meow, cat, Siamese, catty

My Starship Cat Press Works

A comprehensive list of everything I've published under Starship Cat Press, all collected in one sticky posting.

Short Fiction



Red Star, Yellow Sign

Whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.

It's 1934, and the assassination of Sergei Kirov, Leningrad's Communist Party chief, has rocked the Soviet Union. When an up and coming young Party official is assigned to investigate, it looks like an open and shut case.

The further Nikolai Yezhov looks into the case, the stranger things become. Mysterious entities lie beneath the swamps upon which Leningrad was founded. Because he has stumbled upon these secrets older than humanity itself, Yezhov must be eliminated. But first he must be led to commit acts that will ensure that history will forever remember him as a vicious criminal.



The Secret of Pad 34

Who would put a ceiling on humanity's expansion into space?

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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Lest We Forget

Today is Trafalgar Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, in which the Royal Navy defeated a combined French and Spanish naval force. Although it's most commonly remembered in connection with the death of the British commander, Lord Nelson, it's also the battle that decisively ended Napoleon's ambitions to invade England.
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    "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish
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Heads Up -- Writing Challenge Voting

It's that time of the week again. The polls are open for voting on the Readers' Choice Award for this week's Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Writing Challenge. As usual, read all the stories and choose your favorite. While I would love to earn your vote, I want the voting to reflect actual reader tastes.

And as always, please tell your friends about this award. It's really getting to be an echo chamber when we have only ten or twelve votes.
meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Writing Challenges

This week's Odd Prompts writing challenge at More Odds than Ends was from Becky Jones: The clouds suddenly broke apart revealing a delicate glass tower.

That looked very much like part of the Big Messy Project, most likely the journey through the Lands That Are Not of Men. It looked like something that would tie together the Daft Punk and True Punk scene from the beginning of the year to her adventures in the Road Movie to Berlin -- perhaps telling how she ended up there rather than back to her own world.

I had it pretty well planned out, but Indiana Comic Con proved busier than I'd expected. Instead of having hurry up and wait time before load-in, we were able to drive straight onto the loading dock, and by the time I had the carts out and loaded, the doors were opening for us to actually load in. From then on, it was non-stop work, so I wrote only a few unsatisfactory sentences here and there.

Finally I decided to abandon that effort and just write the relevant scene:

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Riding the Celestial Horse


Through the sky we soared. Recalling the few times I'd gotten into the saddle as a child, I'd expected a rough ride. Instead, I didn't feel so much as a jostle as the celestial horse ran from cloud to cloud, like something out of the book of Chinese folk tales I'd read when I was in grade school.

Now and again the clouds would part just enough to offer a glimpse of some lovely vista: a pagoda on a mountainside, a village on a lake, a sailing ship at sea. Every time I recalled the warning: under no circumstances attempt to use the reins or otherwise guide the celestial horse. He knew the way, and would deliver me to my destination without any intervention on my part.

It made me think of one of those Chinese folk stories, of a good man who'd become lost on a journey and came to a fine house in the wilderness, where he sought refuge for the night. Unbeknownst to him, he'd accepted the hospitality of a dragon, specifically a sky dragon responsible for the weather – and one of the lords of the heavens arrived that night with orders that rain be made.

However, there was no one at home that night who could undertake the journey. Not wanting his hosts to be punished for failing the orders of the sky gods, the protagonist offered to do it in their stead. He was given a fine horse and a small bottle of water, with the instructions that each time the horse stopped and stamped its hooves, he should shake a drop of water on its mane. As he rode, he realized the horse was taking him over a region that had been stricken with drought, so when the horse stopped there, he gave its mane not one but ten drops of water.

When he returned to the house, he was met not with praise, but with anger: his attempt at generosity had instead flooded the land, wiping out entire villages and doing damage that would require decades to repair. Although hurried away, he was given a bag of fine pearls, which he then used to pay to repair the damage his well-meant actions had done.

So I restrained myself, sitting as still as I could in the saddle so as not to disturb the celestial horse on its journey back to the lands of humanity, back to my own world and my regular life. There must've been some magic in that saddle, because I had no trouble at all sitting in it.

And then the clouds parted to offer me a vision of such astonishing beauty that I cried out in delight. The crystal spires of the fairy tower gleamed in the sunlight, a vision of fragile beauty that made me long for it so hard that I began to lean toward it.

That was just enough for the celestial horse to shake his head and begin to turn. At that moment I realized my error, but it was already too late to undo.

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One of these days I'll need to work out the part that connects them, but right now I was doing well to write anything at all. However, I did manage to get a story written for this week's Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Writing Challenge. My effort belongs to the Grissom timeline, and is probably rather opaque to anyone who isn't familiar with certain parts of it, but it was something when the ideas weren't wanting to come.

As always, if you'd like to participate in Odd Prompts, just send your prompt in to oddprompts@gmail.com to be assigned a prompt of your own. Or if you're not up to the commitment of trading prompts, you can always check out the spare prompts and see if any of them tickle your creativity.

There will be a new word and picture prompt up at Indies Unlimited on Saturday. Until then, the polls will open tomorrow for voting on the Readers' Choice Award, and will close at 5PM on Thursday.

In the meantime, keep writing.
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And That Was Indiana Comic Con

In some ways it was great -- there were some times when we could hardly keep up with the pace of customers, and I think we had a few transactions that simply didn't get recorded. In others, it had a real feel of an end of an era. Like Tampa and Atlanta, it's been sold to a new promoter, and was clearly under new management. There's a real possibility that we won't be doing it next year, if the new promoter changes things in a way that's not compatible with our business model.

I really wonder if this move was prompted by the severe loss the old promoter took on their Wisconsin event back in 2019, followed by the 2020 pandemic shutdowns. I think they probably could've weathered either one of them singly, but it's quite possible that the two in rapid succession was simply too much, and the alternative was bankruptcy and the permanent end of all three of their conventions.

Of course I'm speculating -- for obvious reasons, all parties in the know have been very close-mouthed about the entire situation. In fact, at the moment there's not even any information out on when next year's events will be taking place (the old promoter almost always had the next year's dates on the website within the week), let alone things like booth costs or application processes. All we can do is wait, and in the meantime I have to line up other conventions that may conflict with the new dates.
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The Power of Habit

This morning I got downtown to the convention and suddenly realized I had no memory of taking an essential prescription that has to be taken first thing every morning. I had been so focused on getting everything ready and out the door in time that I literally had no memory of taking it.

However, by that point I had already parked my car, so going back home to check would mean having to pay a second parking fee, in addition to the opportunity cost of the lost time. Since the prescription in question isn't a life-and-death matter in the short run (go long enough without and it would be), I figured that if I got home and found the pill still in its compartment in the pill minder, I'd know that I needed to take it along with tomorrow's dose in the morning.

When I got home this evening, I went to check the pill minder, and yes, the appropriate compartment was empty. Which goes to show the power of the habit I've been building over the last two and a half years. I automatically went and took my pill even when I was short on sleep and hurrying.

Dean Wesley Smith discusses the power of habit and the motivation of maintaining a streak in his blog. Once you've gone long enough without missing a single day of doing something, whether it be exercising, blogging, writing fiction, editing one's writing or whatever, it becomes easier and easier to get back to it each day -- and the thought of breaking that streak and having to start all over is often motivation to squeeze it in one way or another.
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Hometown Convention -- Indiana Comic Convention

After over two years, we're back downtown at the Indiana Convention Center for Indiana Comic Con. This was our first truly big convention, back in 2014, and we've been at it ever since.

It's a really weird feeling this year, because while it's good to be back, it's not quite the same. Like Tampa Bay Comic Con and Atlanta Comic Con, it's under new management. The Imaginarium Agency, who had begun and nurtured this family of conventions, has sold them to one of the biggest comic con promoters in the country. Right now the new owners are keeping things pretty much the same (probably because they're bound by the contracts signed with vendors, artists, etc by Imaginarium), but we're all a little uneasy about what changes may be made once it's completely their own. So all of us are wondering if this will be our last time at this show -- or at least the last time with our current setups.

So if you're in town, we'd love to see you. I've heard that one-day tickets are still available,
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The Little Annoyances

It's amazing how much small things can irritate a person. A paper cut often hurts as much as a deep gash. A tiny grain of sand in one's shoe feels like a huge rock.

Right now my scissors seem to have gone astray. I normally keep a pair of scissors in my office, and now I can't find them. Every time I need to do something with scissors, I have to go get another pair from elsewhere in the house, which is so annoying.

I know that I had them Tuesday night when I was pricing merchandise and getting an eBay sale ready to ship. So I'm pretty sure they're somewhere in this house, probably somewhere back here in my office. But try as I might, I can't bring them to hand, which suggests I'm going to need to undertake a major search, and probably a major sort and cleaning. And right now I just don't have the time for it.
  • Current Music
    "Time" by Pink Floyd
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meow, cat, Siamese, catty

Heads Up -- Writing Challenge Voting

It's that time of the week again. The polls are open for voting on the Readers' Choice Award for this week's Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Writing Challenge. As usual, read all the stories and choose your favorite. While I would love to earn your vote, I want the voting to reflect actual reader tastes.

And as always, please tell your friends about this award. It's really getting to be an echo chamber when we have only ten or twelve votes.