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Montreal and Quebec City: A Palimpsest

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We spent ten days in Quebec, Canada, eating poutine and duck confit and crepes. We walked through the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, then drove to Quebec City and walked the cobblestone streets there. My girls posed with cannons on the old battlements and were subjected to military history; we ate gelato and watched street performers in the old squares. We drove out of the city and explored a dramatic landscape of waterfalls and gorges and mountains. We saw sights like this.


A view from atop the waterfall at Canyon Sainte-Anne, outside Quebec City.

Another view of the falls. 
We also saw this. 

                           A view of the Jacques-Cartier River at Jacques-Cartier National Park.


On our first night in Quebec City, my husband made a reservation at Aux Anciens Canadiens. Nearly twenty years ago, we had dined at this restaurant sans children. Quebec was one of the first trips that my husband and I ever took together. It was late autumn, and cold, and we were so young.

We came…

June-July 2018 Short Fiction Recs

It’s not quite the end of July, but I’m traveling through the first part of August, so I’ve written up my June and July story selections early! As always, there were too many beautiful and wonderful stories to include all that I read. But here are a few that captured my heart.

Stories of resistance, survival, friendship, and love

“Waterbirds” by G.V. Anderson’s story at Lightspeed
Celia is a MxMill Companion, model 2.3—an android under contact to elderly, kindly Mrs. Lawson. For years the two of them have been coming to the Norfolk coast to watch the migrating birds. During these visits, Celia strikes up a relationship with a local artist named Irene. Celia isn’t supposed to have wants of her own—or if she does, she’s supposed to put the wants of humans before her own. But over the course of a human lifetime, things can change. This is a quiet, beautifully crafted piece about love, autonomy, and freedom. It’s a science fiction tale tinged with fantasy, a story that starts off as a myster…

New blog post at The Future Fire!

The Future Fire is an online magazine of speculative fiction and poetry. I've published a few stories there. And today, as part of their blog series, I join five other writers in discussing literary places we love. You can check out the discussion here. 

New story! "The Young God" and other updates

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I have a new story out! “The Young God” is a flash fiction piece (under 1000 words) appearing in Kaleidotrope alongside some wonderful stories and poetry. My story is about the apocalypse, a young god, and finding the faith to keep on.

I’m also featured in a new interview for the Reading 5X5 anthology series. In case you missed it, the idea behind  Reading 5X5 was to give five basic story outlines in five different genres to five different writers. . . and to see just what diverse and wonderful stories might result. I wrote a piece for the genre of “contemporary fantasy” and was delighted to see how differently the assigned writers approached the same basic premise. I previously blogged a bit about my story for the anthology here. All proceeds go to the Clayton Memorial Fund to benefit Pacific Northwest writers facing medical emergencies.
In other updates: 
My family and I recently returned from a road trip vacation. We took a ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin's Door County pen…

April-May 2018 Short Fiction Recs

April and May brought so many stories of strangeness, beauty, love, and darkness. Here's a sampling of just some of what I loved. 

Stories of Beauty, Strangeness, and Love
“Mothers, Watch Over Me,” by Maria Haskins in Mythic Delirium
I confess that I’m not even a dog person, yet this story nearly had me in tears. In a post-apocalyptic world, a dog named Maya gives birth to a sickly pup. Although she has lost puppies before, she knows that this one must live, and she is determined to do all she can to make it so. Maya carries her litter of pups in a basket with her into the Forbidding, on a journey to the towers of God for help. A beautifully written, delicate, and poignant story of love, survival, and determination.  
“Strange Watersby Samantha Mills in Strange Horizons
Another story about a desperate (this time human) mother. Mika is a sailor who is lost at sea. She knows where she is in relation to the coastline and her home city of Maelstrom. But she often doesn’t know when she is.

Quote: Alexander Chee on writing

Alexander Chee on writing:
“All my life I’ve been told that this isn’t important, that it doesn’t matter, that it could never matter. And yet I think it does. I think this is the real reason the people who would take everything from us say this. I think it’s the same reason that when fascists come to power, writers are among the first to go to jail. And that is the point of writing."
--Alexander Chee, from his essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

I finished R.F. Kuang’s debut novel, The Poppy War, yesterday and I’m still reeling.
This is a brilliant and devastating book, set in a secondary fantasy world inspired by the events of early twentieth century China and the aesthetics of a much earlier time period. It’s gotten significant buzz for its unflinching portrayal of war’s brutality--“A masterpiece by grimdark’s newest and perhaps darkest daughter” Fantasy BookReview raved —and indeed, it is dark. Drawing heavily from real-world events of the Sino-Japanese wars, how could it not be? Yet though there are grim elements from the beginning, there are also snappy one-liners that had me laughing out loud, a winningly snarky voice, wild magic (with a dash of whimsy) and captivating characters that breathe and grow. It’s an unflinching look at the worst of violence, trauma, and vengeance. And it’s also a coming-of-age story, a story about friendship, and a thrilling, propulsive ride which tore my heart to pieces.
The story is told from…

New story! "The Things That We Will Never Say"

So. . . I have a new story out today at Daily Science Fiction.“The Things That We Will Never Say” is a story about distances, family, and trying to divine the future. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve written yet. I’d be honored if you took a look.

Roundtable discussion on short fiction reading habits at Lady Business

Interested in hearing some smart thoughts on finding and reading short fiction? The website Lady Business hosted a roundtable discussion on short fiction reading habits. I participated, alongside luminaries of the field: reviewers/editors/writers A.C. Wise, Bogi Takacs, Brandon O'Brien and Bridget McKinney (cue up massive imposter syndrome on my part!) You can take a look over here.


Short fiction recs: February and March 2018

It finally feels like spring as I write this, a seemingly endless winter finally behind us and the world moving forward (if late!) into a new season. It’s fitting, then, that so many of the stories in this roundup speak of movement and change, of seasons on both cosmic and personal scales. Here are tales of darkness and tales of warmth and light, of horror and of healing. If it’s still cold where you are, curl up with these stories and a blanket and cup of hot tea. If it’s warm, read them anyway. May they offer you a moment of stillness in this changing season and world.

Short Stories

Cosmic Spring” by Ken Liu at Lightspeed
The universe is in deep winter. This is my conclusion after studying the matter for 6.7 trillion years.
The universe is in winter: the time near the end, as everything winds down toward maximal entropy. During this winter, one last sentience travels through space, harvesting the energy of dying stars. As it travels, it tries to assemble from its memory banks a pictur…