Bookslinger: The Specialist’s Hat

Fri 27 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Available today on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is Kelly Link’s World Fantasy Award winning story “The Specialist’s Hat.”

Previous Small Beer stories on Bookslinger:

Bernardo Fernandez, “Lions” (translated by Chris N. Brown)

John Kessel, “Pride and Prometheus”

Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees”

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker” (translated by Edward Gauvin)

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here:

Not bells, an endorsement

Mon 23 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Questionable Practices coverWhat’s that ringing sound in your ears? Not the bells, the bells, rather Margo Lanagan’s ringing endorsement of Eileen Gunn’s March 2014 collection, Questionable Practices.

And should you wish a quick blast of excellent and odd Christmas fiction, try Eileen and Michael Swanwick’s “The Trains That Climb the Winter Tree.”

“From the first sentence of an Eileen Gunn story, you know you’re in the hands of a master. She brings you good, knotty characters every time, and sends them on trajectories you can’t help but care about. She roams the world and lets you appreciate its depth, variety and complications. She does humour and seriousness with equal aplomb; she can write to any length and know exactly what’ll fit. Above all she’s a sharp and a deep thinker; it’s a privilege to watch her mind at work. Read these stories and there’s no question you’ll feel like a smarter, more attentive human being.”
—Margo Lanagan

Preorder (or gift!) the paperback here and the ebook here.

We’ve also added the first couple of Eileen’s events:

March 19 – 23, ICFA, Orlando, FL
March 26, 7 pm, University Bookstore, Seattle, WA

2013 in SBP books

Wed 18 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Sometimes I miss Badreads, the community reading site that AFAIK closed down earlier this year. I haven’t yet really migrated to LibraryThing (there’s that part ownership thing) or any of the others. I certainly liked seeing what other people were reading and keeping up with what I was reading.

Now, who knows what I read? I barely do. Although I really enjoyed the most recent issue of Pen AmericaNot just because they reprinted two stories from Three Messages and a Warning either. The whole thing was great, from the forum on teaching writing (Dorothy Allison, Paul La Farge . . . and Elissa Schappel’s heartbreaking piece) to the poetry by Ron Padgett (“Advice to Young Writers”) and two graphic narratives (comics!) by the fab David B. and Jean-Pierre Filiu (translated by none other than Edward Gauvin!) and Brian Evenson and Zak Sally. Anyway, you want a good magazine? Go read it.

I joined Pen a couple of years ago (teenage me: so proud!) and now Kelly’s a member, too. Are you a writer or editor? Do you care about intellectual freedom? If you can swing it, sign up here!

Ok, so, Small Beer: What have we been up to this fine year almost done and gone?

2 issues of LCRW! A record! Well, for recent years. We are planning 2 more for 2014. Phew!

A banner year for Weightless, yay!

And the New York Times just gave a great review to one of our final books of the year, Howard Waldrop’s new collection. I always think our books are so good that they all should be on NPR, in the WaPo, the LA, NY, St. Petersburg, Seattle, and London Times, etc., etc., so sometimes I surprised when they aren’t. I know: different strokes for different folks and all that, although really I think since all our books are so good they should overcome any reader prejudices. (“Short stories! Pah!”) The real reason they’re not reviewed anywhere? All the papers and magazines find it hard to justify reviewing half a dozen or more books from the same publisher. Right? Right!

BTW: if you would like to order Small Beer books (we have many signed copies!) to arrive in time for the holidays, please select Priority Mail. We are shipping until 5 pm on Thursday December 19th this year.

Here’s a picture of all the books we published this year and below, a little bit more about each book.

2013 books


Chuntering on!


Greer Gilman

What, another chapbook? That’s two in two years! The last one we did was in 2004 (Theodora Goss) and the next one should be 2014. Woo! This one is a dark, dense and intense serial killer story with Ben Jonson, detective and avenging angel.

“A jewel of a novella.”—Strange Horizons

Nathan Ballingrud » interview

The darkest book I expect we will ever publish! Bleak? Check. Monsters? Check? Fabulous, fabulous writing? Check!

“Matched to his original ideas and refreshing re­furbishments of genre set pieces, Ballingrud’s writ­ing makes North American Lake Monsters one of the best collections of short fiction for the year.

“The beauty of the work as a whole is that it offers no clear and easy answers; any generalization that might be supported by some stories is contradicted by others. It makes for an intellectually stimulating collection that pulls the reader in unexpected directions. The pieces don’t always come to a satisfactory resolution, but it is clear that this is a conscious choice. The lack of denouement, the uncertainty, is part of the fabric of the individual stories and of the collection as a whole. It is suggestive of a particular kind of world: one that is dark, weird, and just beyond our ability to impose order and understanding. These are not happy endings. They are sad and unsettling, but always beautifully written with skillful and insightful prose. It is a remarkable collection.”

Susan Stinson » Rick Kleffel interviews Susan Stinson (mp3 link).

Flying out the door in our town (Broadside Books alone has sold 140+ copies!) and now all over the country. Jonathan Edwards, we hardly knew ye. Until Susan brought you and your family and your town back to life.

“Ultimately, ‘Spider in a Tree’ is a lesson in what not to expect. Stinson eludes the clichés usually associated with religious extremism to peel away the humans underneath. We speak of a loving God, who asks us to embark upon a deadly war. We most easily see the sins in others that we are ourselves guilty of. Every ambition to perfect ourselves has a very human cost. As we reach for what we decide is the divine, we reveal our most fragile human frailties. Words cannot capture us; but we in all our human hubris, are quite inclined to capture words.”
The Agony Column

Sofia Samatar

We still have a few hardcovers of this left, unlike most other places. Some reviewers have really got this book including Jane Franklin in Rain Taxi who just gave it a huge excellent review. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. Yes, it’s fantastic. Sofia sure can write.

“Sofia Samatar’s debut fantasy A Stranger in Olondria is gloriously vivid and rich.”
—Adam Roberts, The Guardian, Best Science Fiction Books of 2013

“For its lyricism, its focus on language, and its concern with place, it belongs on the shelf with the works of Hope Mirrlees, Lord Dunsany, and M. John Harrison — but for its emotional range, it sits next to books by Ursula K. Le Guin or Joanna Russ.”—Jane Franklin, Rain Taxi

Angélica Gorodischer. Translated by Amalia Gladhart.

Our second Gorodischer—and we have high hopes of a third and maybe even a fourth! This one is a discursive, smart, self aware science fiction. Don’t miss!

“Perhaps the strangest thing about these tales is how easily one forgets the mechanics of their telling. Medrano’s audiences are at first reluctant to be taken in by yet another digressive, implausible monologue about sales and seductions in space. But soon enough, they are urging the teller to get on with it and reveal what happens next. The discerning reader will doubtless agree.”
Review of Contemporary Fiction

Howard Waldrop

We keep getting letters from Waldrop fans who are so pleased he has a new book out: and that after 40 years he’s in the New York Times! Spread the joy!

“What’s most rewarding in Mr. Waldrop’s best work is how he both shocks and entertains the reader. He likes to take the familiar — old films, fairy tales, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas — then give it an out-of-left-field twist. At least half the 10 tales in his new collection are prime eccentric Waldrop . . .  as he mashes genres, kinks and knots timelines, alchemizing history into alternate history. In “The Wolf-man of Alcatraz,” the B prison movie rubs fur with the Wolf-man; “Kindermarchen” takes the tale of Hansel and Gretel and transforms it into a haunting fable of the Holocaust; and “The King of Where-I-Go” is a moving riff on time travel, the polio epidemic and sibling love.
“Among the most successful stories is “The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode In On),” an improbable confluence of vaudeville (two of the main characters perform in a horse suit) and the Arthurian Grail legend that manages to name-check Señor Wences, Thomas Pynchon, “King Kong” and more as Mr. Waldrop tells of the Ham Nag — “the best goddamned horse-suit act there ever was.” It’s certainly the best horse-suit-act story I’ve ever read.”
New York Times

Alan DeNiro

Alan’s second collection marries absurdity to with politics and heart. Every writer is unique. Alan? Alan is like a superhero made up of the best parts of half a dozen of our favorite writers. Read these two excerpts to see why: “Tyrannia”, Walking Stick Fires [excerpt].

“Most of Tyrannia‘s rambunctious, immensely entertaining stories — seven of them science fiction — blend bizarre speculations with intermittent humor. When there isn’t humor, there’s weirdness — often extreme weirdness, funny in its own right. Fair warning: what I’m about to describe might not always make sense. That’s in the nature of this highly unconventional collection.”
—Will George, Bookslut

Peter Dickinson

We added Reading Group Questions to the former and the latter includes an author interview carried out by none other than Sara Paretsky. These two sort of mysteries are filled with bon mots, memorable characters, and the strangeness of the 1950s, 1970s, and 1980s. There is nothing as haunting as the last line of The Poison Oracle.

“Dickinson’s crime novels are simply like no other; sophisticated, erudite, unexpected, intricate, English and deeply, wonderfully peculiar.”
—Christopher Fowler, author of The Memory of Blood

Last readings of the year

Wed 18 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Susan Stinson (Spider in a Tree) is the sole reader at a fundraiser/party at Food for Thought Books in Amherst tomorrow night at 6 pm. Hope to see you there!

And on the same night over on the other coast, Sofia Samatar (A Stranger in Olondria) is reading in Los Angeles:

December 19, 2013
The Empty Globe
8:00 p.m.
behind Full House Restaurant (963 N. Hill St., Chinatown, Los Angeles)

Sofia Samatar, Lily Robert-Foley, and Xina Xurner (Marvin Astorga & Young Joon Kwak).

Details here.

If you miss those, catch both authors on le twitttttr: Susan, Sofia.

Valley Gives 2013

Wed 11 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

As with last year, here in the happy valley tomorrow, 12/12 (a date that works in the UK and here!) is day of giving where local charities and nonprofits all collaborate in a day of fundraising and giving. Everyone has their list of fave organizations they support to whatever degree they can (more in a good year! a little in a bad year!). Here are a few groups we support and recommend:

Our basic recs (from our links) page: Greenpeace | Amnesty | Habitat | Partners in Health | Heifer | Franciscan Hospital for Children | Ronald McDonald Houses (Springfield, MA) | Children’s Hospital Boston | Worldreader | Kiva (great present for kids to see how they can make a difference) | Fistula Foundation

Recommended by GiveWell:

Nurse Family Partnership | Youth Villages | and the fascinating Give Directly

And a few more good local things—feel free to add more in the comments.

Northampton Survival Center

Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways

WFCR — which is part of NEPR now. You may have heard our ads on WNNZ, the AM station. One of the reasons I love them is their use of Stone Roses, Neko Case, and other great music in between stories.

If you know people with too much stuff (and if they already have all our books), gifts to any of these orgs make great holiday presents!


   Ronald McDonald House Fistula Foundation

Clarion 2014

Fri 6 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin


Hey, want to spend 6 weeks in San Diego writing with some of the best sf&f writers around?

Applications are now open for the 2014 Clarion Writers Workshop. This year’s instructors are Gregory Frost, Geoff Ryman, Catherynne Valente, N.K. Jemison, Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer.

Applications are taken until March, but the application fee rises from $50 to $65 in mid-February.

Apply here

Holiday shipping 2013

Thu 5 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Time for a quick annual reminder that holiday mail dates are coming up fast. Our office will be closed as usual from December 20 – January 1, 2014. (Of course, Weightless is always open.)

Here are the last order dates for Small Beer Press—which are not the same as everyone else, see note about the office being closed above. Dates for international shipping are here.

We ship all books media mail for free in the USA. If you want to guarantee pre-holiday arrival, please add on Priority Mail.

Domestic Mail Class/Product Cut Off Date
First Class Mail Dec-19
Priority Mail Dec-19
Standard Post Dec-14

Where are they now: Heidi Smith

Thu 5 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

I worked in the el-hi (elementary and secondary school) textbook publishing industry in Massachusetts for five years, managing projects for clients such as Houghton Mifflin, National Geographic, and McGraw-Hill. The book projects ranged from 2-4,000 pages, with teacher editions, student editions, and various grade levels and subjects. We produced print books, online materials, CDs, interactive lessons, magnets, and other ancillary materials.

My next move was to Washington, DC, to work as an editor in nonfiction business trade publishing. I worked closely with authors and designers, producing at least eight titles per year as the lead editor. The editing ranged from copyediting to developmental and structural editing, depending on the needs of the manuscripts and authors. I also edited and wrote marketing collateral to support the books and the organization, and supported other editors by proofreading their books.

After working in the busy world of publishing, I’m looking forward to the next opportunity. Although I enjoyed textbook and nonfiction business publishing, I’d like to expand and learn from other markets.

After some amazing vacations to the British Virgin Islands and Tanzania, Africa, I currently live in Northern California, where I’m taking a deep breath and focusing on my own writing once again. I’m reading some great books, and working on freelance opportunities.


Heidi Smith volunteered for us back in the summer of 2006. Read more in the Where Are They Now series.

Malvern, Hardest Part, the ABA, Susan @ KGB, &c

Wed 4 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

I don’t know when we’ll get there but I can’t wait to visit Malvern Books which just opened in Austin, Texas.

In book biz news, I’m very happy to see that Publishers Weekly chose American Booksellers Association chief Oren Teicher and the ABA board as their Person of the Year. I worked at the ABA as a BookSense (now IndieBound) content coordinator for two years and I love the ABA and their mission. It’s been great to see the indies change the narrative in the last couple of years: they’re building sales, opening stores, and illustrating every day that they are vital cornerstones to downtowns (and middle-of-nowheres!) everywhere.

Sofia Samatar has an excellent entry in Bull Spec’s series, “The Hardest Part,” on Chapter 7 of A Stranger in OlondriaShe also has a lovely, weird story, “How I Met the Ghoul,” in the new issue (#15) of Eleven Eleven.

Our local library has a lovely interview in the new issue of their newsletter [pdf] with Susan Stinson on writing her novel Spider in a Tree. Below is a picture of Susan reading at the KGB Bar (where she read the infamous “bundling” scene!) in New York City and another of her among many happy friends.

Susan has one more reading coming before the year ends: December 15, 5 p.m. Bloom Readings, Washington Heights, NYC

Susan Stinson by Jeep Wheat Susan Stinson & friends by Jeep Wheat

Small Beer Press Announces New Air Delivery Program

Mon 2 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Effective December 26th* Small Beer Press will revolutionize publishing by using hovercrafts to deliver packages in as little as 7 days. Declaring himself an “optimist,” Gavin J. Grant, Small Beer Press publisher predicted the technology will immediately bring tectonic changes to the publishing world.

This is more than a theoretical idea. This morning Grant showed the … internet a Hammacher Schlemmer ad from Harper’s Magazine*** for a hovercraft drone called a “2-person hovercraft” which will be emblazoned with “Small Beer Press Air Delivery.” The flying machine has one person to drive it and one to scoop up packages at Small Beer Press fulfillment centers and carry them to customers’ front lawns:

* Once Santa delivers the air delivery device.

** Plagiarized from the Bezos Daily News.

*** Full disclosure: Small Beer Press has paid for books to be advertised in Harper’s.