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!

Feb 24 2014

Upcoming Anthology: “Fae”

Remember that short story I was telling you guys about, the one that kept getting the “good” (i.e. personalized and encouraging) rejections? It found a home, and will be included in the upcoming anthology Fae from World Weaver Press. I’ll post more when I have a release date—right now all I know is that it’s coming out in the summer.

World Weaver Press is a small publishing house so the payment is pretty nominal (a crisp ten-dollar bill and a copy of the book when it comes out). On the other hand, their contract is really humane: they ask only for non-exclusive publishing rights, which means that I can (for instance) use the story if I decide to self-publish a book of short fiction. They also have a built-in clause about rights reverting to the author after the anthology goes out of print. I think that’s super ethical but unfortunately it’s far from standard in the industry: I’ve heard lots of horror stories about writers being unable to get their rights back after big publishing houses consigned their books to the dustbin.

So there’s pros and cons to working with small presses. But I have to say, all my dealings with World Weaver Press have been great. The editor sent me her slate of proposed edits to the story, all but one of which were obviously good changes that made the prose flow better. In the one instance where I disagreed with a proposed change, I explained why but told her that I would let her judgment carry the day: she decided to let the original phrasing stand. So it’s been a really good experience so far, and I’m looking forward to reading the other stories in the book.

Jan 3 2014

A Nice Piece

Sumiko Saulson, who covers the local art scene, did a very nice little profile on me for Examiner.com. Sumiko does a great job highlighting our neighborhood artists and makers, and I really enjoy following her posts.

Sep 24 2013

Short Story in Rose Red Review

I’m pleased to share that one of my short stories, “The Witch’s Daughter,” is included in the current Hallowe’en-themed issue of Rose Red Review (a literary webzine).

This is actually a story that I wrote back in college. I recently dusted off some old files recovered from floppy disks, and this was one of them. Amusingly enough, it shared a title with one of my current novels in progress—I guess I really liked that title!

I hesitated about sending the story out, because frankly I’m not sure that it’s up to the quality of my current best work. But in the end I decided to go ahead and share it with an audience. Partly because it’s the closest thing to a horror story I’ve ever written. (I would probably call it dark fantasy, but it definitely includes disturbing themes and graphic imagery.)

But mostly, I just really like the last line.

Aug 14 2013

Writing Circle?

When I was working on The Millennial Sword, I posted chapters as I completed them to LiveJournal, and my friends who were reading would give me feedback and constructive criticism. (Shoutout to Molly Price and Dom Camus, who stuck with me till the end and were incredibly, unspeakably important to my writing process.)

I don’t have a lot of time to write these days, but I do have a couple of works-in-progress that I’m juggling. One is a fantasy novel heavily influenced by Beowulf and The Kalevala, and the other is a science-fiction project—basically my attempt to create a swashbuckling interplanetary femme gunslinger as a genre answer to Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. If anyone reading this blog would be interested in seeing first-draft chapters as they come out, please let me know? I am more than willing to reciprocate by reading and commenting on your own works in progress.

May 16 2013

The Weird Thrill of a “Good” Rejection

I wrote a new short story just before Sol was born, and I tried submitting it to Tor.com, which is aiming high—they’re currently the best-paying fantasy market that I know of. Today I got a rejection note, but it was a nice rejection note: “Thanks so much for submitting to Tor.com, and for your patience while we evaluated your story. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that ‘The Fairy
Midwife’ isn’t quite right for us. It’s always hard to reject a good story, and this is fun and inventive. I think it hasn’t lived up to its potential—there are tools here for a deeper emotional impact than I felt—and so I wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere. Please send us more of your stories in the future!”

This is indubitably a “good” rejection. Good rejections are when you get personalized feedback (as opposed to the generic “does not meet our needs at this time”) and the editors express a desire to see more of your work. I think I went through like a dozen rejections before I made my first short fiction sale (to Dragon magazine back in 1994), and they got progressively nicer and nicer until I finally sent something they actually bought. First it was just the printed slip; then it was the printed slip with a handwritten note on it; then it was an actual letter from an actual editor with detailed and specific feedback; and finally it was an offer letter with contracts to sign. So there’s definitely a hierarchy of rejections. And a good one can kind of make my day.

I don’t actually have anything else to send to Tor.com right now—before this story, I hadn’t written any short fiction for a long time—but I’ll send “The Fairy Midwife” somewhere else. It’s fun and inventive, after all!

Apr 1 2013

Free Short Story

So I went slinking back to Amazon with my tail between my legs. Six weeks after leaving the KDP Select program my Amazon sales have not recovered, and I only sold a couple books through Barnes & Noble and Apple. Suspicious as I am of Amazon’s monopolistic market position, I’ve been forced to conclude that for me right now they’re the only meaningful game in town. And I need the extra exposure that the Select program offers.

Anyway, as an extra bit of promotion, I packaged up a previously-published short story as an e-file (sneaking in an ad for my novel at the back) and stuck it up on Amazon. It’ll be free for the next few days and 99 cents thereafter.

So if you want a free short story, go on and grab it!

Oct 6 2012

People Like Free Stuff

Final promo stats: 1314 free copies of my book given away over the past four days. I briefly cracked the top ten in Amazon’s list of most popular free e-books in the Contemporary Fantasy category, peaking (I believe) at #9:


It’s even possible that I climbed a spot or two after I went to bed—there seemed to be a surge of last-minute interest in the book, which I think is an excellent sign, as it suggests that people were sharing the link with their friends. On the list of all free e-books The Millennial Sword was at #373. Now it’s switched over to the paid e-books ranking, starting out near the very bottom: #162,077 with a bullet, baby. Woooo!