5 Things I Learned This Past Weekend While Visiting Clay County

  1. Donald Trump has locked down the Appalachia Kentucky vote. Because he says what is on his mind, fuck the consequences. Braggadocio and impulsive decisions are what we need when dealing with Russia, Iran, and the Mexican immigration issue.
  2. Kids will play on a steep slip n’ slide until their bodies are black and blue and beaten to a pulp. But if one stubs their toe on a coffee table, the world ends and the heavens fall.
  3. The judgmental glare of church grannies is enough to frighten potential liquor store customers into eschewing the devil’s libations. Apparently, one of the few liquor stores in the county shutdown due to community (Read: Church community) pressure.
  4. Bananas sold in southeastern Kentucky are much smaller than the ones you get in Lexington, Kentucky. Why is that? It seems unfair!
  5. Mosquitoes in southeastern Kentucky love to take blood from my sweet, sweet pale legs.

Raising Money for Pic and Michelle

WhatMakesYouDieLast Saturday, writer and all-around wonderful person Tom Piccirilli passed away after a long fight against brain cancer. Like many in genre circles, Tom was an influential person. He always had time to offer advice. If you needed a cornerstone author to legitimize your anthology, Pic would step up (if he believed you had the chops) no matter how busy he was. And he was always busy. If you search for his work on Amazon, you’ll see 162 results.

I am honored to say that at least 5 of those results are from Apex. In 2013, we published his novel What Makes You Die. He also recently appeared twice in Apex Magazine.

Pic believed in me, believed in Apex right from the start. I recounted my first conversation with him in For Exposure.

Hours later, blissful and exhausted, I made to leave. On the way out, Tom Piccirilli took me aside.

“Look, I want to help you out. I might have a story I can send you, you pay me what you can, just don’t tell anyone. As far as the world knows, I squeezed you for my usual rate. Right?”


“The zine’s not perfect. It’s a bit rough around the edges, if you know what I mean. But I can tell you’re trying to do this the right way. Writers appreciate that. So don’t fuck this up.”

I gulped. “No, sir, I won’t.”

Tom shook his head. “You and your fucking ‘sirs’.”

A week after Hypericon I received a fantastic dystopian science fiction piece from Tom.

I want to help his wife, Michelle Scalise, a wonderful lady I met at MoCon five or six years ago. To that end, Apex is selling Tom’s novel What Makes You Die and the two recent issues of Apex Magazine and giving all net proceeds to Michelle.

You can order via the following links:

What Makes You Die (TPB/eBook)
Apex Magazine issue 59
Apex Magazine issue 65

If you don’t order from Apex, please check out these lists of Tom’s other work and buy one or more. Every bit helps and in return you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic reading experience.



Busting the Myths of Publishing — Seminar

I’m running a two hour seminar this coming Saturday at the Carnegie Center here in Lexington.

BUSTING THE MYTHS OF PUBLISHING: Writers of all levels of experience like to pull back the curtain on the world of publishing. This seminar will address some of the more common questions one publisher and editor receives. For instance: Do editors really keep a “black list?” How much do publishers really gossip to each other? What are their biggest pet peeves? We’ll explore and deconstruct the myths of the publishing world. [ALL LEVELS]

WHEN: 7/18, 11:30am – 1:30pm

WHERE: The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning

COST: $30

SIGNUP LINK: Click here to signup!

Basic Analytics of a Small Press

I was closing the Apex Publications books for the month of May when I decided to play around with the data. I found it interesting so I thought I would share it with the world.

Print sales vs. eBook sales

Apex Publications print sales vs. eBook sales through 5/31/2015

Through the end of May, Apex sold 3 eBooks for every print copy sold.

eBook sales by vendor

Apex Publications eBook sales by vendor through 5/31/2015

Incredibly, Amazon accounts for 79% of our eBook sales. The next highest vendor percentage is Nook with a whopping 7%. Third is direct sales from our website at 5%. If I broke this out by revenue, the Amazon percentage would be even greater, because other than direct sales, they nearly always have the best net receipt per copy.

With Amazon and Apex Direct accounting for 84% of our sales, it is tempting to save time and drop the other vendors. But I can’t abide the thought of letting Amazon have ALL our 3rd party sales.

The “Other” basket includes Google, Smashwords, Oyster, Scribd, Drive Thru Fiction, Sony, and a couple of other smaller vendors.

Sadly, second place Nook has seen a gradual decline as the year has progressed. Could this be a reflection of B&N’s mishandling of its tablet over the last couple of years?

The lesson of this data? That Amazon has Apex by the cajones. It’s an uncomfortable position, but most other small presses share our business structure, so at least Apex isn’t alone.

Thoughts on the symbolic nature of the Confederate flag from a Southerner

A horrific thing occurred last week in South Carolina. An act of terrorism that will leave a permanent scar on the United States. A racist asshole named Dylann Roof stepped into a house of worship and shot nine African-Americans dead.

South Carolina chose to run the state and American flags at half-mast to honor the victims of Roof’s terroristic actions. But nearby, one flag stood at full-mast and waved proudly: the Confederate Flag.

I say “proudly” because so many Southerners defend their use of the flag behind such high-minded ideas as ‘Southern pride’. What are the principle tenets of this Southern pride? In general, I read them to be:

1) Cultural Identity — The stylized idea of genteel gentlemen, women in petticoats, hospitality, sweet tea, and all those things Hollywood likes to play up.

2) States’ Rights — There is a claim that the Confederate flag stands as a symbol for states’ rights. The mean ol’ federal  government worked hard to prevent the institution of slavery spreading to the western expansion of the country. Washington DC was becoming overrun by abolitionist lawmakers who had this crazy notion that owning another human was not humane, so when Lincoln won election, the South bolted. The South rallied up a big ball of nationalism under the cover of “states’ rights” and allowed the slave owning politicians to secede.

Oh, to be sure, there are plenty of southerners who truly view the Confederate flag as a symbol of states’ rights and cultural identity. Having lived in the south all my life, I’ve never met one of these individuals. Being raised in southeast Kentucky, an area that would identify itself as ‘South’ despite Kentucky officially being a border state during the Civil War, I’ll give you an account of the flag’s meaning to a majority of people in the area as I experienced it.

In 2015, the government census puts the white population of Clay County, Kentucky at 94.4%. Black population is 4.4%. Back when I was a freshman in high school, I’m certain it was lower. It wasn’t until high school that I had actually met or spoken with a black person. The first 14 years of my life, my only experience and knowledge of black people came from laughing at them on television (The Jeffersons!) and what the adults around me said.

Black people weren’t referred to as black–always the N-word. A high percentage of vehicles had some form of “Southern pride” on their bumpers, typically the Confederate flag. Flags hung on walls in bedrooms. The flag adorned trucker caps. The amount of hate toward the ‘horrible black people’ always confused me. When I would ask racist family members and friends, it always amounted to some random slight a black person had supposedly performed against them. Or they would cite an incident on television. If they ever caught their sister or girlfriend with a black guy, they would brag that they would beat a lesson into the woman and hang the n—–.

As a grade schooler, a black kid named Deshae Henson was the top football player in the county. At the games I saw him play, I would hear racial slurs that would be at home in a KKK Grandmaster’s house. I won’t repeat them, but give you some key words: jungle, monkey, lynch, animal.

Growing up, Clay County was essentially segregated. A majority of the tiny black population lived on a hillside community in the county seat of Manchester. I was warned many times by adults to stay away from the area, lest I be raped up the ass, robbed, beaten, and so on. Many times I heard whispers and rumors about so and so white girl being seen going up the hill. If you wanted to ruin the reputation of any female, all you had to do was state you had seen her visiting the hill.

A black choir visited my church once from central Kentucky. Their singing was beautiful. The guest preacher was passionate about his faith and moved me. The following week all the talk at the church was about the n—-s and how great they were. I remember being disgusted that such a foul word was being used in a church by people “of faith”.

Once I got to Transylvania University and moved to Lexington, the concentration of the day-to-day casual racism I encountered lessened. Yet, my college freshman dorm was named Jefferson Davis Hall. One of the four on campus fraternities, Kappa Alpha, had a large Confederate flag hanging in their ‘house’ and was known as the frat to join if you were southern, wealthy, and racist.

When the organization was exposed, my alma mater tried to hide its dirty not-so-hidden secret.

Not once in my four years at Transy did anyone equate the Confederate flag to states’ rights or non-racist southern pride. There weren’t lessons about fighting federalism. Only knowing winks by faculty, staff, and students about the underlying institutional racism on display.

My life experience has taught me that the Confederate flag is a symbol of hatred. Perhaps the flag’s original intent has been co-opted, like how the Nazi’s symbol was once more known as a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism.

I can’t imagine how painful it is for a black person to see a reminder of their race’s enslavement flying over a state capitol after the racially motivated murder of nine human beings in a church.

I find it inexplicable how a person with any semblance of human emotion can place higher importance on “pride” and a political stance of “states’ rights” (of which they likely have little understanding) over the REAL horrors of human enslavement and abuse.

It is shameful that South Carolina is still flying that flag in this day and age. It is pathetic and racist that a symbol of hate is flying with pride after the murder of nine innocent black people.


The Celebration of 10 Years in photos

The big celebration is over. I’ve had 24 hours to recover. Now is when I re-hydrate and consider all that happened.

As the weekend progressed, a growing sense of pride threatened to overwhelm me. There are so many smart, incredible people who are part of the Apex family that it astounds me. I’m nobody special, but what Apex Publications has become is more than a book company–it is a nexus for a collection of fans, friends, authors, artists, and editors.

The proceedings began around 5pm when we kicked off the event with the Apex panel and Q&A. Myself and two of my longtime editors, Janet Harriett and Lesley Conner, joined our facilitator Geoffrey Girard to share some ‘worst of the slush’ experiences, good memories, bad memories, and ‘why we do what we do’.

My words are music to their ears --Photo credit Nicole Platania--

My words are music to their ears
–Photo credit Nicole Platania–

After the panel Apex Magazine poetry editor Bianca Spriggs performed some FANTASTIC poetry. Her piece about Pluto being demoted from a major planet really hit a chord with the crowd.

Bianca Spriggs Photo credit Nicole Platania

Bianca Spriggs lamenting Pluto’s demotion
–Photo credit Nicole Platania–

Then horror and dark fantasy icon Gary A. Braunbeck provided an introduction that had several amusing and clever anecdotes.

Gary A. Braunbeck introducing me. I want his hat. --Photo credit Nicole Platania--

Gary A. Braunbeck introducing me. I want his hat.
–Photo credit Nicole Platania–

Then a nervous and excited redneck stood in front of the crowd and read an excerpt from FOR EXPOSURE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A SMALL PRESS PUBLISHER (Chapter 9: Stoned and Delirious).

And then I was lost in the town of Silent Hill... --Photo Credit Nicole Platania--

And then I was lost in the town of Silent Hill…
–Photo credit Nicole Platania–

Then we signed books. Afterwords we gathered for a group photo.

Jason wept. --Photo credit Brian K. Hatcher--

Jason wept.
–Photo credit Brian K. Hatcher–

The bookstore has a bistro where we gathered for the Apex dinner. Plenty of book gossip and industry whispering happened.

--Photo credit Brian J. Hatcher--

“Psst, talk Jason into another Time Travelers Tonic and he’ll publish your book!” –Photo credit Brian J. Hatcher–

After the dinner, we converged at a hotel suite and engaged in social activities and alcoholic beverages. Cameras were not allowed for this portion of the festivities.

The following morning, the stragglers gathered for breakfast at Ramsey’s. We committed coffee-fueled omelet-based gluttony.

Lots of hugs and well-wishes commenced. I took photos with some folks. Here is one.

Me and Nicole Platania (Bet you thought I would post the pic of me and Mina!) --Photo credit Nicole Platania--

Me and Nicole Platania (Bet you thought I would post the pic of me and Mina!)
–Photo credit Nicole Platania–

Bear with me while I express gratitude to a large group of people who helped make this weekend happen: Patricia Murphy, Susan Sizemore, Lesley Conner, Janet Harriett, Gary A. Braunbeck, Geoffrey Girard, Hannah Krieger, Douglas F. Warrick, Mari Adkins, Maurice Broaddus, Jerry Gordon, Amanda Weaver, Judi Davidson, Nicole Platania, Damien Angelica Walters, Elizabeth Massie, Jettie Necole, and Bianca Spriggs.

Thank you to everyone who took part and attended!

Signup for my SF/Horror/Fantasy Writing Group

The next session of my science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers group runs June 22nd-July 27th at The Carnegie Center for Literacy in Lexington, KY. That’s Mondays starting at 5:30pm and ending at 7:30pm.

SIGNUP PAGE: http://carnegiecenterlex.org/adult-class/spring-sci-fihorror-writing-group/?class-name=Sci-Fi/Horror%20Writing%20Group&class-price=$72

Join a lively, diverse group of genre writers looking to improve and expand their abilities in the form of short fiction. This is a chance to limber up as a writer, get feedback from others, and gain confidence in an affirming atmosphere. [ALL LEVELS]

Apex 10th Anniversary/For Exposure Release Party Info

I posted this on our FB event page, but I wanted to expand a bit on some of the activities. The 5pm start is set in stone as is the 10pm end time (the store closes). The other times are there as a guide.

If you arrive early and need to leave early (or arrive late) we’ll have signed copies of FOR EXPOSURE available.

Also, I hope to have the panel discussion and Q&A recorded.

Any questions? Drop them in the comments!

Schedule of Events–Activities begin at 5pm.

5pm — Welcome and commencement with JBB employee Patricia Murphy

5:10pm — Panel discussion and Q&A with Jason Sizemore, Janet Harriett, and Lesley Conner. Geoffrey Girard is the panel facilitator. Subject is “10 Years of Apex, Apex 10 Years from Now”. We’ll discuss publishing, the small press, and Apex secrets.

This will be a good time to ask embarrassing questions as Lesley, Geoff, and Janet know all the dirty Apex secrets and details. Of course, I know a few about them, too…

6:00pm — Gary A. Braunbeck introduces Jason Sizemore and For Exposure.

Patricia of JBB asked if I wanted anyone to introduce me. My initial reaction was that such a thing wasn’t necessary. Then it occurred to me that this was a rare opportunity.

I asked Gary A. Braunbeck if he would do the honors. He said yes.

How many times in a guy’s life do you have a chance to have Gary Braunbeck introduce you to a crowd? I am honored beyond belief. Gary is someone I’ve admired since I first read his fiction. Then I met him, and discovered he’s as fantastic in person as he is a writer. He’s been a positive influence for so many people and consider myself lucky to call him a friend.

6:10pm — Jason Sizemore reads a brief extract and talks about the inspiration for the book.

I’ll make this short. I don’t want anyone to get restless.

6:30pmFor Exposure signing with Jason Sizemore and contributors Janet Harriett, Lesley Conner, Geoffrey Girard, Jettie Necole, and Maurice Broaddus.

There might be another person or two there, and there might be a person or two who won’t be.

7:00pm — Dinner with Apex at the Joseph-Beth Bistro

Here’s the menu the chef has put together for the dinner.

What if the World is Flatbread Slow roasted pulled pork and caramelized red onion with a BBQ ranch drizzle. $8

Cyberpunk Chili Fresh veggies, beans, tomatoes and spices slow-cooked and served over rice. Topped with Monterey jack cheese, sour cream and green onion. Cup $4.5, Full order $9

Editor’s Salmon A salmon filet sautéed in a Kentucky bourbon glaze served over rice with a red pen. $14

Turkey Android Roasted turkey breast topped with house-made slaw, Swiss cheese and 1000 island. Served on toasted wheat bread. $10


8:30-10pm — Cocktail Mixer with Apex at the Joseph-Beth Patio (next to the Bistro)

Special drink: Time Traveler Tonic Melon liqueur, Vodka and xxx. $7

After 10pm???

A couple of people have mentioned post-party hams. NO. NO NO NO.

Apex Authors in Attendance

For those who would like to take this rare opportunity to meet some of our way-out-of-town authors, here is a list of who will be in attendance. The authors/editors will be selling and signing copies of their books.

Douglas F. Warrick — Author of Plow the Bones, contributor to Dark Faith and Dark Faith: Invocations.

Elizabeth Massie — Author of Desper Hollow, contributor to Appalachian Undead

Eugene Johnson — Co-editor of Appalachian Undead, contributor to The Zombie Feed: Volume 1

Maurice Broaddus — Author of I Can Transform You, co-author of Orgy of Souls, co-editor of Dark Faith, co-editor of Dark Faith: Invocations, contributor to Appalachian Undead, contributor to Glitter & Mayhem. contributor to For Exposure

Jerry Gordon — Co-editor of Dark Faith, co-editor of Dark Faith: Invocations

Lesley Conner — Contributor to Mountain Dead, contributor to For Exposure

Lucy A. Snyder — Contributor to Dark Faith: Invocations, contributor to Appalachian Undead

Mari Adkins — Author of Midnight, editor of Harlan County Horrors

Damien Angelica Walters — Author of Sing Me Your Scars, contributor to Glitter & Mayhem

Gary A. Braunbeck — Author of To Each Their Darkness, contributor to Dark Faith, contributor to Appalachian Undead

Geoffrey Girard — Contributor to For Exposure, contributor to Dark Faith

Audio excerpt of FOR EXPOSURE

Would you like to hear an excerpt from FOR EXPOSURE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A SMALL PRESS PUBLISHER as read by the author?

Course you do!

I discovered today that FOR EXPOSURE has made its way to Amazon US and UK.

Amazon US (TPB): http://amzn.to/1GjvLc4
Amazon US (HC): http://amzn.to/1I9wB9t

Amazon UK (TPB): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Exposure-Times-Small-Press-Publisher/dp/1937009300
Amazon UK (HC): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Exposure-Times-Small-Press-Publisher/dp/1937009319

Directly from Apex Publications: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/products/for-exposure-the-life-and-times-of-a-small-press-publisher-preorder

An eBook edition will be out shortly after June 20th.

Starting Monday, you can also buy the book from Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington KY.