My latest poem, “A Pixie Built a Human House,” appears in the inaugural issue of Pastel Pastoral Magazine, available today. I’ve always loved the idea of fairy houses, so reversing the scale was great fun. The first line (also the title) popped into my head while I was on a walk and processing a frustrating event in my life from the day before. You might consider this poem about parental love the yang to the yin of my horror story “Hell-ium Balloon,” as I coyly referenced when that story came out earlier this year in Last Girls Club.
By the way, I have another fairy poem due out next month in the anthology Into the Glen: Into the Light, and a dark fantasy poem scheduled for this fall in The Common Tongue Magazine. And later this month, some big news on my fiction and a workshop!
Parsec Ink has just launched an Indiegogo campaign to bring Triangulation: Habitats to the masses soon, very soon. Please consider making a donation if you can, or help get the word out to support the anthology. My story “Discount Night at the Haunted Eco Lodge” will be part of this assemblage of speculative stories and poems about sustainable habitats.
By the way, one of the perks you can sign up for is a set of 5 books, including a copy of 2017’s Triangulation: Appetites, which contains my second ever story sale—and it’s still the only place you can find “Little Seed”! Curious?
Oof, that heatwave that hit the Pacific Northwest last week was rough. First, we had record temperatures here in Beaverton, then it followed my family across the Cascades to central Oregon, where we’d booked a vacation in Sunriver just outside Bend. On the way over, we saw eerie evidence of last year’s wildfires, with huge swaths of darkened, discolored forest, and here and there new houses and other buildings under construction.
Turns out that most houses in Sunriver, at least at the time I’m writing this, don’t have air conditioning. Then halfway through the trip, on our way out of the High Desert Museum, our car decided that it didn’t need air conditioning either. Suffice to say, we had quite the adventure.
We made the most of it, though, getting the kids on horseback for their first time, taking them rafting on a slow part of the Deschutes River, and getting them in touch with some of their roots at a Peruvian restaurant. And the High Desert Museum has really expanded since my last visit there years ago, with a great mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits. We had to rush through the outdoor ones, though, since it was well over 100 degrees.
Definitely a memorable trip! I’d ambitiously hoped to finish drafting a story during this vacation, but the heat and resulting lack of sleep baked the creativity and focus right out of me.
In other news, The Rail has published a poem of mine called “The Drama of Raindrops.” I have my older son to thank for this one. He was telling me about a school assignment to write a weather poem, and he suggested I write one too. I jumped at the chance. We each independently chose rain—not surprising, given where we live. I remembered staring at raindrops in my youth as my mom would drive me around to and from school or running errands. Nowadays, I don’t take enough time to study and enjoy them like I used to. It’s sad when adult concerns crowd out those types of simple pleasures. I still adore the sound of rain while I’m inside, warm and dry.
Honeyguide Literary Magazine has published two of my poems in their new issue on mythical creatures, including the one I read an excerpt of at the Nebula Conference this past weekend. You can read all of “Sonnet of the South American Sphinx” plus “The Ichthyocentaur Beyond Marginalia” starting now if you’re a patron, otherwise the issue is available for purchase starting June 15th. In a fun Nebula-related bonus, my awesome panel moderator, May Chong, also has poems in this issue!
For “Sonnet of the South American Sphinx,” I wondered what it would be like if one of my favorite mythical creatures shared some common roots with me, and after I played around with various rhyme schemes, the result came out in a Petrarchan sonnet.
For “The Ichthyocentaur Beyond Marginalia,” I have my younger son to thank. I went to tuck him in and found him reading a book about oceans he’d gotten for his birthday. The page he was on showed fantastical sea creatures on an old-fashioned map, similar to the ones we saw at the maritime museum in Astoria a few months ago (see below). I’d been wanting to write about sea monsters ever since, and when I spotted an ichthyocentaur in that book, I knew it was time.
Ooh, I’ve been itching to share this news. It’s time for those two announcements I promised at the end of last month:
First, the program schedule for the online Nebula Conference is available, and I’m super excited to be on a panel about my two literary loves, speculative fiction and poetry! I’ll admit, it was years before I realized that anyone can register for the Nebula Conference, not just SFWA members—so please don’t make my mistake. I finally attended last year online and had a wonderful experience. If you’re able to join us (or watch the recording later, which will be available all year to registrants), I’ll be talking about Bridging Verse and Prose in Speculative Writing along with R.B. Lemberg, Mari Ness, Eugen Bacon, and May Chong.
Second, a short story of mine was selected for the upcoming anthology Triangulation: Habitats from Parsec Ink! I’ll post more about it as the publication date draws closer, but for now you can look forward to multiple writers’ creative interpretations of sustainable habitats viewed through a speculative lens.
If you enjoy listening to spooky stories performed by a talented cast, do check out Thirteen horror podcast. And if you would be so “sweet” as to support them on Patreon, you can access a recording of my story “My Little Sugar Plum” and other bonus content to “sate your appetite” between their podcast episodes. This story of mine first appeared in Nothing’s Sacred Vol. 4.
Stay tuned for those two announcements I’ve been promising, which I’m hoping to post within the next few days. Also, I’ve got several new poems on the horizon.
I got the idea for “The Banquet at the Center of the Maze” from a scene in a jigsaw puzzle (which, if you’ve read my story “Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge,” shouldn’t come as much of a surprise). My kids and I were working on a puzzle called Lost in a Jigsaw, a hedge maze of various scenes in diagonal perspective where each non-edge piece is the same shape (!), so you must first decipher which pieces make up which scene, then how the scenes fit together to form a cohesive maze (which I swear isn’t an oxymoron), and as I’m typing this I’m thinking of all sorts of metaphors for my writing process. Anyway, one part of the puzzle shows a table set with food. Empty chairs. No banqueters in sight. It got me wondering, who would go to all that trouble in the midst of those twisty hedges?
For my poem “Hooves on Gravel, Like Teeth on Bones,” I wanted to try a pantoum. It seemed like a great form for a maze poem, winding back upon itself like one giant dead end. The title popped into my head, so I plugged it in as one of the lines and built the rest of the poem around that.
Wow, I did a lousy job providing updates this month. Things may have looked quiet around here, but I wrote some poems, did some story editing, completed a new flash draft (thanks to a workshop from one of the masters, Tina Connolly), and have a couple of exciting announcements coming next month.
As for this year’s National Poetry Month, I kicked things off by attending a virtual reading by Kim Stafford, in which he called poems “implements of connection.” I love that.
I went through some old files and found letters from my late maternal grandmother, complete with some of the light verse she used to compose. On one of her poem cards, she’d attached a sticky note with the dictionary definition of an ode and wrote, “Don’t you think this qualifies?” I do, Grandma, I do.
I know I made reference last month to a lighter, poetry counterpart to my story “Hell-ium Balloon” coming out soon, but first up I’ll have two darker poems in the next issue of Coffin Bell.
I sometimes go out of my way to avoid putting too much personal life into my stories. At least, not without multiple layers of disguise. But for this one, I reached outside my comfort zone to address a sensitive topic more directly, in the hopes it might help someone else out there or at least call attention to an experience that doesn’t appear to be the norm. I’m positive I had undiagnosed postpartum depression after one of my pregnancies. I wish I’d gotten it diagnosed and dealt with properly. If you can relate, please know you’re not alone.
How did I end up delving into this topic in my writing? By combining it with another experience, one that’s happened more frequently since I became a parent: having a half-deflated balloon drift through my house. It’s kind of silly during the day. But at night—oh, at night…
By the way, if you’re craving something on the lighter side (dare I say, even twee), I’ve got something due out for you soon.