Coming soon: A story about a machine, dispensed from a machine

My story “The Menagerie Machine” will soon be available in the winter issue of Rendez-Vous, as well as from Short Édition Short Story Dispensers, which produce (for free!) printouts of short stories and poetry at the push of a button.  That’s right, you’ll be able to get my story about a machine, dispensed from a machine, and if you think about it, any book published in an automated way comes into the world through machinery.  A dispenser expedites the process, the ultimate in print-on-demand.  Their locations include airports, universities, and other places where people are passing the time and could benefit from some free, curated reading material.

Publication announcement: “DEZLON-182-D’s Scrapbook”

I’m excited to announce that my story “DEZLON-182-D’s Scrapbook” is available now as part of Harbinger Press’s Flash Fiction Fridays.  I don’t want to risk any spoilers, what with this story being newly published, but some other time I’ll have to share about how life sort of imitated art right after I’d completed the rough draft of this one.  That very same weekend.

What I can say for now is that the initial idea for this one came back when I decided to try my hand at making a scrapbook of my wedding rather than a traditional photo album.  I learned that I’m not a scrapbooker, no sirree.  Come to think of it, I should’ve known that already, because I’d tried once before for a study abroad trip.  That one I managed to complete.  The wedding one remains in progress.  While we were newlyweds, my husband encouraged me to focus more on my writing, as he knew it was a lifelong passion of mine.  So, I boxed up the scrapbook project, guilt-free, and started looking for a writer’s group to join.  And I’m so very grateful he did.  It was exactly the push I needed at that time.

Writing about things that are fake

My younger son’s class has been studying fantasy stories this month.  When I asked him about it yesterday, he thought for a moment and said, “Yeah, they’re stories about things that aren’t real.”  I beamed and said, “That’s what I write!”  He looked at me with a slightly shocked expression and said, “You write about things that are fake?”

Talk about a loaded question.  My mind raced with points I knew didn’t fit this conversation:  how technically all fiction by definition is about the non-real, how fiction writers tend to explore kernels of truth by defamiliarizing the mundane, how you’re more likely to see the significance of fakeness if you first understand the genuine counterpart, and how some argue that all writing can be considered metaphor if you dig deep enough.

Instead, I stammered something about using lots of imagination.  This seemed to satisfy him, and our conversation moved on.  A few minutes later, he suddenly blurted out a couple sentences about a ghost leading me to a dark dungeon.  I beamed once more and told him, “You just made up a fantasy story!”  He looked away with a shy, pleased smile.

Publication announcement: “Warren”

I’m pleased to share that 87 Bedford has published my 50-word story “Warren.”  This little dribble of a tale came about when I attended a recent workshop on micro fiction led by Becky Kjelstrom, the President of Oregon Writers Colony, and her writing partner, Robin Anderson.  For one exercise, they passed around greeting cards with interesting artwork on the front, and one with an image of woodland creatures playing instruments jumped out at me.  They challenged us to write a 50-word story, and my mind went off on a bit of a dark tangent from the enchanting source material.  Inspiration can come from anywhere!

I love the challenge of micro fiction, how like poetry it brings the focus down to the individual word level.

Publication announcement: “Fellscorpe and the Wishing Well”

I’m so happy to share that the latest issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, out now, includes my story “Fellscorpe and the Wishing Well,” with a beautiful illustration by Simon Walpole.

One day on the MAX train I read a blog post by Nicole Dieker, where she discussed whether one’s approach toward a wishing well might influence the success of one’s wish.  I admired how she took the concept of “be careful what you wish for” one step further to imply “be careful how you wish for it.”  By the end of my ride, the character of Fellscorpe had stomped onto center stage in my mind.  I hope you enjoy him as much as I enjoyed writing him.

Publication announcements: “Bone Chill of a Too-Wide Smile” and “Neck of the Woods”

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 subscribersThrilling 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.


Water damage and a hobbit house – My writing retreat

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.

It was a lovely, productive day.

McMenamins Edgefield Little Red Shed
The view from my afternoon writing spot

Poetry publication: “Calypso, Riddled”

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.

You can also hear the audio of my poem on Zoetic Press’s Alphanumeric podcast, read by Lise Quintana.

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.

Reprint announcement: “Venom in the Cloud Forest”

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.

Cloudforest Chocolate