publication, Writing

Publication Day! “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” is live today at DSF!

What a great thing to wake up to on a stiflingly humid Monday morning! My story, “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” went up as today’s story at Daily Science Fiction. Oddly enough, this sold before “What You Do for a Friend,” but that’s kind of typical–there is no known rhyme nor reason to when stories get published after a sale, and you can only make yourself crazy trying to figure one out.

This story started out, as so many do, as a Codex contest story. One of the prompts was, quite literally, the first line: who figured it out first? And then, all I had to do was figure out what they figured out, and who they were. And why it mattered. You know, the little stuff 😉

Oh, and one more tiny little secret about it? The name Jancy? It came from a vet’s office nearby. I’d always liked that name, wondered about it–and for this story, it simply popped into my head. It’s one thing that never changed, through all the edits.

Anyway, I’m really pleased with this one. It’s one of my favorite stories that I’ve written, so I hope you enjoy reading it. And if you can, go ahead and tip DSF a little bit, okay? The reason the story is there is because they paid me for the right to publish it. Thanks, and happy Monday to you, too!

 

publication

“What You Do for a Friend” Live at Nature’s Futures

Today is publication day over at Nature! My flash story What You Do for a Friend is now up in their “Futures” series, and free to read online. If you subscribe, it comes in a truly fancy PDF publication with the most awesome illustration gracing the top of the story!

At the bottom of the story’s concluding page, there’s a spot explaining the inspiration behind the story, which covers what I’d normally do here on the olde blogge on publication day. So, what to do, what to do? Well, I can expand a wee bit on that inspiration, and give you more!

Like this:  What You Do for a Friend was also written during a Codex flash fiction writing contest. We’re given prompts, and 52 hours to write a story of 750 words or less. I picked two of the 6 prompts given, and got to writing. The published story was my third attempt at “finding” the story I wanted to write, before I truly began. The first two ideas fizzled out completely, (sometimes I’ve gotten “extra stories” from these contests, but not this time) but I latched onto this one and immediately loved the vibe, and the ideas I could explore with it. I’m pretty sure this is the first time that one of my story’s first drafts and its final version looked so similar!

Oh, a final bit of fun: one of the prompts I used was to utilize x number of words from a list of unrelated words. Not all those words made it into the final story, but Seeker’s name certainly did!

publication, science, Writing

Story Sale = A Great Monday!

I found a fantastic email awaiting me this morning: I’ve already signed and returned the contract, so now I’m absolutely delighted to tell you that I’ve sold a story to Nature’s Futures

“Wait, to whom?” I hear you asking. Let’s look at this. From their website, “Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.”

So yes, this is primarily a non-fiction publication catering to those in the scientific fields. But here’s where my sale comes in: Nature has a special section, called Futures, that publishes flash fiction of a scientific nature–Science Fiction, simply put. Stuff to make you think, ponder the future, and maybe let us consider the route we chose to get to that future.

Now back to the squee: a sale to this market has been a dream of mine for some time. I really love the stories they publish, and being read by scientists, I mean…what’s not to love about that? It’s pretty awesome, and I’m still floating on cloud 9.

I don’t have a publication date yet, but I’ll be sure to update this blog once I have it. Until then, wheeeeeeee! Happy Monday!

publication

Sale to DSF!

Now that the ink is dry, I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold my second flash fiction story to Daily Science Fiction‘s online magazine! I don’t have a publication date yet, but “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” will be published there within a year’s time, and I’ll be sure to update you when it’s available to read!

Or you could subscribe to DSF and find out even earlier–it’s free, after all. And if you’re feeling the love for the stories you read there, you could tip them a small monetary contribution to help keep them up and running, and keep the good stories coming your way.

That’s it for now. I’ll make my usual “behind the story” post here once the story is up. Until then, stay home, wash your hands, stay safe.

publication, Writing

Story Release Day for “Cold Currents”

Happy New Year!

For me, 2019 is immediately looking up, because today my short story, Cold Currents, is available at Abyss & Apex Magazine. It’s very short, but very special to me. Let me tell you why.

Over on Codex, where I’m a member, there are a number of flash-fiction writing contests each year where contestants are given prompts and have a short amount of time to write a new tale. This story started here, with the prompt being “Interview an older generation relative and write a story around something you learn from them.” Well, at first I thought that prompt was out for me, since all my older relatives are gone. My siblings and I are now the eldest of our tribe.

But then I remembered that my sister had, just two weeks before, sent me a clipping she’d found from an old newspaper. It turns out that our maternal grandfather, a fireman in Toledo, Ohio, had jumped into the river to save a potential suicide’s life. I’d never known this about him–none of us had. Grandpa had died when I was just three.

Now I really wished I could talk with him and find out why he’d done this. The clipping had plagued me, so I decided to write this story using that clipping as my “interview.”

I changed a whole lot, of course. My grandfather’s background was German, but his name was Arthur, not Otto. And as far as I know, no one in my family has committed suicide, thankfully, although there is a streak of depression running through us.

This story is also special because it marks my first “repeat performance,” and at a market I love. A definite Writer’s Career Bingo square, if not two.

So there you have it. A chance bumping together of a story prompt and an unexpected, yellowed newspaper clipping about my grandfather’s young days on the fire squad brings about my first repeat sale to a market.

Here’s hoping the year only goes up from here. Wishing you hope, health, and happiness in 2019.

awards, publication, Writing

It’s That Nominating Time of Year

It’s awards season in the SFF world. Time to think about what you’ve read in 2018, what you’ve loved, and if you’re able, nominate works for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and/or Hugo Awards, among others. To make it easy, many writers, now including me, make a recap post of what they have that is eligible.

I had only one short story published this year, but it’s one I love dearly. If you’ve read it, I hope you love it too, and will consider it in your nomination choices. Waaaaay back in January, Galaxy’s Edge Magazine published After the Story Ends. (It’s in Issue 30, if that helps.) It’s a story about the Fae, and depression, and how sometimes, bringing your stolen child back from Fairy isn’t the hardest part.

Thanks for your consideration.

publication, review

Another review for “After the Story Ends”

(Note: Yes, this is rather late. Sorry about that–life, yada yada)

Back in the spring, SFRevu did a column on Galaxy’s Edge Magazine #30, which includes my story, After the Story Ends. And it seems they liked it! Hurray! Here’s the relevant bit:

“After the Story Ends” by M.E. Garber -+- Melanie Smead has rescued her daughter, Aurora, from Fairy and returned home with her. Happy ending? Well, the problem is that she misses the beautiful land of Fairy and can’t stand the humdrum real world. What can she do? An imaginative tale with a good resolution.

Needless to say, I’m very pleased that the reader/reviewer enjoyed this one, and I hope you do as well. You can find it in the archives of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine’s website.

Links, publication, Writing

A Little Late, but Better Than Never…

Monday was Tell A Fairy Tale Day, and I meant to post this here then…but, ya know, life, yadda yadda. Anyhow, I’m here and posting now, so that’s going to have to work for this year.

Here’s a little story I wrote a few years back. I hope you like this darkly funny tale, and can find the various stories and nursery rhymes it references.

 

Jack Spratt: The Real Story

by M. E. Garber

 

Jack Spratt could eat no fat,

His wife could eat no lean.

Betwixt the two, 

They licked the platter clean.

***

Jack leaned back from the evening meal, a dark-furred hand going up to pick at his large teeth.

“Mr. Spratt, if you please! Do not pick your teeth at the table!” His wife’s deep voice so close behind him made him jump like a nervous hare. He was glad, therefore, that she had just eaten her fill of the roasted goat. He, meanwhile, had made short work of the salad and carrots. It was a stem of said salad that was stuck between his teeth just now, but he ignored it due to the racing of his heart.

“Sorry, dearest. But I do wish you’d quit sneaking up behind me. It’s not good for my nerves.”

Elsa, his wife, came beside him and cleared away the plate, smiling wolfishly. She liked displaying her large, yellowed canines prominently; he knew she liked the way it made him squirm. Normally he had little qualms over his wife’s peccadillos, but in two nights the moon would be full, and Elsa was growing restless earlier with each moon that passed. It leached away her good sense, and he grew more and more fearful of her during the fullness of the moons.

He retreated to the hearth and poked at the fire, trying to calm his breathing and flatten his gooseflesh. Letting her scent his fear would be bad. In as calm a tone as he could muster, Jack spoke over the sounds of her washing up.

“I thought I might go to the village tomorrow. Leave in the morning, do some trading. Stay a couple nights. Maybe visit my friend Hamm.” He kept his eyes on the snapping fire, but he felt her glowing eyes caressing the back of his head.

“Ohhh, why, Mr. Spratt. I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You know I can use you here during the full moon. To keep things … settled … during my time of the month.”

That’s what she called it, now. Her ‘time of the month,’ as if a werewolf’s curse was something entirely normal. She’d rampage over the countryside for a night and a half, maybe two depending on the moon-cycle, then come straggling back home, naked and bedraggled, flushed with a shameful joy. Lately she’d been staying closer to home during her change. He’d heard her snuffling outside the door, howling in the forest behind the barn.

Jack shook his head. Ever since they’d refused to help the old witch of the wood the year before, when she wanted to lure children, Jack’s ears had grown, and a fine hair grew over his arms and hands, then his whole body. His eyes got sharper, and while living with a woman cursed with lycanthropy never made a man calm, Jack had gotten more high-strung than ever. He refused to admit it for the longest time, but there was no denying it any longer: he was turning into a rabbit. He knew that his wife knew, and found him … interesting.

“Besides,” Elsa murmured, turning her gold-flecked eyes back to her dishes, “you were just to the village two weeks ago, so I can’t imagine you need to visit again so soon.”

Jack froze. His heart hammered once more, and his ears heard the low, throaty laugh his wife gave. He scented his own panic, and knew mortal fear.

#

Jack shut the door to the chicken coop behind him. He’d barricaded the henhouse doors from the inside. Now he prepared to nail boards across the doorframe to secure it — he hoped — from entry. He lifted the hammer, set the nail and swung.

Hot breath on his neck made him leap and twirl, but the hammer landed on his thumb anyway. He hopped a few steps, sucking his thumb, as he took in his wife’s narrowed, gleaming eyes and hungry smile. He noticed the way she tensed at his hopping, and he immediately froze.

“What are you doing, Mr. Spratt?”

“Just protecting the chickens, Mrs. Spratt.” His heart hammered at his throat and made his voice come out as a squeak. Her smile widened.

“Good instincts, but somehow I think the hens will be safe. There are better things on the menu tonight, I do believe.” With a last wolfish grin, she turned and loped back to the house.

#

The moon rose early that evening. His wife never left the house, but sat watching Jack, pinning him to the dark corner of the room with her intense eyes. As soon as the change rendered her immobile, he raced out the door, zigging and zagging in a panic. All too soon, he heard the howl of pursuit, and in a burst of speed, Jack zipped up to Hamm’s dilapidated, straw-mortared hovel. At his panicked knocking, his short, fat friend opened the door. Jack burst inside, slamming the door behind him.

“Why, Jack. Whatever is the matter? Onk.” Hamm always caught his breath after each utterance, sounding like a goose. Or a pig.

Before Jack could explain, Elsa was upon the house, howling for Jack’s blood. The two friends cowered in the center of the room as the wolf shouted, “Little Pig, Little Pig, let me in!”

“Go away! Onk. Onk.”

Elsa rammed the door, and it gave way in a shower of wood and straw. Jack and Hamm sprinted out, to Hamm’s brother’s house nearby.

At Pudge’s wooden house, the scene repeated itself, and Jack and the two little pigs squealed in terror as they zipped to the eldest brother’s home. Porky’s home was stout brick, and when the wolf arrived hot on their heels, Porky laughed at the wolf’s foolishness. Jack cowered by Porky’s feet, panting, as his friend’s brother told off the wolf.

The door shuddered once, twice, three times, but held. Elsa snarled and snapped on the other side, cursing Jack, cursing bricks, and doubly-cursing Porky. Jack looked up, his pulse slowing as hope bloomed in his heart.

There was a long silence, then the sound of footsteps on the roof.

“The chimney!” Jack shouted. But Porky was already stoking the fire higher. He placed a large soup pot in the hearth. The wolf popped out the chimney and fell into the pot, and Porky threw the heavy lid onto it. Jack and the others raced to hold the lid in place as the wolf who’d been his wife struggled to escape.

As the bangs and knocks came to an end, Jack grinned at his friend.

“Looks like you’ll have soup tonight, my friends. Thanks!”

“No thanks needed. But you know, there’s one thing that goes perfect with soup.”

“Oh?” Jack looked back towards the kettle, sniffing appreciatively as Porky lifted the lid. “What?”

“Roast rabbit.”

As the lid hit his skull, Jack heard the pigs cheer, and he saw only dark.

###

(This story was first published in Short Sips; Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2)

If you liked this short tale, here are links to a few other people who played along this year–and they actually got their stories posted on time, unlike me. (Drat them! Um, I mean, good for them!)

Cecile Cristofari

Melissa Mead

Karlo Yeager Rodriguez