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Micro SF/F Posts

Competition: MicroIllioctober

I have seen a lot of awesome InkTober drawings this year, and even a few that illustrate my stories. I can’t adequately explain how awesome it is to see what pictures my stories have put in the heads of artists, but trust me when I say it is really awesome.

So I decided to try to run a low-key competition, in the hope I’ll get to see more.

Rules

Pick a MicroSFF story you want to illustrate (single-tweet only, no short stories or multi-tweet stories), and create your illustration using whatever materials you prefer (ink, digital, pencil, watercolour, fingerpaint, oils, acrylics, pastels, markers, airbrush, pasta shapes…). Or dig out one you made earlier, as long as it was made to illustrate one of my stories.

Do not include the text of the story in your illustration.

Quote tweet that story, with an image of your illustration and the hashtag #MicroIllioctober, before midnight GMT October 31, 2018.

At the start of November I will merge your image and my story into a new image and post it to Twitter, with attribution of course, and ask my readers to vote for their favourite (if there are more than four submissions, there will have to be a multi-stage vote).

By participating, you grant me permission to merge your image and my story, and post that on Twitter and on my website (microsff.com). ETA: As people have expressed concern this would be me asking for “work for exposure”, I have struck out the latter part. I need permission to merge text and image in order to facilitate a vote, but that is all it will be used for, and I will not post any of these images after voting is complete.

The artist retains all rights to their work.

First (and only) prize

I will print the winning illustration (I will ask for a high-res version, if you have one), handwrite the story it illustrates on the print, sign it, and post to the winner, anywhere in the world.

The woman, and the god who loved her

Once upon a time, a god fell in love with a mortal woman.
Ah. You nod. You’ve heard this tale before? Well, many tales start that way.

So this god went to this woman’s house, and appeared before her in all his godly splendour. She greeted him kindly and invited him in.

This might have been unwise – there are many vile beings that can not enter a dwelling unbidden – but she did so, and offered him wine.

The god smelled the wine, wrinkled his beautiful nose, and waved his fingers over his cup, and hers, to make it a perfect vintage.

He smiled. “I am, as you see, a god.”
She smiled back, though not as widely, and put her cup down.
“I come to take you away,” he said.

Teddy Dear

The Devil looked down. A small teddybear with a wooden sword was hitting his leg.
“What do you want?”
The teddy bear pointed at an old woman’s soul, toiling in the fires. “I want my friend back.”
“You’re welcome to join her.”
“You took her soul.”
The Devil shook his head. “She sold it.”
“For what?”
“Oh?” The Devil laughed. “She didn’t tell you?”

2017 Awards Eligibility Post

As award season is coming, I thought I’d do an Awards Eligibility Post™.

As usual, I have not counted how many microstories I wrote during the year, but there are 45 pages of 15 posts each on my Tumblr, which makes 675 posts. Discount serial tweetstories, posts about translations, Patreon, WorldCon, and stuff like that, and I think the final tally is around 520 tweetstories and tweetpoems.

In addition, I have written nine serial tweetstories, one regular short story, a play, and a collaborative choose-your-own-adventure story.

Buri and the Winter dark

Buri took his wet boots off, climbed up on the stool by the fire, and hung them up to dry on the smoke rack.
“I hate this.”

“It will be better when snow comes,” his mother said. “Dryer and brighter, and the cold bites less.”
“Soon,” Buri nodded.

But no snow came. Every day Paws, the old cat, looked out the door at the grey and rain, and gave Buri a disapproving stare.

Then one night, Buri woke up with the cat sitting on his chest.
“Get dressed,” Paws hissed.
“Wha- why?”
“To find Winter.”

Announcing AdvenTale 2017

As is traditional, I will post a 25-part serial story, with a daily episode posted at 5pm GMT, in the run-up to Christmas. The episodes will be limited to 123 characters each, as they will be numbered and tagged with #AdvenTale (that’s the tradition, so I’ll stick with it despite having more characters on Twitter now). I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Mummy on Mars

There’s a prompt that’s been going around a while, about the first astronauts on Mars finding a dead human body, or a skeleton, and some words written. It came to mind the other day, but I couldn’t decide what words I’d put in. If only I knew, I thought, which my readers would like the most.

So I got the idea of making a poll, and then the choose-your-own-adventure followed from there. Below, I’ve collected the whole story, as it was told over three days, with the popular vote-winning option always at the top of the list, and the others struck through. It was hard to write, and it reads a bit disjointed, but it’s not bad for a first effort, I think. I had as much fun as I had stress over it (since I had no plan, and only wrote a new part in response to the concluded vote until the tenth or so episode).

Many thanks to the thousands of readers who voted and kept reading.


The first astronauts on Mars found a dead body in a cave, and four words written in blood:

  • Ad S.P.Q.R. in aeternum
  • My time machine works!
  • Damn you Edgar Burroughs!
  • Fly, you fools! Fly!

Tourist

The alien sat alone in a bar, like it had seen humans do in films. It looked the part, and tried to feel it, too. It inhaled alcoholic fumes and stared at the counter.
A person sat down next to it and ordered a drink.
It did not acknowledge the other person, but thought about the companionship of strangers, the quiet agreement to coexist without interaction it had observed among humans.
“Hey,” the other person said. “You know they say everyone is wearing masks?”
It glanced to the side. “Yes?”
“You ever take yours off?”
“Uh.” It hesitated, uncertain of the correct response. “Sure.”
“How many?”
“It varies,” it said in full and complete honesty, “but never all.”
“Yeah,” the stranger said and emptied their drink, “me too. Don’t know if I think that’s sad or comforting.”
They stood up, brushed against the alien, and left.
Much later, when the alien left the bar, it found a note in its pocket, with a phone number, and the galacticommon glyph for respectful curiosity.


This is the first short story (not counting serial tweetstories) I have written entirely on my mobile phone.