Checking In From Kansas

Hello from Garden City, Kansas, where I’m at what was once the Wheatlands motel, where Truman Capote stayed when he was writing In Cold Blood. I’m visiting cousins here — tomorrow we’ll head up to Lawrence (with a brief detour through Dodge) to see more cousins.

The trip’s been great so far. Lots to see and time with some awesome folks. Wayne’s cousins Patty and Pete provided us with wine and ammunition. David Boop put us up in style in Denver and had an awesome birthday dinner with plenty of great folks from the local writing community. We did Yellowstone and saw a ton of hot springs and an indifferent teen-age moose. In Hays, I took a picture of the placard for my grandfather, Alex Francis.

I’d go on further but the hotel internet has gone kablooey so I’m writing this in the Target parking lot while Wayne goes for Gatorade. More when we have reliable Internet!

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Subscribe for Monthly Reading

Want to get some new fiction? Support my Patreon campaign.

Want to get some new fiction? Support my Patreon campaign.

I’m trying Patreon:

I’m about to spend six months on the road and I thought I’d try an experiment to use up the backlog of short stories I’ve accumulated and see what works better: traditional publishing or this model. Stories include urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, near and far SF, secondary-world fantasy, the occasional piece of lit fic, and who knows what else. They will be at least 2,000 words in length and may range into the novelette range on occasion.

I’ll be releasing a short story every two weeks, with an option for subscribers to supply prompts and Tuckerizations. In addition, you’re welcome to discuss the stories on my page — while my net access will be spotty, I will check in every few days to answer questions.

I’ve got a backlog of about ten to twelve stories (depending what comes back in the next round of acceptances/rejections), but I am also a fairly prolific writer. Last year I had nineteen short stories published in markets that included Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, and anthologies The Other Half of the Sky and Glitter & Mayhem; this year I’m on track so far to surpass this, with upcoming work appearing in Shattered Shields (edited by Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt), Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unidentified Funny Object 3 (edited by Alex Shvartsman), and Genius Loci (edited by Jaym Gates). In fact, I plan to use this project to spur even more productivity by writing from prompts supplied by patrons — one of my milestone goals, $250, will add a bonus flash story each month.

At the end of the six month period, I’ll gather up the stories (plus whatever bonus pieces might have accrued) and put them out in electronic and print form. I’ve included two patron levels who will automatically get those.

But most importantly, if you were a Fantasy Magazine fan: I’m taking advantage of the Patreon milestone as well to set a challenge for all the people who keep telling me they want to see me at the helm of a magazine again. Help me hit the $2500 mark and I’ll be able to afford to start buying fiction from other people to mix in with mine. If you’re one of the people who come up to me at conventions and wistfully express how much they loved my rejection slips, well then… it’s within your power to make it happen, by donating and/or spreading the word.

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Coming Soon: Monthly Fiction

Photo of a strange and inexplicable object

Will the stories feature objects as wonderful as this thrift shop memento? Yep, and more. You'll read about shapeshifters, haunted parking spaces, and the nature of reality itself


Next week I’ll be announcing a way you can get two brand new, never seen before stories from me each month, ranging from urban fantasy to sword & sorcery to SF and even literary.

Plus, want to help decide what I edit next? All coming Monday, July 14. Sign up now to make sure you get details.

Posted in 2014, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Creating A System For Writing On the Road

What I’ve realized I need is a system with a single notebook. One problem with decluttering has been the number of old, half-filled notebooks that have surfaced amid the piles and books, some taken from the storage locker after lingering there a literal decade. I’m writing this originally in one of those: 5×8, unruled, a stiff, translucent purple cover, originally intended as a spiritual journal. Since then it’s accumulated a number of to-do lists, some pieces of stories, a few book review notes, and some timed writings (including “Prophetic Lobster Man,” which appeared in The Mad Scientist Journal).

But it must go in a box and soon. I can’t trail fifteen gazillion notebooks along on a trip. I need one at a time, and preferably one that fits easily in a purse so I can have it ever handy but still has enough page space that I don’t feel cramped. Writing on scraps of paper when no notebook is handy has been my undoing in the past.

At the same time, I need to back up what I’m doing, so I’m contemplating a system where I write in my (solitary) notebook and then transcribe either every night or as time permits.

Continue reading

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So Long, and Thanks For All The Salmon

Things are shaking out and it looks like we’re headed out next Tuesday morning and leaving Seattle for six months! It should be interesting. Among the places planned on the itinerary are (en route to the East Coast) Couer d’Alene, Yellowstone, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Chicago, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, and NYC. Later on there are more nebulous plans involving other continents. Back come January, with plenty of stories.

The remodel is almost completely done; I’ll post pics Thursday.

Wayne sent me this. I thought it a lovely way to celebrate what I’m leaving.

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Yes, I am the New Vice President of SFWA

Preparing to take on the challenges ahead.

I’m delighted and a little daunted and planning on lots of things.

Right now I’m composing a blog post about self-publishing and why SFWA”s looking at it, as well as my own adventures, past and planned, in self-publishing.

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Catch-up and Recent News as of the End of June, 2014

Photo of a strange and inexplicable object

This may be a pinnacle in quirky thrift shop finds. I look forward to traveling and finding worlds as wonderful as this one.

My story, “English Muffin, Devotion on the Side,” is up on the Daily Science Fiction site. Please let me know what you think, and spread the word if you like it!

The audio version of Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight, read by the most awesomest Folly Blaine, will be available!

I’m finishing up my essay and the story edits for the Women Destroying Fantasy issue of Lightspeed, as well as some other articles, trying to get those finished before hitting the road. Stories coming out soon include pieces in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 3-Lobed Burning Eye and Shattered Shields (edited by Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt).

I’m going to be setting up a Patreon campaign, because I’ve got a big backlog of stories and figure releasing them on my own while on the road will probably work as well as worrying about keeping them submitted. If you might be interested in subscribing to get two short stories each month, please sign up for my mailing list, and drop me a comment here to let me know what sort of things you might like to accompany that. What sort of cost would be appropriate for a subscription that lets you supply a prompt or get a Tuckerization, for example?

In three days, I become Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. I look forward and am somewhat daunted by the prospect.

Today I am putting down linoleum as the next part of the great remodel while Wayne does some sanding. We’re still on track to leave July 15, +/-3 days. We’ll be heading eastward, with stops planned in Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Indiana, and Philly-area, arriving towards the end of July. August we’ll spend some time knocking around on the eastern seaboard, and towards the end of that month, we will go somewhere. Just not sure where, but Australia, Europe, and South America are among the strong contenders, continent wise.

Posted in 2014, daily life, publications | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WIP: The Bloodwarm Rain, Part 3

I’m on fire! was my first thought.

Then — some very stupid part of me bubbled up But look at how pretty the blue edges flicker — and then panic overwhelmed me again as some lizard part of my brain scrambled to get out of the way of I’M ON FIRE.

Everyone else was doing so, and it looked as though they hadn’t lost any seconds to contemplation of the prettiness. Wren had drawn up short, ten feet away, her fists balled as she stared at me, the two new guys on either side, each with a hand on her shoulder. They exchanged glances, blinked as though surprised, and stepped back. Wren kept staring. She swallowed, and the snake tattooed along the side of her neck writhed.

The troupe is half human, half Underpeople, though June’s as human as they come. The latter hate flame, most of them, it’s hardwired in. Most of them faded towards the back of the crowd and one of the mini elephants squealed admonition in the scuffle of movement.

Roto was the only one who came forward. His eyes were wide and panicked, his lips curled back in alignment to his stiffly leaning ears, his whiskers silver lines against his dark cheeks.

He said, “Meg, what’s happening?”

It was so unfair. How was I supposed to know what was happening? I didn’t have a clue. I opened my mouth to say that, but all that came out was an agonized shriek, even though I felt no physical pain. It was just a howl of frustration and want and loneliness, all the loneliness of having the circus as my family but no one mine, no one bound to me by blood, so I never knew where I’d fit.

Something cool around my shoulders. June, wrapping me in a silvery blanket.

“I need you to take a deep breath,” she said.

I tried, but the sound kept coming out.

She laid her hand over mine. “Breathe.”

Flames danced over her skin where it touched mine. The blue fabric of her jacket began to smolder, flaring orange and sparking along the line of the hem.

Breathe.

Nothing physical but that coolness against my back, as though the blanket were drawing the flame inside it. But in my head, something slammed down so all my consciousness went to breathing, to the act of pulling in the air, feeling it rush into me, my ribs dwelling to contain as much as possible, holding it for a beat and then releasing…

“Okay,” June said. “Okay, Meg.”

I blinked. The flames were gone, but the hem of her jacket still flared orange one last second before dying away.

“You’re tired. I’m putting you in Nursie.”

I tried to protest. Riding in Nursie was boring beyond belief. One of her settings had gone wonky and she treated everyone as though they were a six-year-old. But at the same time, I realized, it sounded so good, lying down in darkness and not thinking for a while.

Before I knew it, I was tucked in Nursie’s depths. Vanilla scented mist sprayed down around the couch.

“Now I’m going to tell you the story of the Brave Little Kitten,” she announced.

That was all right. At least it was one of the comprehensible stories. But something else caught my attention. I rolled closer to the hatch opening, trying to hear out.

Outside, June shouting.

“All right! These fellows either lair nearby or they’re affiliated with the town.”

Nursie said, “Once upon a time —“

“Wait,” I said. “Nursie, can I have a drink of water first?”

The story paused as a cup rattled into the dispenser and began to fill.

June said, “Either way, we can’t go back — you know that as well as I — and it’s better to make these disappear and keep moving rather than have others come look and find us with them.”

Muffled agreement. Nursie said, “Drink your water, Meg.”

I drank it as slowly as I could, but all I heard were doors slamming and engines starting again. I felt dizzy. It was hard to swallow.

Warm vanilla sprayed me again as I set the cup down.

Nursie said, “Blood pressure dropping.”

Something snaked from the ceiling towards me. I heard Nursie’s voice, as though from a very far distance. “Administering sedation.”

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WIP: The Bloodwarm Rain, Part 2

Along Vera’s neck, on either side, are three round bits of grillwork, and when she comes in hard and fast, they scream, a whine that grates along all your nerves, even when you’ve heard it before.

They screamed now, and even muffled by the tents, they still forced Roto’s ears to flatten back, his whiskers tensed in an involuntary sneer and made me clamp my forearms over the sides of my head, muffling it. Shots barked out, then a rat-a-tat of semi-automatic followed by another like an echo. Vera’s own guns boomed.

There were screams.

I unfolded myself and started to rise. Roto yanked me back down just as a round of flying metal buried itself in the canvas bundle. If I’d stood, it would have decapitated me. We both stared at it. My ribs pulsed with ache and I realized I’d been holding my breath, I didn’t know how long.

There’s only so many ways for a group to attack you on particular terrain, and everyone had done exactly as they were supposed. The Bird Woman had a wing clipped, high and gouging the bone and all her children were fussing about her while Sieg bandaged it, the littlest with their heads buried in her skirts.

Bodies were slumped on the ground, five or six of them, but none of them were ours, so they didn’t matter. No one seemed worried about the post where the flashes of light had come from, so Vera must have taken care of those before coming down to us, as she was supposed to.

June was there with Vera, checking her over, fanning the long metal pinions out and examining them for wear and tear. The guns athwart her prow swiveled in two directions as though still alert, worried that something might happen. Pal was riffling that packs and pockets, but with little luck, judging by his expression, other than the pile of weapons slowly accumulating underneath the sign that read, “Trucks this way”.

Wren and two roustabouts who’d come on three towns ago were off to one side. On the road they didn’t smoke anything but jitter weed, and drank thermoses of strong black coffee, the good stuff, horded for when we were on the road.

Vera stirred as I went past, headed to bum a smoke from Wren. June turned, chuffing out a chuckle under her breath as she saw me.

“Miss Meg,” she said. “It’s just Miss Meg.” She patted Vera’s flank where she leaned up against it, and the war machine went quiet, though I could still feel its eyes on me.

“Good job, Vera,” I said, feeling daring. Most people didn’t talk to Vera. It was as though they forgot she could talk back. “Thank you for saving all our asses.”

June’s eyes widened, a tell so small I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t been watching her.

Vera chirped. “You’re welcome,” she said, after waiting a few seconds to make sure the chirp was not returned.

Neesh had most of the livestock out for a graze and mostly a poop. He knew the more of it they did on the cracked asphalt of the plaza, the less he’d have to clean out of the trailers. I checked the mini-elephants over out of habit, from the summer I spent tending them, but they were all unharmed, and engaged in eating all the nasturtiums out of the circular flowerbed in front of the runs that had once been a rest stop building. Out of habit I looked to see if it was loot able, but places like that have all been scavenged away, decades ago.

I got to Wren, Roto in my wake, and at my outstretched hand and upturned eyebrows, she shook a smoke loose for me and tossed it over.

“How long’s the break?” I asked.

Wren shrugged. “Never too short, out here in this heat. Once we get further down, we’ll be out of the heat.”

“We push on then?” I pursued. Wren shrugged again. She was affecting herself a bit in front of the new hires. She was circus born and bred, they were newbies, but she was still unused to the sway she held as their temporary boss.

Her nonchalance made me a little hot under the collar. She acted so cool. But she’d surely been hunkered down under cover like all the rest of us.

She narrowed her eyes at me as though reading my mind. “Problem, Meg?”

I shrugged and would have left it at that, but she just wasn’t content to let it go. Angry heat spiked through me as she stepped forward, towering over me.

I stuck my hands out to repel her.

She reeled back as my skin burst into flame.

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Recent News as of June 2014

We just got back from a two week trip to California, which was lovely, and are back to the scramble of getting the condo ready to sell. Painting, hanging blinds, replacing doorknobs, wheee! We hope to hit the road sometime between July 1 and July 15.

If you’re in the Seattle area, I’m part of a group reading at the Wayward Coffee House this Friday evening.

“The Moon and the Mouse” has been accepted to Daily Science Fiction, which “The Ghost-Eater” (a Tabat story) will appear in XIII from Resurrection House. I just finished up the final edits for “Eggs of Stone,” which will appear in next month’s 3-Lobed Burning Eye. (I’m trying to beat last year’s 19 original stories published, and looks like I’ll make it.) In reprint news, “Of Selkies, Disco Balls, and Anna Plane” will appear in Heiresses of Russ 2014, edited by Steve Berman and Melissa Scott

I just sent off a story to the Blackguards anthology, “The Subtler Art.” It’s a short but funny piece set in a city that recently appeared on my internal landscape, and one of the characters appears in “Call and Answer, Plant and Harvest” forthcoming from Beneath Ceaseless Skies as well.

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