Story Spotlight: Kamynosa's Labyrinth

So there’s this anthology coming out in a week. It’s called Strange Waters. You may have heard of it. It’s been making the rounds on social media and Goodreads for a while now. I’ve mentioned it once or twice. Just in case you’ve somehow missed out on all the hoopla, however, here’s the deal: Strange Waters is an anthology collaboration by the Phoenix Fiction Writers featuring nine science-fiction and fantasy stories all inspired by the same base image.

But I’m not here to twaddle on about the anthology. I’m here to wave my arms and shout about one of my favorite stories from the collection, this little gem called Kamynosa’s Labyrinth. Beth Wangler wrote it. She’s pretty great. But first, the cover art. Look at it. Go on, take your time. Bask in the artwork.

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Good? Good. Okay. So basically, Kamynosa’s Labyrinth is the story of an archipelago princess (think major ancient-Greece vibes) who, tired of being overlooked, enters a dangerous sea-race alone in order to prove that she’s capable of leading her people by herself. This race, known as the Labyrinth, pits Kamynosa against boat-loads (heh) of opponents vying for her hand, tests her mettle on the dangerous waters, and challenges her own self-belief.

If you like boats, the ocean, high-stakes races (insert now this is pod-racing reference here), and a dynamic female protagonist, you’ll love the adventure packed into Kamynosa’s Labyrinth. But this story is about so much more than a girl out to prove she doesn’t need the guys. It’s not the heavy-handed, social-commentary shovel with which current media seems determined to bonk us over the head. No. Kamynosa’s Labyrinth handles its themes with (gasp) balanced tact and doesn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater…if you get my drift. No spoilers, don’t worry! I won’t say whose baby. Uhm. Anywho.

So…yeah. This anthology is going to be great, and Kamynosa’s Labyrinth is already one of my favorite entries. For more info on the anthology, follow this magic hamster. To check out Beth Wangler’s official story reveal, follow this different magic hamster. So many hamsters.

Anthology Story Reveal: Backpack Boy

We the members of Phoenix Fiction Writers have been unveiling our entries for the upcoming Strange Waters anthology, and today it’s my privilege to pull the wrappings off this little secret I’ve been working on.

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Pirates have kidnapped Mum and taken her to the cave across the island.
The boy with the red backpack has everything he needs to rescue Mum: a map, a wooden sword, a book about pirate adventures, and a ham sandwich. Most importantly of all, he has his elephant.
But wooden swords and ham sandwiches might not be enough for the boy with the red backpack to face the truth he's afraid of the most.
And the island starts to crumble…

In its earliest conception, Backpack Boy was a simple story about a boy on an adventure, but it quickly became something more: an exploration of a soft heart and a fragile mind, of a very small world that isn’t quite the way it should be, and of the people on the outside who don’t seem to understand.

Backpack Boy will be published this October as part of the Phoenix Fiction Writers anthology, Strange Waters, which will be available for pre-order in the coming month. I look forward to sharing it with you.