Kate writes science fiction novels and science-inspired poetry. She’s also a retired engineer and Cold War Warrior (honestly, that’s what Congress called them) because she worked in America’s nuclear weapons complex. Much to her surprise, she has a second, unpaid career as a volunteer firefighter. She left the beautiful but crowded Front Range of Colorado to live on the edge of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest with her husband, cats, llamas, and dog. She’s well on her way to achieving her life-goal of becoming an eccentric old woman.
Donald Jacob Uitvlugt lives on neither coast of the United States, but mostly in a haunted memory palace of his own design. His short fiction has appeared in numerous print and online venues, including Cirsova magazine and the Flametree Publishing anthology Science Fiction Stories. He is also releasing a series of self-published stories for Kindle. Donald strives to write what he calls “haiku fiction,” stories that are small in scope but big in impact. If you enjoyed “Space Opera,” please let him know via his blog or via Twitter: @haikufictiondju.
I have been talking about and thinking about haptics a lot lately. The whole ..way we feel and touch things and how computers and connected devices can make us feel things. My favorite example that I make everyone try is the iPhone 7’s home “button” it doesn’t move. But it 100% feels like it moves. (And maybe you’re a fancy person who doesn’t have this experience but I totally do.) It seems exactly like I’ve depressed it when I push on it. I has all the effects that you expect. And this is just a tiny tiny little bit of what is possible.
I am enthralled with what the potential future of it may be.
Here are some examples to prime your brain a little.
Haptics in clothes seems very likely. A jacket that gives you directions. A pair of pants that make you get up and move. And when you have multiple tools you have opportunities for clothes to give you feedback about you. What is your heart rate? Can your clothes help you calm down?
So what does the future look like when you wear a turtleneck and all your “speech” is subvocalizations and you “hear” through haptics, could the words be tapped onto your jaw? Do we find a world of silence? Do we get loud? Do we constantly feel like we are buzzing and thumping? We get phantom phone buzzes, will we get phantom haptics? What will we train ourselves to do without realizing it?
I wrote earlier this week about writing for my niece. The second piece of this is something I’ve been struggling with for a while.
I created a podcast. (You might have heard of it, 600 Second Saga.) This makes me a gatekeeper of sorts. Not a super fancy gate wearing gatekeepers (that’s what real gatekeepers do right? wear gates?) but one nonetheless.
I read a lot of other submission guidelines along the way to creating mine. Some of them said something about accepting or soliciting work for underrepresented groups. A few called out specific populations. Some didn’t. I thought, only a monster wouldn’t want that. Only a person who is a garbage person would need to even say that. Of course, I want a range of experiences and stories.
Not a monster
And then Trump got elected. On a wave of people who think that it is more important to have false change and loud shouting than to disavow actual Nazis. So…here we are today. I would like everyone who reads my blog, listens to the podcast, or reads my books to just know, of course, I’m not a monster. Just like the day after the election at work, even though I didn’t talk about it at all before directly, everyone knew how I felt. Because when someone needed to say, hey it’s not cool that we only have white dudes as avatars, that was me. When someone had to say it’s not ok to say that word/thing/etc it was usually me. And eventually, they just stopped saying them (around me at least). Because they just knew that about me.
I wish everyone here knew that I wasn’t a monster. And I wish that everyone felt free to say, hey! Not ok! Every time I said something out of line (if I do, please do, I try hard, but I screw up often).
So here I am. Saying I am not a monster. I do, of course, want work from underrepresented groups. Especially groups that are going to be feeling the pain the worst in the next few years. I want to help lift your voices. I want to do what I can. And that is the absolute bare minimum that any decent person should be doing.
I want work that is about being who you are. I want work that edges on political. (Not that I haven’t already got that, just wait for the inauguration day episode, which was written and recorded before election day.) I want work that doesn’t file off your edges.
I don’t get demographics on authors, but I know for a while I had more authors outside the US (this is the easiest demographic for me to keep track of, though I’m not 100%, but if your email is clearly outside the US I have a hint) than from inside, which is a good component. But I want to keep doing better.
What I think I can do is make this tiny little offer. If you think your voice isn’t welcomed, isn’t heard, and isn’t represented and you are struggling and aren’t sure if your story is a fit, or is ready, or you want feedback? Let me know. As long as it meets the other guidelines (link at the top but basically, ~1K, no swearing, sff) reference this post in your email, and I’ll do what I can to help, make suggestions, etc.
Formerly an astronomer and more recently a research project manager in the aerospace and defense industry, Vaughan Stanger now writes SF and fantasy fiction for a living. His stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, Postscripts, Nature Futures and Interzone, amongst other noted magazines and anthologies. Like most writers, he’s working on a novel—and has been for many years. He also loves cats, thus further conforming to the cliché. Plus he’s still holding out for that holiday on the Moon he was promised in the dim and distant past. You can follow his writing adventures at http://www.vaughanstanger.com or @VaughanStanger.
Every year at my day job I have to pull together information for everything I’ve done for the year. Usually, this comes this week, someone several levels above me running through and saying they need it. I try to be prepared.
So this is my 2016 Roundup of all the shit I’ve done.
I really dove into narration this year. While I’ve done some of it elsewhere and at other times in my life, I’ve never done as much or as all in as this year.
I narrated 3 novels. One of my own, one for another author, and one for another author under a penname. (You can see narration at Audible.) Three novels this year! I narrated three goddamn novels this year.
Oh but we are just getting started.
I also narrated 7 novellas.
Plus I narrated 2 parts for the anthology I’m an author in. (That isn’t out yet, still waiting for the other parts next year.)
Something like 50 hours of professional narration that I did in 2016.
While we are on the topic of talking into a microphone. I created a podcast. Yup 600 Second Saga was an endeavor of this year. I’ve had 46 episodes so far. (A Halloween bonus episode and 5 preseason episodes.)
I’ve gotten the chance to work with a lot of amazing authors. I’ve gotten the chance to share their stories in a new way and share something I love. Bite-sized stories and audio. It has been a lot of learning, but I also feel like, at least as of now, I made some good decisions at the start.
I still love the name. I still love the format. I still love the time limit.
Some of the stuff I tried I didn’t like as much. I wasn’t thrilled with Halloween month. I liked the episodes, but I just didn’t feel like I did what I could have with it.
Marketing! I need to get better at marketing (Like! Share! Subscribe! Submit!) but I think I have a good, high-quality product. When I started the podcast I subscribed to a few other shows that started at the same time…I’m the only one left.
Going along with these two I’ve seriously improved my studio. Overall I’m really pleased with it, with the quality of sound I get, with how long it takes to produce things. I’m still improving and changing. But I really did all of this in 2016. So…created a studio.
This was the first I did any self-publishing. In 2016 I self-published 1 novel and 3 novellas (1 under a penname). HOLY SHIT I PUBLISHED. Plural. A fucking novel. I published a fucking novel.
I’ve learned a lot from what I’ve done. A lot of time was dedicated previously, and in this year, learning about publishing and what I needed to do to be successful. I feel good about what I’ve done. I have so much distance to go. But I’m more determined than ever to keep going.
I’ve got plans for publishing a few things in 2017 as well. I have 1 novella in a penname that is 85% of the way there. I have a Smoke Jumpers novella planned for, I believe, March. I’m hoping for a second Smoke Jumpers piece in the fall but I’m less sure on that one. I am very much hoping the anthology I’m a part of (Monsters in the City!) will come out this year. My piece for that is done and has been for…a while…a long while.
Holy shit I wrote this year on top of all that up there?
I wrote 4 novellas? Wow. I wrote 4 novellas. Wrote, edited, edited, edited, and got to various stages of ready.
I finished editing 1 novel, I am still working on editing another novel.
I wrote…mumblemumble 40 plus flash fiction pieces. Not all of them were good. Many got tossed upon finishing.
Huh. I’d been feeling like I was doing bad at writing this year. Maybe not that bad?
Most of my goals were writing goals – 30 in 3? Done. So very done. In less than a year at that. I did not write a novel. (Fail.) I did more than the 1 novella. I did not get a full anthology worth of Smoke Jumpers. But I did get a few pieces, and one published.
Also this year? I started an email list. I’ve been trying to be really consistent with blogging. I’ve started trying to use FB and Twitter and Pintrest as an author and better.
Reading. I did quite a bit more, and in other genres. Not quite as much as I planned, but very much on the right track.
Critiquing. I did a couple of novels. I tried to sign up for Scribophile.
(I had a giant thing at work where I’m part of a training program that has taken a lot of this fall and will take a lot of spring. I also got a promotion to a fancier title this year.)
And I’m sure other things I’m not even remembering.
Holy shit it has been a hell of a year. No wonder I’m exhausted.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, living and working in Athens, Greece. Her work can be found in Ofi press magazine, Infective Ink, the Molotov Cocktail, Foliate Oak, HFC journal, Down in the Dirt, Minus paper, Massacre, Pendora, Maudlin house, Menacing Hedge, Scarlet Leaf Review, Nebula Rift, Idler, Litterateur online and soon in Midnight Circus, AntipodeanSF, Big Echo:Critical SF, the Ham, Blood and Thunder:Musings on the Art of Medicine, Hindered Souls, Sick Lit, the Potomac, Front Porch Review, Jellyfish Review and the Fear of Monkeys. Visit Mileva on Facebook
Kyriakos studied in England, the University of Essex, and has a degree in Philosophy. He works as a seminar organizer for the municipality of the city of Thessaloníki, in Greece. Seminars created include ancient and enlightenment philosophy, literature and computer 3d modeling.
Published in a number of Greek periodicals and newspapers, he also has a collection of stories- titled Chrysalis- printed since October of 2015, from local literary publishers Anatypon.
I read something a while ago that has been bubbling around in the back of my brain. I’ve read a lot about flash fiction and I’ve read a lot of flash fiction. I read something that said the person who wrote it assumed all flash fiction main characters were stand-ins for the authors.
I was stunned and confused. Was this person reading the same flash fiction I was?
I’ve read flash fiction with characters that have more depth than some of the epic novels I’ve read.
Writing flash fiction can feel like a way to just dash something off quickly. But great flash fiction evokes a lot of things in just a tiny little space. You are basically creating a world from white space.
I will say that I far prefer flash that is sci-fi and fantasy because it opens the world wide. The contemporary flash I’ve read does feel a little different, so maybe the person who thinks that all flash fiction main characters are author stand-ins.
Finding a way to develop a world with brush strokes that all draw your eye far beyond the edges of the canvas is the magic of flash fiction.
Thinking specifically about those main characters and how I build them.
Sometimes they are characters from larger stories. (An Axe is a great example of this in my work since I’ve been working on putting some more polish on the novella about that character.) Those stories are often small bites, more information of the character, side stories that didn’t belong in the book. I love doing these, they are fun, they let me explore other sides of a primary character. They give that character the chance to show other sides of themselves.
I don’t often run between a ton of POVs. My novels tend toward a single POV. Doing a flash fiction lets me explore what other characters are seeing. I often write these just as I’m doing planning work for the novels, I’ll write a handful of these for each of the characters to see what I’m thinking about them, most of these never make it past my drive, but sometimes I’ll really like one and clean it up well enough to send it off into the world. A Meditation was very much that. Jana was a character who was sort of a mash of things and I had done a couple of scenes with her separately. This flash came out of that. It was significantly rewritten, but it was partly about me learning who Jana was in the first round, and showing a little more of her in the final.
I listen to a lot of podcasts. I will often find bits of inspiration, a situation, a story, a news article. I’ll pause and let this play around in my head until I’ve got characters and situation developed. Most of the time this sort of dies on the vine. But sometimes these become stories.
Thinking back to writing my first stories, I’ve sort of always been a shorter fiction writer. At least I don’t recall a time I was a tome writer. So, I’m sure there was a time when I was doing a lot of that. I hope these days I don’t do that nearly so much. I think of parts of myself in some characters. But some are clearly someone else. The Thing About the Future? That’s a mash of a handful of people I know plus a few stereo types carved into an actual character. On Fire? That’s a few characters from books and a few heartbreaking true stories I read all mashed together and then carved and molded. But Relics? Yeah, there are shades of me in there I suppose. Discovery? Not really, but I had a couple of people I know in mind, if you take this from that person and this from that person and yeah that person hates science (don’t ask me, I don’t get it) but that part.
So maybe sometimes there is shades of the author, but I think that good flash fiction is like all other fiction. Sometimes there will be shades of an author just like there are shades of people they know or celebrities or the personality test they took for a character. It is always a mash, carved and molded to be a unique character.
I’ve read flash fiction that doesn’t have people/aliens/monsters/ghosts as characters at all. Environment only. Or beautiful descriptions of ships. Or processes. I suppose you would argue that the author as the person who decides what to show you is the main character. But then you’re really saying that the author is always the main character in a way that is sort of no longer worth talking about. You literally can’t create anything without being the main character in that way. So it doesn’t really seem relevant. So sometimes there is no main character.
This all makes me want to read more flash fiction though.
Fall is coming! (I promise, even if it is hot and sticky right now.) With fall comes Halloween. I’m working on getting ready for October episodes and am looking for Halloween themed stories.
Ghosts falling in love
Werewolf puppies trick or treating
Secret lives of jack-o-lanterns
My piece has a werewolf, a witch, and a vampire. Not that they’d be recognizable as that compared with modern versions, but hopefully a bit of a more old-fashioned tale. But old-fashioned doesn’t mean horror!
I’m a great horror wimp, so, please, nothing that would give me nightmares. I’m still recovering from Dangerous Metal and real life. Though the nightmares of the later may last a while longer still.