Matches 3 – Turning a Phrase

I often talk about how I “dream in short story.” It’s a quirk of my brain that many nights, when I dream, I’m not involved at all. I watch from above as a story plays out (often with a pretty cohesive narrative, which is nice). I do dream where I’m included sometimes, but far more often it’s like I’m watching a movie instead. Today’s writing prompt matches come from two dreams where in the midst of dreaming, a character paused and made a clever turn of phrase that my waking brain remembered hours later.

CoverIf this is your first visit to my prompts (or ‘matches’) it’s in honour of a book called The Writer’s Book of Matches. It has 1,001 little prompts that are designed to give you something to work with. I often flip through it when I’m in the mood to just write without a specific focus. The book has three kinds of prompts: A single line of dialog; a scenario or situation; and assignment prompts where the book lists a series of three characters all reacting to a particular moment/event, and since I first got it, I’ve been noting my own prompts to myself the same way.

If you ever find success or just fiddle around with any of these ‘matches,’ please do let me know!


  • “Stealing kisses” becomes literal when a young boy realizes he has the ability to remove all memory of a kiss—and any love that came thereafter—from adults with a single touch.
  • “I know the devil’s in the details, but I never thought it would be literal.”
  • A man faced with a difficult decision over two potentially lucrative career decisions sleeps on it. When he wakes up, he discovers he can live “the best of both worlds” when he starts to slide effortlessly between a reality where he made the first choice, and another where he made the second.
  • Two strangers living in different cities who have never met start to “see eye to eye,” catching glimpses from the point of view of the other randomly throughout their day, with increasing frequency.
  • When a teen discovers an ability to skip forward in time by a month and meet with their future self for an hour, they concoct a plan to reinvent “paying it forward.” The future version hands over cash and information to the past version, which goes back and invests or saves it, accordingly. Soon, the teen is on the edge of being very, very wealthy. Write about the following three characters: The time-skipping teen in the future, who is wondering if they just vanish once their counterpart from the past goes back, or if the world will change around them; a fraud investigator, who has noticed odd duplications of certain serial numbers in a particular bank, but can’t otherwise seem to prove either bill a fake; a journalist following the story of the teen’s sudden fortune, who sees the teen meeting with themself.

See you next week, and by all means, drop any prompts of your own in the comments!

Matches 2 – It’s the End of the World As We Know It

CoverIt’s been a week, and I’ve been batting the idea back and forth with fellow author Jeffrey Ricker about these writing prompts potentially ending up collected somewhere. In the meanwhile, here are five more from my various notes/thoughts/journals/dreams.

If this is your first visit to my prompts (or ‘matches’) it’s in honour of a book called The Writer’s Book of Matches. It has 1,001 little prompts that are designed to give you something to work with. I often flip through it when I’m in the mood to just write without a specific focus. The book has three kinds of prompts: A single line of dialog; a scenario or situation; and assignment prompts where the book lists a series of three characters all reacting to a particular moment/event, and since I first got it, I’ve been noting my own prompts to myself the same way.

This weeks matches all come as fallout from various dreams and mostly due to my husband playing Fallout or The Last of Us. I often dream about the things I’m listening to, reading, or watching before I go to bed—one of the reasons I avoid horror—and my husband’s video gaming inspires a lot of subconscious thought.

If you ever find success or just fiddle around with any of these ‘matches,’ please do let me know!


  • Yellowstone erupts.
  • “Oh my God! Look at what happened to the moon!”
  • With only about twelve hours warning, people prepare for a Coronal Mass Ejection that will take down massive swaths of the power grid, as well as knocking GPS and most lines of communication offline. It will arrive sometime overnight.
  • “Look, we don’t have much time. You need to get to somewhere safe, before it all goes to hell. I’ll meet you at the cabin. I don’t know how long it will take me to get to you, but don’t leave, okay? We’ll never find each other again in this mess.”
  • A biological outbreak devastates the population in the days leading up to Christmas, with a nearly complete rate of fatality. In one city, this coincides with a terrible ice storm. Write about the following three survivors who find themselves completely alone: A grade school teacher, who fell ill with the outbreak and thought he would die but wakes up in the hospital, the only survivor in the building; a truck driver who just made it to the city before the ice storm hit; and first year university student on his way home to his family for the holidays who was at the airport when all planes were grounded and doesn’t know anyone in the city at all.

See you next week, and by all means, drop any prompts of your own in the comments!

Writing Wednesday – Submit!

Thanks to the Flash Fiction Challenge, from NYCMidnight, I feel so much better this week about the state of the ‘Nathan. Last time, I made it to honourable mention in the first round of the earlier contest, which… wasn’t far, but like I said last week, it’s a challenge and it makes me stretch, so I put on my big person pants and signed up for another go.

And I loved it. At first, I was nervous: I got “fairy tale,” “a ticket stub,” and “an abandoned railroad car.” I started with the genre, pondering and thinking about what made a fairy tale, which fairy tales I liked, and then had my “click” moment when I remembered Pinocchio and the idea of Toyland.

So, for the contest, I ended up submitting “Pine Puppet & Candlewick,” which was a queer retelling of part of the story of Pinocchio. I have no idea if I’ve shot myself in the foot by telling a queer story, but either way, I really liked what I came up with, and frankly, if it doesn’t make it through the process, I can flush it out from the 1,000 word limit and I think I could find a new home for it.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

More success here. I’ve still got quite a bit ahead of me, but I’m happy with where I’ve set down Cole with his family, with Malik (I wrote the scene where Malik admits to Cole he’s maybe bi, and it flowed well) and I’m soon getting into the very meat of the chase/run/capture/escape stuff, which will be a complete shift in pacing and tone. I’m also really enjoying writing scenes with Cole seeing his parents interact: they’re a loving, supportive couple, which of course is that awful mix of embarrassing and awesome to a teen.

 Dad tapped his lips, and my mother leaned in for a kiss. They smiled at each other, and I stared down at the rice steamer because when they looked at each other like that I could never decide if it was the most awesome thing in the world, or if it was really, really gross.

Once they were done being gross awesome parents in love, my dad leaned over and checked the timer.

Five minutes, he signed.

I’ll set the table. My mom almost never spoke when she signed. Then again, she wasn’t planning to be an interpreter like I was. Watching them move around each other while she gathered cutlery and paper napkins was like watching a kind of dance. They touched each other in passing, little touches that weren’t necessary, but made my mom smile and my dad wink. It was adorable.

And gross.

Really, it was a wonder I’d ever made it out of therapy. Didn’t they know their kid was watching?

The timer flashed, and dad started serving onto the three plates my mother had left for him.

My stomach growled again.

I wondered how many calories it took to teleport.


Of Echoes Born

I didn’t make as much progress here since the flash fiction contest was on my radar for my non-Exit writing time, but this is fine. Not in the “dog in a burning building” way, either. It really is fine.


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.

July to date: 1 submission (1 new).

Previously this year thus far: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April say 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that).

  • 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.
  • Erotic Short Romances — Carina Press, an ongoing call for 10k to 17k word count limit.
  • The Witching Hour – Mythical creature visitation theme; deadline July 30th, 2017; 10k to 40k word count limit.
  • Holiday Stories – Ninestar Press is seeking queer holiday tales; deadline July 31st, 2017; 5k to 30k word count limit.
  • Haunted — Erotic stories centered around the theme of haunted, Mugwump Publishing; Deadline August 5th, 2017; 1k-5k word count limit.
  • Flint Charity Anthologies – Organized by Vicktor Alexander; deadlines throughout September, 2017; 5k to 20k word count limit.
  • Saints & Sinners Short Fiction Contest — Judged by Radclyffe; deadline October 3rd, 2017; 3k to 7k word count limit.
  • Futurescape Contest – “Blue Sky Cities” theme; 8k word count limit; deadline October 13th, 2017.

Wilde Stories 2017: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction – Steve Berman, ed. (Lethe Press)

You all know I love Out in Print, but this was extra-lovely to wake up to.

Out in Print: Queer Book Reviews

Buy from Lethe Press

Lethe Press’s Wilde Stories has always reminded me of the Pan horror series from Britain I loved as an early teen. This review occasioned me to Google the very first Pan volume, coming across names and stories I hadn’t thought of in years, including George Fielding Eliot’s “The Copper Bowl,” a delicious torture tale about a copper bowl with spiced meat, restraints, and a hungry rat who eats his way through a traitor’s lover. That one alone provided me with some nasty dreams for weeks. The stories in the latest Wilde Stories volume are just as interesting and far-reaching as the Pan classics, and even though the tales are short on rats, they’ll still lead you to some fascinating places.

The first stop is Steve Carr’s “The Tale of the Costume Maker,” a glittery little story that demonstrates the value of keeping some treasures to yourself…

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Matches

CoverMany moons ago, my friend (and awesome author) Mark G. Harris pointed me toward a book when I was feeling stumped about what to write. It’s called The Writer’s Book of Matches, and it has 1,001 little prompts that are designed to give you something to work with. I often flip through it when I’m in the mood to just write without a specific focus, and a few times now, those pieces have turned into short stories that have found a home in publications. The book has three kinds of prompts: A single line of dialog; a scenario or situation; and assignment prompts where the book lists a series of three characters all reacting to a particular moment/event.

I realized that I tend to now keep my own ideas in the form of these styles of prompts, to remind myself of thoughts that might, someday, be worthy of exploring. Given that I also tend to “dream in short story” many of these pop up overnight, and I scribble them down on random pieces of paper, and then…

Well. We all know what happens to those.

So. New thing. I’m going to collect them as I find/remember/come up with them and pop them into ongoing blog posts. And I’ll use the same format as that awesome little book. And if you ever find success with any of the matches, please do let me know!


  • In a rural area, at a big central high school that is fed students from various small towns around, fathers of popular kids are being murdered. Then a man is murdered who has a kid who isn’t popular, and thereafter another man who is childless. The detectives start to wonder what—if anything—connects them.
  • Five teens at a concert where the lead singer does a cover song realize they’ve slipped back in time about a decade to the same concert hall, where the original artist is singing the same song.
  • “It’s the last wallet you’ll ever need.”
  • A young woman’s cochlear implant doesn’t work—instead she starts hearing the thoughts of people around her.
  • The rich leader of a “Family First” anti-gay religious group is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant, and the only match on record belongs to a trans youth. How do the following people react? The trans youth, who only registered their DNA as an act of protest since gay men can’t donate; a member of the religious group, who reads about the story in the newspaper over breakfast; and the closeted reporter who leaked the story.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering which prompts from the book ended up as published stories? So far? Three of them.

CoverIn Memoriam was inspired by a discussion that came up around how much I hated the phrase “Everything happens for a reason!” but when it was time to write it, I remembered I had a piece inspired by a prompt on page 24: A man is given the ability to go back in time and change one event in his life. It turned out to be a perfect framework for the rest of the story.

“Transposition,” (included in Tricks of the Trade: Magical Gay Erotica) was completely inspired by the prompt on page 92: A family member disappears while vacationing on a cruise ship. When the editor announced the theme, I realized I already had a story rough draft pretty much complete that fit the bill.

And although it changed quite a few times, “Sweet William” (included in Saints & Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2016) began in its original form as inspired by one of the prompts on page 77: A death row inmate, convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, is asked to choose his last meal.

Writing Wednesday – Typa Typa Typa.

This last week has been much, much better. Wordcount is flowing, even I’m starting to get sick of the rain, and my books arrived for Romancing the Capital, which is in less than a month and oh wow, that’s really soon.

The other thing that will happen this week is the Flash Fiction Challenge, from NYCMidnight. I made it to honourable mention in the first round of the earlier contest, which… isn’t far. But it’s a challenge and it makes me stretch, so I’m in again. It all starts Friday, and tomorrow is the last day to register if you want to join me.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

I am back on track with my new word count goals, and although I’m still fighting through inertia (man, this book doesn’t want to flow at all, every scene is like walking uphill), I’m still supported by the magic that is friendship. Camp NaNoWriMo is helping.

Plus side? I got a scene drafted I’m quite proud of: this is Cole “landing” in the bedroom of his boy-crush with an errant teleport-gone-wrong when he is escaping some bad guys.

“Hey, hey, Cole…” Malik said. “Are you okay? Do I need to call someone? What happened?” All the while, he ran one hand over my back in a small circle, pulling me against him with his other arm. It felt warm, and safe, and I slowly got myself under control.

“Sorry,” I said again. My voice was rough. “I’m having a really bad night.”

Malik let go, and reached up behind him to his bedside table. He handed me a box of tissues. I used a couple to wipe my face.

“What happened?” he asked.

“I got snatched,” I said. It just came out.

It felt so good to tell the truth.

“What?” His voice rose, and we both flinched. We waited a couple of seconds, but no one came to the door.

“I got grabbed. They took me somewhere, and…”

“Wait,” he said. “Who? Who took you?”

“I don’t really know. There are a few of them. I’ve seen them around a few times now, and they said they’ve been watching me.” I shook my head as Malik shook his head. I sounded like I was insane. “I got away.”

“And climbed up my house and through my window?”

“No,” I said. I bit my lip. “No, that’s not how I got here.”

Malik frowned. I could practically see him deciding I was a lunatic.

“You’d never believe me,” I said.

“Try me.”

I took a deep breath, and used one last tissue to wipe the last of my meltdown off my face. How did I even start? The people who’d taken me were obviously like me: a teleporter. That guy had grabbed me and yanked me through a door with him, and we’d ended up in his creepy-ass cell.

“There’s something happening to me,” I said. “And, actually, it goes back to the locker thing.”

I looked at Malik, and he nodded, once. His dark eyes didn’t leave mine. It was really distracting to have him looking at me like that, so I stared at the floor.

“It’s going to sound insane,” I said. “And I can’t think of a way to say it that isn’t insane.”

“Just say it,” he said.

“I teleported.”

Malik blinked. “What?”

“I can teleport. It keeps happening. I start to go through one door and I end up coming out of a different door.”

He scowled. “Cole,” he started, voice low and annoyed.

“I dove though a window where the guy had taken me and came out through your window. I was aiming for my own bedroom. I guess I missed.”

“You missed.” Malik crossed his arms.

“It’s actually tougher than you think it is,” I said, annoyed. “I’ve only been at this a week.”


Of Echoes Born

Typa, typa, typa. Juggling the stories, the YA novel, and crafting my “Cards Against Humanity” game for Romancing the Capital (yeah, you read that right).


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.

July thus far? Nothing yet, but the Flash Fiction Contest will be a new submission on Friday.

Previously this year thus far: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April say 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that).

  • 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.
  • Erotic Short Romances — Carina Press, an ongoing call for 10k to 17k word count limit.
  • The Witching Hour – Mythical creature visitation theme; deadline July 30th, 2017; 10k to 40k word count limit.
  • Holiday Stories – Ninestar Press is seeking queer holiday tales; deadline July 31st, 2017; 5k to 30k word count limit.
  • Haunted — Erotic stories centered around the theme of haunted, Mugwump Publishing; Deadline August 5th, 2017; 1k-5k word count limit.
  • Flint Charity Anthologies – Organized by Vicktor Alexander; deadlines throughout September, 2017; 5k to 20k word count limit.
  • Saints & Sinners Short Fiction Contest — Judged by Radclyffe; deadline October 3rd, 2017; 3k to 7k word count limit.
  • Futurescape Contest – “Blue Sky Cities” theme; 8k word count limit; deadline October 13th, 2017.