“The Land of Phantom Limbs” — Flash Fiction Online (January 2014)

My story “The Land of Phantom Limbs” appeared on Flash Fiction Online in January of 2014.

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First line: “After the grenade went off under him, they had no choice but to cut off Jon’s arm.”

Inspiration: In high school I read Johnny Got His Gun. The frantic pace of the narrative moved me to tears, especially in one particular chapter, where Joe remembers his girlfriend, Kareen, and thinks in increasing desperation that he will no longer be able to hold her:

“Joe dear darling Joe hold me closer. Drop your bag and put both of your arms around me and hold me tightly. Put both of your arms around me. Both of them.”
You in both of my arms Kareen goodbye. Both of my arms. Kareen in my arms. Both of them.
Arms arms arms arms. I’m fainting in and out all the time Kareen and I’m not catching on quick.
You are in my arms Kareen. You in both of my arms. Both of my arms. Both of them. Both
I haven’t got any arms Kareen.
My arms are gone.
Both of my arms are gone Kareen both of them.
They’re gone.
Kareen Kareen Kareen.
They’ve cut my arms off both of my arms.
Oh Jesus mother god Kareen they’ve cut off both of them.
Oh Jesus mother god Kareen Karee Kareen my arms.

-Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun

I wanted to write a tribute to this scene, which I often return to. But I also wanted to give my character the happy ending I wish Trumbo’s Joe could have had.

Read for free: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/article/the-land-of-phantom-limbs/

Illustration by Richard Ware; he takes commissions at richw.ware@yahoo.com.

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“The Siren” — Strange Horizons (April 2013)

My short story “The Siren” appeared on Strange Horizons on April 15, 2013.

Strange Horizons

First line: “When Jen came home from school, she found a woman in the pool in her backyard.”

Inspiration: Inspired by the Bat for Lashes song, “Siren Song” (and *very* loosely on my own experience discovering my bisexuality as a teenager — there was no bizarre familial love triangle or ancient monster IRL), “The Siren” appeared in the April 15, 2013 issue of Strange Horizons.

Strange Horizons recapped reactions to the story here and also listed the story in their awards eligibility post, along with the mention of my Campbell Award eligibility.

Read it for free: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2013/20130415/siren-f.shtml

Listen to it for free: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2013/20130415/xpodcast-f.shtml

Art: Trees on the Horizon by Jennifer Stufflebeam

“The Wanderers” — Clarkesworld (February 2013)

My short story “The Wanderers” appeared in the February 2013 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

Featured story: "The Wanderers" in Clarkesworld
Art by Yang Xueguo

First line: “We came to your planet because we knew that you, the peoples of Kill Bill and Saw and Vietnam and Columbine Massacre would understand us.”

Inspiration: Every year I put together an Art & Words Show. Although I don’t participate in the actual event, I often write stories inspired by the art work once the show is over. This story was inspired by Jennifer Stufflebeam‘s — my mom’s — entry in the first Art & Words Show (pictured below). It appeared in the February 2013 issue of Clarkesworld.

Jennifer Stufflebeam's The Wanderers

“The Wanderers” was my first professional publication, and made me eligible for the 2014 and 2015 Campbell Award.

The issue in which this story appeared was reviewed kindly by SFSignal and “The Wanderers” itself has appeared on a couple of Award Recommendation lists. Yay!

Read it for free: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/stufflebeam_02_13/

Listen to it for free: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_02_13a/