mrissa: (and another thing!)

Because of all the Langston Hughes posts I made around the RNC, one of my friends sent me this information about a fundraiser to preserve Langston Hughes’s brownstone for an arts collective. Interesting stuff, and I thought some of you  might want to know too.


It reminded me that some of you don’t know we’re trying to get an arts center and various other arts events/programming here in the south suburbs of Minneapolis, through the group Art Works Eagan. They’re still working on the building plan, but in the meantime they’re holding events like stilting demonstrations at the farmer’s market and who knows what kind of installation in early September–it will be a surprise to me, but they have the artist lined up. They’re always looking for volunteers and support.


Three is a good number, right? So while you’ve probably seen it, I’ll put this here: Pamela Dean is starting a Patreon to help her keep the lights on and the cats fed and vacuumed while she writes more of the things we’ve loved from her over the years. I’ve read parts of the books she’s getting into production with this project, and I want them. So all the help we can give will be useful.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (question)

I interviewed Max last summer when he wrote a book for my birthday, and look! he’s been kind enough to do it again! So here’s another interview with everyone’s favorite Max Gladstone, better than all the other Max Gladstones on your block.


1. Are you going to keep writing books for my birthday? I think this is a pretty good tradition.


Let’s make it a tradition!  We can have cake and ice cream, maybe a sort of ritual where we dance around and buy books and give them to people!  Honestly, it wouldn’t be that different from my current, less formal, but none the less annual ritual of publishing books, then sprinting around and waving my hands over my head saying, “hey, everybody! I think this is really cool!”


2. Is every story about gods about families?


Every story about gods is a story about communities—we’re born into some families and we choose others.  Whatever else gods are, they’re at least things people do.  We tend to confuse faith with propositional belief, as if the important element of, say, a Roman Republican’s religious life was her belief that these specific gods had these specific histories.  For one thing, she had lots of blatantly contradictory stories to choose between!  But more important than those mythical propositions, I think, or at the very least *as* important, were the fears and desires she wanted to understand and control, which expressed themselves in myth and ritual she learned, or invented.  We all do this.  We build ourselves from rituals our parents and friends teach us.  We refine those rituals (which are stories, after all) as we pass them on.  That’s the work of a family.



3. Nightmare matrices: I think that every former physicist or physics major hears this phrase and goes OH YES. Did that spring into your head fully formed, and do you want to say more about the concept? And is there any more of my undergraduate trauma you’re planning to mine?


Hah! I’d have to engage in further research on your undergraduate trauma specifically, but I spend a lot of time mining *my* undergraduate trauma, and the undergraduate trauma of my friends, for story ideas.  That concept did spring into my mind full-formed, though it’s part of this long process of trying to work through how information technology works in the Craft Sequence.  We’re basically playing around with the computational power of shared dreams (and shared nightmares).  I’m really looking forward to getting into it much earlier.


4. So far you have not repeated any numbers. Do you have plans to do any books that are happening at roughly the same time but in different places/with different characters?


I am really interested in that!  A possibility for later in the series.  I’m torn at the moment—on the one hand I really want to expand the world, but on the other hand I’m trying to push into the future!


5. Let’s talk about your non-Craft projects. Do you have a different work process for serial and non-serial work, or are you writing your serialized things all at once and just releasing them serially?


I do have a different process for serial fiction!  Though the different process mostly traces back to the fact that, with my Serial Box work, I’m writing alongside many other writers at one time.  We write sets of episodes in parallel, and then we compare notes.  It’s a convoluted dance, but I love seeing how other writers run with the story material—even after we’ve all shared outlines, the writers’ execution differs in wild and really cool ways.


6. You’ve had a few more short pieces out recently. Are you planning to do more, or is this not a plan/lack of plan thing but something that just happens in 1-7K word chunks?


I naturally write longer pieces, but recently I’ve done more short fiction—in part because my writing schedule is tight!  If I have a burning idea that *can* be a short story, it’s much easier and more satisfying to get in and out in two or three thousand words than to spend nine months two years from now hammering it into shape.



(Thanks, Max!)



Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

Last night I didn’t read Anna Karenina. I didn’t watch Simon & Simon or consume walnuts or gluten or alcohol. I didn’t play Moonlight Sonata on the harmonium. I didn’t buy a hamster.


All the things you don’t do are pretty boring to write about.


For one of my friends, though, not consuming alcohol was a little more interesting, because she was recently actively staying sober as a choice that she needed to make for her health. Not like me–I’m at a point with my vertigo and my vertigo meds where I can have a bottle of cider or a glass of wine and enjoy the pleasant taste, and some days I do, and most days I don’t. When I do, the taste can be interesting to comment on; when I don’t, the lack is completely boring.


Earlier this week, people in my Twitter feed were talking about the perception that all writers are heavy drinkers. And honestly some of the reason for this is that a bunch of writers really are heavy drinkers. And some of the reason for it is that conventions bring out the heavy drinker in some people who are otherwise pretty moderate. But some of the reason for it is that those of us who are, like me, light drinkers, and those who are non-drinkers, don’t talk about it in those terms; it’s just not an interesting thing to discuss. At best, boring. At worst, it sounds defensive or false. “There I was, playing the harmonium and TOTALLY NOT DRINKING HEAVILY WHY WOULD YOU EVEN THINK THAT, GOD, EVELYN.” Or, “There I was, buying a hamster and NOT drinking heavily NOT LIKE SOME PEOPLE, KYLE.”


So it’s a good thing to keep in mind: like many topics, you’re not going to hear most of what other people do, and that occasionally means you hear from people like my friend who say, hey, this is how many days (or in the case of other friends, years) I’ve been sober. But for most cases it means you hear, hey, I’m having this drink, and it tastes like this. Or, I’m having this many drinks, wooo! (If you’re thinking that I find “it tastes like this” more interesting than “wooo!”, yeah, guilty. But people get to have their “wooo!”)


If you’re trying to work in this field and do convention culture and you’re someone who is concerned about heavy drinking in writer culture, though, for personal reasons–maybe you’re someone like my friend who needs to stay sober for your own health. Maybe you’re shy and not very comfortable drinking in professional circumstances. Maybe you just don’t like loud bars. A million reasons. I think it’s probably a good idea to think of what positive things you’re doing for convention/colleague bonding instead. So that you have something to talk about and focus on–“hey, I am doing fancy brunch with people!” or “I am doing tea tasting!” or whatever else you are doing. Rather than, “I am not drinking!” Karaoke. Trying to find someone who knows about fight scenes and is willing to nerd out about yours until you can fix it. An outing to the best restaurant you could find in walking distance–they have [specialty of the house here] and you heard it’s amazing.


You’ll end up with some of the heavy drinkers with you, because they like [specialty of the house here], too, and karaoke and tea and brunch and fight scenes, too. And also some of the moderate drinkers and the light drinkers and the non-drinkers. And hey, isn’t that what you wanted? Because the stuff you’re not doing…is kind of boring. And not your focus anyway. So better to accentuate the positive, see how that works. And if it doesn’t, try a different positive, because messing with Mr. In-Between is pretty much never the answer.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

Something delightful has happened.


This won’t make any sense unless you have read the story I posted as a Christmas present for you all–you still can read it, How to Wrap a Roc’s Egg, go ahead. But. My friend Mary has gone and written a poem to answer part of it. And she said I could post it for you to enjoy, so when you’ve finished the story, here is the poem.


Bosko the Bold’s Last Exploit


by Mary Alexandra Agner


I do miss tea, you know.

Iced especially, would be lovely

but the dreams of chill and clink

melt quickly under equator sun,

and canon fire lacks, as accompaniment.

I write with some regret, Anna—

not for the rocs themselves,

or breaking our agreement,

nor thirty years of high sea hijinks

helping myself to gold and spice,

yardarms and yeomen,

what books the babies let me read

between their dives of great destruction.

Nor all the stars that you will never see in Sweden.

I regret I took away your dream

even while you gave me one

I didn’t know held all my happiness.

I hope you got your tea, acres of plants

turning that northern light to tart

and complex on the taster’s tongue.

I hope this letter finds its way to you.

My notoriety is built on flame and claw

and once my last breath slips away

so will the rocs.

What fame I leave may be insufficient postage.


(Isn’t that lovely? I couldn’t be more pleased, both with the thing itself and with the meta-thing of it.)




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (question)

Today I’ve got an interview with Lawrence Schoen, author of Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard (not to mention tons of short stories over the years). If you missed my review post, it’s over here.


Interview with Lawrence M. Schoen


Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard features dozens of anthropomorphic species. Was there any species you wanted to fit in but just couldn’t?


The original draft of the novel had the protagonist visiting several worlds of the Alliance, and along the way he met representatives from a number of additional races. Some of these were lost (not from the galaxy, just from the portion we see of it) when the action was scaled back to take place just on one planet and a space station.


It’s strongly implied that all of the races in the Alliance are mammalian, and while it’s impossible to “prove a negative,” I can tell you that the reason we haven’t seen any primates is because there aren’t any, which is a point I hope to come back to in a future book.


In my notes, I have references to Cats and Foxes and Sheep and at least a dozen more. Some will surely show up in future stories. I am sorry that I couldn’t work in a Tapir. That would have been fun. [Me: and popular in my house!]


Have you always been interested in elephants? If not, what sparked the central race of this book?


I’ve always liked elephants. They’re unlike any other land animal, so much so that the two species that we have get lumped together because while they differ from one another in some pretty significant ways, they’re still more similar than either is to anything else.


And the more you discover about them, the more fascinating they become. When I learned that they had infrasonics I squealed with delight! And did you know that some historians believe the Greek myth of the cyclops, that one-eyed giant, has its basis in encountering an elephant skull? What’s not to like?


The social structure of the female Fants didn’t get much time in Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard. Any plans to return to them?


That social structure is hinted at, both in the mainstream when Jorl visits his sister (and communal home made up of mothers, aunts, sisters, female cousins, and children of both sexes) and in terms of outliers when we glimpse how Tolta lives, but yes, we’ve seen little thus far. That’s an unfortunate function of running with a male protagonist in society where the men and women have rather limited access to the lives and lifestyles of the other side.


That said, there are proposals for two sequels sitting on my editor’s desk. If I get to write them, I have plans to show much more of Barsk culture from its women’s perspective. And too, we’ll see some more glimpses of other races and their societies, both overall and from the differing perspectives of the male and female characters inhabiting them.


There’s so much to write. I worry that I’ll have time and opportunity to tell it all.


The linguistics were buried pretty deep here, and I know that’s where your training is.  Is that where you started? or could you just not resist figuring out the linguistic aspects of this universe?


One of the things that pisses me off in a lot of science fiction where we’re encountering non-humans is the way that language is handled, or rather not handled. If we’re able to understand the aliens (or in the case of Barsk, the raised mammals that make up the many different races of the Alliance), then there damn well better be an explanation, and if you hold up a universal translator, attempt to shove a babel fish in my ear, or try to sell me some other bit of hand-wavium, I’m going to be very, very unhappy.


It’s not much of a spoiler to say that the Fant are raised mammals who are descended from elephants (both African and Asian) on Earth tens of thousands of years in the past. And yet, it’s pretty clear they’re speaking English. Not just English, but English with slang and colloquialisms. (I had to fight with my editor to keep the word “ginormous” in the book).


Any solution that I came up with not only had to make sense — not just in terms of the plot, but also linguistically — but it had to serve the story, and not simply my need as the author. Or more simply, it had to make sense in the context of everything else we learn as the book unfolds. I think I managed all of that pretty well, and I’m looking forward to the response from the more language savvy members of my readership.


And one other fun bit, that I did because I’m me and I could, as part of the world building I invented a writing system for the Fant. To my delight, my publisher even used some of it in the book.


While we’ve seen something of a renaissance in space opera in the last decade or so, it’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that dared to go *this* far into the future. What were some of the challenges of ultra-far-future SF compared to something closer to our own backyards?


Unlike a lot of SF writers, I don’t tend to worry too much about the “hard science” details. In part this is because my doctorate is in cognitive psychology, not physics or chemistry or biology, but it’s also because my protagonist doesn’t have training in those fields either. As such, he’s not going to be distracted by how a spacecraft gets him from place to place, no more than you or I need to know the workings of an internal combustion engine in order to drive a car to the grocery store.


That freed me up a lot. We see things that imply a level of technology that’s superior to our own — a galaxy-spanning Alliance, interstellar ships, space stations — but they’re all taken for granted, yesterday’s news. The story here isn’t about how different or similar their science and engineering is to our own, rather all the technology is there mainly as props and cues that this is a science fiction story. Hard SF fans will probably be disappointed that, except for one section where I have a scientist (Jorl’s dead friend, Arlo) actually explain some theory and application of science that’s beyond what we have today, all the other trappings work in the background like magic. You know, kind of like the way most of us go through life today.


The drug koph allows the Fant (and other races) to talk to the dead. Of our recent dead, who do you think would get most tired of being called up this way?


There are probably a handful of celebrities who would be hounded (no pun intended) in death much like they were in life. Marilyn Monroe immediately comes to mind. And then there are the mysteries that are a part of popular culture that have never been solved like where is Jimmy Hoffa buried, and who really kidnapped the Lindbergh baby? And then of course there’d be the ironic uses, like chatting with Erik Weisz.


Personally, I’d be embarrassed by most of these applications, and I’m hoping my raised mammals do a better job at it than I suspect we primates would. I can think of scientists and authors I’d like to chat with, and perhaps arrange for Speakers to serve as conduits to get Einstein’s thoughts on the current state of physics or a new novel from Octavia Butler or Jay Lake. There would probably be reams of commentary about the complications of intellectual property in such situations, but I’m not going to be the one to write them.


Lawrence M. Schoen holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics. He’s also one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Klingon language, and the publisher of a speculative fiction small press, Paper Golem. He’s been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award. Lawrence lives near Philadelphia. You can find him online at LawrenceMSchoen.com and @KlingonGuy.


 




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (reading)

My dog does also, but less in the short story department.


Last week a friend of mine was worrying about tagging things with the label “best,” because she hasn’t read everything, and what if she has missed things that are best-er than the things she currently thinks are best? And: look. No one has read everything. But it is okay to just say: here are some things I like. In fact, it’s great. Pointing out things you like is a good thing! Then other people can find out if they like them too! Everyone wins! So if the thing you like now turns out to be only in your top twenty-seven favorite stories of 2015 instead of your top ten, because you will later read seventeen favorite-er stories–oh darn! Twenty-seven favorites! How sad for everyone!


One of these is not from 2015. It is In the House of Aryaman, A Lonely Signal Burns, by Elizabeth Bear, and it was in Asimov’s and Lightspeed and is on her webpage also. As I said: the point is to point out stories I like, not to nominate for awards. Story, there ya go. The rest of this batch are 2015 stories, though.


Ginga, by Daniel Jose Older (Tor)


Fire Rises, by Alec Austin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – I critiqued this story in draft form, so I feel like I shouldn’t brag on it, but oh how I want to, because it’s so much fun. Artificial satellites to alter astrological systems! Pyromancy and empire! Magic adventure dooooooom!


Find Me, by Isabel Yap (Apex)


20/20, by Arie Coleman (Strange Horizons)


The Half Dark Promise, by Malon Edwards (Shimmer)


Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud, by Fran Wilde (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – Note that this one is in the universe of Fran’s Updraft, which I reviewed yesterday.


Glaciers Made You, by Gabby Reed (Strange Horizons) – This story goes across the middle and west of the northern part of the United States in a very magical realist way, and that made me feel comfortable and unsettled and sad and happy all at once.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (getting by)

There is a curious hollow feeling that comes from sending a draft of novel off to be critiqued.


It has been eating focus, attention, concentration, energy–it has been monopolizing as much brain as is available and then some–and now it is done. Gone. Off to other garner other people’s thoughts. Not productive to fiddle with it any more for awhile, and yet not done either.


I’m doing something new this time. I’m going off for a week at the end of September to participate in a peer workshop–other people who have had either novels or a bunch of short stories published will converge on an undisclosed location, and we will all critique each other’s openings, and then we will do smaller-group in-depth critiques later in the week. (Seriously I’m not sure how undisclosed it’s supposed to be, I just haven’t seen anyone else talking about the details, so I’m staying vague.) I sent them a draft of Itasca Peterson, Wendigo Hunter. And we’ll see how this goes. I don’t know any of these people very well, but their work is cool, so that feels, if anything, even more interesting than if it was a retreat with people who were already close friends. And then I will come home and do critiques of the same work with people I know much better, so parallax is our friend, people, parallax is definitely our friend.


And…this is a thing I honestly love about writing. I really, really love this. If you catch me in the wrong mood, I will wax sentimental and get a little choked up. Because in writing, in speculative fiction in particular, we take it for granted–it is a totally normal thing to do–that we will get to look at other people’s awesome things and help make them a little more awesome. Think about that for a moment. There are some other jobs for which it works that way, sure–for which a project is primarily someone else’s and it is assumed that you will get to take your time and help make it better. But mostly not. Mostly you are either working together on something or you’re not helping.


I like helping.


I like cooperation.


Last weekend we had a marathon crit session for someone in my regular group. We hadn’t met for several months, but there we were, back at it again, here’s what I think the heart of this book is, here’s what I think didn’t quite do what you wanted it to, have a homemade cookie and enhance the emotional core of your creative work.


Isn’t that an awesome thing?


Well, I think it is.


So I am behind on all sorts of things. Like, I have not posted about my story “Ten Stamps Viewed Under Water,” which is in F&SF for Sept/Oct, and I have not posted about Alec’s story either, and I have generally had my head in fierce 11-year-olds who hunt monsters. But honestly that is a great place to have my head, and I like it. And also in crits, and I will continue to have my head there for awhile.


And also I get to write short stories now, and you can’t imagine how excited I am. Maybe you can. But honestly I am one of those people who likes to write rather than liking to have written, so it was less “Yay book done” and more “Yay get to write stories now whew.”


Except for having to take days off sometimes. That’s still a thing.


But yeah. A curious hollow feeling. And a love of cooperation. That’s where we are right now. Hi.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (question)

I sent Max Gladstone a list of interview questions a little over a month ago for his blog tour. Now here we are with his answers!


First: Happy Birthday!!!


Hey, thanks, Max! It’s a pretty good way to celebrate.


1. How do you like to balance secondary world inventions with historical cultural references in your worldbuilding?


Cirque de Soliel style, that is, on the shoulders of a broad buff dude who’s himself standing on a board on top of a piece of PVP pipe on top of a beach ball.

Seriously though, I try to be honest with myself about how much my conceptual apparatus draws off history and text. If characters in my books use something like scientific reasoning, something like science probably exists in their world; modern writers tend to assume people have used the scientific method from time immemorial, and it just ain’t necessarily so. If one of my characters discusses Proustian memory, madelines and such, someone like Proust probably worked in the world of the books. I don’t tend to make a big deal of these textual references, but I try to flag them in passing, enough that someone who catches the reference will know the easter egg was planted intentionally.

The larger cultural-structure stuff balances in other ways. In research I lean into mythology, religion, and ritual, and try to envision how different material conditions would affect the myths, and vice versa.


2. What are some of your favorite inspirations outside the field of speculative fiction? Nonfiction, other art forms, etc.?


Nonfiction, definitely—I love academic writing for its power to dig beneath gross generalizations, though sometimes it ends up building other gross generalizations along the way. Sociology and anthropology, especially, have been vital resources, opening new conceptual directions; James C Scott’s Seeing Like a State (I love James C Scott–M) and Michael Taussig’s The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America have been particularly important, though I also draw heavily off primary source reading. In terms of just raw linguistic inspiration I find poetry invaluable.


Outside of that, I draw a lot of inspiration from movement—I have a martial arts background, so I connect with that approach to tempo, distance, and power more immediately than I do with the approach of, say, choreographed dance, but in recent years I’ve become more interested in dance through fight choreography, which really is a form of dance, and through partner dancing, which uses many of the same principles as sparring from another direction. In general, there are few more breathtaking and inspiring experiences than watching a master move, whether she’s climbing a wall or running a mile or lunging an epee or kicking somebody in the face. Or lofting a ball over a goalie’s head from the half line to score a hat trick in the first fifteen minutes of a Women’s World Cup final. For example.


3. As of writing these questions, I haven’t gotten a chance to read Last First Snow (hint hint, Tor Publicity) (later note: as you all now know, they came through! yay!). I know from the blurb that it features characters from earlier books but is set earlier in the world’s chronology than anything else. What were some of the pitfalls and opportunities in writing characters as their younger selves?


The potential pitfall of dramatizing backstory, I think, is that I, the writer, will embrace the sense of inevitability the character’s memory lends to their own traumas and bad decisions. If your readers think, well, of course, it had to be this way—there was no other option—then what use is the story? Where’s the drama?


But that pitfall is also an enormous opportunity! I wanted to revisit some of my favorite characters earlier in their lives and break them open. When we meet Elayne Kevarian in Three Parts Dead, or Temoc in Two Serpents Rise, for example, they’ve made a lot of hard choices, and in order to live with themselves, they’ve constructed narratives that lead inevitably to those hard choices. In memory, we seldom force ourselves to consider that our lives could have gone differently. Writing this book gave me a chance to belie that—to show the choice structures and turning points, the moments of akrasia and revelation that set characters on their paths.


4. Was there anything in writing _Last First Snow_ that made you ridiculous with excitement, or was it a pretty even-keel book for you?


Everything about this book was exciting. Seeing Elayne! Seeing the King in Red! Seeing Elayne argue with the King in Red about negotiation practices! Temoc! Temoc and Caleb! Actually meeting Mina, Caleb’s mother, who’s been off camera thus far! Discovering the Skittersill Rising, and digging into how it was misrepresented by orthodox Dresediel Lex history! And then, god, the ending, when [REDACTED]! That was the most exciting of all.


My synopsis for this book would contain a lot of exclamation marks.


5. You’re answering these questions before your epic book tour with James Cambias, Elizabeth Bear, and Brian Stavely. Do you have some predictions for that tour, which wraps up today? Whose Pathfinder character will leave the largest swath of destruction behind them? Who will find the best maple-syrup-related food product in Vermont? Who will have the snappiest tag line for signing their book?


Pathfinder Destruction Swath: Bear. No question.


Best Maple Syrup Food Product: Jim will put in a strong initial showing with his discovery of Maple Nachos, but I think Brian will clinch this one with his discovery of Maple Irish Lace. Oh. You said food product. Jim, then. Maple Irish Lace, I mean, you could eat it, but you’d waste all that knitting! It’s hard to spin maple into yarn. Marissa. Hard!


Most likely to club a moose over the head: Probably Brian.


Snappiest tag line: Definitely not me! I tend to freeze up, look at people with deer-in-headlights expressions, and then scribble “Thank you for reading” and my name. Novelists are probably not the best people to seek out for on-the-spot wit. This novelist, anyway.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

So it turns out there’s a lot of stuff I like. I like our new dishwasher and how it sings a happy song when it’s done–oh, I am unreasonably gleeful about that dishwasher. I like the fact that strawberries are in season. But that’s not why I’m doing these round-up posts–I’m doing an every-so-often post of short stories I’ve read and liked, that you might like too. Or you can link things you’ve liked in the comments! Up to you.


Two of these are not short stories. One is a project–my friend Hanne is doing a crowdfunded food and domestic thought project that should be interesting. I subscribed to the last round of A Girl’s Gotta Eat, and it was full of recipe and food essay goodness. The other is a poem: a May poem my friend Peg wrote.


Okay, but on with the short stories:


Monkey King, Faerie Queen, by Zen Cho (in Kaleidotrope)


The Snake-Oil Salesman and the Prophet’s Head, by Shannon Peavey (in BCS)


Remembery Day, by Sarah Pinsker (in Apex)


Sun’s East, Moon’s West, by Merrie Haskell (in Lightspeed)




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (out with friends)

This weekend I sold a story, “Draft Letter on Research Potential Suggested by Recent Findings in Gnome Genomics,” to EGM Shorts. It started with an offhand tweet about how I have to read carefully because both gnome and genome are words my friends could reasonably be writing to me, and then it snowballed from there into a short-short. I love all the writing I get to do, but honestly when it’s something full-out gleefully weird like this, I just feel like I’m getting away with something. The rule that I should never, ever say, “But who would want something that peripheral/oddball?” is being reinforced by this sort of sale. I should just write things, and we live in a future where there’s some chance that people can be united with their chosen weirdnesses.


Which reminds me of my friend Mary’s Patreon project. Mary proposes to write science news poetry: poems about scientific advances and concepts that have been in the news each month. She is already an accomplished poet and nerd, so this project would give support to focusing those talents. And honestly, $1/month is not very much for a bunch of cool science poems. Certainly not much to help bring them into existence. Because honestly, this is the kind of future I want to live in: the kind where the stuff about which I would have said, “Can you do that?” when I was a teenager is out there being done, with joy and verve and–what was that last bit, Bull Durham?–oh yes: poetry.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (ohhh.)

Between now and midnight tomorrow, Elise is having a sale. She has asked those of us who have favorite or particularly inspiring shinies to talk a bit about them. As it happens, I’m wearing one right now–it’s reversible, it’s one of the rare things Elise has made with words actually visible in it, and the side I have out now says “make beauty,” and the other side says, “learn secret.” It is silver and broken shell and subtle purple glass. It was a gift from my godzillas*, and it makes me feel that I am loved very individually, that the things I do are valued as my things and not just as generalities.


I will tell you another Elise-thing story! I have had this necklace called “Eleven Words for Home” for awhile. It is a set of ocean jasper cubes of various colors on thick silver links. And I have been working on bits of it as a mosaic novel. And then I was sitting in the audience waiting for a Josh Ritter show, talking to Tim and Sarah and Mr. Sarah, and my brain said, “IT’S A TRILOGY.”** And lo. Lots and lots and lots of lo. So I texted Elise right that very minute and got “Playing Dice With the Universe,” which will probably also be called Nine Planets I Found Along the Way, and it goes with “Eleven Words for Home” and “Ten Reasons She Loved Science,” and it makes a set, and I have sold bits of them to Tor.com and Analog and–like I said, very much lo. They just keep coming, these stories. They have silvery bits and blue and black and shiny bits and little stars. And they feel cool and smooth, and I pet them while I am working, and they are something solid when I am trying to put words on stardust.


*Doesn’t everyone have this as a collective noun for “godchildren and their parents”?


**If you read on, you may notice that there is room for more than a trilogy in this titling scheme. Timprov has pointed this out to me already, and I said NO, but y’know. It’s quite a lot of lo.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

1. Yesterday my friend Ginger Weil and I both had stories in the new issue of Apex. Mine is called The New Girl and is in the same universe as some other stories you’ve seen from me–most recently “The Salt Path,” also in Apex. Ginger’s is The Stagman’s Song and happens to be her professional fiction debut. Go, read, enjoy. (There’s also the rest of Apex I haven’t gotten to yet.)


2. Today I have a story in Nature, Boundary Waters. There is also a guest blog post from me on the Nature blog about it. So if you don’t have time to read “The New Girl” and “The Stagman’s Song,” “Boundary Waters” is much shorter but one hopes also a good read. (My two pieces go thematically together more than I expected, since I didn’t write them together and couldn’t plan that they would be published together. Very different settings and so on. See what you think.)


3. Speaking of my stories, there’s still time left in the Not Our Kind Kickstarter. It’s more than 60% funded, and there are new backer rewards that are worth checking out.


4. Not at all speaking of my stories, Tim is having his holiday print sale early this year. Lots of excellent new work in that as well as old favorites, and an easy way to see the existing photo gallery behind that link if you’ve been trying to remember what it was you wanted.


5. I have been doing a new craft project or art project or something. I have been making things. And the problem is, I am surprising people with these things for Christmas, so I cannot say what they are. I am even surprising Mark, so when he isn’t traveling for work, my materials get bundled away into my office closet. I am really not good at not talking about this kind of project, and it’s driving me a bit bazoo to not be able to talk about what I’m figuring out from first principles and what I’m learning from other people’s successes. A few of you are getting this on email. The people I would most want to say it to, though, are my mom and Stella and Sherry, and they are the people who most need surprising. It keeps coming up naturally in conversation and making me go, “Nnnng!” There was even a Terry Pratchett joke I couldn’t make yesterday. It is so unfair, and we’re nowhere near Christmas yet. (On the other hand, we are near enough to Christmas that I do need to keep working steadily on these items when Mark is out of town!) I finished Kev’s yesterday, and it’s lovely, it’s–


Not a pony. It is not a pony. Nobody is getting a pony.


That’s all I have to say about that.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (ohhh.)

You know what short story writers like?


Magazines. We really, really like magazines that publish short stories. (Y’know. Like the ones we write.) Which is why I commend to your attention the Kickstarter for Uncanny magazine. It’s the new project from the twisty, uncanny brains of the Thomases, who used to work with Apex and who were some of the editors I worked with on the Apex story some of you may have enjoyed earlier this summer. If I listened carefully (I’m pretty tired, so you should go listen carefully yourself), it looks like their business model is to have subscribers get an early e-book version of the magazine and then provide the stories online for the general reader, so if you help fund, there’s more stories for you early and then more stories for everyone eventually. I think pretty much everyone who reads this can get behind that idea.


So: Thomases! Weird speculative fiction projects! Track record good, outlook positive, go think about their new thing and whether you have two dimes to rub together and throw into making it go.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (happy)

Today is Sunday, and my birthday is Saturday. I have already read two books (one paper, one ebook) that were early birthday presents, because I am spoiled and because apparently the concept of delayed gratification is not a strong suit at the moment. Anyway, in making a dinner reservation for this evening, I got asked, is it anybody’s birthday? and usually I lie and tell them no, because I don’t want to make the waitstaff feel obliged to sing as well as their real jobs, and I worry that they will give me a nasty piece of white cake instead of letting me decide whether I want good dessert or no dessert. But this time I chirped, “Yes, it’s mine!” Because this year, honestly, with all the horrible and disappointing news the world has brought us in the last week, I kind of feel the need for all the birthday assistance I can get.


This post is a list of things you can think about getting for yourself–or just drooling over if you don’t have the spare cash–as presents for yourself for my birthday. Sadly, I can’t get them for all of you. I am not that much of a wealthy hobbit, to be able to buy all of you these lovely things as presents for my birthday. But I will at least show you the shinies that I would get you, if I could have a proper hobbit party and give you all the proper hobbit presents that I would like to give you. (Please note that this is the opposite of the usual wishlist: I am not asking you to get this stuff for ME but for YOURSELVES. Not that I wouldn’t like it also, but some of it–like the Kickstarter stuff–I already have, and mostly: the point is you, not me.)


1. Nerd coloring books. Specifically, Dinosaurs With Jobs. Mostly I would get this for my old college friend Scott, but the rest of you might want it too.


2. Chad Jerzak Raku ceramics. Saw these at the St. Kate Art Festival. Very cool.


3. Fresh Mud Pottery. Also at the St. Kate Art Festival. So many things in the gallery, be sure you look at the slide show.


4. Elise’s Current Shinies. Ooh. Shiny. So many shinies, so few body parts to hang them from.


5. Tim always has lovely things. Here are two of his newer ones (that first link was from the Pop Art Minneapolis series, the second the newest Reader photo).


6. Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky are doing a Kickstarter. For those of us who have been yearning for another Cry Cry Cry album, even two-thirds as good will almost certainly be good enough. (Did you miss out on Cry Cry Cry? Here they are singing Northern Cross. The third member is Dar Williams. Oh, fine, here’s another: By Way of Sorrow.)


7. Julie Dillon, who has done the gorgeous art for my Tor.com stories, is also doing a Kickstarter. Many ways to support her art; go look.


Any other loveliness you want to share with each other? There’s a whole week before it’s my birthday, and the comments section lies before you.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (tiredy)

1. I am in SF Signal’s Mind Meld this time around. It’s about the Suck Fairy and avoiding same. I think one of the things I thought of after, reading the other answers, is that you’re bringing different things when you’re at different ages. Sometimes you’re bringing your innocence or naivete. You shouldn’t feel bad about that–but you also shouldn’t feel bad about bringing greater judgment and experience later.


2. DDB is having a print sale at The Online Photographer, a very different kind of photo than the ones I usually link with Tim’s work. Check it out here.


3. I made a Sooper Sekrit Short Story Sale. It is both Sooper and Sekrit. I will let you know the details when I can, but suffice it to say: I am pleased.


4. The electric company is performing shenanigans in our vicinity. This is what I get for saying things about how I value infrastructure, isn’t it? Sigh.


5. If I have a fifth thing, this will remind me of Rise. And being reminded of Rise is a good thing, because there are still those of you out there who miss her and her “five things make a post” posts, too. Cancer: it stinks. Hearing news from another friend reminds me of the stinkingness of cancer and of how the little things that remind us with a smile of fallen friends are not to be neglected.




mrissa: (sir you astonish)

1. Apex Magazine’s June issue is out, and in it my short story The Salt Path. Go, read, enjoy. This is one of the good times when I went back and reread it and discovered that I actually did write the story I wanted to write. It’s in the same mental framework as my Tor.com stories have been, in case that matters to somebody other than me.


(Okay, in case it matters to somebody other than me and Alec and Timprov.)


2. Speaking of Timprov, now that the Kickstarter has succeeded, those of you who didn’t get in on it–or possibly didn’t order enough copies of the book or prints–can pre-order copies of the book or order copies of prints here.


3. Speaking of things that are shiny and gorgeous, Elise is having a shiny sale. I have already bought some of the wonders, but I generously left some for you! See how I am nice to you and want you to be happy? Go. Be happy.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (hats off)

1. Some of you have already heard this on other social media, but this week I sold a short story, “The New Girl,” to Apex Magazine. Hurrah! Apex will be publishing another short story in the same universe (but not with any recognizably similar elements) next week, so stay tuned.


2. Marie Brennan is doing a Kickstarter for a novel. Chains and Memory will be the sequel to her previous novel, Lies and Prophecy, and you can get them both. Notice how I am saying “will be” and “can get”? That’s because the Kickstarter has already funded. But there are stretch goals, so go give it a look. (Even when there aren’t stretch goals, usually the funding goal for a Kickstarter is not the point at which the project creator starts swimming, Scrooge McDuck style, in vats of money and can make all the cool things in the world happen without anxiety, related to their project. Backers can always back out, expenses always exist. If you think a Kickstarter looks like a good idea from a trustworthy source, overfunding a bit it is nearly always a good idea.)


3. Hanne Blank is doing a new subscription project called 52 Weeks To Your Best Body Ever. Unlike most projects of this type, it will not be strictly gendered, focused on “bikini bodies,” or anything weird and icky like that. This is a “feel better in your skin” sort of project. (It’s Hanne, so there may also be a few “make your skin feel better” things, I don’t know.) I’ve enjoyed Hanne’s previous subscription project, which was recipe focused, and I think she’s got a lot to say here that will be of value to a wide variety of people.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (ohhh.)

1. With the Reader: War for the Oaks Kickstarter closing at 4 Central Time, I hear that it now has a Pamela Dean essay included in the photo book. Very, very cool. Go, little Kickstarter, go!


2. You can add to the pool of dragons in my friend Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent series if you want to design your own. Write up a description of no more than two hundred words of your new dragon or draconic cousin sub-species, send it to dragons.of.trent@gmail.com with the subject line “DRAGON: [your dragon name here],” and if your dragon is among the chosen ones, you’ll get an ARC of the new book, which is full of sea serpents. I should totally do this, because I can easily be bought with sea serpents, but since I often get ARCs as a reviewer, I’m going to leave it to those of you who imagine draconic species but don’t usually get sent free sea-serpenty books. But think of your 12-year-old self (or if you are 12, think of yourself): “you just write a short description of a new kind of dragon, and if they like it, they send you a free fantasy novel.” That’s a pretty good deal.


(If you start noodling with dragons and writing it up and think, “Wait, this new kind of dragon is too awesome to give to Marie Brennan, I will go write my own dragon story,” I bet she would consider that a pretty nifty outcome too. More dragons for everybody! But no free book in that case.)




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (happy)

1. I sold a story, “A House of Gold and Steel,” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s not actually very much like “Minnie the Moocher,” although that’s where the title comes from. When I announced this on shorter social media, I linked to Cab Calloway singing in Blues Brothers, which is classic, but I also always do get Stephen Fry in my head saying, “Yes, His Majesty King Gustav does seem to have been extraordinarily generous with the young lady, sir.” But really, His Majesty King Gustav is Sir Not Appearing In This Story.


2. Tim’s Kickstarter funded! If you’re interested, there’s still time to back it and get yourself a lovely photo book, or the related cards, prints, etc. This is a thing that will definitely happen now–he’s completed all the photos, the Kickstarting is for the cost of printing etc.–and as Kev said in another social medium, it is a lovely bandwagon to jump on. Mostly I am pleased that it funded before the last minute. You may not have known this about me, but I am not the least anxious person ever, and knowing that this very cool project will actually exist in the world has been a very happy relief for me.


3. It’s raining. I like rain. I like rain almost as well as snow, and everybody else is a great deal less grumpy than if it was snowing today, so hurrah rain.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

Today is Monday, and Tim’s Kickstarter is over 75% funded. The funding is the point at which it can happen, though; going over “funded” is still quite a good idea and gives more room for him to develop awesome projects in future.


Saturday is my mother’s sixtieth birthday. Don’t you think my mother should have nice things? I do. Like beautiful photo books. And kooky fantasy stories. She likes things like that!


That’s why for this week, as a special promotional for my mom’s birthday, if you back the Reader: War for the Oaks Kickstarter at the photo book level or higher (that’s $30 or higher), you can let me know and pick your own brand new Carter Hall story. Choose a title (I’ve never written “Carter Hall Returns to the Point” or “Carter Hall’s One Timer” or “Carter Hall and the Broken Blade” or…well, that’s the point, whatever you like), or choose a mythic or folktale element I should incorporate in a new Carter Hall story. I’ll send it to you when it’s finished.


There is no requirement that you have to be listed as a friend of my lj or anything else to participate in this promotional. My email is publicly available: it’s a gmail account at marissalingen.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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