You Should be Reading: “Sic Semper” by Kristopher Reisz

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by people who either support creative works, or are creative types themselves. I know singer/songwriters, cosplayers, artists of various mediums, and of course a couple of writer-types. We keep each other confident during our bouts of writer’s block and celebrate each others accomplishments. One of those writer-types is Kris Reisz, who has an awesome name and an awesome short story out at Crossed Genre right now.  Here’s a teaser:

Vladislav IX had been the first monarch ever assassinated by bullet, a fact his ghost was quite proud of. “No brutish stabbing and hacking for me!” he crowed. “Powder and lead, efficient and to the point.”

Backed against the wall of the royal crypt, Alexander nodded. “Sure… I can tell.” The historic shot had left Vladislav IX with very little face above his curled white mustachios. This made talking to him unsettling. Luckily, the ghost carried most of the conversation.

“My reign was very forward-looking that way. I was also the first Cynanian monarch to eat a plantain.”

“Oh? Did you like it?”

“Not particularly. Mushy.”

Alexander kept nodding. He tried to remember something about Vladislav IX’s reign he might add to the conversation, but the truth was, Cynan had lots of Kings Vladislav. After a while, they all blurred together into one endless mustachio.

Just then, the shade of Queen Ludmila the First drifted close. “Vlad, stop pestering him. Can’t you see he’s nervous?”

Vladislav IX harrumphed. “I’m simply giving him some historical context for what he’s about to do.”

“He doesn’t need any historical context.” Queen Ludmila smiled at Alexander. “Just do what comes naturally, dear. Assassination isn’t difficult.”

Alexander gulped. “Y-you know why I’m here?”

The ghosts filling the royal crypts laughed. “We’re nobles, boy! Can’t slip an assassin past us,” Boris the Younger said.

“Unless he’s hiding in the privy with a spear, eh, Boris?” asked Mad King Casimir. This made all the ghosts – except Boris – laugh even harder. Boris the Younger (also known to the annals as the Man-Eater King and Boris Lutheran-Bane) snipped back, “Well, at least I wasn’t poisoned like some woman!”

“No, you just died with a spear-point rammed up your–”

“Lords, please!” Queen Ludmila drifted between them, then turned back to Alexander. “The point is, you’re hiding in the royal crypt fiddling with a gun. I’d know what you were up to even if I hadn’t killed my husband’s first wife.”

Alexander stuffed the revolver in his pocket, but the queen was right. He was here to kill the king.

Read the rest of “Sic Semper” at Crossed Genres. While you’re there, feel free to donate or purchase a subscription to get more stories and support the site. It’s a really rad publication, with lots of opportunities for authors to submit stories. Even if you don’t have the pleasure of knowing Kris like I do, you will enjoy his works. So go read!

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Daily Science Fiction and the Itsy-Bitsy Teenie-Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Word Count

Breaking news!  By breaking, I of course mean, “I read about this last week and am just getting around to telling other people about it!”

Daily Science Fiction has moved their maximum accepted word count from 10k down to a lean 1.5k.  The announcement came and went as a header for a story with little fanfare, an e-mail I deleted because I am an idiot and reflexively delete stories once I am done reading them.  There was no notice on their Face Book page, nor any mention of it on the main DSF website that I could find other than an edited submissions page that reflects the new word count limit. I do not think this is a negative move, as the owners and editors of DSF may do as they very damn well please with their submission guidelines and, as I recall from my deleted e-mail, are moving towards shorter stories in response to their audience’s desire for a more true “quick-fix fiction” story in their inbox each day. This shorter word count will also strip away the longer stories typically published on Fridays.

DSF is a voracious market that demands literally hundreds of stories a year to keep pace with its publishing schedule and I can not blame them for moving to smaller stories for shorted processing times in regards to slush pile navigation and the necessary editing process that touches stories of all lengths. It also helps cut back on the cost of paying authors, which even as an author who has and will continue to submit to DSF, I don’t see this as a bad thing. DSF will keep their 8 cents a word payment and I respect that a lot. If this was a cost-saving maneuver on their behalf then I would prefer that they take shorter stories and maintain their status as a Qualifying Short Fiction Venue for SFWA.

Daily Science Fiction is an awesome market, and I highly encourage anyone with a shorty-short story to throw their hat into the slush pile.  No, wait, throw your story into the slush pile. You would probably ruin a hat doing that.

 

 

Diabolical Plots Reviews “The Witch’s Cat”

Diabolical Plots, in case you weren’t aware, is a cool website that does a lot of literary reviews. One of their more impressive feats is their devotion to reviewing each and every Daily Science Fiction story that gets published. You can also find The Grinder on their site, which is a story submission database and a great tool for researching available markets.

Here’s what they had to say about my story:

A tribute of a town’s savior shows up at the doorstep of a young lady’s home in The Witch’s Cat by Kalisa Ann Lessnau (debut 9/5 and reviewed by Frank D). The companion of a Witch takes to the protagonist when its master dies. The Witch did much for the town. The people she helped all whisper their thanks to the cat (named Sampson) as the protagonist walks tours the community. Sampson contributes to the bonfire while the town performs one last tribute to the Witch, surprising them all, but the magic of the witch has not stopped giving, after all.

“The Witch’s Cat” is a tale that had me guessing throughout. The Witch had left a lasting mark on the local people, she being an icon like many leaders throughout history. I really had no idea where this story was heading and its conclusion is one that I whole-heartedly approve of. Very nice work indeed.

RECOMMENDED

I appreciate the positive review, and am very proud to have earned a recommendation from them. Whee, thanks, Frank D.! I would have posted this review even if it were neutral or negative, because I see all reviews as a learning experience. Sometimes the lesson is “people are cray” (especially if you read some of the reviews on GoodReads and Amazon, yikes) but for a minor-league author like myself it is just good to know that someone out there is reading my work.

As an unrelated bonus, please enjoy this informative video in regards to the Oxford Comma:

A Return to Longhand

Alternate Title:  Oh God, What is My Handwriting.

Let’s write letters together, everyone!

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During the  month of February, I am going to write a letter every day that the post runs.  Why?  Well, mainly because Mary Robinette Kowal said I should!  Also, I have a ton of stationary that is practically begging me to be used for something other than the occasional ‘thank-you’ note.

“All right,” says you, “This is a novel concept and has my interest, but what does writing letters do to improve your writing?”

From the way I intend to approach this, it gives a writer a chance to write 23 thoughts that they would not normally put to paper (or screen).  You can write anything from massive letters to quick ‘hey how ya doing’ postcards, so this is a big chance to explore writing out things that you typically wouldn’t!  You can write a letter without using the letter ‘e’, describe your local scenery as a writing exercise to someone who has never visited your town, or write a letter to someone in the voice of a character.

You, uh, might want to include an explanation on that last example unless your friends already know how weird you are.

This could also provide a good starting point for writers that are afraid to put their work out into the world.  Letting people read what you’ve written can be daunting!  Why not use these letters to force yourself to send off your words into the wide world?  If you are among those who back away from writing groups or posting your work on the forum, get over your fears by sending out small notes to family members, or even a drabble or two if you feel inspired.

And of course, if you’re like me, this gives you a chance to send people you know strange things.  Like… as much My Little Pony fanfic as you can fit on a greeting card!  Or a poem, if you’re slightly less like me and can write poetry.

Will you join me in writing a month of letters?  Would you like me to write a letter to you?  You can e-mail your address to me at kalisa[dot]lessnau[at]gmail.com and I promise not to deliver it in person.  If you sign up, find me as “muchandquick”.

First Steps

I am proud to announce that I will have my first story published in the Triangulation: Morning After anthology! The Triangulation anthology is an annual publication by PARSEC Ink, which is the “publishing wing of PARSEC, Pittsburgh’s premier science fiction organization.” PARSEC has its own publishing wig, an annual convention, and a library that members get to use? That’s awesome! It is great to see a strong science fiction community that can support such cool things. And if they occasionally let one of us fantasy genre writers sneak in the side door, that’s cool as well. 🙂  To be honest, there is nothing about them that bars fantasy but I guess there is a point where your organization includes so many things that the name gets kind of burdensome. I would rather go by “genre writer” than “genre writer, mostly fiction but sometimes sci-fi that she ends up deleting after a few hundreds words, and she like to read non-fiction but is prefers to think about unicorns.”

‘Cause, y’know. Ease of use.

The main PARSEC Ink site can be found here and more recent updates to this year’s anthology can be found on their Facebook page.   More details to come as I get them!