sf signal

SF Signal/Carl V. Anderson called 3 of my stories “Favorite of 2013″

womenprintcoverSMALL

I missed this when it came out* but in December 2013 Carl V. Anderson wrote a list of his favorite short stories of 2013. He reviews short fiction at SF Signal, and he’s been kind about my work in the past — including putting me on his 2014 Hugo nominations list — but discovering this list floored me. In the midst of a list of stories that include the greatest hits of Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Asimov’s, and some amazing collections, he put me. Not just one, but three of the stories in my little self-published collection.

Three.

He says:

“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” by Carrie Cuinn (Woman and Other Constructs)

On a nice Spring day a stray dog sets in motion a series of unexpected events when he digs up and runs off with the forearm of Mr. Liu, a resident of the village’s old cemetery. In his pursuit of the purloined appendage, something he is too attached to (or was until recently) to easily part with, he brings the dead in contact with the living in a manner that is far too familiar and discomforting for those still imbued with their mortal coil. As the villagers and the deceased meet to come to terms that will return the dead to their proper place, events unfold that demonstrate that a lot can be learned from those who have gone before.

Carrie Cuinn’s story mixes the humorous and grotesque with the manners, and the prejudices, of an earlier time. The treatment of the “outsider”, of those “not like us”, is both historical and fantastical in this tale but will be familiar to anyone who has lived long enough to understand this behavior is alive and flourishing today. The dead here are as charming as those in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride; the story appeals when read on a surface level though it contains something more for those willing to look a little closer.

“Monsters, Monsters Everywhere” by Carrie Cuinn (Woman and Other Constructs)

Culinary delights mix with grand adventure in this tale of a monster hunter traveling through remote Mexican villages, dealing with monster troubles big, and small. There is something of a Lost World feel to the jungle the unnamed protagonist finds herself in, and as she takes in her surroundings, providing description to the reader, the suspense builds towards the inevitable confrontation. The jungle touches off reminiscences of her youth and time spent with her grandmother and these are intertwined with the more intense moments of the story creating an even greater degree of tension. There are no wasted moments in this story, even its denouement surprises.

“About the Mirror and its Pieces” by Carrie Cuinn (Woman and Other Constructs)

If you have ever read fairy tales with their stock evil stepmothers, princesses or queens, or viewed film adaptations of the same, and found yourself wondering about the villain’s motivation, Carrie Cuinn provides a possible explanation. This story is the least obviously fantastical of the collection and it explores some difficult subject matter in regards to the treatment of children by parents who, in an ideal world, should know better. Concepts like “entertainment” and “pleasure” that play at least some part in the story choices of readers are misplaced inducements when it comes to stories of this nature. This is not the realm of fiction in general, let alone genre fiction, where most readers want to dwell consistently on their reading travels. Which is what makes issues like those raised in “About the Mirror and its Pieces” ideal for short fiction.

The story is powerful, visceral, and left me feeling quite raw. I work in the mental health field with broken families and stories like this, which remind me thematically of the work Charles de Lint does in his Newford stories, humble me. They take me to a place that I am grateful I have never experienced personally and they help me to develop a more tangible empathy with the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. Stories like this awe me in their ability to open readers’ eyes and they become a foundation upon which one can begin to build understanding and healing.

You can get the collection for free for the rest of this month, here.

* Unless I’m tagged in the post somehow (the author’s included @CarrieCuinn on Twitter, or tagged me on FB, etc) I don’t always know about reviews of my work or people talking about me online. I get Google Alerts but they don’t cover everything. If you ever write or see something positive about me online that you want to make sure I’m aware of, please let me know! Thank you.

Quick Updates (Writing, editing, job hunt, SFWA, and more)

The bullet points:

  • WordPress decided to feature my recent post “11 Exhausted SF Tropes You Should Avoid” as their Fresh Pressed blog today. Hello, new readers!
  • I still have spots open in my Short Fiction Workshop, which begins August 1. You can read more about it here and here. Only $50 for a 4 week online class in micro and flash fiction, sign up today!
  • I’m also still taking editing clients, though I’m nearly booked up. See my editing services page for rates and notes.
  • The last few days have been stressful and sad; I’ve had trouble sleeping, haven’t been eating. Managed to convince myself to get something today–which ended up being a giant cheeseburger and fries. Okay, not healthy, but the most delicious thing I’ve eaten since Friday. I’ve had a lot of success losing weight and getting fitter recently by remembering to balance healthy food with tasty food. I had to buy a suit this week, for job interviews, and was pleasantly surprised to find I’d gone down a pants size since Readercon. So, yes, carrots, hummus,  fruit, prawns, steamed vegetables… and white rice, lumpia*, corned beef, bacon, and cheeseburgers. Mmm.
  • Speaking of interviews: I had two phone interviews last week, an in-person interview yesterday, one scheduled for tomorrow, and another one on Friday. All summer, I’ve sent out resumes and heard nothing. Now that Fall is looming, they’re all calling. I expect to be working in a dayjob again by the end of August. A stable paycheck and a consistent work schedule will make it a lot easier for me to pursue my writing and Dagan Books projects. It seems like a dayjob would mean I have less time, but in fact I think I’ll have more–freelance editing, which is a great skill that few have and I feel lucky to have it as a fallback, means spending hours and hours a week just looking for work, or doing sample edits (which is essentially applying for and interviewing for a job, with every single editing project I take on).
  • SFWA continues to move forward with its plan to reorganize the Bulletin; I got to proof the survey which is about to go out to members, and I can say it’s quite comprehensive.
  • “Editors of Gor” is still a thing I am writing. I have a couple of editing deadlines this week, but I’m hoping to get my Gor parody story finished this weekend. I am a woman of my word, after all, even if those words are, “Wait, what do you want me to write?”
  • My SF Signal column has been on a brief hiatus while I sort out what to write about. I’m locked into a very small segment of comics–SF/F/H independent comics only, and Top Shelf/Image/Dark Horse don’t count as indie for this purposes of this column. When I came to SF Signal, there was already another writer handling those titles, and sharing isn’t an option at this point. I can write more than I have been, if I want to write negative reviews of truly indie books I’ve read but didn’t like. That’s not the kind of reviewer I am. I want to share the titles you should be reading, not tearing down the ones I think you shouldn’t. So, a break… But not for too much longer, I hope. I’ve been writing there for 8 months and I’ve like to do at least a year before I decide whether to move on.

* I made pork/shrimp lumpia this week that were dryer than usual; realized that I’d used a leaner cut of pork, so there was hardly any fat. Yeah, that’s not going to work. But on the up side, there are vegetables in there, too! Well. Some shredded carrots and onion. Oh, and garlic! See, it’s healthy.

#SFWAPro

New Review of WOMEN AND OTHER CONSTRUCTS (plus links & giveaway)

There is a great new review of my short fiction collection, Women and Other Constructs! At SF Signal, Carl V. Anderson gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, saying:

Women and Other Constructs is a varied, powerful collection of stories that showcases the range and talent of an author who will hopefully continue to rise in exposure in the SFF community.  Her work demonstrates that the short fiction format, particularly in SF/F/H can be a vessel that contains effective plotting, strong characterization, and worthwhile examination of important topics while still being highly entertaining.  This collection is not light, by any means, conversely it is not heavy to the point of getting in the way of good storytelling.  The stories Carrie Cuinn includes in this volume show that “thought-provoking” need not mean “inaccessible” to the average reader.”

Read the rest of the (very long, detailed, and glowing) review here: SF Signal

Plus, Anderson is giving away a copy of the book at his website. Comment there to be entered.

Please click through to my online shop to buy DRM-free ebooks of this book, directly from me. PDF, ePub (suitable for your nook, tablets, and more) and Mobi (for Kindle) versions are available for instant download, so you can read it across any of your devices, or on your computer.  You can also order signed copies of the print book!

Bundle of signed print book + instant download of all ebook formats $12.99, or just the signed book, $10

Bundle of all ebook formats $2.99, or individually: ePub, Mobi, or PDF, just $1.99

CLICK HERE TO BUY MY BOOKS

Also available via Amazon: Kindle ($1.99) and print ($5.99)

Oh, did you see the interview I did with AC Wise? You can find out more about the collection here. Thanks for reading!

womenprintcoverSMALL

#SFWApro

Jan 2013 Stats

In an effort to keep better track of the work I do as a writer, reviewer, editor, and publisher, I’m going to try to post regular stats updates. I did this one by creating a post at the beginning of the month, saving it as a draft, and then adding to it whenever I accomplished something. (Much easier than trying to put it together all at once on the day I want it to post.)

In January I …

Read

  • “After the Apocalypse”, the last story in the collection of the same name by Maureen F. McHugh. Read my review here.
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Brief review on Goodreads.
  • The Bleeding Man, and Other Science Fiction Stories, by Craig Strete. Review here.
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, issues 104, 105 & 106. Review of 104 & 105 here.
  • Started reading Nobokov’s Pale Fire.
  • and some Tony Stark/Captain America slash fic, but I blame Conni for that.

Wrote

Edited

  • A 990 word lit fiction piece from 2011 called “Skipping Ahead To The End” (see below)

Published

  • FISH. (And there was much rejoicing.) This included proofing print and ebooks several times, submitting files to markets, blog posts, a Goodreads giveaway, and so on.

I also

  • appeared on two more Functional Nerds podcasts – Episode #133 and Episode #134 (click on the links to listen)
  • appeared on an SF Signal podcast (will post in February).
  • got my Goodreads account organized, updated my bookshelf, and started using it to keep track of the books I’m reading.
    • Created a Dagan Books group for people who want to discuss our projects or authors (join it here).
    • added a page for FISH.
  • Updated the Our Staff page on the Dagan Books site; fixed date/link/spelling errors in other places on the site.
  • Updated my Non-Fiction page, and my links.
  • Chased down and corrected contract issues for two stories I sold back in Spring 2012 (as yet unpublished).
  • Critiqued two 4k word stories for a friend.
  • Spent some time in the forums at Zoetrope. It’s focused more on literary fiction than genre fiction, and I like getting that perspective on my work.
    • Read and critiqued 5 flash-length stories.
    • Submitted one of my own (“Skipping Ahead To The End”).
  • Put more story ideas into Evernote.
  • Interviewed E.C. Meyers (read it here) and Fran Wilde (here).
  • And started tracking my fiction submissions in one of these:

Old School For The Win.

Overall:

That’s about 9,300 new words of non-fiction writing for the month and 1300 of fiction. Read 22 short stories (7 unpublished) and one novel (started a second). Revised and submitted one flash piece to be critiqued & critiqued 7 stories for other writers. Was on 3 podcasts. Got an anthology prepped and published – a year later than I’d originally intended but proof that I am starting to get back on track. Plus a bunch of office work (I am my own middle manager).

I’m planning to write more fiction in February, as well as get at least one more (hopefully two) Dagan Books projects published, and move forward on the other four in-progress titles.

My advice for February:

Do one thing every day. If you can, write. A blog post, or 500 words on your current story. If not, read. A short story, chapter, a couple of articles you need for research, it’s all useful, and often easier than writing when you’ve had a long day. Make a list of the things you’ve been meaning to do and check one off. By focusing on one thing a day, you’ll end up having done 28 things by the end of the month, instead of pushing yourself to do too much and being too burnt out to work for days at a time. That’s reading several magazines, or writing your weekly blog post for the next six months, or 14,000 words on your novel…

Site Stats, 2012

By far the most popular post I wrote in 2012 was Fuck You, Weird Tales, followed by Readercon 2012 – the sexual harrasment edition, proving once again that you people like it when I get wordy with righteous indignation. (Good, because it’s bound to happen again.)

I had slightly more than 15,600 views at the site this year, averaging about 45 a day. That’s up from 9000 views in 2011. (WP is only recently measuring visitors vs views, but current data suggests about 3/4 of my views are unique visitors.)

Most of my readers are from the United States (about 2/3), followed mainly by Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and the Philippines, followed by less than 100 views each from dozens of other countries. I’m pleased to see that I have occasional readers in places like Fiji, Iraq, Nepal, Iceland, Vietnam, Ireland, Israel, and Japan.

Top referrers to my site (after a collection of search engines) are Twitter and Facebook, followed by SF Signal and Functional Nerds, as well as several fellow writers (NK Jemisin, Ken Liu, Matt Bennardo, Jim C. Hines, Matthew Cheney, and Don Pizarro). Which shows that being involved in social networking, writing guest posts, and promoting other writers pays off.

Speaking of search engines, the top search terms that drove people to the site were:

Search Views
carrie cuinn 138
“claude lalumiere” 68
writing about me 30
kanbanpad review 24
history of book cover design 23
what makes a thriller 23
kanbanpad 20
author blurb 19
readercon 2012 19
cuinn 17
book spine poetry 15
dmz graphic novel 13
decolonialism 11
ken liu writer 10

which suggests I should spend a little more time talking about book cover design and typography, and update my post about Kanbanpad.

Overall these stats tell me that the more I post, the more readers I have (which may translate to more readers of my fiction/essays, and more sales of my work). It also tells me most of the people who come to my website are actually looking for me, which is always nice to know. In the coming year I plan to keep up with the book reviews, post more original fiction, keep promoting writers I admire, and continue to talk about the process of writing/publishing/book creation. Don’t worry, though, there’ll be snark and some sarcasm and the occasional rant, too.

After all, I know what you really come here for.