Sale! Short story “Topfuntersetzer” to Perihelion

October 20, 2014

One of the quickest sales it’s been my pleasure to experience: My story “Topfuntersetzer” to Perihelion Online Science Fiction Magazine. I sent the story out around 12:30 pm yesterday and got the acceptance about four and a half hours later, which has got to be some kind of record, for me at least.

(What is a “topfuntersetzer?” Well, that’s what Google is for, isn’t it? <g>)

Perihelion gives the impression of an old-fashioned science fiction magazine: Currently, it has a front cover that features a spaceship and a child in a spacesuit; it offers science fiction stories along with articles on science and reviews of novels and films. Very much like the kind of thing I grew up reading — which is nice, since I wrote “Topfuntersetzer” with a bit of a nod toward those old-fashioned, slightly-tongue-in-cheek types of stories.

I look forward to being included.


What — and who — are genre conventions for?

October 14, 2014

Just got back from Capclave, a somewhat modest but very active science fiction/fantasy convention in the Washington DC area. Looking at it as sort of a microcosm of fan-run conventions (I’m not going to count events such as ComicCon, which are run by commercial entities — those are larger and different, and somebody else can write about those), I started to wonder: What is more important to the attendees? The panels? The parties? Or just the ability to hang out and socialize with new and old friends, and with writers whom you’ve always wanted to meet?

In my case, it’s a combination of all three. I love being on panels, and exchanging views with the smart, talented people I meet on them (and yes, people on those three Capclave panels I sat on, I mean you). I also love sitting in the audience, relaxing and listening and making notes. And I like just hanging out in the bar or the lobby and chatting with folks I only see once or twice a year (and whom I otherwise might not have the chutzpah to approach because I’ve been reading their stuff for gawd knows how long).

Other people I’ve talked to come just for the parties, or just for the panels, or just for the book signings, or just for the evening events. In fact, I’ve read the blogs of people who went to the same convention I went to — say, Readercon – and have come away with the impression that we attended two completely different conventions.

Which, I’m beginning to think, is the hallmark of a good genre con — a place where a variety of people get together, find each other, enjoy themselves the way they like to, and then leave feeling they’ve accomplished something — either by learning something new, or meeting somebody new, or hanging out with friends, or a combination of all three. (Of course, some business is sometimes done as well…)

A con can’t necessarily be all things to all people, but it can be different things to different people. And that’s a good thing.


Why six people make a successful reading

October 11, 2014

I had a reading at Capclave yesterday at the dinnertime hour of 6 pm. About 6 people showed up – and I consider it a success. Why?

Because those six came. They could have hung out with friends in the hallway or checked out a panel or gone out to dinner.

Because nobody walked out. They all stayed and listened.

Because at least one of the six complimented me on the story afterwards.

Because at least one of the six tweeted about the story afterwards.

For somebody from out of town (Capclave is a Washington DC con) , who sells perhaps two to four stories a year, I consider that a successful reading.


My schedule for Capclave 2014

October 1, 2014

It’s almost Capclave time! Jim and I really enjoy attending this Washington DC-area con, and since we’ve missed the last two, we’re especially looking forward to this one. It’s taking place on the weekend of October 9-11 at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg; the guests of honor are Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black and Genevieve Valentine.

I’ve got a really nice schedule of panels and a reading on Friday evening. If you’re going to be attending, or even just in the area, be sure to come by and say hello!

Here’s my schedule:

Friday

6 pm – Frederick
Reading (Not quite sure what I’m going to read yet — any suggestions?)

Saturday

2 pm – Bethesda
Smart Women Foolish Television
Panelists: Barbara Krasnoff, Sherin Nicole (M), Janine Spendlove, Genevieve Valentine, Jean Marie Ward, Fran Wilde
We all have those shows we watch and love and maybe love to pick on because they are our guilty pleasures. We revel in their cliches and inconsistent writing and leaps of logic. Or in their bizarre yet internally consistent alternate realities (even if they’re supposed to be based in the real world). Ahistorical historical shows and why we love their anachronisms.

6 pm – Bethesda
The Suck Fairy and Feet of Clay
Panelists: Barbara Krasnoff (M), Natalie Luhrs, James Maxey, Sunny Moraine
What do you do when you reread your beloved childhood classics and find they have been visited by the suck fairy and are now sexist, racist, etc? What do you do when you find out that that author that got you through junior high turns out to have giant size 30 clod-hopping feet of clay or was actually kind of evil? How do we deal with problematic works and authors?

Sunday

11 am – Frederick
Writing on the Job
Panelists: Carolyn Ives Gilman, Barbara Krasnoff, Sarah Pinsker, Genevieve Valentine
Is it better for a writer to have a non-writing job to save his/her writing energies for fiction or to use writing skills to make a nonfiction living on the idea that any writing improves fiction writing? And when should you quit your day job? Hear writers discuss the relationship between their day job and their writing


Okay, 2014, no more — we’ve lost enough good people

September 27, 2014

The year 2014 has been, so far, a real bastard. There have been too many people lost to death, most too early — some so far before their time that it makes me ashamed.

There was my cousin Jennifer Greene, a wonderful singer and the mother of a vibrant little boy named Ari, who found out she had cancer before her baby was even weaned.

There was the incandescent Margot Adler, one of the most talented and generous spirits it has ever been my privilege to know. With Margot, I’m still in a vague sort of denial and sometimes find myself thinking, “We should call Margot and ask if she wants to meet and see that weird new movie” a second or two before I remember we can’t. (And I still miss her husband John Gliedman, who died several years ago, a friend and colleague of mine.)

And there have been the writers whom I didn’t know well, or didn’t know personally, but whom I admired for what they wrote and who they were — authors such as Lucius Shepard, Jay Lake and now Eugie Foster, who died this morning at the age of 42.

There is nothing that can be said. Losses like these are both sad and incredibly infuriating. All I can do is extend my sympathies to their friends and families, and try to live a life worthy of their memories.


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.


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