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

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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.

Interview, Review, and Links

Fantasy Scroll interviewed me about writing, rejections, and what advice I’d give new writers.

I think one of the most important transitions a writer makes is when they stop relying on the idea to prop up the story and start thinking about how the story reads as well. In fact, most writers don’t get that far, and you can tell that their fiction is all a lead-up to the reveal of the end, or in support of a strong moment that isn’t actually a whole story. My favorite writers can do both, blending a great idea with beautiful sentences.

I hope to be one of those writers. I’m working on it.

Read the rest here.

A Fantastical Librarian reviewed my short collection, Women and Other Constructs. In part, she says:

Despite its short length there is a wealth of stories here and when I sat down to write my review and pick my favourite stories to talk about, I had a really hard time, because every time I’d change my mind. In this collection of stories mostly dealing with the position of women in society and how their (self-)perception is shaped by the demands and expectations of that society, I found hardly a bum note.

She especially enjoyed “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”, “A Cage, Her Arms”, and “About a Mirror and its Pieces”, about which she says:

This story hit me hard and where it hurts…. I love that it not only gave an explanation of her treatment of the little boys in her fairy tale and in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but also made those events tragic, rather than malicious. It was a fabulous story and a great note to end the collection on.

You can find the rest of the review here. Want to read these stories for yourself? Go HERE to buy print or ebook copies of the book.

I’m currently reading “Sex Lives of Monsters” (a book of poetry by Helen Marshall) on my tablet, and a borrowed copy of Nathan Ballingrund‘s “North American Lake Monsters” in print.

Online, I’ve been getting into ClevelandPoetics (a blog about poetry, esp SF and science poetry), RetroRenovation (a site devoted to old-school home design–I’m there for the mid-century modern style), and back episodes of the Small Beer Press Podcast. So that’s where my head is at.

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Print copies of WOMEN AND OTHER CONSTRUCTS, free to reviewers (or cheap, if you just want one)

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I have about 30 almost perfect copies of my short collection, Women and Other Constructs, and I want them to belong to someone else. Specifically, I’d like them to go to people who will read and review them. I don’t want to sell them, because there’s a handful of small errors–these were printed by mistake, before the final version of the interior was submitted.

If you’re a reviewer of speculative fiction (SF/F) for an established book review site or publication, I will send you the book for free. I’ll pay shipping; you just tell me where it goes.

If you’re not a reviewer somewhere else, but you want to read the book and will review it on your own website, or Goodreads, Amazon, etc, I’ll give you the book for free if you pay shipping ($3, if you’re in the US). Continue reading

New review of “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”

Carl V. Anderson, who recently wrote a glowing review of my collection, Women and Other Constructs, for SF Signal, has gone a step further. He did an in-depth review of the first story, “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”, for his own blog:

You know how it is when you come across a story that feels like it was written just for you; you get that almost out-of-body experience where the story leaves you feeling like you are floating on air, or glowing, or whatever hyperbolic description that you go to in order to attempt (always feebly) to describe that electric feeling. That is what happened when I read “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”. I am a bit wary when sharing how one story reminds me of another creator’s work. When I do so I mean it as a compliment and often worry that were the author to discover it they would take it as an offense, as if their work were not unique. When I write that this story reminded me of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and of various scenes in Tim Burton’s stop-motion film, The Corpse Bride, it is not to in any way intimate that Carrie Cuinn was in any way inspired by these stories. What I am saying is that there is a kinship of props and characters as well as a kinship in the way all three of these pieces of art make me feel.

He goes on to say:

“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” appeals to me for many reasons. One of which is that even though I don’t like really dark, graphic horror I do have a lot of affection for all the trappings of a good horror story. I prefer what could be called “gothic” tales and this story feels more like that type of story. I enjoy that there is an element of the eerie to this story, particularly in imagining what these corpses really looked like, but that the story itself is about people, about relationships, and not about being scary for the sake of being scary.

I like that the story has a bit of the melancholy woven within. It looks at goodbyes, partings, death…things that admittedly have elements of sadness and grief to them but are a part of all of our lives, something that ties us all together regardless of the way we treat one another.

I like the story because way in which Carrie Cuinn structures her sentences and her dialogue captures the time period in which the story is to have taken place. There are no wasted words here, every sentence conveys some aspect that is important to the overall story.

You can read the whole thing here.

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

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

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