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!
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….)
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:
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.
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 patreon.com/kaleidocastnyc. And if you become a patron, you can ask questions and give opinions (favorable ones, I hope!).
Greetings! Tomorrow (Thursday, May 21st at 7pm) I’m going to be part of a fascinating project called Strong Women Strange Worlds, twice monthly (first Friday, third Thursday) science fiction readings by a group of creative women writers. The organizers are extremely well-organized (which isn’t always the case with a reading, online or otherwise) and very nice, and I’m really looking forward to it.
If you’d like to attend, please do! We each will have eight minutes to read, chat, or whatever; I’m going to read “Rosemary, That’s For Remembrance” from The History of Soul 2065, which I timed out at exactly 7 1/2 minutes — so I’m going to dive right into it and hope I can finish it in time. (If you’re interested in the background of that story, you can find it here.)
The online event is free, but you do have to pre-register — which you can do at the SWSW website. Hope to see you there!
First admission: I’ve got a Brooklyn accent. At least, I have an accent that I acquired by growing up in the Canarsie and East New York sections of Brooklyn; there may be as many different accents in Brooklyn — depending on your background, your neighborhood, and your generation — as there are in entire U.S. states. My own voice has the kind of inflections that probably reflect the accents of my city and my Eastern European Jewish grandparents, perhaps with a little flavoring from the many different ethnicities of my friends.
Second admission: I’m not an actor. Oh, I wanted to be one when I was growing up — what kid doesn’t have at least a moment when they want to be an actor? — to the point that I joined the drama club in junior high school. But while I enjoy reading my own stories to an audience, and try to flavor them with a bit of drama, I can’t come even close to the talents of a real actor.
But because I enjoy breaking out of my comfort zone occasionally, I was delighted when Podcastle recently asked me to do the narration for Rebecca Fraimow’s delightful story “Shaina Rubin Keeps Her Head Under Circumstances Nobody Could Have Expected.” It’s the third in Fraimow’s series of humorous fantasy stories told by her protagonist, Shaina Rubin, and it’s the kind of story where those Eastern European Jewish intonations that creep into my voice come in handy.
While I don’t normally attend a lot of conventions, one that Jim and I have gone to faithfully for the last few years is Capclave, which takes place around this time in the Washington DC area. We like it because it’s a nice-sized, intimate con where we can hang out with lots of friends (including some close friends in the area with whom we love to spend time with).
Like most events, Capclave is not happening in person this year. It’s an especial pity because this year they were going to feature Guests of Honor from previous Capclaves, which I was looking forward to. However, there will be a virtual version October 17-18, and I will be participating, both as a panelist and as a reader. So if you’d like to zoom out (instead of hang out, I guess) with me, here is my schedule for that weekend. I’d love to see you.
Saturday 4:30 pm: Centennial Superstars (Ends at: 5:25 pm) Participants:Walter H. Hunt, Barbara Krasnoff (M), Ian Randal Strock Bradbury, Asimov & Sturgeon were all born 100 years ago. How did they impact the genre of speculative fiction, either directly or indirectly? Are they still readable today, or outdated? Which of their works still deserve to be remembered? What can today’s readers and writers learn from them?
Saturday 7:30 pm: Kaffeeklatsch (Ends at: 8:25 pm) A small-group discussion on anything of interest. Limited spaces, advanced sign-up required.
Saturday 10:30 pm: I Hate Myself for Loving You (Ends at: 11:25 pm) Participants:Day Al-Mohamed, Jim Freund, Barbara Krasnoff (M) Guilty pleasures and secret fandoms. Why are we ashamed to admit we like something if we truly enjoy it? Considering how we feel when non-fans mock us for reading/watching “that Trek Wars stuff” why do we do it to ourselves? Is there a status hierarchy among fans and who is at the bottom and the top?
Sunday 11:00 am: Author Reading (Ends at: 11:25 am) I haven’t picked a short story to read yet…
It’s been a while since I paid appropriate attention to this blog — you’d think I’d have the time to write for it, considering how much time I’m spending at home, wouldn’t you? However, I thought that I should at least break my silence to promote a reading that I’ll be doing on Zoom this Tuesday, June 16th, at 7 pm for Galactic Philadelphia with well-known SF author David Mack.
Galactic Philadelphia is a relatively recent reading series organized by Lawrence M. Schoen and Sally Wiener Grotta, and which usually takes place at the Philadelphia Free Library. However, obviously due to current circumstances, the readings will instead be done via Zoom.
Here are the details. Feel free to come by and watch!
Meeting ID: 796 1284 3124
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Aware that I haven’t been very active in my blog lately, I thought I’d start by just bringing anyone who was interested up on my latest activities. Namely, I’ve got three upcoming appearances if anyone would like to join me there:
On Tuesday, February 11th, I’m going to be part of an evening of horror readings by female writers from Horror Writers Association-NY Chapter, emceed by Carol Gyzander and James Chambers, in celebration of Women in Horror Month. The line-up of readers includes Randee Dawn, Amy Grech, Carol Gyzander, N.R. Lambert, K.E. Scheiner — and me! It’s happening at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th St., NYC from 7-9 pm.
On Sunday, March 8th, from 2-3 pm, I will be leading a discussion of my book THE HISTORY OF SOUL 2065 with the Eastern Connecticut Hadassah Book Club. It will be happening at the East Lyme Public Library, 39 Society Road, Niantic, Conn. If you’d like to attend, you can register for the event here.
On Tuesday, June 16th, I’ll be reading at the Galactic Philadelphia reading series along with one other writer (I think I know who it is, but it hasn’t been announced yet, so I’m holding off until I know for sure). That will be happening at the Free Library of Philadelphia at 7 p.m.
I’ve finished my website dedicated to the backstories of the tales in THE HISTORY OF SOUL 2065. It basically talks about what inspired each of the stories, who the characters are based on, and what historical events are depicted (and how true they are to the actual events). I’d welcome any feedback / questions / etc.
Right now, it looks as if I’ll be going to Capclave and Readercon. We don’t have any other cons on the agenda for now, but we’ll see if that changes over time.
THE STORY IN BRIEF
A young boy finds that he need to call on his family and his own inner resources to fight a malicious demon.
HOW IT WAS WRITTEN
I was eight years old when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. I have a clear memory of sitting on the rug in our darkened living room, my parents on the couch behind me, and watching President Kennedy address the nation. I didn’t understand everything that was happening, but I understood enough to know that things were really serious. I asked my father if there was going to be a war, and he said, “I don’t know.”
This paragraph in the beginning of “An Awfully Big Adventure” describes pretty well how I felt, with five-year-old Ben standing in for the eight-year-old Barbara: “And with those words, the bottom dropped out of Ben’s world. A simple fact of his life had been that his father knew everything, could explain everything, and could make everything better.”
I’d always wanted to write a story based on that memory, and had made several unsuccessful starts. When I needed a story to fill out The History of Soul 2065, I was able (with Mythic Delirium publisher / editor Mike Allen’s able help) to finally bring it together.
NOTES ON THE PEOPLE
While the story’s origins lie in my memory of watching President Kennedy’s address with my very American parents, Ben’s mother and father (whom I’ve named Gretl Held and Wilhelm/William Weissbaum) are loosely based on the parents of my partner Jim Freund, both of whom escaped from Hitler’s Germany.
Jim’s father, like Ben’s, was in the OSS (the organization that eventually became the CIA) during the war. I’ve been told that he spent time as an underground operative in Europe. Like many war vets of his generation, he didn’t talk about it much.
Jim’s mother, along with her brother, managed to avoid the concentration camps when they were smuggled out of Europe by a network of Catholic religious workers, eventually meeting their parents in Morocco. In my story, Ben’s mother was not so fortunate; her experiences more reflect those of a neighbor I grew up with who bore fading blue numbers on her arm.
Ben himself (as mentioned in the entry about “Hearts and Minds“) is based somewhat on a talented young man I worked with back in the 1980s named Mark. The child Ben, however, is completely fictional.
Carlos is someone we will meet more fully in another story. He is a mashup of two or three friends of mine.
NOTES ON THE HISTORY
The Cuban Missile Crisis may still be the closest we ever came to nuclear war (at least, the closest we know about). It was just lucky that the men in charge of the two opposing nations had the maturity and intelligence to pull away from the brink. I shudder to think of how a similar situation would have been handled by some of today’s leaders.
Azazel and Shemhazhai are, in legend, two fallen angels who went to live among the people of Earth. Azazel is usually portrayed as male, but I saw no reason why an angel couldn’t be female, both male and female, or neither.
Finally, the nightmare that Ben has is the same one that I had for weeks after that frightening night in front of the TV set. I haven’t had that nightmare since I was a child, but I still remember it.
Want to read The History of Soul 2065? Here are some links: