Comet Man up at Flash Fiction Online!

Today I’ve got a reprint out at FFO!  ‘Comet Man’ is a funny little tale about a father’s disconnect with his adult son.  And the main character rides a comet…bareback…to Jupiter.

Excerpt time!

I don’t care what genetic sub-group you’re from, by comet is a lousy way to travel.  And  no, I don’t mean this touristy shite where they put glass huts on iceballs so rich-kids can ‘rough it’ and still get all the interplanetary TV they want.  I mean real, true-to-physics, grab hold with your gene-modified hooks and hope the torque doesn’t rip your spider-silk-enhanced tendons apart travel. With oxygen bladders full and organic pressure-layer holding fast, I caught my ride to the Jovian mines.  

And forgetting.  

It wasn’t about the ‘big bucks’ the mining recruiter had touted, or the chance to ‘see the system.’  For me, Jupiter was a way to start over–to pretend that distance was the reason Tiffer and I didn’t talk any more.  I wanted to be someplace where there were no family members–if they weren’t there, they couldn’t leave.

Once the rock and ice pummeling began, I hunkered down on the comet and prepared to hibernate for the next however-many months it was to the mines. Sleep came easier than I expected.  Guess it’s not hard to pass out when there’s nothing to do for, you know, ever.

But no bliss is meant to last.  

“Hey, dude, why the long face?”

At first I thought it was a dream–my nosy unconsciousness interfering with my beauty sleep.  Unfortunately, no.

“Yo-yo, what’s happening comet dude?”

You can read the rest (for free!) here:

FFO staffer Stefan Milićević was also kind enough to do an interview with me.  You can check that out here:

Happy reading!


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The Prayer Ladder is up at QuarterReads!

This almost-flash fantasy piece was first published in Galaxy’s Edge magazine, and later appeared in the venue’s Best-Of anthology.  Here’s an excerpt:

The ladder stretches up and up before me. Into the sky, past the clouds – past the sun, perhaps. I cannot see the top, but I know it ends in Heaven.

Chill winds sweep the ice covered mountain, and I hunker into my coat of caribou skin. The sleeve of my left arm is too long – Mama meant it to last me another two winters. The other is capped next to the stub of my right elbow.

The sack full of my village’s prayers hangs lightly around my neck. Hundreds of little scrolls fill the burlap, written in hands both illegible and refined.

Once every five years the prayers are carried to Heaven.

Once every five years a citizen leaves and never comes back.

And now it is my turn.

You can read the rest (for only a quarter!) by clicking here.

Happy reading!


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Goodbye, Sir Pratchett

Terry Pratchett died today, after battling with dementia.  This news struck me very personally on two fronts.  Firstly as a reader.  I adore Terry Pratchett’s work, especially his Discworld novels, and will surely continue to appreciate them for time innumerable.

Secondly, his death has brought to the forefront just how deeply my life has been touched by dementia.  In 2010 I lost my maternal grandfather to Alzheimer’s, about a month before my wedding.  He was too sick to travel, so we hadn’t planned on him attending, but it was still a large emotional blow to an otherwise happy time.  My maternal grandmother also has dementia (a different form), which has taken away nearly all of her communication skills and sense of situational awareness.  Though she is otherwise a very healthy woman, she doesn’t have much of a grasp on where she is, when she is, or who she is with.

My mother has been a caretaker of dementia patients for the last decade.  My great-grandmother lived in the same household prior to passing away in early 2010, so my mom at one point was helping to care for all three of them.  She has seen her parents slowly seep from their bodies, which is something no child should ever have to do.  I am terrified that, one day, I might have to do the same for her.

When I interview cover artists for my spotlight articles in Nightmare Magazine, I always ask this question: What scares you the most?

My answer is dementia.  Losing my sense of self, my memories, and my ability to communicate with the world is my biggest fear.

According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America supports research and education, but is especially focused on backing caregivers and helping them to ensure a good quality of life for those they care for. You can find them at (They are accredited by the Better Business Bureau’s ‘wise giving alliance.’  The BBB’s report on the organization can be found at  Their site is worth checking out if you’d like to learn more about Alzheimer’s specifically, and I suggest donating to them if you find their cause worth-while.

To those suffering from dementia, know that there are people who love you and want the best for you.  It’s a scary, harsh disease, but there are those out there looking for a cure.

To those caring for a dementia patient, thank you.  Caregiving is often an underappreciated job.  It’s stressful, and time consuming, and sometimes undignified for both you and the person you’re caring for.  Thank you for all the hard work you do, and for giving so much of your life to another’s safety and wellbeing.

To Sir Terry Pratchett, I’m sorry I never got to meet you.  You used humor to highlight serious subjects.  Comedy can be used to as both an attention getter, and as a salve–which is a lesson I also learned from my great-grandmother.  Sometimes you have to laugh, or else you’ll cry.

We laughed at my grandfather’s funeral.  Telling silly stories about him was the best way to honor his memory.  There were tears aplenty, but also smiles; it was a very cathartic experience.

On that note, here’s a little cartoon to brighten everyone’s day, and honor the man who built a silly, flat world to make us think:

(To quote the announcement from his twitter account,)


Death and Terry small new by MJNL














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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

From the Doctor to another beloved “doctor,” happy birthday!

Happy B Day Dr Seuss by MJNL

In honor of both doctors, I’ve written a little poem entitled: Fish Fingers and Custard.  I will be illustrating it in the coming weeks and will post it for you soon!


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Artist Showcase Interview with Johnny Dombrowski

Nightmare’s February cover artists is Johnny Dombrowski.  He works as the Art Handler at the Society of Illustrators in New York while also pursuing a freelance career.

Here’s a sample from the interview:

MJNL: Your website mentions your fascination with film noir, and I think its influence is readily visible in your art. What is it about this particular style of film that inspires you?

JD: The atmosphere. You can pick a shot at random from any film noir and it will be composed and lit beautifully. When the first stage of working is in black and white, stills from those movies are a wealth of inspiration. At the same time, loving the bold style of comics, I love the smoky feel noir gives off, so I’ve tried to put that in to my work. Starting with the flat colors, then building more depth and atmosphere within the image.

To learn more about Johnny and his work, click the cover!

nightmare 29



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Jim Baen Memorial Writing Award Finalists

Just a quick post to let y’all know I made the finalist list for this year’s Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest.  Whoohoo!  Lots of great writers right there with me, so the competition is at least as stiff as last year, if not stiffer!  The list includes:

Robert Dawson

John Eckelkamp

C. Stuart Hardwick

Jamie Lackey

Stanley Love

Angus McIntyre

Karen Birkedahl Rylander

Shawn Scarber

Martin L. Shoemaker

And… me.

Link to the Locus announcement:


Happy Groundhog Day!

If the groundhog sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter.

If instead he sees Predator’s shadow, he’ll get eaten, and we’ll have at least six more years of Schwarzenegger movies.


Pred Shadow of Doom small 2 by MJNL


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Super Bowl XLIX and Writing — What can We Learn from Football?

It’s Super Bowl Sunday!  And to celebrate, I’ve got an article up on fellow author Kate Heartfield’s blog about football and what writers can learn from the sport in terms of creating conflict and tension.  It’s all part of an ongoing series she’s hosting about writers and their unlikely influences.

Why does someone root for the Packers instead of the Bears? Why, if you’re a Washington fan, do you “hate” the Dallas team and vice-versa? What exactly do the people of Oakland have against the people of Denver?

And why do we sometimes root for cheaters?

Find out in the post! Check it out here:


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Stories (by Me and Others) Eligible for Awards this Year

Hello all!  If you by any chance are nominating for either the Nebulas or Hugos, here is a list of my publications from 2014 that are awards-eligible (which excludes  reprints and shared-world stories).

I’ve linked to the stories that are available on line.

Best Short Story category:

Elsa’s Spheres, sci-fi (IGMS)

Imma Gonna Finish You Off, sci-fi humor (Galaxy’s Edge)

A Debt Repaid, sci-fi flash fiction (Lightspeed Magazine, WDSF special issue)

Lenora of the Low, dark fantasy (Fantasy for Good anthology)

Best Novelette category:

Balance, sci-fi ( (also won second in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest)


And here’s a list of other people’s short work that I recommend. I’m specifically choosing lesser-known pieces that I think deserve far more attention than they’ve received.

Best Short Story category:

The Thing About Shapes To Come by Adam-Troy Castro, sci-fi (Lightspeed Magazine)

Rules For Killing Monsters by David Sklar, dark fantasy (Nightmare Magazine)

Unfilial Child by Laurie Tom, fantasy (Streets of Shadows anthology)

Intersection by Gio Clairval, sci-fi flash fiction (Galaxy’s Edge)

A Dragon’s Doula by M.K. Hutchins, fantasy (IGMS)

Best Novella:

On the Winds of the Rub’ Al-Khali (part 1, part 2), by Stephen Gaskell (IGMS) (ETA: NOTE.  Only part 1 is technically eligible for nomination this year.  The novella will be eligible as a whole next year if part 1 does not make the ballot this year.)


And there are a few wonderful people I think you should consider for the Campbell Award for best new writer. I admit to a bias here, seeing as how they are some of my WotF vol. 29 classmates, but I genuinely think they deserve recognition this early in their careers:

Andrea G. Stewart (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, and more)

Tina Gower (Galaxy’s Edge, Black Denim Lit, and more)

Brian Trent (Apex, Analog, and more)

Shannon Peavey (Urban Fantasy magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and more)


Go forth, read, nominate!


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