Short musings on community

Erewhon reading
Left to write (uh, right): Liz Gorinsky, Nicholas Kaufmann, Ilana C. Myer.

Last night, I attended a literary salon sponsored by Erewhon Books, a new independent specfic publishing house headed by Liz Gorinsky. The salon took place in their Manhattan offices, a nice open space that seems to be a combination office and living room. It featured writers Ilana C. Myer and Nicholas Kaufmann (both of whom turned in great readings, by the way; as a result, I have just started reading Last Song Before Night, the first book in Ilana’s trilogy).

About halfway through the reading, while I was listening, I let my eyes wander around the room. There were about 30 or 40 people present, sitting on chairs, couches, and the rug; listening, occasionally nodding, and sometimes laughing at inside jokes that we all got. Everyone seemed comfortable, easy, and happy to listen to some excellent prose by people whom they knew and liked.

cofAnd I realized that I was also enjoying the evening, relaxing despite all the various stresses that I (like so many of today’s adults) deal with. That even though I didn’t talk to many of the attendees on a day-to-day basis, this was my community, the people with whom I felt the most comfortable. And that it was nice to know they were around.

We all need communities, and most of us are lucky to have one — and often, several. It could be a community made up of our families, of neighbors, of college friends, of people at work, of people who share our interests, of the people who we meet every day walking their dogs in the park. These days, very often, these communities can be made up of people whom we never meet in person, but who we know from the back-and-forth of online social groups.

But whether online or in person, communities are important. And I am very grateful for mine.

 

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Next week: The Heliosphere con

Heliosphere is a nice local con that Jim and I have gone to for the past couple of years and enjoyed — and we’re going again this year. If you’re in the NYC / Westchester area on the weekend of April 5-7 and would like to spend a weekend with some science fiction / fantasy fans in Tarrytown, NY, then come over and say hi.

The con starts Friday evening; we’ll be there Saturday and Sunday. Here’s my schedule:

Saturday, April 6th

11: 30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
The Anniversary Year Panel
Ballroom 1
W/Darrell Schweitzer, Barbara Krasnoff (M), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ken Gale, Daniel Kimmel
Come and discuss all the movies, books, series, etc. which are enjoying a major (or minor) anniversary this year.

Readings
5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Ballroom 4
W/Lorraine Schein, Alex Shvartsman, C.S.E. Cooney, Barbara Krasnoff

Sunday, April 7th

11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Can You Succeed As A Writer If You’re A Recluse?
Ballroom 1
W / April Grey, Barbara Krasnoff, Mike McPhail, Russ Colchamiro

Oh, hell, I’ve got a book coming out!

2065_EPUB_Cover_DraftIt’s been a while since I wrote a blog entry in BrooklynWriter, and I realize that this is a Very Bad Thing, especially because my first book is actually within months of being released.

So first, the details so far: The name of the book is The History of Soul 2065. It’s a mosaic novel — a collection of interconnected short stories — based on stories that I’ve written over the years, and which I realized a little while ago were actually about the same two families. It’s being published by an independent press called Mythic Delirium, which is owned and operated by the very talented Mike and Anita Allen. The official publication date is June 11, 2019, and it will be available in a number of online venues (where it’s currently in pre-order). We’ve having a number of events to publicize/celebrate it, including at NYRSF Readings this coming Tuesday (7 p.m. at The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) with myself and Theodora Goss (author of Snow White Learns Witchcraft), and at Readercon this July, where the book will be officially launched.

Mike has been working very hard to get word out about the book. And he’ll need to, in order to battle the author’s (in other words, my) natural pessimism, which is even now busily and silently screaming, “nobody will read it” “nobody will like it” “you’ll sell a few copies to your close friends, and that will be it” etc. etc. All my writer friends  know exactly what I’m talking about. Well, most of them, anyway.

So I’d better stop listening to that voice and get to it — keeping this blog updated, keeping this site updated, and perhaps talking a bit about the various stories that make up the book, why they were written, and how. And taking some time to create more stories.

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.

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.

ptr
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!