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?



March Flash Fiction Draw

Aloha! (I say that because I’m in Hawai’i.)

As a kind of challenge to myself (and anyone else who wanted to try), last January I started a year-long monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge.

The first draw (which was a Fairy Tale involving a Tattoo Machine set in a Prison!) and the results were fantastic in January, and February’s draw (Crime Caper, Compass, Soup Kitchen) and results were—I think the general sentiment agreed—much more of a challenge. Well, it’s the first Monday of March, so I’m back and I’ve made the third round of draws.

I made a video of it (you can go check that out on my Facebook page if you want).

The chart from which the draws were made was this (minus the cards from previous draws, greyed out):

Flash Fiction Draw Chart

And the result for March? Ace of clubs, jack of diamonds, and queen of hearts. Which means anyone who wants to play along is going to write a flash fiction piece of 1,000 words within the following guidelines: a romance, involving a VHS cassette, set in a firewatch tower.

If you do participate, please pop a link to this post, or to the Facebook video above so I can gather all the stories again for a round-up post next week.

But the most important thing? This is supposed to be fun and inspiring. If it’s not working for you, take a pass. There’ll be another challenge on the first Monday of April (that’s April 2nd), from the remaining ten items on the list. The “rules” such as they are are pretty limited: You have to use the genre, the item, and the setting (though you can play a bit fast and loose within those guidelines), no more than 1,000 words, and the piece needs to be finished by next Monday (March 12th). That’s it.



Flash Fiction Draw March Result

Friday Flash Fics — Sand & Shore

Today’s Friday Flash Fics shot made me think of “Time & Tide.” That story is set in my fictional town of Fuca, British Columbia, where some of the families have a connection to various elements, and it first appeared in The Touch of the Sea. So I thought revisiting the fellows a little while after the events in the story was in order.

Flash FridayHe’s staring out at the ocean again.

I know I shouldn’t worry, but it’s hard not to. I mean, given what happened with his mother, and who he is, I guess worrying isn’t completely out of the question, but he swore the ocean hasn’t called to him since he decided to stay in Fuca, and I believe him.

So, it’s not that I’m worried the ocean will take him. Really.

It’s more that I don’t know what the ocean is saying to him now.

It’s easy to put a smile in place, though, and it’s not even false. Because he’s here. He’s staying here.

With me.

“Hey you,” I said.

Dylan turns, and a ghost of something passes over his face for just a second. I know he’s been crying, but I don’t think he’s upset or sad.

Even though we’re close to the water, I reach out and take his hand.

As usual, the sea reacts. The next wave splashes up high at us, even though it crests gently everywhere else along the beach. Dylan laughs, and that’s when I feel it, too.

It’s changed.

That splash—the ocean—it felt different.

Not painful, not willful, not even pleading.

The next wave comes in, and Dylan wraps his arm around me before I can pull away. I throw my own arm around his neck.

When the ocean touches our feet it sprays up at us, a jet of water.


That’s it. That’s the difference.

“That’s new,” I say.

“I think we’ve come to an understanding,” Dylan says. He kisses my forehead.

The next wave barely splashes at all. In fact, it almost feels like a loving squeeze around my ankles. Closer to what I feel from rivers, which speak to me the same way the ocean speaks to Dylan.

It’s… loving.

“I like this understanding,” I say.

“Yeah.” Dylan squeezes me, too. “So. My agent thinks the sundial piece is worth recreating, in multiple towns.”

“Of course she does.” I try not to be too harsh about her. She’s kind of a force of nature, and Dylan’s successes are in some ways owed to her. “But if it means travel, I hope you told her it would have to wait.”

“I did. But it doesn’t. I can work from here. Also, there’s a little gallery all the way in Ottawa that she knows. Features queer artists, she said. I could work some pieces for them, too.” He grins down at me. “Apparently? She was nervous I’d get all settled and content and never sculpt again.”

“Someone needs to tell her artists don’t have to be tortured.”

“I don’t know. You’re still trying to get me to cut down on coffee.”

“It’s not in the hundred-mile diet.”

“See? Torture.”

We stand in silence for a little while. The ocean strokes our feet.

“I’m just kidding about the coffee.” I bump my shoulder against his. “You know that, right?”

“I know.” He smiles.

“Want some?”

“God yes.”

We head back to our new home.

Behind us, the ocean says something to him that I can’t quite hear. Ahead, though, I can feel the river as it leads to the strait, like little shivers of happy laughter.

It feels like that a lot these days.


Writing Wednesday — Submit!

Last month I struggled with submitting my goal of “one thing a month” but I pulled it off at the last moment. This month, I’ve still not sent anything off yet, but there’s a week left. Also? I got a rejection, so, y’know. The writer’s life.

That said, this month I’ve been working on line edits for Saving the Date (and then the release thereof), front/back matter for Of Echoes Born, so… y’know, still writing!

Also, I’m heading to Hawai’i soon, so basically that’s giving me life.

I’m kind of hoping to write on the flight there, and some of the time I’m there. Last year, I ended up with quite the word count by the end of the vacation, and a whole short story.

Also! 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

Triad Magic

I got some major mental work accomplished on Triad Magic over the last couple weeks, and while that didn’t translate into a major word count, I feel better about the problem I was having (organizing the plot and the order of events was giving me a struggle).


Did I mention I was working on all sorts of stuff for Saving the Date and Of Echoes Born? Because that.

Other Short Stuff

Like I said? I got me a rejection. Woo.

So that makes the yearly total to be: 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.
  • Multipartner Anthology—ERWA/Excessia; Multi-partner erotica; 4,000 to 10k word count limit; deadline March 1st, 2018.
  • War on Christmas—ChiZine; Deranged and demented stories and poems that snap back against holiday schmaltz; 500 to 5,000 words; Deadline March 4th, 2018.
  • What’s Your Sign?—JMS; Looking for queer astrological-based romances; 12k words or more; Deadline March 31st, 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.

Saving the Date — Scars


Now available for pre-order.

I had a fantastic conversation with someone today that got me thinking about scars, and specifically the role of scars in Saving the Date.

When I made the choice to write Morgan as a character with violence-inflicted scars, I made the choice to also write him as someone who doesn’t have a positive relationship with them.

Why? Because my scars aren’t beautiful.

They don’t make me stronger. They’re not a map of a victory in my life, or a trophy I proudly carry. They’re twists of knitted flesh put there by violence.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had the following conversations:

“I really can’t see it.” This is the one on my chin, under the beard I always wear, revealed on the very rare occasions I shave. And while I’m glad it’s faint enough that some people can’t see it at a glance, believe me, I know where to look. If I’ve shaved and look into a mirror, it might as well be neon green.

“If people stare, let them stare. It’s their issue, not yours.” That’s…untrue. So, no. I’ll keep my shirt on, if it’s all the same to you.

“You should show people you’re not angry/upset/ashamed/whatever by your scars.” Why, exactly, is this my job? Also, you’re assuming I’m not angry/upset/ashamed/whatever. On any given day, I might be.

“They’re a part of you, and therefore special/awesome/wonderful/magical/some-other-positive-adjective.” I’m curious: would you say that about a tumour? I mean, that would be a part of me, right?

Now, before I come across too bitter or mean—too late?—I’m not a fool. I do understand these sentiments are coming from a good place. They’re meant lovingly. Our society as a whole is pretty darn critical of bodily “flaws” and scars are no exception. People who fight negative associations with scars are generally trying to reinforce how flawless=beauty=good not a good message. I completely agree with fighting the flawless=beauty=good message. But telling someone they’re wrong about how they feel about their own scars starts to feel off. Anthems about how you should love your scars, or how they’re amazing/awesome/beautiful? If I don’t feel that way, are they saying I’m wrong?

It can feel like it.

Scars also get put into terrible categorizations of whether or not they’re shameful, or tragic, or brave, or—my personal frustration—“inspiring” depending on how they were made.

Don’t even start with me with that inspiring nonsense.

So how do I feel about my scars? How did I write Morgan to feel about his scars?

Conflicted, for the most part. Or, on the best days, as close to a neutral détente as possible. I feel almost entirely the opposite about my scars as I do about my tattoos, and that’s as good an analogy as I can often offer someone: my tattoos are there because I chose to put them there, they are willfully induced memorials. When I see my tattoos, I see choice and remember choice.

My scars are the opposite. And my queerness is conflated with my scars.

Now, I can hide most of them. That little irony is not lost on me, as a queer guy. There are some—my knuckles/hands, the back of my neck—that I can’t cover, but people rarely comment on those: lots of people have scars on their hands. I sport a beard, so my chin is covered. And it’s not like having your jaw reconstructed leaves outward signs, other than having a way, way better smile and straighter (fake) teeth than I ever had before.

But my queerness is also the why.

I don’t love my scars. I don’t believe I ever will. What I have managed is that neutral détente, and it was hard won. They were put there by hate, and are an enduring, life-long reminder of that hate. I get why other people want me to think of them as a victory, or a badge of honour, or a trophy of survival, and I suppose in some literal sense they could be those things, but they’re just as much a reminder of what happened. And what happened was awful, not my choice, and certainly not worth it in some nebulous “made me stronger” philosophical way.

(And don’t dare take this opportunity to say “Everything happens for a reason.” I wrote a whole novella about that particular phrase.)

Other people will—and do—disagree with me. That’s fine. They’re not wrong about their scars.

I’m not wrong about mine.

Morgan is fictional, and as a queer man writing a queer character, I’m always nervous of accidentally putting forth some idea as “speaking for all” when I’m not. That nervous feeling doubled down with Morgan. Morgan is actively seeking out a one-night stand, through a matchmaking service, on the anniversary of his bashing. He’s trying to rob the calendar date of some of its power. He is seeking out being touched despite knowing it will be difficult. Some survivors do this.

Some don’t.

Both approaches are valid.

I did a lot with Morgan very consciously. He makes the first move in the story, precisely because he wants a good memory to associate with the date. He makes mistakes in the story, going a bit too fast and not communicating well at the beginning. He struggles with touch, even though he wants touch. He has a very mild shutdown, and works his way back out of it in no small part thanks to being with someone who can recognize the signs and talk to him. He relaxes partly because it’s a one-night stand service, clients are vetted, and the stakes and risks are low. He gets in over his head emotionally for the same reason. He makes assumptions about how the man he’s with feels about the scars. And throughout it all, he’s very aware that even a successful night won’t mean some sort of miraculous healing event has happened and never again will he be bothered by self-doubt or self-image.

But my goal with Morgan—the success of which I will have to leave up to the readers—was to show a happy ending coming to someone not in spite of how they feel about their scars, nor because of how they feel about their scars.

It just happens to someone with scars.


Monday Flash Fics — Temporal

Today’s Monday Flash Fics photo struck me as a wee bit historical (the hairstyle, the glasses, a stack of DVDs and video games and books and the watch and a man reading a physical newspaper), so I decided I’d found my Joey Brown. If you want to see him as a younger man, meeting someone very strange, he first appeared in another flash fic piece, Argot Status Green.

Flash Monday


Joe closed the newspaper with a sigh. Bad news, worse news, and…

Stop it. Stop thinking like that.

He checked his watch. The day was running away from him, but he’d earned the sloth. He was home late last night after the clinic. His volunteer hours had turned out to be more like a volunteer day.

And night.

Making positive into a positive.

He rubbed his eyes. Maybe another cup of coffee.

He leaned back on the stool, considering, and one of his sandals fell off his foot.

“If I believed in omens,” he said. “I’d be waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Someone knocked on his door.

Joe frowned, then shook his head. If it had been someone from outside the building, they’d have called to be buzzed in, so it probably meant it was Delilah from across the way. At least he didn’t need to find clothes. Delilah was the butchiest dyke he’d ever met—and he’d met many—and wouldn’t so much as blink if he wandered around naked. He was wearing underwear and sandals. It would be fine.

Well, underwear and one sandal.

Another round of knocking drew him from his half-reverie.

“Sorry,” he said, and put down his paper. He crossed his kitchen to the door to the apartment and undid the locks.

When he threw open the door, he froze.

It was him.

“Joey Brown,” the man said.

Joe croaked something, swallowed, and tried again. “You.”

The smile was completely disarming.

“May I enter, Joey Brown?”

Joe took an involuntary step back. He sounded the same. He looked the same. Like, identical. Okay, maybe he had new clothes—he still had that hat, though—and he looked a whole lot less like…whatever he’d looked like, but… It was him. The beard. The eyes.

“Ahn,” Joe said.

Ahn smiled. “Hello.”

Joe closed the door. “I didn’t… I wasn’t sure…” He shook his head. What happened to complete sentences? He used to know how to do those. “You’re back.”

“Nine point six years,” Ahn said.

“Right,” Joe said. “You did say that.” It hit him he was standing in front of Ahn in his underwear and one sandal. “Uh. Let me put some clothes on.”

“Okay.” Ahn was looking around the room.

“Be right back,” Joe said. He went into the small bedroom and grabbed some sweatpants and a sweatshirt. He put the single sandal back on, too. He ran his hand through his hair a few times, eyeing his reflection.

Ahn looked exactly the same. Like, exactly. Who kept the same hairstyle for ten—sorry, nine point six—years?

When he came back out into the room, Ahn was standing by his computer, and he had his hand on top of the monitor.

“How did you get into the building?” Joe asked, then winced when Ahn looked at him with a mild widening of his eyes. “Sorry. I don’t mind. It’s just, there’s a buzzer…”

“Ah, I did that wrong.”

“You look exactly the same,” Joe blurted.

Ahn regarded him for a long moment. It looked like he was deciding something.

“Ahn?” Joe said.

“I am,” Ahn said.


“I am. Exactly the same.”

Joe frowned, and climbed back onto his stool. “You’ve lost me.”

“I did not. I sought you out. I need help.”

“You have a very strange way of speaking, you know that?”

“I do. I am learning, but I will improve.” Ahn let go of his computer. “You are well?”

“I am.” Joe frowned. “And you knew that already, didn’t you? How did you know that?”

Ahn eyed the books on his bookshelf. “Many of these are scienctific fiction, yes?”

Joe nodded. “Yes.”


“Temp…” It took him a second. “You mean time travel?”

“I mean time travel.” Ahn nodded. And he smiled again. “I am glad you are well.”

“Ahn, what exactly does that have to do with anything?”

“Joey Brown,” Ahn said. “I need your help. With something temporal.”

Joe’s other sandal slipped from his foot.