Three terrific stories in WotF

Today I’m showcasing three stories from Writers of the Future Vol. 34.

“What Lies Beneath,” by Cole Hehr, is the story of a powerful sorcerer that has so disgraced himself, he clings to life beyond all reason, afraid to face his family on the other side. He’s long past finding anything to live for. When a serpent god threatens a child, will he find something worth dying for? Beuatifully illustrated by Maksym Polishchuk.
In Eneasz Brodski’s “Flee, My Pretty One,” young rebels join a resistance against the dark powers that control their world. But will they be able to withstand corruption by the very dragons they’re fighting? Alana Fletcher’s illustration captures the dark, end-of-times tone of the story.
In Janey Bell’s “The Face In The Box,” the last sunflower farmer on Earth encounters some farming equipment with a mind of its own. Intriguingly illustrated by Bruce Brenneise.

These stories are part of the smorgasbord in Writers of the Future vol. 34, now available from Amazon, Chapters, B&N, and your friendly indie bookstore 🙂

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Writers of the Future vol. 34 got a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

N.R.M. Roshak’s “A Bitter Thing” packs a visceral punch in its exploration of the illusions of love and bigotry.

“The 34th collection of finalists for the Writers of the Future competition features expertly crafted and edited stories and art, running the gamut from humorous to bone-chilling. Speculative fiction is interspersed with essays on the crafts of writing and illustrations from the field’s luminaries, most notably Jerry Pournelle’s “Paying It Forward,” which features words of advice he received from Robert Heinlein. Jonathan Ficke’s “Howler on the Sales Floor” is a tongue-in-cheek reflection of the inner thoughts of retail workers. On the other end of the spectrum, N.R.M. Roshak’s “A Bitter Thing” packs a visceral punch in its exploration of the illusions of love and bigotry. Eneasz Brodski’s “Flee, My Pretty One” paints a dark, stark vision of resistance and transformation. The two standout stories are “Illusion” by established fantasist Jody Lynn Nye, a lighthearted and ebullient fantasy, and the breathtakingly beautiful ode to transformation “Odd and Ugly” by Vida Cruz, which stirs the imagination with Filipino folklore. Each piece of art embraces the story it accompanies to create a harmonious whole. This inspired, well-rounded anthology has a little something for everyone. (Apr.)”

The anthology is out! Links: Chapters, B&N, or

Advance Reading Copy

Galaxy Press sent out a PDF Advance Reading Copy of my story and others in WoF 34. Anyone want to be an Advance Reader? Copies are free but Galaxy Press kindly asks that you leave an honest review wherever you buy your books (or otherwise post your reviews… goodreads, blog, etc) when the book comes out in April. Message me via FB, Twitter or the comments section if you’d like a copy.

Interview on Daytime Ottawa

Yesterday I was on Daytime Ottawa with host Dylan Black.

I was incredibly nervous, which probably shows. Dylan has a gift for putting his guests at ease, though, so I managed to get through the 5 or so minutes without sticking my foot in my mouth too seriously.

The best part was meeting the other guests, including a candy store owner who brought a Japanese whistle candy and a prominent local doctor, Dr. Lise Bjerre, publicising a report by her working group Rational Therapeutics.

Dr. Bjerre was very interesting to talk to: she’s both an epidemiologist and a family physician. But if I were watching the show at home, I don’t think anything would’ve topped that whistle candy.


I sat down with a cup of tea and the latest issue of our community newspaper–and was pleasantly surprised to find an article about me! The paper is The Centretown Buzz, and the article is aptly titled “Centretown writer wins award that could kickstart career.”

It’s especially sweet because the Centretown Buzz is one of the few surviving community newspapers in Ottawa. Earlier this month, we went through a local newspopcalypse: two media companies, Torstar and Postmedia, swapped their community paper holdings and proceeded to shut nearly all of them down. The Centretown Buzz, a monthly non-profit that’s been covering community news since 1995, suddenly finds itself one of the only community papers left standing. It’s got a strong history in the community, I nearly always read it, and I’m really pleased to have been in their pages.

I owe the article’s presence to Carmen Bartolo, who coordinates publicity for the Writers of the Future winners. Thank you, Carmen!

W1, S1 Update

Since the end of October, I’ve been following Ray Bradbury’s advice to write one story and submit one story (W1, S1) every week. This is my 12th week of W1, S1: a good time for an evaluation.

The “Submit 1” has pushed me to submit, and re-submit, and submit again. Otherwise, I tend to use my precious writing time for, well, writing, not submitting. I haven’t had a flurry of accepted stories, but I did get a reprint anthologized. Even better, I’ve learned that a single rejection doesn’t sting nearly as much when I have four or five other stories out. Overall, making myself submit one story a week has been unequivocally good for me.

The “Write 1” gets a bit more of a mixed review from me. I haven’t suceeded in writing a story every week: there’ve been three weeks so far that I didn’t finish anything in that week. And, wanting to finish a story every week has pushed me toward shorter fiction. One story even turned into a poem! When I finish a short or flash piece for the week, I come back to my ongoing longer pieces and plug away at them a little more.

The crux of Ray Bradbury’s advice is, “No one can write 52 bad stories.” Well, I’ve turned out at least one real stinker. I did finish it, but it needs one of two things: either a complete rewrite, or the recycle bin. So far I haven’t turned out anything I’d call my best work. Still, 9 finished drafts in 3 months is a huge improvement on my usual pace, and some of them are not bad.

Have you tried W1, S1, or another writing discipline that you’d recommend? If so, I’d welcome your comments.

There’s always new SFF to discover…

In a perfect world, I’d have time every month to read every sff magazine and zine and listen to every sf, fantasy, and horror podcast. In the real world, of course, I rarely make it beyond my 4 or 5 favorites. But… sometimes I’ll write a story, or a poem, and when it’s done, it doesn’t seem quite right for any of the magazines or zines I read every month… Hooray, it’s time to go market-hunting! I get to explore and discover new magazines, zines, websites, podcasts, communities, etc. I’m nominally looking for a place for a given story, but the fun is really in reading the free issues online. Some of my starting points for this discovery process are:

The magazines I’m currently reading every issue of are Analog, Asimov, Clarkesworld, F&SF, and Lightspeed. When I have extra time, I binge on back issues of Strange Horizons or listen to one of the Escape Artists podcasts. Do you have other favorites you read every month that I should be adding, or other favorite starting-points for discovering new troves of tasty SFF? If so, please let me know in the comments.

Philosophy and Science Fiction

I first encountered Dr. Eric Schwitzgebel’s work in the Sept. 2017 Clarkesworld, which published his story Little /^^^\&-. (That’s neither a typo nor an encoding error. If you haven’t seen the story, I recommend it.) Dr. Schwitzgebel, a professor of philosophy at UC Riverside, writes philosophical SF and also maintains a list of philosophical spec-fic recs here: What makes this list special is that it’s spec-fic which professional philosophers have found philosophically interesting. If a story makes a philosopher say “Hmmm,” you know it’s got some meat to it! Some of the names and stories won’t surprise anyone: Ursula LeGuin, Ted Chiang, Flatland, The Sparrow. But: Ringworld? Really?

Ringworld and sequels (novels, starting 1970). An enormous engineered world encircling a distant star provides a context for exploration of the variability of the human phenotype and contrasts with two alien species and a third that turns out to not be as alien as we first imagine. (Horst)

Hmmm. It’s been many years since I read Ringworld, but it struck me as far more of a physics thought experiement than a philosophical one. In any case, the list makes for interesting reading as well as being an interesting reading list.

W1, S1

Last month, I stumbled across a partly-abandoned website with a terrific idea. was a writing club following Ray Bradbury’s advice to write one story and submit one story each week.

“If you can write one short story a week — doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing. At the end of the year, you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done.”  
– Ray Bradbury

The writing club seems to be over, but it struck me as such good advice that I’m trying to follow it, too.

Pros: More Stories! More Submissions!

Cons: I’m having trouble finishing anything but flash in one week.