Posts belonging to Category Short fiction & anthologies



Authors’ views, viewing the authors & audio too – Fight Like A Girl multimedia!

Over at SFFWorld, the assorted authors of the Fight Like A Girl anthology have been having a say about oh, all sorts of things. Part One of the mass interview is now up and Part Two will follow at the end of this week.

Meantime, Roz Clarke has posted her video highlights of the launch day in Bristol over on YouTube. You’ll want to settle in with a tea, coffee or other beverage of choice as it’s 50 minutes worth of readings, discussion and sword/knife fights. In which I demonstrate various things including how to get someone to cut their own throat without leaving any of my fingerprints on the weapon :)

To enjoy the day’s reading and panel discussions in audio, head over to Cheryl Morgan’s blog, where you’ll also find the panel discussion.

And if after all that, you want to buy the book?
Amazon – paperback
Amazon Kindle

There’s also a Goodreads giveaway running till April 30th

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Where to find my thoughts on Tropes and more Anthology news

Over on Kate Elliott’s website, I’ve contributed a piece on Tropes to her Worldbuilding Wednesdays series of posts – all well worth reading, incidentally, just like her novels.

Just what is a trope and what should you do with it?

It’s one of those words batted back and forth in creative writing conversations, and if everyone else nods wisely but you don’t actually know what it means mostly you’ll mostly sit quietly and try to work out what it means from context.

Unless you can stealthily look up a definition in an online dictionary. Though that may not be overly helpful. According to the Concise OED, it’s ‘a figurative (e.g. metaphorical or ironical) use of a word’, from the Greek/Latin for ‘to turn’. Merriam Webster is more useful. ‘A common or overused theme or device’.

Oh, so it’s another word for cliché? Yes and no, and this is why this particular word has become useful in discussions about plot, character, setting and all the other intricacies of creating convincing fiction.

Click here to read the whole piece

Meantime, over on Joshua Palmatier’s blog, the Table of Contents for ALIEN ARTIFACTS has been announced.

What’s this particular anthology about? Well, here’s the back cover copy…

What might we run into as we expand beyond Earth and into the stars? As we explore our own solar system and beyond, it seems inevitable that we’ll run into aliens … and what they’ve left behind. Alien artifacts: what might they reveal about us as we try to unlock their secrets? What might they reveal about the universe?

In this anthology, nineteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors explore how discovering long lost relics of alien civilizations might change humanity. Join Walter H. Hunt, Julie Novakova, David Farland, Angela D. Penrose, S.C. Butler, Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin, Juliet E. McKenna, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Andrija Popovic, Jacey Bedford, Sofie Bird, James Van Pelt, Gini Koch, Anthony Lowe, Jennifer Dunne, Coral Moore, Daniel J. Davis, C.S. Friedman, and Seanan McGuire as they discover the stars and the secrets they may hold—both dark and deadly and awe-inspiring.

My story now has a title, The Sphere, and if you click through you can look for clues in the list of tales from everyone else. As well as seeing the very fine cover art and for details on the book’s publication date and how to order it.

And by the way, do check out Joshua’s books, and novels from his alter ego Benjamin Tate, the next time you’re looking for a good read.

Out and about, in person and online

They* tell you that writing is a solitary occupation. Only when it comes to the pen on paper, fingers on keyboard bit. They* really should say how much fun and inspiration there is to be had in this writing life when you get together with other writers and with readers.

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In the Olden Days~, that meant meeting up in person, and we still have many and varied ways of doing that in SF& Fantasy circles. This Saturday past I was in Bristol at The Hatchet Inn, for the Launch Extravaganza celebrating the publication of ‘Fight Like a Girl’. (ebook also available). This is an anthology I’m really pleased to be part of, sharing my take on this particular theme alongside established voices and newer writers in SFF.

Isn’t that such a great cover? And for the curious, those are my battle axe earrings on the right hand side. They seemed like appropriate jewellery for the day.

We had a great time, with readings from Lou Morgan, Sophie E Tallis and Danie Ware, a panel discussing this anthology’s inspiration in particular, and wider issues facing women in genre publishing, and then Fran Terminiello and Lizzie Rose (of The School of the Sword) demonstrated some fascinating swordplay, by way of a speedy run though the evolution of swords from the Medieval to the Renaissance. Great stuff.

And yes, as promised in my previous post, I demonstrated some aspects of aikido to prove that fighting like a girl may well be different to battling like a bloke – but it’s no less effective :) With thanks to Fran for allowing me to demonstrate that bringing bare hands to a knife fight is not necessarily a problem, as well as the chap whose name I didn’t catch, who had done some aikido and generously allowed me to put him on his knees a few times and to show how being shorter is no disadvantage when it comes to getting a 6’3″ man off his feet. At which point gravity does pretty much the rest of the work…

(There may be photos/video in due course. If so, I’ll add links)

But that’s not all! These days we can meet up and swap thoughts, ideas and recollections online and a whole bunch of us writers are currently doing that over on Marie Brennan‘s blog. She’s celebrating the tenth anniversary of her first publication with a series of posts Five Days of Fiction, sharing her own thoughts on a series of questions and inviting others to chip in. I always find seeing what other people say in this sort of thing absolutely fascinating.

*’They’ being people whose knowledge of the writing life extends as far as repeating cliches and no further.
~ Twenty years ago.

The Knee to the Nuts Paradox, and other tips when you fight like a girl.

A while ago I wrote a post commenting on an article on the reasons why women smile at men who harass them. I explained how, from a martial arts point of view, that’s a winning strategy. To de-escalate a situation and leave without a fight. But that’s not always possible, so I think a follow-up post may be useful, in particular for those without any martial arts or self defence training.

(And if you’re free this coming Saturday, 2nd April 2016 and within striking range of Bristol, do come along the Fight Like a Girl anthology launch, where I’ll be demonstrating some of the self-defence principles I discuss in this article. As well as what to do if you’ve brought bare hands to a knife fight.)

If unwanted attention turns into being grabbed, that’s very definitely the time to fight like a girl. Which is to say, not by meeting force with force but by identifying and exploiting the ways in which your attacker cannot use superior strength or in ways that make such strength irrelevant. Because the aim of the game is not to stand crowing over your defeated, bloodied enemy like some cut-price Conan, but to get free of a hold and to get clean away as quickly and effectively as possible.

This post is also prompted by recent thoughts and discussions I’ve been having with fellow aikido practitioners about gendered responses to attacks. Though these observations aren’t exclusively for women’s benefit. My thoughts apply equally well to men who find themselves shorter and less physically imposing than an attacker. As well as to men who are tall, well-muscled, physically fit and more than able to leave an aggressor bleeding on the floor – but who know full well that will see them charged with assault. So, this should make useful reading for everyone.

However, this post runs long. I’m also aware that there will be those with no interest, for whatever reason, in reading even a theoretical discussion of the practical application of violence. So I’ll put the rest of this behind a cut. Click here to continue reading

A new Aldabreshin Compass short story – Distant Thunder

Click here for the pdf of Distant Thunder

This is the second of the new short stories I’m writing to parallel The Aldabreshin Compass series, coming out in ebook from Wizard’s Tower Press.

This particular tale sheds new light on what’s happening in the Daish and Ulla domains during the events of Northern Storm, continuing the adventures of Dyal, the young swordsman who so nearly lost his life in Southern Fire, and whose escape is detailed in Fire in the Night.

Enjoy! And spread the word!

artwork by Ben Baldwin

artwork by Ben Baldwin

Fight Like A Girl – the anthology and the launch event!

I honestly cannot recall what started that particular Twitter conversation. I’m guessing it was probably something about ‘fight like a girl’ being used as some throwaway insult, prompting derision from the very many of us women with hands-on experience of a broad range of martial arts and skills. Somehow – rather splendidly – the discussion morphed into ‘how about an anthology…?’

The rest is history. The future is this splendid book from Grimbold Books, who ask

“What do you get when some of the best women writers of genre fiction come together to tell tales of female strength? A powerful collection of science fiction and fantasy ranging from space operas and near-future factional conflict to medieval warfare and urban fantasy. These are not pinup girls fighting in heels; these warriors mean business. Whether keen combatants or reluctant fighters, each and every one of these characters was born and bred to Fight Like A Girl.

Featuring stories by Roz Clarke, Kelda Crich, K T Davies, Dolly Garland, K R Green, Joanne Hall, Julia Knight, Kim Lakin-Smith, Juliet E McKenna, Lou Morgan, Gaie Sebold, Sophie E Tallis, Fran Terminiello, Danie Ware, Nadine West “

Fans of The Tales of Einarinn might like to note that my story, ‘Coins, Fights and Stories Always Have Two Sides’ takes place in during the Lescari Civil Wars, before the events of the Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution.

When can you get hold of a copy? Well, we’re launching the anthology with an event in Bristol on Saturday April 2nd from 1-5.30pm, at the Hatchet Inn, 27-29 Frogmore St, Bristol, BS1 5NA in association with Kristell Ink and Bristolcon. (Isn’t the collaborative, supportive nature of SF&F great?)

It’ll be a sociable and fun afternoon including swordplay and display, discussing the role of women in SF&F (both as characters and authors), excerpts from the book, and a buffet. Whether you’re a budding writer, established author or genre fan, there will be something for everyone!

You can book tickets here – please note that the £5 is to cover the cost of the buffet (and the 95 pence is Eventbrite’s administration fee). Overall, the event is being funded by the Bristolcon Foundation.

I’m really looking forward to it. See you there, to help fly the FLAG?

Who’ll be the first to get all the Temporally Out of Order signatures?

My author copies of the Temporally Out of Order anthology arrived over the weekend, and as well as admiring the high quality of both the book and the stories within it, I am particularly taken with the dedicated author signatures page right at the front.

What an excellent idea! Because I have signed my particular story in no end of anthologies and also my contributions in non-fiction books which I’ve written essays for, over the years. And I can absolutely understand why keen fans like to get their volumes signed.

This offers the writer a quick and elegant solution to clumsily fumbling with pages as they leaf through to find their particular chapter plus any conundrum over where exactly to write their name, which is not always as straight forward as you might think! As well as giving the book owner a one-glance checklist of who they have or have not yet got – because, yes, I have also been presented with anthologies only to find I have already signed it! Which doesn’t bother me in the slightest but book owners have been known to blush with embarrassment.

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And you know, I really, really do think there should be a prize for the first person to collect the whole set. If that’s you, email me a photo and we’ll come up with something good!

A writing update – let’s hear a cheer for anthologies!

While I’d very much like to be under contract for some novels, with the upcoming expense of Junior Son’s university years ahead, it’s actually a very good thing I’ve not got deadlines like that to handle at the moment, given the way EU digital VAT has eaten my life this year…

So I am intensely grateful to have anthology invitations to keep me writing amid all the hassle of trying to reform EU legisation…

‘Fight like a Girl’ is a collection forthcoming from Kristell Ink – details here – and that has a story from me that just happens to be set a few years ago in the Lescari Wars, for those interested in Einarinn fiction. Obviously, there’s no need to be familiar with that scenario; the story stands alone for newcomers to my work. So do click on over to find out who’s writing alongside my tale Coins, Fights and Stories Always Have Two Sides.

Next year will see me having another crack at Science Fiction! Fox Spirit will be bringing out an anthology Eve of War and I have a story in what promises to be another very strong and interesting collection. Details forthcoming in due course.

If you can’t wait for that, and are keen to read something new by me but simply couldn’t spare the cash to contribute earlier to the ‘Temporally Out of Order’ anthology, now’s your chance to buy the mass-market paperback or ebook. My story’s called ‘Notes and Queries’ and I wrote about my inspiration for it here a while back.

Once you’ve read that, or if you’ve read any of the previous anthologies edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, you really should check out this new Kickstarter, looking to fund two new collections, one on Were- well, whatevers, and one on alien artefacts. I’ve signed up for Alien Artefacts, and that’s definitely a go, as you’ll see the Kickstarter is already fully funded. New authors joining the fun now include David Farland (aka Dave Wolverton) and CS Friedman.

But wait! You can still make a real contribution to enhancing these anthologies, along with snagging some very fine advance goodies and bonuses for yourself.

For instance – Katharine Kerr (author of the Deverry fantasy series and the Nola O’Grady urban fantasy series) will join the anchor authors of the WERE- anthology if we reach $12.5K. (I’m particularly excited about this one as I have admired her writing for literally decades!) Then Jean Marie Ward has donated an ebook of a novelette called “Glass Transit” for those that pledge $6 or more if we reach $15K. And much, much more besides.

So do check out the kickstarter! And if you’re an aspiring writer yourself, start brushing up your ideas about aliens and/or were-creatures. There will be open submission slots available for both anthologies and Joshua and Patricia are genuinely interested in seeing new work and giving new voices their first chance at publication.

And meantime, alongside Cheryl Morgan of Wizards Tower Press, I’m working hard on preparing the Aldabreshin Compass ebooks for release soon, really soon… And yes, I know I keep on promising this but honestly, cover art and map reveals will be forthcoming shortly. Trust me, they’re worth the wait!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and prepare for tomorrow’s HMRC Digital VAT Working Group meeting…

Alien Artefacts and Were-(whatevers)! Another chance for me to write some SF!

As regular readers will know, ZNB is a small press run by Joshua Palmatier, with the able assistance of Patricia Bray, that’s establishing a solid reputation for anthologies exploring all manner of quirky corners of SFF. They really do have a knack for finding subjects to inspire and entertain both writers and readers. Because one of the most fun things about writing for a ZNB project is seeing what everyone else comes up with!

Here’s the newest book they’re proposing – or rather, books. This new Kickstarter will fund TWO science fiction and fantasy anthologies, titled ALIEN ARTIFACTS and WERE-, containing approximately 14 all-original (no reprint) short stories each from established SF&F authors in the field – including Phyllis Ames, Jacey Bedford, Patricia Bray, David B. Coe, Walter H. Hunt, Faith Hunter, Gini Koch, Gail Z. Martin, Seanan McGuire, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Steve Miller & Sharon Lee, and Jean Marie Ward, and me, plus others. Because as well as anchoring these anthologies with stories from established authors, ZNB also offer open submission slots for other writers – with professional pay rates and cover art that any author would be proud to see on their book jacket.

Alien Artifacts:
Life is out there. Alien civilizations have grown and died and been reborn again since the dawn of the universe. Some of those civilizations have left behind signs of their existence, hidden in the ruins on unexplored planets or floating in space in the form of ghost ships. In this anthology, 14 of today’s best short story writers will tackle what could happen if, in our exploration of space, we run across some of these ancient alien artifacts. Will they catapult humanity to new technological heights … or reveal our darkest secrets and destroy us?

Edited by Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier, this anthology is the one I’ve signed up for and will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each. You’ll also be enjoying short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Walter H. Hunt, Gini Koch, Gail Z. Martin, Seanan McGuire, and Steve Miller & Sharon Lee.

Were-:
We’ve all read hundreds of stories about werewolves … but what about the less famous of the were-clans – the werelions, wereducks, and wereferns? These underrepresented families need to come out of the dark, full moon or not! From light and humorous to dark and serious, this anthology will explore other varieties of were-creatures and tell their stories. No werewolves allowed! This anthology will include short stories by: Phyllis Ames, Patricia Bray, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, Gini Koch, Seanan McGuire, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and Jean Marie Ward.

Cover Art:
The images that will be used to design the cover art are commissioned pieces called “Alien Artifacts” and “Were-” created by Justin Adams of Varia Studios. The concept cover art for “Alien Artifacts” has been completed and you can see it over on the Kickstarter page. That’s where you’ll find other scheduling details, and the full range of fun offers, special rewards, add-ons and stretch goals

It’s a measure of the enthusiasm readers already have for ZNB projects that this Kickstarter is already more than half funded within its first 24 hours. No, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax. Head on over to make sure you don’t miss out on the early backer incentives and to guarantee those stretch goals!

If you’re not yet familiar with ZNB’s collections, do check out Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens and Temporally Out of Order. Before striking out independently, Joshua and Patricia also masterminded After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar and The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity, both of which are well worth reading.

Temporally Out of Order – more proof that I am still a writer!

Regular readers will hopefully recall the kickstarter for the proposed SF anthology, Temporally Out of Order. It was all inspired by a typo on a sign author and editor Joshua Palmatier saw on an airport phone booth. No science fiction/fantasy writer could possibly pass that without wondering what “temporally out of order” could mean for modern day—or perhaps not so modern—gadgets, such as a cell phone, laptop, television, radio, iPod, or even the microwave or refrigerator!

I was one of the ‘stretch goals’ and I wrote about what inspired my particular story idea here.

Well, we didn’t make that particular stretch goal but the anthology overall was funded (and then some!). So what was I going to do with my idea? Well, reader, I wrote it and submitted it for one of the collection’s open slots. To my intense satisfaction, it was accepted and will be part of this intriguing table of contents.

“Reading Lists” by Seanan McGuire
“Salamandar Bites” by Elektra Hammond
“Black and White” by David B. Coe
“Dinosaur Stew” by Chuck Rothman
“Not All Is As It Seems” by Faith Hunter
“Batting Out of Order” by Edmund R. Schubert
“Grand Tour” by Steve Ruskin
“A is for Alacrity, Astronauts, and Grief” by Sofie Bird
“The Spiel of the Glocken” by Laura Resnick
“The Passing Bell” by Amy Griswold
“Destination Ahead” by Laura Anne Gilman
“Where There’s Smoke” by Susan Jett
“Alien Time Warp” by Gini Koch
“Cell Service” by Christopher Barili
“Temporally Full” by Stephen Leigh
“Notes and Queries” by Juliet E. McKenna
“Temporally Out of Odor: A Fragrant Fable” by Jeremy Sim

The publisher’s currently designing the ebooks and paperbacks and we should see a summer release, maybe June, more likely July or August. Check out the ZNB online store for information on how to preorder. Otherwise, keep an eye on your preferred online retailer – and as soon as I know listings are up, I’ll pass that on.