Monday, November 24, 2014

BLACKGUARDS and Ragnarok Publications

Now and then as I'm surfing the Internet and trying to find new and interesting things to confuse myself with, I run across a possible anthology I consider submitting to and bookmark it. Back around last September I did exactly that for an anthology called BLACKGUARDS.

The premise was cool. Here was an anthology that wanted to take the less-than-savory characters from published book series and tell tales about them. 

"Swift from the shadows, comes an 'edgy' anthology featuring sundry tales of roguish types—assassins, mercenaries, thieves—many of whom are already established in your favorite fantasy series. We have a full roster of authors from indie sensations to New York Times bestsellers, and all the stories are turned in." Neat premise, kind of like a sampler from a dozen or so different established worlds. You get to read the writers, see if you like their stuff and maybe even discover a new series or twelve that you can't live without. Of course, I saw that all the stories were turned in and shrugged my shoulders. 

Now that sounds like the end of the game, right? Only they had two slots opened for other authors. Ragnarok was doing something just a little different than what you normally run across. They decided to let other people play in that sandbox. I'd have been delighted but there was no way in hell I was making that deadline. Why? Because it was too close and by the time I could have done a story the deadline would have already passed. 

You win some, you lose some. 

On with life. 

And then I went to the World Fantasy Convention in DC this year and I ran across the editors/publishers for this particular beast, Joe M. Martin and Tim Marquitz (who also has a tale in the book at the insistence of Mr. Martin). They were cheerful and enthusiastic and we had a talk about BLACKGUARDS. Joe looked at me and said it was a shame they couldn't get hold of me when they were working out the book because they would've loved a tale from the Seven Forges. 

I'm paraphrasing here:

Me: When is the deadline?

Joe: We're laying out the book next week.

Me: So I'll have a story for you.

Joe was a bit surprised and very pleased. 

I was screwed. Deadlines all over the place, but who cares? I wanted in. 

Why, you ask? Because I WANTED IT!!! My God what a great concept for an anthology! I mean, first, I have roughly a trillion ideas for Seven Forges short stories. Second, the anthology concept would let me play with one of my favorite characters from the series who simply has not been getting enough limelight (That would be Swech, who is currently in hiding in enemy territory) and would allow me the chance to play in one hell of a cool sandbox. 

So I turned in my story. It's called "What Gods Demand," and is just over 7,000 words in length, and there are many corpses before the tale is done because, damn it, Swech is one mighty mean lady when it comes to combat. 

When I announced my inclusion, by the way, several writers were a bit disappointed because that meant they were NOT included in the anthology. 

Heh heh heh, guess again.

I spoke to Joe a little while ago while doing some fact checking on this here article (I do that from time to time) and he told me that there are actually not two slots. There are TEN slots. 2 for the main book and 8 for the e-book companion anthology that is being included for the Kickstarter funders who helped make the entire thing possible. Currently he's whittled the numbers down from 261 tales to 35. That's a lot of careful selection going on and I for one can't wait to see the final results. 

Currently, the tome weighs in at approximately 165,000 words. That's not including the final two stories that are still being selected. If you add in the eBook companion and those other two stories with an average word count around 5,000 words each, by the way, you're looking at over 200,000 words. Ni-ice.

Here's the cast as it stands right now, with at least two more stories coming along.

• CAROL BERG, "Seeds"  
• RICHARD LEE BYERS, "Troll Trouble" 
• DAVID DALGLISH, "Take You Home" 
• JAMES ENGE, "Thieves at the Gate" 
• JOHN GWYNNE, "Better to Live than to Die" 
• LIAN HEARN, "His Kikuta Hands" 
• SNORRI KRISTJANSSON, "A Kingdom and a Horse" 
• JOSEPH LALLO, "Seeking the Shadow" 
• MARK LAWRENCE, "The Secret" 
• TIM MARQUITZ, "A Taste of Agony" 
• PETER ORULLIAN, "A Length of Cherrywood" 
• CAT RAMBO, "The Subtler Art" 
• LAURA RESNICK, "Friendship" 
• MARK SMYLIE, "Manhunt" 
• KENNY SOWARD, "Jancy's Justice" 
• SHAWN SPEAKMAN, "The White Rose Thief" 
• JON SPRUNK, "Sun and Steel" 
• ANTON STROUT, "Scream" 
• MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN, "Professional Integrity"
• DJANGO WEXLER, "First Kill"
• ANTHONY RYAN, "The Lord Collector" (novella)
• PAUL S. KEMP, "A Better Man"
• JEAN RABE, "Mainon"
• JAMES A. MOORE, "What Gods Demand"

And the entire grimoire will be edited by J.M. MARTIN. 

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