I’ve just received an acceptance letter! Excited to announce that my story, “Two Letters Crossing Paths through the FairyMail” will appear in the anthology 99 Fleeting Fantasies, a collection of flash fiction fantasy stories. From the call for submissions:
In addition, I’m also pleased that I’ll be sharing the table of contents with one of my VP XVII cohort, Elizabeth Walker, for the first time. So awesome!
I don’t have much more information right now, but I’ll be sure to make more available to you once I have that info–as if you had any doubt, lol. Anyway, it makes a great start to a short, post-holiday week.
As “The Story Behind the Story” block indicates, this came about because of a misread prompt on a Codex contest, wherein my brain swapped “Seasoning” for “Season.” As an avid cook, I was happy with this. And yes, before you ask, I have made this recipe–although not with those types of apples, or heritage pork breeds, etc. It is delicate and delicious and delightful, and one of my favorite fall meals.
Ironically, the first time I ate this meal, it was at a French restaurant in Nürnberg, Germany: Prison St. Michel, on Irrerstraße. I’ll admit to being flummoxed at walking in and being greeted in French, not German (I mean, I should have expected it, but I was already living in one foreign-to-me language, and I was young), but the tiny restaurant was simply amazing. In a kitchen the size of my bathroom, they made delicious, freshly-made meals for the patrons of the narrow, two-story restaurant shoe-horned onto a non-touristy street. Ahhh, the smells wafting out from that place every time the door opened. I can still smell it!
What I guess I’m saying is that, although I’m no Daumont — I don’t have a grandmere but a grandma, and I’m far from the wealthiest person on earth — there is a part of me in his character. I’d definitely miss the flavors of earth, should I ever leave.
Right now, though, for some reason I’m feeling the need to go cook. Maybe a plum coffeecake…
New Release Radar: Assistant to a Judge of Hell and Other Stories
Shannon Rampe is joining us today to talk about his new story collection, Assistant to a Judge of Hell and Other Stories. Here’s the description of the book:
In Assistant to a Judge of Hell, San Guan finally has a crack at reincarnation after a thousand years as a bureaucrat in hell, but only if he can convince a slanderous, insubordinate, and recently-deceased Pan Xiaojian to take the job.
In Babies, Bradley notices that his wife Anne is acting strangely after he finds a litter of babies in the street.
In Warniks, Nimit Okeke, the Speaker of the Solar System, is facing the worst crisis of his administration, and it isn’t the teddy bear-shaped aliens who just gravity-bombed Jupiter.
In Bad Soul, Jade Blossom laments how nothing ever changes, but when he enlists a crude and charismatic poet to push his radical ideas, he unwittingly unleashes a force of nature along with some questionable poetry!
These four stories from the warped brain of Shannon Rampe are darkly twisted, using unexpected violence, vicious snarkiness, and wanton chaos to wildly comedic effect. Terrible, nasty people get their comeuppance and good people—okay, slightly superficial and moderately selfish people—come out on top.
But what does Shannon love most about the book? Let’s find out:
This collection contains some of my favorite stories that I have written, and certainly the most fun. The jokes always crack me up. (I know, what’s worse than laughing at your own jokes? But these stories are populated with exactly the sort of people who laugh at their own jokes… and worse!)
Really, these stories are about bad people getting their just desserts and slightly less bad people putting those bad people in their place, and those are the most satisfying moments in the stories. But I really love the stories behind the stories.
For example, the title story was written while I was living in London, working 80+ hour weeks as a contractor for a global banking megacorp while my soul was slowly ground to dust. One day, I took an actual lunch break and walked to the British Museum, where I encountered a Ming Dynasty-era sculpture of a green-faced porcelain bureaucrat, the Assistant to the Judge of Hell, and this story sprang to life in my head. At the time, being trapped in the gears of a nightmarish bureaucracy that felt like it was stretching out before me for a thousand years gave me a very personal insight into the sense of desperate insanity in the story.
Babies was written at Viable Paradise in a single, frenzied five-hour rush. This story gets laughs and cringes in equal parts whenever people read it. I love the fact that everyone who reads this story has a strong reaction to it—usually laughter and disgust! I’ve written four full-length novels but this story remains one of the pieces of writing that I am most proud of because the imagery and descriptions are so shocking and visceral.
Finally, one of the things that happens when you put together a project like this are the happy accidents. You only discover them later when reading through the text. For example, in Warniks, Nimit Okeke accuses his political opponent of eating babies. In the next story, we encounter babies who eat people.
I think anyone who has a twisted sense of humor will really enjoy these stories!
Shannon Rampe is a writer and project manager living in southern California. He has attended the Viable Paradise Writing Workshop, the Taos Toolbox Writing Workshop, and Paradise Lost, amongst other programs.
His works have appeared in Speculative City, Abyss & Apex, and The Gallery of Curiosities podcast, amongst others. His first book, When Stars Move and Other Stories is also available on Amazon. His hobbies include yoga and craft cocktail-making, though not usually at the same time.
Shannon is represented by Susan Velazquez Colmant at JABberwocky Literary Agency.
I’ve mentioned it over on Twitter, but it’s time for a bigger announcement. One of my favorite stories, “Never Underestimate a Good Defensive Spell, or Your Sister,” [and the second-longest titled story I’ve ever written (but the longest titled story is yet to be published)] is now available in Issue #6 of Speculative North!
Four of the seven authors included are Canadian, which is the “North” in the title. I’ve read the issue and can say that all of the stories are really good. They contain interstellar shuttles; time paradoxes and kittens; love, loss & AI; screaming-good music; a story-telling singularity; and a couple amazing poems that I can’t summarize because: poetry, yannow? It’s already concise! So I encourage you to read, and if you can, leave a review over on Amazon, okay? It helps more than you know.
So, what’s the “more” about my story? Glad you asked 🙂
This started as a prompt from a contest over on Codex (yes, yes, so many of my published stories start that way, and with good reason. Those contests and their prompts are pure gold, I’m telling you!). I decided to write about unfriendly sisters, and then the Dragon Doo popped out of nowhere, and viola! My story was off and running!
Thematically, I like stories that show the moment when a person’s character is forged for the better, when they decide to stand up for what they know is right–even against family. But I also like it when that conflict isn’t about the physically biggest or strongest winning a fight, because brains count for far more than brawn.
I hope you enjoy my story, and all the others in this fine magazine. They were a pleasure to work with, even through the pandemic’s strangeness and the delayed everything in the world due to it. As always, if you enjoyed my story or others in Speculative North, tossing a coin or two toward the next issue’s fiction is a great idea. And thanks for reading.
Yes, that’s right! My story is up now at Nature: Futures, and you can read it here. And as usual, the artwork paired with the story is perfect. ❤
I promised you a wee bit more info on the story, even though there’s the “story behind the story” bit at the end. So, what have I got?
This story, like so much of my flash fiction, is the result of a flash fiction writing contest over on Codex. And it wasn’t the first niggling story idea, or even the second one, that developed into this story, but the third one! Which just goes toward proving that one’s first idea isn’t necessarily the best. It can be hard to press on after story ideas, especially with a fast deadline for a contest, but it pays off. My first ideas are usually not right, either too expected and unoriginal, or just not interesting. But around idea 3, or 5, I start getting the hang of it, and my creativity shows up, having been woken at long last.
After the contest, the story went through a couple more rounds of editing to prune out words and fit Nature’s tight wordcount requirements, and to hone in on the point of the story and clear up confusion. And then, sucking in a great breath, I formatted it, exported it, and submitted it–it’s still a hard thing to do, hitting that “send” button. Even after all this time.
So many times, a story comes back rejected. But once in awhile, like this time, you get that wonderful acceptance, and the day turns golden and rosy-hued, and you know once again why it is you’re writing. Because somewhere out there, someone actually likes what you’re saying. Maybe they need to read it, the way I used to “need” the books and stories I read as a kid, and the ones that sometimes even today punch into a topic or trope that I’ve been grinding my teeth over. And having read those words, I feel lighter. Seen, and understood. The world begins to make sense as my outlook changes, hopefully for the better.
Thanks for reading, and looking at the world from my point of view.
I have amazingly awesome news: the scientific journal Nature has accepted one of my flash stories for publication in their “Futures” department–this upcoming Wednesday, August 18!
As you might remember, I sold them a story last year; “What You Do For a Friend” ran in Nature’s Futures, on July 22, 2020. So, almost a year later, another sale to this wonderful market is making me very happy indeed. (You can read about that sale on my blog here.)
This time, the story is titled “Terraforming the Heart,” and yes, it deals with a future terraforming contest. I liked the story when I wrote it, and think its message only applies even more now. Of course I’ll provide a link when the story goes live, and a wee bit of backstory about the writing.
It’s not exactly “new” news anymore, but now that the Kickstarter has funded (and Dasher’s health has taken a break from crises), I can share–without fear of jinxing–that a story of mine will appear in the debut issue of ScienceFictionry Magazine!
This is a double-whammy of a delight. I mean, any sale is a delight, of course! But a sale to a debut issue is an extra Bingo Square in the game of writing goals, you know? At least, it is for me. This is the first time it’s happening for one of my stories, and I’m thrilled.
Oddly, it’s also “weird-ening” too, in that the site makes it look like I’m somehow a “big deal.” I sure don’t feel like a big deal (actually, I know I’m just a tiny, bitty deal), and I greatly doubt that anyone would mistake me for one. But their presentation of the writers in this debut is very lovely, and makes us all look like the professionals we’re hoping to be. [Or maybe that’s just me, and the rest are all old pros at this already? (Well, looky-look, if it isn’t my old companion, Impostor Syndrome, come for another lengthy visit…)]
The magazine’s first issue should be available to the public in August, and naturally I’ll give you a head’s-up that it’s out. I can’t wait to read the issue and see what wonders my fellow TOC-mates have written! I hope you’ll give it a read, too. Magazines without readers don’t last, after all.
I’ll leave you with a picture of Dasher napping inside, safe from the rain and thundershowers passing by:
I’ll just leave it at that. We all know what we’ve been through, and I don’t feel like re-hashing every nasty blow and tanking all our fragile moods by doing so. So, let’s move on the next thing, shall we?
It’s a gray and rainy day here, and a bit cool (for us) with off-and-on showers coming throughout the day, and tomorrow, too. Rather a relief, honestly, as we’d been heading into drought-like conditions. But now my veggies and fruits are breathing a sigh of relief (as is my water bill-avoidant self!), and the grass is growing lush and green. The dog is a bit miffed that his sunbeams aren’t available on the lanai for his snoozing enjoyment, but I think he’ll survive, the poor dear, with an extra treat and an extra snuggle on the sofa.
Right now, I’m taking advantage of the cool to make a big batch of chicken stock, which I’ll can later. I can’t believe we were out, but the pantry was bare of chicken stock. Not for long! Afterwards, I’m hoping to make a bunch of Jasmine madeleines, a recipe I’ve been longing to make for a couple years, since I found the recipe in a Thai cookbook, in the “Thai Influences” section. I had to order jasmine extract from online, and it just got here a few days ago, so I’m eager to try them out. (I’ve been making that recipe using coconut extract instead, and it was very, very good.)
I’ve been making baby quilts, and finished one, which has arrived to it’s new tiny owner. The next one is nearly done–only the binding needs to be appliquéd onto the backing, and a label attached. The third, fortunately, isn’t due until July. And it hasn’t been started yet. I’ve gathered images for the pattern, at least!
Oh, writing? Well, yes. Of course. I’ve been struggling, along with so very many others, when it comes to motivation in isolation. But I’m nearing the very end of this draft of the novel–HURRAY! Then I can set the whole thing aside for a few weeks and work on something else while I let the draft sit and think about what it’s done! Or, more seriously, while I consider how much further editing it needs and if I need to continue with it or trunk it. Right now, I’m in no proper headspace to decide that.
I’ve started the process of working out my next project, and I’m pretty happy with the work on it, so far. Working on this is my treat for finishing my daily output on the first novel, so I don’t get carried away and forget the “work” for the “shiny.” (Always a fear, for me).
And to end this catch-up post on a high note, I’ve sold a short story! The next issue of Speculative North will include a story of mine that I love so very much. I can’t tell you how glad I am that it’ll be out in the world at last! I’ll give you more news nearer to the release date, of course. Good news is meant to be shared!
To close, I’ll leave you with a picture of Dasher napping inside, for a change: