Suddenly Free Fiction

Mike Allen has posted five stories from Clockwork Phoenix 5 online for free. Including my own contribution to the volume: “The Wind at His Back.”

I’ve already talked about this story, so I’ll keep things short. Set in what I’ve been calling the Tallverse – a weird western world where tall tales and folklore are real – this is the story of Benito Aguilar, small town sheriff and former tornado wrangler who just wants to live a simple, happy life with his husband Casey. It’s a story about living with your past, about the strength of acceptance and community. It also has tween giants and snakes that put themselves back together and magic fruit trees and storms with souls.

And now, you can read it start to finish all for free. So if you’ve got a second, click on through and take a look.

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All The News

And into the void that is my blog updating schedule, lo there were a bunch of things to update (some of which may not be a surprise if you’ve been checking my bibliography page), so let’s dive in:

Almost available for your greedy reading needs:

I was lucky enough to make the cut for Clockwork Phoenix 5 (pre-order info at the link). As usual, I’ll probably wax on aspects of it more when it’s alive-alive, but for those keeping track, this is the third story set in the “Tall” universe. This time out, we’re tackling exactly what being a twister-wrangling Pac really entails. Also, tortured pasts and giants and magic trees because it wouldn’t be a Tall story without them.

Plus: men kissing and maybe doing a little more than kissing.

CP5 already has a starred review from Publishers Weekly. It even mentions my little story by name, which was extra nice.

If you’re a Goodreads person, you can also enter the giveaway for one of 12 copies of the book if you want to devour all the weird goodness for free.

Waiting in the wings for your greedy audio needs:

I just signed the contract for another story sale, this time to YA podcast Cast of Wonders. In a shocking turn of events, this story isn’t set in the world of any of my other stories. I know: a standalone? What new terrifying reality is this?

Don’t worry, dear hearts. It’s not quite the unrecognizable alien landscape you fear it to be. There’s still supernatural whatsis and boys kissing, so you needn’t worry I’ve completely lost my senses.

I’m excited to see this one, since it’s literally the oldest story I’ve written that I was still trying to get published.

Nope. Not finished yet.

I also had some roller-coaster-y excitement last week, when it turns out I made the shortlist for The James White Award, presented to one ‘non-professional’ writer as part of the BSFA award ceremony.

Ultimately I didn’t win, but making it to a final cut of 6 from a pool of around 350 entries was nothing to shrug at.

So, what’s new with you?

It’s Been a While (Story News)

Longer nattering later, but in an effort to take advantage of the date of debut: news! I have a story live today over at Escape Pod! Huzzah!

My favorite part about skimming is that I’m not broken when I do it. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have levels, that I’m on or off, because that’s how everything’s supposed to be when you’re in the hypernet. Even if I’m not supposed to be in the hypernet.

“Broken” is another story of The Rim. Like “Detritus” and “At Her Fingertips,” this one stands on its own, though you’ll likely begin seeing patterns if you’ve read the other two.

This is a slightly quieter story than the previous two, I think, though it’s filled with its own kind of chaos. Sy is a young man possessed of extraordinary talents and equally extraordinary challenges. As usual, I’ll likely have more to say in a few days, but for now, I’ll boil it down like I did for ye newe Twitter: hacked genes, hacked code, hacked minds, and shredded hearts.

You can read it in text or listen to audio at the above link, or you can download to your favorite podcast app and listen to it that way.

A New Pub Creeps up on You

Today’s the day. The Sockdolager is live with my story, “Hide Behind.”

I’ll have more to say later, but for now, the short version: “Hide Behind” is set in the same world as “Tall,” an American West where folklore is fact.

Meet Hayashi Yuna, a frontier doctor struggling to unlock the secrets of a preternatural tree alongside her research partner, Ruthie. When a local giant is murdered, the struggle to unravel buried secrets becomes far more immediate, and the potential consequences far deadlier.

You can read the story free online here. If you’re inclined to buy a copy from the wonderful folks at The Sockdolager who took a chance on it (and why wouldn’t you be?), here’s links to a bunch of different options:

Amazon
DRM-free
In that old fashioned print thingee

You can also subscribe to The Sockdolager over on their site. Today is the day of options, I tell you.

This story isn’t a sequel. More of a meanwhile somewhere else. Having read “Tall” might make you more familiar with a world building element or two, but you absolutely don’t need to have read “Tall” to understand “Hide Behind.” (though if you’d like to, the collection it’s in is still available).

News-ish News

I’ll update with more specifics when things are sorted, but I wanted to pop in to let my three readers know: just signed the contract for another short story sale!

In the nigh-ish future, you’ll be seeing more of my nattering over at The Sockdolager. This time around, it’s not another Detritus story, though it is another sandbox I’ve played in before. The new story takes place in the same “tall tales and folklore come to life” world as “Tall” (in the Twice Upon a Time anthology).

As with the Detritus stuff, this story is a stand alone, though, with all new characters. No prior story reading required. It was just too fun a world not to play in again.

More details when I have them, but I figure it never hurts to dribble a little hype when it’s available. Also: it’s always exciting to share a sale.

Sense8: Bedroom Backflip

I’m only about halfway through Sense8, the new Wachowski / Straczynski Netflix series, so I’m not going to say too terribly much about it yet. Since all the episodes are available, it seems a better idea for me to finish the binge and see how all the crazy-making does or does not hold together in the final analysis.

I am, however, thus far pleased that the show has done the thing that got me to buy in on How to Get Away with Murder. Namely, starting things off by making its LGBT characters the ones shouldering the bulk of the sexy time.

More than that, though, up until the middle of the series, the two LGBT couples are also doing the heavy romantic lifting. At series start, there’s only one heterosexual long-term pairing in the 8 leads, and that one isn’t what I’d call stable and supportive in the way the two gay pairings are.

This is changing as the show’s progressing, as well it should. I’m not interested in suddenly chastity-belting the straight characters as some kind of weird sexual payback for series past. It is, however, refreshing that the people we’re waiting to find love interests for are the straight people, when generally LGBT characters languish off to the side until after Tumblr has had a season or two to lament a lack of significant others through the time-tested use of animated GIFs.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I’ve seen it all, but that element, at least, was stand out enough that I thought it worth mentioning on its own.

Jumping at Shadows

Friend from college and writer of scary stuff Amanda Hard is celebrating National Short Story Month by reviewing / recommending a short story a day. I’m not nearly so ambitious, but her recent entry on a Ray Bradbury story, particularly her mention of the masterful way Bradbury builds tension and dread, instantly brought to mind my own favorite example of Bradbury’s atmosphere / dread-building abilities: “The Whole Town’s Sleeping.”

The story is, honestly, kind of plotless: young woman and friends find dead body, hear about a serial killer, go to the movies, then young woman walks home alone. In terms of “what actually happens,” that’s really what it boils down to. There aren’t aliens or ghosts or monsters or even an on-screen appearance of this rumored serial killer.

And it scared the living hell out of me.

Part of this is Bradbury playing with my expectations. He put the gun on the table, as it were, when he showed me a body and mentioned a killer. I was waiting for it to go off.

But beyond that, or perhaps intertwined with it, Bradbury slowly indoctrinates me with the creeping paranoia building in his POV character (Lavinia). I’m sure Lavinia is safe at first. After all, this is just the beginning. I laugh off the false threats as she encounters them, because, well, I knew those were coming, surely?

Then, of course, I’ve bought in. Because my responses echo Lavinia’s, I’ve become sympathetic even without realizing it. And so as her paranoia builds, so does mine.

As the story builds, I’m not just waiting for something to happen. I’m actively dreading it. Honestly, the last third or so of this story is me as a reader doing the equivalent of the “turn around he’s right behind you!” flailing that you do watching a thriller movie.

Except I can’t see anyone behind Lavinia any better than she can. Everything is built with atmosphere and dread and expectation, and every damn step that young woman takes on the way home is worse than the last for all that nothing goes wrong and nothing goes wrong and…

I literally flinched and sucked in a frightened breath at the end of the story. I had to put the book down (I read this one in Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales). And turn on all the lights in the apartment. And put a comedy on the television.