Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Free Online Fiction: For Solo Cello, op. 12

Art for I’m delighted to announce that Cosmos has posted my story “For Solo Cello, op. 12” live and free on their website. This originally appeared in Issue 13 of COSMOS back in March 2007.

His keys dropped, rattling on the parquet floor. Julius stared at them, unwilling to look at the bandaged stump where two weeks ago his left hand had been. He should be used to it by now. He should not still be trying to pass things from his right hand to his left. But it still felt as if his hand were there.

Senses Five Press needs Subway maps

The folks over at Senses Five Press are planning a party at World Fantasy and want to decorate with subway maps. Check out the deal they are offering.

If you send me a subway map, I’ll send you a free issue of Sybil’s Garage. If you live outside of the US, to compensate for higher postage costs, I’ll send you two issues. (If you have all the issues so far, I can send you the new one when it comes out.)

Having just finished the latest issue of Sybil’s garage, which contains loads of good fiction, I can tell you that this is a really good deal.

Finally finished “The Bride Replete”

I just typed “end” on “The Bride Replete” and it’s only 13742 words long. That’s a mere 5742 words longer than I was aiming for. I have some holes to patch which currently contain notes in handy [brackets] and then massive trimming. It’s unlikely that I will get it anywhere close to 8000 words, but it can certainly be shorter than this monster.

Mostly there’s a tremendous sense of relief to finally have closure.

Sold! – “Evil Robot Monkey” to Solaris

Solaris has purchased my short story “Evil Robot Monkey” for The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume 2.

I couldn’t be more pleased. I had a long chat with the Solaris gentlemen, George Mann and Christian Dunn, at Readercon about robot monkeys. It was bar conversation, but I just happened to have this short called “Evil Robot Monkey” and on a whim I sent it over thinking they would get a laugh out of the title.

I didn’t realize that they were actively reading for an anthology.

Behold! A sale. Remember back when I was watching the paint dry and said I had three good things I couldn’t mention yet? This is number 2.

Here’s a teaser snippet of the first few lines for you.

Sliding his hands over the clay, Sly relished the moisture oozing around his fingers. The clay matted down the hair on the back of his hands making them look almost human. He turned the potter’s wheel with his prehensile feet as he shaped the vase. Pinching the clay between his fingers he lifted the wall of the vase, spinning it higher.

I’ll let you know when the book is available for pre-order.

Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest

Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest is having a Halloween raffle. Check it out.

You’ll find nothing but TREATS here, guaranteed! Here’s a chance to fill your pillowcase with all sorts of goodies, including rare items from some of the biggest names in the field. For only $1.00 per ticket. And, a percentage of all proceeds made will go to the National Center for Family Literacy!

One “ticket” will be selected as the winner for each item. So, the more “tickets” you buy, the greater your chances… Winners announced on Halloween at midnight . To bid on any of the fantastic items, just visit and simply put a “1” in the quantity field (for a charge of just $1). For a better chance at winning your item, just put in a “2” or a “3” (or a “20”) and your chances will increase accordingly! Good luck!

This is just some of what you’ll find to bid on:

* In-depth short story critiques offered by famed writers and editors.
* Copy edited original manuscript of Titan signed by Ben Bova.
* Signed HCs of Homebody, Magic Street or Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card.
* Signed MMPB of The Keeper by Sara Langan.
* Signed TPB French edition of The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum.
* Promotional Moral Orel photo or t-shirt signed by actress Carolyn Lawrence (voice of Orel).
* Signed copies of award winning writer M.M. Buckner’s: Hyperthought, Neurolink, and War Surf.
* Original hand-written poem framed with signed photo of Grim Trixter author Brandy Schwan.
* Signed reader’s copies of Mary Doria Russell’s new novel Dreamers of the Day.
* Awesome stuff from Aradani Studios (Paul and Michael Bielaczyc).
* Signed, HC limited edition copy of Dreadful Skin by Cherie Priest.
* Giant gift box from including videos, shirts, etc.
* Signed copies of Steven Savile’s Warhammer trilogy: Retribution, Dominion, and Inheritance .
* Three signed, sexy PR photos of author Angeline Hawkes-Fulbright.
* HC of DUNE: The Machine Crusade or Ignition signed by co-author Kevin J. Anderson.
* Signed, HC of Metal Swarm by author Kevin J. Anderson. This is the UK edition.
* Signed, MMPB of The Freakshow by Bryan Smith.
* Signed Tales of… pack by Geoffrey Girard: Atlantic Pirates, Jersey Devil, and Eastern Indians.
* One year subscription to Shimmer Magazine
* Signed & Limited Edition of I Sing the Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury (retail value of $150).
* Signed copies of The Magic Goblet and The Magic Ring edited by Dr. Amy H Sturgis.
* HC of The Last Rakosh by F. Paul Wilson.
* TPB of Wet Work by Philip Nutman.
* Signed, limited HC of Offspring by Jack Ketchum.
* Signed Sterling Edition (publisher’s copy with slipcase) of The Tery by F. Paul Wilson.
* Galaxy Press/Writers of the Future Educators Pack – many books!
* Blood-signed (by contributor Jodi Lee) TPB of Echoes of Terror anthology.
* Extended Play: The Elastic Book of Music anthology edited by Gary Couzens.
* Abaddon Books Gift Pack – many books!
* Autographed ARC of Robert McCammon’s Speaks the Nightbird.
* Brian Keene pack: The Rising, City of the Dead, Terminal, Ghoul, Conqueror Worms, and Dead Sea .
* And much, much more………

Shimmer‘s Pirate Issue, Trailer

Ye sly whiskered dog, ye can pre-order yer copy o’ Shimmer today. What better way to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day?

I’ll tell you what’s better: It’s a double-issue. 136 pages of piratical fiction.

I also have to say that I loved working with Sean Markey on making this trailer. He created the original music for it. And if you like the art in this, by James A. Owen, wait until you see the rest of the issue. Every story is illustrated.

Tangent Online reviews Talebones, #35, Summer 2007

Michele Lee at Tangent Online reviews Talebones, #35, Summer 2007. About my story, she says:

“Death Comes But Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal is a style of horror (with a spike of science fiction) not seen often today. Obviously rooted in classics like Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this tale of a medical experiment to ward off death addresses the reader directly and has a dark finale and the fine writing that readers have come to expect from Kowal.

I have to say that I’m really relieved that she recognized it as science-fiction, even though it’s way, way, way old school. I had in fact just been in a production of Jekyll and Hyde and had that startling moment of epiphany when I realized that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote science fiction. And snobby people say the science fiction can’t be literature. Feh.

Escape Pod — EP116: Ej-Es

I often listen to Escape Pod as I’m working, but it goes in fits and starts depending on if I’m working on language based things or not. Lately, I’ve had a lot of work that doesn’t use the verbal part of my brain and the short fiction at Escape Pod is perfect. I’ve just finished listening to Escape Pod 116: “Ej-Es” by Nancy Kress. This is beautifully read by Sheri Mann Stewart and raises serious ethical questions. It explores human nature in a way that perfectly demonstrates why I read and write speculative fiction.

By standing on the stage of the possible, we can explore thorny ethical and moral dilemmas. Take some time and go listen to “Ej-Es.” I promise that it will make you think.

Strange Horizons Podcast interviews me

Last week I spent an enjoyable hour being interviewedby Susan Marie Groppi for Strange Horizons‘ podcast. Susan was my editor for “Bound Man,” in Twenty Epics and also “Portrait of Ari” for Strange Horizons.

In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Susan Marie Groppi spoke with Mary Robinette Kowal. Mary is a puppeteer and writer, and she is also the art director of Shimmer magazine.

More mossEdited to add: I was just listening to this to make sure I didn’t sound like an idiot. Which I mostly don’t, until I try to speak a little Icelandic. In fact, I talk about Iceland a bit and figured I would throw some visual aids up here. If you’ve listened to the podcast and want to know what the Land of a Thousand Throw Pillows looks like, it looks like this.

See! I wasn’t exaggerating my description, was I.

Susan was a really gracious host to the podcast. The only thing she seems to have cut was my closing remark, which was something along the lines of “Strange Horizons is one of the best things going for short fiction.”

Adventures in Reading reviews Horizontal Rain

Golly, it’s a banner week for reviews. Joe Sherry, at Adventures in Reading, reviewed “Horizontal Rain.”

Here’s a snippet.

Horizontal Rain is a reasonably short short-story, fewer than 2700 words, but Mary Robinette Kowal packs a good deal of story into those 2700 words. Confusion, fear, fairy tales, trolls, death, driving, construction, meetings, phone calls, and a general sense of unease as the harsh Icelandic wind blows the rain sideways.

If you’d like to read the story, it’s at Apex Online.

Mr. Sherry also posted his dream list of authors to invite for an anthology. Lord help me, I have no idea what sorting criteria could possibly have put me on the list at number two. Still, I like his day dream.

It’s an interesting mental game, isn’t it. Who would you invite to your dream anthology?

SFWA: To be or not to be

Lisa Mantchev, who I adore, posted this on her blog in regard to the vice President of SFWA’s recent action

I want to know what it’s going to take to organize a new Genre Writers’ Guild.

One that promotes the work of the up-and-coming writer as well as the old guard.

One that recognizes the power of teh internetz as a promotional tool, and is open to new formats–including, but not limited to–CCL.

One that fosters and encourages creativity and speculation and all of the things that fantasy and science fiction stands for.

What does it take? Where do I sign up? Let’s cease trying to fix something that is broken–at least, by MY definition of the word, because it is no longer serving/meeting MY needs as a writer.

Make a list, people. Let’s get this ball rolling.

In comments, I posted this response.:

I have to say that I think this is not a good idea.

They have screwed up royally, but the organization already has name recognition and relationships with publishers. Do you know how long it will take to wrest power away to an upstart organization? Years. Meanwhile, what we would then have is yet another schism which would weaken the power of both groups. And then, in ten years, when you have established a reputation and are making a difference, some group of misfits will be elected and screw things up. Thank you, I’ve seen this done with other groups. It makes you feel good now…

Or, you can put all of this energy into getting a really vibrant group of people to run for SFWA next year. Start campaigning now.

You don’t like the way the organization is being run? You’ll note that these candidates ran uncontested until the last possible moment. I personally didn’t notice anyone trying to fix something that was broken. I just see people complaining about it.

I’m planning on running for office.

Best of Apex Digest 2006

Apex Best of 2006Look! There’s a sale on Best of Apex Digest 2006, which has a story by me in it. If you’ve been wanting to try more short fiction, but aren’t up to committing to a subscription, this should be a good sampler.

Enjoy eight of the best stories published by Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest during 2006. Picked by the Apex editors, these stories exemplify the quality and content that makes Apex Digest such a unique presence in the genre.

As a bonus, each story is preceded by an appreciation from an Apex editor or from an editor of other popular genre magazines.

Approximately 112 pages, this title is only available through the Apex Shopping Mall.
Table of Contents (editor appreciation in parentheses)
”Starfish” by Steve Parker (Gill Ainsworth)
”Queen of Stars” by Bryn Sparks (Jodi Lee)
”Blood Baby” by Jennifer Pelland (Deb Taber)
”Cerbo en Vitra ujo” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Alethea Kontis)
”Indigestion” by Robby Sparks (Bailey Hunter – Dark Recesses)
”That Old Sandlands Fever” by Douglas Warrick (Mari Adkins)
”How to Raise a Human” by Deb Taber (Beth Wodzinski – Shimmer Magazine)
”Genesis Six” by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (James Beach – Dark Discoveries)

The appreciation that Alethea did for my story made me all weepy. It’s much sweeter than one would expect for a horror story appreciation.

Edited to add:
Right after I posted this the mailman arrived with five copies of this anthology for me.

Charlies Diary: Tools of the Trade: Readings

Charles Stross has some excellent advice on Readings. Check it out.

A friend, who recently sold her first novel, wrote to me paraphrased: “help I’m supposed to be giving a reading from my work at a science fiction convention. What do I do?”

Readings, like signings, are one of the epiphenomena of writing: not a central part of the business, but people give you funny looks if your first reaction on being invited to do one is to shriek and hide up a tree.

Marketing short fiction

Douglas Cohen has posted about having a subscription drive for short fiction genre magazines. Now, working on a small press magazine, Shimmer, I certainly support the idea of wanting more people to buy our magazine, but I think that the subscription drive is a matter of looking at the symptoms rather than the cause.

The problem is that fewer people are buying short story magazines these days. As Doug says, “…the short story market is dying. ” The question I don’t see anyone asking is: Why aren’t readers buying short fiction?

I’ll tell you what I think. I think it’s because genre fiction markets tend to be poorly designed and marketed. They tend to have people running them for the love, and not with any understanding of marketing or business. When an editor answers the question, “What’s your target market?” with “I don’t know, I just buy what I like,” that’s an editor who is not going to sell magazines. I’ve heard editors say this. It makes me crazy.

Look people. I made my living for the past seventeen years selling puppet shows. I know about marketing things that people don’t think they want. Things that people have preconceptions about. I’ll tell you that I’ve seen theaters run as non-profits and as for-profits. You know what’s interesting? The for-profits make money. Those folks who say, “I’m not doing this to make money,” won’t make money. When short fiction markets are run as a business with the intention of making money, then you will see them make money. And you will see changes.

Allow me to voice something that I have thought for a while and that no one else seems to be willing to say in public. And lord knows it will not make me popular. Here goes… The design of F & SF is dowdy. It is old and it will not appeal to young readers. It looks the way it did when I was in high school — twenty years ago. Have you picked up Asimov‘s? Analog? Do you see anything that will make a teenager want to own it? Heck, even want to be seen carrying it?


It’s not that I think these magazines need to cater exclusively to teens, but all markets need to recognize that what their target demographic finds appealing changes as new generations grow into that demographic range. Fashions change and we, as a genre, aren’t keeping up with the times.

You want more readers for short fiction? Then answer this question for me: Why don’t you buy short fiction magazines?

Now answer this one. What would it take to make you change your mind about reading short fiction?

Shimmer, Vol. 2, Iss. 2: A Review

Shimmer, Winter 07 cover
Here I am, in the middle of laying out the Art Issue of Shimmer and stumble across this lovely, lovely review of our Winter issue.

Do you like fables? Fairy tales? Mythic Realism? Writers like Patricia McKillip, Charles DeLint, and Neil Gaiman at his most fantastical? Then you’ll like Shimmer, I believe. It is a beautiful little zine, perfect bound, with eight art and nine fiction pieces (and one interview); around 80 pages of content when you subtract the front and back matter. I’m not sure about their other issues, but I was left shaking my head wondering if I would ever be able to write as beautifully as the authors included in this issue of Shimmer. I believe the readers and editors did a fine job of choosing material. In some cases it was like reading tapestry.

There’s more! She goes on to say more very nice things about the whole issue–and notices the artists in particular, which always makes me happy.

The Art IssueAnd if the art in that issue is good, wait until you see the Art Issue. I got to pick gorgeous art and then we asked some of our favorite authors to write stories to fit the art. Just take a sneak peek at this cover by none other than John Picacio. (He’s up for a Hugo, so wish him luck.)

Every piece of art in this issue is something that I’ve drooled over and coveted since I first saw it. Behold! I managed to convince the board to let us flip the usual artist and writer relationship on its head. The stories that we got out of this experiment are by turns chilling and beautiful. I’ll post a trailer for the issue early next week.