Thursday, September 21, 2017

"You Can Adapt to Anything" at Daily Science Fiction

I wrote you a new story! It's live over at Daily Science Fiction, and it's called "You Can Adapt to Anything."


It follows Juniper and Miguel, two engineering prodigies who dream of being the first people to set foot in a parallel universe. The two were so alike they were almost destined to fall for each other. When they finally open that portal, they find another Juniper and Miguel, who've been working on the same project. The Junipers accidentally switch, and are stranded in alternate realities. But this isn't a bizarre land where the dinosaurs still roam over the North lost the Civil War. Our nearest neighboring universes are nearly identical to our own, just one probability variation away. So Juniper is stranded on earth just like hers, with a life that's nearly identical, trying to get back to her Miguel, and trying to ignore the identical man working beside her.

The reactions have been amazing. Thanks to everyone who's already read and shared this story. It's something I've wanted to write since I was 15.

Thanks as well to the small army of alpha, beta, and final readers who joined me in Juniper's journey. Thank you to A.T. Greenblatt, Cassie Williams, Janice Smith, Phil Margolies, David Twiddy, Laurence Brothers, and Katherine Hajer.

And thanks to Daily Science Fiction for publishing me for the third time. I do so enjoy being in their digital pages.

You can read the entirety of "You Can Adapt to Anything" for free by clicking this link.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Rarely Asked Questions 2017

Happy birthday to people who were born on the same day as myself! Today I'm celebrating by playing the RAQ: the Rarely Asked Questions. Everything here was submitted by people who swear they've never asked these to anyone else before. I will do my best to give them an adequate first answer. Feel free to judge my adequacy in the Comments.

Mris asked, "What is your favorite kind of roof?"

I like the Heroic Shingle package myself. The shingles seem sturdy enough for people to run across, but in case of antagonism, slide conveniently to a steep fall. This would be unappealing if it ever killed a noble soul, but such souls always catch the lip of the roof or a ladder, whereas villains fall to serious spinal injury. It’s a fine trope and it keeps your attic dry.

Mary Garber asked, "Which Firefly character would you want reincarnated into your pet cat? The one who would be watching you sleeping?"
Recognizing that I have a highly dangerous allergy to cats, I doubt I’ll be spending more than one night in the same room as any of the Firefly reincarnates. But Alan Tudyk is a very versatile actor, so I think he’d do the most dynamic job playing the animal whose dander kills me. Hopefully he gets nominated for some award over it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Great Things I Read in July and August, 2017 Edition

I'll miss you, Summer 2017! Fun as it was to see people at so many cons, it's nice to have the weather cool down and be able to stay home for a while. While I can't tell you some of the projects I'm working on yet, I am happy to share some of my favorite free reads from over the last two months. As always, everything here is free to read. Just click the link. If you like what you read, please consider donating to the author's Patreon, or subscribing to the related magazine. So many places are struggling to get it done right now.


Fiction

"Skills To Keep the Devil In His Place" by Lia Swope Mitchell at Shimmer Magazine
-This is somewhere between a possession story and Slipstream. Slipstream usually bends towards the Fantastic, so seeing it wax toward Horror intrigues. Here a girl is going through the typical pains of adolescence - how to bond with people while protecting her psyche, conflict with a mother who seems alternately ambivalent and overbearing. But at the same time, she feels like the Devil himself is sometimes in her eyes, or sitting in her lap, sometimes in disgustingly vivid detail. The story teases us with how this sort of possession will overlap with the person she's turning into simply as a teenager, and whether she'll do right by anyone in her life - her mother, her BFF, or even Satan. The most poignant part is when she's so horrendously bullied at school that the strange demon slithering out from under her bed at night feels like a viable companion. Possession stories don't examine human isolation often enough, but Mitchell gets it.

"Never Yawn Under a Banyan Tree" by Nibetida Sen at Anathema Magazine
-A literally and figuratively spirited story! Dating advice is usually awkward, but especially when it comes from a ghost you accidentally swallowed. Our interloper here is a pret, which fell from a banyan tree and into our narrator's gullet. The pret thinks our narrator could do better than her current romantic prospects, and kicks off a delightful series of events that I don't want to spoil. But I've re-read this story three times over August, just to smile to at certain bits.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Two Story Sales! And more questions for my big RAQ

Happy Tuesday, Earth!

You may have noticed my birthday is coming up on September 4th. I'm celebrating with a custom called the RAQ: the Rarely Asked Questions. I'm asking you to ask me whatever you've never asked anyone else, no matter how silly, personal, or profound. Drop your unusual questions off on that post through this handy link.

But I also have two two story sales to share with you. I'm so excited for both of these to go out into the world.

The first is "The First Stop is Always The Last." This is a Groundhog's Day-like time loop story, following a bus driver who can't seem to make it to the second stop on her route. It might have to do with her single eccentric passenger. This story sold to Flash Fiction Online, and will be my fifth (?!) story in their magazine.

Many thanks to my beta readers on this one: Leigh Wallace, Ariel Harris, and Cassie Williams. It's another stretch for me, expanding what I can do with my fiction, though I don't want to spoil how just yet!

The second story is simply titled "Tank!" This one was the result of joking around with Max Gladstone at 4th Street about how tough it would be for a tank to attend a convention. So, it's literally about the exploits of a sapient tank that just wants to make some friends at Comic Con. Being about a tank, there's a surprising amount of my own lived experience at cons in this story.

Thanks to my beta readers on this one: Alison Wilgus, Paul Starr, Samari Smith, Max Gladstone, Merc Rustad, Leigh Wallace (hi again!), and Cassie Williams (hi again, Part II!). "Tank!" is expected over at Diabolical Plots in June of 2018. It's funny to already have a story set for next summer!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Gathering the Rarely Asked Questions of 2017

I can't believe it's been five years since I asked people to look at my RAQ. This was an annual highlight of the Bathroom Monologues calendar, and I'm resurrecting it in 2017.

What is the RAQ, you ask?

Well my birthday is September 4th. Up until Friday, September 1st, I'm asking you to ask me questions that you've never asked anyone else. These are the Rarely Asked Questions.

Examples include:

-What is the vapor point of extra virgin olive oil?

-If an 80's cartoon villain had to be your aunt, who would you pick?

-If he wants to avoid the conductor and skip the fare, what is the best time for a Mummy to hop the Baltimore light rail?

You can ask as many questions as you like, as long as they're unique. What you don't normally ask anyone else is entirely up to you. Please leave your mysteries and queries in the Comments section of this post.

I'll compile every question and answer at least one per person on September 4th - my birthday.  That's how I like to celebrate.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Two Publications!

Friends! How's your summer going? Because mine's been a heck of a ride.

In the last week I've had two very different things published in venues I adore. I'd like to share them with you before August carries us all off to parts unknown.

First up is "A Silhouette Against Armageddon," my latest flash to be published at Fireside Magazine. This is my third piece they've published, and I'm quite flattered. The story follows a man who's afraid someone is breaking into his coffin. Why he's woken up in his coffin in the first place is a matter of some consternation.

I honestly think it's one of my best pieces of fiction to date, and it would've been a highlight of the Bathroom Monologues run. As proud as I am of it, I was still surprised by how many people have been sharing it around the internet. I've never been tagged in so many personal messages on social media like this. If you've already read and shared it, thank you. You brightened a dark week for me.

You can read the story for free right here.

The second piece is an essay that was a long time coming. Uncanny Magazine is running a Kickstarter to fund Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, a special issue written and edited entirely by disabled writers. It's picking where Lightspeed's Destroy issues left off, and it's something long overdue in the field. I'm happy to have contributed a personal essay to the drive.

My essay is "BFFs in the Apocalypse" (I still can't believe they let me use that title), about the paucity of friendships between disabled characters in fiction. Usually we're a token member of a group of otherwise non-disabled protagonists. That's one reason why The Stand is so significant to me - its friendship between Nick and Tom is precious and should be the start of much more in our literature.

You can read the essay for free right here at Uncanny's Kickstarter. If you like it and believe in the cause, please consider becoming a backer!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, June 2017 Edition

Nebulas: Done!

4th Street Fantasy: Done!

College Reunion: Done!

The blitz of Spring turning into Summer is almost over. I just have one convention left - Readercon, ironically the only place I won't be doing panels or hosting. As much as I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, I'm equally anticipating all the sleep I get to catch up on afterward. Plus Spoonbenders and Little Witch Academia are calling my name.

Over June, I read some brilliant short fiction and rattling non-fiction. It's a great way to keep the mind sharp in a bunch of airports. As always, everything linked here is free to read in full. Simply click the link in the title of each piece and away you'll go.

Fiction

"Small Changes Over Long Periods in Time" by K.M. Szpara at Uncanny Magazine
-"My attacker holds me like he did on the dance floor" is one of those lines that tightens your guts. Immediately after learning that our narrator was once attacked and turned into a vampire in an alley, we learn it was by their date. The story uses the tropes of vampire fiction to take us through the criminally less-exposed trans experience, including our narrator getting socked by the politics of the Federal Vampire Commission for having an "atypical body." It all builds up to an absolutely beautiful final exchange with their attacker, in which metaphor and power structures get grabbed by the neck.

"The Existentialist Men" by Gwendolyn Clare at Diabolical Plots
-Come for the play on comic book titles, stay for a sweet profiles of people with odd powers (or equally odd absences of powers). Clare swiftly gives you a sense of the community between the people, even if their powers made it difficult for them to always coexist. My favorite is the shortest entry: "Julie could disappear, but only once. We all miss Julie."

"Water Like Air" by Lora Gray at Flash Fiction Online
-Tom Hatcher doesn't believe in ghosts, but something stranger than the average haunting comes dripping to his doorstep. The story opens with Elodia, a mysterious woman, being covered in slime and heaving her way out of the lake. It's all part of her coming home - to Tom. This is one of those creeping flash fictions that only gives you full context after you've gotten goosebumps. The flood inside Tom is calling to her.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Evil Isn't a Disability - An Essay on Ableism in Horror, live at Fireside Magazine

Today, Fireside Magazine published a new essay of mine about Horror, Politics, and Disability. What began as a plaintive question on Twitter has turned into one of the best surprises of my year.

The essay probes into dangerous messages about disability inside 10 Cloverfield Lane and Don't Breathe, and the disgusting ableism both inside the Trump campaign and in attacks against him. Horror and Politics love to compete with each other. Together, they formed a cogent view of disabled people that needs to be dissected, but is only appreciable together. Ableism is always about larger context.


Special thanks to A.T. Greenblatt and Cassie Williams for test reading this, and to Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Brian White for providing editorial. Fireside's staff has been nothing but thoughtful throughout the process. It's been a privilege to work with them.

You can read the essay by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, May 2017 Edition

May kicked off my busy summer, as I finished a novel and visited the Nebula Awards for the first time. This travel is wiping me out, but it's a pleasure to see so many people on the road. Editing has severely eaten my reading time, but I still have some flash, short stories, and non-fiction that I positively have to share.

As always, everything linked here is free to read with no paywall. Just click the title of any piece that interests you. If you like what you read, please consider subscribing to the zine or the author's Patreon.

As never before, there's also this fish. The fish make more sense later.



Fiction
"Carbon Dating" by Effie Seiberg and Spencer Ellsworth at Galaxy's Edge
-No focus group could have honed a story more precisely for me. The Internet becomes self-aware, searches itself to decide it must become happy, and then goes about trying to find true love. But dating sites aren't so wieldy for the incorporeal lovers of this world, and love isn't so rational thing. Thusly, The Internet winds up in love with a mountain has a comely array of glaciers. It is, as our authors put it, "a rocky relationship." It's whimsical, weird, and unlike anything else I've read this year. It makes an off appeal to anthropomorphism, because our internet might well become self-aware (or sprout several self-awarenesses), making this not quite implausible - just that it's an unusual idea for the direction self-awareness might take it. Really, it's among the nicer directions such an event could go.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

"Under the Rubble" is live at Pseudopod!

I'm pleased to announce that "Under the Rubble" has been published over at Pseudopod! It's a Horror story about two people trapped under debris following an earthquake. Except one of them doesn't believe it was an earthquake at all.

They've given it a full podcast adaptation, with a soundtrack and narration by Marguerite Kenner. The proprietor of the podcast network, Alasdair Stuart, also gave me a generous introduction, and an insightful response to the story as an outro. I couldn't be more delighted.

I have to thank my beta readers who have looked at this story of the years since I first had the idea: Samari Smith, Jemma Mayer, Cassie Willaims, Nat Sylva, and Randall Nichols. This story would not be readable without them.

To hear "Under the Rubble," click here and stream or download it to your heart's content.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My True Convention Story That I Wish Was Fiction



We're going into convention season, and I keep meeting new writers who are nervous about making bad impressions. Especially early on, you dread that anything you do will kill your career. In order to make some anonymous writers feel a little better, I want to share a story that I wish wasn't true.

My greatest convention shame began with a great short story. It was nominated for an award at this con I was attending, and was one of the funniest Science Fiction shorts I'd ever read. It was vicious, sometimes repulsive, using impossible plots for hilarious ends. It was so funny that I got up in the middle of it to annoy friends by reading random passages aloud.

As I spread glowing reviews across social media, I discovered something: most reviewers hated this story.

Many of the reviewers were attracted just because it was nominated for this Prestigious Award; they argued that it was too morbid, too awful, or not even a story. After a while, I felt the author was being wronged. Dear reader, I argued on the internet.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Interviewed about Writing and Disability

I'm pleased to be a guest this month at Almost An Author, a site designed to help new writers shape their careers. Kathryn Johnson had me over there to discuss writing with disability, the writing life, and my peculiar health. If you ever wanted a glimpse at just what a diagnostic weirdo I am, the first question will fill you right up.

It's been a while since I've been interviewed in long form like this. It was a lot of fun - I think I laughed more than the average subject. Kathryn was also very considerate and made the chat fun. You can read the entire text here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bathroom Monologue: Magicians and Hacks

Bobby wanted to be a magician, but couldn't fit all the scarves up his sleeve and made a pocket dimension instead. He was a hack.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Great Things I've Been Reading, April 2017 Edition

I am so unprepared for May. Are you unprepared for May? Well let's make it a little easier with some quality fiction and journalism. As with every time I gather my favorite reads, everything listed here is free to read. The link to read is in the title of each piece. April was an unusually good month for humorous and quirky fiction, which got me through some rough times. Let's have a look!

Fiction

"Attending Your Own Funeral: An Etiquette Guide" by Erica L. Satifka at Daily Science Fiction
-Quirky, morbid, and with just enough heart, this story gets you ready to see your own funeral, in the next universe over. The other attendees? All parallel universe versions of the same lady, naturally, who compare notes on their successes and tragedies. Who stole technology, who destroyed the atmosphere, and what the heck they were after in the first place. Satifka packs so many neat ideas into a tight package.

 "Running safety tips for humans" by Marissa Lingen at Nature Magazine
-Science Fiction often examines alien invasions. But did the last one figure out how our alien overlords will ruin jogging? This is a delightful piece of list fiction, breaking down the hazards of a possibly human-eating species that's babysitting our planet, and how to stay fit while they're in control.
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