A PodCastle Full of Sincerity (I <3 Escape Artists)

Hey All - Dave Thompson here.

At the end of last month, I had the idea to write and record a few flash fiction stories specifically for people who signed up on our forum. This was "unofficial" - I hadn't really talked to anyone else at Escape Artists about it. The basic idea was to encourage people who listen to the Escape Artists podcasts, but haven't signed up on our forum, to finally do so. As a thank you, I'd send them some extra stories in time for Halloween. These would be exclusive stories for our forumites.

I wanted to do this for three reasons:

1) Get more people talking about the stories on our forums.

2) Get people gushing over my fellow Escape Artists (not just the authors - but that's cool, too! Also, my fellow editors, hosts, sound producers, slushers, and especially, the narrators).

3) Give people on the forums some extra free stories.

Since then, things have kind of exploded. And a lot of people have volunteered and agreed to pitch in. The final list includes: Tim Pratt, Greg van Eekhout, Rachel Swirsky, MK Hobson, Ann Leckie, Samantha Henderson, Mur Lafferty, Tina Connolly, Alasdair Stuart, Amal El-Mohtar, Erin Cashier, Anna Schwind, David Steffen, and more! (In this case, "more" = me.)

All you have to do to get these stories is sign up on the Escape Artists forum, comment on a story you enjoyed, and then go to the "I <3 Escape Artists" thread and let me know  you want the stories.  Sometime in October, I'll send them to you.

It's going to be like a kaleidoscope of cool stories for the month of October. Some of the stories are horror, some SF, some fantasy. Some fit Halloween and some are just plain fun, so in honor of Lucy and Linus I've decided to call the whole thing Tricks or Treats, because this grab-bag of goodness has a lot of different flavors, and I'm really excited to share them with you all.

So if you've never signed up at the Escape Artists forum, now's a great time to do it. Just make sure you sign up before October 8.

If you've got any questions, I'll see you in the comments! Otherwise, I hope to see you on the forum!

PodCastle and Escape Artists Flash Fiction Contests

Hey all, Dave Thompson here.

If you haven't listened to our latest episode at PodCastle "Fulgurite" (featuring what I believe is our very first unicorn appearance at PC, thanks to Vylar Kaftan), you may not know that PodCastle, Pseudopod, and Escape Pod are throwing the gates open for not one, not two, but three flash fiction contests! And we at PodCastle have the honor of being the first to start admitting apprentice sky-pirates aboard to try their hands at bottling lightning. Details below the cut, copied from the guidelines, which are up at our forum:

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Please blog, tweet, email, send postcards, telephone, and otherwise get the word out.

That's it - have fun! And we're looking forward to seeing your work there.

And we're back!

It was nice to have a break, but we couldn't stay away forever! As of today Podcastle is now re-opened to submissions. Send 'em if you got 'em!

Ms. C. G., author of "Professional Responsibilities"

Ms. C. G.,

On the off chance that you read this journal, I am going to post information about your sub here. You mailed it on August 25; we rejected it on August 26. You queried on October 23; we responded (that we had rejected it) on October 24. You queried again today, and I responded today.

It seems clear that you aren't receiving our emails. You might want to check your spam settings.

Take away message for people who are not Ms. C.G.: Please don't use a submissions address that will not accept email from the hapless editors to whom you submit.

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day is here.

Luckily, PodCastle has already made a contribution to the annals of free online fiction. If you happen to subscribe to this journal, but haven't checked out the episodes we've aired so far, I urge you to take a look.

Come Lady Death by Peter Beagle
Stone Born by Loreen Heneghan
For Fear of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn
Run of the Fiery Horse by Hilary Moon Murphy
Giant by Stephanie Burgis
Goosegirl by Margaret Ronald
yellow castle

(no subject)

Posted by Ann

Jed Hartman, one of the editors at Strange Horizons, has a blog. Some of it's personal stuff, some of it is slush updates. Sometimes it's useful posts about writing.

It was the seventh day of Rilrak, and Vesnalorm the Mighty, Ess'lor of Nyeang, stood in Yerale Pass by the broad swift-flowing Undh, looking down over Warawe Valley to the golden towers of Soelmwar. "Alas," thought Vesnalorm; "King Dukeko will die this day at the hands of his brother, Lllarod, and his sister, Ightch, and his cousins Nudah and Worler, if my Knights of Banismos do not act quickly."

It's a definite problem in secondary-world fantasy. You want to use cool, made-up names. You need to get your characters and settings introduced so your reader will understand who the players are and where they're playing. But a first paragraph like that is a story-stopper, plain and simple.

My advice? Don't be in such a hurry. Spread your names out. Consider very carefully just what needs names and what doesn't. The above example is extreme, but instructive--does the name of the river matter? Maybe it doesn't, and can just be "the river." Same for the pass the redoubtable Vesnalorm stands in. At the very least, we can name them later. For now, give us Vesnalorm and his distress about the king (does the king need a name? Maybe, maybe not) and maybe a good description of the river, and perhaps the valley Vesnalorm is looking at. And then, you know, you really might want to consider cutting the cast down a bit. Most short stories don't need four villains. If you can threaten the king with just his sister, get rid of the brother and the cousins.

It's essentially an expositional problem, and exposition is, in my personal opinion, one of the biggest, thorniest problems facing writers of fantasy--and of science fiction, and, I'd guess, historical fiction. And coincidentally, Jed wrote an amusing blog post on exposition that's worth reading.
yellow castle

Upcoming Acceptances

PodCastle has a fairly large backlog of holds at the moment. I've been in contact with many of the authors of the stories we're holding to let them know that we've been waiting for launch and some feedback to start making new story selections.

Well, launch is now, and I hope to start working through our hold backlog. A few new acceptances WILL be going out now -- mostly of flash fiction. I will still be doing quite a bit of pondering, though. I hope to get back to everyone in our hold pile within the next two months.

PodCastle Episode 1: "Come Lady Death" by Peter Beagle

PodCastle episode one is up on our feed!

You can find it here on our website: http://podcastle.org/2008/04/01/pc001-come-lady-death/

Here's our teaser:

PodCastle Episode 1

"Come Lady Death" by Peter Beagle

But in time her own parties began to bore her, and though she invited the most famous people in the land and hired the greatest jugglers and acrobats and dancers and magicians to entertain them, still she found her parties duller and duller. Listening to court gossip, which she had always loved, made her yawn. The most marvelous music, the most exciting feats of magic put her to sleep. Watching a beautiful young couple dance by her made her feel sad, and she hated to feel sad.

And so, one summer afternoon she called her closest friends around her and said to them, “More and more I find that my parties entertain everyone but me. The secret of my long life is that nothing has ever been dull for me. For all my life, I have been interested in everything I saw and been anxious to see more. But I cannot stand to be bored, and I will not go to parties at which I expect to be bored, especially if they are my own. Therefore, to my next ball I shall invite the one guest I am sure no one, not even myself, could possibly find boring. My friends, the guest of honor at my next party shall be Death himself!”

Rated PG. Contains…well, Death.