Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My True Convention Story That I Wish Was Fiction



We're going into convention season, and I keep meeting new writers who are nervous about making bad impressions. Especially early on, you dread that anything you do will kill your career. In order to make some anonymous writers feel a little better, I want to share a story that I wish wasn't true.

My greatest convention shame began with a great short story. It was nominated for an award at this con I was attending, and was one of the funniest Science Fiction shorts I'd ever read. It was vicious, sometimes repulsive, using impossible plots for hilarious ends. It was so funny that I got up in the middle of it to annoy friends by reading random passages aloud.

As I spread glowing reviews across social media, I discovered something: most reviewers hated this story.

Many of the reviewers were attracted just because it was nominated for this Prestigious Award; they argued that it was too morbid, too awful, or not even a story. After a while, I felt the author was being wronged. Dear reader, I argued on the internet.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Interviewed about Writing and Disability

I'm pleased to be a guest this month at Almost An Author, a site designed to help new writers shape their careers. Kathryn Johnson had me over there to discuss writing with disability, the writing life, and my peculiar health. If you ever wanted a glimpse at just what a diagnostic weirdo I am, the first question will fill you right up.

It's been a while since I've been interviewed in long form like this. It was a lot of fun - I think I laughed more than the average subject. Kathryn was also very considerate and made the chat fun. You can read the entire text here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bathroom Monologue: Magicians and Hacks

Bobby wanted to be a magician, but couldn't fit all the scarves up his sleeve and made a pocket dimension instead. He was a hack.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, April 2017 Edition

I am so unprepared for May. Are you unprepared for May? Well let's make it a little easier with some quality fiction and journalism. As with every time I gather my favorite reads, everything listed here is free to read. The link to read is in the title of each piece. April was an unusually good month for humorous and quirky fiction, which got me through some rough times. Let's have a look!

Fiction

"Attending Your Own Funeral: An Etiquette Guide" by Erica L. Satifka at Daily Science Fiction
-Quirky, morbid, and with just enough heart, this story gets you ready to see your own funeral, in the next universe over. The other attendees? All parallel universe versions of the same lady, naturally, who compare notes on their successes and tragedies. Who stole technology, who destroyed the atmosphere, and what the heck they were after in the first place. Satifka packs so many neat ideas into a tight package.

 "Running safety tips for humans" by Marissa Lingen at Nature Magazine
-Science Fiction often examines alien invasions. But did the last one figure out how our alien overlords will ruin jogging? This is a delightful piece of list fiction, breaking down the hazards of a possibly human-eating species that's babysitting our planet, and how to stay fit while they're in control.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Story Sale: "A Silhouette Against Armageddon" sold to Fireside!

I'm happy to announce that I've sold a new story to Fireside Magazine! I'm excited to be back with them, as they publish such a great tonal variety of stories. You like tragedies? Weird SciFi? Genre satire? They've got you covered.

My new story is "A Silhouette Against Armageddon," the story of a graverrobbing in process - from the point of view of the man in the coffin. He's not happy about having his eternal rest spoiled.


This will be my second publication at Fireside, following 2015's "Bones at the Door." I promise this story will devour fewer children.

Monday, April 3, 2017

"The Terrible" Published at Flash Fiction Online

The first piece of my recent Good Newsathon has walked out into the world: "The Terrible" is in this month's Flash Fiction Online!

I'm honored to have a a story in this month's Flash Fiction Online. "The Terrible"

This is an honor. Not many writers have been published four times in this magazine. FFO was my first pro-sale, and has continued to be a home for diverse authors and wildly diverse stories. It's a privilege to have contributed a few tales to their catalog.

"The Terrible," which originally ran at DSF, is a Superhero Comedy. Actually, a Supervillain Comedy. It follows The Terrible, self-proclaimed arch-nemesis of the world's most powerful woman. He's come so close to killing her dozens of times, and tonight he has the perfect plan. But something's wrong. It's almost like her heart isn't in it...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Seven Pieces of Good News!

It's been my busiest March in a while! A couple of brutal health episodes couldn't stop the train of goodness. In fact, I managed to step up my regular exercise from 2.0 miles on the elliptical to 2.5, thanks partially to being mesmerized by Westworld. But the good news isn't just miles, or reading A Brief History of Seven Killings (and incredible achievement of a novel) and seeing Kong: Skull Island (a far better kaiju movie than I'd expected). In fact, I have so much good news that I have to relay it in list form.

1. The good news started rolling in with an acceptance from Pseudopod! One of the internet's premiere Horror podcasts will be dedicating an entire episode to my short story, "Under the Rubble." It follows two survivors of an earthquake, trapped under the remains of a convenience store, trying to stay sane and alive until rescue can come. If it's coming at all.

2. And then Flash Fiction Online bought a reprint of my superhero story, "The Terrible!" It originally ran at DSF, but is more timely now with the Wonder Woman movie coming out. It's about a villain who learns he was never actually a threat, and his heroine has been patronizing him for years in the hope he'll get over this "evil" phase. This will mark my fourth April Fools humor story at Flash Fiction Online. I couldn't ask for a better home for short humor.

3. Flash Fiction Online also published their Science Fiction 2016 Anthology, and the opening story is my "Foreign Tongues." It's one of my personal favorite flashes, about an alien that communicates by taste rather than sight or sound, and thinks ice cream is the dominant form of life on earth. They have more trouble "talking" to us, but they won't give up easily, no matter how many humans they have to ingest. The anthology is live right now.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Great Things I Read in February, 2017 Edition


This is a few days late, isn't it? I had to postpone a little for my Mock Oscars, covering Logan, and a certain wonderful event in my family. I'll share that last good news with you in my next post, but for now, I want to share some amazing stories and journalism. It includes not one, but two Science Fictional stories of birds that just happen to be true.

As always, everything listed here is free to read with no paywall. I've linked directly to each piece. If you like what you read, consider grabbing a subscription to the publisher or dropping money into an author's Patreon.

Short Stories and Flash Fiction

"The Unknown God" by Ann Leckie at Uncanny Magazine

Such a thoroughly charming story from its first chatter between a frog and a mighty god about all the weird things the local atheists believe. There's quirky personality to its very eschatology, bouncing between personal lives and grand stakes. It's a chatty story, but the dialogue makes lightness of such heavy matters, and gives the motion of the story life, all the way to crystallizing its conclusion. There's wisdom here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Review: Logan is to Wolverine what the Deadpool movie was to Wade Wilson

Logan is to Wolverine what Deadpool is to Deadpool, significantly more faithful to the character than anything before it. Is it the best X-Men film? It’s weighty, weary, knee-deep in sacrifices, with fights so visceral I jerked my head along with the punches. It has little of the optimism you find in mainline X-Men films, in favor of a bleak Western-tinged story in which Wolverine tries to do the right thing one last time in his life. It is a beautiful send-off for Hugh Jackman, whose portrayal has been every bit as iconic as Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Bathroom Monologues Movie Awards 2016

It's almost March 2017, so of course we're all talking about the best movies of 2016. Personally, I'm most bummed that I missed out on The Handmaiden and Fences due to being too busy and ill to see them for their brief runs around here. For the Oscars, naturally I disagree with some of the winners. More naturally, I don't understand what some of the categories mean. But nothing shall dissuade me from telling a sizable democratic body of people who devote swaths of their lives to film that their mass conclusions were wrong. Here we go.

The Dark Horse Award
Going to the movie that was way better
than you all led me to believe it would be
Hail, Caesar!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

So Your Protagonist Is An Asshole. You Still Owe Me A Plot.

Since I couldn't sleep thanks to syndrome pain, I tried out Amazon's new show Patriot. It felt worth a shot given warm reviews and an amazing cast, including Terry O'Quinn and the guy who plays Death on Supernatural. Why not try an offbeat espionage comedy?

The second episode goes on a weird spree of abusing disabled characters are least four separate times. The Asian math whiz who suffered brain damage in a car accident returns... only to be talked down to by everyone, and as soon as he shows his aptitude at math is still there, his competitor shuts his laptop and leaves him helpless. The protagonist steals the prosthetic legs of amputees which pays off in one of them being a security guard who has to chase him later, hopping along ineffectually.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, January 2017

This round-up has been on hiatus over a few particularly chaotic months, but is back for 2017. A few old stories and articles popped up in here because I was reading voraciously over that period - I just was encumbered by workload, a novel, and family events and illnesses. This month the round-up comes in three flavors: Short Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Non-Fiction Related to a Certain Odious Fool.

Short Fiction
"Ndakusuwa" by Blaize M. Kaye at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination
Pour one out for Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, which is closing its doors. It paid more than double the professional average for short fiction, and steadily gathered interesting voices and great reprints. As I've gone through my back catalog, this one stuck with me. It's a flash fiction biography of a genius, from the first time she disassembled a clock, to all of the times she left her parents, always for further and less imaginable shores. Perfect poignancy.

"Mamihlapinatapei" by Rachael K. Jones at Flash Fiction Online
Another day, another title that's tricky on the tongue. You'll have to read to the end to learn the meaning of the title, and it's a joyous revelation. The line "For these children, there has never been a world without dinosaurs" gave me such a smile. It's exactly the sort of thing I crave people to speculate in our worlds of speculative fiction. This flash is saturated worldbuilding about coexistence and what it means to have to switch cultures and languages. Jones is, as always, really good at writing characters switching.

"Monster Girls Don't Cry" by Merc Rustad at Uncanny Magazine
My writing naturally lends itself to long scenes, which leaves me fascinated by writers like Walton and Zelazny, who are so comfortable with compact scenes. Rustad's story is a case study in how to do extremely quick cuts in prose, with some scenes lasting only a paragraph, but still being poignant. This takes such advantage of the short fiction form to build to some wonderful emotions.

"The Psittaculturist's Lesson" by Marissa Lingen at Daily Science Fiction
A cracking story of an assassination attempt on an empress whose magic and guards have stopped every avenue so far. More than their, she surrounds herself with parrots, and it's in teaching them language that the twist comes.

"My Grandmother's Bones" by S.L. Huang at Daily Science Fiction
When an editor asked for some good flash for a possible anthology, this was one of the first recommendations I emailed to him. This tab stayed open for a couple months because I relished in revisiting Huang's meditation on an adoration that existed in orbit with love and respect. It's a beautiful and concise view of a relationship.

"In Memoriam: Lady Fantastic" by Lauren M. Roy at Fireside Magazine
It opens complaining about a sexist obituary for one of the world's first superheroes, and it rolls on with rich personality from there. It's a great intersection in poking at superhero culture and at how we treat women, blended perfectly. The account of a fictional superhero life colors in how the narrator grew up, through the Halloween she dressed as Lady Fantastic, and her impacts later in life. Remarkably sweet.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

It's "Women's March," Not "Women's January"

Heads up, everybody: your marching is bothering the Republicans. Better cut it out. You know what special snowflakes they are.

Did the people of Boston misbehave in 1773? Did people challenge Jim Crow Laws? Did people refuse to honor Joe McCarthy just because he was evil?

No. They were polite and refused to challenge the status quo. Quit being so unamerican and stop exercising free speech.

Also, go sit where Republicans want you to sit, because apparently skipping an inauguration is on the same no-no list as Peacefully Marching, Putting Your Hands Up, and Kneeling During the National Anthem.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top Ten Videogames of the Year, 2016

While a terrible year for many things, 2016 was phenomenal for games. Not only do I passionately love more releases this year than normal, but I could easily make a Top Ten list out of games that aren't for me but that I've watched people explode over.

Stardew Valley
, Overwatch, Darkest Dungeon, Civilization 6, Pokemon Sun and Moon, Uncharted 4, Owlboy, Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes... The hits have kept coming all year. After multiple years of AAA console games lagging badly, those companies have finally started fulfilling their promise. At the same time, indie developers have continued their explosion in amazing output. It's been a pleasure just to listen to different players gab on what's captivated them. Developers endorsed games from genres I'd never known they even played in before.

In some cases, I just haven't had the time and money to play things yet. I'm sure I will like Firewatch and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End when I have the opportunity to play them. One game noticeably absent is No Man’s Sky, which I’ve held off playing since the developers are working on so many content patches. It sounds like it will be an entirely different game with all the updates next year. Given how polarizing the release was, and how busy my writing schedule got in Autumn, I figured I’d wait.

As with every year, I’m going to list my Top Ten Games of the Year. As with every year, I’m including ties where I don’t see any reasonable comparison for one title being ahead of another. Because ranking art is silly, and if we’re going to be silly, then let’s go all the way. This year there’s a three-way tie for first place, followed immediately by a three-way tie for fourth place. We even open on a tie.

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