New podcast: “Dreidel of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah”

December 24, 2017

Today at Cast of Wonders you can listen to me narrate my own story, “Dreidel of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah.” Enjoy!

http://www.castofwonders.org/2017/12/cast-wonders-282-dreidel-dread-cthulhu-chanukah/

 

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Podcast: Things We Leave Behind

September 22, 2014

bannedBooks

My nearly-autobiographical story “Things We Leave Behind” is now live as a podcast at Cast of Wonders. In itself that’s very cool because COW produce great stories, and I have appeared there several times in the past. What makes this time special is that it marks my debut as a podcast narrator. That’s right — I read my own story!

When Cast of Wonders accepted “Things We Leave Behind” I asked if they had anyone with a slight Russian accent to narrate it. We listened to a few samples, but the narrators who were trying to fake a Russian accent didn’t sound very authentic; they tended to go overboard and sound like Chekhov on Star Trek.  So we looked in vain for a while, and ultimately I decided to take a stab at it.

Narrating is definitely not one of my better skills. My diction isn’t great, I have an accent, and I have no training as a voice actor. But I do like to challenge myself and to learn new skills. So I decided to try my best, and let the editors decide if the narration is acceptable. What you will hear was recoded in many takes (I bought a special microphone recommended by Marguerite Kenner, this one if anyone’s is curious. I learned about using a sound popper and about leaning close into the microphone to speak, and about covering my PC with a thick blanket so the background whirr of the fan can’t be heard on the recording.

These things really do make the recording sound a million times better. I’m still no pro — but I think it came out okay. Give it a listen and see what you think!

#SFWAPro

 

 

 

 


Paying Back, 2013 Edition

December 26, 2013

Every year, I spent a bit of money I’ve earned from my fiction on supporting worthy writing-related web sites and magazines, be it via subscription or donations. In the past, I made most of these purchases in December, but this year I ended up spreading it out more throughout the year because of so many worthy Kickstarter projects I simply had to support. Even so, there are two in particular that I supported this month that I’d like to draw attention to in this post:

Crossed Genres

This is a quality magazine that is extremely supportive of diverse voices as well as new authors. They began to pay professional rates at the beginning of 2013, and are now holding a subscription drive in order to continue to publish and to pay writers fairly in 2014.  I was one of over 300 people who already bought a subscription, but they aren’t there yet — they need 600 subscriptions total to fully fund, and the subscription drives ends December 31.  Click here for more details.

 

The Submission Grinder

There is a fine balance between supporting the writing-related services you love, and becoming an over-charged customer. When Duotrope became a paid service at the rate of $50+ a year, I could not justify paying that much for what they offered. I was happy to donate $20 per year in previous years because it was a) voluntary and b) more along the lines of what I felt comfortable spending on a service where most of the value is added by its users Wiki-style to begin with.

Fortunately, the fine folks at Diabolical Plots have stepped in and created an excellent alternative service called The Grinder, which they are committed to keeping free for everyone.

While the Grinder is new and does not yet have the volume of users of Duotrope (they are growing fast, though!) — a much greater percentage of their users are neo-pro SF/F writers, and so the data for the markets that interest me is generally as reliable or more reliable than Duotrope, even with less people reporting.  They are constantly updating the site, introducing new and innovative features, and they’re extremely open to feedback. All in all, I am very thankful for the service they have provided to the SF/F writing community this year, and I encourage those of you who can afford it to kick in a few bucks and those who cannot to support them by uploading your submissions data, therefore improving the accuracy of their database.

 

Whether you choose to support these two venues or someone else (and there is no shortage of worthy candidates!) please consider spending a few extra dollars with venues that provide you with free, quality services year-around.  Your help will keep them going and available for you and for many other users who may not be fortunate enough to have the disposable income for this.

And while I’m updating the blog, also check out my story Nuclear Family, podcast by the wonderful folks at the Cast of Wonders.

NuclearFamily

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

#SFWApro

 

 


Podcast of You Bet

September 15, 2013

 

“You Bet,” the short humor story I wrote to explain what’s happening in the wacky cover art of Unidentified Funny Objects volume 1 was released as a Podcast today by Cast of Wonders. You can listen to it here. As usual, the CoW team and particularly reader John Meagher did a wonderful job with producing this story.  I really wanted to see this one produced in audio because there is a nice ensemble cast of characters in it, all speaking in wacky voices. The episode is just over 15 minutes long. and I encourage you to check it out.

This is my second story at Cast of Wonders (with the third one on the way). My previous story with them was “The Field Trip,” the translation of which happened to have been released in Romanian today. If you speak the language, you can check it out in the current issue of Revista SRSFF.

It’s really cool to have stories published in the United Kingdom and Romania at the same time. I’m also excited that one of my stories will be published in my native Russian soon. I will post details about that when I can.

 


Cthulhu and I

August 27, 2013

plushcthulhu

This little bundle of tentacled evil arrived in the mail from Sylvia Spruck Wrigley and totally made my day.

Sylvia was both an inspiration and the namesake for the main character of “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma” (and its sequel, which is patiently awaiting its chance at an editor’s desk right now). And now I have a visual aid to help explain Cthulhu to grandmas everywhere and, more importantly, to oversee any and all future live readings, of which several will be coming up before the end of this year. The plush Cthulhu (Pthulhu?) will grace mortals with its presence at WorldCon this weekend.

In a few short days I’ll be attending my very first WorldCon in San Antonio, and I’m absolutely stoked. I look forward to meeting many online friends face to face, as well as some of the authors I grew up reading, who are partially responsible for my love of the genre. I didn’t get to be on any panels at this con — after all, they’ve got nearly the entire SF/F community to pick from — so I’ll be roaming and trying to take it all in. I am co-running one of the Writer Workshops and have several meetings set up, but this trip is definitely more about experiencing as much of what WorldCon has to offer as possible.

And although I have few responsibilities at this convention, I do have one duty to discharge which is beyond awesome. My friend Ken Liu, who is nominated for a Hugo award in the Short Story category this year but is unable to attend himself, has named me as his designated acceptor at the Hugo ceremony. This means that, if Ken wins, I will go up on stage and accept the award on his behalf. I’m both incredibly honored and stoked to do this.  Regardless of the outcome, I’ll get to sit at the front during the ceremony, attend the afterparty, and hold a Hugo (at least during the practice run on Sunday afternoon).

My wife and I even went out and bought a new suit for me to wear to the event. It’s Hugo Boss.  No other brand would do. Although I’m sure no one else will notice, wearing a Hugo Boss suit to the Hugos was way too amusing for me to pass up.

In other news, I have several sales to report. Buzzy Magazine accepted “In the Wake of the Storm” — my urban fantasy story which takes place in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Cast of Wonders will podcast both You Bet and Nuclear Family. You Bet should come out in October while Nuclear Family is scheduled around Christmas.

And, just today, Stupefying Stories Showcase published The Storyteller — a flash fantasy story.

If you are going to WorldCon, please find me and say hi! You will get to meet Pthulhu, and — if you run into me on Sunday — you will get to see me wearing a suit, which — I assure you — is an even more exceptional occurrence than running into an Elder God.

 

 

 

 


Publication: The Far Side of the Wilderness in Beyond the Sun

July 21, 2013

BTS#SFWApro

Beyond the Sun, an anthology of space exploration edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, is out. It includes a story of mine titled “The Far Side of the Wilderness,” a dark tale about an interstellar colonist’s quest to bring his people back to Earth.

This story is heavily inspired by the Biblical tale of Moses. The title is a quote from the book of Exodus, though not a very well-known one. Even the title of the colony planet, Kemet, is the ancient name for Egypt. Having said that, it greatly amused and surprised me to find how many of my beta readers missed the Biblical connection entirely. The important thing is, they enjoyed the story!

Beyond the Sun features fiction from such heavyweights as Robert Silverberg and Mike Resnick, as well as award-winning or -nominated short fiction authors like Cat Rambo, Brad Torgersen,  and Nancy Fulda, to name just a few. I’m in really good company, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys space opera.

The book is available at Amazon now. You can also find it at B&N and elsewhere.

Also, I heard back from Cast of Wonders over the weekend — they accepted a reprint of “You Bet” and will be podcasting it, probably sometime in early 2014. This story has lots of dialog by wacky characters and so it seems perfect for audio. I can’t wait to see what the Cast of Wonders crew does with it!

 

 

 

 

 


Two Funny Stories Published in April

April 26, 2013
Artwork by Andres Mossa

Artwork by Andres Mossa

 

I’ve been so busy with UFO2 Kickstarter and submissions that I’ve neglected to announce several of my recent publications (which I will gleefully catch up on in this post!)

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

This is easily the funniest story I’ve had published to date. One day I was loitering on Twitter and saw friend and fellow writer Sylvia Spruck Wrigley complain about the difficulty she was having explaining Cthulhu to grandma.

“That would make a great story title,” I told her. She agreed, and said that she would try to come up with something that fit.

A few weeks passed and the title stuck with me, so I followed up with Sylvia to see if she had made any progress. She said that she hadn’t and I asked if I could use the title myself. She said yes, and I wrote the story within a couple of days — which is super fast, for me. I named the protagonist Sylvia and named her character’s grandmother and gran-grandmother after Sylvia’s own mom and grandma.

This story is about a magic pawn shop. Somebody trades in Cthulhu on pawn (it’s stored in a handy pocket dimension which looks like a snow globe) and all sorts of wackiness ensues. I have since written a sequel where a Pandora’s box finds its way into the magic pawn shop, and plan on writing more stories in this setting.

IGMS is a great home for this story. They published it today in issue #33, and while you have to subscribe to read the entire story, you can read an excerpt and see the awesome original artwork by Andres Mossa in full size by clicking this link.

The Epistolary History at The Journal of Nature

theepistolaryhistory

This is a flash fiction story about a hapless time traveler I wrote in February. In honor of the letter-writing month it’s told entirely through letters. Since this one is available online for free, I will direct you to read it rather than telling you too much more about it.

Amusingly I received e-mail acceptances for these two stories within a *minute* of each other, making that pretty much the best minute of my writing career, ever. It’s fitting that they were published within 24 hours of each other, too.

The Field Trip at Cast of Wonders

The Field Trip is now my most cosmopolitan story yet. It was originally printed in the In Situ anthology from Dagan Books. It has been translated into Polish and was accepted to be translated and published in Romanian. And now it’s been podcast by a UK audio magazine. You can listen to it here. This is the first time this story is available online for free.

Putting it All Together at Toasted Cake

This story is the only one of the four that isn’t humorous. Instead, it’s very lyrical — which is well outside of my normal writing comfort zone. And Tina Connolly was the perfect performer to read it! The story was originally published at Nine Magazine, which is sadly defunct. It’s not currently available anywhere online in print form,  but you can listen and enjoy the podcast.

And that’s my recap for April. Next month I have stories coming out in Daily Science Fiction, One Sentence Stories anthology, and Buzzy Magazine. Stay tuned!