I also did a live reading of my Lupercalia/Valentine's horror piece, Blind Date from Happy Ghoulidays, which is available on YouTube to watch: Stories Live! Love Kills.
To thank everyone who allowed me to be a guest during my book launch for The Business of Short Stories, my beta readers, and those who helped in other ways, I invited them to send me something they'd like to share. Following are their books or blog posts they wanted to share, and hopefully a great way to pick up a new read!
Toi Thomas writes clean adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as writes and illustrates picture books. Click here to see a book trailer for her picture books. Her latest release is Why Are You Afraid?, a book that helps parents start the race conversation with their kids.
When a prominent Pismawallops Island businessman drops dead at JJ’s feet in the Have-A-Bite Bakery, there’s more on the line than catching a murderer. Can JJ save the bakery—and maintain her supply of espresso brownies?
Thank you to these folks and everyone else who helped!
Chrys Fey is doing a reading challenge this year that I intend to take part in. The Read with Fey Challenge asks that you read 10 books for writers in 2022. It started January 1 and will go through December 31.
Read with Fey: Reading Challenge for Writers
You don't have to read 10 books for writers. Set your own goal! I likely won't make it to 10, as nonfiction books take me longer to read and I have other nonfiction books to read this year, so I'm going to set my goal for 5 books for writers.
Hashtags for the challenge: #ReadWithFey #ReadWithFey2022
There's no sign up, but she does have an option for you to add yourself to the storygraph she's created. Read more at Write with Fey.
And, hey, my book counts as a book for writers, so if you've picked it up or plan to, that's one down!
Speaking of which, I have more formats available for The Business of Short Stories now, most of which are at this Books2Read universal link. For some reason I've had a lot of problem getting the Books2Read link to auto-populate, so I've had to manually add a bunch of the links. It doesn't show on this link, but the book is also available from Walmart. Check out my Publications tab for more direct links.
Are you participating in Chrys's challenge? Do you already have some books you're interested in reading for it? Have you read any of the books in this post?
My WEP post is below. But first, Jemima Pett visits to tell us 10 Things You Didn't Know About Zanzibar's Rings:
Things you Didn’t Know about Zanzibar’s Rings
for Saturn taken by Cassini-Huyghens and used for the cover of Zanzibar’s
Rings is the third book of the Viridian System series. Dolores and Maggie now
have their own businesses; Pete is occupied with his family, now settled in the
southern part of their world, Sunset Strip, and Lars is, well, Lars is
wondering what role he has now.
and Lars got rich by mining asteroids for a rare
called orichalcum. So rich they don’t plan on doing it, ever again.
Viridian System is the richest source of orichalcum in the galaxy. The asteroid
belt is considered to be the property of the two planets in the third orbital
ring, Pleasant Valley and Sunset Strip.
is essential for instantaneous communication systems. Other faster-than-light
communications systems allowed for inter-stellar navigation before the
discovery of orichalcum, but this metal with its strange properties was a game
miners still use archaic radio (speed of light) to communicate with other
spacers within the same planetary system.
Viridian System is so named because its sun, Viridium, emits a green-tinged
light. It has long been held by Earth scientists that stars cannot emit green
light, because of the way we see colour. In my science, it is green because of
the presence of orichalcum, which produces the green effect throughout the
system. In real science, astronomers have recently found something that is
pretty much green, a
star called Zubeneschamali.
is a planet in the Viridian System, in the orbit beyond the asteroid belt. It
is a gas giant with distinctive rings.
is modelled on the planet Saturn, of course. Much of what we know about Saturn
was produced by the Cassini-Huyghens mission. Cassini orbited Saturn for 13
years, and took a total of
You can browse them on the Cassini mission pages.
is light enough to float on water, if you could find an ocean big enough.
somewhere that ringed planets are now thought to be common. I didn’t find the
exact reference, but they are more common than water worlds like Earth (and
Sunset Strip). Astronomers currently think that exoplanets classed as ‘puffy’
may in fact be ringed planets, much like Saturn—and with similar
Galactic communications crisis strands several
well-loved travelers with deadly enemies and no safe way to get home…
By Jemima Pett
Zanzibar's Rings, Science Fiction, Princelings Publications, 389 pp.
A Galactic crisis: the entire comms system destroyed. No waypoints, no navigation aids, no database access… and how will spaceships in flight get home—or to any destination?
Dolores is stuck in warp with a very dangerous passenger, Pete gets his shuttle back home on manual. But how come anything in close contact with pure orichalcum fixes itself? Just flying through Zanzibar’s Rings solves the problem—as the Federation’s fighters find, as they descend on the Viridian System to take possession of the planets.
Zanzibar’s Rings brings the Viridian System series to a conclusion with a bang—and a lot of whimpering. And possibly a view of things to come.
Jemima Pett has been writing stories since she was eight, but went down the science path at school, and into a business career before retraining into environmental policy research. She wrote many manuals, papers and research documents before returning to fiction, publishing the Princelings of the East in 2011. That led to ten books in the series of the same name, written for older children. She started the Viridian System series in 2014.
Jemima reckons she read all of the science fiction in her local library, and most enjoys alternative universes, time travel, consequences of social change and unusual ideas surrounding alien species. Her favourite authors included Anne McCaffrey, Fritz Lieber, Poul Anderson, John Brunner, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C Clarke. These days she likes Becky Chambers, Matt Haig, Lindsay Buroker, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Clare O’Beara, M T McGuire, Jennifer Ellis… She also loves series – once involved with characters she loves to read their continuing adventures.
She has degrees or diplomas in maths, earth sciences and environmental technology and studied with the Unthank School of Writing while she lived in Norfolk. She now lives in Hampshire, where she enjoys rewilding her garden, raising organically grown vegetables, and birdwatching.
She would most like everyone to use their natural resources sustainably, since we only have the one planet to support us.
Twice in a row? Gasp! Check out the WEP blog for other entries.
All the Time in the World
Tagline: Sometimes love requires creative measures.
Beseeching, she drops to her knees, hands clasped so that her knuckles whiten.
He scoffs then steps around her and, without looking back, exits through the front door. A slam would have showed he had some emotion about the situation, but he closes it softly.
She expects it to feel different, but somehow that quiet click has left her feeling unsatisfied. She waits for the tears to come. Waits for the big emotions to wash over her. Waits for the grief.
Instead, that click flips a switch. A gentle sort of anger seeps through her veins, flushing up through her cheeks. Her eyes even feel hot. Then it becomes a throbbing rush. Blood roars in her ears, and she tastes blood.
No one walks out on Samantha.
She throws herself into changing things around the apartment. All that energy and rage needs to be funneled and directed. Walls come down. Walls get framed and built. Remote controlled metal shades go in. Samantha shops for brand new furnishings, including a comfy bed and two easy chairs. Bamboo sheets that are soft and cool get fitted onto the mattress. A second bathroom goes in. Security cameras go up. After all, she's a woman living alone now. Safety matters.
He doesn't call. Within a week, his mail stops arriving. Bill carriers contact her to confirm the removal of his name. The effect on her emotions is a blade to the gut every time.
Samantha meditates. She does her breathing exercises and ponders gratitude for what she has. She stretches and does yoga and goes for runs and hits the exercise bike and desperately seeks some new way to work it all out of her system.
The next step is to move his remaining belongings into the renovated guest room and let him know. She discovers that, despite her best efforts, his smell wafting up from the clothing tightens her belly. She strokes his silk ties and gently folds his sweaters. Images of him in her favorite light blue cable knit flit through her mind.
With an irritated grunt, she pushes it all back down into the emptiness inside her, sealing it up as best she can.
Finally, she texts him: All your stuff is in the guest room. I'll be gone between 2 and 4 tomorrow so you can come get it.
He replies: Got it.
With a small smile, she eats her lukewarm microwave meal and drinks a glass of wine. It will all be over soon.
The next day, she puts on a silk kimono that looks stunning with her eyes and brushes her hair until it shines. She takes painstaking care to apply her makeup. When she hears his key in the lock, she hides in the master bedroom and pulls out her phone to watch him on the security cameras.
He comes in carrying some boxes. These he sets against the entryway table long enough to dump his keys into the bowl and take off his coat. He looks like he's just coming home from work, following his usual routines. It makes her heart ache, but she steels it again, locking it back in its cage.
He's wearing a button-down shirt that hangs from his broad shoulders just right. His jeans hug him in all the right places. Just as he usually does, he slips off his loafers and nudges them under the table to keep the walkway clear. Then he grabs the boxes again and heads into what used to be the "guest room," which was actually an office with a futon previously, in case someone came to visit. No one ever did. They'd been enough for each other.
He pauses in the entryway, taking in the changes she's made. She's known him long enough to read the puzzlement in the stiff set of his frame.
He recovers quickly and steps inside, setting the boxes against the bed.
Samantha tiptoes from her room and crosses the living room. In the doorway, she arranges herself in that special way that drapes the soft fabric across her breasts and clings to her curves. He always complimented her on how she looked in it.
He turns around at the rustling behind him and his shoulders droop. "You're not supposed to be here."
"Plans change," she says. "You taught me that." With a wicked smile, she steps backward, out of the doorway, and pushes "3*" on her phone screen. The door slams shut, as do the metal shades.
He pounds uselessly on the door.
Samantha sends him a text and watches the camera until he gives up his pounding and checks his phone.
Anger thunders across his face and he flips off the camera over the door.
She sends another text: All you need is love.
He'll come around. They've got all the time in the world.
806 words. NCCO.
What do you think of the cover for Zanzibar's Rings? Have you purchased your copy? Are you participating in the WEP challenge?
Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists so writers can give and get support from fellow writers. This is your opportunity to air your insecurities without risking mockery, because this group is as supportive as they come. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and put your blog on the list. We post the first Wednesday of each month. Be sure to hop around and visit some of your fellow writers.
The optional question this month is: Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn't around anymore? Anyone you miss?
Woof. Loaded question for me after the last couple years, so I'll just say yes and leave you with a quote from my grandma after I sent her a copy of one of my horror collections: "This is a nice little book you've got here."
Jeremy and I were co-hosts of the A-to-Z Challenge years ago. In fact, my banner is the one he made me, which is why it still says I'm a host on it. I kept meaning to ask him if he could remake it without that, because I didn't want to part with the design since it's exactly what inspired the name of my blog to begin with. But I hate asking people for things, so I just kept it up despite it saying I was a host.
The team in 2012 consisted of Arlee Bird (of course), Damyanti Biswas, DL Hammons, Matthew MacNish, Elizabeth Mueller, Jenny Pearson, Konstanz Silverbow, Stephen Tremp, Tina Downey, Jeremy, Alex, and myself. Tina and I were brought onto the team after we challenged each other to visit ALL the other A-to-Z participants after the challenge had closed. We ended up running the Post A-to-Z Road Trip. I believe Jeremy made us a graphic for that, as well, but I don't seem to have it anymore.
There was a fun trio with Jeremy, Tina, and I during our tenure with the challenge. A lot of joking around. Unfortunately, we lost Tina several years ago. I hope their friendship can continue now.
One of our points of connection was movies and old movie theaters. It was fun discussing our experiences, each with a different old theater (mine was the Elsinore in Oregon, which reverted back to being a playhouse and now may be closed, IIRC; his had been a vaudeville theater, but I don't know the name). We'd both worked in theaters, as well. At one point, Jeremy donated a canvas art piece of his to the conference where I volunteered, Pikes Peak Writers Conference, for a silent auction to raise funds for the organization.
In the last couple years we spoke mostly via Facebook and weren't as close as we'd once been, simply by virtue of distance and no longer working together. My heart goes out to those who were closer to him and to his family. He was fun, genuine, and kind, and his absence leaves a hole in the online community that can't be filled, just as Tina's did. They were both far too young to be gone and had so much to give the world with their presence.
My newest book came out yesterday! I'm so excited to share this book with you!
Whether you're looking to add short stories to your repertoire as a solo pursuit or in addition to novel writing, The Business of Short Stories covers every aspect from writing to marketing. Learn the dynamics of short story writing, where to focus your editing efforts, how and where to submit, how to handle acceptances and rejections, what to do with reprints, and how to market yourself and your stories online and in person. The information in The Business of Short Stories has been distilled from over a decade of short story publishing experience so you don't have to learn the hard way. You'll find information on submission formatting, cover letters, querying a collection, sending proposals to writing events, how to create a website, SEO, social media, and so much more. This is an invaluable resource for short story writers.
There's never been a better time to get into short stories!