. . . The Worlds of Science, Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Vol. 2 for my short story “Sanguine.” This is an Australian anthology edited by Robert N. Stephenson, the second in a series of two so far. It all came together very tightly. My copy of Volume 1 (pictured here) had just arrived on my doorstep when I heard back from Robert that he was buying “Sanguine” for Volume 2. So an all-round good day for Worlds of SF, F & H. “Sanguine” itself is a 10,000-word science fiction tale revolving around blood as a nutritional source for two alien hemovore races. Sounds like a vampire story, but it isn’t. Nothing supernatural about this clash of cultures. Because of the way supply-and-demand works, there arise viable employment opportunities for humans to serve as sangreanos — blood donors — on these alien ships. Walking food sources, you might say. However, it’s politically controversial. Rightist, hawkish factions among the local human colonists think selling blood is a pandering to alien tastes — literally — when a good war would be a better solution. So this is the backdrop of the story, and the main character, Venda Senjak, is dumped into the middle of it when she accepts a post as sangreano handler on a hemovore ship. And the situation keeps getting more and more complicated.
The story in Volume 1, “Pale as the Noonday Sun,” is not about hemovores and sangreanos, but it is about a clash of cultures, this time between humans and a dominant saurian senient race. The viewpoint character is a velociraptor-ish species who is very full of himself as the biggest and the baddest. Then he encounters a human on the run from bounty hunters, and the two discover they have more in common than they’d ever dreamed possible. You can find “Pale as the Noonday Sun” here on Amazon.
My story “Tearcatcher” has been published in the Whortleberry Press anthology Strange Mysteries 6, edited by Jean Goldstrom and Tim Tobin. This is another Justin Tyme tale with the same characters from “Up on the Housetop, Gargoyle Paws” that appeared last summer. The inspriration for “Tearcatcher” was an antiques show where I encountered a mysterious silver vial. The dealer proceeded to explain that it was used during Victorian times to store the tears shed during the mourning period. I’ve encountered a lot of strange implements used by the Victorians, but this tearcatcher was new to me. So I went home and wrote a story about it, also working in a Rasputin reference because what doesn’t go better with a little Rasputin thrown in? I have one more of these antique-based Justin Tyme stories written, and a whole list of ideas that I want to eventually write with titles such as “Drapes of Wrath” and “Meissen Men.” With a main character named Justin Tyme, the puns tend to be an integral part of these stories.
Strange Mysteries 6 can be found at http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/jean-goldstrom/strange-mysteries-6/paperback/product-22189159.html
My story “Firemage” just appeared in print in Wee Tales Volume 2, which is –as it sounds — a publication aimed at a younger audience. This experience was different for me in two ways: speed and audience. I heard back from the publisher, Golden Fleece Press, on April 5th that they want to buy this story. Production happened immediately and the book appeared later that same month on Amazon. And this is my first published story aimed at a younger audience. Because I’m writing more adult sci fi and horror these days, I tend to forget that I have a backlog of perfectly good younger stories in the inventory. This sale is a reminder to polish up those older younger tales and send them off to age-appropriate markets.
Wee Tales Volume 2 can be found at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1511621087.
I seem to be starting 2015 off on the right foot — I’ve already sold two stories. Of course, it helped that I finished 2014 with 23 stories still out there in submissions. The first story is “Piles of Angels,” which was bought by Sci Phi Journal, an “online science fiction and philosophy magazine. In each issue you will find stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes.” Interesting meld, and my story about a fallen god forced to live in hiding in Scotland seemed to fit the “deep philosophical water.” You can read more about the journal at http://www.sciphijournal.com/.
The second story was one of the “Luke Among the Lizards” stories where a student away for college — far away. Across the quadrant to a venerable saurian university. The story “Aqua Equal” deals with his arriving at the dorm and not knowing what’s what in this non-human culture. The story was bought by Third Flatiron Anthologies for their “Only Disconnect” issue coming out in June, 2015. (http://www.thirdflatiron.com/liveSite/)
So that’s two for 2015, and I still have 21 submissions out there.
Last week I had the pleasant surprise of royalty at my door . . . well, in my mailbox, actually. No, it wasn’t a grand duke stuck in the letterbox, but a royalty check. It seems that Sword and Sorceress 27 has paid out its expenses and is now distributing a percentage of sales back to the contributing authors of the anthology. This has always been a good thing in the writing universe but is even better now in this age of ebooks that never go out of print. I can look forward to royalties on every copy of vol. 27 that sells from now until eternity. There’s also a intriguing footnote. I not only contributed to volume 27 of Sword and Sorceress, but also to volumes 25, 26, 28, and 29. Sounds like more grand duke in the letterbox to me.
The anthology These Vampires Don’t Sparkle from Sky Warrior Book Publishing is now available in paperback and ebook editions. My contribution to the anthology is “Safe Haven,” a story about friendship. The fact that one of the friends happens to be Undead seeking his own kind makes this also a vampire story, but at core it’s still all about friendship. It also has a strong art component in that one of the characters is an artist who needs to rely on his talent to save the day when all else fails. This is the first Chapman story to make it into print, even though I’ve been writing about Chapman and his vampiric buddy Foxfire for literally decades. In fact, I wrote the first version of this story, called at that time “The Dog and the Dead,” in the 90’s. This later “Safe Haven” incarnation is a much stronger tale. These Vampires Don’t Sparkle is available on Amazon here.
At the beginning of August, another anthology hit the market. The book is Strangely Funny II from Mystery and Horror, LLC, and the story is “Up on the Housetop, Gargoyle Paws.” It is, as one might guess, a humorous interaction with gargoyles, specifically the gargoyles of the Biltmore mansion in Asheville, NC. Strangely Funny II can be found on Amazon in both paperback and ebook editions (and be careful typing “strangely” or it comes out “strangle” with an entirely different type of book) at http://www.amazon.com/Strangely-Funny-II-Jonathan-Shipley-ebook/dp/B00M8QEEVK
The other happy news is about another short story sale, this one to Our World of Horror, an anthology of modern day terror from Eldritch Press. The story is “Demon in the Congregation” with Chapman and everybody’s favorite demon Soulstalker. I’ve been writing about Chapman in stories and novels since 1990, and this story was finished in 2005. It sold once before in 2010, but that anthology folded without seeing print. Coincidentally, an earlier sale this year was another, even older Chapman story, so the poor, demon-possessed kid is finally going public with two stories this year.
First time I’ve had the experience of a whole cluster of my anthologies hitting the bookstores within a few weeks of each other. Cluster is in this case means three, and because each one is very different in genre from its siblings, these should appeal to a wide range of reading tastes. Most recent to appear is Tales of the Black Arts: A Sword and Sorcery Anthology from Hazardous Press. These are fantasy tales of wizards and warriors, possibly with a dark fantasy slant. I don’t know for sure because my copy hasn’t arrived yet, but the title seems on the dark side. My story “Flames of Madness” is definitely a little dark as it deals with the connection between magic and madness. Tales of the Black Arts is available in Kindle and paperback versions at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692223452. Madness is also the center of the plot in “Perfect Memory,” my story in Trust and Treachery: Tales of Power and Intrigue from Dark Quest. These tales are described as “stories that will linger in your mind,” which is ironic, considering my story tracks the descent of someone losing his memory after a treacherous encounter. This book is available in paperback at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937051919. And rounding this trio of delights is World Weaver Press’s anthology Far Orbits: Speculative Space Adventures with my story “Charnelhouse.” Yes, with a story title like that, how can this plot be anything but dark? But it also has its funny moments. The anthology itself is solidly science fiction for all of you sci-fi readers out there. It comes in Kindle and paperback editions at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JSKGR6Y. So a little something for everyone this summer.
I just heard back from editor Elisabeth Waters of the Sword & Sorceress series, and it’s a yes to my submission for Volume 29. This makes five years running that I’ve sold to Sword & Sorceress, one of the premier fantasy anthologies. The story, “Dead Hand of the Past,” continues the adventures of Jenna the tavern wench turned exorcist who was also the subject of last year’s story “Dead Salt” and the year before that with “Grave Gold.” If you notice a certain pattern to the titles, remember the protagonist talks to ghosts, and the plots necessarily revolve around dead people. This year I debated whether to continue with another Jenna story, but the debate is over for a while. This third story has spawned related ideas for a fourth and fifth story for the next two volumes of the anthology. The new Sword & Sorceress 29 will be published as print and ebook in November of 2014.
On May 10, 2014, the winners of the Bram Stoker Awards for works published in 2013 were announced at the World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon. The awards have been presented by the Horror Writers Association since 1987. Stephen King won “Superior Achievement in a Novel” with Doctor Sleep (Scribner), but that’s not what grabbed my attention. In the category “ Superior Achievement in an Anthology,” the winner was . . . After Death (Dark Moon Books). That’s one of my anthologies with my short story “Like a Bat Out of Hell.” Editor Eric J. Guignard is no stranger to awards and this his latest anthology has been well reviewed since publication. And now it’s an award winning anthology as well. Named for the 19th century author of Dracula, these awards represent the pinnacle of dark fantasy and horror fiction, and being part of the win is a heady feeling. To date, my writing process has been included writing, revising, and being published. Now suddenly I’m aware of a whole new layer at the top end called “winning an award.” It’s a pleasant discovery.
You can find After Death on Amazon .