Last Thanksgiving, there was a dog.
In 1837, the United States had a president named Martin van Buren.
You must admit a resemblance.
We’re heading out to Orlando tonight for the International Conference of the Fantastic Arts. We get there laaaate, but we’ll be there through Sunday.
I’m starting out the weekend with a work-related bang, as I do a Thusday reading at 8:30am (5:30 pacific…) and then host one at 10:30. After that, I’ll have to suffer some terrible, terrible relaxing in the awful, no-good pool, and perhaps the forlorn hot tub.
I don’t have any events besides those two planned at the convention, but I’ll be around for chatting.
After last year’s Hugo debacle, David Steffen decided to put together an anthology of stories that appeared on the 2015 Hugo long-list. The Long List is currently on sale for one dollar.
One of these is my novella, “Grand Jete,” which was nominated for the Nebula Award and is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. It’s about robotics, Judaism, death, and ballet.
If you’re intrigued, here’s more information on the book:
The Hugo Award is one of the most prestigious speculative fiction literary awards. Every year, supporting members of WorldCon nominate their favorite stories first published during the previous year to determine the top five in each category for the final Hugo Award ballot. Between the announcement of the ballot and the Hugo Award ceremony at WorldCon, these works often become the center of much attention (and contention) across fandom.
But there are more stories loved by the Hugo voters, stories on the longer nomination list that WSFS publishes after the Hugo Award ceremony at WorldCon. The Long List Anthology collects 21 tales from that nomination list, totaling almost 500 pages of fiction by writers from all corners of the world.
Within these pages you will find a mix of science fiction and fantasy, the dramatic and the lighthearted, from near future android stories to steampunk heists, too-plausible dystopias to contemporary vampire stories.
Continuing my theme of reporting late on my news–for the first time, “Monstrous Embrace” is online in print, courtesy of Lightspeed Magazine.
The first line came to me in one of those strange, clear moments:
I am ugliness in body and bone, breath and heartbeat. I am muddy rocks and jagged scars snaking across salt-sown fields. I am insect larvae wriggling inside the great dead beasts into which they were born. Too, I am the hanks of dead flesh rotting. I am the ungrateful child’s sneer, the plague sore bursting, the swing of shadow beneath the gallows rope. Ugliness is my hands, my feet, my fingernails. Ugliness is my gaze, boring into you like a worm into rotting fruit.
Listen to me, my prince. Tomorrow, when dawn breaks and you stand in the chapel accepting your late father’s crown, your fate will be set. Do nothing and you will be dead by sundown. Your kingdom will be laid waste, its remnants preserved only in the bellies of carrion birds.
There is another option. Marry me.
The voice on this story was driving. It forced me rapidly through the story. Although I did a lot of revision later, I wrote the whole first draft in a few fluid hours. That’s rare enough for me to savor.
You can also find an audio version at PodCastle.
I was occasionally, informally reading slush for Giganotosaurus at the time this story came into the inbox. I read Moreno-Garcia’s version of a maiden and Death, and recommended the delicate prose and imagery to Ann Leckie who eventually made the purchase.
Georgina met Death when she was ten. The first time she saw him she was reading by her grandmother’s bedside. As Georgina tried to pronounce a difficult word, she heard her grandmother groan and looked up. There was a bearded man in a top hat standing by the bed. He wore an orange flower in his buttonhole, the kind Georgina put on the altars on the Day of the Dead.
The man smiled at Georgina with eyes made of coal.
When I was a kid, I took art lessons for a number of years in the garage of the professional artist who just happened to be living in our neighborhood. I’m not great at drawing, but I enjoy working with my hands immensely, and I’m usually happier if I’ve got a regular hobby going that involves making or drawing art.
For a while, that was jewelry-making, and I may post some of my jewelry and sketches online at some point. I got overexcited about making necklaces symbolizing fairy tales and myths which was neat, but expensive, and took a lot of creative energy. At the moment, I’m mostly doing art and comics on my iPad with my fancy new stylus.
I’m also painting pottery. Not making pottery. Painting it. You know, like at the pottery painting places. I go to the Color Me Mine near where Mike works. You buy pieces of unfired pottery and then paint them using on-site supplies.
My current project is a three-part teapot:
The top part is a lid. The middle part is a kettle, and the bottom part is a cup.
I decided to do it up with scenes from the original illustrations of Alice in Wonderland. (Alice was on my mind because of my recently published story about the hatter and hare having a love affair.) On the lid, I’m doing Alice being assailed by cards:
And on the middle, I’m doing the tea party.
On the bottom, I’m doing the Cheshire cat, but he’s not so much Tenniel’s as a blend of different interpretations of the Cheshire cat, painted purple. I don’t have any photographs of that part of the kettle yet anyway, so moving on.
I’ve finished the lid and had it fired. The firing process is interesting because of the way that it erases a lot of the shading, while at the same time making things look polished and vibrant. I often like the look of the unfired pottery better than the look of the fired pottery, but that might be because you can make the unfired version look however you want; the firing will still be a surprise. (A relatively predictable one, yes, but it makes some changes.)
The lid, unfired:
The lid, fired:
I did a sketch of the tea party, but I’m still coloring it in. (You can see where I am marking off and painting a yellow tablecloth.) For some reason, the gif we tried to take didn’t work. It left out some angles which makes it kind of trippy. I added in a couple stills:
I’ll post updates as the work continues. Alas, I am slow and perfectionistic about this, as I am about everything else. 😉
Mike and I will be at FogCon this year from March 11 to March 13. I’m not on any panels, but feel free to come bug me for a chat.
In March, I will also be attending AWP in Los Angelos, and ICFA in Orlando. In May, Mike and I will be at the Nebulas in Chicago. Those are our only convention plans this year. (Unless someone wants to invite me as a guest…? 😛 )
For the first year of FogCon, the committee decided to drum up some attention by throwing a party at WisCon where they served drinks in cups overflowing with dry ice. (Because *fog*con.) I admit I opposed the plan because everyone was already overwhelmed, and I was worried we’d all just freak out and collapse into puddles, but everything went well. And the cups were all foggy. Also, it gave my husband, Brin Schuler, and Paul Goodman (all non-writer spouses of writers) a chance to go be nerdy and engineery in a space with absolutely no writer chat.
If your curious,here’s a video of what misty drinks look like. They are using dip-in sticks, but at WisCon, we used two layers of cups, with the outer one containing the dry ice. (Mike wonders whether you can get a similar effect to the sticks with something like a tea diffuser–definitely something to test for safety first!)
I didn’t watch the video all the way to the end, just enough to see that they put in sticks of fog. So if it turns out to be the creepy Ring girl at the end, I apologize for getting you killed by ghosts.
Tina’s bio has a typical writery buffet of eclectic experiences: “Tina Gower grew up in a small community in Northern California that proudly boasts of having more cows than people. She raised guide dogs for the blind, is dyslexic, and can shoot a gun or bow and miraculously never hit the target (which at some point becomes a statistical improbability).”
She also has a bunch of writing achievements, but this *is* a silly interview. (Though I admit it begins with me asking about her writing, and a picture of her book.
Later I bug her with questions about dogs and hats, though.
1) The heroine of your book specializes in statistics as an actuary for the accidental death department. Have you worked in jobs that require that kind of statistical analysis? If not, what appealed to you about writing such a character?
I’ve never worked as an actuary or any kind of risk assessment except for the anxiety of always thinking about the worst case scenario in my head. I have, however, worked with statistics as a school psychologist where I had to calculate student test or IQ scores on the bell curve or create measures. While in graduate school, we had to take a lot of psychometrics and statistics to complete the degree. Seriously, statistics is the most fun of all the math classes. I’m pretty sure 😉 I don’t know why, but a crime fighting actuary was about the funniest combo I could think of, but the more I imagined it, the more I realized how cool it could be. And Kate Hale is a great character.
2) How did you decide to blend crime fiction with urban fantasy in this way? What does fantasy allow crime fiction to do that doesn’t appear in realistic crime novels?
I’m a fan of mystery crime stories AND I love the paranormal. I think it adds another layer of the types of cases that can be solved. Also, that the people involved could have an abnormal-out-of-this-world skill.
3) Your website focuses heavily on your novel, but you’ve written short stories as well. Is the short form something that interests you? (I know for a lot of novelists, it just feels like the thing to do at first.)
Writing short fiction has always been a fun way to clear my mind after a long project. Although I don’t write short very often anymore, I still get ideas that are only going to present well in the short form. It’s a project that takes a lot less time from start to finish than a novel (in theory!) and I love reading other short fiction by friends or other writers I admire. It’s a way to sample someone’s style, too.
4) You used to raise guide dogs for the blind. Personally, I’ve raised a few litters of kittens for adoptions. It’s fun, but also stressful — in the case of the kittens, partially because finding homes for them is so difficult. I imagine it’s still rough raising animals to give away, though. What was it like for you?
It’s not easy. The emotional difference between someone who has pets to keep and the person who raises services animals or shelter fosters to give away isn’t different at all. I still miss them. I think about all of them every day. I’ve put a lot of time, energy, and love in each dog. Then when they’re perfect and you can’t imagine what life was like without them, you send them off for more training. Eventually, hopefully, if all goes right with training and physicals, they’re paired with someone who really needs them. The fact I’m doing it to make someone’s life a heck of a lot easier cuts the edges of loss, but only slightly.
The hardest is when someone says “Oh, I could never do that! I love my animals too much.” Because somewhere in there is the idea that we don’t love animals to be able to “give them up” when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Secondly, I think everyone has it in them to sacrifice for the better good of humanity. I really believe that.
5) In your author photo, you are wearing a hat. Are hats underappreciated?
Heck. Yes. Everyone should have a hat that fits their personality perfectly. If I had a talk show, pairing people with hats would be the highlight. You get a hat and you get a hat. Hats for everyone!
6) Aside from your forthcoming novel Romancing Null, do you have any other upcoming projects you’re excited about?
Great news! Romancing the Null isn’t forthcoming anymore! It published on Amazon just a few moments ago right before I started typing this. As far as upcoming projects, I have books two and three of the same series (The Outlier Prophecy) written and in various stages of editing. Book two should be coming out in a few weeks. Book three closer to late April or May. I plan to write more books in that series this year along with a few projects that are being shopped around to traditional houses with my agent. And I do have some short stories I want to write, too. I like having lots of projects going at once, so I can convince myself I’m a real writer.
February is always one of the busiest months for me. This February was so busy that I didn’t remember to click “post” on the entry I’d written about my new story in Clarkesworld Magazine, “Between Dragons and Their Wrath.” I wrote it with my former student, An Owomoyela.
Fourteen-year-old Domei lives in a world jagged with the dangerous, magical scraps from someone else’s war:
In the forest, scales are most common. If they cut you, the cut will never stop bleeding.
If you step in a place where a dragon has defecated, food will stream through your body, and you will always be hungry. If you pass a place where a dragon breathed fire, your skin will forever blister and heal and then blister again. If you touch a dragon’s blood, you’ll go mad.
As for me, I was harvesting scales. With a scale, you can till the land faster than anyone using an iron hoe. You can butcher meat in a tenth the time it takes to use a knife. There are good things about dragon leavings, and for those good things, I usually get paid enough to eat.
Scales are common. Everyone knows about those. It was something else that got me.
This story began with a draft An wrote years ago. Last summer, they handed it to me, and I worked on the plot and characters. It was interesting starting with material that wasn’t mine, trying to understand the inside of the story enough to be able to continue and enhance the work that’s already there. I don’t think of An and myself as particularly similar writers, but I think we may approach structure the same way. It’s easier for me to put myself intuitively into their stories than it has been for other people I’ve tried this exercise with. (I do hope that some of those attempts will lead to other published stories also.)
Another excerpt (almost totally written by An):
During the war, the Andé slaughtered a big dragon the size of a mountain. They dropped its liver and gall on Hizhang. Bile poisoned the earth, poisoned the air, poisoned the people and the children of the people, and is still poisoning them now. People born in Hizhang have probably never seen a dragon, but they don’t need to.
Every dusk, the cows start lowing from Hizhang. But there are no longer cows in Hizhang.
You see, we were lucky.
The story is also available in audio, narrated by Kate Baker.