BrazenHead fiction novella spec fic


BrazenHead’s corporate overlord recently embarked on a project to get many (most? all?) of Lethe Press’s and its imprints’ titles turned into audiobooks. I’m tickled to announce that Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram, BrazenHead’s brilliant first release, which Publishers Weekly called “ridiculously entertaining” in a Starred! Review!, is now one of them.

EatYourHeartOutIf you have forgotten what a delight Dayna’s little book is, here’s a sampling of praise:

This book is a double scoop of melt-in-your-mouth guts-and-brains-flavored ice cream with a pop culture cherry on top, in a word: yummy! Eat Your Heart Out announces with a guttural zombie howl that Dayna Ingram is a talent to watch out for.

—Tom Cardamone, author of Pumpkin Teeth and Green Thumb

Despite sounding like clichéd fanfiction written by a horny devotee, “Eat Your Heart Out” is tender yet ruthlessly gruesome.This sweet zombie novella needs to be made into an A or B movie…right now.

—Katie Drexel, Edge network

With a dry wit and a sense of the absurdity of the situation (zombies? In the middle of Ohio? Who would notice the difference?), author Ingram keeps the action brief and the tale short enough to avoid indulgence. It’s a romp you can sink your teeth into.

—Jim Provenzano, Bay Area Reporter

And here’s a link to purchase and download the audio file from (Other e-sellers may have it as well, I’m not sure how these things work.) Go thou and do so! Listen on your tedious commute! Or better, on your daily run…imagining Dayna’s zombies chasing after you. What better motivation could there be?

awards BrazenHead novella spec fic

a winner (but I knew that already)

I am proud and gratified to announce (if you haven’t heard already) that BrazenHead’s second-published novella, Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone, has received the Lambda Literary Award for GLBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror at the 25th annual celebration in New York earlier tonight.

GreenThumbCongratulations to Tom, (to me), and to BrazenHead’s parent Lethe Press, which has now won that award three years running.

BrazenHead: exceptional novellas of queer speculative fiction
BrazenHead: exceptional novellas of queer speculative fiction
BrazenHead design fiction

year-end sum up

Gregorian year 2012 was, on a number of personal levels, profoundly horrible, demoralizing, debilititating. But those are the exact personal levels I believe it unseemly to talk about in public, so you, Dear Reader, are spared endless litanies of woe and humiliation. Be reassured, however, that Misses Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, and I, remain housed, warm (not as warm as I’d prefer, granted), and fed as one year turns over to the next, during which matters might improve.

Miss Jane Austen (l) and Miss Charlotte Brontë (r)

On other levels, 2012 was pretty damned spectacular.

I published seven original stories:

  1. “Tattooed Love Boys,” an 11,000-word novelette, at in March.
  2. “Liam and His Dads,” the third, 6,000-word Liam story, in Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction #12, the Spring issue.
  3. “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy,” a 12,000-word novelette, in Boys of Summer, an anthology of young-adult stories from editor Steve Berman and publisher Bold Strokes Books, in May.
  4. “Ban’s Dream of the Sea,” a 6,200-word short story, in The Touch of the Sea, an anthology of new marine fantasies from editor Steve Berman and publisher Lethe Press, also in May.
  5. “Haider and His Dog,” a 5,700-word short story, sequel to the earlier “Firooz and His Brother” (in the sense that both are self-contained excerpts from a never-to-be-finished novel), in my collection You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home (Lethe Press, July).
  6. “Then We Went There,” a 5,400-word short story—my first purpose-written short story in some fifteen years, finally printed in You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home.
  7. “Two Dead Men,” a 5,900-word short story, in Icarus #14, the Fall issue.

I had a 2011-published story reprinted:

I resold two of the above-listed 2012 stories for reprint in 2013:

  1. “Tattooed Love Boys” to Wilde Stories 2013 (Lethe Press, July).
  2. “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy” to Best Gay Stories 2013 (Lethe Press, August).

I published a book.

I completed seven new stories—an annual record. Up until a few hours ago, I really thought it might be eight, but that last one will have to count for 2013.

  1. “Seb and Duncan and the Sirens,” an 11,000-word novelette set on a contemporary Greek island, completed in March. Tentatively sold to Icarus but not yet scheduled. Likely to be serialized across two issues.
  2. “The Other Bridge,” 5,600 words, written in March. Rejected by eight markets so far but hope remains.
  3. “Two Dead Men,” 5,900 words, written in May. Published, as noted above, in Icarus #14.
  4. “The Oily Man,” 10,000 words, completed in August. Sold to and scheduled to appear in the anthology Handsome Devil: Tales of Sin and Seduction, edited by Steve Berman and due from Prime Books in February 2014.
  5. “The Hyena’s Blessing,” 6,000 words, written in October. Sold to and scheduled to appear in the anthology Zombies: Shambling through the Ages, edited by Steve Berman and due from Prime Books in August 2013.
  6. “You Deserve,” 6,000 words, written in October–November. Sold to and scheduled to appear in the anthology Bad Seeds: Evil Progeny, edited by Steve Berman and due from Prime Books in July 2013.
  7. A 2,800-word short story written and sold in November, which will appear in 2013 under an inside-joke pen name. I am forbidden to reveal more.

I sold an older story, 7,300 words, originally drafted in August 2010.

  • “A Man Not of Canaan,” a tale of Lovecraftian elder gods and BDSM set in the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean, will appear at in the spring—April or May, I’m told.

I sold a much, much older full-length novel, originally drafted in the early 1990s (!).

In response to an early reader’s critique, I sternly revised but did not substantially shorten my gargantuan novel The Unexpected Thing. That revised MS received another thoughtful critique from a different reader but I haven’t got ’round to addressing his points yet. Fall had already fallen and I learned during the three years of composition that I can only work on The Unexpected Thing in late spring and through the summer.

I invented a brand-new secondary world in which gods and other preternatural entities take an interest. It doesn’t have a name because its inhabitants just call it the world. For convenience, I refer to it as the world of the subcontinent, a significant geographical, cultural, and political feature. Of 2012’s seven completed stories, three are tales from the subcontinent: “The Other Bridge,” “Two Dead Men,” and “The Oily Man.” Three incomplete stories that I hope to finish in 2013 are likewise subcontinental tales: “The Tale of the Ive-ojan-akhar’s Death,” “A Joke of the Kandadal,” and “The Lake Is Not the World” (all titles subject to change). A seventh tale, originally envisioned as a novelette, seems to want to be a novel: The Cat in the Moon.

Other, non-subcontinental stories in progress that I intend, dammit, to complete in 2013, include (in no particular order):

  • That eighth 2012 story I didn’t quite manage. If taken by the editor it’s aimed at it will have to appear under a pen-name so I’ll say no more about it.
  • “Liam and the Changelings,” the long-delayed fourth (of an eventual seven) Liam story.
  • “The Water Palace,” set in contemporary İstanbul and involving a peri and the ancient Byzantine cisterns.
  • “The Discovery of Vinhático,” a ghost story that takes place on an imaginary island in the Atlantic, an autonomous region of the Portuguese Republic. I’ve been trying to get this one to work since 2010.

As editor, in 2012 I witnessed the continued ascent into the empyrean of BrazenHead’s first release, Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram (December 2011), and published the second—Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone (June)—and third—The Grigori by Joshua Skye (November). Fallout from my own personal disasters may have sabotaged my hopes for BrazenHead #4—I need to talk to that very poorly treated author soon.

As designer, I put together a whole lot of books. I can’t quite figure out how to count them—a few printed in 2012 were designed the year before, while I currently have in my files, I think, nine designed in the last few months but not scheduled to appear, in one case, until July.

As weary blogger, at nearly 3.oo AM EST, 1 January 2013, I’ve finished my New Year’s split of Catalan cava and this entry.


BrazenHead fantasy novella

dispatch from the unholy head of brass

The third novella from BrazenHead, The Grigori by Joshua Skye, has gone to press. The book-book should start showing up for sale in the usual on-line places within a week or so, while the e-book will take a little longer.

Mr. A lurks in the derelict grand hotel, a haunt of junkies and their dealers, hustlers and runaways, petty criminals.

On a night like any other, a man, a notorious family-values politician, dies in the hotel’s ruined lobby. Suspended from a splendid chandelier, the body is bound with duct tape as if for some sordid S&M scene gone terribly wrong. The man has been disemboweled, intestines spilling from the gash in his belly to the dusty floor. Mr. A is watching, watching.

“You know, everyone seems to think that angels are these cute little innocent baby-looking m*th*rf*ck*rs but the Bible describes them very, very differently… Angels are angry, crazy and mean as hell. They have four faces and only one of them is human. Their primary job isn’t to save our souls or help us find love. They like to kill and they’re good at it.”

Who is Mr. A? Mr. A is death. Mr. A is salvation. Mr. A is love.

The Grigori answers the question, ‘What would happen if we met an old-school angel?’ That it happens in Pittsburgh amid a wasteland of hustlers and drugs does not diminish either angel’s—or this story’s—reckless dominion.

—Steve Berman, editor of the Wilde Stories annual anthology series

I’m disappointed Publishers Weekly elected not to review Joshua’s book, breaking BrazenHead’s streak. Even a negative review might have been better than resounding, brazen silence. But these things happen and I remain proud to publish The Grigori. It’s a thoroughly chilling little story that offers a bracing corrective to the contemporary notion of angels as benign, wispy entities rather than the stern, awe-inspiring, and terrible beings reported in all the Abrahamic traditions. As a writer myself, too, I’m startled and shaken by Joshua’s inspired vision of methamphetamine as well as his deft deployment of physical passion. (In plainer words, there’s hot sex. If that isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is.) Go. Buy. Read.

BrazenHead fantasy novella spec fic

Time Will Be! declares the Head of Brass

An unveiling: The cover of the third BrazenHead novella, due this November, The Grigori by Joshua Skye.

The Grigori is a chilling dark fantasy set in contemporary Pittsburgh, where a good cop and a teenage runaway encounter something, someone, awe-inspiring and terrible in the ruins of a derelict hotel. After reading Josh’s haunting tale, you’ll never feel the same way again about e-mail forwards of saccharine angels or news reports about meth addicts.

BrazenHead fiction novella SF spec fic

Time Is! Proclaims the Head of Brass

A welcome: BrazenHead’s second title, the deceptively simple, intensely peculiar post-apocalyptic fantasia Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone, is now available in print, soon in e-book.

To whet your appetite, three reviews:

Publishers Weekly, 11 June 2012

Benito Corral Reviews, 27 June 2012

Out in Print Queer Book Reviews, 30 July 2012

Further praise from luminaries including Kathe Koja, Gemma Files, W.H. Pugmire, and BrazenHead’s own Dayna Ingram on Green Thumb’s dedicated page. Go. Read. Buy.

awards BrazenHead Lethe Press novella spec fic

the occult head of brass speaks

BrazenHead news:

Our first release, Dayna Ingram’s exhilarating Eat Your Heart Out, is a finalist for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Goldie Award in Speculative Fiction. Alas that BrazenHead is competing against our corporate overlords at Lethe Press, which has two titles (both of which I also designed) in contention for the same prize: Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, edited by Catherine Lundoff and JoSelle Vanderhooft; and Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Steve Berman. Winners of all the myriad Goldies are due to be announced this coming Saturday, 16 June, at the 2012 GCLS Literary Awards Ceremony in Minneapolis. Bated breath, bated breath. May the best women win!

Eat Your Heart Out has also been the recipient of still more rave reviews since the last time I posted about it here on the front page. In print: Black Static in the UK, the Bay Area Reporter on the left coast, Rue Morgue magazine. On the web: the Edge network, Lambda Literary Review, and the book blog The Rainbow Reader. Check out excerpts and (as available) links here.

Speaking of favorable reviews, forthcoming second release Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone is reviewed in this week’s Publishers Weekly. Quite happy about that. Scheduled publication date for Green Thumb remains 1 August.

Brand-new news! Official announcement, more or less. BrazenHead’s third release will be The Grigori by Joshua Skye. The Grigori is a thoroughly disturbing dark fantasy set in contemporary Pittsburgh, about which I will say nothing more (until I compose some marketing copy…) except two words: Angel. Meth. Joshua and I are just beginning the final edit phase prior to layout and, barring unforeseen hiccups, the book should be out by 1 November.

Meanwhile, here’s an interview with Joshua published in the Pride edition of Philadelphia Gay News. You can also explore his other work at his official site.

BrazenHead fiction short stories spec fic work in progress You Will Meet a Stranger…


Publishers Weekly, trade journal of the US book publishing industry, reviewed You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home in the 14 May issue. Nice review, much appreciated. Although I can’t figure out how the reviewer got the impression all the stories were linked in any manner other than being written by the same guy.

(The same issue of PW also reviews Melissa Scott’s novella Point of Knives, second {in internal chronology} of the Books of Astreiant, about which I raved back in February.)

I’ll belatedly add that I have a very nice blurb for You Will Meet a Stranger from my friend Agnes Bushell, whose too few and too hard to track down novels you should make an effort to find.

What a cornucopia! Each story is a world, and each is more amazing than the one before it. The book is a like a jewel-case filled with these glittering, gorgeous, but very dangerous brooches! The pins are sharp! Barbed at times. And the writing is perfection.

Oh, and, Lethe Press has posted a freely downloadable PDF copy of “Firooz and His Brother” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 2008), which will reappear in You Will Meet a Stranger.

Yet more: genial and handsome Canadian short-story writer ’Nathan Burgoine, with whom I share two recent tables of contents but whose work I don’t yet know well enough, has declared May short story month. To celebrate which, he embarked on the project of reviewing one story a day from both of those TOCs on his blog. ’Nathan’s reviews of Boys of Summer begin here (he looks at my “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy” here), and The Touch of the Sea here (I expect him to post his look at my “Ban’s Dream of the Sea” on Wednesday, 16 May {edited to add link on 20 May}). My only disappointment in this project is that ’Nathan skips over his own stories, “Leap” in Boys of Summer and “Time and Tide” in The Touch of the Sea, both of which I enjoyed a good deal. While I have yet to see any reviews of The Touch of the Sea, our blessed lord the internet has coughed up several of Boys of Summer:

Edited to add two more encountered today, 20 May:

Edited to add one more, posted today, 4 June:

In newer news about an older title, Speaking Out: LGBT Youth Stand Up (edited, like Boys of Summer and The Touch of the Sea, by Steve Berman, and in which my story “Captain of the World” appears) is one of three finalists in the Teen: Fiction category of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s 2012 Benjamin Franklin Awards. So that’s pretty neat. The awards will be presented early next month, I believe.

More? Oh, all right. I wrote my third story of 2012 last month. “Two Dead Men” (5,900 words) takes place in the same secondary world as 2012’s second story, “The Other Bridge” (announced at the bottom of this page), although they are otherwise unrelated. Inspired by the recent twenty-year anniversary of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly the sieges of Sarajevo and Mostar.

Story #4, “The Oily Man,” in the works, is also set in that world. I don’t have a name for it—probably should, but its inhabitants just call it the world. Don’t have a map, despite my propensity for maps. Haven’t even named the continents and am not entirely clear on the locations of the nations and cities I have named. Placeholder collective title for the on-going group, Tales of the Subcontinent, refers to the secondary world’s analogue of Europe. “The Other Bridge” and “Two Dead Men” take place respectively in the subcontinental cities of Sjolussa (a former colonial power) and Fejz—with flashbacks to the tropical nation of Aveng—during the equivalent of our high-tech, post-colonial twenty-first century…but with, you know, magic and supernatural beings and incarnated gods.

Whereas “The Oily Man” is set centuries earlier during the messy period between the subcontinent’s Age of Discovery and its Age of Colonialism, the narrator a native of subcontinental mercantile city Trebt exiled to distant Aveng. This one’s intended for a 2013 anthology that hasn’t been announced yet (I have friends) but whose editor has expressed approval of the 3,000 or so words of first draft I’ve come up with so far.

Will I complete it this month? Up in the air. I have a terrifying pile of freelance copyediting I ought to be doing instead….

Finally, although I’m not ready to make a formal announcement, the third BrazenHead novella, a gripping dark fantasy, has been tentatively scheduled for publication in early November. But first we have to get Tom Cardamone’s brilliantly peculiar Green Thumb into your hands or downloaded onto your e-reader. August. Watch for it.

BrazenHead novella

the occult head of brass presents

Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone, second in the BrazenHead series of exceptional novellas of queer speculative fiction.

Mutability blooms in the Florida Keys after the Red War. The genie boxes created King Pelicans with single human hands to rule the ruins of half-drowned Miami…and other, stranger persons. Slavers roam the deep waters offshore, taking captives to feed the voracious Kudzu Army and the human aqueduct bearing fresh water from Lake Okeechobee. On the last stretch of the Overseas Highway still standing, an albino seeress prophesies: “You will reach for the sun while staying rooted to the ground. But I fear your shadow will be much too long.”

Misunderstanding time, Leaf has lived for decades alone in a collapsing Victorian house on a desolate sandy key, feeding on sunlight and dew. When at last he meets a boy like—but so unlike!—himself, Leaf’s startling journey begins.

A post-apocalyptic, psychoactive pastorale, Green Thumb will pollinate your mind and wind its way into your heart like kudzu.

Coming in print and electronic editions on 1 August 2012.

BrazenHead fiction novella spec fic

dispatch from the uncanny head of brass

BrazenHead’s second release can now be announced:

Green Thumb

by Tom Cardamone

Mutability blooms in the Florida Keys after the Red War and the genie boxes. King Pelicans with the brains of scientists and a single human hand in place of one webbed foot rule the ruins of half-drowned Miami. Slavers roam the deep waters offshore, taking captives to feed the voracious Kudzu Army and the human aqueduct bearing fresh water from Lake Okeechobee. On the last stretch of the Overseas Highway still standing, an albino seeress slowly becomes her name: White Flamingo. “You,” she says. “You will reach for the sun while staying rooted to the ground. But I fear your shadow will be much too long.”

Transformed by his father’s genie box in the late days of the Red War, Leaf has lived for decades or centuries alone in a collapsing Victorian house on a desolate sandy key, misunderstanding time, feeding on sunlight and dew. When at last he meets a boy like—but so unlike!—himself, Leaf understands he has met destiny and sets out on a long, strange journey.

A post-apocalyptic, psychoactive, polymorphous-perverse pastorale, Green Thumb will startle you with its utter strangeness and break your heart with its fragile beauty.

Tom Cardamone is the author of Lambda Award finalist Pumpkin Teeth: Stories and the erotic horror novel The Werewolves of Central Park, and editor of The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered. He lives in New York City.

Green Thumb will be released in print and electronic forms in June.