It’s time to announce the theme for the next Alphabet Anthology. I am really stoked about this one. Like, really, really stoked. I’ve been looking forward to the D anthology since I first decided to do this anthology series–in fact, more than once Jo has had to talk me out of releasing books out of alphabetical order because I was impatient to get to D.
So what is the theme?
Well, Demons seemed like a good fit–a collection of dark and diverse stories would be a lot of fun but not quite as fun as–
Dragons. Dragons seem the obvious choice, right? I mean, I love dragons. I used to collect them, I even have a dragon tattoo. And there’s no doubt that dragon stories could be diverse in theme, voice and tone… but dragons were actually kind of too obvious. Plus I have a vaguely dragony anthology in the works and I don’t want to duplicate efforts. Much. Still gargantuan reptilian creatures are pretty amazing and so I am excited to announce that–
–because c’mon! How cool is that?
The dinosaur theme will be interpreted in a wide variety of ways for this anthology but my authors assure me that there will, indeed, be at least a handful of prehistoric critters within its pages. I’m super stoked!
Speaking of those authors, contributors to this anthology include some veterans to the series and some new faces too. In no particular order, story contributors to D is for Dinosaur are:
~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Pete Aldin ~ Beth Cato ~ Michael Kellar ~ Cory Cone ~ Simon Kewin ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ C.S. MacCath ~ KV Taylor ~ Laura VanArendonk Baugh ~ Michael B. Tager ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Michael M. Jones ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Brittany Warman ~ Hal J. Friesen ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ BD Wilson ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Suzanne J. Willis ~ Lynn Hardaker ~ Amanda C. Davis ~ Andrew Bourell ~ Sara Cleto ~ Jeanne Kramer-Smyth ~
Every 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.
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.
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 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.
My dear friend, Beth Cato, has a new novel out today! The Clockwork Crown is the sequel to The Clockwork Dagger. I had the honour and pleasure of reading the nearly-final version The Clockwork Crown and I can tell you, if you liked The Clockwork Dagger you will love its sequel. Guaranteed.
Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?
The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.
Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.
We released latest issue of Niteblade, What Happened Among the Stars, today. This, our 32nd and penultimate issue, contains a farcical science fiction, magical horses, everyday immortals, creeping trees, fairies, close encounters with death and so much more.
Strange and unusual high-quality speculative fiction and poems that will make your heart skip a beat.
Table of Contents:
Small Necessary Things by Angela Enos
Shamaness by Wendy Howe
Jacks by Nicholas L. Sweeney
What Happened Among the Stars by Beth Cato
Monkeyshines by J.B. Rockwell
Carousel Ifrit by Sandi Leibowitz
The Third Sister by Gabriel F. Cuellar
coming home by Senia Hardwick
The Night Wind’s Ballad by Alexandra Erin
The Hanging Tree by Brian Ennis
Broken people, broken promises, broken dreams and broken objects are just some of the ways these 26 fantastic stories interpret the theme of ‘Broken’. From science fiction to fantasy, horror to superheroes the stories within these pages cover a vast swath of the genres under the speculative fiction umbrella.
Featuring original fiction by:
~ Brittany Warman ~ Milo James Fowler ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Sara Cleto ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Simon Kewin ~ Beth Cato ~ Cory Cone ~ Cindy James ~ Alexis A. Hunter ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Steve Bornstein ~ BD Wilson ~ Michael Kellar ~ Damien Angelica Walters ~ Marge Simon ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Pete Aldin ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Lilah Wild ~ KV Taylor ~
After months of hard work I’m incredibly excited to announce that B is for Broken is live and available for purchase! This anthology is the second in the Alphabet Anthologies series and because the theme was broader than the first (A is for Apocalypse) the stories are even more diverse in regard to genre, style, voice and theme than before. We’ve got retold fairy tales, robots and spaceships, superheros, minotaurs, second world fantasy and so, so, SO much more. The story length ranges from flash fiction to an incredible fantasy novelette from C.S. MacCath (trust me, you don’t want to miss this one).
Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing contributor interviews, excerpts and even (once it’s complete) a ‘Broken Story‘ to try and tempt you into picking up a copy but if you enjoy speculative fiction I don’t think you can go wrong with this anthology. I’m biased but it really is packed full of awesome.
“This collection is a massive and magnificent assortment of truly enjoyable stories. There is simply no way to read this book and not find a story you can connect with or love. This is the book to have in your travel bag. In it you are sure to find a tale to fit any mood. Each time you open it, a new adventure begins.”
It is with an extreme amount of pride and pleasure that I’m announcing the theme and contributors to the third in the alphabet anthology series. I hope you’ll be as excited as I am about… dun dun DUN:
C is for Chimera
In case you’re thinking, “Uh, a whole anthology of lion/goat/serpent creatures?” that is not the only definition of the word 🙂 I’ve got my fingers crossed for at least one lion/goat/serpent creature in the anthology, but check out this definition and then tell me you can’t see the potential for a hugely diverse collection of stories:
1: a capitalized: a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail
b: an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts
2: an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially : an unrealizable dream <a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer — John Donne>
3: an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution
Our contributing authors are also diverse and write in a wide variety of styles and genres within the broader categories of science fiction, fantasy and horror. You’ll notice some familiar names from the first two books in this series (A is for Apocalypse and B is for Broken) as well as a few new additions. Anthology contributors (in no particular order) are:
~ BD Wilson ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Pete Aldin ~ Beth Cato ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Marge Simon ~ Simon Kewin ~ Samantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ KV Taylor ~ Sara Cleto ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Milo James Fowler ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Michael B. Tager ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Steve Bornstein ~ Lilah Wild ~ Amanda C. Davis ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ Michael Kellar ~ Brittany Warman ~
As I grew up, my dad set an absolute rule: no cats in the house. My parents were pretty consistent about rules and expectations, but on this point my mom disagreed. She let us bring our beloved cats into the house, and feed them, and let them generally have the run of the place. The vital thing was that all evidence—the cats included—be outside before Dad came home from work. Dad was very strict. There was a looming fear that he would take the cats to the pound if we broke his edict.
Our outdoor cats were extremely well-behaved in their brief time indoors, especially our cat Adventure. Adventure was more like a sibling than a cat. He was a gentlecat, the very definition of regal. He did not walk. He strolled. He welcomed us home from school and escorted us to the door. His purr could be heard from rooms away. He loved being carried like a baby, or perched on a shoulder, or cuddling in a lap for hours on end. In the summer time, with me and my brother home all day, Adventure truly ruled the roost.
Which leads me into my Christmas story.
I always set up our artificial tree the day after Thanksgiving. We were always excited for that Monday after, for the official “blessing of the tree.” Adventure would amble inside, sniff all the lower branches, perhaps attempt to gnaw on one or two. He would then make a perfect nest on the white cotton blanket beneath the tree. He was like a perfect tabby pillow, formed into a cozy circle. We took pictures of him like this some years, and always took care that we developed the film and Dad never saw it.
I have always loved Christmas. I often started making crafts and buying gifts early in the year, so once the tree was up, I had ready things to wrap and place beneath the tree. I made sure that there was a space for Adventure to make his nest right among the presents.
One day, Dad arrived home from work. I can’t recall if he was early, or if we had simply been doing other things. But right away, we realized we had a problem.
“Did you get the cat?” Mom whispered.
“Did you get the cat?” I asked my brother.
“No, did you?” he asked.
Dad had walked right in the front door, with the tree and sleeping cat not two feet away, and passed right on by!
Dad went to the bedroom to change out of his work clothes. My brother yanked a very surprised, sleepy cat from under the tree, and I held the garage door open so they could make a quick exit.
Our beloved cat, always a gift and blessing, had appeared as just another present beneath the tree. For us, that was very much a Christmas miracle.
Beth Cato is the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.
Every year I talk about how difficult it is to choose which works to nominate for the Pushcart Prize and that’s because each year it gets harder. This year I was saved from truly heartbreaking decisions by two things:
I took a short break from Fae-tastic Fridays because I was traveling and also rather too swamped with *things* to even pretend I could be organised. However, stuff has become far less frenetic of late and (most importantly) I’m back home with no plans of that changing anytime soon, so Fae-tastic Fridays are back! Interestingly enough, today’s interviewee is Beth Cato. That’s interesting because I spent a significant amount of time with Beth at World Fantasy this year (which was the trip I’d taken).
Anyway… around about the time of Fae’s launch I interviewed Beth about her contribution. Here is that interview as well as an excerpt from her story, The Cartography of Shattered Trees:
Beth Cato’s Interview
What was the inspiration for your Fae story?
I wrote my story as part of a Codex Writers’ Halloween contest. I was provided two distinct prompts: a luopan, which is a Chinese magnetic compass used in Feng Shui, and lichtenberg figures, the scarring that results from a lightning strike. The luopan put me in mind of maps, and from there I thought–what if there was a map in fractal burns on someone? What would cause that?
Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?
No, I’ve written and published a number of fairy poems and stories, including a steampunk-fae tale in “Stitched Wings” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and a story in the forthcoming B is for Broken anthology. Fairies are such an important part of the fantasy genre, and there are common elements in fairy-like mythologies across the world. It’s something universal and accessible.
Note from Rhonda:I knew the answer to this question before I asked it. In truth, Beth’s story, “Stitched Wings” was definitely one of the things which inspired me to want to create this anthology in the first place. One of several things, to be fair, but a significant one.
Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?
In the case of my story, that would be a major spoiler! I’ll withhold the name.
Is that your favourite type of fae?
No. My very favorite fae would be selkies. Back in my teens, I even collected seal figurines and plushes for a time!
Do you believe in fairies?
In a wistful way. I write about obscured magic because I want there to be something more, something we can’t quite see or comprehend. Along those same lines, when I’m driving and encounter a number of green traffic lights in a row, I thank the traffic gods. It’s not too much to hope that, in a bountiful garden, that glint of light in the corner of my eye might have something more to it. I hope I’ll always be childlike in that way. If I lose that, I’ll have nothing left to write.
Excerpt from The Cartography of Shattered Trees by Beth Cato (283 words):
Her fingers glanced her skin. The scars felt like divots, the fern-like spread of her burns in soft ripples. According to doctors, the Lichtenberg figures should have faded months before. Now those fractal burns had metamorphosed into something more.
Repulsed and fascinated, she followed the red route south to her navel. Did the map go where… it happened? Shuddering, she clenched her fist.
“I need to get ready for work,” she said aloud.
Yet she still stared at herself, mesmerized. Despite the burns, despite the horribleness, there was something beautiful about the map.
She reached into the darkness of her closet and pulled out her old portfolio. Disturbed feathers of dust were set adrift in the air. She propped a large pad of paper against the bathroom counter and, with glances at the mirror, began to sketch. Her head pounded as it had so often since the lightning strike, and she furrowed her brow as she struggled for focus.
The line veered, gouging at the paper. She flung the pencil away with a wordless scream.
Vivian used to draw, paint, exist for the muse that overflowed from her fingertips. She used to live.
Her therapist had told her that if she wanted to create art again, she would find a way, even with the lingering nerve damage. Such trite, arrogant advice from a man with an illegible signature.
She didn’t just want art again, she wanted her old life back. She wanted her innocence, for her body to be a clean slate, free of burns, free of the lingering memories of Andrew’s heavy hand dragging her down.
Vivian ached to feel whole again, to fill the emptiness that constantly echoed beneath her breast.
Look at this table of contents and you’ll get an idea of why that might be LoL:
“Myths and Delusions: An Introduction” by Mike Allen
“This Talk of Poems” by Amal El-Mohtar
“The Wives of Paris” by Marie Brennan
“Cuneiform Toast” by Sonya Taaffe
“Hexagon” by Alexandra Seidel
“Unmasking” by Sandi Leibowitz
“Ahalya: Deliverance” by Karthika Naïr
“Katabasis” by Liz Bourke
“The Art of Flying” by Georgina Bruce
“Dreams of Bone” by Christina Sng
“India Pale Angel” by Robert Davies
“a recipe” by Lynette Mejía
“Anna They Have Killed” by Jennifer Crow
“The Two Annies of Windale Road” by Patty Templeton
“Zora Neale Hurston Meets Felicia Felix-Mentor on the Road” by J.C. Runolfson
“Princess: A Life” by Jane Yolen
“Present” by Nicole Kornher-Stace
“Old Bone” by Sandi Leibowitz
“Backbone of the Home” by Lisa M. Bradley
“Flap” by David Sklar
“Rhythm of Hoof and Cry” by S. Brackett Robertson
“The Silver Comb” by Mari Ness
“Milkweed” by Cedar Sanderson
“Never Told” by Jane Yolen
“Foxfeast” by Yoon Ha Lee
“Seeds” by Beth Cato
“Seedpaper” by Rhonda Parrish
“The Onion Prince” by David Sklar
“The Girl Who Learned to Live with Bees in Her Hair” by Brigitte N. McCray
“The Giant’s Tree” by Yukimi Ogawa
“Two Ways of Lifting” by Virginia M. Mohlere
“Levels of Observation” by Kenneth Schneyer
“Cat’s Canticle” by David Sklar
“Nisei” by Beth Cato
“Echoes in the Dark” by Ken Liu
“Voyage to a Distant Star” by C.S.E. Cooney
“WereMoonMother” by Brittany Warman
Holy crap, amirite?
I get a free copy of this book because I’m a contributor, but I’m totally considering buying several more just to give out at Christmas LoL If you, too, are considering picking up a copy it’s currently available at a lot of places: