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Color us excited!  Leona says,

Announcement time! I’ve embarked on a new adventure called The Scribbling Lion, LLC. What’s it all about? Glad you asked. Please step right this way…

Check this out.

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On January 17, 2014, Mercury Retrograde Press will cease normal operations. By that date, all the books Mercury Retrograde has published will go out of print; the rights to those stories will return to their authors. We’ll be honoring our commitment to appear and sell books at Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention in November, but that will be Mercury Retrograde’s last public appearance as the publisher of the authors and works we’ve sponsored in the past.

This decision has been a difficult one, and it’s been a long time in coming. Since we first began in 2007, I’ve been developing and re-developing not only books, authors and artistic careers but methodologies for bringing to press genre works that matter. Mercury Retrograde wasn’t my first foray into this crazy business of publishing, but it was the first time I’d been at the helm of an operation whose vision was mine alone; and that vision is one I still believe in passionately. But in recent months it has become increasingly clear that there is not time enough, energy enough, me enough to support both Mercury Retrograde and my own artistic work. That no matter how I increase our staff, expand our resources, rearrange our methodologies, it cannot achieve the mission for which I’d conceived it without being my primary focus.

There are any number of people whose truest creative outlet is the running of a business about which they are passionate. I am not one of those people. In order for me to do the work that is my truest passion, I must set this mission aside.

I wait with great anticipation for news of the house that picks up this mission, or something similar: a publishing house whose truest passion is genre fiction, which is committed to creating the space and providing the resources necessary for genre writers to free themselves of the expectations of a market that demands entertainment the way kids demand snack foods when what they really crave is a fulfilling meal; it will be my pleasure to offer that publisher (or those publishers!) whatever aid I can. I hope I’ve left the genre world a little something to think about, a glimpse of something cool that might and should be. But I need to turn my energy to other projects.

I am grateful to all of the Mercury Retrograde authors for being part of this adventure, and I wish them all possible success and happiness in their next phases. And I am grateful to all of you for the love and support we’ve received since this grand experiment began. I hope we have brought you some pleasure or learning in return.

What will happen next for all the Mercury Retrograde books and authors we love? Those stories are just unfolding. I can promise you haven’t seen the last of any of them, and in the remaining months we’ll be passing along what news we can about their next adventures. For now, you can find them at their respective websites, blogs and social presences:

Edward Morris (author of There Was a Crooked Man)
Blog: http://edwardrmorrisjr.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/edward.morris.5
G+: http://plus.google.com/104385582777697605163

Larissa N. Niec (author of Shorn)
Personal Website: http://www.larissaniec.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/larissa.niec
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LarissaNiec
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/LarissaNiec

Zachary Steele (author of Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO and Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction)
Personal Website: http://www.zacharysteele.com
Blog: http://zacharysteele.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/zachary.steele
Twitter: http://twitter.com/zsteele
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2830492.Zachary_Steele

Leona Wisoker (author of Secrets of the Sands, Guardians of the Desert, Bells of the Kingdom and Fires of the Desert)
Personal Website: http://www.leonawisoker.com
Blog: http://leonawisoker.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wisokerwriting
Twitter: http://twitter.com/leonawisoker
G+: http://plus.google.com/104152009371385721105
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3316576.Leona_Wisoker

Barbara Friend Ish (author of The Shadow of the Sun)
Personal Website: http://www.barbarafriendish.com
Blog: http://barbarafriendish.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/barbarafriendish
Twitter: http://twitter.com/barbarfriendish
G+: http://plus.google.com/110606999298495001556
Tumblr: http://barbarafriendish.tumblr.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.combarbarafriendish
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/barbarfriendish

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9781936427253-frontcoverAfter much crying and smashing of computers, we have at long last overcome all the technical hurdles and finalized eBooks that play nicely with the hardware platforms of all our retail partners…and Fires of the Desert by Leona Wisoker is available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo users, on their respective stores and from devices everywhere. It’s been a long, strange trip for this eBook, and we know it’s been too long a wait–but we appreciate your patience with us as we took the time necessary to give you a well-produced eBook.

As always, the book is also available in Trade Paper, from Amazon, B&N, and all the usual suspects. And if you buy the book in paper, you can download the eBook for free, from our site.

Happy reading!

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Periodically I hold conversations with people who ask, in so many words, why I choose to focus all my energy on fantasy fiction, of all things. It’s not serious, really; I could be doing more challenging, more important work.

I disagree entirely with the premise from which those conversations proceed. I believe speculative fiction is the most challenging work a person not blessed with mad mathematical skills could take up. This genre has been called the literature of ideas, and I think that’s an entirely apt description. It offers writers the tools to take readers far enough outside their normal contexts to examine ideas that are otherwise beyond contemplation. The majority of people are not wired for digging directly into issues that make them intensely uncomfortable; but take those issues outside a context that looks familiar, run them through the filter of story, and they become possible to engage with. Through these filters we can look at the ideas without flinching away, think about them, and take them back into our everyday context.

Bells of the Kingdom, the third book in Leona Wisoker’s acclaimed Children of the Desert series, is one such work. It’s a gripping, impossible-to-look-away-from story–but there is a darkness running through it, elements of things people would prefer not to confront. Leona herself has written:

I set out to write a fantasy novel with a cast of Heroes, and wound up with rather a lot of Reluctant Heroes who needed their arms wrenched round twice to go where I wanted them to go. Not a single cheerful “let’s go get ‘em!” sucker among the lot. What’s worse, the longer I worked with them, the more convincing their reasons for being Reluctant became. Some very ugly stuff crept in along the edges and wormed its way into the heart of the story: child abuse, prostitution, torture, and all manner of sadistic behavior.

I never set out to write this sort of novel; but there it was, one day, staring at me with big mournful eyes. And with every revision, with every re-read, I remembered more and more clearly that I’d drawn this or that horrible snippet from things that really happen, every single day, all over the world.

Robert M. Tilendis, in his introspective review of Bells of the Kingdom on The Green Man Review, notes, “Wisoker’s series so far has not been what you could call light-hearted, but this volume takes us some places I found very hard to go.”

It is very difficult, even in the context of fiction, to contemplate “every horror we’ve found to inflict on each other and on ourselves”. It is devastating to look into a book and discover it is a mirror of humanity, of ourselves. To see the monstrous possibilities of our species, and to recognize the tendrils they stretch into us, whether we are participants or merely apathetic bystanders.

But if it is horrifying, it can also be redemptive. These mirrors into our species and ourselves can allow us to stir out of apathy, to take some sort of action. One avenue of action available to readers touched by the dark truths in Bells of the Kingdom is offered by the Not For Sale Campaign, which is working to end human slavery–not just in places comfortably distant, but in dark corners much closer to home. We’ll be donating ten percent of the profits on all direct sales of Bells of the Kingdom, whether via the website or at conventions, to the Not For Sale campaign this year. Leona will be donating ten percent of her profits for this book to the foundation as well. Both of these campaigns will run through the end of the year, and they cover both print and eBook sales.We hope that if this book touches you, you’ll consider supporting the Not For Sale Campaign in other ways as well.

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In a maneuver no one saw coming, the mailing center to which our USPS mail and packages are delivered quite suddenly shut its doors last week. This being the electronic age, we don’t stop by to pick up the mail daily; our first indication something was wrong came when UPS deliveries we were expecting started bouncing. At this point we have no knowledge of what might be locked away behind that closed door.

So, if you sent us something via USPS, UPS or Fedex recently, be advised that we have not received it. We’re working on getting our hands on those things, but it turns out there are layers of legal nonsense involved at this point. In the meantime, we’re shopping for a new mailing center, but we don’t have an address yet.

Email continues to work, thank goodness. All the email addresses you might need are on the site, here.

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Well, we know you’ve been waiting. We’re sorry. Our dog ate our homework. We’ve been sick. Then we got sick again. Our grandmother died. Our other grandmother died. We had to fight in the zombie apocalypse. No, you did not see us at that party on Saturday. That must have been our twin sister, Zoot. Naughty, naughty Zoot.

Ahem.

Anyway, the eBook version of Bells of the Kingdom by Leona Wisoker is finally live on all your favorite book-buying sites. You can find it on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble/Nook, on Kobo, and a plethora of smaller sites. It’s as beautifully produced as all of Antimatter ePress’s eBooks are, and we’re sorry you had to wait so long.

The one place you can’t get the eBook of Bells of the Kingdom, it turns out, is our website. I will spare you the tale of woe, but suffice it to say we are shopping for a new ecommerce provider, AGAIN. I appreciate, so very much, the willingness of so many of you to go to the trouble of buying direct from our website, knowing that it means the author gets more money from the sale–but until we get things re-handled (!!) we can’t offer the eBook direct.

Among other things, this means that our free download of the eBook that is always available to people who buy a Mercury Retrograde book in Trade Paper isn’t working properly at the moment–but for that, at least, we’ve got a workaround. If you want to redeem your free eBook code, email us at sales@mercuryretrogradepress.com, and we’ll get you set up.

And we’ll definitely be announcing, with great glee, when the whole thing is working the way it should.

Meanwhile, stop by your favorite eBook-seller and pick up your copy. Or send us your free download code. If you haven’t yet bought the book in Trade Paper, and you want that version (it’s very pretty!) you can buy it here or here. Or find it in your favorite independent bookstore, which frankly sounds like much more fun.

Happy reading!

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I am delighted to announce the reboot, or perhaps the re-spawn, of Edward Morris‘s brilliant There Was a Crooked Man. We’ve been sharing the novella of that name with readers for a few years now, and it’s a perennial reader favorite–but Ed and I both knew there was more to the story. Finally we’ve assembled a team that can do Ed’s sweeping vision justice.

Editor Joe Pulver has signed on with Mercury Retrograde as Editor and Project Shepherd for There Was a Crooked Man. Artist Nick Gucker will be handling art for the project, including covers and interior maps. Together they bring a new and wonderful flavor of Crazy to the madness around here, and their long lists of accomplishments speak volumes:

Joe Pulver is a writer, poet, and editor with two published novels to date: Nightmare’s Disciple (Chaosium 1999; intro Robert M. Price) and The Orphan Palace (Chomu Press 2011; intro Michael Cisco). He is currently editing two anthologies for Miskatonic River Press: A Season in Carcosa and The Grimscribe’s Puppets; both anthologies to be released in 2012. He also edits Phantasmagorium magazine. Previously, he edited Ann K. Schwader’s widely-acclaimed The Worms Remember and John B. Ford’s Dark Shadows on the Moon, and several magazines including Tales of Lovecraftian Horror and Cthulhu Codex. His list of works on the other side of the desk is equally impressive, and it’s my great pleasure and privilege to work with him.

Nick Gucker’s art has appeared in the pages of Strange Aeons Magazine and The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. His illustrations have decorated the pages of ALL-MONSTER ACTION! by Los Angeles-based writer and raconteur Cody Goodfellow, the novelette ‘The Eye of Infinity’ by Sci-Fi mythos writer David Conyers for Perilous Press, The Aklonoimicon anthology from Aklo Press as well as a custom handmade, hand-bound Limited Edition hardback Printing of “Under the Pyramids” written by H.P. Lovecraft and re-issued by Lance Thingmaker of Creepycult. Nick has also painted acrylic and watercolor book covers for Blysster Press authors Clyde Wolfe, R.L. Reeves and M.R. Mitchell and Crypticon Seattle’s 2011 and 2012 “De-Compostions” horror anthologies. His artistic contributions can be found in online publications including Lovecraftzine.com and Thisishorror.co.uk. His unique, one-of-a-kind custom commission pieces have graced the walls and limbs of various and sundry patrons of the arts. It is a pleasure to be working with him as well.

You can learn more about both of these artists by clicking through the links above, which lead to their respective profiles on our site. I have already learned how truly professional and delightful they both are, and I can’t wait to share the results of their collaboration with Ed with you.

And, oh, the collaboration! Here’s what they’ve got in the pipeline for the fully-realized version of There Was a Crooked Man by Edward Morris:

There Was a Crooked Man, Second Edition: Ed has redeveloped the original novella to a completely different level. Even those who have read the First Edition will want to pick this one up, and see how he has truly brought his vision to fruition: not least because some of the new material is important to the tale going forward.

Boom-Towne

Hell or High Water

Birth of a Nation

Alphabet of Lightning

Pop Goes the World

Wish You Were Here

…and Ed is putting the final touches on an as-yet-untitled eighth novella, even as I type these words.

This series is down-the-rabbit-hole post-apocalyptic rewiring-the-past mayhem, in which a madman seeks total control of time and everything in it–and a group of psychic operatives dip in and out of space and time trying to stop him. If Hieronymus Bosch wrote novellas, they might be something like this.

And that’s not all the crazy we’ve got lined up for you, because Jonah Knight will be developing a series of songs to go along with the novellas. If you’ve heard Jonah’s work and read Ed’s, I know you are already smiling. These two fevered brains together will be the best sort of alchemy.

When? you say. When can I get my hands on all these lovely acid trips and have Ed rewire my brain?

Patience, O explorer of the dark realms. Joe and his merry band will be putting these together one at a time and sending them out into the world as soon as they are ready. We presently anticipate rolling releases beginning early in 2013, probably every couple months. We’ll be announcing release dates and pre-ordering in the newsletter as they become available.

Welcome, Joe and Nick! We’re glad you’re here.

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