Life, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Blue Winter High”

Seeing as only contributors received print editions of Writ in Water Issue 4, I’ve posted my story, “Blue Winter High,” in its entirety here.

Ms. Fountain parked her Camry before a cavalcade of snow, the glaze pushed by plows into mounds around faculty parking. She pulled her purse string over her shoulder, picked up her lunch bag, and nearly slipped on ice. The air was cold, the bone shiver kind. She strolled quickly over the pavement, only giving the mountains—purple beneath the sunrise—a glimpse in her periphery. She would appreciate their beauty on a warmer day.

Those early hours before school were devoted to Zero Hour, a psychological trick to add a class period. No one wanted periods one through nine. Zero through eight, however, was poetry. Fountain had to sneak soundlessly because classroom doors were open. Students reclined, their heads pointed at the ceiling, fingers playing invisible instruments. Each was engaged in a lesson, their eyes coated in degial plastic. The only movement was their hands. This was the latest trend in differentiated instruction. With pre-recorded lessons, students could pause or rewind with the twitch of a thumb. The teacher walked along the aisles, catching students when they leaned too far.

Ms. Fountain sped up in the English Hall, but it was no use. There was Mr. Tseng, standing by his door, greeting students as they sauntered by.

“Good morning,” Fountain said.

“I am fine. How are you?” Mr. Tseng replied so quickly it could have all been one word.

“Good,” Fountain said. She reached her door, opened it.

“Good, good,” Mr. Tseng repeated. His head was already scanning four boys down the hall. Possibly he was using facial recognition software to confirm their enrollment. Fountain eyed his hands anxiously. She knew he possessed the strength to rip her spine from her back.

65% of the teachers at Blue Winter High were automated. As machines emerged for nearly every task, teachers had hoped their profession was a bastion of human ingenuity. That human mentorship was necessary. Then Nagata Incorporated created an android that could teach more efficiently, if their research was to be trusted, than any person.

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Fantasy, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Rona of the Els”

Electric Spec picked up my short story, “Rona of the Els,” about a peasant witch who takes a noble girl on a tramp through the marsh.

“Quiet Reflections” by Yuri Magalhães (2020)

There’s an LGBT undercurrent here, as well as what I hoped was an interesting application of old fantasy tropes. This is meant to be a fun read, but maybe someone who’s looking at their future with a little less-than-hope might read “Rona” and feel inspired.

Electric Spec is a not-for-profit speculative magazine that publishes four times per year. “Rona of the Els” is featured in Volume 15, Issue 2, May 31, 2020, which also features a wonderful interview by Blogcritics Magazine editor Barbara Barnett.

Life, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Blue Winter High”

While a graduate student at Houston Baptist University, I created Writ in Water, an annual literary magazine focused on Literature & Life (unlike Rune Bear and the Weird & Wonderful). The stipulation was that all contributors had to be students or alumni of HBU. No outsiders and no professors. To sustain the magazine’s leadership, the editor-in-chief of Writ in Water would be the Writing Coordinator of the University’s Academic Success Center.

Although I’ve long left the magazine, moving north to teach in Denver, Writ in Water has flourished under a series of amazing editors, most currently Hannah Gentry. A few months back, Gentry contacted me about my process for gathering submissions and publication. She also invited me to send a story, so I thought, eh, sure, whatever, I’ll submit something. (Corruption at its finest, right?)

Today I’m excited to say “Blue Winter High” has been published in the 2020 issue of Writ in Water.

“Blue Winter High” takes place in a near-future where public education is mostly automated. A human teacher struggles to be as efficient as the robots around her. I was hoping to create the sense that human vitality might be threatened by the inhuman mechanical processes we keep implementing into our daily lives.

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.

Fantasy, Life, Writing (Published)

Published — “The Other World Tree”

My flash fiction, “The Other World Tree,” was published in Quail Bell Magazine. Inspired by stories set in Victorian London and the Upside Down in Stranger Things, I wrote a two-page story about a girl’s encounter with a dimension that’s not benevolent or wondrous.

Quail Bell Magazine is a literary magazine that finds and publishes seriously good writers (I should know, I’m one of them). Founded by Christine Sloan Stoddard, Quail Bell seeks “real and unreal stories,” especially stories that are “imaginary, nostalgic, and otherworldly.”

As they say in their motto:

Our go-to spell? Art + Ideas = Magic.

Life, Scifi, Writing (Published)

Published — “Water Bees”

Flame Tree Publishing included my gothic horror story “Water Bees” in their Gothic Fantasy print anthology Detective Thrillers. The anthology of murder mysteries combines classic and contemporary writers, so my work is featured alongside G.K. Chesterton and Arthur Conan Doyle.

“Water Bees” follows an elderly police inspector named Henri Monreau as he hunts through Arles, France, in search of a missing entomologist. In case the city sounds familiar, it’s where Vincent Van Gogh painted some of his most famous works and then went mad. What makes this story unique, and a tad above the typical, is the world concept—Henri lives in an alternate universe where there are only bugs and humans. No squirrels, deer, fish, birds, just ants, beetles, spiders, and people, who are theorized to be an advanced form of worm.

Flame Tree Press is a London-based publishing company that’s generally interested in science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime fiction, but also dabbles in artisan notebooks, illustrated calendars, cards, jigsaw puzzles, and other gift-friendly forms. Founded in 1992, the press’s self-described purpose, to quote Pablo Picasso, is to wash “the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Fantasy, Life, Writing (Published)

Published — “Garden of Forking Palms”

My absurdist flash fiction Garden of Forking Palms was included in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Mojave River Review. My title plays with Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Paths,” but roads diverge from there. The story is about a man who wakes up to find a garden on his hand. And then he has to go to work.

I wanted to explore our universal experience of not-quite-fitting-in, of having something weird or silly to preoccupy our social discomfort. My argument is that weirdness, silliness, those things that fluster, they might actually be our most beautiful or interesting attributes. Dave doesn’t make the right decision in the end, but he might someday with time and maturity and that steady growth of self-knowledge.

Mojave River Media is a busy publishing center with books, anthologies, and review magazines. This includes Mojave River Review, a prose and poetry anthology produced biseasonally.

Writing

Short Prose about Teaching (Part II)

“During the day, the door remains unlocked—the lights flicked on by a sleepy department head and flicked off by a custodian whose back vac makes her a ghostbuster.”

Read more of “Once there was an empty classroom.”

 

“Mrs. Whittaker paused from grading papers to appreciate the room. The kids were engaged in what’s called Flexible Learning, working in what is called Flexible Groups, to accomplish Flexible Goals, based on a Flexible Curriculum.”

Read more of “Flexible Groups.”

 

“When I wake, the cats are at the door—they want to slip into bed and lie in my warm vacancy.”

Read more of “Snakes and Spiders”

Writing

Short Prose about Teaching (Part I)

“I open the year with a joke. ‘My name is Mr. White, like the color of my [the students look expectantly toward my skin] walls.’ Cue enough laughter to sustain the joke next period.”

Read more of “Starry White.”

 

“Today, I had a rather innocent and ill-informed student inspect an atlas on the wall (one with only the boundaries of countries but no printed names), point to Cambodia, and say, ‘I think that’s South Koran.'”

Read more of “Geography and Centipedes.”

 

“My classroom is a block like those you stack in first-grade.”

Read more of “Teaching Tapas”