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!

~Marina

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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!

~Marina

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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

~Marina


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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.

nightmare_24_september_2014

~Marina

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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/

~Marina

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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:
Nightmare_23_August_2014-200x300

~Marina

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Clockwork Daggers and Bacon Crack: An Interview with Beth Cato

ClockworkDagger_PB_cover100x151 BethCato-steampunk-headshot100x150

Today I come bearing treats of all kinds. First off, I’d like to announce that I’m the new Artist Spotlight interviewer for Nightmare Magazine–every issue I’ll be bringing you a Q and A with the cover illustrator. To celebrate, I thought I’d delve into the world of interviewing on the blog.

Beth Cato, the author of the upcoming debut novel, THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, graciously agreed to be my first victim–er, guest. She spoke with me about steampunk, fears, and food. And, in honor of my Nightmare column, shared the scariest recipe she knows.

Before we delve into the questions, here’s a little lowdown on the novel:

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a number-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

Beth’s short fiction can be found in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many other magazines. The Clockwork Dagger is her first novel. The sequel, The Clockwork Crown, will be released in 2015.

You can follow her at http://www.BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

MJNL: Beth, thank you so much for letting me interview you. First off, I have to ask you a question I’ll be asking all of the Nightmare cover artists: What scares you the most?

BC: Forgetting. I fear forgetting who I am and who I love. One of my grandfathers died of Alzheimer’s, and though I wasn’t close to him, the horror of it struck me deeply. I also fear that I’ll be forgotten by people I love. It’s the worst fate, to lose yourself in that way. Zombies squick me for that reason.

MJNL: Losing my memory is one of my biggest fears as well! Sounds like we’ve had similar experiences with loved ones and dementia. What scared you the most about the evolution of ‘The Clockwork Dagger’? For example, was a particular character especially difficult to pin down, or was a certain chapter difficult to write?

BC: My agent sent me through months of very intense revisions. One of the most daunting was her comment that my two main characters sounded too much alike. I was at a loss for several weeks as I figured out what to do. In the end, I softened Octavia’s speech so it was more modern and casual, and I created a formal accent for Alonzo. I rewrote all of their dialogue. Well over a year later, in my final revision pass for my publisher, I still found a few places where I had goofed up Alonzo’s accent and used contractions!

MJNL: What about ‘The Clockwork Dagger’ are you most proud of–what’s your favorite thing about the novel?

BC: One of my favorite things is that my heroine is a medician, gifted with the magic to heal. I’ve felt a strong draw to the healer archetype since I was eleven, but you never find healers as the central protagonist in a book or video game. They are a side character to keep the heroes alive, or healing is one of many benefits a protagonist has. I feel like I wrote the kind of book I hoped to find for so many years.

MJNL: Not only are you a fantastic writer, you’re also a baker. From your website (http://www.bethcato.com/) a visitor can access your recipe blog, Bready or Not. Is there a recipe you’d like to share with us?

BC: Sure! I chose a recipe that has genuinely scared some people–as in, they think I’m crazy, but then they taste the result and can’t believe how good it is. It’s dubbed Bacon Crack: Chocolate-Covered Bacon Toffee. It sounds nasty, I confess, but I had to try it because I was intrigued. The result is a blend of savory, sweet, and salty, and it’s downright addictive.

Chocolate Covered Bacon Toffee (aka Bacon Crack)
tweaked from Wine and Glue

Ingredients:
2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sliced almonds
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (should make about one cup)
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Prep the bacon and have it ready. Layer a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and make sure you have a space where it will fit in the fridge.

2) It’s toffee time. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir regularly until the mixture boils and comes to a 285 degrees F. (Yes, a candy thermometer is necessary here.) The temperature is slow to start but once it gets above boiling, it goes up quickly.

3) Once the mixture has reached the right temperature, quickly stir in the almonds, and then the bacon. The fat is going to melt off the bacon immediately and separate from the rest of the mixture.

4) Pour it all into the jelly roll pan. It will start to set quickly, and the bacon fat will be liquid and on top. If you can, lift the pan with one of the corners pointed down and pour off the fat into the glass measuring cup. Get as much of it as you can, turning the pan and dripping from the opposite corner as necessary. OR–because my mixture didn’t set and wanted to slide off–grab some paper towels and blot the fat from the top.

5) Let the toffee set for at least two hours in the refrigerator. Move to the freezer for an hour. Once frozen, break it apart and store it in there as you prep the chocolate.

6) Melt the chocolate using the microwave or a double boiler. Taking a few pieces of toffee out of the freezer at a time, dip it in the chocolate, setting it on wax paper to set.

8) Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

OM NOM NOM.

MJNL: Delicious! Can’t wait to make some. What food do you think pairs best with reading ‘The Clockwork Dagger’? Salty or sweet? Tart or tangy?

BC: Oh, great questions! Within the book, gremlins play an important role, and it turns out that gremlins–like me–love cheese. Therefore, I suggest a good hard, nutty cheese (Vella is a personal favorite) cut to snack size and served with some grapes and crackers. As it’s a steampunk book, I have to add that tea is always a good choice drink.

MJNL: What is Octavia Leander’s favorite food, and what do you think that says about her?

BC: Octavia mentions more than once than she loves chocolate. That was a very conscious choice on my part. She has these incredible healing powers, but really, she has a desperate need to belong. I wanted her to crave a food that matched the time period–it’s based on post World War I Europe–and something that most any reader could relate to. A love of chocolate is common ground.

MJNL: Airships figure prominently in ‘The Clockwork Dagger’ and are a staple of steampunk fiction. What do you think it is about airship travel that makes it so fascinating and romantic?

BC: Steampunk celebrates the maker-movement–it has a strong appreciation of using a junkyard to make something beautiful and extraordinary. Airships feel more exposed, more basic than airplanes, something that the common person can cobble together–and because they fly, there’s this sense of gallantry and adventure. At the same time, there’s elegance because of the level of service on board and the overall etiquette of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

MJNL: What is the one fantastical element from your book that you wish was real (or, alternately, what is the one fantastical element from your book that you’re really happy isn’t real)?

BC: No hesitation… I wish healing magic was real. No more dithering over a diagnosis, no prolonged suffering. It’s the deepest wish of my heart, and something that must be relegated to fiction.

MJNL: Thank you once again for the interview, Beth!

If you can’t wait to crack open THE CLOCKWORD DAGGER until it’s released on September 16th, check out this excerpt from Tor.com.

And you don’t have to wait until the 16th to purchase a copy; it’s available for preorder right now.

After baking up some Bacon Crack and reading through that excerpt, don’t for get to come back and take a peek at my Nightmare Artist Spotlight debut. Here’s the link to purchase the current issue, and I will post a link directly to the interview when it goes up for free later this month.

Nightmare_23_August_2014-200x300

As always, happy reading!

~Marina

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Balance and Debt: better than it sounds. New stories up today!

Two new stories are up today. One is my Women Destroy Sci-Fi flash piece, A Debt Repaid.

Excerpt:

When I signed up for Twin Life, I didn’t waste time imagining who I’d be attached to when the time came. All I knew is that I would die one day, and if I didn’t want it to be permanent, Twin Life was my only option.

Bodies are rare these days, Jessica. But heads—we’re everywhere.

The second story is my Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest second-place-winning story, Balance:

“Hellooooo,” said Jamal in his small, sing-song voice. “Convoy computer, helloooo.” The eight-year-old bounced a soccer ball on his knee in front of the access panel. He was supposed to be in class.

“Hello, Jamal,” said the ship’s AI.

“Do I get a new baby brother today?”

“My records indicate that your parents will jointly travel to Hippocrates during their lunch hour to retrieve the next available, fully-gestated clone.”

The boy tossed his ball at the panel and deftly caught it on the rebound. “But is it a brother?” Computers could be so dumb. He’d make them smarter when he grew up.

“The next available clone is that of Nakamura Akane. Her original earned a doctorate in engineering and ship design from the university of–”

“A sister?” Jamal kicked the ball down the hallway. “You’re giving me a sister?” He knocked his forehead against the wall and scrunched his eyes shut in frustration. “Why, computer? What did I ever do to you?”

“I am not in control of the growth patterns. And I had no influence over when your parents submitted their request.”

“Mr. Kaeden?”

“Ah, great,” Jamal grumbled. Through the hall came Dr. Seal, his teacher, carrying the scuffed soccer ball. “You had to tattle on me, too?”

“I do not tattle,” said I.C.C. “Dr. Seal inquired as to your location. You are here. I related such.”

“Not cool, man. Not cool.”

“Mr. Kaeden,” Dr. Seal reiterated, standing over the boy. “You are supposed to be in class.”

“You are too,” he mumbled.

“Jamal will have to cohabitate with a sibling soon,” the computer explained. “The fact that he was not consulted on its gender seems to have caused him distress.”

“I’m getting a sister,” Jamal said with a pout.

“Sisters are people too,” said Dr. Seal as he took Jamal by the hand and led him away from the access panel.

Once again, happy reading!

~Marina

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Destroy, Destroy, Destroy!

Lightspeed Magazine’s special issue, Women Destroy Science Fiction, is here! The full issue is available from all the major retailers, and a portion will be going up free to read over the month. I’m very proud to be a contributor to this issue, and my flash piece, A Debt Repaid, is scheduled to be available on the website come June 17th (so look out for the link!).

Right now you can read the editorial and stories by Seanan McGuire and Kris Millering on lightspeedmagazine.com.

Happy reading!

~Marina

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