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Showing posts from 2015

Best books of 2015--my recommendations

The year draws to its close tonight, and I'm joining others with my list of favorite books read in 2015! Fiction, nonfiction, novels and short story collections. . . I didn't read as much as I would have liked (I never do) but these are the ones that stayed most powerfully with me.

Fiction Novels
Best Novel—Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest

The best novel I read this year was a hard-to-pigeonhole, slipstreamish epistolary novel self-published in 2013. I first heard of Francesca Forrest when I came across her lovely short story, Seven Bridges, in the archives of the digital magazine, The Future Fire. Pen Pal is her first published novel (I think). It is gorgeous and affecting. These are the first lines:
Dear person who finds my message, I live in a place called Mermaid's Hands. All our houses rest on the mud when the tide is out, but when it comes in, they rise right up and float. They're all roped together, so we don't lose anyone. I like Mermaid's Hands, but sometimes I…

December publications!

I am happy to announce two new stories out this month.

"Moon Story" was published in October in the fall issue of Mythic Delirium. It is now available for free reading online as the featured December story. It is a fairy tale about questing, about growing up and letting go, and yes, it takes place on the Moon. A magical Moon of  "snow and ice, of frozen lakes and deep blue shadows." Also bats and rats. The featured poetry of this month, "Star Fishing" by Shveta Thakrar and "Jupiter Dis(mis)ed" by J.C. Runolfson beautifully round out the celestial theme. Read the entire fall issue--it's all great stuff!

My second story this month is "Knife and Sea," a little flash piece in the winter issue of Mirror Dance. This is also a fairy tale, but decidedly darker than "Moon Story." The winter issue of Mirror Dance is always devoted to flash fiction, poetry, and pieces that straddle the definitions of poetry and prose. Darkness and str…

On not writing and the creative life

I came across this piece by novelist Daniel Jose Older on not writing every day. And my heart cheered Yes! Yes. Yes to the nth degree.
Earlier this month I had space in my schedule. School for the kids had started; I had no medical writing assignments in sight. I will write, I thought. Who knows when I'll have this time again? I had nothing to write about. No story in my head. No matter—don't other writers just sit at the blank screen and stuff just pours out of them? Don't they say that if you just sit your butt in the chair and force yourself then the words will come because it's just work and willpower and moving those fingers on the keyboard? Doesn't everyone say shitty first drafts and just keep going and just do it--?
I tried. It was a disaster.
Because sometimes, as Daniel JoseOlder writes in his essay, the story you're working on just isn't ready to be written yet. Because, as he says, "brainstorming is part of writing, too." Every writer is …

On memoir and things I have no experience of—A review of "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life" by William Finnegan

I know nothing about surfing. I've never stood on a board. I've never even seen surfing done in real life (I've spent most of my life in the American Midwest. And even when I lived in Los Angeles for college, I somehow never met any surfers).
Yet it came into my head to write a story that involved surfing. So I read a lot. I was interested in big-wave surfing, so I read Susan Casey's book, "The Wave." I read a lot of journalistic accounts. I watched videos online.
And eventually, probably inevitably, I stumbled upon a two-part article in The New Yorker. The article is titled "Playing Doc's Games" by William Finnegan, and it was published in 1992. It is famous among surfers. The surf magazine The Inertia called it "possibly the greatest surf story ever" and a writer at The Surfer described it as "the best written piece (all 39,000 words of it) ever penned about surf culture." 
I am not a surfer. Yet William Finnegan's article…

Future Fire Fundraiser! Link to new interview!

The Indiegogo fundraiser for The Future Fire is down to the wire, with only 38 hours to go! Go visit and donate to support daring, progressive, beautiful short science fiction and fantasy!

As part of The Future Fire's 10th anniversary celebration, there is also a new interview with me about my writing.

F**ck Winning

I stumbled across this piece, "Fuck Winning," by Albert Burneko while skipping about the Internet (as you do) and read it, just read it.
Because yes, fuck winning, fuck the tournament system, fuck the ruthless competition/winner-takes-all/Hunger Games that is coming for us all. We don't need to beat down our kids; the world is going to do that soon enough. We don't need to teach them that only "winners" are worthwhile; that life is to be measured in trophies and salaries and prestigious job titles and tangibly shiny medals; isn't the world going to teach them all that without our help?
Here is the passage in Burneko's piece that closed my throat:  
As I write this, my two young sons are running around a grassy field where I can watch them. They have balloons stuffed under their shirts; they are crashing into each other with their big balloon-bellies and making weird monster noises and giggling so hard they can’t speak; the sun is in their hair and thei…

Celebrating 10 years of The Future Fire magazine--fundraiser for their anthology

Wow. I really haven't been here in a while.

I hope to post something more substantive soon, but for now I will direct readers (all 2 of them?) to a most excellent magazine and to the fundraiser celebrating that magazine's 10th anniversary.

The Future Fire is a speculative fiction online magazine which has been publishing strange and beautiful science fiction and fantasy for 10 years now. As stated in the submission guidelines, the editors are interested in fiction with social-political and progressive themes. Such themes can actually stretch to cover quite a bit, and the stories there often express those themes in subtle and unexpected ways.  I was very very proud when one of my own stories, Disconnected, was chosen for publication in The Future Fire this past spring.

And to celebrate their 10 years in business, the staff at The Future Fire are now running an Indiegogo campaign to fund an anthology publishing a mix of new stories and material with some of the best from a decade o…

Vacation, mini-interview, updates

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I got back a bit more than a week ago from a family vacation in the San Francisco Bay area. Glorious sunshine, lemon and orange trees, green lawns and flowers in bloom.  Drought? There’s a drought going on? 
Oh, no, it’s going to RAIN! the locals freaked out while we were there. I’m so sorry, but there’s RAIN in the forecast, too bad about RAIN while you’re here on vacation. Rain? That five-minute sprinkle? Ha! My family and I are Midwesterners—you call that “rain?”
A hike by the sea, a stay at Half Moon Bay, and my husband and I were marveling at local flora like Dorothy dropped off by her tornado in the land of Oz. What are these trees? we wondered (wind-sheared cypresses on the coast). What are these orange wildflowers? (California poppies) And these flowering succulents on the beach?



Visits with family and friends. My youngest holding hands with her baby boy cousin. And snuggles with the newest cousin to join our family, an infant girl who is all fat rolls and edible cheeks and round…

New publication: bio-cyberpunk "Disconnected" at The Future Fire. Story notes included!

My science fiction story, “Disconnected,” is now live at The Future Fire!
It’s a story about protein folding and optogenetics and cognitive augmentations. And it’s also about capitalism, and family, and the enduring need for human connection.
This particular issue of The Future Fire happens to mark the tenth anniversary of the digital publication. That’s quite an achievement, and I am thrilled to be part of it. I haven’t finished reading all the other stories in this issue yet, but so far what I’ve read has been amazing—dark and lovely and sad and moving, original in form and content. I am so honored to be sharing space with this group of authors and artists. Speaking of artists--Miguel Santos’ illustrations for my own piece are wonderful, and showed me something about my story that I didn’t even realize.



STORY NOTES BELOW ....................................................................................



The Science
Protein Folding Games
The science in the story is all grounded in real, …

Short fiction reviews! Favorites from winter 2015

I’ve been wanting to start posting regularly about short fiction. I’m way behind in my reading (what else is new?), but since Christmas I’ve still found pieces that thrilled me, surprised me, made me fall in love. Most of the stories I list here were published in January, and some even earlier… but as I said, I get behind. And I’ve been thinking of a tweet I saw: that if you love a writer’s work, one of the best things you can do is share your love of it in a review. Sometimes I read a story that blows me away, but it seems to get no attention in the SFF community-- not a single tweet or review or mention. So consider this my mentions.

Family and Love
The Absence of Words” by Swapna Kishore in Mythic Delirium
Writer Ken Liu, among others, has spoken of how fantasy literature can act to “literalize metaphors.” Kishore’s story is a perfect example of this: the barriers of communication between mothers and daughters become, in her story, a physical barrier of engulfing silence, swallowing…

Nearly 2 am, sleep is a ready sacrifice

Woot, just finished the last lines of my first draft of a 13,555 word novelette.

Longer than I ever meant it to be. Probably unpublishable.

Sleep is a willing sacrifice.