Posts belonging to Category Short fiction & anthologies



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.

Halloween half-price sale on Challoner, Murray & Balfour, Monster Hunters at Law!

For one day only, (though it’s an extended day to take account of time zones), you can buy my short collection of stories about a group of Victorian monster hunters from Wizard’s Tower Press at half price – and this offer’s only available from Wizard’s Tower Press.

So if you fancy a few Halloween shivers with some classic monsters, paying tribute to the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, H G Wells and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, click on through.

You can find out a bit more about these stories in my earlier blogpost here.

Language problems for time travellers – the ones we don’t see.

I’ve been thinking about time travel, in particular questions of communication. This is something we’re used to seeing glossed over for the most part. Occasionally someone turns up from Elizabethan England saying things like ‘forsooth, varlet!’ but that’s about as much of a nod as it gets. This has always irritated me, after having studied Chaucer in the original at school. Drop me in 14th Century England and I’d be reduced to communicating by writing things down in Latin, always assuming I could find someone who could read Latin.

On the other hand, there are obvious issues for storytellers, where being accurate about linguistic barriers is going to throw massive obstacles in the way of smooth narrative. I’m reminded of the TV series, Stargate SG-1, where they did try to avoid the whole ‘universal translator’ cliche in the early series, thanks to the polyglot Dr Daniel Jackson. That faded away pretty soon, I’m guessing as script writers, actors and directors alike simply found it too unwieldy.

The thing is though, this wouldn’t be the whole story by any means. Even if people are conversing in mutually recognisable English (or any other language), there are still going to be misunderstandings around slang and pop-culture references. Here’s an example. A few years ago now, I was sitting in the lounge, reading a book. There was some music playing and a son came into the room. We had the following conversation.

Recognising the music, but not quite able to place it, Son: ‘Who wrote that?’

Mostly concentrating on my book, Me: ‘Elgar. Nimrod.’

Mildly indignant Son: ‘Okay, I only asked. No need to be rude.’

Looking up, slightly bemused, Me: ‘Sorry, what? You asked about the music and I told you. Elgar wrote it. It’s called ‘Nimrod’.’

Incredulous Son: ‘He called a piece of music, ‘Nimrod’?’

Now definitely confused, Me: ‘Yes, Nimrod, the mighty hunter.’

Curious Son: ‘So how did it come to mean ‘stupid person?’

Closing my book, Me: ‘It means what?’

Okay, we subsequently established that, at least according to the Internet, ‘nimrod’ became a term of derision thanks to Bugs Bunny. That’s what he repeatedly calls Elmer Fudd, in ironic fashion but presumably younger cartoon viewers didn’t get the literary, Biblical reference and simply went with the insult. Which does make me wonder what happened in the RAF, since that was the name of one of their planes through the 70s and 80s. In my experience, aircrew are much more likely to be familiar with Looney Tunes than the Book of Chronicles. But I digress.

I’ve been trying to think if I’ve seen this sort of thing ever covered in SF&F. The closest I can come up with is Janet Edward’s ‘Earth Girl’ trilogy (highly recommended YA SF) which isn’t about time travel at all but is set in the future where linguistic shift has seen ‘butt’ become a taboo swearword.

Oh and I think there may have been a few one-liners in the TV series ‘Quantum Leap’ but it’s so long since I watched that I may well be misremembering.

Can anyone else flag up a book, TV programme or film that’s tackled this sort of thing, well or badly?

At least this wouldn’t be a problem for gadgets finding themselves Temporally Out of Order. Or could it be? I wonder if we’ll see any stories along those lines in the anthology we’re hoping to write. Excuse me while I go and see how well the Kickstarter’s getting on today.

Where did I get my ‘Temporally Out of Order’ idea?

So we’re halfway through the Kickstarter today and at time of writing this, we’re a hair under 80% funded. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, we’ll have passed that milestone and be well on our way to fully funded and better yet, the stretch goals.

I really want to see us hit those stretch goals. Because I really want to read those extra stories. Yes, I really want to write one of them, because I’ve got an awfully good idea… Would you like to know a little about the puzzle that’s prompted it?

Let me tell you something that my younger son has discovered. He’s eighteen and being very musical, he and a similarly talented pal go busking in Oxford. We all live within striking distance of the city and the lads are properly licensed by the local authority and obey all the relevant regulations. On a good day, especially in the tourist season, they can do very nicely, thank you. Even on a quiet day, they’ll earn more that they would spending their time stacking shelves in a supermarket on minimum wage.

One of the entertaining things as we count and bag up the money for banking is spotting the foreign coins. They’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and have amassed a couple of dollars in US quarters from various states, along with one Sacagawea dollar and some nickels and dimes. They get a few Euro coins and coppers each month so that all goes in the family travel fund. Other coins have come from Egypt, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Finland, Norway, Hungary, India. They can’t cash such small amounts of coin but that’s not a problem. They’re interesting in their own right, to show how far folk travel to visit Oxford, and the gesture of appreciation for the lads’ music is, well, appreciated.

Then there are the old coins, and they’re a real curiosity. Every so often, we’ll find a coin that’s no longer legal tender here in the UK. Outsized ten and fifty pence coins that were withdrawn from circulation years ago. Even older, pre-decimal coins. Half crowns. Sixpences. We’ve even had some from Europe; pre-Euro francs and centimes and a couple of Deutschmarks. Here’s a picture of the latest; a 1962 old penny. That’s older than me!

1962 Penny

Who goes out, let alone on holiday, with a pocketful of outdated small change and gives it to buskers? Why?

No, that’s not what my story’s going to be about. Not directly, anyway. But you can’t expect a puzzle like this not to get a writer’s imagination working…

So if you want to read the story, and haven’t yet backed the Kickstarter? Well, over to you.

Learn more about the ‘Temporally Out of Order’ Authors (and try their work)

When you’re buying an anthology, whether that’s by backing a Kickstarter (like Temporally Out of Order), or after picking it up in a shop, what often seals the purchase is seeing a story listed by one of your favourite authors. It’s one reason why I like anthologies; seeing something new by a valued writer or getting a sidelight on a novel or characters of their’s that I’ve loved.

As an extra bonus, I also find anthologies a good way to find new authors to read, as I work my way through the rest of the stories. And yes, as a writer, that’s one reason why I like to be part of these projects. I love getting those emails from folk new to my books, who say they first came across my work in an anthology where another author was the main draw. Trust me, I don’t mind that in the least!

Occasionally though, there’ll be an anthology where I’ve read none of the names. I’ll doubtless know of them from the Internet or conventions or bookshops but for some reason or other, I’ve never got round to trying their work. Hurrah for the Internet and authors willing to share a taste of their work for free, along with the writerly advice and pictures of cats and all the other stuff that writers put up on their websites.

So here’s a few links if you’re curious to know more about some of the ‘Temporally Out of Order’ team

– editors

Joshua Palmatier’s Throne of Amenkor series (including free chapters)

Patricia Bray’s website by way of a link to her podcast ‘Everything I know about writing a series’

– core authors

David B Coe (and his alter ego D.B. Jackson)

Laura Anne Gilman, a woman of many talents and now several names.

Faith Hunter and her Jane Yellowrock series

Gini Koch’s Blah, Blah, Blah blog

Stephen Leigh (whose First 400 Backer Extra is still available!)

Seanan McGuire (who is also Mira Grant)

Laura Resnick’s website – a work in progress, lots of good stuff to find in the left hand links.

– and my fellow stretch goal authors –

Jean Marie Ward, via her page of free reading

Jack Campbell, via a full novelette he’s made available online!

That should give you some idea of why this project is so well worth backing.

Kickstarter 2/3rds funded after a week? Time to relax! Er, no, it isn’t…

Crowd-funding’s a new, wonderful and truly weird thing. I’ve been involved in a couple of these now, though I’ve yet to dare try one on my own, for fear of so very publicly coming unstuck if a project didn’t meet its target. Some writer friends like C.E.Murphy and Laura Anne Gilman have more courage than me, so I’ve watched their experiences as well. The peaks and troughs and ebbs and flows in the way people sign up really is fascinating. I know there are folk out there keenly analysing the patterns, with conversations that almost certainly include the word ‘algorithm’.

Well, all I know is there’s never a time to be complacent, from Day One to Day Thirty. So if you’ve been looking at the ‘Temporally Out of Order’ Kickstarter and thinking, ‘Ooh, that sounds like a really good read,’ and now you’re seeing we’re two-thirds there, you’re thinking, ‘oh, they’ll be fine, I’ll just pick up the book later on,’… please consider backing us now. Because if we don’t meet that target, there won’t be a book later…

And yes, obviously, I have a horse in this race. As a stretch goal author, I really, really want to be involved! I’ve got such a fine idea… and I’ll tell you all about that next Monday, by which time I really hope that first target will be met, the first stretch goal will be secure and we’ll be on our way to my story, Jean Marie Ward’s and Jack Campbell’s.

Meantime, if you’ve come to this website for the first time thanks to this Kickstarter, hello and welcome.

If you’re wondering what my writing is like, you can read the opening chapters of my novels and also download the free ebook of my short story The Wizard’s Coming.

If you’re curious to see a little of what I write other than epic fiction, I’ve collected together a couple of short stories for free reading here.

Enjoy!

While I go and see where you can find a taste of my anthology stable-mates’ writing.

Meantime, let’s see how the project is going?

‘Temporally Out of Order’ – how can you resist this new anthology via Kickstarter?

A while ago, I got an email from Joshua Palmatier (a fine writer, do check out his books) proposing a new anthology project for the small press , to be edited by Joshua himself, along with Patricia Bray (another fine writer).

Now, I’m always interested in any project which these two are proposing. I’ve written stories for them before, in After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar and for The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity. Not only did I find them excellent editors to work with on a personal level, these anthologies proved to be fascinating reads as a whole, with an excellent mix of stories from a very interesting range of writers.

The only reason I didn’t submit anything for their next project Steampunk Universe: Clockwork versus Aliens was lack of time due to other commitments – but you may be certain I followed the progress of that Kickstarter with keen interest. As you’ll see they ran a very professional, successful fundraiser and that anthology’s now available for Kindle, Nook etc, as you prefer (like the earlier titles).

So what’s the new anthology going to be about? Well, here’s what Joshua had to say in his initial email –

While sitting at the airport waiting for a flight, I saw a phone booth with a note reading “Temporally Out of Order.” Obviously it was a typo, but the mistake takes on a whole new meaning when viewed from a science fiction/fantasy frame of mind. This anthology will take on the challenge of interpreting what “temporally out of order” could mean for modern day—or perhaps not so modern—gadgets, such as the cell phone, laptop, television, radio, iPod, or even that microwave or refrigerator!

Doesn’t that sound intriguing? I can’t wait to see what the other authors involved come up with and have been musing on ideas of my own ever since.

But wait, there’s more! For the first time, as part of a Kickstarter, I’m a Stretch Goal! I’ll be contributing once the total raised reaches $15,000. There’ll also be the chance to get yourself into my story at that point, or at very least your (or some lucky friend’s) name, by means of a Tuckerisation – something I’ve never actually done before, so this will be another first :)

That’s by no means the only incentive on offer. All backers of $15 or more in the first 24 hours will be getting a free ebook called FOUR FOR MORE (with four short stories) from Jean Marie Ward. She’s another stretch goal author, along with myself and Jack Campbell (aka John Hemry).

There are a few limited pledge levels, such as tuckerizations in some of the authors’ stories, a “missed out on the first kickstarter for CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE, but I want to catch up” reward level, and a few other limited items, so get there early if you want those. The anchor authors for this anthology are: Seanan McGuire, Gini Koch, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, Laura Anne Gilman, Stephen Leigh, and Laura Resnick (in no particular order because, honestly, how could you rank them against each other?).

Do you fancy seeing your own name on a Table of Contents alongside those authors? Once the project is funded, the remaining slots (a minimum of 7) not being filled by anchor or stretch goal authors will be filled by an OPEN CALL for submissions. Yes, ANYONE will be able to submit a story for a chance to be part of the anthology!

Excited? I am and you should be. So click on through, get a better look at that fabulous artwork, and get involved!

A Knight in the Silk Purse: Ghosts of Taux (Tales of the Emerald Serpent Book 2)

Do you remember Tales of the Emerald Serpent? The shared world anthology I’m part of, funded by Kickstarter? With its interlinked stories by a host of great writers, further enhanced by truly splendid artwork? All set in the mysterious city of Taux with inspirations drawn from Central American and other mythologies as well as the authors’ and artists’ fertile imaginations.

If so, you’ll recall we ran a second successful campaign and now the second volume is here! This anthology is even more intricate and ambitious. Our returning characters are caught up in official investigations as a Paladin tries to uncover the truth behind a gruesome murder while the Festival of Flowers fills the city with perfumes and parades, the perfect cover for some and their dark secrets…

Once again, I had tremendous fun writing my story, featuring Zhada the Lowl (a race of dog-headed men). If you’ve been at all curious about his romance with one of the city’s leading merchants’ daughter, you should definitely be reading this.

And yes, we’re discussing possibilities for Volume Three. We’re having far too much fun to stop, if we can possibly arrange it.

(I’ve linked to Amazon UK but obviously both books are available via Amazon US as well)

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