I’m—well, thrilled to announce that Thrilling Words has published two of my stories! First up is “Neck of the Woods,” available to read on their website, and “Bone Chill of a Too-Wide Smile” is available to their subscribers. Thrilling Words offers pairs of speculative flash stories that are somehow related. My two stories share thematic connections around extreme engagement/disengagement and transformation. You could say they deal with the consequences of obsession.
I’d long wanted to write a jester story as well as something featuring glass delusion, and it finally occurred to me to combine those ideas into “Bone Chill of a Too-Wide Smile.” For naming my jester character, I drew upon two other fictional ones: Giacomo from the film The Court Jester, and Reala from the NiGHTS video games.
For “Neck of the Woods,” I’d been reading about mycology and how fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. Then on a walk I came across a group of enormous mushrooms, pictured below. A while later, one of my sons randomly started intoning “Fungus among us” at the dinner table, which he claimed he’d heard in a TV show. This story spawned from there—like a fairy ring.
I participated in a one-day writing retreat last weekend, a chance to challenge myself by writing to prompts and shaking up my usual routine with a new setting—namely, the McMenamins Edgefield, a historic property full of whimsical art and tucked away rooms and buildings to explore. A few days before the workshop, local media reported a burst pipe had caused an evacuation and flooding at the Edgefield. Thankfully the damage wasn’t as bad as the news made it seem, and the workshop could proceed as planned. I arrived to the sight of equipment, tubing, lots of work being done in the hallways, plastic around all the piping, that sort of thing. It added some extra character to a place that already has lots of that.
In the afternoon I plunked myself down in the property’s Little Red Shed, a little hobbit house of a building, for a quiet writing session. I had the place pretty much to myself.
I’m happy to announce that my poem “Calypso, Riddled” appears in the NonBinary Review issue themed around Homer’s epic The Odyssey! This issue explores, reinterprets, and extrapolates upon the source material, taking the reader on their own “odyssey” through many authors’ perspectives, each like the next island in the route.
I recall the fateful day my undergrad Classical Cultures class was finally going to discuss The Odyssey. This was the big one I’d been waiting for on the syllabus, with all the epic’s fantastical elements—the creatures, the adventure. Alas, early on in class that day I raised my hand not to contribute to the conversation but to excuse myself, for I’d succumbed to a 24-hour flu infiltrating my dorm. Not my finest moment.
I feel so vindicated having this poem published. Consider it my belated contribution to the discussion, a brief exploration of agency and consequences.
The anthology Pioneers & Pathfinders just came out, featuring speculative fiction about exploration and frontiers, including my story “Venom in the Cloud Forest.” This tale first showed up in Myriad Lands Vol. 2: Beyond the Edge, and once again, with Pioneers & Pathfinders, I’m floored by the diverse settings of all the accompanying stories.
I felt like celebrating this publication with a sweet treat. Luckily my middle sister had told me about a local chocolatier, Cloudforest, that sources their cacao from none other than Ecuador—and has the most fitting name. Perfect.
Back home from a California vacation, mentally rested but with wincingly sore feet. We almost had to cancel this trip at the last minute, but fortune smiled upon us. We spent a lovely weekend with my eldest sister’s family in San Diego, where we checked off my sons’ three requests: 1) go to the beach, 2) tour the Midway aircraft carrier, and 3) make homemade guacamole with their aunt – not to mention spend lots of quality time with their cousins.
The tide was on the high side when we got to the beach. My sister spotted a bunch of these little butterfly-like shells scattered across the sand, all different colors.
The aircraft carrier was pretty impressive. I enjoyed weaving through the labyrinthine forward loop.
And the homemade guac was delicious! Later everyone surprised me with an equally yummy chocolate cake for my birthday, which was the day we headed out from my sister’s house to our next destination, LEGOLAND.
My other sister had convinced me to stay a night in the LEGOLAND Hotel, and oh my goodness, it was awesome.
We stayed in an Adventure themed room, all ancient Egyptian style.
We had much fun in the park too, especially getting early access one morning and doing the Ninjago ride three times in a row before the main crowd arrived. That enabled me to claim two spots on the daily top five scores (apparently using the same moves). Check it out:
However, I feel compelled to point out that the number one slot appears to be occupied by… Is that..?
Sigh. Moving on. We headed up to Disneyland for a couple of days that really put my feet to the test. So much walking. This was a week just full of birthdays, because we inadvertently arrived on the day of the park’s 64th birthday. Plus, LEGOLAND had been celebrating their 20th.
We discovered on this trip that my kids have already surpassed me in the intensity of rides they’re willing to go on. Not that hard to do, actually, but still. Good news for my husband. Also, Disney has really upped their game of character meet and greets. Spying for stormtroopers in the new Star Wars area? Playing hide and seek with Peter Pan and Captain Hook? Yup, my boys had a very magical time. We all did.
And finally, I leave you with a photo that will make more sense this fall:
I’m pleased to share that the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review has published my poem “The Geologist Speaks” in their Science & Science Fiction themed issue! I provided some poet’s notes about the origins of this free verse poem (hint: it involves a geotech—not a geologist, strangely enough—and a dictionary). I’ve long thought the world needs more science-based poetry in it, so being part of this issue is a real treat for me. Science offers a wealth of terminology and concepts that beg to be made into crisp imagery and metaphors.
“Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge” is free to read online now at Apparition Lit, including the Creator Spotlight interview questions at the end. Want to know who and what inspired this story? Or see a sample of stats I keep on my submissions, if you’re a data nerd like me? Or need a word of encouragement if you’re a writer and racking up rejections, like me? It’s in there.
Please consider buying the ebook of the complete Ambition issue, and be sure to check out the other stories and poems. Fun fact: One of the other contributors, Donna J.W. Munro, appeared alongside me in Nothing’s Sacred Vol. 4!
I’m excited to share that my story “Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge” is out now in the Ambition issue of Apparition Literary Magazine! This story explores sibling rivalry, VR technology, and games and puzzles. There’s also an author Q&A where I explain more about the story’s inspiration.
As for the issue’s theme, I’ve been thinking a lot about ambition the past couple years. The decision to go to grad school didn’t come easily for me, especially due to the impact on my husband and young kids. When I was growing up, my dad worked very hard and was very fortunate to have a great career, but he always prioritized family. I’ve always looked up to him for that. Ambition can be so personal and play out in a number of ways, which I think makes it a fascinating theme to explore in fiction.
After that Sunday morning thunderstorm, we traipsed through the rain in our hoods like good little Portlanders until it got sunny again. We checked out the Guenther House and walked through the scenic King William historic district, which reminded me of the Garden District in New Orleans with all the mansions. However, we noticed it was eerily deserted. Oh, sure, there were cars parked along the streets, but we were the only humans in sight, whether pedestrian, driver, resident, or otherwise. I commented that either the storm had scared everyone away or we had become postapocalyptic survivors.
That afternoon we caught the river shuttle north, through the lock, and up to the Pearl Brewery area. It was a peaceful boat ride with lots of interesting murals, bridges, and buildings to see along the way. I can see why San Antonio is fashioning itself as the Venice of America. I enjoyed walking through Hotel Emma. Very cool industrial style. We were staying in the Menger Hotel, which was super close to the Alamo as well as a major stop on the ghost tour.
That night we watched the San Fernando Cathedral Light Show. We arrived a few minutes late, but luckily the show lasts quite a while, so we didn’t feel like we’d missed out. We really enjoyed it. The images projected onto the cathedral and the accompanying music celebrate the history of San Antonio and the blending of cultures in the city. There are strong influences from Mexico and Germany all over, from the names on the cemetery headstones to the street and building names. In fact, our last dinner in San Antonio was at a German restaurant, where my mom told us a few anecdotes about her side of the family; her father, my grandpa, was from Germany.
Since an early morning thunderstorm has taken the liberty of forcing me onto this time zone, I’ll get caught up on yesterday. The Alamo tour was very informative—did you know the iconic church building didn’t originally have a roof?—and I really enjoyed walking the grounds and seeing the historic walls surrounded by so much greenery. There was a Turkish festival setting up in the plaza, so we swung by that too.
At the end of our ghost tour last night, the tour guide recommended some local dishes to try. When my mom, sisters, and I asked her for more info., she said the bus could drop us off at one of the locations. So, after everyone else had (ahem) departed, we got a personal trip on the ghost tour bus!
I forgot to mention, back home on Friday while going through airport security, as soon as I went through the scanning machine, they pulled me aside. Turns out they needed to check my hair. That’s right, my hair is so thick it had to be frisked.
Hmm, technical difficulties are preventing me from uploading any photos as this time. I’ll have to try again later.