I’m only just back from WHC, as I detoured to Tallahassee after the con, and already I’m gearing up for my next (and final, for the time being) appearance at a convention. I’ve done four already this year, and while I find the con experience rewarding—in some regards—with many notable exceptions—promoting Vermilion has taken a toll on me, emotionally, creatively, and socially.

IMG_1397That said, WHC was a blast. I’m not really a con writeup kind of gal, but I was pleased to see old friends and make new ones. I also picked up a killer haul of books, as you can see. I’ve already read Eutopia and very much enjoyed it; next up I’m reading something I did not acquire at WHC but after that I’ll probably pick up another score. (I picked up The Visible Filth before the con, but got it signed by Mr. Ballingrud, so it counts.)

Next up: DCC! Denver Comic Con is always entertaining for people watching, and my panel list is pretty cool. Come say hi, I’ll sign your copies of Vermilion, and if you felt like picking one up—to have and to hold, or as an extra, in case you need a holiday or birthday present for a friend—the fewer books the Barnes & Noble table sends back, the better I look to that not insubstantial bookselling company, and my publisher. HINT HINT.

Where I’ll definitely be:

Saturday, 10:35-11:25: The Foundations of a Freelance Writing Career. I don’t currently have a description of what exactly this will be, but I assume it’s pretty self-explanatory. With Josh Vogt, Kronda Siebert, Jessica Brawner, Vivian Trask, and Peter J. Wacks.

Saturday, 3:15-4:05: Strong Women in Film and Fiction. I’m moderating this one, so I’m going to try to mix it up a bit from the usual “Let’s all argue about Daenerys Targaryen!” I know the conversation will inevitably turn to Black Widow, which is great since I won’t have seen Age of Ultron by Saturday, and I’m not up on Game of Thrones and the apparent Rape of the Sansine Women that happened yesterday, but I’m going to try to direct the discussion to the issue of well-rounded female characters in fiction and film, and see what happens. With Kristi Helvig, Betsy Dornbusch, Sherry Ficklin, Stant Litore, Amalie Howard.

Saturday, 4:25-5:15: Steampunk in the Past, Present, and Future: Another self-explanatory one. Like Steampunk? Come on then! With Sherry Ficklin, Jessica Brawner, Tyler Jolley, Mario Acevedo, and David Boop.

Sunday, 2:30-3:20: That’s a Laugh! Writing Speculative Genre Humor: What’s it take to bring real humor into fantasy, science fiction, and even horror stories? With Josh Vogt, Jessica Brawner, Betsy Dornbush, Lou Berger, and Jim Butcher. Yes, that Jim Butcher!

Sunday, 4:50-5:40: Writing the Other. i.e. I’ve never been a female dwarven barbarian… so how could I possibly write about one? With Betsy Dornbush, Mario Acevedo, Kronda Siebert, Van Aaron Hughes, and Vivian Trask.

This weekend I’ll be in Atlanta at the World Horror Convention. Vermilion and A Pretty Mouth will both be for sale; Vermilion, at the con bookseller, Eagle Eye Books, and A Pretty Mouth at the Eraserhead/Lazy Fascist/Deadite Press table. I’ll be a part of the mass signing event on Friday night, dressed as Herbert West: Re-Animator, so if you would like a copy of Vermilion signed in the option of reagent-green pen, please come by. Rufus will be there, as well, and he just loves being petted, I assure you.

Here’s my full schedule:

Friday, 3-4 PM: TERRIFYING TROPES: H.P. Lovecraft in the 21st Century: The Problematic Legacy of the Great Old One of Horror and the Weird – SARNATH

Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s legacy in modern horror fiction has been cemented for more than half a century in his Cthulhu Mythos and exploration of cosmic, existential horror. More recently, the tentacles of Lovecraft’s more troubling legacy – as a voice for some of the last century’s most vile expressions of racism and xenophobia – have found their way into the center of the discussion of his work. Is it possible to untangle the two sides of Lovecraft’s work? Should we?

Moderator: David Nickle. Panelists: Jesse Bullington, Leslie Klinger, Usman T. Malik, Charles Rutledge, Molly Tanzer

Friday, 6-8 PM: MASS SIGNING – THE BARRENS

Saturday, 10 AM: DEAD IN THE MORNING (Room 710 unless you hear otherwise): If you would like to attend this event, I suggest you follow the Facebook Group for announcements. This is an unofficial/guerilla reading featuring myself, J.T. Glover, Selena Chambers, Orrin Grey, and Jesse Bullington. I will be reading from my forthcoming novel, The Pleasure Merchant.

Saturday, 3-4 PM: DEADLY DEFINITIONS: When the Weird Go Pro: Exploring the Parameters and Considering the Directions of a Literary Renaissance – SARNATH

Some would call it a Renaissance. Not your daddy’s Lovecraft mythos pastiche, the Weird in the hands of today’s writers owes as much or more to literary titans such as Melville, Borges, McCarthy and Carter. Others talk about the New Weird and consider it a global movement. What is Weird fiction? Does defining the Weird focus or limit its growth? Why now, why is this literary movement so exciting, and what does the future hold for the Weird?

Moderator: Anya Martin. Panelists: Nathan Ballingrud, Lois Gresh, Scott Nicolay, Molly Tanzer, Michael Wehunt

Saturday, 4-4:30 PM: Reading in INNSMOUTH (Vermilion)

So that’s where I’ll definitely be. I will probably put in an appearance at the Costume Ball (also as Herbert West, natch), and it’s a good bet that I’ll be in the bar at some point. Those of you who have met me in the past, my hair is a giant curly mop now, so don’t look for a Phryne Fisher bob or that bleach blonde buzz cut I was rocking for a while. Those of you who haven’t met me, I’d love for you to say hi!

npr booksMy cat woke me up at 5 AM this morning, for no reason whatsoever, and while I was feeling pretty groggy and annoyed at him and life in general, because what the hell, man, I clicked over to Twitter… and wow! Maybe my cat knew that I’d discover some really amazing news!

I couldn’t be more excited to tell you that Vermilion was reviewed on NPR. And holy mackerel, what a review it is:

Lou is one of the most delightful and charismatic fictional creations in recent memory. Her compelling blend of world-weary wryness and wide-eyed vulnerability makes for some firecracker dialogue, but it also reflects Tanzer’s kaleidoscopic view of the Old West, a place that’s far more dazzling and diverse than most history books have led us to believe. There’s lace with this leather, and there’s grace with this grit. … Vermilion is a unique, hearty, thought-provoking romp that rewrites history with a vivacious flourish.

I am truly humbled and excited by the enthusiasm Vermilion has been garnering from critics and readers. On one hand, it’s a bit bizarre, seeing how quickly people are reading it and writing about it—I’m experiencing a sort of Thanksgiving Dinner syndrome. The dang thing took me 5 years to write, and people are just tearing ass through it! But of course, on the other hand, I wrote it because I wanted to write something that would give people joy, so achieving that is wonderful and cathartic. The excitement is making me excited about the book all over again, and that feels amazing.

If you’ve yet to pick up Vermilion, you can now do so via Weightless Books, either in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (Nook, iPads, maybe Kobo?) and .pdf (???). If you prefer physical books, as Vermilion is distributed and returnable it would be delightful if you requested your local Barnes & Noble or indie bookstore get in, and bought it that way. Libraries can also get it—I know a few have done so already, but the more the merrier! You can also enter the Goodreads Giveaway; Word Horde is giving away three copies.

Finally, if you’ve enjoyed Vermilion, please consider reviewing it on Goodreads or on Amazon, and tell your friends!

 

It’s been a wild week. Vermilion was reviewed nicely on Fantasy Literature, where they also ran an interview with me (comment and you might win a free copy!). Then Chuck Wendig gave me the chance to write about Five Things I Learned While Writing Vermilion over at his blog, Terrible Minds. People seemed to be enjoying it, which is lovely! Oh, and my publisher kindly set up a Goodreads Giveaway for the book—sign up before May 1 and you might win one of 3 copies!

Then yesterday, I got word that Vermilion not only has a *starred* review in Library Journal, but it’s also their SF/F Debut of the Month!

That’s two stars for Vermilion, and I gotta say, it feels wonderful to know that reviewers are enjoying what I’ve done. I’m sure the spectacular cover by Dalton Rose, designed by Osiel Gomez, isn’t hurting the book’s chances of getting noticed. And early Goodreads and Amazon reviews indicate that readers are also enjoying the book, which feels even better!

Anyways, I believe Vermilion will be in the Dealer Room at HorrorFest, so if you’re there this weekend, you could procure your very own copy. And if you’d like to say hi, here’s where I’ll be:

Saturday, April 18th

10 AM: Signing with Carrie Vaughn and Mario Acevedo (Extras Room?)

2 PM: Rebooting Horror Franchies: Is it Possible to Reboot a Horror Franchise? Which Would You Like To See Re-Imagined? (Panels Room)

4 PM: Best Moments in Horror Books and Films: What Are the Moments from Horror Books and Films that Stayed With You? (Panels Room)

Sunday, April 19th

11 AM: Signing with Mario Acevedo (Also in “Extras Room”)

1 PM: From Page to Screen: What Horror Stories Would You Like To See Adapted? (Panels Room)

3 PM: Plumbing the Darkness: Why Do We Write Horror? (Panels Room)

cupcakeTax Day (in the U.S.) seems like the ideal release date for my novel about… death. I mean, I hear both are the only things we can be certain of, right?

Anyways, Vermilion is officially… official. It’s available on B&N.com, Amazon.com, and maybe even some stores (though the chances of you finding one in your favorite local bookseller are increased if you ask nicely!).

I’m excited. I feel kind of weird, actually… I began this book so long ago, and knowing it’s out there in the world is wonderful. But it’s also a sad moment for me. My father passed away when Vermilion was just a draft, before I even had an agent, before a single editor had looked at the manuscript. But my father believed in my writing, and was always so proud of my successes; I know one of his biggest regrets was that he would not live to see it published. I suppose these are weird, macabre thoughts to be having on the official launch date of my first novel, but at the same time, while I would not claim Vermilion is autobiographical, my grief helped me write about grief, and my loss helped me write about loss, and those are… I think writers call them “motifs” in the novel. Fancy.

But, grief is but one aspect of Vermilion. When I look out my window, I can see the Rocky Mountains, whose majestic beauty I tried to do justice to in the novel. The sight of them chills and enthralls me every single day, even though I’ve lived at their base for years now. The aspens are still ghostly and bare, as they are in Vermilion, but they’re putting out the weird little vegetative caterpillars that announce their imminent leaves. And this weekend I’ll be celebrating the release at StarFest/HorrorFest down in Denver, which should be a hoot—I’ll see people like Carrie Vaughn, Stephen Graham Jones, Mario Acevedo, and other authors whose determination and spirit inspired me to keep going throughout the process of writing and editing and shopping and whatever else.

Before I go, I’d like to thank again those whom I mentioned in Vermilion’s acknowledgements… but I’d also like to thank my readers. For those of you who pre-ordered, thank you very much for your support. For those of you who have ordered via an online retailer, I am really and truly forever grateful. Anyone who’s put it on their Goodreads list, entered the giveaway, or is just planning on reading it at some point when they have time/space/funds/whatever, your enthusiasm is much appreciated.

Okay… I’m off. But, thank you again, everyone! And yay, book release day!

Photo on 4-9-15 at 9.37 AM #2It’s here!

I guess this means I can’t do another revision.

The cover is deliciously matte and silky smooth, the paper feels good on the fingers. It’s nice and heavy. It is beautiful and my name is on the cover because I wrote it. So basically what I’m trying to say is… it’s my first novel!

The early reviews are good. I’ve noted the (starred, ahem) Publishers Weekly review, and The Monitor’s high praise. Another site, Crows n’Bones, said:

“Every time I thought I had the book pegged as a specific thing, it would swerve into some wholly new and entertaining territory: Chinese mythology- flavoured occult yarn, picaresque western, opulent vampire chronicle, etc., etc. There are dragon fossils, inept monster slayers, pansexual brothels, snake oil salesmen in possession of the elixir of life, jackalopes, tobacco- obsessed talking bears and a general penchant for gender- bending. I totally approve.”

My Bookish Ways liked it as well, and their thoughtful review made me smile, especially this part:

Ultimately Vermilion calls to mind Joe Lansdale’s The Magic Wagon and Ricky Lau’s slapstick horror film Mr. Vampire along with Cherie Priest’s recent works. Fans of grittier Steampunk novels, urban fantasy, and weird westerns will likely find themselves very comfortable here and enjoy the ride.

Photo on 4-9-15 at 9.41 AMThe Magic Wagon was one of the best novels I read when researching the genre of the weird western, so I’m very excited to have Vermilion compared to such a fantastic expression of the genre!

Anyways, Vermilion is a book, and it’s beautiful, and I’m very, very happy.

Critically, the book is doing well, which is very exciting. That said, if you’ve read it and liked it, or if you want to read it, you can help Vermilion do well commercially, too! Ask your local independent booksellers to carry it (heck, tell your local Barnes & Noble about it, and while you’re being a chum, maybe mention to any bookstore you talk to that yes, the book is distributed/returnable by Ingram). Tell your local library about it, add it to your to-read pile on Goodreads (and any other lists you care to), tell your friends.

Anyways! Ebooks have gone out to pre-orderers, and physical copies should be arriving soon. I hope you all enjoy it! And stay tuned for more news…

We’re less than two weeks out from the official drop date for Vermilion, so before I become ultra-annoying about the book, I figured I’d acknowledge that my debut novel isn’t the only thing in my life.

The latest installment of Pygmalia is up, on Henry James’ Watch and Ward. Verdict: Stinky. But interesting.

I had a story accepted to Ross Lockhart’s latest Lovecraftian anthology, Cthulhu Fhtagn!. Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title, hence the double punctuation. The story, “The Curse of the Old Ones,” was co-authored by myself and Jesse Bullington, and it’s about Ingrid Pitt and Peter Cushing trying to keep their sanity on the set of a doomed Hammer Horror production called… you guessed it. Behold: the full ToC.

I’ll be at Starfest/Horrorfest the weekend of my book release, just Saturday/Sunday, but I’ll be there!

And now, here’s a little something for you, dear reader: two muffin recipes! Both are really delicious. Sorry I don’t have pictures, I didn’t even think about it! But, I came across these recipes when searching for something else yesterday, and I wanted to share.

These muffins are built off a similar base base that includes yogurt in the batter, which makes them fluffy if a bit delicate. Just be gentle when generously spreading with Earth Balance. Trust me on this, though… the carrot tahini, while maybe a little wild-sounding, is absolutely delicious and unique! And the apple pie muffin is like apple pie for breakfast…

Apple Pie Crumb Muffins

  • 2 c. flour
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ c. unsweetened coconut yogurt
  • ½ c. unsweetened nondairy milk
  • ½ c. oil
  • ½ c. finely chopped apple
  • ½ c. grated apple

For the Crumb: 

  • ¼ c. flour
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • a handful of oats
  • a pinch of salt
  • oil

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a muffin tin with spray oil.

Sift dry together. Stir wet together.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix gently until batter is not quite combined, and fold in chopped and shredded apple. Divide evenly among 12 muffin tins.

Mix together the dry ingredients for the crumb and then rub in the oil until it’s crumbly. Spoon over tops of muffins and press in gently.

Bake for 26-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Let sit in muffin tins for a bit before removing—the crumb is a bit delicate.

Carrot Tahini Muffins

  • 2 c. flour
  • ½ c. sugar + 2 tbs
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ c. unsweetened coconut yogurt
  • ½ c. orange juice
  • ½ c tahini
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange flower water (if you have it)
  • ¾ c. diced carrot
  • ¾ c. grated carrot

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a muffin tin with spray oil.

Sift dry together. Mix wet vigorously. The tahini may cause the mixture to seize; if that’s the case, add a little water until it loosens up.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix gently until batter is not quite combined, and fold in diced and shredded carrots. If a little dry, add a bit of water, but the carrots when they cook will make up a lot of moisture.

Bake for 26-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Let sit in muffin tins for a bit before removing—the crumb is a bit delicate.

11106286_10203916584380505_1917450945_nBehold! 

Yes, Vermilion is very nearly out. I’m so excited! People responded very well to the reading I did at AnomalyCon last weekend, which was lovely. Thank you to all who attended, and as for the two attendees who walked away with ARCs, I hope you enjoy the full story!

So, yeah! Keep your eyes peeled for copies in the wild over the next few weeks (and I’d be very grateful if you would ask for the book and Word Horde titles by name at your favorite local bookseller or library if you don’t see it on the shelf). The book is also imminently on Amazon and other online retailers, if you don’t have a favorite local spot to shop.

Inevitably I’m having a few first-novel jitters, but I’m cautiously optimistic about Vermilion. After all, two of my favorite authors had very nice things to say about the novel, which is lovely:

Vermillion is fresh and strange—a dark and sparkling story of magic, monsters, and mystery in the Old Weird West. Gloriously weird and heartfelt, it’s a credit to the genre from start to finish.”

—Cherie Priest, Award-Winning Author of Boneshaker and Maplecroft

Cherie is an amazing writer, and an amazing person, too! Maplecroft was one of the best books I read last year. I’m beyond tickled she enjoyed Vermilion.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, another of my must-read authors also found the book to his taste…

“Tanzer’s debut novel is extraordinary, portraying a world that is engagingly curious and curiously engaging. One doesn’t realise how much one’s life has been missing a story about a Chinese/English buster of violent ghosts out in the wilder end of the Wild West until one reads this. Plus, talking bears.”

—Jonathan L. Howard, author of the Johannes Cabal novels and the forthcoming Carter & Lovecraft 

Any regular reader of my blog knows how much I admire Jonathan Howard’s work, so it means an awful lot to me that he enjoyed the book.

Finally, The Monitor reviewed Vermilion a few weeks ago, for their Top Shelf column, and had exceedingly nice things to say about it:

“Tanzer’s writing, as always, is a delightful meld of period-authentic language and modern sensibilities. Snappy, often hilarious dialogue is embedded in a deftly written narrative thread that gives plenty of room for characters to breathe and evolve. The world-building is fantastic and leaves many opportunities for follow-ups: I for one really hope this is the beginning of a series, as I want desperately to see Lou — an amazingly round and compelling protagonist — back in San Francisco, doing what she does best.

Vermilion abounds with relatable, human characters of various genders and sexual orientations. LGBTQ issues are folded into the supernatural plot with respect and care, focusing on the emotional and interpersonal repercussions in a refreshingly gentle but frank manner.

An amazing debut novel from an author to be reckoned with, Vermilion is most definitely Top Shelf.”

Top Shelf? More like Top That!

You can read the full review at the above link, which sums up the novel better than I’ve ever managed—so, if you still have questions about the book, that’s a great place to check it out!

You can still order Vermilion directly from Word Horde, but as I said, it should be showing up elsewhere very soon. Oh, and as for those of you who pre-ordered, thank you! I confess my signature is awful, so I tried to spice up your bookplates a little. I hope you enjoy!

Lots of news for Vermilion of late, but that will have to wait, because this weekend I’ll be a guest (!) at AnomalyCon, down in Denver. AnomalyCon is historically a Steampunk-focused convention, and many of the panels reflect that. If you’d like to come say hi, please do! Day passes range between $15-20, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. The programming is extensive, you can check out a full schedule at the link, but here’s where you’ll find me, with descriptions of what stuff is:

Friday, 5 PM. The Future of Steampunk. “Steampunk isn’t dead, or even plateauing. New fiction, exciting ideas and where the genre is going beyond the world of written words.”

Friday, 6 PM. Sexuality and Gender Identity in Fiction. “A discussion of the good and bad ways that mainstream fiction is exploring gender identity and sexuality, and how we can do better.”

Saturday, 12 PM. The Science of Steampunk. “Steampunk might be considered “fantasy” to some hardcore scientists today, but the science of Steampunk looks a lot like hard science when examined through a Victorian lens.”

Saturday, 1 PM: Author Free for All. “Don’t miss this wild answer to every question you never thought to ask your favorite authors! Twitter meets steroids.”

Saturday, 5 PM: Steampunk World Interview with S.J. Chambers and Molly Tanzer. “Beyond the Tropes talks Steampunk with S.J. Chambers and Molly Tanzer.”

Saturday, 9 PM. Pornography and Underground Sexuality in the Victorian Era. “Later generations would have you believe the Victorians were prudes, but the truth is something much stranger. Examine the progression of the world’s favorite pastime (sex) from the perspective of the Victorians.”

Sunday, 2 PM: Beyond the 19th Century. “Steampunk Fiction is often categorized as analyzing the future by looking to the past. Explore works that go beyond this past concept and apply Steampunk ideals to other timelines.”

Sunday, 3 PM: New Fiction Now. “Writers Reading Cool Stuff that just came out.” (I’ll be reading from Vermilion, spoiler alert!)

I’ll also be checking out the dealer room, which should be full of fun treats, and seeing what libations the con bar has to offer. My books will also be in the dealer room—A Pretty Mouth, and maybe an extra-special copy of Rumbullion, but not Vermilion, sadly. I will, however, have some fun little promotional giveaways, including physical ARCs! So, come on over and say hi if you like, and make sure to check out the rest of the programming. There will be a lot of great guests, and fun stuff to do and see!

VermillionFrontCover_030415Wow, last week was a whirlwind when it came to my weird little debut novel!

I finally put Vermilion in the bag (good thing, too–as it’s out next month!). I have confidence it’s as good as I can make it, which is a wonderful feeling, moving forward with the project.

Also, the cover was revealed… and what a cover it is! Gaze upon the glory. The majesty. The font! I’ve seen a draft of the back, and it’s astonishing as well. That’s still being worked on, however. I’m really grateful to the time and attention put into this fabulous piece of art by Dalton Rose, the artist, and Osiel Gomez, the designer.

Finally… okay, I’m still kind of jittery and excitable about this… but Vermilion got a STARRED review in Publishers Weekly!

Tanzer’s first novel is a splendid page-turner of a Weird West adventure. Elouise Merriwether is a psychopomp, tasked with escorting newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Half Chinese and half English, with a bizarre job that few people understand, she struggles to find a place for herself in 1870s San Francisco, often vacillating between pluck and self-effacement. When her mother asks her to investigate why young Chinese men are going missing after being offered jobs in Colorado, Lou agrees to turn detective, but she’s bitten off way more than she can chew, especially once she runs up against the mysterious Dr. Panacea and his possibly fraudulent Elixir of Life. This hugely entertaining mixture of American steampunk and ghost story is a wonderful yarn with some of the best dialogue around.

Vermilion has been a long time coming, but I’m very proud of it, and I’m really glad the first review in the world is so enthusiastic. It seems like the reviewer “got” Lou and the project itself, which is wonderful, and hearing that the novel is a “page-turner” ain’t bad.

So! Vermilion is off to a pretty good start, I think it’s safe to say. If you’re interested in helping keep things going that way, consider pre-ordering. Pre-orders count towards crucial first week sales, so it’s a lovely way to show your enthusiasm for an author and his/her work. Plus, the bundle via Word Horde includes a signed copy, and an ebook in the format of your choice! You can keep one for yourself and give one as a gift!

You can also keep the enthusiasm in the air by adding the book to your “want to read” pile on Goodreads (and reviewing it there, and on Amazon of course, once it’s out).

So! I’m off to do weekend things. Starred review means I get to treat myself to breakfast at Dot’s Diner. Mushroom gravy slathered breakfast burrito… here I come!

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