Sunday Shorts — “Das Steingeschöpf” by G.V. Anderson

Found in Wilde Stories 2017, “Das Steingeschöpf” has so many balls in the air, juggled effortlessly, that it’s going to be forever bookmarked in my mind for when people ask me “Isn’t short fiction limiting?”

No. No it is not.

Anderson’s story handles an alternate world post-WWI historical setting (as WWII is about ready to explode), a queer main character where their queerness is not the narrative in and of itself, magical realism, gargoyles, world-building, style, and a complete narrative arc all with just sixteen pages.

It’s freaking brilliant.

Now, without spoiling anything from the tale, it’s about a very particular sort of stone restorationist—one who has the ability to work Queckstein, a particular kind of stone that can absorb life and memory and gives birth to living gargoyles. This young man is barely out of his training, and comes face to face with a piece of living art, and an opportunity to work with—and repair—a gargoyle crafted by one of the greats. It may be beyond his skill, however, and he’s already fighting the stigmas of being one of Germany’s hated peoples. But is the chance too great a temptation?

Wilde Stories 2017 has so many wonderful tales in it, I’m sure I’ll revisit the anthology again with my weekly mini-reviews, but in and of itself, “Das Steingesdchöpf,” makes this year’s anthology a must read.

A man named Turing visits a museum to see its rarest automata; during the Plague Years, three artists seeking to express a voice for their friends lost to AIDS unwittingly create life; a far-future restaurant offers patrons questionable cuisine; an immortal assassin may be one step closer to a paranoid king, despite his unspeakable precautions; the very existence of a mysterious and ancient golden android challenges a clergyman’s faith…

Wilde Stories showcases the previous year’s best offerings in gay short fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. This edition includes award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Sam J. Miller, A. Merc Rustad, A.C. Wise, Martin Pousson, and more. The stories in this, the latest volume in this annual series, challenges the definition of life and infamy, existence and reputation, were chosen by Steve Berman, the premier editor of queer speculative fiction for more than a decade. Contains the World Fantasy Award-winning story by G.V. Anderson!

Available from Lethe Press, and wherever quality LGBT fiction is sold.



I know I already did my two wee posts about books I’ve read this year that I think would make great gifts, but the year isn’t done, I just finished Lily, and oh my gosh you need to get this into the hands of readers.

Especially readers who love, say, Neil Gaiman.


You want this. You want this so much.

Yep, that’s what I said. It’s totally that good, and people who love Neil Gaiman can be right sods to buy for because they snap his stuff up as soon as it’s out there. I remember this from the bookstore days, and I remember the frustration of having to explain to people that no, there wasn’t a new Neil Gaiman that had just come out that their daughter/wife/son/husband/friend/whoever wouldn’t know about. Most of the time, I’d try to find things that were almost as good to suggest, and I felt good about that.

If I was still working at the bookstore full-time, I would be handing this to each and every one of them.

The Blurb:

Lily is a girl who discovers she has the ability to see how others will die simply by touching them. Only she doesn’t want this gift, and takes extreme measure to protect herself from it. When her mother—because every fairy tale has to have a wicked (step)mother—sells Lily’s services to an evangelical preacher and his wildly popular travelling tent revival, Lily is torn away from the idyllic place she’s always known as home and thrust into a world of greed and manipulation that threatens to destroy her unless she can find a way back…if she survives the quest the old witch Baba Yaga has given her…or the attention of the tent revivalist who promises to save her soul. Lily features the eerie artwork of Staven Andersen and the moving words of award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford.

A word on this artwork? Ohmigosh. So dark and pretty all at once. I listened to this book on audio, and then went back and physically read it again after, just so I could touch the pretty hardcover.

And trust me, you want the pretty hardcover.

I’ll probably go into a more thorough review later on, once I gather all my thoughts, but I wanted to come forward right now and tell all of you wondering what to get that reader in your life that I have your answer, right here.

Get Lily, from Lethe Press (direct from the publisher), or, check your local brick-and-mortar through, or of course you can always look at the usual e-tailer suspects.

But seriously. That beautiful hardcover edition. So so pretty.

Queermas (Part one)!

I’m not done my holiday shopping yet (I know, I know, three years out of retail and I’ve become “that guy”). In my defence, I had a major fall last week on the ice and my arm, shoulder, and hand have been weak and aching ever since (I did something to the muscles near my forearm and elbow, I think) and the thought of carrying anything makes me twitch. At the moment, I can’t even lift a full cup of tea in my left hand without pain, so I’m going to be a bit later with my shopping.

If you’ve got any queerfolk who are readers on your shopping list this year, here are some of the awesome books I came across over the course of 2016. We’ll start with the books for guys into guys…


Available from Carina Press.

Chaos Station, by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

I’d already read Jenn Burke‘s Line of Sight and greatly enjoyed it, so I nabbed Chaos Station eagerly. I wasn’t let down.

The basic narrative set-up is simple enough: a soldier with some dark secrets and a friend in need ends up meeting up with a ship of shippers who sometimes delve in the greyer areas of the law. He hopes to affect a rescue before his former military friend ends up dead. What he couldn’t have hoped for was to find a man he once loved, a man he’d been told was dead, alive and acting as one of the crew on the ship. Their past complicates an already complicated mission, but gives both men a chance at something they thought long-past hopeless.

The world-building here is grand, and done in small steps and small revelations that help not to overwhelm the reader with too much, too fast. You learn about the war humanity fought with one of the alien races in broad strokes at first, and in detail as the backgrounds of the various war vets are explored. The culture that exists post-war is also revealed in bits, and you get a sense of just how much humanity suffered and lost, and how much work there still is to be done to recover.

Ditto with the characters: both the main fellows are definitely the walking wounded. Both men suffered in the war (in very different ways), and their scars (literal and figurative) are a major part of their characters. There’s quite a bit of angst in their feelings for each other, too, but none of it feels forced or unnatural. Survivor guilt, trauma, disability—there’s no “use magic technology X!” solution to the very real hurts these men have encountered. The balancing act with their more hopeful selves is all the more delicate because of this grim side to the narrative, but it’s handled well. I find I can’t handle books where the suffering is endless and the angst is almost a force of nature, and at no point does Chaos Station go that far. Better, the book is sprinkled with humour in places that serve as a great pressure valve for some of the harsher moments.

At the core, the romance is a major force in the novel, but it’s also not the entirety. The rescue mission, the foil of a criminal organization the crew has (albeit accidentally) angered, and the “family” sense of the crew all contribute to make a well-rounded adventure to boot.

There’s a full series ahead after this title, and I’m a few books in.


Available from Lethe Press.

Country, by Jeff Mann

I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of this one, and though any of you who follow my blog know I adore Jeff Mann, I have to say I was nervous about this one: it features a bunch of things I don’t necessarily connect with: country music, rural culture, and living a closeted life. But I shouldn’t have worried.

Following a big name Country star, Brice Brown, who is outed in the late 90’s, the exploration of homophobia is bang-on perfect, and all the more vicious given both the time and the culture. Jeff Mann’s voice is so lyrical and clear I had zero trouble connecting with a man so very unlike me, and yet found my empathy evoked. I also liked that Brice is by  no means a perfect man—he’s as much a product of his culture as those who throw hate at him from within it, and beyond self-loathing there are a few moments of pot/kettle that are deftly written. Brice is flawed, and that made it all the easier to connect with him. Mann explores depression, too, which is a welcome change, and there’s a sense of realism to the entire novel that keeps it from being a “happily ever after with rainbows” that would completely break the suspension of disbelief.

And, of course, the food. Some day I will learn not to read a Jeff Mann book while hungry. I don’t even know what half the dishes are, but I eat so damn much while he describes them.


Available from Bold Strokes Books.

Night Sweats, by Tom Cardamone

I did a Q&A with Tom Cardamone back in January, which you can read here. I should point out that I don’t normally read a lot of horror or darker fiction because it gets stuck in my head and I end up having nightmares, which is as pathetic as it sounds (more on that when I get to Christian Baines, most likely).
Despite not loving the world of horror, I read Pumpkin Teeth from Cardamone (which I adored), and read this book a story at a time during bright sunny hours so my subconscious has time to chew through the stories long before I headed to bed.

Listen. I said I’m not a horror reader usually, and I meant it.

Cardamone weaves darker tales which have a way of subtlety to them rather than visceral shocks. “Suitcase Sam” stuck with me for months after the fact, for instance. And Night Sweats, for anyone who likes horror, has a complete range of dark and disturbing to be had. It’s rare I can suggest horror, and to add to this my love of short fiction means Cardamone is a perfect suggestion for those queerfolk in your life who love the things that creep, crawl, and scuttle in the shadows.


Available from Bold Strokes Books.

Puppet Boy, by Christian Baines

So, this took me a long time to read and I don’t want anyone to think that reflects upon the readability by any means. It’s actually quite the opposite. These characters, who were in turns dark, empathetic, frightening, engrossing, and disturbing kept knocking me for a loop and—a quirk of mine—if I read tension thriller type books or horror books or dark psychological books and then go to sleep, I end up with bad dreams. So I measured this one out, read it when the sun was up, read it when I had something light and silly to do afterwards, and I really, really enjoyed it.
And only a few nightmares.

Kidnapping, rent-boys, Titus Andronicus, religious fundamentalism, exploration of sexuality, usury, dubious consent, there’s so much going on here and yet Baines manages to get Eric under your skin even as he makes terrible choices and you’d like as much to slap him as help him.

Normally, when I write a review, I try to give some hint as to the narrative, and I have to be honest, I’m not going to expand much on what’s listed on the back of the book, as I found myself enjoying peeling back the onion, as it were, and discovering each new layer. Much else would be a spoiler, and in this case, I’d say it matters.

Having already read The Prince and the Practitioner and The Beast Without and having enjoyed both, I should also mention The Orchard of Flesh was high on my “as soon as I can get my hands on it” list, and just as wonderful, though again I’m not done because there are squishy bits that make me flinch.


Available from Bold Strokes Books.

Soul’s Blood, by Stephen Graham King

Before I say anything else about this book, I’ll start with this: If you love futuristic sci-fi action adventure served up with smart stories, well-built worlds, and just a dash of romance, you don’t need to read the rest of my review, you need to grab this book and start reading.
But hey, if you want to humour me first, here we go.

The Maverick Heart is a sentient AI ship, one of the rare survivors. That sentient being, Vrick, travels the systems with Keene and Lexa-Blue, a pair who do what they need to do to get by and earn their living and freedom to travel the stars. When a former flame from Keene’s past asks them for help (and doesn’t take no for an answer), they find themselves enmeshed in the middle of a culture clash rapidly turning violent that could spell doom for a whole world.

Soul’s Blood juggles a lot at once. The three main characters (I’m including Vrick among these, who is my new favourite AI ever) are all engaging in their own way. I freaking adored Lexa-Blue, the more “shoot first and then shoot second” of the trio, though I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a kick-ass lady in my sci-fi. Keene is more of a “fixer” and technological in focus, and while his relationship with his former love is the starting spark of the story, he’s not relegated to “romance plot” alone, and both men show clear growth from their days of young love; yes, they still feel the spark, but they’re also grown men now, and one of them has the weight of his world on his shoulders.

I already knew Stephen Graham King could write solid space opera, having read and enjoyed Chasing Cold, but with action, intrigue, tech, firefights, and just enough breathing spaces between the chaos, Soul’s Blood brings an A-game.

Best of all, world building is artfully balanced. At it’s heart, the main conflict of the story is one of culture: two vastly different races living on the same planet on the edge of a war that would devastate both sides. Keene’s former love is a technarch of a highly technological society, and trying to stop attacks from a genetically modified people who have a vast array of psionic ability and a hatred of the technology that was used to create them. As Vrick, Keene, and Lexa-Blue learn more of the players and issues at hand, the reader is brought with them in a way that feels very natural. We learn about the specific planet in enough detail that it lives and breathes, and gain glimmers of the other systems outside that world in teasing ways that paint an enticing picture and leaves the reader ready for the next voyage of the Maverick Heart.

I, for one, can’t wait.

Spinning the Record, by Robert Hyers

This was my first book I chose for myself to read for a new “leave the house and all electronics behind on Sunday mornings and go read for an hour” plan with my husband. As I already love anthologies, and I knew I’d be pausing for a week between sessions, it was a perfect fit.

When I first came out, my brief experiences with the gay club scene were exactly that: brief. I had one brush with a rave, as well, and it was a wall of exclusion that was as clear as the bright colours everyone wore: You Should Leave. So part of me was worried I’d find these stories wouldn’t let me in either.

Instead, I was drawn in almost from the start, and impressed at how Hyers’ characters walked such a range within what does become a very tightly explored theme throughout. There are voices here we never get to see in most queer books: these aren’t your upper-class pretty twinks and muscleboys enjoying the clubs (though they are also there, they aren’t the characters who bring the stories to life). The voices shared in these stories are poor, they’re Latino, they’re the eyes who watch from within as well as without, and they’ve existed before, during, and after the hey-days of many versions of the DJ-hosted worlds of music, dance, and raves.

The drugs flow freely, the lines blur and criss-cross in an ever-changing maze of who is allowed in, and who will never be. There’s violence on the page as often as there is compassion (with a few scenes that left me flinching—though my own tolerance for violence on a page is set quite low). Manhattan (and New Jersey) are represented here in a way I’ve not encountered before, and I’m the richer for having read them. If there’s any justice, this anthology will get noise.

Specifically, quite a few tales struck me. ‘Stuart and His Mannequin’ tucked itself neatly aside my love of the speculative and strange; ‘Bosom Buddies’ had pitch-perfect balance between the hopes, joys, injustices, and frustrations of the drag world; ‘Mariposa in Outer Space’ was outright brilliant; and the final tale, ‘Spinning the Record,’ was the perfect final beats to a series of tales that never let the rhythm pause for a moment.

I’m really, really glad to have read this collection, and will be seeking out more from Robert Hyers.


‘In Memoriam’ e-launch has e-launched… for free!


Also, can we take a moment to bask in the glow of this cover? Inkspiral Book & Cover Design, folks. Learn it, live it, love it.

I had no idea it was happening, but it turns out my solo e-novella In Memoriam has launched. It was originally published as part of Wilde City Press‘s On the Run collection, so if you’ve got that, you’ve already got In Memoriam, but if you haven’t, and you like your romance bittersweet (but still funny), and with a healthy dollup of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff, then I shall point you in the right direction.

Even better? As of right now, the novella is free on Kindle, thanks to Lethe Press. I mean, it’s only gonna be a buck when it’s not free, but free is better, no?

Canucks? You can find said freebie here. US folk? Here. I’m not sure if it’s free on the other various Kindle sites, because I can only see pricing on the Canadian site thanks to my being here in Canada, but my understanding is it should be free across the various Kindle platforms, so… *waves hands* Ta-da!

The audiobook hasn’t launched yet, but I got to hear it yesterday and oh my gosh folks it’s perfect. The performer (who happens to also be author—and also the original editor of the novella—Jerry L. Wheeler, because why have one talent when you can have three?) The voice is spot-on. I’ll squee to high heavens when that’s available, I promise.

Sunday Shorts – Vacation Placeholder – What I’ve Got

I’m on vacation for three whole weeks, so Sunday Shorts is also on vacation. That said, I thought I’d list two of the short fiction anthologies I’ve been hoarding in my to-be-read pile, and then share a quick “I loved this!” review for another collection.

clockwork-canadaClockwork Canada is an anthology I picked up at Can*Con this year, and I’ve been eager to sink my teeth into it. I got to hear two of the authors read from their stories at the event, and the editor, too. Short fiction, steampunk, and Canada? How can I not?

I should note, this is part of a series of anthologies done by Exile Editions. This is the same publisher and series that did Dead North (Zombie Canada) and Fractured (Apocalyptic Canada), too, both of which I adored.

I also have Playground of Lost Toys from this series, which I haven’t cracked yet, but is seemingly darker and leaves me eyeing it in my usual ‘Wait, is this horror?’ way. We’ll see.

As well as all things Canadian, you know I try to keep an eye out for queer anthologies, and I was lucky enough to get a copy of Spinning the Record by Robert Hyers from Lethe Press. This collection was fantastic (you can read my review here, if you’d like) and was the first collection up on my little project to escape the online world for a while on Sunday mornings and just go somewhere and read with my husband.

What’s on your TBR pile these days? Have you read and loved a collection lately?

Giving Back

I don’t do this kind of post very often, but I hope you’ll give me your ear.

The book business is tough, period. But when you step further from the mainstream, things get tougher. And, if you’ve heard me chat about the subject before, you know that by “mainstream,” most of the time we’re talking “straight, white, and cis-gendered.” I talk a lot about how important diversity is, about how important access to diversity is, and about how important #ownvoices and our own community itself is.

And it occurred to me that I’ve missed a few opportunities to point out a way to support those communities.

Recently, Glad Day Books came to a crossroads. They needed to adapt their space (it was small, it wasn’t accessible, and from a business point of view, it’s pretty damn tough to make an operational profit with books these days—they were, and are, doing very well, but business isn’t about getting by, it’s about growth. They hosted a fundraiser, and pretty soon they’ll be opening up at 499 Church, as a bookstore-slash-bar-slash-coffee shop.

Frankly? I can’t wait to see it.

Which brings me to my first point.

Screenshot 2016-08-27 15.34.04

When Light was on its way to becoming a real, live first novel of mine, Ottawa’s LGBT Bookstore was on the edge of fading out. After Stonewall opened June 18, 1990 as the LGBTQ’s community place for literature and magazines. It became a place to meet and discuss books and find out what is going on in the community, and by 2012, David Rimmer, the owner, was ready to retire.

Luckily for the whole community, along came Michael Deyell.

The sharp eyed among you might realize both those names have characters named after them in my books, and that’s no coincidence. Michael took After Stonewall and created Stonewall Gallery, which kept the LGBT literature, and became Ottawa’s Art for Everyday Living experience. In October of 2013, among beautiful paintings, gorgeous jewellery, stoneware, glassware, and—yes—LGBT literature, I got to host the book launch of my dreams at Stonewall Gallery. Friends, family, and people I’d never met but immediately decided were individuals of obvious taste, merit, and class showed up for my reading, and the launch was brilliant.

Launch - Table

The table at the Triad Blood launch.

And entirely due to Michael, and everything David had done before him.

Fast-forward to this May, and I got to do the same thing for Triad Blood.

Again, due to Michael.

Through Stonewall, I’ve been able to bring stock to conventions, and not only get the word out about my work, but also support the bookstore who made it possible for me the launch my title in the first place. Every copy that Stonewall sells of my book is like a small, personal thank-you to Michael, in my mind.

Now, if you look at the title up there, it says “Stonewall / Wilde’s.” So what’s that about?

Wilde’s first opened in September 1993. After a couple of moves, Wilde’s settled onto Bank Street and has become the Village’s oldest adult store. The business was sold in 2015 and continues to evolve. Adult toys and accessories are more popular than ever. LGBTQ and Pride merchandise are more in demand.

And the space is no longer able to supply that demand.

Now, the business happened to sell to an awesome man named Trevor Prevost, and it just so happens Trevor and Michael are partners, and they’re looking to make a similar state for their businesses.

Stonewall has a basement that, with renovations, would not only revitalize Wilde’s ability to stock and sell, but would let both businesses operate under one location (and basically restructure their entire operational overhead).

What does that mean? It means more art. More literature. More events. More toys. More pride.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked ‘What’s the best way for me to support you with your books?’ I’m beyond blessed that is asked of me, and I know it’s a position of privilege to be in. But one huge way you could do so, right now, if you’re willing?

Help Stonewall Wilde’s happen. Their Indiegogo campaign is right here. There are reward levels, and they’re pretty darn awesome. And, if all goes well, I’ll be launching Triad Soul, and all the other books I’ve got in me, at the new and improved Stonewall Wilde’s. This is something I believe in enough that, just like with Glad Day Books, I donated my book’s advance to the goal.

I’m lucky enough to work at Stonewall on occasion, and when I work, I get to do the thing I love the most: I get to talk about the art of others, and suggest it, and sell it. Bookselling has been a passion of mine for decades. Heck, if every author I’ve ever hand-sold dropped some cash in the jar for this merge and renovation, we’d be half-way to the goal already. I love bookselling, and I’m good at it. I say that with pride.

I want to keep doing it.


Lethe Press

While Stonewall Wilde’s is a single fundraising goal (with a very real deadline), these next two are ongoing through Patreon, which is a fundraising process that is more of a subscription and monthly investment.

What’s Lethe Press? In their own words: Lethe Press began in 2001 as a home for queer and speculative fiction. Since then we have won numerous awards and acclaim for our books. Many readers feel like outsiders because of the sexual identity—our books are welcome reliefs to this problem; the gay and lesbian protagonists in our books have adventures, chase danger, fall in love, lead rich lives, and overcome the taint of homophobia. Our speculative fiction is imaginative and strange and wondrous.

We are the only publisher with Year’s Best anthologies aimed at gay and lesbian and (as of 2016) transgender readers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

Lethe Press is home to many, many of my short fiction pieces in the various anthologies the press has published, and as a writer of the fantastical, without Lethe, I have no doubt many of those tales simply wouldn’t have found a home.

Now, with Patreon, you can select a monthly level and garner rewards. I can tell you whole-heartedly that this level of support of a publisher creates a stability otherwise unknown in the publishing industry, and allows investment in new projects. I jumped at the ‘audiobook’ reward myself, because I constantly listen to audiobooks, and I’ve already started my first Lethe reward book. It’s awesome.

So, when it comes to #ownvoices, again people have asked me: “How do I support this?”

Well, if you’re wanting to promote LGBT voices, and you’re at all a fan of spec fic, sci-fi, fantasy, or horror? Look no further than Lethe’s Patreon, here.


Last in my trio discussion of ways to give back—but by no means least—I present to you WOC In Romance.

From the Facebook page:

Promoting the works of Women of Color in Romance Fiction. Brought to you by romance author Rebekah Weatherspoon.

This is place where readers and authors can find Women of Color who write Romance Fiction. **WOCInRomance Is Trans inclusive and open to gender fluid and non-binary authors as well.**

What defines “Romance” fiction?

Per Romance Writers of America: Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction. Click here to better understand the subgenres within romance.

Can I submit my work?

Are you a woman of color, well then heck yeah.

Can I submit someone else’s work? HECK YEAH!

We are always happy when any author includes characters of color in their work. We would love to keep this space of Authors Of Colors. Please do check out the #DiverseBooks movement and #WeNeedDiverseRomance, both of which focus more on characters in the books.

(If you want to submit work, either your own or a favourite author’s, go here.)

Now, you all know I love Rebekah (again, note the character name appearing in Triad Blood), and her work is brilliant. And so is the work of WOCInRomance. Via Twitter, I’ve discovered so many new authors.

Again, #ownvoices matter. Again, people ask me how they can help. Well, the Patreon page is right here. A sustained, important effort to bring noise to authors who are so often ignored and skipped by mainstream media, and connecting them with readers who are hungry for the stories that include them.


Husky Running

Success for these projects will directly lead to this Husky getting more peanut butter, and that’s a fact.

I know there are a billion things asking you for some of the limited attention, money, and time you’ve got. I live that, too. If you can, and you believe in these communities, please do give. If you can’t give, boost the signal. I don’t often ask for “shares” or “likes,” but this time—because it matters to me so freaking much, and I love these people—I’m going to ask you to do it.

And thanks. I’ll get back to crazy short story stuff, and silly updates, and lots of pictures of Coach pretty soon.

Coach, by the way, supports this message. The price of a coffee a month could make this dog smile. And lick his chops. And wag his tail. And don’t even get me started on his eyes