My Exceptionally Late and Exceptionally Brief Post-Sasquan Post

I came, I saw, I choked to death in the apocalyptic-levels of forest-fire smoke. Awesome people were hung-with, I met old friends for the first time, spent time with three-thirds of a brain, created an epic photobomb when I didn’t mean to, and basically had a blast. All while maintaining the utmost professionalism, of course.

I present to you my limited collection of pictures (as I am awful at stopping the party to pull out my phone):

On the Street sasquan

Above: C. Stuart Hardwick, Martin L. Shoemaker, Gama Ray Martinez, Austin DeMarco, Tina Gower

Austin and Beth

Above: Austin n Beth Cato

Jeremy Tina Andrea

Above: Jeremy Honer, Tina Gower, Andrea G. Stewart

Photo 3 by Lezli Robyn

Above: Tina, Kary English, Me, Mike Resnick, Lezli Robyn

Tina n Tardis

Above: Tina, the TARDIS, and Dr. Bashir

At the Hugos!

Me n Jackie

Above: Jacquelyn Bartel n Me

Hugos 1

Above: Gama, Thomas K. Carpenter, Jacquelyn, Jeremy, Andrea

Hugos 2

Above: Stuart and Dominick D’Aunno

Hugos 3

Above: The awards stage, before the place was packed.

After the Hugos!

Photo 1 by Lezli Robyn

Here’s an extremely blurry picture of the Alfies (an award created and distributed and voted upon by GRRM, which you’ve probably heard the run down on by now):

GRRM n alfies

Above: GRRM and company

And the epic photobomb.  Which I actually did not mean to do. Obviously it is the best picture take of me during the con:

photo bomb

Above: John Scalzi and Jason Gurley and me being an idiot (photo by Annie Bellet).

Others took much less–ahem–insane pictures of me as well, here’s an example. Note lack of crazy groundhog face:

Photo 2 by Lezli Robyn

Above: Me n Tina being photobombed by Writer Dad and Robert Silverberg (photo by Lezli Robyn)

Anywho, there’s my drama-free roundup. Informative and controversial, I know.


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Here, Have Some Fiction:

“Cyberplant” is out in issue numero sixteen of Galaxy’s Edge. This one is near and dear to my heart because I wrote it after taking a bucket-list trip with my mom to Peru, where I fell in love with the country. It’s also the story I wrote for the 24hr challenge during the WotF workshop week.


The sun hardly shines in Lima, and never in October. Maybe it’s because Mama Cocha is jealous of the sun god, Inti. Maybe it’s because she is enamored of Ilyap’a, and his clouds give her comfort.

Either way, Mother Sea rules. It is her city. The other gods have kingdoms of their own.

My pilgrimage was to Inti’s domain: Machu Picchu.

The flight from Miami lasted six hours. The two other passengers in my row asked for new seat assignments. No one wanted to sit next to the giant of a man with passionflower leaves growing out of his ears and red wires circling his head like a turban. If it hadn’t been for the sick baby across the aisle, maybe I could have stretched out and slept. It would have been the first time in forty-eight hours.

A deep numbness clutched my limbs and my chest—not just a lack of physical sensation, but a deadening of emotion. I thought sleep might restore some semblance of feeling to my body, if not my person. But no go.

From the Lima airport I took a taxi into the city proper. We skirted along the ocean, mirroring the undulation of the cliffs. Surfers paddled out into the meager waves, and a briny stench permeated the air.

The taxi driver dropped me at a bus station where I could get a ride to Cusco. He shot me a scowl when I tipped him. Because of my implants, he thought I could afford more.

The journey from the coast to south-central Peru took fifteen hours, with only the briefest of pit stops. Suddenly my plane ride didn’t look so bad. Sleep was still elusive, and an elderly man from Puno grilled me the whole way. He asked me why my skin was green, and if my palm-scanners could fry his brain, and if it were true that all cyberplants believe rainbows have feelings.

I did not know the Spanish word for chlorophyll, or how to explain to a non-believer that rainbows not only have feelings, they are each Cuichu. If nothing else, I was able to communicate that my scanners would have zero effect on his brain.

Thankfully he was polite enough not to ask about my pilgrimage, or my family.

Click to keep reading:



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MaryLin’s Special Brand of Magic up at DSF

My story MaryLin’s Special Brand of Magic is up at Daily Science Fiction.  Below is an excerpt and a link!

The magic appeared in 2019, when a rogue comet performed an impossible loop-de-loop while passing Earth. The strange astrological phenomenon was a sign, a sigil, a portent–or perhaps just a pretense. Whatever it was, the day after, millions of people around the world awoke to find themselves blessed–or cursed–with magical abilities. The magic appeared random, with no rhyme or reason as to why some people had received powers when others had not. Worse, the majority of the new warlocks, sorceresses, alchemists and whatnot couldn’t pin down the rules to their particular brand of hocus-pocus before things got out of hand.

Luckily, MaryLin wasn’t like most people. She’d figured out her place in the new world right away. Having been raised by a professional poker player turned semi-professional con man, she’d learned early on: find an angle. All you need to survive is an angle.
Well, she’d found her angle, and her powers had become the most desired around.
Her brand of magic was… unique.
Click to keep reading.  You know you want to!
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Audio Version of “Imma Gonna Finish You Off” Up at Escapepod

In a world where  immortality is a thing, what is detective Harry Sordido to do when a homeless man is murdered and won’t freaking come back to life to tell him who the killer is?


On the examining table lounged a body.  It was an unremarkable body–rather wrinkly, with an inordinate amount of hair in all the wrong places and too few clothes for most people’s liking, but otherwise nothing to write your congressman about.  The only thing special about the body was that it was dead–a problem that Detective Harry Sordido hoped would resolve itself quite soon.

“Will he just get on with the coming back to life already?” Harry huffed, checking the glowing numbers embedded in his left wrist.  With his right hand, he patted his ample, middle-aged girth.  “He’s not the only victim I’ve got to question today.”

“I’m not sure what’s the matter with him,” said the medical examiner, lifting the dead man’s wrist between two thin fingers.  “He should have let out a nice scream-of-life by now.”  He let the limb flop back to the sanitary paper.

“What do you think it was?” asked the detective, “Accidental? Experimental? Purposeful?  What do you think he died of?”

“You’ll have to ask him to be sure.  He was found out on the sidewalk.  No indications of violence or a struggle, but he does look a tad flaccid.”

“Ah, disgruntled lover, then.”

“No, I mean on the whole.  Like he’s been wrung out.”

They both stared at the body for a long while.

“You don’t think he’s really–?” began Detective Sordido.

“It is starting to seem a bit permanent.”

“That’s impossible! No one’s really died for damned near a millennium.”

The examiner shrugged.  “There’s a first time for every eventuality.”

Wanna listen to the whole thing read by Alasdair Stuart?  Ya know ya do:

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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.


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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: 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.


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.


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


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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.



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:

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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