Monthly Archives: December 2014

A Faulty Camera In Our Minds

I was talking with a friend of mine about memory, and asked him if he ever had those moments where you think, “I’m going to remember this forever.” And as he’s one of those people with a propensity for saying wise things, he answered, “Mostly I think, ‘I hope I never forget this.'”

You know what? He’s right about that.

I’ve sat down to write a 2014 retrospective half a dozen times in the last two weeks, and each time I’ve come up short. Partially it’s because 2014 was a really good year for me, and it just feels weird to go on and on about my personal victories. But partially it’s because the whole tapestry of experiences, friendships, joy, and tears that make up the last year of my life is already blurring at its farthest edges.

I think about a favorite song of mine, “What Sarah Said” by Death Cab for Cutie, whose lyricist is another one of those with a propensity for saying wise things:

“It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds.”

You know what? He is right, too.

It’s a tragedy of human existence that this is so, all our memories running out like sand in a sieve, with only a few pebbles remaining to us, and not always the ones we would’ve liked or chosen. It’s also a great blessing: trauma fades with time. So does anger. It makes radical healing possible, and radical forgiveness.

So I think I need to record what I want to remember, if only to stash away a few pebbles that I hope won’t dissolve away with time. My first impulse was to catalogue all the writer-benchmarks I hit this year: first sale, first ten sales, reprints, reviews, Codex and SFWA memberships, seeing strangers discuss my work critically. And these things were all hugely important and exciting experiences, to be sure.

But instead, I can’t stop thinking about my last published story of 2014, “The Mercy of Theseus”. The one that, in so many ways, sums it all up for me. How a year ago, I met this group of guys who liked to write, and how we became friends. How we shared ups and downs, both professionally and personally. How a few of them made it to my living room and had beers with me as we swapped jokes and stories. How months ago, while I was in a pretty low place, they came through for me.

So I wrote this story for them, because their friendship inspired me. And then the zine which brought us together bought it. And one of these guys narrated it. And then they all turned their brilliant minds on the story and discussed it, and told me some things I didn’t even know about it. And I think, What kind of world do I live in, where such things are possible? Where friendship and art can exist as a call-and-answer, and that our purpose can be to inspire each other?

This is to say nothing of the many, many other people whose love and friendship profoundly moved me this year, and who inspire me to do better. I hope some of you are reading this. You’re what made 2014 nothing short of outstanding for me, and I’m grateful to have you in my life.

I hope I never forget this.

Awards Eligible Stories for 2014

With a just week left in the year, my last original stories for 2014 have hit the presses. That means it’s time to make my first-ever awards eligibility list!

As a new author, writing this list was full of good memories: of the writing buddies who critted these stories, the editors and publishers who took a chance on me and improved the stories further during copyediting, and most of all the readers who took the time to enjoy the end product. To all of you, I want to thank you for sharing this journey with me.

I’m currently reading for the short story category of the Nebulas and Hugos. If you’re an author, which short story of yours from 2014 should I be sure to catch? If you’re a reader, what caught your eye? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll add it to my reading list.

If you’d like to consider some of my work for an award, I’ve listed my awards-eligible stories below. This is also my first year of Campbell Award eligibility. If you are voting this year, please feel free to contact me for a review copy of anything not freely available online. And if your time is limited, I might suggest you check out “Makeisha In Time” and “The Mercy of Theseus” as a starting point.

Original Short Stories Published in 2014:

Advent Ghosts 2014: Attic Ghosts

This is part of the annual Advent Ghosts tradition, hosted by Loren Eaton of “I Saw Lightning Fall“. Participants write a holiday ghost story of exactly 100 words. You can read more of them here. Enjoy!


“Attic Ghosts”

On Christmas Eve, the ghosts in the attic flowed downstairs at midnight to possess the toys. A good selection: teddy bears, rocking horses, little tin soldiers– almost enough for all the ghosts to claim one for their own and play.

Almost.

Little Agatha, the youngest ghost, dead not one year yet, sat on the stairs and wept. While the others cavorted through shredded wrapping paper, she’d been too slow, and missed her chance.

A bulb crashed. Agatha hadn’t noticed the Christmas tree. Unoccupied. She flowed into its trunk.

The tree took a tentative step forward, and then began to waltz.

New Fiction and A Special Treat

So, it’s December, and that means writers everywhere are slumped dead-eyed on the couch while whatever horrors they brought to life during National Novel Writing Month slowly stew in their own literary juices. This was my 5th year in a row doing NaNoWriMo, and the first year I didn’t hit the 50,000-word mark. Still, I’m very happy with the words I did write, and as always, it was a fun and challenging experience.

Additionally, a couple new stories of mine published the last week of November which you might enjoy. For the podcast-oriented, go listen to Cat Rambo’s lovely reading of my flash piece “Days of Rain”, a mood piece about magic soup and sisterhood, up at PodCastle. If you’re craving something a little longer, there’s “Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints” at InterGalactic Medicine Show. This is a Christmas tale about the Italian legend of La Befana, the Epiphany Witch, set in the region of Italy where I lived as a child. Also, it’s the cover story, so you can enjoy the lovely artwork inspired by the piece!

Now for the special treat! In honor of a very successful 2014 winding down, I’ve decided to release one of my earliest novels for all my readers to enjoy, for free, right here on my website. Even better, it’s fully illustrated, in color, by yours truly. I present for your reading pleasure: The Kitten That never went to scool.

Kitten1

Yeah, I know. It’s awesome. As a pro author with 13 sales and an Active SFWA membership, you know I could’ve sold this to Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, PodCastle… pretty much anywhere. But instead you get to read it for free.

Kitten2

“Mew the Kitten never went to scool. He told his mom that the lunches there were ten dollers. One day He got dirty and got in troble at home.”

We establish early on that Mew is the Walter White of the parental scool lunch money racket. The dirt acts as both a plot point, and a symbolic indicator of the state of Mew’s filthy, filthy soul.

Kitten3

“His mother siad, ‘You now have to go to scool every day.’ But a fiar came to town and mew used his lunch money to go. But his mother never new.”

Interestingly, I still start a lot of sentences with the word “But”.

Kitten4

“When he got home, his mother asked him what he did at scool. He siad, ‘I made a bee. And He showed a picher of a bee.”

Another masterful bit of foreshadowing. Honey is sweet, but the bees always sting you in the end. Clear influences of Greek tragedy here, perhaps “Antigone”.

Kitten5

“Then one day when the kitten was at the park, His mother came by and guess what, She saw him!”

I don’t know how she saw through his fake glasses and mustache disguise.

Kitten6

“And when Mew got home His mother told him that he was going to start to have scool at home. So, He never missed scool agan.”

It would be a mistake to assume this is over, especially when he is actually saying “Sob Sob Sob” instead of crying.

Kitten7

“Intill one day, He ran away, and he missed agen. But he was very hungry. and very thristy.”

Okay, drinking out of the puddle is pretty pathetic.

Kitten8

“So, He went home and he knew that running away because you don’t want to go to scool, it is better to go then to starve.”

Wow. And there you have it, my friends: going to scool is better than starvation! I really can’t argue with the logic, but wow. Harsh.

Kitten9

“and when mew got back, his mom gave dinner. the end”

I know I always like it when my mom leaves on the head, feet, and feathers, too!


What’d you think? Let’s hear your literary analysis below! Next time, we’ll delve into the dark, Oedipal world of “Flippy the Dolfin”. What if I said it only gets better from here?