Mythic Delirium 2.1 — with my story “Sophia’s Legacy — is now available

The latest issue of Mythic Delirium is now on sale with, as editor Mike Allen says, “three tales of magical protagonists haunted by past events” — including my story “Sophia’s Legacy,” which is based (extremely loosely) on a story my grandmother once told me about her mother.

Mythic_Delirium_1_4_coverHere’s the description as found on the website:

We join a vampire moving in the worlds of high fashion and higher powers; a sea witch crashing a royal wedding with a (familial) blood score to settle; an enchanted chess game with life-and-death consequences, with the opponents separated by a century.

Our poems in this issue add new chapters to the tales of Oz and The Tempest, grant new coats to villains and secret lives to cabinets, discover new senses and damaged but working hearts.

The stories come courtesy of Sara M. Harvey, Cassandra Khaw and Barbara Krasnoff, while Jane Yolen, Sandi Leibowitz, Shira Lipkin, Hannah Strom-Martin, Anne Carly Abad and Alicia Cole provide the poetry. Our spectacular cover art, inspired by Cassandra’s story, comes from Paula Arwen Owen.

The print publication is available now through Amazon or Weightless Books. My story will be available online in September (although Sara Harvey’s story and two of the poems are available now). Enjoy!

My Readercon Schedule

Readercon is in a very few days and I’m very much looking forward to it. Folks who may want to say hi will be able to find me either lurking in the halls, making notes in the audience, or part of the following panels/readings:

Thursday July 09

9:00 PM    ENL    How to Write for a Living When You Can’t Live Off Your Fiction.  Leah Bobet, John Crowley, Michael Dirda, Barbara Krasnoff (leader).You’ve just been laid off from your staff job, you can’t live on the royalties from your fiction writing, and your significant other has taken a cut in pay. How do you pay the rent? Well, you can find freelance work writing articles, white papers, reviews, blogs, and other non-SFnal stuff. Despite today’s lean journalistic market, it’s still possible to make a living writing, editing, and/or publishing. Let’s talk about where and how you can sell yourself as a professional writer, whether blogging can be done for a living, and how else you can use your talent to keep the wolf from the door. Bring whatever ideas, sources, and contacts you have.

Friday July 10

1:00 PM    ENL    The Works of Joanna Russ. Gwynne Garfinkle, David G. Hartwell, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Scott Lynch. Joanna Russ (1937–2011) was, arguably, the most influential writer of feminist science fiction the field has ever seen. In addition to her classic The Female Man (1975), her novels include Picnic on Paradise (1968), We Who are About to… (1977), and The Two Of Them (1978). Her short fiction is collected in The Adventures of Alyx(1976), The Zanzibar Cat (1983), (Extra)Ordinary People (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1987). She was also a distinguished critic of science fiction; her books include The Country You Have Never Seen: Essays and Reviews (2007). Of her works outside the SF field, she is perhaps best known forHow to Suppress Women’s Writing (1983). Join us to discuss her works.

3:00 PM    G    Women of Technology. Karen Burnham, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Shariann Lewitt, B Diane Martin, Fran Wilde. Current technology is the handmaiden of hard science fiction. What can SF literature learn from the women who have made a difference in tech today? What have been their challenges, experiences, and frustrations? How can we use them as prototypes for the inhabitants of our imagined futures? And from the point of view of women in scientific and technical fields, what science fiction works have succeeded (or failed) in extrapolating not only future technology but the role of women within it?

8:00 PM    CO    Dealing with Discouragement. Susan Bigelow, Michael J. Daley, Scott Edelman, Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Shariann Lewitt. As writers, we learn very early on to handle rejection, but how do you handle it when a story you’re sure is good is rejected by 20 different publications? Or when your carefully crafted novel is shrugged off by five different agents? Or your self-published novella is bought by only 25 people, all of them friends and relatives? Or your fantasy novel disappears from public view after a couple of weeks? We’ll explore personal strategies to deal with disappointments, rejection, and other setbacks.

Saturday July 11

9:00 AM    F    The Author’s Voice. Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Kate Marayuma, Tom Purdom, Paul Tremblay, Gregory Wilson. An old writing advice chestnut is that you should read your work aloud; supposedly this will help you notice awkward phrasing. Let’s dig a little further: when, how, and why do writers do this, if at all? How has it helped—and has it ever hindered? Do authors who are performers have the opposite problem, where their ability to make something come alive in a reading obscures the fact that it’s a bit dead on the page? How does reading aloud square with things like footnotes, parentheticals, illustrations, digressions, or visual representations of dialects? Is anyone emphatically against the practice of reading aloud as an element of process?

10:00 AM    EM    Tabula Rasa. Jen Brissett, Barbara Krasnoff, Terence Taylor. Tabula Rasa Group Reading

Sunday July 12

9:30 AM    ENV    Reading

Didja know that women were closer to the primitive than men? Didja? Hah?

Sometimes, it’s fun — and occasionally necessary — to see where we came from so that we can have some perspective on today’s battles. Just by chance, browsing through a table of free used books, I picked up a science fiction novel called Sign of the Labrys by Margaret St. Clair, copyright 1963. I don’t remember ever reading one of her works (although I read so much science fiction/fantasy when I was a teenager that I may simply not remember the book). But besides the interest of reading something new that was published back then, I knew I immediately had to take the book when I turned it over and looked at the blurb on the back cover.

And had to show it off. This was considered a positive way to market a skiffy book by somebody who was female and actually admitted to it by not changing her name or using initials. Women are writing science fiction! Really! And because they are closer to the primitive than men, they possess a buried memory of humankind’s past! So this has gotta be a great book!

(Actually, this is apparently one of the earliest uses of Wiccan themes in a speculative fiction novel, so the marketing is understandable. But still…)

I bring you, ladies and gentlebeings, 1963:

"Women are closer to the primitive than men."
“Women are closer to the primitive than men.”

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

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.

Mark your calendar: Electric Velocipede’s Memorial Party

ElectricVelocipedeComing in February: A party celebrating Electric Velocipede, a great, eccentric, too-soon-gone science fiction/fantasy publication that I was honored to be published in. The event will take place on February 28th in NYC, when a bunch of NYC-based writers and fans will get together to celebrate, reminisce, and just have a good time.

Here’s a link for more info.

If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by!

A sale! My story “Symbosis” will appear in Crossed Genres

I’m happy to announce that my story “Symbiosis” has been accepted by Crossed Genres for its 14th issue!

The issue is themed “UST” (Unresolved Sexual Tension, for those not familiar with the term); in the case of “Symbiosis,” the story concerns the relationship between two women and a computer. ‘nuff said.

As you can imagine, I’m very pleased. I’ve had stories appear in previous issues of Crossed Genres, as well as several of their collections, and each time I’ve been proud to have my work appear with the type of talent that they attract.

The story should appear early next year; however, there is a fly in this particular ointment — like many small presses, Crossed Genres is struggling financially, and so they’re trying to get as many subscriptions as they can by the end of December in order to stay afloat for 2014. (Sorry for the mixed metaphor…)

They offer good fiction (if I do say so myself), so I encourage you to check them out.

My schedule for the upcoming Philcon: Come say hi!

The weekend of November 8-10 is Philcon, and Jim and I will be going — and participating. It is my first time attending this particular convention, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be on six different panels, all sounding very interesting. (And no, I am definitely not responsible for the description of the “Wearing Purple” panel.)  If you’re attending as well, come over and say hello.

Here’s my schedule:

Sat 11:00 AM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
HANDS FREE BECOMES HANDS OFF
[Panelists: Rock Robertson (mod), Barbara Krasnoff, Robert C Roman]
Wireless is one thing, Kinnect is another. The Leap Motion technology is turning up in laptops now. Are we headed to a Harry Potter-esque world of conjure motions

Sat 3:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
“MUNDANE” SCIENCE FICTION 
[Panelists: Gregory Frost (mod), Barbara Krasnoff, Allen Steele, Margaret Riley, Steve Miller]
Science fiction can be set in the future without all of the impossible tropes, such as time travel, faster than light travel, psi powers and galactic empires.  What are some examples, and what goes into creating it

Sat 8:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)
REMEMBERING THE GOOD PARTS 
[Panelists: Victoria Janssen (mod), Barbara Krasnoff, Robert C Roman, Brenda W. Clough]
Why do parts of favored books stay with us for years while we quickly forget other parts?  What happens then when we go back and re-read the book

Sun 10:00 AM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)
WEARING PURPLE: FEMALE WRITERS OF A CERTAIN AGE 
[Panelists: Oz Drummond (mod), Brenda W. Clough, Barbara Krasnoff, Dina Leacock, Christie Meierz]
A look at the process of aging as a Female Speculative Fiction author. Is it a concern? At what point do you cough when mentioning the date of your first sale? Do you find writing love scenes after menopause a bit dull? Or does it help liven things up

Sun 1:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)
RUDE ASTRONAUTS AND JUNKIE COSMONAUTS 
[Panelists: Ian Randal Strock (mod), Allen Steele, Barbara Krasnoff, Tom Purdom, Walter F. Cuirle]
One day, space travel will transition from a highly professional occupation to a blue collar job. How does writing about space change when, instead of brave explorers and scientists, your heroes are just “Regular Joe’s”

Watching Gravity: Science fiction, Oscars & other discussions

One of the first things my friends and I argued after we saw the new film Gravity last night was whether or not it qualified as science fiction (and therefore should be up for a Hugo or Nebula award). Is it a thriller/adventure tale that takes place in space using today’s science but with no futuristic or speculative elements (well, mostly; apparently there are some things that really aren’t quite scientifically accurate, but hey! It’s a movie!)?

Or is it “science” fiction in the purest sense — fiction derived from current knowledge of science — and therefore absolutely admissible?

We never actually came to any conclusions — except that, whatever we decided, it was going to be nominated for a variety of awards, including both the Hugos and the Nebulas. We also debated what it’s chances were at being nominated and/or winning various Academy Awards (Best Actress? Best Supporting Actor? Special effects?)  which led in turn to a discussion about who would be nominated for 12 Years a Slave, a movie that we haven’t seen yet but fully intend to.

My point? Only that Gravity is a great film with two really good characters (I don’t know if Gravity’s Ryan Stone will replace Aliens‘ Ellen Ripley in my private pantheon of great science fiction film heroines, but she comes pretty close), fantastic special effects, and the kind of story that keeps you talking for hours after you’ve seen it.

 

Who is Mary Poppins? PL Travers, Walt Disney & me

When I was young, one of my absolute favorite books were those that made up the Mary Poppins series by PL Travers. 

The novels (as opposed to the movie of the same name) were basically collections of short stories about the adventures of the magical (but crotchety and mysterious) nanny Mary Poppins and her charges, Jane and Michael (there are also the twins, John and Barbara, but they are too young to take part in most of the stories).

I read them over and over (somewhere I have my copy of the first book, which was simply titled Mary Poppins; the binding is a mess). Just thinking about them brings up some of my favorites: the one where Jane and Michael find out how the stars appear in the night sky (they are actually the stars from gingerbread cookies which are placed up there by a shopkeeper’s two awkward daughters); the one night every year where the animals take over the zoo; and the one where it is revealed that infants can converse with animals and to sunlight, and lost that ability when they become old enough to start to speak.

Unfortunately, what all this meant was that I absolutely loathed the film. Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins was nothing like the Mary Poppins I knew and loved — she was bubbly and pretty and much too cheerful. (A spoonful of sugar, indeed!) I hasten to add that, as an adult, I’ve come to quite like the movie — I enjoy movie musicals, and there are some lovely moments in it — but as a child, I was appalled. I didn’t want Julie Andrews. I wanted Margaret Hamilton. (Okay, sure, she was American, but I didn’t make those distinctions in those days.)

All this is just a preface to my discovering today that a motion picture about the making of the film of Mary Poppins, and PL Travers’ fights over it with Disney, is coming out soon. I was, initially, delighted, especially at my discovering (although why am I surprised?) that Travers was also appalled at the Disney version of her creation. The film, called Saving Mr. Banks, stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as PL Travers — two wonderful actors.

I was delighted until I realized that — it’s a Disney film. And saw the trailer. Which seemingly portrays Disney as a nice, understanding man who just wants to make a wonderful children’s film, and can’t understand why the irritable, problematic English author lady can’t understand that. And it looks like the upshot will be that all her objections stem from the fact that Mary Poppins was written to reflect ghosts from her past, and that she will eventually come to understand how happy Mr. Disney will make the children of the world if he makes the film the way he wants to.

I could be wrong. I know that trailers can be very different from the final film. It could be a wonderful film and after I see it, I’ll eat my words. But right now, I’m feeling a bit like an irritable, problematic American author lady.