Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Stories and a Cake

Words to live by, awesome cake.
I have two new stories out! The first is my flash fiction story "Useful Objects," which came out in Nature last week (and on the site as well). Nine years intermittently getting my stories published and this is my first appearance in a print magazine. There is also a rad illustration, though it's not as rad as the cake in this post!

Also, my creepy telepathy-in-space-with-pronoun-shenanigans story "We Take the Long View" is free to read at Shimmer now. An excerpt:

Us-in-Devora is the first of us to stumble into the clearing to the landing site covered with a fine layer of snow. She-that-is-us paces around it, careful not to step on the pieces of us that were broken off at the Wrong. Our nose wrinkles. 
Smelly, she says, her mind-speak betraying her disgust. 
It's... Mel grasps for a word, but can't come up with a better one. Smelly. Yes. 
We pick up a stick, a stray dead part of us, and poke the thing in the clearing. It stirs.

Novel revisions continue. Is it November 6th yet?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Compulsory Blog Post

Things have been, in general, pretty great. So great that I don't want to destroy the good mood I'm in by writing up a blog post! Regardless, I feel like I should post in this at least a few times a month to prove that I'm still alive or whatever, so anyway, here's a blog post.

One thing new that happened is that I got a part-time job. I'm not going to talk much about this because I'm not going to jeopardize my job by talking about it to randos on the Internet, but I can say that it was exactly the kind of position I hoped to get when I moved to Portland. Seriously, things on that front could not have worked out better.

For the first time in a while, I am actually reading some current long-form fiction. I don't tend to do reviews, and most of the stuff I'm reading is popular enough that it seems pointless to review it. I will say that although Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie isn't the mind-bending book many other people seem to think it is (seriously, were people really confused by the pronoun thing?), it was still a first-rate space opera and nearly justified its length. Yes, I do rate novels based on how much extraneous material they have. The novel I'm reading now, which I will not name, at least half of those pages don't need to be there. Anyway, I'm the last person to actually read Ancillary Justice but I'll be getting the sequel when it comes out for sure! I love you, Multnomah County Library.

This is a beach picture I didn't put in my last post but this post needed more pictures.

I'm thinking about taking up knitting again, only for the fact that when I don't knit, I don't watch movies, and consequently I haven't seen a movie since we got to Portland basically. It feels like ever since I started writing science fiction again, every other single interest of mine has fallen by the wayside: knitting, zines, bicycling not for transportation. The weird thing about this is that I don't feel upset about this state of affairs at all, I don't feel like I'm becoming more one-dimensional even though that's the exact definition of one-dimensional. Curious.

In writing news, I'm still plugging away at the novel so it can be ready for submission in time for OryCon and consequently my short fiction progress has fallen way behind. I had set a goal for myself of writing a short story every two weeks, but novels have a way of destroying all your best intentions. Regardless, I am already planning to write another one next year. What is wrong with me?? However, I did complete a short story last week, my first "done done" non-flash story in three months.

Some thoughts on our half-Portlandiversary: It's been six months since we did this crazy, monumental move, and right now all I can say is that every day, Portland feels a little more like home. It feels like home in a completely different way than Pittsburgh did. Pittsburgh felt like home because I was basically from there, I fit into the culture and the history of the city as much as any other local (even though I never set foot in Pittsburgh-the-city until I was seventeen years old).

But almost nobody in Portland is from Portland. I'm sure some people move here for jobs or family, but in general, you move to Portland because you really want to live here. Only people of a certain temperament are actually going to like this place, meaning that it's a city that's as close to an intentional community as you're going to get. I can't explain Portland culture without resorting to stereotypes, but in general the atmosphere is more collaborative, less steeped in tradition, and much more laid back. In a sense, Portland lacks a certain burden of history, leaving people more free to chart the course of their own lives without the feeling that you have to do things in a certain way because "that's the way it's done." See, stereotypes! But true!

Ever since I was a kid I had dreams of moving "out west." I don't even know where that idea came from. Until we moved here, I'd never been west of Columbus. While at my rural college, I'd research cities I wanted to move to: Denver, the East Bay, and yes, Portland. When the time came when I had to move to a city, though, I took the safe option and moved to Pittsburgh. And I don't regret it, at all! But I think I always knew deep down that I'd wind up out here eventually, given enough time. Now I have. It was so worth it to make that leap of faith.

It's after midnight here, so I'll close for now. I don't like writing blog posts anyway.

Just another day in Portland.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Buy My Book!

Well, it happened: I finally became curious enough about self-publishing to throw a story of mine up on the Kindles and see how it plays. "Some Kinds of Life" is a rewrite/expansion of a story I had published in a print anthology way back in 2005, a simpler time of LiveJournals and palm-sized cell phones. Here's the description:


Sam sells children. Or close enough. After biological warfare ravages the planet, an organ dealer rebrands its product line by creating artificial offspring. But Sam's faltering career in sales stirs up unpleasant memories of the children he mothered and had to leave behind. "Some Kinds of Life" is a 4500-word short story about what's real, what isn't, and the things that really matter. An earlier version of this story appeared in the anthology Triangulation 2005 under the title "Wave of the Future."

This e-book includes the bonus story "Super-Parents Last All Childhood Long." When Caleb's girlfriend tells him that her parents were robots, is she lying? Or is the truth stranger than it seems? Originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction.

It's only on Amazon right now, and it will likely stay that way because I am far too lazy to port this to other e-book retailers. On the plus side, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free and I still get paid in some kind of wacky Internet money. Either way, if you're looking for something weird and kinda depressing then this is something you can download for all your "weird and kinda depressing" fiction needs. I am a marketing genius, clearly.

(The title of this post is of course a reference to this. Semi-coincidentally, Rob and I are re-watching The Critic right now. If you remember the nineties, it totally holds up.)

P.S. Thanks to Annie Bellet for sourcing the cover image for me, since unlike zines, if you use a cover image you haven't paid for on an e-book, you're likely to be caught and sued. Isn't that crazy? No, wait, it's completely sane.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Publications, Also an Ocean

First of all, my story "Five Days to a Better You with Parallel Worlds (Executive Edition)" went live at Daily Science Fiction last week. A sample:

Mandy the receptionist will press the alarm when you burst into the room, but that doesn't mean you should be alarmed. In the real universe, the one you come from, her name is Sandy. She loves cats. Flash those pearly white teeth of yours.

Second of all, the newest issue of Shimmer is out and it contains my story! "We Take the Long View" is a story of telepathy, colonization, body horror, and evil forests. The story will be online in mid-October but you should really buy the issue now.

In non-writing news, I finally put my feet into the Pacific Ocean:

Picture taken by Rob. Doesn't this look like it could illustrate some self-help article about following your dreams?

Rob's parents came to visit and they wanted to go to the beach, which I was very excited about since I have never seen the Pacific Ocean and one of my friends said the Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We didn't get to see the sunset, but even so, I can see the appeal. The first beach we stopped at was pretty wild, with rocks jutting up from the coast and mountains in the distance. It was cold, and there was an old shipwreck on the beach. We spent the night in the very cute town of Astoria where I somehow managed to crash a loaner beach cruiser. On the second day, we went to the town of Seaside, OR, which reminded me more of the beach towns on the Atlantic. The beach there was also much more "tame," though there was some grass and of course the mountains over the horizon. There was also a swingset. There aren't many things in life more relaxing than swinging on a swingset while facing the Pacific Ocean on a hot (but not too hot) day.

Clatsop County is also the ancestral home of Bigfoot:

Sup?

We also went to Lewis and Clark's winter fort. Man, Oregon is just lousy with Lewis and Clark stuff. It's like that's the most important thing that's ever happened here. (I can't judge. The only historical thing that happened where I grew up was a battle from a war nobody cares about anymore.) We ate some really good vegetarian burgers at the Coast, drank some excellent microbrews, and fed seals at a small aquarium that has its own Wikipedia page. After getting back, we took Rob's parents to Powell's and I failed to convince them to eat at a food cart. Then on Sunday we went to Mount Hood, which was very impressive. I've never seen a real mountain up close before, and it was actually a little terrifying. There's a sign at the hiking station that basically says "if you get stuck up there, you're on your own." (Fine, Mount Hood. Be that way. I guess I'll never find out if you're filled with candy.) I have pictures of this stuff too, but there are already too many pictures in this post.

And finally, a picture that proves once and for all that Portland truly is Etsy's brick and mortar storefront:



Goddamn, I love it here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

100!

It only took me four years to hit the 100th post on this blog. Pretty sure I had a hundred posts on LiveJournal within the first six months.

Anyway, plug first: My short story "The Silent Ones" is in the new issue of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet! You can get it here. It's a story of interplanary travel, alien invasion, dudes in robes, and... okay, it's kind of a hard story to summarize. This was the only story I wrote between 2009 and late 2011. Here's a sample:

Not everything happens all the time, everywhere. 
That’s the first line on every bit of literature dealing with the alternate worlds. Want to visit a world where the triple World Wars never happened? You can. Want to see a place where computers run on steam power and even the horses wear corsets? Go for it.
Or you can just muck about in a world full of beautiful hillbillies or debauched Atlanteans. That’s more your personal speed, anyway. 
Most of the planes open for travel aren’t that different from your world. The atmosphere has to be breathable, at least, and it’s helpful if the inhabitants are roughly human, and mostly your size. Nothing will destroy a plane’s Yelp rating quite like a tourist crushed by forty-foot-tall giants.

LCRW has published so many amazing stories over the years, and I'm ecstatic to have a piece in it.

In other news, you've all been keeping track of #Ferguson on Twitter, right? One of my zine friends summed it up perfectly on Facebook: "Using McDonald's milk as an antidote for cop-fired teargas at a protest that was supposed to be peaceful but turned violent. If that's not an image of our century, I don't know what is." This is your science fiction future, people. And if you think it can't happen to you because of where you live or the color of your skin, you are sorely mistaken. (Not that race isn't an important part of what's going on in Ferguson, because it absolutely is. But it's not all of the story. Even your lily-white town or city police department has tanks and canisters of tear gas, you know.)

Last but not least, if you're going to Worldcon next year, better sign up now before the rates increase on September 1st. This will be my first Worldcon, and I'm excited! It's in Spokane, only a medium-sized bus ride away, so I'm pleased that I'll be able to attend my first one without shelling out hundreds of dollars for plane tickets. Come help me keep Doctor Who from winning another Hugo.