Archive for April, 2015

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.