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April 2010: It's been a year since I updated here; not because nothing was happening, but because things happened just about non-stop. I should say that if you have a need to see what I'm doing on an up-to-date day-by-day basis, your best bets are my LiveJournal (which is linked on the left) and my Facebook page.

Now then, the highlights of what happened since that fateful time when I was a Nebula Award finalist for my short story "The Button Bin."

First, I didn't win, but Anita and I got to fly to Los Angeles and had a wonderful time. When we weren't participating in the Nebula programming, we were out on the town with Science Fiction Poetry Association president Deborah P Kolodji. We also had a book signing for Clockwork Phoenix along with publisher Vera Nazarian and contributor Catherynne M. Valente at the L.A. Times Festival of Books.

Since then:

There's a lot more, and if you're really curious enough to want to know the full deal, you can read the complete lists on my LiveJournal, here, here, and here.

I'm going to end this entry with the convention schedule Anita and I intend to follow this year, if for whatever reason you want to track us down:

March 2009: These past couple months have formed, without doubt, the most intense high point of my strange little writing and editing career.

First, my horror story "The Button Bin" is now a finalist for this year's Nebula Awards (short story category). Color me gobsmacked. Anita and I will be traveling to Los Angeles the weekend of April 25 for the award ceremony — likely to watch someone else win — but man, it's such a thrill to be in the running.

Second, I'm about to publish the 20th issue of my little poetry journal, Mythic Delirium (our 10th Anniversary issue); and that issue is going to contain an original and brand new poem by Neil Gaiman. (I don't think I need to tell you who he is.) As Neil himself succinctly put it on his blog, "Mike has been asking me for a poem for years, and finally he asked me when I'd written one. In this case, one about a trout heart." The poem is called "Conjunctions" (it's actually a companion piece to an Amanda Palmer song called "Trout Heart Replica") and we're proud to be showcasing it, along with a lot of other fine work in this extra large issue.

These two things kind of came together all at once. It was really hard to concentrate much on day-to-day activities for a while. As a result I've been interviewed for several websites. One interview, in which I discuss matteres Mythic Delirium at great length, has already appeared at Cabinet des Fées. I've recorded a podcast of "The Button Bin," due to appear April 2 at StarShipSofa, and Psuedopod will do their own podcast of the story later this year.

Nonetheless these haven't been the only things to unfold since the start of the year. I've had three new poems appear so far; my Thomas Disch tribute, "Ascending," at Strange Horizons; my double acrostic puzzle-poem "Cosmic Secrets" at Ideomancer; and a strange lyric called "Long Sad Notes" in The Magazine of Speculative Poetry. I also recorded a podcast for Clarkesworld to go with Ken Scholes' short story "The Last Gift Given."

In the meantime, review copies of Clockwork Phoenix 2 are being readied for their first venture into the world. And Clockwork Phoenix made the 2008 Locus Recommended Reading List.

No, not a bad start at all.

Unrelated directly to writing things, I'll have a small speaking part in a movie written by my playwright friend Dwayne Yancey, called "My Kid Could Paint That," in which I'll play a rich (ha!) art parton. At least (for once) I'm not the Devil.

December 2008: Two days from now (Dec. 9) I'm going to be talking to a group at the Library of Congress (specifically (deep breath) the Library of Congress Professional Association's What IF ... Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum) about my poetry and the type of poetry I write. The invitation came out of the blue, but I'm definitely delighted to take them up on it. I'll have copies with me to sell of The Alchemy of Stars, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, The Journey to Kailash and Clockwork Phoenix; and I get a tour of the Library and free lunch in the bargain. Can't say I'm complaining.

It seems like a good time to break my web silence (at least on this site, over on LiveJournal I'm yattering away)and review what's gone on this year.

It looked kinda like this:

Aside from the big event Clockwork Phoenix, I had two new stories published this year:

  • Follow the Wounded One, the novelette that continues my "Hiker's Tale" narrative, published in June as a standalone chapbook by Not One of Us.
  • "An Invitation via Email," Weird Tales Issue 350, July/Aug.

    And two of last year's short stories were reprinted online, more or less:

  • "The Hiker's Tale" at Papaveria Press in June;
  • "The Button Bin" at Transcriptase.

    I also had a slew of new poems publish this year, not the best I've ever done, but not the worst either:

  • "deathmask," Helix, January.
  • "Petals," Star*Line, March/April.
  • "Zombie Bombs" (with Ian Watson), Helix, April.
  • "Midnight Rendezvous, Philly," Goblin Fruit, Summer.
  • "Mondrian's War," Strange Horizons, Aug. 18
  • "The Problem with Science Fiction Poetry," Space and Time, Summer/Fall.
  • "Return of Zombie Teen Angst," Asimov's Science Fiction, Oct./Nov.
  • "Katagenesis" (with Ian Watson), Tales of the Talisman, Vol. 4 Issue 2
  • "nightmare no. 9," Star*Line, Sept/Oct.

    Most of my new poems appeared as originals in the collection The Journey to Kailash, though there's some overlap. From the collection:

  • "Charon Finds a Woman on the Gridshore"
  • "Time Triptych"
  • "Der Maulkorb"
  • "The Thirteenth Hell"
  • "Ghosts of the Apocalypse"
  • "Requited"
  • "Midnight Rendezvous, Philly"
  • "Midnight Rendezvous, Eden
  • "Retracing the Moon"
  • "Anointing the Time Shark"
  • "Mondrian's War"

    The Journey to Kailash reprinted 46 poems. I would feel silly listing all of them in this entry; they'll eventually make it to my biblio page. However, I did have a few poems reprinted in other places.

  • "The Strip Search" in Nebula Awards Showcase 2008, ed. Ben Bova, April.
  • "Giving Back to the Muse" in The 2008 Rhysling Anthology.
  • "Sackful of Satellites" in Dwarf Stars 2008.

    The other thing I did that I havne't yet mentioned here was give a presentation at the Roanoke Arts Festival in November about the life and fiction of my late friend Nelson Bond. That was a ton of fun to be part of; my friend Paul Dellinger hosted the event, and a fellow (former) newspaperman, Bill Ruehlman, paid tribute to another local writer, columnist Jack Kestner. For my part, I used clips from some of the old radio shows that were based on Nelson's stories, which I think surprised the audience, in a good way.

    And this just in: Deborah Biancotti's story "The Tailor of Time" from Clockwork Phoenix is up for an Aurealis Award. Congratulations to Deb and good luck!

    August 2008: Among other things, the launch of Clockwork Phoenix has kept me extremely busy this past few months. The anthology has garnered great reviews in Publishers Weekly, Locus and elsewhere, and my publisher has already greenlighted a sequel, called (what else?) Clockwork Phoenix 2, which I'll be reading for soon. See here for details.

    I was guest at ReaderCon last month, where I once again hosted the Rhysling Award ceremony (congratulations to Catherynne Valente , who has contributed to Mythic Delirium, Mythic and Clockwork Phoenix, and to F.J. Bergmann, whose poem from Mythic Delirium 17, "Eating Light," won in the short poem category.) I also gave a presentation about the fiction of my late friend and mentor Nelson Bond, complete with a snippet from an NBC radio broadcast of one of his stories; and of course, I hosted the launch reading for Clockwork Phoenix , with readings from the book by Vandana Singh, Cat Rambo, Michael J. DeLuca, Leah Bobet and Laird Barron. (Ekaterina Sedia was also scheduled to read, but her train was delayed, alas.)

    ReaderCon also served as the launchpad for my new chapbook, Follow the Wounded One, published by Not One of Us . It's a dark fantasy novelette that's a sequel to "The Hiker's Tale " (which has been graciously serialized here by Papaveria Press.) I also had hardcover copies of The Journey to Kailash, my new poetry collection from Norilana Books . There's a dedicated website for the book here, complete with audio readings of several of the poems.

    I've made some new magazine appearances. The latest issue of Weird Tales holds my short, humorous horror story "An Invitation via Email"; the latest issue of Space & Time contains my satirical poem "The Problem with Science Fiction Poetry"; and the latest issue of Goblin Fruit has my dark fantasy piece "Midnight Rendezvous, Philly," along with an audio reading .

    Last but not least, my short story "The Button Bin" is now available at Transcriptase, a rather unique website formed in reaction to allegations of troubling conduct on the part of a co-editor of Helix . For what it's worth, my own participation came about because of my displeasure with the way writers who raised concerns were treated. The entire situation has been explained here.

    Tangentially related, I've been told that both "The Button Bin " and "The Hiker's Tale ," as well as my poem "The Hollow Sphere," will be on the Honorable Mentions list in the upcoming volume of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror.

    April 2008, part 2: I have the honor of being the keynote speaker April 19 at the dedication of The Nelson Bond Room at Marshall University. I was lucky enough to meet and befriend Nelson Bond toward the end of his very long and remarkable life, and I only hope that I can convey a smidge of that wonder of that experience to whatever audience is there to hear.

    The weekend after that, April 25 to 27, Anita and I will be turning up for some panels at this year's RavenCon.

    In the meantime, nationally renowned poet Fred Chappell has honored my upcoming poetry collection The Journey to Kailash with some very kind words: "It seems most proper that The Journey to Kailash should include a poem about Jackson Pollock. Like that painter of large-scale states of mind, Mike Allen pours everything hes got onto his poem-canvases. Mythologies, science-fiction scenarios, private memories and desires, and untestable ideas crowd and overlay one another upon the pages as if flung from an overloaded brush. Here is a vividly vertiginous collection of poems, all fun and mind-games."

    April 2008: Review copies have gone out for two of my new books: my new poetry collection, The Journey to Kailash, and the anthology of offbeat fiction I've edited, Clockwork Phoenix: tales of beauty and strangeness. Norilana Books intends to release Kailash in June and Clockwork Phoenix in July; hopefully they'll both be with me when I turn up at ReaderCon 19. As you might guess, The Journey to Kailash contains my Rhysling Award-winning poem of the same name, as well as a number of reprints and some new material. Clockwork Phoenix contains original stories by the likes of Tanith Lee, Catherynne Valente, John C. Wright, Laird Barron, Ekaterina Sedia, Marie Brennan, John Grant, Leah Bobet, Cat Sparks, Vandana Singh and plenty of others. I'm aiming to hold a group reading with as many of these folks as I can recruit. July is going to be a pretty exciting time.

    And for that matter, I hope to have a third book with me at ReaderCon. Not One of Us is planning to bring out my dark fantasy novelette "Follow the Wounded One" as a standalone chapbook. The novelette is the direct sequel to my 2007 short story "The Hiker's Tale," picking up with the unnamed narrator just a couple weeks after the first story left off. It's meant to stand on its own, but it's also part of a sequence I'm writing that's slowly growing toward novelhood.

    Meanwhile, Nebula Awards Showcase 2008 just appeared on bookstore shelves, featuring my 2006 Rhysling Award-winning poem "The Strip Search." I talked about the creation of that poem in an interview I did that year with Virginia Libraries, which is now available for free online.

    Speaking of free online, I've had two new poems pop up so far this year, both of them in Helix: Speculative Fiction Quarterly. The first, "deathmask," was written after poetry editor Bud Webster's significant other, Mary Horton, showed me some of her creepy and surreal cloth masks. The second, "Zombie Bombs," is a darkly funny collaboration with my favorite bad influence from across the pond, Ian Watson.

    Last but not least, under the Mythic Delirium banner I've published a new chapbook, Kendall Evans' bizarre and delightful play-poem hybrid In Deepspace Shadows, which SF Site coos over here.

    Lots for you to check out, lots more for me to do...

    Nov. 2007: The newest issue of Helix: Speculative Fiction Quarterly holds a new story from me, a horror tale called "The Button Bin." The feedback I received so far on this piece has been overwhelmingly positive (or at least as positive as you can be about a twisted tale of black magic, drug abuse and incest.)

    Another short story of mine, "The Hiker's Tale," a yarn of spirits and demons that unfolds along the Appalachian Trail, has just appeared in Cabinet des Fees 2, out from Prime Books.

    The newest issue of Mythic Delirium has gone out to subscribers and contributors, and new featured poems are up, featuring video of readings by Theodora Goss and Sonya Taaffe.

    After a year of little happening on the new poetry front, I suddenly have a flurry.

  • The latest issue of Goblin Fruit is out, an autumn feast, containing my ode to artistic despair "Giving Back to the Muse," complete with an audio reading.
  • My collaboration with Singapore horror poetess Christina Sng, "The Nightmare Avatar's Nightmare," has surfaced in Issue 4 of H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror. Christina did an audio reading of the poem which can be heard at the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Halloween reading.
  • I've made my own contribution to the SFPA Halloween reading , a demonic rendition of my poem "finale," one of the original poems published in last year's Strange Wisdoms of the Dead.
  • Back in August, Lone Star Stories published a new poem by me, "Sackful of Satellites," which is actually a companion piece of sorts to another poem published this year, "Freebasing the Moon."
  • I can officially announce that my Rhysling Award-winning poem "The Strip Search" will be reprinted in Nebula Awards Showcase 2008, edited by Ben Bova, destined for stores on April Fool's Day.

    I now have the complete list of my stories and poems that received Honorable Mentions in the latest Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: six total, including "The Music of Bremen Farm" from Cabinet des Fees (my first HM for fiction) and five for the following poems from Strange Wisdoms of the Dead: "Eating the Time Shark," "finale," "saecula saeculorum," "that strange man with the green petunias" and "The Psychic Above Burritoville."

    July 2007: My magic realist poem "The Journey to Kailash" has just won the Rhysling Award for long poem from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. This makes for my third Rhysling in five years. That's humbling. (My previous winners are "The Strip Search" and, with Charles Saplak, "Epochs in Exile.") At fellow poet Sonya Taaffe's request I recorded a reading of "Kailash," which you can listen to here if you like.

    Ian Randall Strock of SF Scope covered the Rhysling Award Poetry Slan and had kind things to say about my performance of my poem "Manifest Density."

    I should probably mention that two poems from MYTHIC, the anthology I edited in 2006, were runner ups in the voting. Joe Haldeman's "god is dead short live god" and Catherynne Valente's "The Eight Legs of Grandmother Spider" each came in second in their respective Rhysling categories (short and long).

    Speaking of editing, I'm excited to announce that I'm going to be editing a new fiction anthology for Norilana Books, called Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness. The guidelines and cover art are here; the release date is currently scheduled for May 2008. I'm looking for things weird and offbeat.The anthology officially opens to submissions Aug. 1.

    Finally, I recently had a new poem, "Freebasing the Moon," appear at Strange Horizons.

    Mid-May, 2007: I was delighted to learn that four of the original poems from my collection Strange Wisdoms of the Dead will receive Honorable Mentions in this year's volume of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: "Eating the Time Shark," "finale," "The Psychic Above Burritoville," "saecula saeculorum." I'm also getting my first ever Honorable Mention for a short story, for "The Music of Bremen Farm," my demonic and bleak retelling of "The Bremen Town Musicians," which appeared last year in Cabinet des Fées.

    April 2007: I'm going to be a writer's guest at RavenCon in Richmond this weekend (and Anita, of course, will be a costuming guest and masquerade judge). One of my charges will be running the Poetry Workshop, scheduled this Friday at 7 p.m. I just hope we (me, Bruce Boston, Marge Simon, Carolyn Clink, Kristy Tallman) get some poets to dissect — um, critique ... I'll also be a panelist for Saturday morning's Writer's Workshop and the host of Saturday night's Author Slam.

    Helix: Speculative Fiction Quarterly has published "Gherem", a short story I co-wrote with fellow Roanoke writer Charles Saplak, which editor William Sanders calls "a gritty fantasy with a nasty sting in the tail."

    Strange Horizons has also published a lengthy review of my MYTHIC 2 anthology.

    March 2007: SF Site has published an in-depth review of my MYTHIC 2 anthology.

    Feb 2007: My poem "The Hollow Sphere" appears in the February issue of Lone Star Stories.

    Nov 2006: The Philadelphia Inquirer reviews my latest poetry collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead.