Columns > Published on November 3rd, 2014

LitReactor Community Spotlight: October 2014

If you live in the US, November is the month of giving thanks to entire peoples your culture nearly genocided out of existence. For everyone else, November is the month where we all try to write a novel for little more than bragging rights.

I suppose it makes sense that November has to be a little wacky; it's wedged between Halloween and Christmas, and without that barrier, the lines would end up blurring into some sort of nightmarish amalgamation of holiday horror. Or, you know, a Tim Burton movie.

But enough about November! This column's about what you all were up to in October. And since many of you are completely occupied with writing your McNovels this month, let's get right to it.

In the Forums

Book Club: Echo Lake by Letitia Trent

Have you checked out the LitReactor Book Club yet? Every month we start discussion on a new book, often by authors and publishers that have some affiliation with LitReactor. Discussion on Echo Lake by Letitia Trent has already begun, so if you've read it, chime in. If you didn't make it this time around, don't worry. We typically post each discussion thread a month in advance, so keep your eyes peeled for December's selection. Check it out! The Book Club is a great place to get to know our members and get involved in the community.

Good things happen to those who write.

NaNoWriMo 2014: The Thread

For those of you who are new to the writing game, NaNoWriMo is shockingly not a manga-style comic about a lonely sex robot. It actually stands for National Novel Writing Month. The concept is as follows: write a book in a month. That's it, really. You aim to get around 50,000 words down in thirty days, which is a bit above 1500 words per day. This is kind of a break-neck pace for many writers, but the exercise can be useful in training you to GO rather than constantly tinkering with the same material. LitReactor tends to make a pretty good showing, and we ended up stickying a thread dedicated to the event, so if you want in on the fun, meet up with us here.

Books you wish more people had read

Another classic from the LitReactor vault, the title is pretty self-explanatory. They may not be your favorite books, but damn it, they deserve to be read, don't they? My addition to this thread would be Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. I don't much care for cowboy novels, so I was really surprised by how strange and interesting this book turned out to be, and even weirder, how much I actually enjoyed it. What's your suggestion? Let us know.

Novel Swap

So Dan contacted me a while ago and suggested this idea for a novel SwapShop, with a basic outline. We've been talking it through, and I'm definitely interested in hearing your feedback. How would it work? Would you actually use it? I'm still very much in the "discussing, not yet planning" phase of things, but since I am serving as the intermediary between the site leadership and you guys, I definitely want to hear your ideas. What do you think?

Community Spotlight

Every month, I will compile a list of those who sent me their accomplishments through the form submission page and post the results. If you want in, then do something amazing and tell me about it. You get the free publicity, and I get to brag about how awesome our community members are. The order of the list is decided by which submissions I get first, so get on it!

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

Normally, people featured in this column have submitted themselves, but I guess our local rock star Richard Thomas decided to make some room under the spotlight this time, because he clued us in to a short story collection by Stephen Graham Jones being released through his own Dark House Press. It's called After the People Lights Have Gone Off, and if we know the horror extraordinaire that is SGJ, we know it's going to be full of stories that no light on the planet can chase away. Stephen's been a great contributor to this site as well as a fantastic writer, so this is definitely not one you're going to want to miss.

The fifteen stories in After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones explore the horrors and fears of the supernatural and the everyday. Included are two original stories, several rarities and out of print narratives, as well as a few "best of the year" inclusions. In "Thirteen," horrors lurk behind the flickering images on the big screen. "Welcome to the Reptile House" reveals the secrets that hide in our flesh. In "The Black Sleeve of Destiny," a single sweatshirt leads to unexpectedly dark adventures. And the title story, "After the People Lights Have Gone Off," is anything but your typical haunted house story.

With an introduction by Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale, and featuring fifteen full-page illustrations by Luke Spooner, After the People Lights Have Gone Off gets under your skin and stays there.

Stephen was born and raised in Texas. In Boulder, Colorado now. Forty-two. Blackfeet. Into werewolves and slashers and zombies. Would wear
pirate shirts a lot if [he] could find them. And probably carry some kind of sword. More over at or @SGJ72.

[amazon 1940430259 inline]

Phil Jourdan joins Angry Robot Books

So look, even those of us working at LitReactor need some way to finance our gold-plated BMW's that are made up entirely of smaller golden BMW's. We have expensive tastes. So when we go to look for work, occasionally, we end up with something pretty cool. Phil Jourdan already has an impressive resume, including being a co-founder of this very site. Recently, Angry Robot Books has taken note of his awesomeness and decided that it would be better to have him working with them than against them. They signed him on as a consulting editor, and didn't have enough good things to say about him.


"Phil Jourdan scares me. He’s a great technical editor, with a keen eye for promising new authors, and he’s already achieved way too much in publishing for someone so young. Obviously he’s perfect for the reborn Angry Robot, but I see I’m going to have to keep my eye on him….”

Let's give Phil a big hand and wish him luck in his new role terrifying authors and editors alike. Well done, mate.

Phil Jourdan is an author, musician and publisher based in the UK. He fronts the rock band, Paris and the Hiltons. They won a 2013 Independent Music Award. After his involvement in founding LitReactor, he turned to publishing, and has worked with two presses in particular: Perfect Edge Books (fiction) and Zero Books (political nonfiction).

Brandon Tietz reads live with Chuck Palahniuk

Brandon's no stranger to the Spotlight. A couple of Spotlights ago we announced he was being published in Burnt Tongues, an anthology that included many LitReactor members and was edited by Chuck Palahniuk. Now that Chuck is going around promoting his new novel Beautiful You, he decided to take along some of the Burnt Tongue authors to read with him. Brandon, who grew up reading Palahniuk, was one of those selected, and it was about as awesome as you would expect.


"Thirteen years ago I was just another kid falling in love with transgressive fiction via Fight Club and Choke. Now I was going to open for the guy who wrote it. There was always that small hope that Chuck was going to include some of his Burnt Tongues' authors on his tour, but it seemed to be too grand, too good to be true. And that idea was mentioned so many years ago that most of us had forgotten about it. Chuck didn't.

He followed through, and I got to read with one of my literary heroes."

Brandon wrote us a nice article documenting the entire experience. Check it out, and see if it inspires you. Good things happen to those who write.

Brandon Tietz is the author of Out of Touch and Good Sex, Great Prayers. His short stories have been widely published, appearing in such print works as Warmed & Bound, Spark (vol. II), Solarcidal Tendencies, and most recently, the Burnt Tongues anthology, which was co-edited by Richard Thomas and Chuck Palahniuk. Visit him at

A Look Forward to November

Considering how big a deal NaNoWriMo is for many of you, I expect that this should be a productive month on LitReactor. As always, we'll be here to support you or help you procrastinate, whatever your need. We live to serve. As always, feel free to drop any comments and suggestions in the comments, and I'll see you next month.

About the author

Nathan Scalia earned a BA degree in psychology and considered medical school long enough to realize that he missed reading real books. He then went on to earn a Master's in Library Science and is currently working in a school library. He has written several new articles and columns for LitReactor, served for a time as the site's Community Manager, and can be found in the Writer's Workshop with some frequency.

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