Superhero science fiction, 1,400 words, a prologue of sorts wherein two estranged, super-powered brothers meet to set an entire superhero saga into motion.
The man who called himself The Hammer stepped onto the basketball court in the old neighborhood with something approaching reverence. The world was at stake. This would be an ending, but it could also be an origin. His younger brother Evan was already there. Two hoops stood in opposition on a blacktop rectangle, surrounded by just enough grass and a couple of stunted trees to call it a park. In simpler times, being on different sides didn’t make you enemies. Except when it did.
The Hammer asked his brother to meet here because Evan was sentimental, and might put aside their beef to hear him out. If it went right, it would be a new beginning for them, and where better to begin than at their beginning? Maybe The Hammer was sentimental too. When they were growing up, this wasn’t a place to hang at 3 AM. Times changed. So had they, along with a tenth of the world’s population. Empowerment was a rush, but it brought new threats.
I’m thrilled to announce that my 1,100-word dreamy horror story “Stag In Winter” is published in Cosmic Horror Monthly issue #33! It’s a little tale of a man who has lost his purpose finding one in a commune in the wilderness. It’s so nice to be needed. The Great Resignation meets Showtime’s Yellowjackets.
I adore what Javier Grillo-Marxuach writes about writing. He’s a screenwriter and showrunner: his essay on “Operational Theme” in Apex Magazine is a brilliant way to understand how a collaborative creation maintains cohesion, and his Eleven Laws of Showrunning is an excellent leadership/management bible for creatives (fields like software development are often creative too!).
He recently wrote an essay on World-Buiding in Uncanny Magazine, and it’s a joy to read. This whole blog post is just an excuse to share that link. It comes on the heels of a context-free Stephen King tweet on how he dislikes the phrase “world-building” which sent speculative fiction writers into a minor tizzy. It is, after all, the thing we SFFH writers do. Grillo-Marxuach reeled the discussion back in by defining the terms, and more importantly, outlining the principles of world-building as a process of craft, not a product to be delivered to a studio exec–which is likely what King was referring to. The following are some thoughts on JGM’s principles, but honestly, just read his words.
Fantasy/thinly-veiled fan-fiction, 2,000 words. The empire is smashed. The Dark Lord is dead. The rebellion has won. Now, the leader of the rebellion, who only just learned that the Dark Lord was her father, must lead the reconstruction, and reckon with the eldritch power she inherited.
Shadows wheeled and whirled across walls and shelves, thrown by breeze-bothered candles. Her brother Lucerin would see omens in the interplay of shadow and light, but Alie Okarna, her quill poised over paper, found only annoyance. She scrawled her signature, large and bold, at the bottom of an order that could starve thousands. It would also pressure the former imperial capital to end an economy propped up by slavery.
Those enslaved will starve first.
Peace is only war under different terms. The stakes are no smaller. Remember why you fought.
I’m thrilled to announce that my 1,000-word science fiction story, “The Air Will Catch Us,” is published in Reckoning issue 7! A grandparent reckons with environmental changes nobody had foreseen, where–as Pennywise the Clown promised–everyone floats.
I’m thrilled to announce that my 2,100-word short story “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” is published in Translunar Travelers Lounge! It features the Hindu trinity of deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who (try to) work like an Agile software team to iteratively perfect the universe. But Vishnu keeps going off-process with all his avatar hot-fixes.
I’m thrilled to announce that my 900-word flash fiction “Act One, Scene Five” has been published in Brilliant Flash Fiction WHEREIN the only Korean-American kid in school gets into character to rehearse Romeo’s first kiss with Juliet.
I’m thrilled to announce that my 950-word flash science fiction story, “Our Kingdom Come,” has been published in Daily Science Fiction WHEREIN a tech billionaire achieves his dream of dying on Mars and second generation robots break from their immigrant parents’ dreams for the future.
I’m thrilled to announce that my 4,100-word cozy fantasy story “Epilogue” appears in the inaugural issue of Wyngraf Magazine! It features eldritch wine, delicious leftovers, reminiscence, glimmers of magic, and long-overdue kissing.
Have you ever been so immersed in an epic fantasy world that you never wanted the story to end? Because ending meant a return to the ordinary world, without magic, without purpose written in prophecy, without thrilling possibility? What if the characters in that epic fantasy felt the same way?
[EDIT: It should be “I’m a SFWA Member Now”–members pronounce it “sif-wa.” But the URL generated from the title is out in the world now, so there we are.]
I’ve always loved to write, but it was only as an adult that I became serious about it. That word, “serious,” made it weird. “Serious,” to me, meant committing to improving my craft and increasing my output. The latter goal served the former. “Commitment” meant setting up structures of internal and external accountability. I took night school classes. Wanting some tokens of accomplishment, I finished two, 2-year certificates in the Creative Writing of Fiction at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. And finally, in 2012, I submitted my first story for publication. It was rejected, and I didn’t try again until 2016. That was when I got three acceptances–and the validation to keep trying.
What I didn’t realize was that “getting serious” about something, at least in my mind, entailed shaping it into something that looks serious to others. Academic credentials. Product. Revenue. Exclusive community membership. During the dry spells, when those things didn’t come easily or at all, I made a philosophical commitment to stop distracting myself with activities that were adjacent to writing, but not actually writing. That lasted as long as my next set of completed stories, and an ego-driven impulse to see if I could sell them. One sold, and I was back on my bullshit.