I’m a finalist in the 2017 Baen Memorial SF contest!

I’m happy to announce that (for the third time) I’m a finalist in the Baen Memorial SF contest!

Although I’m not allowed to reveal the title of my story, or any other details about it, until the judging is over later this month, I’m pleased it’s gotten this far.

Writing hard SF always gets me out of my comfort zone, but seems to pay off, since I’ve managed to publish 3 of my previous submissions to the contest, 2 at pro rates.

Since you can’t read this year’s story, here are the three published stories that started their lives as Baen Memorial contest entries:

My 2013 finalist, “The Plumes of Enceladus”, can be read online at Abyss & Apex, where it was published last October.

My 2014 finalist, “The View from Driftwise Spindle,” can be read online (if you have a subscription) at IGMS, where it was published last July.

My 2015 entry (which got me a 5-day form rejection) was published in Nature Physics in September of 2015, and has since reappeared in print and audio from Flash Fiction Online and Audible, respectively.

Enjoy!

ETA: The full list of finalists has now been announced. I’m honoured by the company my story is in.

New story, “Five Recipes You Can’t Live Without” now up at Spirit’s Tincture

My flash fiction story disguised as a series of magical cupcake recipes, “Five Recipes You Can’t Live Without” is now available to read in the inaugural issue of Spirit’s Tincture magazine.

To give you a taste (get it?) that will only serve to increase your appetite (get it?!), here is a sample-sized serving (okay, I’ll stop) made up of the opening lines:

One — Vanilla-Almond and Anise Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. With your dead sister’s image foremost in your mind, chant an awakening spell and light a stick of absinthe-infused sandalwood afire

The story was a runner-up in their flash fiction contest, and the issue also has stories by excellent writers like Laurence Brothers, Darcie Little Badger (whose story won the contest!), Spencer Ellsworth, José Iriarte, and more!

The issue’s free to read online (albeit in one of those funky page-flipping things), and you can also buy a print version if you’re into that sort of thing. Go and check it out!

Here’s the online version:

(PS: Peltandra Sagittifolia and snakeroot are kind of toxic, so do me a favour and don’t try to reproduce those recipes in your kitchen!)

Win a signed copy of Writers of the Future, volume 32 (plus, info about the wotf32 website)

The incorrigibly English Matt Dovey and I (although mostly Matt) have put together a website for volume 32 of the Writers of the Future anthology, which will feature a story I’ve written (the title of which cannot yet be shared).

The site features author information, illustrator information, blurbs and snippets for each story, and general information about the anthology, as well as where you can pre-order it.

Hooray!

So go check it out: Writers of the Future, volume 32.

Some time in the next few weeks, the site will be updated to feature thumbnail illustrations for each story, as well as information on which 1st place winners wrote which story.

I’d be interested to see if anybody can guess which is mine from the 4 titles featured on the “Stories” page.

In fact! Let’s do a little giveaway.

Everyone who wants to can leave a comment on this post with the title of the story you think is mine, based on the little blurb and synopsis included on the wotf32 website. You can comment with your Facebook, Google, or Twitter accounts, or with a Disqus account if you have one. Or you can comment as a guest if you don’t have any of those.

I’ll give everyone who guesses correctly 3 entries, and everyone who guesses incorrectly 1 entry, and will then randomly select one entry and mail that person a copy of the anthology signed by me and maybe a few other authors/illustrators (depending on if I can get my hands on a suitable copy during the workshop in the first week of April).

So giveaway! Much excite! Wow!

Direct links to the 1st-place stories:
Star Tree

Images Across a Shattered Sea

Squalor and Sympathy

The Sun Falls Apart

I’ll announce the winner on Thursday, April 14th here on the blog. If you want to be sure you don’t miss it, you can sign up for updates using the little “follow” button on the bottom-right-hand corner of the browser window.

(A few details:
1. I will never share subscriber e-mails with anyone, and you’ll get roughly 1 update e-mailed to you per week in the mean-time.
2. Shipping on the signed copy will be free but may be really really slow if you live outside the continental US of A.
3. You will have to give me your address at some point to receive the signed copy, should you win.
4. I will happily purchase a Kindle e-book version of the anthology for the winner instead, if they prefer.
)

Hey! You can now pre-order Writers of the Future 32, featuring a short story by me.

As I am pretty sure I have announced multiple times already, I was a first place winner in quarter 2 of the Writers of the Future contest last year.

Well, now it’s this year, which means the book will be coming out soon and my story will be in it.

Indeed, thanks to fellow Writers of the Future winner J.W. Alden‘s eagle eye, I can share some exciting information: Writers of the Future volume 32 is now available for pre-order.

So if you’d like to buy a copy of a book with a short story in it by me (not to mention stories by a bunch of great writers), now’s your chance: Pre-order Writers of the Future volume 32 on Amazon.

There are a lot of awesome stories in the anthology (I’ve read quite a few!), and it will have fantastic art as well—although I haven’t seen any of that yet.

Plus it has a really spiffy cover:
Writers of the Future Volume 32 cover image

This weekend is your last chance to vote in the Quantum Shorts competition.

As the post title suggests, the deadline for voting in the Quantum Shorts competition is coming up.

Voting is open until “the end of January,” which I’m guessing translates to the middle of the day January 31st in most places (the contest organizers are Singapore-based).

My story “How to Configure Your Quantum Disambiguator” is on the short-list, along with a lot of other great stories. Go give them a read and vote for your favourite!

Quantum Shorts voting period extended to January 31st

As I’ve probably already mentioned a few times, my story “How to Configure your Quantum Disambiguator” is on the short-list for the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition.

The “people’s choice” voting for the contest has been extended to the end of the month, so if you haven’t checked it out and voted yet, go give it a look! There are a lot of strong stories in the top ten, and still a whole 11 days to read ’em.

Also, don’t forget the youth division: http://shorts2015.quantumlah.org/shortlisted-stories

My story “How to Configure your Quantum Disambiguator” up for people’s choice award at Quantum Shorts

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from the administrators of the Quantum Shorts contest letting me know that my entry, “How to Configure your Quantum Disambiguator,” was in the short-list of ten entries that will be judged for first and second prize.

So huzzah(!) for that good news about this quirky little humorous flash, which first appeared in Nature‘s Futures column back in February.

My story is also eligible for the people’s choice award, so if you enjoy that particular piece of mine, I’d appreciate your vote on the shortlist page. (Each person can only vote one time, though, so make sure you read the others before you decide! There’s some tough competition.)

My quantum physics haiku (yes, really) made the EQUS competition shortlist

I recently entered one of the mini-contests for the Quantum Shorts competition (where my story “How to Configure Your Quantum Disambiguator” is still in the flash fiction contest and eagerly awaiting your vote, if I haven’t said that five billion times already) with a haiku that was supposed to “describe the wonder of quantum physics in 17 syllables through haiku.”

Most people would probably look at that and say: Whaaaat?

For me, the reaction was closer to: YEEESSSSSSSS, ALL THE QUANTUM PHYSICS HAIKU

It’s like they sat down and tried to decide on a contest that would appeal as much to me as possible. Haiku? Check. Nerdy quantum physics references? Check.

So I gave it a go with the following three haiku (accompanied here by notes on the quantum stuff):

Haiku 1

tunneling effect—
dad finally understands
her situation

The quantum tunneling effect describes a “phenomenon where a particle tunnels through a barrier that it classically could not surmount.” (Quoth Wikipedia.)

This illustration by Jean-Christophe Benoist, which shows electrons “tunneling” through a solid barrier, serves as a good way of seeing what this actually means:
An electron wavepacket directed at a potential barrier.  By Jean-Christophe Benoist.

Haiku 2

superposition . . .
the cat chases/does not chase
the tangle of string

This one is a nod to the famous Shcroedinger’s Cat thought experiment, which deals with quantum superposition (put simply, the way multiple contradictory quantum states all theoretically exist until someone observes them). The word “tangle” is a pun on entanglement, the word used to describe this state of superposition.

Haiku 3

wave function collapse—
the last cherry blossom lands
as she says I do

Wave function collapse is what happens when something in superposition “appears to reduce to a single eigenstate” when observed. Basically, to return to Schroedinger’s Cat, it’s what happens when you open the box and see that the cat is either alive or dead.

Yesterday they announced the winner, and while it isn’t me, haiku #3 above (“wave function collapse”) did land me on the “highly commended” shortlist.

I’m especially happy that this was the haiku they chose for it, since it was my favourite of the bunch.

Come check out my story “How to Configure Your Quantum Disambiguator” in the Quantum Shorts competition

…which sadly is not a competition involving clothes that have the fly open and closed until you think to check.

But it is a pretty neat flash fiction competition. I’ve entered my story “How to Configure Your Quantum Disambiguator” in the lists, so go give it a (re-)read and a vote if you like it. The story appeared earlier this year (February) in Nature, and is in part an ode to Ren and Stimpy. So if nothing else, that ought to make it worth reading, right?

Looking for a writing activity in November? Come run the @WYRMsGauntlet !

If anyone out there in the wide world of Internet is looking for some kind of motivational writing thing to do in November that isn’t a novel, and/or would like a chance at $150, why not come join me over at Wyrm’s Gauntlet?

What exactly is that, you ask? The long version is available at the link above.

Here’s the short version:

WYRM’s Gauntlet is 4 rounds of writing or reviewing challenges, organized in a tournament style. Only 8 entrants move on to the second round, 5 to the third, and just 3 to the final round. Anyone who lasts to the finalist round earns a nice cash prize.

The challenges are things like “write a story” or “review this,” and all entries are submitted via a private web-form, so you don’t lose any rights to your work.

I’m already registered under the moniker of Flintonlaubakersmith. (Last year, as the less-gloriously-named s_c_baker, I won second place. I also, of more note to me personally, wrote the first draft of a story I cannot yet name because it won first place in Writers of the Future recently.)

If all this sounds like fun to you, go read through the Wyrms’ Gauntlet guidelines and sign up to be a “Gauntleteer.” The first round starts October 12th, but you can join any time before its deadline of October 26th.