The Sirens Call eZine #43—FREE READS

I’m excited to have four pieces of fiction published in The Sirens Call eZine #43. This issue celebrates the tenth Women in Horror Month, so it’s an all woman issue. Always free to read, there are 204 pieces of lit inside. That’s a lot of poetry, flash and fiction for FREE!

Besides my four pieces, some of the best names in feminine horror are included—Nina D’ArcangelaErin Lydia PrimeNaching T. KassaAshley Davis, Mary Genevieve Fortier, A.F. StewartErin Sweet-Al MehairiTracie McbrideStephanie AyersMelissa R. MendelsonSheri WhiteLoren Rhoads, Sonora Taylor, E.A. Black, Tawny KipphornMercedes Murdock Yardley…  out of 204 pieces of work I know I’ve missed someone. Best way to find out is go have a read yourself. Did I mention it’s free?

Visit Siren’s Call Publications to download this issue,
or download the issue here.

Many thanks to the Sirens Call staff of Nina D’Arcangela, Erin Lydia Prime, Gloria Bobrowicz, and Lee A. Forman for their hard work bringing this publication to life every month. Calls for submissions open up soon—I’ll be sharing that call here as soon as I see it.

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Diversity: How I found my voice

For me, it began with “Vanilla Rice,” a story accepted for Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy from the Laksa Anthology Series: Speculative Fiction. The call was for works of Asian diversity. I was encouraged to submit from a friend because of my Okinawan heritage.

I’d never written anything “Asian” before. It was something I was a part of, not something I wrote about. All my work prior to that was written from the Caucasian part of me.

I grew up reading Poe, Doyle and Alfred Hitchcock’s collections of short stories. I didn’t know what an Asian story would be, and I didn’t feel like I had enough experience with that world to write about it.

Instead, I wrote about the part of being Asian I knew. The mixed part—the kid who grossed out classmates by bringing cuttlefish and seaweed to lunch. I was the the myopic girl with the weird middle name that sounded like “eureka” who read far too much. Cheyenne, Wyoming in the 70s was primarily Caucasian. I thought that’s the way the world was.

In “Vanilla Rice,” I tapped into that dual existence. Meiko is the daughter of an internet purchase that was non-refundable. She grows up unwanted in a white world. When she becomes a mother herself, she wants better for her child. In her world it’s possible to alter infant DNA with Attribute Chips available in vending machines, so she does.

Her daughter is everything she wanted to be—blonde curls and blue eyes make her fit to be a cartoon princess. Of course, what we want isn’t usually what’s best for us. Katsue, her daughter, is another ill fitting puzzle piece in the system, despite having an altered appearance. As they both learn, it doesn’t matter who we think we should be. We can only be happy when we accept who we are.

I would have never written that story without the opportunity provided by Laksa Media. By encouraging voices of diversity, they allowed me mine. Like Katsue and Meiko, I also found out the value of self acceptance.

From that story, Bitter Suites was born. It isn’t an “Asian” story. It’s my story—mixed and awkward looking for a place to fit in. It’s about how different we all are, but our fears, motives and desires are cross cultural. The desire to be accepted is universal.

I thank Laksa Media for taking the stand to encourage acceptance. Because of it, I found my voice.

You can find out more about Laksa Media, and the important work they do, here.

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DreamForge Magazine: Positive Sci-fi and Fantasy

For those looking for positive science fiction and fantasy, there is DreamForge magazine. They recently celebrated a successful launch and are now in full swing. What can you expect from DreamForge?

In their own words from their website“fiction and commentary that embody… integrity and decency, compassion and creativity, intelligence and inventiveness…”

I recently got in touch with publisher Scot Noel to find out more about this important new publication. Scot, along with partner Jane Noel are, in their own words: “life-long geeks whose eclectic tastes in reading are well steeped in the worlds of SF and Fantasy.” Sound like good people to me—see for yourself.

AYS—You just launched DreamForge magazine on February 14, but you’ve been writing much longer than that. How did you start?

Scot Noel—Oh, my! I was telling myself stories before I learned to read. I can remember playing in the sandbox with clothes pins, except the clothes pins were explorers and the sand was an unknown land.

When cartoons like Space Angel and Johnny Quest caught my attention, not to mention the original Outer Limits, I became a lifelong Science Fiction and Fantasy fan. I was a shy kid, and the attraction for me was always story. What worlds and possibilities could I imagine that were different from the life that I was living?

The first stories I wrote were journal entries, written on behalf of my toy spacemen, little plastic heroes who were busily exploring the backyard, the basement, or whatever far flung alien environ the neighborhood had to offer. Sophomore year in High School introduced me to the typewriter. I hated typing with a passion and was terrible at it. The only good I could see coming from it was to write imaginative adventures using that horrible machine.

I’m pretty sure I failed the class, but by finding an engaging and imaginative outlet for key punching, I also found my most useful skill in life — word wrangling. Every job I have ever had involved writing, editing, and content development. Somewhere along the way, I also learned to type like the wind.

As I grew into young adulthood, I submitted to fanzines and small press magazines and had some limited success. My daring submissions to the big stalwarts like Analog, Asimov’s, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction did not find purchase, but I collected some nice rejection letters. Then it was time to get a job, and I left fiction writing behind for a while.

AYS—In 1990, your short story, “Riches Like Dust,” was selected for the Writers of the Future anthology, Volume VI. Can you tell me about that experience and what it meant to you as a writer?

Scot Noel—I was in my mid-thirties and working as Director of Operations and Planning for a local transit authority when someone told me about L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and I submitted a story. I don’t remember what that first submission was, but I made it to the semi-finals, and that seemed encouraging, so I tried again the next year and won a second-place award for “Riches Like Dust,” an early tale of nano-technology.

I had no idea what to expect, and so the follow-through from Writers of the Future was overwhelming. The pay was great, and part of the award was being flown out to Las Vegas, both to attend a writers’ workshop taught by Algis Budrys and then the Awards Ceremony itself.

Everyone involved was truly supportive and Algis was an amazing teacher, making the event one of those once-in-a-lifetime memories. I even came away with a life- time friendship with one of the other writers, James Verran from Australia. We still correspond often, we’ve written some stories together, and you’ll be seeing some of James’ work in the pages of DreamForge this year.

Writers of the Future definitely changed the course of my life. Of course, it wasn’t in the way I expected. As you can imagine, I was wondering if a career as a novelist lay ahead and what that would be like.

Instead, the publicity WOTF helped arrange for me caught the attention of a local computer gaming company, DreamForge Intertainment. They needed a writer for game interaction text, game manuals, and -in those days- the novelettes and novellas that they included with each game to help set the story. It sounded like a lot more fun than managing public transportation, so I switched careers.

DreamForge was growing rapidly when I arrived, and my duties evolved very quickly. I was writer and voice director, then associate producer, and finally project manager. I was privileged to work on early games like Darkspyre and The Summoning, and then on Dungeons & Dragons titles like Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession, Ravenloft: Stone Prophet, Menzoberranzan, and Dungeon Hack.

There were award-winning and cult classic games too, like Veil of Darkness (I still occasionally get fan mail for this one), Sanitarium (Stephen King mentioned it in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), and Anvil of Dawn (1996 role-playing game of the year).

I also met my wife, then Jane Yeager, at DreamForge, and we both worked with Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold on Roger’s game Chronomaster, resulting in a life-long friendship with Jane Lindskold.

In 1999, my wife Jane founded her own company, Computers Made Easy, Inc. I joined her in 2001, and we’ve been working together at that ever since. Today, CME has evolved into a web, software development, and digital marketing agency called Chroma Marketing Essentials.

So, you can see, it’s easy to say Writers of the Future changed my life around entirely.

AYS—Publishing a magazine is a big jump from what you were doing. What prompted the idea of DreamForge magazine?

Scot Noel—Insanity. I don’t know. The longing for one last, life-changing adventure, and along with it the desire to put something meaningful into the world. I explain the impetus in an essay I included in our Founders’ Issue, entitled “Whose Crazy Idea is This Anyway?”

It goes in part: There is an absolutely brilliant episode of the Netflix anthology TV series Black Mirror. “Metalhead” is filmed entirely in black and white. It follows the plight of a woman fleeing from dog-like killer robots after the unexplained collapse of human society. Spoiler alert: the humans don’t make it.

I could write an entire piece about how tightly paced, well-directed, and viscerally frightening this episode is. I gave it a standing ovation. The only problem is, it’s wrong. Civilization is not going to collapse, and if it suffers a body blow from nuclear war, climate change, asteroids, plague, or killer robots; it will quickly rebound.

Those familiar with Star Trek’s canonical timeline know that between us and Starfleet lie the eugenics wars and a near civilization ending nuclear conflict. Why today, when we could be telling ourselves stories of how to first weather and then overcome the challenges ahead, are we focused on defeat? The future used to be bold and daring. To quote Captain Kirk, “Risk… risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her!”

In sure you’ve noted by now the correspondence between the gaming company and the name of the magazine. That was not immediate. Well into planning, the magazine was called “Absolute Infinity,” but no one liked that masthead very much.

With Jane Lindskold joining us as our Senior Advisor & Creative Consultant, we thought back fondly to the days we met. Since DreamForge Intertainment, the game developer, has been defunct for many years now, we decided to become DreamForge Press, LLC, and to name our magazine DreamForge too!

AYS—Now that DreamForge is up and running, how do you think it will affect your personal writing?

Scot Noel—I hope it will spur me to create some new and hopeful fiction that will help guide and support the mission I’ve given the magazine of providing “tales of hope in the universe.” Of course, there is every possibility the magazine will overwhelm me and give me little chance to write much new fiction at all. I guarantee you unexpected and magical adventures will occur, because they already have. The opportunity for this interview is but a single example.

AYS—Tell me about your current issue. Who can we expect to see in your pages?

Scot Noel—Our mission is to fight the dystopian mindset prevalent today. Which is not to say our stories are utopian or Pollyannaish. They simply express, in one way or another, a focused set of themes and values:

“Our goal is to publish fiction and commentary that embody, in one way or another, these essential principles: integrity and decency, compassion and creativity, intelligence and inventiveness, the rule of law and liberty under the law, the dignity of the individual, and the power of synergy to unleash the potential of disparate individuals and communities for the betterment of all.

In all worlds and times, our tales revolve around those individuals and groups who bring meaning and value to the world, whose actions are of consequence, and whose dreams are the vanguard of things to come.”

We explore aspects of hope, not always in flattering ways; the power of empathy and relationships, the value in overcoming obstacles, the unforeseen results of heroic action, even the end times of humanity, all kinds of things, as long as the values of reason, empathy, and positive action are part of the story’s DNA.

We are not a happy ending factory; we simply believe the Human Adventure is just beginning. Our first issue includes works from: 

  • Jane Lindskold – Bestselling author, accomplished Fantasy and SF writer, Jane is the author of over 25 novels, including the Firekeeper Saga, the Breaking the Wall series, and the Artemis Awakening series. 
  • Steven Brust & Skyler White, authors of the “Incrementalists” and “The Skill of Our Hands” from TOR.
  • Mary Soon Lee, winner of the Rhysling and Elgin awards for speculative poetry.
  • Barbara Barnett, whose novel “The Apothecary’s Curse” was a 2017 Bram Stoker Award finalist and recipient of the 2017 Best Adult Fantasy/SF at Killer Nashville.
  • Lauren C. Teffeau, whose debut novel “Implanted” was published by Angry Robot in August of 2018 and is getting great reviews.

Our second issue is well underway, with 19 stories under contract, led by a reprint of a great David Weber story “A Certain Talent,” set Jack Williamson’s Legion of Space universe and featuring that master thief and hero of humanity, Giles Habibula.

Of course, we’re just as excited about our illustrators! We’re proud to feature work from: 

  • Elizabeth Leggett, Hugo Award Winning illustrator whose work focuses on soulful, human moments-in-time. 
  • John Blumen, freelance illustrator whose images grace the covers of books published by The Penguin Group, Tor, Harcourt Publishing and Llewellyn Worldwide. 
  • Cassandre Bolan. A 2014 Illustrators of the Future award winner, Cassandre once lived in Dubai, where she focused on providing artistic illustrations with a feminist conscience.
  • Rick Antolic. Rick is a long-time member of the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators with an impressive client list. For over 10 years, he’s been providing freelance illustration for the packaging, publishing, advertising, and product development industries.
  • Mark Zingarelli. Mark is an award-winning illustrator, cartoonist, journalist, author, educator, and lecturer whose work has appeared in major magazines, including The New Yorker.

AYS—What are you up to now, and more important, where can fans find you, DreamForge and your books?

Scot Noel—We’ve just accomplished a successful Kickstarter, reaching 218% of our initial goal. We’re now focused on developing Issue # 2 and laying the groundwork for Issues #3 and #4. We’re committed to producing 4 issues this year and then evaluating where we’re at and what our subscriber base will allow us to budget for 2020.

We also have a web presence that includes both a traditional website and a readers’ portal with some interactive features, including rating stories and keeping story notes in your own personal reader’s dashboard.

My own production of fiction has been sporadic at best over the years, with a magazine or anthology appearance here and there, usually quite a few years apart. Whether DreamForge changes that much or just engages all my time as publisher and editor-in-chief, time will tell. I do have an e-Book available on Amazon called The Stellar Glory.

Our website is:
Our Readers’ Portal is at:

We look forward to becoming a hopeful voice for positive Science and Fantasy Fiction.

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Bitter Suites Receives Stoker Nomination

Yesterday was quite a big day!

I opened my email to find out that my book, Bitter Suites, has been nominated for a Bram Stoker in the Superior Achievement in Long Fiction category. I wish I could say I took the news like a pro, but that would be a lie.

The truth is I opened the email, read the news, read the news again and then wondered if I was going to die right there of a heart attack. I cried a little and my hands shook.

I walked away to absorb the news but it didn’t help. I tried to go back to finish what I was working on but I gave up by early afternoon. So many wonderful messages of congratulations can be distracting. Yes, I spent far too long reading and re-reading the nomination list just in case I was dreaming.

So, thank you everyone. This is a team effort. I have a wonderful army of editors, proof readers, beta readers, cover designer, social media gurus, friends and an amazing, supportive family. They actually encourage me to do what I love.

There’s too many names to list—and a number of you are weirdos that don’t like to be mentioned by name— but I thank each and everyone of you. I honestly couldn’t be here now without your help.

2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot here

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From Space and Time #132: “Harlot’s Gate”

“Harlot’s Gate” by Glynn Owen Barrass is horrible in a good way. The monster is wonderfully hideous, the protagonist is authentic and I enjoyed the historical details that give this piece a solid sense of time. It was the perfect companion to my Saturday morning coffee.

As I read through the stories in Space and Time, I am grateful for publications like this. Dedicated to literacy, they provide a valuable space for authors to have voice.

The act of writing is a lonely one. Without the opportunity to be published, there can be no readers. Readers are what makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you to Glynn Owen Barrass for a satisfying read. Martin Hanford’s illustrations are perfect for this story. You can read “Harlot’s Gate” by Glynn Owen Barrass in issue #132 of Space and Time, available here. The next issue is due out on March 20.

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Ladies of Horror Begin #WiHMx

The Ladies of Horror are at it again with new flash fiction on Nina D’Arcangela’s Spreading the Writer’s Word blog. I’ve missed sharing the last few months with all the moves going on, but things are more relaxed now—and that means more coffee and reading than boxes, boxes and more boxes. As February is Women in Horror Month 10, it’s just in time. Click here to find out more about WiHM X.

The Ladies of Horror are a diverse group of women dedicated to writing darker things. Each month we write a story or poem based on a photo Nina sends us. We do it for practice, to share ideas… and because this is how we play.

They Call Us Mary
by Ashley Davis

Winter’s Gift
by Christina Sng

Queen of the Night
by Lori R. Lopez

Where We Used to Play
by Sonora Taylor

A Crack in Time
by Kathleen McCluskey

by Naching T. Kassa

The Bone Bringer
by Leah McNaughton Lederman

K.R. Morrison

Hiding in Fear
by Kim Richards

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Story “Just in Time”

How about a story?

This is what happens when I’m tired and busy with other things, which right now is Space and Time, some birthdays, house fix-y stuff and editing.

I originally wrote “Just in Time” for the July 2018 Ladies in Horror prompt at Nina D’Arcangela’s Spreading the Writer’s Word blog. Read the original post here.

The photo at left was the prompt. My first impression of this pic was it was too nice to be horrible. Then this story just came out of nowhere. I called it “Just in Time.” I share it because I have no time at the moment. —enjoy!

Just in Time

They left the shelter too soon.

For a full week they had huddled together in the dark of the cave, hungry and licking moisture off the rough stone walls. A few stopped speaking. A few wouldn’t stop speaking. They all listened to the constant boom of the bombs echo through the cavern and tried to not think about those still outside.

The silence was sudden and alien. The cave had no light where they were, and sound—even as horrifying as the constant explosions—was better than nothing. Now that it was silent the group of survivors turned their thoughts to what was next.

“I reckon the bombing is stopped,” Sam said. His voice startled the black nothing. Someone cleared their throat. Another voice broke the quiet, softer and feminine despite the hoarse edge that snagged the shadows.

“S-sounds like it. Should we try and get out? Would it be safe?”

Sam stood up. In the dark he could no longer tell which direction they had come in from. None of them were familiar with the cave. None of them had known each other before. They were just a bunch of panicked campers that made it into the caves just in time.

“I reckon it would. We should find each other and link hands.” He didn’t even know how many people were with him. As a former scout leader, he felt it was his duty to take charge.

“Everyone crawl towards the sound of my voice.” There was the sound of slow rustling as invisible people started groping toward him. A panic rose up inside of him as he thought of zombie nightmares from childhood, but he stuffed it into the back of his mind. He had to be strong. He had to lead. They may very well be the only people left.

“I’m right here. Keep coming…”

When the first hand touched him, he squeaked. There had been no contact between any of them other than voices. More hands reached out to touch him but he was better prepared.

“That’s it. Good job everyone. Are we all touching someone else?” They were murmurs of assent, and then someone kissed his hand. Their face was wet from tears. He hoped it was a woman.

“Is anyone left in the dark alone?” He called out loud in case someone had wandered farther away. They all listened again, still and waiting. There was no answer.

“Okay, everyone link up and keep your hand on the person in front of you. We’re going to crawl out.” He offered a silent prayer to the universe to send him in the right direction and started crawling.

The first light was a trick on their eyes. The black cleared from their vision like evaporating fog. They cried out when they realized they could see again and scrambled for the entrance. There were six of them. Two women and four men. One male was just a teen.

They spilled out of the cave and stumbled into the light. The world looked untouched. The sun was low in the sky and shone through the trees, turning the leaves to gold. The forest opened before the small group like a celestial path. They embraced as a group, falling to their knees and wept. They had survived. Whatever trials lay ahead, they would face it together.

The leaves rustled as a wind picked up, shaking them free to drift to the ground. Sam looked back up to the sun on the horizon, and then up to the sky where another sun shone down upon the group. The wind became vicious, a gale that tore the remaining leaves free. He looked back to the sun that hovered above the earth’s edge and saw it was distorting, flattening into a disk of molten light. He struggled to his feet. Like a moth to the flame, he stumbled a few steps toward it.

“Guys…” His voice trailed off. The rest of the group looked up and followed his gaze. The wind was howling now and sounded like a train rushing through the woods. Trees snapped before it as if an invisible hand was sweeping the world clean of forest and creature alike.

“Guys…” His voice trembled. “We need to go back in the cave.”

Mesmerized, none of them moved. The wave of heat overtook them. Sam fell back to his knees as he felt his face blister. He held up one hand in a feeble attempt to ward off the rushing doom, and then it was on them. None of them screamed, their eyes transfixed on the brilliance even as they sizzled in their skulls.  

The last thing Sam heard was the solid, resounding rumble and boom of the final explosion. They had emerged just in time for the end of everything. As a group, they faded back to ashen darkness and scattered ahead of the radioactive winds.

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New Website for Space and Time Magazine

Visit the new website for Space and Time magazine, officially live and ready for exploration. Find the new mascot, read excerpts from the current issue and follow us on social media. There will be a test!

Send the answers to the questions below to with “S&T Scavenger Hunt” in the subject line. The first five correct responses win a year long digital subscription to the magazine.*

Why five subscriptions? To celebrate the five plus decades Space and Time has been publishing fine horror, fantasy and science fiction. The magazine remains dedicated to sharing excellent new and established authors, poets and artists, providing them a place to showcase their work and words.

What are you waiting for? Visit the new Space and Time here at and find these answers—

  1. Where and who is Laika on the website?
  2. When did founder Gordon Linzner pass the reins of the magazine to former publisher Hildy Silverman?
  3. How much does Space and Time pay per poem?
  4. Where can you find out about relevant events…
    and share your own?
  5. What year was Space and Time launched? Bonus if you can find the exact date.
  6. Who do you email for advertising?
  7. How many poems are in the current issue #132?
*One year digital subscription to Space and Time magazine will be in PDF, mobi or epub format and contain bonus material exclusive to the digital subscription. Winners may gift their subscription.
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Exquisite Corpse #8: The Last Kiss

I always get chills when I first see all the exquisite corpse lines on the page for the first time. I try not to look at them before that. They come in my email, go straight to a folder and I wait until the last day to copy and paste them together. Then come the chills.

The lines come from everywhere—friends, strangers, new writers, old writers. None of us know what anyone else has contributed but it always comes together well. This is also how the writer community works.

We are like an exquisite corpse made of friends, strangers, new writers and old writers. We come together with advice, things we’ve learned, critiques, reviews, support and sometimes just a shoulder to lean on.

This is why the exquisite corpse has become my favorite poetic form. It’s not about any of us—it’s about all of us. It’s a community of scribblers coming together for fun. It’s the writer equivalent of a friendly game of netball in the driveway. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Thank you all for playing.

Oh, and the winner of the necklace is Naching T. Kassa! Congratulations—I’ll be emailing you for your address.

Read past corpse creations…

Exquisite Corpse #1: Collaborative Poem
Exquisite Corpse #2: The Daunting Riddle
Exquisite Corpse #3: Toxicated
Exquisite Corpse #4: Deceptions
Exquisite Corpse #5: Final Chimes
Exquisite Corpse #6: Treading
Exquisite Corpse #7: The Reckoning

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Shameless Space and Time Magazine Plug

Things have been moving behind the scenes at Space and Time. The new website will be unveiled Wednesday, February 20th at 1 p.m. Everything is shiny and fresh, but we’ve taken care to keep the soul of the magazine intact.

She’s gotten a new wardrobe and accessories, but she’s still the same magazine dedicated to fine speculative fiction, art and poetry. At 52, she already knows what she’s doing. Why change what works?

We have gotten her a mascot. You’ll get to meet Laika on the new website Wednesday. Updated logos, schedules and a comprehensive events calendar for fantasy, horror and science fiction events everywhere… and yes, your event can be there too if you share it.

While you wait, please head over to our social media pages and connect with us. We now have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram active. And so I don’t leave you with nothing, here’s the new logo for Space and Time magazine below.

Thank you. Shameless plug done.


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