According to His Substance

My short story, According to His Substance, is now available from Amazon.com as the lead story in Brave Boy World, an anthology from Pink Narcissus Press. The story originally appeared in my story collection, Snapshots From A Black Hole & Other Oddities.

brave-boy-cover-low-res_origAccording to His Substance examines identity and our need for redemption. To what lengths would you go to to be the person you believe you are?  What are the costs of redemption?  Can it be achieved if you have wronged a crowd of people? And if you were given a second chance, would you have sufficient courage to try to make things right?

I’m rather pleased with this story and grateful to Michael Takeda, editor of the anthology, for his faith in my work. Thank you, Michael.

The book looks fantastic; I am so pleased to be a part of it!  And faithful readers – I hope you enjoy the story!

Little Green Guys!

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I opened today’s mail and found contributor copies of Little Green Men – Attack!, a Baen Books anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Robin Wayne Bailey.

My story, Little Green Guys, an homage to one of my favorite story-tellers,  Damon Runyon, shares the TOC with fantastic (and funny) company.

The book goes on sale March 7 and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon Books.  Thank you, Bryan and Robin! The whole thing looks great!

And faithful readers – I hope you have fun reading all the stories!

A Quiet Shelter There

Come to Istanbul, where determined cats find an unlikely ally to rally the neighborhood before the next earthquake. Spend a day with the first dog. Travel with a man and a polar bear as they outsmart trolls who have overstayed their welcome. Walk with a blind hacker and his seeing-eye miniature horse as they take on a job that may be more than what it seems. Marvel at the price paid to make a mute dragon speak. Visit a nursing care facility, where the resident cat does far more than just lounge in the sunshine.

All are stories from A Quiet Shelter There, a new anthology published by Hadley Rille Books and edited by Gerry Leen. The collection is dedicated to the cause of homeless animals. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of Homeless Animals rescue services in Virginia. I’m pleased and proud that my story, Kindred Souls, is a part of it.  Check it out.

Here’s a taste of Kindred Souls:

Ten p.m. Friday. A sudden April thunderstorm. Home from her campus office, Dorothea Packer pushes the remote for the garage door and discovers the power’s knocked out. Lightning strobes in the distance, thunder rumbles a reply, as she leaves her little Chevrolet in the driveway and hurries across the wet concrete to the front door.

She begins the three-step climb; one she has made so many times before. On the first step, her cell phone rings. Juggling her briefcase, purse, and key ring, she reaches for the phone – in its special pocket on the purse.

It’s probably Jeffrey, her middle child. Her worrier. She wonders if she should change her ring tone, for Bad To The Bone has grown old so very fast. She pinches the phone between her thumb and index finger, already considering her words.

And misjudges the distance between the middle and top step.

No sense of falling, no notion of injury. One instant she’s reaching for the phone, the next she’s on her back at the bottom of the steps. Her glasses have fallen off; her briefcase, purse, phone and keys have dropped away. And it begins to rain again.

As she lay there, out of breath, that television commercial comes to mind, the one with the woman who whines, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” For an instant, Dorothea worries one of her neighbors might have seen her take the tumble.

Then the practical part of her – the engineer – kicks in. “Silly fool,” she mutters. “Be embarrassed later. You’ll catch pneumonia, if you don’t get up off the concrete, find your keys and get inside.”

She turns her head, first right and then left, looking for her glasses. Everything is fuzzy. Dim and out of focus. Then she spots the glasses, just outside the deeper shadows of the shrubs that line her porch. She touches them with outstretched fingers – and sends them skittering out of reach.

She tries again, but still can’t reach them. Time to stop fiddling. She needs to get inside, dry off, and pour a snifter of brandy – the Metaxa Amphora Seven Star Richard brought home from Greece five years ago.

The phone blares the opening riff of Bad To The Bone once more. Dorothea rolls onto her side to reach the phone – tries to roll, that is – and shrieks at the unexpected stabbing pain in her hip and lower back.

Now was the time to call for aid.

“Help me,” she shouts. “Someone help me.” Her cries are muffled, as if she’s covered by some sort of blanket. As she calls, her throat soon grows hoarse from the effort.

Wasted effort, too, for no one answers.

She sprawls there on her back, her face turned toward the house. The phone rings a third time. She can see it light up, laying there just out of reach, but she can’t move the inch she needs to answer it. As her clothing and her hair soak up the icy rain, she begins to shiver.

She tries to roll again, tries, and almost bites her lip off as the pain returns. She’s certain she will faint. As the world grays out around her, dark and indistinct shapes creep from beneath the shrubbery and steps. Dorothea tries to scream – and wakes up in her bed at the rehabilitation center.

Snapshots from A Black Hole & Other Oddities

This has been a week of firsts for me.  Completion of my first novel deal, for Lifting Up Veronica, and now I’m pleased to announce that my first collection of short stories, Snapshots from A Black Hole & Other Oddities, will be published in November by Tod McCoy’s Hydra House Books.

The book features twenty four stories, eighteen previously published and six brand new tales.

The inimitable Cat Rambo is editor, and the book features a kick-ass cover by Seattle artist Christopher Sumption. Plans are for a launch at Orycon November 11, 2011, in Portland. Hope to see you there.

A review from Diabolical Plots

Frank Dutkiewicz, over at Diabolical Plots, reviewed the Writers of the Future 26 anthology last week and he had some nice things to say about Coward’s Steel.

The author wove a subtle puzzle within this finely crafted tale. The mystery of the old woman fades then returns later into the story. Tate is successfully cast as a loner who is destined to live in misery, even when opportunities for a comfortable and content life are presented to her.

The villagers of Providence have done as well as a community weathering a global collapse can do. Outsiders are trouble and are dealt with harshly but those asking for help are never turned away. Tate finds friendship and love in the village but Jolene’s voice from the past warns Tate to not get used to it.

The story is well done but a downer. I liked it but it left me bummed out in the end.

Grade B+

Thanks, Frank!

WOTF 26 on the way

The Writers of the Future 26 anthology (my story, Coward’s Steel, is in it) is available for pre-order at Amazon.  The official publication date is August 28.

It seems as if I’ve been waiting for this forever.  I submitted the story at the end of December 2008, found out I was one of the first quarter 2009 winners in May 2009.  So it has been over 18 months.

I’m still pumped about this one, though. It was my first professional-rates sale.  If you decide to check it out, enjoy.

March 1st is upon us

To paraphrase Don McLean, February made me shiver, with every word that I delivered.

Well actually, it didn’t.  The weather has been oh, so mild in these parts.  In the low sixties today.  But the writing scene has been sort of chilly.

The writing progresses steadily — up to almost 27,000 words now — but not a word on the pieces I have out.

I add to the pile, though.  I’ve sent The Night Bus Doesn’t Stop Downtown on Mondays Anymore out into the cold to knock on doors, along with A Very Narrow Bridge, my fourth completed story for the year.  It’s an alternate worlds story set in Seattle.  That went to Scheherazade’s Facade, an anthology due out in October.

For those of you who are attending, I’ll be at Potlatch 19 next week-end and I’ve been invited to Norwescon 33 as a participating professional.  That will be the first weekend in April.

That’s it for now.  I’m off to drive my Chevy to the levee.

This and that

  • The check was in the mail today from Analog (Dell Publications, actually) for Flotsam.  Still no word on publication date, but then that’s from another office.  I’m ever so pleased with the payment,  and I’m excited about the sale; but the numbers on the check — $360 — show why a writer can’t make a living selling genre fiction.   Even so, Analog!  Woot!
  • The Best of Everyday Fiction Two is on the shelf now.  I have four stories in it — I Must to the Barber’s Chair, In His PrimeOh, Woman of Easy Virtue and Upon The Doorsteps.  The title is linked.  Check it out; you won’t be sorry.   It’s a great collection from a great publication.  Congratulations, Camille.  You’ve hit a home run again.
  • I’m on target for 150, 000 words this year. 14,500 since January 1 and three short stories completed — Crossing the Barrens, a westernesque fantasy that features a medicine show with God as its chief shill; Cretaceous on Ice, a tongue-in-cheek eccentric inventor tale that feels a lot like the SF stories I grew up with, and The Night Bus Doesn’t Stop Downtown on Mondays, Anymore, a moody bit of flash fiction set in Seattle.  The first two are already in the mail.  I’m still polishing Night Bus.

The Best of Every Day Fiction 2009

Managing Editor Camille Gooderham Campbell e-mailed me yesterday to let me know four of my five flash fiction stories published at Every Day Fiction during the magazine’s second year (September 1, 2008 to August 31, 2009) will be included in The Best of Every Day Fiction 2009.

They aren’t a thing alike.

I Must to the Barber’s Chair is a gentle love story.  It appeared the first day of the publishing year — September 1.  In His Prime (October 16) is speculative fiction, a time-travel story involving one of boxing’s most famous champions. Oh, Woman of Easy Virtue (November 21) is a snarky bit of whimsical word play.  Upon the Doorsteps (January 22 — my birthday) is a somber mother-daughter encounter that just might be a ghost story.

I love each one and each for a different reason.  And I’m so pleased they appeared at Every Day Fiction.

Thank you, Camille.