I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for a bit, so it’s great to be able to pop up and report that my story “Hero #8” is now available in Tavern Tales, the latest issue of Fiction River. This volume is edited by Kerri Hughes, who has quite an interesting taste in fiction. This means that if you pick up this anthology, you’re not going to be able to tell what’s coming next, but you’re pretty sure it’s going to go somewhere you didn’t quite expect.
Of course, if you scan down the table of contents (which I’ll list after the cover shot) you’ll find a few of my other favorite authors, including Lisa Silverthorne and (of course!) Brigid Collins…hmmm…where have I heard that name before?
Anyway, here’s the obligatory cover!
And here’s the Table of Contents!
“Quest for Beer” by Stefon Mears
“Closing the Big Bang” by Michèle Laframboise
“Hero #8” by Ron Collins
“Girls That Glitter” by Dayle A. Dermatis
“The Kids Keep Coming” by David H. Hendrickson
“One Last Round at Cozy’s Tavern” by Lisa Silverthorne
“Wider Horizons” by Diana Benedict
“Grounds for Dismissal” by Anthea Sharp
“The Next Dance” by Jamie Ferguson
“Schrodinger’s Bar” by Kim May
“The Gods Are Out Inn” by M. L. Buchman
“The First Ingredient” by Eric Kent Edstrom
“The Legend of Long-Bow and Short-Staff” by Brenda Carre
“Freedom Unbound” by Dory Crowe
“Killing Spree” by Brigid Collins
“The Hot Eagle Roadhouse” by Chuck Heintzelman
“Death at the Pines” by Annie Reed
Bundles are the rage, right? And Christmas seems like such a natural subject for a bundle, am I right again? I mean, what better way to celebrate finding a bunch of great stories than to have Santa bundle them all together, give you the opportunity to give to charity (does anybody remember charity?), and deliver them early to boot!
That’s a slick way of saying that my science fiction Christmas story “A Corner of the Mind” is now sitting quite comfortably in the Very Merry Christmas bundle–now available at Bundle Rabbit.
To give you a flavor of “A Corner of the Mind,” here’s the back cover blurb (with an inside hint that the first chunk does double duty as the first two sentences of the story itself.
How many times have you heard the saying: “If the walls had ears and could talk, what tales they would tell?” Well, they do, and I’m one. So let me tell you about the young boy who often does time here in one of my corners…
CORNER OF THE MIND is a Christmas mystery set in space. If that sounds like your slice of pie, come on in.
Well…go pick your bundle up, then unwrap it and see for yourself what a solid set of stories are in there! You don’t even have to wait until December 25th!
It’s always great to be able to note that something I wrote has been published, and even more so given that GE is edited by Mike Resnick—a guy who was so helpful to me early in my writing days. It’s a thrill to be associated with anything Mike does. Then there’s the table of contents chock full of names that are mega-familiar to a whole lotta folks. Among the coolest things about this whole writing gigs is seeing my name in the mix with so many writing heroes.
“Ten Things” is a weird little thing. I kinda like it, of course. Hope you do to.
Whew, I say, pushing my head above water just in time to see the publication of my short story “Love Powders and Wicked Witches” in the Witches’ Brew bundle. It’s October, right? Totally makes sense. On the other hand, Holy goodness, but where has time gone?
Anyway, all I have to do to get excited about this bundle is to scan the list of authors included in it. This is a group of great stories by a whole lot of writers I really love. I mean, seriously, the seven writers in just the “base bundle” are Lisa Silverthorne, Leslie Clair Walker, Eric Edstrom, Bonnie Elizabeth, Thea Hutchinson, and…hmmm…who is this Brigid Collins? (very big, sheepish grin). And me, of course…I’m in there, too! These are people who catch my eye every time they put out something new. And that’s before you get to the “extra” content. Twenty stories for six bucks? Sign me the heck up.
As with most bundles, you get to pick your content and, to an extent, your price. You also get to decide if 10% of your hard earned cash goes to one of a pair of charities (in this case, World Vets or Doctors Without Borders). What a great set-up, right?
My own story is a fun little piece that came out of literally nowhere. That how it is sometimes, you know? Take one witch, and one woman with a problem, mix generously and see what happens.
Let me also give a special call-out to Jamie Ferguson, who has done a spectacular job curating and managing the development of this bundle of short fiction. I would suggest “Herds cats with exceptional excellence” should be on her permanent resume.
Yes, I’m playing catch-up again. It’s a never-ending battle, eh?
I’m pleased to note that a short story of mine is in a very cool bundle of “Fantasy in the City.” It’s a great collection of urban fantasy work that ranges from sweet and light-hearted to quite deep and moody. And the authors–wow. Inside you’ll find several of my favorites (and I mean exactly that). I can’t tell you how great it is to be with these folks.
My story is “Learning the Language.” Look for notes about it below the poster board that follows.
If you’ve looked at bundles before, you know the deal. Get 8 stories for $2.99, but pay at least $3.99 and unlock all the rest. You can download the stories in whatever format you want.
“Learning the Language” holds an important place in my heart.
I wrote this story some years back, before I had sold anything at all, actually. I had to send something to a workshop at a science fiction convention, so this is what I wrote. I knew I liked it. I knew it was good in a dangerous kind of way. Dennis McKiernan and Tim Waggoner were running the workshop, and the very kind and enthusiastic confirmation was exactly what I needed at the time. I left that workshop thinking I might actually be able to do this. Hence I’ve dedicated this edition of the story to them.
It’s a strange tale. I remember Lisa (my wife and copy editor) said she read it with one hand over the manuscript to make sure she didn’t see how what was coming next. One of the very kind reviews my collection “Picasso’s Cat & Other Stories” received said “one of the great things about science fiction is latitude, and Collins explores a whole new dimension in the surreal story “Learning the Language.” So, yes, the piece was different. Different enough that it would its way over the desks of several editors before landing in the Land/Space anthology published by Candace Dorsey and Judy McCrosky–which I have to say was a perfect place for it.
So, yeah, I’m quite stoked to see it in this bundle.
It’s a happy Friday when Kobo decides to give 50% off for all my stuff! (Assuming, that is, you’re a reader in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, or South Africa, anyway). I hear you, my friends. I really do. You’re asking me, “Ron, how does one go about getting this fantastic discount?” And my answer is this: you fill up your sales cart by clicking on the links below, and then as you’re checking out you enter:
Promo Code: SALE50
You can use this code multiple times from now through August 31st, so if you’ve been waiting for just such an event, this seems like a great time to pick up a copy of work like:
I’m taking a break to catch up on some stuff this afternoon, and I’m quite pleased to show you the cover to 2113, an anthology of stories based on songs by Rush. You may remember that this volume will include a short story of mine titled “A Patch of Blue” (which is based on the ultra-cool song “Natural Science”).
I’m totally stoked about this one.
How stoked? Well … so stoked that if I had a time machine right now, I would hop in it and go back to a night in, say, 1980 when I would invariably be down in Charlie Stonefield’s basement with my brother, playing pool and using the cues to play air guitar along with Rush (among others). And when I got there, I would open my laptop and show me this cover and just watch myself go into fits when I learned that I would have a story in this thing. I’m grinning just imagining that now. I can see the guys high-fiving and cranking up the record player.
This story is actually a bit of a favorite of mine because it came to me in what was essentially a single sitting (with another pass or two rub out some raw edges here and there). This kind of thing doesn’t happen too often with me, so I need to enjoy them when they arrive.
That said, this issue is also a favorite of mine, merely because of all the other really cool writers you’ll find inside its pages. It’s also pretty cool because you can read it for free and all that. So, uh, yeah … go forth and get to it!
I’m just the teensiest bit delinquent in reminding folks that sometime shortly (meaning sometime in May), my short story “The Grand Dangoolie” will be appearing in the anthology, Alchemy and Steam–which is part of the very cool Fiction River series. This is a subscription-based family of anthologies edited by a variety of people (hence, it comes with a diversity of tastes and in a wide array of genres). It’s delivered every other month. Subscribers get some pretty cool stories by names they know and by some “fresh faces” who can really write.
I’ve read the stories in Alchemy and Steam and think they’re quite yummy in that very Steampunky Kinda way that the title suggests it will be. My own offering was a total blast to write, and is informed by the idea of how one might think about power–magical or not–and the lengths people will go to to discover, steal, or even protect it. Not that this kind of thing matters today. No. Not a chance, right?
You can find a lot more about Fiction River, as well as subscribe to it, right here. In the meantime, here’s a cover-shot of Alchemy and Steam, which is edited by Kerrie L. Hughes.
I’m thinking about short stories today, specifically individual stories, collections, and magazines. And I’m thinking about their relationships to music—or at least to the way music is absorbed today vs. how it was absorbed when I was a kid. I’m thinking about this because for the past few weeks I’ve really gotten into listening to albums while I work.
Today, for example, I queued up Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders debut The Pretenders, and U2s debut Boy, and then Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.
This actually started back a little while ago when I tweeted that:
In my post-corporate quest to catch up on culture, I've now found Garbage. So that means I'm only 20 or so years out of date now.
I got a little flack from Lisa about this because Garbage is on the routine playlist at Radio Paradise, which is a service we listen to a lot. But when I said I had found Garbage, I didn’t mean they were new ideas to me. I knew who garbage was, and I was quite familiar with Shirley Manson before she had her terminator gig, thank you very much.
What I meant, however, was that I was actually paying a lot of attention to them now—and what that means to me was that I was listening to their full albums, that I was digging on their sound and starting to understand the thing that they really are. Whatever that is.
The album, it turns out, is a forum of music that is important to me. As I think about it in truth I don’t think I really consume music on the basis of individual songs. Not really. I mean, of course I listen to stuff on the radio, and I can dig a good one-time groove as well as the next guy. But I don’t know if I really register a piece of music until I hear in context of everything else the musicians do.
The radio is basically noise you put on in the background.
Albums are music. Albums are the way a band speaks to their audience. Song placement, riff structure, the way pieces sound as they come together. The feeling of an album can be visceral. There are pieces today, individual songs, that don’t sound right when they aren’t followed by the right companion (as I write this, RP is playing the Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues,” and I’ll feel weird when it’s not followed up by “Factory Girl” … but that’s no hangin’ matter, I guess).
…but I digress.
Maybe this says that the group matters to me, or to be more specific, the artist. Maybe I mean the artist cannot be separate from the art.
Or maybe I’ve just come to this weirdness because when I was a kid the primary form I wanted to hear music in was an album side. You get it, right? The album side? The Stones Love You Live, side three. Lou Reed’s Rock & Roll Animal, side one. The Who Who’s Next … you get the idea. You put an album side on and you let it play. Eighteen minutes or so later, you flipped it—or, if you had a cool auto-play function on your kick-ass set, another side of another album could fall without you touching it.
An album meant something. It had a place, a time, and a story. The best ones, the ones that mattered the most, had a purpose. A statement. A reason for being here, and a reason for being made together. Sometimes they were meta-statements on the band itself (Fleetwood Mac, anyone?). Sometimes they were commentary on a piece of politics (CSNY?), or a place and time (Surrealistic Pillow?).
I was thinking about that today when I was listening to the Pretenders—a band that took me awhile to warm to because at first all I heard was “Brass in Pocket,” which was okay, but a bit eh. I forgot, however, how remarkable that whole debut album was when it just played. It’s a glorious work made by people with an interesting take on the world. It’s got a few singles on it, a few pieces that are good on their own, and that a lot of people will nod and say “hey, the Pretenders,” when they come on. But they are not the Pretenders to me. The Pretenders come alive when you hear the whole thing.
But, as I said above, what I want to talk about today is short fiction, collections, and magazines.
It’s like this. I love short fiction. I do. In my perfect world, there would be almost no long fiction. It’s hard for me to put in the hours and hours it takes to read novels, and to be honest, I personally just love the art form of the short story. A well-done short story is like a hit of wonder drug to me. It makes me think. A remarkable short story—just like a remarkable song—can make me step back and change how I feel inside.
And, I like magazines. I do.
But to be truthful, they feel like mix-tapes.
I pick ’em up and I read them, and then I’m done. I never pick up a magazine and read it again. Oh, sure, on rare occasions I’ll be looking for a specific story from the past, and go hunting for a magazine, and then I’ll read that specific story. But I can’t ever remember picking up a magazine and re-reading it. Doesn’t happen … and that’s why I think their comparison in music is the mix-tape, only in this case, the mix-tape is curated by an editor. Maybe that makes it a playlist in today’s world. You’re reading an editor’s playlist.
Don’t get me wrong. I like reading these playlists, just like I liked making mix-tapes.
But, while I’ve made a bunch of mix-tapes in my life, I don’t know that I listened to them very many times. So, Magazines are mix-tapes. And maybe that means that review magazines and whatnot are the closest thing to “radio,” the short fiction world has. Radio being one of the ways you heard of something you might want to look at more closely.
So, yeah. Magazine = mix-tape.
Collections, though, are albums.
I made that connection today. Collections, when done well, have a purpose, they have an essence as a whole that is built off the interaction of the individuals. And, sure, I know a lot of people don’t read collections straight through (I don’t sometimes). But even then, they still speak together of the artist.
Unlike magazines, there are collections that I’ll pick up and read over and over again. Often.
I mean, works like Karen Joy Fowler’s Black Glass, Harlan Ellison’s Death Bird Stories, and Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things to identify three you’ve maybe heard of. Amy Casil’s Without Absolution, and Lisa Silverthorne’s The Sound of Angels to name a couple you may not be as familiar with.
A collection tells you something about the writer that a story doesn’t. A story can be misleading, after all. It can be fickle. A story can lie about the author, because a story is filled with characters who work on their own agendas, and a story has a message of its own that is certainly coming from inside the writer but that one can’t tell exactly how invested the writer might be in that thing he or she has created. Stories are strange.
But a collection has a tone. If it’s well created, it has a flavor. A collection helps the reader see what parts of one story or another come from places inside the author, and which parts might be the characters speaking through that authorial veil. A collection is that writer speaking directly to his or her audience.
In a just world, the short story collection would be something people would hold up for inspection. In a just world, there would be a Hugo for such a thing (and it would not be bastardized or attacked or whatever is going on with the others today). In a just world, the collection would sell well.
Of course, in a just world, musicians and bands would still be primarily known for the album.