Jan 9 2017

Short Story: “Blood Red and Raven Black”

I’m very pleased to announce that a story of mine has found a home in the latest issue of Truancy, a “literary microzine” dedicated to “less conventional revisions and retellings of folklore, fairytales and mythology.” Mine is a retelling of Snow White. I’ve always liked that genre of story—fairy tales redone with a twist, from the perspective of a minor character or perhaps even the villain, or by changing one key thing about the story in order to see what happens. What if Cinderella was a werewolf? What if the Troll Princess talked about being jilted at the altar? What if Snow White wasn’t white?

The other stories in Truancy are definitely worth checking out as well—in general I’m impressed with the site and the quality of fiction it curates, and I’m very pleased that a story of mine is now included there.


Oct 7 2016

Free Short Story: “The Business of Thorns”

thorns-quote-5

My story from the Speculative Story Bites anthology has been reprinted on the publisher’s website, and they even made this pretty little pull-quote graphic to go with it, so that’s nice.

The story’s about a flower fairy-turned-gumshoe and her ex-girlfriend, and also botany. And also murder.

So, flower fairies, yeah. Cicely Mary Barker drew us as little nymphets with buttercup hats and dragonfly wings, having tea parties with mice or some twee shit like that. I think Cicely knew Morning Glory, and Glory’s always been fanciful. Her seeds are laced with a psychedelic compound, you know—and not one that’s particularly friendly to humans that go chasing that high. Neural damage, convulsions: Cicely was epileptic.

I’m not slamming Glory, though. We’re the same type, her and me: wild, rambling, greedy for life. We take root anywhere and we’re damn hard to kill.

Like this one time—

Read the whole story here.


Feb 3 2016

Fiction: “How to Fix Men”

This…came out in a single afternoon, and it’s flawed enough that I will never bother to submit it for publication, but still there’s something there that compelled me to write it in the first place. It felt weird because it’s such broad allegory (and allegory is not my bag at all) but I didn’t actually know how it was going to end until I got there and wrote it.

Obviously it has a lot to do with being a mother to three boys. In this story there are four blessings, for three sons.

How to Fix Men

“And why haven’t we done it sooner? I mean, that’s the question, right? The thing that we’re all not saying.” Lorelei picked at the label of her beer and splashed her fish-tail in the gutter. She was blond and plump and gorgeous, though she didn’t know it: her breasts were still taut with the firmness of youth, completely overflowing those two scallop shells she insisted on using for a bra. The effect was devastatingly sexy, but it embarrassed her, so the others didn’t mention it.

“I don’t think this topic should be off-limits,” said Moira, the moderator, carefully: “but we have to be careful to avoid victim-blaming and derailment.” She said this without looking up from her knitting, which in this context constituted a move as blatantly aggressive as a knife between the teeth would’ve been for the sirens. Moira was the head bitch in charge.

“I’m just saying,” said Lorelei. “The historical subjugation of women could not have happened in the face of an organized and spirited resistance. We’re a little more than half of the population, and we’re their moms. Boys adore their moms, they get tattoos about it.”

Moira dropped, or perled, or did whatever it was she was doing. The finished end of her scarf (was it a scarf?) trailed in the gurgling run-off of the street, growing increasingly darkened and tattered. Her skein of yarn twisted down the block and disappeared around the corner. “Do we have a talking stick this time?” she asked mildly. “If there’s a talking stick, somebody pass it to Kore.”

“Kore doesn’t talk,” said Orlando tartly. She was the third woman, tall and rangy. “You’ve got me, kiddo. You’ve always had me.”

The other third woman (she would have been the fourth, except that mythic numbers of women are never allowed to cluster in groups of more than three) said: “I’ll talk.”

Lorelei stopped a twig with the trailing end of one of her fins, and handed it to the other third woman. Her fingers were made of shadow and her bones of cold wanting.

“I didn’t say no,” the shadow-girl said, spinning the twig around her bony fingers like a cheerleader’s baton. “I didn’t realize I had to. I thought that he would look at me—stiff a board, silent as a shadow, crying a little bit—and he would have cared. But he never even looked. He says he did but he didn’t.”

“That’s Eurydice,” said Moira, not unkindly. “You’re Kore today.”

The shadow-girl sniffed. “Sorry,” she said. “There’s too many of me sometimes. I can’t remember.”

“Are you sure Kore didn’t want to be carried away?” Lorelei said, and then hastily added—because the others were glaring death—“I mean, I believe you. I do! I just thought, sometimes, the leather biker-type, you know. I wouldn’t mind.”

“You would,” said Kore, her chrysanthemum eyes shedding petals, “if you were just all seized up and scared and waiting for him to notice, and he never did and then it was over. You might pretend for a while that you didn’t mind, but you would. It does a number on you.”

Moira looked up. “Why?” she said mildly. “Why should it matter so much? More than a skinned knee or any of the other crappy things that happen to us all.”

“Because you feel like you were never even a person to him. Nothing more than a shadow. Maybe nothing more than that to anybody.” Kore turned the twig over in her white-bone fingers, then held it out. “I’m sorry. I’m done. I don’t want this anymore.”

After a long moment Orlando took it, and they all tried to hide their sighs of relief.

“Moira’s right, though,” she said in her husky voice. “There’s a lot of ways of being hurt by other people.”

“And we still want men,” said Lorelei, anxiously. “Right? We’re not talking about just…” She trailed off.

“A clean slate? No,” Moira said without dropping a stitch. “No such thing. Women come from men, men come from women. Women are men sometimes, right, Orlando?”

“A person is what a person says they are.” Orlando’s voice was nothing but spun-sugar, and Moira looked discomfited. “I could tell you. I could tell you, but you wouldn’t hear.”

“So how do we fix them?” said Lorelei. “There’s got to be a way.”

Moira gave a twist of her needles, pulling her knitting out of the sewage. It dripped darkly onto her knees. “Make a wish,” she said.

They were all silent, for a moment, as the gutter-river ran on. Then Lorelei pulled out a single iridescent scale and placed it delicately on the dripping fibrous pile. “Be brave,” she said. “Ask for what you want. Protect those you love. Be manly and be brave.”

Kore leaned over and let her grave-breath stir the knitted mass. “Be wise,” she said. A single chrysanthemum petal fell from her skull, like a tear. “Listen in the silence. Look into the dark. Be manly and be wise.”

Orlando laid a long, lacquered fingernail on the pile. “Be kind,” she said, her voice deep and rich. “You are not lessened by difference, you are not threatened by change. Be manly and be kind.” When she pulled back, a flake of color remained.

And at that Moira gathered the whole ball up, twisting and wringing out the dirty water. “Be afraid,” she said briskly, “or I will come back and consume your hearts on the battlefield. You have been coddled too long. Be manly and be afraid.”

Moira,” the others said, reproachfully and almost in sync.

But Moira merely handed over the thing they’d made to Lorelei–and the gutter mermaid accepted the whole sodden, trailing mess with open arms, pressing it to her shell-clad bosom. “Beautiful one,” said Moira. “All of our hopes go in your hands. Make them worthy of you.”

Lorelei smiled, exposing row upon row of shark-white teeth. “I will,” she said. “I always have.”


Nov 10 2015

Love Hurts Cover Reveal

Wow, look at this gorgeous cover for the Love Hurts anthology!

LH-Cover-1000x620

I’m super excited to get my copy in a few weeks!


Nov 8 2015

Love Hurts Release Date: 12/1

I’ve just been notified that the release date for the Love Hurts anthology from Meerkat Press (which will include a story of mine) has been set for December 1st. I don’t think pre-orders are available yet, but I have been given permission to share the illustration that will accompany my story:

fight2

The art is by Sergio Garzon; it illustrates a scene where my heroine, Tess, is fighting a monster in an alien arena. I really like the dark, stylized feel of the art. There’s almost something vertiginous about it, which perfectly suits the subject matter.

And I’m particularly pleased that the black-and-white style preserves a lot of ambiguity as to Tess’s exact features. I think the only physical description I gave her in the story was a single reference to her “brown human hand,” so really the only important thing is that she not be whitewashed. This illustration works very well on that level.

I’ll post more about Love Hurts as we get closer to release; I was just really pleased to be able to share the art!


Jul 30 2015

Flash Fiction: The Unicorn at the Clinic

“Hi,” says the unicorn kindly. “What brings you to see me today?”

“Um,” says Mary, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. She knows she needs to get those white bumps on her labia looked at, and the free clinic has good reviews on Yelp and is, you know, free, but… “Are—are you a doctor?”

“Nurse practitioner, actually,” the unicorn says. He doesn’t sound offended, but it’s hard to read an expression in those swirling opalescent eyes. “Don’t worry, I’ve been working here for years. I know it’s embarrassing but I promise that whatever your questions are, they aren’t stupid and they won’t shock me.”

“I’m not a virgin,” Mary blurts out.

“Okay, that’s good, let’s talk about your sexual history. When did you first become sexually active?”

“No, I mean, I thought—” Mary gestures helplessly towards the spiral horn. The lighting in the clinic is fluorescent and harsh, but the unicorn sheds a soft radiance that seems to concentrate most brightly along the length of his horn. “You know. Unicorns and, and virgins?”

“Oh,” he says. “No, actually, I’m much more interested in STD transmission vectors among vulnerable populations. But if you’d be more comfortable talking to a human staffer, I can fetch another nurse.”

Mary pauses, takes a deep breath. “No,” she says. “It’s fine. I guess the, um, symptoms first showed up about a week ago…”


Mar 31 2015

Godzilla vs. King Kong 2: A Story by Robin

Robin has given me permission to share his first work of fiction here. It’s called “Godzilla vs. King Kong 2.” It has been lightly edited for spelling, but otherwise is presented exactly as intended by the author. Warning: this story contains violent themes!

“Once upon a time there was a city people were nice.
THEN monsters came and guns were everywhere and one was damaged
AND people are screaming OF ROARS and King Kong. Bad was here.
THEN GODZILLA ROARS SCARIER THAN KING KONG
with 1,000,000,000 of ☺ died GODZILLA DIES but he comes back
Then monsters fight
Godzilla is uses his bite. King Kong uses his punch.
Godzilla will become so powerful times of atomic breath
King Kong will not be powerful.
Godzilla wins

THE END or is it”

In other creative-writing news, I’ve recently learned that a story of mine will be included in the upcoming Love Hurts anthology from Meerkat Press. It’s scheduled to be published in October, so I’ll post more about it as the book nears launch. I’m fairly stoked that the list of other authors includes Charlie Jane Anders, who is a distant friend and whose work I have been following with interest and pleasure. (We moved in some of the same circles when I lived in San Francisco, and I always liked her, though I actually knew her girlfriend Annalee better.) I was super stoked when she won a Hugo Award for her novelette Six Months, Three Days, and I feel warm and cozy about having our stories share a Table of Contents. It’s sort of like a writerly high-five.


Oct 28 2014

Flash Fiction: The Gay Bulgur

All right, Sam sent me this, and I couldn’t resist:

Neil Gaiman is a beloved and best-selling author and an upcoming guest on Wits. Neil’s tremendous imagination can be found in novels, short stories, graphic novels, theater, and film. There is no one like Neil Gaiman.

Or is there?

No, probably not. Still, we invite you to try and fail to be like Neil. Wits proudly presents …Submit your worst Neil Gaiman knock-off story. It needs to be very short, no more than 30 seconds read out loud, because Neil himself(!) will be reading the best/worst entries live on stage at our Wits taping on November 8th. Use all the Sandmen, gods, monsters, angels, and oceans at the ends of lanes that you wish, just make sure it’s very very bad. The deadline is November 5th at 9pm, enter as often as you wish. There are no prizes beyond the deep satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re the author of the worst Neil Gaiman-esque short fiction in the world.

So here’s my entry:

“The Gáe Bolg,” the girl said, enunciating very clearly, as if she thought I was rather dim. “It’s the legendary weapon of the Irish warrior Cú Chulainn, except hardly anybody knows what it actually WAS. Supposedly it was made from the bones of a sea monster, and he threw it with his toes–and if you got hit with it, the barbs went all through your body and killed you.”

“I don’t care about any gay bulgur,” I said, struggling feebly against my bonds. “Or gay farro, or gay wheatberries, or anything. I just wanted to sell you a fine set of knives at a subscription price.”

“But that’s just it, I have my own already,” said the girl. And then she took off her shoes.


Aug 23 2014

Flash Fiction: “Disclaimer”

“Do you ever worry that you’ve got…Earthling B.O.? Our Andromeda Body Spray(Galactic TM) will clear that right up for you! Smell as fresh as a nebula and as heroically well-muscled as a Gnorn! The knack-lings will swoon for you in…Andromeda Body Spray(Galactic TM)!”

Side effects may include but are not limited to: dizziness, drowsiness, weight gain, Terran olfactory syndrome, heart failure, weight loss, being devoured alive by knack-lings. Offer void where prohibited. Andromeda BodySpray(Galactic TM) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Greater Knack-brood Corp.

Please consult your doctor before applying Andromeda Body Spray(Galactic TM). Contents not manufactured within the Andromeda Galaxy. Sentient beings reading this disclaimer are required to note that this communication and all related promotional materials are governed by the Gnorn/Knack-brood Peace Treaty of SSY 540 Million. Any Gnorn reading this communication is required to submit itself at once to the nearest Peace Center for immediate incubation. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. In the event that no Peace Center is available within the nearest 125 light years, Gnorn are required to self-incubate with a mixture of organic brain slurry and the nearest knack-lings to hand.

Please further note: as per Her All-Devouring Majesty’s decree of SSY 539.999 Million, knack-lings are ALWAYS to hand, in all parts of the multiverse heretofore or yet to be discovered. Knack-lings may be described in local lingo by such common terms as “ktashvish,” “pluuuarrrrghemon,” or “ear-wigs.” You may proceed to self-incubate.

Any sentient and sapient being continuing to read this disclaimer has failed to submit to the Sub-Neural Protocol of SSY 539.9998 Million. In the likely event that your species has yet to be contacted by the Knack-Brood Dominion (may the stars never set upon it) please have your law-grubs contact our law-grubs at your earliest convenience. Mutually beneficial trade networks and many free samples await your communique. You may already be a winner. Let’s do lunch.


Jun 2 2014

IndieReader Discovery Awards

I’m very pleased to announce that The Millennial Sword has been named the winner of the 2014 IndieReader Discovery Award in the Fantasy category. IndieReader also posted a nice review of my book and named it a “top book pick” on their site. And they’re sending me some shiny gold award stickers that I can put on the books at the store, so, you know, that’s pretty fun!