Doomsday & Daddy’s Girl

Sale announcements! Woo!

I recently sold my apocalyptic/parallel universe/love story, ‘Doomsday in Springtime’ to Galaxy’s Edge. I wrote this flash story several years ago and it’s always been a surreal little piece of my heart, so I’m delighted it finally found such a great home.

And I’m now free to announce that ‘Daddy’s Girl’ will be appearing in the Robots and Artificial Intelligence anthology from Flame Tree Press. This is this story’s third sale, although its previous outings were online and in audio, so it’ll be lovely to have it in beautiful hardcover format alongside a wondrous lineup of fellow contributors. Check out the fabulous list on Flame Tree’s blog.

It’s also my first-ever sale to a British market, which has long been a goal of mine. There’s something special about selling a story in my own country (and whoa, getting paid in my own currency… fancy that). The anthologies that Flame Tree produce are beautiful books, and I couldn’t be happier for one of my stories to have found a home here. It’s due for publication in September, with pre-orders available from August. Watch this space for updates!

 

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Artemis Rising

Earlier this month, I got to host an episode of PodCastle for their annual Artemis Rising event. I’ve been an associate editor (slushing, proofreading) there since January 2017. It’s so great to experience the other side of the editorial process, and the PodCastle team are a magnificent bunch of people to work with.

But this was the first time I’ve been out there in front of our audience. Eep. The story I hosted (‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby) was my favourite from the Artemis Rising call (and its sister stories – one released each week in March – are all amaaaazing, so this is high praise indeed). It was an honour to be able to introduce it and share my thoughts on what I loved about it.

You can listen to the episode here, where the story is also available in full in text format.

PodCastle Episode 512 – ‘Scar Clan’, by Carrow Narby

Enjoy. 🙂

Why We Write

It’s been a scary year. The events of the past three weeks have felt like some kind of demon cherry on top of a glut of instability and fear-mongering. No one can know for sure what happens next, but the signs point to very unsettling possibilities.

I’ve seen all kinds of reactions from the writing community, ranging from dearths of creativity to fierce rallying cries. All those reactions are valid. Personally, I’ve been somewhere in the middle.

But it’s all got me thinking about the power of what we do. Writing is art, it’s communication, it’s portrayal of the world. It can be used for wondrous ends and horrendous ones. You’ve only got to look at the average British tabloid to see ample evidence of the latter. In many ways, those examples make it all the more encumbent on the rest of us writers to balance the scale in the other direction.

We write to process our thoughts and our ideas. We write to work through past hurts and present difficulties. We write to explore possibilities, to warn of dangers and to sow our hopes. Speculative fiction does this in ways other genres can’t, because it isn’t restricted to the world as we know it. Its scope extends to the futuristic, the fantastic, the alternative… with all of those things we can explore ‘what ifs’ and share visions of things that haven’t yet happened or delve into human nature from entirely new perspectives. The blog post I wrote on the importance of science fiction amply describes my thoughts on why it matters.

Our writing can draw attention to world issues by portraying them, veiled or openly, through the viewpoints of our characters. In doing this, we’re taking ideas beyond the factual, beyond informative articles and projections, and actually turning them into real-life situations. We only truly relate to these things by empathising with others going through them, and fiction provides that empathy in a way no other medium can. When I show what my persecuted refugee character is feeling, I enable my readers to connect with her and others like her. When I show how my rebel protagonist stands up against her totalitarian government, I enable readers to experience her anger and determination to put things right. When I show my alien character struggling to overturn her species’ discrimination against humans, I hope readers will see parallels in the way we continue to treat those we deem ‘inferior’.

Fiction is a reflection of its era, and the one we’re in now is rife with pitfalls and possibilities that we need to investigate. We need to explore the dangers through story before it’s too late for empathy. We need to show the bright alternatives before we’ve steered our path too far away from them. We need to work through our own fears, putting them into words both as catharsis and signpost.

This is why stories matter. This is why our society needs them more than ever.

This is why we write.

Deep Magic – Out Now!

The August edition of speculative e-magazine, Deep Magic, is now live. It features, among a fabulous table of contents, my story ‘Her Glimmering Facade’. It also has gorgeous cover art. Just look at it!

Deep Magic - August 2016 by [Brown, John D, Thompson, Eldon, Russell, Josi, Power, Stephen S, Tahmaseb, Charity, Powers, Beth, Wood, Eleanor]

This story is sort of a sci-fi mystery. It has twists and turns and tragedy… and I really can’t say much more about it without ruining the plot. Usually I’ll summarise a story’s theme in one of these announcements, but even that would be giving things away. Hopefully that fills you with desperate intrigue and a need to know more… If not, the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon gives you the first few hundred words of the story before the preview cuts out (as well as the entirety of Stephen S. Power’s ‘The Catskill Dragon’), so go and read it for a taster if you’d like.

Deep Magic has recently relaunched after a ten-year hiatus, so it’s great to see another pro speculative fiction market back in action. Go send them some love and a few quid, and pick up what looks to be a terrific read.

All purchasing options are on their site – check it out!

 

 

Anthologies Still Abounding!

This year’s Campbell Anthology is here! Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors is now available to download for free, for a limited time only. This amazing collection of stories features 120 authors and over a million words of SF&F short fiction. It will only be available until the end of March, so grab it while you can!

 

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is an annual award given to the best new writer whose first professionally published science fiction or fantasy work has appeared in the previous two years. It’s nominated and chosen at the same time as the Hugo awards, and announced at each year’s Worldcon. I’m in my second (and final) year of eligibility following my first professional sale (my story ‘Daddy’s Girl’, to Crossed Genres) in 2014.

Up and Coming contains three of my previously published stories: ‘Daddy’s Girl’, ‘Pawprints in the Aeolian Dust’, and ‘Fibonacci’. Those three little stories are in some incredible company, with works from some of the most happening FSF writers in the field. I’m delighted to be sharing a table of contents with these talented people, among whom is my dear friend Emma Osborne, who’s also in her second year of Campbell eligibility.

Click on that link and download yourself a mindblowing collection of fiction that’ll cost you absolutely nothing and provide you with reading material for months. If you have an active Worldcon membership, you can nominate and vote, and if you don’t, you can get a taste of what’s happening in the marvellous world of today’s speculative fiction.

In years to come, you can say you saw it here first.

 

 

Anthologies Abound!

First up in anthology news, Flash Fiction Online’s 2015 anthology, featuring my story ‘Fibonacci’, is now available! It contains over thirty stories by a wide variety of authors, all available for the price of a cup of coffee, or a large portion of chips, or a jar of Marmite, or an average-price greetings card. You know, whatever you’d usually spend a couple of quid on. I’m currently reading the anthology, and it’s fabulous. Such a wonderful range of stories! And as they’re all 1000 words or fewer, it’s so easy to dip in and read a quick story when you’ve got a spare five minutes. I’m having a lot of fun working my way through them all, and I highly recommend the read.

Secondly, Hear Me Roar, which includes my story ‘The Fruits of Revolution’, is a finalist for the Aurealis Award for Best Anthology! Very exciting… can’t wait for the results on the 25th of March. If you haven’t yet grabbed yourself a copy and want to find out why it’s a deserving finalist, all Ticonderoga paperbacks are currently 20% off when ordered through their site. It’s also available via Amazon (Kindle and paperback), Barnes & Noble (Nook and paperback) and Book Depository.

So what are you waiting for? Go treat yourself to a couple of awesome story collections already! And enjoy the wild ride.

 

Happy 2016 to All

Here we are again, at another of those yearly roundups. When I look back on my previous ones, all I can do is smile. My writing progress has remained steady and on an upward trajectory, and that’s really all I can ask for.

I sold four stories in 2015, and all four were published the same year. Two of them went to semi-pro markets, and two to pro markets. One of those semi-pros was my first paperback publication, in Liz Grzyb’s awesome anthology, Hear Me Roar. The other, Sci Phi Journal, featured my dear, departed dog in its cover art. Seriously, wow. I wouldn’t have believed either of those things this time last year.

As for the two pro sales, both are freely available online in excellent magazines, and oddly, both are stories I wasn’t convinced would sell. ‘Flare’ had a couple of personal rejections that made me doubt whether I was hitting the right mark, but Urban Fantasy Magazine sent me a lovely, encouraging rewrite request and swiftly bought the revised version.

The other pro sale was my final publication of 2015, and appeared in Flash Fiction Online last month. ‘Fibonacci’ is an experimental sci-fi story that got in my head and drove me crazy. It’s under 1000 words long, but it is the most difficult story I’ve written to date. Not only did I set myself the insane challenge of structuring the whole piece around the Fibonacci sequence, I also gave myself a strict word limit (it had to be flash) and a complex, science-driven story. It needed both plot and character arcs. It had to be a proper, fully-fledged story and not just a gimmick. But once the idea got in my head it wouldn’t let me go, and after what felt like a wordsmithery wrestling match, I tackled it into submission and ended up with something I could actually be proud of. It got picked up on its second sub, and I’m delighted it found such a well-renowned home. Its December publication was a lovely way to round out the year, and left me on a momentum high that I fully intend to keep going.

I wrote five meaty short stories and a good chunk of my novel-in-progress. I critiqued a whole bunch of pieces for fellow writers, and established some great writing friendships this year. I discovered some terrific new markets. I joined Codex. I submitted stories 42 times and received 4 acceptances (nearly ten percent! Woo!).

Yep. It’s been a great year. I plan to carry its positivity into 2016 and watch all kinds of new wonders appear.

May all my fellow writers and readers have a magnificent year ahead!