Turkey Day is Here!

Or Ham Day, depending on who you are.  For all those celebrating, I hope you have a safe and food-filled holiday.  For those of you outside the states… Happy Thursday!


Nightmare Artist Spotlight Interview: Jeff Simpson

This month’s Nightmare cover artist is Jeff Simpson.  You may have seen his work in relation to Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed work, or when reading the very first issue of Nightmare, or while playing Magic: The Gathering.


MJNL: You’ve done a few illustrations for Magic: the Gathering, and your first card (Bloodcrazed Hoplite) was released in May. Are you a Magic fan? How did this job compare to others you’ve had? Were there any unexpected hurdles or pleasant surprises?

JS: I collected Magic cards as a kid/early teen . . . loved them. Eventually video games kinda took over, but all these years later even the smell opening a booster pack releases some pretty heavy nostalgia-packed dopamine. It’s a pretty fun job to do on the side. They seem a lot more specific now about what they want. Looking back on those old cards from the ’90s they seemed kinda all over the place in terms of styles. I guess it’s gotten so big that they had to rein in some consistency/world building or whatever. I kinda miss seeing those wacky-looking cards that totally didn’t fit in with the rest though; they were fun.

To learn more about Jeff, and to see a select gallery of his work, click on the cover below.










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Song of the Sargasso up at Galaxy’s Edge

Song of the Sargasso is the first story in a new shared-world series from Galaxy’s Edge.

Hundreds of years in the future, we discover that the solar system is encased in a strange region of impassable space, known as the Sargasso Grid.  Those who enter never come back–it’s the Bermuda Triangle of space travel.

In Song of the Sargasso, freelance miners attempt to scout out a dwarf planet orbiting just over the Sargasso boundary, but something unexpected threatens to end their operation.  The pilot, Victor Carvalho, grapples  with personal-demons made reality while trying to keep his crew from falling apart.

Here’s and excerpt:

Aye, aye, m’lady,

There’s a dragon down below.

Aye, aye, m’lady,

Yet exploring we shall go.


Don’t give your heart to the red-dusted man,

Don’t give your heart to the Sea.

Please stay steady-on by the dock,

And save your heart for me


—Chorus. Last transmission from the Illico One.




Victor Carvalho couldn’t hear Kira’s scream, but he sure as hell could see it.

It was plastered on her face, frozen there beneath her space helmet.

The image would be forever seared into his memory. He crouched down on the barren deck of the Illico and reached a shaking hand toward her supine form. She didn’t move—how could she, with her body twisted like that?

We shouldn’t have come here. We shouldn’t have reached into God’s domain.


Nineteen Hours Before

“All right everyone, we’re about to cross into Sargasso space. If you feel the need to vomit, or strap yourself in tight, maybe say a few prayers, no one will hold it against you.”

Victor made a slight course adjustment, then buckled himself into the nav chair. His cat, a short-haired calico with ‘Starbuck’s limp,’ curled herself up on his lap.

“Ready, Dinah?” he asked, running his fingers through her soft fur. “Hold onto your hairballs.”

Though he joked, he didn’t think anything was funny about the extra-solar Sargasso Sea—or the Sargasso Grid, as it was called by those who’d never dare travel out beyond the planets. He watched the computer count down as it estimated their position, and his heart beat faster with every light-second gained. Just remember the money, you can’t beat the money, he told himself. A lot of hazard pay came with venturing into the Sea, and Victor ticked off all the things he could buy when he got back to Mars.

An entire biodome all for himself.

A sports-class racing ship.

A million swimming pools’ worth of cat food.

… Diapers. Lots of diapers.

There were as many stories about the Sea as there once had been about the edge of the world. Here there be drag-ions, went the old astronaut’s joke. Mythical beasts, mythical particles, it didn’t matter—the region, forming a globe around the solar system starting at 1,260 AUs from the sun, was a very real borderland. Did something swallow the ships out this far, or shut them down? Did they fall into micro black holes, or drop out of existence altogether? No one really knew what happened out in the Sargasso. But one thing was for sure: no one who’d gone more than three light-hours in had ever come back.


You can find the rest here (free to read for the months of November and December): http://www.galaxysedge.com/n9.htm

Other writers in the series include Hugo and Nebula nominee, Brad R. Torgersen, my fellow WotF vol. 29 alumni, Andrea G. Stewart and Tina Gower, and authors Lou J. Berger and Alex Shvartsman.

Happy reading!


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Rats Will Run Up in BuzzyMag

Story up! Rats will Run is free to read online from BuzzyMag.

On the distant planet of Cit-Bolon-Tum, a cancer-researcher chases her hallucinating colleague into the unforgiving alien jungle. Is the man dealing with an advanced case of cabin fever, or has he become part of someone else’s experiments? Will she be able to save him before he gets eaten by the local vegetation, or will she fall victim to the same inexplicable visions driving him onwards?

Here’s an excerpt:

I freaking hate rats.

So I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why Pedro wanted to release a test group in the lab. “Can’t you do it in the observation cube? Why in here? They’ll get their rat germs all over everything.” I shivered, thinking about my tablet with tiny paw prints scattered across it.

“No, no. It has to be in here,” he insisted, pushing up his thick-framed glasses. “Gabby, trust me, you want to see this. I discovered it by accident.” Taking off with a hop and a skip, he went to retrieve a set of cages.

“Accident? What does that mean? One got loose? Geez, man, I had my lunch sitting out here yesterday.”
He let out a disturbing, manic cackle.

Perhaps he’d finally snapped–gone stir-crazy. We’d had a handful go wiggy over the past year. One guy even went outside the base sans pressure-suit. That wasn’t pretty. Isolation can do that to people–and it was hard to get more isolated than HD 10180-4.

We liked to call the planet Cit-Bolon-Tum (Tums for short), after one of the Mayan gods of medicine. It offered thousands of curative prospects, which was why all two hundred base-dwellers had made the trek to its shores.

“Is this what our Saturday nights have come to?” I asked as he hefted two cages–each with three rats–onto one of the touch-tables. “Oh, come on, I have to give presentations with that.”

“You can use the far wall,” he said, rolling his eyes. “How did you get into bio-research if you hate animals so much?”

“Microbiology,” I specified. “Microorganisms. You know, the things that don’t have faces. Or claws, or whiskers, or long, naked tails.”

“You still have to run experiments. Cancer cells don’t exist in a vacuum.”

I shrugged. The teasing from my subordinates was routine. I was the only biologist on the team–to hear them talk, in all of mankind–that hated nature. Well, not all of it. Just anything that scurried, or crawled, or scuttled. Which applied to almost all of Cit-Bolon-Tum’s complex life-forms.

“Get to it,” I insisted. “What’s this great rat-discovery you’ve made?”

“Watch,” he said with a giggle. “These ones on the left have been given compound 0697. The ones on the right are the control group.” He opened one cage, then the other, pulling a rat from each. Proudly, he held up both–a little grandstanding. Then, he turned both loose on the floor.

I leapt up onto a stool near the counter, almost knocking over an irreplaceable electron microscope in the process.

Read the rest at: http://buzzymag.com/rats-will-run-marina-j-lostetter/
Happy reading!


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QuarterReads: Great Stories for Pocket Change

Forget about bang for your buck–how much bang can you get for a quarter? I’ve uploaded three of my sci-fi humor reprints to QuarterReads, a new website that lets you purchase individual stories for a quarter. Though the site design is simple, I think the idea behind it is wonderful. Here are the highlights:

*All stories are 2,000 words or under. They’re quick, satisfying reads.

*Of that quarter spent, twenty-two cents goes directly to the author.

*Browsing and buying are both simple. So far, finding things I’d like to read is easy. There’s a search by genre, popularity, and they suggest stories based on what you’ve already read. And you purchase a set amount of reads ahead of time, so it only takes one click to buy the story (you don’t have to worry about the hassle of going through paypal every time you want to read).

*The site is curated, meaning all stories have to be approved before they display, so you shouldn’t find stories with tons of typos or incredibly wonky formatting. And nothing will be incomplete.

*Tipping is encouraged, but not necessary. If you thought your read was worth more than a quarter, you can tip the author extra.

If you’d like to check it out, you can visit my author page here: https://quarterreads.com/writer.php?id=80

Happy reading!


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‘Fantasy for Good’ Available for Pre-Order

Fantasy for Good cover

Fantasy for Good, containing my story “Lenora of the Low,” is now available for pre-order.

About the Book:

From Sword and Sorcery to Paranormal Romance, from Weird Fiction to Fairy Tales, Fantasy For Good presents a wide range of exciting short fiction to accommodate every taste. In this collection of thirty stories, legendary authors (including NYT Bestsellers and World Fantasy Award winners) and great new up-and-comers in the genre spin tales of magic and mayhem.

Featuring new fiction from Piers Anthony, Michael Moorcock, Carrie Vaughn, Kelley Armstrong, Alan Dean Foster, Katharine Kerr, David Farland, Jane Lindskold, Nnedi Okorafor, Todd McCaffrey and many more, alongside classic tales from George R.R. Martin, Jay Lake, Kevin J Anderson & Rebecca Moesta, and Neil Gaiman.

Fantasy For Good also includes a classic tale by master novelist, Roger Zelazny, author of the Nine Princes of Amber, who passed away in 1995 after a battle with colorectal cancer. His son, Trent, provides a moving introduction.

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go directly to The Colon Cancer Alliance, a charity dedicated to the prevention of this deadly disease, as well as funding research and supporting patients who suffer from it.

Click here to get your copy: http://nightscapepress.wix.com/store#!product/prd1/2819056971/fantasy-for-good%3A-a-charitable-anthology


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Nightmare Artist Spotlight Interview: Sam Guay

This month’s Nightmare cover artist is Sam Guay. She does beautiful (and creepy) water-color work.

MJNL: One of my favorite pieces in your gallery is entitled “Oneironaut’s Box”—the blue and yellow palette is very alluring, and the figures present a lot of depth. What inspired this image, and how does the concept of “Oneironautics” (dream navigation) fit into its world?

SG: Somewhere in my vast collection of reference pictures I have these three images I took in a museum of an artifact that completely captivated me. Tucked away with the rest of the Arabic art was this curious metal box covered in all these little dials, knobs, and charts. The description said that it was used to divine the future by interpreting a pattern of dots produced by turning the dials. On this box is a poem, an excerpt reads: “I am the silent speaker . . . the judicious one hides his secret thoughts but I disclose them as if hearts were created as my parts.” How can you not be inspired by this instrument?

As for oneironautics, I’ve always been interested in dreams, and I taught myself how to lucid dream which has made for some wild experiences. The world that’s hinted at in this piece is still being developed, so I can’t give you a definitive answer, but you might be seeing more art about it in the future . . . and maybe even some stories.

To learn more about Sam, and to see a select gallery of her work (which does indeed include “Oneironaut’s Box”), click on the cover below.



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Confessions of an #IceBucketChallenge Loser

I’m an #IceBucketChallenge Loser.

I was tagged for the Ice Bucket Challenge–which, if you don’t know, is a viral campaign aimed at raising both awareness and money for the ALSA (http://www.alsa.org/)–by my brother. I’ll have to concede, as rapid temperature changes of the skin and scalp (like those caused by, I donno, a bucket of ice water on a hot day…) are one of my migraine triggers. However, my conciliatory donation to the ALS Association has been made.

This challenge has become a phenomenon, and I’m glad to have participated in it (even as a loser). While we’re all thinking about giving and supporting those with difficult medical conditions, I’d thought it would be nice to consider a few other foundations that could always use help.

1. Relay for Life is an annual run in which teams commit to participating in a relay in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone whose life was not touched by cancer in some way. You can find out more about running and donating at http://www.relayforlife.org/

2. Operation Smile helps fund surgeries for kids with cleft lips and cleft palates. This medical condition isn’t simply an aesthetic problem. Many children who suffer from cleft palates cannot eat properly, and one in ten children with the deformity dies before turning one (many of malnutrition): http://www.operationsmile.org/

3. The American Heart Association supports heart disease research, education, and provides tools individuals can use for staying healthy and active. Heart disease is a general term that covers a myriad of cardiovascular conditions, which are, collectively, the number one cause of death in the US: http://www.heart.org/

4. Alzheimer’s is a frightening disease that strips the sufferer of who they are long before it kills them. According to the CDC, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America supports research, education, but is especially focused on backing caregivers and helping them to ensure a good quality of life for those they care for. http://www.alzfdn.org/

5. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. There are several different types of diabetes, all with their own causes and sets of symptoms. What ties them together is the sufferer’s inability to properly produce insulin (which helps the body regulate its glucose levels). http://www.diabetes.org/

And, last on my #IceBucketLoser list: Any guesses as to the tenth leading cause of death in the US? It’s suicide. The CDC tallied nearly 40,000 cases in 2010. Anxiety and Depression disorders are among some of the most treatable medical problems in the world, yet according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, only one third of sufferers ever receive any treatment–let alone the treatment they need. The ADAA supports better education, understanding, research, and treatment of a variety of anxiety disorders, from depression to PTSD to OCD. http://www.adaa.org/


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Nightmare Artist Spotlight Interview: Reiko Murakami

First, huge congrats to everyone at Lightspeed on their Hugo win! After lots of near-misses, it’s nice to see the magazine bring home an award.

Over at Lightspeed’s sister magazine, Nightmare, My interview with Reiko Murakami (this month’s cover artist) has gone up!

MJNL: A lot of your personal horror work seems to center around merging humans and beasts. What is it about these hybrid forms that appeals to you, or alternately, scares you?

RM: I’m interested in capturing a character’s internal struggle. Over the course of the years I found it feels more appropriate to let my characters free from regular human bodies. I don’t necessarily try to make their bodies look scary. The design is a result of my attempt to capture their emotions.

You can check out the rest (and browse a gallery of the artist’s work) by clicking on the cover below:


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