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…yes, whither, as in where are we off to now? Goodness only knows, because all sorts of amazing things seem to be happening at Mercury Retrograde Press. Let’s start with the addition of Jonah Knight to the lineup, something that has all the markings of becoming a legendary partnership. Jonah’s musical talent and stage presence has captured the attention of convention after convention over the past few months, and he’s agreed to write a number of custom songs involving the various worlds of the Mercury Retrograde Press authors. The first of those should be showcasing in January, so keep an eye out on his web site and Facebook page for up to date details!

Edward Morris has some fantabulously exciting news; he says:

I am in the black ink as a fully self-supporting writer. I am Weekly Fiction Editor for PHANTASMAGORIUM magazine, eagerly awaiting the distro for Robert M. Price’s OVER THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS and Joseph Pulver’s A SEASON IN CARCOSA; featuring, respectively, my commissioned adaptations of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS by H.P. Lovecraft (did it as a Charles Beaumont TWILIGHT ZONE teleplay) and Robert W. Chamber’s immortally creepy THE KING IN YELLOW (did it as a Surrealist play by theorist and pro junkie Antonin Artaud)

He is, at the same time, running an increasingly successful writers workshop and working on another dozen or so short stories–commissioned short stories, mind you–he notes that he’s “almost too busy to write this update…more updates when I have two free fingers to type with.” Now that is the sort of thing we love seeing! *cue wild applause*

On a less ambitious scale, if only by comparison to Ed, let’s move into the double release of the next two books in the Children of the Desert series, scheduled, respectively, for MarsCon 2013 and Ravencon 2013.  Those launch parties are apt to be incredible fun all by themselves, as is the increasing lineup of writing classes Leona is getting herself involved in. She’s teaching at the Muse Writers Center of Norfolk, at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, and in her spare time she is writing away on her next novel, blog, short stories (oh, there’s an anthology launching at BaltiCon that features one of her longer short stories), and the occasional bathroom wall. *ahem* No, not really. But it’s tempting at those unfortunately timed moments of inspiration….

Meanwhile, Larissa Niec is getting herself ready to take on WisCon, her big promo event for the summer: WisCon being, of course, supportive of another of Larissa’s favorite activities, the Interstitial Arts Foundation (and don’t forget Broad Universe!). Larissa will be reading from her books, discussing what it means to get religion “right” in fiction, and introducing people to the wonderful world of the IAF. If you’re in the area, WisCon is always a good, thought provoking weekend for writers!

Barbara Friend Ish has been seeing a lot of the world lately, too. After recent appearances at Mysticon-VA, The Library of Congress, RavenCon, and MobiCon, she’s barely bothering to unpack the car before heading back out to Balticon this weekend–as a finalist for the Compton Crook Award. Stay tuned for the announcement of who wins that prize; she’s just honored by the recognition the book has gotten, and looking forward to all the fun. (And the party. If you’re going to be at Balticon, stop by The Party in the Middle of Balticon and sample Langlois Brewing’s SUNSHADOW ALE, the first beer we know of that was made for a book.) She’ll be rounding out her whirlwind tour with Faerie Escape Atlanta and ApolloCon–and then diving into preparations for next year’s fantastically exciting line-up of  books (more on that soon) and work on The Heart of Darkness, sequel to The Shadow of the Sun.

Zachary Steele, for his part, is working on his Storyteller series, “hopefully nearing a contract”. He’s even built a blog around the work, which can be found here; it details out “the path of J.C. Rudolph, the author whose series of books my young protagonist is drawn into. Giving it all a sense of realism, having a lot of fun with it.” Here’s to a successful contract hunt and much success with the series, Zach!

And here’s to a successful creative life to us all, and to all a good write! 🙂 Until next time…

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As a new year begins to unfold around us, the writers here at Mercury Retrograde are readying themselves for a whole new onslaught on this writing career business.  Edward Morris, for example, writes in that:

I am living with a group of artists and writers in a house in Northeast Portland and fitting in like a brand-new fuel injector. Good people. I have never written so quickly in my life, or so powerfully. Working on new material for Blackguard, and also just submitted SOMA & BILE, my third collection of published works, to Wildside. Looking to expand in a lot of areas as soon as I move all the way in and find the other lobes of my brain…

Author, editor, and publisher Barbara Friend Ish is even busier. She says of herself:

I spent last month celebrating family and friends, and fitting in work where I could. Now I’m back with a vengeance, bouncing between the study and the office. In the study I’m still wrestling two novels simultaneously (the tentatively titled The Heart of the Darkness and The Lord of the Abyss, the sequels to The Shadow of the Sun) with an eye towards having the second volume of the series ready for release late this year…and working with the guys from Cliché Studio on the electronic version of the Fortunes game. In the office I’m practicing the Mercury Retrograde discipline of tying up loose ends and working with editorial and business colleagues to prepare an exciting new year–more on this as it shakes out. And I’m getting ready for a fantastic line-up of appearances. (Details pending–watch for a post about that soon!)

Leona Wisoker is busy with appearances and such herself:

With the rewrite of book 3 in the Children of the Desert series well on its way to completion, a handful of conventions (MarsCon of Williamsburg, Mysticon, MadiCon (my first ever Guest of Honor appearance! I’m really excited about this one!), and the VA Festival of the Book (among others) already scheduled, plans to teach a class at the Muse Writing Center this summer, and a scattering of other projects both personal and professional on the calendar, this looks like it’s going to be an even more fabulous year than 2011!

Zachary Steele will also be at MystiCon this year; he’s currently working on his latest project, The Storyteller. Larissa Niec is scheduled to appear at WisCon, and is “putting the final touches on the Cael’s Shadow manuscript. Finally!”

Overall, the forecast for the year ahead looks pretty sunny–so take a close look at the appearances list, and the author pages linked above, and plan to come out and play with us! We’d love to see you.

Fall is a paradoxical time of year. As the weather chills and everything seems to slow down, there’s the simultaneous rushing about to prepare for the November and December holiday season. It’s also the time of year when some of us feel most alive and alert, yet most contemplative and inward-looking.

Those in colder areas already have their snow tires ready (and in some cases, have already used them); those in warmer zones are watching the temperatures (and the orange groves), with a worried eye. Will there be snow in Florida again this year? Possibly. Possibly. Better make sure those heavy jackets get aired out…

And those of us more or less in the middle, like Leona Wisoker and Barbara Friend Ish (Virginia and Georgia, respectively), are just beginning to tuck our gardens away for the winter and gather our seasonal traditions around us. In the latest monthly update, we mentioned a few of the traditions among our staff and authors; Edward Morris, for example, carves jack o’lanterns (and enjoys some tasty soup along the way!), makes corndollies, watches football, cleans house, and keeps Halloween candy in the house at all times. Leona believes in keeping a bowl of mixed nuts and a simple silver nutcracker on the table; it usually takes through March for them all to get eaten, but traditions don’t need to make sense, do they?

But Barbara Friend Ish didn’t get her chance to weigh in last time, so here’s her answer:

As a Yankee in the midst of a long-term exile in Atlanta, I find fall to be the time when I can actually enjoy this pretty country, because it is no longer meltingly hot and humid. I take advantage of it by doing the majority of my reading and planning for stories out on the deck, soaking up the wonderful crisp air and the sound of the fall leaves in the trees above. But the holidays at this time of year actually pull me toward family and friends, and it can be harder to find time to create. I try to remember to just enjoy those periods, and to accept that it’s all part of the natural cycle.

So once again, here’s the question for you, our readers: what fall traditions do you indulge in? What makes this time of year special for you? Inquiring writers want to know…

Sorry this update is running a bit late, we’ve all been outside, trying to race the wind…

October is a blustery month, both for the weather and for our lives; this is the time of year many of us look up at the calender and swear that it was April only yesterday…and realize we’re overdue on planning for Thanksgiving and the various other fall and winter holidays. The stores are already packed with Christmas shoppers, the air is getting colder, and hot cocoa starts to sell more briskly at the supermarket….

In the midst of all this, writers keep on writing–perhaps shooting a wistful glance out the window at the changing foliage or the flocks of birds departing (or arriving) now and again. A quick poll of Mercury Retrograde Press writers yielded some interesting fall traditions: Edward Morris makes jack-o-lantern soup every year, and keeps Halloween candy in the house at all times. Leona Wisoker buys more flowers to offset the drying and dying off outside, and sets a pan with cinnamon sticks, oranges, and cloves to simmer throughout the day. More fall traditions from our authors will be posted later; meanwhile, we’d definitely love to hear about what you, our readers, enjoy doing when the wind blows the autumn gold from the trees!

Many of us, apparently, really come to life in the colder weather: Edward Morris, for example, has been busy (well, all right, he’s always busy, hot or cold weather). He recently attended the Wordstock Literary Festival, and notes that “HWA Grand Master Darrell Schweitzer and SF author Michael Swanwick helped me with my research, and I owe them both several pints of something.”

He sold two (more) short stories: “Jihad Over Innsmouth” to The Book of Cthulhu and “One Night In Manhattan”, a story about the Hart Crane as one of the first LSD test subjects, to Big Pulp’s summer 2010 trade antho. A collaboration with Lou Antonelli resulted in MUSIC FOR FOUR HANDS, a chapbook of SF stories, which has sold to Selina Rosen at Yard Dog Press. Joe R. Lansdale has already blurbed the chapbook enthusiastically, calling the stories “outstanding.”

And if that’s not enough, Ed is also: workshopping two new writers’ novels, attending the Oregon Science Fiction Convention, working on about ten more stories of various lengths, states, and stages; one, O FORTUNA, he describes as: Mythology: pre-Renaissance, FX budget: Monstrous,  Body count: Incalculable. Yep, that sounds like an Ed book, all right….

Larissa Niec has been busy working on the next book in her series and tending to “day job” matters, but she’s looking forward to hosting the November episode of the Broad Pod, which is themed around teachers (great theme, in our opinion!), and which will include readings from award-winning author Carol Berg as well as several other terrific writers. (For those of you unfamiliar with Broad Universe, it’s an “international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.” Larissa Niec and Leona Wisoker are both members. Larissa is also a member of the Interstitial Arts Foundation)

Leona Wisoker, for her part, is one of those people who come alive in cold weather; which is good, because she’s got quite a bit on her plate at the moment: editing for Damnation Books, picking up the odd freelance editing gig here and there, a couple of local book signings at the William and Mary Barnes and Noble, preparing for DarkoverCon (at which she will have a sales table, and Minions!), writing reviews for Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog, following up on contacts made at the James River Writers Conference and CapClave (both of which were faaaaantastic, she says), striving to keep regular blog posts going, and, oh yes, comprehensively overhauling book three of her Children of the Desert series. But it’s not all that much. Not really. This is the slow time of year for her….

Barbara Friend Ish hasn’t slowed down at all. She’s working on War-Lord of the Gods (sequel to her debut novel, Shadow of the Sun), the Fortunes deck, and the electronic versions of the Fortunes game. Of her current projects, she says, “War-Lord is deeper and darker than Shadow of the Sun, and it’s really making me stretch my storytelling muscles. I’m excited about the way it’s unfolding. Preliminary sketches for the Suit of Stars, the ‘Major Arcana’ suit of the Fortunes deck, are looking very cool. We’ll be issuing a call for artistic contributors to the deck in the next couple months. ”

Upcoming events for Barbara include MileHiCon in Denver, October 21-23. MileHiCon is a fantastic SF/F convention with a literary focus; this will be Barbara’s first time participating. She notes, “I haven’t been in Denver in a few years, and I can’t wait to catch up with my Colorado friends.”

So blow, wind, blow–and see if you can keep up with us!

We’re tardy this month; the hot weather slows us down and tempts us to be lazy and idle. I suppose we ought to put ourselves in detention, but to be perfectly honest we’re enjoying the gorgeous weather (yes, even the stormy parts) too much to do so. But some of us are more disciplined than others. Edward Morris, for example, has a handful of happiness to report on this time around: noted horror author Joe R. Lansdale called the collection Morris cowrote with Lou Antonelli “outstanding”; Ed will also be joining Mr. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell and many other Titans in the field, in Ross E. Lockhart’s The Book of Cthulu. Additionally, Ed’s latest offering, Music For Four Hands, will be coming out under the Yard Dog Press label sometime this summer. Besides all that, he’s writing Blackguard 3: Chushingura for Wildside Books, running a writing workshop, and collaborating with David Agranoff on a new series. Oh, and finishing up a new tattoo in his spare time. (What spare time? we wonders, we does….)

Danielle Parker is wrapping up the final cover art details on her space pulp opera anthology of Captain Blunt stories, In a Pig’s Eye” That should be available soon through Amazon.com as an ebook. Larissa Niec is busy on her writing retreat, polishing up the final edits on Cael’s Shadow, the much-anticipated sequel to her debut novel, Shorn. Barbara Friend Ish is hard at work on organizing the fall line, which will include Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction.

Leona Wisoker is…well, she’s the one suffering from procrastination, so she’s outside working on the garden just now. But later this month she’ll be attending FantaSci and giving a speech at the Library of Congress, so perhaps she can be forgiven a little bit of slacking just now. It’s summer, after all…the best possible time for lazy people.

Oooh, look–what a pretty butterfly….

Before man came to blow it right
The wind once blew itself untaught
And did its loudest day and night
In any rough place where it caught.

Man came to tell it what was wrong:
It hadn’t found the place to blow;
It blew too hard–the aim was song.
And listen–how it ought to go!

From Robert Frost, “The Aim Was Song”

Writers are in the position of taking the rough wind of the world and shaping it into song; sometimes that requires sitting back out of the public eye a bit while we shape our word-songs. So it is this month: during June, Mercury Retrograde Press writers are mainly whistling to themselves.

Larissa Niec is tucking herself away into a three week writing retreat in New Mexico to finish Cael’s Shadow, the long-awaited sequel to her debut novel, Shorn.

Danielle L. Parker is steadily working along on her third Minuet James novel, Knight of Faith; she is also celebrating a sale to Pulp Empire of a piece to be included in a planned anthology–more details on that as they develop.

Zachary Steele is still ambling along with his preparations for Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction, his YA piece The Storyteller, and various other projects; next month, he says, he’ll have more to report.

Edward Morris and Barbara Friend Ish are likewise quietly busy with their own ongoing projects and have nothing new to report.

Leona Wisoker has just completed the first draft of the fourth book in her Children of the Desert series and is turning her attention to a series of short stories she’s been meaning to finish for some time now. She’s had two spec pieces accepted into small-press anthologies, one through Sparkito Press (a spinoff of Dark Quest Books) and the other through Soylent Publications (run by Jhada “Rogue” Addams), and might be approved into a third anthology in the near future. She will be at BaltiCon over Memorial Day weekend, and has a book signing at the College of William and Mary Bookstore on June 10, from 2-6 pm. Other than that, June’s looking pretty quiet for her as well!

(Editor’s note: “Other than that…” Ha.)

Check back with us in July to see how we’ve been teaching the wind to blow. . . .

Again, the season of Spring has come
and a spring-source rises under everything,
a moon sliding from the shadows.

–Rumi, “Spring”

Spring is a good time to be a writer. We can go outside and enjoy the glorious sight of Sweet William, day-lilies, and shasta daisies blooming away; feel the fresh warm wind on our faces; watch the birds and squirrels being all busy at the feeders….it’s all very beautiful, in a fragile way, and its prolific transience can be very inspiring, humbling, and thought-provoking for a writer.

The joyful and spiritual poetry of Rumi seems an apt opening for this month’s update, because all of us here at Mercury Retrograde Press are feeling pretty solidly connected to our creativity these days. Zachary Steele, for example, has a clear docket until his much-anticipated sequel, “Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction” comes out in August, but that doesn’t mean he’s just laying out in the sun. No, he’s busy with three major projects: developing the Ducky Thomas blog, creating more installments in his hilarious series of “The Bookstore” videos and blog posts, and continuing to work on his YA piece, “The Storyteller”. That ought to keep him occupied for a few months….

Our newest author, Danielle L. Parker, is no less busy. She has just finished and delivered the second Minuet James urban science fiction novel, “The Nihilistic Mirror”, to the editors here–I think Ed Morris (in Oregon) could probably hear Barbara (in Georgia) cheering when that came in! Danielle is also hard at work on not one but three more projects: “Knight of Faith”, the third in the Minuet James series; an as-yet-unnamed historical mystery set in 1905 San Francisco; and the sequel to “Galen the Deathless,” book one of her “Artoria” series.

Edward Morris has a story, “Rejection Letter”, coming out in “End of an Aeon”, the “posthumous anthology celebrating the long and illustrious run of the McKennas’ AEON Magazine, out of Seattle. I miss Aeon. They paid very well, and I like the McKennas’ politics and general human-ness. They are wonderful people.” Ed also is working with his beloved Serena on new cover art for his novel, “There Was a Crooked Man“; that collaboration of creative talent ought to blow the roof off, so keep an eye out for that one! And finally, Ed has placed a few of his shorter works, but details on those must wait until the official go-ahead, so keep an eye on this blog’s monthly updates (you are subscribed already, right?)–oh, and keep an eye on Ed’s own blog, as he’s putting together an online writing workshop/discussion group.

Barbara Friend Ish, our Fearless Leader and Supplier of Fabulosity, has been just as busy as the rest of us: “I’ve been preparing two of Mercury Retrograde’s fall releases for press: ‘Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction’ by Zachary Steele, the sequel to his hilarious ‘Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO‘; and the re-publication of Danielle L. Parker’s EPPIE-winning ‘The Infinite Instant’, the first installment of her Usurpers series. In the study, I’ve been working on ‘War-Lord of the Gods’, the sequel to ‘The Shadow of the Sun’. Around mid-month I did an interview with the Pendragon Variety Speculative Fiction Podcast, a podcast by and for aspiring speculative fiction writers; that podcast should go live in a few weeks, and we’ll put up the link when it does. We talked about Mercury Retrograde books and writers; publishing and promotion options for writers entering the field; writing–theirs and mine; tea; and pajamas.”

Larissa Niec is enjoying a quiet May, “thank goodness: current plans are to finish the semester, submit an NIH grant proposal, and write the last few chapters of ‘Cael’s Shadow.’ I’m looking forward to a 3-week writing retreat in Santa Fe in June.” Well, at least one of us isn’t overbooked…much….

Leona Wisoker is taking it relatively easy this month as well. She only has two major events scheduled: a book signing on May 21 at the College of William and Mary Bookstore, and Balticon from May 27 through August 30. Minor projects include finishing the fourth (and final) book in her “Children of the Desert” series; starting another writing class; and beginning to take in editing work. She’s actually managed to get organized enough (thanks to some fantastic guest bloggers and tips from another pro writer) to schedule a number of posts for her blog, “The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose“, out through June, which allows her to focus more on the novel in progress. So keep an eye on Leona’s blog while you wait for the next book or short story or project to emerge into the public view….Wait, how many eyes on how many blogs is that? Oh, well, just subscribe to them all.

And speaking of quiet time, those of us with allergies aren’t enjoying the pretty flowers nearly as much. We go out to look, and feel our eyes begin to flood from the amount of pollen in the air, so we hurry back inside to our nice, safe, un-pollinated desks. We think it’s nature’s way of making us appreciate the darkness, the night: because standing out in the pollen-free, dim light of moon and stars, that’s when we can really feel that spring-source Rumi mentioned, and see the moon sliding out of the shadows…and we connect with the real spring: dark, lush, and full of mysterious noises, smells, and shadows. And our writing deepens and grows, putting down roots into the fertile ground of the unseen and unacknowledged, to bring up blooms of an entirely new and unexpected form, blooms that don’t wither with the passing of the sun but linger on to provoke consideration and conversation from all who view them.

Yes. Spring is a good time to be a writer. A very, very good time.