Two acceptances: Apex Magazine and Scifaikuest

Two pieces of good publishing news this week!

First, Apex Magazine accepted my 5100-word short story, “Lucky Old Sun”. (Yes, the title, and the story, reference the classic song, “That Lucky Old Sun“.) It’s an alt-history tale, set on the eve of a world changing event, and follows a couple of regular people. Not heroes or villains. Not policy makers, generals, or mad scientists. Just a small town, and the family next door.

I couldn’t imagine that story anywhere but Apex.

Publisher Jason Sizemore was running the annual fund drive, and I gave permission for my story to be a reward level in the drive. Meet the goal, and “Lucky Old Sun” would appear in their January 2016 special issue, rather than at the end of the year. And they succeeded! My story will appear in Issue 80, along with a new short story by Chikodili Emelumadu, extra poetry and reprints, and a new novelette by Ursula Vernon, set in the same universe as her Nebula award winning story “Jackalope Wives”!

In other news, I sold three science fiction haiku to Scifaikuest yesterdayOne will appear online; the other two in their May 2016 print issue. They published two by me last year, and I recommend them as a market: they’re one of the few places that actually pays for something as small as haiku.

After a year+ where I only sent out one submission – the poem which just appeared in Star*Line – it feels good to get back on the horse. I’ve got another poem out on submission now, and several stories that are in need of a revision, but just a little one, and then will be sent out.

I have this time. I’m not going to waste it.


Want to read my latest short story? Subscribe to Apex Magazine!


Apex Magazine is running their annual subscription and fund drive. Over the weekend, I heard from publisher Jason Sizemore that he’s accepting my short story, “Lucky Old Sun”, to be released as a reward level for giving! That means, if you want to see my story, please head over to Apex and subscribe to the magazine. Or, if you’ve already subscribed, you can donate to help with their operating expenses.

I know how hard it is to run and fund a speculative fiction magazine. Apex Magazine is one of the best, providing award-winning fiction to its readers, gorgeous art, and professional pay rates for its authors. They have a $5000 goal that they need to reach by the end of the week – but they’re only about $1200 of the way there. They need more subscribers if they’re going to meet, and exceed, their publishing goals.

Even though you’re already getting a year of amazing work when you subscribe, you’ll also get rewards for helping Apex reach their goals, since each level of donations unlocks a new interview, poem, or story that will appear in Issue 80 (January 2016):

The current ToC for Issue 80 includes brand new stories from Ursula Vernon, Lettie Prell, and Jennifer Hyke, poetry by Samson Stormcrow Hayes, Zebulon Huset, Anton Rose, and Greg Leunig, and a nonfiction article by Lucy A. Snyder. The cover art is by Matt Davis.

As we reach goals in our subscription drive we will add to the following to the ToC:

  • $500 – A 5th piece of original poetry (UNLOCKED!)
  • $1,000 – A new short story by Chikodili Emelumadu! (UNLOCKED!)
  • $2,000 – Interview with Chikodili Emelumadu
  • $2,500 – A 6th piece of original poetry
  • $3,000 – Interview with Ursula Vernon
  • $3,500 – A new short story by Carrie Cuinn!
  • $4,000 – A second reprint exclusive to the Apex Magazine eBook/subscriber edition
  • $5,000 – A new novelette by Ursula Vernon, set in the same universe as her Nebula award winning story “Jackalope Wives”!
  • $6,500 – Stretch Goal! We will open to short fiction submissions on December 1st, 2015, rather than January 1st, 2016.

Read more, subscribe, or donate here.


What I’ve Been Reading: Rickert, Burstein, Sharma, Tobler

This week’s reading was a collection of stories I randomly discovered online, either because someone recommended it, or because I stumbled it across it while looking for something else.

The Mothers of Voorhisvill”  by Mary Rickert, (novella)

5 out of 5 stars

There is a grandeur to Rickert’s work which is almost immediately obvious but not overwhelming. You begin to read the tale she’s written, sentences unfolding simply, with hints of strangeness, until a few paragraphs in you start to see the edges of the world she’s created — and it hits you. It’s never “let me tell you about every aspect of this setting for three pages before anything happens”. It’s not “this happened and then this happened and then this happened”. She understands her characters, where they live and how they move about in that place, so well that when she writes the story, it’s just you (the reader) and them (the fictional characters), having a dialogue.

Reading Rickert is like listening to the chatty neighbors you’d never noticed until they happened to be the most fascinating people you’ve ever met. You’ll find everything you’re looking for by the time it’s done.

The shape of this story is as a series of interviews conducted with various women who’ve, they admit at the beginning, done something terrible, or wonderful, and now they’re explaining why. There’s contrast between the things they’re admitting, the events they’re saying didn’t happen quite that way, and and the moments of “well, sure, it did happen, but she’s completely wrong about the way she describes it”. We read how the women see not only the events of the story but their own worlds so differently from one another. All the pieces of “Mothers”, not disparate but simply not the same, weave together until what you finally have is so large, so monstrous and beautiful and greater than you’d imagined, that “grandeur” is the best word to describe it.

There are definite hints of Witches of Eastwick, and Nightvale, but there are sensual details — the hundred scents, the beauty of light, of women, of creative arts — which swell as the women do, breaking free from other influences. Those details carry on as the story changes, gets darker and more desperate, breathing life into individual moments with the names of board games, the color of jam. It’s real without being weighted down; terrible in the way that it makes perfect sense. I continue to be in awe of Rickert’s ability to tell a complete story, full without going on for too long, like a ripe peach on the last day before it’s plucked and eaten.

Kaddish for the Last Survivor” by Michael A. Burstein, Apex Magazine.

2 out of 5 stars

A SF tale about Holocaust deniers? You might think it would be preachy, pointed, too invested in its message, and Burstein’s story is all of those things. It was also nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2001, and it’s worth figuring out why. Continue reading

Review: Apex magazine (Issues 40, 41, 42, and 43)

I subscribed to Apex Magazine for the first time this year. By the time I got a chance to read the accumulated issues, I had four of them waiting for me, so I’m going to do one big round up. Because this is a multi-genre magazine, I made a note of what I suspect each story’s genre is after the review.

My favorite pieces from Issues 40, 41, 42, and 43 are:

Issue 40

“Sexagesimal” by Katherine E.K. Duckett takes the idea that the Afterlife was always meant to be a short term excursion  a place where we could digest the moments of our lives before letting go of everything else, and gives it a structure that makes logical sense. Very smart, great read. Shades of Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman.” SF.

“Sonny Liston Takes the Fall” by Elizabeth Bear invokes the image of real-life boxer Sonny Liston, mixes in some of the history of greatness, gives us a know-it-all narrator, and spins a story about winning that is more about the way it’s told than what’s being said. What’s being said is good, no doubt, but it’s the words that matter here, and Bear tells you this story like it wants to be told, needs to be told, so shut up, sit down, and let her tell it. (Reprint from The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction edited by Ellen Datlow, 2008.) Lit bordering on SF/Fantasy in an alt-history kind of way.

Issue 41

At first I thought Cecil Castellucci’s story, “Always the Same. Till it is Not” was a prose poem, a jagged, off-kilter stream of emotional words, growing into phrases, but those words developed as the narrator’s view of himself evolved, until the story appeared. Nicely done. Horror/Fantasy.

“Simon’s Replica” by Dean Francis Alfar makes me wonder why no one has pointed me toward Alfar’s work before now. Seriously, I expect better from you people. “Replica” is deceptively simple-seeming with a touching ending that makes the set-up worth the time invested in reading it. It says something beautiful. Lovely. Lit bordering on Fantasy.

Issue 42

“Splinter” by Shira Lipken is short and blunt, to the point, and a perfect piece of flash fiction (though I think it may have a few too many words to strictly be called “flash”). It’s a moment, a conversation, a story, a thing that happened, and it says just enough to be all of those things without having to be anything else. Wonderful. Fantasy/SF.

“Erzulie Dantor” by Tim Susman is a werewolf/ghost story set in Haiti after the earthquake. I appreciate when American authors try to reach outside of the US for source material, and the setting enlivens an otherwise straight-forward tale of a jealous woman. Didn’t love it but liked it. Horror.

Issue 43

Alethea Kontis takes a classic gothic horror trope and gives it new life by showing the us lovesick girl who gave the bad baron his start. “Blood from Stone” tells the oft-retold story of the baron in his castle, killing young brides one after the other, beginning not with the final girl whose brothers will save her from the baron’s clutches, but the first sacrifice that happened before the story as we know it. The modern dialogue toward the end felt out of place, but if you assume that Death is timeless, you’ll be fine. Horror.

“Labyrinth” by Mari Ness made me cry. I didn’t expect the ending, though it fit perfectly, and the first person narration wasn’t overwhelming. I’m labeling it Lit bordering on Fantasy, though there’s no magic in it, because maybe it’s alt history, and maybe it’s not.

“Relic” by Jeffrey Ford is a strange tale about a saint’s relic, talking fish, myth and thieves. It was I’m just starting to get into Ford’s work; if this is a typical story from him I’m going to love his writing. Weird Fiction.

Overall I’m enjoying Apex. Editor-in-Chief Lynne M. Thomas has a taste for borderline stories, tales that are just barely in genre, and that suits my reading tastes. It reminds me of Goss and Sherman’s selections for Interfictions, which I reviewed two weeks ago. In fact, Apex publishes work that is similar to my own writing, and I definitely need to submit to them soon.