Flights of Foundry is this weekend, and I’ll be there

Flights of Foundry, a completely online convention for (as they put it) speculative creators, is happening this weekend, and I’ll be taking part, moderating a panel and doing a reading.

The convention is free of charge (although they do ask that you contribute if you can), and offers panels, workshops, readings, and conversation (the panels are via Webex; the conversations are via Discord). Because it’s completely online, they try to have activities for most time zones, not just the U.S. So join if you’d like!

Here’s what I’ll be doing:

Friday, April 14th, at 10 pm Eastern Time

This is when I’ll be reading something I’ve written — I haven’t quite decided what yet. Things have been a little confused in my life recently, so I may shrug and go with “Sabbath Wine” or another of the stories from The History of Soul 2065. Or not.

Sunday, April 16th, at 10 am Eastern Time

I’ll be moderating a panel called Almost Too Convenient: Avoiding Inorganic Plotting, with Jaye Viner, Ann LeBlanc, and Phoebe Low. It’s an interesting topic, especially if you’ve tried to write a story and have hit problems getting from point A to point B. The official description is as follows:

Setting, character, background, and narrative all combine to give opportunities to the writer to craft a natural, believable series of events. The panelists explore how to make the events of your story feel organically grown, rather than forced for the sake of plot. They also discuss how to incorporate escalation, shifts in tone, and various other reversals into this approach.

Sound interesting? Here’s where you can register, and here’s where you can find the rest of the program. Maybe I’ll see you there!

New story (and awards eligibility post): “Where Things May Lead”

A translucent blue and purple figure floats in space near to Jupiter; you can see the stars through its body.
Illustration by Fran Eisemann using stock from NASA and Omni.

So only days after I finished sniffling about my poor publication showing, my story “Where Things May Lead” has been published in Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, along with a lovely illustration by Fran Eisemann (who is the editor-in-chief of the publication, so obviously wears many hats).

The story is a little different from my others in that it is a fairly straightforward science fiction story about how our actions may lead to increasingly significant consequences — even if we’re not aware of it. I wrote it with just that idea in mind; seeing how a single event or development, thrown out into the world, can eventually offer greater change than we may know.

I’m very glad that it has found a home with such a great publication. Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores offers its fiction for free, but exists on subscriptions, so if you enjoy my tale and others that are on the site, take a look at its subscription page.

Awards Eligibility post

Just an FYI: Since this is probably my only awards-eligible story for 2022 (my other publications are a flash fiction piece and a reprint), I’d appreciate any consideration for nominations you might think appropriate. (Just trying to overcome my usual reluctance to self-promote. Nothing more to see here, move on….)

Apologies to all my writer friends

Fresco from Pompeii, Naples National Archaeological Museum, showing woman holding book in one hand and a pen in the other.
Credit: Carole Raddato

I have started seeing all the recommendations for the various writing awards — Hugos, Nebulas, etc. — going up on various social media, and I’ve realized that I have not kept the list I promised myself I would of the stories I read this year. Which means that I haven’t put together a list of recommendations — and since I’ve got a particularly busy December ahead of me, will probably not get around to it, no matter how much I may promise myself I will.

Possibly that was due to a rather enervating sense of discouragement I’ve been feeling lately. I won’t go into the reasons — some of it is simply personal family business, but others just feel to me like sour grapes, and so not worthy of expressing in public. This year, for example, I don’t really have any stories of my own that I could possibly recommend; the only ones that were published was a flash fiction piece and a reprint that appeared in an independent anthology. (However, I will say that the latter publication, Hell Hath Only Fury, is a charity anthology whose profits will go to The Brigid Alliance, an organization that helps people who need abortion care; the book contains some excellent and angry original fiction.)

At any rate, I shouldn’t complain. I do have three stories that will, at some point, be coming out in publications that I have huge respect for: Kaleidotrope, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. And I’m working on both a short story and, fates willing, a novel — assuming I have time to finish either.

Meanwhile, though, I beg the pardon of all the very worthy and exciting writers whose stories deserve to be touted for the various awards. But I can at least recommend checking out AC Wise’s Eligibility and Recommendation Links Roundup 2022, which is a great place to find tales to recommend — or even just to read.

Finding the strength to create

A Young Woman Writing a Letter, Frans van Mieris, from The Leiden Collection

In my last post, I talked about the statue of a sad angel that I saw on a walk, sitting on a wall, mourning someone or something.

Well, recently I’ve wondered if the little angel was sad because they were a writer.

There are writers out there who become early successes, who are adored by thousands, if not millions, and who have the skill and talent and, yes, luck to be able to produce a steady stream of popular, or critical acclaimed (or both!) fiction.

And there are the those who are able, through talent, skill, and perseverance, to acquire a fair number of followers and to make a good name for themselves as solid, interesting and eminently readable authors.

And then there are the rest of us.

The literary world — and by “literary” I include all facets of literature, not just that recognized by academia — is full of writers who have worked hard, are reasonably skilled with words and imagination, and who have never, for whatever reason, been able to become recognized beyond a few friends and colleagues, and perhaps a reader or two.

There can be many reasons for this. They may have family responsibilities that take up most of their time, or a day job that is exhausting. They may have a disability that makes things more difficult, or a medical issue that cuts into their life, or emotional issues that create barriers. They may not have the financial advantages that offer them the chance to do the work, or they may not fit into society’s (and publisher’s, and agent’s) ideas of who can be a writer. They may not be good at making friends, or at taking advantage of possibilities that arise. Or they may simply not be in the right place at the right time.

And so every once in a while, you hit that abyss of I’m not good enough what was I thinking of trying to be a writer I’ve wasted my life damn damn damn. And you shut the keyboard.

If you’re a writer — or a creative of any type — you know what I mean.

I recently had a few days like that. It took me a while to come out of my funk, and I can’t tell you what helped. Perhaps because I saw a film that cheered me up, or read a book which inspired me, or talked with a friend who made me feel more valued. Or perhaps I simply said to myself “Screw it,” and went back to the keyboard. Because, at this point, it would be almost as hard to give up writing as it would be to give up eating.

I have at least one friend who is going through something similar, and I’m sure there are many creatives right now — successful or not — who, because of circumstances, need to forgive themselves for not producing the kind of prose or poetry or music or animation or other art that they think they should ge, or for not being able to impress the kind of people they hoped they would.

All I can say at this point is — you have all my best wishes. Keep trying. Keep producing. Because in the end, it’s what we do.

The Sad Angel

Sometimes, I see things, or read about things, that just stick in my brain. (I’m sure the same thing happens to you.) And it’s for no real reason — just because it’s there, and something about it either fascinates me, or makes me think.

Last Saturday, I visited a friend who lives up around Woodstock, NY, about a three-hour drive north of NYC. She lives in a semi-rural / semi-suburban area, and we took a walk. We passed several lovely homes, set well back on their properties, almost all with large piles of logs nearby, ready for winter fireplaces — one, in fact, already had smoke coming from the chimney, despite the fact that it was a sunny, warm afternoon.

But the thing that fascinated me was one house that had a short stone wall placed near the road — it was about 18 or 24 feet long, too short to be actually hemming anything in, and too neat to be part of a previous building. It had large square-shared stone pillars at each end, maybe four feet high, each with a planter on top. But that’s not what fascinated me — it was the small white statue of a child-sized angel, sitting on the wall, hands clasped together on its knees, staring slightly down in what looked like sadness.

My first reaction was: why was the statue there? And why so sad? It was a lovely area, and the unhappiness on the statue’s face seemed incongruous in such as picturesque spot, with trees around showing their fall colors, and the sun just beginning to fall toward the horizon.

A few years ago, just for fun, I did a serious of photos with captions I called Backstories, making up one- or two-sentence stories about what the animals or objects were thinking. I could have definitely used this statue for that. But after I thought a bit about the statue itself, I started thinking about the family who had placed it there. Was it simply a religious symbol? A gift somebody had given them? Or was there a story behind it?

Angels are often used to decorate tombstones, and a child angel often indicates the death of a child. Was the statue put there to mourn a child’s death? Who was the child, and how old were they? Was it recent, or the sibling of an 80-year-old woman who still occasionally mourned her lost little brother?

Or was I reading too much into it? It could be as simple as somebody seeing the statue in a garden shop, and thinking, “That would look wonderful on our wall.”

This is the way my mind sometimes works.

Two stories in two very focused publications

A lot of short story anthologies focus on very particular themes, either because that’s what the publishers / editors want to read about, or because a themed anthology makes it more interesting to those readers who are, well, interested in that subject. I’ve recently had stories accepted by two of these anthologies (notice I didn’t use the word “sold” — neither were paying markets), and by a strange coincidence, both are coming out in October.

The first, which just came out October 5th, is part of a series called the Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction Contest; this year’s theme was “Clarity.” I first submitted a piece to last year’s (which was themed “Ink”), and because I find it fun to try to write very short stories — each story has to be 300 words or less — I wrote one for this year’s as well, called “Age Cannot Wither Her.” While it wasn’t chosen to be one of the “winners” (oh, well), I is part of the anthology, and I think it’s a rather neat little piece of flash fiction.

The second book is a reaction to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade; it’s an independently published anthology called Hell Hath Only Fury, edited by S.H. Cooper and Oli A. White. This is a charity anthology, with proceeds going toward abortion and other health services in those states that are no longer offering them. (I’ve lost track of which specific organization will be the beneficiary, should the anthology actually make some money; I’ll add it here when I find out.) I was glad to send a story — this time, a reprint — and gladder that it was accepted; called “All His Worldly Goods,” the story was originally published in an independent magazine called Sybil’s Garage back in April 2008.

Hell Hath Only Fury is due to come out on October 21st; you should be able to find it at Amazon and other online booksellers. I’ll probably blog it again at that point.

Take care!

Rosh Hashanah, basements, and birds

Over the course of the two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday, I followed along online with the services at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan (they were lovely), but also spent a little time to do some necessary work in the basement.

It’s always interesting when you are forced to go into a chaotic basement to reorganize because of a flood (yeah, that happened a few years ago, don’t ask), or because there are repairs needed. In this case, we’re getting a new furnace, and we need to move a bunch of stuff, including an overloaded bookcase, to make room for the old furnace to be removed and the new one put in — and we also need to move everything that’s in front of the bookcase. And to do that, we need to find space to put all that stuff.

The evil Empire meets WBAI

So far, in the act or reorganizing, I’ve found some old speakers that I meant to recycle years ago (and which are going into the trunk of my car for the next time I pass a Best Buy), two foldable mike stands, one foldable music stand, and an Empire officer’s cap that I scored at a performance of The Empire Strikes Back. This is the unexpected stuff; I’m not even going to start with the extra juice and wine glasses, the ancient wire recorder, or the Russell Wright dinnerware that I rescued a few years ago from my mother’s house.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist trying on the officer’s cap — which still fits — so Jim took a photo, with the proviso that I also show off the WBAI tee shirt I happened to be wearing (the design is by our friend Sidney Smith).

On Tuesday, Jim and I decided it would not be counter to the holidays to spend a little time walking in a park, and so we went to the relatively recent Shirley Chisholm State Park along the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn.

Shirley Chisholm State Park

I’d been really curious about that park; it was built over landfill not far from where I spent my adolescence in East New York; it took several years for the park to take shape and whenever I drove past, I noted how the formerly brown piles of new ground was slowly turning green. We had a lovely walk (although I had to run back to the car when I realized I left my phone there), including a conversation with a woman about non-electric scooters, and views of seagulls and cormorants. We also killed a spotted lanternfly (inspired by a couple of signs we saw along the way) and tried to get a decent photo of a Yellow-rumped warbler that led us a chase for at least a quarter mile (we never got the photo, but it was a beautiful bird).

And I ended the holiday with a conversation about The History of Soul 2065 that will be edited into a podcast by the Strong Women Strange Worlds literary group, probably sometime in February.

Take care, y’all.

Pro-choice horror authors roundtable

I was pleased to be invited to participate in an online discussion of abortion rights by horror authors on Gwendolyn Kiste’s blog. The blog offers the opinions of a diverse group of writers who express their anger, fear, and determination — I was really impressed with the wide range of reactions, experience, and information that was expressed.

I don’t have much more to say; I think the best thing to do is to recommend it if you’re interested in knowing what at least some people — most personally affected by the Supreme Court decision — have to say.

(And yes, I suppose that I am a horror author, although I didn’t consider myself one until a couple of years ago, when somebody pointed out that at least a few of my stories definitely qualified me for membership in HWA…)

Five of my favorite Jewish-themed SF books

I was recently invited by Shepherd, a website that asks authors to pick their five favorite books around various themes and topics, to pick a topic and pick the “Five best books.” I chose as my topic Jewish-themed science fiction, and picked out five books — two anthologies and three novels — that I especially liked. If you’d like to see which books I’ve picked, and why, you can find them here:

The best books of Jewish science fiction and fantasy

I do want to emphasize that, while the title of the page says “The best books,” I would have (given my druthers) called it instead “Some of the best books.” There are a lot of great books out there, many of which I would like liked to have added — and in fact, one of the reasons I chose two anthologies was to acknowledge all the various authors whose work I admired, and whose novels I couldn’t fit in the required list.

Interview on Kaleidocast tomorrow, Aug 17th

I’ll be interviewed tomorrow by Randee Dawn (a talented writer in her own right) tomorrow, Wednesday, August 17th, at 7 pm, to help encourage subscriptions for Kaleidocast, a podcast series that features short stories by a wide variety of science fiction & fantasy writers. Back in season 2, my story “Sabbath Wine” was read for Kaleidocast by Kim Rogers; but there are a whole lot of great stories featured on the site.

Come by if you’d like and listen! It’s at And if you become a patron, you can ask questions and give opinions (favorable ones, I hope!).