All posts in Short Stories

01 Mar

March Year of Space Goods!

In Book Extras,Recs,Short Stories by MK England / March 1, 2018 / 0 Comments

Happy March!

🚀🌟🌌 Okay, March sneaks up on me EVERY YEAR because February is so short and it’s not faaaair. BUT, I am still ready with your March Year of Space Goodies, and I’m featuring one of my favorite things. Here we go!  🚀🌟🌌

Why the Year of Space? Because I love space a lot, and my debut YA space opera is coming out in December, so I’m counting down with goodies on the 1st of every month to help you get more space in your life. Music, books, video games, podcasts, GIVEAWAYS, & more! I’m using #2018isforSpace all year, but no need to go hunting—I’ll be posting all the goodies on my Year of Space page and linking to them in my newsletter each month.

This month, I’m featuring podcasts that will get you both fiction and nonfiction spacey goodness. WAIT, DON’T GO. I know not everyone has jumped on the podcast bandwagon, but I beg you to hang in until the end of this post and consider giving them a shot.

What’s a podcast? They come in so many different varieties, and they can be anything from talk radio shows to radio dramas to audiobooks. There’s a little bit of everything in this list, so no matter what you’re into there should be something that will appeal.

How to listen to podcasts: You have lots of options! Most (if not all) of these shows have audio players built directly into their websites, so you can definitely listen that way if you prefer. I always use my phone, though, because it means I can listen to them in the car, while getting ready for work, while cooking or cleaning—whenever! There are tons of apps out there that let you subscribe to podcasts. I use Apple Podcasts and Overcast, and I definitely recommend Overcast for iOS users. For Android users, there’s a handy list here. It’s super simple. Just dive in and give it a shot! (My favorite non-space-related podcast is Print Run, and I can’t sing its praises enough. Start there if you’re interested in the publishing industry!)

So, without further ado: the list!

I kept this list pretty tightly curated re: the line between science fiction/science nonfiction and SPACE fiction/nonfiction. There are so many excellent podcasts out there about general science topics, or covering science fiction as a whole genre. This is the year of space, though, so I wanted to stick with podcasts that are as directly relevant as possible. (For more sci-fi podcasts, click here.) Starred podcasts are regular listens for me!

Spacey Fiction Podcasts

I always used to wish I had more short fiction in my life, but I never seemed to think of it when looking for something to read. Fortunately, many of the major SF short story markets put out podcasts with audio versions of their stories! Between that and serialized radio dramas and comedies, I’m well set on short fiction these days. 

Clarkesworld Magazine Podcast – In print since 2006, now available for your ears. Short fiction from Clarkesworld Magazine, 6 times per month.

Escape Pod – Founded in 2005 by Serah Eley, and presently co-edited by Mur Lafferty and Divya Breed. A weekly podcast with short stories from some of today’s best science fiction authors..

Lightspeed – Produced by Skyboat Media, and under the direction of Grammy and Audie award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki. Features audiobook-style recordings of four of the eight stories published each month in Lightspeed, released more or less on a weekly basis.

StarShipSofa – Actually several podcasts under one umbrella brand: short fiction, author interviews, and sci-fi news.

Uncanny Magazine Podcast – Uncanny Magazine is an online Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine featuring passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture. This is a monthly podcast featuring a story, a poem, and an interview that is likewise released on the first Tuesday of each month.

MarsCorp – MarsCorp is a 12-part scripted comedy podcast about Station Supervisor E.L. Hob’s first year at MarsCorp, a terraforming colony established on the red planet in 2070. There may be a 12-episode second season… one day.

The Message – A serialized story following the weekly reports and interviews from Nicky Tomalin, who is covering the decoding of a message from outer space received 70 years ago. Over the course of 8 episodes we get an inside ear on how a top team of cryptologists attempt to decipher, decode, and understand the alien message. (complete)


Spacey Non-Fiction Podcasts

Between SpaceX, the push for Mars, and the upcoming Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, there’s a lot going on! These podcasts manage to be full of cheeky humor, real science education, and that breathless wonder that draws humanity to the stars, all at once. 

StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson – It’s space, it’s comedy, it’s celebrity guests, it’s all things to all people. Though it does fall into general science topics fairly often, it’s hosted by America’s beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and often features spacey topics, “Cosmic Q&A” with listener questions from twitter and instagram, and regular visits from Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy. Speaking of the Planetary Society…

Planetary Radio – The Planetary Society’s weekly podcast. Regular updates on what’s going on in the world of space, space policy and advocacy, interviews with scientists and engineers, and more. Each week closes with a random space fact and a summary of what you can see in the night sky that week.

NASA podcasts – Holy spacecows, there are a lot of NASA podcasts. Updates from the International Space Station, “Houston, We Have a Podcast” for news from Johnson Space Center, interviews with experts, This Week @NASA, and much more.

Are We There Yet? The Space Exploration Podcast from NPR – “When it comes to human space exploration, we’re on the brink of something big.” Host Brendan Byrne, a space reporter in Orlando, FL, hosts scientists and engineers who are tackling the big issues of getting to Mars, working on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, and otherwise getting humankind out among the stars.

Big Picture Science from the SETI institute – Okay, this really is more of a general science podcast, BUT it’s hosted by the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) institute. “The Big Picture Science radio show and podcast engages the public with modern science research through lively and intelligent storytelling. Science radio doesn’t have to be dull. The only dry thing about our program is the humor.”

AstronomyCast – Astronomy Cast is “a fact-based journey through the cosmos as it offers listeners weekly discussions on astronomical topics ranging from planets to cosmology. Hosted by Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela L. Gay (CosmoQuest), this show brings the questions of an avid astronomy lover direct to an astronomer.”


Did I miss any? Recommend your favorites in the comments! I’ll see you on April 1st for more space goodies. Until then—get some space in your life! ☆☆☆

16 Jun

MK’s Top 25 Books

In Personal,Questions Answered,Reading,Recs,Short Stories by MK England / June 16, 2015 / 0 Comments

So, someone over on my fandom blog decided to take me up on my offer of personalized book recommendations for the summer. Except they are an omnivorous reader, so they just wanted my top five favorite books.

First of all, you should probably never ask that question of a librarian unless you have lots of time on your hands.


But here’s the problem with asking me specifically for my Top X Books of All Time: I either adore what I read, or I put it down. There’s rarely an in-between. There are SOME books that I forced myself through for the sake of school, and some that I enjoyed in the way you enjoy cotton candy dissolving into nothing. But the books that stick with me are the ones that really engage me intellectually or emotionally, or inspire the writer part of me stylistically. I do have some favorites that I enjoyed purely for a fun story, interesting world, and great characters, but that’s a separate list. This is the list of favorite books that affected me in some way. Most links will take you to Amazon, except in the cases where the book or story is available for free online somewhere. In no order whatsoever:

  1. Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (YA, realistic, Native American)
  2. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (adult, sci-fi, literary)
  3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA, realistic, rape culture)
  4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (adult, sci-fi classic, stylistic influence)
  5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (YA, LGBTQ+, romance, realistic)
  6. The Raven Cycle by maggie-stiefvater(YA, fantasy, realistic, stylistic influence, audio version is HIGHLY recommended)
  7. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (YA, sci-fi, LGBTQ+, screwed up/filthy/awesome)
  8. Little Brother by mostlysignssomeportents​/Cory Doctorow (read it for free on the author’s website! YA, tech, hacking, cyberpunk)
  9. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (adult, sci-fi, weird, graphic novel, parenthood, nsfw)
  10. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (YA, feminist, realistic, humor)
  11. Channel Zero by Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan (gritty, dystopian, tech, awesome art)
  12. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (adult, military sci-fi, hilarious)
  13. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (YA, fantasy, feminist)
  14. His Majestey’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (one of the founders of the OTW!, adult, fantasy, alternate history, LGBTQ+ subtext)
  15. Local by Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly (adulting, travel, setting as character, 20-somethings)
  16. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman (adult, literary, quick read)
  17. The Scorpio Races by maggie-stiefvater(YA, celtic mythology, audio version is HIGHLY recommended)
  18. Sold by Patricia McCormick (YA, human trafficking, novel in verse, audio version is HIGHLY recommended)
  19. Young Avengers (2013-2014) by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie (YA, Marvel universe, LGBTQ+, just…so good)
  20. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan & various artists (YA, Marvel universe, LGBTQ+)
  21. X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole (adult, sci-fi, Star Wars, fighter pilots)
  22. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (YA, Marvel universe, Muslim hero)
  23. The Knife of Never Letting Go by patricknessbooks(YA, dystopia, hard to explain, just read it, audio version is HIGHLY recommended)
  24. The P.L.A.I.N. Janes by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg (YA, art, social change, nonviolent protest)
  25. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (J/YA, wizards, y’all know this one)

BONUS short stories:

Yet More Bonus Selections under the cut. Seriously, just stop me. What books have affected or inspired you? Tell me in the comments!

Read more →

03 Feb

Short Stories Shred My Brain

In Goals,Short Stories,Writing Process by MK England / February 3, 2015 / 0 Comments

YA author Maggie Stiefvater (my goddess) once posted some great words about writing short stories that really captured my feelings on the topic:

“I actually find writing short stories to be a completely different animal than novel writing. […] A good short story is not merely a chapter. It is not a shrunken novel. It is a story that by its very nature and telling is better suited to a short format. Short fiction doesn’t behave at all like a novel – it asks you to think about dialog and show-don’t-tell differently. Your brain must learn to understand what 500 words feels like, 2,000 words, 10,000 words. Maybe the biggest surprise to me was finding out that my reader and writer brain thinks best in 125,000 word chunks. I feel I have to justify any length shorter or longer. […] Every size story asks something different from you.”

This is so true.

I find it incredibly difficult to write short stories. My brain just doesn’t understand them. When I get a new idea, I always start asking questions: how did this character get here? What is the rest of the world like? What necessarily follows from this series of events? And before I know it, I have enough information to fill up a novel. Part of my problem is that I have this weird fear: that somehow, the idea is “used up” by writing it as a short story, restricting me from ever exploring that character, world, or plot line in a novel. It’s not true. So many excellent novels began life as published short stories — but tell that to my subconscious.

In general, though, my brain only ever presents me with ideas for novel-length works, so my complete lack of written short stories also stems from a lack of ideas. I have notebooks and word documents full of dialogue scraps, characters, and worldbuilding bits for novels. Short stories? Um, I’ve written one in the past ten years. I have two insubstantial, wispy sorts of story ideas percolating right now, but they refuse to take the leap from brain to keyboard. 300 words of witty phrases and evocative images does not a story make. Or maybe it does, and that’s my problem. Perception. Definition. Maybe some of those ideas I already have do need to be told in short format. Something to consider.

The most essential thing anyone can do to prepare for short story writing is to read short stories. Get the sound and the feel of 5000 words in your head. Read them from different sources: collections in book form, those published in literary magazines, flash fiction from curated websites. If you can find stories in a style you’d like to emulate, so much the better. For me, there were two stories in the September 2014 issue of Lightspeed Magazine that really inspired me, so much so that they made my list of Things I Loved in 2014. Check them out — I highly recommend them, obviously.

I think it’s time for a goal. Creatures, you know how I am about goals by now. I love setting them. I love achieving them. I love having something to shoot for. SO: in 2015, I will write, polish, and submit for publication at least six short stories. I’ve already finished off and submitted one that I started at the end of 2014, so I’ll let that count.

One down, five to go.

What about you, creatures? Do you read or write short stories? Are they easier or harder than writing a novel? Tell me all your thoughts on short fiction of all kinds. I’m terribly curious.