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Five Things I Learned Editing My First Anthology, by Amber Fallon

Five Things I Learned Editing My First Anthology
by Amber Fallon

Reblogged from

I’ve done a few of these “Five Things…” posts for my day job, and they seem to be pretty popular, so I figured I’d give it a shot in the writing realm. (Oooh, I like the sound of that. Writing Realm. Nice.)

As you may have heard, my editorial debut, Fright into Flight, will be released by Word Horde on September 4th. I’m insanely proud of that book and the effort that went into putting it together. I spent untold hours reading, reviewing, researching, compiling, editing, and reaching out to authors, to say nothing of the mountain of slush I read through when we opened up to submissions.

Even though the window was brief, just two weeks total, we received over 100 submissions. That’s a LOT to go through!

We were extremely lucky with the quality of submissions we received. Only a minuscule percentage of the total didn’t follow the guidelines. For the most part, every story I read was good. Which made my first time as editor very challenging. It wasn’t a matter of choosing only the best stories, it was also a matter of choosing stories that would fit well with the rest of the book.

I’m not sure exactly what I had been expecting, but it wasn’t rereading the same two stories a dozen times, trying to choose which of them would best fit the book I was molding from other peoples’ words.

Fright Into Flight edited by Amber Fallon

The process was challenging. I believe I rose to meet the task, but in doing so, I learned a lot. Here are the five biggest lessons:

1: Breaks, including palette cleanser reading, are absolutely vital.

Initially, when faced with so many submissions and such a narrow window in which to read and evaluate them, I just powered through. I read over two dozen stories that first day. And I was completely burnt out on the subject of flight by day two. I couldn’t even look at buffalo wings without groaning.

Turns out, I was pushing myself too hard and I wasn’t giving myself enough time to adequately appreciate or digest what I’d just read. I was like a robotic reading machine. That wasn’t great, and it certainly wouldn’t lead to the creation of a book I could be proud of.

So I took a break. I spent an hour reading stories I loved from an old vampire anthology. Then, refreshed and renewed, I went back to reading slush on a much more reasonable schedule. The lesson here is that sometimes pushing yourself too hard can actually be detrimental to your end goal. Make sure you’re taking the time to do things right and respecting yourself in the process.

2: Rejecting your friends frankly sucks, especially if their stories are good.

I knew I’d have to reject stories, which was a rough prospect for me. I know how much rejections can sting sometimes, and inflicting that on someone else was not going to be easy. But I had an obligation to Word Horde and to myself to put out the best possible book, and that meant saying no to a lot of stories. Some of them were great. Well written, engaging, with killer endings… and some of them were even written by people I’m proud to call friends.

The book I was building had to take precedent over everything else.

3: Sometimes the book you intended isn’t the book you end up with.

As an editor, I had to take a lot of different factors into account. Themes, points of view, voices, narrative styles, and so many other things had to be carefully balanced to create a book with nuance; something that would appeal to a wide range of readers. It was a big challenge, but a very important one, I think.

When Ross at Word Horde first approached me, I immediately had a list of authors, if not stories, I wanted to include. Some of them… well, just didn’t happen. Which meant that the book I’d originally envisioned had to evolve and take on a new shape. I couldn’t be happier with the end result, but I wasn’t exactly prepared for the winding path it took to get there.

4: Everything carries a risk, but when you bring gender into it, the risk factor only increases

Fright into Flight was never intended to upset anyone. It wasn’t meant to be a ‘#&%* you!’ to the editors of Fright or Flight, even though the all male table of contents of that book is what inspired it. It was meant as a way for me to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. To take charge and fix something I saw as broken… but we can’t control the way people will take things, and we can’t change the perceptions of someone who has already passed judgement on something if they aren’t willing to listen.

While the response to the anthology has been overwhelmingly positive overall (including my first ever Publishers Weekly review!) there have been some rather… unpleasant, shall we say? Comments. I’ve been called names and worse over this. And I probably should have expected it, but I didn’t. I saw this endeavor as a good thing. Leave it to the internet to burst bubbles like they were wrapping a lead vase from Amazon.

5: The horror community is amazing.

Maybe this one is cheating, since I already knew that… but putting this anthology together, and the reception it has gotten so far (and it isn’t even out yet!) has been truly incredible. The amount of support, motivation, love, and positivity has made me all the more sure that horror is, and always will be, my home.

Thank you to everyone involved, from contributors to reviewers to people who have preordered the book or shared the news on social media. I couldn’t have done this without you.

I hope you’ll consider preordering Fright into Flight!

This Is Horror and Publishers Weekly rave reviews for The Human Alchemy, PW reviews Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales

Michael Griffin’s new collection The Human Alchemy is out now, and picking up rave reviews, like these from This Is Horror and Publishers Weekly:

The Human Alchemy is a thing of beauty, a showcase for a writer who is in possession of a startling array of skills. Clean yet lyrical prose, a drive to explore what story can do and become, and a real sense of an artist following his muse. Though each piece is distinctive and original, there are obvious links and thematic resonances across the varied narratives; realities that crumble, dreams intruding on waking life, unreliable narrators and memories, cults, esoteric books and artefacts, the search for the numinous, for something beyond cold, solid reality. That he manages all this while still presenting the reader with examinations of characters and lives that are recognisable and realistic, ordinary and—at least initially—grounded, is a testament to his talents.” —This Is Horror

“These works challenge the reader to consider worlds of alternate and potentially transcendent possibilities that impinge upon our own. […] [Griffin’s] stories are fantastical and horrific, and their outcomes are refreshingly unpredictable.” —Publishers Weekly

The Human Alchemy by Michael Griffin

And Orrin Grey’s forthcoming collection Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales has picked up a PW review as well:

“In this career-spanning collection, Grey (Painted Monsters and Other Strange Beasts) assembles 14 peculiar tales of horror into a veritable smorgasbord of horrific thrills and chills. […] This collection is a must-read for hardcore fans of horror…” –Publishers Weekly

Order The Human Alchemy today. Preorders for Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales coming soon!

72-Hour Shirley Jackson Award Finalist Coupon

Congratulations to all the winners in this year’s Shirley Jackson Awards. We had two books nominated, Nadia Bulkin’s collection She Said Destroy and Ross E. Lockhart’s anthology Tales from a Talking Board, and while neither book took the prize in its category, we are honored to have received this recognition, and to have been included among so many talented authors and remarkable books.

In the spirit of Shirley Jackson, we’d like to celebrate our finalists by offering you a 20% off coupon, good on both She Said Destroy and Tales from a Talking Board, through Wednesday, July 18. Just use coupon code igotarock on checkout and save.

TOC Reveal – Preorder Amber Fallon’s anthology Fright Into Flight

Coming September 4, 2018: Fright Into Flight

From the earliest depictions of winged goddesses to the delicate, paperwinged fairies of the Victorians, from valiant Valkyries to cliff-dwelling harpies, from record-setting pilots to fearless astronauts, women have long since claimed their place in the skies, among the clouds and beyond.

Word Horde presents Fright Into Flight, the debut anthology from Amber Fallon (The Terminal, The Warblers), in which women take wing. In these stories connected by the unifying thread of flight, authors including Damien Angelica Walters, Christine Morgan, and Nadia Bulkin have spread their wings and created terrifying visions of real life angels, mystical journeys, and the demons that lurk inside us all. Whether you like your horror quiet and chilling or more in-your-face and terrifying, there’s something here for every horror fan to enjoy.

You’re in for a bumpy ride… So fasten your seatbelt, take note of the emergency exits, hold on to your airsick bag, and remember that this book may be used as a flotation device in the event of a crash landing.

Fright Into Flight edited by Amber Fallon

Table of Contents:
Introduction – Amber Fallon
The Floating Girls: A Documentary — Damien Angelica Walters
I Did it for the Art – Izzy Lee
Wilderness – Letitia Trent
The Silk Angel – Christine Morgan
Cargo – Desirina Boskovich
Consent – Nancy Baker
Bruja – Kathryn Ptacek
I am No Longer – Nancy Kilpatrick
Faceless – Shannon Lawrence
Every Angel – Gemma Files
Cosmic Bruja – Leza Cantoral
With the Beating of Their Wings – Martel Sardina
Deathside – Allyson Bird
Thlush-a-lum – Rebecca Gomez Farrell
The Fallen – Pamela Jeffs
And When She Was Bad – Nadia Bulkin

Preorder your copy of Fright Into Flight today. Only from Word Horde.

Publishers Weekly reviews David Peak’s Corpsepaint

Publishers Weekly reviews David Peak’s apocalyptic black metal novel Corpsepaint this week, calling it a “visceral, folkloric horror tale” and saying, “Peak uses nightmarish imagery, slowly building a sense of brooding, creeping dread. No one is innocent in Peak’s carnival of horrors, and readers hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel won’t find it, but those who appreciate moody, nihilistic horror will be rewarded.” Read the full review at this link.

Corpsepaint by David Peak

Other recent reviews of Corpsepaint include the following:

“David Peak captures the apocalyptic tension gripping the world today, one that is also expressed on several levels by the microcosm he has chosen to focus on: black metal.” —Invisible Oranges

“…a novel which throbs in astonishing levels of darkness right until its brutal and shocking apocalyptic ending, which fits uncomfortably within the broken world of today. A truly outstanding novel.” —HorrorTalk

“To anyone who enjoys bleak, innovative tales of impending anti-cosmic evil, this is a pretty sure bet.” —Aaron Besson

Have you read Corpsepaint yet? We’d love to hear what you think: Post a review, share a link, make a recommendation. Help us spread the weird!

Preorder Michael Griffin’s new collection, The Human Alchemy

Heralded as one of the leading voices in contemporary weird fiction, Michael Griffin returns with his second collection, The Human Alchemy. Here you will find eleven magnificent tales of the strange and sublime, the familiar and the disquieting, where dreamlike beauty and breathtaking horror intertwine. Featuring an introduction by S.P. Miskowski.

Cover art by Jarek Kubicki. Cover Design by Scott R Jones.

The Human Alchemy by Michael Griffin

“Every story in The Human Alchemy is a finely-wrought tapestry, containing many shades of darkness and light. Michael Griffin deftly weaves together threads of loss, mysticism, and creeping fear to create a truly remarkable collection. His tales usher the reader through the familiar world, then reveals to them the infinite.” –Richard Gavin, author of Sylvan Dread

“Griffin’s characters often live in the aftermath of loss and, deeply wounded, they search for something to make them whole or to make them feel the world is not an arbitrary place. From cult followers awaiting enlightenment, to believers in mystical texts, to a mathematician who tries to formulate the structure of the world, to a woman who thinks she’s entering a threesome but ends up getting (and losing) so much more, Griffin’s characters pursue the lure of enlightenment into places that are very dark indeed–and once they’re inside, chances are they won’t be able to get out. A strong collection that makes us understand the weird in a powerful new way.” –Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses

“Michael Griffin’s The Human Alchemy is fine art dripping slime from another dimension. This is cool, strange, creepy, elegant fiction. Think Iceberg Slim in a tailor-made Italian suit channeling the best of Lovecraft while dragging it, kicking and screaming, into our time. Throw in crackling dialogue and an Escher-like ability to bend time and space while forging new realities and what you have is a collection that cements Griffin as one of the most stylish, unique, and entertaining voices in contemporary weird fiction.” –Gabino Iglesias, author of Zero Saints

“Michael Griffin’s The Human Alchemy reveals a multifoliatedly arcane world hidden beneath the surface of our own mundane one, riddling it with hell-holes, quicksand and potential ecstatic ruin. His stories snag and drown readers by degrees, fast or slow, every sequence a new section of reef lying in wait for unwary navigators, especially those trained to expect the usual horror tropes. In other words, damn this stuff is Weird.” –Gemma Files, author of Experimental Film

Preorder your copy of The Human Alchemy today.

She Said Destroy and Tales from a Talking Board nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award

Big news this week: Two Word Horde titles, Nadia Bulkin’s collection She Said Destroy and Ross E. Lockhart’s anthology Tales from a Talking Board have both been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. Needless to say, we are honored to have received this recognition, and to be included among so many talented authors and remarkable books. Read the full list of nominees here.

In other news, David Peak’s black metal novel Corpsepaint has been reviewed by This Is Horror, who say, “Bleak is a word used to describe so many releases within the horror and dark fiction worlds… With Corpsepaint, David Peak seeks to raise the bar in the reader’s understanding of what bleak really means.” Read the full review at this link.

And an interview with David Peak is featured this week at Hellnotes, where he talks about the origins of Corpsepaint, black metal, misanthropy, and Romanticism (among other things). Read the full interview here.

Fright Into Flight coming this fall, an open call, and Corpsepaint is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world…

This fall, Word Horde will be releasing Fright Into Flight, an anthology of horror stories by women themed around the idea of flight, edited by Amber Fallon. Whether you’re flying the unfriendly skies or safe on the ground, we think you’re going to enjoy this turbulent ride. Here’s a peek at the cover…

From the earliest depictions of winged goddesses to the delicate, paper-winged fairies of the Victorians, from valiant Valkyries to cliff-dwelling harpies, from record-setting pilots to fearless astronauts, women have long since claimed their place in the skies, among the clouds and beyond.

Word Horde presents Fright Into Flight, the debut anthology from Amber Fallon (The Terminal, The Warblers), in which women take wing. In these stories connected by the unifying thread of flight, authors including Damien Angelica Walters, Christine Morgan, and Nadia Bulkin have spread their wings and created terrifying visions of real life angels, mystical journeys, and the demons that lurk inside us all. Whether you like your horror quiet and chilling or more in-your-face and terrifying, there’s something here for every horror fan to enjoy.

You’re in for a bumpy ride..So fasten your seatbelt, take note of the emergency exits, hold on to your airsick bag, and remember that this book may be used as a flotation device in the event of a crash landing.

Amber Fallon has picked a great lineup of stories for Fright Into Flight so far, and we’ll be opening up preorders soon, but for now, we’re looking for a few more stories to fill in the gaps. As Amber says, “I want stories with wings and teeth, I want fear, I want heartbreak, I want depravity and darkness. I want to read things that will make me afraid to look up into the sky. The interpretation of the theme ‘flight’ is really up to you. You can go more traditional and give me stories of airports, airplanes, and demons on the wing or you could stretch it and offer tales of winged harpies, space crafts, flying beasts, angels, demons, or anything in between. The ideal story would be between 2,000 and 5,000 words in length.” If you’re a woman who has the right stuff, reprint or original, please drop Amber a line at amber[at]amberfallon[dot]net. This open call closes Monday, May 14, 2018, so move with the speed of Nike if you want your story to be considered.

We’ve also just released David Peak’s black metal horror novel Corpsepaint onto the world. Here’s just some of the press Corpsepaint has received so far…

“If you live and breathe both black metal and literary horror, this book is a gift.” –CVLT Nation

“An icy hymn to apocalypses both cosmic and personal, David Peak’s novel is as savage and grim as the music of Darkthrone, but also as intricate and otherworldly as that of Emperor. A black metal masterpiece…” –Ginger Nuts of Horror

“I loved Corpsepaint. I love black metal, I love cosmic horror. This book is a match made in heaven (or should that be Hell?!) for me.” –The Grim Reader

“Cosmic-pessimism is Peak’s speciality, and when you combine that with the brutal aggression of a black metal band recording an album with a strange cult act, you know things are going to get pretty weird.” –This Is Horror

Corpsepaint is best read at maximum volume. Ask for Corpsepaint wherever better books are sold, or order direct from Word Horde today.

Cover Reveal: CORPSEPAINT, by David Peak

COMING WALPURGISNACHT–April 30, 2018–from David Peak (The Spectacle of the Void) comes Corpsespaint, a novel of black metal brutality, human malevolence, and pure cosmic horror.

Corpsepaint by David Peak

It’s been years since the groundbreaking debut of black metal band Angelus Mortis, and that first album, Henosis, has become a classic of the genre, a harrowing primal scream of rage and anger. With the next two albums, Fields of Punishment and Telos, Angelus Mortis cemented a reputation for uncompromising, aggressive music, impressing critics and fans alike. But the road to success is littered with temptation, and over the next decade, Angelus Mortis’s leader, Max, better known as Strigoi, became infamous for bad associations and worse behavior, burning through side-men and alienating fans.

Today, at the request of their record label, Max and new drummer Roland are traveling to Ukraine to record a comeback album with the famously reclusive cult act Wisdom of Silenus. What they discover when they get there will go far deeper than the aesthetics of the genre, and the music they create–antihuman, antilife–ultimately becomes a weapon unto itself.

Equally inspired by the fractured, nightmarish novels of John Hawkes, the blackened dreamscapes of cosmic-pessimist philosophy, and the music of second-wave black metal bands, author David Peak’s Corpsepaint is an exploration of creative people summoning destructive powers while struggling to express what it means to be human.

Here’s some of the praise David Peak’s Corpsepaint has received so far:

Corpsepaint is an imaginative, doom-laden foray into the contested domain coupling black metal’s disabused hostility to liberal-capitalist ideology with an ethereal and perforce transgressive henosis of hate.”
—Edia Connole, co-author of Floating Tomb: Black Metal Theory

“Novels about rock bands are usually just that: novels about rock bands: depictions, imitations. Peak’s Corpsepaint is much more than that. It captures the dark spirit, howling aesthetic and nihilistic philosophy of black metal and makes it the motor of the fiction. A grim and unforgiving book that steps deeply into the darkness and invites you to follow.”
—Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses

“Beautifully, wonderfully, tragically dismal! Thought provoking horror that reaches deep inside you, rips out your still-beating heart, then asks you to consider what it means.”
—Amber Fallon, author of The Warblers

“Sliding into darkness and doom like a tourbus on black ice, Corpsepaint starts harder and darker than most poser potboilers finish, with a true metalhead’s understanding that the real demons of nihilistic aggression and self-destruction are more diabolical than anything Tipper Gore thought she heard playing Stained Class backwards. When the amoral engine of metal madness reveals its true philosophy and purpose, the grimy walls falls away and the intimate green-room misery becomes a coldly glorious symphony of cosmic horror. Get in the pit with this one. You won’t want to come out… and it won’t let you.”
—Cody Goodfellow, Wonderland Award-winning author of All-Monster Action and Sleazeland

“A work of true cosmic horror set in the death-tinged world of the black metal scene. Peak drags the reader below ground to confront forces seeking to spread a powerful, ancient darkness. Corpsepaint is a bleak, terrifying ride.“
—Michael Griffin, author of The Human Alchemy

“This book is brutal in the way only stoner metalheads can say the word. But it’s also brutal in the way only real lived human suffering is. Total, unending and strangely life affirming if you can manage to walk away from its wreckage in any way intact. Corpsepaint bludgeons the senses with an eerie alchemy of occult dread, jackbooted human malevolence and surprisingly affecting sorrow. The spell cast here by Peak perfectly conjures up a sensation of being lost on a winter night in the woods and knowing that something ancient and inhuman watches your every step, marking you as trespasser and seeing you for what you know you truly are: alone.”
—Tony McMillen, author of An Augmented Fourth

“Gripping and mythic, bleak in a way that makes nihilism look cozy; if there’s a darker metal than black, this book is it.”
—Christine Morgan, author of The Raven’s Table

Corpsepaint is a bleak descent into the romance of drugs, decay, the occult, and black metal. This one will stay with you like the voice of a choir singing from the surface of long dead distant planets.”
—Christopher Slatsky, author of Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales

Order your copy of Corpsepaint today!

Eternal Frankenstein Trade Paperback

2018 marks the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Shelley’s groundbreaking novel, Frankenstein. This February, Word Horde releases tribute anthology Eternal Frankenstein in a colorful new trade paperback edition, featuring cover art by Patrick Jones. This anthology, edited by Ross E. Lockhart, features sixteen original tales of terror and wonder by Siobhan Carroll, Nathan Carson, Autumn Christian, Rios de la Luz, Kristi DeMeester, G. D. Falksen, Orrin Grey, Michael Griffin, Scott R. Jones, Anya Martin, Edward Morris, Amber-Rose Reed, Betty Rocksteady, Tiffany Scandal, David Templeton, and Damien Angelica Walters. Preorder your copy today, or ask for Eternal Frankenstein by name where better books are sold. Here’s just some of the critical acclaim Eternal Frankenstein has received so far:

Eternal Frankenstein edited by Ross E Lockhart

“Ross E. Lockhart and Word Horde have a reputation for putting out some wonderful anthologies, among those are The Book of Cthulhu and Giallo Fantastique. Eternal Frankenstein shines alongside them with an intensely dark and beautifully macabre mix of tales. This anthology is dedicated to Mary, and her monster. The writing within is a true testament to the love shared for the classic penned by Shelley, even after so many years have passed her inspiration endures. Each story is its own take on the making of monsters, the defiance of god and the realization that death can be more than an ending. […] For fans of not only the original monster but those also seeking tales what lies beyond death, from the far away corners of Russia to Hollywood to alternate futures and even your ordinary neighborhood, these stories and characters are sewn together to create one hell of an exquisite monster.” —This Is Horror

“This is an anthology of stories that all pay tribute to the Mary Shelley creation. Be it the doctor or his creation, these stories explore many differing interpretations and shades of creation and god complex. Ross E. Lockhart has done a fantastic job of corralling a wonderful selection of intriguing tales, all warming themselves around the same fire. […] I can easily recommend this book, it would make for a most enjoyable winter read, in a drafty castle as one nestles by a roaring fire.” —Ginger Nuts of Horror

Eternal Frankenstein is best read a couple of stories at a time. While the themes and motifs overlap a bit, each author builds a new and fresh creation out of the flesh and blood of monster movies and tales past. Frankenstein transcended the boundaries of life and death and, as this book proves, his legacy—and that of Mary Shelley, his own creator—will live on eternal.” —Muzzleland Press

“Lockhart is an insightful and meticulous editor who often picks stories that seem to be in dialogue with each other. […] Like a good selection, there is a type of horror story for every horror reader. If you like Frankenstein, if you wonder about the capability, and morality, of humans creating human life, you should check out Eternal Frankenstein.” —Fantasy Literature

“Here’s another smash hit from Word Horde … an entire book of new, diverse, wonderfully creepy takes on the classic original tale that launched basically an entire genre.” –Christine Morgan, author of The Raven’s Table

Order your copy of the Eternal Frankenstein trade paperback today!

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