A new short story from me today, The Witch in the Tower, up at Fireside Fiction.

Enjoy!
Two new poems out from me today: Hunter up at Mythic Delirium, and Euryale at the Shore, up at Polu Texni.

Enjoy!
Up at Daily Science Fiction this morning, a little thing about a unicorn and a homeowner's association. Enjoy!

Also, if for some reason you missed my story, Deathlight, in last year's Lightspeed, it's been turned into an audio play by the folks at Fancy Pants Gangsters. They have a number of other short plays up at their site as well - check them out!
I'm very pleased to announce that Through Immortal Shadows Singing, my epic novella in poetry, is now available for preorder from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other retailers!

And by epic, I do mean epic - the 170 pages do include a table of contents and things like that, but this is about 167 pages of poetry.

Here's the blurb:

Maligned for her beauty, cursed for her role in causing a war, she has rarely been given her chance to tell her tale. Now Helen of Troy's voice breaks free, offering a new vision in this epic lyrical sequence that follows her journey from Sparta to Troy, from earth to hell, and back. A stunning debut novella from Mari Ness, THROUGH IMMORTAL SHADOWS SINGING will transform your view of Helen and the Trojan War, in a soaring poem of love and war, healing and pain, hatred and triumph.

I had huge problems trying to pick a quote from the book, but here's two small tastes of the poetry inside:

I walk, knowing that the queen of death
may name me sister, that the
cry of the hunt
shares my blood, that I share a father
with the Fates.

#

Bone on silver,
silver on bone,
the sound of a harp
the memory of dream.

Available April 25.

The Lion

Mar. 6th, 2017 09:08 am
The Huntsmen was one of those stories that I wrote because the general concept wouldn't stop nagging at me: how did the princess of the original tale, collected by the Grimm brothers back in the early 19th century, manage to find eleven women who looked just like her? (It was only after I finished the story that I remembered that the majority of people at the time had no access to corrective lenses, so many people would have been too nearsighted to tell the difference.) And why go to so much effort just to get an unfaithful lover back?

I was so focused on those questions that I more or less ignored the other oddity of the tale - the sudden, never explained entrance of a talking lion. But as I shuffled the lion to the side, he started nagging at me too.

This is the result.

It's an example of how very often, when writing one story, another one appears. At least in my case.
You may, perhaps, be feeling a touch of darkness just now, of despair, of grief.

Feelings, alas, that many watermaidens and snowmaidens understand all too well.

Most, of course, are solitary sorts, keeping themselves hidden in their rivers and springs and ponds, hiding from mortals and fairies alike. A few have even, by choice or coercion, spent their lives half-frozen behind snow and ice, a condition that, however cold and uncomfortable, keeps their hearts secure from pain. Others live only through a single rainfall, a life too swift, too ephemeral, for sorrow or joy.

But even the most solitary watermaiden may find herself grieving over the loss of a nearby tree, or the disappearance of a favorite owl. Even the most frozen snowmaiden may hear a crack in the ice surrounding her, and for a moment – just a moment – think of pain, or feel despair. And those who have spent thousands of years hiding in the depths of their lakes, can tell you of long dark nights, when they wondered if they would ever see light dance through their waters again. Others sing of lost friends, of lost loves, of moonlit evenings they must not forget.

And those a little less solitary, a little closer to mortals – their sorrows can be even sharper. Many have watched as their homes are threatened, or sobbed as fewer and fewer birds arrived each year. Others have dared to talk to mortals, and even more – something that can bring joy or pain.

After all, watermaidens can fall in love, even if they are made of water.

And today, by decree fee, the Official Day of Watermaidens, is a day for remembering those sorrows, those fears, those despairs.

A day where the shimmer on the water you see, out of the corner of your eye, might be no more than a shimmer or a flash of light. Or where a twirling mist might be just an ordinary mist. The water shaking in your glass nothing more than a nearby breeze.

Or it might be a watermaiden, letting you know that she understands.

Watermaidens Day is the brainchild of folklorist Nin Harris. As always, I'm just borrowing it for fun.
The inaugural issue of Umbel & Panicle is out, and with it, my poem "The Stained Oak Leaves."

Enjoy!
Thank you y gracias, everyone, for all of the messages of sympathy, both here and on Twitter and email.

I still keep expecting to see him, either following me to the kitchen or bathroom or living room, or curled up/flopped against me, or trying to sneak a little paw onto the computer keyboard hoping I wouldn't notice.

(I did.)

Hard to believe one small animal can leave such a hole.
My family found my first cat through a want ad, when we were looking for a cat who could help with the mouse problem. That cat was more than successful, and always superior to the family she graciously agreed to share living space with. My second cat was a rescue from the streets of Miami; I'd hit the point where I wanted the cat, and I'd asked friends to keep an ear out for any cats in need of a home, and there was Tasha in all of her not-exactly-friendly neuroticism, convinced, post joining me, that I was the only worthwhile human being on earth. The Grey One was another kitten found by friends, that I got after Tasha died, leaving the Little One distraught.

The Little One was different.

He found me.

He was a tiny ball of mud that barely looked like a kitten when he found me. I washed him and considered what to do with him - I already had Tasha who did not regard other living creatures with favor and certainly was not interested in sharing her human with another cat. And yet. He was so incredibly adorable and loud and adorable - and he'd followed ME. He'd picked me. I decided that I couldn't give him up.

Even if it meant no peace in the household for a couple of years.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

I gave him a nicely evil name, Asmodean, since he'd wormed his way into the household, and an internet pseudonym, the Little One, since he was a very small kitten. Right from the beginning, he was more of a dog than a cat - he followed me around like a puppy, played fetch, and was incredibly friendly - some critics said overly friendly - to anyone who entered. He had an underappreciated habit of just sitting on people when not headbutting them.

He also loved to play, and jump, and leap - I've never seen another cat make some of the jumps that he did, which had the tendency to startle visitors and board games. And one - only one - bad habit; he was convinced, despite all protests to the contrary, that computer and laptop keyboards were designed to be cat beds. As I explained once, years back, one of my pet peeves as a writer was how much time I had to spend removing him from the keyboard. He added a good ten pages of random letters and symbols to my Tor.com post on Toy Story just last week.

His first bad moment came when Tasha died. She may have hated him, but he loved her, and also, I realized, he'd never been alone. He did not like being alone at all. So I acquired the Grey One and told him that she was his kitten. They took me literally; I've sometimes been allowed to pet the Grey One, but she was always his cat, not mine.

When I got sick, he was the best thing ever.

He knew something was wrong when I first moved up here, and got quiet and even friendlier, if possible - I think he was afraid that I would leave him behind. Despite his usual vocal objections to car rides, he was completely silent on the way up. The moment we let him out of his carrier, he went for me, and stayed beside me. He didn't quite have the Grey One's unusual gift for knowing exactly when my blood pressure dropped, but he did know that he could get on top of me, and I could scratch his chin, and that was important knowledge. He rarely left me alone for an instant, and I needed that.

I was up in Columbus when we moved to this house According to my brother, he freaked out and headed straight for a cabinet as everything was moved out of the apartment. He was the last thing to leave, primarily because he didn't want to leave the cabinet - I think because he was afraid he would never see me again. When I came to the house a few days later, he went NUTS and clung to me for the next several days.

And that was our interaction for the next several years. He slept with me, watched TV with me, leaned against me or slept on me or slept near me when I wrote or read, listened to every telephone conversation. He sat at the window, watching me leave on the trike or in someone else's car, waiting for me to return.

He did start to slow down, just a little. He stopped leaping to the top of the bookshelves - something he used to be able to do from the floor, and could still do from the TV stand, and did a few times after we arrived here. As he started having a few problems jumping to the my bed, which is a bit high - he could make it, but he kinda had to claw the arrival - I got him a set of little kitty stairs, which he liked. He could still jump on the couch, and did that without a problem. In the past year or so, he tended to stay on my bed a little bit more. But every time I thought, ok, he's slowing down, he'd surprise me by jumping to the window, or dashing through the hallway, or indulging in his loud, raspy, purrs. When he made it to the age of 17 this fall, I thought that I was going to be lucky enough to have him for a few more years.

Yesterday morning, he was at the windowsill, watching the cardinals. Late yesterday afternoon, his back legs visibly gave out. He struggled for a bit. An hour or so later, he was back to walking, and paced the hallway, but he seemed a bit confused and disoriented. He stared at the litter box for a bit, and then - very unusually - refused it (though he used the easily cleaned tile floor.) Then he seemed better and came back to the bedroom. I brought him some tuna fish, and it took him a moment to realize what it was, and eat it. He wandered a bit more, but kept stopping and staring at corners, or looking confused.

I probably should have taken him to the vet right then, but....I don't drive, and we don't have a 24 hour vet that I can reach via mobility scooter or trike. He seemed to recover a bit in the evening; I had him on my lap as we watched Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. But he was also incredibly quiet. Much later, I found him in between the TV stand and the wall, head on the speaker, the other cat watching him. I picked him up and he flopped against my chest immediately.

I don't think either one of us slept well - I know I didn't. At about 4 am, he started seizing. He got better after I held him again. I managed a bit more sleep. By the time I woke, he was seizing again.

He was in bad shape when we reached the vet.

We didn't even have time to put him to sleep. He died while I was slowly rocking him, wrapped in a towel, back and forth, wrapped in a towel. I'm not sure he even knew I was there, but I hope he did.

He was the hands down best cat I've ever had, more than a cat, a friend.

The Grey One is sleeping curled up in the sun, nearby. She's been watching me off and on since I got back. I think she thinks I can still bring him home.

I want to fill this with funny memories, but my heart is too full right now.

Bye, little cat. You will be so, so missed.
And now that I think that everything due out this year is out, time for the obligatory end-of-year round up post.

For the second year in a row, my most popular work seems to have been in non-fiction, specifically the Disney Read-Watch over at Tor.com, which wrapped up this year with a post on Moana. No word yet on whether I'll be covering future Disney feature length animated films - my best guess is maybe - but I will be going ahead with two other Tor.com series.

Those posts ended up eating considerably more time than I'd expected, but still, although this was (apart from those posts) not a good year for writing, it was a decent year for publication: nine short stories, four flash fiction pieces, and seven poems.

If you missed them earlier, here's a list:

Short fiction:

Deathlight, at Lightspeed Magazine, May 2016

The Middle Child's Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale, Fireside, May 2016.

Cat Play, Metaphorosis, January 2016.

My Own Damn Heaven, Bourbon Penn, March 2016

"Mistletoe and Copper," in An Alphabet of Embers, Stone Bird Press, July 2016, available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Coffee, Love and Leaves,, Capricious SF, July 2016.

Dragonbone, Daily Science Fiction, July 2016.

The Cat Signal, Daily Science Fiction, August 2016.


Flash fiction:

"The Game," in Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix, January 2016 available at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. The one story on this list loosely based - very loosely based - on real events.

Nine Songs, in Daily Science Fiction, August 2016.

Souls, in Daily Science Fiction, October 2016.

Hundreds, in Daily Science Fiction, December 2016.

Poetry:

"The Heart of the Flame," in Fae Visions of the Mediterranean, May 2016. Possibly the least read piece I published this year, in an anthology that I think deserved a lot more attention, fortunately still available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

At the Center, in Kaleidotrope, June 2016

"Madrepore," in Spelling the Hours, July 2016. Arguably the second least read piece I published this year, this is part of another project deserving of attention: a chapbook of poems celebrating women scientists. It's available from Amazon.

Hamelin, A Remnant, in Through the Gate, August 2016

Three Nuts, in Through the Gate, October 2016

After Midnight, in Mythic Delirium, November 2016

Ice/Shadow in Strange Horizons, December 2016, the hands down trickiest poem to write this year and probably the one the I was proudest of, though I'm also deeply fond of "The Heart of the Flame" for purely personal reasons.
The second part of my short story, "The Huntsmen," a retelling of "The Twelve Huntsmen," a tale originally collected by the Brothers Grimm in the early 19th century, is now up at Truancy.

As a kid, I loved the story because it featured girls Doing Things - cross dressing, tricking lions, hunting, tricking adults - all great stuff. It took me years to realize just how weird the story is, even apart from the cross-dressing, and to find myself asking questions. A lot of questions. Which turned into several short stories, including this one, with at least one more coming up in Daily Science Fiction next year.

Meanwhile:

Part one.

Part two

Enjoy!

Ice

Dec. 19th, 2016 08:33 pm
Also up today, a new poem from me, Ice, up at Strange Horizons.

I advise clicking on the poem after reading it.

Hundreds

Dec. 19th, 2016 10:43 am
The latest in my series of flash fairy tales, "Hundreds," just went up at Daily Science Fiction. Enjoy!
A tiny new poem from me, up at Mythic Delirium today: After Midnight.

Enjoy!

Souls

Oct. 24th, 2016 09:14 am
Another tiny story from me up at Daily Science Fiction today. It won't take too long to read, promise.

Souls.
Sometimes I try to write introspective stories, or important stories, or stories focused on the beauty and power of language.

And sometimes I write things like this:

The Cat Signal.

Enjoy!
Now up at Daily Science Fiction, Nine Songs, my little slipstream story about, well, Nine Songs. My titles tend to be fairly literal.

And also now available, one of the rare poems where I plunged into marine biology, sorta, "Madrepore," in Spelling the Hours: Poetry Celebrating the Forgotten Others of Science and Technology. The poem is about Anna Thynne, a 19th century marine biologist who, among other things, studied reproduction in stony corals, and also was one of the first to develop salt water aquaria capable of keeping stony corals alive.

The overall collection, as the title says, celebrates other mostly forgotten scientists.

Enjoy!
The story of the Pied Piper, in all its versions, has always haunted me.

Here's a little poem about it:

Hamelin, A Remnant.

Dragonbone

Jul. 29th, 2016 12:07 pm
My latest little short story, Dragonbone, is up at Daily Science Fiction.

Enjoy!
An Alphabet of Embers, with my fairy tale "Mistletoe and Copper," is finally out.

The anthology has already received quite a bit of praise from early reviewers, and also includes works by Nisi Shawl, Zen Cho, Yoon Ha Lee, Kari Sperring and Amal El-Mohtar. I received an early copy, and found that it's a book that is probably best sipped and read in small doses - easy enough since the pieces are all very short, between 500 to 1500 words. I'm biased, of course, but it's a lovely anthology to be part of.

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