Coffee and ‘shine.

My short story “Five Drinks in Siltown” has been published! It’s in issue 8 of Betwixt Magazine, which means it is free to be read online, and may also be purchased in electronic (Amazon and not-Amazon options!) or physical format.

Joy Crelin was great to deal with, and the magazine is lovely, and I am very pleased to be in it.

“Five Drinks in Siltown” is a post-apocalyptic short-short setting piece; again, it’s work-safe. It’s the second publication of any of my accepted stories, which is both very exciting and a bit stunning, since it’s coming within eight days of my first publication.

(I am given to understand this rate of acceptance is not typical. I am prepared for statistical norms to reassert themselves.)

I feel a bit odd saying this again so soon, but it’s true: I hope you like it.

(ETA: updated to link to story, as the current issue link has moved on. 🙂 Do highly recommend reading the magazine!)

The Yellow Play

Today, my short story “Palimpsest” is being published. Has been published, in fact. It’s up in the Summer 2015 issue of The Sockdolager, so it is both free to be read online, and may also be purchased for the exceedingly reasonable price of one dollar American. The editors have been great to deal with, and the magazine strikes me as quite beautiful, although I freely acknowledge I’m a bit light-headed about seeing my name on the cover.

(You can get it from Amazon! Also not from Amazon, if that’s your preference.)

“Palimpsest” is somewhere between pure secondary-world fantasy and straight-up horror. It’s work-safe, if a bit weird. It’s the first publication of any of my accepted stories.

I hope you like it.

Well, that happened

I swear to God, I go incommunicado (mostly), and my phone bings to tell me that there’ve been more views on this blog in one hour than there were in the month before that. (I suspect it was most likely someone’s cat standing on the F5 key. Good on you, kitty. You make sure you’re getting up to date info.)

I’m visiting family in Sault Ste Marie; I got in late due to weather, and then went to dinner, and then stayed up late talking and looking at old family photo albums.

I had never before seen a picture of my paternal great-grandfather, and the one I got to look at was from 13 January, 1934. (Yes, an 81-year-old photograph. It was printed as a Post Card, by “Pictorial Studios”, which were located on 29 Newport Road, Near Scala Cinema, MIDDLESBROUGH. Which was about where he lived.)

There was also another picture, much smaller, of him in his work clothes. He was an egg-and-poultry man, apparently, and he also loaned money. (But honestly. It was made clear he was not, you know, a loan shark or anything.)

I am oddly disconcerted by this. I was always told that my heritage was, all in one breath, half-Ukranian quarter-Italian eighth-Irish eighth-Scottish. No-one ever mentioned British. Ever. We lived in London for four years when I was a kid and no-one ever told me I had a grand-uncle three hours drive away.

(And apparently he was a pretty nice grand-uncle, too. Which quashes the first explanation which springs to mind.)

I don’t know. It’s late and I’m tired; I will turn this over for a while, and consider.

Strong Female Protagonist

Strong Female Protagonist Book OneI gave this one five stars, which is what I give to books so good I believe you should read them even if they are not your genre at all. It’s also all free online, at Strong Female Protagonist.

I started reading it expecting… a kind of comedy of manners, I guess. Superhero dealing with university life! How wacky, yeah?

Twenty pages in, it hooked me. It got… well, it wasn’t ever un-smart, but it got pointed. Then there was the TV interview scene in issue 2, and issue 3 has a beautiful story arc with Feral. I really cannot summarize it, but you can read it! It’s free online! And it’s just…

I am not doing it justice, but it’s so damn thoughtful. The comic basically takes the statement “There are superheroes!” and answers it with “So what?” Not a dismissive so what, not a trite so what, a genuinely thoughtful and considerate examination of the question. And it’s beautiful.

(And my copy of the book has Feral and Menace hand-drawn on the signed frontispiece. You cannot imagine the squee.)

The glass is half full. Of phosphors.

There's nothing creepy about butterflies, right?
There’s nothing creepy about butterflies, right?

I have had a long day in a few respects, so I am coping by accentuating the positive. Onwards!

After making plans, and waiting for several months (I mean, not many several months; the kind of several months that could also be a few months), I have gotten a tablet. It has a ten-inch-and-change screen, and I am really pleased with it. It occupies a niche closer to a smartphone than a laptop, for me; WiFi only, and not something I expect to do a lot of typing on.

That said, it is better for browsing on than a smartphone (due to the screen size), good for playing light games, and much better for reading on.

I’ve found that if I’m going to e-read (that is a verb, right?), I prefer relatively short pieces of fiction; magazines and anthologies work for me, as do standalone stories and individual issues of comics. Usually I’ve used my Kobo for this; it’s light and fairly durable, has great battery life, and it’s easy to read in direct sunlight. But the eInk screen has a regrettable tendency of freezing in -20C weather or lower (making waiting at bus stops extremely boring), the resolution is fairly low, it doesn’t handle images or zooming very well, and… well, not to be shallow, but it’s in greyscale.

There are certain aspects of the e-reading experience that are not well-served by 800 x 600 resolution in 16-level greyscale.

(By the way, I am kind of loving Cat Rambo’s stories, and her covers for same; I think my favourite so far is Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart, but since I am not sure how to pull that cover out of my Kindle app, I am tossing up the one for Jaco Tours.)

I need to be careful to stop using the tablet a while before I turn in (backlit screens before bed don’t improve my sleeping any), but it’s really made it a lot easier to get drawn into some of the stories I’ve been collecting. And since I have an upcoming trip (although not to Costa Rica, where Jaco Tours is set), I expect I will be getting a lot of reading in. I look forward to this.

If not silence, then rarer posts

On top of being horribly sick on Wednesday (and recovering for two days), apparently I’ve gotten an RSI in my elbow. This is putting a serious crimp in both my typing and my knitting. (And it’s my right elbow, so I can’t even take this as an opportunity to learn crochet, since while I am up for many things learning a new crafting skill with my off hand just does not seem like a productive use of time. I do want to learn crochet, though.)

It’s fairly straightforward to treat, involving an elastic joint support and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. I’m going to speak to work and see how they feel about my working at home more often, since my setup here is better for me. (I’ll also need to speak to them about getting an ergonomic assessment done on my workspace, but since I’m technically a temp I am not sure if it should come directly from me or from the temp agency. I’ll figure it out.)

Ergonomic assessments are things for which a medical professional hands you a prescription. I was previously unaware of this, but I find it rather neat. I always think of prescriptions as being for things, not for services.

But overall I am doing fairly well, and it’s been a good weekend, and I am having fun playing with the Last Court now that it’s out. I didn’t expect to–I have generally gotten the impression that Dragon Age is a fairly generic fantasy setting–but Failbetter Games has done a stellar job of making it interesting to play as the lord of a small fiefdom in such a setting and not boiling it down to All Those Mechanics I Have Seen Before.

No cape, no tiara

Written eighteen hours ago on the plane, published now.

Moon with orange reflection.
The actual moon, and the reflection. I didn’t have a flash on, so you can’t see the wing.

The moon is reflecting off the wing outside my window. The reflection is harvest-orange, but the actual moon is white as bone. I can see the wing, but my camera cannot.

Back when Usenet (a time marker I actually think is perfectly adequate–distinct from most social media currently in vogue in that it was a real PITA to edit your posts), there was this term I ran into on one of the newsgroups I spent time on, and that term was “Gothic Super Hero”. It referred to someone who worked a well-paying job that could pay for all of their awesome clothes and makeup, and whose workplace was totally fine with them showing up in full regalia, which was convenient because they always had time to put it all on,  and…

(Yes, I spent time on Hush.)

Anyway. The point was, you did not need to try to be that person. It was, in fact, quite possible that that person did not even exist. And it was okay to not be that person.[1]

My point is, I am sitting here, with my phone, and I feel that if I had the wherewithal, I could actually write a moderately pithy, incisive, anecdotal post which would entertain. I feel, obscurely, that I should be able to.

But I’m not that person. I’m tired and sick and mostly I’m okay with that. So this is what you get: the moon’s reflection is a harvest moon, and I remember first learning that it was okay to not be as cool as the people online seemed to be, and I’m going to try to sleep.

[1] Tangentially, when I first got onto the internet, when I was very young and visiting an aunt’s, I read several short horror stories.[2] One them involved a usually exquisitely dressed goth who was murdering people that saw her in frumpy glasses and pink knock-around clothes. PINK. The horror.
[2] This comes as a surprise to precisely no-one.

London, travel, computer, flail.

…dammit, I wish that title weren’t so apt. Anyway.

I’m leaving for Loncon in ten days, and I am trying to decide whether or not to bring my laptop, and if I bring it whether to keep it in my (non-con-located) hotel room or take it with me to the con.

(Important note, for deciding: I can keep the con schedule on my phone.)

If I leave it at home:

  • pro: it will not get lost.
  • con: my laptop. Life without my laptop for eight days. In airports. (I will note that I have not had an international plane trip not take an extra half-day at least in years.)

If I take it to London and leave it in the hotel:

  • pro: I will have all my writing, my Skype, my bookmarks, my GDrive connection, my everything
  • pro: I can write while in transit. I find I actually really like doing this, and while it is technically possible to do on my phone, the smaller screen makes it much more of a PITA.
  • pro: I will not have to carry it around a con (I have a Lenovo Thinkpad; sturdy as all hell, but kind of bulky)
  • ???: I would need to get a laptop bag. My current laptop bag is actually a backpack. No-one who is at risk of standing behind me or in my blind spot wants me maneuvering in a crowded area with a moderately heavy backpack, even with padded corners.
  • con: I would need to leave it in the hotel, which would probably be perfectly fine but which would, for at least the first two days, distract me.

If I take it to London and to Loncon:

  • pro: will have all my writing, my Skype, my bookmarks, my GDrive connection, my everything.
  • pro: I can write while in transit.
  • pro: can sit in A Spot at the con and get stuff down. (At Anticipation–the Montreal 2009 WorldCon–I ended up posting eight times from the con itself. Admittedly at that point I was in the con hotel, which makes a slight difference… OTOH, judging by FarthingCon, I really do like having my laptop with me. The “back off, breathe, find a place to sit for late-night coffee or dessert, and type” is a nice way of processing events.)
  • con: carrying around a heavy thing, which means that if I pick up anything else (get thee behind me, dealer’s room) or am carrying anything else (such as books to get signed), the total weight will be that much greater.
  • con: will need to lug it along if/when I decide that I should go somewhere/do something else.

Ugh. I don’t know. But at least I have every pro and con I can think of down, so I may revisit this in a bit. Thoughts?


Over the last few years, I’ve been making an effort to log more of my reading on GoodReads. (Lately I’ve also been looking at BookLikes, but that is a bit of an aside.) A fair bit of the stuff I read isn’t already on GoodReads, or has incomplete records there–authors are missing from anthologies, cover photos aren’t provided for books, standalone stories or small epubbed collections aren’t in the system. Usually I grumble about this a little and correct it.

(Someday I’m going to put all the old Hell on Earth stuff into a proper series list, oh yes. Organized by publication number and everything.)

Since I’ve been commuting a lot lately, I’ve been reading a lot more epubs–picking up some old stuff, picking up some new. And one of the things read earlier this week was a collection of draft stories and partials that you could get being a sponsor during the Clarion West Write-a-thon last year.

It’s not for distribution, which is fine; it is something which does not belong in GoodReads at all.

And it feels so weirdly good to read something that I don’t have to track.

(I mean, I don’t have to track what I read in GoodReads, of course. But it’s become an ingrained habit now, and the yearly challenges have a gamified appeal.)

I suspect this is exacerbated because I’m a bit stressed at the moment, and have a lot of things going on. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind, and perhaps I will clear myself a block of time when I can just read and give myself permission to not document it. I am already behind on reviews of books that really deserve it (can I just mention This Strange Way of Dying, which really needs more love), and I don’t imagine it would help with that. But at the same time writing reviews is actually pretty hard for me, and I think the breathing room–official self-given breathing room, rather than falling-behind-and-not-doing it–might feel lovely.

Hugo helpfulness

I understand that there’s going to be an announcement about the Hugo voter packages very soon. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a coherent list of links to what’s available online, you could do a lot worse than check out John DeNardo’s roundup at SF Signal. It’s huge.

Myself, I’m keeping a list here, Continue reading “Hugo helpfulness”