Annual round-up, gratitude, & pie!

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Apple & cranberry pie. Secret ingredients: half-shot of rum, copious tears

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans! and happy Thursday in November to the rest of you. As you may or may not recall, many SFF writers like to make an annual list of their publications, in hopes that people will say, Hey, yeah, I like that story, maybe I’ll nominate it for an award! I’m not exactly holding my breath on that award thing, but I figure I am thankful to anyone who publishes me, so why not mash the whole thing together into a Thanksgiving/year-end round-up and have myself a blog post. And I was figuring all this while trying, pathetically, to roll out a pie crust, which I will discuss more later.

So, I am extremely grateful to the following magazines and their editors, who have published my stuff this year:

Terraform! who published “Plantation | Springtime,” and Charles Payseur, who wrote a Quicksips review and included it in Nerds of a Feather’s April Roundup

Escape Pod! who did an audio version of “Plural,” and Amanda Ching, who read it. This was a reprint, so it’s not eligible for any awards, but I was still happy about it.

Pseudopod! who published “RAT KING,” in their July podcast, and Rish Outland, who read it.

and finally Shimmer! who published “Skills to Keep the Devil in His Place,” with another thanks to Charles Payseur for his  Quicksips review, and thanks also to AC Wise, who wrote about it in a Words for Thought column.

(One last note on the awards thing: I’m in my second year of Campbell eligibility.)

In non-fiction, I am also very thankful that the French Review published my article on the merveilleux-scientifique, and to have my paper on Maurice Renard’s Le Péril bleu included in conference proceedings: Rediscovering French Science Fiction in Literature, Comics, and Film: From Cyrano to Barbarella. 

Now, for pie! I’m making a pie for Thanksgiving, as one does. I don’t make pie all that often, and the crust, frankly, no matter how hard I try—it’s always a mess. Crumbly, stubborn, falling apart, impossible to transfer without tearing. I patch it, curse at it, sprinkle it with water and flour, coax it with plastic wrap and spatulas, curse some more. Somehow, eventually, I get it on the dish, fill it up with (this time) apples and cranberries and all the sugary stuff. Roll out the top, equally messy, cut little hearts and stars. I’ve started brushing the top with milk and dusting it with sugar to hide all the patches. And you know what? In the end it comes out okay. Nobody knows that I suck at making pie, they can’t taste the frustration and the swears. Pie is good and that’s all there is to it.

This, if it’s not obvious, is a metaphor for writing a story and getting it published. And basically I’m thankful to anyone who takes a bite. I hope you enjoy it. And the turkey, too. Or whatever awesome thing you eat. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

 

Status: 39

As of today, I am 39 years old—a dreadfully immature 39, I think, but as the saying goes, in every old man’s body there is a young man wondering what the hell happened. However, all is well:

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breakfast of 39-year-old birthday-lady champions everywhere

This summer I’m an intern at the excellent and extremely cool Univocal Publishing, which is taking up much of my time. When not copy-editing, hunting down citations, and translating for Univocal, I’m working on my dissertation, gardening, and doing my best to soak up the sunshine while avoiding all the hideous bloodsucking insects. Not writing enough fiction, but “Passe ta thèse d’abord,” as the French say. I think when I finish it’ll be like throwing off a terrible iron yoke and I’ll feel weirdly light and free forever after.

However, there is a little writing news, which is that Apex Magazine has accepted my short story “Mag, the Habitat and We” for publication. No word yet on when “Mag” will appear, but I am extremely happy that I’ll be in Apex again. Also forthcoming is “Skills to Keep the Devil in His Place,” scheduled to appear in Shimmer sometime in November, and “Rat King” offering to creep you the fuck out later in July. ‘Til then: I’ll wish happy birthday to me, and to you, happy summer, with all the coffee and ice cream you can handle.

Street scene (with peonies)

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Behold! my front garden, plus the neighbor’s stumps. Flowering now: peony, bee balm, gas plant, coral bells, prairie smoke. Columbines almost over, pinks just getting started.

So it’s June in south Minneapolis, and the peonies are blossoming. I am an inconstant gardener, obsessed with the garden in spring, lackadaisical* in the heat of summer, and then fall and winter come and there’s not much to do but dream. Just now I was sitting on my front step, drinking coffee and pondering the day, when bunches of kids started trooping by. There’s a school one block south of my house and a second-run movie theater three blocks north, so I think sometimes they take their classes to matinées. The kids were all paired up according to the buddy system, holding hands and swinging arms and screeching and dancing, as kids do, with adults leading and bringing up the rear, shy little creatures clinging to hands and slow or distracted ones running to catch up.

I don’t have children myself and mostly find them confusing, but they’re fun to watch, so I continued sitting and drinking coffee. A teacher at the head of her pack with a pink streak in her silver hair bent down, took a big noseful of peony, and said something to the girls behind her, who all sniffed accordingly, and then all the rest followed suit—so I think every kid in that group stuck their nose in a peony.

I only control a very tiny patch of the world, and that very loosely, but I like to think that I can make that patch more beautiful and pleasant, and that the world is just a tiny bit more beautiful and pleasant as a result. It’s why I like gardening, and I think it’s tied to why I like writing—here, I made this, please enjoy it; please?—which is why it’s so gratifying when herds of passing kids enjoy the flowers, and one of the reasons I’m writing about it here.

The other reason I like both gardening and writing is probably self-indulgence.

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Lettuces! Cabbages! Ramps! Beets! Chard! Snap peas and green beans! Various herbs! Lambs quarters, wood sorrel, and volunteer onions being tolerated. Cucumbers in the pots will theoretically grow over the chainlink and make that corner more verdant and crunchy. And of course, most importantly, there’s Romeo!

You’ll note the weeds in there with the lettuces and beets. Like I said, I’m not a very good gardener, just an enthusiastic one. The peonies, for example: I always forget to cage them, so the weight of the flowers makes them flop over. I cut the biggest and floppiest ones and now my house is full of peonies, too.

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Two vases on one piano and you know you’ve got a problem. The map is Paris, the gray lines are all the streets my husband walked while we lived there.

Anyway, I don’t have any real writing news, though I’m always clutching a few lottery tickets and hoping they’ll pay out. I’m spending most of my time lately as an intern at a small publishing company, doing editorial and translation assistant type work, and slugging at the dissertation. Nice to stop and think about flowers; I recommend sticking your nose in one as soon as you get a chance.

*I thought this might be a pun (“I don’t give a daisy whether you live or die, you stupid spinach!”) but according to Etymonline, the word comes from people saying “lack-a-day” to express their woe.