Please Don’t Talk About Your Book by Barbara Dee

And today in “blatant homophobia…”

Nerdy Book Club

“Barbara? Can I please speak to you a minute? In private?”

Teacher X was beckoning me to the back of the auditorium. It was the end of the break after my second author talk. I had already spoken to 120 sixth graders. Three sessions (and 180 more kids) to go.

A few months before, I’d been invited by the PTA to speak at this middle school for the third year in a row.  Five author presentations in one day had seemed like a daunting challenge at first. By this time, though, I’d learned to pace myself, ask for a mic, bring a bottle of water and throat lozenges. Reading aloud a brief excerpt from TRUTH OR DARE (Aladdin/S&S Sept. 2016) and an even briefer one from the Advance Review Copy of  STAR-CROSSED (Aladdin/S&S March 2017) was fun–and I really loved interacting with kids in the Q/A sessions that followed.

Now…

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Writing Wednesday – Loser Like Me

I got a rejection (of sorts) this week. I’d entered the New York City Midnight Short Story Challenge as a kind of self-dare. I don’t write flash fiction, it’s not my forté, and being given prompts (character, genre, and a facet of the story) and a very limited word count was not going to be easy for me. Still, I did it anyway. And I didn’t move on to the next round of judging.

I got an honourable mention.

Now, a healthy, emotionally sound mind would take quite a bit of pride in all of the above, right? I mean, my prompts were: ghost story, a confession, and a stalker. The ghost story thing was pretty close to the kind of stuff I usually write. The confession wasn’t necessarily going to be a challenge, and a stalker? Well, I don’t normally write thrillers at all, but I could come up with something, right?

It took me quite a few days, but I liked what I wrote. I sent it in. And an honourable mention, that’s decent!

So I should be happy.

I am, now. I stretched and reached for something and did well enough to get positive feedback. But when I first loaded the screen and saw I’d just missed being selected for round two my immediate reaction was to throw everything I’d ever written into a pool of lava and quit everything forever. No takesies backsies.

I’ll let you decide what that means about my mental well-being on your own.

And, because why not, here’s what I came up with:

Detective Bao Nguyen knows to let a suspect fill the silence, but when Kenny Warnock walks into the station to confess to the murder of a young gay man Bao and his former partner were working on, it seems too easy. Warnock is obviously afraid, but the more Bao talks to him, the more he thinks it’s not someone making the man confess; it’s something.


Filling Silences

“How was the funeral?”

Bao said the words they’d want to hear. “Good. It represented.”

“It was nice the family let you attend. Thanks for standing for us.”

More words they’d want to hear. “Was my honor.”

By the time he made it to his desk, Bao could feel his neck tightening up. He’d have a wicked headache within the hour. He sat, well aware the eyes of the officers were on him, and looked at the picture.

A candid shot. They were facing each other, talking across these very desks. As usual, Bao had a black shirt on and Kwaitowski a white, their jackets over the backs of their chairs. They even had a similar stance, both holding their coffee cup mid-way to their mouths.

The photo had a punchline, a little plaque on the frame: Chess Pawns. It was apt: Bao’s dark to Kwaitowski’s light. Black hair to blond. Brown eyes to a pale blue-grey. But just for that one candid second, they’d looked so much like mirrored reflections of each other—and that jackass Cardno had snapped a picture.

They really did look like chess pieces. Cardno had wrapped it up for them for Christmas last year.

Before one drunk asshole took away a man with twenty years of experience of finding and putting away human garbage.

Bao swallowed, and pulled his eyes away from the photo.

“Nguyen?”

Bao turned. Jess was going to be his new partner. No, scratch that. She was his new partner.

“What’s up?” he asked.

Jess leaned in. Bao caught the slightest scent of soap from her. She didn’t wear perfume. It had been one of the first things he’d noticed. Kwaitowski had been old-school, and stuck to his Old Spice even after a not-so-subtle memo about being considerate of others when deciding to splash on some aftershave.

“We’ve got someone confessing to Burke.” Her voice was pitched low, careful. She had a soft voice, too.

Bao’s neck flared. He rubbed it with one hand. “He on our list?”

She shook her head.

Probably a crackpot, then, Bao thought, but Jess’s expression gave him pause. She had tells. A little line formed between her eyebrows. A downward twist to her lips on the left side.

Jess believed this was real.

They’d only been partners a week, but he knew enough to trust her.

“What is it?” he asked.

“He’s asking to speak to you specifically. And…” She swallowed. “He brought the ring. Tagged and bagged. It looks legit.”

The headache erupted across Bao’s vision. He ignored it. He’d had lots of practice.

“Christ,” he said.

“He’s in interview A,” Jess said.

*

“Tell me,” Bao said, looking through the glass.

“Kenny Warnock. Walked in. Said he needed to give a statement to you.” Jess had a notepad open, but she wasn’t looking at it. “He lives four streets over—fits your theory about Burke’s running, though this guy isn’t a runner. Recent graduate, he repairs pin-pads, on contract. Goes to stores if their systems crash. Wasn’t on our radar at all. He’s younger than we expected: twenty-five. If I had to guess, this is his first.”

“And his last,” Bao said.

Not even on their list. That burned. Kwaitowski would have been pissed.

Kenny Warnock wasn’t much to look at. Brown hair, basic cut, hazel eyes, about twenty pounds too many on a five-nine frame. He sat and sweated in the chair. Wasn’t handsome, wasn’t ugly.

Plain looking.

That used to throw Bao. How people could look so damn normal and do the things they did to other human beings. Now he knew tattooed freaks who broadcasted their intentions were the exception, not the rule.

Warnock jerked in his seat.

Bao frowned. “Did you see that?”

Jess looked up. She’d been writing something down. “No. What?”

“He’s jumpy.”

“He’s a sick freak in a cop shop.”

Bao glanced at Jess. She shrugged.

Huh. Maybe he’d like working with her after all.

“Okay,” he said. “In I go.”

*

Warnock gave his name, address, agreed he didn’t want a lawyer present for his statement, and nearly leapt at the chance to waive his rights. Bao spoke slowly and carefully—he’d never screwed up on a technicality before, and he wasn’t about to start with Warnock.

Chad deserved better.

Kwaitowski did, too.

Warnock had started by asking for water. Bao brought him a full paper cup, and the pale man had drunk the whole in one long go, then handed him the empty cup. Bao kept it.

It was like Warnock was doing everything in his power to make this easy.

Bao’s neck ached.

“Let’s start with the ring,” Bao said. “Where did you get this?”

Between them, in a small plastic bag, already labeled and logged, was a small silver ring. There was a little silver bead—hematite—and it matched the nipple ring missing from Chad’s body.

“Missing” being a euphemism for “ripped from.”

“I pulled it off the boy.”

“The boy?”

“Chad.”

“When?”

Warnock had a weak voice. He cleared his throat, but it didn’t really help. He sounded perpetually hoarse.

“He ran by my house. He liked to show off.”

Bao said nothing. Often, people would fill silences. Kwaitowski had been a master at these moments, in no small part due to the way he could aim his gaze at a suspect and wait them out. Before he’d met Kwaitowski, Bao didn’t know you could do so much damage to someone just by looking.

Everything was being recorded. Let Warnock dig his own grave.

“Twice a day. Every morning, every night. He would run by, and if he saw me there, he waved. He liked when I watched. He liked it. I watched him. He didn’t have a lot of friends, he always came home alone. I don’t think his parents liked him very much—they were never around.”

By all accounts, Chad was outgoing, fit, a runner, and not at all likely to crush out on the attention of a pasty-skinned man peeping at him from his window. His folks both worked hard to afford sending Chad to a private school, and they thought the sun rose and fell on their kid. And Chad had been popular, but none of his school friends lived anywhere near him. He had a boyfriend, too.

They’d cleared him first.

Bao said nothing. Who people really were never mattered to guys like Warnock. It was who Warnock wanted Chad to be that mattered.

“I started to wait for him. I’d go outside. He said hello. Why say hello unless he wanted to talk to me? He’d run to the park, stop, drink water, and then run back home. So I went to the park. I brought my computer sometimes. He said hello. He always said hello.”

Bao was starting to think he needed to redirect Warnock back on track. Just as he was about to do so, Warnock jumped again. His eyes darted left, over Bao’s shoulder. Not into the mirror, not like he was trying to any people he had to know were behind the glass. To the corner.

Bao resisted the urge to look, but it was a close thing.

“I’m sorry. Sorry. I’m sorry,” Warnock babbled. “You wanted to know about the ring.”

Bao nodded.

Warnock stared at it, sitting on the desk between them, in the little plastic bag.

“He took his shirt off when it was hot. I saw it…” Warnock swallowed. “He wanted me to see it. He was proud of his body. He wanted…” Warnock flinched again. He screwed his eyes shut tight. “I kept thinking about it. What it would feel like to…to touch it.”

How the hell had they missed this guy? Bao breathed. In. Out.

Eventually, Warnock opened his eyes again. They darted left, behind Bao, then returned to the ring in the bag.

“He did something to his foot. That day. He was limping. I offered him a ride. Told him I’d go get my car. He said he’d be okay, he could make it home, but I went anyway, and I caught up with him on the road and he got in.”

Here it came. Two dog owners had seen Chad at the park. It was early, his five a.m. run. They’d seen him limping. But they hadn’t seen him interact with anyone.

“He got in. He hadn’t put on his shirt. And I…I…asked him. About the…” Warnock nodded at the little plastic bag.

“About his nipple ring,” Bao said.

“Yes.”

Warnock fell silent. Bao counted in his head. One. Two. Three.

“Sorry!” Warnock said again, with another twitch. “I…I touched it. And…he changed his mind. Said he was okay without the ride. Said he’d be okay. I asked him why he’d changed his mind about me, about letting me touch him, and he said things. He said awful things.”

Bao waited.

“He told me to let him out, he told me he was going to tell.” Warnock looked down at the table. “He called me things.” Warnock took a long, deep breath. “So I let him out. At the side of the road, by that…that field.”

Bao needed Warnock to say the rest.

“I got out of the car. He didn’t like that. He tried to run away—why was he running away? Why was he saying those awful things? He’d been showing me, teasing me… He wanted it. He wanted me to…”

Warnock twisted his face away from Bao again.

“I wanted him to shut up. To stop saying those awful things. I shoved him and he fell down and I got on top of him and I made him stop talking. I covered his mouth, and I made him stop talking.”

Bao leaned forward. “You covered his mouth?”

“And his…throat. He wouldn’t stop talking. He was yelling, and he was trying to hit me and kick me, but his foot…” Warnock closed his eyes. “Fine, okay, fine!” It came out almost as a yell.

Bao leaned back.

“I strangled the faggot. He fucking deserved it,” Warnock said. His voice didn’t sound hoarse at all, not now. “He led me on and then he called me a pervert. A pervert. I wasn’t the one running around with my shirt off, showing everyone that.” He aimed his chin at the nipple ring.

“And then?”

“I put him in the ditch. There was a big pipe. I put him in there. And I took…I took it. The ring.”

There. That would do. They could test Warnock’s car, the ring, his clothes, if he hadn’t burned them. Jess already sent officers to Warnock’s house.

Bao grabbed the bag and rose. Warnock’s eyes tracked it.

“You’re under arrest,” Bao began, careful with every word. No mistakes. When he was done he went to the door, ready to summon the cops to take Warnock away.

“He’ll stop now. Right?”

Bao turned back to Warnock. The whites of Warnock’s eyes were showing.

“He?” Bao said.

“He hasn’t let me sleep. All week. He never stops. He’s stares at me. He moves things. Grey eyes. He—” Warnock shuddered, then his gaze snapped away from Bao again, his head ducking. Warnock bit his lip so hard his jaw was shaking. His hands curled into fists.

Bao tasted bile. Groundwork for an insanity plea? Diminished capacity?

“I don’t know,” Bao said. “Guess that’s up to Chad.”

“What?” Warnock frowned. “No, I—” His words were cut off when he jerked in his seat. He shut his eyes and turned his head away from Bao. His body language was clear. He was terrified.

Not of Bao, though.

Bao rubbed his arms. It was cold.

He left Warnock behind, closing the door behind him.

He swore he heard the bastard say “Sorry.”

*

He rejoined Jess on the other side of observation.

“Good job,” she said. She’d flicked off the mic.

“Thanks. But he did all the work,” Bao said, nodding at the glass.

“Think his little breakdown at the end was legit?”

“I don’t know.” Bao shrugged. “I don’t much care. I suppose it’s on the tape, so it’s up to the court.”

She exhaled. “I’ll get on the paperwork.”

He looked at her in surprise. Her rare little smile was back. “Junior partner does the paperwork, I’m told.”

Bao laughed. “Kwaitowski’s rule, not mine. Coincidentally, I was the junior partner and he hated paperwork.”

“Don’t we all.”

She left. Bao looked through the glass again.

Warnock had his head pressed down to his chest, his eyes screwed tight, and his mouth was moving.

He hit the mic.

“I did what you said.” Warnock was almost crying. “Now, please go. Please.”

The door to the interview room opened, and two officers came to lead him away. Warnock visibly relaxed just as they got him to his feet. He took a long look around the room, a slow smile spreading across his face.

“Thank God,” he said. He was openly weeping.

The cops took him away, and the door closed behind them.

Bao hit the mic. He should catch up with Jess. Get things moving. Something still felt off, but there was no doubt Kenny Warnock was their guy. The details. That ring. It was him. So what was it itching at the back of Bao’s mind?

Was it just too easy? Because fuck that noise. Easy was nice for a change.

I did what you said. Please go. He shook his head. If hallucinations of Chad were tormenting Warnock, it was fine by Bao. He thought of the kid, how he looked in the photos they’d shared with the media. Already handsome. Dark, like the kid’s father. And—

Grey eyes.

Bao stopped, hand on the door.

All week.

Chad had brown eyes. Dark. Like his father.

Grey eyes.

Bao opened the door, and went to his desk.

*

Cardno’s pawns photo didn’t work, so Bao had to think of something else. He went online, loaded his Facebook page, and found shots from his birthday. There was one, he was sure, where…

There.

Kwaitowski’s arm thrown over Bao’s shoulder, both laughing. Kwaitowski looking right into the camera.

Grey eyes.

Bao closed his laptop.

He looked at Jess. She was typing, completely focused on what she was doing. Bao put his hands on his desk, trying to stop them from shaking.

There was paper beneath his hand. A file.

He picked it up. Opened it. Frowned.

“Did you put this here?” Bao said.

Jess glanced up. That little line appeared between her eyebrows. “No. What is it?”

“Old case,” Bao said. “One Kwaitowski and I never managed to clear.”

He never stops. He moves things.

Bao looked down. The drawer was open. It had been closed.

“You okay?”

Bao took a slow, deep breath.

It was faint. Barely a trace. But it was there.

Old Spice.

“Yeah,” he put the file down. “We got work to do, partner.”

Jess smiled.

He supposed she assumed he was talking to her.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

I got some solid work done on the novel this week, and I’m happy with most of what it turned into. I’m still behind from a daily word count point of view but my target is so low right now a good few days will put me back ahead, and I’m not worried.

I’m also thinking of reaching out to a local GSA, to see if they’d be willing to chat with me about some of their day-to-day activities. I may tag my neighbours kid to find out about that. We’ll see.

I like Cole. I hope other people like Cole. He’s a bit of a nerd and a geek (huge surprise, I know, I know.)


Of Echoes Born

Had a major revelation point at the gallery the other day, and I’ve figured out the order of the stories, and both how I want to begin the collection and how to end it. I’m so happy about this, as I wasn’t sure how to even approach such an ordering, and was basically going to throw myself on the mercy of my editor for their opinion. Now I have a method and madness.

Also, oddly enough, the character of Bao Nguyen from that short fiction contest? He’s going to be in a couple of the stories. So again, I should be happy. I got to flush out a character with that contest, if nothing else.


Open Calls for Submission

Every Wednesday I try to include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

March has not been my proudest submission month. January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new). March has given me 1 rejection, though I’m close to two submissions (both new). I will get it in under the wire, I swear.

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • Totally Entwined – Many calls, various dates and lengths.
  • Wet Summer Nights – White collar/blue collar, cross-town, wrong side of the tracks lovers theme; Mischief Corner Books; 10k-18k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Utter Fabrication – Haunted House or other architecturally-themed building; 1st-person; 500-8k world count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • A Fool For You – Tales of Tricksters; Less than Three Press; 10k-20k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Renewal – QSF’s annual flash fiction contest, queer content, “renewal” theme, as 300 word count; deadline April 10th, 2017.
  • Chelsea Station – Nonpaying, but a great magazine; deadline May 1st 2017.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.
  • The Witching Hour – Mythical creature visitation theme; deadline July 30th, 2017; 10k to 40k word count limit.

Writing Wednesday – Healthy Choices

I feel like my last few Writing Wednesdays have all been about me saying, “So, this happened…” with excuses as to why I’m off track with writing. Today, however, I got me a public service announcement type reason for why I’m off track, so cue the “more you know” rainbow, and here it comes:

Men, get your darned colonoscopies done.

Especially if (a) you’ve hit a certain age (men, that’s fifty, so while that’s not me, stay with me), (b) you’ve got family history (I have so much cancer in my family you have no idea), or (c) the magic combo of both, wherein your doctor looks at you and says, ‘You know, you’re only forty, but given your family history…’ (that would be me).

After hearing horror stories from others, I would like to come forth and say the worst part is, indeed, the evening before when the various medications make for a, uh, crappy night. Like, a very crappy night. I know, I know, too much information, but here’s the thing: it’s the worst part, but it’s not that bad. Truly.

And hey, worse than that? Colo-rectal cancers.

So! The experience itself isn’t bad either. Frankly, I had more discomfort wearing the robe than during the whole procedure, including giving birth two my lovely new polyps. I haven’t named them yet. We’ll figure that out when I learn if they’re cancerous or not. Maybe I’ll have a reveal party, with a box of balloons.

In all seriousness now, no joking, I’m fine. If they turn out to be malignant, they’ve already been removed, and I need to get tested again on a more regular basis. If they’re benign, I did something good for my health and I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled tests.

But if they turn out to be malignant, and I’d waited until I was fifty to get checked?

Well.

So. Guys. Go get checked.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

A wee sneak peak of one of Cole’s first teleports. He’s aiming for home, and kind of misses.

The good news was I was home.

The bad news was it was the wrong one.

Don’t let anyone else be here. Please don’t let anyone else be here.

The new owners of the house I’d lived in until I was ten had repainted the entrance hall a soft yellow. It was nice. Sort of cheerful. Did cheerful yellow-paint people freak out when teenage boys showed up in their homes unannounced? The coat rack didn’t have any coats on it. Maybe that meant I wouldn’t have to find out.

The dizziness passed while I stood there, breathing. Faster than the last time.

Okay. First thing, get the hell out of here. Preferably unnoticed.

I turned around, grabbed the door handle, and turned.

It didn’t budge. Locked and dead bolted.

One part of me filed that away as interesting information: apparently, I could teleport to the other side of a locked door. The rest of me tried not to notice how much my hands were shaking as I undid the two locks and cracked the front door.


Of Echoes Born

Fool

Where it all began!

Okay, I know I talked about the cover the last time but I still can’t show you and that’s killing me. What I can tell you is the cover features Ian Simon. Now, I’ll forgive you if you have no idea who Ian Simon is, but in a way, he was the first character I ever wrote.

In the short story “Heart,” which was my first published short fiction piece ever, in Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction, there is a moment when Aiden, the narrator, races to the hospital and meets his boyfriend’s boss in passing after his boyfriend has been hospitalized. All he really notes about the boss is his heterochromic eyes: one blue, one green. And that’s Ian Simon’s first appearance.

But chronologically, Ian was the first character I wrote completed stories for. I’ve just never found a home for them. One was a novella length work that I realized wasn’t suited to become a novel, and was too large for a short story collection. Another was restricted by format as I wrote it as part of a 100-words-a-day project where each instalment was exactly 100 words. And so on.

All that to say I can’t wait for you to met Ian Simon. He’ll finally have a story of his own for you to read.


Open Calls for Submission

Every Wednesday I try to include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

March is half over! While in January I did well: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new). March is currently empty (I’m so close to submitting a couple of things, though).

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • Totally Entwined – Many calls, various dates and lengths.
  • Wet Summer Nights – White collar/blue collar, cross-town, wrong side of the tracks lovers theme; Mischief Corner Books; 10k-18k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Utter Fabrication – Haunted House or other architecturally-themed building; 1st-person; 500-8k world count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • A Fool For You – Tales of Tricksters; Less than Three Press; 10k-20k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Renewal – QSF’s annual flash fiction contest, queer content, “renewal” theme, as 300 word count; deadline April 10th, 2017.
  • Chelsea Station – Nonpaying, but a great magazine; deadline May 1st 2017.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.

Writers Tips – Nathan ‘Burgoine

Kevin Klehr was willing to have me back a second time today, and I’m chatting about what I call my “Foible List.”

kevinklehr

This week’s Writer’s Tips comes from a Canadian writer who has guest blogged here before. Last time he spoke about the importance of speaking up. You can read that post here.

Nathan 'Burgoine Nathan ‘Burgoine

I first met him at the Saints and Sinners Festival in New Orleans, but due to my jet lag I didn’t get to socialise as much as I would have liked with my fellow writers. It’s a mistake I won’t make next time even if my eyes are struggling to stay awake.

Here are Nathan’s tips.


I recently sent in a manuscript for a novel, and the last steps involved something I’ve started to think of as my “Foible List.”

If you’ve ever been edited, you’ll know the slightly embarrassing realisations that come with the process. My very first short story, Heart, came back with a note about adverbs (I’m sure we’ve all gotten that…

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Writing Wednesday – Cover Me, I’m Going In

 

The day you get to see your cover is a big deal. I’m sure other authors you know have told you that. It’s magic. It’s amazing.

And it’s painful to have a draft of said cover and not be able to share it yet.

Gah!


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

After my unexpected trip to Hawai’i, I’ve been playing catch-up (I feel like I say that a lot, but… well… yeah I just say that a lot). That said, it’s amazing how restorative it was to be somewhere warm and bright and colourful.

So. Yeah. Back on track. It’s the new 30’s. Or whatever.


Of Echoes Born / Short Pieces

I have finished figuring out which stories go in the collection, and have planned and plotted out the ones I need to write still.

And because I’m in a great mood and I saw the draft of the cover of this collection today, here’s a tiny snippet from the mind of Ian Simon, one of the characters in the stories. He’s a psychic who can see the emotions of people around him, as well as sometimes pick up images of the past or future from things or people he touches.

Love isn’t red. That’s probably the first thing to know.

Despite what the greeting card companies would have you believe red has nothing to do with love. Love isn’t pink either, or fuchsia, or violet, or lavender, or any other shade from the Valentine’s Day rainbow.

Love is also more than just a colour, which I hope isn’t a surprise.

Start with the pale blue of a robin’s egg. Add the texture of feathers in a newborn chick, and the motion of a hunting bird in flight. Once you’ve got that soft, gentle blue soaring in wide circles, imagine all of it glowing from deep inside the chest and shining behind the eyes. Picture it reaching out from one person to another, and being met with the same light.

Got it? That’s love.

I have seen love in the elderly and the young. I have seen it in the weak, and the brave. I have seen it in the last moments of a dying woman, and within just hours of a baby’s birth. I’ve even seen it in the eyes of a dog.

But so far, I haven’t seen it in the eyes of someone looking at me.


Open Calls for Submission

On Writing Wednesday I try to include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

Hello March! While in January I did well: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was… well, it was the bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new). Onward to March.

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • Totally Entwined – Many calls, various dates and lengths.
  • Wet Summer Nights – White collar/blue collar, cross-town, wrong side of the tracks lovers theme; Mischief Corner Books; 10k-18k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Utter Fabrication – Haunted House or other architecturally-themed building; 1st-person; 500-8k world count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • A Fool For You – Tales of Tricksters; Less than Three Press; 10k-20k word count; deadline March 31st, 2017.
  • Chelsea Station – Nonpaying, but a great magazine; deadline May 1st 2017.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.

‘Nathan’s Audio Corner: Trigger – Jessica Webb (Bold Strokes Books/Audible – narrated by Ruby Rivers)

I’m over at the awesome Out in Print today, with what you need to read about all you need to read. Or, I guess, since it’s an audiobook: with what you need to hear about all you need to hear.

Out in Print: Queer Book Reviews

51wvavnbfulBuy from Audible

I’ve been a fan of audiobooks since I was first transferred to a bookstore that was over an hour’s commute by bus from where I was living. At first, I tried reading anyway, but in no time I was reminded of a childhood problem: reading while a bus is in motion makes me feel ill, fast. With a commute that was about to become sometimes as much as three hours out of my day, I bought myself a small Walkman, and started ordering bestselling books on cassette.

Let’s pause a moment to pay respects to any illusions you may have had of my youth.

As the years have passed, the audiobook has shifted in both availability and price. Digital distribution has made shorter novels accessible for the market despite costs, and with apps like Audible, my phone is all I need to carry dozens of audiobooks at…

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