Sunday Shorts – “Overgrowth” by Anita Dolman

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Bold Strokes Books Catch-up Paperback Sale

Hey folks! I try not to spam too much in the way of deals, but Bold Strokes Books has one heck of a paperback sale going on right now (like, $3.99 US a paperback kind of deal), and many, many of the anthologies in which I have a story are a part of this deal.

You can see the entire list on sale here. You’ll notice many titles I’ve mentioned in the past as loving.

But! In case you’re wondering, here are the short stories included in books on sale for the weekend:

General Short Fiction


Erotica ExoticaAlso, if you’re interested in the Triad guys, the original four stories are included in the anthology deal (in order of timeline).

  1. “Three,” in the anthology Blood Sacraments.
  2. “Intercession,” in the anthology Wings: Subversive Gay Angel Erotica.
  3. “Possession,” in the anthology Erotica Exotica: Tales of Tales of Sex, Magic.
  4. “Necessary Evils,” in the anthology Raising Hell: Demonic Gay Erotica.

Erotica

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Young Adult

Sunday Shorts – “The Loft,” by Elizabeth Lister

coverSunday Shorts has kind of fallen by the wayside a bit this year—mea culpa—but I’m going to play some catch-up. I’ve been reading short fiction and novellas with a full on clip this year, but the reviewing part?

Well, as I said: mea culpa.

I try to be the guy who owns up when I fall behind (and having a public blog to hold myself accountable to said goals is one of the ways I do manage to say on track). Between the horrendously endless grey-white of winter and my own mood, I went south, dove into reading, and haven’t been writing much at all, let alone reviews.

So, to be clear: I fell behind, this has nothing to do with the quality of the books I’ve been reading, and I totally need to own my mistake in falling behind.

And speaking of having the guts to take ownership of a mistake, let’s revisit the guys from Elizabeth Lister’s James Lucas trilogy


Revisiting the trio from the James Lucas Trilogy was like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes (okay, maybe more like a comfortable leather harness), I slipped right into this novella.

When a former acquaintance of James’ becomes involved with a shady character and James’ efforts to help him backfire, Tate decides it is up to him to save the day even if it means putting himself in danger.

So Tate makes a couple of mistakes in this short novella, and from there the whole narrative spins forward. One: he allows himself a moment of jealousy when he sees a former client of James’ Loft days speaking with James with an obviously close confidence. That threatens Tate in a way his already polyamorous relationship doesn’t, and it’s from there the stage is set for his ever-increasing well-meaning but bad choices.

When Tate learns James’ old friend is in a troubling and potentially dangerous relationship, he dives into the situation without a lot of forethought, and of course ends up in danger himself.

What Lister does with these three characters is magic on a couple of levels. On the one hand, Lister does her research. Be it consent, contracts, kink of any kind (and there are some rarely seen kinks in this piece—sounding, anyone?), I have never found even a shred of fault in the depiction, which always walks the perfect example of “safe and sane.”

Two, the intersection of these three characters with very different points of view balances the queer mentality really, really well. These men live and breathe and exist in very different circles (I love that Lister writes a character who is involved in the church as well as a character who wants nothing to do with religion), have different ages and life experiences, and have formed a unit that’s strong without making the parts feel weaker alone.


 

In between making school lunches, driving her children to activities and snuggling in front of the TV with her handsome husband, Elizabeth writes very graphic erotica about gay men in love.

Her three full-length novels comprising The James Lucas Trilogy – Beyond the Edge, The Cross and the Trinity, and A Numinous Light – are available to purchase in print and ebook. This series follows the lives of three men drawn together by a mutual enjoyment of BDSM play and an undeniable attraction to each other. Beyond the Edge received an Honorable Mention in the Pauline Réage Novel Award category of the NLA-International Awards, which recognize excellence in writing and publishing about Leather, SM, bondage and fetishes.

Elizabeth is currently working on a series of erotic short stories called The Loft Series featuring the characters from The James Lucas Trilogy. These stories will fill in some details about the year following the events in The Cross and the Trinity, when Tate, Sebastian and James figure out how to live successfully as a cohabiting and committed poly-amorous unit, and let the reader be a fly-on-the-wall for more of their sexual journey together in James’ infamous loft playroom.

Elizabeth has also published two novellas, Exposure and The Crush, available in ebook format only.  She has also written two very sexy short stories, Apartment 1209 and The Beach House, available to read for FREE.

Sunday Shorts – “Teddy Bears,” by Brandon Witt

I’ve been a fan of holiday novellas since I first stumbled onto them. For queer folk, the holidays can really, really suck, and anything that manages to put a bit of cheer back into a time of year I find difficult is fine by me.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I have to really screen which holiday stories I’m reading. I seem to be mentioning this every five minutes lately, but if the main focus of a queer holiday tale is the reunion and reconciliation with an estranged family, it gets a pass from me. I want my queer stories to have chosen families, and to show queer folk finding their own way back to happy times.

Something a bit more, well, queer.

I’d never partaken in an Advent Calendar series before, and when I saw the theme of one was ‘Bah Humbug”?

I jumped on board.


Cover.jpgOther than working the front desk of a gay bathhouse in Denver, Brian McKay is a bit of a recluse. At the best of times, his social life consists of work, role-playing games at a local toyshop, and making YouTube videos with his Teddy Bear hamsters. The arrival of the holidays—with the annoying music, Christmas shopping, and all the reminders of how he disappointed his father—just reinforces his reclusive nature.

When James Olsen, a gorgeous daddy bear who frequents the bathhouse, notices him, Brian is at a loss. He’s not proud of his own bear status or his struggle with weight. The idea that James has interest in him beyond an easy hookup is more than Brian can fathom. But with a little bit of holiday magic, James might help Brian learn to accept Christmas again—and himself.


So Teddy Bears was a great little novella that explored a queer holiday from a bunch of fresh angles that I can’t recall seeing before:

One: both of the guys involved aren’t in their twenties/early thirties. (I love reading about guys my age or guys older than I am, frankly.)

Two: bears who aren’t just muscle bears! (And one who’s struggling to be cool with his body, which—hey—we’ve all been there, no?)

Three: nerd/geek who isn’t “secretly gorgeous super-lean model type once he gets new clothes and reveals his abs.” (Because no.)

Four: Buffy/Spike/Angel dwarf hamster YouTube stars. (No, like, really.)

Five: a bathhouse setting for a romance? (Yep.)

So, with that in mind, if you’re in the mood for a holiday story that lives up to its description, you’re well advised to nab this one for the next time you want something jolly, sweet, a little bit smexy, and funny to boot. This was a wonderful bit of warmth for a frigid winter day.

So, thanks, Brandon Witt.