Why am I so surprised? It’s flash. Yep, all of 650 words, soaking wet.
The story is called “Cold, Silent and Dark,” and I wrote it for Undercurrents, a sea monster-themed, charity anthology. If that sounds like your thing, the link is below. My publisher, Wordfire Press made the story available for the consideration of voting HWA members, but anyone else is welcome to read it, too.
“Cold, Silent, and Dark” is also eligible for the 2018 Hugo and Nebula Awards.
As you read it, I’d like to make a special request. Please don’t nominate the story because you like me or something else I’ve written, because I’m female, to piss someone off or because of what happened last year.
To my mind, there is only one valid reason to nominate something for a Hugo – because you love it.
Shattered Vessels, co-written with the talented Robert B Finegold, is a tale of love and loss, adventure and mysticism, and one too many knife fights. It will take you from ancient Assyria to the Pyrenees to modern day San Francisco.
The issue is free to read until the next issue goes live (at which point the link I’ve included will take you to Issue 20 or beyond).
2) Scroll down a little until you find The Best of Galaxy’s Edge (2013-2014) in the anthologies section.
3) Click “Publisher’s Direct EPUB” or “Publisher’s Direct MOBI” to put the ebook in your shopping cart.
4) Enter GE3E (for the EPUB) or GE3M (for the mobi) in the Discount Code box.
5) Viola! Free ebook!
6) The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a pink box at the top of the Phoenix Pick page. That’s a Pay What You Want (including nothing) deal on The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett, plus a cheap three-book bundle featuring more Brackett, Hal Clement, Fred Pohl and others. The bundle isn’t free, but it’s a great deal on some classic SF.
I love all of my stories, but Flight of the Kikayon is one of my favorites. It just went live as a podcast at StarShipSofa!
Kikayon is a sequel to Totaled, set some 200 years after Totaled ends. If you’ve read Totaled, you’ll notice similarities in the character choices, structure and motifs. (And if you haven’t read Totaled, they’re far enough apart that each one stands alone.)
Whip up your snack or beverage of choice and settle in for a good listen.
This one’s a novelette, so you’ll need about 40 minutes.
The illustration is by artist Megen Nelson. Stop by her website and check out her other work!
Sometimes you can get to know a whole town by understanding just one man. In the seaside village of Summerland, that man was Peyton Jain. Peyton was in his 60s, as best I could tell. His face was craggy and weathered, with a beard like sea foam on rocks and eyes of Poseidon’s blue.
Illustration for “Poseidon’s Eyes,” by Megen Nelson
Some folks thought of Peyton as a nuisance to be reported or a vagrant to be run off, but I knew different because it was Peyton who put me right with Summerland’s spirits. The locals have joked about spirits as long as anyone can remember, but it took the murder of the Kelly children to remind us just how real—and how powerful—the spirits could be.
Summerland sits like the Pythia over a cleft in the rock, soaking up the vapors of prophecy along with the California sunshine. Spiritualists started a commune here over a century ago. Egalitarians at heart, they outlawed money and divvied the land into tent-sized plots.
Oil—oil money, really—edged the Spiritualists out. Derricks took over the beach, and the Spiritualists’ canvas utopia turned into a shantytown for oil workers. My house was made from two of those oil shanties sandwiched together. The shanties had been built before electricity, so the wiring came up through holes in the floor, and the doorbell was an old ship’s bell, corroded green with salt and time.
The house had no foundation, just posts and piers and seven jacks. When the floor sagged, Peyton crawled beneath to twist the jacks until everything was more or less level. That was a blessing to me because I couldn’t abide the narrow crawlspace with earth pressing in around me and voiceless whispers winding snakelike over my skin.
The county said the whispers were nothing to worry about. Radon gas. Natural seepage. Buy a detector and install a fan. But radon doesn’t creep up through the floorboards in silver ribbons until it pools in the corners, like living smoke. Radon doesn’t whisper in the darkness like waves on sand.
In the next day or so, I will have a mini eARC for volume 31 of Writers of the Future to distribute to anyone who is willing to leave an honest review on launch day (or thereabouts).
Here are the deets:
Writers of the Future, Vol. 31
The mini eARC (PDF) will only have three or four of the stories in it. If you want to read them all, look for the mini eARCs being offered by some of my co-authors. Gotta catch ’em all!
The launch is scheduled for May the 4th. May the Fourth be with you! How awesome is that?
In your review, it’s fine to mention that you haven’t read all of the stories, and please do mention that you received a free sample copy.
If you want one, please say so in the comments. Once I’ve got the file, I’ll send it to the email address used for your comment. (In other words, don’t post your email in the comment itself. I can see it in the admin interface.)
If I get a lot of requests, please give me a day or two to get back to you.
If you buy the paper copy and we ever meet at a con or workshop (*ahem* Sasquan), I will be happy to sign it for you!
Oh, and here’s a plug for my story, POSEIDON’S EYES.
In a sleepy California beach town, spirits magnify both the good and the evil in human hearts.
ETA: I’ve also got two 99 cent sales for you! Mike Resnick’s Best of Galaxy’s Edge has 25 short stories in it, including my Hugo nominee, and Writers of the Future, Volume 29 (not the current volume) is also on sale. Grab them fast because I don’t know how long the sales will last.
Reminder: Comments are moderated, and may not appear in a timely fashion if I’m busy writing or away from my computer.
A few years ago, my sister was in a serious car accident with her two boys in the car. It was raining, and she hydroplaned on standing water that had pooled in the low spot of a cloverleaf on-ramp. Her Ford Explorer got tangled up in the gap between a truck and a trailer, then she skidded off the road into a tree. Nobody was injured, but the accident totaled her Explorer.
Totaled, by Kary English
The totaled car got me thinking. What if a person could be totaled? What if medical expenses could be reckoned against earning potential the way repair costs are weighed against the value of car? It’s a dystopian question about trying to determine the value of a human life in dollars and cents.
Then my writing mentor, David Farland, nearly lost his son in a longboarding accident. Ben’s recovery has been little short of miraculous, but the medical expenses almost bankrupted Dave. That brought me back to the essential tension between health insurance and the value of a human life. The story doesn’t answer the question; it engages the question.
But what about the speculative element? It’s not a sci-fi story without a speculative element! My geeky love of all things SF goes back to the Golden Era when brains in jars tottered around on spidery, metal legs. Huzzah! Spec element acquired! TOTALED would be a brain in a jar story.
Sonicated microparticle oxygenation (say it three times fast!) is a real thing that’s already saving lives, though I advanced the technology far beyond what’s possible today. I also know a thing or two about cognitive science and fMRIs, so it wasn’t too difficult to weave those things together. No, the difficult thing was something else entirely.
I’d been invited to submit a story to Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, and he’d given me a limit of 4,000 words. 4k? Ouch. My natural length for shorts is nearly double that, but I bit the bullet and wrote the story in exactly 4,000 words. Success? Nope. The story was flawed, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. Frustrated, I shipped it off to Writers of the Future for a cooling off period. It earned an Honorable Mention, a low showing for me after a semi and two finalists, so while I’m not knocking HMs, mine confirmed for me that the story was broken. Fortunately, now I knew why. The story had to be longer, and Maggie’s decline needed to be more visible and more poignant.
Cackling like a mad scientist, I cracked the story open and added a thousand words to the second half. Writing Maggie’s decline was difficult and intricate, like placing tiles in a mosaic. Each word had to be exactly right or the technique I was using would look like a jumble of typos and bad grammar instead of a deliberate device. I’d say more, but I’m avoiding spoilers. Suffice it to say that Maggie’s decline is the most difficult thing I’ve ever written.
Satisfied with my work, I stitched the patient back up and sent it off to Mike, fervently hoping that I hadn’t earned myself an auto-reject by exceeding his wordcount. I got my answer in just a few days. Mike loved TOTALED, and he said such nice things about it at the V30 Writers of the Future reception that I had to excuse myself to go cry in the ladies’ room.