Fairy Tale Flash

I was able to complete a side project I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Tales From the Black Dog was the first, though only the lovely folk on my email list can see that one. Regardless, as I’ve written more flash fiction over the last few years I’ve noticed certain themes emerge. Not too surprising that many of them were twisted takes on traditional fairy tales…not to mention new ones, the kind of things I often did for the late and still lamented Realms of Fantasy magazine, Shawna McCarthy editing. The flash writing group has given me an outlet for that sort of thing which otherwise doesn’t exist at the moment. Maybe one day. But until then, I have to take care of business myself.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying I’ve put together another collection of my flash fiction, Fairy Tale Flash: Fractured Fables Old and New. It’s available on Amazon at the moment. The Apple Books and Kobo and Nook editions take longer to get through the system. I’ll make those links available as soon as I have them.

There are 21 stories total, 500 words each…oh heck, I’ll do the math: just under 11000 words total. And I used to think telling a story in 1500 words or fewer was hard.

Well, okay. It is. Writing anything well is hard. But I will say it does teach one to cut to the chase…even more than I thought I already knew.

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Fairy Gold


“She pulled a white shirt out of her basket. Or rather, it had once been white, I judged. Now it was covered in blood.

You might be wondering, about now, why I didn’t very quickly slip out of the 4th Street Laundry and call the cops. Seems obvious, right? She’s killed someone, probably a boyfriend or girlfriend, and is cleaning up the evidence. That’s what anyone would think, but then I’m not anyone. She saw me, and very few people can. That proved she wasn’t just anyone, either. The final proof came when she produced gold coins when it came time to feed the machines. Large, antique-looking coins that should never have fit in those dinky quarter slots, and yet somehow became whatever the machine, in its low-level mechanical understanding, expected.

Fairy gold.”


I just finished a new story. I would be prouder of this if it hadn’t taken almost three months, which for its length is about two and half months longer than it should have. There are reasons, of course, not even counting the medical incident. There are always reasons to keep you from getting your work done, and few aside from your own will and drive to counter them. So I’m not especially proud of myself. I could have done better sooner. However, at least I did get the story done. In rough, but that’s more than half the battle. Rewriting/editing is merely painful by comparison.

So, what to do with it? Haven’t a clue at the moment. It’s the sort of thing Shawna McCarthy might have bought for ROF (or will be, once I get it cleaned up properly), but that’s in the past, so there’s no point looking there. I’m just not sure where the future is at the moment. I can only hope that there is one. I have to find it, though. It’s the kind of thing we all have to do, at some point. The path that was clear suddenly isn’t. A hope gets dashed, or you simply get turned away from one direction toward another. Life always intervenes and plans gang oft agley. Just ask the mouse. Doesn’t matter. All you can do is keep working.

Regardless, as has been said in many other contexts—you can’t win if you don’t play.

Don’t Fear the Kitten

This came up in another writer’s blog some time ago, was discussed roundly there, and keeps coming up so I’m going to talk about it here, too. The question was about whether to add a certain element — in this case a kitten, but it could as easily been something else equally dangerous: a certain character, explicit sex, non-standard gender roles — knowing even as you do so that it will make the story harder to sell. To emphasize the point, an editor pointed out how hard it indeed would be to sell any such story to him. Not impossible, but very very hard. My position is: if the kitten is required then put the kitten in and damn the consequences.

I can be dogmatic at times (Gee, ya think?), but I know there are times when compromise is required. We don’t live anywhere near Perfect, as the drug store ads used to remind us constantly. And yet…there’s a limit. There has to be. Trends fade. Today’s hot topic is tomorrow’s fishwrap. Prejudices morph. “Marketability” is a will-o-wisp if ever there was one, and trying to second-guess and anticipate it leads to bog-downs and hackdom. Continue reading

The Final Tally

I got an email this morning from the owners of Realms of Fantasy officially releasing the last two stories of mine that had been contracted for the magazine. If those two had been published I’d have had 27 stories there, total. As it was, the final count was 25. it’s possilble that someone may have published more stories there than I did, but off the top of my head I can’t think who it might be. As Theodora Goss pointed out elsewhere, with the loss of ROF and the combining of Fantasy Magazine and LightSpeed, there are no more “generalist” fantasy-only fiction magazines, and that’s a shame. There’s Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Black Gate but both are a bit more specialized in adventure and S&S-type fantasy. Realms of Fantasy under Shawna McCarthy was far more ecumenical, and ran the gamut, which is something I like to do in my work as well. We were a good fit.

For the record, here’s the list of every story I published in Realms of Fantasy over 16 years:

  1. “The Last Waltz,” February 1995
  2. “The Right Sort of Flea,” April 1997
  3. “Lord Madoc and the Red Knight,” December 1997
  4. “Take a Long Step,” April 1999
  5. “How Konti Scrounged the World,” February 2000
  6. “The Fourth Law of Power,” August 2000
  7. “Judgment Day,” October 2000
  8. “The Trickster’s Wife,” February 2001
  9. “The First Law of Power,” June 2001
  10. “A Respectful Silence,” December 2001
  11. “Kallisti,” April 2002
  12. “Worshipping Small Gods,” August 2003
  13. “Yamabushi,” December 2003
  14. “The Right God,” August 2004
  15. “Death, the Devil, and the Lady in White,” April 2005
  16. “Fox Tails,” June 2005 (The first Lord Yamada story)
  17. “The Penultimate Riddle,” August 2005
  18. “Empty Places,” December 2005
  19. “Moon Viewing at Shiji Bridge,” April 2006
  20. “A Touch of Hell,” April 2007
  21. “Hot Water,” December 2007
  22. “On the Banks of the River of Heaven,” April 2008
  23. “The River of Three Crossings,” February 2009
  24. “A Road Once Traveled,” December 2009
  25. “The Swan Troika,” February 2011

Not a bad list. I only wish it could have been longer.


Realms of Fantasy-A Personal Eulogy

Magazines are born and die. This is a fact in and out of the field. I found myself making a list of just the print magazines I have known that are no longer here. In no particular order:

Twilight Zone Magazine

Amazing SF
Fantastic Stories
Adventures of Sword & Sorcery
American Fantasy Magazine
SF Age
Tomorrow: SF
Quantum SF
Pirate Writings
Fantasy Book
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine

I’m sure I’m missing a few (dozen), and that’s just the print list. Online/electronic hasn’t been immune either (Sci-Fi.Com, Aeon, Future Orbits, etc). That’s reality. I know it and you guys know it. Some of these paid well, some hardly paid at all. Some had more prestige and influence than their circulations would suggest, but one and all they’re gone now and every one was a loss in its own right. Now we can add Realms of Fantasy (RoF)to that very long list. Continue reading