Tuesday, October 31, 2006


...as in, shameless self-promotion. But I'm gonna do it anyway, because if I don't, who will?

I'm pleased to you all that I've come to a final agreement with LBF Books, a small-press operating out of Pittsburg, PA.

LBF will be publishing my novel, The Legend of Dreaming Creek, next summer, with an official launch date most likely in June or July. LBF is on Preditors & Editors list of recomended publishers and they use Baker & Taylor as their primary distributor. For a brief synopsis of TLoDC, you can visit my website: http://www.edmundrschubert.com/dreamingcreek.htm

Also, I am leaving this Thursday for World Fantasy in Austin TX. I'll be back early next week and will give you a full report then.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More On Titles

Okay, then… before we were swarmed upon by the authors published in the latest issue of IGMS, we were talking about titles. Had a nice little chat about good titles, with the promise of then taking up the subject of bad titles, and it’s time to pick up that topic and run with it.

Honestly, I don’t see a lot of titles that I would describe as being outright terrible. The biggest problem is usually one-word titles that are completely lacking in distinction. Not bad, so much as feeble. Titles like:

“The Cure “
“The Talent”/“Talented”

I’ve seen multiple stories with these one-word titles, or else variations that are quite similar. Now, a bad title doesn’t automatically mean a bad story. One of the three – yes, three – stories submitted in the last six months with the title “Expectations” is going to be published in an up-coming issue of IGMS. It’s just not going to appear with that title (I’ll leave it to the author in question to decide if he or she wants to publicly confess to this title in the next installment if “Stories Behind The Stories,” but I’m not going to be the one to out him/her.) Heck, I’ll even admit to having a story with a working title of “Expectations;” I just made sure when it went out the door it had a better one.

The problem with these one-worders is that they don’t do anything to grab a reader. Titles are like first lines; you want them to grab the readers attention, raise a question in the reader’s mind, and compel them to read the story. At the very least they should convey something of what the story is about.

Occasionally I do get a few titles that are just plain old bad titles. Usually this happens when the author is trying to be cute, and let me tell you in no uncertain terms that cute is never going to score any points. With anybody. Ever.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stories - Dale

Oliver Dale

Xoco's Fire - Story behind the story

I didn't write a glamorous story, and I'm afraid the story behind the story
bears no more sparkle. It didn't strike me with a bolt of inspiration. It
didn't pop like a greek goddess fully-formed from my forehead. That's not
how stories ever work with me. And, between you and me, I hate writers that
have it so easy. Pure jealousy, you understand.

So let's see....

I like dark fantasy. I always have. And I like to write it even more. It
probably originates with me watching my mother read an early story of mine
(I haven't been doing this for so long -- perhaps they're all still early
stories) and cringing. Such a primal reaction. I mean, they're just words
on a piece of paper, people. Black specks of burned toner that stuck to a
pressed and bleached slice of tree carcass. Nothing magical. Yet by
looking at them, you can convey an entire mood, a feeling, a story, an
emotion. You can creep people out, make them giggle, scream, cry, have
nightmares. I love that. Don't you? And that's pretty much all I
ever aim for when I write a story. As it turns out, giving nightmares has
always been easier for me than being sentimental. Whenever I try, I end up
writing the evil lovechild of a Hallmark card and a Lifetime movie. So I
stick with the blood, and the guts, the smoke, the crushed desires, the
sacrilegious pain.

"Xoco's Fire" started like most of mine do. It was a single, incomplete
idea at first. I pictured fire from the sky -- an omen. I thought of a
daughter born of privilege, but that privilege came with a burden, one that
no one would ask for. Then, like many writers, I asked why. And why, and
why, and why? Until I had a character I liked. Until I had a story I
didn't hate, and a bad guy I really did.

When I finished, it was 900 words long. For those of you not familiar with
this sort of thing, 900 words is like a freakin' fortune cookie. It's
nothing. Just a wisp of a story. And it wasn't very good. So what did I
do? That's right, I submitted it. And it got rejected. Oh yes, my
friends. Your surprise matches my own. Of course I realized then that my
why questions all got boring answers and that I didn't ask enough of them.
So I started over, and suddenly 900 words became 9000.

It took a year to write. It took another year to sell. Then it took half a
year to get published. This ain't a business for the impatient or the

And that's the process. Totally glamorous, right? I'll be in my trailer
getting powdered if you need me.



Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Stories - Kontis

The Princess with Butterfly Wings
by Alethea Kontis

Do you ever play “Traceback”?

You’ve let your mind wander, and suddenly, you’re thinking about something totally bizarre and not at all what you were pondering in the first place. Or you’re having a conversation that takes an interesting turn…and you wonder just how you came around to that topic. So you stop and try to recall exactly what steps took you from hot-air balloons to Kevin Bacon.

I call it Traceback. It’s one of those games that people with busy brains play all the time. (The sad part is, we actually find it entertaining.)

Sometimes I play Traceback with my life, just to be perverse. How exactly did I get to where I am today? If I was making an Academy Award speech, who would I thank? The icing on my Destiny Cake is full of fingerprints: great teachers and horrible bosses, neighbors and enemies, co-workers and ex-boyfriends, distant relatives and friends closer than blood. Like every great production, my life wouldn’t be what it is without a countless number of people influencing it just the way they did, exactly when they did it.

The Butterfly Effect.


Now I know why many people at the Oscars thank their parents, and God.
I suppose if you’re going to start, it’s wise to start at the beginning.

One of the most popular interview questions asked is “When did you start writing?”

I have an answer to that question that reels to the surface a perfect memory of 8-year-old Alethea staring at a poem she had just written and smiling as the world clicked around her.

But the stories started with Casey.

My father, fairy tales, and Casey.

In a family steeped in oral tradition, my father is the consummate storyteller. He tells tales of our ancestors, his childhood, his friends, his trips around the world. So inevitably, the first stories I ever wrote in school were essays about my crazy life—or the crazy, magical life of the girl I could have been—but they were always about me.

Sometime around the age of eleven, I was moping around the house (as eleven-year-olds do). I slumped at my mother’s feet and whined, “Tell me what to write.”

“Go write me a fairy tale,” she said. “A new one.”

I suppose if I hadn’t been moping quite so loudly, I would have heard the world click again. Like it did later that year, when I met Casey.

She was a bit of a misfit, like me. She had thick glasses, a mouth full of braces, a mop of long, curly champagne blonde hair, and a soul like sunshine. She was affectionately called “Beaker” by the popular kids, but she would just smile at them and retreat back into her own little world…her own little world full of books and princesses and unicorns and notepads and pencils. A little world very much like my own. We didn’t pass notes in class—we passed a notebook. Whenever we got bored of one world, we’d just make up a new one.

She was my first heroine.

We started a novel, about the adventures of a silly blonde princess named Casey and a dark-haired Queen of Thieves. We spent days at my house on the dock writing paragraph by paragraph, scene by scene, each page switching between Casey’s fat, round scrawl and my neat and tiny letters. We spent nights at her house, playing Super Mario Brothers and eating pizza and lying on the trampoline and wishing on stars. I stayed up ‘til the wee hours one night teaching her how to count to ten in Greek (which she still doesn’t remember). I spent ages one morning painstakingly untangling the rats’ nest in the back of her head that had appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the night.

When my first love broke my heart and I cried myself hysterical, she brought me pansies unceremoniously ripped from the bed in her front garden. We got jobs at the same movie theatre and spent the hours between shows behind the concession stand composing ridiculous odes to popcorn. When I was lonely at college in South Carolina, she invited me up to UT Knoxville for the weekend and arranged a gathering with all her friends. When she got married she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I wrote a rehearsal dinner speech that left the guests in happy tears.

I had a nervous breakdown and moved to Tennessee to work in a library.

Casey got her PhD in Victorian Literature and moved to Virginia to be a Professor of Women’s Studies at William and Mary.

When I attended Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp in the summer of 2003, Casey went with me. Not in the physical sense, of course, but in the age of computers and cell phones anything is possible. Thank goodness, too.

Because I was scared.

I had warned her to be available at all hours of the day or night—especially when we were assigned the inevitable 24-hour story. I had never attempted anything so bold in my entire life. And I knew I would never be able to do it without Casey. I had her on speed dial.

My lifeline was available at the push of a button.

Our 24-hour story had to be based on one of the story notecards we had done for homework the night before. Like a dutiful student, I had completed all seven. I had a young woman who lived in the Black Forest region of Germany in World War Two, a Victorian Royal Society of Lady Etchers and an alchemist, a man with incredibly bad luck who took it out on his wife…right before she found a winning lottery ticket in his pocket while doing the laundry and decided not to share—and four other stories unremarkable enough to be similarly unmemorable.

The World War Two story was by far the best, but despite Mr. Stafford’s conscientious tutelage for two years in high school, my knowledge of both the world and the war was sketchy at best. The Bad Luck Man was fun, but cliché. The Lady Etchers were an interesting concept but the story was weak, and once again my disturbing lack of history reared its ugly head.

Which might have been a problem…for someone whose best friend didn’t have a PhD in Victorian Literature.

I pushed the button.
It was roughly 11pm on Tuesday night.
I felt like I was cheating…but I was too scared to care.

Casey and I stayed on the phone for at least three hours, hashing out the details of the story while I frantically scribbled down every bit of Victorian minutiae Casey deemed important.

The words “good-bye” that night were heavy with reluctance, and I forced myself to sleep.

When I got up the next morning, I didn’t leave the bed. I crossed my legs, pulled the laptop onto the pillow, and opened up a new document. I had a fascinating idea and a rich world…I just needed the perfect character.

Human instinct is to regress in times of great desperation.


So I started with my princess. My first heroine.

I started with Casey.

Only this time, her name was Minna.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stories - Maxey

Maxey - To Know All Things That Are In The Earth

Blog article: warning, it's long and full of spoilers.

Sometimes, writing involves a certain amount of time travel. My first
published novel, Nobody Gets the Girl, was the fourth novel I had
written. The next book I have coming out, Bitterwood, was the third novel I
wrote. So, my first novel is my fourth novel, my second novel is my
third novel, and, should I be fortunate enough to publish a third novel,
it will probably be my sixth. My career is a walking time paradox.

Similarly, when I wrote "To Know All Things That Are In The Earth," I
hadn't yet understood the life lesson that rests at the heart of the
story. I penned the first draft of this story last February, as part of
the Codexwriters.com "Codexian Idol" contest. It was an odd story
to write in some ways. Bluntly, I'm an atheist--anyone who has followed
my career to any extent at all has no doubt noticed a strong vein of
nihilism running though my stories. So, what am I doing writing about
the Rapture?

I confess: I miss the Rapture. I was raised a Christian and deeply
anticipated the rapture through much of my childhood. I spent many, many
hours imagining it. I could see it quite clearly in my childish
mind... the skies ripping open with an earth-shaking roar, heavenly light
flooding every shadow as angel bands poured down to gather the chosen. I
fervently prayed for the rapture to happen during tough times...
getting raptured up before gym glass would have been quite a relief to my
twelve-year-old self. Even after I stopped labeling myself a Christian, I
would find myself having little Rapture fantasies about what I'd do in
case I was wrong. I figured, in case of Rapture, I would run off into
the woods and hide for seven years to avoid the Mark of the Beast. My
dad had a good collection of hunting and fishing equipment. I felt
pretty sure I could make it. One night, when I was about 18, I was in bed
on a silent winter night. It was snowing. This was one of those dark,
introspective nights when newly minted atheists sometimes lie awake
contemplating the consequences of being wrong. It was about four in the
morning. Suddenly, the bed began to shudder. Then the whole house
shook as a terrible rumble broke the stillness. Bright lights cast shadows
on my wall as they approached the house. I sat up, sweat popping from
every pore. The Rapture! But, no, it was only a snowplow, getting an
early morning start on the roads.

So, I can trace specific moments of this story back two decades to my
close call with the Rapture. But, the central epiphany of the story is
something that I learned much more recently... after I wrote it.

When I wrote this story, my girlfriend Laura Herrmann was dying from
cancer. He had breast cancer that had spread to her lungs and liver; the
radiation reports described the tumors as "innumerable." And yet, it
was very difficult for me to understand what was killing her. The
tumors were tiny. They were tracking things two millimeters long and making
a big deal when they grew to three millimeters. Three millimeters
isn't very big. So why couldn't she breathe? I'm a science fiction geek,
I know a thing or two about biology, but I still found myself
completely at a loss to understand how she was dying. I never asked why. Why,
I knew. She had cancer. But, how was cancer killing her? Was there
anyway to fight it? Why wasn't surgery an option? What did it matter
if she had things smaller than houseflies growing in her lungs? Lungs
are big things right?

Wrong. On Labor Day weekend, four months after Laura passed away, I
went to the Atlanta Civic Center and saw "Bodies: The Exhibition." This
is a show where actual human cadavers have been treated with plastic to
preserve them. They are then flayed to various stages and posed to
reveal the inner workings of the body. It's a morbid idea, so, of course,
there was no way I could pass up a chance to see it. Finally, I saw an
actual human lung. The cadaver it was attached to was a woman whose
facial muscles were hauntingly similar to Laura's. It was easy to
imagine flesh over them once more. And, beneath the face and neck, I finally
saw the size of adult female lungs. They're not big at all. I
imagined them filling up all the space under the rib cage. In fact, they are
actually squashed up rather high in the chest. I could easily have
held them in one hand. Suddenly, the tiny tumors made more sense. There
isn't a lot of space to start with. This was further driven home when
I saw a lung actually riddled with cancer. While Laura struggled with
her disease, I would have given anything to have x-ray vision; I wanted
to know what was happening inside her. Here, I could see it. I had
been imagining the tumors as distinct objects, not really a part of her.
Instead, the preserved tumors looked like the bodies own tissues
knotting and knitting themselves. There isn't a clearly visible break
between the diseased cells and the healthy ones.

Finally, I saw a body where red plastic had been pumped into the
circulatory system, preserving it, before the rest of the body was dissolved
away. What remained was a ghost of blood. The shadows of the organs
were clearly visible in the highways of veins. Nowhere was more rich in
blood vessels than the lungs. Laura passed away from bleeding in these
tissues. Again, I suddenly understood how this was almost inevitable.
With all the blood passing through the lungs, it's understandable that
diseased cells will eventually damage the tiny network of delicate

When I left the exhibit, I felt as if the unanswered questions I'd had
about Laura's death had been answered. And, it occurred to me that,
I'd written about this moment months ago; the moment when being able to
answer "How?" provides a measure of comfort and relief that will forever
elude us if we only ask, "Why?"

I didn't consciously set down to write this story about losing Laura.
But, looking back, I identify with my protagonist strongly when, in his
frustration to understand, he plunges his hands inside the cherub's
corpse and begins to root around for answers. I wanted so badly to know
what was going on inside Laura; I think this is how those feelings made
it to the page.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stories - Dolton

Brian Dolton

The Box Of Beautiful Things:

1 - The Title

Titles come from all kinds of places. There's a Scottish singer-songwriter called Jackie Leven who has some really great song titles (and some really great songs, though the two don't always match up). On one of his albums is a song called "Burning The Box Of Beautiful Things", which I just thought was a great image. So I decided to write a story about the box. I just didn't quite know what the story was...

2 - The Story

On-line, I hang at a writing group called Liberty Hall, run by the wonderful Mike Munsil. There are weekly writing challenges; you get ninety minutes to write a story, kicked off by a trigger, which may be a word, a quote, a song lyric, a picture... anything. It's a great way to get butt in chair and actually produce stories. Back last year, the trigger was a picture of a doll, with a porcelain mask and a vivid purple robe. I looked at the trigger and, as I usually do, I just started writing; and what I started writing began "There was only beauty in the great box.." Under 90 minutes later, I had the story, and I sat back, and for once (and this is a very rare thing for me) I said to myself "I've just written something bloody good". Critiques by other members of the site helped me hone it down a little, but it really didn't get changed much. Mostly, it's there, just the way it was in that 90-minute period of intense inspiration.

3 - The Character

Heh. That's another story. Indeed, that's a lot of other stories. I'm really hopeful that everyone's going to be seeing a lot more of Yi Qin.


There you go.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Stories - Mojica

Jose Mojica

“Fat Town”

I was writing computer-programming books three years ago when I decided that I wanted to write the kind of books my mom, wife and kids could read, especially my kids. I found out about Uncle Orson's Boot Camp and I decided to attend to work on my craft. One of the assignments was to walk around town and get a story idea from looking at the surroundings. Almost every house I passed had kids' toys in the backyards and front lawns, but I never saw a single kid. My mind started generating ideas for where the kids could be. Then I walked by a school. Actually, I wasn't sure it was a school. It looked more like a prison. (I hope I don't offend anyone with this.) I thought, 'What if all the kids from town are actually being held captive by an evil school principal? She lets them out once a year and they get to choose their families for the summer. On the last day of school, parents stand by the sidewalk waving toys and candy...' I pictured people waving huge cakes, ice cream, donuts, etc, in an attempt to lure children into their homes. Luring kids with candy reminded me of Hansel and Gretel, and that's how Fat Town was born. The next day I read my story idea in class, Mr. Card was enthusiastic and helped me shape some of the characters. Then, I reread Hansel and Gretel before writing the story and made sure to sprinkle mine with a few details from the original. Some are pretty obvious but some aren't -- I hope people discover them as they read the story.

One of my favorite characters in the story is Fran. She's the older sister of the main character, Herb. Her whole goal in life was to be a cheerleader and to torment her younger brother. Originally I had meant for her to be there only to make Herb's life a living hell. But she surprised me at the end.

I like writing young adult fiction, because high school was one of the hardest times of my life. My family moved from Puerto Rico to Michigan when I started 9th grade. I didn't speak English, and I had never lived in weather below 70 degrees, and of course we moved in the middle of winter. It was very difficult, and when I write I gravitate towards that time in my life. Although to the best of my knowledge I don't remember my principal being a witch.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stories - Continued - Novy

Continuing the stories behind the stories in issue three of IGMS, here's Rick Novy, author of "The Adjoa Gambit."


I live in Arizona near Phoenix. There are three Indian reservations in the Phoenix metropolitan area: Fort McDowell, Salt River Maricopa, and Gila River. One day, I started thinking about how in many cases, the indigenous Americans were pushed out of their ancestral homes by invaders who intended to settle on their land. Then, they were given the crappiest land available--land that these people were ill-adapted to live on.

As a speculative fiction writer, I took that a step further. What if the entire earth were invaded, and we were all pushed off our land. Where would our reservation be? Obviously, the reservation had to go on the worst possible land on the planet, the only place we don't already live, Antarctica.

This story starts well after the reservation is up and running so I avoided all the problems with infrastructure. It already exists when the story begins. Some of that infrastructure is primitive, like the ice mines.

The three reservations in the Phoenix area all have something in common: casinos. In fact, "Casino" was the working title for this story. Taking the parallel one step further, I had envisioned humans buying luxuries with Proc money they made with casinos. For that to work, the casinos needed patrons, and thus was born the Proc penchant for gambling. It became part of who they are, a part of their culture, or at least the subculture stuck minding the store at ARIP.

I ended up eliminating the casinos, but kept the gambling as a Proc nuisance trait, but it's a trait that can be very dangerous to the unwary.

The main concept of the story, that of the Olympio family losing their dome, was easy to come up with. This falls back to the gambling. What is the worst thing you can lose in a harsh environment like the Antarctic? Your shelter.

The story was not the easiest to write. At this stage, I made a first stab, but only got as far as Shannon meeting the new family in the rations line, then I got stuck because I really didn't know where the story was going yet. Usually, I need to know the beginning and the end before I can write. The fun part for me is watching the characters figure out how to get from beginning to end. The problem here was that I didn't really know the end. I envisioned Shannon liberating the earth and owning the Procs with orbital casinos. That was far too ambitious for a short story, and probably not plausible anyway.

It was only after I started wondering who this strange family was that the true plot began to emerge. When I discovered that the still-unnamed eldest child was the only one that could communicate with Shannon, I knew she was going to be a major force in the story.

I wanted this family to be from somewhere remote and different from the western world, and became Africa. At the time, I had a co-worker from Togo, so I spent some time with him learning enough about the culture to write the story.

He also gave me a list of names. Koffi and Kossi you might recognize from the current leader of the U.N. For the women, he gave me a list, and I used the one I liked most for this pivotal girl, Adjoa.

As to the actual writing, it was fairly difficult to write. Several false starts dogged me, but I finally ended up with about the first half written in stolen moments on my little pocket PC, an HP iPAQ. The second half was written on my regular computer. I often move partials off my iPAQ to finish them more efficiently.

During the critique cycle, I had many suggestions. It left me unsure of the story, and so it sat on my hard drive for six months before I reread the story and decided to submit the story without revision.

There were two suggestions in particular that nagged at me, and they are inter-related. The first suggestion was to use Adjoa's point of view, the second was that Adjoa's taunting worked too well.

I ultimately decided to stay with Shannon's point of view because the story really is about her willingness to sacrifice herself to help others. To me, the climax of the story is her decision to wager her own dome to try winning back the dome the Olympio family lost. The blackjack game is really just a long denouement. While Adjoa's point of view would have made an interesting story, it would have been a completely different story.

Adjoa's taunting to win the blackjack hands is meant to indicate that this is not about the gambling at all. It's about power and intimidation, and Adjoa succeeds because she turns the Proc against himself. Would it work for her again? Probably not.

One interesting sidebar is that this story is one of the few I've written with very little male population. The Procs don't count because they're aliens. Larry, the preacher, is really just a token man. He fills an important role, but he also demonstrates that some men are in the reservation. Still, most of the male population at ARIP are children.


Monday, October 02, 2006

The Stories Behind The Stories - Tim Pratt

Introduction: The Story Behind the Stories

When it comes to short story collections, one of my all-time favorite authors has always been Isaac Asimov. Why? Not because he wrote such great stories (though he did write great ones); rather, it was because he took the time to write anywhere from a few lines to a few paragraphs about each story. The story behind the stories. Sometimes I’d go through his collections and read all introductions before I read any of the stories.

To get a glimpse into the author’s mind about what he was trying to accomplish, or how the story was born, or the assorted trials and tribulations the story caused or endured – that fascinated me. I think anyone who has ever uttered the phrase, “I would loved to have been a fly on the wall when…” can appreciate that. And given how much I love stories - long, short, printed, on the big screen, it doesn’t matter; I just love stories – the opportunity to be a fly on Isaac Asimov’s wall was a real treat. Maybe it was that secret part of my soul that, even then, longed to be a writer. On the other hand, maybe it was nothing more than that fundamental aspect in all of us, that thing in our basic human nature which simply relishes feeling like we’re “in” on someone’s secrets. Or maybe it was, C) all of the above. Didn’t much matter. I loved those introductions.

Well, for the next few weeks I'm going to be bringing you the stories behind the stories published in issue three of InterGalactic Medicine Show. I'll post two a week until all our authors have been heard from, and we'll kick it off with a few words from the author of our cover story:

Tim Pratt

"Dream Engine" is something of a hodgepodge story, combining various free-floating ideas I've had for years.

I've always liked weird cities -- from Edward Bryant's Cinnabar to M. John Harrison's Viriconium to China Miéville's New Crobuzon, and I've long wanted to create my own bizarre urban setting. I came up with the idea of a city at the center of a multiverse, a big messy organic sprawl built up on the spinning axis of the great wheel of the multiverse, with whole discrete universes whirling around it on all sides. Conceiving of such a place raised obvious questions. How would such a linchpin city be populated? How would they feed and shelter themselves, how would they trade, etc.? At some point, reading about the collapse of the former Soviet Union, I came across the word "Kleptocracy," to describe a state ruled by thieves. That seemed perfect. The denizens of my city -- which I called "Nexington-on-Axis" -- are magpies of the multiverse, snatching buildings, people, animals, and even hunks of land from passing planets, planes, and dimensions. I knew I'd hit upon a great setting, one where I could do almost anything. I wanted the city to have weirdly alien rulers and a Regent with a hidden agenda, and so I created them.

But a setting isn't a story.

The notion of a man who kills people in his dreams -- and the question of whether he would bear responsibility for those murders -- has fascinated me since high school, and I made a few attempts at writing that story over the years, without success. I realized how I could apply that old idea to my new setting, so I decided to give it a try. At that point, there was a setting, and something that could easily become a plot. All I needed was a protagonist.

I like detectives, from literary ones like Auguste Dupin, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, and Hercule Poirot to newer media detectives like Veronica Mars and Adrian Monk. (I'm also fond of fictional bounty hunters, assassins, and secret agents.) A weird city like Nexington-on-Axis would need some kind of detective/enforcer, and who better than Howlaa Moor, a shapeshifting rogue of no fixed gender, who serves the state because the only alternative is death or imprisonment? (The no-fixed-gender thing did provide an interesting challenge when it came to pronouns, so I chose to use one of the several invented gender-neutral sets of terms: "zim" instead of him or her; "zir" instead of "his" or "hers"; "zie" instead of "he" or "she," etc.)

I'm a big fan of sidekicks, so it seemed natural to give Howlaa zir own Dr. Watson, in this case, the bodiless tattletale know-it-all Wisp. They seemed like perfect foils -- Howlaa can transform into virtually any living shape, while Wisp has no physical body at all, just a charged field of floating motes.

Once I had setting, plot, and characters in mind, the story was remarkably easy to write, and it's a world I expect to explore further. Howlaa and Wisp have a lot more adventures in them, I think.

You can link to my blog at www.journalscape.com/tim

best, Tim

"Dream Engine" is now available at www.InterGalacticMedicineShow.com

IGMS Issue Three Live

Issue three is live.

Congrats to all the writers.

We've actually been ready to go for a while now, except for some of the art work. We finally made the decision to go ahead anyway with what we had. All that missing at this point is the piece to accompany James Maxey's story (which the artist has promised us will be done very soon).

Obviously I'm very pleased. I hope when you read it you will be too.




Sunday, October 01, 2006


My interview with author Steve Savile about the Horror Writers Association mentoring program (originally published in The Horror Library and recently reprinted in Dark Recesses) has been permanently added to the HWA website (http://www.horror.org/article-mentoring.htm),