The Infernal Clock

My flash fiction buddies have been up to their old shenanigans, and after a random episode of tweeting brilliance, David Shakes came up with another cool flash fiction book concept, The Infernal Clock, a horror story for each hour of the day.

My hour, assigned late in the game, was 2 a.m. I have played around with horror as an exercise over the years, but I admit, I find it one of the hardest genres as a writer. My story, Karen’s Babies, was one of many stories I have written in my life to which I didn’t want to attach my name. But, I took a deep breath and did it anyway, as an exercise in detaching from my creations. Just because I wrote something dark and twisted, it doesn’t mean I am dark and twisted.

Right?

I had the privilege of working with David Shakes and Steph Ellis, the curators of this volume, to produce the final product in e-book and print form. The incomparable Tamara Rogers made the cover.

get e-book here

get print book here

INfernal Clock Kindle Cover

 

 

Upcoming Flash Fiction Contest at LCP

Alert to all FlashDogs, FlashMonkeys, FlashDragons, and other flashy types!

In honor of the release of our latest books, Tamara Shoemaker and I are co-hosting a ONE-TIME FLASH FICTION contest on the Luminous Creatures Press Blog.

The contest submission dates will run from June 28-June 30, 2016, so mark your calendars! The prompts will be posted on June 28th, and then you’ll have two full days to create a story of 100 words or fewer to enter. The theme will be fantasy, since the new release books we are celebrating are both fantasy stories. More information and a photo prompt will be posted on June 28th.

To see our rules, please visit the Luminous Creatures Blog here.

Please note: you do not have to be a writer to enter this contest; Tamara and I are hoping for entries from anyone who is interested in winning a free copy of our new releases, whether you’ve written anthologies, novels, flash fiction, or only your name. Come one, come all! It’ll be fun!

Preeminent Flashdog Mark A. King has agreed to serve as our judge. The winner will receive paperback or ebook editions of our two new books: Embrace the Fire, by Tamara Shoemaker, a YA novel set in a classic fantasy world with dragons, elves, and other creatures, and Sterling, by Emily June Street, a fantasy romance with an intricate magic system.

 

Velocipede Races Out Today!

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Today, April 12 is the official publication date of The Velocipede Races, my story of an intrepid young woman who defies the odds to do what she loves.

Race to your local bookstore to request a copy! You can also find the paperback and ebook versions on the websites of major booksellers.

However, if you are ordering on the web, the best way to purchase it is straight from the publisher, Microcosm Publishing. Get it from Microcosm here.

The Goodreads Giveaway is in its final hours but you can still sign up there for a chance to win a signed copy.

Flashdogs

Happy Monday! The next FlashDogs flash fiction anthology, TIME, is up and available for pre-order. I have two stories in here, one co-written with Tamara Shoemaker. I also donate my time for formatting for The FlashDogs.

The proceeds of these anthologies go to an international literacy charity. Learn more about The FlashDogs here. You can also get fantastic merch from their website.

The fabulous FlashDogs art is by Tamara Rogers:

TIME Ebook Cover

“Time may wait for no man, but The FlashDogs shepherd it with aplomb in their third anthology of flash fiction. Let this intrepid pack of cutting-edge writers fill your mind—and your hours—with their super-short stories of past, present, and future. Featuring an impressive roster of flash-fictioneers old and new, this collection has a bit of everything–romance, dystopia, comedy, tragedy–all spread across a changing timescape inspired by three photographs.”

Seven Questions : Brady Koch : Guns, Gods, and Robots

For this month’s edition of Seven Questions, I’m featuring flash-fictioneer and short story writer Brady Koch, who composes his “pulpy” short stories on the train to and from work. His new release is Guns, Gods, and Robots, a collection of seven science fiction and horror stories guaranteed to keep you up at night.

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1 Can you pitch your book in three sentences?

Guns, Gods & Robots is a diverse collection of stories where routine life is turned upside down by the incorporation of a single sci-fi or horror deviation. Whether our characters are at a dusty remote frontier outpost, locked underground in a bunker for generations, or maintaining a fleet of robot missionaries in the 3rd world, their actions can result in catastrophe or moments of salvation.

2 Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey. 

Indie all the way. Writing is something I do between family and work as a means of relaxing and having a creative outlet. I fear any effort to try and acquire a publisher would make this feel like a job. I’ve had a lot of fun with making my work available for pay-as-you-will sites like NoiseTrade and OpenBooks and engaging with the community has been really insightful. Taking this all into consideration, self-publishing just feels right.

3 Your book’s unifying themes are guns, gods, and robots. What appeals to you about each of these topics?

I think that these three things have the potential to do a great amount of good or a great amount of harm. People can see all three things as incredibly scary or liberating based on their life experiences. The characters in my stories all have tough choices to make involving them.

In selecting the stories to include in this collection, I started seeing these common objects present in many of the stories. So much so, that I created a spreadsheet to map out which themes were in which story. I ended up using this grid to sequence this collection so that, if read cover to cover, the experience would be varied.

4 What’s a favorite sci-fi book and why?

True to my love for short work, it’s The Jaunt by Stephen King. I read this when I was too young to read it and it still scares me. Without saying too much it’s about teleportation. I’m worried that if I read it again as an adult it won’t be as terrifying.

Brad Pitt’s production company recently acquired the rights to this and I worry about making a full length movie out of what is a very compact short story.

I’ve read some terrific sci-fi over the years, but this short piece still gnaws at me decades after reading it once.

5 What makes a great sentence?

A great sentence for me is something with just enough alliteration to be fun without it sounding intentional. I’m a pretty pulpy writer and I like to be direct and succinct, but if I’ll always look for some ways to have fun with the way the sentences read aloud.

6 What are your top five overused words?

This changes every time I catch myself overusing a word, but lately my top five are:

Opportunity

Inundate

Said

Had

Looked

Many from this list are simply the result of using too much passive voice or being unable to find a stronger synonym.

7 How and when did you first know you were a writer?

I used to like to write a lot in school, but as my priorities shifted as I entered the working world, I lost touch with my desire to tell stories. Recently at my parents’ house I found an old story I wrote in 2nd or 3rd It was accepted into Cricket children’s magazine for their Halloween story edition which was surprising given its content. It was about a brother and sister being pursued by a maniac through the woods. Suppose I could dig that one up and include it in the next story collection.

More about Brady:

Needing an activity to rebalance his mindset between work and home, Brady Koch started using his 45 minute train commute to start writing science fiction and horror stories. Brady started taking these new works to local library writing groups and then to online retailers. Leveraging the welcome feedback from these new readers, he has continued writing novellas, and shorter works resulting in his first published collection of stories: Guns, Gods & Robots. A Florida native, Brady now lives outside of New York City with his wife and children.

More about his book:

Guns: A girl’s birthday wish comes true when she gets to spend an afternoon on manhunt with her lawman father.

Gods: An old man discovers his crops aren’t the only dead things on his farm.

Robots: A heartless machine built for compassion malfunctions, leading its engineer on a hunt to fix the corruption before it spreads.

In Guns, Gods & Robots, Brady Koch, mixes and remixes three themes across this collection of stories and novellas that spans the range of science fiction and horror. The stories, collected here for the first time, range from the uplifting to the horrifying. Sure to spark your imagination, the seven stories in Guns, Gods & Robots will also keep you up at night.

Many thanks to Brady for sitting in the hot seat for Seven Questions.

Why Fiction Is Important

The Velocipede Races is the first full-length young adult novel that EllyBlue/Microcosm plans to publish. It’s part of the Bikes in Space series that includes three volumes of sci-fi bicycle-themed short stories. Volumes two and three feature stories by me. Check them out here and here. Publishing a young adult novel represents a bit of a departure for Elly Blue/Microcosm, which is known for shorter works, zines, and non-fiction.

This is one reason I’m excited about the Kickstarter project to launch my book. It’s another chance to get people, and especially young people, excited about reading fiction. If you’re already excited, you can visit the page now to pick from the excellent bookish rewards to show your support.

I know plenty of people who eschew fiction in favor of non-fiction, who say they don’t have time for the escapism of fiction and that only non-fiction is really valuable. I can’t say that I agree with this perspective.

I adore the “escapism” of fiction, and I’ve been “escaping” into fictional worlds of many varieties since the day I could crack a book and understand the words. I recall dragging around my heavy copy of Little Women in second grade and having the parents of other students say things like, “You aren’t really reading such a big book, are you?” or “Are you just carrying that around to look smart?”

Clearly they were not fellow readers. They looked at books as signs of status—you carried one around to convey things to others, rather than for the worlds and minds they opened to you. I was carrying that book around so I could keep reading it whenever I had a spare moment, because I was entranced by a view into the past, into a story birthed by a woman I would never meet but could connect with despite a century of time separating us.

So why is fiction important? As a form, fiction allows author-artists to freely explore ideas, to extrapolate, and to weave stories that are unique and meaningful. Fiction crosses eras and space-time, and forces us to consider the universals of human experience independent from the limits of time and place. Through fiction, I can begin to understand the concerns and lives of the readers of The Canturbury Tales, HamletPride and Prejudice, The Age of Innocence, or Farenheit 451. Fiction has superpowers; it is the best vehicle for time travel that I know.

Reading fiction develops essential human psychological traits: empathy, abstract thinking, the ability to connect the general to the specific. Speaking of super-powers; not only is fiction time-travel, it’s mind-reading, too. You will interact with another person’s mind in a deep, unrivaled way as you read fictional stories. Fiction is a deep and individual art form that reveals the contours of an author’s mind in veiled and subtle ways. It’s a deep conversation between author and reader.

Fiction also reveals its truths via storytelling techniques that non-fiction cannot use. Fiction uses veils, tropes, archetypes, and devices to provide an experiential virtual reality. The stories may connect to our emotions in ways non-fiction cannot, giving a view into the imagined and private minds of others.

Fictional stories have the ability to show us depth and breadth in the facets of other peoples’ lives. This is where our empathy comes in; by deeply experiencing characters who are different from us, our horizons are expanded. We realize there are ways of living beyond what we know. We see possibilities in what was once a void. As my character Cassius says in the The Velocipede Races, it becomes possible to “make room where there is none.” Fiction opens minds.

Fiction develops the imagination. It makes the mind supple. It encourages the ability to freely associate and make creative, novel connections.

Stories help shape the ethos of a society. The stories we tell not only express our values; they create our values as well. If we want to gradually change a society’s stance towards the role of women, say, one way to make fast and lasting change is to normalize stories that show women taking on more social power and having agency. The ancient practice of story-telling is perfectly designed for mind-shaping at the individual and societal levels.

So here’s reason number two I hope you’ll support The Velocipede Races on Kickstarter: my publisher is going out on limb and reaching for new avenues of fiction. Show your support for fiction and help create a new market for it!

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Seven

This is the second to last week for SSS 2 over at LCP. Don’t miss a chance to win your badge!

As always the line prompts come from my book, The Gantean. This week’s prompt, “death comes to everything,” is a Gantean expression one of the Gantean Elders says to Leila, the book’s main character,  to explain the necessary balance in the natural world.

I picked the image because it reminded me of Leila, who is teased and called “birdgirl” by other Ganteans because she is small.

I can wait to see what stories emerge from picture an prompt. If you’d like to submit a story, do so here in reply to LCP’s post.

The prompts are:

“death comes to everything”

birdgirl

Image credit: Nereid by Claire Elizabeth Flickr CC 2.0 
Image has not been altered from its original form.