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.

 

Some kind of idiot savant shit: “Skills to Keep the Devil in His Place” in Shimmer 34

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Devil Lia, Halloween 2005

Look, everyone, I wrote a nice story! It’s about some high school girls making friends. And the devil. And some other stuff that’s not so nice, or just kind of weird, but I enjoyed writing it. Took me like six months to draft and then so, so many revisions, I can’t even tell you. Many thanks to E. Catherine Tobler, Joy Marchand, and the rest of the editorial crew at Shimmer, who have displayed admirable tolerance as I turned into a wretched artiste too neurotic to stop editing and too distracted to count her sections correctly.

This is a longer one, so sit down in a comfy chair with a cozy beverage of your choice, or get a good seat on the bus, or sit on spikes and gargle scotch bonnet purée, if that’s your thing, though I hope it isn’t because that can’t be healthy, and anyway—I hope you like the story. Here’s the link.

Skills to Keep the Devil in His Place, in Shimmer 34

Thanks for reading, everybody.

Moody devil songs: on revisions and such

I’m not much for writing advice, to be honest. It’s useful up to a point; good to know the ropes, so to speak… But then you write something that you know is right, the same way you know that a rose is a rose, or the way you can tell that you’ve bowled a strike the second the ball leaves your hand.* But your little burst of genius has adverbs, loads of them, or it starts with someone waking up, or the punctuation is nonstandard,  or or… But it’s right. So screw Stephen King** and all those other advice peddlers. STET, motherfuckers.

On the other hand, while general advice usually sucks, sometimes people have good questions or suggestions about a specific story, and they help you make the story better. So it’s good to listen to them and make the necessary changes. So here I sit revising a story, which will be published in November, with the suggestions of the kind and intelligent editors at Shimmer.

Which brings me to my own word of advice! It’s not even advice, so much, just a thing I enjoy that works pretty well for me, so I’m sharing it.

Writing something long and moody? Need to get yourself in the right frame of mind? Well, make yourself a nice playlist, and you will always have a way back into your story-brain-space. And it’s fun!

Here, I’ll share: this is my Devil Moves playlist on Spotify. Will you like it? I don’t know, but I do, and it makes me feel this story, even when I’m revising it a year later. So I can get it right.

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Or like you know a chicken-of-the-woods when you see one. I found this behind a friend’s house recently and I’m including both because I was so excited about it and because they say it’s good to include a photo in your blog post, adds interest, so to speak. I could tell you about my life, my diss and my job and stuff like that, but I don’t feel like it today and I’ve got revisions to finish, so until November… may all your mushrooms be correctly identified, and all your sentences land as solid as a ball in a catcher’s mitt, with a satisfying smack.

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*I’m not a good bowler, but it’s happened now and then

**I actually think Stephen King’s On Writing is pretty good, as a memoir or personal meditation especially, but even he doesn’t follow his own advice on adverbs so fuck if I’m gonna.