New Blog

Hello! Please note that I have a new blog at www.matthewkressel.net.  I’ll be pretty much blogging there from now on.  The Senses Five Press website will remain here for archival purposes, but I won’t be adding anything new for the foreseeable future.

This is not to say there will never be another Sybil’s Garage or another publication from Senses Five Press, only that due to time constraints I have to adjust my priorities, and for the time being that is toward my novel and short-fiction writing.  I do hope you’ll join me over at www.matthewkressel.net.

On Novel Writing

So I’m nearly halfway done with a novel revision.  And I find that I’m changing quite a bit from the first draft.  It’s more than polishing.  It’s making the thing flow.  It’s fleshing out characters and making sure they are not caricatures.  I’m adding words, somehow, even though I feel like I’m cutting a lot of stuff.  I’ve added 9K words already, and I’m only halfway through.  It’s up to about 119K and growing.  It’s a fantasy novel.  Based on a Jewish myth, so hopefully non-traditional, even though it’s epic.  And it’s a slow build.  Fast start, then a lot of mystery until act two, when things start ramping up big time.  The denouement is particularly fun.  I get to release the mouse trap and reveal several surprises.  It’s set up for a sequel, not necessarily because I want to do the trilogy thing, but because the story is rich and there’s so much to tell.  The frustrating part is poking at two or three pages per day, the slow crawl toward the finish line.  But slow and steady wins the race.  Plus I’m going away on a writers’ retreat soon, where my goal is to knock out 50 pages.  Probably impossible, but then a decade ago it seemed impossible to sell a story and now I’ve sold a few dozen.  So I’m just putting my sights on the end goal and walking there three pages at a time.

The Cover and ToC of AFTER

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have officially released the cover and table of contents for After, their young-adult dystopian anthology coming out in October of this year.  The anthology contains my story, “The Great Game at the End of the World,” a story which I’m very proud of (and got to read a part of at the last World Fantasy Convention).  I’m also floored by the many talented people I’ll be sharing the table of contents with.  Check it out!

After

The Segment by Genevieve Valentine
After the Cure by Carrie Ryan
Valedictorian by N.K. Jemisin
Visiting Nelson by Katherine Langrish
All I Know of Freedom by Carol Emshwiller
The Other Elder by Beth Revis
The Great Game at the End of the World by Matthew Kressel
Reunion by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Faint Heart by Sarah Rees Brennan
Blood Drive by Jeffrey Ford
Reality Girl by Richard Bowes
Hw th’Irth Wint Wrong by Hapless Joey @ homeskool.guv by Gregory Maguire
Rust With Wings by Steven Gould
The Easthound by Nalo Hopkinson
Gray by Jane Yolen
Before by Carolyn Dunn
Fake Plastic Trees by Caitlin R. Kiernan
You Won’t Feel a Thing by Garth Nix
The Marker by Cecil Castellucci

2011, The Year in Review

calendar2011 was a pretty good year for me.  When I began writing this post I felt as if I hadn’t done all that much in the past twelve months.  But after listing everything I’ve done I see now that I have accomplished quite a bit.  Before time carves these events permanently out of my brain, I thought I’d document them here.

Early in the year, my story “The History Within Us” was reprinted in The People of the Book.  An excellent anthology of Jewish-themed science fiction & fantasy, I was pretty darn happy to share a table of contents with Neil Gaiman, Peter Beagle, and many other talents.

Another Jewish-themed story (do you sense a pattern?), “The Hands that Feed” appeared in Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories.  About an aging Jewish woman in a steam-punked Lower East Side of 1895, this story was a lot of fun to write.  People seemed to like this one quite a bit too, which made me very happy.

My big publication of the year was “The Bricks of Gelecek,” which appeared in Ellen Datlow’s urban fantasy anthology Naked City. Ellen said this story “blew me away” when she first read it.  And Shelf Awareness called it the “true gem in the collection.”  I’m quite proud of this story, especially since it takes place in the same universe as my novel in progress.  Over on the SFWA.org boards, Ellen has posted a copy of the story for SFWA members.  If you care to check it out, please let me know what you think!

GUD Magazine purchased my small-town tale “One Spring in Cherryville,” a story about a close band of twenty-somethings who discover something buried in an abandoned factory basement that changes their lives forever.  I don’t have a publication date for this one yet.

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling purchased “The Great Game at the End of the World” for their YA dystopian anthology, After.  This was the first time that I’d written a story that put children in real harm, and I found some scenes painful to write.  But I think this is one of my best stories, and I’m excited to hear what people think of it when it comes out this fall.

Sean Wallace purchased a reprint of “The Hands that Feed” for The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, which will be out in June of this year.

Sadly, there was no issue of Sybil’s Garage in 2011.  Though I really wanted to do a new issue, a number of other projects have prevented me from finding the time.  This is not the end of the magazine, however.  It will return!

For my work on Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the category of Special Award, Non-Professional.  Though I did not win, it was a great honor to be nominated.  Even better was sharing the ballot with my Altered Fluid mates Mercurio David Rivera and N.K. Jemisin.  Go team!

This year I did several readings of my work.  In February I read along side Rick Bowes at the Wold Newton reading series.  In a crowded bookstore in Cambridge, MA I read with other contributors of Naked City, and I participated in three more readings at Readercon.  At the San Diego World Fantasy Convention, Jeff Ford and I both read our stories from After.  Jeff was awesome by offering to merge our separate readings into one large one.  Overall I believe I did about eight different readings this year, which seems like a lot now that I think about it.

At Readercon I hosted a popular panel called “Dybbuks, Golems, Demons, Oy Vey!: Jewish Mythology and Folklore in Speculative Fiction.”  I had a lot of fun talking about the many great stories of Jewish fantasy and science fiction with the panelists, and the overcrowded room was testament to the panel’s success.

So, you may be wondering, what’s with all this Jewish-themed stuff?  Well, I’ve been working on a novel based on the Jewish myth of the Lamed Vav, the Thirty Six just men who sustain the world.  I finished a draft in August, the same day (no actually the same minute) that the northeastern U.S. was struck with a minor earthquake.  I had been writing about minor earthquakes in the final scene, so when the world actually shook, I was like, whoops!  Next time I’ll write about rainbows and universal harmony.  Anyway, I have recently begun revisions on the novel and I am about 25% of the way through.  I hope to have a final draft by the end of February.

The Fantastic Fiction reading series at KGB has been going strong all throughout 2011, with many excellent guests and regular large crowds.  The fundraiser from 2010 has allowed Ellen and I to continue to run the series throughout most of 2012.  I noticed a lot of new faces in the audience, which suggests that the series is expanding in popularity as well.  2012 is already shaping up to be amazing with January’s guests, James Patrick Kelly and Kelly Link.  In March, we will also have Terry Bisson, the series’ founder.  It’s going to be a good year.

Overall 2011 was a very good year for me, and I’m working hard to make sure 2012 continues that trend.  On that note, here’s hoping your New Year’s was a happy one and that 2012 brings you all the success you deserve.  Bye, for now.

 

 

I Indulge Myself

I’m a writer, so I indulge in fantasy.  One of these fantasies is one day owning a bar-slash-coffee shop, a place where people would come in and hang.  And I’ve gone so far as to craft a playlist for it.  The bar would be themed “retro-future,” that is it would be themed in the way the 80s envisioned our collective (and sometimes dystopian) future.  You know what I’m talking about.  In the 80s, when it was becoming apparent that the computer age would soon be rushing upon us, we got glam synth groups like Visage, and far-out oddities like Gary Numan and Tubeway Army writing about the robot revolution.  OMD wrote their avant-garde Dazzle Ships album and Sigue Sigue Sputnik brought us “Love Missile F1-11.”  The future was colorful and strange, ad-saturated, Asian-influenced, defined in sound and in fashion.  Since I can’t sew, I’ve decided to create a Pandora radio station.  It’s a work in progress.  Pandora is slowly learning what sound I’m looking for.  My criteria is thus: if you walked into a bar in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, would this song be playing?  There was a sound in the 80s (and I’m not talking about New Wave, though there is an overlap), a sound that I think we lost.  For example, can you point to anything today which sounds even remotely like this song from Gary Numan?

Or this song from Sigue Sigue Sputnik, “21st Century Boy”:

Anyway I’m not so much trying to relive an earlier period of my life, but to discover artists who are exploring similar areas of sound today.  This “retro-future” soundscape hasn’t been explored as much as it could have been, I believe, and as an amateur musician I hope to one day be able to write something that I wouldn’t be ashamed to play in my bar.