I’m part of “Women In Genre”? Yay! Have some free fiction.

Several people are writing about their favorite “Women in Genre” this month. There’s even a hastag for it on Twitter if you’d like to see more of the discussion. Haralambi Markov (a Bulgarian writer, editor, pop culture geek, and avid reader) is writing a blog post each day, featuring his favorite women working in speculative fiction.

Today is Day 9 on his blog. Today, he wrote about me.

It basically says that I edit as well as write, and that with both of those together I’m putting out short fiction he thinks people need to read. He also recommends my blog, since I post about being a writer and editor in the midst of a change in how genre – and women in genre – is perceived Plus, you know, trying to balance my career with everything else.

Markov says that when you read my work, you can tell that:

Cuinn lives for genre and Dagan Books is a direct reflection of her passion and love.

That’s true, and I’m tickled that other people can see it. I know I’m at the beginning of my career. I have only put out a handle of books as a publisher, and have maybe twice that number in fiction sales myself. But – I do love what I do. I love spec fic. I love reading it, and I love being a part of where it’s going.

Markov mentions that he hasn’t read very many of my stories, coming to me instead as a reader of the anthologies I’ve edited, so here are links to where you can find a couple of my favorites online:

Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” published by Red Penny Papers in their Summer 2012 issue.

Call Center Blues” published at Daily Science Fiction. Sent to subscribers Nov 2, 2011; posted to site Nov 9, 2011

Monsters, Monsters, Everywhere”, published by Crossed Genres Magazine in issue #34 (MONSTERS), October 1, 2011.

Annabelle Tree“, published in the Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction anthology to benefit tornado relief efforts, May 13, 2011.

Click on the story name to read it. “Mrs. Henderson” is playful fantasy bordering on horror without actually being scary. “Call Center” is science fiction, and short – a little less than a thousand words. “Monsters” is sci fi but much creepier than the others. “Annabelle” is magic realism, and is sad but – I hope – beautiful, too.

Please let me know what you think, or if there’s anything you want to see more of. And thank you for thinking of me when you think of Women in Genre.

Story Bits, Or How I Answered a Meme With Too Many Words

A few days ago I offered to write a sentence or so of any story you asked for. Three people (Kelly Stiles, A.C. Wise, and Mike Allen) took me up on the challenge, and in return I wrote a lot more than a sentence. Here are those pieces.

Kelly asked for “the story of a cat, his boy and how they saved the world together.” After pointing out that sounded like a friend’s comic book which is basically that story, I thought of a different take on the idea:

Earl surveyed the wreckage, several blocks of first flattened and then devastated but still standing buildings, radiating out from underneath that oddly pulsating ball of light which hung in the ashen sky.

“We have to get closer,” he said. “The device will only work if we’re within 1000 feet. Of course, at that range another pulse would vaporize us, but if we can shut this one down, the science geeks predict the rest will collapse too, in a cascade effect.” His voice was calm, his muscles tense but still. Only the tip of his ginger tail swished.

“You’re the boss,” the boy said, shouldering a gun nearly as big as he was. “Just tell me what to do.”

A.C. wanted “The one about the reverse astral projectionist who summoned distant places to her in her sleep, please.”

David knocked again, harder. “Elizabeth! Open the door! You have something …” He looked down at the wet carpet, smelled the faintly salty water spreading out from beneath his roommate’s bedroom door. “There’s something leaking in there. Did you get a fish tank?”

There was no answer. The wet carpet sucked at his toes. Behind him, the dampness was spreading into the hallway.

“I’m coming in,” he said loudly, turning her door knob slowly.

Inside, Elizabeth was sound asleep, lying on her side in her bed, one leg sticking out from underneath her blankets.

Next to her a palm tree had gouged out a piece of the ceiling and bent unnaturally to one side, too tall for the room. Sand piled up at its base, spilling into her closet and under her dresser. A small crab scuttled back and forth across the sand, confused.

“Oh, no,” David sighed. “Not again.”

And Mike, never to outdone in the slightly weird department, asked for “The one about the woman who finds the World Serpent beneath the subway system.”

At that moment, she blamed the shoes. There was more to it than that, another part of her brain screamed at her, and she felt, in a disconnected way, that she should do something other than stand there, staring at a scale the size of her head, and blaming her brand new $340 pumps, but she wasn’t sure what came next. She had been waiting for her train when her aching left heel made her lean down to adjust her ankle strap…

That made her purse spill open, and while she was frantically scooping up its contents, someone in the crowd kicked her smartphone, and then someone else, knocking it away from her like she was caught in a scene from a slapstick comedy. She chased after it, scraping a knee getting up, yelling at the sea of uncaring feet which kept her phone just out of reach, but no one stopped to help.

She remembered that it bounced down into a stairwell she’d never noticed before. The sound of the phone clacking against the stairs kept her rushing downward, downward, as the tile changed to cream and green and florescent overhead lights were replaced by bright globes set into the ceiling.

And still her phone tumbled downward.

At some point it must have stopped falling, because she was vaguely aware that she held it in her hand, but the thing in front of her, the enormous impossible creature filling the tunnel, that had her attention now. Her feet throbbed, and for one horrible moment she looked down at them, and at those heels – imported from Italy, cool grey, a sexy twist to her business suits, made from the finest snakeskin.

“Oh god,” she whispered, her head snapping up to stare again at the side of the giant serpent. “Listen, about the shoes …”

Thanks for playing!

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