Life, Writing Process

State of the Quarterly

 

Originally, my friend and co-editor, Stuart Warren, was to lead Rune Bear‘s Quarterly Contest, but he didn’t know what he was doing and our visions for the magazine clashed (Stu saw this journal as an opportunity to publish only his and my work, while I wanted Rune Bear to follow a less narcissistic path).

After letting Stu go, I took over the defunct effort and implemented a drabble series with a $10 prize. One year later, so far, so good. We’ve completed four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) without any complications and are now cycling back into spring. Last season was our most successful submission period; the Quarterly received 53 drabbles.

My Oregon-bound friend Robin Stranahan has been creating the art to accompany our prompts, with the exception of the first contest, which featured a dragon and cowboy by Hari Nezumi.

Wanting a more consistent style, and after receiving fifteen stories about dragons snatching horses, we opted for Robin’s simpler, vaguer, and deeper imagery.

Here is her collection so far.

Summer 2020
Prompt: Apocalypse

Fall 2020
Prompt: Things that Live in Holes

Winter 2020
Prompt: Dead of Winter

Spring 2021
Prompt: Patch Notes Version 2.0

And, in accordance with our last prompt about scifi transhumanism, here’s to a weird, wonderful, unpredictable future!

Scifi, Writing

Drabble — “Mosfugito”

Blue sky from corporate to the car. Texting his wife, Mr. Kedder didn’t notice the mosfugito alight on his back — purple, corpulent, cellophane wings, with a proboscis that pushed discretely into Kedder’s time. Then the world heaved. Kedder spun ahead to his house, to bed, to morning with its toothpaste and groans. Years, suckled in seconds, flung children into college, into careers. Wrinkles wriggled across Kedder’s face. “Please…” A gray hair, a wife’s funeral, pills in a white cup. “Please… stop…” And as if in answer, the mosfugito tore from Kedder’s back, engorged on a gray husk bound to wheelchair.

Fantasy

Drabble — “Bird Lizard Coming On Strong”

A story in exactly 100 words.

Jim scratched his groin, itching fierce since last week’s romp at Ophelia’s. With a squint particular to these plains, he muttered, “I’m telling ya, that there’s a wyvern.”

Turner pulled from her scope, rested the rifle on the blue ridge of the roof. “It’s a dragon. Release the flare.”

Jim spat. “Wyvern! See the tail? Got a stinger there. That two-wings couldn’t burn down a barn.”

That two-wings released a hot beam of fire that took out Ophelia’s Place. The critter swooped overhead, a stingerless tail whistling by.

“One of them fire-breathing wyverns,” Jim muttered stubbornly, reaching for the flare.

Fantasy

Drabble — “Baby’s on the Wall Again”

A story in exactly 100 words.

Mother put down baby, avoiding kicking legs, all twelve of them. She wrapped a diaper around baby’s waist, whispering gently. Baby giggled, his mandibles clacking. Mother smiled. “He’s putting on weight. The diapers are getting tighter.”

Underwear secure, baby scurried up the wall.

Father was releasing torrents into the sink. “Another bite?” she asked. Father groaned, hurled, didn’t reply, raised an arm. Gauze barely hid where baby had bit freely. Mother came to the kitchen to hold her husband, to let the sense of wrong invade her, before the fog returned, before she pulled baby back down from the ceiling.

Life, Writing Process

Behind-the-Quarterly

For a long time I’ve envisioned Rune Bear Magazine divided between Weekly and Quarterly. We would publish weekly stories under 300 words, but we would also have a seasonal writing contest.

Unfortunately, the Quarterly page on our website has looked like this for two years:

The guy we put in charge of Quarterly turned out to be a dud, so we let him go and I took over the contest. Instead of long-form writing, I decided to pull back to the flashiest flash fiction — the Drabble. Stories of 100 words exactly.

With $10 rewarded to the winner.

My editors came up with a list of prompts, democratically selected one, we hired an artist, and boom—I’m proud to announce that Rune Bear Quarterly is open for submissions until April 30, 2020. May will be a reading & selection period with the winner announced on May 31st.

The Spring 2020 prompt is “Weird Wild West” and the inspirational image (by no means the only interpretation of the prompt) is a dragon stealing a cowboy’s horse. This piece was made by the very talented Hari Nezumi, although in the future we will be relying on in-house artist Robin Stranahan.

 

Fantasy, Life, Writing (Published)

Published — “Familiar Girls”

My microfiction “Familiar Girls” was published by Blood Song Books in “Curses & Cauldrons.” Their witch-based anthology boasts “over 200 tiny dark tales of magic, mischief, murder, mayhem & madness” and is available as an ebook or trade paperback. I’m proud to be published alongside so many great writers, including my wife!

Oh, and here’s a great review of the anthology.

Scifi

Fiction — “The Immortality Cube”

[The follow is a drabble, or 100-word short story.]

There’s always that one friend who sticks to the group like a discount sticker on a used book, and who is tolerated by necessity because any removal might leave behind a sticky residue. Among Skye, Keith, and Kim, this was Lames, whose Mom had long admitted to being high when she tried to write “James” on the birth certificate. When Skye, Keith, and Kim came upon the Cube, without hesitation they excluded Lames from the Pact. And they didn’t care years later when, at Lames’s 89th birthday, he glared bitterly at their youthful bodies. They could wait a little longer.