Words into pictures: Illustrations for my stories

September 4, 2014

I recently announced the publication of two stories: “The Waterbug” in Triptych Tales and “Under the Bay Court Tree” in Space and Time. However, while I named the editors and the other writers who appear in those venues, I completely forgot to mention that both stories are illustrated!

Both are black-and-white drawings. “The Waterbug” is illustrated by Wendy Quirt, who does a lovely job in laying out the feel of the story in simple terms (pictured here). “Under the Bay Court Tree” is very ably illustrated by Alfred Klosterman, who also obviously “got” the theme of the story.

Thanks to both — I think it’s really fun to see my words turned into drawings!

Illustration by Wendy Quirt for "The Waterbug"

Illustration by Wendy Quirt for “The Waterbug”

One weekend, two stories!

September 1, 2014

It’s a Barbara double-header! I’m thrilled to announce that I have two stories that have just been published over the Labor Day weekend: One online and one in print.

The first, a short story called “The Waterbug,” has just gone live on a new (and very professionally produced) site called Triptych Tales, produced by Melanie Fogel and Kevin Quirt. Each month they published three stories “that take place in our world, our world with a twist, or our world as it could be in the very near future.”

This month, I share the TripTych stage with Liz Kershaw and David Steffan, whose stories I look forward to reading (probably tonight). It’s all online and free, so drop by.

My other story, “Under the Bay Court Tree,” has just been published in the Summer 2014 issue of Space and Time, under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Hildy Silverman (along with Fiction Editor Gerard Houarner, Poetry Editor Linda Addison, Art Editor Diane Weinstein and Editor Emeritus Gordon Linzner).

Other writers in the issue include Mercurio D. Rivera & E. C. Myers, Charles E. Gannon, Derek Muk, David Hollingworth and J. A. Bradley. It looks like a great issue; I’m really pleased to be part of it.

Both stories take place here and now; “The Waterbug” is reality with a quirk, while “Under the Bay Court Tree” is more straightforwardly fantastical. Either way, I hope you enjoy them.

Sale! “The Waterbug” to Triptych Tales

August 21, 2014

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve sold my story “The Waterbug” to a new and very interesting online magazine called Triptych Tales. The site publishes genre/non-genre tales that, according to its description by publishers Melanie Fogel and Kevin Quirt, “take place in our world, our world with a twist, or our world as it could be in the very near future.”

I’ll let y’all know when it’s up and available to read.

A story of two discounts

August 6, 2014

The last time I paid children’s rates for anything was when I was 16, and spending a tedious, uncomfortable hot summer afternoon at my grandmother’s while my parents took my younger brother to the doctor.

My grandmother lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, not too far from Erasmus High School; she had moved there after my grandfather died some years earlier. There was nothing on television (and anyway, her apartment wasn’t air conditioned, so it was very uncomfortable), I knew nobody in the neighborhood, and I was bored in the restless way that teenagers can be.

I wandered the main shopping street, which was practically deserted — perhaps everyone was away at the beach, or perhaps it was a holiday of some sort, I don’t remember. Just remember the discomfort, the boredom, and finally the conviction that the only thing to do was find an air-conditioned movie theater and camp out there for a couple of hours.

I found it, and it was playing the latest horror film, Williard. I had no objection to seeing that — was sort of curious, actually — but I had exactly $1 in my pocket, enough for a half-price ticket, but not enough for an adult ticket.

So I went up to the box office, pushed my dollar bill through to the lady on the other side of the window and said, “One child’s ticket, please.”

She glared sternly at me from her throne in the booth. “How old are you?” she asked suspiciously.

I dropped my eyes and looked abashed.  “I’m almost 12,”  I muttered.  The woman stared at me for another moment and then gave me the ticket.

I really enjoyed that movie.

So on Monday, Jim and I decided we really needed a break and went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. It was a hot, damp evening and the last few weeks had been really difficult.

We drove over to the Sheepshead Bay Cinema, parked, had some rather good fried fish in the small fish restaurant across the way from the theatre, and then walked in. There was only one other couple on line — Mondays seem to be really slow — and when we asked for the tickets (Imax, 3-D, and yes, air-conditioning), the kid on the other side of the plexiglass window stared at us and asked,  “Senior discount?”

We shook our heads, but then Jim asked,  “How old do you have to be for senior discount?”

“Sixty, ” the kid said.

We looked at each other. “Yes,” Jim said.  “Senior discount.”

I really enjoyed that movie.

Readercon 25 report: Wish I were still there

July 16, 2014

Back from Readercon, both physically and emotionally. It went extremely well this year — for myself and, from what I can tell from the few blogs/tweets I’ve seen, for others as well. I said hello to some old friends, made a few new ones, and had a generally good time.

This is a brief rundown of my activities there; sorry if I don’t go into the details, but I’ve got a full schedule catching up after my days off. And apologies to all those whom I didn’t mention and should have!

I was part of several excellent (if I do say so myself) panels: Being an Editor Who Writes (where it was generally concluded that being both can actually be a good thing), Dealing with Discouragement (or how not to scream “This is it! I give up!” every time you get a rejection, something I still have to occasionally remember) and Educated Guesses: Tech Pros Writing SF, in which I was absolutely bowled over by the tech knowledge of the other participants in the panel — as a tech journalist who majored in English Lit & Creative Writing, I felt distinctly outclassed!

My workshop in How to Write for a Living When You Can’t Live Off Your Fiction went very well. I find it is always different, depending both on the other panelists (in this case, Leah Bobet, Adam Lipkin, and last-minute addition Sally Weiner Grotta were all incredibly helpful) and the folks who attend (who were likewise, contributing good info and asking great questions). The time went quickly, and several attendees said (and I agree with them) that having a full track at Readercon on practical issues like freelancing and contracts and agents and the like (such as the panel on Copyright Law and Your Writing, which I meant to attend but unfortunately missed) are an excellent idea.

I took part in two readings: One with my writers group Tabula Rasa (and got to hear wonderful stories from Sabrina Vourvoulias and Justin Key, two very talented writers), and one on Sunday morning, where I read a somewhat truncated version of my yet-unsold story “Sabbath Wine.” Thanks to all those who attended, despite the early hour (I know how hard it is to attend anything before 11 am on a Sunday morning at Readercon!).

I didn’t attend anywhere near the number of panels and readings I had planned (it’s hard to do that, what with stopping and talking to folks in the hallways and taking a half hour here and there to sit outside and check out one of the books I bought). I started the con, though, with a great one on Thursday evening: East, West and Everything Between: A Roundtable on Latin@ Speculative Fiction, which was really interesting and enlightening as well, especially (for me) the discussion of the issues of language; it gave me a few things to think hard about. (Here’s Scott Edelman’s YouTube video.)

When The Other Is You, a fascinating discussion at Readercon featuring Chesya Burke, Samuel Delany, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, and Vandana Singh.

When The Other Is You, a fascinating discussion at Readercon featuring Chesya Burke, Samuel Delany, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, and Vandana Singh.

I also attended readings by the always-wonderful Elizabeth Hand and the equally fine Sabrina Vourvoulias and Danielle Friedman (and A.C. Wise, who shared Danielle’s time). However, I missed the James Morrow reading — dammit! — and several others whom I had wanted to catch. I also caught the panels on The Science of Space Colony Living and Speculative Fiction and World War I, both of which I enjoyed greatly; and the panel on When the Other Is You, which I’ve seen described in several other blogs; my congratulations to the panelists for a fascinating and lively discussion. (Scott YouTubed this one as well.}

The highlight, though, was wandering accidentally into a conference room on Friday night where there was a circle of singers harmonizing on sea chanteys and British & Appalachian folk songs — it was just wonderful to hear, and the kind of just-by-chance event that I really treasure. Singers included (and I’ve snagged some of these names from Carlos Hernandez’s Facebook entry on it) Ellen Kushner, Liz Duffy Adams, Caitlyn Paxson, Amal El-Mohtar, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney and Patty Templeton. Thank you all.

Other things? On the plus side, I enjoyed wandering from party to party on Saturday night in the function rooms (and apologize to all those on the sixth floors whose parties I never actually got to). The bookstore is always wonderful; I never spend as much time as I’d like in there.

On the negative side, I wish the hotel had seen fit in its redesign to allow for more just-sitting-around space in the lobby, and more sound-deadening material in its bar — it got pretty loud in there and hard to hold a conversation, and that was before the DJ showed up. I also spoke to a lot of folks who had to twist themselves in a variety of knots to try to get to the hotel in the most budget-friendly way possible, and who as a result spent several hours on busses to Boston and then from Boston to the hotel.

On the whole, though, congratulations to everyone who had a part in creating Readercon 25.

Looking at old & new literature at Readercon

July 12, 2014

I’m at Readercon, and I’ve been especially impressed this year with the combination of old and new. Perhaps I’m prejudiced — no, it’s almost certain I’m prejudiced; I can’t help having my own feelings about the matter — but walking around the bookstore, I was caught between books by great new (mostly young) writers, many of whom I’d be reading for the first time, and used books by writers whom I loved as a youngster and whom I haven’t read in decades.

For example, I am sitting in my hotel room caught between A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar, a book by a writer that I’m very much looking forward to starting (and who is here this weekend), and Judgment on Janus, a 1963 novel by Andre Norton (Ace; 40 cents), which I think I read when I was about 12 years old. The two books were written 50 years apart, and probably have little in common except genre and the fact that they were both written by women. But I am going to savor them both, because one will be a discovery, and the other will be a re-discovery.

And it won’t be the only literary discovery I make this weekend. At a used bookstore down the road from the hotel, Jim found a volume of Bill Mauldin’s World War II Willy and Joe cartoons, along with essays. From a time and a place that belong to my parents rather than myself, and with references that I probably won’t get, but still worth reading for the feel of the times. And because I think it may bring me just a little closer to the world my father inhabited when he was young.

The moral of this brief blog entry? I’m not sure I want there to be one. Except that I am finding value in literature of the past — my past and others’ past — and the present and, hopefully, the future. And I hope that others can do the same.

Readercon has posted its schedule!

June 29, 2014

It’s almost Readercon time again!

The word-centric convention will be taking place July 10-13 at the Burlington Marriott in Burlington, MA. I’ll be participating in several panels (one of which Jim will be also be on — a first for us), a reading by my writing group Tabula Rasa, and a solo reading — and will be attending as many of the other panels as I can possibly get to.

I’m very much looking forward to it (and looking forward to saying hi to all my friends who will be there). Here’s my schedule (copied from the online program guide), for anyone who’s interested:

12:00 PM G Being an Editor Who Writes. Scott Edelman, Michael Kandel, Sandra Kasturi, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Warren Lapine, Ian Randal Strock. Few people haven’t heard of the editor-as-failed-author stereotype. Being both an editor and an author means living with your own harshest critic—yourself. While some editors-to-writers avoid this pitfall by writing nonfiction, there are those who manage to straddle the line, and even find success as fiction writers. How do they manage to quiet the inner editor, and how do they know when to turn it back on?

7:00 PM EM Tabula Rasa Group Reading. Jennifer Marie Brissett, Justin Key, Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. Tabula Rasa is an NYC-based writers group made up of experienced, published science fiction/fantasy/horror writers. Each member will be reading a portion of a story, published or not yet published.

8:00 PM ENL Dealing with Discouragement. Lisa (LJ) Cohen, F. Brett Cox, Gemma Files, Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Bud Sparhawk. As writers, we learn very early on to handle rejection, but how do you handle it when a story you’re sure is good is rejected by 20 different publications? Or when your carefully crafted novel is shrugged off by five different agents? Or your self-published novella is bought by only 25 people, all of them friends and relatives? Or your fantasy novel disappears from public view after a couple of weeks? This discussion, led by Barbara Krasnoff, will cover personal strategies to deal with disappointments, rejection, and other setbacks.

11:00 AM CO How to Write for a Living When You Can’t Live Off Your Fiction. Leah Bobet, Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Adam Lipkin. You’ve just been laid off from your staff job, you can’t live on the royalties from your fiction writing, and your significant other has taken a cut in pay. How do you pay the rent? Well, you can find freelance work writing articles, white papers, reviews, blogs, and other non-SFnal stuff. Despite today’s lean journalistic market, it’s still possible to make a living writing, editing, and/or publishing. Let’s talk about where and how you can sell yourself as a professional writer, whether blogging can be done for a living, and how else you can use your talent to keep the wolf from the door. Bring whatever ideas, sources, and contacts you have.

2:00 PM CO Educated Guesses: Tech Pros Writing SF. Saira Ali, John Chu, Jim Freund, Barbara Krasnoff, B Diane Martin (leader), Walt Williams. In response to a Silicon Valley technologist frustrated with the current state of science fiction, blogger Andrija Popovic wrote, “Change the question from ‘Why are people not writing about the future I’m making?’ to ‘Where can I find and support people who are writing about this future I see coming?’ Or better: tell your story.” Tech professionals like Ramez Naam, Brenda Cooper, and Daniel H. Wilson are doing just that. What do their portrayals of the future say about our present, and conversely, about the visions of the future that are driving today’s technological development?

10:30 AM ENV Reading: Barbara Krasnoff. I will probably be reading an unpublished story titled “Sabbath Wine.”


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