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.
I’m feeling behind on a lot of things right now. It was last month—last month!—that I stayed in a beach house for the first time, which is kind of wild considering I grew up only an hour and a half away from the Oregon coast (we always just did day trips). This time, my family stayed for the weekend and braved the winding road in and out of Ecola State Park, explored Fort Clatsop, and toured Astoria’s Columbia River Maritime Museum. At my husband’s urging, the four of us went out to the beach after dark one night. We hadn’t taken a vacation in a year. It was so nice to get a change of scenery and pace!
Confession time: When I was a kid, I hated going to the beach. I used to complain about it each summer, and pretty much the only part I enjoyed was my dad taking me to feed the seals at the Seaside Aquarium. As an adult, I’ve grown to appreciate my complicated relationship with the beach, especially as I’ve experienced different ones.
My family is pretty much snowed in for a few days—nearly business as usual in the pandemic, since we wouldn’t be going out much anyway. And with telecommuting, no more snow days for me for work. But with the long weekend, I’ve been chipping away at various works in progress.
I recently received a couple acceptances that at first glance couldn’t seem more different: one a poem, one a short story; one a light fantasy, the other dark/horror. But both from deeply personal spaces, with some thematic connections. More to come on that.
My flash story “Riddle Hatch” features a sphinx egg, a strong aunt, and her curious nephew. You can read it now at Page & Spine’s Outta This World page.
I wrote this during a quick writing exercise at the PDX Writers retreat I attended before COVID-19. Our retreat leader, Jennifer Springsteen, produced three items from a bag and passed them around: a metallic tool, an egg-shaped stone, and a sculpture of a person in a despondent position. Then we had 15 minutes to incorporate all three into a piece. It was a great challenge for me to get out of my own way, throw words down, and try to wrap everything up quickly. I completed the rough draft in the nick of time.
When I wrote this story, my workplace at the time had hired a bunch of new people within a few months. The email announcements kept popping up, and I took the pattern of their structure and decided to write a story based on it. Once I had a few details in place, I researched job titles, qualifications, work histories, etc. I enjoy unexpected story structures, from Sofia Samatar’s “Walkdog” posing as a school assignment, to the creepy message boards of Candle Cove. I’d already written a tale, “Little Seed,” as diary entries, so this time it was great fun trying to create narrative out of an email or two.