A blog is (re)born

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking that I need to resurrect the blog/journal portion of this website. It’s been years since I blogged on a regular basis, or kept up with what other bloggers have been doing. In fact, this particular version of paulfolson.com has never included a blog at all, just this general catch-all sort of place called “News and Musings” where I post the rare bit of information about my career — if, that is, I remember to post anything at all. That’s a far cry from the way things were when this whole website thing began.

My first home on the Internet wasn’t a website at all. It was a page hosted on the community site for the old Opera web browser (the original Opera, not its current incarnation). Back in those days, the early 2000s, I was heavily involved with Opera as a user, volunteer tester, and a member of the official ambassador group that was tasked with increasing usage of the browser in the United States. I used my page on the Opera Community site to post pictures and blog about topics ranging from tech to writing to regular old day-to-day life here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

My first actual website was shared with my late friend and writing/editing partner David B. Silva, and it was called, appropriately enough, olsonandsilva.com. We launched the site in 2005 as a way to promote our joint and individual projects. It was also intended to be a personal blog for both of us. Dave, always shy and intensely private, was never much of a blogger. Getting him to post anything at all was a herculean task. But I happily took up the slack and blogged almost every day for the first few months, then several times a week after that.

Eventually, I launched my own site — the first incarnation of paulfolson.com — and for a long time continued the blogging tradition I had established at olsonandsilva. I wasn’t doing much writing about tech anymore, but I continued to post about most of my other regular topics, which at that time included horror and writing in general, creativity, good books I had read and was eager to recommend, fountain pens and ink, or whatever else happened to be on my mind. As time went by, however, my blogging efforts tapered off. Life had gotten crazy and I had grown a bit weary of the website. I also felt I had nothing much left for post fodder, having said just about everything I cared to say about every subject I cared to write about. In addition, the social media scene had exploded by that time and it felt as if no one paid attention to personal websites or blogs anymore. I noticed fewer and fewer blogs being updated. Some of the feeds in my RSS reader began to return error messages instead of new posts. I even stumbled across a few discussions on Facebook where authors were debating the wisdom of having a personal website at all. More and more it seemed that most of the communication tools I had always relied on — specifically, websites, blog posts, and e-mail — had become, or were well on their way to becoming, obsolete. The pundits said that no one had the attention span to read lengthy content on the Internet anymore. It was the era of emojis. It was the age of tl;dr. I was advised to spend more time on Facebook and Twitter instead. I was advised to jump aboard Instagram and Snapchat. I was advised to start a podcast.

For a while, I was relieved not to have to blog anymore, but like so many things in life, absence made the heart grow fonder. After three or four years of no blogging, I realized that I actually missed it. There’s a beauty and a sense of satisfaction to this freeform, longform type of communication that I’ve never felt on Facebook, where it always feels like the content is controlling me rather than the other way around. Plus here I never have to worry about data-mining, fake news, trolls, Russian bots, rigged elections, fights and feuds and meltdowns, or any of the other things that make social media the digital equivalent of a skull-splitting migraine.

So I’m ready to try this again. It’s going to be slow and tentative at first. New posts won’t be appearing daily. They may not even be appearing weekly. But they will appear. I’ve been told that my timing is good, that author blogs are making a comeback. I’ve also been told that blogs are pointless and that no one will ever read anything I post here. The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in between. I’m ready to find out, and if you feel like joining me, I’d be happy to have you along for the ride.

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Remembering Horrorstruck

It’s been thirty years since I published Horrorstruck: The World of Dark Fantasy, but scarcely a month goes by that I don’t hear from someone about the magazine — questions, comments, reminiscences. Because of this interest (and my own nostalgia), I’ve added a small section about Horrorstruck to this website. It’s bare-bones now, with some basic information about the magazine and its contributors, along with a brief summary of what was contained in each issue. I hope to add more as time goes by. For example, the story of how each issue was painstakingly put together in those dark ages just before the advent of WYSIWYG desktop publishing would make a fascinating entry all on its own. Perhaps I’ll write that soon. Stay tuned … and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy what’s there so far.

You can find the new section on the menu above or by clicking here.

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Bloodybones nominated

A little more than twenty-four hours ago, I learned that my novella “Bloodybones,” from the Whispered Echoes collection, has been nominated for a 2017 World Fantasy Award in the Best Long Fiction category. To say that I am delighted, grateful, surprised, and humbled just scratches the surface of the emotions I’ve been feeling over the course of this past day.

The World Fantasy Convention was the first convention I ever attended (Providence, 1979), and I’ve been a little in awe of the World Fantasy Awards ever since. I was nominated once before, way back in 1989, when I was up for a “Special Award Non-Professional” for editing my magazine Horrorstruck. But this is the first time I’ve picked up a nomination for something I’ve written, and to get the nod for “Bloodybones,” a tale that holds such a special place in my heart, makes the honor all the more special.

I am especially pleased to be sharing the Long Fiction slate with Kij Johnson, Victor LaValle, Seanan McGuire, and Kai Ashante Wilson, authors I truly admire and whose work provides shining examples of the best our genre has to offer.

Here is the complete list of 2017 nominees, courtesy of Locus Online.

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A New Interview

Whispered Echoes front coverHere is an interview I did with Joe Mynhardt of Crystal Lake Publishing shortly before they released the paperback and e-book of my Whispered Echoes short story collection. We talk about the book, of course, but many other things too. Like everything else about dealing with Joe and his wonderful company, doing the interview was a privilege and a joy.

Click here to read the interview!

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Free Short Story

On March 13, 2013, David B. Silva died at the age of 62. To commemorate the fourth anniversary of his death, I’m posting my short story “When the Heart Sings” here on my website. The story originally appeared in the anthology Better Weird: A Tribune to David B. Silva, which I was proud to co-edit with Rich Chizmar and Brian James Freeman for Cemetery Dance Publications. I hope you enjoy it.

To read the story, click here:

WHEN THE HEART SINGS

 

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Diving into Crystal Lake

I’m excited to announce that I have officially joined the family at Crystal Lake Publishing. 

While a firm date has not been finalized, the i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed on an agreement to release Whispered Echoes in paperback and e-book.

For those who don’t know, Whispered Echoes is my recent short story collection (vintage tales from the eighties and nineties and a brand new 36,000-word novella), which was released a few months ago in a stunning limited edition by Cemetery Dance Publications (get it now, before it’s out of print — hint, hint). The opportunity to work with Rich, Brian, and the CD gang was an incredible honor, and the beautiful signed and numbered book that resulted will remain a career high point for me for the rest of my days. (Did I mention you should buy it now, before it’s out of print? Seriously, do it. Get over to the CD website right now. Trust me.)

crystal-lakeNow I get to look ahead to an exciting new collaboration with Joe Mynhardt and the Crystal Lake folks, and the opportunity to bring my collection to even more readers through e-book distribution and bookstore sales. I have deep respect for Joe and his organization, the outstanding lineup of authors at Crystal Lake, and the company’s track record in the field. It’s gratifying to be welcomed as the newest member of such an impressive team. I am a truly fortunate writer.

Stay tuned for more details as things develop. (But right now, go check out that limited edition before … etc., etc.)

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Ten Years On

It’s almost impossible to comprehend the fact that ten years have gone by since the death of Charles L. Grant. There has not been a single day of that entire decade that I haven’t thought about Charlie in some way. Whether I was re-reading his work or merely thinking about his legacy, he has never been far from my mind. I suspect that’s true for everyone who knew him and loved his work. Ten years? That’s a long time, but not nearly long enough to dim his memory or diminish his impact. The giant footsteps he left behind for the rest of us to follow will be there forever.

As I thought about what I could contribute to Neil Snowden’s Charles L. Grant Blogathon, I found myself wanting to explain how I felt about Charlie, what he meant to me. Then I realized I had already done that, in a post on an old website of mine, way back in September 2006. Unlike most things in cyberspace, which live forever whether we want them to or not, this particular post had long since vanished, the victim of a crash that wiped out that website and all its contents. For most of the things lost that day, I can honestly say, “No big deal.” But my post about Charlie, written when the shock and pain of his death was still fresh and raw, deserves a second chance. It expresses what I felt back then, what I still feel today, and it does so honestly and directly. This is the perfect time to bring it back.


REMEMBERING CHARLES L. GRANT

It’s been a week since the death of Charles L. Grant, and I can’t shake the feeling — that hollow, floating feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is what it feels like when one of your heroes dies.

Over the years, I only had a few chances to work with Charlie. He was a supporter of my old magazine, Horrorstruck. He provided a pair of terrific tales for Post Mortem and Dead End: City Limits. He offered gentle, thoughtful, and constructive rejections every time I tried to sell him something. (He also was generous about suggesting alternative markets for a particular story, which shows just what kind of editor he was, although I probably didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. I didn’t want to see my work in this anthology or that magazine. I wanted to reach my own personal holy grail. I wanted to be good enough to have a story in Shadows, dammit.)

As you can see, Charlie and I weren’t exactly “colleagues.” More like ships that kept passing in the night, often within sighting distance, occasionally within hailing distance. But I still felt closer to him than almost anyone else in the field, simply because I idolized him so much.

When I attended my first World Fantasy Convention (WFC 5, Providence, 1979), I was only marginally familiar with Charlie’s work, but that all changed over the course of that magic weekend. After watching him on several panels, chatting briefly with him during the autograph party, and gobbling down part of a novel and several short stories … well, let’s just say that by the time I left the east coast and flew back to Michigan, I had a new role model. I spent the next several weeks immersed in the work of Charles L. Grant and never looked back.

It was a pivotal time in the life of a young writer who was just then taking the first tentative steps toward a career, and Charlie became a brilliant signpost on that winding, mysterious path.

He was the kind of writer I wanted to be — not insanely, stratospherically successful, but someone who earned a living with his craft, who seemed to find real joy in doing the work, who always took that work seriously, who understood the field and truly believed in it, who saw value in the genre and eloquently expressed his feelings about it, who charted his own course in defiance of trends, who switched back and forth from writer to editor with apparent ease, who was helpful and kind and generous, and who, along the way, earned the sincere respect of his peers. Wow, I thought. If I could do all of that, I would be a happy man indeed.

Did I achieve the goal? No. But as I’ve told a few other people this week, I only missed the mark because what I wanted to achieve was nearly impossible. Charlie had set a standard that was simply too high to reach.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll feel this sensation of loss, this little black hole in my spirit, this … this emptiness. A long time, I’m sure. Perhaps forever. That’s what happens when a piece of you suddenly goes away, when the signpost you relied on vanishes.

I’m grateful, of course, that I still have Charlie in my library, three or four long shelves worth of Charlie, dozens and dozens of books to touch, take down, reread, marvel over, and reread again. But right now, that seems like cold, thin comfort. It’s not enough, not nearly enough.

This is what it feels like when one of your heroes dies.

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More on Manistique

Here’s an article on my upcoming book signing, from the Aug. 25 edition of the Manistique Pioneer-Tribune:

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Manistique Book Signing

Mustard SeedI’m looking forward to a special event that will be coming up in just a few weeks. On Saturday, Sept. 3, I’ll be traveling back to my old home base of Manistique, Michigan, for a book signing at one of my favorite stores, The Mustard Seed. I’ll be there from 1 to 3 p.m. that day, signing copies of Whispered Echoes and no doubt reading a story or two.

I lived and worked in Manistique for seventeen years, from March 1995 to February 2012. For the first year or so after I moved away, I made a number of return visits, but as often happens, those visits gradually grew farther and farther apart. My last trip there was a quick lunch-and-dash in … wow, November 2014. Tempus fugit, indeed.

I’m especially excited because my book signing will coincide with the annual Manistique Merchants Association Car Show, an event I worked at for many years. At various times I helped with set-up and registration, ran the kids’ tractor pull held during the show, and pitched in on various other tasks. Of course, I also covered the show each year in my job as editor of the town newspaper, the Pioneer-Tribune. If I’m not mistaken, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the show. It will be fun to see how much it has grown over the years.

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Talking About Whispered Echoes

WEI recently had another opportunity to appear on the Diabolique site, this time to discuss Whispered Echoes. As usual, the questions from Sheila M. Merritt were thought-provoking and fun. I hope my answers were, too! You can find the interview here and see for yourself what I had to say about the collection, the wonderful support I received from people like Chet Williamson and Jill Bauman, the challenge of writing short stories, the excitement of being published by Cemetery Dance, and more.

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