July 2023

We're now open to submissions until the end of July! As of July 4th, while working on this column rather than braving the crowds to watch fireworks, we had received 70 submissions. Looking forward to reading your stories!

Since it's July, we'll have two stories for you this month rather than one.

This Monday (July 10th), returning Mysterion author Joanna Michal Hoyt tells the story of a man broken by what he saw and did during the last war, who fears that old stories and monsters won't stay safely in the past. "The Cockatrice Den", a contemporary fantasy, is Joanna's 3rd story with us, and we're thrilled to be publishing more of her work!

On July 24th, we welcome Jeff Hewitt to our digital pages, with dystopian science fiction "The Church of the UPC". This is an at-times grim story about the cost of forgiveness, set in a future American Southwest where an android minister tries to rescue a fugitive young girl.

Finally, finishing up our summer fiction offerings, on August 28th we'll have Ann McCurdy's appropriately-titled fantasy "The Carelessness of Endless Summer". An immortal fairy creature is forced to spend one year as a mortal human, as punishment, and wonders why humans were foolish enough to choose the Tree of Knowledge over the Tree of Life.


Our monthly support on Patreon has dipped below $200/month (currently $196), with 20 active subscribers. $200 is the threshold at which we are able to update our featured artwork every three months rather than every four, so if you're not currently one of our Patreon subscribers, please consider signing up to help us get back across that line.

We offer early access to all our fiction content for only $3/month, and an e-book of our forthcoming stories every two months for $10/month. Also, all our Patreon supporters (even at the $1/month level) have access to our Discord server, where we host monthly online gatherings for authors and subscribers.

Although all our stories are eventually available to read for free here at our website, they aren't free for us. We pay authors 8 cents/word, and at that rate, our current $196 in monthly support would only cover the cost of one 2450-word story. Most of the stories we publish are between 3000 and 6000 words, and we publish 14 each year. If you do the math, you can see that we're still mostly funding this project out of our own savings. (We sell a few books, but our annual income from that is less than a single month's Patreon income.) However, in order to make sure that what we've committed to publish never exceeds our ability to pay authors, artists, and graphic designers for it, we've set up incremental funding targets that tie the number of stories we publish (and maximum story length) to our current level of Patreon support. 

After $200/month, our next goal will be $275/month, at which point we'll start publishing 16 stories a year instead of 14.

Other News

June was strawberry season in Massachusetts, and specifically in Kristin's garden; July is for raspberries. They overlap briefly. Kristin planted two blueberry plants this spring, but doesn't expect fruit until 2025. She assumes blueberry season will follow raspberry, but will have to wait and see.

Last month, we mentioned our cat Maxwell's multiple recent vet visits and provisional diagnosis of feline idiopathic cystitis. After another emergency visit, we're no longer in the idiopathic space. This time, the ultrasound revealed a layer of sludge in his excessively full bladder, characteristic of struvite crystals, and he also appeared to have a urinary tract infection, contributing to a partial blockage of his urethra. Since the blockage was only partial, we opted not to have him surgically unblocked--an inpatient procedure--but instead to switch him to a prescription urinary diet and treat the infection at home with antibiotics, and the associated pain and stress with gabapentin. 

He seems to be doing better, but it can take 3-6 weeks for the diet to fully dissolve struvite crystals, and we need to keep a close eye on him for signs that he's developed another blockage. Fortunately, Kristin gained a lot of experience giving medicine to reluctant cats while we had Belle; unfortunately, Maxwell is no more interested than Belle was in eating medicine-laced food, so prying his mouth open and squirting it in with a syringe is our only option. We could get away with slipping things into his food when he was a kitten and needed pain meds after being neutered, and then when he needed deworming pills, but apparently his palate has become more refined with age. He does quite enjoy the new urinary diet, as does Marie (it's one of the few prescription diets that can be safely fed to healthy cats).

One of their favorite spots. Marie (tortoiseshell) was here first, but Maxwell (grey) is a bully.

Thank you for reading, and don't forget to come back on July 10th and 24th for this month's stories!

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