Sunday, August 12, 2018

On a Panel at Comic Con, Fort Collins

I've been invited to be on a panel at the Fort Collins Comic Con in two weeks, along with some other local writers. I don't even know who else will be there with me yet, but it should be a fun time. Old Firehouse Books, a local bookstore in Old Town here, is hosting our panel. So if you're from the Northern Colorado area or happen to be in the area then, be sure to stop by. My panel is on August 25th starting at 12:55 pm.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A pair of reprints

In the first three years of the magazine Diabolical Plots, I had stories in two (years 2 and 3). Now Diabolical Plots has released collections of all those short stories from the first three years.

Diabolical Plots: The First Years includes my story "The Blood Tree War," a story about a vampiric, self-aware tree and the long battle it wages against its sibling.

Diabolical Plots: Year Three includes my story "Three Days of Unnamed Silence," a futuristic story about a high-tech society that relies on dehumanized workers whose names are taken from them. Even nameless, they rise up for an attempted revolution.

Both of these collections, which include many other wonderful stories, are available in a variety of formats, with links to the specific vendors at the Diabolical Plots website.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Children at the borders

How is this even an issue?

I wrote a big post about all the ways immigration, walls, and borders have shown up in my writing--and how it's affected me personally and many people I know or am related to/descended from. About, as well, my work with children in many different settings and from many different backgrounds and how ICE's actions will affect them as they grow up.

In the end, though, the post was too much about me. I don't want to be the focus of this post. This is about a humanitarian disaster.

Children at the border, children torn away from their families. How can we ever skip lightly past those words?

This is political. I had an editor once, giving sage advice, who would tell writers not to wade into politics for fear of alienating potential readers. Well...sure, but all art is political. I'm not going to turn my stories into policy prescriptions, but there's a moral core to any story, an underlying assumption about how the world works, and politics is a part of that. And when it comes to something like children being forcefully separated from their parents, it would undermine my moral core to stay silent.

And yet...this is an issue that shouldn't break along the usual political fault lines. I may tend leftward, but I've known people of all political backgrounds who are appalled at the actions of this administration. Too few of the president's core supporters, but a trickle of voices that could surge into something more. Stepping back from the moment, I've known people all over the political spectrum who have felt called to welcome the immigrant and the refugee, my own late, conservative grandparents high among those, who worked for immigrants first from their own homeland of the Netherlands and in later years with refugees from southeast Asia.

Somehow, self-professed evangelical Christians have fallen under Trump's cons in ways that boggle my mind, even though I grew up in similar circles. These actions against families, against children, should drive them into revolt (but then many things should have done so over the past few years). That it (most likely) won't saddens me.

But for those who see this and are appalled like I am, you are welcome, no matter your political leanings on other matters. No matter if you'd been willing to stick with Trump before. Leave the immigrant-hatred to the alt-right goon squads in their internet holes. People of faith and people of conscience from either party or none, listen to the voices of the children and don't be silent. Let's unite and insist on humane treatment. Don't be distracted by the voices trying to deflect the blame or point elsewhere. If there are policies that predate this administration, change those too!

Children at the border, crying and pleading.

I want to say that it's not who we are as Americans, but the truth is...this is who we are right now. We need to admit that, repent of it, change it. It may be who we are now, but it's not the America many of us want us to be. So let's insist on change.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Silk Betrayal is certified for Underground Reviews

I haven't used the Underground Reviews site in the past, so I'm not entirely familiar with how they work. But their focus is on smaller, independent presses and self-published books. To make sure they get books that aren't just tossed onto Amazon without the full editing, proofreading, etc. treatment they ought to have, the site goes through a certification process before approving books for potential reviewers. The Silk Betrayal is now certified for their reviewers.

That doesn't mean it has a review yet. So why am I even bothering to mention it here? Apparently you can go vote for the book, which makes it more likely a reviewer will choose it. So if you have an account at Underground Reviews or feel like creating one for yourself, then vote for The Silk Betrayal to be a featured review there soon. (How much influence does that have? I have no idea...)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Doppelganger Showdown

My mid-grade/YA short story "Doppelganger Showdown" is in this issue of Frostfire Worlds. My contributor copy recently arrived, so here's what it looks like in the wild.

The story has a variety of inspirations, including my own daughter and the take on fairies in Susanna Clarke's Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell--I've tended to shy away from fairies and elves in my writing, but I love her take on it, reaching back to traditions of the fair folk (or whatever you want to call them) as as tricksters and dangerous beings on the edges and hidden places of our world.

You can buy a copy of this magazine, with a bunch of stories and poems for middle grade readers (and those who enjoy stories for that age group) at the Alban Lake bookstore.

Monday, April 23, 2018

World Book Day, Spain

World Book Day doesn't seem to get a lot of attention here in the US, at least not in places where I've lived. It is an internationally recognized day, though, and I remember it being a big event in Spain. I was always told the date was chosen because April 23 is the day both Shakespeare and Cervantes died, not only the same date but the same year as well, 1616. The most celebrated writers from both the English and Spanish canon happened to die on the exact same day. Now that's something worth noting.

Turns out that's not quite true, if what I'm seeing now is correct--Spain was at the time on the Gregorian calendar, but England was still on the Julian, so while they died on the same date, the days were ten days off.

But regardless, a day to celebrate books is always a day to remember. And not only does it commemorate two great writers, April 23 also marks the death of the writer, Garcilaso de la Vega--however not the poet I first thought of when I saw the name (a poet best known for introducing and developing Renaissance poetic styles in Spain), but rather an Incan-Spaniard writer who chronicled the history of the Inca people and is credited as the first writer born in the Americas to have his works spread widely in Europe.

(Silly fact: a classmate of mine performed a song he wrote about the poet de la Vega when we were in Spain, to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun"; it began "Garcilaso de la Vega es my héroe / escúchame, y tú también tendrás la fé"--"Garcilaso de la Vega is my hero / listen to me and you also will have the faith.") (Silly fact #2: any song that fits the tune of "House of the Rising Sun" can also be sung to "Amazing Grace"; and the theme of Gilligan's Island. The more you know...)

So I had no idea about the bigger history or what was going on with the day when I was in Spain twenty years ago, only the most general part about Shakespeare and Cervantes. But a day to visit a bookstore? Well... I was living pretty stingily plus didn't want to have to overload my suitcase coming home about a month later, so I bought one book. I know exactly which one it was and in fact still have it sitting right here, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer's Leyendas.

But there's more to World Book Day in Spain than the books. It's also a sort of Valentine's Day, and the tradition is not just to buy a book but exchange books with your lover. So as I bought the book, I was handed the receipt...and a rose. What was I supposed to do with the rose? I was friends with my classmates, but there weren't any of them I could see myself giving the rose to do without it being awkward... So I gave the rose to the mother of my host family.

And kept the book for myself.

Happy World Book Day to all. Now go out and buy a book to give away (and a few more for yourself...).

(I have seen the picture above of Shakespeare and Cervantes on various posts and articles about World Book Day but haven't yet found the artist or whom to credit for it. If it's yours and you want credit--or it taken down--please contact me.)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Featured on my local library's blog

A couple of months ago, someone from my local library reached out to me about being featured on the library's blog. Last summer I had added Spire City, Season 1 to the library's offerings, through a program for self-published books. So they wanted to ask me a few questions, mostly about self-publishing. We spent a lovely time talking about the process and writing in general. I may have overstated how easy it is to get a book set up with Amazon--it certainly requires attention to detail for formatting and all that, which maybe isn't clear in my answer there. But definitely as far as where you spend your time and energy, it needs to be much more on writing, revising, editing, and getting experienced eyes on the stories. So the write-up went live on the library blog a couple of days ago, possibly the first of more features to come. To anyone who happens over here from reading that interview, welcome!