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.
The first half of my latest venture in fairy tales, "The Huntsmen," is now up at Truancy. The second half is coming soon.

Enjoy!

Briars

Dec. 28th, 2015 06:43 pm
My little poem, Briars, popped up at Polu Texni today.

Enjoy!
While I was up at Saratoga Springs, my latest poem, The Thirteenth Child popped up at Uncanny Magazine, along with fiction from Elizabeth Bear and Ursula Vernon, another poem from Sonya Taaffe, and articles by Aidan Moher, Annalee Flower Horne and Natalie Luhrs.

"The Thirteenth Child" is loosely based on "The Twelve Brothers," a story of a king and queen who decide to kill all but one of their children. When the princess learns of this, she runs off to the woods, where, as they say, hijinks ensue: transformations, ravens, and a time without laughter.
Enjoy!

Sea Dreams

Aug. 7th, 2015 08:24 am
Cabinet des Fees just announced the release of the second issue of Scheherezade's Bequest, Something Rich and Strange: Tales From the Sea. It includes my little flash fiction piece, "Sea Dreams."

Proceeds benefit Doctors Without Borders. It can be purchased at Amazon or here.
Accidental double publication day!

First up, a day early, The Petals, over at Daily Science Fiction, the latest in the ongoing series of flash fairy tales that I genuinely do hope to finish, with the framing story, at some point. (Glances at the Excel sheet tracking that series.) Whoops! Well, in the meantime, at least this one is out.

Second, issue 7 of Lackington's is out, with my story, Sometimes Heron.

Let's chat about this one for a bit. "Sometimes Heron" was written in 2008, when I was at the Mayo Clinic. Not a typo. I wrote it in bits and pieces. After a few rejections, it sold to a publication which closed down a few months later. A few more rejections, and it sold to a second publication - which also closed down a few months later.

By that time, to put it mildly, I felt a bit discouraged. On the one hand, I figured that the story couldn't be that awful, if editors were buying it (twice!). On the other hand, it seemed to be killing various publications, which seemed a bit unfair to said publications. I trunked it for a couple of years, and then started shooting it out here and there again.

I mention this mostly as an illustration of what the writing/publishing industry can be like. It's one reason why this can be a very depressing career - so much of writing/publishing is outside your control. I'm not just talking rejections/acceptances - though that's also outside your control - but things like this as well.

In any case, I'm very grateful that it's at last found a home at Lackington's, and I hope you enjoy both.
While I was off at ICFA, The Fox Bride, popped up at Daily Science Fiction.

If Twitter is any guide (though it probably isn't) this is hands down the most popular thing I've published in years.
The second issue of Uncanny Magazine just launched, featuring fiction from Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu), Sam J. Miller, Amal El-Mohtar, Richard Bowe, and Sunny Moraine, poems from Isabel Yap and Rose Lemberg, and a poem by me, After the Dance.

Enjoy!

Demands

Jan. 1st, 2015 09:54 am
Just as 2014 was about to explode into 2015, the poetry goblins over at Goblin Fruit released one last treat for the old year: their new issue, which includes my poem, Demands, and new poems from Rose Lemberg, Sonja Taaffe, Ada Hoffman and Neile Graham, among others.

"Demands" came about because of a previous poem, Snowmelt (also reprinted at Tor.com here) which somehow seemed to need more. By more, my muse apparently meant "two more chain poems," this one, and Feather. They don't need to be read in any particular order.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!
Beans and Lies just went up at Daily Science Fiction. It's very short, I promise. And it's - almost - a fairy tale. Kinda.
Romance/suspense fantasy author Mary Stewart died at the age of 97 this week.

My favorite book of hers was Touch Not the Cat: mystery, Gothic, telepathy, archaeology, identical twins - it kinda has everything. It was enough to get me to rush through the rest of her Gothic/suspense novels, of which the best is arguably Nine Coaches Waiting, although I also have a soft spot for The Moon-Spinners.

But her most influential book on me was unquestionably The Wicked Day, her retelling of the Arthurian legend from Mordred's point of view, which I picked up back in high school and was transformational. To be honest, I haven't read it for years, and it probably doesn't live up to my memories - let's go with it certainly doesn't live up to my memories - but it was the first book that got me to think about the villain's point of view, and to think about how history and stories are determined as much by viewpoint as by anything. And that, in turn, led me to relook and reconsider many of the characters from myth and fairy tale, something I continue to do today.

RIP.

Coffin

May. 15th, 2014 10:48 am
Sometimes, when I start to write a story, I know exactly where it's going.

And sometimes the story does not go at all where I thought it was going. I knew vaguely that I was writing about a coffin - even the coffin, but this story took an unexpected turn into the present day with the phrase "satellite photos" and then just kept changing from there, and by the end it had nothing to do with what I was originally thinking (a caper story) and everything to do with other things.

Enjoy!
First, Happy Pancake Day everyone! Alas, my own plans for pancakes today have taken a bit of a detour thanks to unpredictable weather, but the good thing about pancake day is that you can always celebrate it later with more pancakes.

And in non pancake news:

1. My little story, Undone just popped up over at Apex Magazine. Enjoy!

2. And over at Unlikely Story, I'm interviewed about my short story, Ink. Somehow or other clowns jumped in. That sort of thing happens.

Toads

Feb. 27th, 2014 09:29 am
For those who aren't getting Daily Science Fiction in their inboxes (and why not? It's free?), my little short story, Toads just popped up on their site today.

"Toads" is part of a series of flash fiction fairy tales that I really hope to have completed one day. I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through the planned outline, so...let's just say I have a ways to go. But at least this one is out there, hopping through the world.

No, I couldn't resist that pun. Why do you ask?

Frozen

Dec. 17th, 2013 10:30 am
And continuing in the spirit of the season -- Frozen! Which I actually saw a couple weekends back, but forgot to post about. Anyway.

I should hate Frozen. I really should. It's a blatantly commercialized Disney film with several elements carefully designed to sell toys (hi, cute trolls that otherwise have no role in the plot, hi cute snowman who was less annoying than the trailers suggested) and several other elements clearly designed to make the obviously forthcoming Broadway adaptation much easier. It features princesses, two of them, that can easily be added to the incredibly popular Disney Princess lineup. (I swear, I run into little Disney princesses at the grocery store these days, and I live around Disney employees, not Disney tourists.) It has two scenes that can be made into Disney rides.

Essentially, it is as if Disney employees sat down and said, ok, what do we need to make money and make as many cross promotional products as possible and how much of this can be thrown into the movie? Got it? Great.

Also, for some reason Disney marketing keeps insisting that Frozen is "inspired" by Hans Christian Anderson's Snow Queen.

They, er, both have snow.

And yet, despite all this –

I loved it.

Primarily because of a seriously awesome scene where one of the princesses announces that she has just HAD IT with being good and SINGS AND SINGS AND SINGS and a GIANT ICE PALACE THRUSTS UP (don't think I didn't notice, Disney) as her Oh So Innocent Costume is transformed into a slinky number that seriously but seriously shows off her legs.

Also, ice art.

You go, Disney Princess. You go.

The Gifts

Oct. 3rd, 2013 10:00 am
If for some reason you aren't subscribing to Daily Science Fiction (it's free!) and thus missed my little three part story, The Gifts, that went out to subscribers last week, all three parts are now up on the web:

The Gifts, part one

The Gifts, part two

The Gifts, part three

This was not originally intended as a three part story, or even as a story at all. I was working on a poem when something started to nag at me -- a something that turned into part one, which needed a bit more exploration, which turned into part three, and then needed something else, part two: three separate tiny stories that form a larger one.

Having said that, I'm not sure how well the story worked spread out over three days, so I decided to wait until all three parts were up on the web before adding the links here, to give everyone the option of reading the story in one large clump instead of three bits.

In any case, "The Gifts" is loosely based on the fairy tale "The Girl Without Hands," one of the more brutal tales collected by the Grimm brothers, even after they softened it a trifle. I've always wondered about a few things in the story, which helped lead to this.

If you enjoyed it, or even if you didn't enjoy this one, but liked previous DSF stories of mine, I'll just note that another one is coming up in a few months - and that one has a dragon in it. (Because, dragons.) Keep an eye out.
1. I missed this yesterday what with various Other Things, but my little flash story Seaweed is up on the web.

2. Over at Tor.com, the Lloyd Alexander reread finally gets going with Time Cat Warning: a certain black and white cat had Issues With the Book, which I faithfully added to the post.

3. I love rain. Love it. I do not love it when a heavy, dark cloud bursting with rain continues to hover just north, shutting off light and making it all dark and gloomy, raining up there, but not here. Which it's been doing for the past couple of hours or so, leaving it dark and humid without a drop. I'm waiting, heavy rains. I'm waiting.
1. My flash fiction piece, "Seaweed," the next in the series of fairy tale vignettes, was sent out to Daily Science Fiction subscribers today. I'll have more on this next week when it goes up on the web.

2. Meanwhile, over at Tor.com, the Heyer reread continues with April Lady. Not a favorite...but Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle, is coming up next.

3. And over at McSweeney's: What to Expect When You're Expecting Cthulhu. This could not be more unlike the "Seaweed" piece: you've been warned.
One of the more interesting reactions to the last episode of Game of Thrones, "The Rains of Castamere," has been the often stated, "This isn't a fairy tale!"

I say interesting, because of what is meant/implied by this statement: that fairy tales are happy, safe places where no one is hurt and no one dies.

Even in the Disney versions, often criticized for softening the original tales (which I don't think is entirely true or fair; the animated Snow White retains much of the horror of the original, even with the cute little animals and the merry dancing and singing), people get hurt. Good people get hurt. Snow White is poisoned and ends up in a coma. Cinderella is imprisoned by her own stepmother and forced into household drudgery. Rapunzel is imprisoned (and in the original, her prince is blinded and they go through a lot before finding each other.)

Outside of the Disney versions, fairy tales contain terror: Bluebeard killing his wives. Sleeping Beauty trapped behind climbing roses that have ripped out the eyes and torn the skin of those trying to rescue her, only to emerge in a new unknown world (Perrault has a little, aching detail about how the fashions had changed and the prince has to keep himself from telling Sleeping Beauty that she is dressed like his grandmother). Another prince has spent years – how many, we are never told – shivering at the bottom of a well, separated from everyone he knows, disguised as a frog; when he is finally, finally so close to transforming back, to becoming human again, he is flung against a wall. A girl weeps as her father strikes off her hands to save her from the devil. Wolves track little girls in the woods, caught by their bright red cloaks. Parents watch hopelessly as their children follow the Piper into an unknown world.

And many of the tales have unhappy endings, or contain death, sometimes quite literally – the Grimm Brothers collected many stories about Grandfather Death, and Death also appears in many Italian fairy tales, as someone to be bargained with or tricked or greeted as a friend.

I am hardly the first to note this, but it seems so often forgotten, perhaps because what we want to remember is Cinderella dancing with the prince, Aladdin gaining his heart's desire just from rubbing a lamp, a sister regaining her brothers. Yes, the familiar tales have happy endings, and some of the tales are more lighthearted more others – Puss in Boots is not especially traumatic. But these endings have to be earned, through cleverness or virtue or trauma or pain or sorrow or agony. I have no idea how Game of Thrones will end. But I can say that some of its trauma is not so far removed from fairy tales.
As I've previously noted, Donkey-Skin is not exactly high on the list of anyone's favorite fairy-tales. Part of the problem is that it repeats elements of other fairy tales -- notably East o'the Sun, West o'the Moon -- but also Goose Girl and Cinderella. The larger problem is its initial subject matter: incest, an element that got the story kicked out of fairy tale books for young and old alike.

I'm not fond of it myself. So, naturally, I did what I do with so many other fairy tales: I did a little something with it. "The Princess and Her Tale" was sent out to Daily Science Fiction subscribers last week and is now up on the web. Enjoy!

(And consider subscribing -- they'll be offering another little tale from me in the indefinite future.)

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