Eternal dreamers of greener grass: new Story in Headstuff’s Fortnightly Fiction

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I’m delighted to have my story Eternal dreamers of greener grass up in Headstuff’s Fortnightly Fiction.

Headstuff‘s a pretty well-rounded Irish site with articles on all things cultural, sciencey, newsy, and everything in between. They recently launched Fortnightly Fiction, a section which, yes, publishes fiction, yes, every fortnight. And I’m delighted to be the flavour of the fortnight, coming after a string of very good Irish short story writers.

So don’t hesitate to roam the archive (AFTER READING MY STORY,of course…)


(Oh, and the great illustration up there is by Jacob Stack, and it is spot on. Really)

Fantastic Medley: a SF news round-up of sorts

Here are a few submission and reading opportunities you might be interested in, if you like your fiction weird:

Apex Magazine is open until November 16th for their Annual Flash Fiction Contest: it’s free to enter, and they’re looking for speculative stories under 250 words with a “Christmas Invasion” theme. Make sure you check out the great stuff they publish monthly, and while you’re at it, give them a buck – they’re running a subscription drive at the moment – or get a book from their publishing arm.

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Holdfast has just won the British Fantasy Society Best Magazine 2015 Award, and their 7th issue, “Looking forward, looking back”, is out now. I haven’t had time to dive into it yet, but it’s the usual mix of fiction, poetry, non-fiction (including the great “Unbelievers” section…), interview, book shelf… even a playlist! Anyway. Get thy virtual ass there and start reading.

They’re also open to submissions until January 15th for their next issue on the theme “Love, Sex, Romance“, and also on other themes for their annual print anthology.


Great bargains to be had from Asimov’s and Analog at the moment: you can get 8 back issues for $6.95 (or 12 for $15.95) with – very important if you happen not to live in the US – very reasonable postage. I just received my package, and I’m looking forward to all that pulpy goodness… They’re also both open to submissions – find the guidelines on their respective websites.

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Full disclosure / self-promotion: I had pieces in Holdfast and Apex before, which you can read here and here.

A mad ride of a short story + Quote #12


A Window or a Small Box

I’ve just read this brilliant story by Jedediah Berry, first published in, and reprinted in The Year’s Best Science-Fiction & Fantasy 2014 (Prime Books). It’s – well, I have no idea what it is, but it’s great. It’s described as “a charming and weird contemporary novelette of magic realism“, so, there.

What it certainly is is confident; the tone and voice of the piece really impressed me, and Berry manages to take [this] reader along on quite a long stretch of surreal / non-sensical landscape. It’s the kind of story that leaves me amazed that it works at all. I mean – what – uh? – oh, wow! It’s a great act of juggling (with 5th dimension burning knives).

It’s also the kind of story that makes me revise everything I write or plan on writing, because it’s shouting at me through a giant megaphone: THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS LIMITS YOU MAD OMNIPOTENT PEN-WIELDING LITTLE MAN!

So, really, you should read the whole thing for yourself, really, seeing as it is free and all on the interweb, but here’s a little extract, just in case:

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

“Please,” she said to the goon now. “Please just tell me where we’re going.”

“Going? Darling, we’re already here. This is it.”

“This is what?”

“This is what happens when we catch you. We drive around together, and you say interesting things for as long as you can.”

The other goons were chuckling. There were more of them than could possibly fit inside that car: dozens, maybe. They could have filled a small theater.

“Keep it interesting, though. Because as soon as we get bored . . .”

More chuckling, and Laura’s instinct was to fight—to kick and punch and claw her way out of there—but she’d heard the doors lock, and she knew what had happened to Jim when he tried to fight them. So she swallowed that back and said, “What do you want me to talk about?”

“Snacks,” one of the goons said.

“Dinner,” another said.

“Talk about the constellations,” said a third.

“Zip it,” said the chief goon. “I want to hear about the wedding plans. I always find your wedding plans so interesting.”

“You hate it when I talk about my wedding plans,” Laura said.

“You’re right,” the chief goon said. “That was a trap.”

“I’m going to tell you a story,” Laura said, and then goons were hushing other goons, and one of them switched off the radio, and for a moment all she could hear was the noise of the car’s engine, which came as though from deep in the earth.

“The story is called ‘A Window or a Small Box,’ and it’s about some stones at the bottom of a stream—”

“Boring,” said one of the goons.

“Some stones,” she said, “that dreamed they were turtles.”

The same goon said, “Oooh,” and Laura could hear the slopping sound of him as he settled back into his seat.

“They dreamed that they were turtles, and the turtles swam in the waters of the stream, up above the rocks that dreamed them . . .”

from A Window or a Small Box, Jedediah Berry

Free online fiction writing course from the University of Iowa

How Writers Write Fiction 2015's Logo

How Writers Write Fiction, a free online course hosted by the University of Iowa, will be on from September 24th to November 24th:

“How Writers Write Fiction 2015 will be taught in English as follows: each week, instructors Merrill and Flournoy will post a new video class. In this video class, they will introduce two or three short video lectures given by successful authors of fiction. Featured authors will include Venise Berry, Edward Carey, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Bernice Chauly, Susan Taylor Chehak, Boris Fishman, Angela Flournoy, Paul Harding, Boaz Gaon, Andrew Sean Greer, Naomi Jackson, Leslie Jamison, Mamle Kabu, Jonathan Lethem, Margot Livesy, Stephen Lovely, Peter Orner, and Douglas Trevor, among others. Each week, the video class will be followed by a set of fiction-writing assignments based on the topics these authors presented in their lectures. These assignments will invite you to write fiction, post your work to the MOOC website, and engage in community feedback with your fellow writers. Supplementary readings will also be posted for your exploration.”

I did the Poetry one last year (or rather I tried to – I didn’t catch all the video, didn’t do all the assignements) and it was quite interesting. I’ll try to do this one seriously this year!

Ireland and islands – call for submission from New Madrid


American lit mag New Madrid is looking for submissions on the theme “Evolving islands” until October 15th. The call seems to place a big focus on Ireland (the issue would be out around the anniversary of the Easter Rising, and Murray State University, the journal’s home, has a study-abroad experience in Ireland planned for its MFA), but it looks like all things islandish are welcome.

Recent book love #1: Apex hides the hurt, by Colson Whitehead

Apex Hides the Hurt cover image

“The town of Winthrop has decided it needs a new name. The resident software millionaire wants to call it New Prospera; the mayor wants to return to the original choice of the founding black settlers; and the town’s aristocracy sees no reason to change the name at all. What they need, they realize, is a nomenclature consultant.”

Great book by Colson Whitehead, an American writer I must say I’d never heard about. There’s a lot of funny, clever stuff in  there, and brilliant writing on the sentence/paragraph level. Conveniently quotable, for a book about ‘naming’: I often found myself going back to re-read a paragraph, see how neatly Whitehead packaged them. I could see some folks finding his prose/story gimmicky, but it worked for me.

You can buy it here