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Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
...that the Nebula nominations for this year are now open, and if you are an Active, Lifetime Active, or Associate member of SFWA you are now eligible to submit a nomination ballot - said nominations to be all in by 11:59PM PST on February 15 2013 (that's starting to sound SCARY. We can't be this close to another year already. This one turned up on my doorstep just yesterday...)

As a reminder, nominations may be cast online or by post. The online nomination information is here Paper ballots may be requested by contacting nac@sfwa.org.

Since this has been a bumper year for short fiction for me (seeing as I am not a natural short story writer but tend to prefer longer and more lush novel-sized pieces of prose...) I thought I'd get this out there early, just in case anyone actually eligible to vote on this wanted a chance to find and peruse these - and this year's stories include stuff that I am really, really, really proud of. If you simply cannot get your hands on the things in Real Life (tm), leave me a message with an email address and a request and I will be happy to arrange for reading copies for you.

I will even whet your appetites by providing snippets from each story's beginning.

Here, then, in random order, my original short story sales in 2012, eligible for this nomination:

"Rum Pelt Stilt's Skin", in "Beyond Grimm", an anthology of re-told fairy tales out of the Book View Cafe collective


There is a rot at the heart of the Kingdom.

There is a curse that can’t be broken.


There used to be a formal garden behind the White Palace, a place where a green sward and a carefully cultivated riot of flowers surrounded a marble fountain. Now they had taken to calling it the Walk of Queens, because the statues raised beside its paved walkway were not just beautiful works of art. They marked the graves of five women who had tried and failed to remove that curse. Six, now – but the sixth was too new, too raw, for the statue to have been raised yet.

And the curse was still there.

And the word was out that the King was looking for a new wife...




"Dreamshare", in the "Absolute Visions" anthology produced by Absolute Write


Will you Dreamshare with me?

Nang Sar could not believe that she had never heard those words before the strangers’ boat came to her village. After… after, it was sometimes all she could do to remember a time when she had still believed that before the Moon was next full she would be a bride, that she would go from her wedding to a quiet little house where she would make a home for herself and for Sarav Iorn. A home to which he would come back to every night after a day out on the ocean, led there by the light Sar had left in the window like all fishermen’s wives did. A home where their children would be born in the fullness of time, and from which one day she could perhaps see her own daughter off to a wedding, crowned with water lilies and the scarlet blossoms of the dhauri trees.

But the strange boat had come. No fishing vessel, that; it had the clean, sleek lines of a racing craft – it might have seen better days, to be sure, dingy and neglected, its paint peeling and its brass dull, but it was a gentleman’s boat which had never smelled of freshly gutted fish; its decks had never run with watery fish blood or seen the spill of scale and fin....



"The Secret Name of the Prince" in the anthology "Scheherezade's Facade"


Khshayarsha had been given a royal name – but that was the only gift that he had of his family. He did not remember his father, only the story that armed men had burst into their home in the middle of the night when Khshayarsha was barely more than a baby and had taken his father away with them. The man who had been the head of the household, the man Khshayarsha might have called Father once he had learned to speak, had never returned. In the aftermath of this ruin, his mother had sat like a statue, blank-faced and silent; she had not eaten nor allowed a drop of water to pass her lips if she was not fed by another hand or forced to swallow water trickled into her mouth slowly from a chipped cup. She had clung to life even thus, stubbornly, perhaps waiting for her husband to come back against all odds – she had put forth what protection and power she had, leaving herself vulnerable and out in the open, the only target left for those who had taken her husband – but eventually she too was gone. Khshayarsha had still been too young, could not remember ever having heard the sound of his mother’s voice.

It was Shahrazad who took care of him. Shahrazad, the elder sister, the only thing that stood between him and the place where both his parents had somehow vanished to and left him. Shahrazad, who had dressed him as the girl-child their mother’s final glamour had made him seem like; Shahrazad, herself under the guise of a boy, who had smuggled him out of the place which had started to smell of death and abandonment… and taken him elsewhere, and hidden him in the dark, and told him that he must pretend – at least for a little while – to be somebody else, someone other than Khshayarsha.



"Night Train" from "Dark Faith II"


I remember the night I saw the ghost god.

It was late fall, and I remember stamping my feet on the damp wind-blown platform, tugging the collar of my coat higher around my neck and pulling a pretty but wholly inadequate hat down about my ears. My skirt twisted about my legs in the wind; my calves were open to the bite of the cold air. I could see my breath come out in pearly clouds against the dim yellow sodium lights as I breathed into my chilled, gloveless hands, peering down the track, hopeful that I would glimpse the lights of the train approaching behind the leafless trees.
The train was late, and day was quickly turning into night. And night trains had always been haunted… by a quiet sadness, by hopelessness, and occasionally by wraiths on the way to nowhere...



"The Bones of our Ancestors, the Blood of our Flowers" in "Phantom Drift issue #2


They passed like shadows in the night, the two of them – the old man with a mattock slung over his shoulder and the boy with an empty sack dangling from one hand. The old man’s eyes sometimes caught what little moonlight there spilled from the waning moon in the clear sky above as he glanced around him watching for other moving shadows; the hand resting on the handle of his mattock seemed casual but in fact everything about him was tense, wary, waiting for unseen danger. The boy swung from trudging along dutifully and stifling a yawn every so often to occasionally catching his companion’s mood and looking around in the abrupt panic-stricken manner of a startled rabbit.

Nothing else moved in the night except the two of them, but the old man clung to the edge of the trees and what concealment they offered, and did not break out into the open field until he absolutely had to. Even then, he hesitated for the longest time, raking the trees and the meadow for danger before he stepped out into the open.

“Come,” he whispered, speaking for the first time. “Hurry. We have little time.”

The boy yawned. “Grandfather, why are we…”

“Hush. If you do not understand already, now is not the time. Stay alert.”

“What are we looking for?”

The old man paused for a moment, glancing up at the sky. “Once, perhaps, angels,” he said abruptly. “Tonight, who knows what demons walk. Follow. Be quiet, and be wary.” ....



As I said. Freel free to request a reading copy of any of these.

As for myself, I will be busying myself with putting together a list of nominations of my own. Just looking at the anthologies which I was lucky enough to be part of should be plenty to get me started, anyway.

Happy reading, everybody. As always.

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