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Jul
08
2014
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Poem notes: A Self-Contained Riot of Lights

First, a brief update on the Alphabet of Embers Kickstarter: in the first day, we passed $1500 (25%), and it’s still not over! Thank you everyone, this makes me really happy! As a bonus, I am drawing an actual alphabet – you can see the first letter here. Our 50th backer was offered the ability to pick a letter – Sara Saab claimed a K! I’ll do the same at 75 and 100 :)

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On to the customary notes for my recent releases: my poem A Self-Contained Riot of Lights is in this week’s Strange Horizons, and here are a few spoilery things to read about it.

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I wrote this poem in early 2013, before my surgery and when I was still very unwell. I didn’t send it out until Feb 2014, when I showed it to Rose Lemberg on a lark (“do you REALLY want to read my telepathic rainbow tapeworm poem?” “I really DO want to read your telepathic rainbow tapeworm poem!”). Rose liked it a lot and told me to send it to Strange Horizons. I did and it sold.

I also need to thank Riss for encouragement, cheerleading and virtual fluffy animals :D

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Poetry editor Romie Stott bought this one for SH. This was my first time submitting when it was her turn reading. Here you can read about her preferences… which I didn’t read before submitting and found via Google just now. So it’s probably not mandatory to read it to sell to her, but it still strikes me as a good idea!

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This was my second poetry submission to Strange Horizons overall. The first one was Torah and Secular Learning, which also sold and appeared in Oct 2012.

Both are quite long – I always try to guess which market would be the best fit for my poems, and SH strikes me as a place where lengthy and “major” poems go. (Though some of my very short poetry I also think of as my major work, if I may say so about my own…) I just seldom write such poems!

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The inspiration was that I read so many poems with wonderful color imagery (many by Rose and also by Amal El-Mohtar) and it made me really want to write something with A LOT OF COLORS in it. Also, at the time I’d recently given up on the whole straight cis woman thing and wanted to write something with A RAINBOW.

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The line “where buildings grow like mushrooms” reminds me of Polenth Blake‘s work. I’m not sure whether this was a conscious allusion when I was writing…

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I really do stumble through walls (etc.) in dreams. I write a lot inspired by my dreams – here are more bonus notes.

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“somewhere deep down in my mind / where it all turns inside out, / interfaces with the world” refers to my poem Outside-in / Catalytic Exteriorization, which appeared in Stone Telling and which also comes with a video reading!

Jul
07
2014
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The Alphabet of Embers Kickstarter is now live!

The Kickstarter for An Alphabet of Embers anthology is now live! I helped prepare this. Super cool project!!

It is “an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose”, edited by Rose Lemberg, author of many similar unclassifiables. The cover art is by Galen Dara – this is the Kickstarter promo picture:

An Alphabet of Embers cover

There will be further mysterious details and reveals and things, IY”H :D

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , ,
Jul
05
2014
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Story notes: This Shall Serve As a Demarcation

I am on vacation and I have very unreliable internet, but I have a new story for you!! I also have several other things to announce and post about, so there will be further posts over the following days, my connection permitting. I wrote this post earlier, so it is easier to post.

This Shall Serve As a Demarcation just appeared in this month’s Scigentasy – Gender Stories in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I think this the best story I ever wrote. It’s also under 2500 words, so I recommend checking it out :D

Content warnings before you read: warfare, people being torn apart (again), horrible political doublespeak, people being exploited.

It’s also a politically-themed story about colonialism, and one with two non-binary-gendered people in a happy, supportive, noncontroversial D/s relationship who do not die horrible deaths at the end, but I do not want to warn about any of this. Still, I mention it because while these topics are not things that readers should IMO be warned about, there are many people who seek out such stories (I know I do!), and this will make it easier for them to find my work.

The story was beta read by Rose Lemberg! Thank you so much!

With all this being said, here are my spoilery bonus notes, as usual…

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I wrote this one recently, it sold relatively fast. It did get five quite rapid rejections before that and led an editor to a public outburst. (Don’t ask.) It’s apparently more controversial than I’d expected it to be…

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“Settlement” is a politically loaded word, this was intentional. The vocabulary and framework of colonialism and anticolonialism is also intentionally featured.  But the story is not based on any current or past Earth political situations (unlike some of my other stories) and not allegorical at all. It is an exploration of what I think would really happen if humans ended up settling on different planets; of course my assumptions are based on my own experience and outlook, but that’s the extent of it.

The story is as literal as it gets and I would appreciate people not reading “oh, this is about the Communists” or “oh, this is about Israel/Palestine” etc. into it. If you want to read specifically about Soviet-style expansion, occupation and colonization, I have a different story for you.

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The tiles changing from sea to land were inspired by Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, probably my favorite video game of all time. There the map is not changed by the local lifeforms, though (sadly!), but rather by terraforming machines. The foam is also vaguely reminiscent of the xenofungus from SMAC, but it works very differently.

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Characters’ names do not really mean anything this time, I just made them up. I like diacritics, but I don’t usually use a circumflex, given that it is surprisingly missing from my keyboard otherwise liberally sprinkled with diacritics. I had a circumflex in this story because why not?

“Hyoron” means “review” in Japanese, but this is accidental.

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I really like writing things with a science fictional approach, but with magic being an important part of the storyline. So I either end up writing science fiction with straight-up magic (sometimes it’s less straightforward), or fantasy with science fictional themes like the magical database. It’s a kind of odd niche.

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The blue-ringed octopus is one of the few octopus species which are poisonous. They are also really beautiful.

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , , ,
Jun
24
2014
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Reprint + Best of Toasted Cake

I have a story reprint - Recordings of a Personal Nature, which originally appeared in Apex, is now in Volume 2 of The Dream Quarry. You can read my story notes here! I also have a list of reviews the story received.

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David Steffen of Diabolical Plots listened to the entire previous year’s run of the Toasted Cake podcast and picked my story as one of the five best!

It’s fun that he mentions Star Control 2, because it’s been on my to-play list since forever. (Actually the Linux port called The Ur-Quan Masters.) I haven’t had much time to game lately :( Maybe I could try getting the Android version to work – it didn’t run on my previous cell phone, but since then I got a more powerful one.

Jun
22
2014
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#diversepoems weekly roundup – Week 2

This was week two of #diversepoems, where I post about my favorite poems by diverse authors on Twitter, one poem per day! Here is the lineup:

Sunday: Transbluency: An Antiprojection Chant by Nisi Shawl (Stone Telling)

Monday: A Pentatonic Moon: 5 poems from the Tang Dynasty, trans. C.L. Jiang and Emily Jiang, with music by Emily Jiang (Interfictions Online)

Tuesday:  The Grand Vizier by Rose Fox (Goblin Fruit)

Wednesday: The Green Man Answers the Classifieds by Sonya Taaffe (inkscrawl)

Thursday: The Haunted Girl by Lisa M. Bradley (Goblin Fruit, Weird Fiction Review)

Friday: The Nerve Harp by Mat Joiner (Stone Telling)

You can also check out the previous week’s poems!

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In other news, Rose Lemberg’s No Longer Lacking an Onion, a flash story I beta read, is now available! Everything is turning into Eastern Europe ;)

I want to put one more thing here, but the site seems momentarily down; and I’ll also have another announcement soon, IY”H. So I’ll just save those two for later.

Written by prezzey in: sf | Tags: , , ,
Jun
19
2014
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Poem sale to Strange Horizons

I’ve just signed the contract, now I can announce this too: my animated poem “You Are Here / Was: Blue Line to Memorial Park” will appear in Strange Horizons, acquired by Sonya Taaffe.

This was the programming poem I sweated blood to get right – you might remember this from Twitter.  (It’s not even the programming that was the worst. You’ll see!) I am greatly thankful to Rose Lemberg for help with the final details and also encouraging me and keeping me from tearing out my hair in big curly clumps. I seldom get this frustrated with writing! But I think it was worth it.

This is my fourth sale to Strange Horizons and the third poem to appear there.

Jun
17
2014
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Sale announcements (Lackington’s!)

A while ago I made a list of where I want to sell work, because there are a bunch of smaller magazines I really like and I would like to prioritize them a bit!

I really liked Lackington’s from the first issue on, I think there is a very strong editorial vision and the market fills a gap in SF… a gap similar to the one that Jabberwocky left behind, I would say.

(A tangent: I’m very happy I had something in Jabberwocky before it went out of business! I had absolutely no idea where to send that oddly shaped poemflashthing, Jabberwocky was the first magazine I tried and I was overjoyed Erzebet took it.)

As Sofia Samatar put it, “Lackington’s is the Goblin Fruit for prose”. It is!

I am thus very happy to say I sold something to Lackington’s – in fact I sold it a while back, but they asked me to sit on the announcement a bit. Now I can say: my story “For Your Optimal Hookboarding Experience” will appear in Issue 3. This is the story I wrote for Karina of Cthulhulele fame.

The entire ToC hasn’t been revealed yet, but what I know of it so far is very promising and includes some of my favorite authors like Yukimi Ogawa and Sonya Taaffe. I’m also very much looking forward to the stories being illustrated! The previous issues had some gorgeous art – my favorite is probably Galen Dara’s piece on Rose Lemberg’s story. SUDDENLY CEPHALOPOD!

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I also have a reprint sale! My story in Apex later last year, “Recordings of a More Personal Nature”, will appear in Dream Quarry in a Weird Science-themed issue. I thought it sounded like a good match, what with the story being about a magical database, so I sent it in. :D

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Also, I now have some dates: my most recent poem in Strange Horizons will appear in July, and the one I sold to Apex will appear in August. I still need to record my reading for SH

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , ,
Jun
14
2014
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#diversepoems weekly roundup – Week 1

The #diversestories posts have been quite enthusiastically received, but I wanted to highlight poems from the outset too. I thought about how best to do it – I think both a story and a poem a day is way too much, both for me to gather, both for people to read.

The solution is to do alternating months of stories and poems! Again I’ll try to make sure there are no author repeats during the month. I’ll also try to keep venue repeats down, but there are much fewer magazines that publish speculative poetry than fiction, so this will be harder.

This was the first week of #diversepoems, with the following pieces of speculative poetry:

Sunday was still #diversestories – What’s Expected of Us by Ted Chiang (Nature Futures)

Monday – Yajñāḥ / Offering by Shweta Narayan (Strange Horizons, 2012)

Tuesday – Turning the Leaves by Amal El-Mohtar (Apex, 2013)

Wednesday – The Journeymaker, Climbing by Rose Lemberg (Goblin Fruit, 2013)

Thursday – Girl Hours by Sofia Samatar (Stone Telling, 2011)

Friday – Sister by Alex Dally MacFarlane (Through the Gate, 2012)

(Actually I posted the Friday poem after Shabbes, not before, because I ran out of time with the Shabbes preparations.)

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Also, I made a Storify of Rose Lemberg’s series of tweets on belonging, competence and privilege. I really recommend reading it!

Written by prezzey in: sf | Tags: , ,
Jun
10
2014
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ToC announcement for Spellbound & Spindles

Spellbound and Spindles are two kickstarted anthologies of diverse fairy tale retellings, one for children, one for adults. I wrote my first ever middle grade story, Veruska and the Lúdvérc, for their call. I am very pleased to say it sold!

I never tried to write a children’s story before – I have another folktale retelling, but that one was aimed at an adult audience. Once Spellbound is published, I’ll post my customary bonus notes, where I’ll also talk a bit about the experience of writing a children’s story.

Here is the table of contents. I’m very much looking forward to this anthology! I see a lot of names which are new to me.

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: ,
Jun
08
2014
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#diversestories weekly roundup #4 + links!

Before we begin the weekly #diversestories post, something very important:

Deutsche Telekom, Hungarian government collude to silence independent media. (Auch auf Deutsch verfügbar!)

Please read and spread the word. This is not just about the country in general, but about my colleagues in particular. I support them wholeheartedly.

A note: Deutsche Telekom is present in many countries as T-Mobile and T-Online. You can protest at your local branch / Facebook page / etc.

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And now, these are the stories I picked by diverse authors for Twitter discussion every day! This week there was a two-day Jewish holiday in addition to Shabbat. The restrictions are quite similar, so I had to skip those days. Still, I managed to squeeze in four great stories :D

Sunday: Herbal by Nalo Hopkinson (The Bakkanthology, reprinted on Nalo’s site)

Monday: The Pragmatical Princess by Nisi Shawl (Asimov’s, reprinted in Fantasy Magazine)

Tuesday: And Wash Out By Tides of War by An Owomoyela (Clarkesworld)

Wednesday: Away for Shavuot

Thursday: Away for Shavuot

Friday: Away for Shabbat

Saturday: How the World Was Saved by Stanisław Lem, trans. Michael Kandel (The Cyberiad)

Don’t miss the previous week’s roundup either!

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Soon I’ll also have a few sales announcements. In the meanwhile, some interesting blog posts:

* Diane Severson’s June poetry roundup discusses Sonya Taaffe at great length (yay!) and also mentions the new Stone Telling blog very positively. The Stone Telling crew hired me to make the blog site (for very nice rates) during my previous stint in Hungary, and I’m very happy that it’s attracting attention.

* Rose Lemberg posts about how to encourage diversity as an editor, with bullet points! (There has also been a website reorganization – more Birdverse! More everything! I’m so happy Rose did this.)

* Sarah Pinsker posted about including women and people of other genders in the con conversation

* Horror by non-Western writers and writers of color, a list assembled by Sofia Samatar

Also, over the holiday I read The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein, who was kind to send me a signed copy! I liked it and I have many thoughts about it – I’ve also recently read the first three Vlad Taltos books by Steven Brust, which were lent to me by Rose Lemberg. I’m thinking about writing a comparison, since both can be construed as second-generation immigrant narratives at least in part about Hungary in spec fic, and that seems like a very specific topic to me.

I have a million things I need to sort out before starting my PhD in the US, but these books are on my mind. I’ll see what I can do, when and how…

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , , , ,

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