ramblings, rants, news, ephemera, and stuff

At Year’s End: Holiday SFF Stories Is Here!

At Year's End: Holiday SFF StoriesI’ve been published! The flash fiction anthology “At Year’s End: Holiday SFF Stories,” which includes my story “They Will Be Home for Christmas,” came out today. Though it was my second story to be accepted this year, it’s my first to be published. So, it’s a pretty historic book. Buy it. All the holiday-themed stories are 500 words or less — some are poignant, some are funny, some are dark, and others, like mine, are dark and funny.

Table of Contents:
“Foreword” by L. Lambert Lawson
“A Unicorn for Christmas” by Beth Cato
“When Friends Come to Call” by Zach Shephard
“Autumn Waits” by Ken MacGregor
“Nuclear Family” by Alex Shvartsman
“The Christmas Zombie” by James S. Dorr
“Mission Log, Day 67” by Lance Schonberg
“Resolution” by Amanda M. Hayes
“The Conjurer” by Alicia Cole
“Nativity” by Brandon Alspaugh
“History Lessons” by Sandra McDonald
“Gifted” by Dan Hart
“Mistletoe” by Casey Peterson
“New Year’s Revolution” by Katherine Sparrow
“They Will Be Home for Christmas” by James Aquilone
“In the Bleak Midwinter” by Michael H. Payne
“The Greatest Tiger Lantern of All” by J. Deery Wray
“A Visit, A Gift” by Matthew Johnson
“Electric Hatsuyume” by Deborah Walker
“A Reason to Linger” Alexis A. Hunter

Buy “At Year’s End: SFF Holiday Stories” for Kindle or Nook.

God’s Handiwork

God's Handiwork

Short Fiction Recommendations

“Scraps” by Michael Haynes:
A poignant story about the power of memories, both good and bad.

“Burning Love” by Jeff James:
Quirky, humorous story about a sentient toaster. Fun read.

“Robot” by Helena Bell:
I’m usually not a fan of stories told in second person, but in this case it works. Powerful language. Moving story.

“Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson:
Another awesome, unusual story from Kij. Makes me happy I’m not married to a mantis.

“You Bet” by Alex Shvartsman:
Fun story about tropes playing Texas Hold’em. Nice payoff at the end.

Untitled Webcomic

Untitled Webcomic

My First Anthology Appearance

O frabjous day! I’m going to be in an anthology!

I’ve just sold a short story called “They Will Be Home Christmas” to Kazka Press for its upcoming anthology “At Year’s End: SFF Holiday Stories.” It’s my first sale to an anthology and I’m psyched. My fellow Codexians Alex Shvartsman and Beth Cato will also be in the book, which comes out December 3rd, in print and electronic forms. As I always say, “There’s no better Christmas gift than a book.” I’ll have ordering info as soon as it’s available.

Together, We Can Stop Book Abuse!

Yeah, don't do thisI fucking loathe people who dog-ear the pages of books. I cringe when I see creased book spines. Waterlogged books, their pages bloated and swollen, send me into a fury. I want to shout at these book abusers: “What’s wrong with you fucking animals! Ever hear of a bookmark!?” Instead, I silently hope for a safe, anvil or large piano to fall on the person’s head. To date, this has not happened. (But I believe it will one day. I’m like 99.9% sure of it.)

Every day, everywhere, books are being abused. Their pages are folded, their spines cracked, their covers stained. They are mutilated and jammed into backpacks, often alongside harmful, sticky liquids, such as Peach Snapple or Mountain Dew; books are torn, ripped, scratched, even destroyed! And the final insult? These travesties are committed by so-called “book lovers.” Ha! Do dog lovers crease their pets’ spine, I ask? Do art lovers bend their Picassos?

Much like global warming, book abuse is a serious but largely ignored issue. Here are some facts. (No, I cannot back up any of them.)

  • Every two seconds a page is dog-eared, causing a crease that cannot, even with a flat iron, be made smooth again.
  • Every five seconds a book’s spine is cracked beyond repair.
  • Every ten seconds a book is “accidentally” drowned in the bathtub.
  • 1 out of every 500 divorces in the U.S. is filed after one of the spouses defaces the other’s books.

Why do people abuse books? For the same reason, I suppose, that people text and drive, smokers toss their cigarette butts on the ground, TV viewers watch the Kardashians: They’re jerks.

Something needs to be done. The time to sit idly by while books, some of them even well written, are ruined. (I’ve been known to throw out a book after it’s been defaced; better to put it out of its misery than have it sit looking all bent out of shape and warped in my bookcase.)

So how do we stop these book abusers? Capital punishment, for starters. Murder a book, we murder you. Fair is fair. This will be a long, drawn-out campaign, and there’s no guarantee we will prevail. But that shouldn’t stop us. In the meantime, books are falling by the thousands every day. So, until we start sending book abusers to the chair, there’s still something you can do to end book abuse: Buy a fucking bookmark! *

Together, we can end book abuse.

(*I am in no way affiliated with the Bookmark Sellers of America.)

Short Fiction Recommendations

Here are some stories I enjoyed in the past week. Click the links and enjoy them too!

“My Wife Hates Time Travel” by Adam-Troy Castro:
A fun, sweet story about the problems with inventing time travel. One of those stories you wish you had written.

“In the Mirror’s Heart” by Cat Rambo:
A powerful and poetic story about the madness of love. Worth a second read.

“Saviors” by James Beamon:
Quick paced, well-told tale about “MEAT.” (You have to read it to understand.) Extra points given for the author mentioning himself in the story.

“The Ogre King and the Piemaker” by Tarl Kudrick:
If Yogi Bear was an ogre, this would be his story. Silly, fun, enjoyable read.

“The Duelist” by Jason Thummel:
More talk than swordplay, but the talk was just as exciting. (However, I hope Black Gate reconsiders posts with blue text on a black background. It doesn’t make for easy reading.)

Black Gate Publishing Free Stories Online

Black Gate magazine has started publishing online fiction. Yippee!

Or not.

It’s great news because, hey, it’s free fiction and new content from Black Gate. It’s bad news because it might mean the end of those nice, thick issues of the magazine. It’s no secret that the print publishing industry is going the way of the eight-track, but it would be sad to see another good print publication go bye-bye. But then again — free fiction!

Black Gate will post stories every Sunday. The first, “The Duelist” by Jason Thummel, went up yesterday. You can read it here.

Weird Tales Issue #360 Cover

The cover for Weird Tales Issue #360 has been released. And I’m loving it.

Weird Tales #360 Cover

(This is the back cover.)

(via Weird Tales Magazine)

Short Fiction Recommendations

Here are a few online stories I enjoyed recently. Check them out.

“Memories of My Mother” by Ken Liu

“Faster Gun” by Elizabeth Bear

“Wikihistory” by Desmond Warzel

“The Take” by Alex Shvartsman