Bizarro Reading Challenge

ParamournCoverI’m happy to announce that my recent fiction collection Paramourn: Unfortunate Romances has made the preliminary ballot for the Wonderland Book Award, alongside a ton of great bizarro books by other authors. The Wonderland Book Award was established to recognize achievement in the field of bizarro fiction. Votes can be cast to determine the final ballot at — just select your top three candidates in each category and email to the address listed. The award is then voted on by members of the bizarro community and presented at BizarroCon, held annually in Portland, Oregon.

Everywhere I go professionally, people ask me: what is bizarro? Who are the authors? What books do you recommend? It’s hard to know where to begin usually. Today, however, it’s easy to say that anyone curious about bizarro fiction ought to familiarize themselves with those titles populating the preliminary ballot. There are 60 books listed, enough to provide you with a year’s worth of bizarro. Why not take up the bizarro reading challenge?

“Wait John,” you’re surely saying, “this is the portion wherein you’re meant to hit me up to read and/or vote for Paramourn!”

On the contrary: you read my bog–and maybe my books–already, so why not branch out and really discover what’s going on in the world of bizarro? Oh, if you insist, you can read a free short story out of the collection directly on the Paramourn: Unfortunate Romances info page, but it’s far from being the entire book, or even being fully representative of the book. No, forget my work and save it for last. Get into some of the other work, much of which is by authors I admire.

“Wait now, John! I’m already doing a reading challenge. The diversity reading challenge!”

Sweet! A bunch of the books on the Wonderland Book Award preliminary ballot suit the needs of the diversity reading challenge, and they probably aren’t on your radar unless you’re already reading bizarro on a regular basis. Two authors whose work I always enjoy are Madeleine Swann and Violet LeVoit, and they could serve as a good start.

And now I’m off to familiarize myself with some of the other titles. If you have any favorites on the ballot please let me know in the comments section below. Thanks!

Upcoming Artist Residency Deadline

Taipei Artist Village

Artist-in-Residence Taipei is managed by the Department of AIR, Taipei Culture Foundation and operates in two places, Taipei Artist Village and Treasure Hill Artist Village.

Secluded by a serene garden, with vibrant Taipei City as a backdrop for creativity, Taipei Artist Village provides freedom and opportunity for innovation in the making of visual art, music, literature, and performance art and fosters artistic and cultural exchange between Taiwan and the rest of the world.

Based on the concept of “symbiosis”, Treasure Hill Artist Village is dedicated to planting the roots of artistry at the local level, forming a setting where the environment, art and community converse, and providing artists with a space for living and working that is integrated with concern for society.


Taipei: Taiwan

Taipei Artist Village is conveniently located at the hub of Taipei’s business and government districts. The 1,650-square-meter site and 4-story building are in the heart of Taipei City. Treasure Hill Artist Village is located in Taipei City’s first official historical settlement.


  • Residency Length: 8-12 weeks
  • Average number of artists in residence at a time: 10
  • Number of artists accepted in most recent year: 50
  • Total applicant pool in most current year: 500


  • Application type: Open application
  • Collaboration: May apply as a team
  • Geography: Open to US artists, Open to non-US artists
  • Additional eligibility information:

    Artists-in-residence must be able to converse in English. Students are not eligible to apply.

  • Application deadline: June 04
  • Application Ongoing: Yes

Past Residents & Quotes

The facility, location, and staff resources of the Taipei Artist Village have exceeded my expectations. As an international residency program, it is rich with opportunities to meet and engage with artists of all disciplines and backgrounds. It is a self-contained creative pocket alive within the incredibly fascinating world of downtown Taipei.
— Anthony Luensman
The Taipei Artist Village provides an artist-led space where pioneering artists in all disciplines — visual, literary, musical, film/video/photography, performing and interdisciplinary — from throughout Taiwan and the world are brought together. The artists drawn to TAV share what is unique from their cultures and experiences, playing a crucial role in enhancing the beauty and grandeur of Taipei city.

Facilities & Services

  • Housing: Private housing (individual apartment/cabin/house)
  • Meals: No meals/food provided
  • Computer/internet access: Computer and internet connection provided in common area (shared), Wireless Internet, Ethernet provided in living or studio area
  • Companions: Spouses/partners allowed for full stay
    additional charges for Spouses/partners and children
  • Accessibility: housing/grounds/studios are accessible
  • Studios/special equipment: Dance / Choreography, Digital media, Exhibition / Installation, Music studio (non-recording), Painting, Photography (digital), Photography (non-digital), Theater

Stipends / other support

TAV/THAV provide housing, studios, program administration, travel assistance, materials stipend depending on application.

Additional expectations / opportunities

TAV and THAV are given the opportunity to participate in public exhibitions/presentations, artist talks, workshops, open studios, field trips, curator visits.

Contact Information

No. 7 Beiping East Road
Taipei, 100
Tel: 886 2-33-937-377

Read This: Darren Speegle


Here are some provocative thoughts from Laird Barron regarding the writing of Darren Speegle, whose collections A Dirge for the Temporal and A Rhapsody for the Eternal we had the pleasure of publishing.

Originally posted on Laird Barron:

Resurrecting a post from 2007 about one of the best weird fiction authors. And when it comes to weirdness, Speegle is only matched by the likes of Brian Evenson and Michael Cisco.

Regarding Darren Speegle:

I think it appropriate to begin with Speegle as he recently announced his collection, A Dirge for the Temporal will be reprinted in hardcover by RAW DOG SCREAMING PRESS.

Someone at a message board asked, if given their taste for the works of Ligotti, Mark Samuels, and Don Tumasonis, and other writers of the weird, would he enjoy Speegle…

My response, lifted from the board:  “If you enjoy Tumasonis, I think you’ll enjoy Speegle. They share a lot of qualities and explore similar themes — strangers in strange lands, the uncertainty and mutability of relationships, geography as a mirror for the mind, an extension of dream state. Both produce work I find grandly elliptical and consummately…

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The State of Black Science Fiction Presents: SOBSFic Con!


I have been glad to see far more in the way of acknowledgement and inclusion from established convention organizers, but more events like this one are still sorely needed.

Originally posted on Chronicles of Harriet:

The State of Black Science Fiction, the popular collective of authors, artists, filmmakers, comic book creators and cosplayers who create works of science fiction, fantasy and horror by, for and about people of Afrikan descent, are bringing us the State of Black Science Fiction Convention – also known as SOBSFic Con – in 2016 on June 17-18.

This Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention by and about people of Afrikan descent, will take place in Atlanta and is expected to draw creators and fans from all over the globe.

Here is a glimpse at the programming thus far:


The Afroretroism Track presents programs about current and classic alternate history writings, exploring trends and issues in Steamfunk, Dieselfunk, Rococoa, Sword and Soul and other alternate-history genres expressed through a Black / African lens. Panels include discussions of race and ethnicity in alternate history; fabricating all the necessary…

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On Mr. Wicker Winning the Bram Stoker Award


Some thoughts from author Maria Alexander on her Stoker Award victory over the weekend. I have been very lucky to work with her, and participate in her success.

Originally posted on Maria Alexander:


I’m so incredibly honored that the Horror Writers Association chose to recognize my book, Mr. Wicker, for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. As I said in my speech, my heartfelt thanks goes to each and every member who voted for my book. It had very tough competition, especially from film director David Cronenberg’s Consumed and Josh Malerman’s Birdbox. Truly, all the books were excellent. I enjoyed the heck out of meeting Josh, as well as the other nominees, Michael Knost and JD Barker. I felt honored just getting to hang out with such a terrific group of people. I was already in the Winner’s Circle with these talented folk.


But when they called my name, I was reeling. Truth be told, I was well into into my cups and enjoying the hilarious antics of poet Mike Arnzen at our table. Raw Dog Screaming Press should probably be called Raw Dog Laughing Press…

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#MECCAconWeekly w/ Khary Randolph

Here’s the Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts interview with sequential artist Khary Randolph.

#MECCAconWeekly w/ Khary Randolph.

Truth in Ruins by John Edward Lawson


Race Relations in the Arts and Politics Magazine has posted a detailed review of my collection Truth in Ruins. Definitely worth a read.

Originally posted on The R.R.A.P. Magazine:

So this was my first experience with the genre known as bizarro fiction.  If I had to pull out a meaning of bizarro fiction from this anthology I would say that it’s a genre which laughs and revels at its own ridiculousness all the while smacking you in the face with some powerful, universal truths.  The stories in this collection require to leave your sense of normality at the door and be ready to have any and everything thrown at you.  These stories take your expectations of normality and punch them in the face, which is a good thing.  As a reader and aspiring writer, I look to be challenged and to be shown different ways of thinking.  This anthology is that and more.

Even with its bizarro elements, the anthology did keep to a certain theme of death and destruction.  It shows the world time and time again in…

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Upcoming Deadline: The Transformation Award

From the Leeway Foundation:

The Transformation Award provides unrestricted annual awards of $15,000 to women and trans* artists living in the Delaware Valley region who create art for social change and have done so for the past five years or more, demonstrating a long-term commitment to social change work.

The Award is unrestricted (it is not project-based) and open to women and trans* people working in any art form, traditional or non-traditional.

We encourage you to apply if you are a woman or trans* artist who:

  • Creates art for social change that impacts a larger group, audience, or community.
  • Has been creating art for social change for the past five years or more, demonstrating a long-term commitment to this work.
  • Has financial need and limited or no access to other financial resources.
  • Has lived for the past two or more years in the Delaware Valley region: Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia County.

The Transformation Award application is a two-stage process.

Stage 1: This is a two-stage application process. The Stage 1 application is due May 15. Stage 1 is open to all eligible applicants. A panel of community-based artists will review applications and make decisions to invite applicants to submit work samples for Stage 2.

Stage 2: By invitation only. All invited applicants from Stage 1 will receive an application stipend to help cover the costs of preparing work samples. In addition to the stipend, we will offer each applicant support through in-person meetings and application feedback, as needed. The Stage 2 deadline will be announced to finalists only. All invitees will receive notification and announcement of final Awardees in December 2014.

Leeway Transformation Award Application and Guidelines Hardcopy (Stage 1)

Leeway Transformation Award Guidelines Only Hardcopy (Stage 1)

Leeway Transformation Award Electronic Application (Stage 1)

Leeway Transformation Award Collaborator Electronic Application (Stage 1)

Leeway Transformation Award Application in Spanish Hardcopy (Stage 1)

*We use the term “trans” in its most inclusive sense, as an umbrella term encompassing transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, Two-Spirit people, and more generally, anyone whose gender identity or gender expression is nonconforming and/or different from their gender assigned at birth.

deadline 05/15/2015

The James Laughlin Award

From Poets & Writers:

Offered since 1954, the James Laughlin Award is given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. The award was endowed in 1995 by a gift to the Academy from the Drue Heinz Trust. It is named for the poet and publisher James Laughlin (1914-1997), who founded New Directions in 1936.

The winner receives a prize of $5,000, an all-expenses-paid weeklong residency at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, and distribution of the winning book to approximately one-thousand Academy of American Poets members.

The judges for 2015 are Francisco X. Alarcón, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and D. Nurkse.

Submissions will be accepted January 1 through May 15. Postmark deadline: May 15.

  • The James Laughlin Award is given to honor a second full-length book of original poetry, in English, by a living poet, forthcoming in the next calendar year.
  • Any poet who meets one of the below criteria on the date of the application deadline, in any given year, is eligible to apply:
    • U.S. Citizen
    • resident of the United States for a ten-year period prior to the submission deadline, or
    • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Legal Permanent Status (LPS), or any subsequent categories designated by the U.S. authorities as conferring similar enhanced status upon non-citizens living in the United States.

Please note: By law the Academy of American Poets must report cash prizes awarded to individuals to the Internal Revenue Service. If individuals have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the individual will receive a 1099. If the individual does not have an SSN or ITIN, the individual will receive a 1042 and could be subject to a withholding of a percentage of the cash prize.

  • To be eligible, a book must be under contract with a U.S. publisher and scheduled to be published between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016. Winning books must be published by December 31, 2016.

     Please note: In this transitional year, we are unable to consider books published prior to January 1, 2016. Our hope is that by aligning the prize to the forthcoming calendar year, the winning poet and their publisher will benefit from having enough time to make proper plans for publicity and printing of the book.

  • To be eligible, an author must have published one book of poetry in a standard edition (48 pages or more). The publication of chapbooks (less than 48 pages) does not disqualify an author.
  • Entries must be at least 48 pages total (suggested length: 48 to 100 pages).
  • Entries must be submitted in manuscript form (or page proofs) so the jury can review them without considering the books’ design. Books and bound galleys will not be accepted.
  • Publishers must send four copies of each manuscript. The author’s name should not be included in running heads or appear on any page, so that the manuscript can be read blind. Acknowledgements may be included.
  • Submissions are welcome from small presses, university presses, and trade publishers that have previously published at least four books of poetry.
  • Translations and new editions of previously published books are not eligible.
  • Each entry must be accompanied by a completed entry form signifying the publisher’s acceptance of these guidelines. The winner will be announced in September.
  • The Academy of American Poets agrees to purchase approximately one thousand copies of the winning book for distribution to its members. The Academy of American Poets may purchase additional copies of the book for its own use, but not for resale. No royalties will be paid to the author on the copies purchased by the Academy of American Poets. The publisher agrees to sell to the Academy of American Poets the number of copies requested at a standard discount.
  • The publisher agrees to announce and publish the winning book as the Academy of American Poets James Laughlin Award Winner. The publisher also agrees to include a seal on all of the books, identifying the winning book as such. The Academy of American Poets will provide the publisher with the seal design as an electronic file.  Any subsequent reprintings of the book must comply with the aforementioned stipulations.
  • The decisions of the Academy of American Poets regarding eligibility are final. Manuscripts will not be returned.

Mailing Instructions

Send four copies of each manuscript (no bound books or galleys, please) to:

The James Laughlin Award
The Academy of American Poets
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901
New York, New York 10038

For more information, please contact:
Patricia Guzman
Programs Coordinator
(212) 274-0343, ext. 13

A Weekend Celebration

One thing you learn in the arts is that things rarely shape up the way you anticipate. While it is imperative to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, many of the opportunities fall apart at the last moment or take a sour turn as they unfold and achieve completion. It is rare for things to exceed your expectations.

Over the last 14 years since adding editorial responsibilities to my work as an author I have not had time to do the things that people are supposed to do. I don’t have birthday parties, I don’t hang out with friends, I don’t watch TV, or go to the latest movies, or play lots of video games, or do much of anything that does not feed into writing and editing or raising my son. My attitude is if people remember my birthday it’s great, and if they don’t that’s okay, I’m just doing my thing.

However, my wife and I have been trying to do actual people stuff in 2015, by making time for getting together with friends and family, going to everyone’s birthday celebrations, or when traveling somewhere we’ve been trying to visit with people instead of making it just business.

So…we were hosting one of our authors, Stephanie M. Wytovich, over last weekend to participate in the women in horror panel at Ukazoo Books in Towson on Sunday. I thought we would take her around to some of the various interesting sites in our area and have a good time.

Instead I was duped into a surprise birthday party with several the people we work with, alongside my in-laws. We had a squid-themed birthday party which was lots of fun, completely unexpected, and made me very happy — although I think my son might have even been happier about the whole deal. He loves executing tricks and surprises, and he enjoys cupcakes and balloons.

Then, as planned, we went to the Ego Likeness performance in Baltimore. Donna and Steve, the core members of Ego Likeness, are authors and artists we work with on a regular basis, and this was their first Baltimore performance in three years. It was great seeing them again away from writing events, and also to see them perform music again. In fact, theirs was one the best live performances I’ve seen. While Donna was in the midst of her banter with the audience, supplying information about the other bands performing that night and giving an update about their forthcoming album, Donna also put the spotlight on me and told everyone to wish me a happy birthday. The crowd obliged, and I just about fell over. It was unexpected, to say the least, to have rock stars wish me happy birthday from onstage even if I know them.

The panel we put together for the next day was one the best panels I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve been to many, many conventions over the years. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all the panel participants, to the wonderful crowd, and to the store for their enthusiastic and generous support — and their consummate professionalism. For an in-depth breakdown of the women in horror panel read the report over at

Every step of the way throughout the weekend things turned out far better than anticipated, and not just for me. As the people who participated can tell you there are always bizarre stories that come out of the Raw Dog Screaming Press gatherings, and this was no exception. The photo gallery below allows you a partial glimpse.

The man your librarian warned you about…


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