Writing

The Ear of God

Crikey that title is a bit portentous. Anyway, just news of the sale of my very shorterest story ever, “Cast Down”, to Daily Science Fiction. At only 144 words, I don’t think I’ll be beating that personal record very soon. And, typically, this just after a blogpost saying I had eschewed flash in favour of longer length works. Never mind. Here is the opening line, courtesy of a tweet by Simon Spanton:

The smooth skin and delicate ear of the actual broken and discarded God.

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“The Roaring Silence” – Portion of the cover art for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band 1976 album, design by Shirtsleeve Studio.

“Cast Down” should be appearing later some time this year.

2016 Wrap-up

2016. Huh. Started well. Went downhill really quickly. Then it gathered speed. At this rate it’ll bust its way into 2017 and beyond.

Similarly, first half of the year started well for me, writing wise. Second half of the year…not so much. Here’s the obligatory wrap-up. Excuse me whilst I warm myself beside some scraped together reader comments. Every little helps.

1. “The Osteomancer’s Husband” – January, Diabolical Plots.

“We are left with curiosity and wonder of what may have been and what things will come. I hope that a follow on comes at some point because I really would like to know what happens next. I was captured by the story and in such a short time I give the author a great deal of credit. Well done.”

– Eric Kimminau, Tangent Online

(Also on the Tangent Online Recommended Reading List 2016.)

“This story had me reading faster and faster, eating up the words. Good read.”

– Becky, DP comments

“Brilliant and so bewitching! I ripped through this. The imagery at the end of the bone flower is awesome.”

– Julia, DP comments

“Yes, beautiful prose. A soaring imagination. Enjoyed it. And feel any story that touches on intolerance is worthwhile.”

– Lisa, DP comments

2. “In the Belly of the Angel” – January, Metaphorosis.

“A rich tale and disturbing. Beautifully told.”

– Gerald Warfield, Metaphorosis comments

“Mind-blowingly imaginative!!”

– Julia, Metaphorosis comments

3. “The Velna Valsis” – February, Fantasy Scroll Magazine.

“Well okay then. You know, as far as Nazi stories go, this one isn’t bad… it is a nicely balanced and flowing story. There is a sweep and flow to it, and a slow reveal. So yeah, go check it out.”

– Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews

“…sometimes a short jab to the gut is all you need to make your point, and this one hits the reader hard.”

– John O’Neill, Black Gate

4. “Against the Venom Tide” – June, Mirror Dance.

“Nice, unique idea for the reed islands. Bravo.”

 

– Matencera, MD comments

…And so.

What will 2017 bring?

I predict a riot.

 

A World of Fantasy Awaits…

Mermaids

“Mermaids” by Gustav Klimt

My story “Against the Venom Tide” is now up at the summer edition of Mirror Dance.

At first Osami drifted alone in the cold and the dark, the ache in her chest unbearable, the weight of the seawater above crushing the air from her lungs. But what terrified her most was the dim light far below. Growing brighter. Growing closer.

Because this was a memory as well as a dream.

As mentioned previously, it’s set in the novel-verse of the Heptatheon, with its orbiting god moons and societies dominated by them. Ueldu is just a little more briny than some of the other deities.

Please let me know what you think, either here or on the Mirror Dance site.

 

Mirror Dance Acceptance

My story “Against the Venom Tide” has been accepted for publication in the summer issue of Mirror Dance. It’s set – although tangentially – in the same universe as my other recent stories “In the Belly of the Angel” and “Dance of the Splintered Hands“.

Looking forward to its appearance as this online quarterly magazine has great aesthetics and the editor, Megan Arkenberg, is also an awesome writer.

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“Storm Kraken” by Ionnas.

The Velna Valsis

My story “The Velna Valsis” is now up at issue #11 of Fantasy Scroll Magazine.

Herr Doktor Ostermann drops the needle. A scratchy hiss fills the decayed splendor of Charlotte’s Viennese apartment. Outside, night is falling and a crowd gathers in the plaza. There are angry shouts — “Murderers! Juden!” — the sound of dogs barking. Charlotte does not know the reason for the commotion, nor does she care; her world has shrunk to the parlor, to Ostermann’s blood-smeared smile as he turns from the gramophone and says, “Shall we dance, meine Liebe?”

“The Velna Valsis” is a dark story. Possibly the darkest I’ve written. All the more dark since it’s obvious the Velna Valsis is still being played and eagerly listened to across the world right now. Its victims and players vary and swap sides, fluid like flame, but the damage left in its wake is unmistakeable.

Someone should really lift the needle.

Inspiration came from a writing prompt featuring a photograph by the talented Robin Cristofari, together with a piece of music by Carlos D’Alessio, his Valse De L’Eden. I paired them up, put D’Alessio’s piano waltz on loop, and a little while later “The Velna Valsis” popped out. The photo is obviously not of late 1930s Vienna, and the music didn’t urge me to indulge in wanton violence, so I’m not quite sure from which strange corner of my mind this story emerged, but that’s often just how it works. At least a couple of readers have mentioned Mikhail Bulgakov. I think one said they were reminded of The Master and Margarita. I’ve not read any Bulgakov so I can’t say whether I agree, but I’ll gladly take it as a compliment.

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PS. In case you’re wondering, “Velna Valsis” is Latvian for “Devil’s Waltz”. Why Latvian? No reason other than I liked the sound of it.

Full Night Over Thranrak

My story “In the Belly of the Angel” is now up at new e-zine Metaphorosis. Albino Angel Apes versus Vegan Super Powers, wheee!

It was Full Night, the climax of the two-week Festival of Threll, and the narrow streets of Thranrak heaved with the devout, the curious, and the avaricious. Freya Adinyan plunged past the torch-lit processions and the bustling market stalls, her heart pounding in time to the drums. Tonight she was determined to leave Thranrak and the world of man behind.

“Angel” began as a 17,000 word novelette, a spin-off idea from a novel in progress. Over time the story was topped and tailed, tightened and revised, until it shrank to less than half its original length. Became much better for it. Became the story you can read today.

(And in case you’re wondering: yes, the type of angel and the world described here are the same as featured in my other recently published story, “Dance of the Splintered Hands“.)
  

Bone Flowers

Aaaaand… a Happy New Year to you! I hope it’s a good one.

My story “The Osteomancer’s Husband” is now up at Diabolical Plots as the January 2016 story.

He warned his wife the villagers would come. With their pitchforks, their fire. Their hateful ignorance.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “We have to leave. They saw beneath my mask.”

The inspiration for this story were a couple of photographs used for a writing group prompt challenge. One image was of flowing water (“…the burbling mountain stream…”), the second was of a hand tossing what looked like tiny bones to the wind (“Like…tiny snowflake vertebrae…”), both by the talented Robin Cristofari. To me the bones looked like seedlings, so I immediately began to wonder what their origin might be.

If you like the story (or even if you don’t), please feel free to comment here or on the Diabolical Plots site. Any feedback is always welcome.

"Les Feuilles mortes 3" by Robin Cristofari

“Les Feuilles mortes 3” by Robin Cristofari.