The Student Surpasses the Teacher

I’ve always heard this is a good sign. And look! Here’s Ariell, whose 66-word story here appears BEFORE MINE in the 66 Twisted Tales chapbook.

I am a very proud Fairy Godmother. *beams*

If you have a Kindle, you can get the book right here for only 99 cents!

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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.


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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Genre Chick Interview: Luc Reid

Back on “Take Your Princesses-in-Training to Work” Day, Ariell and Kassidy helped me create a great questionnaire that I could send out to the ever-growing list of authors on my to-interview-list. After I sent the interview out, Ariell then started formatting all the interviews into posts for me. Hooray!

We start with my dearest longtime friend, Luc Reid. (Some of you may remember him from the Beauty & Dynamite essay “The Story Magnet.”) Not only is Luc the founding father of the Codex Writers Group, he is one of the original members of the League of Unextrpardinary Gentlepersons. Find out about his writing, his exceptional motivation, and his superpowers in this interview!


Alethea Kontis: Mac or PC?

Luc Reid: Both! I bought my Mac laptop solely so that I could use Scrivener on it, but I’ve used it enough now that I’m almost as comfortable on it as I am on the PCs I work on. I write on that Mac, various PCs, and an AlphaSmart (an outdated-seeming yet very useful device that basically consists of the world’s most rudimentary word processor with a full-sized keyboard and a four-line LCD screen. It cost me $30 on eBay, fires up in less than a second, and can dump data to a Mac or PC with a USB cable). I read and critique stories on computers, scrap paper, and my Kindle.

AK: Coffee or Tea?

LR: Neither, I’m afraid. Caffeine has nasty effects on me unless I administer it in carefully-managed doses–itching, headaches, high blood pressure, etc. You would think that an existence without coffee, tea, and chocolate would be pretty miserable, but once I got used to it, it got so it barely registers on the I-Care-At-All meter.

AK: Travel the world, or travel outer space?

LR: Can I say “both” on this one? Probably not, I’m guessing. Forced to pick one, I choose the World, for several reasons:

1. There are tons of fascinating people on it, and as far as I’m concerned, people are the most interesting thing conceivable. People seem to be harder to find in Outer Space.
2. Cheaper tickets.
3. Better food.
4. Free air. I hate having to pay for air.
5. Travel time measured in hours or days rather than decades or centuries.
6. Water parks.

On the other side of the equation, travel in Outer Space offers things like (possibly) alien civilizations, magnificent views, mind-boggling scientific discoveries, and all the rest–so it’s not an easy choice.

AK: Fantasy or Science Fiction?

LR: Both, again. Apparently I have trouble choosing individual things: I hadn’t noticed that pattern before. I’m also a compulsive black sheep type: you say tomato, I say tomatillo.

Anyway, sometimes I like digging into what the world could be like and what the universe might have to offer, and for that I need SF. Other times I just want to find out what would happen if chickens could talk or if some guy had a tie that made him invisible, and at times like that I tell physics to go jump in a lake and call the result Fantasy. I also am fond of alternative history, except that it’s a hell of a lot of work to do it right.

AK: What is one of your most irrational fears?

LR: My brain getting full. Ever see that Gary Larson cartoon with the kid who asks to be excused from class because his brain is full? That kind of thing completely creeps me out. I mean, brains are finite, right? What if I run out of space and start losing things like how the rocks felt on the shale beach when I was a kid, or the reasons for not worrying about death?

AK: What are you working on now?

LR: I’m revising, expanding, and reformatting my 2006 bookTalk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures as an eBook. There was a lot of material I couldn’t put in the book when it originally came out because of page limits, and I get to put some of that back in for the new edition. To get this done, I temporary stopped work on an alternate history novel set in a 1950’s America that has been fending off a decade-long Russian invasion. It’s not about war, though: it’s about musicians.

AK: If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower who/what would you/it be?

LR: I want to be “Insight Man.” I’d love to have some sort of beam I could blast people with that would give them immediate perspective on who they are and what they’re doing. People would say things like “Wait! I’m not even enjoying these chips–why am I trying to bury my emotions under junk food?” and “Hey, I could ditch this crummy job, sell most of my stuff, and live very cheaply while doing meaningful volunteer work!” and “Wow, this shirt definitely does not go with these pants!” I would use it on myself constantly.

With that said, I do already have a super-secret identity, which you already know and which I’ll share with the Internet as long as the Internet promises not to tell anyone: I’m Vertigo Man. I don’t exactly know what my superpower is, but I do have a trademark phrase that I use for people in peril on bridges, skyscrapers, Sequoias, space elevators, etc.: “I’ll save you! Whoa, hold on–that’s really high up!”

AK: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

LR: I’m not sure, but here are some of the failures and successes that might be on the list: I helped found an intentional community and devised a more or less unique labor management system for it. I’ve raised my son to teenagerhood without (as far as I can tell) seriously screwing anything up. I taught myself some Hungarian and spent a month in central Europe trying to found an import/export company. I earned a black belt in Taekwondo. I won second place in the Writers of the Future contest. I learned how to play a dozen or so musical instruments. Oh, and Charles Barkley sweated on me once: that’s cool, right?

AK: Coolest thing you’re about to do?

LR: I’d like to know that myself! I personally would like to vote for “Release an eBook edition of Talk the Talk that becomes phenomenally popular,” but only time will tell.


Luc Reid is a Writers of the Future winner whose fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Brain HarvestAbyss & ApexStrange HorizonsClarkesworld, and elsewhere. He writes a column called “Brain Hacks for Writers” for Futurismic, is member of the flash fiction group The Daily Cabal, and founded theCodex online writers group, whose members garnered 8 Nebula nominations this year (none of which were for Luc himself). His books are Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures (Writers Digest Books, 2006; with an electronic edition expected out this month) and Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories (2010). He blogs about writing and the psychology of habits at and can be found on Twitter @lucreid.
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Lucky Birthdays

Many customs say that it is lucky for a child to be born close to a parent’s birthday. This is a good thing, for my birthday is only three days after my fathers, and Soteria’s is four days after my mother’s.

Fourteen years ago, Fairy Goddaughter Ariell missed her father’s birthday by a mere seven minutes and seven seconds…so she must be the luckiest one of them all!

We celebrated to the nines yesterday, starting off the day with a delicious breakfast that included homemade blueberry pancakes and a present-opening ceremony that rivaled Christmas. (Around here, everybody gets presents!)

As Joe was cleaning up to take a birthday picture with Ariell in their new (and signed!) Collins River Logging t-shirts (if you haven’t seen Ax Men, you won’t know what this is), Joe Collins Himself gave my Joe a ring to wish him a Happy Birthday. It was so wonderful to hear his unmistakable voice on the phone, and such a joy to see Joe’s and Ariell’s smiles as they laughed and chatted. (Joe Collins is an incredibly nice guy. And I am the best girlfriend EVER.)

The last present of the day was a card for Ariell, in which I wrote some silly business and then signed it with the address to her new website…which is the geeky intarwebz equivalent of giving a girl a new car. Please pop by yourself and see the gorgeous design, her bio and publishing credits, and all the silly comments from her friends.

We bought glow-in-the-dark bracelets and Kassidy put together a playlist for the midnight dance party (the goal was to stay up until 12:07 and ring in Ariell’s birthday like the New Year) — but it was a very long day full of lots of shopping and even more fun and sleep beckoned. I wasn’t the only one losing consciousness, and to everyone’s grumpy chagrin, we went to bed. Kassidy says we should have had more coffee. She’s probably right.

But none of that changes the fact that yesterday was a wonderful day full of smiles, and today Ariell is one year older. Joe turned 41 yesterday and Ariell’s 14 today…it’s going to be a fabulous (and lucky) palindrome year!

I hope you are all having a similarly amazing weekend. xox

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The Princess’s Day Off

I sent a Tweet when I got home from the gym yesterday morning, and then I took the day off from the computer. The Fairy Goddaughters were out of school and my new desk arrived and needed to be assembled (that only took about 4 hours).Ariell and I went for a ride and got Starbucks and went to the library. We made hamburgers for dinner. I watched a cheesy romance movie and then fell asleep watching FGB try and beat this skeletony-bat thing in a WoW raid. The girls and I finished off the night hanging out in the kitchen, eating apple-monkey-bread and talking about random stuff. It was wonderful.

It’s always refreshing when I banish myself from the electronic world and take a real, stress-free vacation.

Of course, now I have *that* many more words to catch up on with NaNoWriMo, three book reviews to write, and a novel to revise. Which I will do. Directly after a nice, long shower.

May you all have a productive day! Go NaNo!

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Just Because

Ariell posted something on her Facebook yesterday that reminded me of a poster I got in high school (and still own) by SARK. I had it up on my wall for years, and it inspired me. It even inspired the Beauty & Dynamite trailer. On a lark, I went looking for an image of that poster. Happily, it wasn’t hard to find.

I think I need to  hang this up again.

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I wish…

We all make wishes. On lots of things. Ariell and I were just discussing this the other day. We came up with an incredibly long list of things — not that we wish FOR, but things we wish ON. It makes me wonder exactly how much time I spend a day wishing on things. Because, of course, I wish on them all.

What I can remember off the top of my head (and things I’m adding as they come in from the site comments, FB, and LJ):
Falling stars
first star
Birthday candles
four sneezes
Dandelion fluff
Full moon
lucky pennies
wishing wells
necklace clasps

What else do you wish on? Please put your answer in the comments. I’m curious…

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Contributing to the Lunacy of Minors

Back in July, a bunch of Apex authors received an email from Jason Sizemore outlining another one of his crazy schemes. He was all excited, jumping up and down (one can imagine), frothing at the mouth (one supposes), and going on and on about how great this e-anthology he’s come up with is going to be. He’s offering nickles for reprints and dimes for originals, but it’s going to be available almost instantly for pennies. The stories have to be horror, just horror, no other constraints. It will be a great avenue for promoting Apex and her authors (I always think of that Alien Head as the Queen) and please send Jason something by the end of the month, thanks.

I chuckled as I closed the email and set it on the back burner. I write fairy tales and dark fantasy and the occasional ghost story, but I’ve never just written horror. Hmmm.

I told the Fairy Godfamily about Jason’s email on the way to the beach for the 4th of July weekend. I heard a similar “Hmmm” from Ariell in the backseat. She and I had previously discussed doing a collaboration. Perhaps this might be the venue? I told her I’d forward her the details when we got home. Perhaps we could think of something.

Two days later, Ariell and Kassidy and I were lying on sandy beach towels in massive amounts of pain, having been stung by stupid jellyfish. Tomo, who skedaddled when we spotted the first jelly, was attempting to distract us with a story of some girl in high school who got crapped upon by a seagull and was called an unfortunate name (think “craphead”, only worse) for the rest of term.

“We could write a story about a boy who gets crapped on by a seagull and then kills everyone who laughs at him,” I thought aloud. “A summer teen slasher short story. Why not?”

“You could kill all the kids from Awesome Porch,” offered Kassidy, who is never at a loss for victims.

“I could write the death scenes,” said Ariell, who knows my weakness when it comes to writing. I just don’t get gory.

“We’ll call it ‘Life’s a Beach,'” I said. I pulled out my little yellow notebook and we all decided who should die and how. Ariell took the notes and emailed me the death scenes when we got home. Then she hounded me for days asking if I had finished the story…because Ariell knows all my weaknesses when it comes to writing.

I finished it. For her. We read it aloud to Kassidy, who approved. We sent it off to Jason and crossed our fingers. He responded, highly amused at what we’d done and said it would be perfect for the anthology.

The last time I spoke to Jason, he didn’t even have a title for the anthology yet. I guess he got one quick — Apexology: Horror — as well as a cover, ’cause it went on sale yesterday. Go on, order it. Support Ariell’s first professional sale! For only $2.99, you download a .zip file with all the epub fonts and pdfs your little heart desires. Scanning the ToC, I’m not sure which stories are originals and which are reprints, thought I recognize a few. All I can tell you is, if you’re up for a silly teen slasher story, the one Ariell and I wrote is definitely worth $2.99 all by itself.

Thanks, guys. And congratulations Ariell!

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