Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Orbit of Mercury: Two Stories for 99₵

Now available for Kindle and Nook!

The Earth is a toxic wasteland, but elsewhere in the solar system humanity struggles on.

“The Orbit of Mercury” - The common cat is almost extinct and their survival may hinge on one sickly member of the species living long enough to breed. But how do you get an ornery, uncooperative feline to take his medicine – in zero g?

“The Transit of Venus” – Growing up on the moon, a young girl named Venera has lived her whole life in the shadow of death and loss. On the eve of her proudest accomplishment, will she suffer one final loss that even she cannot bear?


I uploaded these stories as part of a "DIY: Create Your Own Ebook" demonstration for the Hoover Library's Write Club back in September. The Kindle version has actually been online for a while, but there was some kind of server hang-up with my BN account that kept the Nook version tied up in limbo until now. And I love my Nook, so I didn't want to promote this until it was available in both formats.

Anyway, in case I'm being too subtle, go buy your copy today! It's only 99₵ for crying out loud.

Shameless Publicity Roundup:

Two rather nice reviews that mention The Unwinding House have appeared online, one at SFRevu and the other at Locus. Also, I did interviews on my involvement with National Novel Writing Month for Magic City Post and a local Birmingham publishing blog called {head}:sub/head. Follow the links and show them some love!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 is GO

Once again, National Novel Writing Month is on, and once more I'm plowing my way through 50,000 words while acting as Birmingham's Municipal Liaison. My goal this year is to finally complete The Ghost Cauldron, which I started in Nano 2010 and continued in 2011.

So, if you're both a writer and a lunatic with no concept of reasonable expectations or healthy aspirations, sign up yourself here, check out our regional forum here, or visit my personal Nano page here (under my nom de guerre, Tycho Brahe). This year the state of Delaware has declared Word War on us, so that should be pretty interesting. Can one southern city take on an entire state? I guess we'll find out.

Now leave me alone. I'm writing.


EDIT: Southampton, England had joined the word war battle, and being Eastern Hemisphere they've got a little head start on us.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"The Unwinding House" in Kaleidotrope

My story "The Unwinding House" just appeared online in the Autumn 2012 issue of Kaleidotrope! Here's an excerpt:
“What you need to understand is that time doesn’t work right in Camden. It hasn’t since the bomb.” Aaron clenched his hands under the table so the man from Homeland Security wouldn’t see them shaking.
“That’s what this is all about, isn’t it, Dr. Trinh?” asked Special Agent Tresser. He glanced at his notes and the side of his mouth curled. “So I guess I shouldn’t ask you to start at the beginning?”
“It’s not Doctor,” said Aaron. “Not yet. I’m just Paul Danson’s research assistant. Was, I mean.” Get a grip. Acting like a jittery wreck would only make matters worse.
“That’s all right,” said Tresser. “We’ll take it slow. Let’s start with your arrival on the 23rd.”
* * *
When Aaron and Dr. Danson first choppered into Camden, it was 10:45 in the morning. Aaron remembered, because he was so very tired. He hadn’t slept for thirty hours and he couldn’t seem to keep the crust out of his eyes. His mouth was dry and there was a buzz in the back of his head that had nothing to do with helicopter blades.
“My God,” said Danson as he peered out the window. “You’ve got to see this.” Aaron wasn’t sure if it was safe to get up, but he unbuckled and craned over his professor’s shoulder.
Camden had been a quaint little hamlet in the Colorado Rockies an hour’s drive from I-70. Now it was a crater in the valley floor.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bad Writer No Blog

I know, I know... I've been negligent about tending the blog for a while. To be fair, I've spent a bit of that time in Africa on Safari, visiting Victoria Falls, tooling around Zanzibar, and randomly taking pictures of guys like this fella:

Ah, hell, just have a look at my whole Flickr page if you're interested.

Anyway, I've got a couple of new story sales coming down the pipe, which I'll announce as soon as they're in print. Summer Gothic is doing well at the moment, and I happen to know that all the copies in the local library system stay checked out pretty much all the time. I'm gearing up a couple of workshops for Write Club in the fall, one on making your own ebooks and one on surviving NaNoWriMo. And to make up for my absence from this blog all summer, here's a free story:

Rocket Science

by Jared Millet

Orion had not yet set when Tom squeezed through his bedroom window. The thin snow-ice crunched under his weight when he lowered himself to the ground. He pulled his backpack behind him, careful not to let its contents clink, then reached back inside for a two-foot cardboard cylinder with a plastic nosecone and plywood fins.

No one watched him but the trees, black pillars on a sleeping, white landscape. Mars burned in the south, Viking red, with baleful Saturn nearby. He tightened his shoulder straps so his backpack wouldn’t slide, then dashed across the yard in the sharp morning air, counting on speed more than silence not to wake his parents. He had ninety minutes to complete his mission. He’d prefer that no one found out, but once he’d done what he had to it wouldn’t matter.

Planning was everything, his grandfather taught him. Think through every contingency while being flexible enough to cope with the unexpected. Tom’s grandfather had known better than most, since he’d laid plans for men to walk on a whiter, colder plain than this, two hundred thousand miles distant with a shining blue planet in the sky.

Behind the patch of trees was a gully with a floor of ice. Tom had played there every winter and hadn’t slipped once since the time he broke his arm in junior high. The gully kept him from view of the neighbors’ houses and led, winding for a mile, to a field near the farm co-op. In spring the field was for softball, but in summer the grass was too high for anything but endless games of tag. In winter, his grandfather would take him there on cloudless nights to gaze at eternity through a polished lens.

That old man with the telescope and mug of coffee had also been a strong man, tall and proud in the hot Florida sun. In Tom’s earliest memory, the wind carried salt spray and the tang of sea-grass, but his young eyes were only for the giant, gleaming needle farther up the shore. The countdown rang through the air, and Tom’s grandfather lifted him into his lap and covered his toddler’s ears. The rumble rattled the young boy’s bones, but his grandfather’s hands held him steady as the shining rocket pierced the heavens to thunder like the roar of God.

It was a small god they prayed to in the chapel on Sunday, a god small enough to comfort Tom’s weeping mother while he sat in the back and nodded at condolences from people he barely knew. The service wasn’t for his grandfather, but for the family. As far as Tom knew, his grandfather hadn’t set foot in a church more than twice in his life. His God measured time by eons, His word was the voice of mathematics, and His church the infinite sky.

The sky was starting to blur when Tom reached the empty field. The backpack was secure, but he carefully tossed the rocket ahead of him so he could climb the ditch with both hands, trusting that the snow wouldn’t damage its fins. Before pulling himself out, he scanned the surroundings to make sure he was alone. The air was perfectly still, but wisps of cloud reflected the lights of the stirring town.

Tom had been nodding off in class when the news came. It was a frosty January, and the overcranked school heater would have put anyone to sleep. He was only marking time until the Shuttle launch on TV. It was odd for anyone to care, but this time some teacher from New Hampshire was going into space so all the students got to watch. Challenger’s lift-off was still some minutes away when the secretary called him to the office and told him that his grandfather had passed.

At the service, Tom’s aunts and uncles clucked about how lucky it was that his grandfather hadn’t had to witness the disaster, how it would have broken his heart. Tom clenched his jaw but said nothing. His grandfather had seen the fire on Apollo 1; he’d gone days without sleep to bring the men on Apollo 13 home. He knew the risks of space flight, and he’d have been the last to flinch away.

Tom tried not to think about that. Instead, he focused on the mission.

The day before, he’d cleared the snow from the rise that served as the pitcher’s mound. From his backpack he pulled a plastic tripod and affixed the metal blast-plate and the rod that would guide the launch. He slid the cardboard rocket into place and, hands shaking, popped off the nose. He’d removed the bulky parachute before leaving home, for there would be no return from this voyage and he had to make room for the passenger.

It had been easy to steal the ashes. The family knew how close Tom had been to his grandfather, so they trusted him implicitly. While they said their prayers and offered remembrances, Tom scraped the old man into a freezer bag and replaced him with leavings from his fireplace.

He didn’t quite fit in the rocket, despite how tightly Tom packed him, so part of him ended up scattered on the launch pad. With the model engine Tom was using, the rocket would reach an altitude of a thousand feet, and then a charge would blow it open and send his grandfather into the wind. It wasn’t the same as going into space, but it was better than sitting on a shelf.

The countdown this time was silent, as Tom caressed the igniter with his thumb. The blast would be more of a whistle than a roar. A morning breeze tickled the ice that had formed on his cheek. Fires of sunlight warmed the horizon, but the stars remained for a few minutes more, waiting to welcome their earth-bound brother in 3… 2… 1…

This story is copyright 2012 Jared Millet.

It was performed on March 20, 2012, at the Hoover Public Library Flash Fiction Night, sponsored by the Hoover Library Write Club.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Alabama Phoenix Festival RECAP

Welcome to my semi-tardy post-APF blog entry. And a special "Howdy, Comrades!" to all the Russian spambots that keep pinging my site. Nice to see ya!

I never did remember to bring my camera, so I got up from my booth for a few minutes Sunday afternoon, ran around, and snapped some god-awful poor pics with my cell phone, just to get a flavor of Authors Row. Came out a little something like this:

Yeah, I know, they're blurry and awful. Whaddaya want? Better pictures? Better truck on over to the official Festival Facebook page.

Word around the campfire is that we had about 1700 attendees, and I've heard nothing but praise from the other guests who attended. Had a pretty good time myself, as a matter of fact. Somehow I got the very first booth down the aisle on Authors Row, but I never figured out if that was good or bad. I did sell me a few copies of Summer Gothic (the proceeds of which I quickly blew in the dealer's room) and spent a lot of time getting to know my next-table neighbors, John Durden and Cam Crowder, author of Electus. Never did make it to an Adam Baldwin panel, but I hobnobbed with most of the other authors and watched Doctor Osborn make balloon animals, balloon hats, balloon firearms, balloon Ghostbuster particle accelerators, and yes - a man-sized balloon dragon skeleton.

Oh, and they let me sit on panels. (The fools.) Most of the time I felt like a college freshman rubbing shoulders with PhDs, but it was fun. Other guests on the author track included Lou Anders, J.F. Lewis, Kimberly Richardson, Allan Gilbreath, Van Allen Plexico, Bobby Nash, Jennie Breeden, and others whom I'm sure I'm forgetting. Topics I spoke on included two Steampunk panels, one on Pulp, one on marketing, one on what editors want, but the most fun was the "Dead Author Society," in which Kimberly, Van, and I pretended to be Edgar Allen Poe, Carl Sagan, and Robert E. Howard respectively and answered audience questions on their behalf.

Will I go back next year? You betcha. Will they let me? Wait and see.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Alabama Phoenix Festival Schedule

Be there or be square.

Come down to the Cahaba Grand off of Hwy 280 in Birmingham this weekend and fork over your registration fee. In addition to making a nuisance of myself and forcing people to buy copies of Summer Gothic, I'll be sitting on the following panels:

Fri., May 25:

5:00 p.m. - Steampunk History

Sat., May 26:

11:30 a.m. - Marketing 101
2:30 p.m. - Steampunk Stories
4:00 p.m. - The Bloody Pulps
7:00 p.m. - Dead Authors Society

Sun., May 27:

2:30 p.m. - What Editors Look For

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Alabama Phoenix Festival - May 25-27!

I can't believe this is almost upon us - the Alabama Phoenix Festival, Birmingham's brand new science fiction & fantasy convention, at which I will be attending as a guest!

Why have I not made a bigger deal of this before now? Probably because of the nagging fear that if I called attention to the fact that I was attending not just as a fan but as editor of Summer Gothic, the gods would take notice and find some way to smite me. Wrong thing to do, I know, especially when I should be in promote promote promote mode.

Anyhow, the convention will be held at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center on Hwy 280 (conveniently close to my house, no less) from May 25-27. (Right during my 10th wedding anniversary. The gods aren't the only ones who might smite me.)

In addition to selling and signing copies of Summer Gothic (Did I order too many? Not enough?) I'll be participating in a number of panel discussions, such as "The Bloody Pulps," "What Editors Look For," "Gardeners vs. Architects," and "Dead Authors Society."

Good times! Hopefully I'll get a breather in there to go raid the dealer's room.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Summer Gothic: Where It's At

Four weeks out of the gate, and how's the baby doing?

For starters, there are almost 200 copies of Summer Gothic in print - not bad for a regional self-published anthology less than a month old. Right now I'm giving away five copies over at Goodreads. They're still taking entries until Friday, but so far over 350 people have signed up to win, and as of this writing almost 80 Goodreads members have added it to their "to read" shelf.

This Thursday, I and several of my fellow contributors will be making a visit to the Birmingham chapter of Sisters in Crime, courtesy of the wonderful Margaret Fenton (author of Little Lamb Lost and the Summer Gothic story "Fourth of July." We'll be talking about the anthology and hopefully selling a few copies. The program will be Thursday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. at the Homewood Public Library.

After that, I'll be presenting a play-by-play of the self-publication process (the grimy bits, not the flashy bits) at the next meeting of Write Club at the Hoover Public Library on Saturday, April 28, 10:30 a.m. Also on the horizon is my appearance as a guest (!!) at the Alabama Phoenix Festival, Birmingham's new SFF convention, on Memorial Day weekend.

Looks like a busy Spring.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Write Club Flash Fiction Night 2012!

Check it out! It's my first blog post in months that doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with Summer Gothic, now available as an ebook for both Kindle and Nook for the low, low price of $4.99.

Oops. Sorry.

This year the Write Club put on a fantastic program, with as diverse a range of stories as we've ever had (including one story-poem and a short play). In program order, the stories are:

Sean DeArmond – “The Unseen Kingdom”

Tommie Willis – Burl’s Recovery : “Prologue”

Carol Wild – “The Jeremiah Version”

Larry Hensley – “Plumbing 101: Real World Meets YouTube”

Emily Cutler – “Going for the Laughs”
(performed by Sean DeArmond and Sarah Virginia Brock)

Sandy Bergeron – “Dear Publisher’s Clearing House”

Robert Caldwell – Bulwer Lytton entries

Leslie L. Golden – “When You Marry Trash”

Lara Penney – “Stray Wolf”

Phil Fishman – “The Ring”

Mary Rees – “Magic”

Michael Virga – “The Woman with the White Veil”

Denise Dupree – “Bad Timing: Revelations”

Jason Head – “A Nefarious Cousin”

Ray Busler – “The Library Tale”

Jared Millet – “Rocket Science”

And an excellent time was had by all!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Summer Gothic is now for sale!

It's been a long time coming, but you can now pick up over 300 pages of excellent, excellent ghost stories for the perfectly reasonable price of $14.95 either at the Summer Gothic eStore or at Amazon, whichever you prefer.

Ebook versions and sales at other vendors will be available shortly.

Update: Author Suzanne Johnson is giving a free signed copy to one lucky winner. Sign up while you can!


"My Best Girl" by Michael P. Wines

"The Beaky Bunch" by Ingrid Seymour

"Dead in Me" by Teresa Howard

"Sugar Baby" by Lindsey Robinson

"The Reproach" by Ray Busler

"Beachfront" by Sean DeArmond

"The Colors" by Julia Jones Thompson

"Nancy's Jog" by Larry Williamson

"The House Near the Covered Bridge" by Mary Brunini McArdle

"Wayward" by Megan Ingram

"The Haunted House" by Larry Hensley

"The Apparition" by Bret Williams

"Fourth of July" by Margaret Fenton

"Shades of History" by Lin Nielsen

"Family Ties" by Joan Kennedy

"The Exorcism of Mary's House" by Jessica Penot

"The Ghost of Bear Creek Swamp" by Tracy Williams

"Feral" by C. M. Koenig

"Earl and Bubba Save the King" by Louise Herring-Jones

"Summer Forever" by J. M. Gruber

"Hurricane Season" by Jared Millet

"All the Good I Could" by Suzanne Johnson

In other news, last night the third annual Flash Fiction Night was held at the Hoover Public Library, and a good time was had by all. I'll post the video as soon as it's available.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Summer Gothic: Three Days

Summer Gothic goes on sale Tuesday, March 20, 2012. 

That is all.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Summer Gothic: I have proof!

 My gods, it's real.



Anyway, I'm a little excited about this. All week I'd been cringing in terror that I'd somehow screwed up the cover or some key element of formatting, but no, it looks good. It looks like a book!

And despite the weeks I spent proofreading the damn thing, I already found a typo. In my own story.

*sigh* - So it goes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Summer Gothic: Crawling Forward

We've got a cover! There it is.

That's the same graveyard image I've been using on the temporary art for a while, and the "ghost" is Haleigh Huggins, the daughter of a friend of mine who agreed to play along. (Hi, Haleigh!) My wife Lea made the dress and hovered over my shoulder while I painstakingly merged her into frame, offering advice like "That's too sharp. That's too blurry. That's too shiny. Her fingers are messed up. That filter makes her look too green. Something's showing through her forehead."

Criticism is the best antidote to error, saith David Brin, and  the whole thing came together well because of it.

This fell beast is getting closer and closer to completion.

Meanwhile, it's time I got my ass back to writing. I still need to churn out "Rocket Science" for this year's Flash Fiction Night, I need to write a third Perrilloux story to submit for Dreams of Steam 3, and I need to finish draft #10 of The Blood Prayer, since I've found another poor sucker willing to proofread it. However, last night the whole first paragraph of my 1950's time travel pulp novel burst fully-formed out of my brain and I've got to stop myself from going any further on that particular project until a few of the others are out of the way. Oh, and I have to rewrite my kayak story with yet another new ending.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Summer Gothic, and other bits

Quick Summer Gothic update: I sent all the story critiques out over a week ago, and half of the revised, pretty-much-final drafts are in. Specifically, I've got 11 of the twenty-ish stories I want to publish now sitting in my Master Document, and I'm just waiting on the others. I've given people until February 15 to do the rewrites, but that doesn't stop me from being antsy.

This weekend: the cover shoot! I'll be sticking with the stock "overgrown graveyard" photo I've been using in the promotional material so far, but I've got a friend's daughter who's agreed to be the obligatory Dead Person who I plan to "ghost" into the image (assuming I can make it look professional and not half-assed).

In other news:

  • Flash Fiction Night 2012 is set for March 20, 7:00 p.m., at the Hoover Public Library. There are still plenty of slots for participants, so let me know or call the Hoover fiction department at (205) 444-7800 if you have a story you'd like to present.
  • Kerlak has opened a story call for Dreams of Steam III, so I get to do another of my "Perrilloux" stories. Hopefully I'll be able to get into the collection again; the first two have been so successful that the competition to be in Vol.3 will probably be pretty fierce.