All right.  I gotta call it.  We’re at 72 votes.  That’s awesome!  Holy crap!  That’s 72 Nutter Butters I gotta eat.  I have obviously not given this thing enough thought.  I wonder if I can distract everyone by — squirrel!

Fine.  Well, be that as it may, I will have to prepare for Nutter Butter Day, either by moving meditation, warm-up stomach-stretching binges, or other more unconventional methods.  But do not fear…Nutter Butter Day will be shared with all…and soon.

In the meantime, please give it up for our new My Blue Screen Epic Blog Header…Epic3!  Yaaaaaay!

As our winner, she will represent My Blue Screen as our home page header.  She will also receive a $5,000 scholarship to the beauty arts school of her choice, which she will commute to in her new-to-her 1994 Ford Festiva, which has plenty of headroom to accommodate her big honking tiara!

If your favorite was not picked, do not cry for them.  All of our runners-up will receive smaller tiaras (size based on their vote percentages)…or blingy fezzes, as the case may be.  They each will also receive Target gift cards, as well as the chance to appear as featured blog headers in future blog posts.

And don’t forget, here at My Blue Screen, everyone goes home a winner!  If you voted, you may pick up your “I Voted” tiara in the back.  For everyone else, we have Nutter Butters…lots of Nutter Butters.

In all seriousness, to everyone who took the time to participate in this epic pageant of art and silliness and Nutter Butters, thank you so much.  The response has been overwhelming.  I never dreamed I would have to face down 72 Nutter Butters…. Thank you.


It’s been a busy week for me, so it’s no surprise my short story selections are…well, short.  In trying to meet the deadline for my short story reading quota, I found myself scrolling down to check the length of a story before I committed.  It’s kind of a lesson for me as a writer, actually.  I tend to write pretty long short stories.  And while longer stories are fun to read and the author usually has a little more room for world-building, I’m sure I’m not the only reader who checks the length of a story before committing.  Just something I’m thinking about as I’m contemplating my 11,000-word-and-growing behemoth that’s squatting on my desk.

Anyway, here are this week’s stories listed in chronological order as discovered and read:

17.  “The Gift,” by Christie Yant (Crossed Genres) Oh, man…they know not what they do!

18.  “Fame & Blowing Bubbles” by K.S. Riggin (Crossed Genres) This was a fun read.  I really enjoyed the protagonist’s voice in this one.

19.  “Dying With Her Cheer Pants On” by Seanan McGuire (Apex Magazine) I’m a big fan of Seanan’s blog, and her confident voice is very recognizable in this one.  I like reading stories where I feel I’m in good hands.  Plus, she always has great titles. 🙂

20.  “Snipe Hunting” by Jennifer Brozek (Apex Magazine) This story and “Dying With Her Cheer Pants On” came from the urban-legend-themed issue of Apex Magazine…and I love this particular urban legend.  Those snipes are slippery little devils….

21.  “The Caretaker of the Volcano” by Christopher James (Every Day Fiction) This had the feel of a parable…but was moving all the same.

22.  “Embolism” by Chaiti  Sen (Every Day Fiction) This one made me cry.  I miss my husband.

23.  “The Chase” by Ken Liu (Every Day Fiction) “Baby, you’ll be famous, chase you down until you love me, Papa-paparazzi….”  (That’s Lady Gaga for those of you who live under a rock… ;))  Fun read.  Liked the larger-than-life metaphor.

24.  “Hit and Miss” by M. Jacobo (Every Day Fiction) Very cool angle.  Very cool story.

25.  “Our Father” by Deborah Winter-Blood (Every Day Fiction) Another mini-tear-jerker.

Good round of stories this week.  Still five stories behind in my read-a-short-story-every-day quest, but that’s okay.  I’ll catch up somewhere along the line.

By the way, to anyone who happens to have a superhero story laying around, Cross Genres is taking submissions for their superhero-themed March issue…but you gotta hurry!  Submissions close for this issue January 31st — that’s tomorrow — at 11:59 p.m.

Next week I will try to read a short story from a different new-to-me market every day, broaden my wee horizons.  But not tonight.  Baby is piling up all the clean laundry on the dog’s head.  Just his snout is sticking out.  I should probably go rescue him.


I feel it would be terribly neglectful and missing a huge opportunity to share an excellent resource with lots of you writing folks out there if I didn’t mention this book now…before WordPress takes away the “Freshly Pressed” magic.  😉

I read Jeff Vandermeer’s excellent “Booklife:  Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer,” a year ago.  I even wrote a post in response to his section on goal-setting.

After I started the “Blog Overhaul” series this past month, it occurred to me it might be a fine idea to take another look-see at “Booklife.”  It’s amazing how after just one year of experience, of writing more and living more, my perspective and level of understanding has changed as I reread it.

To be quite honest, I’m not sure that I followed everything that Vandermeer wrote having to do with platforms and social networks when I read it last year.  Hell, it’s probably safe to say that I still don’t understand all of it yet.  After all, it’s not that long ago that I made my very first linky-link, and I’m still not on FaceBook.  But I’m starting to get it.  Things are starting to click.  I’m starting to really understand how things are interconnected in this strange new world we call The Internet.

Vandermeer writes in the introduction of his book, “Information and advice has no effect without what the reader brings to the experience.”  He further suggests that the reader “re-imagine” the book, “personalizing its real-world application to [the reader’s] life and work.”

He goes on to specifically say how one can do this:  “Take the sections that you find most useful, make a list of bullet points, and rewrite them from memory, adding in your own personal anecdotes and experiences.”

Now, I know that this is good advice.  I also know that I have probably read over this section at least three times without it ever crossing my mind that I should actually do this very thing…until now.

It’s been an amazing last couple of days for me.  Not only am I grateful and honored to have a post selected to be featured by WordPress, but I am just fascinated by everything that has come from it.  And as I read back through various sections of the book, I am deconstructing my work, trying to figure out how I got here, what drives traffic, what people are looking for, and what kind of people I’m looking for.  In some sense, I feel I have found my tribe.  At the same time, I still feel like I am walking around the campground with my dorky name tag on upside down wondering where I should pitch my tent.

It’s always about the journey, isn’t it?  I can’t wait to reread this book next year to see what it means to me then.  🙂  I suspect this book will go on to become one of my “perpetual” books, the ones I’m always reading and rereading.

There are hundreds of fantastic books out there for writers, but I think if you are working towards making a career as a writer, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to check out Vandermeer’s indispensable “Booklife.”  Vandermeer has built an amazing career for himself across many different media, and he shares his experience and insight generously and honestly.  I think that’s what makes this book one of the most relevant and helpful titles for writers today.

So…read it.  Dig it.  Spread the good word.


Ladies and Jellybeans…beans…beans…!

Please give a warm welcome to our eight contestants.  They’ve come from all over the country (not really) to strut their stuff and show you, the judges, that they’ve got what it takes to be the Next My Blue Screen Epic Blog Header 2011!  Give it up!  Yay!

(Snacks and refreshments down at the bottom next to the polling booth and — hold on.  Oh, we’re looking for the owner of the green Chevy Cavalier, license plate L8RG8R…yes, sir.  Your lights are on.  You’re welcome.)

And yes, the rumors are true…for each vote cast, I will eat one Nutter Butter.  I got my fat pants on and a gallon of milk in the fridge.  I’m ready.


~ Contestant No. 1 ~

Sexy and not afraid to show it, Epic1 is in your face and proud of it.  “Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m about,” she sasses.  “Ain’t like I’m trying to hide nothing!”


~ Contestant No. 2~

Sensitive and mysterious, Epic2 enjoys walks through the woods and writes poetry about his carbon footprint.  He also loves kicking Rock Band ass on his PS3.


~ Contestant No. 3 ~

An artist in her own right, Epic3 directed the photographer on this shot to better highlight her gradient umbra.  “It’s just a matter of having good taste,” she explains.  She is also a huge Barbra Streisand fan.


~ Contestant No. 4 ~

Epic4 is a self-proclaimed neo hippie who believes that faith, sex, and rock and roll is what will save us from the aliens.  She lives in SoHo, commits accidental splatter abstract art (a subgenre she claims credit for), and works as an office manager at a small accounting firm.


~ Contestant No. 5 ~

Just as stunning and gorgeous as her redheaded twin sister, Epic5 lives in Hollywood, California.  She does drugs.


~ Contestant No. 6 ~

Epic6 teaches middle school language arts and is an avid Civil War Recreationalist.  He believes it’s important for folks to learn all three meanings of the word “epic.”  He also wanted us to let you know that he’s available to referee battlefield skirmishes, just in case you needed someone who can do that.


~ Contestant No. 7 ~

Shy and demure, Epic7 believes in leaving a little to the imagination.  She models long underwear and wool socks for a small clothing company in Anchorage, Alaska, and teaches tantric sex for beginners down at the “Y.”  She also makes a mean mac ‘n cheese.


~ Contestant No. 8 ~

Always the class clown, Epic8 is playful for the camera behind a swirl of honey.  He loves driving to random places, but admits he has a terrible sense of direction.  He has Darth Vader’s voice on his GPS.


[polldaddy poll=4465371]


Oh, my God, you guys!  I published yesterday’s post two minutes to midnight a little worried it was too long to keep anyone’s interest…and this morning I awoke to discover I had been Freshly Pressed!  What a blessing!  I feel so honored.  Thank you, Erica Johnson, and the rest of the lovely WordPress Editors behind the scenes, for selecting and featuring my post.  It’s so awesome that this venue is made available to anyone for free.  WordPress rocks!

But most of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to read my post.  It means a lot to me…especially since it was about what it means to be epic.  My word works!  Yay!

Anyway, you all are epic!  You guys made all my previous blog stats look like raised pimples on the bar graph next to today’s epic skyscraper.  Now I’ve got all these cool people to visit on the Web.  (I met them in the Comments Section.  They’re my new best friends.)

My parents are proud.  (Thank you, Mom and Dad, for watching the squirt!)  Dad likes the photos and thinks the grass in the backyard is coming along nicely. 😉

All right.  Before I go all Sally Fields on you — I heart her! — without further ad0, let the blog header judging begin!  Vote for your favorite at the bottom!  I’ll keep the polling open over the weekend and put the winner up on Monday.

Thanks for reading!  And don’t forget to vote!


~ An Epic Concept ~

So I wanted a new blog header, one that was more than just a nice picture, and one that was related to writing, obviously…though I have been enjoying the “Baby and the Wolf” temporary header.

I had a few ideas about taking photos of Polaroids of my laptop and stuff like that — there was even a few test shots of dinosaurs — but in the end, I liked the idea of having something beautiful across the screen of my blog that embodies my…well, my word.  I don’t know what else to call it.  It’s like my lucky token…you know, my word.

Anyway, don’t laugh, but my word is “epic.”

I know.  That seems like a cheesy word to lay claim to.  I get that it conjures up the image of a couple of stoner garage rats making horns and swinging around their guitars.  “We’re gonna be epic, duuude.  Billionaires!”

I can’t help that.  In fact, I embrace it.  I embrace the cheesiness!  I cheer on the stoner dudes mooching off their parents trying to break into the music industry, the television industry, the whatever-they-know-they-were-put-on-this-Earth-to-do industry, so long as they’re doing their work.  Too many people out there have convinced themselves to be safe and set reasonable goals anchored in reality instead of risking exposure of their tender underbellies while reaching for the stars.  It’s hard to stretch and grow in the fetal position, dude.

But “epic” is not just about dreaming big.  To me, it reminds me how you always get what you give.  This writing thing I do is one of the most important parts of me, and every day I thank my lucky stars for letting me have this need to make stories and being in such fortunate circumstances to fulfill it.  It’s that sticky-sweet part of my bone marrow, and if it were gone, I’d be hollow and empty inside.  Hell, I could write the sweetest country western song that would make your dog bawl, that’s how much I love writing.

So why would I ever give it anything less than an epic effort?

This is a truth that I wish I knew when I was younger.  People don’t ever become epic in their pursuits, they just get recognition for it.  I think they were always epic to begin with, in their practice, in their work ethic, and in their spirit.

This is how I want to be epic.  And I hope that my blog encourages folks to be epic too.

See?  Now you feel bad for thinking me corny.

Now a serendipitous thing happened this New Year’s.  A friend brought over this special beer.  It’s the only beer I drank, and at 9.5 percent alcohol, it was the only drink I needed.  He was nice enough to let me keep the bottle.  Why was this beer so special?  Let me show you.

Yes, it’s Stone Brewing Company’s Special Edition Vertical Epic Ale.  The epic part is special enough, but this beer also happened to be produced on 10-10-10, my 37th birthday.  That’s pretty darn cool, but when you flip it over…

…the very definition of epic.  Perhaps it’s a silly little coincidence, but when I first saw it, I had a sense of magic, of things shifting into place.  I don’t know how to explain it better than that except that it happens from time to time, and it’s never failed me before.

~ Test Shots in the Kitchen ~

So, how to translate this concept into a usable blog header?  Well, I got lucky.  I was making tea in the kitchen one day when I noticed the light was rather lovely cast through my tea.

Mostly I was playing around with the camera on my iPhone 4, and I got this shot, which gave me an idea…

Being that tea leaves are often read as part of someone’s fortune, what if you could create your own fortune?  Drink Epic Tea.  Something along those lines.  I thought it might be fun to maybe type up the epic definition and fashion it as part of the tea brand.  I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to do it honestly.  I just knew I wanted the epic definition from Stone Brewing Company (these people have the absolute best copywriters in the biz), and I wanted the prettiness of the tea, both things that fill me when I write.


~ Prop Design ~

I believe in starting with the basics.  I am no graphic designer, and  I don’t have any photo editing software beyond Paint.  I have OpenWriter, and that’s what I ended up using.

First, I gave it a shot with one of those free online logo makers to see if I could make something that would look nice on the end of a tea bag string.  This is what I got:

Pretty cool for free logos, but too small to be picked up on camera.  (I’m sorry I don’t remember where I generated these, or I’d link it.)

Ah, well.  Then I thought maybe I should just try typing it out and play around with fonts and see what I could finagle.  I used the epic definition from the bottle verbatim (because it’s perfect and I give Stone Brewing Company both credit and props).  It looked a bit like the shape of a heart, so I laid a lined heart over it to see what it would look like.

I thought it looked pretty ugly, but I liked the idea of it being heart-shaped.  So I tried again and ended up with something better.

Now all I needed was some hot water, a tea bag, good lighting, and great company.


~ The Shoot ~

Location:  Behind the Pink House on a Butcher Block Table
Conditions:  Southern California (Yes, it’s a “condition,” a good one.)
Assisting:  Toddler and Dinosaur

Box 'o Props

Test Shot

We tried to work with the dinosaur, but she wasn't "feeling it."

Finally, we make tea.

That's it, girl! Show us what you're about! Work that tag!

Mmm...I dunno.

Experimentation is the secret to innovation...most times. ;)

I like this pose. This is the HDR version.


It looks almost poetic submerged beneath the surface.

Collateral damage... My big fat elbow leaning on the edge popped the board off. Eep!

~ Conclusion ~

Conceptual photography is fun.  I think what made it even more fun for me was that it was simple, no fancy stuff.  I spent maybe an hour in the backyard with my camera phone, and I ended up with a handful of very usable blog headers — yay! — which I will post tomorrow.  Come back and help me decide by voting for your favorite!


What’s keeping me on track with the daily blogging is…well, the daily deadline.  If the challenge were to write 30 blog posts a month, then chances are, I’d be hurting every 29th day of the month.

It’s great that I’m signed up for the Write1Sub1 Challenge…except that we only have to check in once a week and no one comes round to kick down your door and drag you naked through the streets as punishment if you don’t check in.  At least, so far they haven’t.  Maybe they’re backed up.

Anyway, I have noticed lots of other writers post not only their daily word counts, but their total word counts for particular projects.  Some even have widgets that display a bar graph showing the percentage completed of their current Work In Progress.  (Very snazzy, I might add.)

Since my goal is to build up my 3,000-word-a-day writing muscles, I thought that it would help if I had to report my word count each day in Ye Olde Blogge…you know, establish a daily deadline for first draft words, accountability, all that rot.

The Infamous They say that it takes around 16 repetitions to develop a good habit.  In other words, if you want to make the gym a habit, it will typically take you about 16 consecutive workouts before it becomes habit.  Yoga Sutra 1.14 says only “a long period of time.” I think I’ll go with the 16 days first and see where that takes me. 🙂

On January 5, 2010, I wrote 3,481 words of story.  This was by far my most productive day first-draft-wise for the entire year.  Due to the lack of supporting historical documentation regarding a 10,000-plus-word-day back in my early 20s, 3,481 words stands as the current record to beat.

I figure it’s not so different from lifting weights.  I’ll start out small, work my way up, then start hogging up all the mirrors with my aggro posing.  The goal is 16 consecutive 3,000-word-days.  This is my plan, and it is Good.

So starting tomorrow, at the bottom of each blog post will be an update on my quest to develop a 3,000-word-a-day habit.  Should I fail in my duties, then…I don’t know.  Public floggings are a hassle.  You’ve got to get city permits, clearance from the fire department, then there’s parking — it’s a mess.  I know they’re popular, but it’s just not in the budget.

Let’s just say that if ever I show up empty-handed, then you are welcome to start a good old-fashioned cyber stoning in the Comments section.

Which reminds me…I better go dust off my cyber armor, just in case. 😉


P.S.  The light was gorgeous today, so I thought I’d go ahead and shoot some test pictures for the new blog header while I was waiting for the Glif to arrive and…well, I think I’m done.  I’ll be sharing those with you tomorrow.  I’m still looking forward to playing with the Glif.  That little gadget ought to eliminate most of the blurries I get.


Now that I’m settling into a groove with the blog and the Post-A-Day Challenge, I am turning my attention to Part 1 of The Plan:  write as much first draft as I can.

My first summit sighted:  3,000 words a day.

This sounds like a lot, I know — and no, I’m not there yet, by any stretch — but I think it’s a necessary practice to cultivate if I want to build the writing career I imagine for myself.  I doubt there’s very many professional writers out there who are publishing with any sort of frequency who aren’t hitting this number day in and day out — or even better — and I think it’s really just a matter of deliberate practice.

Rachel Brice, probably the most famous contemporary belly dancer in America, if not the world — who also happens to be a total sweetheart and wonderful teacher — has a beautiful, almost equally famous tattoo that arcs over one hip.  It’s Yoga Sutra 1.14 of Patanjali in Sanskrit, and it says:  “In order for your practice to be grounded in the Earth, it needs to be done consistently, for a long period of time, with devotion.”¹

If you follow this tenet in any endeavor you pursue, I challenge you to not become better at it.  If you have any doubts as to what kind of results you can achieve with this principle, then watch this video.

I’m willing to lay down some green that for every minute of amazing performance given by Miss Brice, there’s a thousand hours of deliberate and consistent practice, committed to with love.

I accept that for every published word I produce in my life, there will be hundreds, even thousands of words that had to be written before that one was chosen.  I also accept that writing these thousands of words must become my daily practice.

If I could write a short story that was as lovely and compact and nuanced and innovative and just — God! — so perfect in its own way as Miss Brice’s performance above, I would be a happy writer.

So I go now to my practice, with love and devotion.

Happy writing, friends.  Namaste.


¹ This quote is taken from an interview with Rachel Brice included in the extras section of “Solos from Monte Carlo.”


Update:  I ordered the very clever Glif today for my iPhone 4, and so I will most likely wait until that arrives before I do new header pictures.  But I did spend some time last night making props, which was kind of fun…though it probably sounds more interesting than it actually was.  So please forgive me for the delay on the photo shoot post.  We’re almost done with BLOG OVERHAUL 2011…thank goodness!  We’ll get there before the month is up.  Ya know, just in case it was keeping you up at night.


Grand Star Jazz Club ~ Chinatown ~ Los Angeles

Okay, so there was really only one jazz club and one art show Saturday night, but who cares?  It was the first time I’ve been out to an adult function past “night-night time” in two years without diapers in my purse.  (Thank you, Mom!)

The art show was fab, as I knew it would be.  It was held at the Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown, a great little venue.

I hope it wasn’t too obvious I hadn’t been let out in a while, but damn I had a good time!  The vibe was wonderful!  All smurpy love, positive energy and synergy, great art, bumpin’ music, lots of baggy knit caps, and some crazy fun dancers.  And yes, I did have that third drink.  Yum!  (But it wasn’t like I was out of control.  I did make some adult-like decisions, like deciding against that sidewalk hot dog.  Yay for restraint!  They were bacon-wrapped even.  Iron Will, they call me.)

"Villain" by Jon McConnell

My brother’s paintings turned out awesome!  His style is so distinct and funky, I and all my friends recognized his stuff from the door.

This one’s my favorite of the three.  You can see the rest of them here at his blog.  And feel free to pester my bro to start making prints available…the lazy scuff!

Jon also collaborated with his costume designer girlfriend Amanda Ellison on the design of some funky monster character hand puppets, which she constructed.  They were so cute!  I’m surprised she didn’t sell them all.  I can’t wait to see what else she makes.  Sounds like there’s a few more monsters queued up.

I even bought my first piece of original art!  I’m so excited!  I can’t wait until it arrives.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of it.  I actually didn’t take any pictures once I went inside.  I got caught up in the fun and completely forgot!  But I’ll share a pic once I get it up on the wall.

The cherry on top of the art show was seeing my cousin Italix tear it up on stage.  He opened up with an a cappella piece — that’s balls — and pulled it off beautifully.  Then he just did his thing.  Great set!  His passion was infectious, and people were calling for an encore and lining up afterward to get a copy of his EP.  Me, too.  🙂

The tiny diamond fairy sprinkles on top of the cherry was going to Little Tokyo afterward (at 1:00 a.m.!) and having noodle bowls, fried gyoza, and spicy tuna rolls at Daikokuya.  Hold me!  I hadn’t been to this place since I quit working in L.A. three and a half years ago, and oh, man, how I’ve missed their noodles.

And who would think that we would run into friends from high school there, but we did…and we all got to do the, “Oh, my God!  How are you!” which I love.  And then they reminded us our 20-year high school reunion is coming up this summer.  Egad!  I hope I’ll be in town for that though.

Anyway, fun night!  Got back to Mom and Dad’s at 4:00 in the morning — it was a long, long drive — pulled out the futon and my laptop and tried to figure out what story to write.  Yes, that’s right.  I hadn’t yet written my story submission for my writer’s meeting due the next morning.  Ugh.  So I poked around some story idea files and fell asleep when I accidentally blinked.

A little while later, Mom came in holding a very sad little toddler, who was then greatly relieved to see her mama.  This was the first time she had to go to bed without me in like her whole entire life!  Very dramatic.  But at that point, all I wanted to do was take her back to bed and curl up around her…which I did.

So the next morning, punctual as always, my friend and fellow Third Ninja Omniscient came round to collect me for the writer’s meeting.  I wrote most of a flash fiction piece on the way to the meeting and finished it up on our friend’s kitchen counter.  She was nice enough to print enough copies for everyone.  Horrible, I know.

It crossed my mind repeatedly to forfeit this month.  We each get one “free pass” on submissions, and I was tempted to use mine.  But then I thought about the post on confidence I wrote the other day and wondered if any of them had read it…and if they had, how I had better not show up empty-handed.

I liked the story though.  It’s nice to write a short piece every once in a while.  And although it was completely undeserved, my dear, wonderful, and new favorite friend 😉 said one of the lines I wrote in my story reminded her of Neil.  I welled up, I swear I did.  True, I was eye-vibratingly tired and a little carsick from composing fiction at 65 miles an hour looking down, but that’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever received on my writing and I really had to squelch the waterworks.

Whew!  Anyway, as you can imagine, the tot and I slept in late and spent all day hanging out at home.  I did a lot of catching-up-type activities, and she did a lot of making-a-mess-type activities.  Then we took a great big bubble bath and declared ourselves recovered.

It was a great weekend, but today was a Good Day.


With the exception of Tanith Lee’s enjoyable “Black Fire,” a story told through excerpts of witness interviews, this week turned out to be Flash Fiction Week…which was fine with me.  Lots of good stories out there available in tasty, bite-sized pieces.  Brain Harvest and Every Day Fiction are new to me, discovered through comments at Write1Sub1, and both are great markets dedicated to that strange-beautiful, miniaturized literary animal we call “Flash.”

So without further ado, I give you this week’s short stories read in chronological order.  Good stuff.  Please to enjoy.

10.  “In the Deep Deep Sea There is an Even Deeper Susurrus” by Ben Godby (Brain Harvest)

11.  “Serapis” by Fritz Swanson (Brain Harvest)

12.  “Today’s Fish is a Very Fine Fish” by Nancy Stebbins (Brain Harvest)

13.  “Flowers, Secrets” by Kristine Ong Muslim (Every Day Fiction)

14.  “The Last Station” by JR Hume (Every Day Fiction)

15.  “Snowman” by Shaun Simon (Every Day Fiction)

16.  “Black Fire” by Tanith Lee (Lightspeed Magazine)