Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

A Great Contest!

Books on Fire Contest To Give Away Kindle Fire HD Loaded with Books

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The Books on Fire contest, which runs through the end of December, is giving away a new Kindle Fire HD loaded with 13 books of science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. Sponsored by authors Judson Roberts, Ruth Nestvold, Luc Reid, William Hertling, Annie Bellet, and Del Law, Books on Fire can be found on the Web at www.kindlebooksonfire.com . In addition to the first prize winner of the Kindle Fire, ten second prize winners will win three eBooks of their choice from the list on the contest Web page. To enter, participants simply announce their three top book choices from the book list through any of these methods:
eBooks included in the prize pool include:
  • William Hertling’s artificial intelligence thrillers Avogadro Corp. and AI Apocalypse
  • Del Law’s merged worlds fantasy novel Beasts of the Walking City
  • Annie Bellet’s crime novel set in the fantasy city of Pyrrh, Avarice, and her story collection Till Human Voices Wake Us
  • Luc Reid’s novel of Vermont backwoods magic Family Skulls and his collection of flash fiction Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories
  • Ruth Nestvold’s romantic Authurian novels Yseult and Shadow of Stone, as well as her collection The Future Imperfect: Six Dystopian Short Stories
  • Judson Robert’s deeply-researched, adventurous Viking novels Viking WarriorDragons from the Sea, and The Road to Vengeance
 
See the contest Web site at www.kindlebooksonfire.com for full details.

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Guest Blogger: Beth Cato

I’m pleased to host a guest blogger today – Beth Cato, a writer I admire immensely.  She writes mostly speculative fiction, and has a long bibliography of published short stories, most recently one in Flash Fiction Online, “213 Myrtle Street.”  In this post, she shares a little background concerning a story that she believed in but had to work hard to get published.  “Red Dust and Dancing Horses”(published in Stupefying Stories)  is terrific – so glad it got out into the world.

Beth Cato Dreams, Horses, and the Little Story That Could


There’s something I’ve learned during the past few years. If you want to succeed as a writer, it’s not all about talent. It’s not about developing a thick skin. Rejections make you cry? Scream? Those are valid reactions sometimes. But what enables you to succeed is sheer stubbornness. You send the story out again.

Case in point: my story “Red Dust and Dancing Horses.”

From the time I wrote the rough draft, I knew this story was special. It hit me on a personal level. The tale is a horse story set on Mars, where horses can’t exist. It’s about a young Martian girl who has to accept that her deepest desire–to know horses–will likely never come true.

I was completely horse obsessed from the time I could walk and talk. I adored Rainbow Brite from age 3, but my biggest love was her horse, Starlite. I collected Breyer horses from age 4 (I wasn’t into My Little Ponies as much because they weren’t realistic enough). I read every horse book in the children’s section of the library, and if a new book came in the librarians told me. I knew the difference between a Shire and a Paso Fino, a forelock and a fetlock. My parents owned two acres of property, and I knew exactly where we could build a stable and corral. I took riding lessons. I knew exactly what my dream horse would look like and how his mane swayed in the breeze.

And at age 11, I finally had to accept that I would never have a horse.

I was mature enough to realize we were too poor. Money was tight. My riding lessons stopped as we couldn’t even afford the $10 for my riding lessons every two weeks. How could we afford a horse, or hay, or tack?

The dream died, but my love for horses didn’t.

That was the emotion I put into the story, only using a grittier Martian backdrop instead of a central Californian one. I posted the story on OWW. I revised heavily. I started sending it out to magazines. And this story I loved passionately was soundly rejected by almost every pro science fiction market.

Really, I could see why. It’s a horse story, on Mars. People don’t usually pair horses and sci fi, much less horses from old westerns. But it still hurt. This was a story that I felt was not only one of the best things I had written, but it was also a story I loved.

But I loved it so much, I kept gritting my teeth and sending it out again. It had some close calls. It won an honorable mention in Writers of the Future for the 4th quarter of 2011. But it still didn’t have a home, so I sent it out yet again.

You know what? It has a home now, an amazing one. This is what the editor of Stupefying Stories, Bruce Bethke, said in the forward for this March issue:

I’m about out of space now, but would be remiss if I did not call special attention… especially to my personal favorite in this entire collection, “Red Dust and Dancing Horses” by Beth Cato. If this story doesn’t wind up on several Best of 2012 lists and on the short list for at least one major award, I will be disappointed.

While querying agents, the big mantra is, ‘It only takes one yes.’ That’s true for short stories, too. “Red Dust and Dancing Horses” finally found its YES, and whatever happens from here, I’m happy, because the story finally found some other folks who love it just as much as I do.

The dream lives on.

“Red Dust and Dancing Horses” can be found in Stupefying Stories 1.5, on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.