“The Intragalactic Shakespeare Festival” in Project Briar Rose

Early this year, I heard about an interesting call from Manawaker Studio, for an anthology called “Project Briar Rose.” Here’s a description from their website:

Project Briar Rose is an anthology focused on sci-fi stories about specific character traits. The book will be a sci-fi retelling of the first half of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), as it was told by the Grimm Bros.

In Galilean Space, a Spincity administrator is bringing a new Android online. It is his plan that this android, codenamed Briar Rose and in a mechanical body resembling a young woman, will succeed him one day in running the city. He invites the most accomplished AI experts from 12 of the spincity’s 13 districts to a dinner party in celebration of Briar Rose; leaving out the expert from the 13th district because she is an unpleasant person. At the dinner, the experts, all women, each approach the android in turn, and program her with a personality trait that she will need to be a good person, and eventually also a good administrator of the city. As they do this, they each tell a story about a person who succeeded, thrived, or overcame adversity due to possessing this trait. When they are finished, the 13th expert shows up uninvited, imbues the android with one unpleasant trait, and tells a story in which such a trait would be needed.

Intrigued, I sent off three reprint stories against three of the traits.

My story, The Intragalactic Shakespeare Festival, will represent the trait, “savvy” – and I am thrilled! This story was first published in the Art From Art anthology.



Air Travel Adventures Part II

Owing to the difficulty of landing at Narita, and the refueling stop in Nagoya, the plane was of course very late and I missed my connection.  By the time we got to  Narita, it was many hours after my flight to Bangalore had left. JAL didn’t have the equivalent flight the next day, so here was their plan for me and my co-passengers on the same itinerary:

  1. Retrieve our check-in luggage (mine was 2 heavy suitcases, since I was planning to be away for a month).
  2. Go through immigration and customs.
  3. Catch a shuttle to the hotel, where they were comping us one night + breakfast. (It was way past dinner time, around 11 pm)
  4. At 5.30 am, return to NRT to catch a shuttle-bus to Haneda.
  5. Get a flight to New Delhi from Haneda.
  6. Get an Air India flight from DEL to Bangalore.

Nope. With my level of energy by then, this was just not possible.
“When is the next flight to BLR from NRT?” I asked the agent, “Can you get me on that?”
“We only pay one night at the hotel,” she said.
“I’ll pay for the rest,”  I said. Oh… that changed everything.
She booked me on the next flight, which was the day-after-tomorrow. Fine with me. And she could re-tag my suitcases so I didn’t need to pick them up. Yay! So after duly filling in and handing over the immigration and customs forms, off I went to the bus stop to wait for the hotel shuttle.

This is the good news part of the whole Japan Airlines adventure (along with not needing the farewell messages).

I waited at the bus stop on a nearby bench. It was cool and pleasant. I pulled out my passport wallet and put away my papers, and read my book. The bus came, and I was about to board when someone tapped me on my shoulder and handed me my passport wallet that I had forgotten on the bench. (Thank you, kind person! It was the porter who was dealing with the luggage carts.)

When it was time to get off, the lady standing beside me offered to help me with my backpack. I didn’t need it, but it was sweet of her to offer. I’d expected a basic functional place, but the Mystays hotel was really nice, with rooms that had everything I needed, including overlapping light-blocking drapes and good wi-fi.  I love the decor – low-key Japanese, including a dry landscape garden – now actually filled with rainwater so it’s got streams and lakes.

It cost less than I expected – about $120 for 1.5 extra days. (It’s $71 per night.) Maybe we should consider it for a Con! Though I don’t know if they have meeting rooms!

They also have a 24-hour Family Mart, with food, snacks, t-shirts, underwear, cosmetics, and adorable little kitschy souvenirs. I am being tempted by a Totoro purse with a catbus on it.

I dropped my reading glasses somewhere. I reported it to the Reception. Within an hour, it was left hanging on my door handle in a plastic bag.

People in Japan – so kind and helpful. Just pleasant.

I thought of taking a trip to Ueno Zoo to see a shoebill stork, and then Ueno Nakadori, but it’s raining and I think I need downtime. So anyway, for the price of $120 (and whatever I don’t stop myself from spending at the combini downstairs), I am getting a lovely rest day.

Air Travel Adventure Part I

I’m on my way to Bangalore. The planned itinerary was JL 057, SFO – NRT (Narita, Tokyo) departing May 5; JL 753, NRT – BLR.

Everything went fine for nearly all of the first leg. On-time departure, everything going smoothly. We were coming in to land at NRT, when — the pilot aborted the landing and went around again.

Okay, I’ve had that experience before, except that this time it seemed like a very long go-round. I wondered if they were avoiding traffic, or burning off fuel in preparation for a rough landing. Anyway, after a bit, they came in for a landing again. And — the same thing happened. Aborted the landing. Went up and around. By now, I was wondering what was up, and whether I was in the territory of Sylvia Wrigley (owner of the Fear of Landing blog and aviation writer of books like “Pilot Error“!)  I actually made farewell messages to family, but didn’t send them. (One of them was, “If this is a problem, this is a more interesting exit than any alternatives.”)

After a few minutes, they announced we were going to ??? international airport. (Not Haneda.) I asked the person sitting in the next seat, and he explained we were headed to Nagoya because of high winds at both NRT and Haneda. We landed uneventfully at Nagoya. So now I knew it wasn’t aircraft trouble at least.

And we waited. People around me were all ready to deplane, but the cabin crew asked us to remain seated while they awaited instructions from the company. Then they announced we would return to Narita after refueling. (Instructions: Please unplug your devices, and do not do anything that would cause a fire, including smoking.)

We took off and headed back to NRT. The pilot brought the plane in for a landing and – aborted. Oh oh, I thought, Nagoya here we come. But they went around again, brought it in. It was turbulent and the aircraft was juddering, but we passed what was clearly the point of no return, and then soon we were on the ground. The windsock looked like the wind wasn’t at 90 degrees exactly, but maybe 70 or so? Anyway, a strong cross wind. We clapped. The picture below is from the inflight Airshow on the screen, shortly before the actual landing.
Of course everyone with connecting flights had missed their connections, including me. The crew told us information would be waiting after we deplaned.

That was the beginning of the next part of the adventure (blogged in Air Travel Adventures Part II).

Well, at least I was in Mary Robinette Kowal  territory (Mary Robinette, the well-known author, having had so many travel adventures that she started a Mary-go-round drinking game!), not Sylvia’s air-space!

“Refugee from Fairyland” in Worlds of Possibility

I’m so delighted! One of my favorite recent stories, “Refugee from Fairyland” has been accepted by Julia Rios for Worlds of Possibility. It’s always lovely working with Julia – and this will be the third time. The first was my story Light and Death on the Indian Battle Station at Fireside, the second, more recently,  was also in Worlds of Possibility – Bidaii ki Chicken Curry.

This story was written for a challenge on Codex, the membership forum for neo-pro writers: Weekend Warrior, usually held in January. It’s a game in which you get a series of prompts on Friday evening, choose one that speaks to you, then submit the resulting story (no more than 750 words in length) to the challenge. Though I’ve been a member of Codex for years, 2022 was the first year I participated.

“Refugee” was my Week 5 story, and I enjoyed writing it, and also enjoyed editing it later to build it out more.  Although it’s so short, I loved all the characters in it – especially Munna, the young refugee.

I put together this little visual in Microsoft Paint, using clip-art from Clker.com, which offers public-domain art. There’s something about it that captures the mood of the story.

“On Our Own” in Metastellar

Thrilled to say that my flash science fiction story, On Our Own, has been accepted by Metastellar. Publication is scheduled for  July 2023.

This is a story I wrote last year for a 5-week flash fiction challenge. Codex, a website for  neo-pro writers, has a membership forum with an annual “Weekend Warriors” challenge: You get prompts on Friday, and submit a 750-word piece by Monday morning. I participated for the first time in 2022, and this story was built out from my Week 1 of the challenge.  I’m delighted that it’s landed in Metastellar, where I have never been published before.

When two spacers land on a new planet on a mission to collect geological samples, they find a colossal statue. It’s life-changing.

“Dilemma with the Omnivore” in Paradoxical Pets Anthology

My story, Dilemma with Omnivore, is coming out in the new “Paradoxical Pets” anthology from Word Balloon Books.

What do you do when your pet eats anything inanimate?

(This story first appeared in Little Blue Marble in 2019.)

James and Cheryl Maxey, who run World Balloon Books, have a kickstarter for this anthology. They’re hoping that a good response will let them publish more great speculative fiction anthologies for kids. The cover art (by Kelsie Brumet) is fantastic. Just look at that!

“Ghost dogs are friendly, but space cats are smarter…
You can read about both if you fund our Kickstarter!

“Awesome science fiction and fantasy stories for readers 8 and up are found in Paradoxical Pets! Dinosaurs, dragons, dodos, and kraken join cats, dogs, hamsters and rats in these tales of weird and wonderful animal companions! Be among the first people to get your copy by supporting our Kickstarter today!”

Alternative Holidays Contributor Copy Arrived! (Midsummer with Vampire Rome and Zombie Juliet)

My contributor copy of Alternative Holidays arrived! Much sooner than expected!
And it has my story, Midsummer with Vampire Romeo and Zombie Juliet in it. It’s always a thrill to see one of my works in print.

Here’s the Midjourney.ai art I made for this story.
I’ve just started reading the other stories and poems. They’re excellent!

“Bidaai ki Chicken Curry” is published in Worlds of Possibility

My little 500-word story, “Bidaai ki Chicken Curry” is out on the Worlds of Possibility website run by Julia Rios.  And not just the story! There’s a podcast, where I read the story, and then there’s an interview with Julia. I’m so thrilled with how it’s turned out.

Here’s the link:


(This picture is from the website. Credited to Sushmita Chatterjee/Unsplash)

Chicken curry in a pan, with a container of spices near the top of the picture
Photo by Sushmita Chatterjee / Unsplash


“Midsummer with Vampire Romeo and Zombie Juliet” in Alternative Holidays Anthology from B Cubed Press

My short story, “Midsummer with Vampire Romeo and Zombie Juliet” has been published in Alternative Holidays Anthology from B Cubed Press. I did my first experiment with the Midjourney.ai  (an artificial intelligence that creates pictures in response to prompts) to illustrate the title of my story.

I really liked the result (though I thought Juliet looks midway between a vampire and a zombie!) and I used it for posts on all my social media.


The story is in a great anthology, with a nice mix of humor, horror, and warmth. And look at this cover!

The back cover is great, too: It has quotes from the characters in the anthology.

And here’s a list of the stories and authors.

Dreidel of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah – Alex Shvartsman
Candy Canes and Brimstone – Alicia Hilton
The Santa Trap – Nina Kiriki Hoffman writing as Robin Aurelian
Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology – J.C.G. Goelz
Lucy in the Sky with Helen-Sheri White
12 Zombie Days of Christmas-Gregg Chamberlain
Moderno Inferno-Richard Lau
The Last Reindeer-Katharina Gerlach
Santa’s Dog- Kevin McCarty
Christmas Fare- Kelly Piner
Paradise Misplaced-Samuel Marzioli
A Visit at Saint Nick’s-Gregg Chamberlain
Invitation-Jenniffer Wardell
The Effect of Place on Love and Death-Gerri Leen
The Stockings of Santa River-Daniel Ausema
Nessel-Jeremy Mallory
He’s Coming-Louis Evans
Lancelot Wednesday-Judy Lunsford
MOJO DAY-Marie Noorani
Quicksilver’s Last Job-Simon Kewin
@Elijah5782-Lawrence Miller
Chrysalis-Richard Thomas
Merry Chrithmuth-Kevin McCarty
Midsummer with Vampire Romeo and Zombie Juliet-Keyan Bowes
We All Have to Pitch In-David Powell
The Reaper of Trees-Emily Martha Sorensen
Ten Songs of Halloween-Larry Hodges
Four Spirits of Christmas – Julia LaFond
Late at Night, In the Bathtub, A Snowman Panics-Mark Teppo
Crop Circles-Carter Lappin
Krampus at the Craft Fair-Sarina Dorie
The Tannenbombers-James Edward O’Brien
Chinese New Year’s Resolution-Robert Jeschonek
The Afterthought-Jenna Hanchey
Scream Stream-Gordon Linzner
Ne’er Day-Andrew L. Roberts
Soul For It-Mir Rainbird
Twelve Silver Candles-Emily Munro
Something Wicked-Evan Davies
Silent Night-Liam Hogan
The Apocalypse Was Glorious, My Darlings-Paula Hammond
Last Mission-Alex J. Smith
Cupid’s Confession-Alicia Hilton

I’ve been dipping into it, and really looking forward to reading the whole thing.

“Genetic Changelings” in Internetwork in Italian

I’m so delighted! My story, Genetic Changelings, has been translated into Italian and published in the anthology “Internetwork” which includes 8 stories and a number of essays on the future of work. The anthology is published by Future Fiction. Here it is on their website: https://www.futurefiction.org/internetwork/

Internetwork (Genetic Changelings)

Thank you, Francesco Verso for selecting this story and seeing it through the long journey of translation and publication!

My Story is Going to the Moon!

My story, Happily Ever After in Twelve Stained Glass Panels, is in the Mosaics  anthology that’s going to the moon, as part of the Lunar Codex!

“The #LunarCodex welcomes the editors, illustrators, and authors of the MOSAICS books – inducting them into the Polaris time capsule to be archived for the future via the 2023 SpaceX / Astrobotic Griffin / NASA VIPER rover mission to the Lunar South Pole

“Curated by Kim Wells and Pavarti K Tyler, with editors Crystal Watanabe and Jessica West, the volumes collect writing from independent feminist authors. Including short and flash fiction , stories, poetry, essays, and art, Mosaics is a multi-faceted look at the history and culture surrounding femininity.”


Chicken Monster Motel in Dark Cheer anthology is here!

I’d been away for a couple of weeks, and when I got back I found this wonderful thing waiting for me: Contributor copies of the Dark Cheer – Cryptids Emerging (Volume Silver). . I am so thrilled to have my story “Chicken Monster Motel” republished in this anthology.

There’s one hardcover and one paperback. The table of contents looks exciting. I’m looking forward to reading this!

“Worth It” in Stupefying Stories

A few days ago, Stupefying Stories Magazine had a 150-word themed challenge. I’m delighted to say my story “Worth it” won, and was printed there on New Year’s Day, 2022!

New Year’s Eve 2022 Celebration Background with a clock

Amrit could have gone to MaxiMumbai on New Year’s Eve but instead, thanks to Neera, they’d been waiting in line for hours. Four hours, to be precise. And 27 minutes.

(Click HERE to read the whole thing.)

I love the illustration, too!

Winter Lights 2021 Art Challenge

After the delightful success of the Drawtober Autumn Woods art prompts – with a different creature for each day, Jenn Reese, Deva Fagan, and Steven Brezenoff launched the Winter Lights 2021 art challenge. This was slower paced, with only 7 prompts spread through December. Some of us were also trying new media for us: My Autumn Woods pictures were all in black pens on yellow stickies, but I decided to try digital painting for Winter Lights, using Paint 3D. In addition, I decided to make each picture relate to the previous ones.

Here’s a summary of pictures I made (with the Winter Lights prompts in the last square).

If you’d like to see each picture in more detail, here they are as a slideshow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Quick Sip Reviews “Honey and Vinegar and Seawater”

I was just thrilled to find a terrific review of “Honey and Vinegar and Seawater” (published in Mermaids Monthly, August 2021). It was in Quick Sip Reviews from Charles Payseur. Here’s the link: https://quicksipreviews.blogspot.com/2021/09/quick-sips-09102021.html

The review totally got to the heart of the poem. “A nice and rather wicked piece that speaks to me of roles and of consequence.”

I love Charles’s reviews. They’re kind and insightful, and I usually end up reading several of the stories – or poems – reviewed. There’s also a new “Scales of Relative Grimness” to establish how dark the content and tone of the reviewed stories are. Which I find very valuable, and hope to see become more widespread.

“Chicken Monster Motel” in Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging (Volume Silver)

I’m delighted that my fun monster story, “Chicken Monster Motel,” is coming out in the Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging anthology from Improbable Press in February 2022.  The anthology is in two volumes – Blue and Silver – because they got so many good stories. Mine is in Volume Silver. Here’s the link: https://improbablepress.com/products/dark-cheer-cryptids-emerging-volume-silver

(This story was first published in the Monstrosities anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing.)

The cover is so atmospheric!

Cover of Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging from Improbable Press, Volume Silver. It shows trees silhouetted against a foggy sky.

And the table of contents looks really intriguing, as does the book description from the Improbable Press website:

For the lovers of things that go bump in the night

Here be stories of South African grootslang and bayou grundylow, tales of elementals, jackalopes, and flying motels.

Within you’ll find tiny leviathans and rock whales, cambion and kelpie, a girl between time, and a man who saves a gun’s life.

These are stories of cryptids who sing or swim or save us, living side-by-side so often unseen…and then seen.

So very much seen.

If we look.


With more than 35 stories, and 320+ pagesVolume Silver includes tales by:

• Ali Habashi: Landlocked
• Amy Lynwander: Pg At The Park
• Angel Whelan: Healer’s Song
• Alison Mcbain: The Development
• Brian Trent: Love Song Of The Wendigo
• Carman Curton: Various
• Carter Lappin: Road Trip
• Dominick Cancilla: Mysterious Travelers
• Elizabeth Walker: Pics Or It Didn’t Happen
• Eric Shlayfer: The Kyivan Song
• Euan Lim: The Beauty In The Unexpected
• Evadare Volney: New Song For The Old Canary
• Evan Baughfman: Life And Limb
• Frances Pauli: Original Activist
• George Ivanoff: The Heart Of Gervascio
• G.V. Pearce: Falling For Her
• Jeff Davis: Old Friend
• Julie Ann Rees: The Grundylow
• Keyan Bowes: Chicken Monster Motel
• Louis Evans: Baba Yaga’s Apprentice
• Madeline Pine: Loud Came The Rain
• Marlaina Cockcroft: Leviathan
• Marshall Moore: Lakers
• Merinda Brayfield: From The Ashes
• Mikal Trimm: Huffenpuff
• Neethu Krishnan: Fireflies And Thieves
• Nora Bailey: The Beast In The Deep
• Parker Foye: Grim Up North
• Rick Hodges: The Goat-Boy Paradigm
• Rl Meza: Enfield
• Robert Bagnell: The Hundred Dollar Fortune
• Robert Pipkin: The Jackalope
• Sarina Dorie: A Guide For The Lover Of Jorogumo
• Shawna Borman: The Water Horse
• Simon Kewin: The Monster
• Tom Velterop: Nights Without Dreams
• Yvette Lisa Ndlovu: When Death Comes To Find You


The books are available for preorder on the  website: $7.95 for an electronic version, $21.95 for the paperback, and $29.95 for the hardcover. If you buy both Dark Cheer volumes in hardback or paperback, you receive an automatic 20% discount.

“Spoiling Veena” and “Souk of Dreams” in Academia

The other day, I discovered on Google an odd concatenation of my name with a 2018 academic conference in Vienna. I hadn’t been to any such conference, so I was curious.

With a deeper dive, I found that Simon Whybrew at the University of Graz was presenting a paper on transgender in Science Fiction, and had used my story “Spoiling Veena” in the analysis.

I was surprised and thrilled. Here’s the abstract of the paper as published in the program for the 45th Austrian Association for American Studies Conference.

“Disappearing into the Future? Reclaiming Transgender Experiences in Contemporary US Science Fiction”
Simon Whybrew (University of Graz)

Science fiction (sf) has long been fascinated with transgender phenomena. Nevertheless, the genre’s authors have been reluctant to acknowledge humanity’s inherent transness. Rather, sf stories have largely viewed trans potentialities exclusively through the lens of medical and technological advancement. Thus, trans identities have often been transposed onto alien societies or dissolved into futuristic, cisnormative fantasies of perfect gender transformation. As a result, transgender histories, identities, and becoming have largely been absent from these texts. Instead, the focus has been on the promise of temporary, cisnormative gender mobility.

The recent publication of four anthologies of sf short stories by trans authors provides a significant challenge to this legacy of trans erasure. In this paper, I will explore how the authors of these stories employ the genre’s conventions to subvert its normative tendencies and write trans identities into the future. To do this, I will compare John Varley’s 1992 novel “Steel Beach” with K.M. Szpara’s “Nothing is Pixels Here” and Keyan Bowes’ “Spoiling Veena.”

It made me remember the time I found another academic reference to another of my stories – this time, “The Souk of Dreams.” John Patrick Pazdziora (University of St. Andrews) presented a paper “Enchanted Conversations: The Reverse Adaptation of Fairy Tales in Online Culture” at a conference in Ghent in January 2010. Here’s the quote:

“The hopeful tales read more like short fantasies than fairy tales. ‘The Souk of Dreams’ by Keyan Bowes, for instance, is a touching romance about a gay couple who rediscover their faith in love and human goodness. However, the setting of the tale—a fantasy market in the desert—is described much like a sci-fi convention with real extraterrestrials. Any moorings to mythic versions of fairy tales have been cast off. Hope is discovered in reinventing according to a new medium—speculative fiction. Reverse adaptations are primarily to rebuke and tear down the alleged deceptions of childhood.”

I am glad these stories are reaching beyond their usual audiences into the wonderful world of academe.

Flights of Foundry April 2021

Last weekend, I attended the second Flights of Foundry (FoF) virtual convention. It was quite amazing. It aimed to be global for April 17th and 18th , so programming actually started on April 16th in the US… they had a total of 300 hours of programs! Of course I didn’t attend all of it. There was no way.

So I split my time between panels (which were on Webex but disseminated via YouTube, with a chat on Discord alongside) and author readings, which were in Webex and allowed the audience to see each other and interact. Everything I attended was awesome.

The highlight for me was a launch party for Constelacion, the Spanish-English bilingual magazine. It publishes everything in both languages. Editors Coral Alejandra Moore and Eliana Gonzalez Ugarte were Guests of Honor at  FoF. Coral invited me to read my story, The Excruciating Beauty of Ephemera, published in their first issue, at the party. Which I did.  And then, when I said I’d love to hear it in Spanish, Eliana obliged. Though I don’t speak Spanish, it sounded so good.

Another author, read from her story Imilla, in Spanish. I followed along in English, and immediately went and read the whole thing. And the whole magazine, to which I have a subscription.