New Story: “Lifeboat” out in Vitality Magazine

The July issue of Vitality is now free to download!  “Lifeboat” is the cover story for the issue, and has four beautiful accompanying illustrations.

The story takes place post-Earth, when the crew of a mining spacecraft–who believe themselves to be the last remnants of life–discover a strange vessel. It could be a dangerous trap left over from the final war, or it could be proof that they aren’t alone in the universe.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We’ve finished our initial sweep.  It’s all one room.  This is it.  There are a few access panels to the inner workings, but nothing we can identify as an inhabitable space.”

“What’s it for?” Martinez wondered aloud.  “There’s nothing in here.”

“I don’t know, but I get the feeling you’re right: it’s not a remnant from the war.”

“But where did it come from?  Why’s it here?”  She turned back to the bramble.  “Keep searching.  I want signs of life.  A hair, a scale, a flake of skin, whatever.  There have to be remnants of whoever made it.”

Could it really be that we’re not alone?  That it’s not man-made?  Her heart leapt.  Not alone.

On a whim, she stuck out two gloved fingers, hooked them under one of the twisted metal pieces on the console, and pulled.

The ship groaned and shuddered.  There was a great screech of metal on metal, as though the vessel had not been given commands for a very long time.

The away team stopped, and everyone looked up.  Something moved in the dark.

Clat, clat, clat–a huge metal turbine, the length of the ship, slowly rolled overhead.  The walls quivered.

The garish protrusions she’d noted before jerked out of the walls, like plaster figures popped from silicon molds.  They were attached to long coils of wire, which the turbine rolled up, forming a sort of tent over the bay.  Hidden row after row of the objects came forth from their compartments.  When the ship lay quiet again, the vast room was filled with dangling, glittering shapes.  They looked like fancy party decorations or Christmas ornaments with the way they glimmered in the flashlight beams.

A few tinkled like chimes as they bounced lightly off one another.

You click the cover to go to the download page:

July-Issue-Cover Vitality

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A Debt Repaid and Sojourn for Ephah

A Debt Repaid (which was my contribution to Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction issue) is now up for a quarter at QuarterReads.

Also, did you know that Intergalactic Medicine Show posts its previous issue for free when the new issue comes out?  I didn’t!  I found out after  Sojourn for Ephah was reprinted in this special (also free) sampler issue.  Click here to see IGMS’s ‘Free Issues’ page.

~Marina

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Loki Wishes You a Happy Free Comic Book Day!

It’s Free Comic Book Day 2015 today!  That means you can visit this site: http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/992 and type in your zip code to see participating retailers near you, then walk in, and receive one of these 50 titles for free!

And, you do realize Avengers: Age of Ultron is out, right?

Loki n Staff by MJNL

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March and April Nightmare Artist Spotlights

I have been remiss in my posting of Nightmare interviews!  Here are the two you might have missed:

Most recently we have Dariusz Zawadzki:

MJNL: Who has influenced you artistically?

DZ: As a child I liked Salvador Dali. I also remember a booklet with Schiller’s ballades I found as a toddler on my parents’ shelf. I spent hours, mesmerized, with my eyes fixed on the illustrations. Later, of course, I had some painters I particularly liked and still like, but what actually influences me is rather a profound world of emotions, not necessarily raised by art. Eyesight is not everything.

Nightmare_31_April_2015_550

And in March we had Robert Emerson:

MJNL: First off I’d like to ask you a question in the spirit of Nightmare: What scares you the most?

RE: Spiders! Can’t stand them, I hate them . . . If they were put on Earth just so birds would have something to eat, then we need more birds.

MJNL: What is your favorite medium to work with and why?

RE: I used to work in pen and ink, pencils, pastels, and oils but lost the use of my right arm/hand. On my journey to being left-handed, I’ve learned to work exclusively in digital mediums, which I truly love.

Nightmare_30_March_2015_533

Click on their respective covers to get the full interview and to see galleries of their beautiful work!

~Marina

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The #HugoAwards are Supposed to be Fun, Damn It!

I know I haven’t said anything about this year’s Hugo Awards on the blog.  There are reasons.  Reason number one being that I have work to do and there are plenty of more fervent voices chiming in already.  Reason number two is that I know people involved to various degrees and do not wish to invite negativity towards them, myself, or my blog followers.

Today I have put my toes into the not-so-calm Hugo waters because Editor Edmund R. Schubert is withdrawing from consideration.  Full disclosure: he has been my editor in the past, and I hope he’ll be my editor in the future.  I am a regular reader of IGMS, and love the variety of voices, characters, and backgrounds found there.  I independently put Edmund R. Schubert on my nominating ballot (meaning I am not a slate voter and never will be, no matter whose slate it is), just as I have done every year I’ve participated in nominating (which, ok, is all of three years).

Edmund asked me (having no idea that I nominated him–if he’s reading this post it’ll be the first he’s heard of it!) and a few fellow IGMS authors if we’d be alright with him creating a Hugo-Sampler-that-Never-Was:  a special issue of IGMS stories that he believes exemplify what the magazine has to offer its readers.  It’s what would have been in the Hugo packet, if he’d felt comfortable remaining on the ballot.

I was ready to never say anything about the Hugos here.  But I love IGMS and the specific story of mine Edmund requested, and am greatly saddened by what has happened around the Hugos this year.  I think it’s important to note how this year’s slates have fostered nothing but ill feelings, and that many fine authors, editors, and venues are caught in the middle: either because they’ve become a “ping-pong ball” as Edmund describes below, or because they were bumped from the list due to questionable bloc voting.

Edmund has allowed me to reprint his withdrawal statement.   Please see below.

~Marina

***

My name is Edmund R. Schubert, and I am announcing my withdrawal from the Hugo category of Best Editor (Short Form). My withdrawal comes with complications, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll do my best to explain.

I am withdrawing because:

  1. I believe that while the Sad Puppies’ stated goal of bringing attention to under-recognized work may have been well-intentioned, their tactics were seriously flawed. While I find it challenging that some people won’t read IGMS because they disagree with the publisher’s perceived politics (which have nothing whatsoever to do with what goes into the magazine), I can’t in good conscience complain about the deck being stacked against me, and then feel good about being nominated for an award when the deck gets stacked in my favor. That would make me a hypocrite. The Sad Puppies slate looks too much to me like a stacked deck, and I can’t be part of that and still maintain my integrity.
  2. Vox Day/Theodore Beale/Rabid Puppies. Good grief. While I firmly believe that free speech is only truly free if everyone is allowed to speak their mind, I believe equally strongly that defending people’s right to free speech comes with responsibilities: in this case, the responsibility to call out unproductive, mean-spirited, inflammatory, and downright hateful speech. I believe that far too many of Vox’s words fall into those categories—and a stand has to be made against it.
  3. Ping pong. (Yes, really.) A ping pong ball only ever gets used by people who need something to hit as a way to score points, and I am through being treated like a political ping pong ball—by all sorts of people across the entire spectrum. Done.

Regrettably this situation is complicated by the fact that when I came to this decision, the WorldCon organizers told me the ballot was ‘frozen.’  This is a pity, because in addition to wanting ‘out’ of the ping pong match, I would very much have liked to see someone else who had earned it on their own (without the benefit of a slate) get on the ballot in my place. But the ballots had already been sent off to the printers. Unfortunately this may reduce my actions to a symbolic gesture, but I can’t let that prevent me from following my conscience.

So it seems that the best I can do at this stage is ask everyone with a Hugo ballot to pretend I’m not there. Ignore my name, because if they call my name at the award ceremony, I won’t accept the chrome rocketship. My name may be on that ballot, but it’s not there the way I’d have preferred.

I will not, however, advocate for an across-the-board No Award vote. That penalizes people who are innocent, for the sake of making a political point. Vox Day chose to put himself and his publishing company, Castalia House, in the crosshairs, which makes him fair game—but not everybody, not unilaterally. I can’t support that.

Here’s what I do want to do, though, to address where I think the Sad Puppies were off-target: I don’t think storming the gates of WorldCon was the right way to bring attention to worthy stories. Whether or not you take the Puppies at their word is beside the matter; it’s what they said they wanted, and I think bringing attention to under-represented work is an excellent idea.

So I want to expand the reading pool.

Of course, I always think more reading is a good thing. Reading is awesome. Reading—fiction, specifically—has been proven to make people more empathetic, and God knows we need as much empathy as we can possibly get these days. I also believe that when readers give new works by new authors an honest chance, they’ll find things they appreciate and enjoy.

In that spirit, I am taking the material that would have comprised my part of the Hugo Voters Packet and making it available to everyone, everywhere, for free, whether they have a WorldCon membership or not. Take it. Read it. Share it. It’s yours to do with as you will.

The only thing I ask is that whatever you do, do it honestly.

Don’t like some of these stories? That’s cool; at least I’ll know you don’t like them because you read them, not because you disagree with political ideologies that have nothing to do with the stories.

You do like them? Great; share them with a friend. Come and get some more.

But whatever you decide, decide it honestly, not to score a point.

And let me be clear about this:  While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

With regard to that, I want to repeat something I’ve said previously: while Orson Scott Card and I disagree on several social and political subjects, we respect each other and don’t let it get in the way of IGMS’s true goal: supporting writers and artists of all backgrounds and preferences. The truth is that Card is neither devil nor saint; he’s just a man who wants to support writers and artists—and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of that.

As editor of IGMS, I can, and have, and will continue to be—with the full support of publisher Orson Scott Card—open to publishing stories by and about gay authors and gay characters, stories by and about female authors and female characters, stories by authors and about characters of any and every racial, political, or religious affiliation—as long as I feel like those authors 1) have a story to tell, not a point to score, and 2) tell that story well. And you know what? Orson is happy to have me do so. Because the raison d’etre of IGMS is to support writers and artists. Period.

IGMS—Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show—is open to everyone. All the way. Always has been, always will be. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is that people’s minds operate in the same fashion.

Consider this the beginning then of the larger reading campaign that should have been. To kick it off, I offer you this sampling from IGMS, which represents the essence of how I see the magazine—a reflection of the kind of stories I want to fill IGMS with, that will help make it the kind of magazine I want IGMS to be—and that I believe it can be if readers and writers alike will give it a fair chance.

If you have reading suggestions of your own, I heartily encourage you help me build and distribute a list.

(Yes, I know, there are already plenty of reading lists out there. But you will never convince me that there is such a thing as too much reading. Never.)

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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: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/article/comet-man/

FFO staffer Stefan Milićević was also kind enough to do an interview with me.  You can check that out here: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/article/an-interview-with-marina-lostetter/

Happy reading!

~Marina

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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!

~Marina

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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 http://www.alzfdn.org/ (They are accredited by the Better Business Bureau’s ‘wise giving alliance.’  The BBB’s report on the organization can be found at give.org).  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,)

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Death and Terry small new by MJNL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Marina

 

 

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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!

~Marina

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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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