b-is-for-broken Kobo sale

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale

b-is-for-broken Kobo sale

For this week only, B is for Broken is on sale for $0.99!

So you can get 26 awesome stories for less than a buck… I mean, that’s like, what? Four cents a story or something? Pretty tough to beat 🙂 Treat yourself to an escape from the post-election, holiday season–you’ve earned it! (Do I sound like a Nice ‘n Easy commercial? I mean… it worked for them, right? LOL)

Get B is for Broken now!

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And if you’ve already read B is for Broken, would you do me a favour? Leave it an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? Your two sentences and some stars could really help this anthology out.

 

2016_Cover_Big

Pushcart Prize Nominations

2016_Cover_BigEvery year I struggle to pick which six works to nominate for the Pushcart Prize. This year my job was made marginally easier after I spoke to Bill Henderson and learned I could nominate six works from both Niteblade and Poise and Pen. Yay! Still, it was a difficult decision-making process even so but I am excited to nominate the following works for the 2016 Pushcart Prize.

On behalf of Niteblade Magazine I nominated:

And from Poise and Pen’s anthology, B is for Broken, published in May 2015 I nominated:

  • C is for Change by C.S. MacCath
  • F is for Founder by Megan Arkenberg
  • G is for Glass by Gary B. Phillips
  • O is for Oneiroi by Michael M. Jones
  • S is for Soliloquy by Damien Angelica Walters
  • V is for Vendémiaire by L.S. Johnson

Congratulations to our (and all) nominees, and good luck!

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Fractured Friday: Michael M. Jones

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂

Interview With Michael M. Jones

What Letter Were You Assigned: O

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

The Theatre of Dreams stands alone, small and unimposing against its surroundings. It’s located on the outskirts of the Gaslight District, Puxhill’s oldest and strangest community, set back a little ways from the road itself. Save for a small sign, you’d never know what the building truly was. There is no ticket booth; you cannot call ahead or pre-order here. There are no prices listed; entrance is paid with innocence and secrets, whispers and hopes. There are no hours posted; either you know when performances are, or you do not. The Theatre is not listed in any newspapers, trade magazines, or travel guides. It does not advertise. It doesn’t need to.

It’s Friday night, and the marquee reads, “Juliet Sinclair, appearing irregularly.”

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? Sadly, the statute of limitations hasn’t run out yet, and all involved are still alive. But it was so SHINY.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I don’t want to embarrass, shock, or scandalize anyone. But what happens in Vegas stays on the security cameras forever. Or so I’m told.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? Do the laws of time and space count? Because if it’s the laws of man, I really don’t want to incriminate myself.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? Oh, definitely.

Never ever? Well, I’ve learned never to say never. There are circumstances, sometimes.

Really? Isn’t there something which could make you break it? Are we talking bribes here? What’s your offer? Is it cash? Food? Dancing girls? Booze? I may be easy but I’m not cheap.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I cheated: I already had the perfect story on hand, about a young woman who was broken somewhere deep in her heart and spirit, and who yearned for a life in which she was whole. And as fortune would have it, it was easy to give it an appropriate title. “Theatre of Dreams” became “O is for Oneiroi” thanks to a hazy memory of obscure Greek mythology.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? There used to be a sequence where the main character—Juliet—went forth into the mundane part of the city, where she encountered another character I particularly like. That bit was cut long ago for pacing, but I still liked it.

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? Appropriately, this one came to me in a dream, in that space between asleep and awake, when everything is hazy. The hard part was figuring out what, exactly, it was all about. This story is important to me because the Theatre of Dreams, and its owner Polly, are touchstones and waypoints in the Gaslight District, which recurs quite often in my Puxhill stories. They formed the seeds of something larger, and it’s exciting that at long last they’ll see the light of day. But unlike dreams, they won’t fade.

 


 

Michael M. Jones is a writer, book reviewer, and editor. He lives in Southwest Virginia, with too many books, just enough cats, and a wife who translates geek into mundane. His short stories have appeared in Clockwork Phoenix 3, A Chimerical World, and at Inscription Magazine. He is the editor of Scheherazade’s Facade and the forthcoming Schoolbooks & Sorcery. Visit him at www.michaelmjones.com.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Join the Poise and Pen Street Team to keep up-to-date on Alphabet Anthology happenings or sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about everything I do (including Alphabet Anthologies).

Or both.

Personally, I vote for both 😉

 

Sara

Fractured Friday: Sara Cleto

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂

Interview With Sara Cleto

What Letter Were You Assigned: D

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

When the sun sets, the Snow Queen rises from her bed and slips a diaphanous robe over her glinting skin. Taffeta, brocade, and leather crowd restlessly in her closet and ease past the doors, spilling in drifts of color onto the marbled floor. The King brings her new boxes, brimming with crisp tissue and crisper clothes, bound cheerfully with a bow, nearly every day. 

“For the gala,” he says, or “for dinner with the executive board.” 

He smiles at her, all teeth, and suggests with exquisite politeness that she might dress and come downstairs. 

She smiles, or the nearest approximation that her stiff, heavy lips can manage, and strokes her newest garment with a single fingertip. 

The fabric tears cleanly under her light caress, parting with the casual brutality of a broom on a spider web. 

The King sighs gently. “Darling, do remember to wear your gloves. And let your ladies help you dress.” 

She looks at the complicated undergarments, plates of metal twined with industrial straps, the screws and bolts that hold the pieces together, and then at the women who never quite leave the shadow of the door. They wear sturdy gloves, the kind that gardeners who tend particularly recalcitrant rose bushes favor, and sturdy lines around their mouths. 

“Tomorrow, perhaps,” she says quietly. Her lips clatter against each other, and her words are echoed by the tap of jewels striking the floor. She watches impassively as one of her ladies edges towards her. The woman collects the sparkling gems from where they lay around her feet and places them in one of the many glass caskets lining the room, arranged to catch the light. Her ruined gown is whisked away to be repaired, stitched back into a semblance of wholeness, and laid to rest, unworn, in her closet. The King inclines his head over her hand, lips scraped and lightly bleeding, and withdraws. 

Sliding on her gloves, she arranges her robe around her, concealing as much of her glittering skin as possible. 

She never goes downstairs.

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? My umbrella, the year I lived in England. I was so surly about it that I refused to buy a new one, and I was rewarded for my sensible behavior by getting drenched at least twice a week-it rains rather a lot there.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I’ve been thinking and thinking about this, and, honestly, I can’t think of anything. I’m pretty much always consumed by guilt or nostalgia when I break things, even if they are ugly or useless or toxic. Even if they need to be broken.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? Trespassing laws, especially when I’m traveling. Half the interesting buildings have no trespassing signs all over them, which vexes me to no end.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? My strongest code is against harming animals, especially cats and dogs. I would never harm one on purpose.

Never ever? Probably not. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years for a reason.

Really? Isn’t there something which could make you break it? If the critter was trying to kill me or a loved one and seemed to have a good shot at succeeding, I might have to reconsider.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I knew exactly what I wanted to write, but actually writing it was like pulling teeth. Not because of the story- which was sitting there, very cooperatively, in my head-but because I was stretched especially thin when I was writing it.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? I considered dolls rather than diamonds for all of five minutes, but the moment I thought of diamonds, the story began to fall into place.

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? Two fairy tales: Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and Charles Perrault’s “Diamonds and Toads.” My story is a merging of the two, given a modern spin.

 

 


SaraSara Cleto is a PhD student at the Ohio State University where she studies folklore, literature, disability, and the places where they intersect. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Goblin Fruit, Cabinet des Fees: Scheherazade’s Bequest, Ideomancer, Niteblade, The Golden Key, and others. Her work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Join the Poise and Pen Street Team to keep up-to-date on Alphabet Anthology happenings or sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about everything I do (including Alphabet Anthologies).

Or both.

Personally, I vote for both 😉

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Fractured Friday: Steve Bornstein

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂

Interview With Steve Bornstein

What Letter Were You Assigned: P

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

A-One thought, for the first time, that perhaps waging total war on the humans might not have been a good idea after all.

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? The last desktop PC I had. I was adjusting the hard drive partition when it crashed and I lost everything going back years. I’ve since learned the benefits of multiple backups.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? The law of gravity. Come on, who wouldn’t love to be able to fly?

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I find that if I’m a good person and treat people with respect, they usually reciprocate.

Never ever? No, not ever. Past a certain point, that gets flipped around to “Do unto others as they do unto you.” Sometimes karma needs a little help, and self-defense is never selfish.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? P has lots of good words to choose from. It took me a while to narrow it down, but once I found my word the story came quickly.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? The original ending I had planned was a lot more action-oriented. Once I started writing, my fingers took charge and steered it in a totally different direction which worked out a lot better.

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? A French music video, believe it or not. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to discover it.

 


Steve Bornstein has made his living fixing broken things, much to his chagrin. He currently works in an industry where things break all the time in ways they’re not supposed to break. He lives in Central Texas with his wife and four cats. He blogs infrequently at stevebornstein.com and can be found on most major social networks.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Join the Poise and Pen Street Team to keep up-to-date on Alphabet Anthology happenings or sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about everything I do (including Alphabet Anthologies).

Or both.

Personally, I vote for both 😉

bookme

Fractured Friday: Brittany Warman

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂

Interview With Brittany Warman

 

What Letter Were You Assigned: A

Short Excerpt:

“A hundred years is a long time and the world has changed. In this new, awakened world, there are no curses, at least not the way I remember them. My prince studies the skies with mechanical devices like I had never seen before and writes detailed notes about the movements of the universe. He whispers my name to the heavens but isn’t thinking of me.”

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking?: I broke a necklace that belonged to my Mom when I was in third grade. A friend of mine said it wasn’t fixable, so she further broke it into tiny pieces that we then played with. My mom was devastated that we’d so completely destroyed something from her own childhood and still I feel so guilty about that.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it?: Sometimes I feel relief… I tend to hang on to things until they’re completely unusable, even if they’re not as good as they once were, so when something like that truly breaks it’s finally an excuse to throw it away.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be?: Oh, probably robbing a bank or something like that? As long as it really didn’t hurt anyone! 

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break?: The big code that I always try to follow is simply to be kind but I know that no one is perfect, certainly not me, so I certainly do break it sometimes sadly.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned?: Very much actually! I had the idea right from the get go but I had a really hard time bringing it to life in the dreamy, fragmented way I wanted to. I had a LOT of false starts!

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter, inspired your story?: That’s easy, “Sleeping Beauty” of course :). I find myself drawn back to that fairy tale over and over again.

 


bookmeBrittany Warman is a PhD candidate in English and Folklore at The Ohio State University, where she concentrates on the intersection of literature and folklore. Her creative work has been published by or is forthcoming from Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky Magazine, Ideomancer, inkscrawl, Cabinet des Fées: Scheherezade’s Bequest, and others. Her story “Q is for Queen” appeared in A is for Apocalypse. She can be found online at BrittanyWarman.com

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Join the Poise and Pen Street Team to keep up-to-date on Alphabet Anthology happenings or sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about everything I do (including Alphabet Anthologies).

Or both.

Personally, I vote for both 😉

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Fractured Friday: Michael Kellar

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂


Interview With Michael Kellar

What letter were you assigned? R

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? The line between youth and middle age.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I once belonged to an organization which turned out to be based upon false premises, and made certain promises to that group. Once it fell apart and I discovered that the Emperor was naked, those promises became meaningless.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? I’ve broken quite a few and gotten away with it, but telling you might negate the “consequence-free” part…

But if you really mean literally ANY law, I would say gravity…

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? Yes.

Never ever? Probably not.

Really? Isn’t there something which could make you break it? Well, we supposedly all have our breaking points, don’t we?

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? The story came first, and fortunately the letter was flexible enough that I could have called it any number of relevant titles.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? I was lucky enough to have my story idea pop into my mind as soon as I heard the theme. (This was a good thing, as I have absolutely no idea as to what else I might have attempted!)

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story?  A rather mind-blowing horror story by Aleister Crowley called “The Testament of Magdalen Blair” which disturbed me years ago and stayed with me.


Michael Kellar is a writer, poet, and occasional online bookseller living in Myrtle Beach, SC. He has had fiction appear in Metastasis: An Anthology to Support Cancer Research, Bones II, Bones III, Side Show 2: Tales of the Big Top and the Bizarre, A is for Apocalypse, and the recently released The Grays. He has also had fiction appear on the Dark Futures Fiction website, and had poetry published in Gothic Blue Book III: The Graveyard Edition. Upcoming pieces will include stories appearing in Pure Fantasy and SciFi 3 and The Temporal Element II.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Join the Poise and Pen Street Team to keep up-to-date on Alphabet Anthology happenings or sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about everything I do (including Alphabet Anthologies).

Or both.

Personally, I vote for both 😉

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Fractured Friday: KV Taylor

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂


I met KV through Niteblade and invited her to contribute to A is for Apocalypse. I’m super stoked that she stuck around to contribute to B is for Broken as well!

Interview With KV Taylor

What letter were you assigned? Z

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

“I’m gonna cut your fucking heart out,” she promises.

I doubt this very much, but don’t see the point in telling her. I know how dangerous she is. I’ve seen my twin sister’s brains blasted all over the front of her Chevy. I was willing to let the State have her, but they lost her, and now she’s mine.

I go back upstairs and look to my closet for inspiration. Spartacus follows on his silent padded feet and asks me what I’m doing, so I tell him. (Not really, of course, I know cats don’t speak; I haven’t lost that part of my mind. Yet.) I ask him what he thinks would work better. Could I use buttons? No, that would leave gaps. Velcro would become messy.

Well use a zipper, dummy, Spartacus doesn’t say, with an indolent lick of his paw.

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? Oh god, I don’t know. I had this really beautiful glass calligraphy pen that got broken in a move once. I totally regret that. There must be something worse, but I can’t think of it right now.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? Several relationships >.>

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? I’d like to be able to travel anywhere without visas and all the paperwork. That counts.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? Yeah, I’m really weird about what food I buy. I’m careful about cruelty-free stuff… and yes, that also includes cruelty to humans.

Never ever? Probably at some restaurants where I don’t know their ingredients, yeah.

Really? Isn’t there something which could make you break it? Personally… I mean if my family was starving, yeah! If I can’t afford stuff, I can just go without, but I wouldn’t do that to my family. Or my cats. They’d eat me in my sleep. (The cats, not the family. I hope.)

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? It actually came to me straight away, for once. No one is more surprised than me.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? That was, amazingly, my first thought.

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? My basement. I always think basements are incredibly creepy. Though mine does not have a dirt floor, it’s one of those partially excavated ones, so I always wonder what’s under all that gravel and dirt and stuff behind the half-walls…


KV Taylor is an avid reader and writer of fantasy and dark fiction, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) In her spare time she enjoys comic books, Himalayan Buddhist art, loud music, her Epiphone, and Black Bush. Her fiction can be found at kvtaylor.com.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Join the Poise and Pen Street Team to keep up-to-date on Alphabet Anthology happenings or sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about everything I do (including Alphabet Anthologies). Or both. Personally, I vote for both 😉

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory Hoke

Fractured Friday: L.S. Johnson

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂


I met L.S. when she submitted an amazeballs story to Fae and I’m super stoked to have her work in B is for Broken 🙂

Interview With L.S. Johnson

What letter were you assigned? V

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

On her knees in the dirt, Arianne can envision her mother before her, see her spattered hems and the rough clogs over her fine stockings. On her knees in the dirt, Arianne’s mind becomes formless and clear. On her knees the world is a whole thing once more, a single path as welcoming as an embrace.

Until she stands up, and the world breaks into pieces once again: the rows of brown grapevines splintering in all directions; the wind rattling the shutters on the crumbling cottage where she and her father live; the slope of the rise before the hollow, where the old house still stands, the embodiment of her mother’s betrayal.

Their tainted land.

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? I have broken the hearts of some people close to me, not from malice, but simply because of my choices in life. Hindsight is 20/20, and it is hard not to regret at least the more flippant decisions.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I quit smoking cold turkey in 2000; two years later I buried a relative from smoking-related illness. I still miss some aspects of it—the social crutch, the way it dovetailed with my writing. But no sadness.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? Deleting everyone’s debt (though that would probably violate several laws, alas). But to just make all those numbers go away: it would change this country.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? No. I have many rules I try to live by, but life does a fine job of challenging even the simplest convictions.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I actually had two ideas. One became far more personal than I anticipated, and I needed to talk to my mother before proceeding with the story, which didn’t happen until after the deadline. So I ended up on the Plan B for V, as it were, which seemed to turn out okay—? We’ll see what readers say!

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? There’s about a half-dozen myths and motifs that I have been circling around, well, I suppose for all of my writing life, which is longer than my adult life. One of them is part of this story. Too, I was reading Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety at the time, so I had that period of French history in my head—both its violence and its idiosyncrasies. And it all got me thinking about how a person’s life, their entire context for being in the world, can change in a moment, whether due to something personal or national . . . or perhaps even supernatural.

 


L.S. Johnson lives in Northern California. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Long Hidden, Fae, Lackington’s, Strange Tales V, and other venues. Currently she is working on a fantasy trilogy set in 18th century Europe.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

Beth Cato -- photograph by Corey Ralston Photography

Fractured Friday: Beth Cato

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂


I feel like I’ve known Beth for forever, but it hasn’t been *quite* that long. We met way back when in a Livejournal (I told you it was a long time ago) group for NaNoWriMo participants. I didn’t get to sample her writing until she submitted to Niteblade though. Her post-apocalyptic flash, The Pacifier, is still one of my all-time favourite stories Niteblade published. You should go read it. No really. I’ll wait.

Done?

Awesome, right?

So you won’t be surprised to learn I invited her to contribute to A is for Apocalypse. Nor should there be any question about why she has a spot in B is for Broken as well (and wait until you read her C is for Chimera story!)

 

 

Interview With Beth Cato

What letter were you assigned? K

Please share a short excerpt from your story: 

The man on the rock looks up at us. His face so sad, emotion sharp, like a slap to the face. Tommy grunted like it hit him, too.

“Tommy Smith. George Blackworth.” He says my name and I feel it in my bones, like my mother, God rest her, yelling out the back door.

“Who’re you?” I ask.

“Who am I?” He stares at his hands. “A king without a queen, proof that the undying are not immortal.”

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? My cat Porom is the laziest cat ever. A few years ago, I was closing a door. Porom had flopped down in front of it and it was dark, so I couldn’t see her tail. The door actually amputated the tip of it. I was freaked out. We were able to get her to an emergency vet, where she had  a cleaner amputation made. She had a full recovery, or I don’t know if I could have forgiven myself.

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? I had a sculpture I made during my freshman year of high school. It was a mythological creature of my own making, a threem (which is actually included in my Clockwork Dagger books from Harper Voyager). A few years ago parents were encouraging me to get the last of my belongings out of their house. I didn’t want this sculpture. I always hated how it turned out, and it was made during a time of my life when I was severely depressed and suicidal.

Instead of toting the big clay figure back to Arizona, I wrapped it in several layers of plastic bags and then pulverized it with a piece of rebar. It was all rather therapeutic.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? I’ll twist this around. I wish I could turn in negligent speeders on the highway and see THEM punished. I drive like an old lady and go the speed limit.

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? Yes. Treat others the way I would like to be treated. That means to be courteous, thoughtful, and not an inconvenience.

Never ever? I do my utmost!

Really? Isn’t there something which could make you break it? Okay, there was one time a survey guy called at 8:30pm and when I politely told him the late time was inappropriate, he argued with me. It actually developed into a yelling match. The company actually sent me a postcard asking me to give them another chance–which was a whole other level of freaky. When they had other people call, I flat out told them I would never, ever deal with them, and hung up.

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I had another idea that I started on but it just didn’t come together.

What was your favourite idea you didn’t use? The original idea was “King’s Horses and Men,” and to do a fresh take on Humpty Dumpty. I know. A story about a sentient egg. Maybe someday?

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? It wasn’t a conscious influence as I wrote, but in hindsight I think the movie Bedknobs & Broomsticks played a part as well. I always adored that movie and the idea of magic being used for the war effort. This is just a different take.

 


Beth Cato -- photograph by Corey Ralston Photography

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of The Clockwork Dagger steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. The newest book is The Clockwork Crown.

Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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Alexis A. Hunter

Fractured Friday: Alexis A. Hunter

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish, original artwork by Tory HokeFor the next several weeks I’ve decided to call Fridays ‘Fractured Friday’ and use them to share news, contributor interviews and excerpts from B is for Broken.

B is for Broken is the second title in the Alphabet Anthologies series. It follows A is for Apocalypse and will in turn be followed by C is for Chimera.

B is for Broken contains 26 stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) centered on the theme of brokenness. The diversity of genres and subject matter will blow you away. We’ve got science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird fiction about broken hearts, broken space ships, broken lives, broken bones–you name it. If you like speculative fiction and short stories, this collection is one you’re going to want to check out 🙂

 


 

I met Alexis when she submitted a story to Niteblade. I accepted that story (Dragons of Fire) and that might have been the end of it, except that not long after Alexis volunteered to fill an empty slush reader position at Niteblade so I got to work with her further. And I’m exceptionally glad I did (and not just because she and Samantha Kymmell-Harvey were the pair of slush readers who worked the best together and practically did my job for me… though that helps).

I’m proud to include Alexis’ stories in both A is for Apocalypse and B is for Broken 🙂

Interview With Alexis A. Hunter

What letter were you assigned? N

Please share a short excerpt from your story:

Elise felt naked without the patterns on her skin. She couldn’t stand the idea of sleeping in her own bed tonight. The dark sigils brought a squirmy warmth to her stomach—a sort of unease, coupled with a thrill.

Mama said the negatives were evil—the magic of violence. Elise found herself staring at them. Their lines and edges were sharp, geometric, sometimes jagged. She didn’t know each sigil’s exact meaning, but she felt their intent: violence, harm, anger. They shimmered close, begging her to use them, oddly sharper and clearer than any sigil she’d seen in her magick before.

Instinctively, she trailed her fingers over her heart, reaching for the pattern of sleep. A thick sleep, a sleep that the dark shapes couldn’t disturb. But that comfort was gone.

What is the thing you’ve most regretted breaking? If we’re gonna get all deep and painful here, I’ll go ahead and say my faith. I broke it, I let it break—either way, it shattered and I’m still trying to pull the shards out of me. How’s that for morbid? 😉

Have you ever broken something and not been saddened by it? Can you tell us about that? There wasn’t actually “breaking” involved, but one day in a fit of teenage angst I burned a lot of photos and mementos related to a boy I thought I loved. Looking back the whole thing seems silly, but at the time it consumed my world. Burning the physical effects like that helped somehow.

If you could break one law and get away with it consequence-free, what would it be? That’s a tough one for me. I’m all about following the rules (laws). I…honestly can’t think of a law I would break!

Do you have any rules for yourself, a code of some sort, which you’d never break? I’m still sort of reassembling my moral code now that I’ve left behind most of my faith. Ask me again in a year (and I probably still won’t have an answer, haha)!

Did you struggle with the letter you were assigned, or did the ideas come freely? I struggled a little, but not too much thankfully. I first had ‘N is for Neighbor’—an element which still plays a pretty big role in my story—but ended up changing it to the more important N of the story.

Additionally, at first I took the theme of broken to be about ‘breaking a spell’. I may have only felt it in the actual drafting stage, but at some part the theme of ‘Broken’ came to mean more to me, more to Elise as something broke in her in the end of the story. Similarly to my broken faith, there are some things you can’t put back together and usually those are the things that you break inside yourself.

What, aside from the anthology’s theme and your letter inspired your story? The entire magic system in this story was probably my favorite part to brainstorm—it came about after seeing some gorgeous chalk art on Pinterest. There’s something lovely to me about the idea of tactile magic—drawn and redrawn daily. From there came the ideas for the bandoleer (such a tiny detail, but it thrills me for some reason) and the focusing of magic by painting it on skin.


Alexis A. Hunter

Alexis A. Hunter revels in the endless possibilities of speculative fiction. Over fifty of her short stories have appeared recently in Shimmer, Cricket Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, and more. To learn more, visit www.alexisahunter.com.

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B is for Broken is available now at:
Smashwords
Kobo
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

P.S. A is for Apocalypse is still on sale for less than a buck until Monday!