The Annual Pie Metaphor! Works in progress, life, etc.

Thanksgiving generally finds me making pies: consulting cookbooks, fretting over the crusts, peeling and chopping a thousand apples… That step takes time but not much thought (unlike the crusts that I salt with my tears), which lends itself to contemplation of other things, such as my dissertation, my life, why does Spotify keep playing La Femme when I thumbs-down it every time, and elaborate metaphors comparing pie-making with my writing.


In case your equivalency chart doesn’t include a pie-to-dissertation conversion: I’ve got two and a half chapters out of three. Introduction to write next, then revise and defend. So, some essential steps left but it’s getting there. Needs more coffee, no doubt.

This blog has been quiet this year because I haven’t had a lot of writing news to report. That doesn’t mean I’m only pretending to work and accomplishing nothing while tweeting absurdities (ahem), just that my works are all in progress, and I have a superstition about talking too much about things before they’re done. That said, I figured it was worth writing an update about the works in progress, showing the messy table, the scraps and the shaggy edges and the guts of things—at least a little.

My priority, of course, is my dissertation. I’ve been in grad school a long time now—I’ve got an extended metaphor about why I’ve taken so long, but it’s not pie-related so let’s leave it for another time—and I’d like to be finished. These things take time and research and a million reframings and revisions, but finally I think I’m getting close. The current (third) chapter is about Marguerite Berthet and Blaise Cendrars, out of body vision and the aesthetics of wonder in the early cinema. When will the whole thing get done? Let’s say, with a shaky attempt at firmness, in Spring.

Another thing I’ve worked on over the past year is a translation project: I’ve completed, revised, and submitted my translation of Georges Didi-Huberman’s Survivance des lucioles to my editor. You may recall that the publisher was going to be Univocal Publishing, where I was working as an editorial assistant. Well, sadly, Univocal Publishing is no longer (and I’m no longer an editorial assistant), except as a series at the University of Minnesota Press. But Fireflies is still slated for publication in Fall 2018.

I have a couple more translation-related irons in the fire, but I don’t want to say anything specific until I’ve signed a contract for it. In the meantime, I’m attending what looks like an amazing workshop on Translating Critical Thought from ATLAS in January.

This website is ostensibly dedicated to my fiction writing, and I’ve been working on that, too. I finished a few short stories this year; one is off making the rounds, others need more revisions first. I worked on something else until I got stuck—maybe it’s a novel, maybe it’s wonderful (I like it), but I’m not forcing it. Maybe it’ll unstick itself. Barring that possibility: one big project at a time.

What did get done this year? Well, “Mag, the Habitat and We” appeared last January in Apex Magazine. It’s on the Nebula Reading List if you’re an SFWA person who’s wondering. I’m pleased to say that Big Echo plans to reprint “Plantation | Springtime” in all its two-columned glory, so I’m looking forward to seeing that back in the world in its proper form. I hope I’ll have other publications to announce soon. If I don’t, though, it’s okay—I’m still sitting here writing, and I’ll show you the final products when they’re ready. Until then, if you’re really wondering what I’m up to, you can check me out on Twitter or on Instagram, where I tend to enjoy puns, pretty things, and the various banalities of the day-to-day.

In the meantime, though, I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving has a lovely one, and everyone else a good day. I’m thankful for my excellent husband, my sweet elderly dog, a patient adviser, good friends, quirky families, and a million other things. And here, symbolizing the future completion of my dissertation and other projects, are my finished cran-apple pies.

pies 2

A little prettier than last year’s, I think. Happy Thanksgiving, folks!


Time to get organized: “Mag, the Habitat and We,” in Apex 92

Ever get the sense that your work is multiplying? Like every time you wash a dish, you turn around and there’s another one you didn’t see and oh, there’s the dog with something disgusting in his mouth? Or every time you try to find a reference for some basic statement about the history of cinema, a whole stack of scholarship you’ve never even seen just explodes in your face and your footnotes and everywhere? And you’re like, “Drop it, Romeo, no, outside, ick, why,” or “Goddamnit André Gaudreault, you and your culture broth,” or maybe “Help, chocolate,” or something like that? I think this is a pretty universal experience, no?

What if I told you it’s not your fault? What if there really were little gremlins or brownies or otherwise mischievous creatures, or André Gaudreault, for that matter, hiding out and just waiting for their chance to screw everything up yet again?

Well, then, that is the basic idea behind this story, up today in Apex Magazine: “Mag, the Habitat and We.”

ETA: There is also a podcast of this story! Check out Mahvesh Murad’s Apex podcast here.

Please enjoy, or at least find a moment’s respite.

Speaking of respites, here is a picture of me on a snowshoe hike near a lovely lonesome northern lake. I hope all of you had an equally pleasant beginning to 2017.


On Tord Lake, though it looks like any number of the zillion lakes up in northern Minnesota. Feeling weirdly light and free. Photo by Mr. Jeffrey Mitchell.

(apologies to André Gaudreault, whom I have never met, and who is a fine scholar and writer of important things.)

Annual round-up, gratitude, & pie!


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.