Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Release Day! "Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way" from Crossed Genres Publications

What if Superman could only hover? What if Batman had a bat push bike instead of the batmobile? What if Thor had a blow up plastic hammer instead of one forged in the heart of a dying star? What if Wolverine's claws constantly went blunt?

The newest anthology from Crossed Genres Publications is "Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way", edited by Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt, and it examines the every day superheroes, "where heroes and heroines use their small gifts to great advantage."

My story "Power Line Dreams" is included in the anthology. What if Thorsday was your one big day of the week, and even then you only had that 24 hours to figure out and use that week's power to the best advantage? Come midnight, boom,  back to pumpkin status. There are also recurring problems with kittens stuck in trees. 

"Oomph" is available in paperback and e-book formats. Cover art is by Megan Rose Gedris


Can anyone else hear this monster shrieking "Eee! The purple gloves of doom!"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What I've Been Reading Lately 27/10/2013

In my short fiction reading the last few weeks, I've been mostly focusing on anthologies and collections.

  • The first is "We See A Different Frontier" edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad. This anthology examining post-colonialism is a big bold step in speculative fiction, and has been garnering fantastic word of mouth. See the links to reviews at the above link - many of the reviews echo my feelings about the whole book and articulate it far better.

    It's rare for me to find an anthology that I love from start to finish, and pushes the boundaries of my genre so efficiently and beautifully. Every story is an absolute winner. My absolute favourites are "Vector" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and "Them Ships" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Sriduangkaew's piece is lush and rich, and it's very rare for me to turn around and immediately re-read a story upon completion - "Vector" deserves it, because it's a provoking, layered story about a Thailand caught in a spy game between China and the US. "Them Ships" on the other hand is heart-wrenching in its simplicity, and the terrible bargain often made in the interests of survival. Moreno-Garcia tells a story of colonization welcomed by the poor because it evens out class warfare, and tells it well in quick, harsh strokes.

    If you want to stretch yourself, if you want to discover the diversity and future of science fiction, this anthology is essential. Don't be fooled by it's cartoonish cover - it deserves far wider acclaim than it currently has. Spread the word.

  • Next, I've been dipping in and out of Catherynne M. Valente's "The Melancholy of Mechagirl". As an avowed Valente fan, I'll read just about anything of hers put in front of me, no matter how difficult or challenging.

    Some of the stories are semi-autobiographical, making uncomfortable, but beautiful precious reading, wearing the line between art and artist thin. The collection also contains the novella "Silently and Very Fast" which I very much enjoyed  on first read when it was released last year, and "Fade to White", which I originally read on Clarkesworld, so it's good to have both of those great stories in holdable, physical form.

    As always with Valente, I often have to go with the flow and prose of her writing, even if it doesn't immediately make sense to me. But what differentiates Valente from any other author I enjoy, the plot often takes a back seat to the emotion and "artistic aftertaste" she leaves me with. She pricks my brain, and draws blood often.

  • Strange Horizons has had a storming few weeks of releases, absolutely confirming once again they're worth my donation. Check out Steve Berman's gay ghost story "Three on a Match". And once again confirming I'll read anything Sunny Moraine releases, there's the genderqueer coming of age story "Event Horizon", with just enough creepiness in time for Halloween.

  • I recently read Lisa Tuttle's "Lost Futures", and it's become one of those books that crept up on me. There's a lot of subtlety to Tuttle's style that I enjoy, so it's nice to come across more of her work. I read "Ragged Claws" at Lightspeed, a reprint from 2009. Tuttle is an author who doesn't give everything up front, something I really enjoy in a short story, so it's intriguing to pick apart how she manages to hook a reader without giving the ghost pig away.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WHOOP WHOOP EMERGENCY: Save the Escape Artists Podcasts

Before Nightvale, there were the Three Little Podcasts That Could.

Escape Artists is the blanket company that runs EscapePod, PodCastle, and PseudoPod, the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror podcasts respectively. EscapePod began in 2005, and their fantasy and horror brethren followed, delivering short stories in audio format for people on the move, busy people, people who prefer their fiction delivered through their earballs.

I have a personal connection to EA. I have voiced stories for all three podcasts, and for a period of time a few years back I lent my time and digital editing skills as an audio editor and compiler. In hindsight, I realize I was working on myself, trying to convince myself to become a writer, and I am forever grateful for the lovely bum-kick I received from Rachel Swirsky. I also worked with Ann Leckie during that time, who has gone on to incredible success with her novel "Ancillary Justice" (so proud and excited!).

I'm not just name dropping here to suit my ego. These podcasts have employed and published the stories of some incredible authors, they are run by people who really love and BELIEVE in genre, and they pay pretty good rates.

And now they are in jeopardy of closing down. So if you'll excuse me a moment:

Kitteh sez: NOOOOOOOOOO!
The EA podcasts rely on a donation and subscription model, and even though their listener numbers have only ever increased, their financial intake has flattened. I can't say it strong enough: GODDAMMIT PEOPLE, pay for the art that you consume. Artists cannot exist on love and air alone.

So here's the thing: Escape Artists need to meet their money-maker by December 31st of this year, or these pioneers of podcasting will kaput. Seriously, it would be like seeing three major speculative magazines wiped from the face of the earth.

Here is a quick post from PseudoPod editor Alisdair Stuart on the situation, with links to the various podcasts and details on how you can donate. Here is a link to the 45 minute metacast on the situation - if you have the time to listen, you'll hear from the many great people that contribute, along with some names with push. Have a listen to their passion and ideas.

If you know, love, and support EA, GREAT! Maybe consider bumping up your contribution. If you've dabbled in listening to them in the past, why not consider flicking them a small donation. If you've never taken a bite of the podcasts, feel free to do so, but at least PLEASE spread the word. These are damn fine people, with damn fine stories.

To get you going, here are some links to some of my favourite stories EA have published:
PodCastle 154: "Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Under the Still Waters" by NK Jemisin
PodCastle 165: "The Paper Menagerie" by Ken Liu
PodCastle 67: "Kissing Frogs" by Jaye Lawrence

EscapePod 388: "Trixie and the Pandas of Dread" by Eugie Foster
EscapePod 195: "26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss" by Kij Johnson
EscapePod 380: "Punk Voyager" by Shaenon Garrity

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Add a little "Oomph" to your life: Toc and Cover Art

"Oomph" is coming!

We now have a release date for "Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way" by Crossed Genres. Mark Monday October 28th on your calendar - that's when you can pick up a copy in paperback or e-book format. The anthology examines every day superheroes - what happen when your powers are on the small side, or they don't work quite like you hoped? What if you only float instead of fly, punch through a tin can but not a brick wall?

From the sneak peek I've had, the antho is a lot of fun! I hope you will enjoy it too.

Here's the line up:
  • “Hat Trick” – Beth Cato
  • “Power Line Dreams” – A.J. Fitzwater
  • “Exact Change” – Christine Morgan and Lucas Williams
  • “Short Circuit” – Kirstie Olley
  • “Random Play All and the League of Awesome” – Shane Halbach
  • “The Writing is On the Wall” – Brian M. Milton
  • “The Breeze” – Mary Alexandra Agner
  • “Fortissimo Possibile” – Dawn Vogel
  • “Knuckles” – Ken MacGregor
  • “A Twist of Fate” – Holly Schofield
  • “Trailblazer” – Anthony R. Cardno
  • “Mildly Indestructible” – Jay Wilburn
  • “Blanket Statement” – Aspen Bassett
  • “Great White” – Brent Knowles
  • “Speak Softly” – Day Al-Mohamed
And here's the cover art by Megan Rose Gedris:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Facebooking across the universe...

If Facebook is your thang, I now have an author's page.

It'll mostly carry the same stuff I Twitter and Blog and Google+ about, but I like to keep my social media options open.

Come over and Like meeeeeeeeeeeeeee....

Facebook...ur doin it wrong

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sad News: Fantastique Unfettered #5 will not be published.

Back in May last year I sold "In Bloom" to Fantastique Unfettered. It was to appear in issue five, slated for publication of November 2012.

Two publishing deadlines came and went, and recently I touched based with publisher Brandon H. Bell and editor Alexa Seidel to find out the haps since things had gone a bit quiet.

The indie publishing industry is a fickle and often difficult place, and unfortunately a variety of issues lead to the delay of publication. Delays meant that the stories had gone out of contract. FU were unable to re-contract all the stories, therefore they have decided to forgo all plans of publication.

It's a pity, because FU had a great idea for a magazine, and their content was interesting and diversity friendly (hello, my story was all about genderqueer people and their sewing magic!). Also, it's the second sale I've lost from 2012, but at least this one is under kinder circumstances. Brandon has been kind, honest, and open about the situation, and I wish them the best for their future publishing endeavours.

So "In Bloom" is now back on the table. I'm proud it got a hit on it's first time out into the traps, let's see if anyone else is interested in a story about fabulous queer fashion divas and their magical needles. Work it, baby.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Five Questions: "A Fear of Falling Under"

It's Five Questions time, which means having to crack open the cage door and let out PT, my internal blog narrator.

We're talking about my story "A Fear of Falling Under" recently released in Issue 27 of The Future Fire.

Come on PT, wake up. You need to be asking the questions, or it'll be like I'm only talking to myself here.

PT: This story better not be as creepy as the last one we talked about.
AF: Ummm....
PT: Oh come on! I'm a sensitive type!
AF: OK, I'm not super horror writer creepy, but the story has been described as "hallucinatory" and "haunting".