“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.

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.

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A Kindness of Octopuses

I’m just back from Norwescon 42, and it was marvelous. For the first time, I did a reading – the beginning of my most recently published story, Octonet, which came out on Escape Pod. I don’t usually like to read just part of a story, but this time, since it was available on-line and free, anyone who wanted could read the rest quite easily.

I met the artist Guest of Honor, Tran Nguyen, the first day at the Guest of Honor banquet. She was charming and very interesting. Her artwork is delicate and luminous. Toward the end of the convention, I asked for her autograph in my Norwescon program book (which is a beautiful full-color thing with illustrations from artists in their art show). I was utterly delighted when she did this wonderful little doodle for me – an octopus girl.


(The color illustration below is the cover she did for “Kushiel’s Dart”)

My friend Goldeen Ogawa, writer and artist, also had her art in the art show. I got her autograph as well, and she asked me if I’d like a doodle. Of course I said yes, and she did the adorable octokitty below. (If you read my story – or listen to the podcast – you’ll see why this is completely appropriate.)

The Second Painting, with Dragon

The second week, Lonni (our instructor) suggested we pick up some inspiration pictures of landscapes from her stack, and paint a landscape that included four elements: Sky, stone, trees and water. “If you can paint those, you can paint any landscape.”

When I’d finished the sky, rocks, trees, and water of landscape below, it looked unbalanced. All the attention went to the waterfall. The expanse of bare rock face needed something in the bottom left hand corner to draw the eye. I considered adding a person, sitting there and looking at the cascade. Instead, I chose (no surprise) a dragon. It would make the second painting a companion piece to the first dragon painting. And it gave me a reason to use contrasting reds and golds.

Waterfall with Red-gold dragon - Copyright 2019

To figure out the stance and the scale, I used a picture of a sunbathing cormorant as a model and morphed it to match the dragon of my first painting. As I painted it, it came to me the creature wasn’t sunbathing, it was displaying. The target of its display is barely visible, a red-gold dot among the trees on the other side of the falls.

(Copyright 2019)







Art Class with Sea, Sky, and …

A dear friend in Seattle gifted me beginner acrylic painting classes. I love oils, but they sounded so complicated! With lengthy drying times! And arcane processes! Acrylic painting sounded – easier. But not, you know, *easy*. Hence the classes, from Lonni Flowers.

There were about a dozen of us – a good mix of ages and genders. The classroom at UW was a bit small, but well-lit. Lonni offered starter packs of paint/ brushes/ canvas for a token fee. I gladly took the offer.  Much of the first session was about color blending: we worked with only three colors, red, blue and yellow – and white. No black, we’d have to mix our own. Then we started work on the already-prepared 8 x 10 canvases. She wanted us to paint sea and sky, and offered a bunch of photographs as inspiration. I picked up one, but then decided to just paint the sky out the window, and add sea from my memory.

Seascape copyright 2019

This was the picture I brought home at the end of Day 1. “Very calm,” said my friend (who was kindly keeping me company in the class.) Homework was to complete the painting before the next session, next week.

“Maybe I’ll add a dragon,” I said.

It was calm. Reasonably artistic. But… it was too calm. Boring (I mean, for me. I’d admired pictures in the same vein. It just wasn’t what I wanted to paint. Too minimalist.)

So… I tried composing some other ideas. One that I tried (just in Microsoft Paint) was “Haunts.” It was meant as just an inspiration, but I could use the idea and the composition. It had a sort of eerie-Magritte vibe, and maybe I will actually paint it some day.

Haunts copyright 2019

But it was still too minimalist… I really wanted a dragon. At first I thought I’d paint a golden dragon, to go with the relatively soft grey-blues of the picture. But when I tried, the yellow didn’t cover the blue. It was a see-through yellow dragon. So I added red and brown. And expanded the dragon. Added a rocky shoreline with algae. Then I found the sky looked too blue for the colors I had, so I added some grey and green for a moodier look.

Red gold dragon - Copyright 2019

After I’d done all that, I wanted something interesting in the bottom left of the painting to balance the dominant dragon. I painted a pile of golden eggs, two of which were hatching, and some hatchlings swimming in the water. When I took it back to class, I realized the eggs looked like the dragon’s hoard. Using reptilian eggs/ hatching photos from Google Images, I redid the eggs. Now I think they do look like eggs. At some point, I will probably redo the hatchlings in the water. I’m not happy with them.

It’s been a lot of fun. Later, I’ll post about the second class.

(Copyright 2019)







On the Cover of Fireside, October 2018!

ETA: It’s not on the cover… but it’s still a gorgeous, perfect illustration!

ETA2: It *is* on the cover, of the E-book edition. (Fireside comes out monthly in e-book, and quarterly in print. So it’s the cover of the October e-book but not the Quarterly. See the last picture below.)

I was thrilled when Fireside accepted my story, Light and Death on the Indian Battle Station, and now it’s out.

I was *even more thrilled* to discover that my story was on the cover, with an the illustration by Saleha Chowdhury!  Thank you Fireside, and Saleha, you nailed it!

I grabbed the kid away as the thing ricocheted against the ceiling, fizzed, and exploded. “Ritika! That’s so stupid!”
But before I could scold her properly, the sound of divine footsteps echoed in the hall and inside our heads. We froze…






More of Shakespeare’s Thumbnails

Some years ago, I started an experiment – making little graphics representing each of Shakespeare’s plays in a 400-pixel square. The idea was to make an image that would represent the play to people who knew it, in a minimal way. Some are more minimal than others…

The first three, which I published on my then-Livejournal and have copied over to this blog, were Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet. Those are here: Shakespeare’s Thumbnails.

Now I’m uploading a few others.


Shakespeare’s Thumbnails – Artistic Experimentation

Some months ago, a Facebook link led me to this site, which had extremely elegant minimalist posters for childrens’ stories. To give you an examples, I’m going to steal one off their site to show here (it’s at the end of this post); but do go and check them all out. They’re clever and amazing.

So, inspired by these, I thought I’d try to do some thumbnails for Shakespearean plays. I’m no artist, but I like to fool around with Paint. So I decided to see what I could come up with using these parameters:A simple dramatic image…
… that is instantly comprehensible by someone who knows the story…
… but doesn’t try to tell the whole story…
…using only Paint and Microsoft Office Picture Manager…
…in a rough square of 400 pixels.So I started with Macbeth and Merchant of Venice and Hamlet.

What I discovered:
(1) I’m not nearly as creative or daring as SquareInchDesign
(2) A new time-sink
(3) It’s fun!

And here’s Hamlet:

Like this one below from SquareInchDesign! (I particularly love this one.)

Maybe I’ll post more someday!