Free Fiction Online From My Favorite Writers

While I am getting caught up with some writing and editing projects of my own, I wanted to direct you to some fundamental reading you may have missed. List is in alphabetical order by author’s last name:

Camille Alexa‘s “Shades of White and Road“, Fantasy Magazine, April 2009

Cate Gardner‘s “And, The Bride Wore Ashes“, Phantasmacore, March 2011

Claude Lalumière‘s “Spiderkid“, Reflection’s Edge, February 2007 (also in Objects of Worship)

Kelly Link‘s “Swans“, Fantasy Magazine, July 2011, and “Valley of the Girls” Subterranean Press Summer 2011

Ken Liu‘s “Ad BlockKasma Science Fiction, March 2011

Don Pizarro‘s “Combat Stress Reaction,” Crossed Genres, June 2010

K. V. Taylor‘s “Green” in Reflection’s Edge, Dec 2008

In addition, Small Beer Press has a whole page of free fiction available to download here. (Including The Baum Plan For Financial Independence, a wonderful collection by John Kessel!)

Remember, if you like an author’s work, go out and read more of it! Recommend it to your friends, buy their novels/magazines/collections, or mention how much you liked something you’d read the next time you see the author at a convention. We want to know when our work has an impact, and we appreciate every minute you spend reading our words.

Readercon 2011 Recap: Saturday / Sunday (and we’re done)

I’ve previously talked about the books I brought home from Readercon, some Readercon advice on writing an author blurb, and recapped Thursday/Friday.

Saturday morning was breakfast at Panera, then panels:

11 AM Book Design and Typography in the Digital Era Neil Clarke, Erin Kissane, Ken Liu, David G. Shaw (leader), Alicia Verlager. From this I found out that Ken knows quite a bit about the history of the book and its evolution from scroll to codex to ebook, making him officially one of my favorite people ever. This was one of the most informed panels I attended, and I felt that all of the panelists had useful things to add to the discussion. I only wished it were longer.

12:00 PM Daughters of the Female Man Matthew Cheney, Gwendolyn Clare, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Barbara Krasnoff, Chris Moriarty. I tend to avoid panels on women’s issues in fiction, honestly. I’m of the school that we should promote damn fine writers who happen to be women as opposed to promoting women writers and hoping they’re good. I come from an academic background and am particularly informed by the discussion about women’s place in art history, and the (absurd) question which always gets asked, “Why are there no good women artists?” However this panel was excellent both for it’s suggestions for further reader and for the way it didn’t focus on anything other than good writing by women. Notable for this panel was the absurd statement from the audience about how the panel should have done “a little more work” and created an annotated bibliography to hand out (you know, so we wouldn’t have to read anything on our own).

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Readercon 2011 Recap: Thursday / Friday

The drive up to Boston was easy and uneventful save for the sudden realization that I was actually driving through the Bronx. That wasn’t clear from the directions, which essentially said take 95N from NJ to Connecticut, so you can understand why the first time I drove over the George Washington bridge and into the Bronx I was a little surprised. I stopped in Orange, CT, for breakfast at a place called Chip’s Diner, home to some pretty good buttermilk pancakes. That was my halfway point, and the rest of the drive was pretty but boring. I found the hotel with little trouble, got checked into my room, unpacked my suitcase, fell onto the big, fluffy bed, relaxed in the air conditioning, and very nearly fell asleep.

That would have been bad because I was due to pick Don Pizarro up from the airport an hour later. Logan Airport was only 12 miles from the hotel, but I wanted to be early if possible so he didn’t have to wait. Plus, Bart Lieb needed Don to read at the Broken Slate/Crossed Genres reading Friday night, so he insisted that I get up. I shared the elevator back down to the lobby with another woman – we looked at each other, said, “Readercon?” and both nodded. “I’m going to the gym to try to bike off this headache,” she said. “You?” I told her I was off to the airport. “Oh, at this time? I’m sorry,” she said, as the doors opened, and we waved our goodbyes. I wondered at that, got into my car, and for the first few miles I made good time. Switching onto 93 for the other 9 miles of the trip left me in dead-stop traffic. It ultimately took me 50 minutes to travel those 9 miles, by which time, Don’s plane was due to have landed. I finally pulled in, and called – no answer. I got into the terminal, since I had his flight info I knew where I was supposed to be, called again and … no answer. I checked the Starbucks (we’re writers, of course we gravitate toward coffee and wifi) but no luck. Called again and found his plane had arrived late; he was just getting off it now. Perfect! I wasn’t late after all. We found each other easily after that, got back to the hotel faster than I’d made it out to the airport, and after dropping his stuff off, made our way to the hotel bar.

My room was near the Con Suite, which was not, as directions would suggest, out the 6th floor window.

I did mention that we were writers, right?

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So You Want to Write an Author Blurb? Readercon Edition, With Advice from Ken Liu and Don Pizarro

We all know the first step toward getting yourself invited to talk on a panel at a convention like Readercon is to have a really outstanding author blurb. The kind of run-on sentence (or three) that not only conveys your vast experience in talking out loud but that also implies your great range of knowledge*.

Picture it, if you will.

Actually, I did take a picture. Don (left) and Ken (right) in the Marriott bar, July 16, 2011

One hot afternoon in Boston I found myself sitting across a table from Ken Liu and Don Pizarro, brilliant authors and Men of Experience. We were sitting in the hotel bar, like you do at a convention, talking about how awesome I am. Well, how awesome I’m not. See, I’d jokingly mentioned something to my day job boss about my positive attitude and wide set of skills, and while he didn’t seem to be sure if I was kidding or not, I felt a bit embarrassed. I mean, who goes around telling people they’re awesome unless it’s a joke?

But no, these men assured me, I was on the right track. Once they got done laughing hysterically at my faux pas, I was informed that this was the beginning of an author blurb that was sure to get me noticed. Ken had been on a panel earlier in the day, and both Don and I aspire to be on panels in the future (Don also aspires to be famous enough to say terrible things when he’s really old and get away with it, so I think I’m going to need to stick around and write his apologetic morning-after press releases for him). Don stopped giggling long enough to pay attention at what was about to be a very serious conversation.

“You have to start with that,” Ken advised me. “Carrie Cuinn, author, editor, publisher. Then, ‘I’m awesome’.” He made air quotes with his fingers as he said that part. “Or maybe put, ‘I’m awesome’ first.”

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Readercon, The Loot Edition

While I let the rest of the weekend tumble around in my head until a reasonable con recap post can be put into words, I’ll start you off with the small pile of wonderful things I brought home with me:

  • John Kessel’s THE BAUM PLAN FOR FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE AND OTHER STORIES – I first read this collection last year, checked out from my local library, and adored it. I was pleased to find a reasonably priced SIGNED paperback in the dealer’s room; was more than pleased to meet the man himself at the Pros(e) party too.
  • RIGOR AMORTIS – You might remember that I have a story in this little anthology of zombie erotica. I’d forgotten my copy but got one from the thoughtful Kay Holt, who’s also in the book. This meant I got to have her, Lucia Starkey and Don Pizarro sign it for me.
  • Postcards and flyers for various cons I want to attend and books I want to buy.
  • THE HOMELESS MOON 4 – A free zine being passed out at the con
  • OBJECTS OF WORSHIP – Claude LaLumière’s great collection, which I’ve already read and reviewed. I got this copy for a friend who (at the last minute) couldn’t make the con, and he was gracious enough to inscribe it for her.
  • Elizabeth Hand’s ILLYRIA – I am not too familiar with her work, but it’s been recommended to me, and I was at a few panels she was on, so I wanted a place to start. I found this lovely little hardcover in the dealer’s room.
  • Harold Waldrop’s novella collection OTHER WORLDS, BETTER LIVES – I saw him read two stories of his on Saturday night, and got to have a great conversation with his publisher about this book and the state of Waldrop’s sales in general. Bonus: this book is SIGNED too.
  • Claude’s DOOR TO LOST PAGES – I’d bought the epub, read it (review to go up soon) and wanted the paperback. He signed this one too, and it’s all mine!
  • Crossed Genre’s Issue 19: Gadgets and Artifacts – Bought because Don Pizarro’s got a story in this issue that I love, and that I got to hear him read aloud during the CG reading on Friday night. This brings up an interesting point about writers you get close enough to that you’ve mutually become part of each other’s lives: what happens is, we become slackers. I bought it with the intention of getting Don to sign it, and since we spent the whole weekend together, I didn’t think this would be a problem. I knew where to find him. Presenting him with it, and a pen, he opened it to his story, poised the pen over the page and  … stopped. “I need to think of the right thing to say,” he said, and handed it back. Yes, I understand, the pressure of not wanting to sign something dumb to people you’ll see over and over again. But … did I ever get it signed? No, no I did not. My advice here kids is: smile, be patient, but don’t let them leave til it’s signed.
  • Readercon 22 program booklet – lots of cool info I didn’t have time to read at the actual con (given out free with my badge).
  • Dec 2002 Locus – there was a stack of free, older, issues of this magazine and I grabbed the China Mièville issue. I love his writing and even though it’s an older interview, I’m sure there are things to be learned.
So much to read. And I have to tell you about the panels I went to, the people I hung out with (which, in my opinion, made the con as amazing as it was), the readings, the food, the … Readercon-ness of it all. Soon, I promise.