Books in Progress Conference

I am leading a writing SF/F/H breakout session at this year’s Books in Progress conference here in Lexington. This is one of (if not) the largest professional writing conferences in the state. It’s tailored for the literary crowd, though this year they’re sneaking some genre into the fun (yay!).

My breakout session is planned for June 9th, 2pm-3:30pm.

Link below for information about the conference. This is affiliated with the Lexington Carnegie Center.

Click here for more information.

Updates Updates

My next genre writers group session starts on April 10th at the Carnegie Center for Literacy. They run 5:30-7:00pm.

Sign up here.

Some Jason-centric items are up in the Revive the Drive (Apex Magazine fundraiser) store.

Hey, guess what? I sold a story to Speculate! magazine. This was one of those rare instances where the story was bought by the first place I submitted it!

The title of the short is “Free Coffee, Courtesy of the Telford Nature Explorers.” It’s about many things: rest stops, coffee, cryptids, big pharma, fear of flying. Here is a very short snippet.

To be honest, Jack was surprised Telford had much of anything, let alone a Nature Explorers group and a rest stop. Few cars passed by on US-HWY 2. No houses, strip malls, gas stations, or other signs of civilization marked the lonely stretch of highway—just yellow lines and innumerable mile markers ticking off the passage of time and distance. Snow-capped mountains could be spotted far off to the west while driving over the occasional gentle rises in the road, but otherwise the view was all dirt, road, and shrubbery.

It is slated for publication in the June issue. Naturally, I’ll be crowing about it on the blog when it comes out.

Why Revive the Drive?

If you follow Apex Magazine, you probably know we’re currently running a promotion called Revive the Drive. It’s a mix of subscription drive, fundraiser, and an excuse to have some fun (the Pumpkin vs. Oz cuteness showdown, the live stream of It Follows commentary).

We called it “Revive the Drive” because we cut our annual drive short back in November after the election. It was a time of celebration for Trump supporters. It was a time of sadness for Clinton supporters. Nobody was in the mood to spend money. Bigger things were going on.

Also, being raised a Southern Baptist in the hills, I’ve always had a thing for revivals.

But why do a drive at all?

Fair question.

Apex Magazine makes enough via regular promotions and day-to-day sales to maintain the status quo. But what’s a life if you’re not always trying to improve? We want to increase our author, artist, and editor pay. We also desperately, and I mean DESPERATELY, need to hire a part-time assistant editor. Lesley and I struggle to keep our heads above water at times.

There are also plans to expand how much fiction we publish each month, but that’ll require a bit more than our $10,000 goal.

But really? This is all a grand scheme to make Lesley Conner watch and live tweet It Follows with me.

Travel Weary

I’m not much of a socializer. I enjoy going out just enough to dispel any sense of loneliness, but otherwise, I am content to stay home, play video games, and work on Apex or my own editing/writing. All the major conventions (and minor ones) I did last year put a toll on my social fuel.

On a more practical manner, it put me way behind on many, many projects.

So I’m restricting my official travels for the rest of the year to Imaginarium in October. I might pop up elsewhere depending on money, time, and levels of loneliness.

2018 will be a much more active year. For now, I rest.

Please don’t fret. You can always get your fill of that special Sizemore sauce online!

Locus Awards — Vote!

I don’t comment much on awards on the personal blog. I do my offers of congratulations via social media and private emails. And on the official Apex accounts. But I’m changing that today–at least on a one time basis.There’s this thing called the Locus Magazine Reading List. The reading list is compiled by the Locus Magazine staff editors and professionals in the field. The Locus Awards winners are then selected from that list by reader voting.

Since Apex only has one item on the entire list (novel Rosewater by Tade Thompson–yay Tade!), I want to accomplish five things.

1) Help Rosewater make the Locus Awards top 5 in the novels–science fiction category.

2) Via write-in votes place “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon in the top 10 for novelettes.

3) Via write-in votes place The Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler in the top 10 for novellas.

4) Via write-in votes place Stay Crazy by Erica L. Satifka in the top 10 for first novels.

5) Via write-in votes place an Apex Magazine story in the top 10 for short fiction. Based on popularity and critical input our most popular story of 2016 was “The Old Man and the Phoenix” by Alexander Baisden.

Voting is easy. Go here and fill out the ballot. There are lots of quality works–let your opinion be known fairly and in all the categories. Considering voting for Rosewater and writing in “The Tomato Thief,” The Kraken Sea, and Stay Crazy.

While you’re there, grab a subscription to Locus Magazine. It’s a fine publication that has earned the support of genre readers and writers.

If enough of our readers and fans make their voices heard via the Locus Award voting, perhaps the work of our fantastic authors won’t go overlooked!

Guest lecture at the University of Kentucky

Just got back from my guest lecture to an Intro to Writing Professions course at the University of Kentucky. Great students with some pointed and knowledgeable questions. Several were Apex fans!
Thank you to Dr. Mike Pennell for having me speak. I always cherish the opportunity to subvert the minds of young writers.
I meant to get a picture with the class and the professor but totally forgot. Instead, you get a picture of me in my teaching shirt.
Consolation prizes are such a disappointment sometimes.

Back to Nebraska, back to jamming to Kay Hanley

Random fact: the most popular blog post on this site is my love letter to the alt-rock women of the 1990s:

The highlight of that post was the confession that I harbored an innocent crush on the lead singer of Letter’s to Cleo. I mean, I still do, but I’m happy to jam to Kay Hanley’s music and follow her antics on Twitter.

For example, she’s still as cool and fierce now as she was back then.


Also, she still personifies the rocker grrrl aesthetic these days as much as she did back in the 90s.

Here and Now

Here and Now

A few months back Kay Hanley’s band, Letters to Cleo, released their first new music since 2008 in an EP titled Back to Nebraska.

How is it? Fun. Jaunty. Quite good. Kay’s powerhouse vocals are still intact. The band sounds as great as ever.

I’m reminded of how I felt when another 90s rocker grrl band, Garbage, released new material a few years back. Shirley Manson’s incredible voice remained in tack. The outstanding guitar and drum work was still there. But the music lacked the edge that drew me to it. It felt like going through the paces. Shirley Manson has mellowed with age. And I understand that, it happens as you mature.

(Granted, I keep waiting for my mellow, but it has yet to happen.)

Letters to Cleo is still delivering the goods that drew me to them 20 years ago (good lord, 20 years).

The EP opens with the fast, peppy pop-rock in “Can’t Say.” Jumps next into “4 Leaf Clover”, then a squeal and a twangy rock chord introduce the title track. “Hitch a Ride” is a pulsating punk-lite that recalls the best of 90s fast rockers.

Kay Hanley has described her music as “Gloomy lyrics” and “Happy-as-fuck melodies.” That’s exactly what you get in the new EP, and I love it.

The Detour

detour-tbsThe Detour is a road trip comedy series on TBS written by the husband/wife team of Jason Jones and Samantha Bee and starting Natalie Zea and Jason Jones. The second season starts soon, which makes now a great time to binge the 10 episode first season!

The show flew under my radar. When it popped up on Hulu, I was intrigued. It looked funny. It sounded funny. I was going in blind.

Here is what I  knew of Jason Jones prior to the first episode. All this knowledge was gleaned from his time on The Daily Show.

1) Dude likes to get naked.

2) Good at playing a slightly obnoxious know-it-all type.

3) Will do things that make you wonder how he got away with it on basic cable.

4) Married to Samantha Bee.

Here is what I knew of Samantha Bee prior to the first episode. All this knowledge was gleaned from her time on The Daily Show and Full Ranting…er, I mean Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

1) Lady knows how to curse.

2) Good at playing a slightly obnoxious smarter-than-you type.

3) Will do things that make you wonder how she got away with it on basic cable.

4) Married to Jason Jones.

On to the big question: is The Detour any good?

Yes, but…

The first episode is the best and one of the funniest half hours I’ve seen on TV in a few years. It’s offensive, it’s clever, has amazing sight gags, and unlike the family car, it runs on all cylinders. The other 9 episodes exhibit a disappointing diminishing of returns as it veers into attempts at uncomfortable humor that do not work. There’s also a wraparound story that distracts from the main plot and added nothing to the show. I also wanted more Sam Bee. Granted, she has three cameos as Nate Parker’s (Jason Jones) mother that are hilarious, but Bee is a star, dammit! She needs more face time!

Despite the lack of Sam Bee, the main cast are quite good. Natalie Zea (who I last saw in Justified) plays well against her usual type of harried wife as a kind of wildcard alcoholic mom who keeps Nate off-balanced and is the yin to Nate’s yang. Ashley Gerasimovich plays thirteen-year-old daughter Delilah, and has some great moments being the lone voice of reason in the Parker clan.

If you’re a fan of the National Lampoon Vacation movies, then The Detour is a show you’ll enjoy. Or if you enjoy Jason Jones and Samantha Bee’s odd style of humor, you’ll really enjoy this show.

Shaking the bushes for freelance work

I’m looking to pick up a few freelance clients in the next 6 to 8 weeks. If you have anything you need edited, evaluated, converted to digital, etc., I might be the guy for you.

$30 per hour for digital conversions.

$100 per 10,000 words for novels.

$10 per 1000 words for short stories.

I also write fiction! I’m happy to write a short story for YOUR anthology or zine. 🙂

If you’re interested, shoot me an email at

Crap jobs; feedback loops

Prior to becoming a publisher full-time, I spent 20 years doing software development for a wide range of companies: uptight mega-corps, a dot-com during the web bubble in the early 200s, state government, county government, upstart private companies, and state universities. Before that, I worked in a chemistry lab. Prior to that, I cleaned toilets at the county courthouse in Manchester, KY.

Every job had their merits. At the courthouse as a teen, I learned the machinations of local government. In the chemistry lab, the sweeter it smells, the more likely you should clear out. Being a developer for the county government is the easiest and least paying job a developer can have.

I also can tell you every job had its bullshit. The toilets at the county courthouse were nasty. What’s nastier was the old woman who constantly harassed me, yanking at my jeans and always trying to slip her hands down my trousers.

My boss at the chemistry lab hated me, and I’ve never known why. While the other student workers prepped classes for lab, I had to rinse out the boss’s Coke cans, mop the lab floors, and always work the 7am shift.

I was fired from the upstart private company because I missed an “important” meeting when I elected to visit my cancer-stricken grandmother in the hospital while she was lucid (she was placed on a ventilator and morphine drip soon after and died a couple weeks later). Oh right, I almost forgot, my wife was 8 months pregnant with my second kid, too.

I quit my county job because I refused to lie about the program director’s unethical behavior.

I quit the job at the mega-corp because my boss accidentally sent an email to me meant for HR outlining his personal distaste for me and was giving me a poor assessment of my work because of it.

There is no way I’m alone when it comes to receiving bullshit. Switch my gender, change my skin color, and the bullshit gets amplified ten-fold. This I recognize.

Now that I work for myself, I think the bullshit has grown. The corporate shield no longer prevents some of the ridiculous from happening; now it just happens. The checks and balances are no longer the well-meaning but disinterested men and women in human resources. It’s the threat of internet dogpiling. The accumulation of well-timed lies, rumors, and half-truths that builds a sense of distrust and unease regarding the intentions of anyone. Part of this is caused by the political climate. Social media and civil unrest are on a feedback loop.

Trump and his supporters used this style of defamation to win a presidential election. My dad, a lifelong sensible moderate (a rare thing in the hills of Kentucky), now bows to the gospel of Trump. Many people I know in the business of writing and publishing engage in many of the same tactics. On both sides of the ideological spectrum. Were doing it before Trump. Are doing it after Trump. No one is immune to the power of the internet.

I sometimes wonder if the advent of the greatest communication tool ever invented–the internet–will be the cause of society’s decline. It’s too easy to dogpile when you’re anonymous and hiding behind a profile picture on Facebook or Twitter or a blog. It’s too easy to lie (or exaggerate) for the gain of your private agenda. It’s too easy to email everyone you know a falsehood/accusation in an act of pettiness.

This feedback loop grows stronger and stronger. Be vigilant. Stay out of its pull, or it’ll pull you under.