CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? Retrospective

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be pushing a new baby out of the nest. A superpowered baby that just may not have been raised right, hugged enough or medicated sufficiently. An anthology about what real people might do with incredible abilities. Will they change the world, or merely their own lives?

This is my second anthology, though the first is so rare you get infinite cool points for even remembering it once existed. OUR SHADOWS SPEAK existed for a period of a couple years, and even made an appearance at the 2007 World Horror Convention, courtesy of a contributor who attended (I was just returning from Afghanistan, which is where I was when I edited OSS, as a matter of fact). It also appeared in the middle of a freakin’ tornado, believe it or not.

OUR SHADOWS SPEAK is the yellow book by the lovely Bailey Hunter's left elbow. OSS Also survived a tornado in contributor Mark Deloy's home state of Tennessee.

I learned a lot from editing the book. I was 24 years old at the time I created it, and conceived the idea mere months after I began writing for publication. I think I had maybe three short story credits to my name. But people took the project seriously (it had an introduction from Stoker nominee Fran Friel and a story from Garry-freaking-Charles!) and I knocked out the very real business of reading slush, selecting stories and sending acceptances and rejections.

I think the book still stands the test of time now, though the contributing authors and I have all since moved on to bigger projects (half the members of Snutch Labs, for instance, saw publication in OSS). I even took on the task of editing two more anthologies a couple of years later, though the projects fell through when the micropress I was working with disappeared into the ether. If you’re a fan of editor humor, you can read about some of my experiences here.

All of that hard work certainly prepared me for my work on CORRUPTS. The project was a bit different, though. I copy edited, laid out, and made OSS print ready all by myself except for Loren Collins‘ lovely cover. CORRUPTS is being released by Damnation Books, which meant a bit more coordination on my part, but also more exposure for the project. I was also able to draw upon a larger community of talent (Weston Ochse, Joe McKinneyJeff Strand and Cat Rambo, for instance) than I was six years ago, when I didn’t even know the first thing about a horror convention. However, when I was sent:

  • Thinly-disguised Powerpuff Girls fanfic–and worse, without Mojo Jojo!
  • A straight-up horror story with not even a comic book reference in it, let alone a metahuman
  • At least THREE submissions in completely unalterable PDF format
  • A survey–an honest to God survey– from an author in response to a rejection letter

I didn’t bat an eyelash. Well, the PPG fanfic kinda made me. But that was early in the six-month submissions window. So thanks–to my OSS alumni, and even the authors who didn’t make the cut–for the experience I gained while working with you.

One thing that makes me incredibly excited as CORRUPTS comes closer to its release date is reading all the blog posts and promotional work being done by the authors involved in the book. I’m spearheading a major effort myself, which includes weekly virtual panels and marketing emails to comic news websites and comic shop owners (a superhero anthology being an easy sell in a comic shop, of course), but it’s a lot of fun reading what the other guys and gals are saying–some of them published authors for the first time! Here’s a few links:

Finally, I can’t think of a better way to close off an essay that began with one anthology and ended with another but to mention one author in particular who’s a contributor to both, though it certainly wasn’t planned that way on my part (i.e., I didn’t solicit the story from him): Jeremy Hepler. And if that wasn’t strange enough by itself, three of the other authors in the book–Ed Erdelac, Malon Edwards and Wayne Helge–all went to high school together back in the day (and that wasn’t planned on my part, either…in fact, Wayne submitted right at the deadline, so if it hadn’t been great, it wouldn’t have stood a chance of making it in)!

[And if that wasn’t crazy enough…check out the date on that tornado post! I swear that was completely unintentional!]

State of The Author Address

My buddy, author Jon Fesmire (check him out on my Top 24) did this, and I liked it, so here goes:

Dear Readers(assuming that by this time I have a few),

It’s Christmas Eve here in Afghanistan, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about my life and how much it’s changed in the past year. I can honestly say that this year, the 24th since I popped out of my mom’s crotch, has been my finest yet. I can honestly say that I didn’t expect myself or my family to come this far in a year, especially a year spent apart.

For the first six months I served as a network administrator on what basically amounts to an outpost. That was really rewarding work, and I’m not going to get into details, but I made full use of my skills. Also, I had a lot of time to rediscover one of my favorite activites, writing. I hadn’t written in about five years. Between Army stuff and the stress of my first marriage and subsequent divorce, I just didn’t have the drive.

I can’t say I missed it really, at the time. I filled my life with a bunch of other things, and it never occurred to me to write. There just wasn’t time. I pissed away my first deployment, to Iraq, playing video games and bass guitar and watching movies. The best thing that came out of that year was getting to know the woman who would become my wife, Consuela. And while choosing to spend the rest of my life with her was the best decision I ever made, the rest of 2005 was a waste.

So in Afghanistan, since Connie and I had promised to be productive this year, I devoted my time to writing. In June I made my first sale to an editor, not for money, but for something even more valuable: exposure. The story, The Devil’s Due, didn’t appear until August (in Twisted Dreams Magazine), but a shorter version was selected to appear on the Horror Library website in July. My relationships with the Horror Library and the editor of Twisted Dreams, Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, have borne a variety of fruits. Andrea published another story of mine in the December issue of Twisted Dreams, and members of the Horror Library office on Zoetrope have critiqued most of my work. Andrea, as well as several members of the HL have also contributed to my editorial debut, Our Shadows Speak.

Around the same time, I made the acquaintance of Jonathan Fesmire, one of the best fantasy writers you probably haven’t heard of. He’s given me a lot of advice throughout the year, helped me with a couple of projects and contributed a story to my anthology. Fran Friel is another good writer friend I met, a talented lass who’s work can be read in the HL archives. She also had an excellent year, selling out of her debut novella, Mama’s Boy, and being nominated for a Stoker. She also wrote the introduction to Our Shadows Speak. I’ve been blessed with meeting a lot of great people that I don’t have room to list here.

I’ve published a story every month since June, with the exception of November, but I published twice in October, so that balances it out. I have three great stories already lined up for 2007, and several short stories underway that I have no doubt you’ll be enjoying in the near future.

My crowning achievement this year, however, has been the publication of Our Shadows Speak, an anthology I put together during the last few months of this deployment. It’s available for FREE as an e-book, or as a paperback ($9 and some change for a 250 page book… top that!). So many people came together to help me with words of encouragement, cover art and design and of course, some of the most excellent stories to ever hit paper. This is just the first of many projects I hope to have the privilege of helming as my literary career progresses.

As far as my ‘other job’, the Army, is concerned, this year was pretty significant also. I competed in several Batallion and Brigade level boards, winning a few and showing well in the others. I also attended a promotion board, which means in a few months I should be a Sergeant. I had a lot of fun talking shit to my competitors, studying with my buddies and facing a variety of physical and mental challenges.

On the homefront, things have been even better. My wife has done an excellent job of decorating our new home, and we have lots of new furniture that I get to enjoy when I get home, including my Precious, a 47” big screen TV ($1200… can’t beat that with a stick!). She also won the United Way Community Spirit award for raising a lot of dough for charity at her workplace. My daughter Cheyann made the honor roll this semester, and will be interviewing with a modelling agency when I get home. My daughter Abigail is growing up to be a pretty little girl. I hope she never takes after her mother, my ex-wife, may the Devil take her soul. I’m really proud of my three Dorknerds! Our investments are doing great, my wife and I will be working on finishing our degrees when I get home, and I’ll be completing the process of adopting Cheyann. Yeah, we’ll be busy!

Next year is shaping up to be great! I have several writing projects in the works, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride. I promise not to let you down!

Regards,

Lincoln Crisler
Bagram Afghanistan
December 24, 2006