2023 Award Eligibility Post

2023 Award Eligibility Post

2023 has been one of those years that shines in your eye and leaves everything else faded and blurred. Here is the literary loot:

  • From Within (3k words) is a science fiction short story part of House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature Volume 4, in which the last of the fuzzies and the last of the humans plan an evolution-knowledge epidemic in an AI-populated dystopia.
  • The Confessionist (1.7k words) is a science fiction short story with its first audio-format publication in 2023 from Escape Pod (originally part of the anthology Magic Pens in 2020)
  • Refuge (366 words) is a science fiction flash story published as part of Paranatellonta‘s 10th anniversary.
  • Take Your Seat (800 words) is a speculative story published in Transoughts, a special edition (#25) of the Konstruksjon zine, in Bergen, Norway, on 22 May 2023. The issue compiles texts and artwork from a group of transgender and nonbinary writers and artists. The story was performed live during the event Prøverommet at Bergen Assembly and is accompanied by a visual piece (digital painting mixed with photography).

Alia Terra: Stories from the Dragon Realm, the illustrated (by Matt Spencer!) fairy tale book in English and Romanian from Atthis Arts now has a coloring book version available, select it from the drop-down list here! And the exclusive D20 designed for the book is here.

digital painting on photography, a series of beads in motion appear fluid; one central bead in tones of pink and light blue stands out.

From Within

From Within

Short Story: Science Fiction, Future, Androids, Robots, Artificial Intelligence.

Release date:  21 December 2023

In a future where humans are on the brink of extinction, the dominant androidic species faces its own kind of cataclysmic updates from the mainframe.

Anthology: House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature Volume 4

Editors: Erika Steeves and Nihls Andersen

Publisher: House of Zolo

Out now! House of Zolo | Goodreads |



Flash story: Science fiction.

Release date: 15 August 2023

This flash fiction piece is part of Paranatellonta‘s 10th anniversary. Twice a month, Paranatellonta publishes one piece of flash fiction (of exactly ten sentences) inspired by a piece of visual artwork.

Refuge‘s inspiration artwork is provided by Fie, while Scrutiny by Minerva Cerridwen is the other half of this event (art by Ava). More about the event here.

Out now! Read it here.

Banner for the story "Refuge" as part of the Paranatellonta 10-year celebration. On the left side of this low, wide rectangle is a detail from a photo of redcurrants. The background of the rest of the banner is black with the number "360" in a large brown font. At the top, red letters spell out "Paranatellonta - 10 years", and below, the title "Refuge" is written in large, pale-pink capital letters, with "by Ava Kelly - art by Fie" to the right of it in half the font size.

Take Your Seat

Take Your Seat

Flash story: Speculative, Liminal Spaces, Abstract Worlds, Fantasy.

Release date: 22 May 2023

“For what felt like eons, Nicky traveled, a clandestine scoundrel with a grudge against the rules of the train.”

Konstrukjon 25: Transoughts

Out now! Event page |

Artwork “Take Your Seat” by Ava Kelly, 2023, photography, digital painting.

Re-review: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

Re-review: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

the dragon of ynys cover with a dragon and two human silhouettes against a pink and mauve background of mountainsThe Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen is an aro-ace dragon adventure featuring a lesbian transgender baker and a ballad to acceptance. It’s a refreshing new-folklore story fitting of the times we live in. The action meanders through the world of Ynys, bringing forth unique characters, but it never feels hurried. The adventure lasts as long as it will, even though Sir Violet seems long-suffering because of it. The dragon, Snap, is delightful, entering the story as Violet’s antagonist, but we soon discover more about this thieving creature.

I’ve read this book in all its stages of life. From that first draft, to the revisions in the second edition that are only making its message stand firmer. Now, we have Ryan H. Reid’s excellent performance to give voice to these characters. Ryan’s read is more than a narration, his interpretation fitting perfectly with the dwellers of Ynys’s world.

If you’re looking for a story of acceptance through storytelling, get your paws or claws on The Dragon Ynys from Atthis Arts, a publisher of gentle stories.

The Kitten, the Dragons, and Storytelling by the Sea

The Kitten, the Dragons, and Storytelling by the Sea

The outline of a cat and the words: Did you see me in Alia Terra? This is my story.

A short story set in the universe of Alia Terra: Stories from the Dragon Realm. Download in .pdf here [130 KB] or read below.

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Once upon a time there lived a kitten with a passion for stories. He grew up reading everything he could get his paws onto. Short or long, sad or happy, the kitten would read all. And as dawn neared, finding him asleep with the whiskers tickled by the pages of an open book, he dreamed of… more stories. New ones, with fantastic adventures and daring magic.

The kitten’s head grew so full with these imagined tales that one day he picked up a quill and started scribbling. A sentence today, a few words tomorrow, and soon the kitten had an entire story to call his own.

Leaping with joy, he rushed to where the town storytellers were gathered in the square.

“Look,” he said, fluttering the sheet of paper. “I wrote!”

But in return came only flaws. “Too soft,” the others said, “not enough action,” and “it won’t draw the crowds.” They gave advice, of shoulds and shouldn’ts until the story they described no longer resembled the kitten’s own.

Disheartened, he left the storytellers to their debate. So lost in thought was he, traveling down the street, that to avoid colliding with a human leg, the kitten dropped the story in his dash to safety.

Peeking back from around the corner, the kitten saw a girl pick up the sheet. She read and read and—

“Oh,” the girl said, wobbly and sniffly. “I can’t believe it! I’ve never found myself in a story before.” She looked around, then back to the paper. “Whoever wrote this, thank you.”

She sat against the wall the kitten was hiding behind and pulled out a notebook with a pen. Under the kitten’s wide eyes, the girl copied every word.

“So I’ll remember it forever,” she whispered when she finished.

The kitten wiped his cheeks with a paw, realizing that perhaps stories like his were needed in the world, after all.

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After that, he wrote and wrote. His tales were ones of friendships and kindness and happy endings. But the kitten wasn’t brave enough to show them himself. Instead, he left them wherever he went. A scroll at the tavern, a folio in a fairy’s garden, a page hidden among the maps of a merchant.

The stories soon became known across the land. Whenever a paw-tale was found, copies were made and distributed, while their author watched from the shadows, unknown.

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The kitten weaved worlds with words, spun lives into existence, dripped ink into the veins of his characters, but he felt like his own story slipped through his claws. He wandered the roads, but never stopped to know anyone. Never found the courage to let himself be seen.

The kitten was lonely.

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One afternoon, as the kitten made his way to his nighttime spot, he found the tiny stretch of beach taken over by three dragons. The purple of the bunch sipped tea from a steaming cup, the golden lounged in the grass, while the third kept to the water, only the head bobbing up above the waves.

They were telling stories, the kitten realized, hidden behind the thicket of bushes that kept the place safe from prying eyes.

Behind them, the sea stretched in pinks and blues of the sunset, a jewel under the dimming light, and the kitten settled in to listen about a tower, and seafriends, and a magic sword.

When the kitten woke in the morning, the dragons were gone and so were their tales. The kitten wondered, then, what if he would have stepped forward? Shared his own? But, he shook his head, no. It would only lead to disappointment.

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“Guess what I found in the merchant’s cart the other day,” Purple said, whipping out a book. “A volume of paw-tales.”

The other two hummed appreciatively and the kitten let himself grin a little, whiskers brushing the leaves shielding him.

“Imagine my surprise,” Purple continued, “when one of the stories was about three dragons meeting weekly by the sea.”

“A story about us?” Fishdragon rose from the water to lean against a boulder.

“Our secrets?” Goldie asked, sword hilt clutched in zir claw.

“Oh, no,” the kitten whispered and three heads swiveled toward him.

“Nothing of the sort,” Purple answered, squinting at the bushes. “Imagined adventures.”


The kitten didn’t dare move, lest he gave himself away further. Silence settled around them for a while, but finally Purple pulled a cake box out of their backpack. They dished it out, one slice for Goldie, one for Fishdragon, one for themself, and another…

“We know you’re out there,” they said. “And we won’t force you to come out, but if you wish to join us, we’d be happy to meet you.”

The three dragons turned their attention away, and the kitten breathed a sigh of relief. Now was his chance to flee. Yet, the kitten’s eyes were drawn by the fourth slice, sitting there in open invitation. The dragons began their conversation as they usually did, with accounts of their weeks, new stories they’d heard. Except this time, once in a while, one of them would throw a comment or a question toward the kitten’s hiding spot.

Perhaps… perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to say hello, so the kitten stepped forward.

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“So the paw signature is an actual paw impression,” said Fishdragon. “Clever!”

The kitten ducked his head with a snicker. Bellies satisfied by the cake, their chat drew long into the night, until with stretches and popping joints, the dragons prepared to leave.

“Where’s your lair?” Purple asked the kitten. “I can drop you off, if you wish.”

“Thank you, but I stay here.”

Goldie turned around. “We’ve been invading your home?”

“No, no.” The kitten waved a paw. “I only sleep here. I don’t—” Don’t what, he thought. It was time to stop talking, especially given the looks he was receiving.

“Kitten,” Fishdragon said. “Would you like to come with me? Meet my seafriends? We have tasty algae down at the bottom of the sea.”

“Or join us,” Goldie piped up, the sword in their clutch vibrating in agreement. “Our princess makes the best of breads and our knight the warmest of fires.”

“Or come to the tower,” Purple added. “The blankets and pillows are so very comfortable for naps.”

The kitten wrapped his tail around himself where he sat. “I—”

“Mm?” The dragons leaned closer.

Answering was impossible. How could the kitten even make that choice? How could he pick one and disappoint the other two?

He ran, instead. As fast as his paws carried him, the kitten dashed over the sand and around the bend of the shore, to disappear from sight.

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Chest heaving, the kitten slowed down. Up high, the moon bathed everything in silvery light. He hadn’t made it all that far, but he had almost wandered into the forest patch nobody should. As if hearing his thoughts, the local zmeu sauntered out from between the trees.

“My, my, what a hurried little creature you are. Who upset you?”

Without thinking, the kitten blurted, “They didn’t mean to! I just can’t be in three places at once… no matter how much I want to.”

The last part was added softly, for his own, but the zmeu heard it, because, as the kitten was trudging away, he asked, “What if you could?”

“What do you mean?”

The zmeu snapped his scaly fingers. “I have magic. I could split you in three, but there’s a price.”

“Which is?”

“You have to give up that which brings you the most joy.”

Never write stories again? The kitten’s eyes filled. What a cruel offer.

Before he could answer, a clawed palm smacked the zmeu upside the head.

“We won’t be taking any of your deals,” Fishdragon said from the waves while Purple stood menacingly, looming over them.

The zmeu batted back at Purple’s claw, scoffing. “You know where to find me when you change your mind,” he said, then walked back into the forest.

The dragons turned to the kitten.

“You know you don’t have to choose—”

“You don’t even have to come—”

“Not if you don’t want to—”

“But we can always take turns—”

“If you want to—”

“We’re sorry—”

“Stop,” the kitten whispered and three jaws snapped shut. “I would like it very much, if I can visit you all.” He sniffled and tried to stealthily wipe at his eyes, but thankfully the others didn’t say anything.

“Come on,” Goldie said. “Let’s go back while you think about who’s first.”

Purple rubbed their forehead. “That’s the opposite of what he needs!”

“What,” Goldie defended.

As they bickered, Fishdragon swam closer to the kitten. “I’m claiming you first, it’s decided. And don’t worry, I’ll tell them.”

“Got room for one more?” Purple asked and Fishdragon smirked.

“I’ll swim down, too, after I let everyone know where I am,” Goldie added. The sword wiggled and ze stared at it for a moment. “Right, I happen to know a mage that can make us magic scrolls to write to each other while away. Would you like that?”

The other two dragons agreed readily, and the kitten grinned wide enough to show fangs.

“Have you heard,” he said as they made their way back to their tiny beach corner, “about the tale of the enchanted scrolls? It begins with a kitten, of course, and ends with friends.”

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More content | Alia Terra and other stories at Atthis Arts | Alia Terra hub on this website |

2021 Award Eligibility Post

2021 Award Eligibility Post

2021 written in large numbers over a photo of amethysts on a dark background

The past year has been… a lot. Here’s the literary loot.

  • The Lightkeeper (2.4k words) is a science fiction short story about a future of survival, part of House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature Volume 3
  • Snow Globes (61.4k words) is the series bundle and exclusive epilogue for the contemporary family saga from NineStar Press.
  • The Witch of Nok (2.2k words) is a fantasy piece, part of the Havesskadi 2021 Dragoniversary.
  • Lost in Ynys (2.1k words) is a fantasy crossover story with the world created by Minerva Cerridwen in The Dragon of Ynys. Part of the Havesskadi 2021 Dragoniversary.
  • Savior of Humanity (1.2k words) is a science fiction piece set in a post-apocalyptic world trying to heal.
  • Soulink (300 words) is a sci-fi/fantasy piece part of the Ink anthology and received First Place in Queer Sci Fi’s Eighth Annual Flash Fiction Contest.

Coming up in 2022, Alia Terra: Stories from the Dragon Realm, an illustrated (by Matt Spencer!) fairy tale book in English and Romanian from Atthis Arts. The exclusive D20 designed for the book is here.

The Lightkeeper

The Lightkeeper

an abstract intermingling of shapes in blue, brown, and white, reminiscent of mushroomsShort Story: Science Fiction, Future, Disabled Character, Climate Change, Community.

Release date:  November 2021

Yair, the lightkeeper, prepares for retirement and Tani, his apprentice, prepares to take over, when disaster strikes in the distance.

Anthology: House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature Volume 3

Editors: Erika Steeves and Nihls Andersen

Publisher: House of Zolo

Out Now! House of Zolo