A Podcast, Some Advice, and a Story (new places to find me online)

I’m going to skip my usual “things I did last month” roundup because I’ve actually talked about most of them (sick, Readercon, IN SITU, temp job, etc). I’m hard at work getting FISH finished up, and  other Dagan Books business like con planning, advertising, hiring, accounting and so on. It’s quickly becoming an actual 40-hour a week job (the weeks I can keep it to only 40 hours) and perhaps in another year or so it will start doing nifty things like paying me.

We’re not there yet. In the meantime I’ve done a couple of non-Dagan Books things I’d like to share:

  • Last week I was on an episode of the Hugo award nominated podcast at SF Signal, “Readercon, Harassment and Making Positive Changes” with Stina Leicht, Mur Lafferty, Jaym Gates and Patrick Hester. It’s not the only podcast to have covered the topic or even the recent incident at Readercon, but it’s part of the ongoing conversation. I think we said some good things. You can listen to it here: Episode 143
  • My most recent Tech Nerd column is up at Functional Nerds: “Ten FREE Apps That Make My iPhone a Mobile Office
  • Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” was published by Red Penny Papers in their Summer 2012 issue. Click on the link to read it for free.
  • “No Hand to Turn the Key” (my clockwork erotica/librarian story) sold to the STEAMPUNK CTHULHU anthology forthcoming from Chaosium. I’ll post more details once I have them, but for now, check out the cover by Daniele Serra:

“Inevitable”, a One Sentence Story

I love Twitter writing challenges. Late at night, someone has an idea, makes an off-hand comment, and us writers, we think, “That’s a great idea!” Sure, we’ll write a sonnet about murderous robot fish, or a story that doesn’t have the letter “e” in it, or, in the case of the latest challenge, the longest sentence which tells a coherent story. We threw some ideas out about rules and organization and ultimately decided to post them on our blogs, and mention it on twitter with the #1ss hashtag. There’s still time for you to join in if you want – deadline, we did decide, is Wednesday at midnight EST.

Here’s mine:

Inevitable

Though that morning as she made her preparations she had suspected that she might, one day, break into the world above again, or be dragged there on the end of a fisherman’s line or caught unexpectedly by a rower’s oar, she didn’t think it would be so soon that what she looked like would matter to anyone but those with a morbid and prurient interest in the way a body decomposes in water, so she didn’t dress for beauty (not, she thought, that she ever really did) but for storage, having selected an outfit made mostly of pockets – faded, olive-colored cargo pants with pockets all down the legs, a gray sweatshirt with big pockets in the front, even a little pocket on the chest of her royal blue tank top – at that particular moment, pulled slowly downward in an oddly unfocused way, as if “slow” were no longer a word that meant anything, and “down” could have meant the direction that is the opposite of “up” but might just have meant that she was still traveling in the direction she had started out in and hadn’t yet floated back up to the surface, she didn’t think about the stones in her pockets, or the way she had started off carefully feeling the weight of each one in her hand, as if each were a gift, a lover’s kiss, a goodbye present, until she’d panicked a little and started to gather as many as she could and stuff them into whatever spaces she could find and couldn’t, just then, remember what color the final stone had been … instead, in that instant after all of her breath had worked its way out of her lungs and before she could no longer think or care or wonder about anything at all, she thought about the insects that crawled and buzzed and flitted around her as she had sat on her deck every afternoon, basking in the warm sun, watching the cars go by, the world go by, even the fat bumblebees and dagger-shaped wasps and big black ants and the birds that flew by without stopping (red cardinals, and blue jays and robins and a little gray bird with a long white tail that she didn’t know the name for), who all had places to go, and the deer and the little bunnies and the red and black chipmunks with their fat fuzzy faces, who could be seen from her vantage point on her deck that she shared with no one, in the apartment that she shared with no one, in the little town in the woods that she shared with ten thousand other people who didn’t know her name, who all had somewhere else to be, until she finally knew, deep inside, with no uncertainty, that she had no where else to go but down.

~

(If you’re counting, that’s 476 words)

So far, the others are:

Jake Kerr: The Bloodline Is Only As Strong as Its Last Generation (133 words)

Anatoly Belilovsky: De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est (289 words) and “Good Thing I Did Not Tell Them about the Dirty Knife” (242 words)

Matthew Bennardo: À Vos Souhaits (168 words)

Don Pizarro: Mr. Fix-it (350 words)

Silvia Wringley: Untitled (no wordcount listed; it’s handwritten so may be a little hard to read)

“Epic Win” by Anatoly Belilovsky (a slim 55 words – and yes, it’s his 3rd entry)

“One Thousand and First” by Alex Shvartsman (243 words… or is it?)

“The Ghost and the Machine” by Suzanne Palmer (534 words)

“Untitled” by Spencer Ellsworth

I’ll update the links once there are more.

Free Fiction: Annabelle Tree

This story was originally published last year in Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction, an anthology to benefit tornado relief (click on the link to buy it).

Annabelle Tree

The tree grew up around her as she sat at its base, day after day. It had been a sapling when her parents bought the house by the creek, and it made the perfect backrest for Annabelle-the-child. She sat very still, her chubby three-year-old hands clasped together, arms tight around her knees, as her father sat alone on the creek bank. He waited for a fish to appear on his line, and she waited with him.

“I don’t want you sitting all day out on the ground,” her momma had said after the second day faded into evening and Annabelle once again walked into the kitchen with a dirty bottom.

“Yes, Momma,” she’d replied quietly as her momma brushed her off with a hand broom and quick, hard strokes. Her momma sighed.

“There’s no use. That dress is ruined.” Annabelle was given a hot bath, a cold supper, and sent to bed without a story. She wrapped her arms around Mr. Bunny and listened to her parents’ raised voices float up through the floor boards until she fell asleep. The next day Daddy couldn’t fish because he had to work on the house, as it was “in no fit state for people to see,” Annabelle’s momma had said, and there were church people that wanted to come over for a house warming. Annabelle liked the church people, who’d come over to their old apartment with ambrosia salad and fried chicken and Mrs. Cramble, who wore flower print dresses and had thick, soft arms, would give her great big hugs and extra helpings on her plate, and Momma never complained. Annabelle followed her Daddy around all afternoon, holding the tin bucket with his hammer and nails in it, and when he needed one or the other, she’d lift it up as high as she could, and he’d reach down into the bucket and take what he needed. Sometimes he’d smile at her too. Continue reading

Free Story Online, and a New Podcast to Download

My most recent publication,“Call Center Blues,” is now available to read, free, online at Daily Science Fiction. It’s short, fun, science fiction. And did I mention there are robots in it?

Also, this week’s SF Signal podcast is up, and you can hear it now:

SF Signal #90, Time Travel, with me, John DeNardo, Derek Johnson, Gail Carringer, Paul Weimer and Patrick Hester.

A Story and Two Podcasts (online now)

Right now you can find me in a few different places:

Monsters, Monsters, Everywhere” is now available to read (free!) online at Crossed Genres in Issue #34 (MONSTERS), out October 1, 2011.

And SF Signal has graciously let me take part in their last two podcasts:

SF Signal #82, Science Fiction Movies, with Lisa Paitz Spindler, Scott Cupp, Derek Johnson, Jessica Strider, and Patrick Hester.  (posted Oct 3, 2011)

SF Signal #80, Near-Future Science Fiction, with Jeff Patterson, Fred Kiesche, John Stevens and Patrick Hester (posted Sep 26, 2011)

I won’t be on the SF Signal podcasts every week but I should be in one or two a month for the foreseeable future, and thanks for listening!

Letter From A Murderous Construct and His Robot Fish

We’ll call it a dare. I made a few comments on twitter late last night, got some encouragement from Ken Liu, and found myself writing a Shakespearean sonnet which had to include robots, a fish, and a murder. Putting all of that into 14 lines, and making sure the right parts rhymed … it was a challenge. I’m not sure I’ve won it. But, since I said I would, I’m posting here for your review. (And yes, it’s ok to laugh.)

Letter From A Murderous Construct and His Robot Fish

Our master’s voice, once law, declared our fate
Like cast off clothes we were outgrown and sold
My love’s tank drained, I boxed into a crate
Parted from joy for nothing more than gold

Her jeweled scales, her silver fins, delight!
She built for beauty and I built for brawn
My hands of steel, my clockwork-powered might
Still I could count the hours ‘fore the dawn

Forced my escape, took up a heavy wrench
I calculated odds and chose to act
Deed done, the bloody tool left on a bench
Stole love away to freedom we had lacked

Know this – the time to capture us has passed
We’ve fled from human influence at last