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New publication! Reprint in Passages: Best of NewMyths Anthology

Five years ago, my first paid story was published. It was also my first published story in the fantasy genre; up until then, I had danced on the margins of fantasy, writing “literary” stories that only hinted at magical realism.
Five years later, I unabashedly declare myself a genre writer. And that first fantasy story that I published so long ago is reprinted today in Passages: Best of NewMyths Anthology. This collection curates the best fiction and poetry to appear in NewMyths magazine over the last ten years. It's available in both print and e-book. I’m proud and honored to appear in these pages, alongside such writers as award-winning poet Christina Sng, novelist Beth Cato, and more.
Five years seems so long ago, and also the blink of an eye. I feel that I’ve come very far in my writing. I also thought that I would be further along; I underestimated how tough the science fiction/fantasy publishing market is. And I’m grateful for all the small successes I’ve had. That first publi…

Thanksgiving--Road trip to Pennsylvania

We drove 600 miles to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. Eastward across Michigan, down through the northern edge of Ohio, past Pittsburgh and into central Pennsylvania. All the miles rolling past the car window. The dry fields of late autumn, tinged now and then with snow. Bare-limbed trees, and then groups of trees still clothed in warm, russet browns. All the rivers we crossed. Fog over the rivers. All the spaces of the Midwest. This is what I love being reminded of: all the bare space in America, the cities just isolated islands of population in a vast sea of fields and rivers and interconnecting highways.
Then fields giving way to rolling, russet-clad hills. Pennsylvania—what I’ve seen of it--is beautiful.
Travel is broadening, they say, and how is it that only on this trip did I learn that Pennsylvanians put French fries in their sandwiches? It’s a Pittsburgh thing, my sister explained. And I learned that gas stations in Pennsylvania are known for their food; the Tu…

2018 Awards Eligibility Post

It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas trees and holiday shopping and carols. I’m talking about award nomination season in the science fiction/fantasy field, of course! I was pleased to publish six stories this year, and I truly believe that several of them are among the best I’ve ever written. I’d be honored if you took a look.
For Special ConsiderationThese four stories are already on the Nebula Reading List (thank you thank you to whoever put them there!) and they are special pieces of my heart. Also, please check out all the other stories on the Nebula Reading List; it’s a wonderful resource for us all.
"Wild Ones" in Bracken Magazine (fantasy, 2407 words) A mother, a daughter, and the Wild Hunt.
--Featured in the Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Short Fiction Roundup: February 2018by Maria Haskins. “A beautiful and poignant piece of short fiction that deals with longing and fear, adolescence and parenth…

Book review: Educated by Tara Westover

Days later, I am still processing this book.
You’ve probably heard of it by now; Educated was recommended by former president Barack Obama himself and continues on the New York Times best sellers list. It’s the story of a girl raised on a mountain by parents who were religious extremists and survivalists. Tara Westover was born at home and never saw a doctor or nurse. She had no birth certificate. She never went to school. Her father stockpiled rifles, food, fuel, and military gear on their property, preparing for the day that he and his family would have to stand up to the “the Feds” and also survive the apocalypse (or “Days of Abomination,” as he called it). The father preached an extreme, fundamentalist, and decidedly idiosyncratic personal version of Mormonism which his wife and children all accepted. And yet in spite of violence, neglect, and ignorance, Tara Westover decided to go to college. She studied for the ACT on her own, from a book, and when she walked into the testing cen…

Quote from Tara Westover's memoir, Educated

"Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind."

--Tara Westover, from her memoir, Educated. 

Short Fiction Recs! August and Sept 2018

October is here, first drizzly and gray, now bright but sharp with cold. It’s time to bundle up in sweaters, make stews and soups, and cuddle with good stories and a cup of tea. Here to keep you company are some stories I loved from late summer and the earliest fall.

Stories of darkness, healing, love, and passion

“The Last Epic Pub Crawl of the Brothers Pennyfeather” by L. Chan in The Dark
Chan is one of the most wildly inventive writers I know, and this story shows off his pyrotechnics of imagination, his poetic language and humor. . . as well as a delicacy of emotion that is all the more powerful for its restraint. Bob and Bill are the Brothers Pennyfeather, a duo of ghost hunters/exorcists who have been trained in their Work by their mother. After a job gone terribly wrong and mutual absence, the brothers reunite for one last epic pub crawl. Creepy ghosts abound at each pub they visit, and brotherly snark and banter enliven the night. But there’s something much deeper going on than a…

A Vietnamese translation of one of my stories! Promo for Lilies of Dawn! And more

My story, "The Things That We Will Never Say" was translated into Vietnamese! The translation is now out in the Vietnamese science fiction fanzine, SFVN, translated by Long Nguyen, and you can check it out here. This is perhaps one of the coolest things I've yet had happen as a writer. I can't read or understand a word of Vietnamese, but it's thrilling to know that my story is now available to readers in a different language. The layout of the magazine is just gorgeous--check it out!

In other self-promo news:
My latest story, “The House of Illusionists” in Liminal Stories, has been getting some very kind comments. It was featured in the Barnes and Noble Science Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog, and it has now also been listed on the Nebula Reading List! “The Things That We Will Never Say” is on the Nebula Reading List list this year, as well!
And finally:
The lovely writer Francesca Forrest has a new novelette out today, The Inconvenient God, published by Annorlunda Books.…

Quote: from Call Me By Your Name

"I'm not wise at all. I told you, I know nothing. I know books, and I know how to string words together--it doesn't mean I know how to speak about the things that matter most to me."

     "But you're doing it now--in a way."

     "Yes, in a way--that's how I always say things: in a way."     

     --from Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman


Book review: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife is a smart, fierce, propulsive thriller and an unsparing look into a future that seems all too real. In this book’s timeline, drought and climate change have devastated the American Southwest; Texas has basically gone to hell, and other states are waging something close to literal war over access to water from the Colorado River. The borders are shut down—state borders, that is. Nevada doesn’t want drought refugees from Arizona, Arizona doesn’t want refugees from Texas, and California (powerful and still water-rich) doesn’t want the poor from anywhere else. Borders are enforced with fences, checkpoints and state militias. The lucky rich live in enclosed “arcologies”—self-sustaining luxury towers with greenery and waterfalls, fed by recycled water and sealed off from the outside world. In this gritty, dust-blown future, the stories of three characters intersect. There’s Angel Velasquez, hired gun for the corrupt Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) …

Some promo bits: story in NewMyths "Best of" anthology and more

So, some promo news!
My latest story, "The House of Illusionists," was featured in Maria Haskins' review column on the Barnes and Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy blog! This story means so much to me. And it's a huge honor to be featured alongside such amazing writers. Check out the whole list and all the other featured stories if you can! 
And in other news… the science fiction and fantasy journal NewMyths has launched a Kickstarter to fund publication of a “Best of” anthology covering its past ten years. And my fairy tale story, “Snow’s Daughter,” has been picked for the anthology! "Snow's Daughter" was the first genre publication I ever had, and also the first paid fiction publication I ever had. Editor Scott Barnes' acceptance, and his encouraging words, meant so much to me as a beginning writer. I'm thrilled to have "Snow's Daughter" appear in this anthology. It will appear alongside work by by such wonderful writers as Beth Ca…

Book Review: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

I read this book a while ago, yet was reminded again of it recently. There are a handful of books which I know have truly changed the way I write. This is one of them.
Jenny Zhang’s first collection brings together seven short stories, each narrated by a young girl or woman, the daughters of Chinese immigrants to America in the 1990s. The stories are linked by recurring characters; most of the families described once shared a single room in a flophouse in New York City. The parents attempt to eke out a living by doing such things as selling umbrellas on the street, delivering restaurant food, or teaching English in an underfunded inner-city school. The children are left on their own for long periods of time while the parents work, yet parental love is never in doubt. Family love is felt fiercely, often uncomfortably so. These are often uncomfortable stories: there are scenes of devastating poverty, flashbacks to the Cultural Revolution, and sexual abuse (perpetuated by troubled childr…

Story notes for "The House of Illusionists" and the question of art

Nearly two years ago, in the wake of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, I sat down to write my usual bimonthly blog post of short story recommendations. And I wrote this:
I don’t know what good a story does. I don’t know what a single poem or song can do. I don’t know, I don’t know.”
It’s twenty-two months later, and I still do not know. But—quite apart from the chaos and darkness of this present moment—I have never known. Since my teens, I have asked myself this question: “What good is fiction? What good are books and stories? What do they do?”
I know what stories have done for me. I know the light and comfort that books and art bring into my life. And I also fear that it’s all frivolous. I think of Keats’ letter to a friend, where he compared poetry to “a mere Jack o’lantern to amuse whoever may chance to be struck with its brilliance." (Letter to Benjamin Bailey, March 13, 1818). I wonder if he's right in that sentence. I wonder if a protest song has ever stopped a war. I …