Year’s End

It’s nowhere near the actual year’s end. But it’s beginning to look a lot like for-your-consideration season, and since I only have two things this year for your consideration and don’t anticipate having more, I will just go ahead and round up all both of them right now.

My short story “Jack Among Wolves” appeared in the (incredibly fun) Aetherwatch anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger.

It could not be said that Captain Jack Valiant objected to illicit custom; what she did object to, strenuously, was being entered into such an arrangement without her foreknowledge and consent.

“It is my most ardent desire,” the Captain said sotto voce to the great blond bear of a man at her shoulder, “that the portmaster should fling himself into the God-damned sea.”

“He would have to go some way,” her Chief Mate observed. “Better to desire he fling himself into the river, no?”

“Desire knows neither reason nor geography, Mr. Kuznetsov.” The Captain stepped forward to address the trio waiting amongst their baggage on the gangway. “I am sorry; you could have the sigil of Black Bess herself and I’d still tell you to sod off. The Blackbird is a cargo vessel, neither obliged nor licensed to ferry passengers anywhere, much less to the bloody Sebiran border. As Mr. Hewlett damned well knows.”

And “Ghosts of Bari,” my second published story from the KinVerse, had the bittersweet honor of being the final story in the final-ever issue of Shimmer.

Salvage is the only long-term game in the universe.

No tyrant of the star-nets or titan of trade ever admired a salvage crew; we’re the crows on their trash-heaps, the rats in their walls. But I don’t think any of them’s ever considered, either, that when their names have long gone airless and their works are rust and shadow, it’s junkers who write their elegies.

Every empire ever raised eventually falls. And sooner or later, the crows always come for the corpses.

Neither of these stories is currently available free online, but if you are a SFWA or current WorldCon member and have any interest in considering either one for a nomination, drop me a line and I can send you PDFs of either or both.

Fireworks and Excerpts

Writing things: No morning pages today, because it’s a holiday and I do what I want. (Or because I slept lazily late and then got ambushed by life-already-underway.) I did, however, get approximately as far as I’d hoped in the novel-draft. We’ve sent unhappy Sirin off after Dire Forebodings; Vulo has in very strange fashion learned some things he probably oughtn’t know, and now we’re out of the tower and back to our fugitives.

An excerpt for you! It is a sort of summy-uppy bit before Action Happens and so requires no special knowledge. It’s also alpha draft, so think gently of it:

Esmat no longer knows whose country they cross. The river is a dark thread of memory behind and below them; the river-plain fell away two days ago, and they traverse a hill-ridge through pale corridors of poplars veiled in spring catkins and a green mist of new leaves.

They haven’t seen an ash-barren in a day and a half, but nor have they seen any human sign. The plague-markers had continued to appear at regular intervals for many more versts than Esmat liked to think about, but they had stopped — died, she’d thought irresistibly — long before they reached the foothills.

She doesn’t like the height of this place, and she doesn’t like the trees. They hem her in, obscuring her view. At night when they make camp, she lies sleepless within the ring of makeshift ward-light, one hand on the rifle like a lover beside her, and imagines what things lurk behind and between those silent pillars. Sometimes she thinks she hears voices in the leaf-whisper.

The only monsters they’ve seen since entering the hill-country have been a handful of shy leshii, slipping watchfully behind trees. One of them had beckoned to her, but that was the most malice any of the creatures offered. Luka barely paid them heed, only whistling sharply at the beckoner to startle it back into shadow. His growing confidence in their surroundings offsets Esmat’s increasing unease.

Some childish part of her has always imagined that if she ever returned to the country of her birth, it would feel like homecoming: the familiar embrace of something natural, long-lost. Instead she finds herself climbing into a world more and more alien.

Beyond the novel-stuff, nothing to report.

Daily things: Walks — one very early and hot, and on which I forgot to wear my Fitbit thingummy, and one late in the smoky twilight with fireworks pop-popping distantly. Baked hamburger buns and pineapple upside-down cake, and marinated zucchini which husband grilled with hamburgers. Re-watched Austenland, and maybe it’s just the gin and pineapples talking, but I’m fairly sure it was somehow funnier this time. (I’d forgotten Ricky Whittle is in it, for one thing, and completely lost it when he appeared.)

Hoping to catch up on the season finale of Doctor Who tonight. I hear it’s a good’un?

Reading: Wolfhound Century. Comps, comps every where, nor any book to query.

Going to leave you with this loveliness from Holcombe Waller, because I’m in that kind of a mood:

Salmagundi

Friends, I am so bad at this whole blogging-regularly business. You may have noticed. I’m going to throw a whole bunch of updatey things at you at once, okay? Get ready to duck:

  • My story On the Occasion of the Treaty of the Thousand Rivers, A Visit to the Gallery came out in Lackington’s Issue 10! In May! Yes! More than a month ago! Timely announcing, Wren! It should be available to read free in a few days.
  • The No Shit, There I Was anthology Kickstarter was fully-funded and then some, thanks to all of you, so blessings upon your house(s) and I hope you all enjoy The Storyteller’s Sleight when that appears.
  • My child is deeply preoccupied lately with the question of why cars do not have eyebrows.
  • I was accepted to Viable Paradise! Yes! VP20, hip hip hurray! Martha’s Vineyard, here I come! I’ve been floating joyfully since Saturday, and not even a form rejection this morning could jostle my mood. I laugh at you, form rejections! I laugh at you.
  • The novel is coming along so beautifully at this point that I’m half-afraid to type that lest I jinx it. The first 65K words or so are in very clean and satisfactory beta-shape, and I am slowly kneading the remainder into something less like a lump.
  • I had to replant the beans because insects ravaged the first planting.
  • I have three more Kinverse stories in the works.
  • I’m going to be at Readercon next week. Yes, it’s next week! Already! I hope to see you there!
  • My birthday is in two weeks and I will be unconscionably old. I’m pretending Readercon is my birthday party. It’s so nice of everyone to come!
  • I think that is all.

Yes! I think that is all! Hurray! Carry on.

Faces for Names

 

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The Terrible Three

I’m at PAX East this weekend with friends; one of them, my sometimes-collaborator Vicki Armeneau, doodled the above after dinner tonight. It’s the Terrible Three from my KinVerse stories – from left to right, they’re Eli (war criminal), Sirin/Kin (AI), and Esmat (smuggler and charming teller of tales).

Tales from the KinVerse

Rachael wrote up my No Shit! story today on her blog, and mentioned asking whether there were other Esmat stories. Which there are. (Including a goddamned novel-in-progress.) In honor of the occasion and for anyone else who is curious, here’s a brief introduction to the universe of those stories, which I call the KinVerse.

A former riverboat smuggler, a war criminal, and an extraterrestrial machine intelligence walk into a bar.

In space.

In a parallel universe.

They’re a family, of sorts: the riverboat smuggler is the estranged older sister of the war criminal, who is married, after a fashion, to the machine intelligence. (To be fair, he didn’t know she was AI when he fell in love with her. He thought she was a zombie.) Mostly they just want to get home to their original universe, assuming there’s a home to get to; their world was coming down with a touch of apocalypse the last time they saw it. But while they’re working on that, they may as well put their skills to use, right?

And so together, they fight crime.

Make crime. Did I say fight crime? I meant make crime.

Well, sometimes they do both.

No Shit, Here It Is!

Friends, the time for action has come.

And by that I mean the No Shit, There I Was anthology is available to back on Kickstarter, obviously.

For a mere five dollars, twenty-four tales of science fiction, fantasy, and horror can be yours! For more-than-a-mere-five-dollars, you can access rewards like short story critiques from E. Catherine Tobler or Sunil Patel! Tuckerization in stories by Rachael Acks or me! And you will feel the saintly glow of having supported independent creators!*

I’m not saying that you should back this book just because I have a story in it, but I mean I definitely do have a story in it. And it’s a fun story! You should read it! You can read it, for anywhere from $5 to $250! Tell your friends!

*Saintly glow not guaranteed.

 

Three Shades of Happy

As you may have heard me squeak on Twitter, I recently sold another short story. This one will be appearing in an upcoming anthology, and I’ll share all the details on same as soon as I’m allowed. But the sale has been such a joy for me, for three reasons:

(1) The story in question is fun. I think it’s fun, and I hope you will, too. I had fun writing it, and people have told me it is fun to read, and I believe them. I’m fond of it. It may be the first story I’ve sold that made me think, “Gosh, I can’t wait for people to read this!” rather than, “Oh God, what if it’s secretly awful and they read it and they all know?” I’m pretty confident it’s not secretly awful. Which is a new and nice feeling.

(2) The story features recurring characters of mine, whom I hope you’ll see in other works in future, including my novel. The protagonist-narrator, Esmat Ahuja, is one of the novel’s POV characters; she also narrates the short story I’m currently polishing, and narrates or features in at least two other WIPs. Her brother Eli and his … unusual partner Sirin (aka Kin) are usually involved. I love these three and I want you to meet them.

(3) The story in question is the first work of fiction I completed since developing postpartum depression. In fact, my desire to write and submit it, and my success in following through on both, were two of the signs at the end of last year that the fog really was lifting. It is the first thing I have submitted anywhere and to anyone in three years. And I’m proud of it, and it sold. I can’t even describe what a glad and astonishing sunrise that is after three dark years. I am so very, very grateful to the editor who accepted it, and I’m so excited for you to read it.