Writing Wednesday — When it Rains

Anyone who has been a part of publishing knows the whole “hurry up and wait” thing that happens. Tight deadlines drop right before months of radio silence, and then all of a sudden it’s back to “I need this yesterday.” It’s just a part of the way things work, and as much as you try to balance everything, it always seems to land just so.

Case in point? This week. I’ve been working on the final edits for Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, and it’s been a total joy. And the proofs for Of Echoes Born are landing in my in-box at the same-time. They’re both due pretty much beside each other.

So, of course, I caught a cold.


I’m excited for both. I’m so happy they’re going to both drop this year (June and December), and it’ll be fine. But as I blow my nose and cough and work my way through each book line by line, there’s a part of me chuckling at the timing of it all.

Upcoming Appearance!

The 9th Annual Bold Strokes U.K. Book Festival has been announced (click the link for more details) and I’ll be there! Check it out, especially those of you in the U.K.

BSB UK Retreat

Submit, submit, submit…

I fell behind on my submission goals of once a month thanks to vacation, sickness, and this lovely new cold, but I’ll get there. I’ve got a piece I’m working on for this month, and another to play catch-up. But right now my yearly total remains: January: 1 submission (a reprint); February: 1 rejection.

Open Calls for Submission

I also try to list off calls for submission I find (and find tempting) every week on Writing Wednesdays, so without further ado:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
  • NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
  • Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing Patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
  • What’s Your Sign?—JMS; Looking for queer astrological-based romances; 12k words or more; Deadline March 31st, 2018.
  • Impact—QSF’s annual flash fiction contest, this year the theme is “impact.” No more than 300 words; Deadline April 1st, 2018.
  • Tru-Romance: Love in the Age of PrEP—Beautiful Dreamer Press; stories involving the impact the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis regimen has on the standard model of romance fiction; 4,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline April 15th, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k to 120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • Happiness in Numbers—Less than Three Press; Polyamorous LGBTQIA+ anthology, non-erotic polyamorous stories that explore the idea of “Family”; 10k to 20k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • MLR Press—Quite a few different themes are open; 10k to 40k word count limit; deadlines vary, but the earliest right now is April 30th, 2018.
  • Artefacts and Alchemy—Edge Books; Tesseracts 22 is doing a historical magical realism theme; 5k word count limit; deadline May 15th, 2018.

Monday Flash Fics — “Pick-Up”

Trying to get back on my regular posting schedule again. Post-holiday, there was the whole awful explosion in the romance community, and then I got sick and… well, anyway. I’m working on edits for Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, as well as final proofs for Of Echoes Born, and it’s time to give myself a moment to just revel in inspiration. So, back to Monday Flash Fics, which this week, brought this little gem:

Monday Flash Fic


The take-a-few-more-steps-and-turn-to-check thing is old hat, but the classics stay for a reason. You see the cute guy, you pass by, and then, a couple of steps later, you turn back to look. If he’s also looking at you?


I’m maybe not as overt as all that, but I’ve done it. I’ve even done more than just smile at the guy once it happens, though only the once, and it turned into a coffee date that didn’t repeat. Still, there’s a kind of happiness in those turn-and-look moments. You get to revel in a split second or two of not only not being alone, but also of being in the company of someone who finds you attractive.

Sometimes, you wink. Sometimes, you say “Hi,” even. Usually? You just smile, and then you both walk on, enjoying the moment.

But this was different.


I’m not GenTech. I should be clear about that. No one mixed and matched DNA to suit their purposes and then stirred for nine months until—voila!—freak cake, ready for frosting. No, I’m something different. Worse, according to most.

All that stuff the GenTech people can do? They learned it from somewhere. I got my stuff the old-fashioned way.

I inherited it.

That I’m living in Canada is one of the few reasons I’m still walking around, of course. No required screenings at birth. I’m lucky. But with the world government looming, and the pressure on the True North Strong and Free, I’m thinking soon enough it’ll just be the True North Strong, and then…


Then I don’t know. Given how the United Earth Charter seems so very, very clear on what is and isn’t human, I’m guessing it’ll be best if I find somewhere else to be. Mars, maybe, though lord knows the Reds aren’t much better. Luna?

Alone in my apartment, I practice. I’m not a teep, thankfully: I can’t imagine how in the world teeps stay off the radar. How would you even practice not thinking too loud? But I’m a teek, and a strong one, I think.

It’s not like there’s a lot of easily accessed information about it. And I don’t go searching, since I’m sure they watch out for people who search that stuff.

I can lift a lot—I’ve lifted my entire set of weights, and it barely feels like effort these days. I can lift myself, too, which was hard to figure out and I dropped myself often at first. The idea is to be so good at what I do that I don’t do it when I’m surprised. Or scared. Or shocked.

Which makes what just happened so dangerous.


I probably would have looked at him regardless. That’s the frustrating thing. He’s handsome. I’m not as keen on his black suit—not flattering, snub collared, so very blend-in-and-take-no-notice—but then again, that’s more or less what I’m wearing, too.

But that’s not why I turned.

It was the hum.

The closer he got to me, he walking his way, me walking mine, passing on an empty street in the night, the louder that hum got. Except it wasn’t a noise. It was… vibration.

Between us.

I could feel it happening and couldn’t stop it in time. An instinct kicked in. Found something similar and… reached out.

Three steps after, I turned, realizing with a cold shock what I’d done.

The look on his face matched mine, I imagine.

We were both about an inch off the ground. It wasn’t on purpose. My teek had just sort of picked him up.

His had done the same to me.

“Hi,” I said. My voice cracked.

“Hey.” He barely managed the word.

We both lowered to the ground.

Now what?


Sunday Shorts – “More Than Anything,” by Eden S. French

I’m still a little sick today, but after the events of the last couple of weeks in the world of romance, I put myself on a self-imposed deadline of today to start being once again vocal about awesome queer reads.

Luckily? I’d read three awesome queer reads on my recent vacation. The first was Yolanda Wallace’s True Colors. The second was Marshall Thornton’s The Ghost Slept Over (on audio, performed by Jason Frazier). Both were solid, enjoyable reading experiences and made for lovely companions on my trip.

After those two, I sat down with Queerly Loving 2, and it was just sublime. Now, I’m biased to the world of short fiction to begin with, but I sank into these stories, which started with the first one I’m going to talk about today, “More Than Anything.”


Queerly Loving 2, edited by G Benson and Astrid Ohletz, (ignore the cover image up there, which I realize says “#1”) has eight lovely little short pieces. “More Than Anything” kicks off the collection with a quick one-two punch that I really, really appreciated: it’s a sci-fi dystopia, and the queer is clear and present throughout. This is a story about a world that’s fallen to pieces, gangs rule the decaying city streets, and a tough young woman who can’t help but be a bit larger than life is out there hunting dangers for barter to trade away for her friend’s testosterone. It’s punchy, it’s quick, it’s complete, and it manages to be in turns funny, daring, and compassionate in turn. It’s a world I’d love to revisit, and how often do you say that about a city half in ruin run by gangs of mutants?

I while back I picked the brains of editors to ask how they organized anthologies, and the first story came up quite a bit: it has a lot of work to do, after all. It has to tell the reader so much about all the stories, even when it’s just a single story by itself. “More Than Anything” does that so very well: this collection, the story says, is gonna be awesome, unexpected, and so very, very queer. Buckle in.

I did, and I loved the ride.

Blurb: In part two of Queerly Loving, our authors bring you short stories with characters across the fantastic queer spectrum, with endings that will leave you warm and smiling. Trans love interests, demisexual characters trying to find their way in the world, bisexual characters dealing with a heartbreak in the best way, and lesbians on escapades.

Dragons roar into life, dystopian futures unfold, mermaids enjoy space voyages, and modern-day adventures will curl your toes and make you cheer. There are first kisses, friends that are like kin, and aromantic characters discovering their place among a queer-normative family.

Get ready for your queer adventure.

March Flash Fiction Draw Roundup

The stories are in! First thing first? Huge appreciative thanks to everyone who took part. Recent events in queer romance have us all a little dented, I think, so focusing on a romance flash fiction piece might have been some pretty awful timing, but I’m so happy to see such wonderful stories. You’re all amazing.

So, what is this?

Well, the Flash Fiction Draw is basically a randomized card-draw that spits out a genre, an object, and a location, after which writers have a week to come up with up to 1,000 words that fit the criteria. It’s meant to be for fun and inspiration, rather than for serious competition. I do a draw on the first Monday of every month (the next draw will be April 2nd, if you want to join in) and post results the following Monday, updating the post as I find new stories writers have written.

These were the cards drawn (and what they meant):

Flash Fiction Draw March Result

Given “Romance,” “A VHS Cassette,” and “A Fire Watch Tower,” are you ready for the results?

Here they are, alphabetically by contributor:

Lilly Amadu wrote “Light My Fire.”
Jeff Baker wrote “The Men Upstairs.”
‘Nathan Burgoine (that’s me) wrote “Where There Was Smoke.”
Alex deMorra wrote “Everything Was Fine.”
Cait Gordon wrote “I Wont Fogget About You.”
Elizabeth Lister wrote “Scrabble.”
Ralph Seligman-Courtois wrote “Guard on Duty.”
E.H. Timms wrote “Flapjack and Fire-towers.”
Jamieson Wolf wrote “The Colour of Our Love.”

Did I miss your entry? Let me know and I’ll add you to the list! And by all means join us next month, when I do the draw again on April 2nd. And if you want to see what people came up with for previous stories? The round-up for January (which was “A Fairy Tale,” “A Tattoo Machine,” and “A Prison”) is here. And the round-up for February (which was “A Crime Caper,” “A Compass,” and “A Soup Kitchen”) is here.

Where There Was Smoke — A Flash Fiction Draw Challenge

Here’s my entry for the first Flash Fiction Draw Challenge (the post for the original March draw is here). In case you didn’t know about this challenge, there’s a video here explaining (and showing the third draw), but the quick version: I used a deck of cards (three suits) to randomly put together a genre (in this case: romance), a location (in this case: a fire watch tower) and an object (in this case: a VHS cassette) and challenged anyone who wanted to play to write something over the next week, with a maximum of 1,000 words.

I ended up being inspired by something Jeffrey Ricker said, and went with a meet-cute romance, though with my usual lens of something spec-fic.

Flash Fiction Draw March Result

Where There Was Smoke

When his search for more about Richard Grant led to fire watch towers, Sal once again felt like he’d been born late.

Not really. A student of history loved history, but the present—being legally protected, say—was good.

But a forest job with minimal contact? Sounded great most days. Way better than chasing queer ghosts.

Not literal ghosts, of course, although ghost-hunting had helped. His first awareness of Grant had been due to an overwrought 80’s ghost-hunter episode.

Homo Haunt of Fire Watch 17.

It started with a footnote a buddy sent him, but forgotten queer history was his field of study. Sal tracked down the paper itself. The footnote referenced the defunct television show, and he’d endured bidding online with fans for the episode.

Winning a VHS cassette hadn’t felt like winning. He’d had to buy a VCR just to watch it.

The host—bleached 80’s hunk with a penchant for speaking as though required to use fifty exclamation marks per half-hour episode—had delighted in the story of the haunted fire watch tower and disappearance of the man who’d signaled the rare root fire that destroyed most of the forest. The ranger was never seen again. The queer thing came later: the host claimed police found “things” in the man’s house, “tainting his hero with homo!”

Sal hated the 80’s.

They’d filmed the episode in Fire Watch Tower 17. The host and his very buxom episode guest both claimed to smell smoke. There was even an onscreen haze in the air itself before they’d run—he shirtless and she barely buttoned—and claimed the haunting a success.

It wasn’t riveting television, but the history panned out. Richard Grant indeed called in the first signs of root fire, and he likely saved many lives of the small town that was razed to the ground by the sudden explosion of flames.

And then he vanished.

And later, yes, “discoveries” were made.

Climbing into the tower, Sal decided it was a lovely place to spend summer. He wondered how much of the original structure was intact. It was rented via online reservations now. Most fire watch towers no longer served their original task.

It had been a whim, but this would be a quiet place to collate his research and write up the chapter for his book on Richard Grant. He cracked screened windows and cross breezes cooled the place.

The bed looked comfortable. The desk was small but functional. And the view—three hundred and sixty degrees—was incredible.

Obviously, the forest had grown back over eighty years.

“No queers forgotten,” Sal said. It was his motto. He put the photograph of Grant up on the desk. It didn’t hurt the man in question resembled a young Oliver Sachs, circa leather-jacket-and-motorcycle. Grant wore a park services uniform, not leather, but he did it very well.

Born in the wrong year.

History crushes sucked.

He’d been editing for hours when he sneezed. His eyes watered, too. He frowned, blinking, and then it hit him…


He stood up, and turned, wondering what—

The smoke vanished. The smell, the sting, all of it.

He coughed once.

“Okay,” he said.

He sat back down. Grant’s disappearance was everywhere; his lap-top, notebooks, and scanned newspapers. After reporting a root fire ready to destroy the valley, he’d just disappeared. Assumption claimed he made a run for it, got caught in the smoke or flames. The tower had withstood, but the smoke would have been too much.

Sal read it all again. If only there’d been a way through.

He coughed.

The smoke was back. He stared, seeing it curl in the air around him, then rose from the chair. He wasn’t losing his mind. This was smoke. He turned—

It was gone.

“Nope,” Sal said. He grabbed his papers, files, lap-top and charger, and packed it into his backpack. He’d hit a motel, or sleep in his car, but screw Fire Watch Tower 17. He turned again, ready to leave.

The brightness of a summer day greeted him. Which wasn’t right, given how late at night it was.

Also, Richard Grant was staring at him.

“Where did you come from?” Grant said. He eyed Sal, not worried or even upset. Just curious.

Sal supposed he looked like a camper.

“You…” Sal managed. He turned again, and the daylight vanished.

It was a spot, he realized. A spot in the tower. An angle of looking. A very specific place, too. Sweat broke out across his forehead, and he retreated, turning slightly.

Richard Grant was still staring at him, only now he looked surprised. Sal wondered if he’d been popping in and out.

“You’re even more handsome in person,” Sal said. Which was dumb. It wasn’t exactly the most important thing.


“I’m sorry,” Sal said. “It’s just…” Just what? “There’s a root fire. This whole valley. It’s… It’s going to be bad.”

Richard Grant turned and grabbed a small CB radio within seconds. He didn’t hestitate. Sal looked out over the sunny day. He didn’t see smoke. Not yet.

Richard’s voice never rose, but by the time he was done reporting, it had begun. Sal could see plumes of smoke appearing all around them. The roots of the trees had caught fire, beneath the ground. It would be death out there, any moment.

He just had to pivot, and turn, and he could go home.


He vanishes, Sal thought. He just vanishes.

“Richard,” he said.

The ranger turned. He saw the smoke. He nodded at Sal. There was respect in that nod. And understanding, too. They were both likely to die now.

Sal held out his hand.

When Richard took it to shake, Sal pulled and turned.

Richard Grant knocked him over, heavy. They landed hard.

In the dark.

No daylight. No smoke.

They were face-to-face.

“Um. Hi,” Sal said.

Richard rose on his elbows, looking down at him. Still calm. Still handsome. “What… Where?”

“Actually,” Sal said. “It’s more of a when.”




Quick Update

Re: the current events in Romancelandia.

I have no idea what to say, honestly. I’m still a big brain foggy from the giant trip home and jet-lagged. When I re-blogged my piece on Pseudonyms vs. Identities, I was commenting on a piece of the conversation I was seeing on my phone.

At first, I hadn’t realized there was an ongoing explosion.

(I still think all the same things in the blog, though; a pen name is not the same as identity, and crossing the line from one to the other is not okay.)

Now that the explosion has happened?

I don’t know a whole lot more I can say. It looks like this went a lot deeper than even identity. It’s important not to drive the conversation back to “it doesn’t matter/the story is all that matters.”

Because it does matter. One of the few things any reader can do to try and adjust the biases of dominant voices is to support lesser heard voices. Co-opting one of those voices (even if you’re in other ways marginalized) is never going to be okay.

One thing I really want to stress is how this incident is not at all the same as trans, non-binary, or genderqueer authors and voices.

Do not turn this on them.

So. I’m going to take a breath today. On my vacation, I read some great queer voices.

Tomorrow I’ll likely start talking about those great queer voices again.