About Mari Ness

Speculative fiction writer and poet

Enchanted Mirrors

I have a new story, Enchanted mirrors are making a comeback. That’s not necessarily a good thing, out in Fantasy Magazine today. It delves into the little known issues facing enchanted mirrors today – and is considerably more lighthearted than my last couple of stories.

And now for the begging part of this entry: short fiction zines like Fantasy are facing some huge revenue shortfalls for various reasons. If you enjoyed this story at all – and even if you didn’t – I hope you will consider buying an issue of the zine, directly from the website, or through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Weightless Books, or Kobo.

New publications: Carnival Ever After, Notes on the Seventh Battle of the Queen of the Ruby Mists, and Green Leaves Against the Wind

So 2023 has started out with a bit of a publishing bang, with not one but two new stories, plus a poem:

Carnival Ever After, in Apex, is a fairy tale about what happened after the end of Charles Perrault’s “Diamonds and Toads,” both to the beautiful sister who married a prince, and the ugly sister who did not.

Notes on the Seventh Battle of the Queen of the Ruby Mists, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, collects the footnotes of a detailed research study on this fabulous battle. Still kinda sad that the footnote citing an article from First in Fae had to be eliminated, but sacrifices must be made in the name of scholarship.

This story is closely related to my earlier story in Reckoning, Footnotes on Phosphates, Nitrates and the Lake A Incident: a Review.

And speaking of Reckoning, I also have a new poem there this month: Green Leaves Against the Wind.


2022 in review

I always hate putting together these more-or-less obligatory “here’s what I wrote/published this year.”

Rarely as much as this time around.

2022 began with me wondering – genuinely wondering, not looking for sympathy/encouragement/validation wondering – if I should continue writing speculative fiction, short or long. What exactly, I asked myself, was I getting out of writing/submitting/publishing these short stories? What was I getting out of going to genre cons, which have so frequently left me in tears? It continued with getting extremely sick in May, and then again in June. July and August were comparatively quiet, and I wrote a few things, asking myself yet again what exactly I was doing.

And then came September. Hurricane Ian slammed into Florida, and my mother informed me that her lower leg/ankle was in tremendous pain, and would require surgery. In late October, I went to stay with her for ten days as her condition, mental and physical, continued to deteriorate day by day. On November 1, I called 911 and had her taken to the hospital. Hurricane Nicole marched into Florida on November 10. On November 23, my mother was discharged to home hospice care. She died on December 6th.

I spent the last week of the year extremely sick with some sort of respiratory thing that was not Covid nor the flu. Whatever it was still lingers, though I can at least breathe now.

In between all of this, I published a few things – not as many as in previous years, but a few – one of which, Verisya, was an unexpected finalist for the Canopus Award.

Short fiction:

Footnotes from “Phosphates, Nitrates, and the Lake A Incident: A Review,” in Reckoning, August 2022.

A story about what happens when a lake becomes too polluted to see the monsters hiding beneath it. Based on the very real environmental history of Lake Apopka.

Wallers, in Nightmare, December 2022.

When her mother brings a stranger home, a girl tries to hide in the wallpaper. But he can’t help but notice the way the flowers and leaves are vanishing from the wallpaper pattern…

Flash fiction:

Messenger, Daily Science Fiction, February 2022, and then again, presumably by accident, July 2022.

I continually find myself fascinated by the minor characters in fairy tales, those who appear for just a moment or two to propel the plot along, and then vanish. This tiny piece is about what might have happened to one of the messengers sent out to find the true name of Rumpelstiltskin.

The Apples, Daily Science Fiction, April 2022

Do we all really believe that the Evil Queen made only one poisoned apple for Snow White? Really?

Verisya, Daily Science Fiction, July 2022.

A story of a world very far away from our own, and a finalist for the 2023 Canopus Award.


“Ursa Major,” in Musings of the Muses, Brigid’s Gate Press, April 2022.

A poem about transformation.

Horsemen, in Mithila Review, August 2022.

Sometimes the apocalypse just needs a bit of a break.

“Green Leaves Against the Wind,” in Our Beautiful Reward, Reckoning, October 2022.

Technically, this poem will be appearing a couple of times in this upcoming year – online in January, and in print a few months later, but its first appearance was in the October ebook, so I am listing it here as a 2022 publication.

“Storm,” in Wizards in Space, Issue 8, December 2022

I’ll be honest: when this issue arrived, on my birthday, December 24, I blinked, and then cried a little. I had completely forgotten about it – everything about it – to the point where I realized I had to check to see what, exactly, I had written.

Turns out that back in May I had written a poem about rain, and robots, and birds, which magically seemed to summarize so much of 2022.

It’s too early to make any predictions for 2023 – but I have a couple of stories coming out in January, and a few more, it seems, later this year. And I still have trees just outside my window, which gives me hope that this year will include, if nothing else, the song and chirps of birds.

2021 Publication Roundup

Tradition says I’m supposed to tell you about the various things I published in 2021. So, here we go, organized by category:


“Rockshell,” in Dim Shores, Volume 2, Spring 2021, a portal fantasy. “Grows on me the more that I think about it,” commented one reader. Available for sale here.

Short stories, full length (that is, between 1000 to 7000 words):

“A Preliminary Study of Humans Under Beastly Enchantments and Covid-19,” in Departure Mirror’s January issue, called “a great imaginary romp” by Locus. It….appears to have vanished from the internet. I will probably be reposting it on Medium in the next few days, but in the meantime, if you’d like to read it, contact me for a free PDF. SFWA members can also download a pdf from the SFWA forums. UPDATE: You can now read this story at Medium for free!

Tweeting, in the February issue of Translunar Travelers Lounge, a story about a transformation told in a series of – you guessed it, tweets! Translunar Travelers Lounge was kind enough to format the story so that it really did look like tweets. My hands down most self-indulgent story of the year. It’s on the Nebula Recommended Reading list, and can be read backwards – or forwards – for free here.

This Is the Moment, Or One of Them, in the May issue of Apex, called “visceral,” “heartbreaking,” and “beautiful,” by reviewers. It’s also on the Nebula Recommended Reading List, has popped up on a couple of “best of” lists, and can be read for free here.

“A Very Little Something,” a horror story that appeared in the June issue of Lamplight. Largely inspired by a couple of trips to the Florida Keys, it contains arguably one of the worst marine biology jokes I have yet managed to slip past an editor. You can find the issue here.

Flash fiction: (anything under 1000 words)

For Want of a Dryad, in Café Irreal, February. This marked my return to Café Irreal after a long, long absence, which was pretty cool.

The Cracks in the Sphere, in Daily Science Fiction, also in February.

Coffee and the Fox, in Zooscape, in March, containing a couple of my favorite things – coffee and, well, a fox – plus my usual complaint about the heavy doors that block entrances to coffee places.

The Heron-Girl, in Baffling, in April. Another story about transformation and birds (that seemed to be a minor theme for me in 2021), set on Lake Apopka. On the Nebula Recommended Reading List.

Stepsister, in Daily Science Fiction, also in April. I almost feel impelled to write something about Cinderella every few years. This time, I focused on a stepsister. On the Nebula Recommended Reading list.

So You Want to Reach the Witch at the End of the Void, Daily Science Fiction, July. What can I say? I love list stories.

On the Ice of Nix, Nature Futures, September. Represented a personal milestone for me since, hey, I’ve been published in Nature! Not in marine biology, sure, but still!

Somewhens, Kaleidotrope, Autumn. Another exploration of possibilities.

Practice Limitations, in 666, a collection of 666 horror drabbles, from Black Hare Press, in October. Fun simply for the challenge of keeping the story under 100 words.

“Gaming with Death,” in 99 Tiny Terrors, Pulse Publishing.

And the Tale Unchanging, in Daily Science Fiction, November. So. This was a story I completely forgot about for years, found while looking for something else, and hurriedly shot over to DSF before I could forget it again. Sometimes it’s worth while to do searches like this

The North Pole Workshops, in Uncanny, December. “Certainly didn’t go where I was expecting it to,” said one reader. Inspired by a phone call that I had with a certain very large United States bank that shall go unnamed, this was easily one of my more popular stories this year. On the Nebula Recommended Reading list.

What To Do After Receiving a Starlit Pearl, which appeared in Mermaids Monthly in the very last few hours of 2021. Contains just a COUPLE of marine biology jokes.

“Dancing in Silver Lands” and “If the Shoe Fits,” in Dancing with Silver Lands, Neon Hemlock, December.


Beneath the Palace Dictionary the Last Evil Mars Moth Sleeps, Kaleidotrope, January. This was directly inspired by something said on Twitter by Fred Coppersmith, Kaleidotrope’s editor, so it seemed only fair that it appear there.

The Indifferent Song of C. Acer, Speculative City, April. This was written solely to amuse me; I was flattered, delighted and amazed to see someone agree to publish it.

Secrets, Frozen Wavelets, April. I love playing with words in tiny little poems.

Dracula Among the Ruins, Kaleidotrope, July. I also love vampires.

Hiding, Sycorax Journal, November.

Good People, Fireside, December. Not all fairy tales are true.

Books! Yes, in plural, books:

Resistance and Transformation: On Fairy Tales. Aqueduct Press. A collection of essays about the French salon fairy tale writers, which got a great review from Charles de Lint in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (squee!) Available from Amazon here.

Dancing in Silver Lands. Neon Hemlock Press. I just love the way this tiny little chapbook of tiny little fairy tales came out, once past the Covid-related paper supply problems. The winner of the Outwrite Chapbook Fiction Competition, it can be obtained from the publisher now.

And now to see what 2022 brings.

Good People

What fascinates me about fairy tales is what’s left out. Often, this includes the thoughts of the servants and the courtiers, the ones who observed what was happening, but did not speak up, who appear in the corners of the tales, but silent.

My latest poem, Good People, loosely based on the fairy tale, “The Six Swans,” explores just a little of this. It can be read for free now at Fireside Fiction.

(And as always, if you enjoy this or any of my other stories/poems, consider purchasing an issue of the zine, or subscribing to a Patreon, or subscribing to the zine. Every bit helps these zines shine on for just a little while longer.)

And the Tale Unchanging

I’ve always been drawn to the Persephone myth since I first heard it as a young child. Perhaps because Persephone was dragged down into Hades while simply gathering flowers; perhaps because the myth recognized that sometimes things cannot return to the way they once were.

Here’s my latest little take on the myth, up at Daily Science Fiction: And the Tale Unchanging.