A snail at the Event Horizon

Why, it seems like only yesterday that ‘Hyrmnal‘ was published at DailyScienceFiction.com. Do you remember those days of mollusc madness? I sure do.

Since then, this blog has been suspiciously quiet.

“What have you been up to, Jonathan?” I hear you ask.

Well! I’ve been writing and revising new stories, and have a few forthcoming publications to announce once contracts are signed.

But this week’s post is about Event Horizon  – a new ebook anthology collecting work by lots of excellent emerging writers. The goal of the book is to promote everyone who is in their first year or two of publishing professionally (that is, selling stories at ‘professional’ rates of pay) for the John W. Campbell award.

‘Hyrmnal’ is in it, alongside many better (and longer) stories by names you might already be familiar with.

I wouldn’t bother nominating me for the award, but wait until you see what I publish in 2017!

Here’s the best news, the book is completely free. Get it now. It’s available until July only.

I’ll be back soon with news of what I’ve got coming out next. Enjoy Event Horizon!

And no more snails, I promise.


Image taken from page 621 of 'History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with genealogical and biographical sketches'

I am excited to announce that my short story “Hyrmnal” will be published this week by Daily Science Fiction . The story will be posted on their excellent website and emailed out to the subscribers to their free newsletter.

Update 2 September: Published TODAY – click to read 

This is my second published story after “Inundated” in the Ecotones anthology back in December. Where Inundated was long, this one is short, around 1100 words, and is a weird little story….Let me tell you how it began.

One of the ways I motivated myself to write last year was taking part in the SFFworld  monthly short fiction writing challenges. Each month we are given a theme and have to incorporate it into a story of about a thousand words of science fiction or fantasy. At the end of the month participants and members of the website vote on their favourite.

The theme was “musical instruments” and I had no idea what to write. I have little musical talent, perhaps because I have poor hearing – I actually hear in mono, though my recent hearing aids do help a bit.. I did the usual student strumming on an electric guitar, years ago, but without ever becoming what you might call…  good. One day I  taught those same chords to my kid brother and he quickly turned out to have an inner Hendrix.

I promptly gave up in disgust.

I don’t really hear lyrics when I listen to songs. I don’t read music and I don’t really know much about it, beyond the joy of listening. I was utterly stumped. So I sat in front of the TV trying to think of some way to ‘fake’ a story about musical instruments.

The programme on TV was about snails. Gastropods. They’re fascinating  – both repulsive and beautiful. I was transfixed as these “belly-footed” grotesques oozed across the screen. The story wrote itself…

“Coryde walked onto the podium to play her snail…”

Daily Science Fiction has thousands of readers and I’m elated to be published there. Also terrified. One early reader of the story told me that it gave him nightmares. I blame his weak constitution.


My story “Inundated” was published in the December 2015 anthology, Ecotones, as I may have mentioned many times. Sorry about that. I wrote the following piece for the “blogtour” we did to promote the anthology, and am republishing it here from fellow contributor and novelist Daniel Ausema’s blog.

When the theme for the anthology was announced, I was still stuck writing fragments and ‘flash’-length fiction of about 1000 words or more for the forum challenges. I found constructing longer stories quite difficult, though I’d made a few half-hearted attempts.

I’d written a thousand words of a story, “Inundated,” about a man confronted by an apocalyptic flood, and his search for his wife and daughter while the world ended. I thought it was quite neat, but the story didn’t really hang together properly: it opened well, then faded a little.

The theme was announced, and then I had to shamefacedly Google what an “ecotone” was! I was a bit scared that it meant pure eco-SF/fantasy, which I’m just not knowledgeable enough to write well.

(Wikipedia: An ecotone is a transition area between two biomes. It is where two communities meet and integrate.)

But the quickie definition from Wikipedia gave me something to go on. My protagonist, Yuri, in that story, lived on the land, but had worked the sea. I had established that the land and the sea had been in an equilibrium, but now something had changed, something had broken an old pact, and the waters were rising.

But still, I’d never written a successful story at this length, and the forum is full of writers, like Daniel, who can do this in their sleep, so I twiddled my thumbs a bit, then toyed with an idea for a story that I called “Avocado Blue” which I still haven’t written.

Finally Andrew got in touch and said “Inundated” was pretty good. Can you make it longer?

Five times longer.


I decided to give it a go, and struggled through August to draft and then edit a new version of the story. I learned a lot while writing the longer version of “Inundated”. I then learned even more when Andrew pointed out to me that I had used flashbacks (I like to call it in media res) and a convoluted narrative scheme. He gently suggested telling the story, which was by this point seven thousand words – the upper limit for the anthology, but by no means a novel – in chronological order. Oh. Right. Yeah….

I acquiesced, and saw that it improved the story almost immediately.

Even then I didn’t expect the story to make it past the reading team. They had a lot of submissions and only a limited number of slots, and there are some good writers on the SFFworld forums. When they accepted the story (subject to fixing the timeline!), it felt like I’d crossed a threshold in my writing, I’d “levelled up” into someone who could write more than a thousand words. And now I’ve got several longer stories either finished or on the go.

This is how the new version of “Inundated” opens:

“Yuri woke up to the sound of waves breaking at the end of the street, and knew that the undines had breached the final defences.“


The Kickstarter campaign to pre-order Ecotones has now concluded, but the anthology will be available on all the e-book retailers in a week or two. I’ll keep you posted.


Photo by Austin Schmid https://unsplash.com/schmidy

Why ‘Ecotones’?

Yesterday, I wrote about how excited I am that I have a story in an anthology of fantasy and science fiction coming out next month. Today, I’m taking part in an “Ecotour” where the contributors and editors write something for each other’s websites about the project.

So, I am happy to introduce N. E. White, a co-editor and coordinator for Ecotones. She’s here to tell us why she allowed Andrew to run with the theme “ecotones”.

Cover of EcotonesYou know, when I first saw that word, I really didn’t know what it meant.

Well, I had an idea what it meant (after all, I do have a degree in Fire Ecology), but I didn’t feel I had a good grasp on, say, how I would use it in a sentence.

But when others approached the topic with hesitancy on SFFWorld.com’s forum, I went to bat for the theme.


Because it made some people uncomfortable. It made them think outside their comfort zone. And that feeling of sitting on the edge, wondering if you’ll soar or fall, well, that’s an ecotone I’m willing to explore.

And so did quite a few authors (including Jon). We got stories about humanity’s first colonization of a hostile planet, first contact, jungle eco-terrorism, urban terrorism, coastal destruction, and even a military romance – all with a speculative bent. Their interpretations of ecotone seem confounding to me, but that’s the point. Ecotones is a transition between biomes, real or imagined. They are not always easy to define even when you are right smack-dab in the middle of it. Maybe, especially then.

I’m thrilled to share this year’s anthology with the world. We have a set of entertaining stories that I know folks will enjoy and share with others.

Thank you Nila!

 I must admit that I found the theme quite daunting, and had to check “Ecotones” on Wikipedia before I could even start to think about writing a story.

Want to read 14 great, ecotoned stories from professional and amatuer writers from around the globe?

Then look no further and go back our Kickstarter campaign!

You’ll find out why Nila’s excited about these stories.

Also, please take a moment to visit any one of these locations on our Ecotour:

Thanks for reading!

My story will appear in the ‘Ecotones’ anthology

I am delighted and excited to report that my story, ‘Inundated’ was chosen to appear in the forthcoming anthology of fantasy and science fiction, Ecotones.  The collection also features authors such as Ken Liu, Lauren Beukes, Stephen Palmer, and Tobias Buckell.

‘Inundated’ is 7,000 words long and is my first fiction sale. The theme of the collection is “Ecological Stories from the Border between Fantasy and Science Fiction”.  I’ll talk more about that in another post, soon.

Cover of EcotonesEcotones will be ebook-only, which means I can still sell the audio and print rights to the story. Ha! I may produce a chapbook at some later point for those friends who are print-only.

You can pre-order the anthology via Kickstarter. This gives you a range of ways to support the project, including just ordering a copy. Some time in December it will also be available via Amazon, iBooks, and all the other digital retailers.