart.

If you read and enjoyed any (or all) of these Word Horde books in 2016, we ask that you consider nominating those books in their respective categories in the Hugos, Locus Awards, Nebulas, Bram Stoker Awards, or similar awards. Likewise, the Novellas, Novelettes, and Short Stories we published this year that are eligible for your awards consideration. Plus, we’ve included a list of Related Works you may have otherwise missed. Thanks for your consideration, it means the world to us!

Best Collection:
Furnace, by Livia Llewellyn
The Lure of Devouring Light, by Michael Griffin

Best Novel:
The Fisherman, by John Langan
A Brutal Chill in August, by Alan M. Clark

Best Anthology:
Eternal Frankenstein, edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Best Novella:
“The New Soviet Man”, by G. D. Falksen (10738 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“The Black Vein Runs Deep”, by Michael Griffin (38620 words, The Lure of Devouring Light)
“The Human Alchemy”, by Michael Griffin (11043 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“The Un-Bride; or, No Gods and Marxists”, by Anya Martin (11669 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Mary Shelley’s Body”, by David Templeton (27611 words, Eternal Frankenstein)

Best Novelette:
“Wither on the Vine, or Strickfadden’s Monster”, by Nathan Carson (9342 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“The Jewel in the Eye”, by Michael Griffin (8862 words, The Lure of Devouring Light)

Best Short Story:
“Thermidor”, by Siobhan Carroll (3490 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Sewn Into Her Fingers”, by Autumn Christian (5540 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Orchids by the Sea”, by Rios de la Luz (1772 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“The Beautiful Thing We Will Becone”, by Kristi DeMeester (4010 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Baron von Werewolf Presents: Frankenstein Against the Phantom Planet”, by Orrin Grey (5874 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Dreaming Awake in the Tree of the World”, by Michael Griffin (4248 words, The Lure of Devouring Light)
“The Accident of Survival”, by Michael Griffin (3609 words, The Lure of Devouring Light)
“The Book of Shattered Mornings”, by Michael Griffin (3948 words, The Lure of Devouring Light)
“Living”, by Scott R Jones (2759 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“In the Court of King Cupressaceae, 1982”, by Livia Llewellyn (6256 words, Furnace)
“Frankenstein Triptych”, by Edward Morris (3180 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Postpartum”, by Betty Rocksteady (6649 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Torso Heart Head”, by Amber-Rose Reed (1312 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“They Call Me Monster”, by Tiffany Scandal (3233 words, Eternal Frankenstein)
“Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice”, by Damien Angelica Walters (4900 words, Eternal Frankenstein)

Best Publisher:
Word Horde

Best Editor, Short Form:
Ross E. Lockhart

Best Editor, Long Form:
Ross E. Lockhart

Best Original Cover Art:
A Brutal Chill in August, Alan M. Clark
Eternal Frankenstein, Matthew Revert

Best Related Work:
Word Horde Presents John Langan, interview by Sean M. Thompson
“The Soul of You” Music Video, (“The Soul of You” as sung by the Bonehill Ghost in the novel A Brutal Chill in August by Alan M. Clark. Song produced by Matt Hayward. Lyrics by Alan m. Clark. Music by Michael Green. Vocals by Gerard Smith. Piano by Anna Muhlbach.)
Facebook Live: Eternal Frankenstein Launch Party at Copperfield’s Books
Live-Blogging Jack London’s The People of the Abyss, Alan M. Clark

 

REVIEWERS: If you missed any of these books, drop us a line and we’ll be happy to send you an electronic reading copy for consideration. publicity[at]wordhorde[dot]com.