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Self-Editing: Is My Story Any Good?

This post first appeared on World Weaver Press as “When to Trash Your Flash” in July 2013.

This mess has to go.

A couple of weeks ago, my local writers’ group issued a flash fiction prompt, and I completely bombed it. I made four wildly different attempts. All were terrible. This isn’t unusual; I write a lot of flash fiction, especially prompted or to theme, and I end up retiring most of it right away. This time, when I griped on Twitter about discarding all those bad stories, someone ended up asking: Well, how do you know if your story is a dud?

Good question!

I don’t explicitly use a rubric to decide whether to put a story into circulation or throw it into a locked drawer, but I probably could. Here’s the one question I ask myself when I suspect a story isn’t working:

Is it really a story?

Most of my stories fail by not actually having all the elements that make a story satisfying and salable. They’re oddly easy to skip. I like to use the definition Marion Zimmer Bradley gives in her essay What Is a Short Story?:


This is meant to apply to commercial genre short fiction, and a genius can break any guidelines they want, but I write genre and am no genius. I could write reams about the meaning of “likable” in this context, but I take it as “someone you don’t hate reading about”–whether you’d actually want to meet them or not. Writing dark fiction, I also don’t believe that achieving the goal is strictly necessary, although I do believe the failure to achieve it should be the climactic point, and that failure should be the character’s own fault.

Personally, my failed stories almost always fall short on the points of ODDS and EFFORTS.

Here’s a storyline I write a lot: a character wants something, does what it takes to get it, and succeeds. This isn’t a story. There’s no opposition–the “odds” are unimpressive. People following me on Twitter know that I bake a lot, but I only tweet about the disasters. Nobody wants to hear about the time you made a cake according to the recipe and it turned out fine. They want to hear about the time your cat dropped something in the batter.

Here’s another storyline I used to write a lot, when I was new and did more horror: something bad happens to a character, who tries to escape, but can’t. The problem’s not that they fail, but that a) the “odds” didn’t initially spring from their own wants or actions, and b) the “goal” is a return to normal. It’s hard to make a satisfying narrative out of such tenuous cause-and-effect and such a commonplace goal.

They look like stories: they’re about yea long, they’re fiction, they’re made up of words. They sure feel like stories when I’m writing them. But taken as a whole, they don’t hold up.

So if this thing I wrote is not a story, what is it? When I’m able to stand back and really evaluate a failed story, I can usually reframe it as a different form of writing. Maybe it’s just a proof-of-concept for an interesting storytelling mechanic. Maybe it’s a scenario worth exploring further. Maybe I was just test-running a new character type. I never regret having written what I wrote; something about it must have intrigued me enough to do it. Running a quick eye over Bradley’s definition, however, tells me whether to retire it (NEVER to delete it–nothing’s THAT bad) or to send it on into the world.

I rarely manage to “fix” a piece of flash fiction. It’s more efficient for me to just write another piece. Speaking of which, I finally got back on that local writers’ group prompt. Fifth try, almost done. The main character wants something, and goes for it, but runs into unexpected opposition and has to either overcome the problem or change her goals. Sounds like a story to me.


wolves_and_witches_tinyTo read the stories and poems I didn’t trash, check out Wolves and Witches, a collection of dark fairy tale retellings with Megan Engelhardt, from World Weaver Press, 2013. Or you can find all my available work on my Read Free page and bibliography!


More writing advice:

Cataloging My Kinks – How to find the story elements you’re passionate about writing.

The Total Beginner’s Guide to Submitting Short Fiction for Publication – The name says it all: getting started confidently and effectively.

Wounds on Our Fronts: Failure and Success – How long should you keep submitting a story that’s racking up rejections? Longer than you think.

Motivation-Encouragement Profiles – Figuring out what makes you write more and what helps you to love it.

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2014 In Review

It’s year-end writing-stats time!


So much!

I learned to love making book covers.

She's got a sword, a genie, and three days to live. When the going gets weird, all you can do is stick by your friends and hang on to your brains. Coming soon from Megan Engelhardt! Were-eels. For Heather Ratcliff on the occasion of her foot surgery.

This year I really opened up my writing revenue streams by reprinting some of my work to Kindle, Smashwords, and QuarterReads. They’re not STRONG revenue streams, but they’re not nothing.



I slipped into WorldCon for a day and WFC for three, which was 100% delightful on both counts. You guys are so great in person!!

I underwent a thorough and harrowing fifth revision of a certain novel, which is nearly done, at last.


Here are my submission numbers:

  • 81 rejections

  • 14 sales

  • 21 submissions still pending

I am way happier with those numbers than I am with last year’s. They’re more in line with what I like to see from myself. Those sales include five stories to pro-paying markets, four audio reprints, two poetry sales, and, fingers crossed it comes through, a foreign translation reprint.




I had a weird year!

I got about 110k new words written, which has been my yearly pace for a very long time now. (Last year was a fluke.) That pace delivered me about 17 finished shorts and poems, another 25k on last year’s novel, and an embarrassing assortment of unfinished nonsense.

Did I mention revising nearly an entire novel for the fifth time?


I’m aiming for what I consider a fairly easy 3k/week pace, which will still wildly increase my output of new words, depending on how hard I cheat. I have quite a few unfinished and imperfect stories to whip into shape. I’m planning to complete my adult fantasy novel, rewrite one other YA fantasy novel, and start seeking an agent for the YA fantasy that’s nearly done. I plan to keep up with #10bythen, or ten submissions per month. (I assume saying all this will help me actually do it.) I don’t have any convention or additional self-publishing plans, but who knows what will come up.


Link me your 2014 stats post, or tell me in the comments what you accomplished!

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How They Made Into the Woods into a Disney Movie (That Doesn’t Suck)

I love Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods a lot. It’s smart, funny, musically gorgeous, thematically rich, and of personal interest. So when I heard Disney was going to make a movie version, I had…concerns.

Those concerns were only partially founded. The movie is Disneyfied, but deftly. It’s lightened, but thoughtfully. It was shortened to fit into a typical movie length not with desperate hacking, but careful elimination.

The Disney movie removes some of what makes Into the Woods great, but none of what makes it good. Minor spoilers to follow (which shouldn’t especially be spoilers if you know the stage version, but anyway).

1) It’s Upfront About Its Changes

My theory about musicals is that the first song is there to orient the audience. That’s especially important in movie musicals. Chicago uses theirs to introduce the mechanism of Roxie’s imagination; Moulin Rouge sends us careening through bizarro Paris so that nothing afterward is as off-puttingly weird.

Into the Woods uses its iconic first song to establish how the movie will handle the source.
– There’s no visible narrator: the meta aspects are gone.
– The main characters are present and accounted for. The music is intact.
– Casting actual kids in the kids’ roles means adult subtext will be muted.
– They’re going to CGI the magic, because movies can do that. It’s awesome.
– Lines might be excised or softened (no unnecessary dissing of Jack or his mother).
– The Baker’s father simply ran off. (No “baking accident”.) This storyline is changed.

Like I said: shortened, softened, Disneyfied. You have the entire first song to decide if you’re okay with that. I like derivative works as a rule and I’m interested in adaptive approaches, so I’m fine with it.

2) None of the Changes Are As Bad As You’ve Heard

The news coming out of production was Not Good. They took out X, they weren’t going to touch Y, and Z doesn’t even die! How does that work??

They found a way. Everything eliminated was replaced with something in line with the new tone. Depp’s wolf is less seducer than shyster. The subsequent “I Know Things Now” is stripped of subtext, but they gave us an interesting staging of Red’s recap to make up for it. Z character doesn’t die, but is explicitly gone forever. (It’s not quite enough for me, but I appreciate the effort.) Some deaths move offscreen or have less sticky causes.

It’s different, but every change had the same goal: a PG-rated version no darker than it had to be, as faithful as possible. They kept their goal in their sights. And it paid off, because…

3) So Much Good Stuff Remains

“If they cut ‘Agony’,” muttered my sister on the way in, “I’m throwing popcorn at the screen.”

They did not cut “Agony.” They placed it on a set no stage could ever afford, and let their princes roll around in it like pigs in mud. Chris Pine is a gem. A GEM.

Meryl Streep crawls, whirls, and gnaws through the scenery. Her emotive scenes are brilliant and her funny ones are a scream. Yes, she gets to sing The Last Midnight, and it’s the clear showstopper it needs to be. Also, she has blue hair.

Milky White remains the comic relief, if you can ask that much of a cow.

Most of the laugh lines are intact, and they had room to add a few. Most of the themes are there, some of them slightly weakened, but present enough to give a ten-year-old something to think about without traumatizing them forever. Most of the songs are there–again, no reprises, and one big one is missing, along with its subplot.

If that sounds like a lot of “most”, remember how unlikely it seemed that they’d leave in anything from the second act.

The Into the Woods movie adaptation works because of clarity of vision.

This could have been a disaster in so many ways, but the movie was able to retain so much of the musical by being clear about its goals. The story’s not sweetened, just made less bitter. Things still make sense in a cause-and-effect way. (“Your Fault” is there, complete, and it works.) If it seems disingenuous to praise this movie for not being a total disaster, well, let’s recap: they turned a childhood-ending musical into an enjoyable PG Disney film. Maybe there is still magic in the world.

I have other thoughts about why this was able to work at all, but I’ll marshal those later…

Amanda C. Davis likes dark fairy tale retellings. A lot. Check out her collection with Megan Engelhardt, Wolves and Witches, currently 50% off at World Weaver Press, or read some of her work for free.

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Homemade Blackcurrant Marshmallows

IMG_7366I’ve been making homemade marshmallows for years. With a candy thermometer and a stand mixer, they’re a simple and impressive treat. By swapping out ingredients and adding extracts, it’s insanely easy to try new flavors. Chocolate raspberry, ginger honey, peppermint…

I tell you, this blackcurrant version is the best I’ve ever made. My marshmallows are good, but the fruity tang in this batch had people saying “Wow.” And then reaching for another.

This recipe is modified from Alton Brown’s recipe, for a smaller, more manageable portion* and with the extra kick of blackcurrant at the end.


  • 2 packages unflavored gelatin

  • 1/3 cup cold blackcurrant juice

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1/3 cup cold water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup

  • pinch of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons blackcurrant jam

Start by putting the gelatin and blackcurrant juice into the large bowl of a stand mixer. Let it combine on its own.

To prepare the pan, lightly grease a small casserole (8 x 8 should work; I use this 6.5 x 8.5 pan). The more square the inside edges, the bigger your final marshmallows can be. Combine the cornstarch and powdered sugar. Thoroughly dust the inside of the pan with the cornstarch mixture.

In a saucepan, combine cold water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover and heat on medium high for four minutes. Remove the lid. Clip a candy thermometer to the side and continue heating, without stirring, to 240 F. Remove from heat immediately.

Start the mixer on slow. Pour the hot sugar mixture down the sides slowly, rotating the bowl. (The bowl will get hot!) Don’t worry about scraping out every drop. When you’ve poured as much as you can, turn the mixer to high.

As the marshmallow mix is beaten, it will thicken and turn opaque. It’s nearly done when it begins to cling to the sides and leave a well in the center. At that point, add the vanilla extract and the blackcurrant jam. Beat for just a minute or two longer.

Dip a large flexible spatula in olive oil and use it to help pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Try to encourage it to fill in the corners. You can smooth the top with the spatula or a little oil on the tip of your finger. When it’s settled, drizzle the cornstarch mixture over the top.

Set it aside for at least six hours. Because of the extra moisture from the jam, it’s especially important to let this set up before trying to cut it.

To shape the marshmallows, turn out the block on a cutting board dusted with more of the cornstarch mixture. Use a pizza cutter dusted in the cornstarch mixture to straighten the sides and cut even marshmallows. Dust every side of each marshmallow with the cornstarch mixture. I always end up with four long strips from the edges, and cut those into mini marshmallows to keep for myself. Those remnants may not be the prettiest, but they are delicious.

My pan makes two dozen big, square, delicately purple, entirely giftable marshmallows, and about two dozen little remnants to snack on.

*I’ve had the larger batch climb the beaters like Calvin’s mom’s cooking, which makes a relatively straightforward recipe into a sticky fiasco. Nobody wants that.

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Virtual Cookie Exchange

For Christmas, my father only asks for two things: a handmade card and his favorite cookies. And since Linda Poitevin has organized a virtual cookie exchange blog hop, this is a perfect chance to post one of those recipes. This cookie is intensely simple–everything is combined in one bowl!–and with so few ingredients, most of them egg and oatmeal, they’re practically a health food.

Hey, it’s a magical season.

Thanks to D.D. Syrdal for tagging me, and for the recipe for Ruby Linzer Bars!

Grammy Davis’s Brer Rabbit Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

Combine in bowl:

  • 2 c. oatmeal

  • 1 c. flour

  • ½ c. sugar

  • ½ t. salt

  • ½ t. allspice

  • ½ t. cinnamon

  • ½ c. Crisco

  • ½ c. Brer Rabbit molasses (green label)*

  • 1 egg, unbeaten

  • 1 t. baking powder

Stir until just mixed

Drop in large spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet

Bake at 325°F for 12 minutes — do not overbake

*The correct brand of molasses is a vital element. Some have dared use the yellow label Brer Rabbit, even the purple label, or (poor fools!) even another brand entirely. These are dire mistakes, not to be made twice.

I’m tagging my sister Megan Engelhardt, who delivers unto us Lemon Bar Puppy Chow. And here are my last two cookie posts.

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Cataloging My Kinks

NaNoWriMo starts in two months (*pauses to let the hyperventilation pass*) and I’m in once more, for my third (!) year as a Municipal Liaison and tenth (!!) year participating. I write year-round and I’m never short of projects, but I like to use NaNo to experiment, indulge, connect, and generally enjoy my hobby that, these days, tends to feel more like work.

I also like to do NaNo with a new, standalone story idea. To that end, it’s time for me to run my best off-season writing exercise.

I don’t have a name for it. (So if you’re clever, suggest one–maybe something like Gail Simone‘s recent #MyThemesAre.) I take a blank sheet of paper, write FAVORITE STORY ELEMENTS at the top, and list twenty or thirty things I currently think are awesome.

In fandom they’re called “kinks” whether or not they’re of a sexual nature, or “squees” (as opposed to “squicks”) whether or not they’re positive moments. Most of these can be found cataloged on TV Tropes–but don’t go there, it’s more important that you name them yourself, and also TV Tropes is an Internet tar pit, where productivity goes to die. Look, I didn’t even link to it.

Types of story elements include:

Character archetypes or subtypes
Emotional beats (ex., “David Tennant cries in rain”)
Very Important Opinions
Plot twists
Forms of dialogue (ex., “snappy”)

Everything goes in the list, no matter how weirdly specific, fleeting, or inconsequential. And it doesn’t matter if they work together or not. Even opposites are fine! It’s less of a checklist than a wishlist.

The quicker you write, the better; the goal is to draw from your id, so the list is as potent as possible. It’s also a good way to suss out what’s made an impression on you recently, that you might want to explore on your own. My list this year includes “allies who kind of hate each other”–thanks, Guardians of the Galaxy! They can also be valuable insight, if you do them regularly. Why did I love X book so much? Why do I never get sick of writing Y? Why are my curtains blue?*

Once I’m done, I don’t try to form a story out of what I’ve got. I just read it over and bask in how awesome it would be to use those elements. Then I put it away. But it’s brought those elements to the front of my brain, so when I do start coming up with a NaNo idea–a proper idea, with all the important parts–those elements are ready and waiting to attach themselves to the structure, and make everything awesomer.

And, you know, if I DO end up writing about, say, an ocean ghost who falls in love with a warrior nun trapped in a seabird’s body…I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

*A reference to this meme, about which I have Strong Feelings, summed up as: If it was YOUR brain that made the curtains blue, take a minute to figure out why it chose blue over every other color.

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The Idiot Abroad (Little Surprises in the Big World)

I’ll be in London for LonCon soon, by sheer chance, because I’d signed up for a bus tour in the same area that happened to be ending the day before the con. Sweet Providence! Which means I’ve had two weeks to acclimate to travel around the UK and the handful of little things different from US hotels. Since they might save LonCon attendees a tiny amount of grief, here you go.

- Energy-saver boxes by the door use your keycard to allow power in your room. Until you put it in & leave it in, the lights don’t work.

- Low-flush toilets with dual flush buttons, like a lopsided yin-yang.

- Plugs. Everyone knows they’re different. American appliances do need an adapter. They probably DON’T need a voltage converter: most modern devices are rated for about 110-220V, so work in both places.

- Coffee: very strong everywhere! Room accoutrements: electric kettles, not coffee pots! Raw sugar (Demarara sugar, “brown” sugar): very popular apparently!

- Nobody puts ice in your drink unless you specifically ask for it. Ever.

- They like to hide the blow dryer in a drawer for some reason. There also never seem to be washcloths, which I don’t use, but this vexes some of my older traveling companions.

- Boy, do I love the pound coin. Also awesome: London taxis must be certified & have set meters, so they are fast and reliable and not bad rates if split with friends; cheaper than the Underground, for how we used them. The ones I’ve seen fit four comfortably in back, five if you’re thin or friendly.

- Crappy wifi seems the norm, and has usually required some kind of login, the stuff of nightmares. Almost none of our hotels have had AC; none had a fan in the bathroom. Windows tend to open.

- The tap water seems fine to drink.

This is probably kindergarten stuff for seasoned travelers, but it took me by surprise. If you’ll be at LonCon on Friday, let me know. Happy travels!

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Writers: What’s Your Motivation-Encouragement Profile?

Everyone’s writing goals are different, but I think it’s safe to assume we all want to be productive and happy. Easier said than done. Last year, I asked Twitter two big questions: “What motivates your writing–what helps you be and stay productive?” and “What encourages your writing–when do you feel good about your writing and yourself as a writer?” Twitter is pretty smart, cumulatively, and I got some terrific answers. Funnily enough, those answers boiled down into three major “types”.

Now, a quiz. Pick the phrase you are most likely to say.

“I got so much writing done today! Thank goodness for

A) that deadline at the end of the week–it gave me the push I needed!”

B) that new idea I got–I couldn’t wait to see it on paper!”

C) that writing conference–it really got me fired up!”

“I had a great writing day!

A) I made a huge dent in my work in progress!”

B) I wrote the best scene–I’m still laughing!”

C) I got some great feedback!”

“Guys, I suck at writing.

A) I haven’t written anything new for a month, and missed an open submissions window.”

B) All my words are dead on the page and my characters are boring me.”

C) None of my beta readers are getting back to me, and I got a mean review.”

Tally your scores! Most people who talked to be about their motivation and encouragement fell into one of three broad mindsets, which I’m calling the Striving, the Story, and the Social profile.

All or Mostly A’s: Striving

These writers reported being motivated by: “hunger”, “deadlines”, “filling in the blanks.” Their encouragements were things like: “having written”, “hitting a goal”, “getting paid.” Sample responses:

feeling of accomp when I finish a scene/thing – just that it’s done — I finished a thing, and there it is, and even if it’s bad I could let it loose in the world

Knowing I have written is the reward for writing.

to be honest i get encouragement even from writing what turns out later to be crap. i always feel like it’s great @ the time…

Encouraged by sales, money and being TOC with great authors.

All or Mostly B’s: Story

These writers said they were motivated by things like “exciting ideas”, “a concept I can’t ignore”, “great new characters.” They were encouraged by “expressing a scene just the way I envision.” Sample responses:

Fun when it’s going well

Finding my work to be something I’d want to read

My positivity is all thanks to characters.

Enjoying what I’ve written and being able to picture the scenes (either written or upcoming) in my head

All or Mostly C’s: Social

These writers said they were motivated by “community”, “accountability”, “sharing the story”. They reported being encouraged by “feedback”, “getting it out to readers”. Sample responses:

getting good feedback that helps me grow as a writer

knowing others will read them helps too

Encouragement you get from other people, friends and colleges. You can’t do that either unless you have work to be commented on

I love it when people say they like something I’ve written. So, having a story get published and kinda disappear without a trace is a bummer.

All three profiles are capable of producing great stories. Almost everyone cares about all three things, but one tends to dominate. Identifying your motivation-encouragement profile is all about getting things done and feeling good about yourself.

So you know your motivation-encouragement profile: what now? Well, it can help you identify the source of a block, and what you can do about it. Striving writers can set a low goal, and trust their momentum to carry them from there. Story writers might skip ahead to a scene that’s really grabbing them. Social writers can find a reader who’ll enthusiastically push them for the next part of the story.

If you’re a mix of profiles and you’re having trouble, think about what’s lacking right now. Something to work toward? A great idea? A reader? Work through the possibilities, and you might land on something that gets you going.

For me, the biggest benefit of discovering these profiles was learning how to better encourage other writers! Someone complaining about a lack of feedback won’t be comforted by being reminded how much they wrote today. If we can learn to motivate and encourage each other in the ways that work for them, we all get closer to being productive, happy writers. Mission accomplished.

Have you thought about what motivates and encourages your writing? What’s your motivation-encouragement profile?

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New Release: Suddenly, Zombies

Over the past few weeks I’ve pulled together two zombie stories I wrote for hilariously specific themed anthologies, talentlessly iterated a cover, added a bonus drabble from way back in the day, and boom: thar she blows in the Kindle store.

Two Things was written for Zombonauts (because zombies in space!) and was the first proper-length short story I ever sold. Just recently, Wily Writers produced it for audio, so you can give it a listen.

Escape From Ape City was written for Zombie Kong (because GIANT ZOMBIE GORILLAS), in which my sister Megan Engelhardt also appeared*. My schtick was to never truncate “giant zombie gorillas”; it’s the whole phrase, every single time, because it busts me up and also because they paid me by the word. There’s also some Jazz-Age banter, sweeping action, and romance, but let’s face it, the giant zombie gorillas are the stars here.

So cover to cover, it’s pretty silly. For a while the tagline on my website was “writes dark fiction and light horror.” This is the light horror part. If you’re gonna end the world, you might as well enjoy it.

*The conversation went: “DID YOU SEE THE GIANT ZOMBIE GORILLA THING” “WE HAVE TO GET IN ON THIS” “YES WE DO” That both our stories came out as pulpy historical adventure is, however, coincidence.
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One-Week E-Book Sale

Petals and Thorns by Jeffe Kennedy Wolves-and-Witches-Cover_300 The Worth of a Shell by M. C. A. Hogarth Near and Far by Cat Rambo
lairofthetwelveprincesses300 The Eighth Succession by Don Sakers Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight by Cat Rambo Pasionate Overture: Master of the Opera by Jeffe Kennedy

This week only! A bunch of SFWA authors are knocking down the prices on their e-books. Here are eight books for three bucks or less, covering all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy, short and long form--something for everybody, as long as everybody likes SFF and awesome things.

Petals and Thorns - Jeffe Kennedy

In exchange for her father’s life, Amarantha agrees to marry the dreadful Beast and be his wife for seven days. Though the Beast cannot take Amarantha’s virginity unless she begs him to, he can and does take her in every other way. From the moment they are alone together, the Beast relentlessly strips Amarantha of all her resistance.

Wolves and Witches - Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt

Witches have stories too. So do mermaids, millers' daughters, princes (charming or otherwise), even big bad wolves. They may be a bit darker--fewer enchanted ball gowns, more iron shoes. Happily-ever-after? Depends on who you ask. In Wolves and Witches, sisters Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt weave sixteen stories and poems out of familiar fairy tales, letting them show their teeth. Sample the contents here.

The Worth of a Shell - M.C.A. Hogarth

Born to a harsh world, we Jokka have evolved three sexes to survive: neuter, male and female. Twice in our lives we may change from one to another. A change we accept with grace... or resignation. It was our way. ...until one female defied all tradition: Dlane Ashoi-anadi, revolutionary, intentionally childless, runaway.

This is not her story.

This is mine.

Near + Far - Cat Rambo

Whether set in terrestrial oceans or on far-off space stations, Cat Rambo's masterfully told stories explore themes of gender, despair, tragedy, and the triumph of both human and non-human alike. Cats talk, fur wraps itself around you, aliens overstay their welcome, and superheroes deal with everyday problems. Rambo has been published in Asimov's, Weird Tales, and among many others. She was an editor for Fantasy Magazine, has written numerous nonfiction articles and interviews, and has volunteered time with Broad Universe and Clarion West. She has been shortlisted for the Endeavour Award, the Million Writers Award, the Locus Awards, and most recently a World Fantasy Award.

The Lair of the Twelve Princesses - Amanda C. Davis

Bay has nothing to show for her years of military service but the clothes on her back, a bad leg, and a sardonic imp in a bottle who's more harm than help. When she hears an open call for bodyguards for the twelve headstrong princesses, she thinks the job could reverse her fortunes. Unfortunately, her new charges are under a nightly curse, and everyone seems determined to keep the details a mystery--including its victims.

The Eighth Succession - Don Sakers

In the tradition of the Theodore Sturgeon and James H. Schmitz, a new tale of galactic intrigue and adventure . . . Rikk Hoister is the first of new breed of cloned, paranormal geniuses, able to defeat the Imperial Navy with his mind alone, bound only by a rigid sense of ethics . . .  His cousin Yewanda is equally powerful, and also able to teleport herself anywhere. She's innocent, inexperienced . . . and just six years old. When Yewanda sets out on her own to visit Rikk, the galaxy better watch out!

Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight - Cat Rambo

A collection of fantasy short stories by Cat Rambo. Includes "Her Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight," "The Accordion," "Magnificent Pigs," "Narrative of a Beast's Life," "Sugar," "The Dead Girl's Wedding March," "In Order to Conserve," "The Towering Monarch of His Race," "I'll Gnaw Your Bones, the Manticore Said," "Eagle-haunted Lake Sammamish," "Heart In a Box," "In the Lesser Southern Isles," "Up the Chimney," "The Silent Familiar," "Events at Fort Plenitude," "Dew Drop Coffee Lounge," "A Key Decides Its Destiny," "Rare Pears and Greengages," "A Twine of Flame," and "Grandmother's Road Trip" (only available in the e-version). Also includes author's notes and a chronology of Tabat.

Master of the Opera, Act 1: Passionate Overture - Jeffe Kennedy

In the first tantalizing installment of Jeffe Kennedy's ravishing serial novel Master of the Opera, an innocent young woman is initiated into a sensual world of music, mystery, passion--and one man's private obsession. . .