Monday, October 26, 2020

Hosho McCreesh's Guide to Books & Booze / Fall Edition


Time to grab a book and get tipsy!!!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

However, I'm breaking my own rules because 2020 has been a literal shitshow and covid threw a nasty wrench in so many small press authors and publisher's plans for their book releases. So we're saying FUCK IT and just throwing all the booze at all of the books for the hell of it!

Welcome to the boozey Fall Edition!!!

Today, we welcome Hosho McCreesh as he shares some insight into his drunk poetry slash gutter autobiography, and by god it's all doused in a delightful amount of alcohol!!! Check it out...

Five Truths: 

A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst - Unabridged Audio


A Truth: drinking is great...when it's great. And it's terrible when it's terrible. It has a value that is difficult to quantify -- and a price that's sometimes all too easy to see and feel.


It contains multitudes, as ol' Uncle Walt might say.


And so do we.


This was always what the book was after.


Another truth: this book has been incorrectly categorized. It's drunk poetry, sure, but it's something else entirely. It's gutter-autobiography in free verse, it's memoir splashing about in the bloody dregs. The book is a drunken heart blown open -- wide as a busted bunker crater.


More truth: I can't hardly drink like I used to. I can't even really drink as much as I maybe want to. Life is cruel like that. Just as soon as you find a way to save things that are otherwise lost, the world conspires to strip those meager comforts away. It's not fair, sure, but at least it encourages us to constantly seek out new salvations.


The penultimate truth: I made the audio version of A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst mainly for myself. The 36 other readers on the project are family, friends, and folks I admire. Hearing their readings, their takes, many of them not just reading but remembering while they do -- that's the juice, man...the real loot. It's a kind of official record scratched out...the DrunkSkull Scrolls. It's a mythology forever linked with my tiny little pedestrian experiences with death and love -- which is to say my own redemption. To have these recordings down and done and saved and stored means I will always have at least 3 and a half hours of pure, mad heart and pain and madness and joy at my fingertips...and what else are we supposed to do with these little lives we;ve been given? Our time on this hurtling rock should be spent saving all we can, remembering all the gut-laughs and the gulags. save our hearts and lives and help however me might.


This was one way I could help.


The final truth: goddammit, we gotta laugh. As hard as this life can sometimes be, as much shit as we're sometimes made to swallow, to survive -- an undefeated laugh to the heavens and the stars is a kind of cheapjack invincibility -- one we can all afford. It's telling those capricious gods that, despite their lunatic machinations, they can't take it all...that our hearts will fight and refuse to keep quiet. 


And A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst is one of our sad and heartbroken and swilling, fighting, cackling war songs.


As for a drink to accompany: as I said, I can't get tore up like before. Instead, I tend toward a quick and simple sip. I stick a bottle of Casamigos in the freezer until it gets snowflakes. Then I pour out a tall measure in a frozen double-shot glass. It sheets over with a frosty film and the hot pads of my fingertips leave cataracted eyes such that I might stare into the soul of the drink itself...and maybe chuckle along with a few drunk poems, read by a bunch of gorgeous accents, while I go. 


And I invite all you kindred spirits to join me.


Purchase Link: Author Website


For your listening pleasure, 

Sample some of the drunk poems below!!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Joan Schweighardt's Guide to Books & Booze / Fall Edition


Time to grab a book and get tipsy!!!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

However, I'm breaking my own rules because 2020 has been a literal shitshow and covid threw a nasty wrench in so many small press authors and publisher's plans for their book releases. So we're saying FUCK IT and just throwing all the booze at all of the books for the hell of it!

Welcome to the boozey Fall Edition!!!

Today, we welcome Joan Schweighardt to throw all the booze at her upcoming release River Aria!

Ready to get your small press books and booze on???


River Aria begins in Manaus, Brazil, in the year 1928. Manaus was a hotspot during the South American rubber boom, but once the boom ended (rather abruptly, in 1912), all the greedy rubber barons ran back to Europe, leaving behind the fishing community that was there before they ever descended on the place.


Good riddance!


Yes, the people of Manaus were poor, but they knew how to party. Their drink of preference was (and still is) Caipirinha, which is made with cachaça, a Brazilian spirit extracted from sugarcane juice.


When I visited Manaus, our river guide, Carlos the Jaguar, made Caipirinha onboard the boat while we traveled on the Amazon and Rio Negro. He didn’t measure anything, so the recipe went like this:


·       Lots of limes, halved and squeezed by hand

·       Lots of white sugar

·       Lots of cachaça

·       Ice

·       Put it all in an oversized jar and shake well.


If you happen to be drinking it on land, drag the furniture out of the way, roll up the rugs, bring in the musicians with their cavaquinhos, violas and pandeiros, and spend the night dancing lundos on the wood floors.


While River Aria starts in Manaus, over the course of the novel the two main characters, Estela and JoJo, travel to New York—where they encounter Prohibition! No worries, JoJo finds a job working for the owner of a speakeasy. Though it takes him until the middle of the book to understand why, his first job is to paint two boats to look exactly alike, including painting the same names along both starboards.


One thing JoJo learns early on: when the boss says, What’ll you have to drink? ask for Dewar’s. Otherwise who knows what you’ll get. Bootleggers thought nothing of selling watered-down whiskey—or even moonshine or industrial alcohol mixed with fruit juices or Coca-Cola to disguise the taste. Some of that stuff could kill you! Really! If you wanted to stay safe, you asked for Dewar’s.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Indie Spotlight: Meg Pokrass

Welcome to our Indie Spotlight series. In which TNBBC gives small press authors the floor to shed some light on their writing process, publishing experiences, or whatever else they'd like to share with you, the readers!

Today, we welcome Meg Pokrass, who is celebrating the release of her novella-in-flash The Loss Detector

She's sharing some thoughts on acting, writing, and flash fiction.

Thoughts about Flashing and Acting



I have heard the late Gene Wilder speak about why he became a comedic actor—how it was tied directly to his strong desire to entertain his depressed mother. How wanting and doing that made him a veteran entertainer, but deep down, he was a shy and melancholy person.


Like Wilder I learned to live through self-expression from a very early age as a way to combat my own disabling shyness. I grew up with a single mother who was overworked and stressed. I felt it was my job in the world to entertain her and to cheer her up. Acting was in my family. My big sister, Sian Barbara Allen, was a film and TV actress, and I wanted nothing more than to follow in her footsteps.


I believe my process as a writer is similar to what I learned while being a young actor.

I unknowingly developed writing tools while studying theatre; reading great plays (memorizing and performing lines) by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, Wendy Wasserstein, Muriel Spark. This helped me develop a love of the rhythm and music in language as well as interest in character motivation.


I fell in love with the idea that there is a world underneath what is said. As with becoming a character, writing flash fiction involves skilfully working with the mysterious quality of absence. As the actor will focus a good deal on what happened right before the scene and on what happened many years ago to make this character who they are today— and so will the writer. The actor makes use of what isn’t said from the minute a scene begins. Both forms involve conjuring emotional logic and thinking about a character’s unresolved emotional and physical needs and what isn’t said is the key to believability. 



Flash fiction plots are not the typical plots of other forms of fiction: they are internal and psychological. In other words, the character tries to make sense of life and takes the reader with her on this journey and THAT itself is the plot. Something must change in the course of of a story or longer treatment, leading to a quiet shift in a character’s way of being in the world.


It’s hard to create true-feeling stories in which very little is explained— but I love the challenge of telling as little as possible, showing it through odd details, holding out when it helps to story to be quiet, and letting the underlying truth of the story push it way out. I marvel at how good flash fiction engages the reader as a co-conspirator, as if we’re peeling the onion of the story together, hunting for the truth at the core.


The movement of a story is, after all, determined by what came before it. Communicating this feeling of backstory without telling is part of our job. If we’re leaving it out entirely, the reader must be able to pick up its scent. The best way to engage a reader’s trust is to trust them. The trick involves getting out of the way.


Often my own writing dances around the concepts of sex and/or death. I don’t mean that characters are having sex or dying all over the place. My favorite acting teacher used to say it this way: “Your job is to find the sex or the death in every scene. This is where pathos lives.”



In “The Loss Detector”, I created a collage of imaginary moments, based on my own memories from times that stuck with me mysteriously. Moments that changed me. What I did is something I think of as “patch-working” like one does in making a crazy quilt—pulling out disjointed bits from various earlier prose poems or stories and stitching them loosely together. Part of the joy in this process for me is in figuring out how stories that may have been about different characters were actually about the same character all along—how they always belonged together. I used this technique in both “The Loss Detector” and with “Here, Where We Live” from the Rose Metal Press.


In terms of ordering the chapters, in “The Loss Detector”, there is the chronological arc of a girl growing up. The piece begins when Nikki is eight years old and ends when she is fifteen. The overall effect is a sense of a character’s life through seemingly random moments. There was some mix-tape blending involved in this process, and I like to think about ordering chapters like listening to a favorite record album. I talk about that ordering of chapters in depth in my craft essay for the Rose Metal Press collection “My Very End of the Universe – Five Novellas in Flash and a Study of the Form, and that essay has been reprinted here.


I believe that flash must contain dramatic urgency and there must be attention to emotionally accurate detail. There are elements of this form, about how a writer gets there, that remain mysterious to me and this is one reason I love it. When flash fiction is successful what you are reading is weirdly compelling—compelling in a way that can’t intellectually defined. It must hold some powerful, unspoken, emotional truth living inside of it. Flash fiction must seduce the reader and as with theatre, it must entertain. Falling in love with a flash fiction story is not something you need to talk yourself into.


It’s useful to keep in mind that in fiction and theatre we tend to root for characters who are finding ways to cope with difficult circumstances, not sitting around and wallowing in despair. I’m a strong believer that big life changes originate out of seemingly small, unconscious observations and/or shifting awareness toward a situational reality. This has always been true for me. When creating “The Loss Detector” I became blind to the rest of the world… it was like being in love.



With Richard Thomas when I was very young

Meg is the author of six flash fiction collections, an award-winning collection of prose poetry, two novellas-in-flash  and a new collection of microfiction, Spinning to Mars recipient of the Blue Light Book Award in 2020. Her work has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines including Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Waxwing, Smokelong Quarterly, McSweeney's has been anthologized in New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018), Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015) and The Best Small Fictions 2018 and 2019. She serves as Founding Co-Editor, along with Gary Fincke, of Best Microfiction. Meg Pokrass’ new novella-in-flash, “The Loss Detector” will be available in October, 2020, from Bamboo Dart Press.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Where Writers Write: Lenore H. Gay

 Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Lenore H. Gay. 

Lenore is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor. She ran a private counseling practice for ten years and later served as the Coordinator of the Internship Program at the Rehabilitation Counseling Department, Virginia Commonwealth University. The Virginia Center for Creative Arts (VCCA) has awarded her two writing fellowships. Her short story “The Hobo” won first place in a fiction contest hosted by Richmond’s Style Weekly. Her essay “Mistresses of Magic” was published in the anthology, IN PRAISE OF OUR TEACHERS (Beacon Press). Another essay, “My First Mentor” was published in the anthology “US AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S” (Arcade Publishing). For three years she served on the steering committee of the RVALitCrawl. For many years she volunteered as a reader and editor at Blackbird, An Online Journal for Literature & the Arts. She is an active member of James River Writers. Gay’s debut novel, SHELTER OF LEAVES, (She Writes Press) was a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, OTHER FIRES, (She Writes Press) will be published in October, 2020. Currently she is working on a new novel. Find her online at

Where Lenore H Gay Writes

My writing room is where I spend the most time. I didn’t install a phone in this room, if I’m writing I often ignore the ringing from the kitchen or down the hall. This small room has the best outdoors view. I look out onto a small red maple and at my window yellow/white flowers that resemble pom poms, further out is a mini garden, the stars there are the white peonies. The dogs and their walkers stop to look at the big blooms. The dogs leave their calling cards. Yet the peonies have managed to survive and return the next spring.  

            The two file cabinets, two drawers each, hold my writing and office files. The other day I decided it was shredding time again. I don’t have room for another file cabinet, and that’s probably a good thing. Love my wall to ceiling built-in bookcase. Three smaller bookcases hold poetry, nonfiction, dictionaries and many books on writing craft. The fiction books live in the living room. Recently I culled the fiction again and donated three grocery bags of books to a local bookseller.


            Three paintings hang in my writing room. The largest, left of my desk, is my daughter’s stunning, colorful abstract. One of a series she has been working on. When I look at it, I imagine autumn leaves. On the right side of my desk is the final watercolor my father painted. He finished this small piece while looking at the ocean from the porch of our rented beach cottage. He was eight-six, in the early stages of dementia. The watercolor has a softer pallet and less details than his other work. My brother’s pink and purple abstract watercolor hangs on the other wall above two smaller bookcases. It’s a joyful piece and resembles some of Daddy’s abstracts.

In the hallway I can look at a large portrait of Daddy painted by an artist friend, to the left is a charcoal portrait of Mother done by an art school friend. On the right is my grandmother’s self-portrait, done in oils when she was about twenty-five.

*all photos by Sasha Gay Overstreet

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Lancelot Schaubert's Would You Rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, this series is a fun, new, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20ish odd bookish scenarios....


Would you rather write an entire book with your feet or with your tongue?

I've already written short stories with my feet and journalled with my feet, so my feet. Though I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue. I was told in the 5th grade that this would make me a good kisser. They didn't, however, tell me that being an overly melancholy hopeless romantic would repel most girls rather than attract them, so kind of a horse before the cart skill, all told. 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

I really don't care, as long as it's the truest, best, most beautiful work I can write. As long as it's really real, that's all I care about. Is the money the same? Then moderate sales is great because it's continuous. If the bestseller is traditional and I can get paid in undervalued shares of the parent company, then that. Or paid in a downmarket. See this is the problem with asking about sales: books aren't about sales, first and formost. Keep the wealth, the power, the pleasure, the honor, the fame. I want to be wise and good and a beautiful soul.

Would you rather be a well known author now or be considered a literary genius after you’re dead?

Neither. I'd rather my name rot in obscurity, but the work live on and change people for teh better.

Would you rather write a book without using conjunctions or have every sentence of your book begin with one?

"...and I never really understood why authors didn't start with more conjunctions. But I suppose it's a personal preference thing, though some seem to forget how well it can be done. For other authors in times goneby have written this way. Nor did they write poorly. So well did the conjunctions shape their prose. Yet even now, folks run from conjunctions at the start of sentences. Or at least let them languish in obscurity..."

I could go on with coordinating ones, but I doubt you want 1,000 words on the matter.

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

This is very difficult for me. Insanely difficult. I have an auditory processing issue so audio noise stresses me out more than most. But I also see my skin as a one-of-a-kind living canvas and a tattoo to be a one-of-a-kind commission on that canvas. So I've yet to see a tattoo that's worthy. If it could be hand tapped by Samoans whom I had earned the right to be called "chief" as did my friend Roger Andruss (only white man I'm aware of to become a chief and get the tattoos) AND if this is the platonic IDEAL of the novel, then sure. My skin. Otherwise I'd be tortured auditorily for the sake of my own moral and aesthetic code.

Would you rather write a book you truly believe in and have no one read it or write a crappy book that comprises everything you believe in and have it become an overnight success?

The former, obviously. The world has enough commodity and propoganda.

Would you rather write a plot twist you hated or write a character you hated?

If by "hate" you mean "disappointed by," the twist. If by "hate" you mean "have a severe negative emotional reaction to so that you nearly wish them ill" then the character.

Would you rather use your skin as paper or your blood as ink?

I have written with my blood before. It replenishes much quicker than skin. So blood. Though I have vaso vago, so I'd likely pass out after the first pint.

Would you rather become a character in your novel or have your characters escape the page and reenact the novel in real life?

BELL HAMMERS and my universe THE VALE features both me as a character and characters escaping the novel, but I prefer the former.

Would you rather write without using punctuation and capitalization or without using words that contained the letter E?

The former. I'm a student of Koine, Ionic, and Hebrew which all feature the former and don't bother me. The former doesn't bother McCarthy and the latter doesn't bother e.e. cummings.

Would you rather have schools teach your book or ban your book?

Both. Ban it and then teach why it was banned, in cycles.

Would you rather be forced to listen to Ayn Rand bloviate for an hour or be hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas?

I'd rather get hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas who's trying to avoid Ayn Rand who's been hitting on him. I'd also like to hear her bloviate if I'm allowed to dialog because maybe — maybe — a Socratic dialog would undo much of the terrifying nonsense she produced.

Would you rather be reduced to speaking only in haiku or be capable of only writing in haiku?

If it's Japanese haiku and there are no line breaks, I pretty much do that in description anyways. Japanese haiku (non-syllabic, but "on" and morae based) and Old English alliterative meter are separated by a hair's breadth and to prove it, I'll make a haiku out of English cliches:

black and blue
babe in the woods
weathers storm

That's a japanese haiku, 1.5 feet in an Old English alliterative meter (unless the middle starts and ends one, then it's two), and it's three cliches. So we talk like this and write like this all the time in English. I'll point to Chesterton on alliteration:

A very sympathetic reviewer said that I used too much alliteration; and quoted Mr. T.S. Eliot (see apology in Introduction) as saying that such a style maddened him to the point of unendurance; and a similar criticism of my English was made, I think, by another American writer, Mr. Cuthbert Wright.  Now I think, on fair consideration, that it is perfectly true that I do use a great deal too much alliteration.  The only question on which these gentlemen and I would probably differ is a question of degree; a question of the exact importance or necessity of avoiding alliteration.  For I do strongly maintain that it is a question of avoiding alliteration — and even that phrase does not avoid it! If an English writer does not avoid it, he is perpetually dragged into it when speaking rapidly or writing a great deal, by the whole trend and current of the English speech; perhaps that is why the Anglo-Saxon poetry even down to Piers Plowman (which I enjoy hugely) was all alliteration.  Anyhow, the tendency in popular and unconscious speech is quite obvious, in phrases and proverbs and rhymes and catchwords and a thousand things.  Time and tide, wind and water, fire and flood, waste not, want not, bag and baggage, spick and span, black and blue, deaf and dumb, the devil and the deep sea, when the wine is in the wit is out, in for a penny, in for a pound, a pig in a poke, a bee in a bonnet, a bat in a belfry, and so on through a myriad fantastic changes of popular imagery.  What elaborate art, what sleepless cunning even, must these more refined writers employ to dodge this rush of coincidences; and run between the drops of this deluge!  It must be a terrible strain on the presence of mind to be always ready with a synonym.  I can imagine Mr. T.S. Eliot just stopping himself in time, and saying with a refined cough, “Waste not, require not.” I like to think of Mr. Cuthbert Wright, in some headlong moment of American hustle, still having the self-control to cry, “Time and Fluctuation wait for no man!” I can imagine his delicate accent when speaking of a pig in a receptacle or of bats in the campanile.  It is a little difficult perhaps to image the latter critic apparently confining himself to the isolated statement, “Mr. Smith is spick,” while his mind hovered in momentary hesitation about how to vary the corresponding truth that Mr. Smith is span.  But it is quite easy to conceive an advanced modern artist of this school, looking for some sharp and graphic variation in the old colour scheme of black and blue.  Indeed, we might almost invent a sort of colour test, like that which somebody suggested about red grass and green sky as a test of different schools of painting.  We might suggest that Decadents beat people black and yellow, Futurists beat them black and orange, Neo-Victorians beat them black and magenta; but all recoil from the vulgar alliteration of beating them black and blue.  Nor indeed is the reference to these new and varied styles irrelevant.  Some of the more bizarre modern methods seem to me to make it rather difficult to have any fixed criticism at all, either of their style or mine.  Take, for instance, the case of Mr. T.S. Eliot himself.  I recently saw a poem of his praised very highly and doubtless very rightly; though to some extent (it seemed) because it was a poem of profound “disillusionment and melancholy.” But the passage specially quoted for commendation ran, if I remember right:

“the smell of steak in passages.”
That quotation is enough to indicate the difficulty I mean.  For even style of this severe and classic sort is after all to some extent a matter of taste.  It is not a subject for these extreme controversial passions.  If I were to say that the style of that line maddened me to the point of unendurance, I should be greatly exaggerating its effect on the emotions.  I should not like everything to be written in that style; I should not like to wander for ever in passages stuffy with steak (there we go again!) but I cannot think these questions of style are quite so important as these pure stylists suppose.  We must be moderate in our reactions; as in that verse specially headed “The Author’s Moderation” in the Bab Ballad about Pasha Bailey Ben — another great poem written in a tone of melancholy and disillusion.
To say that Bailey oped his eyes
Would feebly paint his great surprise;
To say it almost made him die
Would be to paint it much too high.
I may be allowed to open my eyes for a moment at some of the literary models thus commended to me; but I shall soon close them again in healthful slumber.  And when the more refined critic implies that my own manner of writing almost makes him die, I think he over-estimates my power over life and death.
But I have begun with this personal example of alliteration; because a question like that of alliteration is not so simple as it looks; and the answer to it applies to much more important things than my own journalistic habits.  Alliteration is an example of a thing much easier to condemn in theory than in practice.  There are, of course, many famous examples in which an exaggerated alliteration seems quite wrong.  And yet those are exactly the examples which it would be most difficult for anybody to put right.  Byron (a splendid example of the sort of writer who does not bother much about avoiding anything) did not hesitate to say of his hero at Quatre Bras that he “rushed into the field and foremost fighting fell.” That is so extreme that we might well suppose it described the end of the life and adventures of Peter Piper.  But I will trouble anybody to alter one word in the line so as to make it better; or even so as to make it sense.  Byron used those words because they were the right words; and you cannot alter them without deliberately choosing the wrong words.  This is more often the case in connection with alliteration than many people imagine.  I do not mean to claim any such exalted company when I say that, on this particular point of conduct, I agree with Byron.  But Byron does not stand alone; Coleridge, a person of some culture, could burst out boisterously and without stopping for breath:
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free.
and I do not see that he could have done anything else.  I do not think anybody could interfere with that foaming spate of Fs, if the verse that followed was really “to follow free.”
There is a problem behind all this which is also illustrated in other ways.  It is illustrated in the other much controverted question of puns.  I know all about the judgments regularly cited as if from dusty law-books in the matter.  I know all about the story that Dr. Johnson said, “The man who would make a pun would pick a pocket.” How unlucky that the lexicographer and guardian of our language, in the very act of purging himself of puns, should have plunged so shamelessly deep into the mire of alliteration!  His example, in that very instance, would alone be enough to prove the first part of my case, even when it is brought forward against the second.  Johnson spluttered out all those p’s because he was an Englishman with a sense of the spirit and vigour of the English language; and not a timid prig who had to mind his p’s and q’s by using them in exact alternation with a pattern.  But if it came to the old joke of invoking authorities, it would be equally easy to invoke even greater authorities on the side of the pun.  Also there is something that is more important to my purpose here.  It would not only be easy to quote the puns of the poets; it would be easy to quote the very bad puns of the very good poets.  But the question I wish to ask is wider and more essential than all this hotch-potch of snobbery and legalism and A Hundred Familiar Quotations, which goes to make up the modern invocation of authorities.  I wish to point out that there is a general attitude of mind, which is defensible; or rather two attitudes of mind, which are both defensible.  It is a question of style; but there are here two different styles; because there are two different motives.  If one is now criticising the other, I do not merely wish to retort the criticism; but rather to proclaim liberty for both.
All of that to say, I'm intimidated by neither because when defining haiku properly — by morae — we English speakers do this all the time. To talk or write in another way is to talk awkwardly.

Would you rather be stuck on an island with only the 50 Shades Series or a series in a language you couldn’t read?

The latter. And make it the greatest novel series of all time. Preferably an alien island. Then I'm not only reading a classic, I'm learning a culture through its language. This is the plot of both Out of the Silent Planet and Arrival, both of which understand the fundamental nature of language to thought, both of which 50 Shades arguably destroys.

Would you rather critics rip your book apart publicly or never talk about it at all?

I thrive on public flogging, particularly when I'm allowed to respond graciously to jerks. There are so few classic critics these days.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?

The latter. Brother Lawrence called that "prayer."

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?

My computer can go straight to hell. And that goes for all complex technology with egregiously simple uses. I prefer simple tech with near infinite applications. Pen on the paper. Sword in the stone. Wood in the stove. What sort of spacetravel tech we will invent, I cannot say. But we'll always need tea kettles for tea and baths when the power fails and purifying water we drew from a well. 

Would you rather write an entire novel standing on your tippy-toes or laying down flat on your back?

I have a standing desk, so I've done the former. But I've also written words while bedridden in my bunk bed growing up. So both are good. 

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

Oh gosh, the latter. I've read to empty rooms. But public nudity... I can't do that. I don't kiss and tell. I could barely change in the lockerroom growing up.

Would you rather read a book that is written poorly but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content but is written well? 

I've seen plenty of MFA literature: highly polished turds. On the other hand, George MacDonald's stories have TERRIBLE prose, and yet because of him we have Narnia and Smith of Wooton Major and a slew of other great things: his stories are so mythic, they'll last forever even if his name fades. He's the reason we have the fantasy genre and almost all of the modern tropes go back to him.


Two excerpts of Lancelot Schaubert’s debut novel BELL HAMMERS have sold to The New Haven Review (Yale’s Institute Library) and The Misty Review, while a third excerpt was selected as a finalist for the last Glimmer Train Fiction Open in history. He has sold poetry, fiction, and essays to TOR (MacMillan), The Anglican Theological Review, McSweeney’s, Poker Pro’s World Series Edition, The Poet’s Market, Writer’s Digest, Space and Time, and many similar markets. Spark + Echo chose him for their 2019 artist in residency, commissioning him to write four short stories in addition to the seven they already purchased. He has published work in anthologies like Author in Progress, Harry Potter for Nerds, and Of Gods and Globes — the last of which he edits and has featured stories by Juliet Marillier (whose story was nominated for an Aurealis award), Howard Andrew JonesKaaron WarrenAnne Greenwood BrownDr. Anthony CirillaLJ CohenFC Shultz, and Emily Munro.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Blog Tour: The Cipher


We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title The Cipher by participating in their blog tour. And if you're at all into winning free stuff, they're running a giveaway where you can potentially win a $50 book shopping spree.


For today's stop, author Kathe Koja ruminates on other items that could be dropped into the funhole for... well... funsies!

What belongs in the Funhole?


The Funhole Contest Winners Designs

It’s a hole in the floor of a crappy little nondescript storage room in a crappy and nondescript building. It’s the Funhole, the calm, terrible, inexplicable hole that ignites and drives the story of The Cipher, my latest—and also my first—novel.

A word of explanation: The Cipher was originally published as the lead title for an experimental and ass-kicking line of horror novels back in the day (1991!), and has just been reissued by the mighty Meerkat Press for a (w)hole new generation of readers. But the Funhole, which lies, literally, at the heart of the story, has been there all along.

“It was of no one’s making, not a thing like that . . .Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you looked at it too closely . . . Its edges were downhill, and smooth. They asked for touch.” In the course of the story, every item put into the Funhole by hapless Nicholas and unstoppable Nakota comes back altered in unpredictable ways; I’ll leave it to you, if you’re curious, to find out what those items were, and what they turned into. And what happened to Nicholas and Nakota, and to their interested, greedy, helpless friends.

But what else could they have dropped, or lowered, or introduced into that pulsating dark? What would you put down there? It would be almost impossible not to try. Curiosity is like an itch, it’s hard to stop scratching, once you start.

So how to start? Maybe with something easy, something already in that storage room—a push broom, maybe. Hold the handle, poke the bristles into the hole. But what if something tugs back?

Maybe an empty bottle, or a can? How about a full one? How about a high caliber energy drink? Monster energy, ha ha. If it comes back opened, would take you take a sip?

How about a pocket knife?

How about a bread knife?

How about a gutting knife?

How about your phone? Would you want it close to your face, afterward? What if there are photos on it, now, that you never took?

Or how about a book? Would the pages come back wet? or singed? or bare of words? Or with an entirely new story inside? And what would happen to you if you read it, if you put that story inside your mind?

Curiosity is a terrible thing.

Have fun.



Released 9/15/20
Horror | Dark Fantasy

Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Awards, finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and named one of's "Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm." With a new afterword by Maryse Meijer, author of Heartbreaker and Rag.

"Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive." When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. "Wouldn't it be wild to go down there?" says Nakota. Nicholas says, "We're not." But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.

Buy Links: Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive events. Her work has won awards and been multiply translated and optioned for film. Her most recent books are VELOCITIES: STORIES and THE CIPHER, from Meerkat Press.  

Author Links: Website | Twitter


Friday, September 18, 2020

Where Writers Write: Wile E. Young

 Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Wile E. Young.

Wile is from Texas, where he grew up surrounded by stories of ghosts and monsters. During his writing career he has managed to both have a price put on his head and publish his southern themed horror stories. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in History, which provided no advantage or benefit during his years as an aviation specialist and I.T. guru.

Wile and Stephen Kozeniewski recently collaborated on the horror novel The Perfectly Fine House, released this past March with Grindhouse Press.

Where Wile E. Young Writes

I’ve had the privilege to write all over the world due to the time I spent studying abroad for college. Ski slopes in Zermatt, Switzerland; cafes in Budapest, Hungary; my dormitory in Vienna, Austria… All of these places were joys to experience and, more importantly, feed off of for inspiration, but nowhere has quite the allure of my family’s lake house on Caddo Lake.

Located on the Texas/Louisiana border in Uncertain, Texas, it has served as my home away from home for several years. I think I was around ten when my family first purchased the house.

It was originally envisioned as a place that each main branch of our family would take a weekend of the month to use: my parents and myself, my paternal uncle and aunt along with their respective children, and my grandparents. However, my grandparents took their first weekend and never left, which just goes to show the pull that this place has.

The whole area is a mass wetland of rivers, bayous, and creeks that run out into a vast lake, and like most places that trace their origins back past a century, it’s filled with its own stories and legends.

Purported to be the oldest natural lake in Texas, Caddo was supposedly formed in the Great Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812. The lake was used to ferry supplies between Jefferson, Texas and ports in Louisiana, and even all the way down to New Orleans.

When the Great Log Jam on the Red River was removed, it lowered the lake by a good ten feet and destroyed the steamboat industry. As of 2020, there is only one steamboat that still plies its trade on Caddo Lake and that is the Graceful Ghost, though even it has been berthed until it undergoes repairs.

But the best part of growing up down there were the stories and characters that resulted. It was partially because of these characters and locations that I set my debut novel Catfish in the Cradle there, which takes place mainly in the town of Uncertain. From the time I was very young we would take a sojourn to eat breakfast at Shady Glade Café.

The place was like a real life Mos Eisley Cantina. You’d have the old fishermen talking about their catches or what they’d seen out on the river, tourists from Houston and Dallas eating their fills of that Uncertain cuisine, and the owners and staff bustling around chatting up the regulars.

There were so many meals partaken in that place after both tragedy and triumph. When my grandfather passed, we ate in his memory under his picture on the walls (he was quite popular there, even had a meal named after him) and I ate there the morning following the engagement to my now wife.

You can find me in Shady Glade from time to time, typing away. If you recognize me, sit down; I’ll buy you a coffee.

Caddo had a lot of legends; twenty-foot alligators, giant fish, ghosts in the trees, etc. All of these are probably based on some truth where someone saw something that they couldn’t quite explain. After all, Caddo has more sightings of Bigfoot than anywhere else in East Texas and people have caught some truly astonishing fish there.

This has all contributed to stoking the fires of my imagination, the legacy of the swamp and river running like muddy water through my veins. It truly is a land of infinite stories and I could spend an eternity sitting out on the river letting the muse take over and I’ve often commandeered my grandfather’s desk to do just that.

This is where I love to write the most. My grandfather conducted most of his business here and it’s where I feel the most connected to him so I can continue carrying on his storytelling tradition.

Every time a boat passes, an owl hoots in the night, or I hear a gator hissing from somewhere, all I can think about is that it’s good to be home and what a pleasure it is to be able to write here.