Thursday, June 4, 2020

My (Dis)Honorable Mention

[If you’re coming to this post from Discord, just skip down to the story. This intro is old news to you.]

I was delighted on Sunday to open my email and discover that a flash fiction story I had entered in a contest hosted by Semi-Sages of the Pages (a podcast I would recommend to anyone who is seriously interested in writing better fiction) was chosen as a runner-up. What’s more, the ladies of SSotP actually read the winning stories aloud on Sunday afternoon.

Alas, I was unavailable to listen to the live broadcast. (Also, I haven’t really taken the time to figure out how Discord works yet.)

But I finally got around to listening to that podcast Thursday night, and I was buzzing with the anticipation of hearing my story read. So I’m listening along through the first story, then the second, then the third (saving the best for last, tee-hee tee-hee!), and then a fourth one (wait, weren’t they only picking four winners?), and then . . .

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Body Politic: Order It Now!

It's here! The Body Politic: A Parable for the Twenty-first Century is now available to order on Amazon for only $8.99.

The 120-page book contains three stories:
“All the girls at Ellen’s eleventh birthday party were having a great time until her pinkie finger fell off.” Like any pandemic, it started with just a few isolated cases that couldn’t be easily explained. But even after it took hold around the world, scientists could find no cause, no common source, no traceable vector. Could that eleven-year-old girl, one of the plague’s earliest victims, discover the cause and the cure that even science could not fathom in “The Body Politic”?
In “The Perfect Gift,” Matthew has found the most amazing birthday present for Joan. But a gift this personal might reveal once and for all his secret feelings for her. What if she finally understands that he loves her? Or worse, what if she doesn’t?
What would you do if you won the world’s first trillion-dollar lotto? You can guess what Eldridge does with his winnings in the story titled “The Man Who Bought the Moon,” but he soon learns that owning all that lunar real estate isn’t as satisfying as he had hoped, as each new day begins with the same question: What next?
My thanks again to Rue Sparks for the great cover image, and to my writers critique group, Indy Pen to Paper, for helping me mold these stories into something I can be proud of. I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Body Politic: Cover Reveal

I am giddy to announce that Rue Sparks has put the finishing touches on the cover of my forthcoming book The Body Politic, and I couldn't be happier. Here it is!



They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but feel free to make an exception in this case.

Working with an illustrator to craft the concept and then fine-tune the details was a new experience for me. Although the book contains three stories, “The Body Politic” is the centerpiece and the one I wanted the cover image to focus on.

I talked Rue briefly through the story when I first raised the possibility of commissioning them to create this cover. I didn't commit to anything right away, but Rue immediately came up with some rough sketches that got me thinking. I sent the email to actually commit to the commission the day my coronavirus stimulus check dropped into my bank account.

Then, over the next two weeks or so, Rue emailed sketches of ideas, possible color schemes, and reference pieces. I gave some feedback and suggestions and asked some questions, and, at the end, we landed on a rough sketch that I was excited about:




Then Rue made a transfer image, with new lettering, that would be used for the final image. It was my last chance to make any changes! (I didn't have any.)



From this sketch, Rue completed the image in pencil, putting in all the wonderful shading and details. What’s more, they did it in a livestream on Twitch; you can watch the previous image turn into the next one on Rue’s Twitch channel.



Finally, Rue took the image into Photoshop for the finishing touches — color! — and voilà!

I hope to have The Body Politic available to order very soon (it depends in part on Amazon). Follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook for the latest, and, of course, watch this space!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Words with Fiends

Is there a word in English for something we don't have a word for in English?


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Body Politic: The Big Book Announcement

Coming soon to an online retail giant named after a big ol’ river near you!



via GIPHY

Coming in early May, my new novelette, The Body Politic: A Parable for the Twenty-first Century.

It begins like this: “All the girls at Ellen’s eleventh birthday party were having a great time until her pinkie finger fell off.”

Like any pandemic, the disease that social media has named dropsy started with just a few isolated cases that couldn’t be easily explained. But even as it was taking hold around the world, scientists could find no cause, no common source, no traceable vector. Could that eleven-year-old girl, one of the plague’s earliest victims, discover the cause and the cure that even science could not fathom? And what does it mean for the future of the human race?

All will be answered. (Okay, most will be answered. That last one’s up to your own optimistic, cynical, or realistic view of humanity.)

Also included in this book are two short stories:

In “The Perfect Gift,” Matthew has found the most amazing birthday present for Joan. But a gift this personal might reveal once and for all his secret feelings for her. What if she finally understands that he loves her? Or worse, what if she doesn’t?

(You might have read this one before. It was the first story I ever sold and is still online at SaturdayEveningPost.com.)

What would you do if you won the world’s first trillion-dollar lotto? You can guess what Eldridge does with his winnings in the story titled “The Man Who Bought the Moon.” But he soon learns that owning all that lunar real estate isn’t as satisfying as he had hoped, as each new day begins with the same question: What next?

Just as exciting (but much less nerve-wracking) as this forthcoming publication is the book’s cover. I’ve enlisted the talents of Rue Sparks (who also writes) to illustrate it. We finally decided on the design this week, and I’m giddy with anticipation of the final product.

No firm decision yet on the price (it won’t be expensive), or even exactly when it will be available to order on Mekong.net Amazon.com. But I hope some of you feel some sense of anticipation for it. Get giddy with it.

More info coming soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Wordiness Is Next to Godliness

Like the flu and the coronavirus, language is constantly evolving.


This week’s word-link list is a bit brief. We had a bit of an emergency in the Hollandbeck household this week — involving my 72-year-old father, an unstable ladder, and four or five broken ribs — that left me relocated and rather busy. Thankfully, the injured party should recover fully, eventually.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

My Intellectual Ancestor?

While reading Dennis Baron's new book What's Your Pronoun? during lunch today, I was surprised and delighted to find a reference to someone I can only conclude is my intellectual ancestor. The Ladies' Repository in July of 1864 printed a piece called "An Epicene Personal Pronoun Needed" that was attributed to someone called Philologus.

This pseudonym is built from the same Greek roots as my blogging nom de plume, only in the opposite order: philos "loving" and logos "words, speech."

For writers and editors, the conspicuous absence of a nongendered third person singular pronoun has long been recognized. This Philologus proposed ve, vis, and vim — as in "Someone left vis smartphone in the locker room. Ve'll want it back, so I'm trying to find out who owns it so I can get it back to vim."

Obviously, it didn't catch on, like nearly all of the more than 200 proposed pronouns that Dennis Baron chronicles in What's Your Pronoun? I'm nearing the halfway point of this book, but I can already recommend it to anyone interested in nongendered language, grammatical arguments, the intersection of grammar and politics, language history, or gender equity.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

War of Wordcraft

Words can be dangerous, but so can silence. It's up to you to choose which is the better weapon.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Let's Talk about Lex

This week's contributions to the exploration of English are nothing to fneeze at.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday, January 4, 2020

New Year, Same Old Language — January 4, 2020

Start this brand new, pristine year full of hope with more of the same types of stuff you ended the previous year with. Hurrah, or something.