Of stories, novels, birthdays, and the New Year

fireworks-3816694_1920Since this is the New Year and the time for looking ahead, I thought I’d write about a few thoughts about and upcoming events in 2019.

The first thing I’m looking forward to is the birthday celebration of Richard Bowes, one of my favorite writers, this coming Tuesday, January 8th, at the NYRSF Readings series (The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, doors open at 6:30 pm). Rick is an elegant and fascinating writer whose stories look on reality with an urban fantasy twist, reflecting both his past in New York City’s underground cultures and more recent events. We’ll be looking back on his work, I’ll be interviewing Rick, and he’ll read a few short pieces. It should be a great deal of fun — please come.

And then there’s my book The History of Soul 2065, which is coming out from Mythic Delirium Press this coming summer. It will be my first full-length work after a rather slow several years of occasional short stories, and I’m very much looking forward to it. Anyone who has read other of my stories may recognize some of it; it’s what is called a “mosaic novel,” made up of a group of short stories that have been tweaked to form a (hopefully) unified whole. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

As far as short stories are concerned, I’ve produced my first work that takes place in another writer’s universe: “Blaming Caine,” which will appear in the anthology Lost Signals of the Terran Republic, part of Chuck Gannon’s Caine Riordan universe. It’s the first published story I’ve ever written in someone else’s playground (the Blake’s 7 fanfic that I wrote many years ago for my and my friend’s eyes only doesn’t count). It was both difficult and fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in print. I’ll keep you all posted.

I’m not a fast writer, and so I had only two stories published in 2018: “Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girl” in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #71 and “In the Background” in Resist Fascism  from Crossed Genres Publications. (Neither, unfortunately, is available online, but feel free to purchase either of those publications.) I don’t know how many stories I’ll be able to produce this coming year; most of my concentration right now is on a new job as Reviews Editor at The Verge, a publication which centers on how technology will change and is changing our lives. It’s an exciting — and slightly daunting — new venture for me, and the offices are filled with frighteningly talented people.

I am slowly republishing my older short stories — the ones that don’t appear in The History of Soul 2065 — on the site Curious Fictions, which is providing a central place for writers to recycle their published fiction. I just put up my third story, a science fiction tale about an older woman who is shipwrecked on an alien planet. You can find that, and another two stories, on my Curious Fictions page.

If a new idea should strike and demand to be written, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, I’m still producing my Backstories on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (although I may be running out of photos!), so that, at least, is something.

A very happy New Year to all, and I hope we all do well, and that things improve both in our personal lives and in the wider world.

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My 2018 Awards-Eligible Stories

Yes, it’s that time of the year again: When all good little authors, poets and writers start looking toward the coming award nominations. I’ve got a few stories and novels from other writers I hope to mention after the New Year, but for now, here are the two stories I published in 2018.

Both are only available by purchase (unfortunately, Andromeda Spaceways is re-doing its site — when the publication has re-opened, I’ll put in a link). If you’re a SFWA member, I’ve included a link to a PDF version on the SFWA forums.

Thanks!

“Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girl”
Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #71, June 2018
The lives of two adolescent girls from very different backgrounds and times shift and merge within the confines of an old cotton mill.

SFWA PDF link: Here

“In the Background”
Resist Fascism from Crossed Genres Publications, November 2018
A rebellion is supported by many people whose names will never be known, but who are as important as those are lauded in history books.

SFWA PDF link: Here

Nostalgia — or, maybe not.

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The former Fairfield Towers. We lived in the right corner apartment, second from the top.

This morning, I drove Jim to a site in East New York (that’s in Brooklyn, for those who don’t know), and found myself passing, for the first time in many years, through the area where I spent my adolescence. My family moved to that neighborhood when I was in sixth grade, and then moved from an apartment to a real, true house when I was in college. On the way back, I made a last-minute decision to drive past my old building, just to see it and see how I felt about it.

I was surprised at how little it affected me. I do have many memories associated with it:  The new smells of the building (it had just been built), and of the padding in the elevators. Doing picture puzzles while my pet parakeet picked up puzzle pieces and dropped them back into the box. Begging my mother to let me go to an outdoor concert in Woodstock, NY (she didn’t). Watching Star Trek with my father. Getting my first makeup kit from my Aunt Edna. Fetching the mail, and opening an envelope telling me that a poem I wrote was accepted for an anthology.

And yet, when I drove past the front of the building, parked, got out and looked at it, I didn’t feel much attachment to it at all.

Chana in later years
My grandmother, my uncle Rube, and an adolescent Barbara hang out on the terrace at Fairfield Towers. 

I drove around the corner, parked again, and got out again. Our apartment was located at the back of the building, on the corner of the seventh floor, overlooking the parking lot and, in the distance, Jamaica Bay. (Several years later, a new and large housing project was built on the landfill between us and the Bay, waking me every morning as girders were pounded in place and as the buildings rose to block our view of the Bay.) I could see our apartment and the houses across the street where several of my friends once lived. There was a sign with the name of the project on it: It was now called MeadowWood at Gateway rather than Fairfield Towers, and the apartments were now being sold as condominiums rather than rented out. But it was the place I remembered.

I still didn’t feel very nostalgic.

I’m curious why. I feel much more connected to Bayview Houses in Canarsie, where I spent my childhood, even though that was also a housing project. I even feel more connected to the house my parents moved to in Long Island, even though I only lived there one year (and never felt comfortable with the culture of Long Island) — perhaps because it was a lovely little house, and perhaps because my parents, for whom the house was the culmination of a dream, loved it so much. The apartment in Fairfield Towers was just the place I spent while I passed through an uncomfortable adolescence (what adolescence isn’t?) into adulthood.

And yet. And yet. As I think about my life in that apartment, and some of the events of my life there, I do feel a sense of sadness about some of the things I thought I’d do in my life and didn’t, and some of the opportunities missed, and the people whom I loved and who are no longer with us.

It’s a conundrum.

Capclave is next weekend!

Capclave dodoI haven’t attended too many conventions this year, but I (and Jim, of course) will be at Capclave, a small but very nice SF literary con with a slight tilt toward short fiction that will take place at the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville  starting this coming Friday, September 28th. We’ve enjoyed Capclave for several years, sometimes doing the tourist thing beforehand (this is in the D.C. area, after all!), sometimes just hanging out at the con and seeing friends. This year, the guests of honor are Nancy Kress and Alyssa Wong, two very worthy honoree

If you’re planning to be at the con (or in the area), and would like to know where I’ll be, here’s my schedule thus far:

Friday
6:30 pm in Lincoln room:
Reading
Haven’t decided what I’m going to read yet… Either a recently written story or one from The History of Soul 2065.

8:00 pm in Jackson room
Age issues in SF lit & fandom: Reality or perception? 
Panelist:Stafford Battle, Jim Freund, Inge Heyer, Barbara Krasnoff (M)
Is fandom really greying? There seems to be plenty of opportunity for new authors, but is it primarily in small press or online venues, as opposed to traditional publishing? What about how older characters are written?

9:00 pm in Eisenhower Room
Dealing With Rejection 
Panelists:Neil Clarke, Scott Edelman, Barbara Krasnoff (M), Michael A. Ventrella
Everyone in the field has to deal with rejection at some point. Panelists will talk about how they handle rejection, and in the case of editors, panelists will offer suggestions on how NOT to handle rejection

Saturday
12:00 pm in Monroe room
Overcoming Assumptions
Panelist:Barbara Krasnoff, LH Moore, Kathryn Morrow (M)
Expectations are created based on gender, race, sexuality, disability, etc. How do we move past those assumptions?

Hope to see you there!

Lost Signals, or how I wrote out of my comfort zone

Lost Signals

So here’s the story: Some time ago, Chuck Gannon, a fine writer and a very nice guy, asked me if I’d like to try to contribute a story to an anthology he was putting together that would take place in his Caine Riordan universe.

I had only read one of the novels in the series a year or two earlier, and had made the rather serious mistake of starting with Book 2 (Trial by Fire), which meant I really had very little idea of what was going on.  At first, while I liked the space opera vibe, I was a little confused by the action and why the characters were doing what they were doing, so I finally put it aside. But I really respect Chuck as a writer, and was very pleased by being asked to the party, so I said, “I’d like to give it a try. Let me start the series from the beginning, and try to come up with a story, and we’ll take it from there.”

That’s what I did. I read the first book in the series, enjoyed it, and found I was now able to appreciate the second, and the third. At that point, I came up with an idea for a character and a story that Chuck (thankfully) liked. The result: The story (“Blaming Caine”) is part of this really nifty anthology called Lost Signals of the Terran Empire, alongside some really talented writers. It’s now in the midst of copy editing and production; stay tuned for publication dates, etc.

One final note: Even if I hadn’t made it into the anthology (and I’m happy I did!), I found this an excellent opportunity to stretch my wings a bit. Writing in somebody else’s universe made me step out of my comfort zone in a way that I found rather difficult — and extremely worthwhile. So my thanks to Chuck for that as well.

Some quick notes

Hi, folks —

lear_woman_writing
Illustration: Edward Lear

Sorry that it took me so long to cap the end of my last blog post — I’m sure you were all on pins and needles waiting to find out what happened. (Well, probably not, but still…)

Anyway, the Resist Fascism Kickstarter did make its goal, with enough over to buy another story, which I’m very pleased about. According to Bart & Kay, they are now working to get the anthology out before the mid-terms, which will be great.

The publication of my mosaic novel/collection The History of Soul 2065 is proceeding. I’ve seen first drafts of the cover illustration, which is being done by the very talented Paula Arwen. Stay tuned for more on that.

I’ve got two of my older stories now available to read at the anthology site Curious Fictions, and plan to put up more over the next few weeks, in case you’re looking for something to read.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be at the Capclave SF con in Rockville, MD in a couple of weeks, September 17-30th. I’ll post my schedule in a few days; meanwhile, I look forward to seeing my friends in the Washington D.C. area.

That’s all for now!

Kickstarter Kraziness

17e01f1d0bd5c9e20699d6e2524e2954_originalI honestly don’t know how they do it. Folks who do Kickstarters, I mean.

I’ve contributed to a few Kickstarters, and I’ve had friends and colleagues who have run them. I was very happy when they succeeded, and disappointed for them when they didn’t.

But this is one of the first times that I have a horse in what is turning out to be a close race, and now I honestly don’t know how people do this without going absolutely insane.

Okay, here’s the story: Two months ago, at the Readercon SF convention, I was invited by Crossed Genres’ Bart Leib to contribute to an anthology called Resist Fascism: A Call To Action. Crossed Genres is a small publishing concern run by Bart and co-founder Kay Holt that used to put out a magazine, and has published a few anthologies, including at least a couple I’ve had stories in.

The idea, Bart told me, was that this would be a fast-and-furious publication of several speculative fiction stories that could be released just before the mid-term elections. I said sure, what a great idea! I’d love to try.

I went home and, over the next couple of weeks, worked on the story when I could get away from my pay-the-rent freelance work. After several discarded tries, I actually got a story in by deadline. Which was, to my delight, accepted.

However, as I write this, the Kickstarter for this anthology, which I’m very much hoping will be a reality, is four days from deadline and about $2,000 away from its $6,000 goal. The result? I’m running out of fingernails to chew.

How the heck do they do it? Bart and Kay are both exceptionally nice, talented folks, and apparently can set up the Kickstarter, arrange for the contributor rewards, organize the anthology, and then spend hours on social media publicizing it, and watch the clock tick down to deadline, without completely losing it. I certainly would. Am. Might.

Phew! Okay, enough of that. I should take a breath, and go back to my writing — after I check what’s going on with the Kickstarter, of course….