ramblings, rants, news, ephemera, and stuff

“Bad Poets Society” Is on Cast of Wonders!

Cast of Wonders has done an amazing reading of my story “Bad Poets Society” on its podcast.

Check it out here.

SHORT STORY SALE: “The League of Lame Superheroes” to Third Flatiron

Superheroes are what probably got me into speculative fiction. I pretty much only read comic books until I was 12, with the occasional Choose Your Own Adventure thrown in there.

So I’m stoked to be having a superhero story (my first of hopefully many) in Third Flatiron‘s spring 2014 anthology. The theme is “Astronomical Odds.”

Here’s the synopsis: The beleaguered League of Superheroes has failed to save the world 17 times in the past year alone. But when Professor Edison destroys the All-Star Champions of the Multiverse, the League is the world’s only hope. Will they overcome the odds and defeat the supervillain or will they prove to everyone that they truly are lame?

The anthology should be out on March 15.


I’ve been a busy, busy boy as of late. Here are links to some of the things I’ve done online in the past few weeks:

And the Winner Is…Me!

My story “The Zombie Who Had a Name” was among the winners of Bards and Sages Quarterly’s 2013 Readers Choice Awards!

The story appearned in the October 2013 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly and will be reprinted, along with the other winning stories, in next year’s Bardic Tales and Sage Advice anthology.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: Bards and Sages’ 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards

Voting is now open for Bards and Sages’ 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards. My story, “The Zombie Who Had a Name,” was in the October issue.

You don’t have to vote for me, of course. There are a bunch of great stories in the October issue as well as the other issues from 2013.

If you want to vote responsibly — follow the links below to get a copy of the October issue, and, you know, read the stories.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Smashwords (EPUB, PDF, MOBI, LRF, PDB)

VOTE HERE: Readers’ Choice Awards

SF Signal Welcomes Me Into Their Loving Arms

SF Signal: Hugo Award Winner - Fanzine 2012I’ve been made an official member of the SF Signal team — the two-time Hugo-winning fanzine SF Signal, I should add.

I’ll be doing a monthly column called The Craft, wherein I talk to writers about writing. The first one features Adam-Troy Castro, who gives some great advice about character development. THE CRAFT: Adam-Troy Castro on Character Development

I’ll also be moderating their popular Mind Melds every few weeks. My first one throws a spotlight on women horror writers. MIND MELD: Our Favorite Women Horror Writers

“The Zombie Who Had a Name” in Bards and Sages Quarterly

Bards and Sages Quarterly (October 2013) — which includes my story “The Zombie Who Had a Name” — is out.

You can pick up the issue at these fine retailers:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Smashwords (EPUB, PDF, MOBI, LRF, PDB)


Did you fucking hear something?

Did you fucking hear that?

Why is it that whenever someone hears a scary sound in a horror movie or novel, that person always rattles off a laundry list of possible, and always innocuous, explanations for it — when we all know it’s a monster?

“Oh, it must be that damn cat again.”

The ominous rattling grows louder.

“Hmmm. It doesn’t sound like Jinxy. Must be the wind.”

The sound is now right outside their bedroom door. Suddenly they hear a growl so terrifying it could only have come from the very depths of hell.

“Damn kids must be watching TV again. Let’s go back to bed.”

…And that’s when the monster eats the idiot.

Whenever I hear a strange sound at night, I immediately think, “Shit, it’s a fucking monster.” I then grab whatever is handy — usually a hockey stick or a plastic fork — throw on all the lights, open all the closet doors, and wake up my wife, shouting, “There’s a fucking monster in the house!”

Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing?

Quick — which is Basil Rathbone?

Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing

Answer: It’s a trick question. No one can tell Basil Rathbone and Peter Cushing apart.

“The Baseball Gods” Is Live on Every Day Fiction

My dark fantasy story “The Baseball Gods” is up at Every Day Fiction.

Don’t forget to rate it!

Attack of the Bug-Eyed People


My, what big eyes we’re going to have.

If sci-fi movies have taught us anything, it’s that in the future we’re going to be wearing the same colored jumpsuits, probably be bald (but probably ridiculously buff), and of course have giant heads and itty-bitty Troll doll bodies. Or turn into canabalistic subterranean dwelling Morlocks.

The reality–or at least the possible reality–is that we’re going to have “unnervingly large” eyes in 100,000 years. The main cause, says artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm and Dr. Alan Kwan, will be wearable technology such as Google Glass and iWatch. According to Forbes, futurists predict that “people will seek discrete implants that preserve the natural human look–think communication lenses (a technologically souped up version of today’s contacts) and miniature bone-conduction devices implanted above the ear. These might have imbedded nano-chips that communicate to another separate device to chat with others or for entertainment.”

But our peepers won’t only be big as dinner plates–they’ll “feature eye-shine and even a sideways blink from the re-introduced plica semilunaris to further protect from cosmic ray effects.”

I guess looking like Bratz Dolls is a small price to pay so we never have to stop playing Candy Crush or checking out Grumpy Cat memes. Our eyes will be huge but our attention spans will probably be shorter than a goldfish’s.

SHORT STORY SALE: “The Baseball Gods” to Every Day Fiction

As a kid I had two loves: fantasy and baseball. (Not to be confused with fantasy baseball.) These days I’m probably more into the world of magic and mystery than balls and strikes, but I did manage to wed the two — and you can read it at Every Day Fiction on June 26.

This story took me about a week to write, which is damn quick for me, and is also a turn from my more whimsical and humorous stories (though there are a few jokes in there) that I had been writing last year.

This is my fourth sale overall and second in the last two months. (Could I be on a roll?)

(Here’s a link to the other stories coming out in June on EDF.)

The Big Post of Writing Advice

Write, pray, love…among other things. Sage advice from Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Franzen, Margaret Atwood, and Pixar.

Kurt Vonnegut: 8 Basics of Creative Writing

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order
that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

(Via WritingClasses.com)

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Good Writing Practices

1. Write.

2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who
like the kind of thing that this is.

5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7. Laugh at your own jokes.

8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

(via The Guardian)

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules

1. Never open a book with weather.

2. Avoid prologues.

3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.

5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

(Via WritingClasses.com)

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SHORT STORY SALE: “The Zombie Who Had a Name” to Bards & Sages Quarterly

What’s with me and zombies? It probably began when I was four or five, scared out of my mind, hiding under the dining room table as “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” played on the TV in the next room. (It was most likely playing on WPIX’s Chiller Theatre. Remember that?) That final scene when the undead get on a boat and head for the bright lights of the big city haunted me for a long time. Of all the movie monsters, zombies have probably disturbed me the most. They’ve also been pretty good for my burgeoning fiction-writing career.

Bards & Sages Quarterly just bought my short story “The Zombie Who Had a Name,” which follows a recently animated corpse as it travels through the apocalypse. It should be out in October, just in time for Halloween. The funny part? This is my third short story sale–and in each there’s a zombie (though they’re more of the sympathetic variety than the scary kind).

So here’s my dilemma: Do I continue writing about the walking dead or bury (heh-heh-heh) the zombies for the time being?

The Last Man on Earth Sat Alone in a Room…What Else Was He Supposed to Do?

Today One Forty Fiction published my microfiction tale “Who’s There? Who Cares?”

Stories don’t open much better than Fredric Brown’s 1948 short story “Knock.” (“The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.”) It’s so good an opening that the rest of the story is often forgotten. One day I started riffing on those 17 words, and couldn’t stop. Go read “Who’s There? Who Cares?” and then check out my other six variations. Feel free to join the fun with your own microfiction.

1. The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door. He didn’t hear it. He was wearing headphones.

2. The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door. It was just the wind. He went to bed.

3. The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door. “Great! I didn’t miss the last man on Earth con,” said the stranger as he entered.

4. The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door. It was the last woman on Earth. She looked pissed.

5. The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door. He didn’t answer it. He liked being the last man on Earth.

6. The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door. Fucking Avon Lady, he grumbled.