Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between

You are currently browsing the short stories category.

The Annual Awards Eligibility Post, 2017 Edition

We writers ask a lot of our readers. Not only do we ask you to read–and love!–our stuff, we want you to buy it, rate it, review it, and yes, nominate it for awards. Reading and loving feeds our twisted little writer souls. But sales, promotion and awards are what pay the rent and keep the cat in kibble. (Trust me, you do not want to attempt stringing words together around a hungry cat. It never ends well.)

With that in mind, I’d like to say thank you again for everything you read and reviewed over the past twelve months. If your 2016 keepers happened to include any of my stories, I’d be thrilled if you nominated them. But the important thing is to recognize the work you loved in 2016. Awards are one of those rising tides that lift all boats. The recognition gives us all a boost.
To get you started, here are some links to the awards now open for nominations:

- The Dragon Awards

- The Hugo Awards

- The Nebula Awards

- The WSFA Small Press Award

And just in case you were trying to remember the details of that story you loved, here is the relevant information for my 2016 releases, including excerpts:

Story: “The Clockwork Nightingale”
Length: 16,000 words (novelette)
Publisher: E-Spec Books
Release Date: May 29, 2016
Excerpt

Cover of WERE-, an anthology edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray

Story: “The Five Bean Solution”
Length: 9,200 words (novelette)
Publisher: Zombies Need Brains, LLC
Release Date: September 15, 2016
Excerpt

Tales from the Vatican Vaults (which includes “Cooking up a Storm”, my secret history story about the Burning of Washington in 1814–with voodoo) was published in the United Kingdom in 2015, but wasn’t released in the US until last month. I’m adding it to this list, because that 2016 US publication date means it wasn’t eligible for a Nebula until this year.

Tales from the Vatican Vaults

Story: “Cooking up a Storm”
Length: 17,700 words (novella)
Publisher: Constable and Robinson
US Release Date: December 27, 2016
Excerpt

Hey, a girl can dream…

Posted 10 months ago at 10:41 am.

Add a comment

My first annual awards suggestion post

Yeah, I’m late to the awards nomination party. Surprise! But if you’ve still got space on your Hugo or Nebula ballots–or are looking forward to the 2015 World Fantasy Awards–have I got some suggestions for you.

First the writing. This year I had three eligible stories published. How you classify them depends on the award, so I’ll give you all the relevant details. In ascending order of size, they are:

“The Wizard of Woodrow Park” published in The Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens (Zombies Need Brains, LLC)
Hunting for a rogue anthropologist, Aviann Special Agent Hreaak Meekram finds himself confronting a wizard.
(7,000 words)

“The Gap in the Fence” published in Athena’s Daughters (Silence in the Library Publishing)
Ten-year-old Ana will do anything to save her best friend’s dog–even challenge the fairies who live beyond “The Gap in the Fence”.
(9,600 words)

“Glass Transit” in Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil (Bold Venture Press)
Bumbling sorcerers Eddie Woodhouse and Ducky “Duke” Orr get more than they bargain for when they leap from a magical bottle into the skies over Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937.
(13,500 words)

And don’t forget all those anthologies are eligible for Best Anthology or Best Related Work, depending on the award. But honestly, one 2014 anthology knocks them and every other potential contender out of the park: Unconventional Fantasy, a celebration of 40 years of World Fantasy Cons published by the Baltimore Washington Area Worldcon Association.

Go ahead, accuse me of favoritism. I’m one of the editors, along with Peggy Rae Sapienza, Sam Lubell and Bill Campbell. But look at the stats.

The six (yep, six!) volumes of Unconventional Fantasy comprise over 250 short stories, essays and poems by best-selling, award-winning authors and amazing new talent. We’re talking writers like Neil Gaiman, Hideyuki Kikuchi, Guy Gavriel Kay, Patricia McKillip and Joyce Carol Oates. Then there’s the art. In addition to the catalogue of the Virgil Finlay exhibit hosted by World Fantasy Con 2014 and the fifty-image gallery of WFC 2014 Artist Guest of Honor Les Edwards, the collection features over two hundred images of artists from around the world–artists like Alicia Austin, Kathleen Jennings, Dr. Moro and Mahendra Singh. To cap it off, there’s a 100-image pictorial gallery of World Fantasy Cons past. Taken together it’s over 3,200 pages of text.

The anthology was formatted in PDF, MOBI and EPUB on a souvenir thumb drive given away (yep, as free!) to all members of WFC2014. As publications go, it was a very limited edition, but thanks to the generosity of our contributors, we just might be able to offer an electronic version to 2015 Worldcon and World Fantasy Con members if the collection makes it to the final awards ballots.

And if that’s not a reason to vote it on every major ballot, I don’t know what is.

Happy voting!

Posted 2 years, 9 months ago at 10:02 am.

Add a comment

Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens
is officially ticking

Just in time for you to see what all the fuss is about before Zombies Need Brains starts up another Kickstarter, ZNB’s first anthology, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens has landed at a retailer near you. It’s got Steampunk. It’s got little green men, bug-eyed monsters, secret agent chickens and Chihuahuas. What more do you need to know?

A table of contents? We can do that:

“The Cavorite Job” by Ian Tregillis

“Gracie’s Fire” by Leah Cutter

“Quinta Essentia” by Bradley P. Beaulieu

“When Comrade Ekaterina Died for the Motherland” by J.R. Hargenrader

“A Clockwork Alien” by Gini Koch

“Heart of the Empire” by Jason Palmatier

“The Red Queen and the White” by C.B. Pratt

“The Wizard of Woodrow Park” by Jean Marie Ward (me!)

“Of War and Wings” by Tansy Raynor Roberts

“Airship Down: A Sound and Fury Adventure” by Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin

“Steamsuit” by David J. Fortier

“Fingers of Steam, Veins of Gold” by Brad Hafford

“Heart of Clockwork” by S.C. Butler

“Lady Antheia’s Guide to Horticultural Warfare” by Seanan McGuire

All edited by the irrepressible Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, the same folks who brought you The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity and After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar. Wanna taste? I’ve got your excerpt right here. Or you could check out one of the early reviews:

“They take a steampunk nineteenth century…and add aliens. Would Earth even recognize the threat? It’s a nod to industrialism… A high-five to technological advancement… And, above all, kudos to the genius of action-packed prose.”
Word of the Nerd

Not only that, the book comes in all your favorite flavors:

Trade Paperback

Kindle

Kobo

Nook

What are you waiting for? Those Chihuahuas can’t hold out forever, you know. ;-)

Posted 3 years, 2 months ago at 9:57 am.

Add a comment

Ah, that new paint smell!

Earlier this year, I got disgusted with the duplication of effort involved in maintaining a blog (which, I admit, I use more as a newsletter than a daily/weekly journal) and a “News” page on my website. Techno-dummy that I am, I wasn’t sure I could rectify the problem on my own. The header needed to be changed and that entailed reconstructing the accidental combination of typeface and format I blundered into three versions of image/photo software ago. But I did it–I did it!–without breaking the site.

Tonight’s blog is something of a shakedown cruise for the refreshed site. The basic organization remains the same. The pages don’t look noticeably different. But instead of the redundant “News” in the header, there’s a shiny new “Articles” tab, which links to my web-based nonfiction. At the moment you’ll find about fifty links to interviews on Buzzy Mag, a global link to Crescent Blues, and links to two YouTube features I did for personal research and entertainment.

My ultimate goal is to resurrect the articles I did for SciFi Weekly back in the day, and post them on the site. Whether I can will depend on the copyright status of the articles. Resolving that will involve buttonholing my former editor at a con, because naturally the program where the electronic contracts were stored crashed and wiped all the data. Lesson to remember, folks, paper is still god.

I’m also experimenting with a subscription button to provide email updates when I blog, but the first version I tried doesn’t appear to work. Obviously, this calls for more experimentation. I’ll let you know when it’s operational. Until then, you can try, but don’t expect the email they keep promising you. Mine has yet to arrive.

On a more writerly note, The Mammoth Book of Tales from the Vatican Vaults has accepted my equally mammoth retelling of the 1814 Burning of Washington, “Cooking up a Storm”. When I say “mammoth” I mean effing HUGE. I turned in over seventeen thousand words on a call for six. And, oh yeah, the editor and publisher are British, so of course, I made the Brits my villains. The saga of its acceptance is a textbook example of how not to get published. The only thing missing was the typo in the first paragraph (which I managed to do in another submission earlier this year–oops!) Needless to say there was much mad flailing and ecstatic happy dancing when the contract appeared in my inbox.

I’ll post more on the anthology as details become available. But for now just let me say I’ll be sharing page space with my good friends John Grant and Dave Hutchinson, as well as folks like Mary Gentle and Storm Constantine. Release is set for spring 2015.

As you might have gathered from the sidebar, I’ve got a lot of stories appearing in pixels and print this year. “District Coincidental” made it to the Akashic Books website in February. The link will take you to all 750 words of noir-ish goodness (badness? Who knows with noir?)

Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil hit the stands at the end of May. In it you’ll find the latest adventures of Eddie “WOOD LOUSE!” Woodhouse and Ducky “Duc” Orr. The two hapless sorcerers were last seen at the bottom of a jinni’s bottle stinking of absinthe. “Glass Transit”, my story in HF4 tells the tale of how they escape that predicament only to land in a mirror on the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937. Oh the humanity! Oh, the teeny tiny excerpt!

Speaking of Eddie and Ducky, their first adventure (“Burning down the House” from Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy) will be reprinted with added monkey and Tuckerization in Dance Like a Monkey, the charity anthology to support the inimitable C.J. Henderson during his cancer treatments. That anthology is scheduled for release in a month or two.

It should appear on the shelves about the same time as The Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, the first anthology from Zombies Need Brains, Joshua Palmatier’s new publishing venture. Joshua and Patricia Bray were the editors of The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity. They had so much fun with that anthology and After Hours: Tales from the Ur Bar they decided to create their own press to publish more.

My contribution to The Clockwork Universe, “The Wizard of Woodrow Park”, involved stuffing a sentient chicken into the head of a Daniel Craig clone and sending him after an anthropologist missing for seventeen years in a steam-powered world. I also punked out a Chihuahua. Imagine my consternation when I discovered people really are putting titanium crowns on the teeth of dogs attached to Special Forces teams. DUDES! I was trying for ABSURD! Though I suppose the secret agent chicken probably has that covered…

Finally, this entry would not be complete without mentioning Athena’s Daughters, the record-busting Kickstarter literary anthology. The anthology’s tag line is: Stories about strong women by strong women. To which I should add: Introduced and illustrated by strong women, too. Both the print and electronic versions are now available from Silence in the Library Publishing and should be available from online and bricks-and-mortar retailers soon.

Given the company–Mary Robinette Kowal, Sherwood Smith, Gail Z. Martin, Diana Peterfreund, Jean Rabe, Janine Spendlove and so many more–I can’t tell you how honored I was to be included. But it gets better. My story, “A Gap in the Fence”, closes the collection. I still can’t believe it. It’s a gentle story, but one that means a lot to me. I hope readers will feel the same.

That’s it for now. Happy reading!

Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 8:05 pm.

Add a comment

Looking ahead

Art by Kelli Neier

Those of you who obsessively check sidebars (there’s gotta be one of you, right?) will have noticed the release of Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil has been pushed back again, and I still don’t have a release date for Gaslight & Grimm. (Boo.) But a new story and a new convention have joined the list. (Win!)
First and foremost in any writer’s mind is the latest acceptance. “The Gap in the Fence” is one of my favorite contemporary fantasies, but I wasn’t sure it would find a home. Then Janine Spendlove and Ron Garner of Silence in the Library Publishing invited me to submit a story to Athena’s Daughters. The fit between story and anthology was so close, it’s almost as if I wrote it with Athena’s Daughters in mind.
Athena’s Daughters will be the subject of a Kickstarter later in the year. The first level will fund the ebook, which features the beautiful cover by Kelli Neier shown here. As we go up the levels, there will be additional authors, illustrations and a paper edition. You better believe I’ll have more about that as we get closer to launch.
Also listed is my first confirmed con of 2014: World Fantasy Con. The 2014 edition will be happening just a few minutes from my home. But this is one local on I won’t be commuting to. I plan to party!
I also plan to party at next weekend’s Capclave, and I’ll be posting my schedule early next week. Hope to see you there!

Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 10:00 am.

Add a comment

“Burning Down the House” for Fun and Promo

I missed the posting deadline for Six Sentence Sunday for the second week in a row. Bad blogger, that’s me. By way of apology, I thought I’d offer a slightly longer excerpt from “Burning Down the House” from Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy which will be launched at Balticon, May 25-28. I promise to share the date, time and details as soon as I learn them. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy what happens after our poor protagonist Eddie Woodhouse sits in that big comfy chair:

“Do you have the bottle?” he asked.

A flash from the dance floor lit her eyes like an evil smile. She placed an empty absinthe bottle on the table.

“May your next transfer run as smoothly as the one from your bank.” The blare of the music muted the scrape of her scimitar nails along the glass. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do this someplace more private?”

“No.” The jinni inside him lashed his face. He couldn’t hide the bulge of their shared skin or his flinch of pain.

The woman added teeth to her smile. “Your funeral. I trust you’ll be more careful where you stick your straw in the future.”

Her exit line raised a different kind of welt, but he didn’t care as long as she left. Nobody paid any attention to a fat man in a club full of beautiful people. More importantly, the security cams and warding spells focused on the tables would keep her from trying anything more than what he paid for. He’d never been a contender in the magical department, but he never thought he’d sink so low that he’d owe his life to the sorcerous paranoia of Ducky “Duc d’Or”.

Eddie’s teeth chattered against the glass as he closed his lips around the neck of the bottle and chanted the first of the thirty-one goetic evocations from The Secret Key of Solomon under his breath. The words didn’t always make sense, but he suspected the real spell lay in his mind’s desperate prayer: “Take this damned thing outta me and I’ll never do magic. I’ll never so much as make a wish. Never. Ever.”

The words burned his throat. Never. The jinni swelled inside his lungs until he thought his ribs would explode. Ever.

#

What happens next? Well, you’ll just have to read the story–or come to the launch–to find out.

Posted 5 years, 6 months ago at 1:51 pm.

Add a comment

We’ve got reviews! And award nods!

Modern Fae Cover for "On the Shelves"

While I’ve been groveling–er, adjusting to The New Management, things have been popping on the news front. Hellebore and Rue has been named as a Goldie Award Finalist in Speculative Fiction, along with a collaboration between our editor Joselle Vanderhooft and Hellebore and Rue contributor and publisher Steve Berman. Which makes it a great time to plug Joselle’s freelance editorial services and fellow Hellebore editor Catherine Lundoff’s fiction and editorial projects. Speaking of Hellebore & Rue and Catherine, they’re both up for Lesbian Fiction Reader’s Choice Awards. Vote early and often.

Meanwhile, the world has been showing review love for The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity. The first is from Night Owl Sci-Fi, which mentions my story “Fixed” along side Elizabeth Bear’s, Anton Strout’s and April Steenburgh’s. (You should see my grin.) The second is from Janicu’s Book Blog on Live Journal, which gives you a little taste of every story in the collection. Obviously it’s time to update my review links. :-)

Posted 5 years, 6 months ago at 9:34 am.

Add a comment

Six Sentence Sunday: “Burning Down the House”

Jinn Rummy, Draft Cover

Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy

Balticon is less than four weeks away, and I’ll be participating in two (count ‘em, two!) launch parties for two amazing anthologies, The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity and Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy. In honor of the occasions, this month’s Six Sentence Sundays will be devoted to the stories featured in those anthologies. Since you’ve already had several snippets from “Fixed”, let’s take a taste of “Burning Down the House”, my story in Hellfire Lounge 3. Enjoy!

Eddie Woodhouse lurched between the tables of the Sixth Circle Club, apologizing every ponderous step of the way. Carrying a full-grown jinni inside his skin was hell. Its spine-crushing weight was only the start. Despite the swelter of July in New York, his thermal fleece sweatsuit, the heat of the crowd and the flames jetting in the six upright iron cages evenly spaced along the club’s circular wall, it was all he could do to keep from shivering as he approached the sorceress waiting at the shadowed table furthest from the door.

Gritting his teeth, he eased his tripled girth into the wide-armed leather chair across from her. The puffy cushions clenched around him like a boxing glove around a fist.

#

To read the rest, you’ll have to buy the book–and you can get it at Balticon. Hope to see you there.

Posted 5 years, 6 months ago at 8:00 am.

10 comments

Six Sentence Sunday: “Fixed”, Part 4

Modern Fae Cover for "On the Shelves"

Here it is, your last Six Sentence Sunday entry for the month of “Fixed”, my story in The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity. And because I am evil, it is a cliffhanger. If you want to read more, well, you just have to buy the book. ;-)

spacer

“Just as I thought,” she said. “Prepare this animal for surgery. I need to operate immediately.”
His head shot upward. Backed against the steel bars, he couldn’t help seeing past her glamour. The lines scoring her forehead and bracketing the corners of her wide, lipsticked mouth floated like a painted veil over a pale, ageless face as perfect as a marble Madonna.

spacer

#

Posted 5 years, 7 months ago at 8:00 am.

8 comments

Six Sentence Sunday: “Fixed”, Part 3

Modern Fae Cover 1400

spacer

Last week I fell down on the Six Sentence Sunday job. Hey, a girl and her sweetie get only one anniversary a year. But I’m back with a third selection from “Fixed”, my story in the fabulous anthology The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity. Enjoy!

spacer

Even the kittens shut up, pressing their bodies to the wet plastic floor of their cage. A chill brushed his spine, lifting fur that had just begun to relax. Jack’s ability to sense magic was no better than human. The difference was he knew it existed and taught himself to read the warning signs in other animals. This one was lit up in neon. He hunkered down and tried to think cat thoughts; the last thing he wanted was to attract any kind of magical attention.

#

Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 8:00 am.

12 comments