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Cover Art of Mother Earth Eating People

Mother's Revenge

ed. Cin Ferguson

In this mixed genre group of eco-tales, thirty-two authors from around the globe offer up some lessons in why it's wise to be kind to Mother Earth. Read and take heed. Your very life may depend on it! From my story, "The Miracle Material":

The landfill is safe. I think. Even tupperware frightens me now. The sight of a discarded teddy bear moves me to tears. I wonder if Meredith's teddy bear still lies abandoned on her bed, held under siege by the ever-glowing blue stars that decorate her bedroom.

 I tell myself that Meredith is safe and happy. We came from the sea, the scientists said. When there were scientists. What could be more natural than for us to return to the sea? I tell myself that she is safe and happy within the bosom of the sea.

I know I lie.


Read more!

Amazon | IndieBoundGoodreads
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Thoughts in Passing

I'm in the middle of a massive hack-and-slash on a finished novella project, cutting 29,200 words down to 25,000 so that I can submit it a shorter version to a particular place. That means I need to cut enough words that they would make a good-sized short story all by themselves. I'm about a quarter done. I approach this project in the spirit of taking out everything that I possibly can, from adjectives to not-entirely-critical character interactions to whole scenes that can be summarized or omitted.

That is not how I normally approach editing. I don't believe that cutting down to the bone is best for every story. You can lose a lot of your personal voice and style that way. (I still cut my fair share of weasel words and plot going nowhere and bits that only exist to get from Point A to Point B, I assure you!)

I've also cut a couple hundred words from my "finished" long version. Maybe 1/10th of the time, the shorter version is stronger, not just different. I don't recommend gutting your story simply to see what works better that way, but it's a good exercise to try once. Save the original version first!

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:

I held back on announcing this, because reasons, but I have a new publication to announce! My short story, "Miracle Material," appears in Mother's Revenge: A Dark and Bizarre Anthology of Global Proportions.

In this mixed genre group of eco-tales, thirty-two authors from around the globe offer up some lessons in why it's wise to be kind to Mother Earth. Read and take heed. Your very life may depend on it!

And if you're in Minneapolis, next Sunday I'm leading a free workshop on PoV (Point of View). Come and say hi!

Meetup event:

(Read the rest of this Aswiebe's Market List update here:
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Pete Sutton's Sick City Syndrome is now out! "But Abra," you may ask, "what does that have to do with you?" Well, Pete included some material from other authors in his book as part of the worldbuilding. My contribution, "Dear Miss Dilemma," is near the middle of Chapter 1. Conveniently, that is within Amazon's "Look Inside" free sample. Go, read my piece, and get a taste of the rest of the book for free!

Dear Miss Dilemma,

I've followed your column for years, but I never expected to be writing to you for help! I hope you can advise me as to what I should do. I am very worried about my nai nai. She has always been an independent and strong-willed woman, but I know she feels lost since my grandfather's death. In her grief, she has become irrational.

She denies that my grandfather's ghost exists.
Read more.

Sick City Syndrome is currently available as an ebook, with a paperback version to follow in late October.

About the book:
What if it was accepted that there really were ghosts? That mediums could actually talk to the dead. That your dearly departed continued to exist on a spiritual plane and that at certain places, or in certain people they could manifest?

Susan is living in a fog of grief after the death of her fiancé. When she is given a dossier that promises answers as to why he died she starts to investigate.

Susan is about to discover that the city is sick and things are much weirder than she ever imagined.
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Escape Artists has launched their Artemis Rising month! Escape Pod (SF) and their sister podcasts, Pseudopod (horror) and Podcastle (fantasy), will be featuring all female and non-binary authors in a special month-long event.

The stories are free to read or listen to.

My short story, "In Their Image," is now up as a podcast AND as text over at Escape Pod! Warning: contains religious philosophy and fluffy pink murderbear aliens!


When I stepped off the shuttle and breathed in the dry grass scent of Trade City, I was still confident I could launch the first human church on Landry's World. My fellow passengers had been politely non-interested when I explained the mission my church had sent me on. A few had shaken their heads as they glided away. I thought maybe they objected to a female preacher. Or maybe it was because I'm an ex-marine. I'm an "ex-" a lot of things: ex-marine, ex-atheist, ex-drunk, ex-wife, and ex-mother--that last because I was a poor enough mother that when my kids grew up, they washed their hands of me.

The heavier gravity made my normal stride more of a shuffle, but my spirits were high as I walked to meet the young woman waiting for me. After all, I was here at the request of Amber Sands Mining, the major human employer on the planet. The indigenous government had approved; they even volunteered the labor to build my church. My denomination's elders were delighted to have finally found a mission suitable for an ex-marine with other-world experience.

My guide held a sign saying, "Preacher." She bestowed a chipper smile on me when I approached. "Welcome to Landry's World! I'll take you directly to the church so that you can get started."

As I fell into step beside her, I said, "It seems odd that a planet with indigenous life is named after the captain who discovered it. Discovered isn't quite the right term, either, is it?"

"Landry's purpose in life was to find and name this world, and the Teddies honor that."

I raised my eyebrows. "Teddies?"

Read more (or listen to the podcast).

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Stories about unlikely academia! Librarians, monsters, teachers, metaphysics, and more. The Journal of Unlikely Academia includes my story, "And Other Definitions of Family," about a xeno-anthropologist who takes a very intimate approach to field research. And big congrats to the publishers, Unlikely Story, on becoming an #SFWApro qualified market.


She didn't have a client appointment scheduled, but they all knew she welcomed drop-ins. She checked the peep-cam. Optimal lighting, background soundscape, clothing level, hairstyle, and pheromone spray all depended on the client's species. Her eyebrows lifted involuntarily when she saw the bat-like Bitocktee male at her door.

Alien males were generally as keen as human males on sticking their dick or other species-appropriate appendage in new and interesting places. Representatives of most other species with a culture-and-commerce post on Nueva Nova had found their way to her door, but this was her first Bitocktee. A burst of interest shot through her. Then she got a better look at him, and wariness tempered her first reaction.

She'd studied alien body language at Berkeley. This male's leathery wings curved tightly to shield his abdominal pouch, his claws peeked out of their sheaths, and his cheek quills quivered in the defensive erect position. Human xenologists had large gaps in their knowledge of Bitocktee, but that was aggressive, not amorous, posturing.

May tightened her robe, in case he might find a glimpse of human mammaries disturbing, pulled her hip-length black hair up into in a bun, pasted a nonthreatening closed-mouth smile on her face, and opened the door. She held an alarm buzzer just in case. Nobody called her stupid, not unless they paid extra for the privilege. In advance.

"You are the female human who rents out her reproductive system?" his translator chirped.

Read more (free!) in The Journal of Unlikely Academia online or sign up for their free newsletter to download the issue as an ebook. If you like the story, tell a friend or comment on the issue page.
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Minnesota writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror come together in By Polaris Bright, the third annual MinnSpec anthology.

With By Polaris Bright, award winning small-press publisher Alban Lake Publishing and the 350+ member strong Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers follow up their successful Northern Lights and Sky-Tinted Waters anthologies with twenty new tales certain to thrill, entertain, and illuminate. Within these pages the reader will find exciting fantasy, horror, and science fiction stories featuring:

Magic that comes in a jar.

A town where only the men are peaceful.

The secret lives of clouds.

A magic marker whose images become reality.

A smart phone with a personality.

…And fourteen more tales of adventure, enchantment, humor, terror, magic and science gone wrong, the unexplained, and the unanticipated by twenty author ranging from debut talents to established professionals in the field of speculative fiction.

My (reprinted) story, "Diplomatic Relations," involves the lengths a group of human diplomats must go to in order to establish peaceful relations with a newly contacted alien species. Think Star Trek, but X-rated. Definitely not for everyone, but just right for some people.

Trade paperback ($12) via publisher Alban Lake
Ebook ($3.99) via Smashwords
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Pick up Tales of the Talisman, Vol. 10, Issue 2, and read my classically styled pulp SF story, "Demons of Disease"!

A germophobe scientist succeeds all too well in creating his perfect future.
Most people didn't think twice about visiting the places where they courted Death: a crowded subway car, a public restroom, or a mall with recirculated air.

Dr. Iyaci knew only two other people who recognized the danger, Dr. Maria Injack and Dr. Wilfred Shunn. They were brave people, who had spent their whole lives struggling against Death and its handmaiden Disease. They had made so many sacrifices they were practically saints. He would aid their cause considerably tonight by sharing with them the results of his latest study.

Viruses were tricky things, the helper demons of Disease and Death, changing constantly so one could never quite pin them down, but he had finally figured out their secret. Now he could create a weapon against them.

Amazon | B&N | Tales of the Talisman, Vol. 10, Issue 2 back issue

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A Circus of Brass and Bone has launched! It's now available for purchase in trade paperback (on Amazon) and in ebook format at major online retailers.

If you would enjoy escaping into a post-apocalyptic steampunk novel about a circus traveling through the collapse of civilization, you can find the purchase links below.

A Circus of Brass and Bone

It's the end of civilization, but the show must go on.

The Loyale Traveling Circus and Menagerie is in turmoil. During their ocean voyage from British India to Boston, someone murdered their ringmaster. The killer must be one of their own. Unfortunately, that is the least of their problems.

While they were at sea, an aetheric calamity sent a wave of death rolling across the world. In post-Civil War America, a third of the population died outright, and many of the survivors suffer strange nervous symptoms that are steadily increasing in severity. Basic technology is also rendered dangerously unstable by the disaster. The circus members find themselves traveling through the collapse of civilization. In such desperate times, what use is a circus?

If they can defend themselves against the starving populace, if they can outwit and outperform the political factions that have seized power, if they can fight off the ravening monstrosities born of the aether storm ... they just might find the answer.

Amazon | Google Play | Smashwords | B&N | Apple | and many others

Trade paperback: $13.99, Ebook: $3.99

If you're still undecided, try reading the free novelette, A Stranger Comes to Town: A Circus of Brass and Bone Adventure! (Also included in A Circus of Brass and Bone.)

stranger sm 200

A Stranger Comes to Town

An aetheric chain-reaction sends a wave of death rolling around the world, warping living beings and aether-based technology alike. In one afternoon, trains go from being the power that pushed civilization out to the frontier, to being very expensive sheds of scrap metal, filled with rotting produce and dying cattle. Cities go hungry.

The farmers are in hardly better shape than their former customers in the city. Some trees bear withered fruit, while gobbets of exploded fruit flesh drape the limbs of others. One wheat stalk might be strong and firm, but its neighbor disintegrates to dust at a touch. Harvesting crops takes more work, but yields less food. People try not to starve, using a variety of tactics.

The Loyale traveling circus survives the aether storm mostly unscathed and decides to continue touring despite the difficulties. When the circus comes to Seppanen Town, all seems well until a ragged fugitive plunges into their camp and begs for sanctuary.

Smashwords | Google Play | B&N | and many others

(Currently $.99 on Amazon, will be free once price-matching catches up.)

And don't forget--there's nothing wrong with hoarding books!


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Odyssey Magazine just published one of my short stories! "Reconnect" is about a student who is blocked from everything but educational use of the internet. Despite this, when he studies satellite imaging, he learns something amazing that just might fix all his problems.

Current Issue Cover

After Tyler explained, people stopped giving him the cold shoulder. It didn't help. He didn't understand their jokes, because he hadn't seen the snaps they were talking about. They talked about things he hadn't gone to that weekend, because he didn't know they were going on. By the time Tyler got home, he felt about as tall as an inchworm.

Maybe he could--what? There was nothing he could do. He couldn't fix the internet. He couldn't even go online and skim through LOLcats or play Minecraft to feel better. With his friends always only a click away, he'd never felt lonely in quite this way before.

Might as well try to find another science fair project, Tyler thought. He brought up his school's website and clicked through to their "educational resources" page. If they thought it was educational, he should be allowed to go to it.

Nothing caught his eye until he saw, "Satellites."

September 2014

Odyssey Magazine published this story in their September issue, which is all about satellites and drones and other interesting things related to seeing the earth from space. Odyssey Magazine is a science magazine for 9- to 14-year-olds. If you don't already have a subscription, you can find it in a library or school near you!

If you're acquainted with a science-inclined 9- to 14-year-old, tell them!

Eventually, you will also be able to purchase this particular back issue here:
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Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails is a collection of dark speculative fiction whose stories all focus on themes of loneliness, isolation, and abandonment. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Last Day Dog Rescue Organization.

Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails

Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails

Robotic Animals
Televisions Which Reveal Alternate Universes
Inanimate Objects Brought to Life
People Struggling to Survive in Apocalyptic Wastelands
Sentient Cutlery
and much, much more.

Of those subjects? My story is the . . . wait for it . . . sentient cutlery! Yeah, maybe not what you'd predict out of that list. I played it straight, too.

In the mood for dark, blood-chilling stories, published for a cause that will warm your heart? You can find Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails in these places:
Amazon (Kindle | Paperback)
Smashwords (Many ebook formats)
B&N (Paperback)

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My essay, "After Our Bodies Fail," is now out in this month's issue of Apex Magazine. The April issue of Apex is about repair. About fixing the world, about how that goes right or goes wrong, about how pieces interconnect and fit together. Or don’t. About how the past can be repaired, or replaced, about the friability of a body, a plan, a history, or a life. Go look at the stunning cover art. Enjoy the excellent stories (particularly "Repairing the World," by John Chu, which is surreal and beautiful and heart-warming).

Go read my essay if you want an uplifting story about medical practices past and future, and how we rebuild our lives after an injury. Or, you know, if you just really want to know about the goat testicles story.

Read it free online, or buy the ebook edition with exclusive extras.

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My short story, "Ekaterina and the Firebird," is now up on! This story is a new take on an old Russian fairy tale: the quest for a blessing from the elusive firebird. On Ekaterina's fourteenth birthday, a rare firebird sighting sets in motion a chain of events that will reveal hidden truths, transforming her life and changing her family's fortunes.

If you want to have a copy for your very own, a professionally formatted ebook version is also available for purchase:
Kindle | B&N | Google Play | iTunes

As always, if you love this story, don't keep it to yourself! Tell a friend, leave a comment, or post a review.

Ekaterina and the Firebird: A Tor.Com Original

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Dragon's Roost Press is currently raising funds for an anthology to benefit canine rescue. The anthology is a collection of dark speculative fiction that explores abandonment and isolation to show the comparative benefits of companionship. (No worries: no animal/child abuse allowed.)

By helping fund this project, you will be helping volunteers who foster animals in their homes until they are adopted. These volunteers feed, shelter, and socialize the rescued animals as well as make sure they are vaccinated and healthy. Plus you can get cool perks like copies of the anthology, mugs, tee shirts, public accolades, and the opportunity to show off your furry family!

My short story, "Belongings," will be included in this anthology. "Belongings" describes the peculiar relationship between a hoarder and one of the possessions that she rescued.

You can look at it as helping a worthy cause or as ordering your copy in advance, but either way, do it at

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
I'm running an ebook experiment with one of my previously published stories, "Salvaging Scottwell." It was first published in Jim Baen's Universe. It's about 12,000 words, so the non-exclusive reprint markets were limited. I've sent it around to all of them. I had no expectations for how "Salvaging Scottwell" would do. It's a novelette, not a novel. I'm a relatively unknown science fiction author. Despite this, it does have good reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads, so that may help.

I priced it at $.99 since that sounded about right for something less than a novel. In the first two weeks, I sold 18 copies. Call it the initial sales bump.

Then the crickets began to chirp.

The bulk of the sales took place in the last couple of days of December (I put it up December 30) and the month of January. There were two outlier sales in May (Apple--distributed via Smashwords) and June (Amazon), but basically the initial bump was all she wrote.

To date, I've sold 25 copies combined through Amazon and Smashwords, for a theoretical profit of...drumroll...$11.39. Guess I won't be getting rich on this anytime soon. Interestingly, although I've sold 15 copies through Amazon and only 10 copies through Smashwords, income from Smashwords is $1.07 higher.

Most of the Smashwords sales were directly from, but two were distributed through Apple and Barnes & Noble.

The Plan

In a couple of days, I'll pull "Salvaging Scottwell" down from Smashwords (and the places it distributes to) and enroll it in Amazon's KDP Select program. KDP Select adds options like an increased royalty rate, the ability to offer stories for free during a promotional period, loaning stories for free to customers for a percentage of the pot, and better visibility. Time to play around with those options.

In this feel-good, near-future science fiction novelette, Max is an obsolete, broken-down robot cop dog in charge of a poor neighborhood. When a local streetwalker is murdered, Max takes it more seriously than the human cops. Then an unscheduled upgrade gives him abilities that the powers-that-be never planned for him to have.
Buy on Smashwords
Buy on Amazon

Posts in This Series
Ebooks - The Afterlife of Short Stories?
Ebooks - The First Bump
Ebooks - The Chirping of the Crickets

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A Kindle version of the Eulogies II horror anthology (with my short story, "The Miracle Material") is now available!

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
Eulogies II: Tales From the Cellar includes my short story, "The Miracle Material." Jack Ketchum says about this anthology, "Many of the writers here are new to me, and that’s good. Because they’re so good. These are fresh, diverse, vibrant voices, strong enough to more than contend with the powerful old hands in attendance." This anthology is now available in print on Amazon, with an ebook edition coming soon.

When manufacturers think they've found the perfect material, it soon becomes more common than plastic. That's when the troubles start.


The landfill is safe. I think. Even tupperware frightens me now. The sight of a discarded teddy bear moves me to tears. I wonder if Meredith's teddy bear still lies abandoned on her bed, held under siege by the ever-glowing blue stars that decorate her bedroom.

I tell myself that Meredith is safe and happy. We came from the sea, the scientists said. When there were scientists. What could be more natural than for us to return to the sea? I tell myself that she is safe and happy within the bosom of the sea.

I know I lie.

Wherever Meredith may be, however she feels, she is not my little girl anymore. And it is all my fault.

Read more in Eulogies II.
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From Their Cradle to Your Grave is now available on! This includes my reprinted short story, "The Perfect Costume." This horror anthology is all about tales of terrifying tots, toddlers through teenagers. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but doesn't that sound like a great gift for the new parents in your life?

Marc likes vampires. A lot. One Halloween, he thinks he's found them. That's when everything starts to go bad....

This Halloween her son was ten--almost eleven--years old. She planned to make sure that Marc had a truly wonderful Halloween before he was too old to fully enjoy it. Although all the other years he had made do with a costume bought second-hand from Salvation Army, or from the half-price rack at Wal-Mart, this year she wanted to make him the perfect costume. This year, he would have a perfect Halloween.

She was disappointed that Marc didn't want a Halloween party for his friends. She wasn't aware that he had no friends, that he sat in the classroom isolated from all the friendly conversation and joking that surrounded him, that during lunch he sat alone and read one of the vampire novels he had smuggled out of the library when his mother was looking the other way. She didn't approve of young children (as she thought of Marc) reading dark stories like that. When he was little, she read him only the sanitized Disney fairy tales.

Marc didn't like them. He didn't like any fairy tales until he discovered an old version of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales. He much preferred "Cinderella" when the evil stepsisters sawed off their toes and heels with a knife in an effort to fit into the glass slipper, when they were forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes at Cinderella's wedding. He laughed when he read "The Three Little Pigs" and found that the first two pigs didn't escape their substandard homes but got eaten by the big, bad wolf. He approved when the wolf got boiled to death by the last pig, instead of making friends with it. Although Marc thought "The Little Mermaid" was still a sissies' story, he liked it much better after he read the version where the mermaid felt like she was walking on sharp knives the whole time she was human, and where she died in the end. It felt right. His favorite fairy story of all was called "The Goosegirl," and he loved it because of its bloody, lyrical beauty.

Read more.

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I'm running an ebook experiment with one of my previously published stories. It was first published in Jim Baen's Universe and the issue it was published in is still available to buy through their website. It's about 12,000 words, so the non-exclusive reprint markets were limited. I've sent it around to all of them.

So now I'm pondering the afterlife of short(ish) stories. What do you do with the darn things, aside from keeping an eye on themed anthologies that take reprints? I feel like they should be kept working...somehow.

My experiment:

Step 1. I've put "Salvaging Scottwell" up on Smashwords and Amazon (via the regular KDP program). Smashwords can take up to 3 weeks before the ebook appears in all the different venues they distribute to (B&N, Apple's ibookstore, etc.). My plan is to wait a statistically significant time to see how sales go once the initial bump (caused by me telling fans, friends, and family) subsides. Probably at least a couple of months.

Step 2. Then I'll withdraw it from Smashwords (which is really easy) and put it into the KDP Select program, which requires exclusivity but may increase visibility in the Amazon Kindle store, which is the largest market for ebooks. I'll also opt into the Kindle library loan program. Again, I will wait a statistically significant time.

Step 3. I'll give the freebie promotion a shot for a couple of days, point it out on the Kindle free boards, etc., and see if there's a resultant bump in sales afterward and, if so, how long it lasts. By this time I may also have another ebook up for purchase, so it would be interesting to see the effects on that, too.

I think this is an interesting experiment for two reasons in particular. First, I'm a relatively unknown writer--I've sold a dozen or so short stories, but that's it. Second, this is a 12,000 word novelette, not a novel. I've heard rumors that shorter works might have a revival through the ebook market, and I'm interested to see how accurate that might be.

I'll be reporting as I go along, hard numbers and comparisons and all that fun stuff. In the last couple of days, I've sold 4 copies through Amazon and 3 through Smashwords. We'll see how it goes!

Any other suggestions for how to put a previously printed story to work? I would have also put this on AnthologyBuilder, but they are not currently accepting submissions.

Posts in This Series
Ebooks - The Afterlife of Short Stories?
Ebooks - The First Bump
Ebooks - The Chirping of the Crickets
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
"Salvaging Scottwell" is now available for $.99 in various ebook formats on Smashwords and for the Kindle on Amazon. This story was first published in Jim Baen's Universe.

In this feel-good, near-future science fiction novelette, Max is an obsolete robot cop dog in charge of a poor neighborhood. When a local streetwalker is murdered, Max takes it more seriously than the human cops. Then an unscheduled update gives him abilities the powers-that-be never intended him to have.

Max woke up inside his kennel, unplugged his tail from the wall, and ran an automatic systems check. Recharging his battery had taken a half-hour longer than last month. He connected to the BigDog network so that he could send an error report about the battery. The automated reply told him that his error report had been filed, and a handler would contact him if any further action was required. The last handler contact recorded in Max's memory log was three years old.

He limped to the door of the jailhouse. His right third leg had broken down two years ago. It had taken three weeks for his movement pattern to functionally reform, but he still limped. His speed was a fraction of his original specifications. His right second leg couldn't provide the same motive power. It had been designed for stability, not speed.

He stepped out into Scottwell neighborhood to begin his patrol. His tail wagged once. Scottwell was more than just the neighborhood that he guarded; it was as much a part of him as his paws. When he kept himself and his neighborhood protected and well-maintained, he was a Good Boy.

His tail drooped. He hadn't been a Good Boy for a long time.

Read more.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Let Me Tell You a Story)
The Again has published "Warmth in the Cold Time" in their September issue! This is one of my older pieces, a very short, creepy-cute story that may keep you from ever looking at a nature trail the same way again.

After all the Others had gone, leaving the hillside strewn with trash, the People came out. Rocks shifted, rattling as if they were in a pan of boiling water. Stones rolled to a clear spot and began to rock back and forth like violently hatching eggs. Limbs extruded themselves, unfolding with the screech of nails on a chalkboard. They rose out of the hillside, from under trees or next to streams, from the very path that tourists had tread on earlier that day.

Read more.


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