Entertainingly Evil
27
Aug

Frozen Tears by Chaitali Gawade

Kanya stared mesmerised at the string of beads in her hand.
     Moonlight shimmered through them. They were translucent and felt cool in her hands. They looked like tears she thought. Hypnotised, she stared at them.
     Something touched her heart. She didn’t know what it was. Instinctively she knew it had to do something with the necklace she was holding in her hands. She brought her hand up and rubbed the beads against her cheek, and felt grief. Instinctively, she held it back. For a moment, she stared at them as if it was a living breathing thing in her hand. Tentatively, she rubbed it against her cheek again and was staggered by the emotions that coursed through her. She felt utter and absolute grief. Yet she knew, they were not her emotions.
     The pain she felt was that of someone else.
     It was by pure chance that she had found the necklace. Some invisible force had drawn her to the lake. As she dipped her feet in the freezing water, she felt something wrap around her ankle.
     It had been the necklace – it had felt cooler than the water itself. It was destined to be found by her.
     She had never come to this part of her island before. Narayani-ma had forbidden it, saying that it was not time yet. Kanya was used to Narayani-ma’s eccentric ways and knew she had held some powers. They had been passed down from generation to generation in her family. She was still discovering her secret dimensions herself. Narayani-ma had died a month before earlier and Kanya had no living relative left. She had been devastated, as she had felt Narayani-ma had still had a few years to live left in her. Since her death Kanya had been feeling a sense of urgency and when she found the necklace, she knew she was meant to find it.
     The lake had been abandoned by the islanders long ago. It was rumoured to be haunted. Some people swore of hearing anguished cries in the night, on a full moon, whenever they passed by the lake. Strange sightings led them to believe that the lake was where the ghost woman resided for the better part of the day.
     Kanya had seen the shimmering water of the lake as she approached it. She had felt a strange pull. Something other than her instinct had drawn her towards the lake.
     As she stood at the edge of the lake, she panicked. The beads in her hands felt hot and were losing their shimmer. Something had to be done. She didn’t know what, but she was certain, she had to do something. Just as she was about to drop the necklace on the sand, she felt a warm hand rubbing her cheek. Instead of fear she felt warmth. The touch felt caressing, even loving. It was a touch she had known before.
     In another lifetime, it seemed now.
     The pull felt stronger, urging her on. Almost in a trance she waded through the freezing water of the lake. Just as the ground beneath her feet began to escape, she saw a hazy shape of a woman at the centre of the lake. She swam towards it. It was a statue carved in ice. Her hair fell in waves behind her back. On her head was a tiara of flowers. She was holding a single wildflower in her hands. It was larger than the flowers in her tiara. The expression on her face was melancholy. Kanya, couldn’t yet fathom the emotion she saw in her eyes. She stepped on the circle of stone on which the statue was placed.
     Purely driven by instinct Kanya fastened the necklace around her throat. The beads of the necklace turned to tears, then dropped, as an offering to the freezing lake. The ice maiden came to life. Her hair was the colour of amber and it flowed freely. The wildflowers of her tiara bloomed. Her eyes, deep amber flecked with gold, sang a song – the song of joy.
     ‘The curse has been lifted, if only for a while,’ said the ice maiden in a lilting voice.
     “I’m Angha,” she said and held out the wildflower to Kanya. This flower had not come to life. It was made of glass. Moonlight seemed to glint off its petals in a shower of a thousand tiny sparks.
     Kanya took the flower rubbed her fingers on the flower caressingly and felt the flow of life within.
     “This is my legacy to you. It will guide you and protect you as it did me,” said Angha.
     Angha moved closer to Kanya and rubbed a finger gently on her cheek. It reminded her of the hand she had felt at the edge of the lake.
     “It’s time to say goodbye now, my angel daughter.” And with that she turned back into ice.
     Kanya’s mind whirled with questions. She held the flower against her cheek. Images flashed before her eyes. Images of her mother crying with a baby girl held in her arms fighting with her father. Her father cursing her for dishonouring him. She was never to know the joy of holding her daughter again. Kanya now knew that the emotion she had seen in her mother’s eyes had been grief. She turned to her mother and hugged her fiercely, but felt nothing. She was only a beautiful statue of ice now.
     Kanya tucked the wildflower firmly in her braid and went back in the direction from which she had come. Her heart was heavy with a strange emotion – an emotion for her mother, of whose existence she had not known.
     Until now.

Chaitali Gawade lives in Pune and is a freelance writer. Her writerly musings are fueled by tea and coffee. Her work has been published  by Twenty20 Journal,  Daily Love, Postcard Shots, and Vagabondage Press, among others. This story was previously published on d.ust.bin.



25
Aug

Uniformity by David Boop

“Hey, toots. How ‘bout you get me a cup of coffee.”
     Darlene Dixon nearly choked on her breakfast burrito. Tom Harris, Lieutenant Liberty to the world, had a well-earned reputation for being a man with values straight out of the Forties, but he’d never called her that before.  Sure, she’d only been a member of the Liberty Legion for a year, but she believed she’d earned better than “toots.”
      “I’m sorry, but what did you just call me?”
     “And while you’re at it, doll face,” The Titanium Titan, a.k.a Alexander  Fabian, echoed, “grab us some donuts from the break room. I’m famished.”
    Fabian, feet up on the Oval Table of Justice™, was a notorious playboy and the worst misogynist of the bunch.  The mask of his full-body power-suit was up and he grinned around a thick, black stogie. (Darlene hated their smell–both Fabian and the cigar–but as owner of the Legion’s headquarters, he had all the smoke detectors disabled when Australian superhero The Burning Bushman visited.)
     When taunted similarly by villains, Darlene regularly smashed their outlines through brick walls. Why would her comrades risk angering her? They knew that when transformed she was nigh-invulnerable and highly unstable, earning her the moniker of The Rage Queen.
     Liberty Legion membership was a privilege. Darlene accomplished more with the team in a year than she’d ever done alone. Still, being the only female had drawbacks. Occasionally she’d catch whispers of “H.I.L.F.,” and “Super-hottie” from other members, plus she needed to fight twice as hard for half the media’s respect.
      Putting down her burrito, she cast Fabian a warning glare. “Whoa, whoa. Has Dr. Moon’s hypno-device taken over your mouth instead of your brain this time? Heroes don’t talk to me like that.”
     She could feel her arm muscles tense under the sheer unitard she’d been assigned when joining the team. The multi-dimensional material of the costume expanded when she bulked out to triple her size. While convenient, its form-fitting nature left her uncomfortable. Twice she’d requested a comparable multi-D leather jacket and pants, but R&D had yet to come through.
    “Art thou about to cry? Maybe you should away to yon little girl’s room?”
    That was the weirdest. Darlene had spent most of her down time teaching Mars, Roman god of war, how to blend in with modern society. The time-traveling being hadn’t called her wench or salaria (prostitute) in months. He even commended her on her battle with Mount Fuji, the giant Sumo, just the other day. The mad wrestler attacked downtown where Darlene worked as a stockbroker and she’d been unprepared for the fight. While the fight started rough, she did prevail, and without the rest of the Legion’s help. Could their insults be about bruised egos?
    Standing, Darlene pounded her knuckles down on the Oval Table of Justice™.
    “Enough! I don’t know why you’re doing this, but I don’t deserve this treatment.”
    Normally, if anyone stepped on her feelings, they’d immediately take a step back and apologize, lest they risk her anger-management issues releasing the beast inside. That day, though, they acted like they were expecting that to happen, giving her pause. She studied their faces, each hero trying not to drool in anticipation.
    “Wait. You’re trying to get me mad, aren’t you?”
    “No. No. No.” They said in unison, too rehearsed to be a coincidence.
    Then she put the pieces together. “Oh, my God!”
    “Sí?”
    “Not you, Mars.” Darlene crossed her arms, “Did you ‘men’ get replaced with thirteen-year-old boys?”
Lieutenant Liberty feigned ignorance. “I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re going on about.”
Darleen paced around the table. “You want me to rage out thinking I’ll end up half naked again?”
“You had a uniform malfunction? Dang, I missed it. I mean, how unfortunate.” But the Titanium Titan couldn’t swallow his smirk.
    “I was at work! I didn’t have time to change into my costume.”
    “That art known to all. It ‘trends’ on your interwebs.” Mars rotated the monitor around to show the iTube stream.
    Darlene blushed, even though the channel blurred the most of her bits. The caption below read, “Should super-heroine be renamed the Naked Rage?”
    When she looked up, all three heroes huddled around Fabien’s monitor, giggling like elementary schoolboys who’d caught a glimpse of their neighbor changing through a window.
    Darlene tried to shrug them off, “So, what then? You thought you could piss me off and I’d rip out of my clothes again? Multi-D costume, remember?”
    “Art thou sure?”
    Curious, Darlene pulled on the fabric around her shoulder hard and it peeled away like tissue paper.
The three heroes laughed at their tomfoolery until Darlene really did get mad–madder than she’d ever been! Every cell in her body came alive and filled with delta-energy. Rage Queen never felt so powerful in her life. Instinctually, she realized she’d crossed a new threshold with her abilities and, despite the sudden breeze she felt around her body, she didn’t worry about her current state of undress.
    She sent each super-asshole through the Legion’s roof before they could catch a single glimpse.
#
     The Liberty League’s alarmed summoned the team to their headquarters.
     “It must be the Vile Five!” Fabian guessed. “Only they have the balls to attack our base.”
Two days and Fabian had yet to remove his armor, per doctor’s orders. The fist-shaped dent in the Titanium Man’s suit had broken so many ribs, his lungs would collapse if he stepped out of the suit.    “Nay,” Mars challenged. “It must be Hades, Dark Lord of the Underworld. Just like the cur to assault us while we are not at full strength.” Reflexively, the Roman god put a hand up to his bruised eye-socket.
     “It could be any of our former nemesi,” Lieutenant Liberty said. “It wouldn’t take much to drop through the hole in the roof.” Tom blew on the quick-drying glue that held his Shield of Righteousness™ together. Rage Queen had snapped the “unbreakable” indestuctomantium shield in half as if it were a cookie.
     “It’s just me, boys.”
     The heroes slid to halt when they saw Darlene Dixon sitting in Tom’s command chair, sipping on a mocha latte.
     Fabian took a step back, covering his damaged chest plate with crossed forearms. “I thought you quit.”
     “I changed my mind. Quitting is not what heroes do.”
     The Lieutenant swung his shield behind him, lest she snap it in four. “Who’s to say we want you back?”
     Darlene purred. “Oh, Tom. After the dozen or so email, text and vine apologies you sent, I think you do.”
     Tom’s teammates stared incredulously at their leader. “What? Our counsel recommended it.” They clearly didn’t believe him.
     Pushing the chair back, Darlene stood and strolled around the Oval Table of Justice™. “No, I think you gentleman need to understand that you’re in the Twenty-first century now and those immature antics of yours won’t cut it anymore. So, in lieu of the sexual harassment lawsuit my counsel suggested, I going to give you a chance to make things good with a series of trials.“ She glared knowingly at Mars, “You Gods are all about trials, aren’t you?”
     Mars swallowed hard.
#
     Darlene didn’t know if it was just a slow news day, or having three superheroes protesting on the steps of the City Hall normally brought out hundreds of gawkers.
     Fabian looked resplendent with his Titanium armor painted pink. He actually seemed to enjoy waving his “Save the Tatas” sign. She guessed if there was any cause he could get behind…
     Mars, however, looked slightly uncomfortable, having traded his Roman tunic for a ballet tutu.
     “Her body, her choice!” He said as he handed bystanders “right-to-choose” literature.
     She was most impressed by Lieutenant Liberty as he waved a “Hailey in ‘16” banner and proclaimed, without a touch of sarcasm in his voice, “It’s time we had a woman in the White House!”
      Darlene smiled. Today they were really heroes.

David Boop is a Denver-based author. His first novel, She Murdered Me with Science, returns to print in 2015 from WordFire Press. David has had over fifty short stories published across several genres including media tie-ins for The Green Hornet and Veronica Mars. You can find out more on his fanpage, www.facebook.com/dboop.updates or Twitter @david_boop.



23
Aug

Jennifer Brozek Accepts Position as Managing Editor of EGM

When EGM began three years ago, Katie Cord had no idea of the projects that would come her way. The initial goal was to publish three anthologies, the Three Little Words Anthology series, and a young adult fantasy, sci-fi novel, The Heart-Shaped Emblor by Alaina Ewing. Back then, it was very easy for her to be in charge of everything: directing creative content, coordinating social media, managing the behind the scenes business, working with the authors, artists, graphic designers, and editors. As time has moved on, it has become too much for one person to handle. Katie has a vision of transitioning from a small indie publisher to a larger sustainable business that creates high quality, entertaining, and engaging books for readers. To do that, she needs competent, talented people.

So, it is with great enthusiasm that EGM announces Jennifer Brozek as the Managing Editor of Evil Girlfriend Media. Jennifer currently is the creative mind behind Apocalypse Ink Production, a Hugo nominated editor, ENIE and Scribe winner. Jennifer understands the vision of Evil Girlfriend Media and has brought great flash fiction to our website with EGM Shorts.

JenniferKatieEGM20150725

Katie Cord will be crunching numbers and attending graduate school.




6
Jul

Evil Girlfriend Media Closed to Novel Submissions Until January 2016

If you love dark fantasy, science fiction and horror, you might find something to fall in love with here at Evil Girlfriend Media. Go check out our book page for more information on what we publish.

If you are shopping around a manuscript at this time, unfortunately EGM will be closed to ALL MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS until January of 2016. This means we will not accept any unsolicited novel, novella or novelette works at this time. No exceptions. Any submissions received will be deleted unread.

Although we are closed to manuscript submissions, Evil Girlfriend Media is still accepting flash fiction for the EGM Shorts. Please read the latest “From the Editor’s Lair,” to see what our editor, Jennifer Brozek, would like to see more of.

Good luck and we hope to see your finished manuscript in January.




31
Oct

2015 Publication Schedule

Evil Girlfriend Media is excited to announce our 2015 publication schedule. In the next couple of months, we will bring you interviews with authors, excerpts, and opportunities to obtain advanced copies of books.

JANUARY

Apocalypse Girl Dreaming by Jennifer Brozek

AGDcover

 

 

The Archivist by Tom D Wright

Archivist-cover-front

Rachel by Dobromir Harrison

10694483_607941292643793_1493626625215672003_o

 

Murder Girls by Christine Morgan

(Cover Coming Soon)

NOVEMBER

Naughty or Nice: A Christmas Anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek with Jon Del Arroz

(Cover Coming Soon)

 

There Are No Heroes In This Book by Timothy W. Long

(Cover Coming Soon)

 

shutterstock_219087016




20
Oct

Coming January 2015 Jennifer Brozek’s Apocalypse Girl Dreaming

AGDcover

 

Evil Girlfriend Media is pleased to release the cover of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, a short story collection, by Jennifer Brozek. This collection features dark speculative fiction ranging from tie-in stories in the Valdemar and Elemental Masters worlds, weird west horror to satirical science fiction to urban fantasy with a horrific bent. Cover art by Fernando Cortes with graphic design by Matt Youngmark.

Apocalypse Girl Dreaming is out January 16, 2015 in e-book and paperback.




18
Apr

INTERVIEW: SEANAN MCGUIRE

 

An Interview with Seanan McGuire

By Jen West 

thelambs

 

 

Seanan McGuire’s “The Lambs” kicks off the Bless Your Mechanical Heart anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media with a near-future story of covert surveillance used as a tool for deterring school bullying. Beven is a “lamb”, a robot disguised as a human teenager who has been embedded within the local school system since first grade. Designed to be an easy target for intimidation and harassment, she interacts with her fellow students as if she were human, all the while monitoring and recording any abusive behavior for public playback at graduation. But when a former friend falls in with a group of bullies, her desire to protect her friend conflicts with her programming to be a snitch.

Seanan McGuire’s prolific works include two popular urban fantasy series: October Daye series and Incryptid series, both from DAW. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies, magazines and websites. She also writes horror as Mira Grant, and her novel Blackout earned a 2013 Hugo nomination.

Seanan is no stranger to the Hugo ballot or breaking records. In 2012, she became the first woman to have her name listed 4 times on the same Hugo Ballot. Then in 2013, she became the first writer, male or female, to have her name listed 5 times on the same Hugo ballot. In 2013, she and her colleagues at SF Squeecast took home the Hugo for Best Fancast.

Writing is not Seanan’s only tool in her bag of tricks. She is also an avid cartoonist and a seasoned filker having released several albums of original music since 2009.

J: In “The Lambs,” you address a growing public concern around school bullying. How big a problem do you think school bullying is today?

S: I think it’s a huge problem. When I was in school, the bullies couldn’t follow you home without revealing themselves to your parents. Now, thanks to social media and cellphones, there’s no getting away. It’s terrifying. I’m not surprised that we’ve seen a rise in teen and preteen suicides; I’m surprised it hasn’t been more extreme.

J: Did you draw on any of your own personal experiences from high school to write this? What was high school like for you?

S: High school was fine. Middle school was where the monsters were.

J: There was a line in “The Lambs” that jumped out at me: “Pretty girls were more likely to inspire outright rage when they hovered at the bottom of the pack, while girls who were considered unattractive inspired pity and disgust, but would eventually be allowed to fade into the background.” Do you think that is a universal truth in high schools? And where do you think teenagers learn this kind of pack behavior?

S: I don’t think there’s any one “universal truth” to bullying. If there were, there would be one right way to end it, and we would live in a kinder world now. I do think that we learn very quickly that the world is supposed to be easier for pretty people, and that this can inspire negative responses when we see that this truth is being denied. Pack mentality is a terrifying thing.

J: The “lambs” are inserted into schools like spies, which evokes a feeling of “Big Brother” is watching them. Do you think a bullying surveillance system is the answer to today’s real life bullying problem?

S: I don’t think we have the ability to set up this sort of passively positive monitoring, no. It would be the baby NSA, and kids would wind up being used to report on their parents. That’s the nice thing about fiction: I only have to focus on what I want to.

J: Why did you choose to have the robots disclose the bullying at graduation rather than immediately after it happened?

S: Bullies have always balanced action with risk. “I can attack that kid, but maybe she’ll tell.” By making bullying a big reveal at graduation, from what is seen as an unassailable source, they know that they can’t hide their actions from either their parents or authority figures. That’s much scarier than one detention they can forget about in a week.

J: In 2012, you were the first woman to appear on the Hugo Ballot four times. In 2013, you were the first person, regardless of gender, to appear on the Hugo Ballot FIVE times. Can you describe what that feels like from both the perspective of a writer and also as a woman in a generally male-dominated genre?

S: It feels like an inbox full of death and rape threats. It feels like people accusing me of excessive self-promotion while ignoring my male peers who did three times as much self-promoting. It feels like crying myself to sleep every night over something that should have been a joy and a delight. So yeah, it’s great.

J: That sounds very disheartening when you’ve put so much effort into your work. It almost sounds like being bullied. What keeps you writing and publishing amidst all the negativity?

S: I feel like we throw the word “bully” around so much these days that it’s losing all meaning. I do think there’s a lot of resistance to women breaking into certain areas, and that the backlash we face is much greater than it ought to be. But I am a grown woman who can step away from her computer. I have felt attacked. I have felt singled out. I have not been bullied. As for why I keep going, why would I start letting people tell me how to live my life now? I never let them before.

J: Do you have any advice to give other women trying to break into writing science fiction and fantasy writing?

S: Be kind. We are all in this together, and it’s not a zero-sum game. Make friends, take advice, and stand up for other women; you’re going to want them to stand up for you. Don’t let anyone walk all over you, but don’t attack for the sake of attacking, either.

J: What projects do you have in the hopper that we can look forward to?

S: The next October Daye book will be out in September; Sparrow Hill Road is coming out this May; and Symbiont comes out in November, under the Mira Grant byline.

J: Thank you for spending some time with us.

 

seananmcguire

 

 

 

Seanan McGuire writes a lot of things, sometimes under the name “Mira Grant,” but mostly as herself. She does not sleep very much. In high school, she was once pushed into moving traffic by some kids who thought it was funny. This, among other things, inspired her story for this book. Seanan likes cats and Diet Dr Pepper and corn mazes, not in that order. Learn more about Seanan here: http://www.seananmcguire.com/.

 

photo (1)

 

 

 

Jen is a freelance writer in constant search for the next interesting character or story. Her interviews have appeared in such venues as Tor.com, Shimmer, Internet Review of Science Fiction, The Nebula Awards web site and Fairwood Press’s interview collection, Human Visions. She currently resides with her brilliant writer husband, Ken Scholes; the Wonder Twins, Lizzy and Rachel; two pudgy cats, and an intellectually ambiguous dog in St. Helens, OR.




16
Apr

GUEST POST: PETER CLINES

 

Mr. Roboto, Or: How Peter Clines Learned to Stop

Worrying and Keep Loving Robots

 

gammaI grew up with robots.  They surrounded me.  In movies and television shows, on cartoons, in books.  I had robot toys and models.  Androids, astromechs, Orbots, Shogun Warriors.  I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to be an adult, because all the available literature (comics) told me by then I’d be able to have a robot best friend.  At the very least, a robot dog.  I also had rather extensive plans to build giant robots for the Army.  Which I would pilot, of course.

My childhood, it turns out, was a complete lie.

But I never did get past my fascination with robots.  It doesn’t matter if they’re  clockwork men, android cops, or just snap-together Gundam models.  Robots will always get my attention.

One of my favorite real-life historical robots was the Mechanical Turk.  I first discovered it sometime around third or fourth grade, and it reinforced the belief that a robot best friend had to be just around the corner.  It was a late 18th century automaton that could play chess at master levels, and it played games against Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin.  Decades letter it was revealed to be a fraud, but the idea of a chess-playing robot stuck with me.  Some people imagine dogs playing poker.  I imagine robots playing chess.

I also always liked “the parlor scene,” that bit in many turn of the century stories where the characters would gather around a fire, have drinks, and talk.  Perhaps some of them would play cards or checkers.  The Time Machine by H.G. Wells opens this way, with the characters discussing time travel with their host after dinner.

And at some point—I’m not even really sure when—the image in my mind became Victorian robots in smoking jackets and vests, some with bow ties while others wore ascots. Maybe one with a pipe and another with a glass of some robot-beneficial liquid.  And, naturally, they played chess.

So when Evil Girlfriend asked me about a robot anthology, well… it wasn’t hard to come up with something.

 

 

 

peterclinesPeter Clines is the author of the Ex-Heroes series and the acclaimed, genre-blending -14-. He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper. His first screenplay got him an open door to pitch stories at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He is the writer of countless film articles, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, and the poorly-named website Writer on Writing.

He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California, where he has been known to relax by doing basic maintenance on robot vacuums. So take that, Mrs. Goodell—he did become a robot repairman. “The Apocrypha of Gamma-202” is his homage to classic ‘50s sci-fi with a steampunk twist. He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.




15
Apr

GUEST POST: Lillian Cohen-Moore

We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends

(Katie’s Impromptu Title For This Guest Post)

 

imperial

Defining personhood, the concept of when we legally and biologically recognize the sentience and autonomy of another being, is one of those concepts I can’t set down. In The Imperial Companion, it’s one of the essential challenges of the story. Two humans from different worlds are helping an android, only one of which accepts androids as equal to humanity. I had a lot of other stuff on my mind while I was writing the story; faery tales, Western colonialism, recent advancements in emotions of artificial intelligences.

The android Imperial Companion Aleksei is seen by his designers as equal to any human adviser of the man he called his dearest friend. After a mysterious attack on the man he has faithfully served, the two are separated. He has to function on a world full of human/android tension to find him. Though his problems are about species, technology, and faith, I think Aleksei’s problems are as human as our own. We all struggle to be recognized as people; intelligent, and possessed of autonomy. Moving heaven and earth to help our loved ones is something we want to do to keep them safe, because the alternatives are unimaginable.

And, like Aleksei, we often need help from those around us to navigate an increasingly complex world.

You an pick up BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART here: BUY A ROBOT TODAY!!!

 

 

 

 

lilliancohen_moore

Lillian Cohen-Moore is an award winning editor, and devotes her writing to fiction, journalism and roleplaying games. Influenced by the work of Jewish authors and horror movies, she draws on bubbe meises (grandmother’s tales) and horror classics for inspiration. The Imperial Companion came from a confluence of topics; current research related to the emotional range of artificial intelligence, colonialism in Western history, and dangerous faery tale journeys. 




13
Apr

GUEST POST: KEN SCHOLES

Mechanicals and Wizards and Gypsies,

Oh My,

Or Round-Up at the Robot Rodeo

 

ofmetalmen
Image copyright Allen Douglas.
Used with permission of the artist.

 

“Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise” was one of those accidents of story that I fell into and had no idea how important it was.  In 2005, just after learning I’d won the Writers of the Future contest, I saw that a small press ‘zine was calling for stories for a special “mechanical oddity” issue.  Back in those days, I was dashing off stories left and right with little thought other than to land yet another tale in the boat and then find it a home out in the world.  I had been playing with a bit of lyric:  “Rudolfo rode to Glimmerglam in the Age of Laughing Madness” and it was laying around the factory floor when Leroy, my redneck muse, started twisting it up with whatever else he could find to fashion a mechanical oddity story.  The first line showed up fast and easy:  Rudolfo’s Gypsy Scouts found the metal man sobbing in an impact crater deep in the roiling smoke and glowing ruins of Windwir.

From there, the story took off and wrote itself over several lunch breaks spent nibbling tuna fish sandwiches at the Big Town Hero near my day-job office in downtown Portland, Oregon.  Robots.  An ancient wizard.  A dashing Gypsy king and his Wandering Army.  A fallen city.  When I finished “Of Metal Men…”, I learned that the magazine calling for those mechanical oddity stories had received their fill early and closed to submissions.  But that was okay, I told myself, because it really wasn’t that great of a tale.  It felt a little different and the world and characters seemed a little different from my norm.  But all in all, “Of Metal Men…” just slid off my to-do list and into my done pile with little fanfare and no expectations for it.  It found its way out the door in search of a market and was largely forgotten about until the next fall when Doug Cohen pulled it out of the Realms of Fantasy slush pile, passed it along to Shawna McCarthy, and turned it my first pro-level sale after Writers of the Future.  Still, until Allen Douglas hit me in the head with his art for the story, I had no clue of the story’s importance.

Writers are weird.  Ask any of us.  I’d gotten in the habit of occasionally Googling the titles of my short stories.  Sometimes it led to nice reviews I’d not seen while Googling my name.  Yes.  Weird.  Fortunately, you run out of time for that kind of stuff later.  Mostly.  But anyway.  On a lark, for no good reason at all, in the deep of winter with the story not coming out until spring at the soonest, I plugged in the title of my story while sitting in my cubicle at work.

 This is what came up.

If you know me at all, you can guess what I did.  Yep.  I cried.  Right there in my cubicle.

Art has always moved me, even before my stories started connecting up with artists.  It was especially surreal and powerful to see what an artist did with my words and I have several examples here in my house now.  What Allen Douglas did changed my life.  Because when I saw that image of Isaak, kneeling in the crater, weeping as the smoke poured off his back, I knew there was much, much more to that metal man’s tale.  My short story turned into…wait for it…four short stories!

I knew it in an instant.

Four interconnected stories about this survivor of Windwir and the impact of his programming upon Rudolfo’s world.  Of course, from there – a story too long to tell here – it evolved slowly into my series, The Psalms of Isaak.  The first two short stories comprised the beginning and end of the first volume, Lamentation.  And then the third and fourth stories (unwritten) became anchoring ideas in the second and fourth volumes.  The rest just kind of grew to fit the size of story bucket Leroy had in mind.  As I write this post, I’m now within a few months of finishing the final volume after a nine year journey with Isaak, Rudolfo and the Gang.  That first novel led to an agent and a five book contract with Tor within thirteen months of sitting down to write it.  And it led to the books coming out here and overseas to a lot of nice words and even a few awards.  From short story to writing career in thirty seconds, so to speak.

Part of the series’ success – and the story’s success, I think – is Isaak himself.  I’m often told by fans that he is their favorite character.  He’s also a character whose point-of-view we never experience.  We see him only through the eyes of the humans he’s met along the way.  I’ve been told how clever I was to honor Dr. Asimov with the name of my robot and maybe Leroy really was being clever.  I actually chose the name because it means ‘laughter’ (approximately) and I thought a weeping robot named laughter was a nice twist.  Leroy, obviously, is vastly more clever than me.

And Isaak weeps for what he’s done.  A mechanical who had no ambition for becoming human, he’s thrust into an innocent, awkward humanity from his first entrance onto the page and becomes a central figure over the course of five books.  At the time, I thought nothing of it.  Now, I can see clearly the homage I was paying to all of the metal men who’d influenced me.  Baum’s Tin Woodman grabbed me first, followed closely by Lester Del Rey’s Max in Runaway Robot,  C3PO (Star Wars), and Twiki (Buck Rogers)  showed up soon after.  There were more over the course of decades of science fiction but those are the first that leap to mind.  They were the ones I laid awake at night wishing I could build and then take to school with me.

So when Katie Cord decided she also wanted to pay homage to all the robots she’s loved and turned Jennifer Brozek loose to round up stories for Evil Girlfriend Media’s Bless Your Mechanical Heart,  I was thrilled to be invited to that rodeo.  I hope you’ll pick up your copy today and see what they’ve put together for you!

 

 

 

trailerboy_2

Ken “Trailer Boy” Scholes is the critically acclaimed author of four novels and over forty short stories. His series, The Psalm of Isaak, is being published both at home and abroad to award nominations and rave reviews. Publisher’s Weekly hails the series as a “towering storytelling tour de force.”

He is a winner of the ALA’s RUSA Reading List award for best fantasy novel, France’s Prix Imaginales for best foreign novel, and the Writers of the Future contest.

Ken is a native of the Pacific Northwest and makes his home in Saint Helens, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and twin daughters. You can learn more about Ken by visiting www.kenscholes.com.




10
Mar

BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART COVER REVEAL

BYMH-3c

 

Artist Larry Dixon tells us about his design for BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART:

I used the scale of the heart compared to the droid to represent a problem that was too big to fix.  The heart’s interior and the frayed circuitry are extremely delicate, and bright and beautiful, and a tangle.  The heart’s centerline is a visual play on the classic “broken heart” design of a jagged break, except of course, this bifurcation is part of that heart’s intended styling, a statement that hearts are in fact designed to appear broken, and be deeply accessible, as part of their function.

The droid’s lighting is red while the heart is blue, indicating incompatibility.  The droid’s 1950s-styled chromework has a patina like untended trim on a classic car, and is dented up, to represent that the droid’s been through a lot, but aside from that there’s no visible damage. Love’s like that.  I also went with the droid’s “skin” as black silicone rubber because, call me crazy, but I’d want my droids to be waterproofed.

The background has a zoom blur, a lot like a camera pull, to draw the eye more to the figure’s head.  There’s also a shadowy image of a ruined building behind it to give the impression that something’s gone badly, shown corner-on to bring to mind a cathedral by its symmetry.  It’s a strong vertical, to push the eye down (from where a title block will no doubt be) to an unseen, but felt, horizon line that grounds it. Lastly, though, the whole thing is engulfed from the sides by utter blackness, not to show dread or evil, but rather, a lack of information while the droid ponders the heart.

Find out more about Larry Dixon at  http://www.gryphonking.com/.

 

We are excited to release this anthology mid-April. If you are in the Seattle, WA area, plan to attend our book release party at NORWESCON 37.

 

Best Always,

Katie




10
Feb

EAT YOUR HEART OUT: AN AUTHOR EXTRAVAGANZA

eatyourheartout

Don’t make us eat your heart out, get over to the event page!

 

VALENTINE’S DAY.

Yeah, it is a day for many that represents love, candy, flowers, and if you’re lucky… some really other great stuff. But for some of us, it represents other things: zombies, vampires, psychological terror, and really great stories. So, whether you’re looking for an inexpensive gift for your significant other, or something to distract yourself from all those people celebrating a holiday you could care less about. Come on over to the Facebook event, EAT YOUR HEART OUT: AN AUTHOR EXTRAVAGANZA. It is a great place to talk with some of the hottest indie authors and publishers (including us).

 

booklineup

 

THE LINEUP

Rachel Aukes-100 Days in Deadland
A. Carina Barry-The Under-Circus and Other Tales
Owen Baillie-Aftermath (Invasion of the Dead, Book 1)
Jake Bible: Z-Burbia
Tonia Brown-Devouring Milo
Jason Christie-Zombie Killa
Joseph A. Coley-Six Feet From Hell: Crisis
Eli Constant-Dead Trees
Ricky Cooper-Designated Infected
Evil Girlfriend Media-Stamps, Vamps & Tramps
Craig DiLouie-The Retreat, Episode #1: Pandemic
Jackie Druga-Zombie Battle: Complete (5 books)
Dan Eagles-The Last Venture Capitalist
Kurt Fawver-Forever, In Pieces
Sarah Lyons Fleming-Until the End of the World
Rhiannon Frater-The Untold Tales Omnibus: Zombie Stories From the As The World Dies Universe (3 volumes)
Michael S Gardner-Downfall
Josh Hilden-The Shores of the Dead Book 1: The Rising
Michelle Kilmer-When the Dead & The Spread (2 books)
Eloise J. Knapp-Pulse
Sb Knight-Game of Straws, Game of Straws Origins, and Volume One of the Saga of Straws (trilogy)
Timothy Long-At the Behest of the Dead
Keith Milstead-Fish To Die For
Ripley Patton-Ghost Hold
Claire C. Riley-Odium: The Dead Saga
Damir Salkovic-The Black Ziggurat Double Feature
Randy Spears-Forget the Alamo: A Zombie Novella
Rachel Tsoumbakos-Emeline and the Mutants
Jack Wallen-I Zombie I
Darren Wearmouth-First Activation

 

ABOUT OUR SUBMISSION

 

SVTad

Click here for some vampire goodness!

On the day of lovers and lonely hearts, we will be releasing our third Three Little Words anthology. It is a sweet, sweet gift to ourselves. The tone of this antho, like the other two, not only reflects the theme but also the editor. Shannon Page and Monique Snyman both came to their anthologies with a different world view which included their location, personal belief system, and the type of story they enjoy. Shannon Robinson is no different. Shannon R. is born out of a literary world that enjoys telling, play on words, long paragraphs, and beautiful metaphors. We at EGM look at our anthos and think, “Wow”.  We have stories from all over the world in these books. In our third anthology, it is an honor and privilege to publish stories by best-selling authors, award winners, and a couple newcomers that are on the rise. We hope that you purchase this anthology, leave us a review, and give us a bloody good Valentine’s Day.

What a talented lineup!

What a talented lineup!

Don’t get your heart ripped out.

Best Always,

Katie

 




29
Jan

BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART

In the summer of 2012, I attended the Cascade Writer’s Workshop in Vancouver, WA. It is a Milford Style Workshop geared mostly towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. In my group, a tall guy who dressed in a black suit wrote the most amazing old-school science fiction story. I sort of gushed over it. In the end, I felt myself saying, Bless your mechanical heart, regarding the main character. The story had all of the things I love: deep character, ethical and moral dilemmas, and the feel of a time in science fiction from before I was born.

Forward to 2013, I’m at one of the biggest comic book conventions in the world with a fellow writer. I’d recently met him at another con (he’s sort of weird, likes zombies and superhero stuff, what a concept).  He loves Gundam robots and to see his face light up as we passed display after display was such a treat.

A week later, I met Jennifer Brozek, an editor I’d followed on Facebook for years. She seemed sharp, liked the same things as me, and then the idea hit me. Let’s make an anthology of robot stories together and use a phrase ingrained in the Wernicke’s area of every southern woman’s brain, “Bless your heart”.

According to the urban dictionary, the phrase “Bless your heart” can mean anything from calling someone an idiot without being harsh, to a polite way to tell someone to go to hell, or even for them to f— off.  For me, this held true as I grew up as a child. As the nerdy overweight girl who wore thick glasses and read way too many books, “Bless your heart” was said constantly to me. I use it now for all of the above and even to tell people how sorry I am about a situation they may be going through without making them feel uncomfortable.

Regardless, Bless Your Mechanical Heart is what happens when an excellent editor and a southern gal who loves classic science fiction get together.  Jennifer and I love this concept and are excited to have the opportunity to publish the authors involved. We have pulled together a wide range of voices from urban fantasy authors, game writers, and pop culture sensations.  We hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up.

 

BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART

 Edited and Introduction by

Jennifer Brozek

THE LAMBS
by Seanan McGuire

THE KING’S OWN
by Fiona Patton

THE STRANGE ARCHITECTURE OF THE HEART
by Lucy A. Snyder

THIRTY-TWO, TWENTY-THREE
by Jean Rabe

JUST ANOTHER DAY IN THE BUTTERFLY WAR
by M. Todd Gallowglas

EVER YOU
by Mae Empson

REST IN PEACE
by Sarah Hans

SEEDS OF DEVOTION
by Dylan Birtolo

THE IMPERIAL COMPANION
by Lillian Cohen-Moore

IN SO MANY WORDS
by Christopher Kellen

WE EAT THE HEARTS THAT COME FOR YOU
by Jason Sanford

DO ROBOTIC CATS PURR IN SPACE?
by Kerrie Hughes

AIDED
by Minerva Zimmerman

THE BODY AS A SHIP
by Mark Andrew Edwards

OF METAL MEN AND SCARLET THREAD AND DANCING WITH THE SUNRISE
by Ken Scholes

LOST CONNECTIONS
by Jody Lynn Nye

THE APOCRYPHA OF GAMMA-202
by Peter Clines

1560622_480396135398310_1364433729_n

COMING SOON! 

Keep watching for the full cover by Larry Dixon.




1
Jan

Year Two Begins

Happy Anniversary

Today is our one year anniversary of opening and we are so proud to have published three books. The talent we’ve brought in includes: Clarion graduates, Writers of the Future winners, Nebula nominees and winners, and rising stars in both traditional and indie publishing.  Our editors, Shannon Robinson, Shannon Page, and Monique Snyman worked diligently with our authors to provide work that we could all be proud of. This is one of our major goals in 2014, continue to provide readers with high quality entertaining books

 

So, to start the new year out right, here is a little bit of what we have coming up. Some of the information is vague for a reason, but we are excited to share.

 

February 14th, we’ll release our third THREE LITTLE WORDS anthology, STAMPS, VAMPS & TRAMPS at the event EAT YOUR HEART OUT: An Author Extravangza.

 

eatyourheartout2

Poster by Eloise Knapp

 

If you haven’t seen the Table of Contents for STAMPS, VAMPS & TRAMPS on our social media, we are very pleased with this collaboration of talent. We plan to release the cover within the next two weeks and a couple of advanced e-books for review. If you’re interested in reviewing, contact us at info@evilgirlfriendmedia.com.

 

STAMPS, VAMPS & TRAMPS

A Three Little Words Anthology

INTRODUCTION
by Shannon Robinson

FROM THE HEART
By Kella Campbell

SIDEPONYTAIL
By Lily Hoang 

SUMMER NIGHT IN DURHAM
By Cat Rambo

ONLY DARKNESS
By Paul Witcover

HIS BODY SCATTERED
By Adam Callaway

THE HUNGRY, LIVING DEAD
By Nancy Kilpatrick 

THE WHOLE OF HIS HISTORY
By Barbara Barnett

THE LIGHTNING TREE
By Carrie Laben

HIS FACE, ALL RED
By Gemma Files

A VIRGIN HAND DISARM’D
By Mary Turzillo 

FLIES IN THE INK
By Megan Beals

STABILIZATION
By Dan Parseliti

FOLLOW ME
By Christine Morgan 

MUNGO THE VAMPIRE
By Sandra Kasturi 

EASY MARK
By Rachel Caine

JOSEPHINE THE TATTOO QUEEN
By Joshua Gage

We hope that you’ll join the event on February 14th and purchase this anthology packed with ink, fangs, and wanderers.

In other news, Jennifer Brozek’s anthology, BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART is on course to be released mid-April and we hope to have the table of contents by February. This anthology was not open to unsolicited submissions.

 

Katie has also made an executive decision to only produce one THREE LITTLE WORDS anthology each fall. As much as she loves anthologies and highlighting new talent, we want to focus on e-novellas and full length manuscripts for fans.

 

We will open again to submissions on January 7, 2014.  Please keep in mind, we have a 90-120 day turn around on submissions.

 

shutterstock_92440381




22
Dec

A Christmas Gift from Evil Girlfriend Media and Ken Scholes

ken story

What Child is This I Ask the Midnight Clear

 By

Ken Scholes

 

It could have been snow, gently drifting down.  It could have been virgin white and cold as cold.  But it wasn’t.

It was ash and the night wind was hot upon me.

That’s what I remember now when I go out.

That first year when the world was on fire and we slipped over the broiling skin of it, we brave nine.  We ran the course all night but found nowhere to land.  For the first time ever I did not stop.  Not one place.  And all the while, as we slid through that broiling night, I kept humming that song.  The one about the star, the star.  Dancing in the night.

Tail big as a kite.

The end had come suddenly and they’d managed to do it to themselves.  I’d always known they would.

#

I’m airborne now and the past falls away.  The ash has long settled and it’s really snowing again.  We’re not as loaded down as we’ve been in the past but that will come in handy later.  Times have changed.  The list has changed, too.  And so has my work.  Naughty and nice are blurrier now so I’m less meticulous in checking.  I do the right thing, instead.

I don’t have to crack any whips or give any whistles.  We build speed to bend time around us.  We’ll do a year’s work this night and then we’ll sleep a while.  I check the ammunition in my assault rifle and loosen the strings on my sack.

Then we start landing here and there and I’m out doing the right thing.  Books for a library in Vancouver.  Needles and a whetstone for a circuit rider in Laramie.  We haul a starving family out of a dead mountain town in Oregon and assassinate a white supremacist who was building a skinhead army in Maine.  A handful of twelve-gauge shells for Leonard in Saskatoon.  A bottle of aspirin in Bo Phut, Thailand.  And so on.

We’re just turning north for home when we see the light.

A star, a star, dancing in the night.  Tail as big as a kite.

It builds and then blooms, a piercing white over the horizon to the east.  I shield my eyes and look homeward, then back into the light.  Is it a bomb?  Another crazy moving the world deeper into the hole it has fallen in?  Or a satellite falling from orbit?  Either way, it’s worth looking into.

I steer east and take us low.  As I draw closer, the light shrinks to a concentrated point of brilliance and I aim for it.  We pick up speed and rip open space-time for a split second.  Then, we bear down upon the town that sleeps beneath that unexplainable, spontaneous star.

There in the glory of that bright light, a child screams.

#

She is not on my list.  I’ve made no stops in this feral country in over a decade.  But I hear her screaming and it is as piercing as the star above.  I unsling my rifle and we drop right there to hover over what used to be a schoolyard.  I don’t know what I was expecting.  Someone being harmed.  Someone being carved up into pieces by primates gone horribly wrong.  I work the lever and feel the solid clunk of a chambered round.  Slipping my gloved finger around the trigger, I use my thumb to move the switch to three-round-burst and then I hit ground with a thud.  I race across the open concrete, stepping over the frozen clumps of gray weed and watching my breath billow into the cold night air.  The screaming stops.  I hear heavy breathing instead now.  Panting.

What are they doing to her?  I feel a rage coming on as the screams start again.  I push it down and use it to feed my focus.

Do you hear what I hear, the song asks.

I hear it, I answer.

They rape the world the same way they rape each other.

They kill the world the same way they kill each other.

No list to make or check here.  I am bent on violent righteousness when I kick down the makeshift plywood door propped up to keep the wind out.

Someone has turned the old lavatory into shelter but it has gone badly for them.  The boy lies cold and still and bloody.  The girl’s screams change from pain to terror when I storm into the cluttered room and I suddenly know that things were not what they seem.  I see her, in the corner, squatting in a nest of blankets.  Her brown hair is long and dirty.  Her brown eyes are wild and frantic.  The blankets are stained with blood and I understand why.  Pale and shaking, her eyes go wide as she sees me standing over the cold body of her dead mate, light spilling around me into the room.

Another contraction and she screams again.  I turn, run for the medical kit beneath the driver’s bench.  When I return, I go in slowly with my rifle slung and my hands up showing the kit.  “I can help you,” I tell the girl.

Her eyes roll and she tries backing away from me but falls back into the corner.  Her breath heaves out in ragged gasps.

“I’m a friend.”  I keep my voice low and assuring, just like in the old days.  Only this time, it’s not a frightened child approaching me from a long line in the mall, nervous at the presence the myth of me has become.  This frightened child huddles in a frozen elementary restroom  at the end of her tether, trying to shove life into a dead, cold place.  “I can help you,” I say again but this time I hear the doubt in my own voice.  There is too much blood.

I crouch and move closer, opening the kit and finding nothing at all that I can use.

Then behind me, in the schoolyard, a clatter arises.

The eight snort and stomp and when the howling starts outside, the light winks out.  The moon, hidden behind a layer of clouds, offers little visibility.

Pushing the first aid kit towards the girl, I draw my rifle again, thumb off the safety once more.  I never unchambered the round.  Too smart for that.

More stamping and snorting but no ringing.  I took the bells off their harnesses a long time ago.

“Dashing through the snow,” a voice whispers from the edge of the schoolyard.

“O come all ye faithful,” another says.

“We wish you a merry Christmas,” sings a third.

I look over my shoulder at the girl panting in the corner.  “Just stay put and keep quiet.”

Donder screams and bucks.  Dasher bleats and kicks.  I hear the whir of stones in slings, the distant clatters of shots gone wide.

Then, I’m outside and running at a low crouch.  I’m fast for a big man, even without laying my finger to the side of my nose.  I whistle and I hear the eight lifting off; I hear the labored breathing of the two who’ve been hurt.  I hear the disappointed grunts and hungry sighs.  I don’t wait; when one of them takes shape in the darkness, large and wide, I put a three-round burst into the center of its mass and listen to the rush of escaping air as that rush twists itself into a shriek of surprise.

Another shape forms beside it, this one bending to see to its friend.  I put another burst there.  I’ve done this before.  I do the right thing.

Then I stop.  I smell the burning powder on the midnight air.  I listen for my eight, moving in a slow, widening circle above me.

A third takes shape near the others.  I move closer, rifle raised.  It moves to the left and I tap the concrete with bullets near his foot.  “Hold,” I tell him.

I can see him now and he might’ve been human once but the traces of it have left his face and eyes.  He’s wearing a red hat like mine, only tattered and dirty.  He’s dropped his sling and one of his suspenders is loose and dangling.  Barefoot with wet trousers, he trembles before a vision he may have dim memory of, from a childhood spent before the world heaved its last sigh.

“Remove the hat,” I say, “and look to me.”

He pulls it off slowly.  Our eyes meet and I’m pleased at the fear I see there.  “Life is your gift this year,” I tell him through gritted teeth, “but it comes with a string.  Tell the others what you have seen and tell them to be afraid.  Every other night belongs to you but this one.  I ride on this night with justice and grace.”  I raise myself to full height.  I fire the rifle over his head.  “Now, run like a rabbit.”

He does and as he fades, the night becomes silent and holy for a heartbeat before a new cry, muffled and straining, greets its new home in a broken world.

I turn back and enter the lavatory and in that I am both too late and just in time.  The girl is fading fast and in her arms she holds a sticky, bloody bundle packed into dirty cloth pulled from her makeshift nest.  I see the cord that still connects them.  Her eyes are wide and her nostrils flare when I draw closer but she doesn’t flinch.

She points to me.  “Ho, ho, ho,” she says in a quiet voice before making the sign of the cross.  She passes the squirming bundle to me and says one final word:  “Charis.”

Slinging my rifle, I take the baby.  I do the best I can with the tools I have, cutting the cord, closing the mother’s glassy eyes.  I remove my jacket.  Then I clean the baby and wrap her carefully in it.

I want to stay and bury my dead but I know better.  I have not prayed in years but I manage one there beside the fallen mother and father, victims of a nativity gone wrong in a world that struggles between death and birth.

Then, I whistle for my eight.  We lift off into the night and I hold Charis close to me, giving the reindeer their heads to take us north and home.

As we fly, I ponder — I wonder as I wander — and I call up my list to see who on this night had wanted the gift of a child.  I weep at what I find.

“It’s no place for a child,” I tell the eight as we soar.

“I’m far too old for this work,” I say to them again.

“I am afraid,” I finally admit.

But a vision unfolds to me of a tiny girl in red with elves for her friends and family, raised up with the deer and the sleigh as humanity’s orphan, taught from their books and their art and the better parts of a species tremendously blessed and terribly flawed, trained to go out into that broken world and do the right thing.

And in that moment, the light returns but it is inside me and inside of the baby in my arms, and that light threatens to swallow me whole and I beg it to because within that light is hope and promise and I recognize that tonight was the night upon which the universe — or whomever ran it — gave back to me and did so with a holy charge.

Home arises to the north and we pound sky for it.  As we fly, the clouds lift and the starshine falls like a mantle of jewels over the crown of the world.

I feel the peace on earth within my chest.

Goodwill towards men lay sleeping in my arms.

“What child is this?” I ask the midnight clear.

“Yours,” it says, and weeping, we fly home.

 ###

Copyright Ken Scholes, 2007 – www.kenscholes.com

First print, Shimmer Magazine’s Christmas 2007, Volume 2, Bonus Issue #4

Second  (current) print, Fairwood Press, “Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars and Other Unusual Suspects




25
Nov

Feed the Zombies! An All You Can Read Event

Our good friend, Tim W. Long is hosting an event of epic zombie proportion, and we just couldn’t pass up the chance to share in such a great deal for zombie fans. On November 27th, we’ll be offering Roms, Bombs & Zoms for 99 cents along with books by some of the best names in the zombie genre.

 

Come over to Facebook to share in a day of laughter, zombie talk, and some great deals.

 

 

 

FEATURING:

 

First Activation – D. A. Wearmouth 


Autumn: The Human Condition – David Moody


Last Bastion of the Living – Rhiannon Frater


The Infection – Craig DiLouie


Domain of the Dead- Iain McKinnon


Downfall and Betrayal – Michael S Gardner


The Forgotten – Jackie Druga


Six Feet From Hell: Crisis – Joseph A. Coley


Game of Straws Origins – SB Knight


Beyond the Barriers – Tim W. Long 


Fish to Die For (666 Fish) – Keith Milstead


The Undead Situation – Eloise J. Knapp


Roms, Bombs & Zoms (A Three Little Words Anthology) – Katie Cord (Evil Girlfriend Media)


Epic Apocalypse – Apocalyptic Box Set ($1.99) James Cook, John O’Brien, Joe McKinney, Armand Rosamilia, Heath Stallcup, Shawn Chesser, and Mark Tufo

 

 

A little about EGM’s submission for the event:

 

Roms, Bombs & Zoms cover

When hearts rot, fu

ses ignite.Super geek gets the girl, a righteous preacher and his undead wife, fantastical zombies, the tantric art of zubbing, mindless hive workers, and traditional flesh eating walkers, this anthology has a bit of everything. Our twisted tales pull you into the darkest of darks, where hope is lost, and sustaining life is no simple feat.

Twenty-one authors congealed romance, bombs, and zombies into stories that are diverse, witty, and occasionally gut-wrenching. Travel through time to walk in alternate histories, visit magical realms, and face down pestilence that will literally rot your insides. This collection is sure to warm your cold, dead, heart.

Stories by Ken MacGregor, Patrick D’Orazio, Randy Henderson, and Kriscinda Lee Everitt, among others.

 

Even if you are not a zombie fan, you can get ahead on your holiday shopping by purchasing gift certificates for the zombie lover in your life. They make great stocking stuffers. 
 
Best Always,
 
Katie 

 

 




12
Nov

Eat Your Heart Out or Our Brains

We released Roms, Bombs & Zoms on November 1, 2013 to the Kindle and Createspace. The book has an absolutely amazing cover with Michelle Kilmer and Aaron Sheagley modeling the imminent destruction of two lovers. The stories included in this anthology are varied and entertaining.

Roms, Bombs & Zoms cover

 From the dedication page:

Dedicated to all those who are clueless in romance,

dropping bombs without intent,

and for those brave zombies of heartache,

who rise and love again. 

Editor Monique Snyman chose stories varied in their themes from the lover back from the grave to the zombie drug addict. We are extremely pleased to offer this collection to our fans.

 

Best Wishes,

Katie
Evil Girlfriend Media




13
Sep

Hard Realities, True Words

Hard Realities, True Words

   (guest post by Shannon Page)

 

When I eagerly accepted Katie’s invitation to edit Witches, Stitches & Bitches, I knew it was going to be an amazing book. And when the stories started pouring in, they were even more fantastic than I’d hoped.

It was an open-call anthology, and I didn’t have any preconceived notion of what kinds of stories I was looking for. The “witch, stitch, bitch” theme can be interpreted in so many ways. In making my choices, I did look for a balance in the overall book—several layers of variety. Though they are mostly stories for adults, there are a few with YA themes. The length varies from just over flash to novelette. And as far as tone goes, we have light, silly stories as well as some very dark and disturbing ones. But what they all had in common was this: they were great stories. They held my attention all the way through; I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. They let me stop being “editor” and slip into being “reader”. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

I want to talk here about one story in particular. One of the darker stories (though, I believe, an ultimately hopeful and redemptive one). Gabrielle Harbowy’s “Blood Magic” gripped me from the start, and made me sigh with delight when I put the pages down. It’s a gorgeous, deftly written tale with some very dark happenings. (See Gabrielle’s thoughts on the choices she made in writing the story, in the guest post to follow this one). I knew I wanted it for the anthology; I knew I wanted it as the lead story.

But, as I mentioned, the subject matter is hard. All of us at Evil Girlfriend Media grappled with this, several times during the editorial process. We want to be sensitive to our audience even as we strive to bring you the best in evil entertainment. After much consideration, we ultimately came to the conclusion that, difficult though certain aspects of this story may be, the language is not graphic, and the situation drives the narrative action. Toning it down would remove its power, and would be playing false with the characters and the world.

And we did want to publish the story. It was just too brilliant to leave out, or to bury behind lighter stories. True words are not easy; the world is not a safe place—neither Aya’s world nor ours.

Thank you so much, dear readers, for giving us a chance—to entertain you, to challenge you, to delight you. We hope to continue doing so for a long, long time.

Purchase on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble




2
Sep

Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Cover

We are proud to release our first Three Little Words cover.

WSBcover1200x1800

WBScovers300

 

From the Back Cover:

A STITCH IN TIME… IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY.

Exquisite revenge and knitted doppelgängers; heartbreak and happy endings; unicorns, doomed dogs, and penitent frogs; steampunk fairies, conflicted stepmothers, and baseball—you’ll find it all here. Our literary alchemists weave a spell of fascination, drawing you deeper and deeper, tale by tale, until escape is impossible. But you’ll enjoy every minute of the plunge.

These sixteen deft and delightful stories involving witches, stitches, and bitches run the gamut from darkly disturbing to just plain fun. They will each take you out of the ordinary and into the world of magic, where older, weirder, or merely other rules apply. And just when you think things are all sewn up… some bitch may have a surprise for you.

Includes stories by Gabrielle Harbowy, Caren Gussoff, Kodiak Julian, and Christine Morgan, among others.

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 13, 2013




27
Jul

Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Announced

When Shannon Page handed over the final compilation for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches, we couldn’t stop reading all of the intriguing stories. It is with great excitement that we deliver this dark, devilish anthology to our readers. From the very first story, you’ll be “woven” into the worlds our authors created with themes ranging from revenge to unicorns. The witching, stitching, and bitching commences on Friday, September 13th, 2013.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-voodoo-mood-image24667983

 

 

WITCHES, STITCHES, AND BITCHES

A Three Little Words Anthology

INTRODUCTION
by Shannon Page

BLOOD MAGIC
By Gabrielle Harbowy

URGENT CARE
By Christine Morgan

THE KNITTED MAN
By Bo Balder

SPARE PARTS
By Stephanie Bissette-Roark

THE SECRET LIFE OF DREAMS
By Tom Howard

FROGSONG
By Kate Brandt

NO SUBSTITUTE
By Caren Gussoff

FORGETTING TOMORROW
By Bob Brown

THE BITCHY WITCH QUEEN and the UNDONE STITCHES
By Garth Upshaw

NOT EVEN IF I WANTED TO
By Kodiak Julian

YES, I’M A WITCH
By Julie McGalliard

THE FAR HORIZON
By J. H. Fleming

THE THREE GATEWAYS
By Eva Langston

FOR WANT OF A UNICORN
By Camille Griep

BLOOD OF THE MOTHER
By Alaina Ewing

DRESSES OF FUR AND FANGS
By Rebecca Fung

Like the Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Facebook page for more information about authors and giveaways.
https://www.facebook.com/egmwitches




8
Jul

Table of Contents released for Roms, Bombs, and Zoms

On November 1, 2013, Evil Girlfriend Media plans to release a romantic, explosive, and incredibly undead anthology that will have you laughing, crying, and possibly gagging through out.  Our editor, Monique Snyman, chose stories that entertained her while bringing all three of the elements of the title together in unique ways. We are so proud of this talented team of individuals. They are as diverse as their stories ranging from screenwriters, indie authors, musicians, and traditionally published authors. You’ll find stories about zombie STDs, a female soldier who left her lover behind, a righteous preacher and the dilemma of an undead wife, a boy and his dog, plus many more.

Zombie Collage

 

ROMS, BOMBS, AND ZOMS

A Three Little Words Anthology

FOREWORD
By Monique Snyman

SOUL TIES
By Katie Jones

UNTIL THE END
By Patrick D’Orazio

POST BOMB ZOMBIE ROMLAND
By Dana Wright

I’LL COME BACK
By Michelle Kilmer

NATHAN’S PROMISE
By Ken MacGregor

THE SECOND BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
By Kriscinda Lee Everitt

MAMA
By Jay Wilburn

CHURCH OF THE RISEN DEAD
By Tom D Wright

THOUGH SHE BE LITTLE, SHE IS FIERCE
By Michele Roger

NEEDS OF A HALF-DEAD HEART
By Randy Henderson

WHEN THE LAST WAR ENDED
By Paul S. Huggins

YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART
By Katie Cord

THE TOWER
By Joshua Brown

WHAT I WAS THERE FOR
By Matt Youngmark and Dawn Marie Pares

FROM SAFETY TO WHERE
By Kris Freestone

AN UNDYING LOVE
By John Edward Betancourt

TILL DEATH WE DO NOT PART
By Killion Slade

I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN
By Anthony J. Rapino and Monique Snyman

Watch for the Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches edited by Shannon Page coming soon!

 




1
Jul

Our First Novel

Evil Girlfriend Media would not be on its current path without our first novel, The Heart-Shaped Emblor.  I met the author, Alaina Ewing, in the summer of 2011 at the Cascade Writers Workshop. We were both assigned to the same critique group. Her story resonated through me, there was only one slight problem, I wanted to shake some sense into her main character, Aislinn Moore. However, this powerful emotion created a friendship.  After several years, and a couple of rewrites, Alaina planned to self-publish the book. Instead, I offered to let her use a LLC  I created to self-publish my own work. She agreed.

It occurred to me over a couple of weeks, that maybe I should treat this as a chance to make my own dreams come true. I’ve always wanted my own business and love making ideas happen. One night over coffee and snacks at another writer’s house, we joked about me making Evil Girlfriend Media a real entity. I’d recently received encouragement from a pretty successful zombie writer to push it to the next level. There at our friend’s kitchen table, a book deal was born. It wasn’t long after that, I pitched to my writers group a collection of anthology ideas that I’d initially wanted to write as short story collections. I don’t want to get off topic too much, this is a blog about Alaina Ewing and The Heart-Shaped Emblor. However, I wanted everyone to know the importance of this first full length novel presented by our company.

So without further ado, here is the cover for The Heart-Shaped Emblor:

cover

Should she choose the life of a normal college student or something else entirely?

Despite her best efforts, Aislinn Moore is not a typical teenager. She sees ethereal beings, has prophetic dreams, and knows far too many intimate details of her friends’ darkest secrets. She tries to avoid her supernatural abilities by focusing on her early entry college courses, sculpting, and relationship with the affluent older Cooper Greene.

When her abilities cause her to be alienated from friends and destroys her relationship with her boyfriend, it feels like she may have to face life with her abilities alone. Just when she thinks things couldn’t get worse, she sees a mysterious guy from her dreams working on her college campus.

Alexander Welch is everything she ever imagined him to be; sexy, protective, intelligent, and his dimple sends chills through her every time she thinks of him. There is only one problem… He is not human. He is a Ewlishash, a hope bringer, and despite the fact that she is falling hard for him, his touch feels like electrified razors slicing into her skin.

 As Aislinn grows closer to her dream guy, a world she never knew existed opens before her. There are battling forces at work, and Alexander is there for a reason, to protect and guide her. The closer Aislinn and Alexander become, the less his touch hurts and the more her powers increase. Leaving Aislinn wondering how they tie to one another. Before she can truly understand her gifts, she must unfurl the truth about him, the motivations of the Ewlishash, and decide who she really wants to be.

 

 

The cover was created by Mark Ferrari, a science fiction and fantasy artist as well as writer. He published his first book, The Book of Joby with Tor in 2007. Our cover model is medium Cassidy Rae, a teenager who really can see ethereal beings.  Then there is Alaina Ewing, a science fiction and fantasy author who puts elements of truth in all of her work. We will be adding the page for the book in the coming weeks. Tentative release date is September 22, 2013.

 

Best Always,

Katie Cord
President, Evil Girlfriend Media




20
Aug

Sibyl By Deborah Walker

The ghost of my future smells of ash.
“I thought that you were going to stop smoking,” I say.
     “It’s been a tough year.”  She rummages inside her bag and produces a packet of Marlboro Lights. “Life doesn’t always go according to plan, does it, Sibyl?” She lights a cigarette and blows the smoke towards me, ghost smoke, a multiplication of the insubstantial.
     “I think I’ll join you,” I take a cigarette from my own packet while taking a critical look at my future self. She looks much older than she looked a year ago. She’s not doing herself any favours by not wearing make-up. Her hair looks dry and brittle and the roots need doing. “I see that you haven’t lost any weight.”
     She shrugs. “Dieting’s a waste of time. I’m nearly forty. I am what I am.”
     She’s in one of those moods. “So, what’s new?” I ask.
     “Not much.”
     I sigh. “That’s not very helpful. This rite is not without sacrifice, you know.” I point to the iron knife balancing on top of the dish of blood water.
      “Don’t I know it?” She rolls up her sleeve and shows me her right arm. She is seven years older than me, seven more scars. This is how it works, once a year I can see seven years into the future.
     “Shall we do the diary?” I ask.
     “Ah, yes, the diary.” She takes the leather diary out of her bag. I’d bought it in Venice, on my honeymoon. I’m supposed to write in it every day: the diary of my life.
     The ghost flicks through the pages. “The trouble with this diary is that it gets a little sketchy in places. You’re drinking a lot at the moment, aren’t you?”
     I shrug. I like a glass of wine or two in the evening. It takes the edge off. But who is she to judge me? “Shall we get on with the markets?”
     “Sure.” My future self recites share prices while I take notes. I play the market. Although playing implies that I’ve a possibility of losing. That’s not the case, not with the information I’m receiving. I’m the ultimate insider dealer.
     When she’s finished, she says “All right then, I’ll be off.”
      “Don’t go yet.”
     “What is it?” she asks, impatiently.
     “You don’t look great.”
     “Thanks a lot.”
     “I mean, what’s happened to you in the last year?” I feel sorry for her, but more importantly I feel anxious. I need to know.
     “It’s best not to talk about personal stuff, Sibyl, you know that.”
     “How’s Alex?”
     “Are you sure you want to know?”
     “It is Alex, isn’t it? What’s happened? He’s not . . . dead, is he?”
     She lights another cigarette. I do the same. “Alex left me.”
     “But last year you seemed so happy.”
     “Ignorance is bliss. He’s been having an affair for the last three years. Alice gave him an ultimatum, and I lost out.”
     “Alice? My best friend Alice?”
     “That’s right. He’s taking me through the courts now, trying to get his ‘fair share’ as he puts it.”
     “I don’t believe it.”
     “Would I lie to you? Would I lie to myself?” She looks at me, “What are you going to do, now that you know?”
     I walk to the fridge and pour myself a glass of cold, crisp chardonnay. I drain the glass. She watches me with a half-smile. I refill the glass. “You shouldn’t have told me.”
     “At least I gave you a warning. That’s more than I got.”
     “She didn’t tell you?” Timelines are divergent. Each future me is slightly different.
     “No. She didn’t. But I thought you’d want to know. That’s our trouble, we always want to know.” She blows a plume of ghost smoke towards me. “You could divorce him.”
     “You had nine good years of marriage.”
     “No, I didn’t. For three of those years Alex was having an affair.”
     She lets her cigarette fall to the ground. “What are you going to do, Sibyl?”  She has a hungry look on her face. She wants me to say that I’m going to divorce Alex, before he’s had a chance to betray me. When did I get so bitter?
     “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
     “It’s your decision,” she says. “It won’t change anything for me. I’ll just carry on in this time line where he betrayed me. You can’t change the past, only the future.”
     “And you?” I say. “Are you going to look ahead, this year?”
     “I always do, don’t I?” She rubs her arm. “Find out how I can improve my perfect life.”
     “You don’t need to. You must have plenty of money stashed away.”
     “No. I don’t need to look into the future. But then again, neither do you.”
     “It’s a hard habit to break.”
     She nods. I see the shadow in her eyes. I know her fear. The same fear that shrouds  me every time I start the ritual. There will come a day when I reach into the future and my future self will be dead. What will I see on that night? Will I see nothingness, or something worse, something unbearably worse?
     “I’m young,” she says. “I’m only thirty-eight. It will be okay to look.”
     “Yes. It’ll be okay. Thanks for your help.”
     “It’s nothing. Be well, Sibyl. Be happy.”
     With a word I end the ritual, and my future self dissipates.
     I tidy up, throwing the blood water down the sink and washing the bowl. Alex would be home soon.  Could I change, make our marriage stronger? Did I want to?
     A key rattles in the lock. Alex is home.
     What could I say to him?
     Divination is a drug.
     I reach for the packet of cigarettes. Tomorrow, I’ll quit.

Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog: Deborah Walker’s Bibliography. This story was first published in Nature Futures.



18
Aug

Smelly Dogs by Chris Barili

Good dogs don’t stink. They’re smart, cute, loyal, and good-smelling. Good-smelling people want good-smelling dogs, so the laboratories make us that way. They try to, anyway. I’m cute, faithful, and super-smart, but I smell like a dog—a plain ol’ ordinary dog. I’m a mistake, so they throw me out into the cold.
     I hesitate, staring into the frigid, shrieking wind. As my tiny body starts to shiver, I turn back toward the door.
     “Bad dog! Get out!” They kick me and I roll on the hard ground. When I look up, they’re gone and the slam of the door echoes through the night. I’m alone for the first time ever. Unwanted.
     That first night on the street the wind bites through my fur, making my body ache and my nose run. The spot where they shaved my leg and printed the bar code is coldest, stinging like it did when they burned a slash through it. The day I became worthless.
     I wander, tail tucked, searching for someplace—anyplace—warm. In a shadowed alley that reeks of blood and hunger, I find other smelly dogs, dogs I hope will help me. Maybe they’ll take me in, be my family. Maybe they’ll let me sleep with them or give me some of their food. Maybe they’ll want me. But I must smell like a bad dog to them too, for they snarl and chase me off. I sleep in a rotting old box, shivering without my brothers and sisters to warm me. They didn’t smell. People want them.
     As I roam alone, I see good dogs walking with their people, snapping up treats and pretending they don’t see me. They smell happy and safe. But when I get too close, the good dogs growl and snap. Their people shy away.
     “Bad dog!” they yell.
     Some kick me or throw things at me. I’m too weak to dodge or even cower, and besides—I deserve it. I’m a bad, smelly dog.
     I shiver and my stomach rumbles as I wobble down the sidewalk, feet dragging and pads numb. I can’t make it much longer, and I’m not sure I want to anyway. I wasn’t made to be alone, unloved. They made me loyal and loving and cute, a family dog, but it doesn’t matter now. I want to just lie down. Sleep.
     Then I see her. A little girl the good-dog-people ignore, hiding in the shadow of a trash pile. She sits on the hard, icy ground, eating from the trash as other people walk by like she doesn’t exist. I edge closer, head down. People usually hurt me, so I keep my distance, watching. Her hair is matted like mine, and her nose runs. She smells sick, hungry, and scared as she studies me.
     “I’m a bad girl,” she whispers. I can see where they burned through her bar code, too. “They threw me out.”
     She tosses me some food from the trash, so I edge closer. The bread stinks of mold and dirt, but it fills my belly for the first time in days. As I swallow, the smelly girl grabs me, squeezing me against her until I can’t breathe. I wiggle and thrash, but she holds tight and for the first time I’m warm.
     Her heat seeps into my body, a fire of belonging that spreads from my chest out to my now-thawing toes. As I drift to sleep in her arms, my throw-away human buries her face in my throw-away fur, smells me, and says something amazing: “Good dog.”

Chris Barili’s fiction has appeared on The Western Online (as T.C. Barlow), on Quantum Fairy Tales, and in two anthologies by Sky Warrior Books.  It will appear in a third Sky Warrior anthology, “The Dragon’s Hoard,” and “Temporally Out of Order” by Zombies Need Brains LLC this summer.



13
Aug

Not the Pizza Girl By Michelle Ann King

Lisa floored the van’s accelerator, thrashing the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic on the A12 and even slipstreaming an ambulance from Gallows Corner to Gidea Park. It earned her more than a few angry horn blasts, a lot of obscenities yelled out of car windows and undoubtedly a shedload of bad karma, but it also shaved a good ten minutes off the journey. And when you guaranteed delivery in half an hour, no exceptions, that counted for a lot.
     The customer lived in a good-looking place round the back of the station, with a massive driveway that was already filled up with cars. Loud, rhythmic music came from inside, punctuated by the occasional shriek.
     Sounded like quite a party. Lisa parked her van on the road and killed the engine with her trip timer reading 02:16. She’d cut it fine, but she’d made it. With any luck, she’d get a decent tip off this one.
     She grabbed the bag from the passenger seat, sprinted for the front door and rang the bell. On 01:35 it was opened by a dark- haired bloke in grey jeans and a check shirt. He reeked of wine, sulphur and incense, and his eyes were glowing red. That didn’t bode well, for either of them. The possessed were never big tippers.
     Lisa gave him a big smile anyway, and held out the bag. ‘Delivery, mate.’
     He peered at her. ‘Huh?’
     She made an effort to keep the smile going. ‘It’s all paid for on the card, so I just need you to sign on the little screen here and we’re all done.’
     He stared blankly for a few more seconds before his face cleared. ‘Oh, right. The pizzas.’
     Lisa let go of the smile and her hope of a tip.
     ‘No, mate, I’m not the pizza girl. I’m the emergency magical supplies girl.’
     ‘Huh?’
     ‘I’m from Eddie’s,’ she said. ‘Eddie’s Ethereal Emporium? I’ve got an order of–‘ she paused, checked her manifest and continued, ‘pine smudge sticks, black beeswax tapers, granular frankincense, powdered dragon’s blood, juniper oil and virgin’s tears, for this address.’
     Check Shirt just blinked those opaque eyes at her and swayed. Lisa’s timer read 01:13.
     Another shriek came from inside the house, followed by a deep, rumbling snarl. Lisa shook her head. Bloody amateur magicians, always getting themselves into shit they couldn’t get out of. She blamed Harry Potter.
     ‘Look, mate, these are ingredients for a banishing ritual, yeah? So someone here must have had enough of their right mind left to realise you’ve got an unwanted guest at the party.’
     ‘Huh?’
     Lisa rubbed her eyes and counted to five. Ten was always better, but she was on a deadline. ‘Listen, I know what it’s like when summonings get out of hand–you’ve had a few drinks, you get a bit sloppy with the Latin, the sigils end up the wrong way round. You might just be trying to raise an imp to clean the toilet, but you end up with the legions of Beelzebub pouring out of the u-bend. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.’
     Check Shirt scratched his cheek with a nail that blackened and lengthened into a claw.
     ‘Huh?’ he said.
     A huge snake-like creature slithered out of the door and over his feet. Lisa stepped back and it disappeared under the hedge at the side of the house.
     She snapped her fingers in front of Check Shirt’s face. He was drooling slightly. ‘You’ve got demons, mate,’ she said, speaking very loudly and slowly. ‘Inside and out, by the look of it. So I strongly recommend you sign here, then go and sort it out. Okay?’
     Behind her, a motorbike picked its way through the cars on the drive. ‘Three large pepperonis and a garlic bread, for Steve,’ the rider called out. ‘Twenty-five quid.’
     Check Shirt’s eyes snapped back into focus. He reached into his back pocket and came out with a wallet.
Typical. In the battle of man’s stomach versus his immortal soul, the stomach won every time.
     ‘Oh, no you don’t,’ Lisa said. The display on her timer was at 00:35, the digits flashing red. She pointed a warning finger at the bike rider, who was carrying a stack of red and white boxes. The savoury aroma mixed uneasily with the smell of brimstone wafting out of the house. ‘I was here first, mate, you wait your turn.’
     She threw her bag into the hallway, grabbed Steve’s hand and used a talon to scribble on the screen. The status changed to Delivered,  and the countdown halted on 00:17.
     ‘Thank you for using Eddie’s Ethereal Emporium, we hope you enjoy your magical purchases,’ she said. ‘Preferably as soon as possible, yeah?’
     Steve ignored her, his attention fully focused on the stack of pizza boxes. She shrugged and headed back to the van.
     She’d just driven off when a huge gout of black smoke boiled out from the house. The pizza bike, burning merrily, flew over the top of the van and landed in a skip about twenty yards down. There was a great clap of thunder and an ear-shattering roar that could never have been produced by a human throat. It sounded very much like ‘I hate pepperoni.’
     A smaller fireball, which might have once been a pizza box, shot out of the swirling black vortex and joined the bike in the skip.
     Lisa picked up her radio. ’15 to base,’ she said. ‘Clear from Gidea Park, heading back to the warehouse now.’
     She kept up a leisurely 10 miles an hour above the speed limit. In her rearview mirror, the cloud of smoke split apart and formed into a writhing mass of horned, fanged shapes. A few of them disappeared down the chimneys of the neighbouring houses.
     Lisa got back on the radio. ’15 again, base. Eddie, you might want to stock up on those banishing kits. I think we could be getting some new orders.’

Michelle Ann King writes science fiction, fantasy and horror from her kitchen table in Essex, England. Her short stories, which have appeared at Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Drabblecast, are being collected in the Transient Tales series, and she is working on a paranormal crime novel. Find more details at www.transientcactus.co.uk
     This story was first published at Every Day Fiction.



11
Aug

Red Shoes of Oz by David Steffen

Despite her misgivings, Dorothy carefully slipped the sparkling red shoes from the shriveled corpse.
     “Go on,” the Good Witch encouraged in a voice like chiming bells.  “Your old shoes will never last the journey in their condition.”
     Still Dorothy hesitated.
     “I was once a young lady myself, you know,” the Good Witch said.  “And I was in circumstances much like your own.”  She pulled up the hem of her pink dress, showing the tip of a sparkling red shoe.  “And look at me now,” she said with a giggle.
     Dorothy slipped on the shoes.  She jumped to her feet and skipped a little circle with a laugh.  Without really meaning to, she started skipping to the west down the yellow brick road at a racer’s pace, a barking Toto following at her heels.  “Goodbye!” she called back over her shoulder.
     “Goodbye, sister!” the Good Witch called after her.
     Dorothy skipped along at an extraordinary speed, so fast that Toto soon could not keep pace.  She tried to slow down.  She tried to turn.  Her feet just had a mind of their own.  “Don’t bite anyone, Toto!  I’ll come back for you when I can!”  She worried a bit, but the rush of her exertion kept her mood light.
     On and on she skipped and skipped.
     She passed a Scarecrow in fields of corn who shouted greeting to her.  She passed an odd statue of a Woodsman who groaned.  Her legs were growing very tired, and her lungs burned.  She would like to rest, but she just couldn’t seem to make it happen.
     As she ran through a dark wood, she forgot the pain in her legs and her lungs, in favor of the pain in her bladder which was full near to bursting.  But still she could not.  A great roar sounded from the trees, and a huge beast leaped out and knocked her off her feet.  In her shock, her bladder let loose and soaked her dress with warm liquid.
     A Lion pinned her on her back, and breathed carrion breath in her face.  She was not afraid, only relieved to be off her feet and with an empty bladder, though she could still feel her legs moving.
     “Thank you,” she said.
     “I—” the Lion began, looking confused, but just at that moment, Dorothy’s feet found purchase on the Lion’s belly and launched him across the path and against a tree.
     “I’m so sorry!” she shouted as her feet carried her westward again.
     On and on she skipped, for days and days and days.  Blisters formed and burst, and her blisters formed blisters of their own.  She skipped and skipped and she cried and cried and cried until she could make no more tears, and then she was hungry and more than a little bit bored.  She didn’t allow her bladder to bother her for long–her dress was already soiled so there was little point in worrying about a little more.  She grabbed berries and fruits when they came within reach, and filled her hands with water to drink when it rained.  Most of all, she had a lot of time to think, to lament her situation.  At first she wished to be home with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em.  With time her wishes turned simpler: a soft chair, a slice of bread, a single moment of rest.
     Finally, ahead she saw a city of sparkling green, and her heart raced with anticipation of what must be the end of her journey.  But her feet skirted around the city and on to the west, out of the lush country and into a wasteland.
     Wolves and crows and winged monkeys watched her as she passed.  She wished that they would eat her and end this torture, but they only watched impassively.  Her eyes slipped shut from time to time from sheer exhaustion but the impact of her steps jarred her awake.
     After days more of this, with no rain or berries to sustain her, she passed out from exhaustion and hunger.  She was vaguely aware of pain, but it was a distant thing.
     “Hello, little sister,” a scratchy and dry voice said, waking Dorothy from her stupor.
     It was only then when Dorothy realized that she had stopped skipping.  She was lying on a stone floor.  Her feet screamed with pain, and she ached all over, and her stomach growled.  But most of all she felt sweet relief at just being allowed to lie down.
     A withered old hag stood over her.  “I would never have suspected someone to be so brazen to steal the shoes from my sister’s dead body.”
     “Can I have some food?” Dorothy asked, with cracked lips.  “And water?”
     The hag snapped her fingers, and a bowl of water and a loaf of bread appeared before Dorothy, who raised herself up on elbows to see to eating it.
     “The Good Witch gave me the shoes,” Dorothy said, between bites.  “She said I’d need them for the journey.  I’m sorry I took them.  I thought it would be okay.”
     “You misunderstand me, little sister.  I’m not angry about the shoes.  You have saved me a great deal of trouble.”
     “What do you want from me?” Dorothy said, her fear starting to creep back again.
     “You need do nothing.  You are wearing one of three pairs of very special shoes.  For now I control your feet, but soon I will exert more influence.  They say there are four witches, but really I am the only one.  The land is so vast that I need proxies to keep the Plutocrat penned into his glittering cage.  You can sleep here for the night, and then you can begin your journey back to Munchkinland.”
     Dorothy felt fresh tears run down her cheeks.  They weren’t tears of sorrow at the future ahead of her, nor tears of pain, but tears of relief.  A night of sleep, proper sleep.  She had never heard sweeter words.  She was fast asleep in moments.

David Steffen writes fiction and code.  He is the co-founder of the Submission Grinder, and the editor of Diabolical Plots which will begin publishing fiction for the first time on March 1st.  His fiction has been published in many great venues including Escape Pod, Daily Science Fiction, and AE.



6
Aug

LIGHTNING FLASHED By Adam Gaylord

Lightning flashed through the ion charged atmosphere, arcs of energy dancing across the metal hull of the ship.

“How’s she holding?” Captain Roberts asked.

I could hear the pain in her voice. Dozens of indicator lights glowed from the control panel, most of them flashing yellow or red, many of them flashing. Sparks flew from the copilot’s console singeing the ensign’s uniform, his dead body still strapped in his chair.

“Ok I guess. Ma’am,” I added, not used to the formalities of the bridge.

“Any word from Lieutenant Cho?”

I pinged the Lieutenant’s communicator again. No response. “No ma’am.”

“We’ll give him a five more minutes.”

“Yes ma’am.” She’d said the same thing twenty minutes ago.

I chanced a glance back at Captain Roberts. Slumped in her chair, her right arm hung limp over the armrest, blood dripping from her fingers. The dull orange glow of the bridge’s instruments cast an unearthly pallor over her burned face, her hair singed and matted to the side of her head. The bandage covering her eyes was saturated with blood.

The blare of a new alarm jerked my attention back to the control panel.

“What is it?” the Captain asked.

My eyes flew over the unfamiliar control panel. “Uh…” A whole bank of lights had gone from yellow to red. “Something’s wrong with the port thrusters.”

The ship pitched suddenly to the left, the bank of red lights now flashing in unison. “I think we’ve lost the port engine!”

“Boost aft stabilizers to 120 percent,” Roberts ordered.

I searched the control panel, finally finding a row of dials labeled “Stabilizers”. I turned a dial. The last of the remaining green lights on the panel turned yellow.

The alarm stopped.

“We’ll have to take her in.” Roberts sounded alarmingly calm.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, I can’t do this. Can’t we wait for Cho?” I pinged the Lieutenant’s communicator again.

“We’re out of time. The starboard engine’s already at half power. If it goes we’re done. A distress beacon’s been deployed. We’ll take her down to the surface and wait for help.”

“But ma’am, I’m a cook!”

“Your father was a pilot during the Trastis campaign. You dusted crops in your family’s T-24 until you left for the academy. You were top of your class until your crash. A family friend got you into culinary school. You specialize in soufflés.”

She coughed.

I didn’t know what to say. “How did you-”

“I handpicked every member of this crew, you included. Not everyone can handle space flight. You’re here because I trust you can. And because I love a good soufflé.”

I turned to face her, unable to read her expression behind the burns and bandages. She coughed again, the sound raspy in her throat.

I took a deep breath and turned back to the panel. “Ok, talk me through it.”

“Disengage the auto pilot. It’s above your head to the right. Flip the switches from right to left.”

I flipped the switches as ordered and the ship dropped suddenly away, my harness the only thing keeping me in my seat.

“Engage atmospheric propulsion. Pull the large red knob by your left knee.”

I pulled the knob and slammed back into my seat. The ship shook violently.

“What’s our altitude?”

I scanned the dials. “Fourty-five thousand feet and holding!” I shouted. Lightning crackled across sky again, the swirling gas that surrounded the planet glowing an angry red.

“Take the controls-” she coughed violently. “Take the controls and ease her down.”

I grasped the joysticks at my sides, the ship’s vibration blurring my vision. Slowly I eased the controls forward, the ship sluggish to respond. Almost immediately another alarm sounded.

“Coolant pressures at critical!” I reported.

“Doesn’t matter. Take her into a fifteen-degree down angle. Keep your speed up over one-sixty.”

I pressed the controls forward, watching the dials in front of me. “Fifteen-degree down angle. Speed at one-seven-three,” I repeated.

“Hold this course until we break through the cloud cover, then we’ll figure out where to-”

The metal hull of the ship shrieked as half of the starboard wing tore away.

“She’s coming apart!” I screamed.

“Engage all flaps!” Somehow she was beside me, leaning heavily against my chair.

I searched the controls but saw nothing labeled flaps. Roberts must have known. “The covered switches on the far left!”

I threw the switches and the ship lurched backward throwing Roberts on top of me. Large pieces of seared skin sloughed off in my hands as I helped her off.

“What’s your altitude?” she wheezed.

“Twenty-thousand feet. Are you ok?”
Before she could answer the ship quaked with a series of deafening cracks as first one, then another, and another of the ship’s flaps tore from the hull.

“We’re dropping fast!” I was floating in my chair again, bile rising in my throat.

Roberts’ voice gurgled in my ear. “When you hit fifteen-thousand feet pull the handle by your left foot.”

I didn’t have to wait long. I leaned down and pulled the handle.

Nothing happened.

“You leaned the wrong way. You’re other left. The red handle”

Shit.

I pulled the red handle and three huge parachutes launched from the roof of the ship. I slammed down into my seat as they caught air, momentarily halting the descent of the ship. Almost immediately one of the chutes tore away.

“Altitude?” Roberts’ voice was barely a whisper in my ear.

“Nine-thousand feet and dropping!” We were below cloud cover and I could see the desolate landscape of the alien planet. Giant red pillars loomed in the distance and red sand whipped across the scoured rock surface.

The ship shuddered again as another of the parachutes tore away.

“Five thousand feet!”

I willed the last parachute to hold. “Come on girl. Hold together. Hold together.”

The ship shuddered violently as the last parachute tore away.

“One-thousand feet!”

I felt the Captain’s firm hand on my shoulder. Red columns zoomed by on either side as the ground rushed up to meet us.

“Hold on!”

The impact threw me into the control panel, tearing my seat from its base. Alarms sounded and sparks flew from every direction. There was no way to tell which way was up. The ship tumbled forever.

And then it was still.

I lay, dazed and bleeding, the occasional shower of sparks raining from the control panel above me. The ship was upside-down.

“Captain?”

No response.

“Captain Roberts?” I managed to right myself enough to crawl around the ceiling of the poorly lit bridge, feeling more than seeing my way. It wasn’t long before I found her, face down against a support beam, her arms pinned awkwardly behind her. I touched her back but she remained perfectly still.

The alarms had stopped, like the ship was too injured to call out. Wind howled outside the broken hull of the ship, pelting it with sand. Besides that the world was quiet.

I lay down next to Roberts, my captain, and thought about the lonely distress beacon floating somewhere above us.

And I waited.


Adam Gaylord lives with his wife and daughter in Loveland, CO where he’s rarely more than ten feet from either cake or craft beer. His gladiatorial fantasy novel, Sol of the Coliseum, comes out fall 2015. Check out all his stuff at http://adamsapple2day.blogspot.com/.

This story was first published in Dark Futures Annual 1.




4
Aug

A Call to Arms: Help Us Fund WOMEN IN PRACTICAL ARMOR

callroarms

Aurora Blackgale pulled the heavy sword from her sheath and prepared to take on the ogre. Her long muscular legs, sun-kissed and trained from countless hours of swordplay, gleamed with sweat. The foul creature huffed a curse, burning her thighs with acid from his foul mouth. Trying to ignore the pain, she swung the blade to ready only to find that her bikini brief had slid up her crack. Again.

Aurora held up a hand. “Hold, beast. I cannot effectively kill you with this itty bitty bottom crawling up my nethers.”

The ogre shrugged his shoulders and straightened. His voice came out as a booming, sinister growl. “Take your time, lass. It wouldn’t be a fair victory if I won it because your attire was askew.”

Aurora shifted the metal briefs over her hourglass hips, made sure her ample bosom was aligned well in the matching bustier, and flipped her raven black hair from her shoulders. “There. You have my thanks. Now then…shall we dance the blade?”

Wait, what?!

Over the last decade, the gaming and fantasy fiction communities have engaged in a heated debate over the appropriate attire for women warriors. Some groups even suggest that women should shut up and be grateful that female warrior characters are even a part of games and fantasy books at all, regardless of how they are portrayed. But, women warriors are here to stay, and not just the finding-their-power ingenues or the bikini-clad vixens. The seasoned female warrior’s time has come, and Evil Girlfriend Media is excited to be part of the shift towards this new mythology.

Evil Girlfriend Media is pleased to announce the release of our Kickstarter, WOMEN IN PRACTICAL ARMOR. We’ve decided to call this A Call To Arms: Help Us Fund WOMEN IN PRACTICAL ARMOR because as a backer, you are raising your sword to fight for change in the fantasy genre while giving EGM the opportunity to produce a high quality book that we can send out to the masses.

Check out our Kickstarter and help us bring eighteen dynamic stories of seasoned women warriors to print.
tableofcontents

***Written by Katie Cord for this announcement with assistance from Timothy W. Long.




4
Aug

From the Editor’s Lair by Jennifer Brozek

I have read everything EGM.Shorts has received up to July 1st. If you have a story out that you sent in before July 1st and have not heard back, please query.

Thoughts about the slush pile:
1. Reprints are still king. Just an FYI. I have almost none in my queue and half of what I buy is reprints. This means you have an excellent shot at making the sale. In particular, I’d like to see reprints from 2014 or before. I won’t accept reprints from 2015.

2. Narrative poetry is a very hard sell. Very hard. But I adore “Instructions” by Neil Gaiman, “Stolen Child” by William Butler Yeats, and “Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came” by Edmund Stedman.

Here’s what we have for August. Weirdly, August has the unintended theme of acceptance in most of its stories.

“Lightning Flashed” by Adam Gaylord
“Red Shoes of Oz” by David Steffen
“Not the Pizza Girl” by Michelle Ann King
“Smelly Dogs” by Chris Barili
“Sibyl” by Deborah Walker
“Uniformity” by David Boop
“Frozen Tears” by Chaitali Gawade

You can read all of our previous flash fiction at the EGM.Shorts Archive page.