February newsletter: Monica Byrne, Zine Machine, Oak City Comics Show, Wake County Library’s “Let’s Talk Sci-Fi” series, James Maxey named Piedmont Laureate, Read Across Durham, new books, news, and more

Vol 5 No 2. February 16, 2015: Well, the month is half over and the ice storm is here, so no time like the present to finally get the February newsletter out, right? I’ve got some news, upcoming events, and the monthly avalanche of new books to tell you about, so let’s get started.


First, while there is still a lot of seasoning left in this year’s award season, NC authors have already been on the receiving end of a long and lengthening list of nods. The 2014 Locus Recommended Reading List includes Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road in its First Novel list, as well Lewis Shiner’s novella “The Black Sun” and novelettes from both Dale Bailey (“The End of the End of Everything”, easily one of my favorite short reads of the year) and Nathan Ballingrud (“Skullpocket”), not to mention bullspec.com columnist Paul Kincaid for his non-fiction collection Call and Response. Speaking of Byrne, The Girl in the Road is also on the shortlist for the Kitschies Award’s Golden Tentacle award for best debut; meanwhile Bailey has another short story, “Sleep Paralysis”, on the Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot which also lists Boone author Scott Nicholson’s young adult novel Intentional Haunting. And! The audiobook of Charlotte author A.J. Hartley’s novel (with David Hewson) Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is an Audie Award nominee for best Original Work.

 Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel | [A. J. Hartley, David Hewson] The End of the End of Everything DALE BAILEY illustration by VICTO NGAI (Tor.com)

This year’s Manly Wade Wellman Award last month announced the opening of its nominations period, which continues through Monday, May 18. The nominating “jury” is comprised of the entire combined memberships of illogiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, and ConGregate; to register to place a nominating ballot, please submit a voter registration form; ballots have already gone out to all voters already registered. Last year’s inaugural award was in the news in late 2014 and early 2015, with articles in The Chapel Hill NewsThe Durham News, and The News & Observer. Read the rest of this entry »

January newsletter: illogiCon preview, Kickstarter roundups, and Manly Wade Wellman Award coverage

Vol 5 No 1. January 3, 2015: Happy New Year! Since the November/December newsletter, we’ve had some fantastic events, seen a pile of new books and audiobooks, and! remembered that Bull Spec turned 5 years old in early November as well.

Let’s start with a bit of an illogiCon preview, as in just less than a week the convention will open on Friday with a 3 pm Opening Ceremonies, with guests of honor Jacqueline Carey and Christopher J Garcia, and a fantastic panel of local, regional, and further-afield authors, illustrators, and other creators, including new (to me at least!) guests Clay Gilbert, Garth Graham, Ray Haggerty, Chris Holmquist, Chris Kennedy, Cheralyn Lambeth, Ian J. Malone, Lynn McNamee (publisher of Garner-based Red Adept Publishing), Raulie Raulerson, Terri-Lynne Smiles, and Scott Smith and many familiar faces from across NC including Michael G. Williams, Jeremy Whitley, Mark Van Name, Fraser Sherman, Ed Schubert, Gray Rinehart, James Maxey, Misty Massey, Gail Z. Martin, Debra Killeen, John Kessel, J.L. Hilton, Clay and Susan Griffith (who have four novels coming out in 2015!), Tera Fulbright, Bill Ferris, Richard Dansky, Tony Daniel, Betty Cross, Ada Milenkovic Brown, Natania Barron, and more. Throughout the weekend there’s plenty of panels and readings, as well as a film festival, a Mikey Mason performance, a Nerdvana show, the dealer’s room, and more to explore as well.


Quite a few of that last big list of names are included in the 2015 Manly Wade Wellman Award preliminary eligibility list announcement and already a few updates are in ahead of the final eligibility list’s announcement at illogiCon. Unfortunately several of those updates weren’t in time to make the Carolina Book Beat podcast episode focusing on the list, but if you want to hear a one-minute description of each of the 80 or so books, there you go. Speaking of Carolina Book Beat, Mur Lafferty and I talked with Ursula Vernon at length about her Danny Dragonbreath books and her writing for adults as T. Kingfisher on the previous episode.

Next, since time is of the essence for these, I wanted to roundup some ongoing local- and regional-interest Kickstarter campaigns: Read the rest of this entry »

November newsletter: Garth Stein and NC Specualtive Fiction Night, and (in December) Julia Elliott and Fred Chappell

Vol 4. No 11. November 19, 2014: Whew! Already this month has seen William Gibson at Motorco and NC Comicon at the Durham Convention Center, and there’s more yet in store with Garth Stein at Quail Ridge Books (tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 20) and with the return of the NC Speculative Fiction Night reading series this Saturday (Nov. 22) with “From the Trenches to the Stars” featuring military science fiction (War Stories, The Savior) and interstellar fantasy (Enoch the Traveler). Then in December we’ll be treated to visits by Julia Elliott (The Wilds, Friday December 5 at The Regulator) and Fred Chappell (Familiars, at Quail Ridge Books, Flyleaf Books, and The Regulator).

More on these and other events in the listings below, but first, a big pile of news and links to send your way:

 Purgatory Pub (Book 2)'s video poster

  • Stacey Cochran’s novel Eddie & Sunny has been featured in the Kindle Scout program all month, continuing through November 27, with reader votes determining whether it will receive a $1,500 advance and publishing contract: “Eddie and Sunny have never had much of value in life, save for each other’s love. For months they’ve lived in a car with their young son. A tragedy on the road one night turns the couple into fugitives of the law, separates them, and eventually leads each to believe that the other has died and all hope is lost.” The listing has remained marked “hot” and I wish Cochran the best of luck!
  • Speaking of luck, Gabe Dunston (who art designed Bull Spec #7 and #8) might need a little bit, as his Kickstarter campaign for Purgatory Pub Book 2 is about $1200 short of his goal, with 6 days to go. “This project will only be funded if at least$3,500 is pledged by Tue, Nov 25 2014 11:59 PM EST.” Book one is fantastic, which you might have had a chance to hear about if I’d configured my microphone correctly when trying to video review it, and he really does come through for his backers, as this time lapse video demonstrates.
  • M. David Blake has issued a call for submissions to the next Campbellian Anthology, so if your first professional publication was in 2014 or 2013, let him know! Meanwhile, his anthology STRAEON is imminent, and! he’s announced the reprint sale of “Absinthe Fish” (in Bull Spec #5 and on the Locus Award shortlist) to Rose Lemberg for An Alphabet of Embers. Congrats!
  • Speaking of congrats, Cynthia Sheppard (cover illustrator for Bull Spec #8, a Chesley Award finalist) just unveiled her second cover illustration for Tor Books, for Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory, due out in February 2015.
  • Speaking of covers, Gail Z. Martin asks: “Have you seen the new cover for War of Shadows — the 3rd book in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga with Blaine McFadden?”
  • Mur Lafferty announced the completion of Afterlife VI: Stones. Meanwhile, her Ghost Train to New Orleans podcast continues as well.
  • Speaking of Mur, she and I interviewed James Maxey about his new novel Bad Wizard for Carolina Book Beat.
  • Eryk Pruitt announced the publication date and cover art for his next crime novel, Hashtag, due in Spring 2015 from 280 Steps.
  • Speaking of crime novels, Nathan Ballingrud’s The Visible Filth is up for pre-order from This Is Horror.
  • A new local arts website has launched, www.raleighartsplan.com which asks: “We need to hear from all citizens on how you want to live creatively and how that can shape Raleigh as the Southern Capital of Arts and Culture.”

Read the rest of this entry »

October Newsletter: A Night of Local Horror, HonorCon, and (in November) William Gibson, NC Comicon, and NC Speculative Fiction Night

Vol 4. No 10. October 27, 2014: Well, this newsletter is coming quite a bit late in the month, but we’ve got plenty to show for it, both in the rear-view and coming up in late October and early November including visits from Timothy Zahn, John Barrowman, and William Gibson, and! the first NC Speculative Fiction Night event in quite a while. First, a quick look at some highlighted upcoming events:

Tuesday, Oct 28, Motorco Music Hall hosts "A Night of Local Horror" featuring 10 local short films. 7 pm. 

Tuesday, October 28, Durham’s Motorco Music Hall hosts A Night of Local Horror [Facebook] featuring 10 short horror films from local authors including the local premiere of “Disengaged,” the follow-up to FOODIE and the world premiere of Roger Paris’ “The Vampire”. Tickets are $5 and the doors open at 6 pm.

October 31 through November 2, sf convention HonorCon in Raleigh with guests David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Keith DeCandido, and Emmett Plant. “Celebrating Military Science Fiction Literature and Honor Harrington’s 21st Birthday.” At the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown. Per a Facebook update, “Ticket Sales have been extended through Sunday, October 26th until 11:30pm! There is still time to get your tickets, so sign up! We have David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Keith DeCandido, and some people from Baen books who will be bringing up the Baen Road Show!”


Read the rest of this entry »

September newsletter: John Hodgman, tiltExpo, HMLT, Stuart Rojstaczer, Kim Harrison, John Darnielle, The Escapism Film Festival, Scott Westerfeld, and more!

Vol 4. No 9. September 5, 2014: The first Friday of the month has no fewer than five events to pique your interest, and the first week of the month has already brought the first of five six! seven! new books by North Carolina authors that will hit stores in September.

Let’s start with those events happening today (Friday, September 5):


  • While most festival events are on Saturday and are free, the Bookmarks Festival in Winston-Salem, NC does have a pair of ticketed “Eat and Greet” sessions on Friday, with authors Lisa Leake and Rita Mae Brown. (The Saturday lineup includes Lev Grossman, Tiphanie Yanique, Maggie Stiefvater, Morowa Yejidé, Margaret Stohl, and Jen McConnel, among many others.)\
  • Running Friday through Sunday,  The Escapist Expo returns as tiltExpo — “Triangle Game Initiative (TGI), producer of the East Coast Game Conference – will bring a new consumer event, tiltExpo, to the Durham Convention Center this September 5th, 6th, and 7th.” Guests include Bob Chipman, Chewie Slate, Rich Perrotta, Mating Habits of the Modern Geek, and the UNC “Humans vs Zombies” team, and programming includes open gaming, panels, a costume contest, and an accompanying music festival.
  • At 7 pm, DSI Comedy in Chapel Hill hosts a superhero-themed night of improv battle: “This Friday, six courageous comedians (Power Up!) will face their arch-nemeses Pantie Raid in an epic Cage Match battle! Using a super power based on YOUR suggestions, watch as they soar to new heights of comedy. Will our heroes emerge victorious in their fight against their lingerie-loving foes? Only YOU can decide.”
  • At 8 pm, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern presents “HMLT: a version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet” at Durham’s Oval Park outdoor amphitheatre (1100 Oakland Ave) at 8 pm — “With a focus on the disintegration of two powerful families, Little Green Pig brings its signature intensity to Shakespeare’s masterpiece about the pathology of denial.”
  • Also at 8 pm — The Carolina Theatre of Durham presents John Hodgman with special guest David Rees: “John Hodgman is a writer, humorist, geek celebrity, former professional literary agent and expert on all world knowledge. He was the bumbling PC in Apple’s long-running “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC” ad campaign.”

And before I get to the new books and other news, here’s a sampling (for the full listing, see further down) of events further ahead this month: Read the rest of this entry »

August Newsletter: Mur Lafferty wins the Manly Wade Wellman Award; events with Charles Soule, Lev Grossman, and John Scalzi; more news and links; and an announcement on the future of Bull Spec

Vol 4. No 8. August 14, 2014: Well, it was bound to happen. In about a year of monthly guest hosting on Carolina Book Beat, I hadn’t had a podcast fail. Well, it happened in early July, as guests Wilton Barnhardt and Jeff VanderMeer were really quite fantastic, but if you didn’t catch it live, you missed it. Mea culpa.

July was a banner month for events, with Barnhardt, Jay Posey, VanderMeer, Lydia Netzer, Deborah Harkness, D.B. Jackson a.k.a. David B. Coe, and Mur Lafferty all holding events, not to mention new sf convention ConGregate in Winston-Salem with guests of honor Larry Correia and Toni Weisskopf, where Lafferty was awarded the first Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy for her novel The Shambling Guide to New York City. Lafferty writes, “It was a huge honor to win, and an even bigger honor to be the first recipient.”At the same awards ceremony, Rich Sigfrit won the Cornerstone Award for his 10+ years of contributions to Carolinas fandom.


Speaking of awards, Natania Barron (for her Pilgrim of the Sky Live video reading series) and Tony Daniel (as host for Baen Free Radio Hour) were nominated for Parsec Awards, along with Bull Spec “alum” Tina Connolly (for her Toasted Cake speculative fiction podcast). Honoring excellence in speculative fiction podcasting, the awards will be presented at Dragon*Con. Read the rest of this entry »

June newsletter: MakerFaire, Noir at the Bar, ConTemporal, and the last week for Manly Wade Wellman Award nominations

Vol 4. No 6. June 6, 2014: First, it was pretty amazing to see so many fantastic NC authors and fans at ConCarolinas last weekend. (And, OK, sure, those coming in from out of state as well!) June is a bit quieter in terms of readings, though (of course) there’s still plenty going on, from Maker Faire this weekend to ConTemporal to close out the month, and the first “Noir at the Bar” event on June 19 with a half-dozen (and counting) crime novelists holding court.

Looking further ahead, while there’s rumor and word of a D.B. Jackson signing at Quail Ridge Books in July, I don’t have the final details to pass along just yet. But! The “NEW” event listings include the annual “Can’t Stop the Serenity” charity screening of the Firefly movie in July and not one but two readings with John Scalzi in late August.

Meanwhile, new bullspec.com content (other than a few “Friday Quick Update” posts) since the last newsletter includes:

And, speaking of Durham author Monica Byrne, she was my guest on The Latest from Carolina Book Beat: Monica Byrne which is now available in podcast. There’s one more night to catch her play Tarantino’s Yellow Speedo at Durham’s Manbites Dog Theatre, and she will be at McIntyre’s books on Saturday, June 14.

Lastly, I need to draw your attention to nominations for the 2014 Manly Wade Wellman Award, which have been extended through Friday, June 13. If you are or were a member of illogiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, or ConGregate, you are eligible to vote! If you haven’t, please fill out the registration form and I will get your e-ballot to you as soon as I can.





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