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

“You should go to the doctor,” she chirped at him, buoyed by the absolute certainty that he would not listen to her.

In Octavia Cade’s introduction to Sharp & Sugar Tooth, she writes, “Both Kathleen Alcalá (in The Dolls Eye) and Catherynne M. Valente (in The Lily and the Horn) take a look at how society changes when poison becomes the conflict resolution of choice within a community.”

Today we feature excerpts from both stories, as well as “Your Life Will Look Perfect From Afar” by Audrey R. Hollis, from Broad Knowledge (and from which our title comes), which features a more personal poisoning, one that our society definitely wouldn’t approve.

Kathleen Alcalá’s story features a poison-taster:

and Catherynne M. Valente’s a poison-maker:

Valente’s “The Lily and the Horn” was first published in Fantasy Magazine‘s 2015 Queers Destroy Fantasy! issue.

In “Your Life Will Look Perfect From Afar,” the poison comes from an everyday object that nobody would suspect.

Go to the kickstarter campaign to donate to support these authors and pre-order your copies!

We’d also like to draw your attention today to a pledge level that isn’t getting as much attention as we think it deserves: the Personalized Paperback, which allows artists to get a copy of one of the books with their own custom cover art (or their friends to get it for them) and a custom dedication—or for people to get a copy with a photograph of themselves or their giftee as part of the cover art (also with a custom dedication)!

 

About the Authors

Kathleen Alcalá is the author of six books including Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist and Spirits of the Ordinary. Both a graduate of and instructor in the Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, she has had the good fortune to study with notables such as Joanna Russ, Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel Delany, and Connie Willis. With an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans, Kathleen teaches all levels of fiction and nonfiction.

Of her first collection of stories, Ursula Le Guin said:

This is a book of wonders. Each story unfolds with humor and simplicity and perfect naturalness into something original and totally unpredictable. Not one tale is like another, yet all together they form a beautiful whole, a world where one would like to stay forever. The kingdoms of Borges and Garcia Marquez lie just over the horizon, but this landscape of desert towns and dreaming hearts, of lost sisters and ghost scientists, canary singers and road readers, is Alcalá-land. It lies across the border between the living and the dead, across all the borders—a true new world.

Audrey R. Hollis is a writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has been in several publications, including Leading Edge, Lunch Ticket, and Autostraddle. She is devoted to oddities, medieval history, and things that glitter. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @audreyrhollis.

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times-bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (and the four books that followed it). She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Prix Imaginales, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, Romantic Times’ Critics Choice and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. Her most recent book, Space Opera, has just been optioned by Universal Pictures for a movie produced by Marc Platt (La La Land) and Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed). She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

11 June 2018

I said you were destroying history

For those of you who are Goodreads fans, we now have pages for each of the anthologies: Broad Knowledge and Sharp & Sugar Tooth. Go add us to your shelf!

Also! The fabulous Martha Wells, author of the Ile-Rien series, the Raksura series, The Edge of Worlds, The Harbors of the Sun, and The Murderbot Diaries, posted about us on her blog, the International Examiner mentioned us in a long round-up of arts news, and Christina Dalcher, whose Vox is coming out in August, mentions to Publishers Weekly how Women Up To No Good inspired her book.

Today we’ll feature our other two time travel stories, both from Broad Knowledge: A. T. Greenblatt’s “Five Meters Ahead, Two Centuries Away” and Joanna Michal Hoyt’s “Taking It Back” (from which our title comes):

Go to Kickstarter to pre-order now!

 

About the Authors

A. T. Greenblatt is a mechanical engineer by day and a writer by night. She lives in Philadelphia where she’s well acquainted with all four seasons and is known to frequently subject her friends to various cooking and home brewing experiments. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise XVI and her work is forthcoming or has appeared in Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Mothership Zeta, as well as other online journals. You can find her online at atgreenblatt.com and on Twitter at @AtGreenblatt.

Joanna Michal Hoyt lives with her family on a Catholic Worker farm in upstate NY where she spends her days tending goats, gardens and guests and her evenings reading and writing odd stories. Her fiction has appeared in publications including Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Mysterion.

10 June 2018

Here is more a question of when than where.

Today and tomorrow we’ll be featuring stories involving time travel!

Today, excerpts from Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría’s “Liquid Glass” (trans Lawrence Schimel – and the story from which our title comes), which appears in Broad Knowledge, and D.A. Xiaolin Spires’ second story in these anthologies, “Bristling Skim,” which appears in Sharp & Sugar Tooth:

D.A. Xiaolin Spires writes:

I have two stories in these URB anthologies, “Bristling Skim” (Sharp and Sugar Tooth), a creepy tale of gastronomic nefariousness and “Sunbasker” (Broad Knowledge), a science-fiction robot story set in a plantation with dark, fairy-tale elements. Both stories feature astute and willful female protagonists. “Bristling Skim” takes you to (WWII and) post-WWII Japan and stems from conversations I’ve had with people in Japan who consumed school lunch in the 1950’s and 60’s. It was during this time that Japan (as well as Taiwan, mentioned briefly in the story) received food aid from the US, consisting of wheat, milk and other products that eventually found their way to everyday diets through institutionalized programs like school lunch. (Here’s a timeline of school lunch in Japan throughout modern history. The website’s in Japanese with lots of interesting photos.) Given the current ubiquity of vending machines, I felt compelled to include them, as well! The story starts off with two divergent temporal spheres coming together—and includes the anonymity of the machine that dispenses drinks and the historical connection to food during occupation and reconstruction and thereafter. I was inspired by the sheer palpability of revulsion when (some) people in Japan talked about the so-called milk/not-exactly-milk served as school lunch during that time. You should see how their faces scrunched in disgust!

Teresa P Mira de Echeverría says of her story:

The story was born from the stained glass windows of Chartres and its non-labyrinth, but above all, it was born from the idea of how the name “witch” is incarnated in the skin of the woman who is different, of the woman who is strong, of the woman who fights for her place in the world… and in the tortuous way to assume that name as an honorary title and not as a disqualifying epithet. In the story I talk about the fever of the protagonist and, for the second time in my career, I ended up with fever myself while writing about her… well, that made the descriptions much easier.

I already knew Women Up To No Good and, knowing the theme, and having already published with Joanne Merriam (thanks to Lawrence Schimel) a novelette, I knew of the professionalism, the commitment and the human quality of who do URBB. So, how can I not want to participate?

Check out the Kickstarter!

About the Authors

Argentine author Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría holds a doctorate in philosophy and is a university professor. Her novelette, Memory, is also available from Upper Rubber Boot Books (in a translation into English by Lawrence Schimel, who also translated “Liquid Glass”), and was a finalist for the Spanish national science fiction award, the Ignotus. Her other titles include a short novel, El tren (Café con Leche, 2016), and a collection of stories, Diez varaiaciones sobre el amor (Editorial Cerbero, 2017).

D.A. Xiaolin Spires stares at skies and wonders what there is to eat out there in the cosmos. Spires aspires to be a 3-D printing gourmand, but will happily concede with producing and consuming quixotic fiction and poetry. Trips to East and Southeast Asia continue to influence her writing and leave her craving durian, fermented foods and copious amounts of wonder that fuel her body, spirit and imagination. Website: daxiaolinspires.wordpress.com.

9 June 2018

Tannins work like that.

Today for our Kickstarter we feature two stories from Broad Knowledge which have elements of agriculture: pig-farming in “Profanity” (“So I wander over to the barn, stand at the pens, watch the ginormous mama pigs lying in the dirt fattening up their little piglets. ‘Thanks in advance for your kiddies,’ I say. They don’t get it.”) and tea-farming in “Sunbasker” (“A day later, an alert tells me that Kalo has finished picking baskets upon baskets of tea. He’s cleaned up the whole field. I book a truck to bring the leaves back to my lab.”)

In both stories, the intentions of the farmer color the narrative: in “Profanity,” the pigs are mindlessly being fattened for slaughter just as the cult members are being made mindless by their adherence to a nonsensical religion, and in “Sunbasker” the narrator’s desire to help a farmer under a curse is reflected in the magical origin of the tea she uses, which was given to humans by the Goddess of Mercy.

Liz Ulin writes:

The idea for my story, “Profanity,” was bouncing around in my head for years before I found the right voices to tell it. I remember sitting in the coffee shop of the LA Science Museum and describing the concept to my brother: A religious cult where “cocksucking cunt” is a compliment. Why? Because using the Devil’s words routinely rob them of their power, and robbing them of their power honours God! Twisted? Did I mention it was a religious cult? My brother had on that same face you probably have on now. The what the hell? face. Anyway, the voices finally came to me (not divine ones—no worries—just narrative ones). Surprisingly, they were the voices of two kids. And they sure had a lot to say about Profanity, Saskatchewan, where “every kind of devilishness is turned inside out”.

D.A. Xiaolin Spires writes:

“Sunbasker” comes from my many conversations in Taiwan and specifically hanging out with people I know in tea-farm-rich breathtaking Maokong mountains in Taipei. I have some food purveyor and tea grower friends and also met the boss of a certain sweet shop there—and the ideas for the story kind of just whirled away out of my mind from there. I wrote my process of writing this story on my website. The narrative streamed through my fingers while I was in at Taoyuan airport in Taiwan, where I was about to board to head elsewhere. I was just about ready to get on the plane, staring at a mural of tea farmers picking leaves in the terminal… when the story hit! They were calling my group number and I was still typing, trying to get it all down before the story winked away!

About the Authors

D.A. Xiaolin Spires stares at skies and wonders what there is to eat out there in the cosmos. Spires aspires to be a 3-D printing gourmand, but will happily concede with producing and consuming quixotic fiction and poetry. Trips to East and Southeast Asia continue to influence her writing and leave her craving durian, fermented foods and copious amounts of wonder that fuel her body, spirit and imagination. Website: daxiaolinspires.wordpress.com.

Liz Ulin is the winner of the 2014 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition, and a finalist in The Canadian Short Script Competition, The Canadian Authors Association Short Story Competition, and The Writers Union of Canada Short Prose Competition. She has also had several short stories adapted and produced at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre.

8 June 2018

This is what the apocalypse looks like

Yesterday we had two interviews and a guest post all go live!

  • Quick Questions – Octavia Cade and Joanne Merriam of Women Up To No Good, from Charles Payseur. For me dark fiction is inextricably linked to temptation, to identification with the wrong. It’s one thing to know that poisoning is immoral in broad daylight, and quite another to be brought to feel, though fiction, that poison can be an excusable and tempting thing. It’s a temporary identification, perhaps, but I tend to think that deliberately acknowledging our own capacity for identification with evil is a form of inoculation towards it. In that way horror can be a very empowering genre – at its best, it’s all about self-knowledge and perseverance in the face of failure.
  • Interview with Joanne Merriam, editor of Broad Knowledge, from Sarena Ulibarri. When I’m selecting stories, I try to read blind by saving all of the stories under their titles and removing author identities. Of course, it’s never entirely blind because I can recognize some writers’ voices, but I make the attempt, which means that I have to address diversity in my submissions pool before I get to that largely-blind selection stage.
  • GUEST POST: How A Small Press Is Born, from Alexa at A Thousand Worlds. We’re living in interesting times in the book industry. Issues like monopoly power and predatory pricing, piracy, authors’ rights, and fair compensation are all coming to the forefront. Opportunities to interact in new ways are growing as technology matures. Writers can contact readers more directly. Readers can become book critics with tools like NetGalley. And tiny publishers like me can use tools like Kickstarter to reach readers directly and ask for pre-orders so they can pay their writers professional rates without going bankrupt.

On to our feature!

Today we feature two stories of sisters conspiring to do magic with disastrous results.

In Anahita Eftekhari’s “A Fool’s Feast,” two sisters are expected to go hungry when their brother shows up with his bride and her whole family (“I closed my eyes, counted to five, and opened them again. But they were still there. Car after car. A whole herd of them. Men and women inside. Kids too. My brother’s bride’s people.”) and their mother doesn’t have enough food—so they “help” with a little magic they inherited from their dead father.

In Vida Cruz’s “Blushing Blue,” two sisters use magic to replace their dead mother and comfort their grieving father. Vida Cruz writes:

In 2013, a Category 5 typhoon called Haiyan swept across central Philippines, leaving thousands dead in its wake. I was working as an online journalist-editor at the time, and my job required me to monitor the television for news. The torn roofs, leveled buildings, the bodies floating in filthy water, and an interview with a man who walked six hours while carrying his dead daughter made me think this, this is what the apocalypse looks like. Fast forward a few months later, at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop in San Diego, I still couldn’t get all that destruction out of my head. Combined with a classmate’s excellent tattoo of a galleon sailing the seas, I tried to exorcise every image of that watery hell with tattoo magic during my fifth week story, which turned out to be “Blushing Blue.” I let it sit for a few years because, after all that time, Haiyan was still too fresh. When submissions for Broad Knowledge opened up, I felt that I could take a look at this story without crying up a storm myself (after all this time, that lasts for about 10 minutes). Rebuilding efforts post-Haiyan are still ongoing; if you’d like to know how to help, this charity is a good place to start.

Go to the Kickstarter to donate and pre-order now!

About the Authors

Vida Cruz is a Filipina born, bred, and based in the Philippines. A 2017 Writers of the Future winner and a 2014 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Writers of the Future vol. 34, Expanded Horizons, Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, Philippine Speculative Fiction, and the Australian fantasy anthology Phantazein. In her spare time, she draws pretty things, pets all the dogs, and claws at her towering TBR pile. Tweet her at @laviecestmoi. If you’d like to help the rebuilding or rehabilitation efforts for the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda survivors, this charity is a good place to make inquiries.

Anahita Eftekhari is an Iranian-Canadian who often struggles with her views regarding gender and women’s role in society. She says, “Writing is where I play around with the ideas I don’t dare voice, and where I explore them in the context of the culture that quietly remains a part of me, despite my earlier attempts at abandoning it. As someone with a background in genetics and half a decade of experience teaching ESL in Asia and Europe, I’m not one to limit myself to a single path, and hope my writing displays my appetite for bringing forth overlooked POVs and openness.”

7 June 2018

Horror as the stock which flavors the whole

Today we feature three stories of mothers and children.

In Autumn Christian’s “Flowers for Dogman,” the protagonist, Effy, a senior in high school, believes herself to have ceased to be human because of her father’s emotional absence and her mother’s obsession with the dogman, a mysterious creature who lives in the woods near their house. Her relationship with her mother (“A ghost of a woman, her body gone to make more room for her shadow.”) is at the heart of this brutal tale of family dysfunction.

In sharp contrast to Christian’s story, Joyce Chng’s “Dear Son” is a short letter from a loving and generous mother to her morally upstanding son, who must let go of her after death. In her introduction to Sharp & Sugar Tooth, editor Octavia Cade writes:

In “Dear Son” by Joyce Chng [ritual and recipe are] used to pass on generosity. . . . This is worldbuilding with horror as the stock which flavors the whole, and it’s a genuine shift from the horror of consumption and control, or of consumption and addiction, or starvation, because there’s communication in it and even (especially in Chng and Horáková) a genuine underpinning of healthy love.

In Julie Nováková’s “Frankenstein Sonata,” it’s the mother who must let go of her song after death—but she can’t, with horrifying consequences.

Julie Nováková writes:

What happened in the world of Frankenstein after Dr. Frankenstein, and to what lengths could a mother go to save her child? These were the tantalizing questions at the start of “The Frankenstein Sonata”. As to the use of music in the story, I’m frankly not sure where it came from – it was just there. I use music in my stories a lot (and it shows: The Symphony of Ice and Dust, Étude for An Extraordinary Mind…), and especially classical music and opera are a great source of inspiration to me. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! I don’t mind if you listen to a little Fauré or Schumann alongside it. . . .

Donate now!

About the Authors

Joyce Chng lives in Singapore. Her fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Joyce also co-edited The Sea is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia with Jaymee Goh. Her alter-ego is J. Damask.

Autumn Christian is a fiction writer who lives in the dark woods with poisonous blue flowers in her backyard and a black deer skull on her wall. She is waiting for the day when she hits her head on the cabinet searching for the popcorn bowl and all consensus reality dissolves. She’s been a freelance writer, a game designer, a cheese producer, a haunted house actor, and a video game tester. She considers Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Katie Jane Garside, the southern gothic, and dubstep, as main sources of inspiration.

Julie Nováková is a Czech author and translator of SF, fantasy and detective stories. She has published short fiction in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, and elsewhere. Her work in Czech includes seven novels, one anthology (Terra Nullius) and over thirty short stories. Some of her works have been also translated into Chinese, Romanian and Estonian. She received the Encouragement Award of the European science fiction and fantasy society in 2013, and the Aeronautilus award for the best Czech short story of 2014 and 2015, and for the best novel of 2015. Read more at www.julienovakova.com and follow her on Twitter @Julianne_SF.

6 June 2018

a housekeeping post

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Posting this so Bloglovin’ will let us “claim” our blog there… it’s a pretty cool site but just disregard this if you don’t already use it.

5 June 2018

Eventually, she lands. Head-first, then the rest of her a split-second later.

Just as the clown from yesterday’s story (Caroline Yoachim’s “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown”) grows her own family, so does the protagonist in Charlotte Ashley’s “She Falls,” whose original nature she has forgotten. This is a story of discovering who you are, separate from what those who made you expect you to be. (It’s also where today’s title comes from.)

Estíbaliz Espinosa’s “23 commuter line chromosomes” is also about maternity and motherhood, and, in the compressed mode of flash fiction, illuminates the narratives we create to explain our lives to our children.

About the Authors

Charlotte Ashley is a writer, editor and bookseller living in Toronto, Canada. Her fantasy and science fiction short stories have appeared in F&SF, Clockwork Canada, Luna Station Quarterly, Kaleidotrope, PodCastle, and elsewhere. Her historical fantasy, “La Héron,” was nominated for both the Aurora and Sunburst Awards in 2016. You can find more about her at www.once-and-future.com or on Twitter @CharlotteAshley.

Estíbaliz Espinosa: Writer. Musician. Hispanic philologist and sociologist. Dilettante astronomer. She has published seven poetry books, short stories about scientific women, and some books of poetry translation. Her work has been translated into English, Welsh, Catalan, Hebrew, Japanese, Macedonian, and Italian. Her last poetry book is Curiosidade (Curiosity), in which “23 commuter line chromosomes” first appeared, in Galician. She is from A Coruña, Spain.

Donate to our Kickstarter to support these writers and their stories today!

5 June 2018

Sugar magic was messy magic

Another staple of horror stories are clowns, for similar reasons as dolls: childhood attachments blended with the uncanny valley. Caroline M. Yoachim turns this trope on its head in “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown,” where the clown is the hero.

Go to our Kickstarter for more.

About the Author

Caroline M. Yoachim lives in Seattle and loves cold cloudy weather. She is the author of dozens of short stories, appearing in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, among other places. Her debut short story collection, Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories, came out with Fairwood Press in 2016. For more about Caroline, check out her website. “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown” first appeared in Electric Velocipede and was republished at Drabblecast.

4 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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