Short Story: “Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches”

While I’ve been published before, I stopped writing right around 2011 when things got busy. Since I’ve started writing again, I’ve got a stable of stories and novels that I’m going back to and working  on. It’s been an interesting experience to see how my narration work and the wisdom of years and new experiences translate into better writing. On that note, I’ve sold “Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches” to Cast of Wonders.

The story actually went up in May, but it was Nebula Conference time in my full time job as Executive Director for SFWA.  I hope you can go check it out if you have the time.

Story | Podcast

 

FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: 200 WORDS AT A TIME, PART ONE

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/11/22/flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-one/

The link above will take you to the flash fiction challenge that Chuck Wendig is running over at his blog. Compose 200 words, link it back and then pick another author’s story, write another 200 for their story and so forth for five weeks until a story is finished.

Here is my contribution.
——-

We are always meant to be pregnant; we daughters of Queens. We mothers of Queens. We are destined to hold a screaming infant upon our breasts, bloodied and exhausted from delivery and rooting for sustenance. We are meant to swaddle, cuddle and coo down at our future rulers. We, the perpetual regents. 

The first daughter set foot upon Winter colony, shielded against new and foreign elements in a sealed white suit and gold-plated helmet. In the older, rarer reels, she mimics a kiss through the raised, visor, touching the glass with thickly padded and protected gloved fingers. Unfastening the bulky suit, slender and still protected hands settle upon the United Agencies logo which adorns her chest and the sewn-on identification patch. Commander Eridana has landed in her new home. In the glare of sunset, the one photographer who accompanied the journey is unable to mitigate the fading light but captures the silhouette of a now noticeable pregnancy.

We will never be called “Princess”, nor inherit any throne. Should our perfect Queens fall, we simply produce another. Some have written us into our history holos as drones, reminiscent of ancient Apis mellifera.  We are the enduring members of a hive, feeding our potential matriarchs with the royal, nanotech jelly, occasionally coveting a taste but wary of the price. 

Well, Hello Again.

*waves* Hello there.

You might remember me. I used to write to you all the time on rice paper with rich indigo inks. On brightly colored stationary, in journals both electronic and old world. Every day, in fact.

I am so sorry for neglecting you. I feel incredibly bad that for every time I got the urge to come visit, I would instead procrastinate. I had things to do! Important things. On days you made the journey home, you would sit right in front of me and stare. There was no malice behind your multi-colored eyes, just hope and a need for understanding.  Instead, I chose news sites and comics, videogames and TV over you. I chose the mundane.

You’ve gift-wrapped yourself numerous times, begging me to tug on that sexy, satin ribbon. I remember the last time I pulled off the bow. Do you? Do you recall the magic that ensued?

You’ve even visited me in dreams, only then to wake me with fevered kisses that made me sit up in bed wishing I had the energy to wrap my arms around you.

Do you even miss me? I miss me. I miss you terribly. I miss the times we had together, dancing upon the ink and page to artfully chosen music. Letting the mood carry us to worlds both known and un. Reveling in rebirth from the ashes of burned and unworthy creation, pulling something from nothing. Loving every.single.moment.

All I find now, is pretentiousness and I am lost as I traverse this world without your caress. Will you take me back? Dance with me again, whisper sweet nothings in both my ear and in my dreams. Bring me the wines of creativity and the pears of substance. Be with me again through my mercurial moments and laugh with me when I find the sun.

My muse, my love, my world.

 

 

The Fog of Surreality – (A.K.A. #Readercon) #fb

I’ve been waiting to write this post, because it means I actually have to convince myself that Readercon is over. I guess I can’t live in the fog of surreality forever. I must come out and enjoy the sun. It’s been a week, I know. Allow me my dreams!

I arrived on Friday and instantly met up with Neil Clarke. For some odd reason, I have that weird, “omg I must find a friend so I don’t look like a complete idiot standing around in halls pretending I’m taking a phone call, so no one realizes that I’m too timid  to just come over and say hi” hang-up.  In fact, every time I’ve seen the Goddess known as Cat Valente roaming the halls with her posse, I’ve wanted to go over and say hello and gush about how much I love her writing.  Instead, I end up staring like a jackass.

I have gotten better at this in general and will muster the courage. In fact, from a recent twitter posting — it sounds like she’s just finished a story for Clarkesworld! Yay! Perhaps I’ll have something with which to introduce myself!

Where was I? Oh! Friday night. So I meet up with Neil Clarke who hands me a box of Clarkesworld business cards! I don’t think I showed the first squee I had of the night properly. How cool is it that I’ve been an official member of staff for almost 11 months? I’m almost at the two year mark for narrations!

So as I’m saying hello to Sean Wallace and his most lovely wife, Neil then surprises me with a copy of Sybil’s Garage No.7 that he just bought at a neighboring dealer’s table. I squealed with delight when he showed me. I squeed even more when he asked me for my first autograph! That has to rank right up there with one of the coolest moments of my life. I danced with my book. I didn’t care who was watching.

I went to a “Futures of Magazines” panel at 8:00 that night that included the likes of Neil, K. Tempest Bradford, Liz Gorinsky, Matt Kressel and Michael J. Deluca.  I was going to run up and introduce myself to Matt after the panel but I caught his eye and shyly waved. Much to my surprise and delight, he jumped up, ran over and gave me a warm hug. If I could meet everyone like that, I would be so happy.

Later that night, Neil and I were sitting on the floor having wonderful conversation with whomever decided to stop by and join when, David Mercurio Rivera, Devin Poore, E.C. Myers and Rajan Khanna came over to introduce themselves. I can’t say enough how cool and welcoming these guys were. Devin confessed he was the one who pulled my story out of the slush and sent it on to the other editors. It doesn’t get any better than that! Trying not to be socially retarded, I tried to hide most of my excitement. I think I failed.

Saturday was equally cool. I got up and read for a roomful of people attending the Rhysling poetry awards. I read Susan Slaverio’s “The Reaper’s Wife”. The tongue tripped up on the word, “hagiographer” but it was smooth sailing after that. Special thanks goes to Susanne Reynolds-Alpert who introduced herself and calmed my nerves with some warm words of encouragement.

I caught Mary Robinette Kowal in the lobby, said hello to her busy self and got to hold her upcoming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey. It is a gorgeous book and I can’t wait to read it when it comes out.

John Anealio stopped by the Clarkesworld booth and said hello as well. It’s always great to meet someone who’ve you been conversing with on any online medium and I was delighted he hung out with us after dinner. If you haven’t taken the time to go listen to his music, go do it now!

I got to talk a little with the ever wonderful Charlie Stross and the lovely Margaret Ronald. I wish the time had not gone so quickly.

So by now, if you attended Readercon, you know about the not-so-secret party that Matt Kressel held in his room. A celebration of sorts for the release of Sybil’s Garage NO. 7, he asked if the contributors would read their stories at the gathering. Again, another inside snoopy dance for me. See, I read other people’s work. I can’t get over the fact that I was standing in a crowded room, reading my story! Holy crap. Lots of praise for both the narration and the story left me reeling. I was very nervous that the experience of reading into a microphone in a private environment where I could correct my mistakes would translate poorly to a live medium. I am happy to report I was wrong about that.

After a lovely breakfast with Nora Jemisin on Sunday, I participated in the Clockwork Phoenix 3 reading with a wonderful panel. Gemma Files, Ken Schneyer, Mike Allen, Nicole Kohner-Stace, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney and Amal El-Mohtar did wonderful jobs with their material. I read from the Cat Rambo story, “Surrogates”. I can only hope I did the story justice!

Afterward, I ran over to the  reading where Chang Terhune was reading along with other graduates from the workshop. It was fantastic! Now, I know I’m missing someone, or something I did. In all, every person I met made this convention truly amazing. It was an event in my life that I will never, ever forget so thank you to everyone who made that possible.

I can’t wait until next year.

(Picture above by Matt Kressel — more photos here)

Pinch Me Edition: I Sold My First Short Story

I know many of you already probably know about this considering my excited Tweet and Facebook messages. Thank you all for the wonderful replies filled with encouragement and cheer. However, I don’t know if it fully becomes “official” until I blog about it. When I write about things here, it usually means I’ve actually stopped pinching myself and havent woken up from a blissful dream. It means I am indeed still in reality.

It means that I’m actually going to be published.

“By Some Illusion” will appear in Sybil’s Garage No. 7. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be featured in this acclaimed magazine. You can find out more about Senses Five Press here.

The good news is that according to Matthew Kressel’s blog, SG 7 will hopefully be released before Readercon! If you are attending that particular conference this year, I might just have to buy a few more copies of the magazine and share my good fortune with some fun people.

I can’t wait to see my name in print!

Explanation: L’enfant du Soleil

As you’ve seen, I’ve asked for readers for my first science fiction/fantasy poem. If you are interested, please leave a comment below and I’ll email you the password.

It’s funny, never thought I’d write anything like this, but the idea came while walking around a gift shop at a local science center. Revisiting it today with my two girls, nagging returned and I had to get it down on paper.

It has some interesting visuals, and I actually like how it came together. Now, I just need opinions and feedback.

Would you be lovely people and do that for me? 😉

The Radical Rewrites Panel at ReaderCon

I was going through the notes I took at a ReaderCon panel entitled, “Radical Rewrites”. Panelists included: Catherine Asaro, Beth Bernobich, Victoria Blake, Barry B. Longyear, Eugene Mirabelli, and Sarah Smith.

Some of the things that I took away were:

Editorial Processes:

  • For some authors, the editing process is pretty constant. Everything from little grammatical changes to massive plot and character tuning.
  • Find a trusted writing group. Most writing workshops continue to support you after they are over, by providing forums or email contacts.
  • Having your mom do all of your critiquing is usually not as helpful as those dedicated to the process themselves.
  • Step away from your story. Let your writing group do their critiques and only then allow yourself to reengage. A little time off from the worlds you create can open objectivity.
  • One of the most difficult things a writer can face is massive change.
    • For example, your finished story goes out to your trusted reading group. The majority return with a suggestion to change or remove a character or plot device that doesn’t seem to work.
    • If you find yourself in that situation, you need to carefully weigh the suggestion versus trusting your gut. Sometimes our emotional attachments to our characters are too difficult to destroy and it may just be the best thing for your novel or short story.
  • Reading out loud is invaluable for feedback. Not only will you catch little things you may have missed by eyeballing, but you’ll understand what multiple aspects of your story sound like to other people. If your dialogue sounds weird when spoken, it probably is.

Regarding Outlines:

  • Have you launched the story in the right direction? Sometimes your ideas will take on a completely different path than what you first envisioned.
  • Do you have a rough outline? For some authors, it’s better to know your beginning and your ending — allowing for the creativity to flow in the middle of the work.
  • Don’t be afraid to edit the outline as you go along. If your book keeps changing, you need to keep up with your changes instead of letting the changes confuse you.
  • One panelist compared it to taking a trip. You have to know where you are going in order to get there. Being aimless will result in nothing but mess.

Miscellaneous:

  • Some panellists have found that stories and novels written in the 1st person/present tense are harder to sell.
  • Sometimes a title will make you or break you.
  • Know your characters. Sit down and have “conferences” with them. You’ll know if you’re heading in the right direction and more importantly, if they want to go forward with the story.
  • Go back and reread.
  • Know your weaknesses and try through whatever method to work on strengthening them. If your dialogue is weak, point it out to your groups. Ask for suggestions.
  • The greatest difficulty is knowing when a project is not worth completing.
  • Introducing a vampire usually does not work.
  • Be careful with what you throw away. Keep it and come back to it at a later date. You never know, sometimes trash can evolve into a story of it’s own. If it doesn’t, and you become instantly famous, deleted passages can be used as “special content” to entice your readers.
  • Most importantly, if you’re not having fun with your story, you’re doing it wrong.