Friday, December 7, 2012

Smooch Contest Deadline January 1, 2013

Open to all Romance Writers of America members who are unpublished in book-length fiction, the deadline for the Yosemite Romance Writers’ annual Smooch Contest is 5:00 p.m. PST, January 1, 2013. Entrants submit a “first kiss” scene of eight pages or less, double spaced, from an unpublished work in progress in any romance genre. The price of entry is $25.00 ($15.00 for YRW chapter members). The Grand Prize Winner will receive the 2013 Smooch trophy and $50.00. Second and third place receive certificates and a prize. To learn more about entry requirements, the judging process and the contest in general, see the YRW Smooch Page.
If you have not entered a writing contest before, let your first kiss be your first time. The page limit, low entry fee, and fun topic make this a delightful and accessible contest. TheYRW chapter of RWA is a great group and feedback to contestants in past contests has been very good. So polish up that first-kiss scene and give it shot.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 -- Short Excerpt

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a writing-community project for as many as possible (around 300,000 this year) to complete a novel of 50,000 words or more in the span of 30 days. November is the chosen month. Many NaNoWriMo participants go on to publish their works. The end product of the November writing blitz is, in my experience, generally a rough first draft, which is one heck of a lot better than no rough draft at all. 

This year, my NaNoWriMo novel is a science fiction romance that takes place in the very far future with some extraordinary technological advances, but with human nature being pretty much just the same as it has always been.

Here is the short Prologue. Remember: rough draft. Revisions to the entire piece will take place in the months to come. But whether the following remains in the final draft or not, I like the setup.

"Dirk, I'm getting a spike here on the quantum core field pressure."
Cheryl positioned herself closer to the display. She placed a hand on the control pad.
She loved this job--and these brief, infrequent moments were why. Sure, monitoring the quantum drive looked boring and mindless. But it wasn't. Not when something happened. This was when years of training and study always paid off. Other than soft beeps and the low metallic thrum of the spinning space ship, the small control chamber was quiet, and Dirk's station was just 3 meters behind hers. She leaned forward and tried to get a feel for the anomaly.
"I've got nothing here," said Dirk. "In fact, it's a little cold."
That's odd. Cheryl adjusted the display, changing scale. Usually, an increase in one accompanies an increase in the other. It could be a momentary fluctuation. But this was no short-term quirk. The field pressure lurched up, dropped down slightly, and lurched up again. That should not happen unless . . .
She gasped. Her muscles tightened in a quick spasm.
"Check the wave frequencies!" she shouted, and shoved her chair back, rolling to the power grid display. There was a surge 20 seconds ago. Crap!
Cheryl's chest went cold. The protocol was clear. 'Francis,' she thought. A vision of her son—her unhappy little ten-year-old who never wanted to board the Minuend. The boy whose future she believed she was improving by taking him away from Earth to a new planet with new rules. The boy who now, along with 12,000 other residents of this colony ship, would never see the new world, and would be damned lucky to survive at all. The protocol was in place to protect them—to protect him.
Cheryl lifted a red panel and reached for a lever with yellow and black diagonal stripes. "Eject the Core, Dirk!"
"Now!" She pulled the lever. Emergency sirens blared, red lights flashed, and the ship commenced emergency protocol Alpha—sealing and shielding the habitat.
Dirk did not eject the core. "What the hell are you talking about?" he screamed. "If we do that—"
At that moment, the instruments all stopped. They were engulfed in darkness and no time remained to act. In the hundredth of a second between the EMP destroying all circuitry, and the shock wave of the quantum-core collapse, Cheryl could only flash a prayer—that her son somehow survive, that the colonists eke a living from the ship's finite resources, that eventually, but soon enough, Earth advance enough to rescue the Minuend survivors who were now irretrievably adrift in interstellar space.
(c) 2012, J. C. Conway

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Romance Excerpt: "Fog Light"

"Fog Light" is a sweet campus romance story published by Romance Flash. Shelly's busy social life almost derailed her shot at the Master's program. Now she is finally focusing on her studies and she does not need another boyfriend. Kevin, a grad student, has offered to walk her home from the library in the fog.

“I guess I’ll be going now,” said Kevin.
Shelly tightened her lips and drew a breath. She watched Kevin's Adam’s apple move up and down. Was he hesitating? It seemed so. And he looked nervous. There was something irresistible about that innocent look of uncertainty.
Shelly blinked. Say “okay” and “good night,” she told herself. This was her chance to dismiss him; to get on with her work and escape complications. It was the right thing to do—the necessary thing. But she wanted him to keep looking at her, for just a little while. Not too much. She felt her head tilt and heard the words, "So soon?" escape.
Her gut flinched. Was she listening to herself at all?

Will Shelly keep her priorities straight? Can academics and romance co-exist? The entire story can be found at Romance Flash.

For a complete list of all my available stories, click here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Procyon Descent": a Grim Future Tale of Hope

The idea that colonists from Earth will traverse the gulf between stars in generation ships to finally claim a new world is not new. But the backdrop is still rich with possibilities. Hardship will abound. "Procyon Descent" makes us wonder whether we today could fairly judge the actions of those that ultimately endure the traverse. Some find the story shocking, depressing or grim. I don't see it that way, but those things are there in a "Lord of the Flies" sort-of way. But I also see, at its core, sacrifice, determination and a ray of hope. Farther Stars Than These, edited by E.S. Wynn, agreed to publish the story story, and it has been well received. Of course, you can decide for yourself if the short tale is worth telling. It begins like this:
The day comes too soon. I work up the length of the crop terrace. My waist-high row is lined with scrawny beets sucking what they can from the muck of the nutrient stream. Across is a row of an old Earth grain called barley, followed by eight rows of sheet fungus and more rows of stuff we call food, lining the curved floor that turns up and out of sight behind the matching curved ceiling. It wraps around back to here, everything pressed to the floor by the spin of the ship that's been groaning under the strain for over 800 years. Or so it's told.
The lights wink.
"He's early," I complain.
Megan, two rows over, slows her gray-water flow to a trickle. "Just seems."
I gawk a moment, seeking her eye, just to confirm someone shares this feeling of being rushed. I see it's so. But it doesn't help.

You can see the rest of the story at Farther Stars Than These. For a list of all my stories online check here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Story: Silence of the Imbeciles

"Silence of the Imbeciles" appears now in Residential Aliens, edited by Lyn Perry. The story has been described as "very well written, understated and poignant." It follows the point of view of 14-year-old Frankie Turnbull, who is fascinated with making magic wands and is attempting to deal with the consequences of every person he knows being an imbecile.

His father’s voice boomed from the shed door. “What are you doing out here?”
Carving knife in hand, Frankie Turnbull flinched. The blade sliced into the flesh of his finger.
He dropped the knife and flapped his hand once. “Nothing! Okay?”
Like the blade, his response was too sharp. He knew better. But he spoke without thinking. He needed time to fix a very serious problem, and nobody was giving it to him.
Anthony Turnbull cleared his throat, telegraphing to Frankie the shallow depth of the ice upon which he’d just placed himself.
“Sorry,” he said, turning.
His father’s bulky frame filled the doorway, silhouetted by the late-afternoon sun. He crossed his arms.
Frankie’s hair tingled. “I’m almost done,” he pleaded. But it was pointless to argue with the man. He was stubborn, he could throw Frankie a country mile, and he was an imbecile.
Imbecility was the biggest problem. That was Frankie’s fault. It was the problem he wanted to fix...
(See the full story at ResAliens.)

Residential Aliens is an online magazine of spiritually infused speculative fiction presenting engaging stories that are truthful to the human experience while offering something of the eternal. The October/November issue includes two speculative stories (including Silence of the Imbeciles), followed by two science fiction pieces, and wraps up with a post-zombie-apocalypse novelette.

For a list and information about all of my stories click here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Battle Dress: Another Romance Flash

My flash fiction romance, Battle Dress, was published at Daily Love in July 2012. It's a moment of great tension, but that hopefully reveals something of where things will go--enough to call it a romance. You can be the judge. Here is how it starts:

At the break, Derek excused himself and fled the preliminary hearing to the windy marble sun deck at the end of the courthouse corridor. What a disaster. He needed the refuge of a peaceful view–patchy clouds, hazy mountains, a beautiful golf course bordered by a thick, green stand of maple and pine.

He inhaled.

It made no sense. He recalled their first meeting at Justin's. Carla impressed him. She was a natural beauty. No makeup. No pretenses. She had a confident, assertive exterior and a soft, warm center. They spoke into the night, confiding everything and anything--except work and his personal legal problems. It was the best he'd felt about a woman in a long time; maybe ever.

How could he have been so wrong? ...

The rest of the story is still up at Daily Love hereDaily Love, edited by E. S. Wynn, publishes new tales of romance and love of varying sizes and styles on a daily basis. It provides a platform for both new and established authors to reach readers based solely on the merit of each individual piece of writing and not on deadlines, reputation, age or any other factor.

New Story: Bingham's Deep Woods Fairies

My short fantasy story, Bingham’s Deep Woods Fairies, is now published at The Lorelei Signal. A young girl determined to find real fairies goes hunting on a very special day. 
I wasn’t lost. Well, not exactly. But the chilly wind meant it would be dark soon, so I stopped to get my bearings.All trees, no cabin.Maybe I got turned around when I climbed the white rocks. But it had to be close. I was totally, absolutely sure of it. But which direction? …
Artwork by Holly Eddy
The Lorelei Signal, edited by Carol Hightshoe, is a quarterly web-based magazine dedicated to featuring strong female characters in fantasy short stories. “Females in the story should have the same strength of character as their male counterparts and not be there as window dressing.” The title of the magazine was taken from the Animated Star Trek episode in which Lt. Uhura had to take command of the Enterprise after the men fell under a siren song.
The Lorelei Signal is free to read, but it pays its authors up front and asks for donations to cover the cost of the publication and pays 75% of all donations above the initial author payments to its artists and writers per issue. The remaining 25% covers goes toward operating expenses. If you enjoy a story or the entire issue, please consider donating. The Lorelei Signal asks (but does not require) that donations be at least $1.00. PayPal charges the magazine $0.30 for each transaction.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Excerpt and Link: "Exit Strategy"

"Exit Strategy" was my first story published this year. It's a flash SF story with amusing dark humor, published by 365 Tomorrows in February 2012. The quick tale begins as follows:

Grant pushed through the crowd, ignoring the direction indicator. He longed for elbow room and privacy, luxuries of a forgotten past. But rumor had it there were still places–distant, underpopulated islands. He only dreamed of reaching their shores … until today.
He shoved and nudged through the ebbing crush until he found Cali at 5th and Main–brown hair, golden eyes–now she would finally take him seriously.
“You again?”
“We need to talk.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Alone,” he whispered.
She laughed and gestured to the throngs around them.
Grant scanned the nearby faces. No one paid attention. It would have to do. “I have a way out of here!”
“Of where?”
“The crowd.”
“Oh, please …”

From the 365 Tomorrows web site:
365 tomorrows is a collaborative project designed to present readers with a new piece of short science and speculative ‘flash’ fiction each day. Launched August 1st 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year, we’ve been on the wire ever since.
In addition to reading the stories, you can engage in discussion about them and other future looking topics in the forums.

For a complete list of all my available published stories, click here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Excerpt from "Early Retirement"

"Early Retirement" was published by Static Movement in April 2012. It's a story about a big problem--really big.

I met Philip Dawson at Buster's Tavern--a dive asteroid bar in a Trojan orbit. We had nothing in common. He was huge, gregarious, and didn't know the world was about to end--nothing in common at all.
The place had a quarter-G spin--enough to serve open-glass drinks--and Philip moved with surprising grace, talking to everyone and anyone.
"The tougher the problem, the simpler the solution," he said to a local asteroid miner...

Static Movement is an ezine and imprint for print books. On staff at this time there are 12 editors and one illustrator. Static Movement has 25 published books, 27 anthologies taking submissions, and 5 years of ezine publication.

To see all my available publications, click here

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Excerpt from "Separation Anxiety" at

This is a short excerpt from my science-fiction short story, "Separation Anxiety," published last month by, edited by Scott T. Barnes. It is a tale of judicial concern in a very near quantum future.

...Judge Bell drew a breath. "It is hereby ordered, adjudged and decreed that you, Claude Ram Harper and Clarissa Marie Harper, hereby are and forever shall be irrevocably and permanently separated."
The Clerk touched the panel. The mass of coiled machinery that replaced most of the traditional ceiling, roared to life. Intricate mechanisms shifted. Coolant manifolds hissed. The Event Chamber thrummed and the Quantum Amplifier glowed. The machine bathed the Harpers in bright magenta.
The Harpers glared at each other, less than a half meter apart, as an incorporeal cone surrounded them.
Judge Bell leaned forward. He would see their true colors in a moment. But maybe this time he could remain impartial. If he did not pick, wouldn't that break his streak?
The pitch increased...

In its first four years, has published over 100 new and confirmed writers, poets, academics and artists (the ‘creators’) who share a love of speculative fiction. Going forward, NewMyths’ goal is to build bridges between the creators and the readers to forge the future of speculative fiction together. The full story can be found at

To see all of my available published stories, click here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Excerpt from "Gentle Push" at Mindflights

This is an excerpt from "Gentle Push," my science fiction story published in the September release of Mindflights:

I encountered the leading edge of retreating human vessels 20 light hours from Delta Pavonis—a steady column bound for Earth, where they believed we could protect them. My mission would determine if that faith was justified, and if so, for how long. 
As I skirted the system's rocky halo, I spotted the small starship drifting quietly in the mid-outer dust cloud—a tug with strong field generators fore and aft. It was not preparing to flee. I looked closer. Its artificial environment was intact. Its engines were functional. It had a single human occupant, alive and well as far as I could tell. 
I hailed it. “Do you require assistance?” 
It responded abruptly: “Leave me alone.”

Mindflights, is a magazine of fantasy and science fiction that is the result of the merger of two award-winning magazines: Dragons, Knights, & Angels and The Sword Review. It strives to provide quality speculative fiction and poetry that respects traditional values.

For all of my available published stories, click here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another Wrong World Excerpt

This is the beginning of my flash fiction story, "Another Wrong World," published at Indigo Rising Magazine, April 8, 2012.

His shock and interstellar meandering now behind him, Maxwell nudged through the patrons of the End-Of-The-Line Club, forcing his way to the center bar. It was the seediest tavern he could find--a backwater haven for non-human thieves and drug addicts, a hell-hole carved from the belly of an insignificant asteroid in a rubble-strewn orbit of Arcturus. No respectable sentient would set foot here. Finally Maxwell could lose himself in self pity and loathing. 
     "Hey!" he shouted and motioned to the tentacled bartender. "A stiff Rigelian Rye." 
     He slid onto the stool. 
     How could he have been so stupid? With all his talent and after all his training ... hewas the best pilot in the human fleet. The shining hope! And he'd been proud--cocky really. "Deliver it?" he'd quipped. "I'll shove it down their throat and poke 'em in the eye as they swallow!" 
     Yeah, right.
The End-of-the-Line Club; Parking in Rear

Founded in June 2010, Indigo Rising Magazine, edited by Tannen Dell, is a free online fiction magazine focused on the surreal, experimental or otherwise interesting--"a haven to the diverse." Its main page is:

To see all of my available published stories, click here.

Excerpt: The Bender Beamer

Following is the beginning of my short science fiction story, "The Bender Beamer," published by Larks Fiction Magazine, May 13, 2012:

The world ends twice a day; three times on Sunday.
Junior Bender wanted to believe it. It was the closest thing to advice his father had ever provided. But all it meant was nothing is carved in stone—fresh starts happen every day.
He could use a new start now.
Junior sat on his hands to avoid fidgeting behind his broad mahogany desk. His CEO nameplate evidenced his powerful position in the world's fastest rising business. But he did not call the shots. Junior didn't even earn his position, he inherited it. 
He cleared his throat. "The government has offered to buy."
Junior's CFO, and his father's former right-hand man, Henry Orwill, belted a cynical chuckle. "Too bad for them."
Junior's gut tightened. Junior longed to deal man-to-man with Orwill, but he still felt like a child to "Uncle Hank."
"They're offering a lot," said Junior, seeking a deeper discussion.
"If we sell now, it wouldn't be to our advantage."
Junior pressed. "They won't give up. We're a monopoly. We're crushing the world's transportation industry. If we don't sell, I'm afraid they'll just take it."
"Listen," said Orwill, standing, "if we sell now, we'll be out of the picture for good. We don't want that."
"Are you going to sign those papers?" he asked as he left, pointing to today's stack.
Junior nodded, sighing.
Quiet fell. What was wrong with the government offer? What better result did Orwill have in mind?...

Larks Fiction Magazine, edited by Daniel Pool, is a free online literary magazine for up-and-coming writers. It publishes fiction, poetry and non-fiction of all shapes and sizes, with a leaning toward magical realism, science fiction, fantasy and quirky and experimental work. It also publishes music videos, short films, art and dramas. You can learn more about it at:

Excerpt: Time, Heat and a Smoking Ember

This is from my romance short story published at Daily Love on May 10, 2012:

…She stepped to the sidewalk and enjoyed the evening air. It was a great town and everything was going just fine. She would tell him that. It was none of his business whether she'd had a date in ages, and really none of hers whether he had either. It was odd how their phone conversation this afternoon felt like no time had passed since graduation. The only real change she sensed was a calmer tone. He didn't sound today like he was talking through a cocky smirk.
"You look ... amazing."
Gina spun. Oh my.
Where she expected a cute, smart-mouthed college student with disheveled hair, she saw a well-dressed, confident man—Nathan as she would have ordered him, had she thought it possible.
She drew a breath. "Thank you," she managed…

The entire story is available at

Daily Love, edited by E. S. Wynn, publishes new tales of romance and love of varying sizes and styles on a daily basis. It provides a platform for both new and established authors to reach readers based solely on the merit of each individual piece of writing and not on deadlines, reputation, age or any other factor.

A Flash of Insight, Battlespace Excerpt

An excerpt from my story, A Flash of Insight, in the Battlespace Anthology:
“This is incredible, sir,” said Max, on his right wing. “Not a single scout or decoy in sight. If they’re out here, they’re just sitting ducks.”
Jason laughed, and then resumed a more serious command posture. “Focus now. I want no rough edges. When you see it—engage.”
He should have known. They’re overconfident, he thought. But all he did was make a mental note to discuss with them—later—the risks of overconfidence.
This mission would be an easy hit. They would be in and out. No problem.
He flipped the safety guard from the firing mechanism, settled his gaze on the sensor screen, and waited—his thumb hovering steadily over the familiar red button.
That moment was the end of the glory days. Between the appearance of a blip on his sensor screen and the time his practiced thumb could drop—and less than halfway through his unnecessary, but traditional command of “Fire!“—his vessel, and every other vessel in his wing, was torn asunder by precise and entirely unexpected beams of plasma that struck faster than the reaction time of the best human fighters in the fleet.
Jason, but only Jason, survived that failure. He floated for days alone in his lifesuit. During that time, he stared at the stars and despaired. He felt grief and remorse. He fought anger and futility. But most of all, as his oxygen supply dwindled in the void, he faced the inescapable knowledge that he had suddenly become utterly and irretrievably obsolete, and one thought echoed through his groggy mind. I’m going to need a new job.
About Battlespace
Battlespace is a collection of science fiction short stories and flash fiction pieces from authors around the globe. Volume 1 has a focus on the military, past, present and future. Conceived and produced by Jason Tudor, Keith Houin and Michael J. Wistock, Battlespace serves to raise money for wounded soldiers via the Warrior Cry Music Project. The book went on sale in July 2012 and has raised better than $1,000 for the Project. It is available on Amazon and at other sites and stores. For more, visit the web site,

About Warrior Cry Music Project

Warrior Cry is a group of volunteers who work with wounded veterans across the country, providing musical instruments and instruction, working closely with therapists to create a positive educational and therapeutic program. Music is a great form of physical and mental therapy. Warrior Cry gives wounded soldiers something positive to work toward and helps to get their minds off of their injuries. Music also helps get our wounded soldiers out of their shell and regain an interest in socializing with others. Warrior Cry works with other groups and non-profits to help better the lives of veterans that were wounded in battle. The foundation’s website is

About the Science Fiction Show

The Science Fiction Show (“SFS”) is an entertaining, professionally produced hour of audio entertainment about a broad spectrum of things in pop culture, science fiction, science, and so much more. SFS reaches audiences with great content and sharp wit. With better than 11,000 downloads, 50+ hours of programming, and 1,000 followers since May 2011, SFS is a fast-rising vehicle that appeals to broad demographics, reaching listeners through iTunes. Past interview subjects include comic book artists Steve Rude, Chris Trevis and Christian Waggoner; writers Mike Baron, Adam Slade and Eric Trautmann; author Paul Sammon; and Hollywood special effects artist Shannon John Shea. The show’s website is