Friday, November 17, 2017

"Learning the Language of Denshin"

This poem was published earlier this week in Polu Texni. One definite inspiration for the poem was the works of Milorad Pavic. He was a Serbian author, most famous for The Dictionary of the Khazars, which is a fascinating book. After reading it a decade or so ago I went out and looked for any others of his books I could find. I always appreciate playfulness in stories, or at least things that strike me as playfully intriguing, where the play trips you as reader into other ideas or images. One of the ways Pavic plays around with language that I always liked had to do with describing the way a particular person spoke or even the way a particular language or dialect is different from others. So sometimes you distinguish one character from another by how they pronounce their consonants or how they don't pronounce their vowels. And sometimes their accents are compared to things that...make no logical sense yet have an allusive quality that often felt pitch-perfect despite logic.

There are other things at play here--Italo Calvino, even a hint of Lemony Snicket, as well as the story-based approach to language learning that I use to teach--but Pavic's way of describing the way his characters talk is a definite part of this poem.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Another new story available, "The Desert Cure"

Mythic Delirium's fall 2017 issue came out last month, but as always they release the stories and poems online over a three-month span so those who don't subscribe/buy a copy can still read them. So my short story "The Desert Cure" is now available to read online.

This story has a special place for me. There are many stories I've heard about my ancestors--in fact two of my grandparents wrote down chapbook-like accounts of their own childhoods and a third for their life after they married that they gave to all the kids and grandkids. So I mashed a bunch of those stories and others together in this very surreal take on immigrating to a new land.

One that's especially intrigued me is of my great-grandmother who immigrated at a young age to New Mexico territory because the doctors thought the dry air would be better for her TB-infected lungs. "The Desert Cure" is one of two short stories I've written about such a situation (the other is perhaps even more Weird/New Weird than this surreal one...and is currently unpublished).

So give the story a read, enjoy its story of immigration and uncanny gods, and then subscribe to Mythic Delirium to get the rest of the fall issue.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Three Days of Unnamed Silence

"Three Days of Unnamed Silence" was recently published in Diabolical Plots, the second time I've had a story there. The story is a futuristic one of the loss of identity. Various things went into the inspiration for this including a print a college friend and artist gave me that showed a worker struggling to turn a giant wheel. I wrote it much more recently, though, as an entry in the WYRM's Gauntlet competition. I wasn't able to join in this year, but I've greatly enjoyed entering the competition the past couple of years (and it's led to more than one publication).

Tangent Online has a generally positive review of the story already up, though more plot summary than anything else. Key line: "This shift in view point cleverly mirrors the central idea of how society strips us of our identities. It is a clever and unusual tale..." I'll take that.

So give the story a read. And then keep the WYRM's Gauntlet in mind next year when it comes around (it's been October into December previous years but was a bumped forward a couple of months this year).

Sunday, September 03, 2017

The Patterns of Cloth and Dreams released!

This novella is on Amazon now!

What's the story here? In the original series, Chels always wondered about how her mother's connection to the spire singer Derran. There were reasons why I didn't want to get into that question within the series, but I knew it was a story that was much more than just them meeting up on Derran's perch in the city.

So a few years ago I decided, with a friend's urging, to see what more I could write about Chels's mother, Nalariana. From the series it's known that she's Neshini and that she immigrated to Spire City some years before Chels's birth, but not as a child herself.

It's also known that the land of Nesh has been growing steadily colder over the years, that much of the land, by the time of the series, is no longer inhabitable. No doubt that was already beginning to happen when Nalariana decided to leave.

So that's where the story began. As I knew would happen, Nalariana--or Nalra as she sometimes called herself--quickly became a vivid character in her own right. And her journey of self discovery was one I found fascinating.

The story, I want to emphasize, works for people brand new to the setting as well as for those who read all the original episodes. It stands alone and has its own feel, its own arc quite separate from the rest—but of course those who've read the episodes will want this peek into an earlier time period as well.

Is it steampunk?

Well, the industrial revolution is beginning by this time, but it is a generation before the other stories, and the country where it takes place is much more at the periphery than Spire City is. So it feels a little less steampunk while still exploring the ideas of change and development that interest me in steampunk. At the same time there's a definite quest fantasy (where the quest is one of personal discovery) feel to the story as Nalra travels northward.

Whatever you want to call it, give it a read and enjoy!

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Patterns of Cloth and Dreams

More Spire City--coming soon!


More details about this novella next week, but for now admire that awesome cover art.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hunting Nazis

Earlier this summer I caught up on a Spanish drama that a number of my fellow Spanish teachers use for their classes, El Internado (The Boarding School, in English). An excellent story in general (though not appropriate for my school situation), but one scene in particular jumped into my memory last weekend, and I went back to rewatch the scene.

[Some spoilers below]

Fermín is a a jokester who's been in the school since before the first season, working as a cook. By now it's the final season, so we know his full story: that he's been undercover at the school, and his real purpose is to track down Nazis who came to Spain after World War II and still exert their influence in mysterious and deadly ways. He's easily one of my favorite characters in what's a pretty sprawling cast.

In this scene, he's exploring the secret passages with a soldier who has a complicated history with the secret organization founded by the former Nazis. We as viewers know more than Fermín, that Lt. Garrido was on their side until he got trapped behind a quarantine, but we aren't totally sure yet whether he's helping the students who are trapped or still hoping to betray them to get back in the good graces of the organization.

Anyway, Fermín is giving Garrido a hard time about never joking. Garrido doesn't answer directly, just asks if Fermín does his work out of some sense of vocation.


Fermín answers, "Well, man, the cooking—that relaxes me. But this hunting for Nazis, that's more for fun."


You can see the episode (with English subtitles if you need it) at http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2sqx4x (the whole series may also be on Netflix--it's been on and off since I started hearing about it from other teachers, and I don't have Netflix myself to check). The key scene is about 28 minutes in.

May we have many more Fermíns these days...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Story, poetry acceptances

Thrilled to have sold a story, "The Desert Cure," to Mythic Delirium.  It's a very personal story, in a very weird way...

Also pleased to have sold two poems to Polu Texni, "Ostracizing the Blacksmith," and "The Language of Denshi." I will post links to all when they are available.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Two poems published

I have a poem in each of the most recent SFPA publications:

"Naming the Trash Moons" is in issue 25 of Eye to the Telescope (free to read online). This is an SF poem I wrote specifically on the theme for the issue.

And "Some Things Overlooked" is in Starline 40.3, which can be purchased at that link (or if you're a member of SFPA, you get the issue for free). This is also an SF poem, of landing on a new planet...with a touch of horror underneath that arrival.

Give them a read, and check out the other poems in each as well.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spire City sale!

I'm participating in Smashwords' July sale. A ton of books are on sale or free at Smashwords for the month, including all three of the full season bundles.

So Season One: Infected is completely free.

Season Two: Pursued is down to half price.

And Season Three: Unwoven is also at half price. That means you can get the entire series for less than $5. If you haven't gotten around to reading the books, then this is a great time to do so. Or a great time to buy copies of the series to give to friends.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Some publications

The blog has been quiet for a while. I won't get into reasons or make any promises about its activity going forward. But I do want to get out here the things that have been published since my last update.

"Tending a Trace of Chaos" is a sonnet that appeared in Star*Line 40.1. I'm much more likely to write free verse than to follow any strict forms...but this is the second Mars-based, strict sonnet I've had published (and second I've written as well). Perhaps it's my niche...

"The Front" is a short story that appeared in Bourbon Penn 12, my third short story in that excellent magazine. It's an older story, written at a time of deep pessimism about war. The tagline in Latin reads, "art is brief, war is eternal." It's a play on a line of wisdom from Latin (and Greek before that) that I must have first come across in high school, and for some reason it always stuck with me. It translates as "life is brief, but art is long."

"The Poetics of Defiance" is one of the longer stories I've had published. It's a fun one that I'm very proud of. It started with an idea to come up with the two most unlikely jobs for a traditional sword & sorcery story, and I came up with an alchemist (I've liked the idea of a traveling alchemist ever since I was into D&D back in high school) and a poet. It ended up straying from the S&S idea somewhat... I had a lot of fun with creating the snippets of poetry for the attack poet.

I had two poems, "Uncanny Instrument (a fib)" and "Usurper Autumn," in last autumn's issue of Illumen (issue 23). Brought to you by the letter U, I guess. "Uncanny Instrument" is the second fib I've had published--another form poem. "Usurper Autumn" is free verse.

"The Essences of Good and Evil" appeared last week in Every Day Fiction. Like many of my stories, it started as a one-hour exercise with some writer friends. It takes a cliche I never would normally touch--a dark lord brought down by a plucky band of heroes--and gives it a playful, what-comes-next storyline that turns it somewhat on its head. Based on the reviews below, I think many of the readers don't exactly share my sense of play... Ah well.

There will be some more publications coming up fairly soon (I think...). But this is enough of a post for one day.