My first published short story, “The Pocket Watch Prince” (it originally appeared in Hogglepot), will be reprinted as a podcast at Toasted Cake! I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am by this.
Toasted Cake is an idiosyncratic flash fiction podcast from Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin—and one of my favorite publications. The stories (many of them SF/F) are fantastic, and Tina is an amazing storyteller.
If you’re looking for a place to start, check out a few of my favorites: “Safe Road” and “Pageant Girls” by Caroline M. Yoachim, “The Hungry Child” by Romie Stott, “The Tides” by Ken Liu, and “Again and Again and Again” by Rachel Swirsky.
You can subscribe to Toasted Cake here.
My YA short story, “Ascension,” is out now in the new Suddenly Lost in Words Volume 4. There are 9 stories in Volume 4, including mine.
Here’s an excerpt:
Ink stains my fingers like irregular birthmarks. My hands smell strongly of lime juice, which only paled the marks instead of cleaning them out. My hair, the only feature I take pride in, hangs limply about my face. There is ink in it, too. I look nothing like the refined girls of Eben’s acquaintance, girls with lustrous, upswept hair and fat, honeyed curls that could coil twice around a boy’s wrist like well-fed snakes.
Two calls for submissions I want to highlight:
1) The Golden Key
Submissions for the Hungry Things issue are still ongoing and will run until March 31. Also, at the bottom of our recent “Submitting to The Golden Key” post, there’s a wish list of things we’d love to see come in.
2) THE SEA IS OURS Anthology
Rosarium Publishing is putting together an anthology of Southeast Asian steampunk. I’m very excited about this project—can’t wait to see what stories come out of it. It’s also inspired me to delve into Southeast Asian mythologies and folklore, so I’m currently falling down that rabbit hole.
This week’s Friday Fiction is “Henry and Booboo” by Elanor Dymott. It’s in the anthology xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths, edited by Kate Bernheimer.
At the end of each piece in the anthology, writers say a few words about their retelling (or remaking). About “Henry and Booboo,” Elanor Dymott says that it is “a retelling of the origins-of-dynasty myth of Candaules and Gyges, as set out by Herodotus in his Histories. King Candaules, so in love with his own wife that he thinks her the most beautiful woman in the world, persuades his favorite bodyguard, Gyges, to hide in their bedroom and watch her undress. She sees Gyges but says nothing. The next day she offers him a choice between killing her husband for having dishonored her, or being killed himself Gyges kills the king, marries the queen, and becomes the ruler of the kingdom.”
Her version of the myth does some powerful things to the original story. The three central characters are recast as siblings and a friend, which immediately creates a serious amount of disturbance. It’s a good story, one that makes some great narrative moves I really admire and enjoy. There’s a lot at work in it that I haven’t unpacked yet (and I have questions about the why of things, mostly a couple places that I felt were pretty explicit and I’m wondering why).
Anyway, it’s a great story, I highly recommend the anthology, so check it out!
It would be eight years before he told her he’d killed them. Or at least, before he told her he held himself responsible for their deaths, which at the time were put down to natural causes: dehydration, the heat of the sun, overexertion.
Current desktop is a tiled print by Art&Ghosts. A little spooky, but I love the paper cut-out silhouette feel to it. It also happens to be one of the really lovely trends in YA book covers lately.
Links I’ve been crushing on:
io9’s Concept Art Writing Prompts: I love io9. A while back, Carlea put me onto their weekly prompts. Every Saturday, they provide a curious piece of concept art—usually with some speculative bent—and invite io9 readers to write their own story based on the photo.
Whiskey River, which tweets a lovely quote every day, and The Times Is On It, a parody account of obvious news.
Stories I read lately that unsettled me: “The Twins” by Curtis Smith, “Tree on Fire” by Nicole Lungerhausen, and “The Ghost of Berries” by Joe Fassler.
In other news, digital issues of The Golden Key are now available for download through Gumroad here on a free or pay-what-you-choose scale. The release date of Issue 2: Old Things has been tweaked to Wednesday, June 12!
May is short story month! Along those lines, The Wigleaf Top 50 is always an exciting list to go through. Here are a few of my favorites from their selection.
“The Cities of Animals” by Autumn Watts, Guernica:
In Qatar, the birds have built their own hidden city. They live in the towers and stairwells of an abandoned palace. Their feathers carpet the ground. They build nests in the sinks of the empty bathrooms. Leave their clean, thin bones in the white sand of the courtyard. They say djinn live there, but this isn’t true. There is no room for djinn in that papery dusk of a thousand sleeping wings. The call to prayer wakes them, sends them winging aloft. I once stood in the wind of their passing. The blink of shadow and light
“The Speed of Progress” by John Sibley Williams, Corium Magazine:
The townsfolk and camera crews, even the mayor and his wife, gathered in weeping circles around the dried up well on the forgotten cusp between two families’ properties. The well does not belong to us, they both demanded. Our hands are clean. But the boy, named Charles (last name not disclosed given his age), cried up from its hollows all the same.
Bereavement by Alex Epstein, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading:
Her parents reminisce: as a child, instead of using a bookmark, she would write in books with a marker: “I’m here.” “I’m here.” “I’m here.”
“George Washington” by Steve Himmer, Their Peculiar Ambitions:
What he can’t help but remember are the snows that swallowed a man to his heart if he stood still to let the storm rage. Those last silent seconds — save wind and save wolves and save echoing explosions of branches with ice in their veins, save tooth-grinding chatter and snorting hot horses and rattling canteens and rifles of a detachment at last come to rest — those last silent seconds he saved for himself.
ETA: This one isn’t from the Wigleaf list; it was a finalist for one of NPR’s three-minute fiction contests. It made me laugh: “Everything’s Under Control” by Eric Bronner.
A quick round-up of recent things I like:
My story “City Girls” is up at fwriction : review! You can read it here. This is exciting for me because I’ve followed Fwriction for a long time. I found a lot of terrific and favorite short stories through editor Danny Goodman’s Story of the Day posts.
Also, a cool thing the journal does is ask writers to select a song to accompany their stories. I chose “On Powdered Ground” by Agnes Obel.
Other writing news: All I’ve been writing is flash lately. And I started Lightning Cake, a tiny ‘zine where I illustrate speculative flash fiction. I would like at this time to thank Carlea for all the name brainstorming and guiding me away from some pretty bad names. Anyway, everyone should check it out because all the pieces so far have been awesome—delightful, strange, super marvelous. So far there are four pieces, with more electrifying bites to come.
Reading news: Last week I finished Karin Tidbeck’s collection Jagannath. A lot of people have been saying a lot of good things about this collection, and it’s all true. It’s very imaginative, but what makes it stand out for me is the language. Reading the stories, all the words feel freshly used, new. Also, this week I read her short story “I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You” on Strange Horizons. It’s melancholy and kind of funny and great.
I just finished Patricia Brigg’s Frost Burned, which was excellent. Hands down one of my favorite urban fantasy (or paranormal I guess) series. I will admit it took me three tries to get into it (success on the third try). It was my fault: I went into it expecting a relaxed, casual reading and wasn’t very focused on it and then got frustrated for missing things because the writing is packed. So much action happens on just one line, and it would happen line to line. Anyway, this summer I gave it a third try (actually being a good reader about it this time), and I was effing hooked. And now I am sad because who knows when the next book will be out.
Now I’m about to start reading Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories. She’s participating in the Writers Here & Now at UMD, and I AM SO BUMMED I’m not there for it!