fantasy fiction novelette Tales from the Subcontinent

story sale

Hmm-hah. Dusty. Apparently I’ve had nothing to say to the internet at large for quite some time.

But news today: My fourth sale to the estimable online monthly GigaNotoSaurus. Editor Rashida J. Smith estimates “The Tale of the Ive-ojan-akhar’s Death” will be posted next summer or a bit later, depending on inventory. Long after I’ve spent the payment, then.

Begun years ago in Rhode Island, completed here in Oregon, “Ive-ojan-akhar” is a tale from the history of the  Kandadal’s World, taking place about two hundred years after “The Oily Man” (in Berman, ed., Handsome Devil, 2014) in some of the same locales. It’s long, elliptical, difficult, and I quite like it. I’m gratified Rashida does as well.

Otherwise: It’s summer, finally, and my garden looks well.

6 June 2017, dawn

Other-otherwise, the novel I’ve been secretively writing since November reached the 300-typescript-page landmark last night.

fantasy fiction Tales from the Subcontinent

look here

My obscurely published 2012 story “Two Dead Men”—second written, first published of the Tales from the Kandadal’s World—has been reprinted online at Lightspeed magazine. The November issue is here, although not all the contents have gone live yet, or you may look into purchasing the entire issue or a subscription in various e-book format here.

fantasy fiction novelette self

spring is here*

And with it my first published story in two years. Go. Read. (It’s free.) Then, if you missed it and if you like, there’s a bit of background on “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” here.**


* Or so they say. I am not so sure. El-Niño-birthed weather patterns mean it’s been dismal in the southern Willamette Valley: grey, chilly, rainy—oh, the rain. Until this week there hasn’t been a stretch of more than four days without it since December, I think, and I don’t trust the current sunny respite.

Or maybe I’m just still in a dismal, wintry mood, unable or unwilling to appreciate the springiness in the air. Because the truth is the winter 2015-16 was thoroughly unpleasant. I was sick, so sick, from mid-December until…well, officially I’m mostly recovered and convalescing on schedule but I wouldn’t say I’m well. A few words: Pneumonia. Pleurisy. Empyema. Three weeks ago I was in hospital with a tube in my chest and IV fluids and antibiotics dripping into my veins. Since then I’ve had a fancy catheter in my right arm for the daily outpatient infusion of yet more weapons-grade antibiotics—scheduled to come out this afternoon. Finally, thank merciful and compassionate God, I’ll be able to take a shower.

So, yeah. It’s been ugly and I have accomplished little these four months besides attempting to regain my health.

So there’s my excuse for not posting anything here since early December.

And here, because we could all use some cheering up and my deck garden has been performing in despite of the weather, some photos of flowers. Flowers are good.

Crocuses, 25 January.
Crocuses, 25 January. Their second spring.
A single snowdrop, 4 February. A disappointment—only one of last spring’s flowered though they all came up, and only one of the five put in in the fall survived.
A single snowdrop, 4 February. A disappointment—only one of last spring’s flowered though they all came up, and only one of the five bulbs put in this past autumn survived.
Reticulated iris, 4 February. Repeats from last spring.
Reticulated iris, 4 February. Repeats from last spring.
Wood violets, 16 March. Another disappointment: they're clearly labelled Viola odorata but possess no fragrance whatever.
Wood violets, 16 March. Another disappointment: they’re clearly labelled Viola odorata yet possess no fragrance whatever. But pretty.
Iceland poppy (rather storm tossed), 16 March. I sowed the seeds last spring but nothing ever came up, saddening me. Then, when I was cleaning out that box in the fall I discovered two sprouts and decided to see if they’d make it through the winter. As you see, they did.
Iceland poppy (rather storm tossed), 16 March. I sowed the seeds last spring but nothing ever came up, saddening me. Then, when I was cleaning out that box in the autumn I discovered two sprouts and decided to see if they’d make it through the winter. As you see, they did.
Second Iceland poppy, newly opened and in context, 16 March.
Second Iceland poppy, newly opened and in context, 16 March. Reticulated iris in foreground, slowly opening anemone to the right.
Close-up of the poppy, 16 March.
Close-up of lemon-yellow poppy, 16 March. Presently there are five buds to look forward to.
Rosemary, 16 March. Of all the many rosemaries I've owned over the years, the first to flower for me.
Rosemary, 16 March. Of all the many rosemaries I’ve owned over the years, the first to flower for me.
Pucshkinia, 27 March. I thought they’d be taller. (I also never thought all the clarkia seed sowed in the fall would be up so far so early.)
Pucshkinia, 27 March. I thought they’d be taller. (I also never thought all the clarkia seed sowed in the fall would be up so far so early.)
Stocks, 27 March. Survivors from last summer.
Stocks, 27 March. Survivors from last summer.
First anenome, 27 March. A bit past its prime. Two more on the way, one apparently the same blue.
First anenome, 27 March. A bit past its prime. Two more on the way, one apparently the same blue.
Tulip magnolia (left) and lilac in the downbelow, 30 March. Poor things would appreciate pruning. I don't know what the purple masses in the left foreground are but they’re certainly cheerful.
Tulip magnolia (left, and a happier specimen in the neighbor’s yard beyond the fence) and lilac in the downbelow, 30 March. Poor things would benefit from pruning. I don’t know what the purple masses in the left foreground are but they’re certainly cheerful.
Flowering plum trees out the bedroom window, 31 March. Tasty plums, too.
Flowering plum trees out the bedroom window, 31 March. Tasty plums, too.
Primrose and I don’t know what, 31 March. The primrose survives from winter before last when I had multiple specimens potted in the living foom to alleviate the gloom. The other thing I first believed another puschkinia, although I didn’t recall planting any in that box, but on closer inspection, no. Perhaps a triffid.
Primrose and I don’t know what, 31 March. The primrose survives from winter before last when I had multiple specimens potted in the living room to alleviate the gloom. The other thing I first believed another puschkinia, although I didn’t recall planting any in that box, but on closer inspection, no. Perhaps a triffidling.

** [That fourth 2015 story meant to be completed by New Year’s? Ha ha, no, alas. I was allowed a generous deadline extension but even so. Stupid narrative chose to become complicated and to address issues far outside the brief. Perhaps I’ll finish it one day, perhaps not, but in any case it won’t appear in the intended anthology.]


fantasy fiction novelette

story news

I have not been talking about writing much but the fact is I’m doing it. Some. Now and again. And even finishing things…infrequently.

Which is to say, so far this year three stories, two longish and one shortish. And a fourth I mean to complete before the New Year’s Eve submission deadline (get cracking, Jeffers!). I won’t say anything yet about #1 or #3 because they’re out on submission and jinx.

But #2 I can talk about because it just sold and will appear, Kindly Editor tells me, probably in the spring of next year.

As a dreamy, bookish, introverted, somewhat alienated sprog in the early 1970s I naturally fell under the spell of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. (I’ll give you a moment to snigger about the series title. Even in those innocent days, “adult” as a descriptor for, uh, “art” had undertones of “raunchy,” if it hadn’t quite become the euphemism for “pornographic” we now recognize. One wonders how Ballantine Books’ publicity department let it pass.)

Here is the scene: the summer before I started my second year at prep school in Pebble Beach, California—a peculiar gated community consisting primarily of golf courses and scenic vistas, adjacent to the equally peculiar village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, my hometown. My elder brother had attended the same school (would later return for a long career as a teacher), my younger brother came up three years later, and my mother had just been hired as school librarian. Conveniently enough, as the family couldn’t really afford my tuition. That summer she put in several hours a day familiarizing herself with the library and cleaning up inherited messes.

She dragooned me to help out. My wage was one new paperback book a week with the promise of no complaints if I chose trash (science fiction or fantasy) as I was certain to do. Friday afternoons after a few hours of work we would drive down to what passed for Pebble Beach’s commercial district for lunch at the drugstore before spending another hour or two swimming and sunning at the Del Monte Beach Club. But between the lunching and the clubbing I had a short precious period to rifle through the drugstore’s two spinner racks of new mass-market paperbacks.

I don’t suppose more than a quarter of them were SF or fantasy. Indeed, I’m not sure how those two racks managed to provide a book I wanted every week for the entire summer. I do recall that the first Ballantine Adult Fantasy title I encountered shocked me with its price—$1.25 instead of the 75¢ or 95¢ then standard—and I worried about choosing it since it was so expensive. Apparently my mother was pleased with my work that week, though, because she made no protest. I don’t remember which book it was, which novel or collection or anthology with which gorgeous Gervasio Gallardo or David McCall Johnston or Bob Pepper cover.

At any rate, I bought a great many BAF titles during my high-school years. I wish I still had them but they—and too many other books—were lost in the First Great Book Disaster when stored for several years in the damper-than-I-knew basement of a friend’s house. Alas.

But the point of this exercise in nostalgia is to bring up California poet/short-story writer/graphic artist/sculptor Clark Ashton Smith, whose fiction I first encountered in BAF editions…and who had something of a local connection. As a poet he was a disciple of George Sterling, who lived some while in Carmel and was one of the earliest champions of my grandfather’s work. CAS himself resided the last few years of his life in Pacific Grove, on the other side of Pebble Beach from Carmel.

CAS is probably least remembered of the great Weird Tales triumvirate of the 1920s and ’30s, after Conan the Barbarian’s creator Robert E. Howard and well after dread Cthulhu’s daddy, H.P. Lovecraft. When he is remembered it’s as the prose stylist of the trio…a judgment I’m no longer quite willing to accept. He had a distinctive style, surely (all three did), but it’s a good deal too empurpled, too incarnadined, too penny-a-sesquipedalian-word for my present taste. Teenage Alex, though, fell hard under the spell of his tales of necromancy and lurking unease set in the bejewelled tapestries of mediaeval Averoigne, prehistoric Hyperborea, postdiluvian Poseidonis (last fragment of sunken Atlantis), and, especially, in Zothique.

Zothique, in the CAS legendarium, is all that remains of the continents of Earth millennia hence as the planet and its sun near extinction. It’s a place of dusty deserts and ancient ruined cities, curses and bloodthirsty gods and necromancers—so many necromancers. It’s the direct antecedent of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth—Vance admitted as much—which I would discover a few years later, and hence of an entire subgenre of fantastical literature. Thank all Zothique’s dread, rabid gods, however, that said subgenre follows Vance more closely than CAS. The latter had a vivid, lurid imagination and a distressingly large vocabulary but his plots are primitive and his characters less than types, seldom criticisms that can be made of Vance.

That said, “The Garden of Sons and Husbands,” my own first (possibly only ever?) addition to the Dying Earth subgenre, is intended in part as homage to CAS and to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy edition of his Zothique stories with the deliciously creepy George Barr cover that so enthralled teenage Alex.

I came up with the novelette’s title some years ago back in Rhode Island (August 2009, to be precise) and drafted about half the first, long paragraph before setting it aside. But the title was too good to lose and in July of this year I wrote all the other paragraphs. A good many of them. Just under eleven thousand words’ worth. Sufficient that I will claim “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” as the first story written in Oregon, in distinction to the first story completed (#1 above, which I’m not really talking about), two months before but already two-thirds drafted before I crossed the continent. (Every word of #3 was written right here in Eugene. Also not talking about.)

And yay, the third market I submitted “The Garden” took it, that being the intriguing webzine dedicated to long stories of science fiction and fantasy This will be my third appearance, after “Tattooed Love Boys” in March 2012 and “A Man Not of Canaan” in July 2013. The first two sold to founding editor/publisher Ann Leckie before anybody knew who she was. Now that she’s deservedly famous (the Ancillary trilogy is so fine), GigaNotoSaurus is edited by Rashida J. Smith—who will doubtless become famous herself soon enough—and I am delighted to sell to the new management.


I will post a link when “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” goes live next year.

fantasy fiction football (soccer) historical fantasy Lethe Press novelette novella Rahab SF short stories spec fic

book news

Long ago at the beginning of time—in 1976, that is—the first piece of fiction I was ever paid money for appeared in print. If I remember correctly, that story paid for my first electric typewriter. I’d written it longhand in a prep-school spiral-bound notebook, then typed it up on a portable manual Hermès that might be worth some money now if I still had it.

Let me do the math: Sometime in 2016 I will have been a Published Author for forty years. How is that even possible?

To mark the anniversary, I thought, how about a collection of stories, new and old? Not quite as old as forty years—I reread some of that apprentice work from the 1970s and ’80s. I don’t hate it (much) but don’t feel like preserving it either. Let future scholars and heirs do that after I’m dead. So the initial date I chose is 1990, the year I acquired my first computer (an Apple Macintosh SE of blessèd memory) and determined once for all the name I wished to be known under.

I brought the notion to Gentle Publisher, who agreed with good grace (although he nixed my proposed cover in no uncertain terms) and surprised me utterly by saying, “I’ll find somebody interesting to write an introduction.” I am as curious as you are who that will be!

At any rate, barring unforeseen mischance, out in July 2016 from Lethe Press will be a massive tome entitled Not Here. Not Now. collecting thirteen stories and novellas from a quarter century’s work in (and out of) multiple genres.

table of contents

  • “Composition with Barbarian and Animal” [written 1992/published 1994]
    Science fiction, a tale of barbarian merchants in the strange worlds of the far future.
  • “You Deserve” [2013/2013]
    Contemporary dark fantasy about a teenager and his dads, dreadful impulses and dreadful powers.
  • “Michael in the Library” [1991/1998]
    Quasi-historical fiction set in Roman Alexandria, concerning a scribe at the famous library and his lover, a novelist.
  • “Seb and Duncan and the Sirens” [2010-2012/2014]
    Contemporary fantasy: American tourists. Greek island. Sirens.
  • “A Handbook for the Castaway” [1996/1997]
    Quasi-historical fiction, the shipwreck narrative of an eighteenth-century pirate.
  • “A Portrait in India Ink by Harry Clarke” [2013/2013]
    Semi-historical* romance revolving around an Irish artist’s gorgeous illustration for a minor Poe story.
    *(do the 1960s count as history?)
  • “Dramma per musica; or, The Frenzy of Alexander” [1995/previously unpublished in full]
    Faux-autobiographical fiction containing, as in a matryoshka, a narrative of Baroque-opera castrato erotica.
  • “Three Men I Want” [1995/1997]
    A non-fiction short story, deceptively autobiographical, ambiguously confessional.
  • “The Hyena’s Blessing” [2012/2013]
    Quasi-historical fantasy set in eleventh-century Egypt, involving an assassin, a caliph, and, well, zombies.
  • “Captain of the World” [2010/2011]
    Contemporary sports fiction. No, really. Narrated by a Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper.
  • “#duranperi” [2013/previously unpublished]
    Contemporary fantasy, a kind of fairy tale taking place at the edges of the Gezi Park protests in İstanbul during the summer of 2013.
  • “Two Dead Men” [2012/2012]
    Secondary-world fantasy, a supernatural love story set during and ten years after a vicious civil war.
  • “The New People” [2008-2009/2011]
    Science fiction, an exploration of the society evolved on an isolated colony world three hundred years after all the women died. And a love story. And a fan letter to Israeli singer-songwriter Ivri Lider.

awards erotica fantasy fiction first look That Door Is a Mischief The Padişah’s Son and the Fox work in progress

a bleak road through a black waste

I suffered a breakdown, something like a breakdown. Not on account of the traumatic event some people know about (the contrary, doubtless, in some ways), although that was no bloody help whatsoever—some weeks earlier, and then prolonged for nearly three months. Brain chemistry is a tricky thing whether or not mediated by those secretive rulers of the universe, the pharmaceutical-industrial complex (mine is not). I was pretty much incapable of working, neither for myself nor for paying clients. On the internet (where nobody knows you’re a dog) I put up a front, as one does. People who know me may not even have noticed. (I didn’t wish them to.) Then, for reasons having to do with said traumatic event, I lost internet access for some while, making paying work pretty much impossible. I would like to thank my elder brother for a leg up—a couple of legs, monetary and fraternal.

One might think receiving the truly lovely cover art for That Door Is a Mischief from its creator, the estimable Ben Baldwin, early last month would have helped. It was surely a bright moment in a waste of black despair, but moments last only so long. In the aftermath, however, I’m delighted by Ben’s visual imagining of my verbal imaginings, grateful to him for the work and to gentle publisher for commissioning it. Lethe Press will release the novel around about 15 September.


One might think learning The Padişah’s Son and the Fox had won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Erotica would make everything all better. One would be wrong…even if I didn’t believe the Lammys rather hollow honors. As I do. Nevertheless, I extend my gratitude to the anonymous judging panel, and to Mr Damon Shaw, whose good opinion of the abridged version originally published in 1996 belatedly persuaded me to publish the entire novella.


Toward the end of the horrid interval—just recently, in other words—more serene of mind, properly caffeinated and nicotinated again and still internet-free, I was able to restart the balky writing engine.

Well, first I put some time into revising The Unexpected Thing, which is now about as good as I think I can make it without editorial whips lashing my shoulders. Pretty damn good, that is. I’m now actively seeking representation, if anybody knows a good, aggressive literary agent.

But then I started writing again. I looked over a sputtering constellation of inconsequential fragments committed to pixels and bytes a decade ago, attempted to figure out where I’d meant to go with them. Although I failed in that figuring (just as well), I seem to have come up with a different conceptual schema and to have written the eighty-five-hundred-word first chapter of a new novel. I’m not ready to talk about it much, except to report its working title, Bedtime Stories for the Boy Himself, Perhaps, and the first sentence: He was twenty-two when he realized he was pregnant.

And to quote an essay written by its protagonist in high school, a few years before the novel’s proper start.

Matthew Girard
Senior English, Mr Wallace
18 September 2009


The first time I saw the angel was two weeks before school got out for the summer. I had gone down to the beach after school—my head was foggy and, as I remember, I was annoyed about something and didn’t want to have anything to do with anybody. There were too many people on the sand so I walked briskly to the end of the beach, below the golf course where the cliffs come down almost to the tide line and there’s no sand anymore, just a shelf of rock with a bunch of boulders up against the cliff.

After walking a way along here, around the first headland, I couldn’t see—or hear—any people, so I sat down on a boulder looking out to sea and smoked a cigarette. I shouldn’t admit that part but if I don’t you’ll be sure to think I was smoking a joint. Because that’s when I saw the angel.

At first I just thought it was a big gull looking for fish, flapping along right above the waves in wide s-curves and figure eights. But as it came closer I saw that its wings were whiter than a gull’s—but not really white, more all colors at once…rainbow colors. White light going through a prism turns to rainbow colors. Its body didn’t really look like a bird’s, either, though I couldn’t tell quite what it did look like yet.

I held very still, not wanting to frighten it away, and it kept getting closer. Finally it alighted about ten feet from me and I could see it wasn’t any kind of bird at all. For one thing, it stood upright and had arms with hands on them, and no tail. I call it an angel because I don’t know what else to call it but it didn’t really look like the Sunday School idea of an angel, being naked and pretty definitely male (I suppose I should say he instead of it). Only about two feet tall, too—I think of angels as being seven and a half or eight feet, or else people size. Anyway, it was definitely too big to be a fairy and its wings were like bird wings, feathered, not dragonfly or moth wings. Maybe it was an extraterrestrial being. Whatever it was, I call it an angel. I said, “Angel,” and held out my hand.

I guess it hadn’t really seen me or thought I was a funny-looking rock, because when I moved and spoke it jumped into the air, flapping its wings madly, and shrieked like a gull. But basically it just seemed to be startled. It settled back down soon enough, fluffing its wings as though it was annoyed, and eyeing me sidelong.

At that distance I couldn’t really make out its face, but later on, as we got to know each other, I discovered the angel’s features revealed just as much expression as a person’s. The expressions—smiling, frowning, etc—were very human, too, and looked rather peculiar on a face the size of a cat’s, pointed at the chin and broad at the temples, with a small nose and mouth and very big, silvery eyes (not as big as a cat’s, though, and with round pupils). I think it may not have been quite adult yet because it had no beard or body hair. Although maybe angels don’t display those masculine characteristics. Its ears were small and round. The hair on its head was short, the same silvery color as its eyes and eyebrows. I wasn’t able to determine if the hair was cut short or if it grew that length naturally. I saw it use its hands several times—it liked to knock mussels off the rocks, pry them open, and pull out the meat, which it ate very neatly, and once I saw it catch a little fish, grabbing it out of the water with both hands—but I never saw it use any kind of tool, and as I said before it wore no clothing. I’m still not sure how intelligent it was. More than a monkey, definitely, but I’m not sure how much more. Eventually it learned to say my name and a few simple words like rock, sea, hand, wing, angel, and boy, but it never got the hang of verbs. I never saw it talking with another angel (it was the only one I encountered, unfortunately), so I don’t know if the sounds it made were language. They had the full complement of vowels and consonants—a few more of the latter than English, I think—and they sounded like language, but more like singing than speech.

But these observations come out of sequence. It took a week or so for it to get accustomed to me, to get over its suspicion and try the treats I brought it. It liked raisins; sunflower seeds and almonds, but not peanuts; rye bread, but not whole wheat or white; M&M’s, plain only, and it disdained the green ones. I’m not sure what else it ate besides mussels and fish. Once when I offered it a bite of my salami and cheese sandwich it got very annoyed, urinated on my head, and flew away shrieking, but the next day things were back to normal. (Angel urine, by the way, is just as nasty as any other kind.)

By about the tenth time I came to see it, the angel had learned my name. I tried to come at the same time every day. I would sit down on my habitual rock and smoke my cigarette. After a little while the angel would come flying in over the water, calling “Matthew! Matthew!” in its high, sweet voice, and land on my knee, sitting astraddle, wings out for balance. If I was still smoking it would be annoyed and yell at me from a distance until I got rid of the butt. When it was feeling particularly affectionate it landed on my head, grabbing my hair in its little hands. I found this disconcerting—especially when it hauled itself hand-over-hand across my scalp until it was hanging head down over my forehead, staring into my eyes and grinning foolishly. It wasn’t as heavy as you’d think, maybe four or five pounds. Probably its bones were hollow. Its skin was quite warm and its heartbeat very fast. Its wings smelled dusty, dry, and its flesh salty, a little like sea water. I am sorry to say it had very bad breath, though its teeth looked healthy if rather yellow. Except for the wings it appeared to be completely mammalian, making it a puzzle how to classify it in biological terms.

I don’t know if one could say I had tamed the angel because I’m not sure if you could ever have called it wild, or even if you’d call it an animal. I kept hoping it might follow me home one evening but no such luck. I’m fairly sure nobody ever saw us together, which is a pity in a way because of course no sane person would ever believe I made friends with an angel this summer. I have one of its long flight feathers, white with an odd prismatic shimmer, but what’s a feather? It never occurred to me until afterward that I should have tried to take a photograph of it. I mean, I always had my phone on me so I could have.

Sometime around the middle of August I went down to the rocks around the headland but the angel didn’t show up. I gave up looking for it after a week or so. I was disappointed that it hadn’t said good-bye.

I’ll say one further thing about Bedtime Stories. A kind reviewer of You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home said of “Then We Went There” that he wished the story were longer, that I’d explored the world of the Court of the Air more extensively. It occurred to me the other night that, when I composed “Then We Went There,” unconscious memories of those decade-old fragments may have come into play. That is, Matthew Girard uses a similar method to reach his imaginary world as Davey, in the short story, used to stumble from our world into another, and Matthew’s world also features an aerial commonwealth—if not a brutal, all-powerful régime like the Court. So, Benito: Not strictly an extension of or sequel to “Then We Went There” but, when (if) I complete Bedtime Stories, maybe the next-best thing.

fantasy fiction Lethe Press short stories spec fic You Will Meet a Stranger…

voices in my head

I will confess—nay, glory in—the fact that I nearly always read my own work aloud at some point. It’s the surest method I know to discover clumsy sentences and faulty rhythms, especially after one has stared at the black marks on the screen so long they’ve begun to make sense.

However, I am entirely unable to deal with audiobooks. Soon as I hear a professional orator begin narrating a story, my brain makes a frantic scrabbling rush in search of distraction. (This is not something that often happens when I read print.)

However however, I am well aware freak-mutants exist who adore the things. I expect they aren’t even the strangest monsters inhabiting this globe of ours.

For those mutant freaks, then, this note: Lethe Press and have released an audiobook of my collection of wonder stories You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home narrated by one Simon Ralph. Happened about a week and a half ago. I’m told, indeed, it’s Lethe’s audio bestseller for March.


(I listened to about thirty seconds before I was driven screaming into a hell dimension of horror and remembered I could turn it off.)

But for you, monster, audiobook aficionado, here are links: Amazon or Audible. There’s even a teaser for my next novel, That Door Is a Mischief, in the form of the original short-story version of chapter one. Perhaps Simon Ralph’s melodious vocal stylings can stall your anticipation of that release. (September, probably.)

fantasy fiction Liam in the World spec fic That Door Is a Mischief work in progress

Liam end note

Well, I didn’t want to write it. I feel Liam might be better pleased if I hadn’t written it, if I’d left him all hopeful and happy at the end of chapter seven. But it nagged and nagged and demanded to be written so it was: an eighth and definitively final chapter of the novel now titled That Door Is a Mischief. Which is pretty much novel sized: 66,000 words. Of which roughly 50,000 were written since the turn of the year.

And I am wrung out.

So. Commission cover art. Schedule. Perform final-final polish. Typeset. Send out for review. Publish. Summer 2014, maybe?

fantasy fiction Liam in the World work in progress

Liam progress note

Gentle Publisher has forbidden the title I chose for the Compleat Liam, oh, four years ago. It’s boring and unevocative, he says, won’t attract readers. At the moment he issued the ultimatum I told him this had never happened to me before, in the nearly forty years since I sold my first story: but on reflection I realize it isn’t so. My second pro sale was retitled for similar cause and the third for reasons having to do with long forgotten sci-fi politics of the day. So be it. Ave atque vale, Liam in the World.

Because he is not entirely heartless (or maybe he is), Gentle Publisher came up with a list of five alternate titles. Following a strategy I’ve only recently noticed other writers using, they’re all direct quotes from the text itself.

  1. Fairy Teeth
  2. A Literal Fairy
  3. That Door Is a Mischief and My Heart Is Sorrowful
  4. All the Feral Promises
  5. In the Grotty Mirror

As you see, I’ve dismissed three out of hand. Doubtless he expected me to. Number 4 is perhaps too…Sweet Savage Love? Or maybe I’m thinking of a movie from the 1950s.

Number 3 I love. I loved it in context when I wrote the line of dialogue, love it again divorced from context. But does it work as a title? First of all, the last time I used a book title similarly lengthy, You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home, the title proved a mischief—misremembered, misquoted, mangled, once ignored entirely in favor of the subtitle Wonder Stories. Nor will I soon forget the snarls of irritation that greeted the novelette title “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy.”

Second, I wouldn’t wish people to assume Liam’s book is some lugubrious recitation of sorrows or any variety of tragical Faerie Ballad: it is quite other than either.

Third, the mischievous door, although present in the first chapter, doesn’t assume its true importance till quite near book’s end.

So I will ponder and fret a while longer. There’s time. I await responses (thoughts, critiques, rippings of new assholes) from a couple of people I sent the current draft to who have more pressing demands on their time. As do we all. I have two (at least) books to design and lay out and a couple of novel-length MSs to proofread prior to layout.

awards Deprivation erotica fantasy Lethe Press magical realism The Padişah’s Son and the Fox

multiple finalist

Weallll. This is a startle. Just got off the phone (how I hate the phone!) with Gentle Publisher, who informs me I am a double finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards, longlists shortlists (oh god I’m tired) announced this morning.

1. In the category of LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror: Deprivation; or, Benedetto Furioso: an oneiromancy.


2. In the category of Gay Erotica: The Padişah’s Son and the Fox.


So. I’m in more than a bit of a fog just now for other reasons entirely and will confess that, although Gentle Publisher listed off my competition in both categories, I don’t quite recall. And am far too bleary to go look at the list. Except that Deprivation’s up against two books I am very fond of, Death by Silver by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold (Lethe Press) and Light by ’Nathan Burgoine (Bold Strokes Books), so when I lose to one or the other I won’t be all that upset. If I lose to one of the other seven (! I believe GP said) finalists, possibly a different story.

Winners announced sometime in May, I think 2 June 2014, at some kind of folderol ceremony in Manhattan. Possibly by then I will be awake and competent again. Probably not in Manhattan. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

[Edited 8 March to add a few links.]