Thursday, January 2, 2020

January 2020 update

Before I retired, I worked at a company that came up with a 2020 vision, laying out what they wanted to achieve by the time 2020 rolled around. As I recall, the plan was developed at least a decade in advance of 2020. At the time, that particular date seemed so far away, but here it is!

I've lost track of whether they actually achieved what they planned, but I do know that each new year brings the opportunity to start with a clean slate and with new goals. Looking forward to what might be accomplished in 2020.

Recent Publications
An article about growing seedlings appeared in Small Farm Canada. You can find the online version of the story here:

Many thanks to the interviewees who generously gave of their time to provide information for this piece!

A poem titled "One Among Many" was published in Polar Borealis Issue 12.

Four speculative poems, [supply ship], [cleanup], [flashlight's beam leaps], and [tailgating], appeared in Scifaikuest, November print edition, Alban Lake Publishing.

Three poems, "Farming on Eta Four," [engrossed in the game], and [stale taste in the air], were included in Random Planets, published by Alban Lake Publishing.

A poem entitled "Flattened" was included Small Farmer's Journal, Vol. 43, No. 2.

My review of W. Michael Gear's space opera Outpost was posted on Goodreads, December 9, 2019.

What I’m Working On
Working on a handful of poetry submissions for submission in January. Also still plugging away at some fiction ideas.

Coming Soon
A poem entitled "For Laika" will appear in the House of Zolo in the spring of 2020. This is a reprint of a poem that originally appeared in Lynn River Review Vol. 3: Resonance, Renaissance.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

December 2019 update

Lately, my go-to book for ongoing writing development has been Crafting the Personal Essay by Dinty W. Moore. The book contains plenty of good exercises and examples, and I’d like to think that some of the suggestions have helped me refine my techniques as I’ve been preparing some pieces for submission to Chicken Soup for the Soul and other venues.

As for fiction writing, improving my plot development continues to be one of my main focus areas. I have some ideas I like, but putting it all together in a way that sustains reader interest and builds to a conclusion hasn’t been my strength. Where I have succeeded in developing a good plot, I think it’s been partly by accident, as the story line has built itself.

To try to shore up that particular area, I’ve taken a suggestion I saw online and tried to look at plotting through a screenwriting lens, using a particular article from, entitled “Story Structure: The 5 Key Turning Points of All Successful Screenplays”, written by Michael Hauge. The article includes concrete examples and a breakdown of screenplay structure. We’ll see in the coming months whether applying some of those techniques can translate into greater success in developing fiction that escapes the slush pile.

Recent Publications
My review of Microcosm Publishing’s Bikes Not Rockets: Intersectional Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories (Bikes in Space issue #5) appeared on The Future Fire, November 12, 2019. An interesting read for fans of science fiction with a feminist twist.

“The Last Exodus,”, [clearing the land], [hypno-teacher breaks down], and [a swim in Arcadia’s … ] were published in Scifaikuest November 2019 online edition. (Link below).

What I’m Working On
I’m fine-tuning a review of Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightness Long Ago. Sending this one out will finally clear the backlog of reviews I’ve been chipping away at for awhile.

Reviews of Jack Campbell’s military science fiction novel Ascendant, John Marrs’ futuristic thriller The Passengers, and W. Michael Gear’s space opera Outpost have been sent out to prospective markets, and a review of Suzanne Palmer’s space opera Finder was accepted by New Myths, with publication date to be confirmed.

I’m also working on a few creative non-fiction pieces for submission to Chicken Soup for the Soul and other publications.

Coming Soon
Several poems are scheduled to come out in various publications in early 2020. I also have a poem scheduled for an upcoming issue of Third Wednesday.

Friday, November 1, 2019

November 2019 update

Rainy weather to close out October and kick off November here in Southern Ontario. The warm daily temperatures we enjoyed through much of the previous month have come to an end, and those trees which have still retained some of their colorful leaves look to be soon to relinquish those, hopefully before it snows in earnest.

Recent Publications

Three poems, “Greener Grass,” “Same Mistakes,”, and “Somewhere Else,” appeared in A Poet Explores the Stars, Nomadic Delirium, published October, 2019.

“Flying by Instinct,” which was first published in The Martian Wave, got a second life as a reprint in Bards and Sages Quarterly, October 2019.

Eye to the Telescope’s Tricksters issue, posted October 15, 2019, included my poem titled “The Magic Touch”:

A short story titled “A Dose of Humility” appeared in From A Cat’s View: Volume II. “A Dose of Humility” follows the continuing adventures of AI-enhanced cat Quicksilver and her canine sidekick Pepper, both of whom were introduced in “The Open Road”, published in the first From a Cat’s View anthology.

A review of Edward Willett’s second installment in the Worldshaper series, Master of the World, was posted on The Future Fire’s review site, at the link below:

What I’m Working On
I’m currently working on reviews for Elly Blue’s Bikes Not Rockets” Intersectional Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories, Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightness Long Ago, and W. Michael Gear’s Outpost.

Also working on some short stories for submission through November.

Coming Soon
Some of my work will appear in the print and online November issues of Scifaikuest. I also have a piece scheduled for an upcoming issue of Third Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Autumn is Here

Autumn is here in the northern hemisphere, the most noticeable signs being the first few trees trading their green foliage for orange, the vees of honking geese passing by in early evening, and the way twilight creeps in a little earlier each day. The arrival of cooler weather generally means, for me, more indoor time, which is maybe a good thing considering the backlog of projects I’ve been meaning to get to.

Recent Publications
I’ve been a long-time supporter of the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, located near Guelph, Ontario, so when they sent out a call for drabbles (100-word pieces) for an anthology about donkeys, I was all in. I opted to describe an encounter with a donkey called Danny that occurred years ago during one of my first visits to the Donkey Sanctuary. I was fortunate enough to have my story selected for inclusion, and in turn received a copy of the donkey drabbles book.

The 76-page anthology, approximately 5 inches x 7 inches in size, is a handsome collection of donkey tales printed on glossy paper. The drabbles are printed on the right-hand pages, with an accompanying photo printed on the left-hand page facing each drabble. Proceeds from the book go to support the donkeys, and it’s one of a number of items on offer at the Long Ears Boutique.

My review of Timothy S. Johnston’s The War Beneath: The Rise of Oceania appeared on The Future Fire September 7, 2019. The War Beneath depicts a future (2129) society where humans have established undersea cities on the Earth. All of the action takes place underwater. Johnston’s imaginative and believable novel has plenty of action but also delves into the politics of under-ocean cities vis a vis their counterparts, and their “parent” countries. Interesting stuff. You can find the review at:

My poem “From Cat, To Fiddle” appeared in New Myths, Issue 48, published September 15, 2019. New Myths is accessible free of charge. The link is below:

Poems also appeared in Polar Borealis, September issue (“Drawing Parallels”), the August 2019 print edition of Scifaikuest (“Crossed Signals,” “Departure Day,” and “[the colonists need]”), and Third Wednesday’s fall 2019 edition (“A Message Home”).

What I’m Working On
Still working through my backlog of book reviews, with a review of Edward Willett’s Master of the World in the draft stage. Willett’s second book in the Worldshapers series, which picks up where Book One left off, whisks us off to a Jules Verne-inspired world. Interesting.

I’m looking forward to getting review copies of The Library of the Unwritten and How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse (the titles alone were irresistible). More on those books later.

Not so much action on the fiction front lately, but I hope to rectify that in the coming months. Until next time.

Monday, September 2, 2019

September Again

Not sure about you, but for me August seemed to fly by. All of a sudden it was the final week of the month, and, sadly, so much on the to-do list left un-to-done. Life has a habit of getting in the way of such things. On the other hand, the cucumber plants are finally producing, the Roma tomatoes are ripening on the vine, and we’ve had a break from the long stretch of hot and humid weather that seemed to be the trademark of this past summer.

Recent Publications
A short story entitled “The Sleeper Agent” was published in Nomadic Delirium’s Mundanities: the Zine of Mundane Science Fiction, Issue 2. Synopsis: When she was diagnosed with Grade 1 brain cancer in 2030, policewoman Marcy Norvek opted for cryogenic hiber-sleep. However, flaws in the sleep cradles meant an early awakening for Marcy, despite the fact that no cure for her condition had yet been found. Marcy opts to return to the Police Force part-time while awaiting her opportunity to return to hibernation—until a missing persons case causes her to have second thoughts about the merits of sleeping your life away.

A submission call for Anne of Green Gables-themed work prompted the writing of the poem, “All the Alternate Annes”, which appeared at Eastern Iowa Review’s web site; link provided below:

Two poems, “Choices,” and “We Wish You Luck,” appeared in the most recent issue of Star*Line. The latter poem was inspired, in part, by a very odd dream.

Two poems, “The Navigator” and “Alt 452” appeared in Illumen’s Summer 2019 edition. “Alt 452” is a tongue-in-cheek look at an alternate history in which Canada’s provinces and territories end up as part of the United States.

A haibun entitled “A Foreign Sky” was published in Scifaikuest online, August 2019. This particular poem can be found at the link below:

What I'm Working On
I’m currently continuing to work through my list of pending book reviews. Next up is Jack Campbell’s Ascendant.

Coming Soon
My review of Timothy S. Johnston’s novel The War Beneath is slotted for publication on The Future Fire’s web site in early September. Johnston’s novel, which revolves around the premise of undersea cities, was an interesting and thought-provoking read.

Poems and short stories accepted for various publications, including New Myths and Bards and Sages Quarterly, will appear in the September to November time frame.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dried Leaves and Walking Trails

Went out for a walk along one of the trails on the east side of our small town at the start of the month, and noticed that some of the poplar leaves are starting to yellow and fall. When I was still in school, it always struck me when I saw the leaves starting to slowly make their way to the ground near the end of July that the return to school was imminent.

No more school for me, not full-time anyway (although the fall invariably spurs me to do a search of online courses that might be of interest), but the leaves remain a reminder of how quickly time passes. Before we know it, this summer’s high daytime temperatures and strength-sapping humidity will be things of the past. In a way, that suits me. I find it easier to carve time out of the day to sit in front of the laptop once summer is over.

Until then, I’ll have to sandwich writing time between watering the garden, replenishing the bird bath, and all the other little tasks that seem to compete for attention during the summer months.

Recent Publications
My poem “Into the Net” appeared in Eye to the Telescope Issue 33, with the theme of “Infection”. You can find a link to the issue here:

I also had two poems, “When They Stopped” and “Fireflies?” published in the July 2019 edition of Outposts of Beyond.

My review of Mike Resnick’s The Master of Dreams was published on The Future Fire August 1. You can find the link here:

What I'm Working On
Still refining my review of The War Beneath, a near-future (2129) science fiction novel by Timothy S. Johnston depicting intrigue under the seas right here on Earth, and have started making review notes for Jack Campbell’s military science fiction novel Ascendant.

Also on the non-fiction front, I’ll be working on a piece to submit to Small Farm Canada, as well as some Chicken Soup for the Soul callouts.

Coming Soon
Poems and short stories accepted for various publications, including Scifaikuest, New Myths, and Bards and Sages Quarterly, will appear in the August to November time frame. Now, back to work with writing and reviewing!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

July 2019 update: An Unexpected Benefit

When babysitting our granddaughters, we'd often read nursery rhymes to them. They enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme, and I found it a pleasant stroll down memory lane. Recently, I’ve enjoyed unexpected benefits from having those old stories brought back to mind. I've had two nursery-rhyme-inspired poems published—one most recently in June—with another slated to appear in September 2019. Who knew?

Recent Publications
The June nursery-rhyme-inspired poem appeared on the New Myths web site, June 15, as part of Issue 47. It’s entitled “No Fairy Tale World,” and New Myths was kind enough to include it on their Reader’s Choice Award ballot. You can find the link to the poem here:

Also received word from the publisher that the Future Days anthology from Castrum Press, which includes my short story “The Caller”, has been released as an audio book.

What I'm Working On
I’m currently working on a review of The War Beneath, a near-future (2129) sci-fi novel by Timothy S. Johnston depicting intrigue under the seas right here on Earth. Next up for review is Jack Campbell’s military sci-fi Ascendant.

On the fiction front, I have a number of short stories I’m smoothing out before sending (or, in some cases, re-sending).

Just finished a review of Mike Resnick’s The Master of Dreams. That review is out on the submission trail.

Coming Soon
My poem “Into the Net” was accepted for Eye to the Telescope Issue 33, with the theme of “Infection”. Looking forward to seeing that issue, which comes out in mid-July.

New Myths accepted my review of Suzanne Palmer’s novel Finder. Publication date for that review is TBD.

Post to Print’s second anthology of stories told from a cat’s point of view is now in production, with a target publication date of mid-October 2019. For a sneak peek at the contents, check out the story summaries on Post to Print’s website.

My story “A Dose of Humility” is among the mix. This story features Pepper the dog and Quicksilver the cat. Pepper and Quicksilver also appeared in “The Open Road”, which was included in the first From A Cat’s View anthology.