Sale: “One Echo Of An August Morning” to Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal

I hinted at this last week, but have signed the contract so it’s official: my story, “One Echo Of An August Morning” will appear in the Summer 2016 issue of Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal (coming out mid-July).

This will be their 3rd issue; you can read the first two for free online here. While I got lucky that one of their editors likes SF – and this story in particular is squarely on the edge of speculative/literature – most of the work they publish is what you’d hope to see in a “literary journal”, and I’m pleased to be in that company.

New Collection/Fundraiser Update: An Excerpt from “No Hand To Turn The Key”

No Hand to Turn the Key by Carrie Cuinn tells the tale of an alternate future where humanity has been wiped out by Mythos horrors leaving only automatons behind to defend what remains of Earth’s human legacy. The result is a touching tale of sacrifice and hope in the face of overwhelming odds.” – Alan Loewen

The second reprint story in the new collection originally appeared in Steampunk Cthulhu: Mythos Terror in the Age of Steam, out from Chaosium in 2014. It was actually one of the first Mythos stories I wrote, and is an example of what I like best when writing Lovecraft-inspired work: playing at the edges of what came before me, exploring the long-term effects of the Old Ones, with characters you wouldn’t expect.

Want to know a secret? It’s set on the UPenn campus (in my favorite building, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center) and mostly in my favorite place, the 6th floor. That’s home to the Kislak Center for Special Collections and Rare Books.

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I spent a hundreds of hours of my life here.

The story begins after all hope had been lost…

The University didn’t have many buildings to choose from. She’d spent time in the Downtown division, where troopers could sit in a 10th story windows and pick off intruders with ease, but having been promoted to defend a more delicate area, she was also forced to do more work. The tallest building on the quad was the New Library, so she headed up the large gray steps toward the wood-paneled doors long-gone construction units had rigged together when the original glass one was busted, decades before. Her heavy armor weighed on her as she moved herself up each worn piece of concrete but there wasn’t time to rest. There was barely time to wind.

Past a pair of dim-witted sentries and into the lift she’d held her back straight and her head high, but alone in the box she finally allowed herself to slump against the wall. Deftly undoing the multitude of fastenings on her coat, she slipped one hand inside and found her windup key – an ornate cog slowly untwisting against her otherwise plain chest. She gently moved her fingers across its intricately engraved surface, feeling the motion of the cog as it clicked down.

The lift slowed at a floor lower than the one she’d been aiming for, and suddenly her moment of privacy ended under the gaze of a male she didn’t know. His eyes widened, taking in the scene.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I can wait for the next one.” He dropped his gaze.

“No, of course not,” she replied. “Don’t waste the energy. This one is already going up.”

He nodded, entered the box, and turned to face the closing doors, still looking down at the floor.

She realized too late that she had left her hand inside her jacket, fingers idly fondling her chest.

I’m running out of time to pay off what I owe so I can register for Fall, so please, if you can contribute today. I can take contributions via PayPal here (Anything sent this way is still eligible for the same rewards, and I add it to the total at GoFundMe so everyone can see where we are). If you’d like, you can use the GoFundMe instead.

New Collection/Fundraiser Update: An Excerpt from “CL3ANS3”

I’ve got just under $750 to go on my fundraiser to help me put out a small collection of Mythos fiction, in order to pay for a couple of college classes. The collection – which I’m calling Black Mud Sun, Blood Red Sea – will include two previously published and three original stories. All varied, inclusive, a little sexy, and a lot of fun to write.

Here’s an excerpt from one of those stories, “CL3ANS3” (originally appearing in Eldritch Chrome: Unquiet Tales of a Mythos-Haunted Future, Chaosium. December 2, 2013.)

A handsome boy delivered glasses of chilled water to our table, singing out, “Hydration!” as he slid one in front of each of us. They were always lovely, the ones who served our food and smiled as they took our coats.

I watched him walk away as Marc sighed heavily.

“You do look feverish,” Hassa said, concerned. “You’re sweating.”

“You should notify medical,” Elda added.

“Yes, I think …” Marc paused, putting a hand to his forehead. “I think I’ll go there now.” He lurched to his feet and left, bumping into our handler as he passed her. She looked shaken but managed to get our meal on the table in the right order. Her long hair was brushed straight and bound behind her head with a black bow. I thought about my own hair, cropped close to my head, the way it had been for years. Data processor chic; we all wore it this way.

“He’s gone to medical,” I said when I realized she was still standing at our table, Marc’s food on her tray, a lost look on her face. “You can take that back to the kitchen.” She smiled then, brightly, and retreated.

Mid-shift break never feels as if it’s long enough.

I settled into my couch, removing the cover from my data jack and slipping the transfer cable inside. The world fell away, and my real life came back into focus.

As I was unpacking the last file for the day, a vid with partial frame loss, a message flashed: my Architect advising me that I was needed on the University project. Marc’s project. I put the vid aside and sent her a reply, questioning.

“We have two processors out with illness,” she answered back. “Is anything in your queue a priority?”

“No, I’m clear to transfer,” I thought back at her, and she changed my queue with a quick “Thank you.” File attached. Info for the University. I put it aside for the next day, cleaned up my video, and placed it with the rest of its mates.

I wish I could say that I had some premonition of what was coming, but I slept dreamlessly and woke up refreshed. We have pills for that.

I’ve collected reviews of the story here.

I’m running out of time to pay off what I owe so I can register for Fall, so please, if you can contribute today. I can take contributions via PayPal here (Anything sent this way is still eligible for the same rewards, and I add it to the total at GoFundMe so everyone can see where we are). If you’d like, you can use the GoFundMe instead.

3 Weeks Post-Surgery: Mostly Good (Even the Cancer Part)

Three weeks ago, I went to the hospital for surgery. They removed half of my thyroid, because it had developed nodules (what they call thyroid tumors they suspect are benign) and had swollen up enough that it pressed against my trachea, and the nerve that controlled my vocal cords. I was having trouble breathing, at times, and my voice had started to go froggy. Of course, there was the year, going on two, before that of me starting to go downhill physically  – tired all of the time, gaining weight, struggling to stay on task or complete things on time – but after dealing with a doctor who insisted it was just me being a woman, getting older, I’d found one who was actually willing to do lab work and sort it out. I was diagnosed with anemia, and started medication for that. Aside from the pressure on my throat, I should have been on the mend.

I didn’t quite feel it, though. A little better… but still, something was wrong.

We agonized over the decision to cut out part of my thyroid. It’s a simple, safe, outpatient procedure, except that it’s still surgery, which is never guaranteed 100% safe. My SO and I talked it over, made plans for dealing with what would come next if I didn’t make it out okay, and decided (supported by my surgeon’s opinion) that it’s better to get the swollen part of my thyroid out now before it got bigger and did some real damage. I felt it, a literal lump in my throat, every time I swallowed. Every time I tried to exercise and had to breathe harder. When I laid down for sleep, and the lump shifted a little, pressing on a new spot I hadn’t yet learned to ignore.

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ that lies flat, for most people, and has the volume of a peanut on each side. My right side wasn’t visible from the outside, so you wouldn’t know unless you saw a sonogram that it was the size of a jawbreaker, and growing. Inside were two nodules; the bigger one had been biopsied three times since it was found three years ago, and declared benign, though I was told in 2013 that it was collapsing and would get smaller – we discovered in May that it had actually gotten larger.

The smaller one was labeled “suspicious” by the sonogram tech during this round of tests, but was .1 mm too small for a biopsy to be considered necessary, according to the current medical guidelines, so I was told not to worry. We’d wait, they said, and check on it again next year.

If I hadn’t opted to remove the larger side of my thyroid, that nodule would still be there. Continue reading

Poem: Ephyra

EPHYRA

Dressed in darkness, I tumble into dawn
To run salt-scented, empty asphalt
Space my neighbors have abandoned
Since streetlamps, transfigured
Hatched airborne jellies, now
Untethered, slowly drifting past
Sporadic bioluminscence:
An ocean’s liberated dream

Close to these shy miracles, I
Regret my awkward novice stride
And that I slept while they were born
Now icy puddles splash bare feet
Knees ache carrying my weight
Skin sweats, chaps, and chafes –
But above me, floating free,
Those silent creatures light my way.

– Carrie Cuinn

Continue reading