Cover and Interior Art from NOWA FANTASTYKA, Apr 2015

NFApr2015cover

Earlier this year, Polish SFF magazine NOWA FANTASTYKA translated and published my story, “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”. The cover is above (click on it to see a larger version). It’s my first translation and my first international publication; I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.

I don’t have the right to scan/post the entire story, but I did want to share this bit:

NFApr2015int

That’s original art, drawn for my story, by Maciej Zaganczyk. It shows a disgruntled Mr. Liu chasing after the dog who stole his arm. It’s the impetus for the rest of the tale: this risen corpse, this bad dog. (And we can all agree, it was a very bad dog.)

“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” was originally published at Red Penny Papers, in their Summer 2012 issue, and is no longer available to read online. However, you can still get it as a part of my short collection, Women and Other Constructs, here (including free downloads).

Father’s Day, 2015

Father’s Day is different for everyone, including among people who share the same father. I can’t speak for my sisters, or anyone else. For me, Father’s Day is a day to text my mother and say thank you for being there. It’s a day for me to be happy for those of my friends who had a father with celebrating, and to stand in silent solidarity with those who didn’t. It’s a day to be reminded of a man who I mostly don’t think of the rest of the year… Before going back to forgetting him again.

The one lesson I learned from my father is that being a parent is no guarantee that you’ll be a good person, or feel obligated to provide for or nurture your children. Whether your father is cruel or selfish or generous or absent or someone you wish would disappear is really all a roll of the dice: you get who you get, and you don’t have much say in that when you’re born. You get to choose, later, and if you’re feeling the need to make a choice, I hereby give you permission to make it, by the power invested in me by you needing to read something supportive on the internet right now.

Being a father is meaningless if you’re not trying to be good at it. I am currently raising a son, without his father. A son who may or may not become a dad one day, but who I would hope will grow up to be a good man. The best thing I can do for him, beyond being all the things that I’d wish to see in him, is to make certain that the person he sees as a male role model now is someone who’ll help him be better, by the virtue of showing him what that looks like. Not perfect, not always parental, but present, loving, kind, and who actively tries to be better.

We don’t celebrate Father’s Day in our house, not for our family, but I do celebrate that the person my son and I choose to share our lives with is a good man. And that, I’m thankful for every day.

More Reviews of “Women and Other Constructs”

“I get to breathe in truth and swim around in a sea of knowledge.”
Carrie Cuinn, Women and Other Constructs

Someone took the time to add that as a quote on Goodreads. Isn’t that great? (The line is from “A Cage, Her Arms”, which is only available in this collection.)

The collection is still being read and reviewed, which I love. Here are a couple I haven’t shared before:

“Savor the Flavor of Each Short. This is a wonderful collection of short stories…. Further, I’m going to suggest that people definitely read the introduction, then work through the stories themselves, savoring each one. Make a point to read the ABOUT THE STORIES section for each story after reading said story as this gives an insight into what brought the story to life, if it had been published elsewhere, and any deeper meaning that the author may want to impart regarding the content. At that point, re-read the story; the background will give each a more intense flavor.” – Amazon, 5 stars!

and

“In a word, eerie. Ms. Cuinn’s imagination is on display here in technicolor. Reading her stories is like having a dream. They lull you in that way, you know how dreams always start perfectly believably, and get weird until you wake in a rush thinking, what the hell was that? I credit her clear prose, never overdone, with that ability to pull you in. Her strangeness is always situational, sometimes descriptive but conveyed in a frankness that makes it accessible. Until the hair starts rising on the back of your neck, that is. These are not happy ending stories for the most part, though you could see some of them that way, depending on your point of view. You could see many of them as unsettling, even disturbing–again, depending on your point of view. Cuinn leaves that to the reader. I appreciate that.” – H.W.

You can buy a copy in print from Amazon, here, or get a signed copy of the book directly from me — with a free instant download of the ebook! Choose from print + mobi or print + epub.

You can also download just the ebook for free. Choose from epub, mobi, or PDF. If you need all three formats, download a bundle here.

Thank you for reading!

 

 

Other People’s Useful Advice for being a Successful Writer (While Also Being a Decent Human Being)

While I like to share what bits of advice I give my own brain from time to time, a lot of what I live by was handed out to me by others, over the years. I still read advice sites like Lifehacker, and various writing advice blogs, specifically to find new ideas and new ways of looking at problems, in hopes they’ll become solved problems. Here’s a collection of recent links to words of wisdom you may need to hear yourself:

Never Be Ashamed of Your Side Hustle by Chelsea Fagan at Financial Diet – In short, we all have to make money. The less support you have from others, or the less time/position you’ve got in your current job, the more likely you are to need a side gig in order to make ends meet. This does not make you less of a person! Though you sometimes need to hide details of your other gig, there’s no reason to be ashamed that you have one.

For example: I have a full-time day job with a institution that provides mental health services. I’m comfortable saying that because I rarely discuss (online) what city I live in, much less which branch of the government I work for, so knowing a little about what I do probably won’t lead you to my patients. But I’m pleased to have this job, which is difficult at times but serves the community in a meaningful way, and also covers my rent. Because of this job, I’m able to focus on the freelance editing work that finds me, rather than spending non-earning time on finding enough clients. Plus, as I get promotions and make more money, and my living situation changes this fall, I’ll eventually be able to work less as a freelancer and more as a writer. Once that happens, I’ll be making most of my income from my day job, and it will basically be what makes it possible for me to be a writer, rather than someone who needs a spouse, parents, roommates, or a trust fund in order to survive while I pursue my dreams.

At SF Signal, Josh Vogt talks about “Playing Well with Other Worlds” – In short, when you’re hired/allowed to write tie in novels, shared world novels, games, or anything else where you’re writing your own story in a universe created by someone else, you need to remember that it does not belong to you. You absolutely must leave your ego at the door and work collaboratively with your editor, or you a) are an idiot, and b) won’t work for them/in this town again.

Why Fitspiration is Killing Your Motivation” by Coach Lawrence at Shredded by Science – Okay, maybe you don’t need to read the whole thing, which does go in depth about the “fitness lifestyle” vs “fitness competition”, but if you look at it as an analogy for writing, then it’s both relevant and valuable. (His science and psychology is on point.) Lawrence says:

Intrinsic motivation is defined by Professor Edward L. Deci as “initiating an activity for its own sake because it is interesting and satisfying in itself, as opposed to doing an activity to obtain an external goal (extrinsic motivation).”

One of the main models describing intrinsic motivation is called Self-Determination Theory, which describes three innate, universal needs that all humans are intrinsically motivated to fulfil:

Competence – humans are driven to control things, and experience “mastery”.
Relatedness – humans are driven to interact with, care for and be connected to other humans.
Autonomy – the ability for a human to make their own decisions.
Intrinsic motivation is awesome – it’s self-sustaining, incredibly powerful and usually very long-lasting. However, it generally takes a long time to develop, and as a result some extrinsic motivation is important when trying to alter habits and behaviours – especially at the beginning.

and goes on to show that #fitspiration is a combination of envy and punishment. All right people, now do we see the comparisons between punishing ourselves to attain someone else’s body, and punishing ourselves to attain someone else’s body of work? DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY, MAGGOTS!

Ahem. Sorry about that.

Over at NPR, Anya Kamenetz discusses the problem of naming in Nonacademic Skills Are Key To Success. But What Should We Call Them? In short – there are a whole range of skills which are necessary for success. For us, this means success as writers as well as human beings. She lists some of the broad categories of skills which you should be cultivating in addition to “maths” and “how to fluff your word count”.

In the comments, please share any articles you would recommend!

What I’ve Read This Week (with links)

I read a lot of news, articles, and essays, but rarely remember to share the ones I find interesting. I’m making an effort to be better about that. This week, I read…

Fiction:

Ken Liu’s “Cassandra“, at Clarkesworld (review forthcoming)

Non-Fiction:

On New Orleans’s Mardi Gras Indians: “A Once-Guarded Tradition Spills Open In New Orleans’ Streets” by Eve Troeh (NPR)

  • Looks at the evolution from the black Indians as mysterious strangers, to the recent focus on community and youth outreach programs. Includes 5 min podcast. Short, but it might intrigue you enough to read a little more. Wiki, Houston Cultural Crossroads, Mardi Gras New Orleans, are places to start, and photographer Eric Waters has some beautiful images here. As a corollary, you might also be interested in the Baby Doll dance clubs and the Skull and Bones Gang (both articles via Nola.com). Also, this article on Big Chief Bo Dollis’s passing includes video from his funeral, and music from other Indians.

When KKK Was Mainstream” by Linton Weeks (NPR)

  • Less than 90 years ago, the KKK was considered a major part of life and culture in America — so much so that they sponsored charity events, weddings, funerals, baseball games, and parades — even though they were outspoken about their racist beliefs, and had over 4 million members on the rolls. They walked around the streets in their robes and regalia. They were considered “just another club”; accepted as they enforced as “whites only” spaces the whole of a community.

About the Forbidden City and other Asian-American Nightclubs: “These Nightclub Entertainers Paved The Way For Asian-Americans In Showbiz” by Heidi Chang

Charlie Low opened Forbidden City in 1938, and from exotic dancers to comedians to acrobats, he made sure the club had it all. It was even featured in major media outlets, including Life magazine. But that didn’t shield performers from the mostly white audiences’ racial taunts. According to music writer and broadcaster Ben Fong-Torres, “Even while they were entertaining — not unlike the blacks who entertained in New York City at the Apollo [Theater] and the Cotton Club — they would still be subjected to racism. So even though you are the stars of the show, to which these paying customers have come to attend, they still feel superior to you and make … racist remarks to your face, or shout it out from the audience. And I think that was pretty difficult for most of these entertainers to take. But as [singer] Larry Ching said, ‘I had to. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be in the business.'”

Twenty-One Dresses” by Pari Dukovic, Jessamyn Hatcher (New Yorker)

  • A look at what it takes to preserve antique clothing — in this case, from the illustrious Bell Epoque fashion house “Callot Soeurs”. Includes photographs.

Interviews:

Alejandro Jodorowski, “A Hundred Years Is Nothing” by Camilo Salas (Vice.com)

Reviews:

Juan Vidal’s review of the English translation of The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky (NPR)

  • I loved what Vidal has to say about the book, which sounds as if it’s perfectly nestled in the center of that Venn diagram that describes my love for SF, literature, and detective stories. I bought it immediately! (Right now, Amazon has the paperback on sale here, and if you buy it that way, you can read the beginning online for free.)