Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Be a Good Weirdling: Vote for Miskatonic River Press and for 2011 ENnie Awards

As steamy July melts into sweltering August, we are now on the cusp of the annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (aka the "ENnie Awards"), which are described by their official website as "an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop roleplaying gaming," giving "game designers, writers and artists the recognition they deserve. It is a peoples’ choice award, and the final winners are voted upon online by the gaming public."

What does this mean to you?  A whole hell of a lot, actually, as Miskatonic River Press - the publishing motherland of Dead But Dreaming 2, as well as several exciting, upcoming projects including Horror for the Holidays (edited by Scott David Aniolowski), W.H. Pugmire's The Strange Dark One: Tales of Nyarlathotep, and Dissecting Cthulhu (edited by S.T. Joshi); in addition to a whole slew of fantastic Call of Cthulhu RGP scenarios, monographs, and supplements - is up for an ENnie Award for Fans' Favorite Publisher.

Also of interest to all good readers, writers, and gamers of a decidedly Lovecraftian bent is the fact that  - which is THE meeting and discussion spot for CoC and the works of H.P. Lovecraft on the Internets - is up for an ENnie in the category of Best Podcast.

Follow this link to the ENnies Award Voting Booth and cast your gleeful ballot for MRP and YSDC in their respective categories.  Also, feel free to vote in other categories if you see a favorite or familiar name.  This is democracy in action, folks.  Don't spit in the face of freedom.  Puppies die and terrorists win every time an opportunity to vote is shunned. 

The awards will be presented (hopefully to Tom Lynch of MRP and Paul "of Cthulhu" Maclean of YSDC) at a packed and breathless ceremony held on Friday, August 5th at 6:30 pm in the 500 Ballroom of Gen Con Indy.  

So, as the blerg title suggests, please be a good Weirdling, and vote for the community website and the independent publisher that mean so much to me, to The Cosmicomicon, and to Lovecraftian gaming and fiction in general. These are OUR hubs, OUR platforms and champions, and we need to adorn them accordingly with the shiniest finery on the market. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Music Review: Goatfisted Writhes from the Black Metal Abyss with Self Titled Album

Wisconsin has given us much in the way of unimaginable horror and violence that rises above your garden variety shooting spree or machete decapitation.

Disgruntled mama's boy Ed Gein turned townies into furniture on his farm in Plainfield.  Necro playboy Jeffrey Dahmer was born in West Allis, moving shop to the city Schlitz built to become the Milwaukee Monster.  Hell, Wisconsin spawns homicidal terror at such a clip they even wrote a book about it.

But that's just human murder and mayhem.  The crass stuff of mortals.  A deeper darkness born amid cold, alien chaos also lurks under the facade of quaint dairies and rolling fields, as Wisconsin is also ground zero of Arkham House, located in the unlikely village of Sauk City.  Founded by August Dertleth, the enterprising, bull necked confidante of one Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Arkham House played a leading role in rescuing the mind splitting cosmic horror of Lovecraft's writings from the dust bin of the Pulp Age.

Approximately 85.9 miles from Sauk City and Arkham House HQ, up trusty US 151, is the picturesque hamlet of Fond du Lac, nestled on the sleepy shores of Lake Winnebago.  This is a true bedroom community, in every sense.  They even have a cute little lighthouse.  But, as with much in this state, the cheery outer glow is all a facade, as Fond du Lac is contributing its own legacy to Wisconsin-born horror and inescapable darkness, as Fond du Lac is the home of Goatfisted, a Black Metal band bending knee and Ernie Ball strings to the writings and Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.

Goatfisted's self-titled, debut album is a growling, crunching, 8-song dirge to the hopes of humanity in a universe proven to be cold and malevolent.  This is D-tuned choir music for a mass blacker than anything birthed within the time of man.  This is the metal soundtrack to the very last All Hallows' Eve.  This is horror metal with a distinguished edge befitting the alienated gentleman of Providence who inspired it.

From band member monikers - Shogtha (vocals), Jhatanth (chief guitarist/bassist), Ren-Sothoth (drums, extra vocals), and Geth-Omog (guitar) - to lyrics inspired by the stories, themes, and characters of HPL, Goatfisted are true dyed-in-the-woolen-robe Lovecraftians, fusing dark cosmicism and indescribable horrors with thick, thudding guitars, hammer double bass drums, occasional (just enough) keyboards, and dynamic vocals into a fantastic brew of mausoleum metal.  It's heavy, but balanced, technical without getting all Musicians Institute arpeggio wonky.  And the lyrics are quite interesting and well crafted, demanding a line by line follow-along while the album plays.

The cover materials and art are top shelf, and engineer John Jones' deft production is surprisingly slick, but not overly so...  In short, this album - this musical foursome in general - are record-store ready.  As a music journalist three lives ago, I spent a decade listening to all manner of local band releases, from EPs to full length, full studio affairs purchased with mommy's credit cards.  While I have no idea how long ago Goatfisted belched into being, the band already sounds like a million fucking bucks.  Maybe their mommy's have credit cards, too.  Or maybe they're just a talented, polished band, inspired by the Unnameable to record the hugely Listenable.

I enjoyed all 8 of the pieces, but some that stood out were "Black Stone Harvest," featuring nice, ribeye fat riffs, joined at the hip with just an echo of creepy organ music; "The Calling," which has some chugging guitar that moved the lower end of my spine back into alignment; and "His Return and Ascension," the song destined to be played by the Deep One house band at Cthulhu's eventual (re)birthday party.

"Dominion" is the last song on the album, and Goatfisted's coup d' grace. It shows a maturity and bare chested brass from the opening lines, as Shogtha spits out the measured promise, "The reclamation of soil and sea.  As priest of Ancients, thou shall harken to me."  As gritty as it is cosmic, like an artistic punch into the solar plexus.  Goatfisted wants to open your eyes to new vistas, while pouring thunder into your ears to clue you in on what's coming, what has always been... 

While listening to the album last night, my wife - whose musical taste ranges from Wu Tang to Slayer - walked into the office, raised her eyebrows and declared, "That fucking rocks."  I just smiled, and thought to myself that if you're a Black Metal band, and a beautiful woman digs your sound, nothing this side of the Outer God Apocalypse can stop you.

Goatfisted, for the win.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Publishing News: Deal Struck For My First Collection of Short Fiction

This update will be brief, as after a nine day layoff, mostly spent three-hole-punching the reptilian part of my brain, I don't want to pull a muscle by a sudden fit of exuberant blogging.  BUT, without exposing to much, I do want to announce some truly spectacular news:

I recently struck a deal with an as-of-yet unnamed publisher to release a collection of my short fiction in early 2013.

/thud    <------------- The sound of me falling out of my chair, as I STILL can't believe this is true

Yes, my very own goddamn book.  100,000 words dripped from my pen.  It's every writer's dream, and it's apparently coming true in about a year and a half.  And, as we all know, a year and a half goes by just like THAT!

/thsnep     <------------ The sound of me trying to snap, as I never quite got the hang of it

The theme of the collection is horror and the weird, obviously, and the plan is to publish a combination of my Mythos and non-Mythos work, pulling together some of my previously published stories under one cover, but also featuring primarily new works.  As much as I'm excited to unveil my most recent and upcoming Lovecraftian/cosmic horror tales, I'm also equally amped to finally write several of the more terrestrial horror stories I've been carrying around for a while, which feature nary a tentacle nor eldritch incantation, but do lean just as hard on the dread, the darkness, and the horror of the unusual that I find so comforting.

I wish I could say more, but I've taken a blood oath of secrecy, which involved dull, rusted canning knives and a series of deep and easily hidden cuts.  Risking lockjaw and a possible severed artery will keep a mouth silent.  Or maybe that's just the lockjaw.   

So.... YAAAAY!  I'm beyond excited, humbled, and blessed by this opportunity.  While I think 2011 has allowed me to leave a scratch or two on the genre, I look forward to taking my best shot to gouge out a deep, beautifully jagged scar.  Scars are interesting, and last forever... or at least until we crumble to dust.  That's long enough for me.

And, since I always like to include a pretty picture with every post, here's something to brighten your day - "Bye Bye Apocalypse," courtesy of Laughing Squid and artist Budi Satria Kwan:

Keep your eyes on this space, as more developments unfold, and more secrets seep through from room where the canning knives are kept...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Publishing News: "Free Fireworks" accepted for publication in 'Horror for the Holidays' anthology by Miskatonic River Press

This morning I received the wonderful news that my story "Free Fireworks" was accepted for publication in the anthology Horror for the Holidays, edited by Scott David Aniolowski, which will be published by this fall by Miskatonic River Press:

"When the footpads quail at the night-bird’s wail,
And black dogs bay at the moon,
Then is the specters’ holiday – then is the ghosts’ high noon!"

-- Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, Raddigore, Act 1
Holidays. Special days of commemoration and celebration. Feasts and festivities. Remembrance and revelry. But what dark things lurk just out of sight, in the shadows of those celebrated days? Forces beyond our comprehension, yearning to burst into our warm and comforting world and tear asunder those things we hold most dear. As the wheel of the year turns and we embrace our favorite occasions, let us not forget that beyond the light is a darkness, and in that darkness something stirs. Some nameless thing that brings us Horror for the Holidays!

Much like Dead But Dreaming 2 editor Kevin Ross, Scott is a well known and widely respected editor and writer of Call of Cthulhu RPG monographs, supplements, and source books, as well as Mythos short fiction (appearing with me and my proud compatriots in DBD2).  He had some very kind words to say about my story, which thrills me to no end.  I honestly can't wait to see what Scott has put together, as once again, some pretty damn big names are lining up to get into this twisted collective.

What an exciting last few months it has been 'round these bloody parts!  I owe much to the good folks at Miskatonic River Press, and look forward to working with them for a long, long time.  And from some rumblings issuing up from the catacombs, there might be more news in this department coming soon.

Keep your eyes pealed, and keep watching this space, when not watching the other.