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Tales of Horror, mixed with the Nightmares of a Writer, with a final spattering of Dark Fantasy for Children added to the cauldron. The work of Catherine J Gardner & Phoenix Rendell. One Soul. Two identities.
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1. Where the Artwork Rocks


My story When the Moon Man Knocks will appear in issue 48 of Black Static, due out this September. The artwork is by the awesome Richard Wagner and is perfect.

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2. All the things she read - July

For a while now, I've not been reading as much as I should and my to read pile is seriously dusty (or would be if I didn't dust the shelves). My attempt with posts like this is to encourage me to stop faffing about on Facebook and get back to reading all of the things...

New entries to my 'to read pile' for this month':
Albion Fay by Mark Morris
Leytonstone by Stephen Volk
The Last Bus by Paul M Feeney
Probably Monsters by Ray Cluley (which came with a mini story on a postcard)
Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter
No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
Shimmer - issue 26
Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma

What I have read this month:
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Leytonstone by Stephen Volk

Short Stories:
Wolves and Witches and Bears by Alison Littlewood (Nightmare)*
The Ghost of you Lingers by Kevin McNeil (The Dark)*
An Ocean of Eyes by Cassandra Khaw (The Dark)
End Game by Barry Charman (Daily SF)
The Cork won't Stay by Nate Southard (Nightmare)*
Things to do after they're gone by Mimi Mondal (Daily SF)


*Favourite short stories this month

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3. Fearful Fathoms



Found this interesting submission call while trawling the internet.

Fearful Fathoms: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror
Looking for stories set in or around water that are dark, atmospheric and chilling.
Submission Period: August 1st to August 31st
Word Count: 2000 to 5000 words
Payment: 1 cent per word with a maximum payment of $50

Full details (including some very specific formatting) can be found at Scarlet Galleon Publications.


And if you're stuck for watery inspiration, you could read this British Fantasy Award nominated novella, Water for Drowning by the awesome Ray Cluley. See how I slid that in there. I am so tricky.

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4. Mental Health Day

Over the past ten days, I have written three stories and sent them out into the world, completed the first drafts of a further two, and am in the process of writing the first draft of a further story. Getting back to what I love doing after a very dry period has meant that his week I have felt happier and more confident (an acceptance from Black Static may also have helped) than I have in some time. I really thought I couldn't do this any more.

In the good old days, when I wrote all of the things, I rarely gave myself any time off and if I did slack, I admonished myself. In theory, I could have closeted myself away today and written until I felt so tired that I couldn't think, and at one point I was very tempted to do that. Instead, this is how today went, and it was excellent therapy for my poor, often broken, head. 

First, I slipped off the rocky route of my diet when we went to lunch at the frankly amazing Sawasdee Thai Restaurant in Birkenhead - if you're in the area and I know you, we have to eat there. I allowed myself this slip as it was a healthy lets have a lovely lunch together rather than my usual, lets hide under my desk and consume all of the chocolate. 

Then we went to Bidston Hill, which is a five minute and then a ten minute bus ride from our new home on the Wirral. My Bestwick had told me of the windmill on top of a hill, and I, despite living in the Merseyside area for my entire life didn't know of it. He is a get on a bus and see what you can find person. He's turning me into one of those people too. We climbed over rocks and up the not-very-steep hill and sat on a bench that overlooked my magnificent city...



... having temporarily run out of books to read for the British Fantasy Awards (I'm one of the Horror Novel judges) and waiting for more to be delivered, I picked up Stephen Volk's Leytonstone on the way out and the magnificent prose drew me from this awesome view. I've been very lax with reading lately and my to read pile is overflowing and my to buy pile is dragging at my heart. I'm going to break soon and buy all of the things.

We got lost on the way back because this is us and ended up walking through a very nice housing estate that we will never move to because it is very much in the middle of nowhere. Eventually we found our way to a main road and a bus route, which was five minutes walk from the exit, but we managed to turn it into a half-hour walk - we  need the exercise. 

We're having a barbecue tonight because obviously when you slip from a diet you have to do it in style. It's the first barbecue either of us have done so if you're in the area expect fire engines, scorched plants and soot-faced writers. 


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5. Where I Moon Dance



At the beginning of the year, I announced that after three hundred and seventy-four years, I had finally sold a story to Black Static. We all have goals as writers and this was one of mine. I did it, mum. Seeing a story of mine within its pages was phenomenal.

Today, Andy Cox accepted my novelette, When the Moon Man Knocks, for Black Static. I opened, read and closed the email about six times before the words made sense - my brain automatically read it as a rejection. I did it again, mum. Maybe I should read the email one more time just to be sure.


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6. Edge-Lit



This weekend I will be at Edge-Lit in Derby where my novella, The Bureau of Them, will be released alongside Stephen Volk's Leytonstone and Mark Morris' Albion Fay. The paperbacks are usually £10 each, but you can get all three from Spectral Press (or at the event) for £25. The event runs from 3:15 to 4:05 on Saturday and is taking place in The Box (sounds ominous). If you get there early, we'll each be reading from our respective novellas - cue desperate laughter.

Hope to see you there.

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7. Ear Plugs

So this is me on the radio last Saturday in sunny Manchester. Well, it was Sunny when we arrived in Manchester, and raining by the time we left. I think the sky was weeping because I'd blathered on for nearly two hours. I hear it's still crying somewhere.

Anyhow, here is me being interviewed by the lovely Hannah Kate.





If the above doesn't work for you (my internet is wonky so I can't test it properly), you can find links here and here.


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8. Hiss, Crackle & Making Sounds Only Dogs Will Hear

Gather your pooches around the radio this Saturday (6 June) between 4pm and 6pm and tune in to North Manchester FM (106.6FM), where I'll be talking to Hannah Kate about books and possibly gabbling that fast and that high that only dogs will hear my squeaks.

Don't worry if your dog seems temporarily possessed he/she will regain full use of their legs once they have processed what they've just been subjected to. All humans should remain unaffected.

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9. This...



Forthcoming from Spectral Press
Astounding artwork by David Chatton-Barker

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10. Hunting Finches



Paul Finch's latest Heck novel, Hunted, is released this week and you can meet Paul in Waterstones Liverpool One store on Wednesday 6th May 2015 at 18:30 where he'll be in conversation with Luca Veste.

Paul and his wife Cathy are awesome folk so if you're in the local area, come give Paul your support. The Bestwick and I will either be cheering from the front row (him) or the back row (me).

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11. Here There Be Voices


My short story Too Delicate for Human Form, which appeared in the anthologies Fish (Dagan Books) and Best British Fantasy 2013 (Salt Publishing) is now available in audio over at Far Fetched Fables alongside The Island of Peter Pandora by Kim Lakin-Smith.

The story is narrated by Heidi Hotz.







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12.



A couple more reviews of Black Static #45 and my story The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark.


"...standing out from the other fiction in the magazine in that it's set at a pitch of full-blooded, heart-stopping terror almost from the outset." Tom Johnstone

"Gardner amps the creep factor up to 11 in this claustrophobic fever dream that ends in a way I hadn't expected." Nick Cato, The Horror Fiction Review



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13. For Those Grieving


When mum died in December last year, I thought I would be broken forever. I tore through the house shouting and screaming, howling, begging for her back and making several million deals with the Devil and threatening to kick God in the nuts*. I thought I would never be able to cope with the pain of her loss.

I turned to the internet googling marvellous things like 'mum died' and 'when does grieving end' and found an awful lot of despair. The main theme seemed to be that even a year later the grief was still as strong, that these poor people broke down every day and couldn't cope with their lives. My reaction to reading these posts was that my grief would not lessen, that I would be that desperate forever. Those posts did not help me at all.

I couldn't have lived like that. I wanted to read that people were desperate at the time but that it got easier, not that it stayed the same. No one was telling me that it got better and that's all I wanted to hear.

You will get through this. It will not be this painful forever. Those words would have helped immensely.

At the time, I wanted to climb into my brother's house and not leave. I wanted to be with my family all the time, only I couldn't be. They had their lives. I felt I'd lost mine. My boyfriend was amazing, so understanding, and he spoke so much sense. I don't know if his counselling training helped or if he's just naturally awesome like that. He'll tell you the latter. He told me it would get easier.

He was right.

I still miss her. I still cry at times, but nowhere near as much, and the times that I do are short and I manage to shrug them off, although I don't think shrug is the right word. I cope and I can smile and look forward again. There are moments. Last night I heard of someone who had just lost their mum. It brought it back. The difference was, four months on, I shed a few quiet tears but then I fell asleep and when I woke up, I carried on living my life. I didn't rage at the ceiling and send the neighbours cowering under their beds thinking I was going to tear through the walls.

This new life is different, it's the same, it's a million different things, and I'm okay. My hope for this post is that if someone grieving finds it they might find a tiny bit of hope that they will be okay to.


*and I'm supposed to be agnostic.

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14. Bring out your Frosty Tales

Adele Wearing's imprint, Fox Spirit, want unusual and elegant speculative fiction stories for the following anthology:

Winter Tales
Theme: (erm...) Winter
Word Count: 1500 to 7500 words
Deadline: June 15th 2015
No Reprints
Payment: £10 plus copy of the ebook and the print book

Full details are available over at the Fox Spirit webpage.

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15. Spectral Offer


Spectral Press are running a special offer at the moment. You can order the following three limited edition novellas in hardback as a package and save money:

Leytonstone by Stephen Volk
Albion Fay by Mark Morris
The Bureau of Them by Cate Gardner (oh, that would be me).

My book is minus cover art as we are awaiting its completion but should be here soon. All three titles will be launched at Edge-Lit in July and all prices include postage. The offer runs until the end of this month.

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16. The Rise of the Review


My short story, The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark, appeared in Black Static #45 last month. I'm still pinching myself and resisting getting this beauty framed. Here be links to reviews from some fine folk:

"This one takes a very simple seeming scenario and weaves a dark, brooding story full of menace and terror, which ushers in some real, heartfelt emotion." Paul M Feeney, Ginger Nuts of Horror.

"So that redoubled the terror of this second little girl story (here physically disabled) who imagines the eclipse never-ending as she tries to struggle downstairs to find her parents or her best friend." DF Lewis

"...Gardner keeps an extra cruel sting in her tail – a reminder that in horror, and in life, you can’t get away so easily." Gareth Jones, Dread Central.

There is also a lovely review by Jess Landry over at HELLNOTES that favourites SP Miskowski, Stephen Hargadon and Steve Rasnic Tem's stories.

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17. Shadow Moths

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Butterfly_Green-underside_Blue_-_Glaucopsyche_alexis_01.jpg#/media/File:Butterfly_Green-underside_Blue_-_Glaucopsyche_alexis_01.jpg">Butterfly Green-underside Blue - Glaucopsyche alexis 01</a>" by <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Zcebeci" title="User:Zcebeci">Zeynel Cebeci</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>. Licensed under <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0" title="Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0">CC BY-SA 4.0</a> via <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/">Wikimedia Commons</a>.

I'm delighted to announce that Caroline Callaghan of Frightful Horrors has excepted two of my short stories - Blood Moth Kiss and We make our own Monsters here.  They will be published as a mini-bite on Kindle in June/July this year. The title of the mini-collection is Shadow Moths. Both stories are previously unpublished.

In almost as exciting news, I've finally rearranged my study. This means, SKY allowing, that I will have proper internet access again and will be able to blog (hello, world) and keep up with submitting stories. If I actually have any to send out that is. I have one out in the Land of Please, one in my inbox in the Doom of No, and three in scrap form that need to be typed up, edited etc etc etc.

Image courtesy of wikicommons.

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18. The Bureau of Almost Here



A wee announcement over at the Spectral Press website today:

THE BUREAU OF THEM by Cate Gardner
Cate Gardner’s new novella The Bureau of Them is due to be published this coming June and will be launched at this year’s Edge-Lit event in Derby in July alongside Mark Morris’ Albion Fay and Stephen Volk’s Leytonstone. To whet your appetite, here’s a teaser blurb from the back cover:
You’re not the first to talk to your dead here, the vagrant said. The living always chase after their dead until they come upon their own.
Formed from shadow and dust, ghosts inhabit the abandoned office building, angry at the world that denies them. When Katy sees her deceased boyfriend in the window of the derelict building, she finds a way in, hoping to be reunited. Instead, the dead ignore, the dead do not see and only the monster that is Yarker Ryland has need of her there.
You can pre-order at the Spectral Press page. Publication is due June/July 2015 and as per the announcement above it will be launched at Edge-Lit. This will be my first book launch and I'm very lucky to be sharing the event with such megastars as Mark Morris and Stephen Volk. If nothing else, I will be able to supply them with spare pens if their's run out.
Cover art forthcoming.

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19. 'tis an honour



Ellen Datlow has announced the Honorable Mentions for The Best Horror of the Year Volume Six. I'm delighted to find my story 'This Foolish & Harmful Delight' listed amongst many fine writers including Ray Cluley, Nina Allan, Peter Atkins, Conrad Williams and Adam Nevill. You can find the full list here but I've cheated and only listed the people who I have met in real life.

The Transfiguration of Mister Punch (where my novella lives) is available here. It's a gorgeous book.

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20. British Fantasy Awards Shortlist 2014

The shortlist for the British Fantasy Awards were announced yesterday. They be as follows:

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Between Two Thorns, Emma Newman (Angry Robot)
Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
The Glass Republic, Tom Pollock (Jo Fletcher Books)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Headline)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer Press)
Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)
House of Small Shadows, Adam Nevill (Pan)
Mayhem, Sarah Pinborough (Jo Fletcher Books)
NOS4R2, Joe Hill (Gollancz)
Path of Needles, Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher Books)
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (HarperCollins)
The Year of the Ladybird, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
Best Novella
Beauty, Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
Dogs With Their Eyes Shut, Paul Meloy (PS Publishing)
Spin, Nina Allan (TTA Press)
Vivian Guppy and the Brighton Belle, Nina Allan (Rustblind and Silverbright)
Whitstable, Stephen Volk (Spectral Press)
Best Short Story
Chalk, Pat Cadigan (This Is Horror)
Death Walks En Pointe, Thana Niveau (The Burning Circus)
Family Business, Adrian Tchaikovsky (The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic)
The Fox, Conrad Williams (This Is Horror)
Golden Apple, Sophia McDougall (The Lowest Heaven)
Moonstruck, Karin Tidbeck (Shadows & Tall Trees #5)
Signs of the Times, Carole Johnstone (Black Static #33)
Best Collection
For Those Who Dream Monsters, Anna Taborska (Mortbury Press)
Holes for Faces, Ramsey Campbell (Dark Regions Press)
Monsters in the Heart, Stephen Volk (Gray Friar Press)
North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)
Best Anthology
End of the Road, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)
Fearie Tales, Stephen Jones (ed.) (Jo Fletcher Books)
Rustblind and Silverbright, David Rix (ed.) (Eibonvale Press)
Tales of Eve, Mhairi Simpson (ed.) (Fox Spirit Books)
The Tenth Black Book of Horror, Charles Black (ed.) (Mortbury Press)
Best Small Press
The Alchemy Press (Peter Coleborn)
Fox Spirit Books (Adele Wearing)
NewCon Press (Ian Whates)
Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)
Best Non-Fiction
Gestalt Real-Time Reviews, D.F. Lewis
Doors to Elsewhere, Mike Barrett (The Alchemy Press)
Fantasy Faction, Marc Aplin (ed.)
Speculative Fiction 2012, Justin Landon and Jared Shurin (eds) (Jurassic London)
“We Have Always Fought”: Challenging the “Women, Cattle and Slaves” Narrative, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
Best Magazine/Periodical
Black Static, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace (ed.) (Wyrm Publishing)
Interzone, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
Shadows & Tall Trees, Michael Kelly (ed.) (Undertow Books)
Best Comic/Graphic Novel
Demeter, Becky Cloonan (Becky Cloonan)
Jennifer Wilde, Maura McHugh, Karen Mahoney and Stephen Downey (Atomic Diner Comics)
Porcelain, Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose (Improper Books)
Rachel Rising, Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
The Unwritten, Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Vertigo)
Best Artist
Adam Oehlers
Ben Baldwin
Daniele Serra
Joey Hi-Fi
Tula Lotay
Vincent Chong
Best Film/Television Episode
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, Steven Moffat (BBC)
Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (Warner Bros)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro (Warner Bros)
Iron Man 3, Drew Pearce and Shane Black (Marvel Studios)
Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)
Ann Leckie, for Ancillary Justice (Orbit)
Emma Newman, for Between Two Thorns (Angry Robot)
Francis Knight, for Fade to Black (Orbit)
Laura Lam, for Pantomime (Strange Chemistry)
Libby McGugan, for The Eidolon (Solaris)
Samantha Shannon, for The Bone Season (Bloomsbury)

and I, along with Thana Niveau, Mark West, Jim McLeod and Pauline Morgan, have the delightful task of choosing the Best Horror Novel.

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21. Signal Failure

So I don't post for months and then when I do I'm all look at me. Well not quite look at me because I'm hiding behind a cupboard and refusing to have my photo taken or come out and say hello to anyone. Don't worry, I'm happy there. Just post some cake under the cupboard. Actually don't, too much cake is partially the reason that I'm hiding behind said cupboard and possibly why I'm stuck.

So the reason for my look at me post. I sold a story to POSTSCRIPTS! In the Macabre Theatre of Nightshade Place should appear in the summer/autumn of 2015. 

It will be my third story in Postscripts. The Hollow Framework for the Cotton Man appeared in Oct 2010 and Hand Scratched Note in Dec 2009, back in the heady days of when I used to send stories out all the time. I can't believe how long ago that was. Hangs head in shame and knocks forehead against the back of the cupboard.

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22. The Transfiguration of Blogging

Some awesomeness found its way onto my Facebook feed this morning.

The Transfiguration of Mister Punch (including my novella This Foolish & Harmful Delight) has made it onto the following list: The Literature of Fear: 12 High-Quality Horror Books for Sleepless Nights by Rick Kleffel.

Other books on the list include Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, The Conspiracy against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti, Last Days by Adam Nevill, and The Bitterwood Bible by Angela Slatter.

That's two blog posts within a week. Next thing you know a whole fleet of buses will turn up.

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23. A Submission Horse named Cripes! Editors run for their lives.

Earlier today I thought of an awesome idea for a blog post. Phew! At last, I would have something to blog about and I'd so wanted to resurrect this blog, or rather, add new content to it.

I've forgotten the awesome idea.

That's okay, I doubt it was awesome or brilliant anyway, more likely random nonsense like this is. But go team me, I'm actually formulating a blog post. Now I figure I should add some actual content because someone, somewhere, in a hundred years from now (or later today) might stumble upon this post.

Scratches chin.

Ah, my thirty-two short story file - yes, that's the place to start.

In the midst of when mum was becoming really ill (for those who don't know, my beautiful mum died at Christmas), I opened a file and listed thirty-two random quotes and started to construct stories inspired by them. I didn't choose to write thirty-two in particular, it was merely the figure I ended up with when I got bored looking for quotes to add to the file. I sometimes think I get bored easily and at other times think I can cope with all of the boredom longer than most. I doubt either is true.

Anyway, back to the file. I started said file because I couldn't concentrate on writing and wanted something I could dip into without pressure. Or at least, without pressure just yet. I thought - honestly thought - that it would be something I could escape into in the weeks following mum's death. I was building a fort for myself*. When it came to it, my mind refused to open the door. It preferred staring into space, crying and making me clean every corner of the house over and over.

This is good. After months of looking after mum, the house needed some TLC.

I've started to dip into the file over the last couple of days. Nothing too wearisome but something; a line here and there. Thirty-two stories won't emerge from the file and at some point I'll have to drag out the ones that could go somewhere - prays for at least ten workable stories. Then, I guess I'll have to get back on the submission horse. I think I'll call him Cripes for no other reason than that's what just came into my head.


*mention of a fort made me think of this picture (taken at Formby). An awesome fort of trees amongst the sand dunes.

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24. Signal Boost

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a book out from awesome publisher Solaris. A debut novel, and anyone who's anyone knows those are wondrous things.

The book is Signal to Noise and here be the blurb:

Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

According to Amazon it's out February but pre-orders are available now.

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25. Hey Mum, I did it


A dream came true yesterday. An ambition. I sold a story to Black Static, a magazine I've been trying to get into since before it existed (those who've been around the small press for a while will remember its previous incarnation The Third Alternative). At a rough estimate it took me about eighteen years. Hopefully it won't take me more than a decade to sell another story to them.*
The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark is my first completed story this year.

In extra good news. Damien Angelica Walters also had a story accepted there yesterday.



*Resists sending another story to Andy today.




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