To give that much, so thoughtfully, you have to have a self, well-established, and conscientiously choose to give of it.

Today we feature two stories from Sharp & Sugar Tooth which center around generosity: Erin Horáková’s “A Year Without the Taste of Meat” and A. R. Henle’s “Strong Meat.” But first, a little news!

On to our stories!

In her introduction, Octavia Cade writes that, “the fate of ritual and recipe are explored further in . . . “Dear Son” by Joyce Chng [where] they’re used to pass on generosity.” We featured Chng’s story on June 6th. The idea of food as a cultural mechanism for generosity is woven throughout this collection.

In “Strong Meat,” a specialty chef uses sympathetic magic in her meat courses to strengthen her clients’ good natures. A.R. Henle writes:

How I got the idea for my story rather resembles the old ad for Reese’s peanut butter cups—where the chocolate and the peanut butter bump into each other in the dark and decide to be friends. In my case, however, a couple of other things joined the mix. One day I read some of the slew of articles about mice born from eggs and sperm formed from skin cells. This somehow intersected with celebrity chef culture, then met up with revenge sagas and took a hard turn into horror. There the story elements discovered certain Greek myths and, oddly enough, self-help books. All this mixed together and resulted in a story about “Strong Meat.”

In “A Year Without the Taste of Meat,” the narrator returns home to share a ritual meal with her ex’s new lover to mourn the death of their mutual friend, something that the new lover could have denied to her: “We talked in the kitchen while Lova ground the bone for ash cookies. I felt certain that Ebba had loved Lova for her incredible generosity. That is the right word, rather than selflessness. To give that much, so thoughtfully, you have to have a self, well-established, and conscientiously choose to give of it.”

Go to the Kickstarter to donate now!

 

About the Authors

A. R. Henle is an archivist, historian, and librarian (not necessarily in that order). She writes non-fiction by day and fantasy by night—except when story ideas sneak into her head during daylight hours and demand to be written right now.

Erin Horáková is a southern American writer who lives in London. She’s working towards her literature PhD, which focuses on how charm evolves over time.

21 June 2018

Scuba diving on Europa was supposed to be fun

Two stories in Broad Knowledge involve space travel (as does Sharp & Sugar Tooth’s “And When We Die They Will Consume Us” by Betsy Aoki, which we featured on June 16th): “The Cold Waters of Europa” by Claudine Griggs (from which our title comes) and “The Ladies in the Moon” by Xin Niu Zhang.

“The Ladies in the Moon” is the story of Fletcher, an enforcer for a gang called the Solars, who gets a chance at a spot on a moon colony.

“The Cold Waters of Europa” is a story about a disaster in space that results in the narrator fighting not to freeze to death in (as you may have guessed) the cold waters of Europa, as she watches her wife plummet to the bottom of the ocean.

Claudine Griggs writes:

Wondering about what folks might do for recreation several hundred years in the future, I came up with the story idea in “The Cold Waters of Europa,” which involves scuba diving under the ice on that frozen moon. A small group on a working vacation to explore Europa’s teeming aquatic ecosystem find deep trouble instead, and their adventure becomes a story of survival. The female protagonist exceeds her own expectations but not without consequences.

 

About the Authors

Claudine Griggs is the Writing Center Director at Rhode Island College, and her publications include three nonfiction books about transsexuals along with a couple dozen articles on writing, teaching, and other topics. She has also begun writing fiction and plans to draft more science fiction, her first-love genre as a teenager. Her fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Escape Pod, Zahir Tales, Leading Edge SF, The Chaffey Review, and Baen Books’ Best Military and Adventure Science Fiction. Griggs earned her BA and MA in English at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Publishers’ Weekly has called her writing “quietly terrifying.”

Xin Niu Zhang was born in Shanghai, grew up in Toronto, and is currently studying at the University of Waterloo. Her ultimate aspiration is to write a book glamorizing the lives of accountants.

20 June 2018

symptoms involve the development of significant craniofacial deformities

H. P. Lovecraft’s fictional town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, featured in his famous story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” forms the background for two stories in Broad Knowledge: Angela Slatter’s “The Song of Sighs” and Megan Chaudhuri’s “First mouse model of Innsmouth Fish-man Syndrome draft 2 USE THIS VERSION – edits by MK.doc.”

“The Song of Sighs” was first published in Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth and also appeared in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird. In it, Professor Vivienne Croftmarsh teaches at a school for orphans, since, despite her almost complete amnesia, she retains her academic knowledge. As a hobby, she translates ancient poems of some unknown religious origin, which turn out to be, as you may have guessed, related to Lovecraft’s lore. The mystery of the school’s missing principal gradually gives way to a horrific truth about her past.

Humans and mice are biologically very similar, making mice valuable to scientists studying human diseases. (If you’d like to know more about mouse models, see “Mouse models of human disease: An evolutionary perspective” or “Current advances in humanized mouse models.”)

Toxicologist Megan Chaudhuri’s story “First mouse model of Innsmouth Fish-man Syndrome draft 2 USE THIS VERSION – edits by MK.doc” (from which today’s title is taken) is written as a draft of a scientific paper by a graduate student at Miskatonic University, with corrections from her principal investigator. It’s a darkly humorous tale of needle sticks, impending doom, and pregnant mice fashioning tiny nooses out of nesting materials.

 

About the Authors

A toxicologist by training and a writer by inclination, Megan Chaudhuri lives outside Seattle with one spouse and two cats. Her fiction has appeared in Analog, Crossed Genres, GigaNotoSaurus, and other venues.

Angela Slatter is the author of the urban fantasy novels Vigil and Corpselight, as well as eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, and six Aurealis Awards. Vigil was nominated for the Dublin Literary Award 2018. Find her at www.angelaslatter.com.

19 June 2018

I may have a sweet tooth but I’m not delicate.

We’re continuing our Kickstarter campaign features with “A Lie You Give, And Thus I Take” by Damien Angelica Walters, the source of our title, and which was first published in Lightspeed in December 2014, along with an author spotlight, in which she says:

The only things that surprised me were all the other story references that occur throughout. It makes a strange sort of sense because it’s fiction about a fiction, but I initially thought the story was nothing more than a strange retelling of Hansel and Gretel, minus the familial relation and the witch, of course. . . . I was thinking about the nature of liars, how they often get away with it by spoon-feeding people stories a little at a time, and the lengths they’ll go to to preserve that fiction as truth. Some of the best liars use sweet words as a lure; they tell people what they want to hear and believe, and they do it in such a way that their sincerity is never doubted. (At least not until it begins to fall apart, as all lies eventually do.)

Also exploring the horrific side of familiar stories is Rachael Sterling in “Alice Underground,” in which Alice has grown up and runs a bakery with Wonderland-inspired goods, and discovers to her horror that she has been serving cakes she didn’t know she had.

Laura E. Price’s “Mary in the Looking Glass” takes a woman struggling with the grief of miscarriage and adds Mary Whales (or Mary Worth, in other versions of the folktale, who is sometimes a teenager killed in the Salem witch trials), who will come visit—or murder—you if you chant “I believe in Mary Whales” in front of a mirror in a room lit only by a single candle. Price writes:

“Mary In the Looking Glass” is partly the product of my adolescent fascination with creepy, bloody stories—Bloody Mary, of course, but also the Headless Lady who supposedly walks the north end of Gasparilla Island, where my mother grew up, looking for the head she lost when Jose Gaspar, her lover, murdered her. It’s also partly due to those short paperback romance novels both my grandmothers read: the ones where, say, the newly-divorced woman heads back home and meets up with her old high school flame, who is still single, carrying a torch for her, and probably, like, breaks horses or something for a living. I have the sort of brain that puts those things together and wonders . . . who lives in the center of that story, and how did she get there?

 

About the Authors

Laura E. Price lives in southwestern Florida with her husband and son. Her work has appeared in On Spec, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, GigaNotoSaurus, Penumbra eMag, and Betwixt. She also blogs at seldnei.wordpress.com.

Rachael Sterling lives in sunny Santa Monica, California, staying indoors or else seeking shade. She teaches music to preschoolers most mornings and writes most afternoons. You can find her talking about books on YouTube under the name Rae Sterling.

Damien Angelica Walters is the author of Sing Me Your Scars, Paper Tigers, and Cry Your Way Home. Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including the 2016 World Fantasy Award Finalist Cassilda’s Song, Cemetery Dance, Nightmare Magazine, and Black Static. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescued pit bulls. Find her on Twitter @DamienAWalters or on the web at damienangelicawalters.com.

18 June 2018

all that’s between you and the tox is the red

Today’s title is from Clarice Radrick’s “The Red.” In this Broad Knowledge story, a girl must wear a red cloak and hood to cross a wasteland and deliver food to the Ancient, a scientist trying to discover a cure for their broken world, while evading a lobo, a crazed man who lives in the waste. Sound familiar? It’s Little Red Riding Hood, in post-apocalyptic form . . . but there’s no woodcutter to save our heroine, so she has to figure out a way to save herself.

Tomorrow we’ll look at other stories exploring the horrific side of familiar characters, but for today, we’re sticking to stories where the color red is central. Red, the color of blood and roses.

In her introduction to Sharp & Sugar Tooth, Octavia Cade describes Penny Stirling’s “Red, From the Heartwood”: “Astrid, finding herself in a polyamorous relationship with two mythological creatures who change form as well as genders, is slowly overcome by the desire to eat the apples produced by the tree-shape of her lover, but her own biological limitations are against her.”

Red runs through this story, from the title to the “speckled red” of the fruit of the tree with its “flesh as red as meat,” to the implications of all the blood that must appear by the end of the story.

 

About the Authors

Clarice Radrick’s work can be found in Myriad Lands Volume 1, Havok, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers, Spellbound, Haiku of the Dead, Under the Juniper Tree, Inchoate Echoes, and The Brisling Tide.

Penny Stirling edits and embroiders in Western Australia. Their speculative fiction and poetry can be found in Lackington’s, Interfictions, Strange Horizons, Heiresses of Russ, Transcendent and other venues. Follow them at www.pennystirling.com or on Twitter @numbathyal.

17 June 2018

I’d gone from botanist to alien landscape within a few hours.

Aliens taking over our bodies is another popular staple of horror, from The Thing to all the versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and two of our stories (one in each of our two anthologies) perfectly illustrate this primal fear.

In Priya Sridhar’s emotional “Tidal Bloom,” a meteorite brings alien algae which takes over a little girl who swallows some by accident, and her cousin must figure out how to save her.

In Betsy Aoki’s “And When We Die They Will Consume Us,” the source of today’s title, astronauts encounter an alien organism which slowly colonizes their bodies. (I have to tell you, when Octavia sent me the manuscript for Sharp & Sugar Tooth, this story, which ends the anthology, really haunted me, to the point that I had nightmares about it! You definitely want to read it.)

Caption: Betsy Aoki’s commentary on her story and Clarion instruction by Stephen Graham Jones

 

About the Authors

Betsy Aoki is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and this is her first speculative fiction publication. Her poems have been published in such journals as Uncanny, Southern Humanities Review, Hunger Mountain, Phoebe, The Nassau Review, terrain.org, and Calyx among others.

A 2016 MBA graduate and published author, Priya Sridhar has been writing fantasy and science fiction for fifteen years. She believes that every story is a journey, and that a good tale allows the reader to escape to a new world. She also enjoys reading, biking, movie-watching, and classical music. Priya lives in Miami, Florida with her family and blogs at www.priyajsridhar.com.

 

Also!

Alexa at A Thousand Worlds posted a review of Broad Knowledge, and A.C. Wise posted an interview with me and Octavia Cade about Canadian and Kiwi literature, strange non-writing jobs, and recent favorite reads. Wise’s critique is still up for grabs in our rewards!

16 June 2018

We’re introducing a new reward!

A.C. Wise, author of The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again and The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, will critique one short story for the lucky person to get to it first!

She’ll also shortly be posting an interview with Joanne Merriam and Octavia Cade, the editors of the anthologies, so keep an eye out for that at her website.

 

Hot. Soft. Fresh from the oven.

Today we’re exploring two stories of recreating a loved one over and over.

In Marie Vibbert’s humorous “Infinite Boyfriends,” the protagonist tries to find an alternate universe version of her boyfriend who isn’t a jerk. Vibbert writes:

My story started with a funny line someone said during conversation at the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. I don’t remember who said “Infinite boyfriends from infinite dimensions” but I wrote it down in my notebook and then, when I had to come up with a story idea for the next week’s workshop, well, there it was. The main character helped me get through writing—I based her entirely on my friend Stacey, and gave her the Green Road Observatory in East Cleveland, Ohio as her mad scientist lair.

Katharine E. K. Duckett’s “Gimme Sugar” (from which we take today’s title) is a dark tale of loss and baked goods. A lonely woman finds herself in a bakery that will recreate her ex-lover again and again as gingerbread with chocolate eyes, syrup-coated lips, braided licorice hair, gumdrop nipples, buttercream tattoos, and the scent of crushed cardamom, cinnamon, oranges, and honey warmed in the sun—but there’s a price to treating a woman you love as a consumable object.

 

About the Authors

Katharine E. K. Duckett‘s stories have appeared in Apex and Interzone, and have been reprinted in Wilde Stories 2015: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction and The Best of Apex: Volume I. She works in science fiction and fantasy publishing in New York City, and lives in Brooklyn with her wife.

Marie Vibbert’s work regularly appears in Analog and other top markets. Her short story “Keep Talking” won Apex Magazine’s Story of the Year and has been called “everything science fiction should be” by Oxford Culture Review. She has ridden 18% of the roller coasters in North America and played defensive end for the Cleveland Fusion women’s tackle football team.

15 June 2018

My dad’s not so sure that building flamethrowers and rockets in the driveway is such a good idea.

Our kickstarter was featured on the Barnes & Noble Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog, at the bottom of a post on 13 Queer Speculative Short Story Collections and Anthologies to Read Right Now!

Broad Knowledge has two very different stories of kidnapping: Therese Pieczynski’s “Three Days, Two Nights,” in which adolescent deaf girls are taken for ransom, and Rebecca Jones-Howe’s “Election Season,” in which a woman hiking is kidnapped by a fellow hiker and Trump fan who doesn’t like her politics.

While the plots, and the motivations and behavior of the kidnappers, are very different between the stories, both stories illustrate how a little ingenuity can save us.

Rebecca Jones-Howe writes:

“Election Season” is about none other than the US Presidential election of 2016. I wrote the story during the heat of the polarizing debates and added in the final details before election night on November 8th, when everyone was still convinced that Hillary would win.

The story is a bleak one. It’s a trope kidnapping story, a Lifetime Original where I curated all my frustration with the American political system. I hoped the ending would hold up, regardless of the election results. Then the worst-case scenario game show host won and I wasn’t so sure what my tale really meant to me, or to others.

Honestly, I don’t know what the future holds at this point. I’m a Canadian and I’m scared of the political climate (because we’ve got our own corrupt stuff happening up here, too). Talking about it all makes me uncomfortable because I have family, friends, co-workers who don’t think like I do. I have to respect that, at the very least. It’s easy to want to yell and scream and throw the middle finger to the people we disagree with.

Politics is a drastically polarizing landscape. Since 2016 I have found myself stepping away from heated discussions (especially online). It’s too draining, too exhausting. I find solace in the stories I write. I find it more constructive, and overall, easier to digest.

In Jones-Howe’s story, the kidnapper takes advantage of the protagonist’s politeness to put her in a vulnerable position (“I didn’t like him touching me, but I ignored the unease because I didn’t want to be rude.”) and she must figure out a way to escape. This is a dark, upsetting, necessary story paralleling the 2016 presidential election with kidnapping and rape.

In Therese Pieczynski’s lighter and more hopeful story, the girls (deaf, and adolescent, and, well, girls) are presumed to be completely helpless by their captors (“‘He thinks that because we’re deaf that we’re not smart,’ she signs.”), but tap into their knowledge of chemistry to change the odds against them:

Muriel and I are very smart. We’re also brave. You’d be surprised how many kids are afraid of the flame thrower my mom helped Muriel and me build. My mom’s an engineer and a science buff. She says that the thing about science is that you can’t just read about it. You have to do stuff. That’s how you understand it. You can read about a fire tornado, or a bomb, or a rocket, but until you make one yourself it’s hard to understand how one works. That’s why she helps us build stuff.

Donate now to support these authors!

 

About the Authors

Rebecca Jones-Howe is the author of the short story collection Vile Men. Her work has been published in [PANK], Punchnel’s, and Pulp Modern, among others. She lives in Kamloops, British Columbia and is currently at work on her first novel. She can be found online at rebeccajoneshowe.com.

Therese Pieczynski has published in Asimov’s, Daily Science Fiction, River City, the anthology Imagination Fully Dilated, and in 2012 with Nancy Kress in New Under The Sun as part of the Stellar Guild series brought out by Arc Manor.

14 June 2018

To reach the open sea, they’d have to be relentless and brave.

Tammy Sparks at Books, Bones & Buffy: Adventures in Speculative Fiction interviewed me about this kickstarter! “Because June is Pride Month, it’s particularly fitting that your Kickstarter is so inclusive, with a variety of sexual and gender identifying writers.” Very grateful for her generosity.

We’ve also been selected as a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter, which is pretty dang cool.

Today, we spotlight two stories of watery creatures providing a way past abuse.

“A Fish Tale” by Sabrina Vourvoulias in Sharp & Sugar Tooth:

and “Think, Baby Turtle” by Mingzhao Xu in Broad Knowledge (from which today’s title comes):

 

About the Authors

Sabrina Vourvoulias is the author of Ink (Crossed Genres, 2012; Rosarium Publishing, 2018), a novel that draws on her memories of Guatemala’s armed internal conflict, and of the Latinx experience in the United States. It was named to Latinidad’s Best Books of 2012. Her short stories have appeared at Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, and in a number of anthologies, including Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History (Fox and Older, eds.), The Year’s Best Young Adult Speculative Fiction 2015 (Twelfth Planet Press; Krasnostein and Rios, eds.), and Latino/a Rising (Wings Press; Goodwin, ed.) in 2017. She is a the Managing Editor of Integrated Media at NBC10/Telemundo62 in Philadelphia, and her columns and commentary have appeared at Philadelphia Magazine, City and State Pennsylvania, and The Guardian US. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter and a dog who rules the household.

Mingzhao Xu immigrated to the United States from China as a child. One of her greatest joys in life is using fiction to highlight the humor, challenges and pathos of her childhood. She currently lives in California.

13 June 2018

The day dawns as red as fresh blood on a fishing boat’s deck.

In her introduction to Sharp & Sugar Tooth, editor Octavia Cade writes:

. . . the coastal community of Amelia Gorman’s “She Makes the Deep Boil” is dependent on the sea to sate their hunger. And it does, mostly, supplying enough to keep a town with at least pretensions to vibrancy, but the giant creatures of the sea have their own prices and bargains. It’s in the similarity between hunters that the horror in this story lies, in the idea that we are part of a community of animals—part of an ecosystem, and for all the potential generosity of our natures there are some biological restrictions we can’t move beyond, and some consents we won’t ask, or honor.

Today we feature stories of the sea, and what communities dependent on it will do to placate the creatures within. In addition to Gorman’s story above, below are excerpts from Wendy Nikel’s “Maidens of the Sea” (from which our title comes) and Premee Mohamed’s “Below the Kirk, Below the Hill,” both in Broad Knowledge.

Premee Mohamed writes:

My inspiration for “Below the Kirk, Below the Hill” was two of my previous stories, oddly enough. Some of my work has recently ended up in a world in which ‘old gods’ are real and need to be regularly sacrificed to and placated in order to coexist with humans. In “Willing,” the gods are of the prairies; in “The Evaluator,” the gods are of the mountains. It seemed natural to write one set near the ocean. Then I had to start asking myself: What would those gods look like? How would they react differently to certain things than the gods of the land? And the story followed from there. I wanted to ask questions, in the story, about responsibility—who’s responsible for who, and why? Must it always be about love? Never about love? Duty? Obligation? How do you know when something or someone has to be taken under your wing? How is taking in a little girl different from taking in a lighthouse, and how is it the same? When is something ‘Someone else’s problem’ for either gods or humans? This was a difficult story for me because of those questions, and I know not all of them are answered in the text. In the end, I hope they’re not. These are questions we all ask ourselves in real life.

Donate now to pre-order!

 

About the Authors

Amelia Gorman is a horror fan, summer camp baker, and twitter bot maker in Minnesota. You can read her other monstrous themed writing in the Lovecraftian She Walks in Shadows anthology, and her poetry in Liminality Magazine, Star*Line, and Eternal Haunted Summer. Twitter: @gorman_ghast.

Wendy Nikel’s fiction has appeared in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Daily Science Fiction, Nature: Futures, and elsewhere. Find her at wendynikel.com.

Premee Mohamed is an Indo-Caribbean scientist and speculative fiction writer based in Canada. Her work has been published by Nightmare Magazine, Martian Migraine Press, Innsmouth Free Press, and many others. She can be found on Twitter at @premeesaurus.

12 June 2018

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About URB

“Upper Rubber Boot” is slang for a remote place. URB publishes literary and speculative poetry and fiction from (metaphorically) remote places in ebook and print format.

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