A Trove of Fabulous Short Stories over at Curious Fictions!

If you’re looking for short stories to read, be sure to check out Curious Fictions. This little known gem is a platform for short story reprints. The site will ask you for credit card information up front, but all the content is completely free, though tipping is encouraged. You can also subscribe to your favorite authors.

It is a great option for short story writers who too often see their previously published stories vanish into a kind of oblivion a few months after being published. I have uploaded a few stories there and like having a no fuss place to give these stories a second chance to be seen.

Most recently, you can find my story, Short Straw, on the site. It previously appeared in the Lost Worldsanthology by Flame Tree Press (print only). The link for Short Straw in the sidebar will now direct to Curious Fictions.

While I hope you’ll enjoy the stories I’ve posted there, I know you won’t be disappointed with the site: it is stuffed with amazing stories, easy to navigate, and easy to read on a variety of screens.

Here’s a little teaser for Short Straw:

“Don’t tell the trees your name,” the wild grasses whispered as they batted their bearded heads against the linen skirt wrapped around Nina’s thin hips. Her great grandparents, the first colonists, had brought rice and wheat, barley and rye, and crossed their seeds with the new-world plants. But the grains they produced were inedible. Still, they abandoned grasses persisted, and the wild meadow won a few more inches of ground every year.

She looked up, past the settlement to where the tallest branches of the forest canopy snared the sinking sun. “I have to go,” she said.

“If you must go, take us with you,” they whispered.

Nina closed her hands capturing two fistfuls of seed heads, pulled them off their stems, and shoved them into her skirt pockets. “There. Happy?”

“No.

Save the Date Writing Butterflies, This Year’s Armadillocon Writing Workshop is Friday, August 3!

 Crack your knuckles and warm up your keyboards, it’s time to polish up your short story or first chapter for the annual Armadillocon Writing Workshop!

 Submissions are DUE Friday June 15, 2018

This is an excellent, low-cost workshop for writers who want to:

 Work with professional writers and editors familiar with speculative fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. 

  • Learn how to give and receive critique in a small-group, face-to-face setting
  • Find out if workshops and in-person critique groups are useful to their writing progress
  • Find their tribe and make connections with others that will serve their writing year round.
  • Take their writing to the next level.

The workshop will be Friday, August 3, 2018 

We will spend the morning in panels on the craft and business of writing and doing a writing exercise or two. Then, lunch with the professional writers and fellow students in your breakout critique group. The afternoon will be spent in in-depth, collaborative critique sessions where you will be both giving and receiving critique. 

Just $90 gets you the full-day workshop and a full convention membership to attend all of the activities for the entire weekend. ArmadilloCon is an excellent regional literary convention, which means there will be lots of great panels about writing, reading, and the state of the genre (there are also panels about movies, tv shows, gaming, and everything geek). 

Sponsored seats for writers of color!

We are committed to promoting diversity and access for all workshop attendees. Writing in a genre centered on exploration and encountering the Other must include voices and visions from writers and readers of all kinds. The Workshop actively seeks to include students, faculty, visiting scholars, and volunteers from a variety of backgrounds including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, and ability. 

To that purpose we are offering a limited number of sponsored seats to the workshop for writers of color. To apply for a seat, follow the link on the workshop page.

 If are interested in sponsoring a seat for a writer of color, contact me at armadilloconwritersworkshop@gmail.com

Fantastical Fictions Bookclub: The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumière


It seems fitting that we’ll be meeting at one of Austin’s most unusual bookshops, Malvern Books, to discuss lovely mosaic novella centered around an idiosyncratic bookstore. Although, Malvern has 100% less dogs than the bookstore featured in Claude Lalumière’s The Door to Lost Pages, it has some of the magic.

But don’t take my word for it, swing by the store to pick up a copy of this lovely little book, and then come back on Wednesday, July 12 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss The Door toLost Pages.

“Lost Pages wasn’t the only bookshop I frequented, but the books I found on its shelves were… unique. I never saw any of these books anywhere else. Bizarre Bestiaries. Dictionaries of dead, obscure languages. Maps to lands that may never have been. Essays on religions with unfamiliar names. Obscure mythologies. Accounts of wars no history teacher had ever mentioned. Such were the wares of the bookshop that fed my teenage dreams.”

More magical realism than straight up fantasy, this book combines elements of urban fantasy with lonely childhoods and difficult family relationships that are rendered with gritty realism. There are also winged skeleton creatures, dark gods, tentacles  and a shifting pack of friendly dogs. It’s a homey multiverse of myth, folktale, dreams and nightmares. Be warned, the erotic and sexual elements that are often latent in fairy tales are more overt here as the characters wrestle with desires and both visceral and ethereal.

In the true Austin tradition, this is an author that knows how to keep it weird. If you enjoy The Door to Lost Pages, Claude Lalumière will be in Austin for the ArmadilloConConvention on August 4 – 6, and back at Malvern Books to read from his latest book Venera Dreams on August 9 at 7:00 p.m.

Fantastical Fictions Book Club: Fardwor, Russia! by Oleg Kashin

(Oleg Kashin photo / Restless Books)

It’s time again for another Fantastical Fictions Book Club. On Thursday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m., we’ll convene around the big table at Malvern Books to discuss Oleg Kashin’s Fardwor, Russia!

This slim novel is a  fascinating breezy read, if you can call a dark, satiric dystopia “breezy.” It offers a glimpse of Russian culture and its complaints. 

The publisher’s website describes the book this way:

     “When a scientist experimenting on humans in a sanatorium near Moscow gives a growth serum to a dwarf oil mogul, the newly heightened businessman runs off with the experimenter’s wife, and a series of mysterious deaths and crimes commences. Fantastical, wonderfully strange, and ringing with the echoes of real-life events, this political parable fused with science fiction has an uncanny resonance with today’s Russia under Putin.
     Oleg Kashin is a notorious Russian journalist and activist who, in 2010, two months after he’d delivered the manuscript of this book to his publishers, was beaten to within an inch of his life in an attack with ties to the highest levels of government. While absurdly funny on its face, Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin is deadly serious in its implications. Kashin’s experience exemplifies why so few authors dare to criticize the state—and his book is a testament of the power of literature to break the bonds of power, corruption, and enforced silence.”

Dmitry Samarov, in his review of the book for the Chicago Tribune says:

“Absurdity is piled upon absurdity, but none of it is taken as anything but a matter of course by anyone involved. There is a long tradition of this sort of storytelling in Russia. From Nikolai Gogol’s “The Overcoat” in pre-Soviet times to Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” and onward, writers have had to address the insanity of their society through indirect or fabulist means. “Fardwor” is no fairy tale. Kashin grounds his story in everyday reality. Karpov finds out his wife has left him because she has unfriended him on Facebook; the oligarch, Kirill, is named to head the organization charged with making the upcoming Olympics in Sochi a success.”

All sorts of strange madcappery goes on in this pages, yet this is a book where the author’s story is at least as interesting as the tale he tells in these pages. Kashin is a well known journalist and blogger who regularly writes about political issues in Russia. Shortly after turning the manuscript for this book in to his editor, he was severely beaten in what appears to be a politically motivated attack. This edition of the book comes with a thorough and engaging introduction to both the book and the author by Max Seddon, World Correspondent for BuzzFeed News. 

For more about Oleg Kashin’s story here check out Oleg Kashin’s Horrible Truth: A journalist is beaten nearly to death in Moscow. Is this a deliberate crackdown, or something more subtile — and more sinister?


Read Kashin’s open letter to Putin/Medvedev here

For extra credit, check out Like, share, tweet: Social media meets the Russian revolution.

Pick up a copy at Malvern today, and join us next Thursday to discuss (whether you’ve read it or not)!

Talking with Robert Jackson Bennett


Hello again! I’ve been busy not blogging. Busy doing what you might ask? Well, talking with Robert Jackson Bennett for one. Here’s the first half of our interview at Malvern Books for their Fantastical Fictions reading series. You can read a bit more about him and this event here. And, not to leave you hanging, here’s the link to the second half of the interview.

It was great fun discussing what goes into crafting great stories and creating imaginary worlds. Having read some of Bennett’s work I can vouch that he is excellent at both. 


His newest book, City of Miracles, is about to drop in May. It is the third book in his Divine Cities series (which means you have time to get up to speed with City of Stairs and City of Blades before spring). BTW, Malvern Books should still have some signed copies of City of Stairs and City of Blades.


If you’re looking for something a little more literary in the great American horror tradition, consider picking up a copy of American Elsewhere. 

“Mad and humorous, gory and poignant, American Elsewhere is a sort of mid-20th-century retelling of the embodiment of Lovecraftian Elder Gods by way of Alamogordo’s legendary atomic tests. It’s not to be missed.”  ―Seattle Times


Let’s see, what else? You can also check out my review of Room Magazine over at The Review Review.


And on the home (fiction) front, I’ll have a short story publication to announce soon. I have also finished a rather involved revision of a novella, which will be on it’s way to some lucky editor before the year is out. Then it is on to/back to ‘the novel.’ More about that in the next post – next Thursday.

See The Elephant Cover Reveal

My story, Fairview 619, is going to be in the fabulous See The Elephant magazine later this month. Check out this fantastic cover and peruse the table of contents here

Also, I’m delighted to announce that I have a brand new story, Hands of Burnished Bronze, that will be available for your listening pleasure later this year from PodCastle! This is one of the podcasts that I listen to regularly. I have heard so many wonderful stories here that I’m really over the moon about having one of my own join the ranks.

Just time for a quick update today. I’m mulling, outlining, and making some big changes to the novel. While doing that, I’m also revising a couple broken short stories that have been laying about too long. Time to get those puppies out the door. My submissions queue has gotten dangerously low. I’m getting lonely as I’m hardly receiving even one rejection per week.

Read Futile the Winds on Medium

Martian sunset. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL

What do Emily Dickinson and Mars have in common? This story. Futile the Winds previously appeared in Interzone, but since that is print only, I decided to put it up on Medium so that y’all can read it.

I came upon this poem towards the end of writing the first draft, and it guided my subsequent revisions. For me it is deeply, if somewhat invisibly itegrated with the final version of this story.

Wild nights – Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!


Futile – the winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!


Rowing in Eden –
Ah – the Sea!
Might I but moor – tonight –
In thee! 
P.S. I blogged about the way Kij Johnson used Shakespeare’s sonnet 116 in her excellent story, Spar. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what I thought.