Tag Archives: Astral Empire

Beetle-Cleaned Skulls Placed

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“Perform each instruction in its proper order.”    The Codex of the Rapport

Escape Pod today accepted my sci-fi short story “Beetle-Cleaned Skulls.” That might sound like a horror story but it’s not, it’s more or less science fiction featuring robots and humanoids doing their thing on a faraway world. I don’t know when the story will be posted yet but will update again when it’s live.

 

It’s exciting because it’s my first SFWA-qualifying sale. I’m doubly excited because it will be published as a podcast as well as text, recorded by a professional story reader. I don’t know who yet and probably won’t until it’s published. Books on tape, podcasts, and other forms of audio are fantastic ways to take in fiction and something I enjoy listening to all the time.

Some great contemporary speculative fiction podcasts include Escape Pod, Podcastle, Cast of Wonders, 600 Second Saga (which ran a flash piece of mine last year), and many others. There’s also a great deal of public domain science fiction available on YouTube and elsewhere, much of it read by volunteers for the blind but enjoyable by all. Among these, Librivox stands out.

Often, I create audio versions of my own work during the drafting process with text-to-speech software. This helps highlight errors, repetitions, and other gaffes you might otherwise miss in revision. I use Balabolka for that which is free and even if the audio quality isn’t the best it also allows pronunciation edits. Those are great for invented words, which turn up a lot in fantasy and science fiction.

Balabolka uses Microsoft Speech API’s phonetic alphabet to express speech in phonemes. For example, Isarra, the name of the star system in the story, is represented in MS API as:

<pron sym=”iy – s – ao – r – ah”/>

In IPA, you’d probably write that: /i.sɔɹˈ.rə/. The simple explanation is it sounds like the Spanish surname Ibarra without trilling.

Image montage credits: ESO, Wikimedia, and Wikimedia.

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The Squirming, Scarlet Madness

I’m happy to announce my novelette “The Squirming, Scarlet Madness” has been accepted by The Society of Misfit Stories and will be published October 7th. It’s my first paid sale in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres!

The story is about 10,000 words and follows a young woman on trial for parricide in a closed religious community. The Lovecraftean theme is deep and deliberate, albeit with some twists. That said, it’s not set on Earth but a secondary, created world called the Astral Empire, the same setting used by most of my stories. The subject matter is also darker than my others, with murder, black magic, and cosmic entities.

SSM_smallThe story had its genesis as a NaNoWriMo project from  2014 and while it never panned out as a novel, I liked it in a shorter form. Due to its length and genre, it didn’t qualify for a lot of short story markets. So it surprised me that it turns out to be the first of my current stories to be a paid sale, finding a home after only four submissions. A huge thank you to Julie Ann Dawson and Bards and Sages Publishing.

You can view the schedule of upcoming stories for the Society here. I will provide another post and link to it on Facebook and Twitter when it’s available for sale.