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.

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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….

 

Published: “Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girl”

ASM_71-Cover-e1528066901443After a long publication drought, I’m pleased to announced that my short story, entitled “Hard Times, Cotton Mill Girl,” is appearing in the latest issue of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, a long-running publication available here in PDF, ePub or Mobi versions.

The story has its beginnings in a day trip I took with some friends to Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell, Mass., a few Readercons ago. It was a fascinating visit; this is an old cotton mill that you could walk through along with a small museum that illustrated the lives of those who worked in it. (And the history of Lowell is, in fact, fascinating — it was an attempt by well-meaning people to create a relatively safe environment for young women doing factory work. If the subject interests you, I encourage you to check it out.)

One reason I was so interested in visiting the mill is this: I was brought up with a consciousness of labor history. And one of the books that I remember looking at over and over again when I was a child had a photo of a little girl in a factory looking wistfully out of a window; it was accompanied by a poem by Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn that I learned by heart:

The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.

The memory of that photo and poem, along with the tour we took at the museum, sparked the story.

Lincoln_Cotton_Mills,_Evansville,_Ind._Girls_at_weaving_machines,_warpers._Evansville,_Ind._-_NARA_-_523100Finally, when I started writing, I looked for a picture of a girl who could be my protagonist. I found this one. It was taken by Lewis Hines in 1908 at the Lincoln Cotton Mills in Evansville, Ind., and is entitled Girls at Weaving Machine.

I don’t know the name of the girl in the photo, or if there is any way of finding out who she really was or what happened to her. Everything else in the story is, of course, imaginary. But this is the girl I saw in my mind when I wrote about Emilia.

Now online: “The Ladder-Back Chair”

Mythic_Delirium_3_4_cove_webMy short story, “The Ladder-Back Chair,” which was published in the April-June print edition of Mythic Delirium, is now available online.

I’m especially pleased because it is appearing alongside a wonderful poem called “Grave Robber” by Jane Yolen. I had the honor of sitting next to her during the author autographing session at last month’s Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh, where she was Grand Master; she’s not only a great writer, but a lovely person.

The June online edition also features a poem “bn ʾdnbʿl bn ʾdrbʿl”by the talented writer Sonya Taafle.

So I hope you enjoy these, and the other now-online stories and poems in the issue.

 

Sold! “The Ladder-Back Chair” to Mythic Delirium

I’m happy to announce that my story “The Ladder-Back Chair” has been officially accepted by Mike Allen’s lovely magazine Mythic Delirium. It will appear in an upcoming issue.

“The Ladder-Back Chair” is sort of — maybe, perhaps — a ghost story, prompted by my memories of my parents’ home (which was sold a little over a year ago when my mother moved to an apartment, and so no longer exists as it was except in those remembrances). It’s the second story I’ve sold to this venue (the first being last year’s “Sophia’s Legacy”) and it’s very exciting to be able to appear there once again.

 

A new short story at Abyss & Apex

with-triumph-home-unto-her-house-illustration-e1450619552581With all the fuss, bother and excitement of CES (the tech trade show that takes up a week of my life each January), I somehow completely neglected a highly important event: The publication of my short story “With Triumph Home Unto Her House” in issue 57 (the first issue of 2016) of Abyss & Apex.

“With Triumph…” is more science fictiony than fantasy; it takes place in a near-future U.S. in which a formerly middle-class woman tries to earn her way back into society after committing the crime of unemployment.

I’m really pleased to have my work appear in Abyss & Apex. It’s now online and available for reading; I hope you enjoy it!

Yay! My story “Sabbath Wine” will appear in Clockwork Phoenix 5!

CP5_cover_mockup_small-200x300I’m very pleased to announce that my story “Sabbath Wine” has been sold for the upcoming anthology Clockwork Phoenix 5, edited by Mike Allen (@mythicdelirium, for the Twitterites).

This is the third Clockwork Phoenix that I’ve had work appear in; “The History of Soul 2065” appeared in Clockwork Phoenix 4 and “Rosemary, That’s For Remembrance” was in Clockwork Phoenix 2.  But there’s no way I take my submissions to one of these for granted — when I sent in “Sabbath Wine,” I was incredibly nervous (even though I am rather proud of that story) and incredibly delighted when I’d heard that it had been accepted.

The full table of contents and publishing date hasn’t been revealed yet –that should come soon. Meanwhile, congrats to all my new anthology-mates — I’m looking forward to reading all your stories!