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.


Sunday Shorts — “Peripheral,” by Jeffrey Ricker

CoverOne of the wonderful things about this lovely internet age in which we live is that I can connect with authors I adore through newsletters and blogs and updates so I don’t miss things.

Except, of course, I then miss things because I’m trying to keep up with newsletters and blogs and updates. It’s a Catch-22.

But that’s one of the things I love about Jeffrey Ricker’s newsletter: it doesn’t drop into my in-box so often that I’m struggling to keep up, it’s concise (hashtag-life-goals), and he often shares wonderful pieces of his writing that I can read while, say, I’m waiting for the freezing to kick in at the dentist because part of my bionic jaw went Sproing! again.

Case in point? “Peripheral.” Subscribers to Jeffrey’s Newsletter (which you can sign up for here) got a lovely e-collection of his short fiction recently. I missed “Peripheral” when it was originally published in UNBUILD walls journal (which you can now click and go read), so happily my e-reader and I sat, waiting for whatever that stuff they inject into my jaw to make it numb to make with the numbing, and I fell into this wonderful character facing his end.

Hobson is a scientist who has sent probes out into the great beyond, and is struggling with getting the connection to work just-so, and at the same time, his own living, breathing connections are also faltering. Added to this? An awful diagnosis.

As is likely obvious from my own writing, I really enjoy stories where characters face uncertain futures (or, more to the point, certain futures where it’s the timeline that’s the only real variable before inevitability) when they’re done a certain way. There can be triumph in a character staring down mortality.

There’s triumph in “Peripheral,” in a fantastic, spec-fic, and lovingly crafted way.

You should go read it.

(And you should go sign up for Jeffrey’s newsletter, too.)


Sunday Shorts — “Shoots and Ladders” by Charles Payseur

Something a bit different today for Sunday Shorts, in that I’m here to chat about a story I found online, Charles Payseur’s “Shoots and Ladders.” Click the title right there to go read it. I’ll wait right here.

Now, I bumped into Charles Payseur via twitter (he’s at @ClowderofTwo) and he’s a force for good in the world of short fiction and queer rep both. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know how much I love short fiction, and so finding someone like Charles is a freaking treasure trove for me.

And he’s flipping talented to boot.

bullet-408636_640There’s a lot to love about “Shoots and Ladders,” not the least of which is the casual queerness. I cannot tell you how much I love reading spec fic pieces where a bisexual character just gets to breathe, where there’s a slice of queerness, yes, but the queerness isn’t the tale in and of itself (not knocking those, either, but come on: the damn future can be queer, and I’m sick to death of it not being remotely so).

This tale doubles down with something I freaking adore: alternate realities, done through a personal lens. The narrative voice is brilliant, the iterations we join the character through are painted so clearly (and with such an economy of words) that even while I was reading I was marvelling. I love that feeling.

Finally, the tone. Oh man, handling that level of dark and light, bittersweet, or whatever you want to call the dichotomy at play here between exploration and a brutal (potential?) nihilism, it just freaking sang. Gah.

I’d be furiously jealous, but I was too busy being impressed.

Sunday Shorts – “Overgrowth” by Anita Dolman


Available from Morning Rain Publishing.

I’ve been working my way through Dolman’s Lost Enough story by story, a tale a week or so, for a while now. The collection as a whole has the feel of a dessert wine in that sense (and I mean this in a good way): I want to savour it, one small sip at a time. I’m not finished the collection, and it’s likely I’ll come back to it again before this year’s Sunday Shorts are done, but one story just smacked me in the middle of the forehead so much.

“Overgrowth” is a tale of vengeance, but to be clear it’s not just that by any means. At the story’s open, we meet Jules as she steps from her imagination during a wander to a childhood refuge to the reality: the slowly decaying farmhouse she and her friend played in is not doing well, and this may be a final visit.

Dolman weaves a complexity to Jules’ thoughts and character. She sort of snuck up on me, painted in light touches until suddenly I was looking at a full portrait of well deserved anger and fury, but the shift from those small strokes of her past to the dawning realization of where she is now—and why—both builds steadily and takes the reader completely by surprise. Her motivation to strike out at someone who abused her felt all too realistic, and far too easy to understand.

And the ending? Immensely satisfying. I put down Lost Enough after reading “Overgrowth” with a deep feeling of yes I’ve rarely felt, and a reminder of the power of things like #MeToo.

If only more justice was served in this style.

Written with style and elegance, this collection of short stories and flash fiction takes you on a journey of discovery. Set against the stark realism of the vast Canadian landscape, each piece highlights life’s compelling moments in the most poignant ways.

From broken youth to healing seniors, from love lost to relationships found, the stories explore the complicated and uncomfortable while embracing the incredible diversity found in humankind. This dynamic collection touches on cultural distinctions, the LGBTQ community, immigration, Indigenous peoples, and the marginalized aspects of society, opening our hearts to what’s lost or yet to be found.

Writing Wednesday — Just Another Winter’s Tale

CoverI have a surprise announcement today, in the form of an e-book anthology of holiday stories. Just Another Winter’s Tale was the brainchild of Matthew Bright (he of the brilliant Inkspiral Book & Cover Design), and is a gathering of seven wee tales of the holiday by myself, Matthew Bright, Nicholas M. Campbell, Michael Thomas Ford, Roy Gill, Gene Hult and Paul Magrs.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog entry re-telling the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and that story, “Dolph,” is my addition to the collection. Since I wrote the entry, I’ve had people ask me if they could have it in e-format, and now thanks to this collection, the answer is yes.

You can find Just Another Winter’s Tale on Amazon.

So! Apart from that awesome news, Writing Wednesdays are supposed to be about catching up on writing projects, and I gotta tell you, I’m still in a holding pattern of deciding what to work on next. I have so very many ideas, and that’s a good thing, but I’m going to let it sit a bit longer before I put together a pitch for Triad Magic and schedule out what I’m planning for the year ahead.

Promo Image

Open Calls for Submission

On Writing Wednesdays I also track open calls for submission I’m keeping an eye on, as well as keeping honest how I’ve done thus far for the year in submitting things for publication myself.

Previously this year: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), with 1 acceptance (new) and three acceptances (three reprints); in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April saw 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that). July: 1 submission (1 new). August: 1 submission (1 new). September and October: 2 submissions (2 new), and 1 acceptance. November: 1 submission (1 new). December has been 2 submissions (1 new, 1 reprint) and 1 acceptance. So, I officially managed to submit something at least twelve times this year, but not quite at once-a-month pace near the end there. Also, soon I’ll find out if I made it through to the next round of the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction contest; if I have, I’ve got one more flash fiction piece to write.

And now, the open calls:

  • 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.
  • Best Gay Erotica for the Year, Volume 4—Cleis Press; 2,500-5,000 word count limit. Original stories strongly preferred; deadline January 5th, 2018 (but the earlier the better).
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k-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.



Sunday Shorts – Sock it to Me, Santa! by Madison Parker

CoverRyan is assigned to Jamie Peterson for his class’s secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It’s a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he’d be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he’s going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that’s the reason he’s putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn’t be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?

This was a totally adorable little holiday short that I picked up because I saw Jennifer Lavoie had read it and loved it. Sock it to Me, Santa! is a short, sweet, lovely little Christmas story about a young man in high school who ends up facing his feelings—and coming out—thanks to a tie, a spider ornament, a sock monkey, and a out-and-proud classmate named Jamie.

Ryan is given Jamie’s name for a three-week ongoing Secret Santa where the gifts have to be handmade and all the pieces can’t cost more than $10. He’s freaking out. What if people find out he made something for Jamie? What if people think he enjoyed doing it?

What if he did?

This was just the right level of angsty and cute, and even the brushes with homophobic bullying felt real without overshadowing all the joy in the piece. If you’re looking for a mostly completely upbeat little short about a boy coming to terms with himself, and getting brave enough to stand up for others as well as himself, this is it. That it’s also got a dash of the holiday spirit just added the shining snowflake on top for me.