Other Books in the Works
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AQUEOUS BOOKS ANNOUNCES THE FLANN O'BRIEN AWARD FOR INNOVATIVE FICTION. See guidelines and how to submit here.
Congratulations to Kevin P. Keating, whose November release The Natural Order of Things is a finalist in the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction category in the L.A. Times Book Prizes.
Publishers Weekly praises The Quantum Manual of Style by Brian Mihok: "...Mihok’s prose is often witty and intellectually lively, with a charming mixture of high theory and humor that blends notes of Alan Lightman, Charles Yu, and Dada." (1/21/13)
Dysfunction: Stories by Annam Manthiram is reviewed in the Winter 2013 edition of ForeWord Reviews.
Publishers Weekly said of The Natural Order of Things in a starred review (Oct. 15) : "Keating toys with narrative chronology in this debut collection of interwoven stories that follows the lives of several 'reprobates who have descended into... Hades.'"
Publishers Weekly says of David Peak's Glowing in the Dark, "Literary and horror culture converge in stories that name-check George Romero only to make it clear that urban life is far more horrifying than roving hordes of hungry undead."
Publishers Weekly praises Glynn Custred's The Hound of Westover County, noting that "...Custred does an admirable job of creating an uneasy atmosphere in this brief book... " Visit the author's page for the full review.
Publishers Weekly calls The Portable Son by Barrett Hathcock "captivating," "haunting," and "unforgettable." Read the review here.
Publishers Weekly gives rave reviews to Float by Nate House, "a melodious, eerie wisp of a book." Read the review here.
Heather Fowler reviews Corey Mesler's Notes Toward the Story & Other Stories at The Lit Pub.
Aaron Polson's The Saints Are Dead, Aqueous Books' first title to be released on the Danse Macabre imprint, is available here.
Jen Michalski interviews Heather Fowler at The Nervous Breakdown
Michael J. Atwood's HiStory of Santa Monica enters its 2nd edition! Order here. Revisions include improved spacing, larger font, a reader's guide, and an illustrated map of Santa Monica.
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About the Collection:
The stories in Philanthropy drop us into the lives of characters poised precariously on the edge: between love and anger, laughter and tears, childhood and adulthood, desire and fear.
Visit Leslie Haynsworth's author page to order this March 31, 2014 release.
Leslie Haynsworth is co-author with David Toomey of Amelia Earhart’s Daughters: The Wild and Glorious Story of American Women Aviators from World War II to the Dawn of the Space Age (William Morrow). Her stories and creative essays have appeared in Barrelhouse, Fourth Genre, Roanoke Review, Confrontation, JMWW, Gulf Stream, and elsewhere. She lives in Columbia, SC with her two sons and teaches English in the Opportunity Scholars program at the University of South Carolina.
We offer you a preview of the cover art for the forthcoming publications...
Aqueous Books announces its Flann O'Brien Award for innovative fiction.
Aqueous Books is closed to regular submissions, as the publication timeline for books forthcoming in our catalog currently extends into early 2016. Because the ongoing demand for our review of manuscripts has been so high, we are opening up the Flann O'Brien Award for innovative fiction. One winning novel or novel-in-stories receives publication in a trade paperback edition and corresponding eBook edition, an award seal on the cover, review and interview coverage, exposure as the Flann O'Brien Award winner through press outlets, and an announcement in Poets & Writers. Winning author also receives 10 complimentary copies of the finished book.
Entry Fee: $30. Submit as many times as you like, but you must send a separate entry fee with each manuscript you submit for it to be considered. Payment is submitted through Submittable, our submission manager, at the time of submission.
Manuscript Guidelines: Contest is open to previously unpublished novels or thematically connected short story collections. Manuscripts must be at least 17,500 words. Manuscripts must be double-spaced. Include a cover letter, including your contact information, a one-paragraph synopsis of the manuscript, and acknowledgment that the manuscript has never been published in its entirety. Submit online at https://aqueous.submittable.com/submit.
Regarding the award's namesake: Flann O'Brien was an Irish writer whose fiction is known for its innovative qualities. His writing takes risks but has a clear sense of direction -- the cumulative result is fiction that is lively, engaging, entertaining, and solidly literary.
Read the full review here. An excerpt: "Told through several perspectives—in letters and in the form of Myo's diary—the novel has the presence and solidity of an historical artifact, but humanity and its accompanying emotions—regret, humility, filial respect, burgeoning sexual love, purpose, and belonging—are ultimately what draw the reader into Myo's intriguing world."
Congratulations to Kevin P. Keating, whose debut novel, The Natural Order of Things, out from Aqueous on Nov. 30, 2012, landed a finalist spot in the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction Category in the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on April 19 in Los Angeles, preceding the April 20-21 Los Angeles Times Book Fair. Read more on the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes website.
Mihok’s debut draws inspiration from quantum theory to imagine how one might live in an unpredictable or hostile world. The book has two main parts: a manual-style exposition of a “quantum style” of living that embraces uncertainty and change, and a complementary narrative about Tara, a girl growing up in Arizona, whose family is gradually disintegrating. A central tenet of the quantum style is dealing with “singularities,” traumatic events that alter the course of life. Such trauma befalls Tara who wanders through the alt scene in Toronto, then Buffalo, trying to grasp tragedy. The more imaginative sections, meanwhile, offer translations of quantum theory into the banal, often funny, frame of everyday American middle-class life. Talk abounds of bosons, the universe, and other heady theoretical issues, but it’s matched by quirky prose experiments like party dynamics rendered in quasi-computer code, miniature thought experiments about causality, and amusing scientistic commentary on the quantum importance of high school. While the narrative itself is forgettable and the aggressive whimsicality distracting, Mihok’s prose is often witty and intellectually lively, with a charming mixture of high theory and humor that blends notes of Alan Lightman, Charles Yu, and Dada.
—Publishers Weekly, Print Edition, Jan. 21, 2013
This book is not for readers who like their short fiction uplifting, but rather for pragmatists interested in the intricacies of human frailty, the art of an unblinkingly unhappy plot, and the depth of dysfunction across families, friends, and foes.
Beginning with "The Cottonwood Borer", a compact and powerful story told by a young girl about her mother's desire to be reincarnated as a as the titular figure, each story examines wildly different characters, from a young Indian girl who can't live up to her parents standards in "Asha Ma", to a lonely woman who buys storage units hoping to find emotional satisfaction in their unknown contents in "Whatcha Bid". The stories are most successful when they are at their darkest, displaying allegorical brilliance on the scale of a Sanskrit epic.
The Natural Order of Things is a dark and utterly compelling work with an unnervingly resonant vision of our present age. Excellent work by a fine young writer.
—Robert Olen Butler, author of twelve novels and recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts
Keating toys with narrative chronology in this debut collection of interwoven stories that follows the lives of several “reprobates who have descended into... Hades.” At the center of an unnamed, ruined city of American industry thrives, tumorlike, a Jesuit high school and the Zanzibar Towers and Gardens, a flophouse where both students and alums slum it with prostitutes. In the opening story, “Vigil,” students have gathered at the Zanzibar to celebrate Halloween and the next day’s big football game with kegs of beer they stole from a senile priest in the final story, “Gehenna,” that was delivered in the second story, “Box,” by the father of star quarterback Frank “the Minotaur” McSweeney. “I’m counting on you. We all are,” says the Minotaur’s father, but the day of the big game, as in all the connected stories, we find out just how big a letdown everyone in this life can be. Story by story, the collection circumnavigates suffering—someone lights the homeless on fire at night; a merchant marine boxes up a man to ship him overseas; priests humiliate and shame their students, while one teacher loves them too much—in a place where most of its inhabitants “would rather gamble on a human life than try to save one.”
Whether Peak (Surface Tension) is better understood as part of the new extremity represented by Blake Butler or as a language-pushing experimentalist like Gary Lutz, the underground that he claims as his territory doesn’t get much more subterranean than this. Literary and horror culture converge in stories that name-check George Romero only to make it clear that urban life is far more horrifying than roving hordes of hungry undead. The grisly “Helping Hands” proves that modern horror needn’t stoop to bogeymen with violence in the Sudan a reality, and the viscerally disturbing title story is right to declare that it’s only when one looks closely that things begin to break down. Then there are the faceless nightmares plaguing modern apartments, sending “Strange Signals from the Center of the Earth,” the wartime dead that book passage on the “Trauma Train,” and the Gogol-inspired “Diary of the Possessed,” in which Lucifer is consigned to a madman’s rotten tooth. When literal things that go bump in the night do appear, as in “The Four Humours,” it’s as the demonic incarnation of vast silence, blood, and childhood fears. The influence of avant-garde poetry and late-night television are equally plain in Peak’s short stories, making this an authentic new evil that will appeal to readers drawn to the weird.
Custred, a professor of folklore, takes readers into the secret world of the Amish in the American Midwest. The novella takes place in Westover County, a shrinking community of Pennsylvania Dutch, forgotten by time and "scattered across the countryside like relics of times past" since the settlement's primary industry, grain processing, was outsourced to a nearby town. Custred follows two characters of the region--Stanley, a carpenter with a bachelor's degree in English; and Katie, the eldest daughter of a domineering Amish father and caretaker of her little siblings. Separately, Stanley and Katie have disturbingly close encounters with a menacing animal presence, though each dismisses their respective experiences as superstition. When Stanley inherits some money from his only relative, he builds a cabin on a remote river; soon after, he and Katie meet and marry. Custred spends the majority of the book setting the scene and describing the quiet, uneventful practicality of a country marriage, with the most dynamic action being inclement weather--until the phantasm of the beast begins to draw Katie out into the bleak night, with terrible consequences. ...Custred does an admirable job of creating an uneasy atmosphere in this brief book...
—Publishers Weekly, March 2012
Heather Fowler, author of Suspended Heart, reviews fellow Aqueous Books author Corey Mesler's short story collection Notes Toward the Story & Other Stories at The Lit Pub. Read it here.
Booked podcast does a double-header review of Caleb J. Ross's As A Machine & Parts (Aqueous Books) and I Didn't Mean to Be Kevin (Black Coffee Press). Check it out here.
California folklore lecturer and professor emeritus Glynn Custred's novella, the gorgeous and atmospheric The Hound of Westover County, opens for advance purchase. Pre-order here. Book publishes March 15, 2012.
Ben Rogers, recipient of a Nevada Arts Council Fellowship and two Sierra Arts Foundation Literary Artist Endowment Grants for fiction, presents his debut novel, The Flamer. Pre-order here. Book publishes Feb. 15, 2012.
Don't miss this witty, inventive, and irreverent debut collection of short stories from Thomas P. Balázs. Pre-order here. Book publishes Jan. 28, 2012.
The much-anticipated experimental text/image novella in which man becomes machine--yes, of course we're talking about As a Machine & Parts by Caleb J. Ross--makes it way into the world. Order here.
Don't miss this experimental text/image novella from indie publishing darling Caleb J. Ross. Pre-order here. Book publishes Dec. 15, 2011.
Dubbed "haunting" and "unforgettable" by Publishers Weekly, Barrett Hathcock's collection of interwoven short stories promises to leave you enthralled. Pre-order here. Book publishes Nov. 30, 2011.
"Peter Traxler is missing something. Ever since he left his family, his friends, and his adolescence behind in Jackson, Miss., he’s feeling lost. Despite the outward appearance of success—job, acquaintances, girlfriends—Peter is melancholy, his thoughts returning often to the past: “cotton diving” with his best friend Jeremy; sexual encounters with the local girls; the loss of his father and its impact on his mother; teenage angst bubbling over into semiviolent outbursts. His connection to his old friends is growing weak and distant; “when you’ve been on party manners with so many people for so long, it’s hard not to growl,” he says. Hathcock’s captivating debut collection of nine closely linked stories reads much like a novel. While many take place in the 1990s, the powerful Mississippi setting often feels akin to the American farm culture of the 1950s (at least until Jeremy dresses up like Ricky Martin for Halloween, or Peter’s Dad watches Nash Bridges on TV). The ghosts of the Old South are present throughout, even while the main character’s struggles are distinctively contemporary. It’s all here, the awkwardness of reconnecting with childhood friends, the impossibility of integrating your youth with your adulthood, the longing for home when home is a time and not a place: Hathcock writes haunting, unforgettable stories." Permalink here.
Aqueous Books sends its congratulations to Corey Mesler. His 2011 Aqueous release Notes Toward the Story & Other Stories is praised in Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal. Check it out here.
In this gorgeous debut, everything--physical and metaphysical--is a metaphor: the sea, the desert, thirst, motion, and stillness. A man wakes up in an island hospital after surviving a trans-Atlantic sailing accident and 18 days alone on a life raft. He tells the authorities that a whale bumped into his 36-foot sailboat and that his wife went down with the ship, hands gripping the wheel. A reporter who grew up in a family of modest means and immodest acts, his father a drunk who abused his mother, the protagonist is haunted by the ghost of his wife, who appears in flashbacks as a beautiful, monstrous, snobbish nag. The stress of everyday life seems like it would kill them both, since they were only happy together when they were on the boat. When the man is released from the hospital, he flees, possibly away from the truth, but mostly from himself. As much prose poem as novel, this is a melodious, eerie wisp of a book. Permalink here.
Check out the press kit for J. A. Tyler's forthcoming Aqueous Books release, the novella Girl with Oars & Man Dying, for more information. Title is set to release Sept. 30, 2011. Reserve your copy here.
Now available on the Kindle, the short story "The Shebeen" from Michael J. Atwood's collection HiStory of Santa Monica is only 99 cents! Don't miss it! Purchase your copy here.
[[Update - This title is available for order as of 7/15/11]] Corey Mesler's long-awaited short story collection, Notes Toward the Story and Other Stories, is now available for pre-order. This collection has everything...a monster story, a ghost story, an angel story, a mystical religious story, and a mystical secular story. Some of the work is experimental, some of it is outlandish, and some of it is as simple and comforting as a home-baked pie. Notes Toward the Story and Other Stories is now available for pre-order here. Check out the press kit here.
Fred Skolnik's epic novel, The Other Shore, is one you won't want to miss. This 706-page saga takes place in Israel in the 1980s, between the Lebanese War and the outbreak of the first Intifada (1984-1989), a pivotal time which saw the final transition of Israel from a Zionist-socialist society to a Western-style consumer society. The Other Shore is now available for pre-order here. Check out the press kit here.
Check out the gorgeous new cover design for Aaron Polson's latest dark short story collection and Aqueous Books' first release on the Danse Macabre imprint. The Saints Are Dead is now available for pre-order here. Check out the press kit here and the author's website here.
We have received our books from the printer (at long last!) and are busy shipping, shipping, shipping. In other news, you can now purchase a signed copy of Heather Fowler's Suspended Heart for $15 (instead of the usual $14) and have your extra dollar donated to the San Diego Family Justice Center. Visit the Store to order.
Pre-orders are now available for the revised second edition of HiStory of Santa Monica. Changes include revised interior with larger font and improved spacing, a reader's guide, and an illustrated map. Secure your copy by purchasing here.
Pre-orders are now available for Heather Fowler's magical realism-influenced short story collection, Suspended Heart. Secure your copy by purchasing here.
Pre-orders are now available for Alec Bryan's allegorical masterpiece, Night on the Invisible Sun. Secure your copy by purchasing here.
Advance review copies (ARCs) are being mailed for Israeli author Fred Skolnik's epic masterpiece, The Other Shore. While this is Skolnik's first published novel, he is best known as the editor in chief of the 22-volume second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, winner of the 2007 Dartmouth Medal and hailed as a landmark achievement by
the Library Journal. Other award-winning projects that he has been associated with include The New Encyclopedia of Judaism (co-editor, 2002) and the 3-volume Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust (senior editor, 2001). Now writing full time, Skolnik has published dozens of stories in the past few years (in TriQuarterly, Gargoyle, The MacGuffin, Minnetonka Review, Los Angeles Review, Prism Review, Underground Voices, and others).
Aqueous Books publishes well-written literature--novels and short story collections--that are unique, unusual, or magical in some way, whether by way of theme, language, or some other trope. We are open to various genres: literary, magical realism, speculative fiction, slipstream, and memoirs.
Who are your favorite fiction writers?
AB: Margaret Atwood, Herman Melville, Peter Ackroyd, Flann O'Brien, Thomas Wolfe, and Annie Dillard.
What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
AB: Proofread your work first and make sure it is the best it can be. A lot of publishers say "read what we publish," but for us, what we've published in the past is not a clear indicator of what we may publish in the future. The bottom line is to make sure your work is the best it can be before submitting it, and that will increase your chances of acceptance.
What is a day in the life of an editor like for you? Please give us a glimpse into your behind-the-scenes submission reading process.
AB: Normally, I print out the first 10-20 pages of every manuscript and sit down with a large-ish stack that's good for the better part of a day. I carefully consider each one. As I read, I go through and make editing marks on each document as though I were going to accept it, because at that stage, I don't really know what I will and will not be publishing. Once I get to the stage where I determine it's not right for Aqueous Books, I place it gently in the (you guessed it) rejection pile. The pieces that do not make it into that pile are generally those that I have read through stage one and still remain interested in. If I'm still wanting to read more after the initial printing of 10-20 pages, I'll print the next 20 or so pages, or if a short story collection, the next couple of stories. And it goes from there. If a manuscript is accepted, I contact the author and offer him or her a contract. There is often a lot of back and forth Q&A regarding the sample publishing contract I send out, and its terms, marketing and distribution, POD, and so forth. Once we get to a stage where the author understands our processes and the contract, I'll send the contract, both parties sign, and then we go through the editing and graphics stages before printing. My editor Erin McKnight is the co-editor for Aqueous Books. Generally, I'll send her a document with my edits, she adds hers, and then it's off to the author for revision.
How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
AB: I feel that it's vital. I'm the editor of a journal, Prick of the Spindle, and I made sure we were the first literary journal available as a Kindle magazine. I carry that same philosophy over to Aqueous Books: every book we publish has been and will be offered in electronic format. Right now, that includes a Kindle edition for every book published. We are also a Print-on-Demand (POD) publisher, so really, our entire printing and publishing process very much hinges on modern technology. Prick of the Spindle is, as of now, an online-only journal, accepting submissions (primarily) electronically, and which has a Kindle component; Aqueous Books is a POD publisher with a Kindle component, so it follows that social media outlets are important to us. Both the journal and the publishing company have a strong social media presence.
As a writer, editor, and publisher, I am heavily invested in utilizing modern technology for publishing. I have good reasons for this. Due to opportunity, or socioeconomic standing, or myriad other considerations, there are some publications and publishers that simply would not exist without technology like the Internet, POD, and desktop publishing. We're one of those. Technology levels the playing field in so many ways--you aren't required to have had wealthy parents or be a graduate of Emerson's publishing program, or have connections to one of the major New York publishers in order to become a successful publisher. The same technology is also leveling the playing field for writers. With so much opportunity just waiting to be seized, what makes those writers and publishers stand out is the quality of their work. That is what I love about technology: it provides an opportunity to put your talents to use and provide high quality work with a minimum of financial investment. My goal for Aqueous Books is to stand out based on the quality of the work we publish, and on a longer-term basis, to play a part in unseating some of the current notions about POD publishing.
Read full interview here.
We are pleased to announce Michael J. Atwood's (and our) debut collection, HiStory of Santa Monica. It is available direct from us, from Barnes & Noble, from Ingram Distribution, on Amazon.com, and as a Kindle edition. If you are a library or bookseller interested in stocking this book, please contact Cynthia Reeser at email@example.com
HiStory of Santa Monica is available from the following booksellers:
Shakespeare & Co. - Paris, France
Books on the Square - Providence, RI
Brown University - Providence, RI
Baker Books - Dartmouth, MA
Brookline Booksmith - Boston, MA
Village Books - Pacific Palisades, CA
Boston College Bookstore - Boston, MA
We the publishers at Aqueous Books realize that the online versus print debate is stale. Yes, we are well-read and up-to-date. We read HTML Giant. And such. However. We have been primarily, over at Prick of the Spindle, online-oriented. That is to say online-only, with a few mad forays into the likes of Office World* [*Note: Change World to depot and capitalize that D and you get what I mean].
What we're really saying here is that we're excited, and have been prepping the files to send to the printer, and now they are with the printer, and the proof copy is on its way, and those of you who have ordered will soon receive a work of art, sans such run-on sentences as this one: it will have been crafted by the author over many years, and edited, then edited again, then edited still again, then proofed, then re-proofed, then prepared for print publication...we realize we may be preaching to the choir, but we take such pride in our work that we are ecstatic to finally have arrived, that is, at the pre-publication stage.
This may be the pride of the noob; so be it. We are print noobs, and proud. We would jump up and down, and gently press ad copy before you, and then we would shake your hand and hope to see you again. Perhaps at our home for tea.
[ 5/7/2010 ]