“Fall Into Fantasy” Anthology featuring “The Demon in the Mask” Available Now!

fantasy

Cover art for the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall Into Fantasy 2019”

It’s here! the Cloaked Press anthology Fall Into Fantasy 2019 featuring my short story “The Demon in the Mask” is now available for purchase. Here’s a small excerpt from my tale to drive some interest:

But he had found a key of his own, and it was suspended above the Obsidian Throne of the Princess, or witch if you’d prefer.

“Forgive me my God and my Master, but great is my need and only yon sword Ariel gives me scant hope of slaying the evil one and freeing both your servant and your nation.” With that Andre stood and approached the throne. He had to mount the dais and stand upon the hewn black stone to reach the sword. He could hear it moan and wail like a thing alive, as if the angel encased within longed for the freedom that the man now gripping it enjoyed.
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The Engineer and the Clockwork Dragon: A Preview

dragon

from “The Hobbit” (2012)

Sixty-seven-year-old Rolf Liechtenstein was surprised to wake up alive, but that wasn’t his biggest revelation. Looking past the strange figure robed in crimson, tangerine, and green who was hovering over him, he saw a large, golden dragon collapsed on a wide, stone floor.

“I thought I only dreamed…” His voice sounded more like a croaking frog, and his throat was dry as desert sand. He had meant to speak in English, but had lapsed into his native German, a tongue he hadn’t spoken regularly outside of his home since he was a boy.

The hooded old woman muttered something incomprehensible, and wizened hands protruding from long, loose sleeves pushed his shoulders back onto a mat as he tried to get a better look.

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Removed as a Follower of File 770?

Mike Glyer (right) sitting with Marty Cantor – April 2008.

The other night it occurred to me that I hadn’t received an email notification of any posts on File 770 for over a week. That seemed rather odd to me since Mike Glyer writes on his “fanzine” rather frequently. Frankly, he’s pretty “chatty.” I thought the emails were going to a different tab in Gmail, but no. Then I checked my spam folder just in case, but again, no emails from File 770.

So I looked, and as of this writing, the latest File 770 post is from today. In fact, not a day has gone by when Mike Glyer hasn’t posted something on his fanzine.

I checked my WordPress Reader to see if they showed up there. Nope. Not present. So where have my notification emails been going?

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My Short Story “The Demon in the Mask” Will Appear in the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall into Fantasy 2019”

fall into fantasy

Cover image for the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall into Fantasy 2019”

Yesterday, it was announced on twitter that my short story “The Demon in the Mask” will be featured in the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall into Fantasy 2019.” I was privileged to have my science fiction short story “The Recall” previously published in their anthology Spring into SciFi 2019, so this is a double thrill.

This marks the tenth short story accepted for publication 2019, and so far, my average is just ahead of one a month. I’m pretty sure that beats someone’s odds.

Actually, after my announcement about my horror short story “Retired” being featured in The Toilet Zone, I received one rejection after another, and was beginning to doubt whether or not to continue, especially in light of other life events. Thankfully, the Cloaked Press announcement came at a very good time.

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Science Fiction, Opinions, and Why It’s Okay to Disagree

A statute honoring Ray Bradbury was unveiled outside the Waukegan Public Library just after sunset on Aug. 22, 2019, the 99th anniversary of the late author’s birth. (Dan Moran / Lake County News-Sun)

I just read an article at File 770 called Waukegan Public Library Unveils Ray Bradbury Statue (click the link and read, the story’s pretty short). Waukegan was Bradbury’s hometown and I’m thrilled to see that he is being honored. He is a truly timeless writer, and I can prove it, since my 33-year-old son Michael just read Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Over a year ago, I wrote my own wee Bradbury essay titled Should We Burn Ray Bradbury’s Books?. I crafted my missive in response to Katie Naum’s essay at Electric Lit called The New ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Movie Fails to Reckon with Bradbury’s Racism.

I seriously doubt he was a racist, at least in the dictionary definition sense, but assuming Bradbury had character flaws and perhaps some dated beliefs given that he was born in 1920, that doesn’t change his influence on the field of science fiction, nor make him unworthy of being honored.

Of course, we’ve seen this sort of thing before.

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The Latest From the Rejection Files

dragon

from “The Hobbit” (2012)

I’ve received three story rejections within a relatively short space of time recently, which is disheartening. The first one was a long shot I sent to Uncanny Magazine. I wasn’t surprised when they sent a very speedy rejection email back to me, but I figured “worth a shot.” Of course that means the short SciFi story has been rejected three times so far.

However, the other two I actually thought had a chance. Here are excerpts from them both:

Strange Pawns

NOTE: The one requirement for this anthology was that both dragons and vampires had to be included. I set my tale in alternate versions of World War Two just for giggles:

Hodhas and Meldaborne personally led the 2nd Airborne Wing of Dragons on their fourth night of successive attacks against Berlin, supported by scores of RAF Mosquitoes. The city suffered from round the clock bombing runs, with the American Army Air Force assailing the capital by day.

The RAF insignia was proudly displayed by the dragons, each wearing a large sash that encircled their torsos. Jagi, however, had hers painted directly on her scales.

“Maintain formation in the dive, my cohorts,” ordered Hodhas, who seemed all but invisible against the ebony sky. “Our plunge to the Reichstag is coming up in moments.” Each of the dragons tilted their wings in acknowledgement, deftly avoiding flak from anti-aircraft guns on the ground, or those few that were left after the last twenty-four hours of perpetual bombardment.

“On my mark…dive!” The obsidian mother dragon curved her body downward, folding her wings back like a falcon, and in unison, 58 other dragons, one of six remaining attack forces, followed, screaming out of the ether like enormous birds of prey.

“I see something ahead. Too small to be aircraft, and we know the Luftwaffe has been destroyed…” Hodhas never finished her sentence as hundreds, perhaps thousands of bats surged upward from the city under cover of darkness, each with a wingspan of six feet or more. Their cries were maddening, and both fang and claw pierced the armor of the dragons, causing blood to be drawn from a dozen wounds in a matter of seconds.

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Are the Science Fiction “Culture Wars” Still Alive and Well?

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Image found at DragonCon.org

I’ve tried to steer this blog away from the more controversial and/or political topics I’ve covered in the past, but then I read Richard Paloinelli’s missive Wikipedia or WikiPravda?. Richard and I share some similar viewpoints, but I lack many of the wounds and scars he’s received in the past, such as those attributed to Mike Glyer at the File 770 science fiction fanzine. I think I was contended with there exactly once. It actually impressed me, since relative to Glyer’s readership, I’m pretty much a nobody.

In the recent past, I’ve heard that Wikipedia, Patreon, and YouTube have been accused of attempting to shut out politically and socially conservative creative voices through censorship and defunding. Since I’m merely a consumer of Wikipedia and YouTube and wouldn’t know what to do with Patreon, I’ve had no personal experience, but on the other hand, I have no trouble believing they are all biased left, either.

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“The Deseret War” To Be Published In The Anthology “A Mighty Fortress: Mormon Steampunk Volume IV”

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Promotional Image of this year’s Mormon Steampunk anthology published by “Immortal Works”

Remember (or maybe you don’t) when I said that so far this year, nine of my short stories have been accepted for publication, but I can only talk about eight? Well, I just got permission to talk about the ninth. It’s a very differently themed anthology put out by Immortal Works, a small publishing outfit in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The anthology is called “A Mighty Fortress: Mormon Steampunk Volume IV” and stories submitted had two main thematic requirements. First, that it had to be Steampunk. Second, that it had to involve the Mormon Church. Yup, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Normally, I don’t think of those two topics going together, but I managed to make it work.

Here are the specifics at the “Immortal Works” Facebook page. You should be able to read them even if you don’t have Facebook, but I’ll post the info here just in case:

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What the Heck is a “Neffy Award?”

neffy

Screen capture of a portion of Mike Glyer’s online fanzine “File 770”

Having (finally) successfully subscribed to Mike Glyer’s File 770 online SciFi fan newzine, I find that most of what this rather prolific blog puts out doesn’t catch much of my interest. Of course, with WorldCon Dublin coming up next month, a lot of the content is focused there. They also put out a tremendous number of articles about various awards, again, most of which I don’t have an interest in.

However, I did pause to read Neffy Award Ballot Is Out. I’d never heard of the Neffy Awards, so I looked them up.

But before that, I took a look at the ballot, which lists science fiction and fantasy works nominated in a number of categories. They include Best Novel, Best Shorter Work, Best Book Editor, Fanzine, TV Show, Movie, Anime, and so forth. Needless to say, I didn’t recognize any of the names and most of the category entries. Oh, I have heard of “Game of Thrones” and I used to watch “Supergirl,” but that was about it. This reminded me that as a “fan,” I’m probably really lacking in keeping up with what’s current (to find out what I’ve been reading and watching lately, go to my Reviews page).

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Author Update May 30, 2019

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Cover art for the Cloaked Press anthology “Spring Into SciFi”

As of today, I still have six stories accepted with four in print. Haven’t heard back again from Cloaked Press about the status of their 2019 edition of the SciFi anthology “Spring into SciFi” which features my short story “The Recall.” However, the Impossible Hope anthology which accepted my tale “The Switchman’s Lantern” is going through final edits.

Now for the more distressing news. As of a few days ago, my rejection list grew to 11. Actually, it’s more like 14 since a publication that accepts multiple submissions rejected all 4 of the stories I sent them.

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Proposed cover for “Impossible Hope” anthology

As of last night, the number of stories I’ve submitted that are still pending is up to 13, although I think a few of the magazines are struggling with deadlines and are (temporarily) in limbo.

I’m toggling between working on my novel and writing short stories to keep my focus from getting bogged down. The continued lack of a day job also preys on my mind, since unemployment insurance is meager and won’t last forever.

All I can do on all fronts is to keep plugging away and to trust in providence, which up until now, has never let me down.