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.

This Is the Moment, Or One of Them

My latest short story, “This Is the Moment, Or One of Them,” is now up at Apex.

Writing this story was….quite something. I began writing it in April 2020, which was for a number of reasons – not just Covid – not the best time to start writing anything. Midway through, I realized the story was going to feature Covid –

And that was a problem.

Because midway through was also about when a number of short fiction editors started issuing warnings that they were getting flooded with Covid stories and would be rejecting most of them. And here I was, writing two – a fantasy story and an SF story. Worse, the fantasy story (eventually picked up by Departure Mirror) was written in an academic style, making it a hard sale even without the mention of Covid, and the SF one was non linear – again, making it a hard sale without the mention of Covid.

What am I doing to myself, I asked myself and a few other writing friends. Why am I not focusing on stories that, you know, could actually sell? Especially since Covid was only one element of an SF story that was really about something else.

And yet, those were the two stories I could focus on – with the fantasy story focusing on the disability aspects of Covid, and the SF one focusing on, well, other things. So I did, adding various local elements to make the SF story – I hoped – feel more real, and then grimly watching the rejections pile up – until late October, when Apex let me know that I hadn’t wasted my time after all. (Departure Mirror told me the same in November.).

The story has been out in ebook format for a week now, and online for a day or so. It is, as warned, a Covid story. It is, also, for all its speculative elements, very much a story drawn from real life – almost everything in the flashback portions (the pottery classes, the cafes) exists in real life – and survived the pandemic.

You can read it here.


“Gorilla in the Streets” and “The Girl and the House” now available!

Double publication day for me, with two stories now available for purchase. They’ll both be up on the web eventually, but I thought people might want an early look.

First up, “Gorilla in the Streets,” in Diabolical Plots, Year Five, with stories from me, Beth Cato, Nin Harris and more, available from Amazon and Kobo. This story is one of my personal favorites – it deals with some accessibility issues, but also, and this is very important, it’s about a gorilla.

Second, “The Girl and the House, in Nightmare, my personal response to reading waaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too many of those Gothic novels featuring, well, a Girl and a House. My ending is just a touch darker than some of those novels. The individual issue can be purchased here, but I strongly recommend subscribing to Nightmare if you’re into horror at all – it’s a much better deal than buying individual issues. If like me you’re toting along a Samsung Galaxy, the Weightless Books subscription seemed to be the easiest format.


The Middle Child’s Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale/Deathlight

The latest issue of Fireside Fiction just went live, and with it, my short story, The Middle Child’s Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale, the story I read at last year’s World Fantasy Con and this year’s ICFA. Originally written as a Twitter joke, it slowly grew into a blog post, as these things do, and then mutated into a short story.

Also just going live, the latest issue of Lightspeed, available for subscribers or as an individual issue, which includes my short story, “Deathlight,” along with new short stories by An Owomoyela,  Seanan McGuire, and Wole Talabi, reprints from a number of well known names including Tim Pratt and Elizabeth Hand, and Hugh Howey’s “The Plagiarist.”

I may have a bit more to say about this one once my individual story goes live on the web on May 17, but for now, I’ll just note that the two stories are, I think, quite different – and not just because one is more or less fantasy (if a bit snarky about it) and the other marks my return to hard science fiction.


Cat Play

Just in time for some weekend reading, new magazine Metaphorosis has launched, with my short story, Cat Play.

It’s fantasy, but set in a very real place here in Winter Garden. (The coffee shop is also real – it’s the Starbucks down at the Winter Garden Village.) Partly, this was sheer laziness – using real places means I don’t have to think up imaginary ones. But I rather like the idea of a touch of magic hanging out in ordinary apartment complexes.


My short story, Ink, just went live up at the Journal of Unlikely Cryptographybrought to you by the same people who have brought you Unlikely Entomology and Unlikely Architecture, and who are partly financially backed by a group organized out of the very unlikely Sealand.  Given all of these factors, it’s rather unlikely that this story managed to appear at all; I hope you enjoy reading it.