The time has finally come to announce the table of contents for Plasma Frequency’s Anti-Apocalypse special issue. Molly and I are so excited to bring you these fantastic stories in just two weeks!
Thanks so much to everyone who sent in stories or spread the word or cheered us on! I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the issue when it releases and let us know what you think! We’ll be revealing our cover art sometime soon via social media, so watch the official Plasma Frequency Twitter & Facebook pages for that.
Without further ado, I leave you with the Anti-Apocalypse TOC:
I’m a bit behind schedule this time, but here’s an interview with the very talented Gary Emmette Chandler, author of “When the Mountains Broke Away”–one of my favorite stories in Plasma Frequency‘s 15th Issue. The story is free-to-read and this interview may have a few spoilers, so please stop on by and read Gary’s beautiful story here before continuing.
Now on to the fun part!
Gary Emmette Chandler works from his apartment in Portland as a copywriter and web developer, mostly in pajamas, with a cat nibbling at his leg. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Bastion, Pantheon, and Daily Science Fiction, among others. You can follow his hungover ramblings on Twitter @TheWearyLuddite, if you like.
Alexis A. Hunter (AAH): What inspired you to write “When the Mountains Broke Away”? Tell me how this story began to take shape.
Gary Emmette Chandler (GEC): When people ask where I grew up, I tell them “the middle of nowhere.” The middle of California is a bit more accurate, perhaps, but it definitely felt like nowhere as a kid, when the nearest major city was almost an hour away. To keep me occupied during those long drives, my mother would point out various makeshift landmarks, like “Dinosaur Rock” or “Dragon Tree.” I lived in the valley, and beyond the flat, endless stretches of farm land, there were these strange outcroppings of rock along the hills. That’s probably where the image first took shape: staring out at the foothills in the distance, and imagining that they were the spine of some great slumbering beast. I’m not sure why it took ten or twenty years to end up on the page, but it did.
AAH: Early on in the story, the grandmother mentions the importance of sharing the story with her grandchildren so that they can pass it on. I didn’t get the sense that they had ways to record stories—or at least not easily—so how do you think the tale will be affected by being passed down verbally from one generation to the next?
GEC: It may change, and grow in size, becoming more myth than history. I’m awful at telling a story from memory, but I like to think that oral storytelling is the sort of tradition that will persist along with humanity, regardless of what sort of technology we have access to. My earliest memories are of my mother reading books like The Hobbit aloud. I think there’s something powerful and resonant in the spoken word, which doesn’t always come through on the page alone, so I like the idea of this story being passed down – at least at first – verbally, alone.
AAH: Of the two children, Jamie seems much more interested in the tale. He knows how it starts, he always asks one thoughtful question at the end, while his sister fell asleep at some point. I couldn’t help but notice that Nadia also seemed less interest in the tale than she was in busying herself with practical things. Were the differences between these characters’ reactions to the story intentional? What, if anything, do you think it says about their personalities?
GEC: I suppose I saw Briana (who’s only seven at the time of the story), as taking closely after her mother, Nadia. As the head of the household, Nadia’s more concerned – like you said – with practical matters. She’s also heard the story countless times; first as a child herself, and then as her mother tells it to her own children, again and again. As for Briana falling asleep during the story, it felt natural for her age, and I liked the image it conveyed of how close the siblings were. For Jamie, I suppose it’s similar to how obsessed I was with dinosaurs as a kid: these enormous, awe-inspiring creatures from the past, that he wishes he could have seen.
AAH: There’s a bit of lovely description about Jamie, about his eagerness being so like to his father’s. It’s mentioned briefly that his father is dead. And the grandmother worries—briefly and not in a spotlight-stealing way—that Jamie may be too “vibrant and eager.” As you were writing, did you have an idea of how Jamie’s father died? And how that might connect to the grandmother’s worrying for her grandson?
GEC: I have seeds of it in my head: an accident where he was reckless, overconfident while working or scavenging. There might be a frozen lake somewhere in there. Mostly, though, it was there to convey the grandmother’s concern for the boy, and to provide a bit of suggestion, without going too far off course, while also paving the way for Nadia’s role as sole provider for the family.
AAH: One thing that struck me the first time I read this story was how strong the women in the story are. Was that intentional or do you often find yourself writing these types of women into stories?
GEC: Writing strong roles for women is definitely something I aim for in my fiction. I grew up surrounded by some incredible role models: my grandmother, who supported her family through truly difficult times, including the death of a child; my mother, who is an amazingly accomplished artist, and one of my closest friends; my sister, who owns the business that I work for, and continues to impress me all the time with her ability to juggle five billion things at once. Still, I’m sure there will be (and have been) times where I could do better in writing strong, believable women into my stories, and it’s an aspect that I hope to always keep improving.
AAH: For a somewhat apocalyptic story, this piece certainly has a lighter, more hopeful tone. Do you feel the story has any sort of special theme or meaning? If so, did you write that theme/meaning intentionally or did it sort of come about naturally?
GEC: I write post-apocalyptic fiction far too often. I think half of my published stories at this point have a post-apocalyptic setting – and most of them are bummers, even when I try to include a bit of light at the end. This story definitely had hope at its core as a theme. I have a tendency to focus on the darker things in life, and I think that sometimes comes through a bit too heavily in my stories. This was one of my attempts to shine a somewhat brighter light within my fiction – even if it still includes a partially destroyed earth.
AAH: What upcoming stories or projects are you most excited about at the moment? Where can our readers find more of your work?
GEC: December and January were actually pretty awesome months for me in terms of publication, with – I think – five stories out, altogether? For now, I’ll just mention two, as they’re sort of companion pieces, in terms of where they came from internally: “The Waters of My Mind” in the Winter issue of One Throne Magazine, and “This Life Without Wings” in the January issue of Pantheon. I have a few more stories accepted for publication right now, including one in Daily Science Fiction, but I don’t think those stories have dates scheduled just yet.
And that’s the end of our January/February interview. This segment of my blog should resume in March with Issue 16–our special Anti-Apocalypse issue!–of Plasma Frequency.
Be sure to check out the current whole issue if you get a chance. If you enjoy the stories, maybe consider throwing a buck or two our way–either through Patreon or Kickstarter–as we are determined to one day pay our authors the rates they deserve.
Only three days into the month and February already rocks. I have a lot of writing related news to share today, so I thought I’d post it all together to avoid spamming people with multiple short posts. So here we go!
“Be Not Unequally Yoked”–published in Shimmer #23 in January–is now free to read on their website! They’ve also got a brief interview up, if you’re interested in learning a bit more about this story’s conception. Here’s an excerpt of my story, in case you haven’t yet had a chance to read it…
Things used to be pure inside me. Separated. When I was a boy, I was wholly a boy. When I was a horse, I was wholly a horse.
Things used to be simple inside me. I was all one thing or I was all another. And the two only got close when the change was happening.
But things aren’t so simple anymore. The lines inside me feel blurry, more and more every day. And as I sit here across from that pretty Beiler girl, all I can think about is how she smells like dew-damp clover. She’s got eyes as bright as bluebells, a smile like sunshine and I know that should make me feel something, but all I can think of is that smell.
I’ve heard some pretty great reactions from those who’ve read the story today and it has really made my day. To all of you who took the time to read this story and those who let me know what you thought–a thousand thank yous. I write for myself, but the joy of having others read and respond positively to my work is…sometimes beyond words.
Charles Payseur of Quick Sip Reviews posted a review today of Flash Fiction Online’s February issue. He had some incredibly kind things to say about my puzzle of a flash piece–“Gold Dress, No Eyes.”
Emotional and gut-punchy, this story lingers on all the small details that make the emotions real…
You can read the full review here. Many thanks to Charles for the review and the kind words!
A little flash piece of mine–“We Always Will Be”–was published in Faed, an anthology from the excellent folks over at A Murder of Storytellers. You can pick up a digital copy of this anthology on Smashwords or Amazon, and it’s also available in print here.
I forced myself to keep walking toward the light, blinking in the distance. Fog rolled out of the tangled edges of the forest around me—white hands reaching for my feet, nearly obscuring the cracked and broken pavement.
The longer I walked, stutter-stepping between the metronome flash of light ahead, the farther away the beacon seemed to be. Some part of me realized this was wrong, all wrong, but I was drawn irresistibly forward.
Not quite in February, but my Shimmer story (“Be Not Unequally Yoked”) was reviewed by Lois Tilton. This was a scary moment for me as I hastily scrolled down to find her reaction to my tale. Lois can be, from what reviews of hers I’ve read, a bit of a tough critic–I was quite happy when she didn’t seem to have anything outright negative to say about my story.
So there you have it–February is looking to be a month of wins. We shall see how the rest of the month goes of course, but even if I don’t make another sale or have another story published this month, I’m quite content–ecstatic even–with February 2015.
A Dance in Silence
The girl in gold drifts, her hands outstretched. Her body floats amid shards of fine china, pressed white napkins, and the passengers — now corpses — of the U.C.S.G Luxitor. The chandeliers cast flickering light over the girl’s silent dance.
She moves without a partner.
“Gold Dress, No Eyes“–published today in Flash Fiction Online–is definitely a nontraditional narrative. It’s a puzzle of a story. FFO’s Editor-in-Chief, Suzanne Vincent, called it “a chilling but lovely science fiction story” and described it better than I could:
This is a story told in the aftermath, in the flotsam and jetsam of deep space. A woman in a gold dress, an open purse, a luxury cruise ship, the Titanic of the stars.
So I hope you’ll take a look at the story. Let me know what you think if you do!
I love reading. I love getting wrapped up in a story. But I don’t always have a ton of time to devote to getting absorbed in a novel–especially when I’m writing stories of my own. So magazines like freeze frame fiction hit the absolute sweet spot, delivering excellent stories in small fragments that I can easily zip through on a break at work or waiting at the doctor’s office.
Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to freeze frame fiction with a review of their second volume.
The cover art for volume ii is absolutely delightful. It speaks to me personally as I’m a huge fan of all things robot, cyborg, you name it, and that’s the feel I get from the cover. Every story in this volume is illustrated–all of them with these rich dark colors and great capture of emotion. I’ve always loved good cover art and Spooner definitely knocks it out of the park for freeze frame fiction.
Your Elegant Noose by Ani King
You saw your end coming. Even as a child you knew you had an expiration date: purple numbers stamped into your flesh. They were smudged and impossible to read.
How can you not want to keep reading after an opening like that? “Your Elegant Noose” gripped me from the very first line and held me rapt until the last one. This story holds some damn impressive writing. It’s a powerful story of addiction and agony, gorgeously delivered in tight but meaningful sentences and images.
Digging by Anna Zumbro
“Digging” proved to be a puzzle of a story for me. I’m not sure I quite put all the puzzle pieces together, but I do enjoy a story that makes me work for the payoff a little The ending is especially solid. All throughout this piece, the writing is tight and economical (in a delightful way) and the use of repetition creates a nice rhythm and sense of security.
Notes from the Interstellar Voyage Aquaria 51 Found in Abandoned Machinery by Jude-Marie Green
“You’re a tool, a machine. You can’t love.” He turned his back and walked away.
Can you? she thought. But didn’t say.
This story has one of the best last lines in the whole collection. I won’t spoil it, but it’s one of those lines that you read and immediately sit back, grinning, ’cause the author drove the story home on exactly the right note. This is a beautiful story, rolled out at just the right pace. There are so many excellent clever lines that had me smiling as I read. Definitely an enjoyable story.
The Great Gildsby by Soren James
When a story uses the words “rogue homunculi-missionaries” you know it’s going to be good. “The Great Gildsby” has to be one of the more quirky and amusing tales in this collection. Although the change came a bit fast at the end–it’s hard to avoid that in the narrow confines of flash fiction–I really enjoyed the read. It’s this balance of quirky and dark that makes freeze frame fiction a very well balanced and enjoyable experience.
How Is It Supposed to Feel? by Jon Mcgill
As a fan of sentence fragments, I have to say this is the ultimate fragment story! It offers beautiful and painful glimpses of a much bigger story: desperation and despair and brief flashes of light and love. This story is life, beautifully and tragically wrapped.
Of Baggage and Bovines by Rebecca Allred
To me, the bodies–in original condition or complete with upgrades–were nothing but empty baggage, and each body mod was just a stamp documenting the bearer’s journey through life. It didn’t matter who they were, or where they’d been; I’d carve a Y in them just the same–one last stamp to commemorate their arrival at life’s final destination.
With a title like that, you’d think this story would be the light and quirky tale of the volume. Not so, but I wasn’t disappointed. This piece is short and snappy, with some great emotional depth. The best stories, in my opinion, involve the growth, change, or gaining of knowledge/insight by the main character; “Of Baggage and Bovines” delivers that and more in just a few pages.
Jasmin by Helle Zinck
This is probably my favorite story in the whole volume. It’s such a tragic tale, brilliantly told. Jasmin is driven to acts we see as despicable, and yet with a deft hand Helle made me care for her. The passage of time is perfectly orchestrated, covering many years with ease and a smooth quality I envy. And the end is perfect–that feather-touch that leaves me certain of the outcome, yet grants me the thrill of figuring out the puzzle on my own.
Hung Out To Dry by T.L. Krawec
This story was solidly written with some funny lines–but it just wasn’t for me. I know the narrator wasn’t participating, but the bidding war for the right to a woman’s body just left me rather unhappy. Furthermore, the characterization of the ‘bad’ character as some fat slob felt a bit cliche. It’s easy to pick on fat people and describe them as these gross hulking morons. Again, though, the writing was quite solid and the pace never lagged. While this piece doesn’t work for me personally, it may leave others more satisfied.
So, definitely an enjoyable collection of fiction to be had in freeze frame fiction, volume ii. As with any collection of fiction, there’s always going to be one or two stories that I don’t connect with personally and I don’t think that reflects negatively on the magazine. Every one of these stories is well written and a quick read. So many of them are gorgeous and dark and powerful, and then there’s a few quirky ones to spice things up a bit.
In terms of author diversity, I was really happy to see five woman and three men represented in this volume. It’s not something I thought about consciously as I was reading, but I always like to go back and see how the numbers fall. Volume ii did not disappoint!
If you haven’t had a chance yet to check out this issue, you can pick up a copy on Amazon or by supporting the magazine them via the support page on their website.
Be sure to check out freeze frame fiction’s latest issues as well!
I talked awhile back about this awesome new site called QuarterReads. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a great place to go buy and read very short fiction for the low price of a quarter per story! You simply ‘charge’ your account with 20 reads for $5, and then go pick and choose whatever stories you like from 161 different writers.
When the site first launched, I put up a handful of reprints. Recently, I perused my vast warehouse of flash fiction and decided to put up a couple original pieces on QuarterReads. The added stories are:
You can find all my QuarterReads stories on my profile, and can also click “Favorite this Writer” in order to be notified when I add more!
If you’d like to check QuarterReads out, but are hesitant to put $5 down, simply comment on this post and I’ll gift you one free read to use on the site. All I need is your email address. I have five available to give away and will do so on a first come, first serve basis. While you’re on the site, be sure to check out awesome stories from authors like Natalia Theodoridou, Jeff Suwak, Gary Emmette Chandler, Vajra Chandrasekera, and more!
Things used to be pure inside me. Separated. When I was a boy, I was wholly a boy. When I was a horse, I was wholly a horse. Things used to be simple inside me. I was all one thing or I was all another. And the two only got close when the change was happening.
I want to tell you about probably the best story I’ve ever written. I’m not trying to brag or boast; I have a hard time talking about my victories. But today, I am damn proud of this story and of myself. I first discovered Shimmer some years back. It’s a tragically gorgeous magazine–full of the weird and wonderful and dark. I adore the stories this magazine publishes, I adore their editing staff, and I just adore the magazine in general!
So when I wrote “Be Not Unequally Yoked,” I knew I had to send it to them. I had to. I wasn’t sure it was shimmery enough for them, but I had to try. I’d already submitted plenty of stories to them in the past, but this felt different.
And it was.
Elise — Shimmer editor extraordinare: E. Catherine Tobler — emailed me with the delightful news that they were offering me a rewrite request: the opportunity to make some changes and try them again with it. I addressed their suggestions (excellent suggestions that really improved the story) and sent it back to them. Three or four days later, I got the yes.
Today, Shimmer #23 launched on this the first day of 2015. You can buy a copy and find my story inside, as well as three other awesome stories that I can’t wait to read. I hope you’ll take the time to read these stories, check out the magazine, donate or purchase if you can. If you don’t have any spare change, you’ll be able to read my story for free on their website in February.
I’d like to say a huge thanks to some special people. To Eleanor, thanks for the inspiration and constant encouragement. Your story prompt that Wednesday in Subway launched this whole thing. To Molly N. Moss, many many thanks for helping me get this story in shape to be seen! To the awesome folks at Scribophile, another hearty thanks for helping me polish and polish. And to anyone and everyone who takes the time to read “Be Not Unequally Yoked,” a thousand thank you’s upon you.