New Story Up at Luna Station!

Luna Station Quarterly 035I’m stoked to have “A Dream of This Life,” my short story about insomnia and dream selling, has been published in issue 035 of Luna Station Quarterly.

This story started its life during The Brainery’s Science Fiction Fairy Tales workshop — ten weeks of writing stories in which fairy tales and science were mashed together. “A Dream of This Life” is a mash up of sleeping beauty and dream science, with the final result bearing little resemblance to the original fair tale.

Some stories come out nearly whole in one go. This was one of those stories. The first draft was very similar to the one that was finally published. Although I went through a process of writing additional scenes, thinking the story needed more, the workshop group reigned me in and guided me back toward the more concise version. Without the help of the group, I might have been lost down a story rabbit hole. But something that writing those extra scenes taught me is that there is more to this story — and I may just get around to writing it someday.


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The Undead Poetry Anthology is available for preorder!

Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghosts, Ghouls, and More

Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghosts, Ghouls, and More, edited by Bianca Lynne Spriggs and Katerina Stoykova, is now available for preorder from Apex Book Company!

The anthology offers up more than 70 poems exploring the realms of life after death, from the ghosts of loved ones to vampires, zombies, and more. It includes a reprint of my poem, “Beware of Attics.”

I’m stoked to be a part of this collection, which has some fantastic poets, including: Tony Barnstone, Erinn Batykefer, Melissa Bell, Shaindel Beers, K.T. Billey, Rob Boley, Andrew Bourelle, David Bowles, Suzanne Burns, Cathleen Calbert, Lauren Camp, Lucia Cherciu, May Chong, Jackie Chou, Chloe N. Clark, Wanda Morrow Clevenger, Curtis Crisler, John Paul Davies, Carol V. Davis, Ann DeVilbiss, Joan M. DiMartino, Donelle Dreese, Nettie Farris, Ruth Foley, Joshua Gage, Martha Gehringer, Kim Goldberg, Amelia Gorman, Lea Graham, Yalonda Green, John Grey, Jennifer Hernandez, John Hoppenthaler, Leonard Kress, John James, Tausha Johnson, Mary Soon Lee, Sandi Leibowitz, Alexander Lumans, Jeffrey H. MacLachlan, Amy MacLennan, J.G. McClure, C. McDaniel-Reed, Jeremy Megargee, Tiffany Midge, Sarah Fawn Montgomery, Lenard D. Moore, Annie Neugebauer, Kurt Newton, Valerie Nieman, Jeremy Paden, Tina Parker, Zachary Riddle, Jamieson Ridenhour, Gina Roitman, Nicole Rollender, Margaret Rozga, Eva Schlesinger, Salik Shah, Christina Sng, Bianca Lynne Spriggs, Ashlie Stevens Margo Stever, Karah Stokes, Katerina Stoykova, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Mark Teats, Allison Thorpe, Megan Tilley, Jonathan Travelstead, Holly Lyn Walrath, Emily Paige Wilson, Keith S. Wilson, Hermine Pinson, and Katie Riley.

Plus, all preorders are 20% off.

Culture Consumption: January 2018

Planning to hopefully be more on top of sharing these in a timely manner this year (haha). So, here’s my month in books, movies, and television.

Books

I did not finish reading a single book in the month of January — although I’m almost done with Wizard and Glass, the fourth book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. It’s a been a fun reread of this rather long book and I’m looking forward to putting together my thoughts on it (and returning the book to the library, because it’s quite a bit overdue at this point.

The other book I’ve been working on is Falling in Love with Hominids, a short story collection by Nalo Hopkinson. I love her work and am enjoying the stories I’ve read so far.

I also have several poetry books that I’m in the middle of, books in which I’ve read a poem here and a poem there, but haven’t read through completely.

Books Finished Last Month: 0

Total Books for the Year: 0

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King and Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

Movies

The Shape of Water (2017)
The Shape of Water (2017)

Guillermo del Toro is my favorite director and The Shape of Water is a gorgeous addition to his filmography — a stunning and strange dark fairytale about a mute women who falls in love with a creature from the deep, who has been captured by a government organization for testing. Del Toro and his team have the ability to conceive such beautiful monstrous creatures for the screen, the design stunning, the personality showing through. I loved this movie. However, I want to point to “I Belong Where the People Are,” an essay by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, in which she examines how the movie portrays disability. It’s a beautiful, well thought out essay on an important subject.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: January 2018”

Book Love: Tender, stories by Sofia Samatar

Sofia Samatar’s collection of stories reveals human (or not-so-human) tenderness as the aching of a wound, or the gentle kindness from another, or the vulnerability of the young. It’s a stunning collection of powerful stories with beautiful writing and many with creative ways of expressing the tale (essay format, journal entries, letters) that provides a unique depth and texture.

I love “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” a story in which a young woman comes to terms with her anger at the loss of her mother, sharing the stories with the reader, she keeps hidden within herself. The phrases “I don’t tell” and “I won’t tell” are repeated throughout, highlighting the need for new stories free of the pain and mistakes of the past.

On the flip-side of the relationship between mother and daughter is “Honey Bear,” an affecting story of a woman and her husband driving to the ocean with their daughter. The story sings with love and compassion. The woman is ill, the husband frustrated and over protective. She holds to her daughter with such affection in a world that is slipping away, dying. The ending of this story — which I will not spoil — shattered me. Love is so powerful. So is hope, however small.

Another deeply moving story is “Walkdog,” which is presented as an class essay about knowing one’s environment. The author chooses to write about walkdogs, creatures said to steal people away, forcing them to walk behind them for years and years. The use of footnotes here are critical to the way the story unfolds, gaps of the personal slipping under the seemingly academic, building into a story about a bullied boy and the girl who loved him, but not enough to protect him — all culminating in a heartbreaking conclusion.

Power structures are often explored in these stories. “Ogres of East Africa” — which I’ve read three times now and the story grows with each readingfor — shares the story of Alibhai a servant to a white hunter looking to track and hunt an ogre. As he records stories of ogres for hig master, he records his own history in the margins, his story slowly moving to the forefront of the text.

In a similar fashion, “An Account of the Land of Witches”  presents the story of a slave finding freedom in a strange land in which boundaries are meaningless. Later a woman in our modern world goes looking for the history of this land, basing her dissertation on the slave’s letter and her master’s refutation, only to have her efforts stopped when the borders are closed by war.

There are so many more lovely stories in this collection — both “Dawn and the Maiden” and “Cities of Emerald, Deserts of Gold” stand out for me in terms of their beauty of language. Take for example, this passage”

My love is a river. My love is a brink. My love is the bring of an underground river. My love’s arms ripple like rivers in the moonlight when he unlocks the garden gate. — from “Dawn and the Maiden”

One could go one-by-one in an attempt to honor each story in its turn. But I’m afraid I don’t have time, so I’ll just say this is a gorgeous book, worth every penny in the cost of acquiring it.

New Poetry Publications:

I’ve had a number of poems published over the past several weeks (or months, but whose counting), which I haven’t gotten around to announcing yet — partly because of the trip to South America I just returned from, which I’ll be sharing more about soon. Anywho, here’s what I’ve got new out on the nets:

Diode Poetry Journal published, which includes “Carrie White: Our Lady of Blood”. This a part of the collection Pantheon that I’m still trying to find a home for.

Rogue Agent, a journal I love, published “The Idea, What Else,” a found poem using words from Stephen King’s The Plant.

A few poems written in collaboration with the wonderful and amazing Laura Madeline Wiseman have also been published. Devilfish Review published “Stumble Tumble Down This Animal Hole,” and The Drowning Gull published three of our collaborative poems, “Lighting the Ghost Lamps,” “The Path of Coding Eternal,” and “The Women of Straw and Branches.”

It’s been a good month for publishing, and I’m honored to have work included in each of these publications.

Home again from Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee is a pretty cool town. Beyond the neon lights of the entertainment strip, where every bar has live music pouring out country and rock tunes, there are plenty of sights of explore and some fabulous places to eat (my mother and I visited Biscuit Love twice, because the Bonuts, OMG, they are so good). Despite my falling ill halfway through the week, my mom and I managed to have a great time, hanging out in the city and exploring the countryside. A little longer write up on the trip will come in the next day or two, because I have thoughts. But for now…

What I’m Reading

I’m doing a reread of Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler, as she will be the Honorary Ghost at FOGcon 2016. I’m relearning all over again how amazing she is at telling complex and interesting short stories. If you want a short form introduction to Butler’s writing, this is a great way to go. Several of these stories — “Bloodchild,” “Speech Sounds,” and “The Evening and the Morning and the Night” — were nominated for awards, such as the Hugo and Nebula.

What I’m Writing

In the week prior to my Tennessee trip, I hunkered down and finished a new draft of a my short story, “A Dream of This Life,” which is about dream selling and addiction. Response to the story has been good so far, although it still needs some tweaking. For the moment, however, I’m just going to let it sit for a little while so that I can come back to it fresh.

I also pulled together a set of poems and got them sent off.

Goal for the Week:

  • Finish one story and/or one poem draft.
  • Submit something.

Linky Goodness

Allie Marini writes on the Fallacy of the ‘Serious Writer’ in her an ongoing series of essays on reading fees over at Rhizomatic Ideas.

Kelli Russell Agodon on how women writers can become more successful: Submit Like A Man.

“As literary writers, when writing about our individual traumas, we’re still called upon to use the elements of our craft in a way that strives to move beyond the individual story, and instead, capture something universal, or offer something educational,” writes Kelly Sundberg in her essay, Can Confessional Writing be Literary?

My inner critic is harassing me

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. The story is focused on the coming of age journey of the main character, dealing with a mess up family, deciding what to do with yourself after high school, and falling in love. But it’s also marked with the constant fear of being made the target of a serial killer (Son of Sam).

What I’m Writing

Words and I did not get along so well last week.

This is in part because the day job has not eased up on me as much as I expected it, too. I will pass this hurdle soon enough, I hope. Oh, how I hope.

This is also because I’ve been trying to write more thorough book reviews for “professional” publication on various websites. When I’m writing reviews for my blog, then the process is no problemo. But as soon as I decide to write a review for submission, my inner critic clamps down and strangles the words out of me. The process of working through the block has been causing me to fall behind on both my writing AND my reading, which it so, so frustrating.

I’ve been trying to think about the book review process differently by imagining the book reviews as being only for myself or my blog in order to shake the inner critic off. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I just give up and post it on my blog, like I did with The Ballad of Black Tom, just to get it done and posted.

However, despite all these frustrations, I managed to send out several submissions of poetry, so at least I felt productive in some way.

Accepted! Yellow Chair Review has accepted my poem, “A Letter from Eve to Barbie,” for their forthcoming Issue #6!

Goal for the Week:

  • Finish one story and/or one poem draft.
  • Submit something.

Linky Goodness

“In “Formation,” black women’s bodies are literally choreographed into lines and borders that permit them to physically be both inside and outside of a multitude of vantage points. And what that choreography reveals is the embodiment of a particular kind of 21st Century black feminist freedom in the United States of America; one that is ambitious, spiritual, decisive, sexual, capitalist, loving and communal,” writes Naila Keleta-Mae in her piece GET WHAT’S MINE: “FORMATION” CHANGES THE WAY WE LISTEN TO BEYONCE FOREVER.

Ursula Le Guin Gives Insightful Writing Advice in Her Free Online Workshop.

It’s Women in Horror Month, and Carina Bissett presents some excellent examples of women writing the weird.

Books Finished in February 2015

1. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
2. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
3. Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg
4. The Orphan Master’s Son (audio book) by Adam Johnson
5. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Still in progress at the end of the month: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson and Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente.

REVIEWS:

Continue reading “Books Finished in February 2015”

It's Friday

and I am seriously contemplating spending my weekend curled in a knot of blankets on the couch, flipping channels, reading books, and generally not moving except to eat or pee. For realz.

What are your plans for these few glorious Autumn days?

The Hunger Games and Racism

So, I didn’t mention much about the other characters in The Hunger Games movies, but Amandla Stenberg as Rue was beautiful and charming (and exactly how I imagined the character to the letter) and Lenny Kravitz was fantastic at bringing depth to Cinna, Katniss’ stylist. They were wonderful, and as a whole the cast was great.

However, racist fans have come out of the wood work complaining about how deeply disappointed that Rue and Cinna are black. Not only that, and far more disturbing, the feel the movie was worse for it and that they cared less about Rue’s death because she wasn’t a little white girl.

I want to hurl things.

I can understand that everyone imagines characters differently, so that even though Suzanne Collins described Rue as having “dark brown skin and eyes,” maybe they imagined her as Asian or Latino or some other nationality, and yeah, maybe they read with a “white default” and saw her as just really tan. Either way, you’d thing that if someone read phrase “dark brown skin,” they could at the very leas understand that other people would imagine her as being black (which is what the author confirmed she intended anyway).

But, no, they are very disappointed, claiming that “Rue wasn’t black!” Never mind, all the white washing that occurs in movies ALL THE TIME (i.e. Airbender and Prince of Persia to name just two), which I’m sure these same people would be happy to excuse away as being “best for the movie” or the “best actor”. Gah!

Another good post: “Why is everyone so surprised that some of Collins’s fans are having indisputably racist reactions to her books?

Which ties into a recent discovery (for me) that producers allowed only white actresses to even audition for the part of Katniss. While I loved Jennifer Lawrance in the role, it makes me kinda sick that women of color weren’t even given a chance. (I wish I was surprised, but I’m sadly not.)

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder (which is still not resolved and in which people are tryng to blame Trayvon for being murdered in the same way rapists blame women for “asking for it”), this just reiterates shows again that there is prevalent racism still in the world. It’s a serious problem and it needs to be addressed — and not just by people of color, but all us white people (and that includes myself) who have ignored it, or let it slide in the past, because we were afraid or because we let ourselves pretend there wasn’t a problem because it wasn’t happening to us. Racism needs to be addressed and acknowledged, or it won’t ever go away.

Also, a rather amusing comic about Hollywood’s love of whitewashing and racebending.

Comments are welcome, but keep in mind that if you have to start your comment with “I’m not a racist, but…” then what you are about to say is probably going to be racist. (Think before you speak.)
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In other news…
There’s a rather awesome project going on at kickstarter for Scherhezade’s Facade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross-Dressing, and Transformation, an anthology that includes some rather great authors. It was originally going to be published by a traditional publisher, but that fell out, so the editor is planning to publish it anyway he can. (I had planned to submit a story to this anthology, but it grew out of proportion to the length of a novella and besides, I missed the deadline, but I LOVE the idea.) At any rate, it’s a good way to preorder the book, while helping make it come about.