Baen Fantasy Adventure Award Finalist! “Humanslayer.”

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I am honored to announce that my story, “Humanslayer” has been selected as one of the ten finalists for this year’s Baen Adventure Fantasy Award!

I’d like to post an excerpt, but I think that might go against contest rules.

I was honored to win First Runner Up in the inaugural BFAA in 2014 with my story, “Phoenix For The Amateur Chef.” It would be awesome to win, but obviously I am honored simply to have made it this far.

Oh, heck, no one can get upset if I just give you the first line, right..?

“At the foot of the mountains at the cold edge of the world, a dragon lay dying…”

RELEASE DAY: Fantastic Schools Anthology!

So, every now and then, I think: wouldn’t it be cool if there were a story about…

For example, like many people, I loved the story of Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Not just because he was an awesome character, but because he started me thinking: what other cursed kids can’t go to Hogwarts? Dumbledore managed to come up with a scheme to get Remus into Hogwarts and keep him and his classmates safe, to an extent, but what about the kids who couldn’t go?

Children with disabilities never seemed to exist in Hogwarts. To be fair, maybe wizards aren’t “disabled” in the same ways as Muggles. After all, Madame Pomfrey is pretty much able to regrow Harry’s arm. Perhaps blindness, deafness, paralysis and developmental delays are cured among wizards in the same way that we remove extra fingers and toes o the rare occasions they develop. But there are curses and conditions that even wizards cannot cure.

Where would such children — the children who couldn’t be mainstreamed without great danger to themselves or others — learn their magic? And what would happen on that terrible day when they, and they alone were left to save the world, against all odds? This was the genesis of my novelette, “The Last Academy.” And I never thought I would write it until I was invited to the anthology Fantastic Schools. Obviously, I didn’t write in the Potterverse, but think of it as a, shall we say, Potteresque story.

And now, to whet your appetite, an excerpt, from Edric’s first day at his new school:

There was already a chair pushed back next to the boy who was eating with one hand. Edric began to sit.

“Excuse me, but this seat is taken,” said an exasperated voice.

Edric jumped. He almost lost form. “What?” The boy next to him was looking up with an amused expression on his face, but Edric would swear he hadn’t spoken.

“Yes, I know, you weren’t to know,” said the voice, which sounded like a young boy’s. “But I promise you that I am here, even though you can’t see me. Although honestly, the food might have been a clue.”

Edric blinked. There was indeed about a third of a meal on the plate in front of the seat. And the seat-cushion was flattened.

“Look, you can sit opposite me if you like.”

“Um, thank you.”

That meant that Edric had to walk around the girl in the wheelchair, the head of the table, and then the sphere of darkness, which was uncomfortably close to the wall.

“Um,” Edric said, trying not to address anyone in particular, “Is that dangerous?”

“No,” said a girl’s voice from inside the sphere. “Just don’t stick your head inside it.”

Edging around so as not to touch it, Edric sat down next to the blindfolded girl with grayish skin. As he did so, his plate filled. There was a steaming portion of shepherd’s pie, some white bread, and a cherry tart. The food looked decent enough, but it didn’t appear he was going to get any choice.

“Are you Edric?” the girl asked, without turning to face him.

“Yes,” he said.

“I’m Gwen.” She faced him and smiled, offering her hand in his general direction. He took it. Her hand felt unusually dry and cold. “Thanks for sitting with us.”

“It wasn’t his first choice,” said the girl in the wheelchair, sourly.

“Oh, come off it, Karen,” said the boy across from Gwen with a smile. “Half the people at the table tried to sit down there. It’s a shock finding yourself at Calarzat with the monsters. Can’t blame people for wanting to latch on to what looks normal.” He nodded to Edric. “Hi, I’m Callahan.”

Edric extended his hand. Callahan gave a wry smile. “Thanks, but you don’t want to do that.” He pushed himself back and withdrew his hand. Instantly, the candles guttered out and he held up a hand that was alive from wrist to fingertips in incandescent flames.

“Ah… I see,” said Edric. “I could shake the other hand?”

“Not unless you like second-degree burns,” Callahan said.

“Oi! Kindling! Lights!” yelled the biggest wolf, from down the table.

Callahan slid his hand back under the table and the candles sprang to life. “It’s useful.” He gestured to the chair beside him. “That’s Ian.”

“Sorry I tried to sit on you.”

“Oh, it’s all right, I suppose.”

Edric turned to Gwen. Might as well get the awkward parts over with. “Why are your eyes bandaged? Did you hurt them?”

“Not exactly. Are you afraid of snakes?”

Edric blinked. “Not particularly. Why?”

For an answer, her hair parted, and a thin snake peered out at him brightly. His mouth dried up as he realized what he was sitting next to. “You’re a… gorgon?”

“In a way. The Dark Lord cursed me when I was four. An attempt to blackmail my family. But I started out as a human. Calarzat is for human monsters.”

“Is that what happened to you?” Edric asked Callahan.

“Um, no,” said Callahan. “I’m afraid we had a bit of a house fire when I was seven years old. My Dad panicked and tried to cast a spell so the fire wouldn’t hurt me. It worked. Sort of. You see, the fire became my best friend. And it never wants to go away.”

“Can you control it?”

“Can you control your friends?” asked Callahan. “It gets… upset if I do that too much. You don’t want to see it angry. Ian’s dad tried to keep him safe, too. From the Dark Lord. Turned him invisible. Permanently.”

“Callahan!” snapped Karen. “You don’t talk about other people’s conditions. You know the rules.”

“I don’t mind,” said Ian. “S’true.”

“That’s not the point,” Karen said.

“What about them?” asked Edric, jerking a nod toward the group at the other end of the table. “They look normal enough.”

“It’s not full moon,” said Ian.

“Werewolves?” Callahan nodded. “Don’t like anyone else much, do they?”

“If you’re not a wolf, you’re not worth anything to them,” Callahan said.

Even Karen didn’t bother to dispute this. “And you’re here because… you can’t walk?”

Karen frowned. “No one at Calarzat is compelled to talk about why they are here unless they want to. And I don’t.”

“What about you?” Callahan asked. “What brings you here?”

“It’s hard to explain,” Edric said. I don’t want to explain it.

Karen scoffed. “Wants to know our secrets but keep his own.”

“Can you show us?” asked Callahan.

“Uh… not if you want to keep eating,” Edric said, staring down at his plate.

“And you’ve been to Porcinoma?” asked Gwen. “Yes,” Edric muttered. He wished he was back there, with his friends. Except he’d be dead. With his friends.

I hope you’ll give it a try.

LAST DAY: SFWA Storybundle: ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS and MORE!!

Today is the last day of the Science Fiction Writers of America Storybundle, which features my novel, ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS. The theme of this year’s bundle is FANTASTIC BEASTS.

And right now, this is the ONLY way to get a copy of ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS. It goes away in just a few hours.

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How much does it cost? That’s part of the awesomeness: Pay what you want! You choose how much you want to pay for these awesome books! You can even choose how big a share we authors get!

ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS is part of the LOWEST TIER! YOU GET IT AND FOUR OTHER BOOKS FOR JUST $5! They are: Moonshadow by Thea Harrison, Cici and the Curator by S. J. Wynde, Whalemoon by Dustin Porta, Bloodrush by Ben Galley. It’s like getting each book for only a dollar!

If your purchase price is $15 or more, you get TEN more books: including Eyrie by K. Vale Nagle, Sunset, She Fights by Tameri Etherton, Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest, The Cursing Stones by Sonya Bateman, Night’s Favor by Richard Parry, Song of Shadow by Natalya Capello, Heritage of Power – The Complete Series Books 1-5 by Lindsay Buroker, Prince of Foxes by H. L. Macfarlane, The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith and Windsworn by Derek Alan Siddoway

The bundle is available for purchase here. Or you can look at SFWA’s blog about the StoryBundle here.

I’d also like to take a moment to say that I have finished Cici and the Curator, and it is a really fun sci-fi romp! So there’s at least two books in here that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Thanks to everyone who purchased!

SFWA Bundle: CICI AND THE CURATOR Snippet!

It is my great honor to announce that the Science Fiction Writers of America have chosen ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS as part of their StoryBundle offering this year. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s bundle is FANTASTIC BEASTS.

For the next few days on my blog, I am going to be promoting a snippet from each of these authors. Today’s snippet is from S.J. Wynde‘s CICI AND THE CURATOR!

“Whoa! What the—” The delivery girl was wide-eyed and blinking. Cici flipped the lid of the container closed and spun it back around to face her, so that the girl couldn’t see inside the gap caused by the lid resting on the dogs’ heads. The delivery girl stared at her. “What are those things? Where did they come from? How did they—” 

“Loose exhibit,” Cici said glibly. “Sorry about that. Little escape artists, they are.”

“But… how did they… but…” The delivery girl looked as if she might start hyperventilating. Then she took a breath and lifted her chin higher and pulled the strap of her air-board tighter on her shoulder. “Exotic, right. You ain’t kidding.” 

“It’s a great show.” Cici kept a bright smile plastered on her face. “You should come back and see the whole thing.” 

“Didn’t know it was animals,” the girl said. “Thought it was Art.” Her emphasis on the last word was tinged with a hint of scorn. 

“We’ve got some of everything,” Cici said. A hysterical laugh was rising in the back of her throat but she forced it down with an effort. She was piling lies upon lies, digging a trap for herself that was getting deeper and deeper. “It’s mostly art, though. You don’t like art? You’d probably find it boring, then. Really dull, I’m sure.”

“I don’t know.” The delivery girl shook her head, staring speculatively at the back of the food container. She tucked her e-pad into a pouch on her waist and grabbed the thermal bag, then paused. “Can I see ‘em again?” Cici froze with indecision, mind racing. Her mother would… her brother would… she should… It felt like forever but was no more than two or three seconds before she said, “I probably shouldn’t. I should get them back in their stasis chamber. They’re not supposed to be out. But a quick look couldn’t hurt.” Secrets were suspicious. Making a big deal about not letting the girl see the dogs would make her more curious than treating her request as casual interest about something not very important. Very not important. Definitely not the only remaining evidence of murder. 

How much does it cost? That’s part of the awesomeness: Pay what you want! You choose how much you want to pay for these awesome books! You can even choose how big a share we authors get!

ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS is part of the LOWEST TIER! YOU GET IT AND FOUR OTHER BOOKS FOR JUST $5! They are: Moonshadow by Thea Harrison, Cici and the Curator by S. J. Wynde, Whalemoon by Dustin Porta, Bloodrush by Ben Galley. It’s like getting each book for only a dollar!

You decide how much of your purchase goes to the author and how much goes to help keep StoryBundle running. If your purchase price is $15 or more, you get TEN more books: including Eyrie by K. Vale Nagle, Sunset, She Fights by Tameri Etherton, Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest, The Cursing Stones by Sonya Bateman, Night’s Favor by Richard Parry, Song of Shadow by Natalya Capello, Heritage of Power – The Complete Series Books 1-5 by Lindsay Buroker, Prince of Foxes by H. L. Macfarlane, The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith and Windsworn by Derek Alan Siddoway

The bundle is available for purchase here. Or you can look at SFWA’s blog about the StoryBundle here.

SFWA Bundle: ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS Snippet!

It is my great honor to announce that the Science Fiction Writers of America have chosen ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS as part of their StoryBundle offering this year. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s bundle is FANTASTIC BEASTS.

For the next few days on my blog, I am going to be promoting a snippet from each of these authors. And because it’s my blog, I get to go first!

As I have previously noted, I am a big believer in the power of drinking to solve problems.

No, not my drinking. That’s just stupid: even my mentor Arghash had known that. It’s other people’s drinking that solves my problems. For example: Two days ago, Djug the goblin got drunk enough to think he could get away with burgling an orc-lord’s summer house. The orc-lord’s dire-wolf ate Djug and broke off two of its teeth. Pulling the teeth for the orc-lord solved my problem of paying the rent for my veterinary practice.

Well, I didn’t say it brought in repeat business.

But sometimes I join people in drinking, because we have the same problems.

In this case, I was drinking with Ulghash, Arghash’s son. Ulg and I grew up together. Only he became a doctor and a self-made man. Well, orc. And I inherited Arghash’s veterinary practice.

Hard feelings? Why? Ulghash and Arghash both got what they wanted: namely for Ulghash to rise to a higher level than fixing up animals. I, on the other hand, as a human chattel slave, wasn’t going to build my own business in the Dread Empire. So we all got what we wanted: I grew up as a higher class of slave, and Arghash got someone to keep the practice going.

Even so, Ulghash was saying, “Days like this I want to take Dad’s practice back from you.” He drained half his beer. “At least your patients don’t decide they know better than you.”

“That’s right,” I agreed. “Their owners do it. I told you about the human vampire-wannabe Countess who kept her basilisk on a diet of blood, right?”

“Yeah, but at least you can feel sorry for the basilisk.” Ulghash held his head in his hands. “I’m treating a clan chief for impotence. ‘Use the herbs,’ I said. ‘The herbs work. And stop trying every day, for the Dark Ones’ sakes. Relax a bit.’ Did he listen?”

“What did he do?” I asked.

“Got someone else to look at it.”

“Who?”

“A medusa.”

I stopped in mid-pull from my beer. “You don’t mean he got her to… look… at… it?

“Yep. He wanted it stiff. Well, it is now. I may have to cut it off before it gets infected. At least he can still piss, or he’d be dead already. He just has to watch the, uh. The range.”

How much does it cost? That’s part of the awesomeness: Pay what you want! You choose how much you want to pay for these awesome books! You can even choose how big a share we authors get!

ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS is part of the LOWEST TIER! YOU GET IT AND FOUR OTHER BOOKS FOR JUST $5! They are: Moonshadow by Thea Harrison, Cici and the Curator by S. J. Wynde, Whalemoon by Dustin Porta, Bloodrush by Ben Galley. It’s like getting each book for only a dollar!

You decide how much of your purchase goes to the author and how much goes to help keep StoryBundle running. If your purchase price is $15 or more, you get TEN more books: including Eyrie by K. Vale Nagle, Sunset, She Fights by Tameri Etherton, Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest, The Cursing Stones by Sonya Bateman, Night’s Favor by Richard Parry, Song of Shadow by Natalya Capello, Heritage of Power – The Complete Series Books 1-5 by Lindsay Buroker, Prince of Foxes by H. L. Macfarlane, The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith and Windsworn by Derek Alan Siddoway

The bundle is available for purchase here. Or you can look at SFWA’s blog about the StoryBundle here.

AmazingCon (Virtual) Reading And Panel!

Hey, Science-Fiction and Fantasy Fans!

Well, 2020 is certainly going to go down in history as the worst year for Cons until we have an actual nuclear exchange (and that’s still a possibility in what do you think? October? Let’s say October). I myself was slated to attend LibertyCon in Chattanooga in June before that got cancelled by the venue. For all of you who are missing the F/SF con experience, there are many cons that are moving online. Introducing…

AmazingCon
A Different Con For A Different World


I will be appearing at AmazingCon doing a reading from All Things Huge And Hideous on Friday, June 12th, at 3 pm, and also taking questions, and will also be appearing on a Worldbuilding Panel on Saturday, June 13th at 4 pm.

I’d really love to see as many of you come as can, you can register by clicking on the con banner above, which will take you right to the website!

Oh, and here’s the best part: it’s PAY WHAT YOU WANT!! Donations are VERY much appreciated, but not required!

Many other awesome authors are doing readings and panels on a variety of subjects! Please enjoy some fantasy and science-fiction with us!

SFWA Bundle Bargain: ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS

It is my great honor to announce that the Science Fiction Writers of America have chosen ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS as part of their StoryBundle offering this year. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s bundle is FANTASTIC BEASTS.

Because Superversive Press, the original publisher of the novel, is now defunct, this is the ONLY way to get a copy of ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS at the present time. It will be available for three weeks, after which it will be gone for good, so please don’t miss this opportunity.

I am beyond honored to have been chosen to be part of this collection of great writers.

How much does it cost? That’s part of the awesomeness: Pay what you want! You choose how much you want to pay for these awesome books! You can even choose how big a share we authors get!

ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS is part of the LOWEST TIER! YOU GET IT AND FOUR OTHER BOOKS FOR JUST $5! They are: Moonshadow by Thea Harrison, Cici and the Curator by S. J. Wynde, Whalemoon by Dustin Porta, Bloodrush by Ben Galley. It’s like getting each book for only a dollar!

(Click on each book above to check them out.) You decide how much of your purchase goes to the author and how much goes to help keep StoryBundle running. If your purchase price is $15 or more, you get TEN more books: including Eyrie by K. Vale Nagle, Sunset, She Fights by Tameri Etherton, Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest, The Cursing Stones by Sonya Bateman, Night’s Favor by Richard Parry, Song of Shadow by Natalya Capello, Heritage of Power – The Complete Series Books 1-5 by Lindsay Buroker, Prince of Foxes by H. L. Macfarlane, The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith and Windsworn by Derek Alan Siddoway

The bundle is available for purchase here. Or you can look at SFWA’s blog about the StoryBundle here.

Mr. Huggins’s Storytime: The Wizard Of Oz, Chapter 1

Hey, all. It occurred to me that there are probably a lot of worried and sick parents out there who, because of scheduling and other factors, might not have the time, energy, or ability to read bedtime stories to their children. So I’m going to be reading THE WIZARD OF OZ most nights on my YouTube channel, in case that helps out. Please subscribe and spread the word. Thanks!