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66 Twisted Tales

You know those stories that you have so much fun writing and submitting that you completely forget about them until a friend mentions that they’re available for sale? Well, that’s what happened here.

Twisted Tales in 66 Words is a project that Kimberly Raiser came up with on Facebook a while back. She wanted to get 66 stories made up of 66 words apiece (not counting the title), and offered to pay us…was it 6.6 cents a word, or $6.60 for each story…heck, I don’t even remember.

What I do remember is that I had such a blast once I wrote one that I ended up writing a couple more. I told Ariell she should write some too. And then I sent a notice out to all my other idle writer friends on Facebook to challenge themselves if they had five minutes.

This isn’t some groundbreaking work by some major publisher…it’s only 48 pages and it’s on sale at Lulu for a little over six bucks. But how much fun can you imagine friends like mine had in 66 words? The only way to find out is to buy the book.

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Award winning authors…. Stories to break your mind. Within these pages you will find the things that not only go bump in the night, but bring fear to the things that do the bumping. Discover your new favorite authors and let your mind wander and wonder how 66 simple words put together in the optimum use of fright can have such an impact on your slumber. Join us….

Editor — Kimberly Raiser

Authors — Alethea Kontis, K.L. Nappier, Greg Didaleusky, Pavelle Wesser, Machael A. Kechula, Kimberly Raiser, P.S. Gifford, Mark Brand, Kevin Ranson, Ariell Branson, Dave Brookover, Gayla Chaney, Laura Fernandez, Damon Kaswell, Kevin Coryell, John Burridge, Micahel Barnes, Glenda Finkelstein, Gary Roen, Larry Hodges, Mickey Mills, Barry J. House, Rob Crandall, Heidi Ruby Miller, H. David Blalock, Tricia L. Sparks, Brian K. Lowe, Michael Barnes, Joe Balaz

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The Princess and the Unicorns

A few years ago — 2009 to be exact — I decided I was going to bring the unicorn back. I missed it. Not as something to bastardize or make fun of, but the honest-to-god legendary immortal being of magnificence and power. I remember reading all sorts of historical books about unicorns when I was a teenager, so I started collecting them again.

And then I started writing stories.For who better to bring the unicorns back than a Princess?

Now, selling stories with unicorns in them used to be about as east as selling stories with elves — which is to say, impossible. But I got Beth Wodzinski to cave and buy not only a unicorn story, but a STEAMPUNK unicorn story called “The Giant and the Unicorn,” against her better judgement. And that was just the beginning.

I wrote a postapocalyptic space opera called “The Unicorn Tree” and sold it to an anthology. I wrote what I consider to be the best story I’ve ever written — “The Unicorn Hunter” — for John Skipp’s upcoming DEMONS anthology. I even wrote a very short (500ish-word) new fable about the unicorn for New Myths, but their site went down when I wanted to submit it, and by the time it was back up again, I’d forgotten all about “Unicorn Gold.”

When Jason asked me if I had anything to contribute to his new Apexology: Science Fiction and Fantasy e-Anthology, I pulled up my fiction file and went through the stories one by one…and found it again.

“Unicorn Gold” is about a selfish prince, and the lessons he learns from trying to snare a unicorn. It’s a lovely little story — I’m so glad Jason came along to rescue it from the depths of oblivion known as the “AK WRITING” file.

I encourage you all to pop over and purchase Apexology: Science Fiction and Fantasy (only $2.99!) for your e-reader. I am only one of many stories on this fabulous Table of Contents!

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“Dedalus and the Labyrinth“ – J.M. McDermott
“The Imagination Hospital“ – Guy Hasson
“Ride of a Lifetime“ – Patrick S. Tomlinson
“The Komastu“ – Jennifer Brozek
“Stinker City“ – George R. Galuschak
“Tailfeather“ – Monica Valentinelli
“Temple of Regrets“ – Maurice Broaddus
“Haunted Empire“ – Deanna Knippling
“And Night Swallowed the World“ – Paul Jessup
“BollyWorld Gods, Bubonic Men, and the Cyberpunk Samurai“ – O.M.R. Anwar and M. Zak Anwar
“Coming Home“ – Gene O’Neill
“Extremum“ – R. Thomas Riley and Roy C. Booth
“Ride the Wild Wind“ – Gill Ainsworth
“In Her Image“ – Michael A. Burstein
“Unicorn Gold“ – Alethea Kontis
“Gemphalon“ – Elizabeth Engstrom
“G-O-O-D-B-Y-E“ – Nick Mamatas
“Covenant“ – Lavie Tidhar

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In Which Neil and I Duke it Out Again

Anyone who’s ever edited an anthology knows: there is a method to the madness. Some philosophies differ, but the two most important stories in an anthology are 1.) the opener and 2.) the closer. You want to start strong…and possibly end stronger.

Yes, even in literature, it’s fine if you want to eat dessert first.

Last year, John Skipp released a similar anthology called Werewolves and Shape Shifters: Encounters with the Beasts Within. It was (and still is!) an amazingly diverse anthology, filled with tales ranging from heartbreakingly sweet to positively gory (mine was one of the former). The incredibly impressive table of contents started out with Angela Carter and ended with…ME, closing the book out directly after Neil Gaiman.

It was a move that honored me right down to my toes, and one for which I will always love and cherish John Skipp. (In fact, I gushed about it quite a bit in this essay here.)

So late last year, when Skipp sent around another hush-hush email saying that he was looking for stories for another anthology — one about demons this time — I immediately said yes, as I had promised. And then an even more amazing thing happened: I had an epiphany.

I had been toying around with a story line for quite some time…decades, even…one involving Snow White and a Unicorn Hunter. For only Snow White knows what happened to her in the forest between the time the huntsman left her to die and the time she found the dwarves’ cottage. And really, who *better* to use as a lure for hunting unicorns than the purest, fairest princess in the land? But there was something missing, and I didn’t know what…until I got Skipp’s email. The moment I read the word “demon,” I knew exactly where she got those iron shoes — you know, the ones she made her evil mother dance in at her wedding.

So in four days I sat down and wrote the most amazing story I think I’ve ever written to date. I laughed; I cried; I didn’t want to let it go. It was one of the first three stories accepted into the anthology (I think Adam and Neil were the other two). I was so incredibly excited about it and couldn’t wait to share it with the world…only it was a secret and I couldn’t tell anyone!

Well, it’s not a secret anymore. John Skipp has officially announced the table of contents, and you can officially preorder Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed (nice title, eh?) off of Amazon already. Please notice that this time Neil and I have switched places there at the end, just to mix it up a bit for you.

Oh…I wish October would hurry up and get here. I can’t wait for you to meet my princess!

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  1. “Cherub” by Adam-Troy Castro
  2. “The Devil” by Guy De Maupassant
  3. “The Book” by Margaret Irwin
  4. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs
  5. “The Hound” by H.P. Lovecraft
  6. “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. “The Devil And Daniel Webster” by Stephen Vincent Benet
  8. “Nellthu” by Anthony Boucher
  9. “The Howling Man” by Charles Beaumont
  10. The Exorcist (excerpt) by William Peter Blatty
  11. “Hell” by Richard Christian Matheson
  12. “Visitation” by David J. Schow
  13. “Best Friends” by Robert R. McCammon
  14. “Into Whose Hands” by Karl Edward Wagner
  15. “Pilgrims To The Cathedral” by Mark Arnold
  16. “The Bespelled” by Kim Harrison
  17. “Non Quis, Sed Quid” by Maggie Stiefvater
  18. “Demon Girl” by Athena Villaverde
  19. “He Waits” by K.H. Koehler
  20. “Happy Hour” by Laura Lee Bahr
  21. “Staying The Night” by Amelia Beamer
  22. “Daisies And Demons” by Mercedes M. Yardley
  23. “And Love Shall Have No Dominion” by Livia Llewellyn
  24. “Mom” by Bentley Little
  25. “20th Level Chaotic Evil Rogue Seeks Whole Wide World To Conquer” by Weston Ochse
  26. “Consuela Hates A Vacuum” by Cody Goodfellow
  27. “Our Blood In Its Blind Circuit” by J. David Osborne
  28. “Empty Church” by James Steele
  29. Angelology (excerpt) by Danielle Trussoni
  30. “The Coda Of Solomon” by Nick Mamatas
  31. “John Skipp The Law Of Resonance” by Zak Jarvis
  32. “Stupid Fucking Reason To Sell Your Soul” by Carlton Mellick III
  33. “Halt And Catch Fire” by Violet LeVoit
  34. “Scars In Progress” by Brian Hodge
  35. “The Unicorn Hunter” by Alethea Kontis
  36. “Other People” by Neil Gaiman
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Happily Ever After

So there’s this amazing book coming out in June that you need to know about.

Once Upon A Time…

…in the faraway land of Story, a Hugo-winning Editor realized that no one had collected together the fairy tales of the age, and that doorstop-thick anthologies of modern fairy tales were sorely lacking…

And so the Editor ventured forth, wandering the land of Story from shore to shore, climbing massive mountains of books and delving deep into lush, literary forests, gathering together thirty-three of the best re-tellings of fairy tales he could find. Not just any fairy tales, mind you, but tantalizing tales from some of the biggest names in today’s fantastic fiction, authors like Gregory Maguire, Susanna Clarke, Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Aletha Kontis, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Briggs, Paul Di Filippo, Gregory Frost, and Nancy Kress. But these stories alone weren’t enough to satisfy the Editor, so the Editor ventured further, into the dangerous cave of the fearsome Bill Willingham, and emerged intact with a magnificent introduction, to tie the collection together.

And the inhabitants of Story, from the Kings and Queens relaxing in their castles to the peasants toiling in the fields; from to the fey folk flitting about the forests to the trolls lurking under bridges and the giants in the hills, read the anthology, and enjoyed it. And they all lived…

Happily Ever After.

Contents:
Bill Willingham – Introduction
Gregory Maguire – The Seven Stage a Comeback
Genevieve Valentine – And In Their Glad Rags
Howard Waldrop – The Sawing Boys
Michael Cadnum – Bear It Away
Susanna Clarke – Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower
Karen Joy Fowler – The Black Fairy’s Curse
Charles de Lint – My Life As A Bird
Holly Black – The Night Market
Theodora Goss – The Rose in Twelve Petals
Jim C. Hines – The Red Path
Alethea Kontis – Blood and Water
Garth Nix – Hansel’s Eyes
Wil McCarthy – He Died That Day, In Thirty Years
Jane Yolen – Snow In Summer
Michelle West – The Rose Garden
Bruce Sterling – The Little Magic Shop
K. Tempest Bradford – Black Feather
Alan Rodgers – Fifi’s Tail
Kelly Link – The Faery Handbag
Peter Straub – Ashputtle
Leslie What – The Emperor’s New (And Improved) Clothes
Robert J. Howe – Pinocchio’s Diary
Wendy Wheeler – Little Red
Neil Gaiman – The Troll Bridge
Patricia Briggs – The Price
Paul Di Filippo – Ailoura
Jeff VanderMeer – The Farmer’s Cat
Gregory Frost – The Root of The Matter
Susan Wade – Like a Red, Red Rose
Josh Rountree – Chasing America
Nancy Kress – Stalking Beans
Esther Friesner – Big Hair
Robert Coover – The Return of the Dark Children

Trade Paperback
978-1-59780-220-8
496 Pages – $15.99

That’s right — I’m in a ToC with Birthday Boy Jim C. Hines (Happy birthday, Jim!) and, once again, that pesky Neil Gaiman fellow. I’m not complaining at all. I mean, have you seen that cover? It’s GORGEOUS!I am so honored that John asked me to be included.

And if you like, you can preorder it now straight from Nightshade books.

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Reminder: Tsunami Relief

In the wake (no pun intended) of recent events in the Pacific, I’d like to remind everyone that

a.) Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology: Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy is still in print

and

b.) All proceeds still benefit the Save the Children Foundation. Save the Children currently has relief workers in Japan, helping children in need.

If you have not yet purchased a copy of this wonderful book chock-full of fun science fiction and fantasy stories form your favorite authors, now’s a good time to do so.

17.) You can  also text “JAPAN” to 20222 to donate $10 straight to @SavetheChildren for Japan relief.

Thanks, everybody.

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2020 Visions Now Available!

Hooray! The 2020 Visions anthology, edited by Rick Novy, is now available on Amazon!

This volume of near-future SF stories (so near that you’ll actually be around for them when they happen), includes my story “Pocket Full of Posey.” I can’t wait to get my hands on my contributor copy. I love this cover.

Get 2020 Visions now, in book form, for only $13.95. You’re ordering books for Christmas anyway — tack it on to the end of your order to bump your total up to free shipping.I assure you, it will be worth it.

(E-book versions and other purchasing venues will happen shortly. I’ll let you know where and when those will be.)

Thank you, and Happy Holidays!

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2020 VISIONS Cover Art & Preorder Info

The picture above is a proof of the 2020 VISIONS cover image by artist Jonathon Fowler, inspired by Alex Wilson‘s story “Nervewrecking.” I’m a big fan of Alex, and now a pretty big fan of Jonathan, too. The titles and whatnot will be added soon, but I love seeing the art before all the text is put on top. It has an entirely different feel.

Publication of 2020 Visions is set for November 15.

M-Brane is offering a pre-order special for the print edition starting immediately: $13.95, shipping included, plus a complimentary one-year electronic subscription to M-Brane SF Magazine. (Apologies to readers outside the US, but they can’t offer this special outside the US at this price due to shipping costs, though the book will be available in other normal channels after publication.) US domestic readers may click here and use the Pay Pal button to place their order (one does not need a Pay Pal account to use Pay Pal; credit cards and e-checks may be used by way of Pay Pal).

It’s a great deal at a great price, and I am honored to be one of the sixteen stories in this illustrious company:

Mary Robinette Kowal “Birthright”
Sheila Finch “The Persistence of Butterflies”
Randy Henderson “A Shelter for Living Things”
Jason S. Ridler “Showing Light”
Ernest Hogan “Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs”
David Lee Summers “The Revelation of Thought”
Jeff Spock “Teh Afterl1fe”
Emily Devenport “If the Sun’s at Five O’Clock, It Must be Yellow Daisies”
Cat Rambo “Therapy Buddha”
Jack Mangan “Dead Rookies”
David Boop “Organ Cloning While You Wait”
Spencer Ellsworth “The Black Plague of Our Generation”
Gareth L. Powell “The Bigger The Star, The Faster It Burns”
Alethea Kontis “Pocket Full of Posey”
Alex Wilson “Nervewrecking”
David Gerrold “Time Capsule 2120: Actual Comments from Lunar Tourists”

$13.95, shipping included, plus a complimentary one-year electronic subscription to M-Brane SF Magazine. With a deal like that, how can you resist?

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Limited Edition Princess

I have been notified that Zero Gravity, one of the anthologies I’m in this year from Pill Hill Press, has been selected to be released as one of their Limited Edition Hardcovers.

These Limited Editions are only available from the Pill Hill website (click here). They are available through December 31st, 2010. Zero Gravity will be available in late September, and is only $19.99.

That’s right! For only a few bucks more than the paperback, you can get a hardcover! So why wouldn’t you? Click on over and order yours now!

This thrilling collection features thirteen fantastic adventures set in the cold vacuum of space. Read about rogues, scoundrels, aliens, robots, heroes, junkers and priests as you explore the rich and creative diversity of the following stories:

Junker’s Fancy By Rosemary Jones, Leech Run  By Scott W. Baker, A Space Romance By Paul A. Freeman, Hawking’s Caution By Mark Rivett, Parhelion  By David Schembri, To Stand Among Kings By Kenneth Mark Hoover, The Unicorn Tree  By Alethea Kontis, The Beacon of Hope By Gregory L Norris, Tangwen’s Last Heist By C.B. Calsing, The Stand-Ins By Gef Fox, Glacier Castle  By Will Morton, Rescue By Margaret Karmazin, At One Stride Comes the Dark  By Murray Leeder.

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Dark Futures Now Available!

Trade paperback, 278 pages of dystopian SF…Dark Futures is here!

Lost track of which short story this is? Me too. (That’s why I keep this blog.)

Inside Dark Futures is “Black Hole Sun”, my short story collaboration with Kelli Dunlap.

According to the online bookstores, Dark Futures is already available. (only $10.76 at Amazon and B&N) Isn’t technology great?

Kelli and I will begin Tweeting the end of the world from Seth and Sunnie‘s Twitter accounts on September 30th. Follow us on Twitter to continue their story, or type in hashtag #blackholesun (which I swear I will try to remember to do).

Not had enough fiction with Soundgarten titles? There’s a great book with the same title out this summer: Black Hole Sun by fabulous YA author David Macinnis Gill. I loved Soul Enchilada and can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one. It’s got space crabs!!

What can I say? Great minds think alike. (About the title, of course. Not the crabs…)

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China: Yeah, We Already Knew About That

By now you’ve heard if it — China’s massive 11-day-and-counting gridlock traffic jam. It apparently started with an overabundance of cargo-bearing trucks and was compounded by road construction. There’s already a microcosm blossoming with its own population and economic system of supply and demand. And more importantly…where are these poor people going to the bathroom?

Some of you may remember Elemental — that fabulous anthology I edited which was released by Tor in 2006, only a few months before the original AlphaOops. All the proceeds went to the Save the Children Tsunami Relief Fund (and they still do). The very first story, “Report From the Near Future: Crystallization” by David Gerrold started exactly like this, only the traffic jam was in LA. It detailed how one simple traffic jam brought Life As We Know It falling down around our ears and changed society forever.

David’s story was picked up for several “Best Of” anthologies — he wasn’t the only one of our authors who did so, a fact that bade me very proud. But I wish there was a special Nostradamus Award for writers like this, who inadvertently put their fingers right on the button of what happens years later, as if they saw it through a magic mirror and were simply reporting straight from the future.

How very Fringe.

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