Story spotlight: “The Un-American President” by Jason Dias

The president of the United States wishes for peace in “The Un-American President,” by Jason Dias. Sometimes integrity is doing the right thing because everyone is watching.

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“The Un-American President” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

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Excerpt

Farid ducked under a branch laden with cherry blossoms, knowing it would be gone tomorrow. His aide was probably already making the call. Petals lay scattered along the path and, at the end of it, the black, tinted-out truck that would carry him to the airport. Next to the vehicle a young airman ratcheted herself to attention and saluted smartly.

Cameras. They were everywhere now. This path was supposed to be private, but there was Senator Jordan, Kentucky, cell phone in hand.

I have no integrity, Farid thought. If integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching, and there is never a private moment, integrity becomes impossible. What are we left with?

—from “The Un-American President” in The Golden Door by Jason Dias

About Jason

Jason Dias is a neurodivergent existential psychologist living, loving and working in Colorado Springs. He uses horror, science fiction and fantasy to reveal the inner worlds of diverse characters, and to think through hard philosophic problems. These days, he teaches psychology at a community college and keeps largely to himself.

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Story spotlight: “Dispatch from the Other Side” by Rob Vagle

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In Rob Vagle’s “Dispatch from the Other Side,” a young man who was separated from his family while trying to claim asylum in America follows the instructions on a postcard sent by his long-lost mother, and discovers things about his family he’d never expected to find.

“Dispatch from the Other Side” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

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Excerpt

“This was your mother’s last wish for you,” Aunt Maria said. “Do not disrespect that.” She pushed the postcard across the table, between her coffee cup and Antonio’s liquado in a glass tumbler.

“What that postcard talks about makes no sense, Aunt Maria,” he said. “We don’t know this postcard was sent by my mother. It’s a hoax.”

He stared at the postcard instead of picking it up. Hardly anybody used the U.S. mail anymore, and paper postcards were antiquated. The postcard had arrived sometime in 2019 when Antonio was a baby, still in a border detention center, unaware Aunt Maria was looking for him.

The postcard was plain and brown with typeface on one side, the other side blank. His aunt had pushed the card across the table typeface up where he could stare at the words: Message for Antonio Vega from Carmen Vega will be dispatched on July 22, 2036 between noon and four pm. No sooner, no later than that window of time.

—from “Dispatch from the Other Side” in The Golden Door by Rob Vagle

About Rob

A writer of the weird and fantastic, Rob’s stories have appeared in Realms Of Fantasy, Polyphony, Heliotrope, Strange New Worlds, Fiction River, and Pulphouse.

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Story Spotlight: “Needle in a Haystack” by Steve Carr

A woman and her young daughter escape death in their home country, only to find themselves separated at the U.S. border in Steve Carr’s “Needle in a Haystack.”

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“Needle in a Haystack” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

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Excerpt

Cristela held Lilian tightly in her arms as she scanned the inside of the warehouse. From inside, it seemed even larger than it appeared from the outside. The floors and walls were painted the same shade of light gray, the same color of the stones in the creek near the house where she had lived. Pale light streamed through a row of closed windows that ran along the walls just beneath the ceiling. Although the building was cool and air-conditioned, it was also full of unpleasant odors. Fluorescent lighting cast its harsh glow from fixtures in the ceiling. A maze of wire cages, like the ones outside, had been set up to house the women and their children. The din of echoing voices filled the warehouse.

Barely able to hear the questions that the uniformed woman behind the table was asking her, Cristela shrugged to many of them, and watched in silence as the woman filled out a form attached to a clipboard. After the woman said, “That’s all,” Cristela turned to Yanira who was standing behind her and shook her head, bewildered. She was led to a cage where Ana sat on a cot, her sleeping baby lying next to her. Five other women, none with children, were also in the cage. A uniformed woman shut and locked the cage door.

“What about my friend, Yanira?” Cristela asked the woman through the wire.

“This cell is full,” the woman said, and walked away.

—from “Needle in a Haystack” in The Golden Door by Steve Carr

About the Author

Steve Carr, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, has had over 360 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals, reviews and anthologies since June, 2016. Five collections of his short stories, Sand, Rain, Heat, The Tales of Talker Knock and 50 Short Stories: The Very Best of Steve Carr, have been published. His paranormal/horror novel Redbird was released in November, 2019. His plays have been produced in several states in the U.S. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice.

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Story spotlight: “Ke’s Symphony” by Lesley L. Smith

In Lesley L. Smith’s “Ke’s Symphony,” a family of aliens, refugees who escaped a disaster on their own world, is welcomed with both friendship and fear on the planet that took them in.

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“Ke’s Symphony” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

The natives were protesting when we entered the spaceport. The buzz of their voices increased to a roar as we approached. They held thin flimsy screens with words on them and yelled. A lot.

My small translator machine told me the messages said, “Go home, aliens!” “We don’t want your kind here!” “The gods only made two genders!” “The only good alien is a dead alien!” and worse. I did not understand how anyone could be so unnurturing.

We were with a group of about a hundred refugees from our planet, Kenziri. Our planet was dying. It broke my heart. It broke the hearts of all our people. But there was nothing we could do to save it. If our species was going to survive, we had to disperse to other planets like airborne seeds dancing on the wind. We had to hope we could take root somewhere new.

—from “Ke’s Symphony” in The Golden Door by Lesley L. Smith

About Lesley

Lesley L. Smith has published nine science fiction novels including The Quantum Cop, A Jack By Any Other Name, and Conservation of Luck. Her short fiction has been published in various venues including “Analog Science Fiction and Fact,” “Daily Science Fiction,” and “Fiction River.“ She has a Ph.D. in Physics and an MFA in Creative Writing.

She’s an active member of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

She is also a founder and editor of the speculative fiction ezine Electric Spec.

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Story spotlight: “Transient Pains” by Bob Sojka

An American temporarily loses his sight in an accident in Beirut in Bob Sojka’s “Transient Pains.” While recovering, he tells his nurse stories about growing up in an immigrant family in Chicago in the 1950s, where stereotyped animosities arose among people of different origins.

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“Transient Pains” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

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Excerpt

Busia Karcz couldn’t understand the English her children or grandchildren spoke to her. Out of the necessity she created, we sputtered out pidgin Polish sentences, which became the linguistic bars that defined the prison cell of our relationships with her.

She was an Old World peasant. She had no schooling. She “knew what she knew” as a result of an unschooled upbringing that informed her vision of the world as much as it blinded her to the contradictions in her own beliefs. She hated Gypsies, but had memorized and lived by their fables, aphorisms and home remedies. She “treated” her grandchildren to kiszka (blood sausage) and zimne nóżki (jellied pig’s feet with vinegar)—prized offerings that we wrinkled our noses over and refused, much to her disappointment and bruised pride, as well as our parents’ anger. Her meals were often accompanied by lectures to her daughters-in-law about frugality in the kitchen, in the closet, in household furnishings, and in personal grooming. Her arrow-straight hair remained jet black to the day she died and reached her ankles, albeit she barely stood five feet tall. She wore no makeup.

I was shocked one day at the age of four to find her picture in a Disney children’s book, offering an apple to a skeptical Snow White. “Why is Busia’s hair white in this picture?” I asked my mother. I don’t remember the answer, but I remember the shocked look on her face.

—from “Transient Pains” in The Golden Door by Bob Sojka

About Bob

Bob Sojka is a retired environmental scientist and author of hundreds of research papers, book chapters and policy documents. He’s dabbled in fiction since the third grade. In recent years he’s published 16 stories at on-line zines like NewMyths.com and Perihelion, as well as in print anthologies. The most recent include “Blood Storm” in Fiction River’s collection Pulse Pounders: Adrenaline, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, “Don’t Forget”in New Myths’ “Best of” Anthology entitled “Passages,” and “A Fare Cut” in the the Bundle Rabbit anthology entitled “Stars in the Darkness”.

His novelette “Feolito’s Gift“ is available for Kindle on Amazon. Bob also writes the weekly column “Inside Politics“ for the Times News, his Idaho home-town newspaper. Bob’s stories explore the boundaries and meaning of human spirit, character and consciousness across a spectrum of story genres and styles.

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Story spotlight: “A Used Pair of Shoes” by Bonnie Elizabeth

A little girl leaves her war-torn home with her parents, and learns that life is built on small kindnesses in Bonnie Elizabeth’s “A Used Pair of Shoes.”

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“A Used Pair of Shoes” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

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Excerpt

Seasons began to change in ways I had never seen. Lina did not smile, not even her night smile. Her eyes faded and she watched. Some children played a bit, but not my Lina. She had seen too much.

Young boys, boys her age, that might have been suitors in another place, talked about the bodies they had seen. They talked about the bombs that had gone off and the severed arms and legs. One claimed to have seen his brother’s head.

The girls were quiet, even those who talked. The boys either bragged or were more silent that even Lina.

Their eyes did not have the spark that normal children’s eyes did. Their pain was as clear as the dirt on their feet, for few of them had shoes, and those that did had worn shoes with holes where toes peeked out like tiny mice.

—from “A Used Pair of Shoes” in The Golden Door by Bonnie Elizabeth

About Bonnie

Bonnie Elizabeth started writing fiction when she was eight years old. Fortunately that manuscript has long since been lost.


In between a variety of odd jobs, including working as an acupuncturist, Bonnie wrote articles about acupuncture and the business of being an acupuncturist for a variety of acupuncture journals. She also blogged as her cat while transitioning to her real love of fiction writing.


She writes the Whisper series, which begins with Whisper Bound, and has a number of other fantasy, urban fantasy and mystery projects in the works.

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Story spotlight: “The Path” by David Stier

A young woman, who moved from Afghanistan to California with her brother, has to make an important decision in David Stier’s “The Path.” Her choice will change both of their lives, forever.

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“The Path” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

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Excerpt

Sahar always dressed as an infidel would dress, and secretly Aisha wished she could wear American clothes and look straight ahead like the American women she saw on the street. But her brother had forbidden this, saying that Americans were not only decadent infidels but also the murderers of their family, and that as Afghans, while they would have to endure life in this sinful country, that did not mean that they had to adopt its ways.

When she had asked him why he agreed to come to America if he hated this land and their people so much, his answer had been to strike her face with the back of his hand.

“It is of no concern of yours. You will not ask me this again.”

She rubbed the spot on her face where he had struck her, as she did often whenever she thought of Ebrahim.

—from “The Path” in The Golden Door by David Stier

About David

David Stier is a US Army veteran who served in Germany during the Cold War as a tank driver. In his informed opinion, the Soviet Union was our enemy then, as is the Russian Federation now. More importantly, he believes the United States faces a far more insidious threat directly related to the current Administration. As Abraham Lincoln once stated: “All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”


Some of Dave’s short stories have appeared in, Fiction River #18 (Visions of the Apocalypse) Fiction River #24 (Pulse Pounders: Adrenaline) Fiction River #25 (Feel the Fear) Fiction River #30 (Hard Choices), Fiction River #31 (Feel the Love), Fiction River Special Edition #3 (Spies) and Pulp House Issue #4. Dave was also a runner up in the University of North Georgia’s 2019 Military Science Fiction Symposium for “Prisoners of War.” “Rogue Entanglement” originally appeared in Spectra Magazine, Issue #3. His self-published short story collection, Final Solutions, Stories of the Holocaust is available on Amazon.

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Story spotlight: “Like a Snake” by Adrianne Aron

In Adrianne Aron’s “Like a Snake,” an American is surprised to learn that the man she meets in a poor rural village that doesn’t even have electricity has two sons going to Mission High School in San Francisco. But is it really a surprise?

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“Like a Snake” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

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Excerpt

Everybody stops to listen: Broken glass rattling in tin barrels? An explosion of ice cubes?

Hail battering cars in the parking lot?

A huge commotion on the outskirts of San Salvador at nightfall. A pupusa vendor stops turning her masa from one palm to the other. She dabs her fingers in water, wipes them on her oversized tee-shirt, and shakes her head: “Loros!”

Loros? Parrots?

She’s right. It’s the angry screeching of a thousand homeless parrots scolding two rolling bulldozers that are paving the way for Westinghouse and Wendy’s. The corporations are having a party where the parrots used to have a forest.

A shopping mall? In this poor country where more than half the population lives in poverty?

I shake my head, too.

—from “Like a Snake” in The Golden Door by Adrianne Aron

About Adrianne

Adrianne Aron writes both fiction and non-fiction, with social justice as a persistent theme. Her writings have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and have been awarded prizes by Able MuseNew Millennium WritingsWomen on Writing, the Jack London and San Francisco Writers’ Conferences, and the California Writers Association. Human Rights and Wrongs: Reluctant Heroes Fight Tyranny, her essay collection about refugee asylum seekers, won the Sunshot Nonfiction Award and was published by Sunshot in 2018. She is the translator, from the Spanish, of essays by Ignacio Martín-Baró (Writings for a Liberation Psychology, Harvard University Press) and of Mario Benedetti’s play, titled in English Pedro and the Captain (Cadmus Editions). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is at work on a novel, but continues to spend a little time with her “day job” as a liberation psychologist. She possesses a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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Spotlight: “Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver” by Charlotte E. English

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is a beautiful, engaging tale about curses, predicaments, magic, and love. Pour yourself a glass of ice-wine, grab a cloudy starcake with jelly pearls, and enter the world of Aylfenhame!

In the frozen depths of winter, 1812, Phineas Drake struggles to make ends meet. Wearing away his youth making plum-cakes for the people of Lincoln-on-the-hill, he dreams of a better life.

Out of the faerie realm comes Lady Silver: beautiful, angry—and determined. Desperate to reverse an ancient curse, she will stop at nothing to find the traitor, the hobgoblin Wodebean.

Together, princess and baker’s boy make a formidable team—and so they must, for their quest will take them deep into the lawless depths of the Hollow Hills…

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Later, when darkness once again shrouded the streets and he had lit all his cheerful candles afresh, he had reason to feel glad that he had declined, and stayed where he was. For the door opened, and in swept a flurry of wind and snow and cold air—and in its midst, the lady of the rose.

She stood framed in the doorway for some time, her eyes eagerly scanning the contents of the room. Those eyes were odd, Phineas noted with dazed interest: hazy silver shaded with grey. Her dress was purple today; some draped velvet confection with a great deal in the way of skirt and sleeve, but not much in the way of warmth. She did not look cold, however, even though snowflakes glittered in the pale mass of her hair. She looked a little flushed, heightened colour blooming in her cheeks. Had she been running again, or was it the eager way in which she surveyed all of Phineas’s decorations that brought the pink glow to her face?

She was beautiful. The word flitted uselessly across Phineas’s thoughts, insufficient to describe the perfect coils of her pale hair; the exquisite features of her pale, perfect face; and those eyes… A glow seemed to hang about her, an air of vibrancy, of energy, of—of—Phineas could not describe it.

He thought, briefly, of the girls he had previously considered comely. Lizzie Batts, and little Jenny Worther… they withered in his imagination, mere weeds to this woman’s glory. Phineas stood with weakened knees, words fleeing from his lips as quickly as he strove to muster them, and said nothing.

— from Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver by Charlotte E. English

About Charlotte

English both by name and nationality, Charlotte hasn’t permitted emigration to the Netherlands to change her essential Britishness (much). She writes colourful fantasy novels over copious quantities of tea, and rarely misses an opportunity to apologise for something. A lifelong history buff and Jane Austen fan, the Tales of Aylfenhame series combines her love of Regency history with her deep appreciation for fantasy, whimsy and magic—and all things fae.

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Spotlight: “Faerie Song” by Anthea Sharp

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales contains stories about magic, music, and the fey. Several of her tales incorporate elements from traditional ballads and songs, and Anthea’s love of music (she plays⁠—and sings!⁠—Celtic music) is evident throughout this beautiful collection.

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Emer withdrew to the straw-stuffed mattress, but sleep did not come. The clan would go to war in four days. The words echoed in her mind, along with a rising sense of urgency. She must do something. But the chieftain’s daughter did not have the power to command the clan, however much she might wish it.

Wish…

The thought sparked through her, and with it came a rush of hope. She could not change the course the council had decided upon, but she could invoke the old gods. They had the power to avert the coming war.

Some distance beyond the boundaries of her clan’s territory lay a sacred spring. Above the spring a hawthorn tree grew, where for generations people had come to leave their wishes, tied to the branches in the form of cloth strips and long pieces of thread. In all seasons the tree was aflutter with color and movement, the cloth braiding and unbraiding in the wind, the strands dancing in the breeze.

At the wishing tree a girl could perform small magics, beseeching the powers to grant her heart’s desire, whether it be love or vengeance or greed. Or peace.

Above the hawthorn tree rose a hill crowned with a circle of standing stones. It was a place of power, and peril. The old gods slept there, and the Fair Folk were known to dance in the ring. Any mortal who offended them brought trouble down upon her head, and upon her entire clan.

One did not go lightly to the wishing tree.

But go she must, for the specter of war panted at her shoulder like a wolfhound, fierce and insatiable, sharp teeth hungry for her father’s blood.

— from “The Tree of Fate and Wishes” in Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales by Anthea Sharp

About Anthea

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning, bestselling Feyland series, which has sold over 150k copies worldwide. In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk, and fantasy romance. Her books have won awards and topped bestseller lists, and garnered over a million reads at Wattpad. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction River, DAW anthologies, The Future Chronicles, and Beyond The Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge, as well as many other publications.

Anthea lives in sunny Southern California, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays Celtic fiddle, and spends time with her small-but-good family.

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