Tagstrange horizons

Ash and Dust and Strange Horizons

There’s a black market in breastmilk here.

Ash and Dust” is the second story I ever tried to sell. Sold, as well, but let’s focus on the trying instead. “Snowfall” was the first, and it was something else entirely–a little piece about family and what matters at the end of the world. Short, very short, the shortest story I’ve ever written.

When I first decided to send “Ash and Dust” out, I didn’t know the markets. I didn’t know what I was doing, really. I’d written a story that was just shy of 6,800 words, that included a miscarriage, a death from a postpartum hemorrhage, multiple births, and a lesbian midwife living in an refugee camp with her two children. And there was that opening line, which at the time I was writing it made perfect sense, but once I decided to send it out suddenly felt very very heavy.

Write the stories you want to read. Isn’t that the advice everyone gives? “Ash and Dust” was exactly the story I wanted to read at the time I wrote it. It was many things for me–a farewell to a chapter in my life, a love letter to an exceptional midwife, grief over someone who shouldn’t have died, an outlet for anger and fear, and a reminder of hope. The thing about writing a story like that is that when you get to the point of trying to sell it, you suddenly wonder who could possibly want it.

The answer is Strange Horizons. Not because they specialize in midwives and apocalypse, but because they believe in stories that explore the full range of the human experience. The thrill of that sale is one that stays with me, that encourages me when I’m wondering what exactly I’m doing as a writer.

It’s an experience I wish on many other writers. It is one of many reasons to donate to the Strange Horizons’ fund drive.

It looks like they’ve almost reached their minimum goal for the year–what they need to continue for another year with no changes. But I’d love to see their additional goals met. The poets deserve a raise. So do the reviewers. If you haven’t donated yet, there’s still a day left to do so.

And if you have? Thank you!

In the Library of Souls, part II

The second half of “In the Library of Souls” is now up at Strange Horizons. You can find it here.

The Strange Horizons fund drive

So, I said twenty-four hours, but apparently I meant a week. Sometimes life goes like that. Sometimes you discover you have ten thumbs, and writing is all but impossible, even when you just want to write something brief and helpful.

Strange Horizons
is holding its annual fund drive. All the important details can be found here. Remember, Strange Horizons is staffed entirely by volunteers. All money raised goes towards things like buying stories and poems and nonfiction. This year their goal is higher than in past years, as they would like to increase their pay rates for poetry and nonfiction, and I’d love to see them achieve it.

A well-edited magazine creates its own world, just as surely as a writer creates hers with her writing. The one to be found at Strange Horizons is alive and thriving, honest and beautiful. Please consider supporting it.

In the Library of Souls

Part one of “In the Library of Souls” (aka Rainpocalypse) is live at Strange Horizons today!

What can I say about this story that I haven’t already said? It was born of my passion for libraries and a summer of continuous rain. It is the last of what I think of as my trilogy of apocalypses, though technically there is one more languishing on my netbook.

The original draft started with a game of hide and seek. As with most things I write, it started in the wrong place. I’ve added that scene to my file of rejected beginnings. I think they may all create their own book, someday. They are, for the most part, all good strong scenes, and I feel bad for them every time I open the folder.

I’m going to stop here. At some point in the next twenty-four hours I’ll be back with a plea for the annual Strange Horizons fund drive. If you haven’t spent much time at Strange Horizons, please do so. It’s full of good stuff.

More of the story

When I posted on Sunday, I only gave part of a story. Yes, Rainpocalypse sold to Strange Horizons, which is a fabulous thing. It’s a story about a lot of rain, as well as other things, like souls. I wrote it originally for an anthology that I never submitted to, much like I wrote “Snowfall” for a contest I never entered. Yes, I believe that can be called a pattern.

Anyway, that was one thing. The other thing, the one I alluded to a week or so ago, was that Daily Science Fiction bought “This Place From Which All Roads Go.” Also very exciting! “This Place…” features a water disaster of another sort, and families, and community. The whole piece is somewhat more personal than many stories I’ve written, albeit in the weird and unrecognizable ways that happen when minds convert experience into fiction.

So, that’s it for now. It’s raining, it’s cold, the peepers are peeping, the owls are calling, and I am bound for sleep.

Sunday update

No online story suggestions today. I’ve spent the last two days away from the computer, busy with family things. I’m also overtired from a week of falling asleep late and waking up early with a list of things to do, so I’m both surly and boring, a winning combination.

For those of you looking for short stories and willing to venture offline to find them, I’ve been reading an Elizabeth Hand collection, Saffron and Brimstone, this week. I highly recommend it, in particular, the quartet of stories collected as “The Lost Domain.” Such flawless writing, the kind that pulls me to keep reading even after my eyes are begging for sleep.

And, a little news from here. Rainpocalypse, aka “In the Library of Souls,” has sold. It will be appearing in Strange Horizons, most likely in October. I’m tremendously pleased about it. It’s good to know that my summer of rain inspired something of value.

Sunday reading 3/25/12

Before I get to the story for today, a quick note about online publications. They’re awesome! The ones I link to are free, but it costs money for them to provide free fiction. Different markets cope with this problem in different ways, but there’s always a way to donate money in appreciation for the work they do, the stories they provide.

Here are links to the donation or subscription pages for the publications I’ve linked to so far. Many places have small enough budgets that even a little donation helps.

Strange Horizons (Strange Horizons has a annual fund drive every fall–I’ll be sure to post when it happens)

GigaNotoSaurus (Donation button; beneath the archives.)

Expanded Horizons (Donation button)

For today, more birds. There seems to be a trend here, though it may simply be that my mind turns to birds in the spring. This story, “The Birdcage Heart,” by Peter M. Ball, was published in Daily Science Fiction last year, February 2011 to be exact. I didn’t have a blog then, so I’m going back to it now. Actually, all I want to say is it’s beautiful and full of grace, and I recommend it.

I’m not sure if there’s a way to donate to DSF, but you can buy the monthly digests on Kindle, if you’re so inclined.

Sunday reading 3/11/12

First, in a tiny bit of geekery glee, “Phoenix” has an ebook ISBN! Years of library work taught me to love ISBNs, and now my story has one.

(Admitted, that is just a weird thing to be excited about.)

If you’re looking for something to read on this lazy Sunday afternoon, consider “Nightfall in the Scent Garden,” by Claire Humphrey. I’ve read it three times this weekend (because three is the magic number), and still love it. It is, I think, a wonderful example of the beauty of precise imagery, as well as being full of bone-deep yearning.

I’m going to try to point out a story every Sunday, partly because there’s so much good stuff available online, and partly because I’m a reader, and readers like to share. I’m also open to suggestions, so please feel free to shoot me an email if you know a story I might enjoy.

Lists

It’s hard not to stumble across all the lists out this time of year. I’m not enough of a consumer of current trends to be good with annual lists. I read a lot, but most of it comes from the library, and it’s hardly ever hot off the presses.

But I will give my vote for two stories from 2011, both deserving of lots of love. The first is “Movement,” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s). It’s such a strong story, with a unique POV perfectly captured by the author. For anyone who hasn’t read it, you can read/hear it for free here, or, better yet, you can buy it here, because it’s nice to fund good writing.

The other is “Messengers from the Stars Will Come to Help Us Overcome the Obstacles That Hold Us Back From Achieving Our True Potential,” by Grady Hendrix, available here. This story is the kind I love–full of heart and truth, about people who neither start nor end with everything.

That’s it. That’s my whole list. My completely subjective, and undoubtedly short-sighted list, with apologies to the many many stories I did not read in 2011. I’ll try to do better this year.

Ash and Dust

“Ash and Dust” is almost here.

Strange Horizons accepted this story on May 17, 2011. (If you are not reading Strange Horizons on a regular basis, you should be. Not because they bought my story — because they are great.) My jitters around seeing it published commenced within minutes of said acceptance. Luckily, six months lead time is enough for jitters to come and go, for other stories to happen, for life to suck one along in its current.

Now it is almost time. Story trivia?

–I managed to completely flub a reference to alcohol in the original version.

–It is the second of my post-apocalytic trio, affectionately dubbed Snowpocalypse, Droughtpocalypse, and Rainpocalypse (still in draft form). I plan on someday collecting them all in one catastrophic volume.

–It grew out of a much older, unwritten story, featuring an apocalypse of a very different sort.

I think that is all there is to be said about it for now. You can find it at Strange Horizons on December 12 and 19.

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