Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 09/21/2015 and 09/28/2015

So I was not really expecting there to be so much out from Strange Horizons these last two weeks. Normally, there's only a piece of fiction, a poem, and maybe a nonfiction per week. Towards the end of the month, like now, there tends to be even less. But there is a fund drive going on. So first, maybe go and check that out. Then realize with growing apprehension that there are three pieces of fiction to look at, five poems, and two pieces of nonfiction. That's a busy two weeks. Luckily it's all quite good, rather dark, and incredibly helpful as far as the nonfiction is concerned. If this is the content that Strange Horizons keeps offering up, then I definitely want to make sure they keep up and running, and I'm sure I'll donate again this year. Plus, there are prize drawings. Amazing, amazing prize drawings. So yeah, get on that while I get to these reviews.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quick Sips - Terraform September 2015

So I think that the publishing schedule has changed at Terraform. Instead of stories coming out on Monday, they seem to be coming out later in the week. It's strange because I can't check every day to see, but I'm thinking they've been coming out closer to Friday most weeks. Whatever the case, the stories this month are good. Mostly dark visions of the future, and getting into some non-science fictional waters perhaps with a few of them, but definitely a nice mix of stories and styles. And some that really hit hard. Even an excerpt from a longer work that I decided to look at. So to the reviews!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quick Sips - Book Smugglers September 2015

Hey, and here I thought Book Smugglers was done with original fiction. Apparently not! Just done with the First Contact stories. So here is a sequel story to "Hunting Monsters," which was released way way back in...oh, last year. So for those hankering for a fresh installment of that story, the wait is over! I quite enjoyed the first story and this sequel is equally good. So yeah, to the review!

Art by Kristina Tsenova

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quick Links - 09/25/15

Okay, so finally doing this before a ton of time has elapsed. Of course, that means that I don't have quite so many books to highlight, but that's fine by me. Makes it a bit more manageable.

Making Wolf by Tade Thompson - (Nerds of a Feather, my score 8/10) Whoa. This one was intense. Easily the most unsettling book I've read in a long, long time. Perhaps ever. It easily outdoes No Country for Old Men in terms of complicating morality. Very good.

Fantastic Erotica: The Best of Circlet Press 2008-2012 eds. Cecilia Tan and Bethany Zaiatz - (Nerds of a Feather, my score 9/10) Easily my favorite erotic anthology I've read. so much good here and so many pairings, genres, styles. Lots of yes to this one.

Line and Orbit by Sunny Moraine and Lisa Soem - (Goodreads, my score 5/5) This book is great. Romantic and sweeping in its science fiction. Just the kind of thing I love. Definitely going to be picking up the sequels and tie-ins. So good!

And that' Really? Huh. I guess I really do need to get to some more reviews. I have a few things that I just haven't had time to write up for Goodreads, or been tipsy enough to review for my Not For the Faint of Heart series. I have been on a streak lately of quite liking most of the things I've read. And I've actually been reading a decent amount, which is nice. But more! I will have more soon. Thanks for reading, everyone!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Quick Thoughts - King Arthur, Spreadsheets, and Headcanon

I was going to write up something about negative reviews this week, but I'm not sure I'm in a place to think about that in a coherent fashion, so instead I'm going to talk about King Arthur. And perhaps the joy of liking problematic things. I think I've gone over some of this, vaguely, when I wrote about fanfiction way back in the day (so like two months ago?), but here I am again because I've just been through my probably tenth reading of Le Morte d'Arthur and polished up a nice spreadsheet of it and I'm left wondering why I spent so much time on this. It's a question I find myself asking more and more, especially when it feels like I don't have time, when all I can manage to do is keep up my reviews and maybe squeeze in a story or two of writing a month.

So time. There really isn't a lot of it. I will never be able to read all the things I want to read, that I'd love to read. I will die with so much unread. So why am I spending time on something that is, admittedly, kind of bad? I have no illusions about it being some great work of literature. It's entertaining at times but it's also very misogynist, very Eurocentric, Christian, and white. And…I wonder at times why I find myself drawn back to the idea of King Arthur, why I have this elaborate headcanon about it. Because I do. I have this entire world of things in my head about "my" King Arthur, from knights who are women crossdressing to pass as men to a whole lot of queer stuff to an entire altered timeline whereby most of the court was rendered immortal by drinking from the grail.

I also have no illusions. All of this is fanfiction. But as I think I've said before, I think fanfiction plays a vital role for a great many people. Because, when done right, it erases many of the problematic elements of a work. It creates something that is good. The main problem is that there isn't a King Arthur interpretation that's already as queer and as weird and as robust as I want it to be (unless I'm missing it). There's Le Morte d'Arthur, which appeals to the spreadsheet part of my brain. Yes, I know the win-loss-tie outcome for every battle in that book, have them recorded and compiled. I do power rankings and I have my favorites. And I have a novel that I'm nearly dying to write that I just won't let myself pull the trigger on because if I try and fail I don't know what I'd do.

But the thing about all of this is that it's not really the source material that I'm in love with. It's the source material in the context of my headcanon that I love. The world of King Arthur as I wish it had been written. But it wasn't. It's not the best of stories. Perhaps not even a good story at all. And perhaps I'm spending way too much time trying to make it good when I should be doing things brand new. I know that's a thing leveled at many who write fanfiction. But there is something about taking something that could be better, that should be better, and making that happen. I understand not wanting to let it go. I have a similar relationship with The Wheel of Time. It's like I want to share in other people's enjoyment of a thing but can't entirely because it's pushing me out so I make it mine by writing it different.

So yes, I am rather obsessed with Le Morte d'Arthur. Rather a lot obsessed. Do I have an erotic Arthurian story maybe going to get published at some point? Yes. Do I have unpublished erotic fanfiction featuring some versions of my headcanon? Yes. Do I see a problem with that? Mostly not. It's something that gets my fingers to the keys, something that I love, and that's important and vital. Look at comic books. What is any mainstream comic if not fanfiction of some original idea? And now we are finally getting more diverse heroes and a more diverse comic landscape. So yeah, just a friendly reminder that I'm super into headcanon and fanfiction. Rant over. Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quick Sips - Capricious #1

I'm looking at Capricious today, a brand spanking new New Zealand-centered magazine. Why? I will be honest and say because September has been a very slow month and because I saw the link on Twitter from someone whose story I wanted to read. Shallow, perhaps, but the publication looks like an interesting one, and pays at least a cent a word, and it's not incredibly long. Four stories is just about right for me, and so all of these things conspired to get me to review the issue. Will I pick up the next one? Probably that depends on how full that month is, but I will say that I did enjoy these stories. There is a definite sense that genres are being traversed, mixed, and subverted. Most of the stories blend science fiction and fantasy elements, and I'm quite a fan of those kinds of stories. And really, the stories accomplish their blends in unique ways, none of them really the same or even similar except in their ambition and skill.

I'm not one who goes into a publication hoping for some strict adherence to a theme. Color me the wrong kind of SFF reader, but I like to be surprised and I like to be challenged. Like the alien in the third story, sometimes what we go looking for isn't what we need to learn. And I think that this issue does a good job of justifying its place in the field. It does a nice job of presenting stories that are fresh and unique, that weave genres and themes in interesting ways. So yeah, I should really get to the reviews...

Art by Anastasia (Mircha) Astasheva

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Quick Sips - September 2015 (Part 1)

So normally I would be waiting to post my review until later in the month when all the stories are out (I'm guessing there might still be two this month to go), but I'm really hurting for things to review right now and I suspect there might be a story out here as late as the last day of the month, so I'm just breaking the September publications into two groups. Two original stories and one graphic story that's technically a reprint. I'm looking at it though because it's only really been up at the artist's blog, so this is the first time it's being not self-published. And it's cute. The stories themselves this month are about not giving up, about loneliness and isolation and despair, but also about wanting to help people and not giving up on them. In ways that run both uplifting and disturbing. Some good stuff, though, that I'm just going to get to reviewing.

Art by Wesley Allsbrook

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quick Sips - Urban Fantasy #11

So two new stories from Urban Fantasy Magazine this month, and a return to solicited pieces. Which...well, I'm not actually all that sure how to feel about the solicited story. Which is the polite way of saying I do know how I feel about it, but...well...I have no real experience with the writing of the author outside a few short stories in anthologies, and...well, the stories this month couldn't really be more different if they tried. Seriously, one is a heartwarming story about family and the other is...about revenge. They are a little jarring next to each other, to be honest. But to the reviews...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #182

Nothing out of the ordinary this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies with two returning authors revealing some quite interesting second world settings. The first is a new installment to a running series that takes the food theme of its previous installment to some disturbing lengths. The second pits a young woman against the Patriarchy, with a little help from a walking house. Both are smart and fun, with some wackier bits of world building even as the stories are quite serious. Thematically they diverge a bit, but they certainly both feel fun enough to create a sort of continuity between them. So to the reviews!

Art by Tyler Edlin

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Quick Thoughts - My Erotic Debut!

Apparently I like saying "erotic debut." It sounds so…well, sexy. As well it should, I suppose, given that the story in question is, hopefully, rather sexy. The story is "The Assistant's Contraption" and is out now from Torquere Press and, as it's out, my thoughts this week are about it. It's…well, if I had to pick a genre for it I would say it's part mad science, part steampunk. There's some magic referenced, a mixture of all these different schools of diabolical action. And, really, it's a piece of erotica, or erotic romance. Because I am a bit of a sap at heart, and there might be some heartfelt confessions going on in this story. Also, sex. So be warned (if the rest of this paragraph hadn't been enough of a warning).

This was a rather strange call to decide to write for, because I don't really do a lot of dom/sub stories. In my mind most people have their dominant and submissive moments, and the connotations of the call made it sound like it might have been getting into some BDSM territory of which I am woefully ignorant. But I did like the idea of power. Power in relationships is very important, and can be incredibly problematic. Especially in M/M stories, because there is often this "turned gay" subtext (or in some cases in the explicit text) that sets up this dominant and submissive releationship that can be easily portrayed as very abusive. And I didn't really want that. I wanted to examine a bit of power, in this case with a rather arrogant inventor and his assistant.

And that was basically enough for things to click for me. I was thinking, what if Igor turned the tables on Dr. Frankenstein? Maybe without the humpback bit. That was the part that hooked me into the story and got me going forward, that here is this assistant who wants to be viewed as an equal, as a partner, and in so doing has to demonstrate that he's fully capable of engaging his lover not just sexually but intellectually. Friday proves not only that he is willing to top Rascan, but that he's just as capable an inventor and that he knows Rascan enough to expertly ensnare him. It's a rather drastic shift in their relationship, but Rascan in many ways is relieved to find that Friday can match him. A bit frightened, but definitely interested and into it.

I even wrote a little add on, though I have no idea currently where that is at the moment [EDIT: It is on the Torquere Blog Here]. Perhaps it's included with purchase of the story. Hmm…Anyway, it was definitely fun to visit with these characters. I feel, like with a lot of what I write, that I could do an entire novel set in this setting, using Friday and Rascan. They're fun and I like the dynamic. I find Rascan adorable and Friday hot and all of it just a lot of fun. Which is good, because I've been having some trouble writing recently and diverting myself with these fun and sexy stories has been a great relief. And hey, my first ebook! It's a weird experience.

Also weird: this is my first publication since "Rubbing is Racing" came out back at the beginning of June. I will say that the months between these have been…full of doubt and fear. But this is only the beginning. I have another story out in next month's Torquere Antho, Haunted Hotties. And it is…well, it's an interesting one. So thanks for reading! Below are some links to the story and to the Anthology:

Solo ebook: "The Assistant's Contraption" by Charles Payseur - from Torquere Press
Sample from the "The Assistant's Contraption"
Release Party Extra for "The Assistant's Contraption": The Friday Box
Goodreads Link 

Anthology ebook: Exchange of Power - from Torquere Press

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Friday, September 18, 2015

Quick Sips - Nightmare #36

Two stories from Nightmare Magazine this month and both are powerful, dealing with life and death and the power of going on. The stories are about breaking cycles and about how societies can trap people in a bad way, how society can build walls and avenues to isolate people. The stories build very different settings, and yet both are recognizable, both are indictments of things that are very much at work now, stigmas and prejudices. They compliment each other quite well, and I'm just going to get to reviewing them, 'kay?

Art by Lauren K. Cannon

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Quick Sips - Strange Horizons 08/31/2015, 09/07/2015, and 09/14/2015

Okay, so I've been a little behind with Strange Horizons but here I'm catching up on three weeks. Fortunately and not, I suppose, these weeks have been a little light on nonfiction, so I'm just looking at two stories and three poems. It makes the work a little easier for me but I do quite enjoy the nonfiction from Strange Horizons and am hoping for some new installments for their ongoing series. The work for these three weeks is surprisingly dark, actually, with things leaning their way toward horror or dark fantasy, but as I'm still a fan there's really no problem with that. Just a little...strange (heh). All in all, though, it's a strong collection of fiction and poems, and a new piece of art that captures nicely the creepiness of it all.

Art by Maggie Ivy

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Quick Sips - Apex #76

It's interesting to me how varied issues of Apex Magazine can be. One week it's have four pieces of fiction and four poems and the next four pieces of fiction and one poem and here there are five pieces of fiction and two poems. It does keep things new and fluid, changing, and at least I can trust everything to be high quality. This month the theme seems to be isolation, the characters mostly dealing with life on their own, cut off from help by choice, by pain, by the elements, by disorder. The issue does an excellent job of exploring the idea of being alone, cut off, different, and how people react to those who are alone. So review time!

Art by Ekaterina Zagustina

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #181

Two stories make up this issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and both make a fairly interesting contrast to the last issue, where violence dominated the tales. Here there is one story that is almost entirely free of violence and one story where the violence is...well, quite present but also rather hilarious. Quite a shift from last issue, and yet the stories are filled with a sense of fun, a lightheartedness that makes them charming. Both stories manage to remain mostly light, very hopeful, and left me smiling. So time to review them!

Art by Tyler Edlin

Monday, September 14, 2015

Quick Sips - Fantastic Stories of the Imagination #230

Two flash works fill up this issue's original work from Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. Thematically, the stories are both dealing with mortality, at least in my opinion. In both there is a sense that what is truly beautiful cannot last forever. That there is something in the nature of beauty that is tied to time. We see a woman traveling the galaxy, exploring all kinds of things, capturing her memories to save, and yet the true beauty of her past is in her, is never bound in the memory boxes. In the second story a person encased in glass and water and wire finds that they long for the sight of a flower, that for all that the world has given her immortality, it pales before the fleeting beauty of a bloom. An interesting theme to tie the stories together, and one I should get more into in the reviews...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Quick Thoughts - Flash Fiction and Me

A while back I wrote one of these about poetry and me and, as I've been having some thoughts recently on the subject, I thought I would pick up my "I complain about stuffs" hat and see how it fits. Because, really, this is coming from a place of personal hurt and a place of personal grump and so you have full warning to turn back now.

But I want to talk about flash fiction. It's an interesting mode of telling a story, an interesting form, which I think is much more different from a "normal" short story than a "normal" short story is different from a novelette. And perhaps that is where I get some of my grumps. That flash fiction is obviously here. There are a number of even professional rate and SFWA qualifying places that publish flash exclusively, and many more that publish it along with everything else. In August alone there were flash stories at Strange Horizons, Apex, and Urban Fantasy, and in the past flash has appeared at Lightspeed, at Crossed Genres, in the big ole digests, in everywhere. Flash is not new and it's not going away and it is it's own thing. Doing flash well is different than doing longer fiction well. And yet...

So part of my annoyance is completely selfish. Used to be (right before I started getting published) that the barrier to getting into the SFWA was three pro sales totaling a certain amount of money. Which meant that a writer could get in with two flash sales and one longer sale. Which, I'm guessing, is exactly why the requirements were revised to look at word count and not just money. Now for a writer to get in with three sales they have to average over 3333 words. Let's say before a writer had one 4k story and two 1k stories and could get in. Now, with that same 4k story, they'd need probably seven 1k stories. pro sales is a fuck-ton for new writers. It makes me more than a little discouraged to see that two years ago I would be one flash sale away from SFWA qualification and now I'm...not.

Again, this would probably hurt less except that it certainly feels that people saw that there was a way into the SFWA and other members effectively cut it off. Closed the door behind them perhaps out of some, what, thought that membership was too easy to come by? Things were getting too diverse? Because again, yes, I imagine that flash sales are easier to get for new writers. Most of my sales have been flash sales. And from what I've seen flash fiction sales tend to be a little bit more diverse than, say, novella or novelette sales. And so seeing that flash sales now mean less, now are valued less...well, to me personally it seems to say that I'm not writing the "right kind of story." Which shouldn't surprise me, because it's not like flash fiction really gets that much consideration for awards. It gets lumped in with short stories and as such tends to get lost in the tide of stories.

And I have no idea what went into the decision to change the SFWA qualifications. Perhaps the reasons for making the adjustments were somehow entirely logical and not at all flash fiction is populist crap that shouldn't count for as much. That it's not exclusive enough. Not competitive enough. It panders too much to damned kids with their zero attention spans and ADD and whatnot. To say nothing that Kafka was a master of flash fiction, that it's been around forever and that it actually does bring more diverse voices into writing in the genre, because it does buy more and is less of an investment so that more new writers get their start in flash.

This is all just me venting. I wouldn't qualify for membership right now anyway, and perhaps my next sale will be a 6k story that will put me up over the threshold anyway. But part of me sees publications being much more likely to buy flash. Which is great, only then it becomes that much more difficult to sell "normal" short stories. If publishers are moving more toward flash, but the SFWA is moving away from valuing it, it just means that new writers are basically getting screwed over. I would love to know the justification for changing the requirements in that fashion. I would love for someone to explain that to me. Are there minutes I can read somewhere? Because what the SFWA probably doesn't need is more instances of the established bloc trying to keep out "the wrong kind" of writer. Just maybe.

Anyway, there are my thoughts on flash fiction. Because I'm bitter. Also because I love flash fiction. Writing it. Reading it. It's why I always pick out three flash stories a month to feature on the Round. I got my start writing flash fiction. I continue to sell mostly flash fiction. It is sad to see that flash fiction is treated poorly in SFF. So yeah... Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

[EDIT: Holy fuck, hold on. I just read through the SFWA requirements again and it's EVEN WORSE. Apparently where Associate membership used to be one pro rate sale, now it's one pro-rate sale that is not flash. Seriously, no story under 1k can count toward Associate membership. That means, hypothetically, that someone could get into Active membership before Associate membership if that someone wrote only stories under 1k. Which means they could sell to Apex, Lightspeed, Asimov's, basically everywhere and get over 10 pro sales and still not qualify for Associate membership. WTF? To say nothing of the fact that they would still likely not qualify for Active membership either. Now, this might be an unlikely scenario, but it is seriously, seriously fucked up. It's saying that flash fiction has no value. That it shouldn't count. Again, no story under 1k counts for Associate membership (as I'm reading that). It used to be that all you needed was one pro sale, and only five at any length to qualify for the SFWA. Now, if you write flash, you could technically write over a dozen stories and fall short because of the word count requirement but have been paid more than a 10,000 word short story would have sold for. This is wrong. This is wrong and fucked up and what the fuck was the rationale behind it? And I'm done, okay, done.]

Friday, September 11, 2015

Quick Sips - Lightspeed #64

September brings a rather interesting issue of Lightspeed, one that features a healthy mix of loss and change and love and moving on. Most of the stories take a rather sad path, weaving together time and loss, progress and sorrow. In the first three there is a definite sense that the characters all stand poised at the start of something, and also the end of something. There is a sense that they are all witnesses to a trauma, to something large and frightening. They are all, in ways, victims of these changes, but also contributors to them, and the future for all of them is still open, still to be decided. And then there's the last story which does an excellent job of releasing all that despair and uncertainty and embracing what's there, what can be held to, and provides a fun and funny ending to the issue. So I'm just going to get the reviews already...

Art by Craig Shields

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quick Sips - Shimmer #27 (September Stuff)

Two new stories this month at Shimmer and they're both stories about time and about humans finding places that aren't quite meant for humans. In the first an alternate Dust Bowl threatens to do much more than make for bad crops and a woman finds a child she knows is not her own. In the second, a man is trapped in a house that is not a house, that is alive and a prisoner in its own right, though neither is really able to free the other. In both stories there is a grim inevitability to the tales, a recognition that some people are incapable of healing the wounds caused and a waiting for the ones that can. Sad and moving, the stories offer small glimpses of hope, but it takes quite a bit of suffering to get there. So without further waiting, to the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Quick Sips - Clarkesworld #108

This issue of Clarkesworld is pretty much all science fiction. Which is not a bad thing, especially with some of the stories this month, but it does strike me a little bit. The theme of the issue can definitely be seen as sorts of post disasters. The disasters take all forms, from a suicide to a global economic shift to a series of wars. There are some striking takes on this idea, and I think all the stories are worth checking out, even if I wasn't a fan of all of them. At the very least it provides a great many futures to see, to confront and struggle with. So to the reviews!

Art by J. Otto Szatmari

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Monthly Round is up!

The Monthly Round is up, people!

Fiction Includes:

"Given the Advantage of the Blade" by Genevieve Valentine (Lightspeed #63)
"Infinite Skeins" by Naru Dames Sundar (Crossed Genres #32)
"Fire Rises" by Alec Austin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #180)
"The Servant" by Emily Devenport (Clarkesworld #107)
"The Vishikanya's Choice" by Roshani Chokshi (Book Smugglers)
"Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: An Elephant's Tale" by Damien Angelica Walters (Apex #75)

Flash Includes:

"Beyond Sapphire Glass" by Margaret Killjoy (Strange Horizons)
"Greenhouse" by Kelli Trapnell (Terraform)
"A Thing in All My Things" by Samuel Marzioli (Urban Fantasy #10)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Quick Sips - Crossed Genres #33 (Year 2065)

The three stories for the Year 2065 theme of Crossed Genres do take very different approaches to the idea. They all are at least partly set in the year, but there are different visions. One vision shows what might be, how far humanity might progress in that time, both technologically and morally. It's followed in short order by a story that also shows how far humanity might move technologically and morally, but not in the same direction. And the last shows a glimpse into a possible future, a dream that seems as fragile as a life. Very good stuff, and some interesting ideas on what the world might be like in fifty years.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Quick Thoughts - Some Self Promotion

I need to think of something good, so I'm going to actually do something I'm super uncomfortable with and post about some things that I'll have coming out. I normally don't like to because reasons I think I've gone into before, that I've thought on before, but writing has been sort of strangely difficult lately and I want to focus on good things instead of my own fears and feelings about not having had anything out since early June. A lot of that is I haven't been writing as much as I should. But positive! Things are going to be coming out!

Probably I am most excited that I have a poem that got accepted at Strange Horizons (one of my dream publications). It's actually my first poetry sale since…college. I've been writing poetry since grade school but apparently never thought of taking it in more speculative directions until relatively recently. Or maybe I just didn't realize that's what I've been writing since forever anyway. This poem in particular is…well, I think of it as both my Clippy (the Microsoft helper paperclip) poem and "that poem I wrote because I was really upset at the radio." So yeah, that's all signed and hopefully will be published. At the very least it's convinced me to try and send out more of my poetry.

I also have a pair of stories that will be coming out at Torquere Press for their Exchange of Power Anthology and Haunted Hotties Anthology. That's right: erotica! The first of the stories, "The Assistant's Contraption" (oh how I love titling erotica) is a steampunk/mad scientist story where the mad scientist (Rascan) finds out that his assistant (Friday) is not as submissive as he thought. It's out this month! The second, "A Friendly Ghostbusting" involves the rough and tumble world of online ghost-hunting videos, as two former-friends-turned-rivals find out they can still work together. I will admit that writing erotica is one of the few things that has worked for me recently, and I am super happy that these two stories were accepted. I really hope they're fun and not terrible. They will be my first erotica out, so it's brave new worlds all over the place.

I have some more traditional SFF stories coming out as well. "Alexa" was accepted by Dragon's Roost Press for their Eldritch Embraces anthology. I was lucky enough to be in their first anthology, Desolation, and I'm super glad "Alexa" found a home, though perhaps a little bummed it won't be available free online. Still, it's vaguely Lovecraftian (hence the name of the collection) and kind of romantic, if in a dark way. A mermaid story full of longing and loss.

And I sold a science fiction story to Betwixt, which I am quite pleased about. I don't review the publication but I do occasionally read stories from them and I've been impressed with much of what I've seen. My story is "Nothing," which was hilarious to see on the check, because in the comment on it simply read: Nothing. So I had a chuckle. I took a chance with voice in that story, and really just got caught up with playing with the word and concept of nothing.

Lastly, I sold a flash story to Lamplight magazine. This one's called "Tramposo" and is a science fiction horror? I guess? It's got something of a weird story and has a weird story behind it that I'll probably get more into when it actually comes out.

So there you have it. Lots of good news. It has seriously been a crazy month for acceptances, which is very nice, though when it comes in the face of having a really hard time writing it's also somewhat frightening. I need to write. I need to write. I can and I should and I will but wow, some days… Anyway, that's what I'm looking forward to. Hoping for some pro sales again at some point (some day, SFWA…someday…), but for now there is some promising news.

Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Quick Sips - Uncanny #6 (September Stuff)

So I might have nearly bitten off more than I could chew when I made the decision to review the latest from Uncanny for my second review of the month. There's a lot here! Two stories (both novelettes), two poems, and some nonfiction to chew and no joke this is a packed month of the issue. Almost like they're running a Kickstarter (nudge nudge, maybe go check that out!). It also is a very powerful month, featuring a pair of stories that show just how varied SFF can be. Dark historical fantasy and middle grade science fiction meet but don't clash here, and the issue as a whole does a nice job of showing just what Uncanny is good at: bringing together voices from all over the genres dedicated to telling good stories. Here's to another year! Oh, and I guess some reviews...

Art by Matthew Dow Smith

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online September 2015

September is officially here (yes I know it started yesterday but here on Quick Sip Reviews the month doesn't start until I'm through the previous month's fiction). And, as usual, Flash Fiction Online provides my first stop, with three pieces of fiction. I should also say that there is a very interesting piece of nonfiction there as well on writing advice and writing in general that is very much worth a read but, because of time restraints, I am not looking at today. Sorry! What I am looking at are three stories that all provide fine looks into characters ready to move on. The editorial this month really captures that idea, and these three stories do great jobs of showing the strength required to do something new, to try something different, even if it doesn't always work out as great as it could. It's a nice theme to focus on as the year wears on, and matches quite well with the nonfiction as well (which, again, you should read), so I'm just going to get to reviewing things!

Art by Dario Bijelac

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Quick Sips - Terraform August 2015

This is a particularly full month at Terraform, because of their contest that makes up the first three stories here. Luckily, it's also a very good month of Terraform, which makes the extra work worth it because the stories are disturbing and challenging and as a whole quite provocative. Six stories in all, and a whole lot to unpack, really, with stories firmly fixed on the future and what it will mean to live there. It's not a particularly happy picture being painted, many of the stories getting fairly dark and bleak, but the points raised are ones that must be addressed if we are to hope for anything better. So to the reviews!