Tagshort stories

There’s always a nuclear bomb at the end

You know about singing in the shower? Writing for yourself is kind of like that. You may not do more than whisper Mary Had A Little Lamb when you’re singing in public, but you’re ready to belt out arias once the hot water arrives. Off key and words jumbled–it doesn’t matter because you’re doing it for your own pleasure.

Which is kind of where this story comes from. When I say I like to write for myself sometimes, I really mean it. Most of that play (not work) stays hidden. This one didn’t because it was so much fun to read aloud (which I did, to anyone who would listen). When a bit of writing enjoys its life that much, it seems a pity to force it to stay home.

That’s one version of TAaNBatE’s (even the acronym is long) origin. Another is that I love movies almost as much as I love books. I really do, even the bad ones. But in the past year, I’ve been viewing many of them through the eyes of my daughter, who wants to see women and girls not just in the action, but leading it. Women who can not only change a flat, but rebuild an engine with their own tool kit.

The truth is that most of the movies she sees don’t live up to her imagination. Maybe none. The dissonance between what she believes herself capable of and what pop culture insists is her role is painful to me.

So, the fuller answer to where this particular story came from is that after a steady diet of superhero movies this spring, after regular conversations with the kids about what trends we saw repeated in them, on an afternoon when I was bored and itchy to write, I wrote. I wrote it for myself, and for my daughter. There was pleasure in the structure, frustration in the words.

If you’re not subscribed to Daily Science Fiction (quick, easy, free, comes right to your inbox every weekday…why not sign up?), you can find TAaNBatE on their front page this weekend. After that, I’ll add a direct link on my Short Fiction page.

New stories to come

I haven’t been sending many stories out lately.

Okay, that’s much too vague. Shall I be honest? I’ve only submitted two stories anywhere this year. In my defense, I’ve been writing a lot. It’s my submissions that have been lacking. Let’s go one step further back. I’ve been writing a lot in terms of novel-length fiction. So, I do have short stories that languish, unfinished or unsent, but it’s not as though I have closets full of them.

Not that I’m defensive or anything. I just wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a slacker.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I’m pleased to announce that both of the aforementioned stories have found homes. On the same day! “Testimony” will be published by Fireside. “There’s Always a Nuclear Bomb in the End” will appear in Daily Science Fiction. Publication dates to be announced.

I’m very excited! About both of them! “There’s Always a Nuclear Bomb…” came from a steady diet of superhero movies, is about as close to flash as I get, and was written and sent out on the same day. “Testimony” had been kicking around in various forms for a year or so before I finally did it justice and pushed it out the door. Writing is like that. No magic formula, just a lot of chaos and occasional magic.

I promise I’ll say more about them once we reach publication. For now, just know they’re on their way.

Greetings from May

The hawks are noisy this time of year. They circle and call, swoop past our house on their way to secret hawk functions. Yesterday there was more noise than usual as we walked up to the garage. We peered around the edge of the building and into the massive oak there. Look, my daughter said. It has another bird.

It did, though not at all the way I expected. I’m no stranger to the sexual antics of birds, but I’ve never before been privy to such a display by hawks. It makes me wonder where their nest is, whether I might find it if I go looking.

It’s an exceptional fertile spring around here. Our old wading pool has been adopted by both spotted salamanders and multiple varieties of frogs as a vernal pool. We meant to get rid of it, but they’ve returned year after year, in increasing numbers. I suppose the pool is much lighter on predators than the beaver pond, or perhaps it’s just closer. Tadpoles have begun to hatch, and they float, tail down, tired from the work of exiting the egg.

Even the old lady hens are laying up a storm. I’d assumed we were feeding and housing them in exchange for eggs past, but they’ve taken the increased light as a sign they should fill the coop (as much as three hens can manage).

My own creative output is sadly lacking, thanks to an endless cold and a surplus of life events. I did send out my first new short story in months, and I have a few more I’m working on. They feel much harder than the ones I’ve written in the past. I’m not sure if it’s because the older ones were completed during that flurry of amazement that I was writing at all, or if I’ve regressed in terms of dealing with the Infernal Editor, or if I’m simply writing a bit outside of my comfort zone these days.

The only response to any of those, of course, is to continue on. Surrounded by the buoyancy of life outside, I’ll do my best to follow its lead.

Mid-January hiatus

I’m preoccupied.

It’s my excuse for not being around more. Some of my preoccupation is great (writing classes for kids–yay! Fun!). Some is not. Either way, the great triage center of life has dictated that this blog is less urgent than a few other matters at the present time. I’m sorry about that. Blogging is certainly more fun than some of these other things.

In the meantime, for those of you who are not Daily Science Fiction subscribers, “Slumber is now available online. Here, as a matter of fact. For free. As opposed to the subscription price, which is, well, nothing.

(Sorry, had to add that. I’m very pro-DSF.)

I’ll return soon.

Slumber

I’m posting this early because I won’t be around in the morning, and I’m taking care not to include any spoilers. Not that I tend to write shocking surprise endings, but someone told me last year that they wished I hadn’t told them anything about this story before they had read it.

So, what can I say about “Slumber” that isn’t too much? First, that you’ll only get to read it on the 10th if you’re subscribed to Daily Science Fiction. If you’re not, you’ll have to wait until the 17th, when you can find it at DSF’s website.

What else? While looking over the galley earlier this week, I thought a lot about where stories come from, and how they translate to readers. “Slumber” arises from any number of places–family mythology, my own interests as a reader, a fleeting image. Things get stuck in my head and churn around there until they cohere into something solid.

Those things, they’re important to me, but once the story goes public, they vanish. The story becomes something else, filtered through the brains of others. Sometimes that something else amazes me. Sometimes it puzzles me. Mostly it’s a strange process, this handing off of story to the world at large.

All of which says nothing about this story, does it? I’m talking around the point. For me, “Slumber” is about relationships, about their seasons, about what it means to wake up and be able to say “you stayed.” It’s not beauty, it’s not wit–it’s seeing beneath the skin of someone, and, just as much, beneath your own. It’s the things you relinquish and the things you gain in staying. It’s very much about the darkness I’ve passed through, and what it means to have someone waiting on the other side.

I think that’s enough of non-spoilers and non-answers. Have a spectacular weekend!

The reading room

My library is now open!

Sort of.

In the next few minutes I’ll be sending out the password to those of you who have already contacted me. If you haven’t and you’d like access, just let me know. I’m happy to email it (or DM on Twitter, if that’s more your thing: @CosDrift). Once you have it, click on the link to The Reading Room at the top of the blog screen, give the password, and read the instructions there.

The point of providing these stories here, essentially a collection of my first year of publications (2011-2012) is not to discourage anyone from reading them at their original homes. In fact, if you choose to read here and like something, please click on the link to the publisher and go read more stories from other writers! If you like the other stories, then subscribe, or donate, or just tell the writers that you appreciate what they’ve written, or the editors that you like their choices.

There are very few rules for The Reading Room. The main one: please don’t hand out the password to others. If you know a blog follower who wants access, have them contact me.

Actually, that may be the only rule, aside from obvious ones, like don’t take the stories and publish them yourselves, in which case you’re clearly in dire straits and maybe you should contact me so that we can figure out a better source of income for you. The comments are open–I’m happy to answer story-specific questions there.

Oh, the one piece missing from the collection is Phoenix, for the simple reason that Phoenix is an e-book and the rights remain with Musa. If you’d like to read it, you’ll have to buy it.

Enjoy!

Farewell, 2013

It’s the time of year everyone writes up nifty little summaries of all the awesome stuff they’ve published and done and been over the past year. It’s the kind of post I’ve been considering not doing at all, at least not this year.

It’s not that 2013 has been crushingly bad. Plenty of good things have happened. They’re just not really the bloggable kinds of things, at least not on this blog, at least not by me. I’ve sold one story, published nothing, worked on writing mostly in a quiet and private way.

There are writers who write their entire lives in solitude. There are, I believe, stories of breathtaking beauty that make it onto the page and no further, relegated to notebooks in a closet somewhere. There are poems that force their way from head to hand and stop, a conversation ended as soon as it began. Even among writers who publish, there will always be stories that cut to close, that feel too true, that wander too far from what their writer believes of themself, eventually joining their brethren in the great unpublished story of the world.

I believe in those stories just as much as I believe in the ones that are sent forth over and over until they find a public home. I write them. Sometimes I change my mind and send them out. Sometimes it takes years to make that choice. The Lost was one of those stories. I have others as well. 2013 was a year for tending them. 2014 may be a year for sending some out.

This year has also been one of novels. Revisions, drafts, research…I’ve been working the long game. It takes a different mindset, a different set of writerly muscles for me, and I’ve needed to retrain myself. Time has been short, and I like to sprint through things, and it’s been frustrating to have to adhere to a schedule.

The one new thing about working on novels has been the addition of my agent to the mix. Alice has been wonderful to work with–she’s smart, understands what I’m trying to do, makes excellent suggestions, provides thoughtful support, and is both fun and genuinely nice. People choose agents for all sorts of reasons. I went with my gut and I’ve been so glad I did.

So, on the eve of 2014, I think I’m going to add a secret room here at Cosmic Driftwood, because who doesn’t love secret rooms? The rights on all my published stories have reverted to me. Some writers are very successful bundling previously published stories into collections and self-publishing them. I’m not one of those writers. Instead, I’m going to gather the stories all into the secret room and make them available to blog followers looking for entertainment on some snowy afternoon. My own little library, because in my world, a lending library of one’s own is supremely cool.

Most of these stories are already available for free online, complete with nice formatting and surrounded by lots of other great stories to read. (A complete list of my published work can be found here, for those of you who haven’t discovered the links at the top of the page.) A few of them aren’t–Abyss and Apex has a nominal fee for access to their archives, and The Sun still sells hard hard copies of the issue my story was in.

But for anyone who just wants to read the stories without pretty formatting, and without having to wander the online wilds, I will build you a library. I’ll post once it’s ready. If you’re a blog follower and you want access, just contact me. I’ll give you the password. Tea and cookies will be encouraged in my library, as will talking.

That’s all I have to say about 2013, I think. I hope the coming year is generous to you, filled with both the necessary and, occasionally, the frivolous.

Slumber update

That title is rather misleading. While I’d love to tell you how well I’ve been sleeping, it passes into the realm of things that really aren’t all that interesting to anyone at all. Not to even me.

(For anyone for whom that’s not the case: my sleep has been fine. Thanks for caring!)

I’m actually talking about “Slumber,” which now has a publication date at Daily Science Fiction. My first story to be published in over a year! From a statistical standpoint, 2013 was a banner year for acceptances. A whopping thirty-three percent of my submissions sold. Of course, that becomes far less impressive when I admit that I made just three short story submissions. Not exactly stellar effort on my part. As I explained here, I ran away and hid from publishing for a bit.

Hopefully that will be changing in 2014, beginning with “Slumber”, which will be appearing in Daily Science Fiction on January 10, for those of you who are subscribers. For those of you who aren’t–and shall I remind you it’s free, and fun, and, yes, entirely free–it will be available on their website beginning January 17.

ETA: And this is my 200th blog post! Cosmic Driftwood is positively bubbly with warm gushy feelings today! (At least as warm and gushy as it ever manages to get.)

Story sale update

As promised, the details of my recent sale. “Slumber” will be published by Daily Science Fiction. Yay! When? Not sure, but I’ll tell you when I know. I’d forgotten how fun it is to add new things to the Forthcoming list on the Short Fiction page.

For those of you who don’t have DSF goodness appearing in your inboxes, consider signing up here. It costs exactly nothing, and gives you nothing but a steady supply of free speculative fiction. Go ahead! It won’t hurt, I promise!

As for “Slumber” and what it’s about, well, I can’t really say. People, things, mountains, woods. Jam. You know…stuff.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tidbits returns from the grave

So, maybe that vacation I mentioned the other day isn’t going to happen. Yes, the driving and driving and the wedding will happen, but nothing we planned to visit on our great tour of U.S. history is open currently, thanks to the U.S. government. After I explained the situation to the kids, and suggested it could be solved by grownups learning to act like grownups, my thirteen-year-old broke in with “or maybe just like kids my age.” I have to say I agree with him.

I do have a bit of good news to share though. A short story sale! I’ve been a little lax about sending things out this year. Okay, maybe more than a little lax. Maybe, just maybe, the success I had last year startled me, and I ran and hid in the bushes like a frightened rabbit for a while. It happens.

But every rabbit has to leave the safety of the shrubbery at some point. I did. I survived. I sold a story. I’ll give more details soon, once things like contracts have happened. I’m pretty thrilled.

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