Fabulous News on a Monday: Sci-FI & Fantasy Short Fiction Roundup: January 2018

Sci-FI & Fantasy Short Fiction Roundup: January 2018

Cover art from Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2018. Artist: Arthur Saldos

Short fiction is the lifeblood of sci-fi and fantasy. It’s where we first encountered many authors who have gone on to win awards and write some of our favorite novels. This new monthly column will highlight some of the most notable short SFF published in the prior month, and hopefully introduce you to your next favorite author.

There’s a staggering amount of fabulous speculative short fiction being published every month—online, in print, and in audio—introducing the world to exciting new voices in the genre. This roundup can only capture a tiny fraction of it, of course (at least until I acquire a horde of clones that can do the reading and writing for me), but I hope to offer a tasty sample of the range, depth, and variety of it that is available out there. Here are 10 stories that stood out in January 2018.

Black Fanged Thing,” by Sam Rebelein in Shimmer
This story, about a seemingly ordinary small town and its seemingly ordinary inhabitants, is eerie and unsettling from the first paragraph. It masterfully captures the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped in a place, in a life, that isn’t quite what you wanted…except that the characters in this story aren’t quite sure what else they did want, once upon a time. I love the chilling sense of an unseeable, unknowable darkness lurking beneath the surface of everyday life. To me, this story brings to mind both Ray Bradbury and The Twilight Zone.

The Glow-in-the-Dark Girls,” by Senaa Ahmad in Strange Horizons
A mesmerizing blend of history (it was partly inspired by the real events that befell the so-called Radium Girls), fantasy, politics, science, and science fiction, this story is heartbreaking, fierce, and moving. I especially love how Ahmad explores and intertwines the complex relationship between the girls — all chosen for their rather frightening super power — and the brutal politics of war in which a government is using them as weapons.

A World to Die For,” by Tobias S. Buckell in Clarkesworld
Buckell’s post-apocalyptic tale pops off the page, vivid and visceral, with the texture and fury of a Mad Maxmovie (and I mean that as a sincere compliment). There’s a blighted but still recognizable U.S. landscape, there are gangs of road-warriors, there are weapons galore, there is dust and death; reading it, I could almost feel the road grit between my teeth and hear the roar of the engines. And then, then, Buckell fishtails the whole thing around into something else, somewhereelse. I won’t reveal the twist, but this is a story with both nerve and heart.

Bondye Bon,” by Monique L. Desir in Fiyah
Fiyah has been around for just over a year now, publishing great speculative fiction by black writers, and it has quickly become one of my must-read zines. Like many of the stories in Fiyah, Desir’s latest does not pull any punches. It has zombies, alternate history, magic, religion, a black woman getting revenge on a slave owner, and a young girl facing the monster in her mother’s room. It crackles with fire and purpose, and one moment in particular, a scene of a slave uprising during which a desperate prayer is suddenly heard, that gave me goosebumps all over.

In Her Bones,” by Lindiwe Rooney in The Dark
Harsh realities of crime, corruption, abuse, and sexual assault (though it’s mostly dealt with “off-screen”) gives this horror story a real darkness, because let’s face it, few things are scarier than the things human beings do to each other. But the deeper, soul-shaking power of the tale is what happens after the abuse, and after the victim, Ayanda, exacts her own justice on the perpetrator. Rooney’s descriptions of the power of family ties, and the power of magic, intertwine in a stunning scene of transformation when Ayanda has to pay the price for what she did. It’s a fierce story that doesn’t go where you might think, and gives you an ending that is simultaneously crushing and hopeful.

Shadows and Bells,” by Mari Ness in Kaleidotrope
In exquisitely beautiful prose, Ness weaves a tale about what happens in the realm of the dead when the Queen of Death hears the bells ring. Every sentence is gorgeously shaped and polished. Myth and fantasy, fairy tale and reality, combine to create a deeply moving story about death and life, love and longing, and making choices that change everything—even who and what you are. A dark, gleaming gem of a story.

To Blight a Fig Tree Before It Bears Fruit,” by Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley in Apex
Some stories, like this one, hit so hard they’re like a gut-punch, so hard you think they might leave a bruise. Kingsley paints a scene that is phantasmagoric in its detailed, visceral horror, with pregnant women hanging from the gallows, people buying and selling human lives, and unborn children used to fuel a horrific, scientific ritual. But even in this terrible place there is resistance, and maybe even a sliver of hope.

When the Bough Breaks,” by Jaymee Goh in Mythic Delirium
I love a good ghost story, and this is a really good ghost story. It’s set in a brand new, modern condominium complex in Malaysia. After moving in, the children (though not the adults) living in the building soon realize that something is stalking them, haunting them, and even killing them. Goh expertly builds the tension throughout the story, all the way to the spine-chilling ending.

Those We Feed,” by Layla Al-Bedawi in Fireside Fiction
A powerful and deeply unsettling flash fiction story about a mother and child. The imagery is raw and evocative enough to make you wince at times, but the story is also a piercing and perceptive look at the darker side of parenthood (and maybe other relationships as well), and at how much of ourselves we sometimes give up to care for those we love.

Mother’s Rules for a Burned Girl,” by Rebecca Mix in Flash Fiction Online
I have a weak spot for fantasy, dragons, and strong-willed girls. (I mean, who doesn’t?) This flash fiction story by Rebecca Mix features all of these things, and I love it for its sense of humor, its verve and fire, its vivid prose, and its perfect ending. A delectable slice of excellent flash.

What short stories have you loved this month?

Originally published at B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Short Fiction Roundup

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2017 Year-End Reflection AND 10 Reasons Why I Plan on 2018 Being Even Better!

2017 Year-End Reflection AND 10 Reasons Why I Plan on 2018 Being Even Better!

Soon, the year 2018 will roll on in. Looking back to all that I’ve accomplished, in spite of the struggle and medical hardships (yup, maybe I’ll share that someday), I can finally admit that I’m amazed and proud of myself.

Before I sat down to type this post, I had to think back on every single thing I did in order to own this feeling and not dismiss it. My mother and father raised me to always strive to be better. So, I blame them. Thank you, Mommy and Daddy. Thank you ever so much. Lol.

For most of you that know me on a more personal level, you know it’s hard for me to express such affirmations and truly, TRULY own them.

So, without further adieu, here are 10 Accomplishments in 2017 I’m MOST PROUD OF:

1. Attended various local author events at bookstores, libraries, and conventions.

2. Republished Forbidden as an e-book (now if only I can finish it up as a paperback)!

3. Independently published my first middle grade book (Waking Dream Series). Due to the fact that I struggle with marketing books like other Indie authors, I’ve decided that WHEN (not if) I become traditionally published, I’ll still put 100% into social media and marketing, but I hope that I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing. Being an Indie author is HARD! And yes, the stigma of independently publishing books is slowly disappearing it isn’t completely extinct!

indies what we are

Read more about Being an Indie Author here.

4. Celebrated my sons’ birthdays (17, 5, and 2).

5. Wedding Anniversary – 🙂

6. Submitted several manuscripts to agents and publishers! Sure, I received rejections! But if you don’t try, you won’t succeed!

7. Applied for artists grants.

8. Sold my FIRST PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” to FIYAH Literary Magazine. Learn more so you can purchase your copy in January here!

9. Created YouTube Channel that’s in need of some serious, serious attention! 😉

10. Connected with more bloggers, readers, writers, and friends all over the world!

With you and your stimulating social interactions, I’ve become a better writer!

Thank-you-word-cloud

 

 

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Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming! Received My First Short Story Contract!

Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming! Received My First Short Story Contract!

First, I apologize for not posting in a while, but with NaNoWriMo and the Creative Pinellas Grant window open for Professional Artist, I’ve been extremely busy. The deadline for the latter is December 5th and I still have a couple more work samples to upload.

Now, onto more reasons why I should be forgiven.

On my other WordPress blog, www.adaratrosclair.wordpress.com, I reblogged a post, which explains that writing a blog is more difficult than writing a novel. I agree 100%!

So, for almost the past two months, I chose to focus on what would give me the most exposure as an author.

FIYAH Magazine was open for submissions in October and I needed to finish a story that I had a lot of fun writing for their Ahistorical Black fiction theme. I spent weeks researching slave revolts, the lives of slaves, the Civil War, New Orleans, the Reconstruction Era, and most importantly how many Africans died during the Middle Passage, which should be renamed the African Holocaust. Why? Because millions of Africans lost their lives. Anyway, I finished the short story just in time.

And something amazing happened!

I received an email from Fiyah Magazine requesting my story a few days ago. And today, I noticed an email containing the contract! Woo hoo! Yes!

That aside, all of the research for that short story opened new windows of ideas and opportunities for other stories I’m currently working on.

This past year, I’ve submitted short stories, picture books, and novel manuscripts to agents and publishers. Most came back as rejections and some I’m still waiting on because it takes at least 6 months for feedback. Six months. I had also applied for the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant and unfortunately wasn’t one of the top ten finalists. I not only felt like a failure, but worse, a misunderstood failure and wondered when I’d be recognized for my work. Perhaps more on that at a later date.

So I’m willing to accept failure as something more positive.

 

I’m not going to give up and this moment of sunshine through the clouds of doubt is what I needed to persevere! 🙂

And on another quirky note, there are quite a few petals remaining on my roses. Now, how about that?

 

 

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The Enchanted Rose and It May Take a Miracle for My Dreams to Come True . . .

The Enchanted Rose and It May Take a Miracle for My Dreams to Come True . . .

So, I’ve been MIA for quite some time. And I feel guilty about it. However, I’ve got to give myself some slack, right? Why? Well, because I’ve been going through a lot of stuff. Like tragic stuff. Like Charles Dickens without the happily ever after stuff. More like Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events kind of stuff. And I say this comically because I would love, love, love to be smiling, laughing, and grinning, but I can’t.

It’s impossible too.

Two people in my life have been affected by cancer.

I’ve also have been experiencing my own medical problems and I hope that I check out okay.

My avoidance to writing started after I failed to win a Creative Pinellas grant. 🙁 I’ll probably share that experience at another date and time though. Every time I think about it, I get all weepy-eyed and want to smash things because it just seems so unfair how it all played out.

Other than that, I’ve finished three short stories and received three rejections within the past month.

I’m also extremely sentimental.

One of the other Creative Pinellas participants is a really talented artist. She gave me a rose and told me that she hopes that I find success before the last petal falls. *wipes tears*

Here’s the rose in its current state — alongside one my husband bought me:

But, like I said, I’ve received three rejections within the last month doesn’t give me good chances of fulfilling my aspirations.

At this rate, I’ll need one of those roses made by a company in London called Forever Roses. They come in all shades and colors. And what’s so enchanting about them?! They can last up to three years without water or sunlight.

So, here’s to staying MOTIVATED on this dreary Monday.

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Quotes To Write By

Me: But you’re writing the first draft of your essay. Do you really need to get up now? Really?

The end of the school year is almost here and my middle school students are becoming . . . unhinged. Heh.

Oh, the talking. And the forgetting. And the out-of-the-seat moments.

So, this week to keep learning at maximum levels students must complete a four paragraph essay on two people’s reactions to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Students have the option to choose from any of the important people we learned about in our Read 180 Workshop: Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Keckley, et cetera, ad nauseum. Blah, blah, blah. For the most part, students are doing well!

No, not this one. The historically accurate one! Sheesh.

I too was feeling a little stressed. Okay, forget the “hedge word” little. I was totally feeling stressed out! So much to do and so little time! I had such goals and it’s funny how plans don’t follow directions and fall in line.

I have struggled with staying focused and keeping myself writing daily. In between writing sporadically, I’ve been reading other authors’ books, hosting a Literacy Night at the middle school where I teach, grading papers, and on and on it goes.

I hope someday I will build a readership that enjoy the worlds I’ve crafted and the characters I’ve developed  so that way I can fulfill my dream and write full-time. I tell myself it’s a ridiculous dream, but for once, I suppose I owe it to myself to be optimistic.

Even a little.

Anyway, I was cleaning out my classroom cabinets and found a plethora of items from over a decade ago! One of the items was a stapled packet of writing quotes I used to write on the board to motivate students when I taught second grade.

So, for the next 60 or more days, I’m going to use each of these quotes to motivate myself to write!

I hope this writing exercise will help other writers too. 🙂

Quote #1

“You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different.”

Neil Gaiman

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