Lethe Press music SF short stories spec fic

best of the year?

Oh, unlikely. But still a flattery: my bite-size science fiction story of the very near future, “The Arab’s Prayer” (M-Brane SF #24, January 2011), has been selected for reprint in Steve Berman’s Wilde Stories 2012: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction. A book I will most likely copyedit, design, and lay out. Meta or what?

I will take the opportunity, as I do just about every time I mention “The Arab’s Prayer,” to embed the video for Israeli pop star Yehonathan’s anthemic “Waiting for You (Tel-Aviv),” which provided both inspiration and soundtrack.


fiction short stories Turkey

story out next month

Now it can be said. My story of dervishes and Rumi and sex and other stuff, “Turning” (which has been referenced previously under a different title), will appear in the premier issue of Chelsea Station, out in November. I just read the proofs. Handsome layout.

short stories Turkey YA

indian summer writing update

This afternoon, probably the penultimate warm day of 2011 if the long-range forecast and my hard-won knowledge of New England climatic patterns are to be trusted, I completed a draft of my third story for the year. Not a short story. At nearly 12,000 words, it’s about midway through the range defined by SFWA for award purposes as a novelette. A summer story.

Literally. The central notion’s been kicking around my head for a few years but I couldn’t find the right angle of attack until Steve Berman issued a call for submissions to an anthology of stories for gay youths to be called Boys of Summer. I commenced serious work in August.

It takes place on and off the Aegean coast of Turkey, where a teenager from Berkeley, CA—third wheel on his dad and stepmom’s midsummer honeymoon—becomes tangled up in the multiplicitous myths of Adonis and, naturally, falls in love with a handsome Turkish lad. At Sandra McDonald’s insistence, it has a happy ending. You don’t want to quarrel with Sandra!

I e-mailed the draft to Steve almost as soon as I could convert it from *.pages to *.rtf. Two hours later he called me. He sees some structural weaknesses and is not especially thrilled by my unwieldy (though justified!) title, “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy”…but assured me I’ve made the sale. The Soliloquy imprint of Bold Strokes Books will publish Boys of Summer next July. Compassionate God willing, and revisions completed by 1 November 2011, “Wheat, Barley” will be part of it (if, grumble, under a different title), in time for my mumblety-fifth birthday.

In other news, I still don’t have confirmation of my plausible fourth story publication of 2011. There are rumors, wild dark rumors, but no unambiguous statements I’m willing to bank on. If it happens, it should happen next month.

But my other three 2011 stories are out there waiting—go get ’em (if you haven’t already)!

  • “The Arab’s Prayer” in M-Brane SF #24 (still available for free download) and the print Quarterly #2.
  • “Captain of the World” in Steve B.’s earlier queer YA anthology, Speaking Out.
  • “Liam and the Ordinary Boy” in Icarus #10, both print and PDF.

And two books, of course. I’ve said enough about those already. (The New People. The Abode of Bliss.)

Must lie down with headache. Massive amounts of copyediting to do tomorrow. And a long chilly winter to anticipate. How I hate being cold. Dread spoils the fleeting warmth.

Safe as Houses short stories The Abode of Bliss


In The Abode of Bliss’s first four – five weeks as an actual book, there have been a few.

The first I saw was from Bob Lind of Echo Magazine, published to a private Yahoo discussion group, then to Amazon.

It makes you think, which perhaps isn’t ideal for lazy readers who demand to be entertained, but is very rewarding to those who appreciate such writings.

Amos Lassen chimed in at his exhaustive site, Reviews by Amos Lassen:

Here is a book of stories in which each one is sheer perfection. The prose is sublime, the characters are beautifully drawn and we get a chance to see what the word literature means (as opposed to writing).

On the Edge Media network (I saw it first on the Boston-local site but now it’s everywhere), Katie Drexel wasn’t entirely convinced but said a few nice things:

The Abode of Bliss is written like poetry, a trip for the senses for one to enjoy from a distance.

Novelist Alan Chin, an indefatigable champion of my work, published an enthusiastic review on his blog, A Passage to Now, which has since memed out all over the internet:

I’ve long believed that Alex Jeffers is a remarkable talent. I regard The Abode of Bliss as his most impressive work to date. This is a book I will read, savor, again and again. I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves finely crafted prose, lush descriptions and gratifyingly deep characters.

At Impressions…of a Reader, Hilicia first teased the book on 1 August:

My top pick of the month [July] and an amazing contemporary gay fiction read.

Then, on 6 August, delivered her beautifully perceptive full review:

…what of my high expectations? I am happy to say that those were met, and then some. This is a fabulous work of fiction by Alex Jeffers and one I highly recommend.

Seen most recently (published today), a guest review by Sirius at Reviews by Jessewave:

The book asks questions about national identity, about what it means to accept religion and at the same time not to be a very religious man. It asks so many subtle questions that after two rereads I am still pretty sure I missed some of them.

A hearty thank you to all these fine reviewers.

Also of note, an encomium to Safe as Houses I somehow missed when it appeared on 2 January, in Indigene’s 2010 wrap-up at Indie Reviews:

The sheer beauty of Mr. Jeffer’s [forgiveable sic] writing and the emotional integrity with which the story is written made the reading of this novel an intimate and deeply moving experience for me so much so that I’ve had a difficult time in letting go of both the story and its characters. I have re-read this novel, in whole or in part, too many times to count over the course of 2010.

In other news, the second Liam story, “Liam and the Ordinary Boy,” will appear in Icarus #10 in a week or two, ornamented with this illustration of the ordinary boy in question:

Also in Icarus #10, if Liam isn’t enough for you, excellent stories by Lambda Award winners Sandra McDonald and Richard Bowes and an interview with Gaylactic Spectrum Award winner Ginn Hale.

Jerry Wheeler at Out in Print reviews [I have no idea what’s up with that URL] Steve Berman’s anthology of inspirational stories for queer teens, Speaking Out, also available in a week or so and containing my story of a conflicted Turkish-American soccer star, “Captain of the World”:

…anywhere you open this book you’ll find a story that affirms as it informs, good for both teens looking for other teens like them as well as parents trying to get a handle on their own queer kids.

And there appears to be a very strong possibility another story will be out before the end of the year, but further revisions may be requested and details haven’t been hammered out so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Finally, on a grotesquely personal note, those readers who have befriended me on Facebook may have noticed I vanished without warning last night. I’m not going to go into the why’s, complex and distressing. Enough to say the place became a locus of anxiety for me. I may return after a few weeks’ break, I may not. Meanwhile, there’s still e-mail and that nagging little Comment box below.

BrazenHead fiction Lethe Press novella short stories spec fic The Abode of Bliss Turkey

dispatch from the occult head of brass

Several months later than I expected, BrazenHead has signed up (well, the contract hasn’t been issued/signed, but I’m working on that) its first title:

Eat Your Heart Out

by Dayna Ingram

A breakneck tale of kick-ass, wise-ass, sexy-ass lesbians and ZOMBIES, Eat Your Heart Out opens on what promises to be another tediously annoying day at Ashbee’s Furniture Outlet. Then the strip-mall calm of Nowhere, Ohio, is shattered by the sudden, simultaneous appearance of Renni Ramirez—hyper-competent star of the beloved Rising Evil B-movie franchise—and actual ZOMBIES, leaving Ashbee’s hapless staff and Renni trapped behind an automatic door they can’t lock.

Can failed creative-writing student/apprentice store manager/eagle-eyed markswoman Devin escape the besieged furniture store to rescue her girlfriend? Will Renni’s experience slaughtering motion-captured CGI monsters save the day before the army bombs the town? Once bitten, how many zombies can a person expect to take out before succumbing to infection? Who is the mysterious Deus Ex Machina, and what is he doing with that bone saw?

All of these questions and more whisper behind the scream of the single most important thing Devin needs to know in order to survive: is Renni a top or a bottom?

Find out in November 2011.

Dayna Ingram, originally hailing from Ohio, currently relocated to the Bay Area because super-expensive rent super appeals to her, has a BA in Creative Writing from Antioch College and is currently studying for an MFA at San Francisco State University. Her work has previously appeared in the queer speculative-lit journal Collective Fallout. Eat Your Heart Out is her first book.

It doesn’t so much appear there will be two BrazenHead releases this year as I’d halfway planned. But there’s always 2012: Writers! Check the guidelines and send me your work!

Other, brazenly self-promoting newses:

New book! Somewhat prematurely, several e-book editions of The Abode of Bliss have been available for a week or so, including a Kindle version at Amazon and versions for different platforms at Smashwords. Presumably the B&N nook and Apple iPad editions will show up in due course. The print (preferred) edition should be out tomorrow. Some Amazon seller is claiming to have a used copy already—must be one of those rare, not-for-sale Advance Readers’ Copies.

I would remind you that PDF downloads of four previously published stories for Adam are freely available, should you wish to sample the book before buying: “Kindness”; “The World of Men”; “The Strait”; “Ramazan in the Gardens of Paradise.”

Story sale! “Liam and the Ordinary Boy” will appear in the Autumn issue (#10) of Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction around mid-September. The first of the Liam sequence, “Liam and the Wild Fairy,” appeared in issue #5 last summer. Who knows what will happen to the third…or the four more I have (not really) planned.


Story completion! The first I’ve been able to wrestle through to conclusion since “Captain of the World” in February. “Ban’s Dream of the Sea” is a secondary-world fantasy with no in-story ties to the world we know, something I don’t attempt that often—we’ll see if the editor I wrote it for thinks it works. I started four other tries at meeting the anthology’s theme, all of which died miserable deaths, but perhaps something from one of those corpses can be resurrected. Onward!

fiction football (soccer) short stories Turkey YA

praise from an unexpected quarter

Have just seen an advance review of Steve Berman’s inspirational YA anthology Speaking Out from Kirkus Reviews, notorious in book circles for brutal negativity. The one-paragraph review disappoints, not for its expected negativity (Kirkus doesn’t think much of the book) so much as errors of fact—the book has more than one transgender protagonist, Kirkus; the (slim but definite) majority of characters are female; and it’s the reviewer’s innate bias that reads most of the boys as white, not anything in the text.

Still, my pleasure in the following line is not diminished:

In Alex Jeffers’ standout “Captain of the World,” a gay, Turkish Muslim goalie fights back against both racial and sexual harassment on the soccer field.

Bold Strokes Books will release Speaking Out in September.

BrazenHead design fiction short stories The Abode of Bliss The New People


A few things going on.

Seem to be in the process of making BrazenHead’s first acquisition, a little book the choice of which may surprise some people who know me. It surprises me. More dirt when the contract is issued/signed.

Trying to complete a short story for an anthology whose editor has graciously extended the deadline for me. But I don’t know, possibly I’ve forgotten how to write short stories. Ergh.

Possible sale of a different, older story, but only have verbal commitment at this point so don’t like to post details.

Latest design project, a reissue by Bear Bones Books of Jeff Mann’s 2006 Lambda Literary Award-winning (for Gay Erotica) A History of Barbed Wire, went from determining page margins to production in an unprecedented three days. One of those days involved a fourteen-hour stint with Adobe InDesign that I should, for my health, have broken up over two or three days. I’m too exhausted to prepare screenshots for the designs page. Print edition should be available via the usual on-line booksellers within the week, e-books when the e-bookmeister can get to it.

The New People / Elegant Threat, an M-Brane SF Double by Jeffers & Bell, is out there, waiting for you to buy it. If you already have, Thanks! I’d love to know what you think.

The Abode of Bliss: ten stories for Adam by Jeffers will go to press in two weeks or so. Official publication date 1 August 2011. You should pre-order it.

Jane and Charlotte will celebrate a (courtesy) birthday this coming Thursday, along with the French Republic. They will be ten. Also my birthday. I will be mumblety-four.


Misses Jane Austen (front) & Charlotte Brontë (rear)
fiction short stories spec fic

mega congratulations

Last evening in New York (while I cowered under the blankets in Rhode Island: second week of persistent migraine aura), my friend Sandra McDonald (who wasn’t in attendance either) won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror with her luscious, enigmatic, and spectacular collection Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories, which you should buy and read right fast if you haven’t already. If you don’t love it, you are no friend of mine.

Sandra’s was one of five titles on the (actually very long) Lammy short list with which I had some pre-publication involvement. I designed two of the Gay Erotica finalists—Tented, edited by Jerry L Wheeler; and A Twist of Grimm by William Holden—and one of the SF/F/H titles—Disturbed by Her Song by Tanith Lee, writing as and with Esther Garber and Judas Garbah. Less visibly, I copyedited/proofread Wilde Stories 2010, edited by Steve Berman, and Diana Comet. Naturally it was not possible for all of them to win. Nevertheless, I’m delighted the judges had the excellent taste to honor one of my two favorite books of last year.

Now you’ll have to excuse me: I have the MS of Sandra’s newest novel waiting to be read….

fiction historical fantasy short stories spec fic

surprise award nomination

A friend who attended Gaylaxicon 2011 at Outlantacon this weekend informs me that my Arabian Nights-esque short story “Firooz and His Brother” appeared on the shortlist for the 2010 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. Which all seems rather odd to me since “Firooz” first appeared in 2008, but apparently the 2009 awards recognized only novels while 2010 bundled together two years’ worth of short fiction. Huh.

At any rate, I have not yet found a press release or anything on the Web but choose to trust my source. The irrepressible Hal Duncan won the short-fiction award, I’m told, but I don’t know which story. When I do find back up, I’ll update the entry for “Firooz and His Brother” on the stories page with a link.

Meantime, should you wish to read my story, which appeared originally in the May 2008 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, it’s readily available in two best-of-the-year anthologies: Wilde Stories 2009, edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press, 2009), and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2009, edited by Rich Horton (Prime Books, 2010).

fiction short stories spec fic work in progress

stocktaking, early spring


Winter 2010-2011 was not enormously successful in terms of getting things done. Well, I made a lot of books for other people and one for myself. But not a great deal of consummated writing. Stories I worked on, ought to have finished, but did not:

“Liam and the Changelings”—the fourth Liam story, following “Liam and the Wild Fairy” (published in Icarus #5, Summer 2010); “…and the Ordinary Boy”; “…and His Dads.” There should be seven of them eventually, with “Changelings” to be followed by “…and the Coward,” “…and the Pornographer,” and “Liam Discovers Fairyland.” 200 words of the most recent attempt to figure out what the story means to do.

“The Discovery of Vinhático”—a tale of an American tourist visiting an isolated island in the Atlantic (based on Madeira) and his encounter with its fourteenth-century Scots discoverer. I’ve been trying to get this one to work since September 2009. 5,000 words in the current, seventh attempt.

“A Prince of Antrazza”—novelette or novella of planetary romance in the mode of ER Burroughs’s Barsoom stories. Intended for a market that may not in fact exist. Must check. 5,000 words.

“Handless. Heartless.”—longish urban fantasy of an apprentice wizard, his witch mother, and a lost boy. Loosely based on several variants of the fairy tale “The Girl without Hands” and riffing on motifs from John Masefield’s The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights. 8,400 words.

“Seb and Duncan and the Sirens”—what it says on the tin: a story about Homer’s sirens on a contemporary Greek island, involving an American nerd college student and his jock best friend. Meant for a forthcoming anthology of fantasy stories about uncanny inhabitants of the sea … except, of course, classical sirens weren’t aquatic. So that’s one problem, of several. 6,000 words.

“The Lagoon of DEATH” (working title, obvs)—a different stab at a sea story for the above anthology. Polynesian (not really) rite-of-passage story: a youth deliberately stranded on a desert island discovers something in the lagoon. Barely commenced: 700 words.

“Stealth vs The Anger”—response to an invitation to submit to a forthcoming anthology of stories about queer costumed supervillains. Sadly or otherwise, this will probably continue to go nowhere. I was never a superhero/comic-book nerd and suspect it’s too late to become fatally interested in the genre. Stalled at pretty much the same 600 words since this time last year.

“Davio under the Hill”—meant to be a highly erotic, highly stylized story of a spear carrier from the Orlando furioso who wanders into Aubrey Beardsley’s take on the legend of Venus and Tannhäuser. I had a market in mind for this one, too, but the deadline swift approaches and I expect the story would too literary for the audience anyway. Only way to make it more obscure would be to write it in ottava rima. Which I might just do! 500 words.

“The Box of Delights”—meant to be my first stab at steampunk, a genre I fail to understand. Possibly why it refuses to go anywhere? 250 words.

“Black Dog of the East”—another attempt to jump on a popular bandwagon: an urban fantasy about a werebeast. The anthology I planned to submit it to closed in November, I think. Oh well. 200 words.

Story completed, submitted, sold:

“Captain of the World”—forthcoming in Speaking Out, edited by Steve Berman (Bold Strokes Books/Soliloquy, Fall 2011). Contemporary non-fantastical story of a gay Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper. So that was satisfying. Except a few days after selling the 7,000-word story I got this notion of expanding it into a 60,000-word YA novel. And that’s not going so well.

Completed stories out on submission:

“Then We Went There”—5,500 words. Starts out as a high-school-bullying story, turns into something stranger. I love this story (partly because it was the first thing I finished after The New People and the first completed short story in ten years), but sympathetic early readers have been baffled and editorial response—when not boilerplate sorry can’t use it—has crucially misunderstood what I was trying to do: those aren’t bugs, they’re features. Or I’m deluded. Can eleven markets (so far) be wrong? Yes. Yes, dammit, they can.

“Tattooed Love Boys”—10,000 words. Fantastical adventures of two young American siblings in the contemporary hinterland of Charlotte Brontë’s Labassecour. I’m not the only one who loves this one: early reader Steve Berman wants to have written it himself. Unfortunately, the markets that seemed appropriate have been cursed (two of them died, though one was resurrected) and/or VERY SLOW. The third has had it for going on six months and I don’t realistically expect a decision anytime soon. Augh.

“Like Spinning Stars, Like Flowers”—7,000 words. A finalist, but not winner or runner up, in the 2011 Saints and Sinners Literary Festival Short Fiction Contest. It remains unclear whether my story will be included in the May 2011 anthology from the Queer Mojo imprint of Rebel Satori Press. The festival’s dogged failure to communicate frustrates me a good deal. All my info comes from press releases.

“Liam and the Ordinary Boy” and “Liam and His Dads”—4,500 and 6,000 words, respectively. Not a lot of hope for these, frankly. Instalments in an on-going series, don’t really stand up individually. Lethe Press wants to follow up The Abode of Bliss with a collection of fantastical stories, in 2012 maybe; my intention is to include the entire Liam saga. If I ever finish it.

“The Conjuror of Irem”—7,000 words. Bronze-age Crete. Cthulhu Mythos. S&M. Not a horror story and the Lovecraftian motifs possibly too subtly deployed. I’m always making things difficult for myself. Seventh rejection should arrive any day now. Bar “Captain of the World,” the last thing I finished: in August.

Overall (sing it together): Disappointing. But … but … BUT:

An unexpected thing about The Unexpected Thing, my enormous work in progress, turned out to be that I was incapable of working on it during autumn and winter. It happened in 2009, four months after I started: stalled out sometime in October. And again in 2010: nothing after September. It’s a summer-vacation story, maybe that’s why. I am morbidly affected by climate.

Although the first two weeks of spring in Rhode Island have not been especially springlike—wretchedly chilly with intervals of rain, sleet, and snow (snowing right now!)—it appears just crossing the vernal equinox may have been sufficient to convince my hindbrain. Three chapters drafted in seven days. Seven to go, if I manage to stick to the plan. A reread of the first fifty chapters made me cry four times. No, not from disgust or despair.

Then the miserable prospect of hacking out 30,000 or more words to get it down to reasonable size, running it past early readers, and the still more miserable prospect of putting together a pitch package and, you know, finding a publisher.

The writer’s life, it is blissful.