Bibliography, stories, free reads, my stuff in the wild. The result of six years’ work (as of 2021) and over 800 rejection letters. Yes, it hurts to get an R, but boy does it feel great when you finally (months after the sale) see that story appear!
If you just want the links, without all the rumination, head over to the Free Reads page.
Stories, in reverse chronological publication order.
Ninety-Nine Percent Support; Daily Science Fiction, July 2022
I was in a pretty dark mood when I wrote this piece. I’d also been listening to the Last Archive podcast about the rise of doubt. This is what came out of it.
I’m sorry I set Fire to Your Foot; Nature Futures, May 2022
I got the idea for this story from reading for my youngest before bed, while having a terrible itch in my leg. You can read the entire Story behind the Story over at Nature.
The Vanity of Zombie Publishing; Daily Science Fiction, December 2021
I got the idea for this story from the bane of all authors: vanity publishing. And the savior of all authors: zombies! (Don’t believe me? Take any classic story, add zombies – instant reader favorite!) After that, the story practically wrote itself.
I didn’t think it would ever sell, but we writers are the worst judges of our own work. And sometimes, writing a story just to make yourself laugh is a valid way of conducting market research 😉
The Bravest Thing My Dad Did for Me; Daily Science Fiction, September 2021
When you are a parent, sometimes you think that your kids see you as a monster, a big machine that says “no” to all of their crazy ideas. Well, what if the monster was the parent? That’s where The Bravest Thing comes from.
Echoes; Brilliant Flash Fiction, September 2021
I started this with the sentence “listening to the symphonic orchestra of God,” which came from a thought experiment and discussion I’ve had. Raphael, and his trials and tribulations, came later, but I like the way the two sides mirror each other.
Yaakov, Meyn Bruder; Kalediotrope, July 2021
I wrote this story as an exercise in description. It’s an area where I’m constantly weak, seeing things in my mind and not realizing I haven’t put them on the page. Apparently working on it paid off, because I created a story that I was proud of, starting with Warsaw in the 1920’s, and ending up with, well, go read it yourself…
Oh, Brother; Stupefying Stories, June 2021
I sold this story without even realizing I had submitted it.
Everything started with what I thought was a challenge for laughs over on Codex. Turned out, it was a call for flash fiction, and mine had been selected. Free sale. I’m not saying no to that!
Mirror; Kzine, January 2021
A funeral with a magic mirror…
This was a story where I could see the events clearly in my mind. The big hall, paneled in dark wood. Massive stairway, equally mahogany. Waiters in black and white formal wear. And the MC, sitting on the stairs, staring, with no feelings left in him.
It’s one of my favorite urban fantasy stories, and I loved the tone of it, but humor isn’t my strong suit, and it took my a while to sell it. Still, good things come to those who don’t give up…
A Letter Meant for You; Daily Science Fiction, November 2020
I have no idea where this story came from. I was drawing a blank, couldn’t write a sentence. So I just sat down to write something, anything, while taking my kid to her horseback riding practice. I began by writing a letter, and this was where the story went.
Also, it was published almost exactly one year (sans two days) after I wrote it. Amazingly fast by magazine submitting-and-publishing standards.
Long Way Home; Uprising, a Necromunda Anthology, Games Workshop’s Black Library, September 2020
Writing for GW is different from all my other work. First, because it’s GW, the inventors and purveyors of Grimdark. Secondly, because they’ve got a setting, and everything you write is checked against consistency with the setting. They’re very thorough – if you miss the barrel length of a lasgun, the editors are sure to let you know!
It’s a very fun world to work in though, and you’ll learn a ton about working with editors, submitting proposals, and writing to spec. And the story is a fun run-and-gun extravaganza.
The Liar’s Sun; Flash Fiction Online, September 2020
Reprinted in Flash Fiction Online Anthology 2020
This story was hard. Not in the writing, because it just flowed out of my fingers, but in the publishing.
I sent it to Flash Fiction Online, and Suzanne liked it, but wanted some edits. And for some reason, my brain seized up. Absolute fear-freeze. Couldn’t do it.
I waited six months before I could force myself to do the first round of edits. Then I took me another six months to survive the second round. The story became a lot better in the end, and Suzanne was kind and gracious (and a fantastic editor). Even so, it left me wondering about what my mind does when I’m not around to keep it in check.
The closest I figure, is that it sets the story in cast iron, the moment the red-hot glow of creation fades. This makes editing hard, way hard. Thankfully, Suzanne’s requirements were very clear, and once I passed the blind panic of having to do a rewrite, it was actually quite pleasant, and taught me a lot both about writing and about myself.
Someday; Daily Science Fiction, August 2020
This one started out with the image of an abandoned shopping strip, the roof sagging, dusty posters on the walls. Then it turned into something else, but I think I managed to keep the feeling consistent.
Infringement; Write Ahead/The Future Looms, Vol 10. July 2020
A fun little story about singing in the shower, Intellectual Property, and a surveillance state run amok. Fun to write and hopefully fun to read.
Ennui; Analog Science Fiction and Fact, No. 07-08/20, June 2020
Yet again, Trevor over at Analog bought one of my favorite stories. Ennui started out inspired by Ian Bank’s Culture novels, then morphed into something quite different.
AI, Humanity’s Quest for Meaning, connections between beings of all kinds. I cried when I came to writing the ending, and I still tear up whenever I read it.
Alien, Go Home; Nature Futures, March 2020
I wrote this simultaneously with Permanent Residency, fitting in all the weird parts that somehow got pushed out of the other story. And somehow, it became so absurd as to be humorous. At least Colin thought so, and bought it.
Twenty-seven Gifts I Saved for You; Future Science Fiction Digest, Issue 7, June 2020
I wrote this story while walking around an amusement park, waiting for my kids. It was written in fits and starts, in Evernote on my phone, thumbing out each word on the tiny on-screen keyboard, but I had a very clear image of where it was going, and the twenty seven gifts title, so it felt almost effortless, even though it took most of a day to write it.
I had no idea what the 27 gifts would be, or how the story would work internally, but the short, high impact paragraphs came with the first gift, and the relationships between the characters with the tenth. And the resolution was such a validation of my own emotions at the time, that I couldn’t help but write it.
A Girl’s Best Friend; Harbringer Press, January 2020
I stab him twice in the heart, shluk-shluk…
A tiny, twisted little piece. Started out with the image of a pile of corpses on the porch of a typical sub-urban home, and I tried to practice adding sensory details to a story. The bloody humor just came naturally.
Permanent Residency; StarShipSofa, January 2020
This, I guess, is a political piece. It wasn’t intended that way, but as I kept writing a BladeRunner meets eco-pocalypse story, it kept going from weird to dystopian. In the end, I accepted that this was what the story wanted to be, polished it up, and sent it in. So now I’ve got a story where vote-rigging isn’t just allowed but formalized and marketed.
A Prayer to the Fundamental DOS; Future SF Digest, December 2019
An AI preacher in a post-apocalyptic world tries to win the trust of a ragamuffin visitor. This was a story that was very clear in my mind, but which didn’t come out on paper the way I had imagined it.
After a round of critiques, I had to add, and add, and add, explaining and weaving in more backstory, and even more explanations. At some point, I felt that it was too much explaining. My critique partners said it was barely enough, and I trusted them, adding more.
It did make the story better, and fortunately it sold to Alex at Future SF, on the tenth try, and after a rewrite request.
Tisvin Keeps Screaming; Jalada Africa, Bodies Anthology, December 2019
This was something that I pulled from a nightmare, coupled with a story I read some time back (can’t remember it’s name, but apparently the planet-sized protagonist is a trope, one I was unaware of.) Tisvin isn’t my regular type of story, more horror than SF or fantasy, but I think I managed to pull it together well anyhow. Sometimes we do get lucky.
Firstborn Exile; Inferno! Tales from the Worlds of Warhammer Volume 4, Black Library, October 2018
The second Ekaterina Idra story. I sold it, figuring that it would be easy to write, but I’d already used up the flashback and coming-to-power format, so I struggled here to deliver more Idra, while at the same time delivering something new.
I struggle almost up to the deadline, but managed to put together a story, one that needed some heavy editing afterwards. Thankfully, Jacob at the Black Library was very patient with me, guiding me through the edits and making the story a lot better.
Having a good editor really makes a difference.
Body and Soul; Daily Science Fiction, July 2019
This is the story of mine that got the most fan mail to date (three). I wrote it on a bus on vacation, and somehow it flowed, and connected with readers.
The No-Nonsense, Bare-Necessities Guide to the Upcoming Apocalypse; Daily Science Ficiton, July 2019
This story was a joke. I didn’t expect it to be published. But Jonathan and Michele got the joke, and even improved upon it (by removing the period from the story).
I got a number of concerned messages from writer friends, stating that I should contact DSF since there was something wrong with my story. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Our Mom-Bot Isn’t Happy; Daily Science Ficiton, March 2019
Mom-bot was a companion piece to Dad’s War, set a few years earlier, using the same characters and settings. I sent it to Analog, but it really isn’t an Analog style story, which Trevor kindly pointed out when I sent the first one in. He liked Mom-bot, but not enough to bend the guidelines a second time.
The story bounced around some, before finding a home in DSF.
Who Are You?; Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, Pantheon Magazine, February 2019
This was a serendipity, a 350 word flash that popped up in my mind right before I read the Gorgon guidelines. It fit perfectly, and I sent it in, selling the story on the first try!
A House on the Volga; Metaphorosis, November 2018
Reprinted in: Best Vegan Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018
To Tend a Garden; Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Issue 66, December 2018
“The garden is a wasteland, mounds of rock-strewn sand so dry it flows around my toes as I walk through it. The few thorny stumps that prickle the yellow earth are all dried gray.”
Writing Garden was a joy. The story flowed organically from the first sentence. I set out to write a story with a lot of sensory descriptions, and it made for a dreamy, scary, scratchy, loving story. It took me three days to write it, record-breaking speed for me. I was very proud. Then I started sending it out.
Not a nibble.
Until Scott at IGMS found something he liked in it. But the story was a mess. I’d run it through my critique group, and clarified a lot, but it wasn’t enough. Scott wanted a rewrite.
I’ve got a problem with rewrites. I’ve got a great memory for story. I can put down a book, and pick it up ten years later, just continuing where I left of (I’ve done just that, so I know). Unfortunately, that means that stories tend to get fixed in concrete after I write them. I can’t envision doing anything else with them.
With the Black Library stories, rewriting had been difficult but I was under contract so that got me moving. With Garden, I was all on my own. I could simply ignore Scott’s request and nothing would happen.
But then, Garden would never see the light of day. And I liked the story. I was proud of it. So I gathered my courage, and gathered, and gathered. And after six months of gathering, I rewrote the story to editorial request. And it got better, a lot better.
You might be afraid of their comments, but editors generally do know what makes a story tick. Scott improved my story, and taught me a lot in the process.
Dad’s War/His War Gone By; Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Volume CXXXVIII, No. 11 & 12, Nov/Dec 2018
Dad’s War was the first story where I consciously used a child narrator, and tried to write the entire thing from a child perspective, and set it in a world the reader wouldn’t recognize, but which would be revealed through the eyes, and opinions, of the narrator.
It’s got a cyberpunk-y, hyper-corporate world, a divorce, a revolution, a big brother to bicker with, and relationships galore, all from a deeply personal POV. Also AI-controlled contact lenses, stealth-blimps hacking into Coca-Cola’s secret bases, caretaker mom-bots, TV-wallpaper, logo-wars, and UN combat drones. I thought it would sell first time out of the gate.
Nope. I didn’t even get any personal rejections, just forms until, in pure desperation, I sent it to Analog. I knew it wasn’t an Analog type story, as Trevor pointed out in his acceptance letter. But he also said: “something about it really struck me, and who am I to argue with that?”
Never self-reject, fellow writers. You never know when your writing might touch an editor. Also: I opened the acceptance email at work, and then jumped up and did a Snoopy dance right in the office.
It was totally worth it.
The Firstborn Daughter; Inferno! Tales from the Worlds of Warhammer Volume 1, Black Library, October 2018
Writing Firstborn Daughter was scary. On one hand, I love Ekaterina Idra. She was by far the strongest character I’d written, and I kept pelting her with horrible events, forcing her to show her character. I also got to write in one of my favorite worlds from my childhood – I’d spent thousands of hours gaming and reading in the world of Warhammer 40k.
On the other hand, I had to submit an outline to be approves. I forget how many times I had to rewrite it in order to fit the canon of the world. I changed the story several times. The worst thing was when the outline was finally approved, and I had to write the story.
Naturally, I’m a pantser. I plan, create, and edit all at once, writing the story as it unfolds in my mind. Writing from an outline was difficult, and I felt like I would never manage it. And there was a deadline. And I knew the story would be published, which added to the fear – I couldn’t pretend I was writing just for me.
Somehow, I did manage to finish it, and edit it, and edit it again to editorial request. And it’s one of the stories that I’m the most proud of in my line up, having managed to write a character that’s so strong, so determined, so driven, and so unlike me.
It’s also gotten one of the nicest reviews of my work I’ve ever read, even though I shouldn’t read reviews of my work because, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative, they mess with my critical voice, making it harder for me to write. (This is something I’ve heard from a lot of writers, so beware dear writer friends.)
When Nain Came to Shirin’s Door; Nature Futures, Nature Magazine, Volume 557 Number 7705, May 2018
I really love Nain. It was the one time where I could see the structure of the story, see it on the page, and write it the way I had seen it. I had to change the ending after a round of critiques, but the structure was there. That’s rare for me, and a lot of the stories I write end up being a mess. This one wasn’t, and I’m still proud of it.
Doubly proud since it marked a return to Nature.
Knots; Daily Science Ficiton, March 2018
This story came about from an image of a troll, sitting in a forest shelter, knotting thin leather ropes atop a round stone. The stone never made it into the story, but the troll and the thongs did. Where the policeman came from, I have no idea.
Rowboats – A Cautionary Tale of Linguistics; Metaphorosis, December 2017
A one-pun story. Which nobody got, until somebody got it and bought it. I thought myself so clever writing it, but of my critique partners, half laughed, half didn’t get it. Still, I got it, and I thought it was clever, so I sent it out.
There’s a saying in writing circles: never self-reject. Which is when the writer doesn’t think the have a chance, and thus doesn’t send the story out. Which is surprisingly common. Let the editor reject you. Who knows, they might even buy a story about Napoleon’s rowboats.
Wave Function Collapse; Daily Science Ficiton, June 2017
One Divided by Eternity; Metaphorosis, June 2017
Another of my AI-themed stories. I’ve written a lot of those, although only a fraction sell. This one was inspired by my computer going- well, you read it and figure it out.
Of Dreams and Song; Enter the Apocalypse / ed. Thomas Gondolfi, TANSTAAFL Press, March 2017
My first anthology story, about whale-poets. I liked it, but it racked up six rejections before Thomas graciously picked it up.
Censored Addendum to Yoshimoto Hano’s History of the Empire; Daily Science Ficiton, December 2016
An alternate history encyclopedia entry. It’s somewhat of an anomaly among my stories, in that I wrote it, then edited it several times, adding new entries, moving entries, and actually improving the story.
Bed of the Crimson King; Grimdark Magazine, Issue 9, October 2016
Reprinted in: Far-Fetched Fables, No. 141, January 2017
This is one of my favorite stories of mine, an African-themed grimdark fable. Writing it felt like an absolute joy, and the characters and story flew from my fingers. That’s often a sure sign that the story will be published, while stories that I struggle with and work over often languish unsold. I love the character of Ebele, and the absolute hopelessness of being caught between power and parents.
This was also the story that opened the door for me at Games Workshop’s Black Library.
Self-Limited; Nature Futures, Nature Magazine, Volume 535 Number 7613, July 2016
Six months and one rejection after the previous publication, I was again in Nature. This, I decided, was a sign that I was breaking in. Unfortunately, all it was a sign off was that I’d managed to hit Colin with the correct story at the correct moment and gotten lucky. My next two years’ worth of submissions to Nature were all rejections. Still, I like Nature Futures and I love the ease of working with Colin and the Futures team, so I kept submitting.
Self-Limited started as an image of two robots in an abandoned factory, trying to disassemble themselves. The rest just flowed from there, although I had to add a different ending after the first felt flat.
Dressed in Black; Sci Phi Journal, February 2016
Brick in a Wall; New Realm, February 2016
There is a Beep; Nature Futures – Nature Magazine, volume 529 Number 7586, January 2016
Nature. Yes, that Nature. As in one of the world’s three most esteemed scientific publications. And I was in it. That’s big deal at the university where I worked at the time. I’m also proud of the story, and it was the first I showed to my extended family. They were impressed when they heard that Nature was a big publication, but the few of them who read the story all commented that they didn’t understand it. That’s become a theme with my writing and my family.
Ghost of the Ashwydds – Daily Science Ficiton, January 2016
When I sent in Ghost of the Ashwydds, I didn’t have any high hopes, but at least the fear was bearable. And it sold. And I danced around the kitchen table (I do that a lot, please don’t ask my wife or kids or they’ll get embarrassed).
Daily Science Fiction – when I submitted here the first time, I had no idea how big a deal it was. I found the market (on Ralan’s Extravaganza, I think), saw that it was paying pro rates, and, with a gut-churning bout of fear, submitted. That was seven submissions earlier.
Magic in the Air (poetry); Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, vol 39, December 2015
This was actually my first sale since I decided to stop dreaming and start working on my writing. Five lines of prose poetry, at $1 a line. Emily (the poetry editor) at Asimov’s send me a check that I never cashed as it cost too much – the banking fees were $30… But I still got the check in my memory drawer.
A note to prospective writers: for a print publication like Asimov’s the lead times are in the mounts. I sold this story
The Last Breakfast of Corporal Ashton the Blessed – Jersey Devil Press, Issue 66, May 2015
Give them to me; Saturday Night Reader, May 2015
A short time-travel story that mixes death, guilt and parenting. I was very proud of it when I wrote it, and still remember it with fondness today.
Cinderella’s return; Nanoism, March 2015
A 145-character story, that I got paid a whole dollar for (I donated it right back to support Nanoism). Too bad Nanoism doesn’t exist anymore, it was a great place for microfiction, and a great editor.
Butterfly Loop – Jersey Devil Press, Issue 60, November 2014
This was my first published fiction piece, in one of the top for-the-love fanzines. Brought me chills to see it accepted. I still like the story, even though it’s… let’s say primitive. But, hey, you’ve got to start somewhere!
I Am Here for Your Safety; Cockroach Conservatory
Advice for the Invariable Moment when You Decide to Quit – SFWA Blog, January 2019
A Tiny Bit of Mathemagic – SFWA Blog, August 2019
Star Trek Will Save the World! – SFWA Blog, October 2019