July Newsletter: Wilton Barnhardt, Jay Posey, Jeff VanderMeer, ConGregate, David B. Coe, Serenity, and more

Vol 4. No 7. July 7, 2014: We are in for an absolutely fantastic July, with readings from Wilton Barnhardt, Jay Posey, Jeff VanderMeer, Lydia Netzer, Deborah Harkness, David B. Coe, and Mur Lafferty, new convention ConGregate in Winston-Salem with guests of honor Larry Correia and Toni Weisskopf and the presentation of the Manly Wade Wellman Award, and! even more, including comics events and the annual charity screening of Serenity at the Raleighwood Cinema Grill.

Let’s start with NC State professor Wilton Barnhardt, who has two readings early this week in support of the new paperback release of his NY Times bestselling Southern novel Lookaway, Lookaway, optioned earlier this year by HBO for a comedy series. He’s my guest on Carolina Book Beat this morning (Monday) at 10 on WCOM-FM, then reads at Flyleaf Books at 7 pm on Monday night, and at McIntyre’s Books on Tuesday at 6:30 pm.


Speaking of Tuesday, Durham author and game writer Jay Posey will be at the Cary B&N at 7 pm for a reading of Morningside Fall, book two after his debut novel Three in his “The Legends of the Duskwalker” post-apocalyptic series.

Then starting mid-week it’s the Jeff VanderMeer show, with 4 readings in the Carolinas in just over a week, starting and ending with Wednesday events (9th and 16th) at Hub City in Spartanburg, SC around readings on Thursday (July 10th) at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books at 7:30 pm and Saturday (July 12th) at Asheville’s Malaprop’s. And! He will be my guest via phone this week on Carolina Book Beat at 11 AM. (Do check out his conversation with Frank Stasio on WUNC’s The State of Things which aired last week.)

New convention ConGregate will be held July 11-13 in downtown Winston-Salem, with guests of honor Larry Correia, Mark Poole, and Toni Weisskopf, and the presentation of the 2014 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy to one of the six excellent nominees:

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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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May newsletter: Mary Robinette Kowal tonight (Monday), new books from David Drake and Monica Byrne, ConCarolinas with George R.R. Martin, and more

Vol 4. No 5. May 12, 2014: Whew! In a month which kicked off with readings from Alena Graedon, Jay Posey, and Christopher Moore, Free Comic Book Day festivities and a “May the Fourth Be With You” burlesque, and when there’s a reading TONIGHT from Mary Robinette Kowal, I’m quite a bit late on the May newsletter. Better late than never?

Let’s start with the new books. The first week of April brought a crop already covered in the April newsletter, and the rest of the month saw two more local releases: Mistress Of Land And Sea by Betty Cross (Double Dragon eBooks) and Morningside Fall by Jay Posey (Angry Robot), both sequels to previous books. Meanwhile, earlier this week saw the publication of David Drake’s The Sea Without a Shore, the latest (and tenth!) in his Lt. Leary space opera/adventure series from Baen Books.

mistressoflandandsea-510 MorningsideFall-144dpi drake-9781476736396

Speaking of Baen Books, in partnership with the Indianapolis-based Gen Con gaming convention’s Writer’s Symposium, Baen has announced a new writing contest for adventure fantasy, the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, for short stories under 8000 words “centered on adventure fantasy short stories, whether epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, or contemporary fantasy.” Writers, take note! Also for writers, NC authors Nathan Ballingrud (whose collection North American Lake Monsters was just nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award) and Dale Bailey are among the workshop instructors for LitReactor’s The Horror, The Horror: Writing Horror Fiction with Substance which starts June 2 and is currently accepting signups.

On to events! Two readings on my calendar this month, starting tonight (Monday, May 12) at 7:30 pm, when Quail Ridge Books once again hosts Raleigh native Mary Robinette Kowal — who took the time for a Coming to Town interview — for her latest Glamourist Histories novel. This time it’s Valour and Vanity, described as “Jane Austen’s Ocean’s Eleven … with magic” — a heist novel complete with an edge-of-your-seat gondola chase through Venice. Then, (almost) to close the month on Wednesday May 28, Durham author Monica Byrne launches her debut novel The Girl in the Road at The Regulator Bookshop at 7 pm.

Valour and Vanity The Girl in the Road

New events in the listings since the last newsletter include Jeff VanderMeer in July and Lev Grossman in August, as well as a “Video Games Live: Bonus Round” concert by the NC Symphony in June.

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April Newsletter: NC Literary Festival tonight (w/ Lev Grossman) through this weekend; Ann VanderMeer brings time travel to Flyleaf Books on April 21; so many new books; and (in May) Christopher Moore and Mary Robinette Kowal

Vol 4. No 4. April 3, 2014:

April is here, and, finally, so is Spring — hopefully to stay this time. March was quite a month, with a large helping of new books and several fantastic events, and April is off to a cracking start with a full handful of more new books and another round of can’t-miss events, starting today, Thursday April 3, with Lev Grossman at the North Carolina Literary Festival at 7:30 pm, reading at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library Auditorium at NC State’s Centennial Campus, and continuing all weekend including Junot Diaz (Friday, 7 pm), Karen Joy Fowler and R.L. Stine in a special Monti storytelling event (Friday, 8 pm), Karen Joy Fowler and Therese Anne Fowler (Saturday, 11:30 am), Nathan Ballingrud, R.L. Stine, and Peter Straub (Saturday, 12:30 pm), John Kessel and Peter Straub (Saturday, 3:30 pm), a “Literary Fantastic” panel (Sunday, 2 pm, with Kessel, Ballingrud, Dale Bailey, and Richard Butner), and many and much more for readers of all ages.

There are some new events coming up as well, including: Flyleaf Books hosting Ann VanderMeer on Monday, April 21; Quail Ridge Books hosting Mary Robinette Kowal on Monday, May 12; book launches from local authors Jen McConnel, Jay Posey, and Monica Byrne; and too many more to list up here, so do check out the complete listings below.

Speaking of new books, something is absolutely in the air (and likely water) here, as March and April are absolutely packed with NC-authored science fiction and fantasy. How many? Here’s March: Mur Lafferty’s Ghost Train to New Orleans; Jenna Black’s ResistanceJen McConnel’s Daughter of Chaos; Margaret Killjoy’s A Country of Ghosts; and Scott Nicholson’s After: Milepost 291.


And already out in April? Asheville author Alexandra Duncan’s debut novel Salvage; Charlotte author Gail Z. Martin’s Reign of Ash; and the essay anthology Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction co-edited by (ex-Durham, sadly) Gerry Canavan. In addition to new books, there are plenty of new editions as well, from a newly-announced special limited definitive edition of Lewis Shiner’s Glimpses from Subterranean Press, to ReAnimus Press editions of Allen L. Wold’s backlist, to a mass market paperback edition of Tony Daniel and David Drake’s The Heretic in Drake’s “Raj Whitehall/The General” series. And speaking of Tony Daniel, his radioplay adaptation of Eric Flint’s novella “Islands” is set to be recorded this weekend, with a fantastic cast, if I do say so myself.

Glimpses Signed Limited Edition (preorder) cover  Islands Poster

It’s also been a near-banner month for new web content at bullspec.com ranging from reviews to interviews and guest columns and more: The Exploding Spaceship Release Day Edition (a day late in US and a day early in the UK): Reviews of Emilie and the Sky World and the 57 Lives of Alex WayfareComing to Town: Kim Harrison for The Undead Pool, interviewed by Sharon Stogner; The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Some Recent Good Urban Fantasy Reads: The Cormorant, Black Arts and Ghost Train to New OrleansThe Exloding Spaceship Reviews Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi and The Eidolon by Libby McGuganThe Hardest Part: Mur Lafferty on Ghost Train to New OrleansLocal book release: Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnelPaul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, March 2014: The Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, Diana Wynne Jones’ The Islands of Chaldea, Ken MacLeod’s Descent, and Nick Mamatas’ The Last Weekend; and The Hardest Part: Alexandra Duncan on Salvage.

Lastly, while we celebrate the future of reading at the NC Literary Festival this weekend, the NC Science Festival is also ongoing through April 13. Signature events (among hundreds of talks and hands-on science exhibitions!) include: Thursday, April 3, Neil deGrasse Tyson at NCSU’s Hunt Library Auditorium; Wednesday April 9, ESPN’s Sports Science Host John Brenkus at UNC’s Memorial Hall; and Sunday April 13, Mary Roach at The Carolina Theatre of Durham. It’s a fun time to be in NC!





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March Newsletter: Margaret Killjoy, Mur Lafferty, Kim Harrison, The Manly Wade Wellman Award opens for nominations, and (in April) the NC Literary Festival

Vol 4. No 3. March 4, 2014:

Welcome, a bit belatedly, to March! The most recent Friday “Quick” Update has so much info that I don’t want to swamp this newsletter in repeating all of it, but in short it covers some new content at bullspec.com (new The Hardest Part essays, Coming to Town interviews, Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side column on British sf, and the latest The Exploding Spaceship reviews column) as well as some new books (Allen L. Wold just published a new collection A Closet for a Dragon: and Other Early Tales, and Scott Nicholson just released The Narrow Gate: A Supernatural Thriller) and comics (Vandroid #1 by Tommy Lee Edwards and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #2 by Jeremy Whitley).

Among other news from last month, some highlights:

  • Mur Lafferty was featured in USA Today for her podcasting; look for more there about her forthcoming book, Ghost Train to New Orleans, soon. Speaking of Ghost Train to New Orleans, it was named a Best Bet for March speculative fiction in Kirkus Reviews. You can read an excerpt of the book already, ahead of the print, ebook, and audiobook release TODAY, and the local launch party at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books on Thursday night. (And! I talkied with Mur on Carolina Book Beat on Monday morning at 10 am on WCOM-FM; look for the podcast of that broadcast soon.)
  • The NC Literary Festival announced lineup additions to their April 3-6 roster, which already included (among many others) Junot Diaz, Karen Joy Fowler, Peter Straub, R.L. Stine, John Kessel, William Barnhardt, Daniel Wallace, Therese Anne Fowler, and many, many more including Bill Ferris, John Claude Bemis, and Zelda Lockhart. The additions? No less spectacular, including (again, among others) Lev Grossman, Nathan Ballingrud, Richard Butner, Richard Case, and Allan Gurganus. Yeah, wow.
  • Eryk Pruitt‘s forthcoming debut novel, the “Southern Fried crime noir” Dirtbags, has a new trailer.
  • The Duke Chronicle’s Annie Piotrowski wrote an absolutely fantastic article on three Triangle-area small press magazines, one of which was Bull Spec, for which she took the time to have a phone conversation with me. I really, really love how it turned out.

Some “new” news to pass along as well:

  • The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation announced that nominations are now open (through Friday, May 2) for the  2014 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy, along with an updated final nomination list which includes 69 novels.
  • Natania Narron’s “live reading” of her novel Pilgrim of the Sky stands at nine episodes so far: http://www.youtube.com/user/pilgrimofthesky
  • Gabriel Dunston has started shipping out Kickstarter reward copies of Purgatory Pub! Yeah!
  • Stephanie Ricker is one of five winners of Rooglewood Press’ “Cinderella” writing competition, with a space-set short story “A Cinder’s Tale” set to appear in the forthcoming anthology Five Glass Slippers.
  • Richard Dansky’s Tumblr of “People Doing Terrible Things to My Book” now features a video of me chainsawing his novel Vaporware in half, filmed by Geek Field Guide’s Warren Schultz. Yes, it does.

In terms of upcoming events, there’s quite a lot going on in March and early April, including a reading tonight at Internationalist Books and Community Center on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, by SteamPunk Magazine founder Margaret Killjoy of his forthcoming anarchist utopian novel,  A Country of Ghosts, praised by Kim Stanley Robinson as “An exciting and mysterious novel, a story of war and love.” Killjoy was kind enough to take the time for an interview for bullspec.com‘s “Coming to Town” series, which I hope you will find interested as well. Next up later this week are (on Thursday) Mur Lafferty’s launch party for Ghost Train to New Orleans at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books and (on Friday) Quail Ridge Books hosts Kim Harrison for The Undead Pool.

Lastly, I want to (again) highlight the 2014 North Carolina Literary Festival, or “NC Lit Fest”, which this year is held at NC State on April 3-6. It’s a smorgasbord of awesome, from visiting authors (Junot Diaz, Peter Straub, Karen Joy Fowler, Lev Grossman, on and on) to North Carolina’s own (John Kessel, Daniel Wallace, Nathan Ballingrud, Richard Butner, on and on). Do keep an eye out for the schedule later this month and see if anything strikes your fancy. I’m sure it will strike mine,


MARCH 2014

4 — Local book release day for Ghost Train to New Orleans (The Shambling Guides) by Durham’s Mur Lafferty (Mar 4, 2014).

NEW: 4 (Tuesday) 7 pm — Internationalist Books and Community Center hosts author Margaret Killjoy to talk about his forthcoming utopian anarchist sf novel A Country of Ghosts, praised by Kim Stanley Robinson as “An exciting and mysterious novel, a story of war and love.” More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1411094312476615/

5 (Wednesday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Ishmael Beah – ‘Radiance of Tomorrow’. (Fiction.)

6 (Thursday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Mur Lafferty discusses her fantasy novel Ghost Train to New Orleans.

7 (Friday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Kim Harrison for The Undead Pool. More info:http://www.quailridgebooks.com/event/theundeadpool

11 — Local book release day for Resistance by Jenna Black.

NEW-NEW: 13 (Thursday) 7 pm — The Regulator Bookshop hosts Kenneth Calhoun for Black Moon, his novel imagining an insomnia epidemic. More info: http://regulatorbookshop.com/event/kenneth-calhoun [how did I miss seeing this in my almost-weekly perusal of local bookstore calendars?!]

NEW-NEW: 15 (Saturday) 4:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts a “Divergent” fan party to celebrate the film adaptation of the popular YA dystopian novel.

16 (Sunday) 3 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Richard Peck – ‘The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail’. (Kids.)

17 (Monday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts the “Three Nightmares You Can’t Resist” tour with authors Kristen Simmons, Mindee Arnett, and Jenna Black. More info:http://www.flyleafbooks.com/event/three-nightmares-you-can%E2%80%99t-resist-tour-featuring-kristen-simmons-mindee-arnett-jenna-black

NEW-NEW: 21-23 (Friday to Sunday) —  Atomic Empire hosts a 3-day “Magic the Gathering” tournament, Magic: Eternal Weekend V: The Atomic Empire Strikes Back.

NEW: 21-23 (Friday to Sunday) – Mad Monster Party Charlotte with William Shatner, Hulk Hogan, and more: http://madmonster.ticketleap.com/mmp14/

NEW-NEW: 23 (Sunday) 7:30 pm — Carrboro’s All Day Records hosts INVERSIONS 2 with readings and spoken word performances by V. Manuscipt, E. Viszk, Brian Howe, and Mildew Ethers.

25 — Local book release day for Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnel.

NEW-NEW: 28-29 (Friday and Saturday) — Statesville, NC’s Mitchell Community College will host the 2014 Doris Betts Spring Writers Festival on Mar. 28 and 29. One of the guests is N.K. Jemisin, “an author of speculative fiction short stories and novels. Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, her work has been nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award and has been shortlisted for the Crawford, the Gemmell Morningstar, and the Tiptree. Her short fiction has been published in Clarkesworld, Postscripts, Strange Horizons, Baen’s Universe, Ideomancer, Abyss & Apex, and print anthologies.” More info including free registration for the Saturday morning writers workshop: http://www.mitchellcc.edu/news.cfm?Action=Det&ID=361

28 (Friday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Meg Wolitzer – ‘The Interestings’. (Fiction.)

APRIL 2014 Read the rest of this entry »

Feburary newsletter: Wendy Webb, Sheila Turnage, Deborah Johnson, Alice Hoffman, Megan Shepherd, MystiCon, TV deals, new and forthcoming books, literary lineups, and more

Vol 4. No 2. January 31, 2014:

Well, January was what one might call a good month. RDU-based convention illogiCon welcomed Mary Robinette Kowal, Lawrence M. Schoen, Laura Anne Gilman, Gail Z. Martin, Misty Massey and Ed Schubert, and many more to town, along with fantastic participation from Triangle-area authors and fans; William Shatner rocked the house with his one-man show; Quail Ridge Books hosted Carrie Vaughn for Dreams of the Golden Age; and Jeaniene Frost closed out January with the launch of her latest Night Hunters novel. We also saw new books from Lisa Shearin (on December 31), Cate Tiernan, Megan Shepherd, and Faith Hunter, along with the first in Tor’s re-releases of Jenna Black‘s Guardians of the Night series, a new paperback edition of Ariel Djanikian’s just-optioned-for-TV The Office of Mercy, and! J.M. McDermott’s long-awaited Maze. But don’t sleep in too late to start February, though, as tomorrow (Saturday, February 1), Wendy Webb brings her haunted house novel The Vanishing to Flyleaf Books at 11 AM, kicking off a February that went from sparse to packed since the last newsletter.

 The Office of Mercy: A Novel Maze

Speaking of television, more big, big news on that front is that HBO is set to develop a comedy based on NCSU professor Wilton Barnhardt’s darkly hilarious 2013 novel Lookaway, Lookaway. And speaking of NCSU, they’re looking for a visiting writer to teach in their MFA program next year. Via John Kessel: “NC State University is looking for a Visiting Fiction Writer to teach in our MFA program for the 2014-2015 academic year. Detail available at the NCSU website and also on the AWP Job List. This is meant to be a graduate professorship, so we’re look for experienced and well-published candidates.”

More news? Here you go:

  • The cover for the Kickstarter-funded Kaiju Rising anthology has been posted, featuring local writers Natania Barron and James Maxey amidst a gorgeous wraparound cover by Bob Eggleton.
  • ConCarolinas has added considerably to its guest lineup, headlined of course by guest of honor George R.R. Martin and special guest David Weber.  One of those new guests? Yours truly, making my first trip to the convention. More info at the new website: http://www.concarolinas.net/
  • Speaking of impressive lineups, the North Carolina Literary Festival has announced its lineup, which is simply amazing, including Junot Diaz, Karen Joy Fowler, Peter Straub, R.L. Stine, John Kessel, William Barnhardt, Daniel Wallace, Therese Anne Fowler, and many, many more including Bill Ferris, John Claude Bemis, and Zelda Lockhart. The festival runs April 3-6 at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State University. (And I’m hearing rumors of at least one more major guest announcement to come. Stay tuned!)
  • Local author (and Bull Spec poetry contributor!) Jen McConnel extends an invitation to area writers for her guest post series Writers on Wednesday
  • Durham writer Jeremy Whitley’s story for the new comic book My Little Pony: Friends Forever is the debut “Discord” comic story in the forthcoming issue 2, coming in Feburary. Here’s an interview of Whitley by Zack Smith for Newsarama.
  • Richard Dansky has an article on Deadlands in the latest issue of Dark Discoveries magazine.
  • Pete Wood’s story “Drink in a Small Town” is in the latest (March) Asimov’s, on newsstands now.
  • Natania Barron is hosting a live-reading (via Google Hangout) of her novel Pilgrim of the Sky in February.
  • The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation announced the final eligibility list for the inaugural Manly Wade Wellman Award, with nominations opening soon.

Meanwhile, bullspec.com has been quite busy as well, with: the first installment of Paul Kincaid’s column on British SF, “From the Other Side”; a fantastic series of “Coming to Town” interviews including Laura Anne Gilman interviewed by Jaym Gates, Lawrence M. Shoen interviewed by Ada Milenkovic Brown, Misty Massey interviewed by Edmund R. Schubert, and both Carrie Vaughn and Wendy Webb interviewed by Richard Dansky; and two guest posts in “The Hardest Part” including Jenna Black and Lisa Shearin.

Speaking of Shearin, it was my pleasure to talk to her on Carolina Book Beat in early January. In addition to the podcast of that interview (which includes her reading from her new book), the CBB folks posted podcasts of recent appearances by Jason Mott and Matt Ross. This Monday (Feb 3) I’ll be on with illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards to talk about his forthcoming Vandroid project. And in March I’m very excited to have Mur Lafferty on to talk about Ghost Train to New Orleans, her forthcoming sequel to The Shambling Guide to New York City, and for which she’s just finished principal recording on the audiobook edition.



1 (Saturday) 11 am – Flyleaf Books hosts Wendy Webb for The Vanishing. More book info: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/wendy-webb/the-vanishing/9781401341947/

NEW-NEW: 1 (Saturday) 3 pm to late — Atomic Empire’s first “tap takeover” is courtesy the Duck-Rabbit Brewery: “Duck-Rabbit is taking over all eight of Atomic Empire’s taps! Beer selection will include: Amber Ale, Brown Ale, Porter, Milk Stout, Hoppy Bunny, Barleywine, Baltic Porter, and Paul’s Day Off Smoked Stout. We will also be selling flights, so you can try more than one.”

4 — Regional book release day for The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage, followup to her Newbery honor winner and NY Times bestseller Three Times Lucky (Greenville).

4 — Regional book release day for Vengeance by Megan Miranda, sequel to her 2012 YA supernatural thriller Fractured (Charlotte).

NEW-NEW: 4 (Tuesday) 7 pm — Duke’s Smith Warehouse hosted a reading by PEN/Malamud Award winner George Saunders. More info: http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2014/02/03/english-department-brings-george-saunders-campus

NEW: 6 (Thursday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Sheila Turnage – ‘The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing’. “Mark your calendar now for the launch of one of the biggest children’s books of the year.”

NEW-NEW: 6 (Thursday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Philipp Meyer discusses his historical novel The Son (paperback release). (Fiction.)

NEW-NEW: 8 (Saturday) 3 to 5 pm — Durham County’s Southwest Regional Library hosts a “Meet the Author” event with Durham author Mur Lafferty. More info: http://durhamcountylibrary.org/events/meet-the-author-mur-lafferty/

NEW-NEW: 8 (Saturday) 10 am to 3 pm — The High Country Festival of the Book hosts a special February event in Boone, NC, bringing authors Deborah Johnson and Ed Williams to the area. More info: http://www.highcountryfestivalofthebook.com/

NEW-NEW: 9 (Sunday) 3 pm — Bookmarks NC “Book Club Moveable Feast” in Winston-Salem, NC with authors Wilton Barnhardt, Arien Djanikian, Deborah Johnson, Wendy Welch, and more changing tables every 10 minutes to meet with and discuss with readers. Tickets (4 remaining at last check) are available at: http://bookmarksnc.givezooks.com/events/book-club-movable-feast

 NEW: 10 (Monday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Deborah Johnson – The Secret of Magic. Johnson’s novel is amazing; it’s an historical fiction set in Mississippi in the late 1940s as a black GI returns home from WW2 to the segregated South, built around an actual NAACP Legal Fund case and a fictional fantasy novel within the novel. (Fiction.)

NEW: 11 (Tuesday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Deborah Johnson discusses her novel The Secret of Magic. (See above for my brief thoughts on this fantastic book.)

NEW: 16 (Sunday) 2 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Joyce Allen launches her young adult novel The Threads of Earth, part two of the Threads trilogy.

NEW: 17 (Monday) 7:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Alice Hoffman – ‘The Museum of Extraordinary Things’.

NEW: 19 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm — McIntyre’s Books hosts Alice Hoffman for The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

NEW: 20 (Thursday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts The Lovestruck Tour – Four Passionate Authors. (See below for list.)

NEW: 21 (Friday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts The Lovestruck Tour, featuring YA authors Megan Hansen Shepherd (Her Dark Curiosity), Megan Miranda (Fracture), Kasie West (Pivot Point), and Robin Constantine (The Promise of Amazing).

NEW-NEW: 21-23 (Friday to Sunday) — 15th Nevermore Film Festival at The Carolina Theatre of Durham. More info: http://festivals.carolinatheatre.org/nevermore/

21-23 (Friday to Sunday) — MystiCon in Roanoke, VA withguests John de Lancie (ST:TNG’s “Q”), author Todd McCaffery, author A.J. Hartley, and more. More info: http://mysticon-va.com/

NEW-NEW: 25 (Tuesday) 7 pm — A Knights of Badassdom screening at the Raleighwood Cinema Grill. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1378122032455699/

26 — Regional book release day for The Narrow Gate: A Supernatural Thriller (Solom) by Scott Nicholson (Boone).

26 — Local comic book launch day for Vandroid by Tommy Lee Edwards.

NEW-NEW: 28 (Friday) — The Carolina Theatre of Durham is playing a Labyrinth and Legend doubleheader showing, starting at 7 pm. More info: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/films/labyrinth-legend

NEW-NEW: 28 (Friday) — Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore hosts a ticketed event with author Karen Russell (Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories). The program includes an interview by Greta Johnsen followed by a booksigning and wine and cheese reception. More info: http://www.malaprops.com/event/karen-russell-conversation-wcqs-morning-edition-host-greta-johnsen-ticketed-event

MARCH 2014 Read the rest of this entry »

January Newsletter: illogiCon, William Shatner, Carrie Vaughn, Wendy Webb, and more

Vol 4. No 1. January 2, 2014:

Happy New Year! Plenty, plenty to talk about since December’s newsletter, so let’s get to it. First, though, I can’t turn the page on 2013 without another mention of the fourth annual guide to regional science fiction and fantasy which covers 2013 in regional sf/f books. We celebrated a pretty big stack of those at the first annual regional author holiday book expo– here are some pictures of the authors and a few guests at the event. Big thanks to them, to the folks who stopped by to support the expo, and to Atomic Empire for hosting us.

But the big news last month was the announcement of The Manly Wade Wellman Award by the newly-launched North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation. I’m very hopeful that this can be a fantastic yearly celebration of North Carolina’s fine, fertile field of speculative fiction authors and their books. Just sneaking into that 2013 crop is a New Year’s Eve release, The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin, ahead of two regional releases next week as both Cate Tiernan and Faith Hunter have new books due on Jan 7, and another as Jenna Black has a novel due out on Jan 14. Whew!

Speaking of Hunter, she had a very busy December with an anthology Kicking It co-edited with Kalayna Price on December 3 and two books on December 10, a collection Cat ‘O Nine Tales: The Jane Yellowrock Stories and (with Carol Malcolm) The Jane Yellowrock World Companion. December was also a big month for “The Hardest Part” at bullspec.com, with gest essays from L. Jagi Lamplighter, Nick Mamatas, and Tina Connolly. Meanwhile in radio appearances, I had a chance to talk with Durham translator Matthew Ross on Carolina Book Beat (which later in the month had Wilmington author Jason Mott on as well), and (with Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books) recommend the year’s best regional books on The State of Things.

While my 2014 preview is coming soon, in terms of events there’s plenty going on to start the year, highlighted by illogiCon on January 10-12 in Raleigh, bringing guests of honor Mary Robinette Kowal and Lawrence M. Shoen to town, ahead of a packed month of events with William Shatner (Jan 12), Scientists with Stories (Jan 16), Carrie Vaughn (Jan 17), a Knights of Badassdom screening (Jan 22), and (on Feb 1) Wendy Webb. See you out and about! And if you really want to catch me, keep an eye on the illogiCon programming page…




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December newsletter: The fourth annual Bull Spec guide to Carolinas science fiction and fantasy, ahead of the first annual regional author holiday book expo this Saturday!

Vol 3. No 12. December 5, 2013:

Finally! It’s here! Bull Spec announces the release of the fourth annual guide to regional science fiction and fantasy, covering 2013 in Carolinas (and some friendly neighbors) novels, anthologies, collections, young adult, middle grade, audiobooks, and more. The guide, organized both by format (novel, anthology, audiobook) and genre/age group (fantasy, science fiction, horror, young adult) includes works by Ariel Djanikian, Tony Daniel, David Weber, David Drake, Jay Posey, David Niall Wilson, Jacob Foxx, Alex Cavanaugh, James Maxey, Gail Martin, Tonia Brown, Matt Ross, Danny Birt, J. Michael Shell, Michael J. Sullivan, Maggie Schein, Mindi Meltz, Melissa Scott and Jo Graham, Faith Hunter, John Hartness, Jenna Black, Mur Lafferty, RS Belcher, Diana Bastine, Stuart Jaffe, David B. Coe, Cherie M. Priest, Daniel Wallace, Richard Dansky, Mike Allen, Jason Mott, Alex Wilson, Lewis Shiner, Nathan Ballingrud, Lauren Harris, Kelly Gay, Davey Beauchamp, Hank Davis, Natania Barron, Jason Morningstar, Beth Revis, Megan Shepherd, Author, David Macinnis Gill, Mike Jasper, Bridget Ladd, Alethea Kontis, Nathan Kotecki, L. Jagi Lamplighter, PT McHugh, A.J. Hartley, Ursula Vernon, Gabriel Dunston, Jeremy Whitley, Jason Strutz, Brockton McKinney, Clay Griffith, JM McDermott, Teresa Frohock, Alex Granados, Nancy A. Collins, Gray Rinehart, Jay Requard, Tee Morris, Pip Ballantine, Steve White, Eden Royce, and more.

The guide is released in advance of the first annual regional author holiday book expo at Durham’s Atomic Empire on Saturday, December 7 from 3 to 8 pm, which includes nearly 20 of the Carolinas authors from this year’s guide, who will be on hand to sign and personalize their books. So far, the lineup includes: Natania Barron (Geek Mom), Clay and Susan Griffith (Vampire Empire), Matthew Ross (The Secret of Ji), James Maxey (Greatshadow), Nathan Kotecki (The Suburban Strange), Ariel Djanikian (The Office of Mercy), Jay Posey (Three), and more.

Meanwhile! Some publication notes and other news:

  • K. B. Sluss, “Lost in Transit” in Daily Science Fiction (K.B. also posted a really nice review of Jason Mott’s The Returned and another of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Shaman)
  • In September, Jordan Taylor‘s short story “The Desire of All Things” was published in Shimmer 17
  • Alan Watkins’ flash story “Blackout” was published at Dead Mule
  • Alex Wilson‘s Writers of the Future winning story “Vestigial Girl” was podcast on Escape Pod back in July, read by Carolinas author Nathaniel Lee
  • Durham author Stephen Messer shared a Herald-Sun article on the opening of a new bookstore in downtown Durham
  • Local comics news? Yes. Brockton McKinney posts that Ehmm Theory #4 is out now!
  • ECGC 2014 is open for registration: http://ecgconf.com/register/

Lastly, I couldn’t stop by too long, but this year’s NC Comicon was a smashing success. Great, lively, costumed crowds, a fantastic lineup of guests and vendors. If I didn’t see you there, and if I won’t see you this weekend at the holiday book expo, will I see you at illogiCon in January?





3 — Regional book release day for the anthology Kicking It edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price (December 3)

NEW: 7 (Saturday) 2 to 4 pm — Chapel Hill Comics hosts a Man v Liver signing with Neil Hinson and Paul Friedrich. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1430873870461541/

NEW: 7 (Saturday) 3 to 8 pm — First annual regional author holiday book expo at Durham’s Atomic Empire, with (so far) Natania Barron, Clay and Susan Griffith, Matthew Ross, Bully Pulpit Games, Eryk Pruitt, Ariel Djanikian, Stuart Jaffe, and Bull Spec. More info: http://bullspec.com/2013/11/18/monday-musings-a-local-author-holiday-book-fiesta-at-atomic-empire-on-saturday-december-7-and-miscellaneous-news/

10 — Regional book release day for Collection: Cat ‘O Nine Tales: The Jane Yellowrock Stories by Faith Hunter and The Jane Yellowrock World Companion by Faith Hunter with Carol Malcolm (Dec 10) Read the rest of this entry »

November newsletter: Bull Spec turns 4; NC Comicon this weekend; event updates for 2014; Kickstarters; and more

Vol 3. No 11. November 7, 2013:

Well, I had hoped to get the regional holiday book buying guide ready before this newsletter, but I haven’t, and I need to get the November newsletter sent out before its Ides come marching along. So! Look for the guide in the coming weeks and in the December newsletter, and in the meantime, I’ve done a decent (though not complete) job of keeping the 2013 preview updated.

So! Bull Spec launched officially on November 6, 2009, making yesterday the 4-year anniversary. Wow. Just… wow. Thanks to all the writers, artists, readers, and supporters who helped get things started and have kept things going.

Meanwhile, this weekend brings NC Comicon and Comiquest Film Festival to the Durham Convention Center, after the DCC’s October date with The Escapist Expo. It’s a fairly quiet November, events-wise, though I hope at least some folks got out last night to see James Dashner at Quail Ridge Books, and hey, it isn’t every month that a “double the size of last year” Comicon rolls into town.

Local sf in the news! Some links to share since the last newsletter:

  • Durham author Nathan Kotecki on Carolina Book Beat in October [link]
  • Jeremy Whitley and Tommy Lee Edwards on WUNC’s The State of Things yesterday [link] along with a write-up of the convention by Brian Howe in the current Indy Week
  • Diana Bastine and Debra Killeen on Carolina Book Beat in November (no link yet, but should be available soon)

Also new this month, some Kickstarters to tell you about, though both are closer to their end dates than their launch dates so don’t wait too long to check them out:

  • As I mentioned in Monday’s quick updates, Bull Spec art director Gabriel Dunston has two weeks to go on his Purgatory Pub (Book 1) Kickstarter, where he’s already collected pledges of $1500 towards his goal of of $3500. The first of a five book graphic novel series on the afterlife, Purgatory Pub asks “What do the Angel and Devil on your shoulders do when they are done harassing you?” and answers “They go to a bar and talk about you.” There’s a 2-chapter PDF preview available as well, so go check it out!
  • An interview with Jaym Gates touches on the ongoing Kickstarter for her “War Stories” military sf anthology, which includes SC author T.C. McCarthy, previous illogiCon guest of honor Joe Haldeman, and a further lineup including Maurice Broaddus, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Karin Lowachee, Linda Nagata, Mike Sizemore, and more. Check out both the interview and the War Stories Kickstarter, which is about 75% funded with 7 days to go.

Over at bullspec.com there have been three new “The Hardest Part” guest columns since the last newsletter. Here they are:

Publication notes! I’m sure I’m as usual missing a few this month but:

  • Durham author Nathan Kotecki’s second novel, Pull Down the Night, was out early in the month; it is a follow-on to his 2012 debut The Suburban Strange
  • Becca Gomez Farrel has a new short story in Beneath Ceasless Skies: “It’s out on Amazon: http://t.co/hMTaUKWdkA  and Weightless: http://t.co/43MUyIvw2u as of late last week, I believe. The story should be up for free on Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ website on 10/10. Called “Blow ‘Em Down.” Issue #131, 5th Anniversary Double Issue.”
  • Georgia author JM McDermott, who is both a Bull Spec contributor and has come up for one of our Speculative Fiction Nights as well as local conventions, has his two most recent novels (Never Knew Another and When We Were Executioners, in his Dogsland series) now out in audio, and they’re my lead picks in my most recent AudioBookaneers Release Week roundup
  • Speaking of new audiobooks, NC author Teresa Frohock’s novel Miserere: An Autumn Tale (reviewed in Bull Spec along with an interview of the author) is also newly out in audio
  • John G. Hartness has a new addition to his Black Knight Chronicles series: Paint it Black: 4 (The Black Knight Chronicles)

Lastly this month, some 2014 events news to share:

  • Author Laura Anne Gilman is joining the lineup for illogiCon! So, along with guests of honor Mary Robinette Kowal and Lawrence M. Shoen, and already-announced participants John Kessel, Gail Z. Martin, James Maxey, Tony Daniel, Misty Massey, Richard Dansky, Natania Barron, and more, there’s quite a good crowd of fantastic authors converging in Raleigh-Durham on January 10-12.
  • As I announced yesterday, Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books will host author Carrie Vaughn, bestselling author of the Kitty Norville urban fantasy series, on Friday, January 17 at 7:30 pm, for her forthcoming superhero novel Dreams of the Golden Age, a follow-on to her 2011 novel After the Golden Age.
  • Another late-breaking, just-confirmed event to share with you is that Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books will host Wendy Webb for her forthcoming ghost story / occult / haunted house novel The Vanishing on Saturday Feb 1 at 11 am.
  • And our regional friends up in Roanoke, VA, MystiCon, have announced John de Lancie, best known as “Q” from Star Trek: The Next Generation, as the media guest of honor for their Feb 21-23 convention.

Whew! See you out and about, -Sam.

UPCOMING EVENTS, NOVEMBER 2013 Read the rest of this entry »

October Newsletter: Maile Meloy, Steven Brust, The Escapist Expo, Nathan Kotecki, Lemony Snicket, and the Wake County Libraries local sf author series

Vol 3. No 10. September 30, 2013:

Well, September brought readings from David Drake, Susan Cooper, Emily Croy Barker, Clay and Susan Griffith and Natania Barron, Jasper Fforde, and Robin Sloan, and October shows no signs of slowing with Maile Meloy, Steven Brust, Nathan Kotecki, Lemony Snicket, a month-long series of local sf author panels at the Wake County Libraries, The Escapist Expo, and, of course, more. The immediately upcoming events are:

Meanwhile, there’s a slew of news and publication notes that I either missed in August or accrued in September. Here we go:

  • Asheville writer Nathan Ballingrud’s collection North American Lake Monsters gets a fantastic review in the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), by John Langan, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Monsters”. The collection is out from Small Beer Press, and Ballingrud was a panelist at August’s Bull Spec Summer Speculative Fiction Reading.
  • Three authors with NC ties are on the coming weekend’s NY Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction: Wilmington author Jason Mott’s The Returned debuts at #16; Raleigh author Wilton Barnhardt’s contemporary/historical satire Lookaway, Lookaway debuts at #25; and Asheville native Marisha Pessl’s Night Film is on the list for the third week, at #14
  • Durham’s Mur Lafferty was announced as a guest writer at Wofford College’s Shared Worlds in 2014. Earlier, as I reported on Facebook and Twitter on Sep 1, Lafferty won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author at the World Science Fiction Convention. As I wrote up in the following Friday Quick Update: “I’ll join in with the NY Times and BoingBoing in offering absolutely huge congratulations to Mur!”
  • Mark Van Name has announced the title of his next Jon and Lobo book: All the Worlds Against Us
  • A new Kickstarter was launched — 5 days left — for an all-original anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, which not only has a list of nationally well-known authors (Larry Correia, James Lovegrove, and Peter Clines, with a foreward by Jonathan Maberry) but also a sizable list of authors whose names should be well-known to readers of Bull Spec: Hillsborough’s James Maxey, Chapel Hill’s Natania Barron, and the frequent co-host of the NC Speculative Night event series, Jaym Gates, along with Bull Spec “alumni” Erin Hoffman
  • I missed seeing this last month, and now need to scramble to pick up an August issue of Asimov’s which includes a new novelette, Stone to Stone, Blood to Blood by Durham author Gwendolyn Clare — Asimov’s will also be publishing another local author, Raleigh’s Peter Wood, in an upcoming issue
  • Lauren Harris published Exorcising Aaron Nguyen (The Millroad Academy Exorcists) in ebook, available on Smashwords and in Kindle, among other places
  • Angelic Knight Press published an anthology Manifesto UF with stories from a list of fantastic writers including NC author Teresa Frohock, along with fellow contributors Lucy A. Snyder, Jeff Salyards, William Meikle, Zachary Jernigan, Betsy Dornbusch, and more
  • Tor Books released an all-original anthology Shadows of the New Sun which honors the work of Gene Wolfe; in the star-studded list of contributors (Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Michael Swanwick, Todd McCaffery, and Wolfe himself, among others) is Pittsboro author David Drake, with a new story “Bedding” — see an excerpt from the foreward and the table of contents posted at Tor.com
  • Zack Smith, who does so much for the Triangle area’s creative community through his coverage at the Independent Weekly and other online venues — see his fantastic recent interview of Richard Kadrey — is the lead story writer in the new issue of the Regular Show comic book, #3, now out in stores from “Kaboom!” comics — check it out and then let Kaboom! know what you think via their contact form
  • Gray Rinehart’s stories have been appearing with increasing regularity in places like Analog and Asimov’s, and his new filk album Truths and Lies and Make-Believe is out, both in digital and excellent-looking physical CD formats (cover design by Christopher Rinehart, using photo by Paul Cory, see below)
  • The cover for Durham author Monica Byrne’s near-future debut sf novel The Girl in the Road (Crown, May 2014) has been released
  • Local authors Mur Lafferty and Richard Dansky both have stories listed in Ellen Datlow’s long list for Best Horror short stories of 2012
  • John Kessel was interviewed and featured at Weird Fiction Review: “I think the world is absurd, funny when it is not heartbreaking.”
  • And a new novella from Lewis Shiner is out, “Doctor Helios“, out in Subterranean Magazine

Whew! And lastly, hopefully you’ve been enjoying the new Coming to Town features on bullspec.com — to recap, Richard Dansky and I have interviewed Jason Mott, Richard Kadrey, Emily Croy Barker, and Steven Brust — so far! — in this series of interviews with authors coming to town for a reading or other event. Stay tuned for more!


OCTOBER 2013 Read the rest of this entry »


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