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Showing posts from 2014

Life update: where I've been. Stories sold. Christmas already?!

I disappeared into a medical writing assignment for a few weeks, then crawled out to find the house in chaos and the hurly-burly of the Christmas season well underway. All the neighbors strung lights in their yards when I wasn't looking; Christmas jingles play in the stores, lights and wreaths and Christmas trees are everywhere. Each year this season sneaks up upon me; this year it seemed to wait till the last minute before jumping out, waving its arms, crying Ha! Gotcha! Did you forget about me?
My mind filled with the technical details of a dozen scientific journal articles. . . I nearly did forget.
But the Christmas tree is up, the stockings are hung, and tonight was my daughters’ annual Christmas music recital. Both acquitted themselves well, if I do say so myself. My eldest finished a scarf she’d been weaving for me on her little loom kit, and I proudly wore it to the concert and all evening.  Dinner out (barbecue), bath time, bed. . . Outside the nights dip ever deeper, ever b…

Quotes and Links

On doing great work: 
"The real trick to producing great work isn't to find ways to eliminate the edgy, nervous feeling that you might be swimming out of your depth. Instead, it’s to remember that everyone else is feeling it, too. We’re all in deep water. Which is fine: it’s by far the most exciting place to be."
-- from "Nobody Knows What the Hell They Are Doing" by Oliver Burkeman at 99U
From writer Theodora Goss’s twitter feed**:
“I have rewritten this paragraph at least five times. Which is why wordcount is irrelevant, if they’re the wrong words.”
“Authors telling other people how to be authors is like parents telling other people how to be parents. Because all kids are the same.”
*Note: I don't know how to use Twitter. I don't know how to cite (?) it appropriately? I just sometimes use the Web to eavesdrop on other people's tweets.
A lovely essay on a video game and the Asian-American experience
     . . . because it sometimes seems that the world is a…
On turning 40 and things I've seen and read: Fate/Zero, A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Magicians. Ways to make yourself melancholy during these gorgeous autumn days. 
It’s two months before I turn 40. But I’ve been mourning the end of my thirties for the last year.

40 is when you have to recognize, finally, that there are doors you’ve passed which will never open to you; there are paths which are forever blocked. “Way leads on to way,” as the poet said, and you will never find your way back to that turning point in the golden wood. Of course, I’ve been realizing this throughout my thirties. It’s just that the finality of that number, “40”—the thudding close of a decade—has a new hardness that drives the point home.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is failure, and of how it is not something talked about in our world. All our cultural narratives are of success. We tell our children that they can do anything, as long as they work hard enough and believe. We encourage …

Thoughts on femininity and a review of the children's book, "Petunia, the Girl Who Was NOT a Princess"

A children’s book review: "Petunia, the Girl Who Was NOT a Princess"by M.R. Nelson
My suggested age range: for kids 3 and up
Disclosure: I received this book as an electronic advance review copy from the author. Nelson and I have followed each other on social media for some years now, and I consider her a friend.

The Petunia of this charming children’s book is not a “princessy” girl. She doesn’t like frilly dresses and pretend princess parties. She would rather climb trees and play ball and build towers with blocks. She feels lonely in a neighborhood where are all the other little girls dress like princesses and seem to prefer more stereotypically “feminine” past times.

In the end, Petunia learns a lesson about acceptance. But it’s not the lesson you might expect.
Petunia doesn't have to learn to accept herself. She accepts herself and her tomboyish ways just fine. What she learns, when a new princess moves in next door, is an acceptance of others. The new girl wears a floun…

Review : The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman

"It didn’t matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.”
            --Lev Grossman, from The Magician’s Land

Unless you’ve been caught in in an enchanted sleep for the past several years (or just don’t pay attention to book news at all, I suppose) you’ve heard of The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman. “Harry Potter for adults,” it’s been called, as well as both a deconstruction of and loving homage to The Chronicles of Narnia and other classic works of genre fantasy. It’s achieved widespread critical acclaim and popular success. It’s also received the most polarized reviews I’ve ever seen on Amazon and GoodReads. Grossman’s series is a collision of literary tropes with genre fantasy tropes, all told with snarky verve and crackling Whedon-esque dialogue. Some people can’t stand these books. I love them.

I LOVE them.

I finally finished reading the last installment of the series, “The Magician’s Land,” this weekend. And it was the first tim…

Last publication for the year: notes on "The Berry Girl"

When it rains, it pours. Or something like that.

My last story for 2014 came out this week (same week as "Congress of Dragons.") This latest one is "The Berry Girl," up at Lakeside Circus. A podcast should be coming out soon. It was released just as summer ends, which is fitting as the story is an ode to summer.


STORY NOTES (possibly mild spoilers below!)










I wrote this story last year, in the thick of summer. The new raspberry bush in our front yard was giving us its first harvest. Every day my youngest daughter checked the bush for ripe berries. It was her greatest delight to pick the berries, bringing them one or two at a time into the house in a little yellow bowl.

One morning I was in the shower when my little girl entered the bathroom. She slid open my shower door to proudly show me her harvest--her bowl full of ripe berries. And she sang, "I am the Berry Girl! I am the Berry Girl!"

So I sat down to write a story about a Berry Girl.





Worth reading: review of One Throne Magazine, Summer 2014 issue

There’s so much good reading online these days. My reading (and writing) leans toward the speculative fiction genre, and I struggle to keep up with the journals in that field. Clarkesworld, Lightspeed,Shimmer, Apex,Strange Horizons. . . The list goes on. Aside from clicking to Brevity when a new issue comes out, I rarely look at “literary” or non-genre journals.
But a little while ago, one of the editors at One ThroneMagazine e-mailed me asking if I would consider reviewing his magazine. Just before Labor Day weekend, I finally read the Summer 2014 issue straight through. I’m glad I did. 
First off: the layout of this magazine is gorgeous. It is a slick, professional-looking online journal, and lavishly illustrated. Each story and poem is accompanied by artwork, and I was surprised at how well the pictures went with the text. I found most of the illustrations intriguing and lovely on their own, but when combined with powerful prose or poetry something truly resonant occurs.
The Sum…

New publication at Mirror Dance!

I wrote a story about dragons.

Because, hey, dragons.

If you want to know more, head on over to the current issue of Mirror Dance, a lovely magazine put together by award-winning writer Megan Arkenberg. My story is "Congress of Dragons," and it's the first piece I've ever had that is accompanied by an illustration. I'm thrilled by the artwork that Megan selected. I think it catches the mood and fits very well. I never thought to see my character, Erran, like this, and I actually love it that the dragons aren't depicted.

I haven't had time to do more than skim through the magazine and read the first story ("The Frost Queen Requests Your Support" by Aimee Picchi--an unusual take on a frost queen story, with prose as sharp and gorgeous as ice), but as always the entire thing looks sumptuous. I'm looking forward to settling in with this one. Thanks to Megan for reading and publishing my story, and for the work that she does in putting together …

New publication up at GigaNotoSaurus!

Okay, I'm a week late posting this, but. . .

My novelette, "Between Sea and Shore," is live at GigaNotoSaurus! You can read it online or download it as an ePub from the site!

I am so thrilled to be appearing in this publication. I first fell in love with this journal when I stumbled across C.S.E. Cooney's amazing How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One. My love has continued since that day; just look at some of the other stories on the site and you'll understand why.

So I'm completely psyched to find myself published in the journal (founded by Ann Leckie of Ancillary Justicefame) that has published so many authors and stories I've loved. Huge thanks to editor Rashida Smith who plucked my story from the slush pile and then worked so hard with me to polish and sharpen the story, catching every typo and inconsistency along the way.

Thanks also to all my beta-readers! You know who you are, and I'm grateful to you all.






Notes from our family vacation in Thailand

The food. Oh my god, the food.
Food is everywhere. Steps from my parents’ house in Bangkok are the street vendors and open-air food stalls. Little coconut-rice pancakes sizzle on the corner; a woman walks down the street pushing a cart with vats of sweet tapioca noodles in coconut milk. There’s satay and curries and noodles and fruit everywhere I look. Mounds of fresh fruit for sale—rambutan (ngoh in Thai), mangosteen (monkut),longan, jackfruit, durian and more. Every time a relative or friend came over, they brought food. Every time we stopped at someone’s house, they brought out food. God forbid—the thinking seems to be in my family—that anyone go hungry for more than five minutes.
Needless to say, I ate well.
This is an example of the generosity I met and the Thai concern about food: One of my mother’s friends knew that my parents were hosting a full house for the week in Bangkok. This friend was worried about how my parents would provide breakfast. So nearly every day of our sta…

New "official" website

Okay, I finally got around to making an "official" writer's website at Wordpress. This is the site I want to pop up when people search for my name.

But I'm still keeping this one at Blogger for sentimental reasons (and linking to it from my official site).

And of course, I need to do some fiddling/customization/prettying-up of all these sites. . . But damnit, I'm a wordsmith, not a website designer!

Anyway, head on over if you're curious to see what I've been up to this weekend.

                                                                               ***

It's been a long day, the first real day of summer break. Some light editing work and business e-mails this morning, then a whole afternoon at the pool with my little ones. Dinner and homemade strawberry ice cream for dessert. I'm tired, but all in all, life is pretty darn good.

Short story sales!

I've signed the contracts; I've even been paid! And while they won't be out for a while, it's still a personal Big Deal for me to announce two short story sales.

1) "Congress of Dragons" is forthcoming in the Fall issue of Megan Arkenberg's lovely journal, Mirror Dance. I always knew I would have to write a story featuring dragons one day. Because, dragons.

2) I am also very excited to announce the sale of "Between Sea and Shore" to GigaNotoSaurus. This story was difficult for me in a number of ways. It pushed me in new directions. It's the longest thing I've ever written (nearly 9000) words. I love it, but its very length made it hard to sell in the current short sci-fi/fantasy market. I am so thankful that a venue like GigaNotoSaurus, dedicated to longer fiction ("longer than a short story, and shorter than a novel") exists. It was also a pleasure, and eye-opening, to work through the editing/revision process with editor Ras…

Poem for a Sunday Night (by Albert Goldbarth)

Poem for a Sunday night: "The Sciences Sing a Lullaby"

Lackington's Magazine: Prose and Plot

Lackington’s is a new online speculative fiction magazine with a focus on beautiful prose—what the editors refer to as stylized prose. I’m a sucker for beautiful prose, so the concept of this journal appealed to me from the start. Then the introductory forward to the first issue drew me in and whispered star-lit promises.
From Issue One’s introductory forward:
The world isn’t built on hook-plot-epiphany, and it isn’t experienced in digestible, everyday language. One might argue that literature doesn’t operate the same way the world does, but nor should it operate as if it came out of a box, complete with instruction manual. An epiphany isn’t half as valuable when it’s as dependable as the tide, after all.”
Editor Ranyl Richildis argues that the conventions of genre fiction—the story-telling “musts” that are taught as basics to beginning writers--constrain the literature produced and read. Does a character really need to change over the course of story? Does every story need its epiphany…

Winter update: Snows days, laundry, the Snow Queen's eerie expanse

Image
It’s been a long winter.

The polar vortex (what a marvelous term! When I was a kid we just referred to it as a winter storm or “cold weather”) comes again and again. Snow piles past the height of our mailbox, buries shrubs and half-buries small trees. In between freezing spells the ice thaws; mud and slush puddle in the streets. Sun teases us with longer daylight hours; we hear robins in the trees. And then it all freezes again, hard and glistening. Snow swirls outside my window, and I feel I could just stare out the window all day, hypnotized by its falling patterns.
Polar temperatures have kept us housebound; snow days have taken off a week of the kids’ school year. I let them watch too much TV. There’s paid work to do; there’s the struggle to find time (and will!) for personal writing; there’s always laundry to do, unrelenting as the snow.
Last week we returned from a trip to Chicago, where my family had gathered to celebrate my father’s birthday. There was great excitement as young …