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Award eligibility post for 2021

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  Well, it’s that time when writers make posts about their award eligibility for the year. I had two short stories published in 2021. I’d be honored if you took a look at either (or both!) of them. “Fanfiction for a Grimdark Universe” (fantasy, 4094 words). Translunar Travelers Lounge , Issue 4, February 2021. This story is exactly what it says on the tin: it’s fanfiction for a grimdark universe. It’s about a group of world-hopping secret agent/superheroes who find out that in our universe, on Earth, they happen to be the characters in a cult-hit graphic novel series. And there’s fanfiction about them. It’s a comic sounding premise, and indeed, there’s some humor here. But there’s darkness, too. I was reading a lot of fanfic on AO3 when I started this story, and I was thinking about how the grimmest, darkest of media often have the cutest, softest of fanfics. Of how we consume and process dark stories. Of how some fans rewrite endings and scenarios, placing their beloved charac

Short fiction recs! Sept--October 2021

It’s Thanksgiving holiday in America as I write this; snow is falling past my window, pies are on the table, and dinner will be ready soon. A quiet meal for just me and my husband and children. There is much to be thankful for, always. I hope that you, whoever you may be reading this, also has much to celebrate and be thankful for. Good stories are always worth celebrating, of course, and I am always thankful for them. Here are twelve that I read in September and October.  “How to Find Yourself in a Fairy Tale” by A.C. Wise in Daily Science Fiction Find clothes suitable for a fairy tale child. Stitch them from frost and leaves. Procure the skin of a donkey, or a barrel driven with rusty nails. If your child would be clothed in silver and gold, they will need to wish beneath a tree grown from your murdered bones. Plan accordingly.   It’s the beginning of many a classic fairy tale: a person (nearly always a woman) desperate for a child. Willing to do whatever it takes, whether tha

Quote: Lafcadio Hearn on Japanese short poetry

  "Like the single stroke of a temple-bell, the perfect short poem should set murmuring and undulating, in the mind of the reader, many a ghostly afternote of long duration."  --Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) on Japanese short poetry, from his eccentric collection of essays and stories, In Ghostly Japan

Book review: Tortured Willows: Bent, Bowed, Unbroken

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  The Bram Stoker Award and Shirley Jackson Award-winning anthology, Black Cranes: Tale s of Unquiet Women , was one of my favorite reads of 2020, and one of my favorite reads of all time (you can see my full review here ). So when editor Lee Murray reached out to me to ask if I’d like a digital review copy of  T ortured Willows: Bent, Bowed, Unbroken , a book of poems which serves as a thematic companion to Black Cranes , I jumped at the chance.   Black Cranes is an anthology of dark fantasy and horror stories, written by Asian writers and centered on the experiences and voices of Asian women. With inspirations rooted in a variety of mythologies and stories from across East and Southeast Asia, the tales of Black Cranes address themes of otherness, oppression, obligation, diaspora, and rage. Tortured Willows takes up these themes again, but through the form of poetry. Four of the authors featured in Black Cranes return in this new volume to again explore the experiences of Asi

Short Fiction Recs! July--August 2021

  It’s a busy time, as students and teachers/staff return to school, parents return to the school drop-off/pickup and homework supervision grind, and work ramps up in general for many of us. But the cool, gray days and autumnal drizzle are also perfect for reading. In a world that can be strange and tense and sometimes overwhelming, fiction offers both an escape and a reflection of our fears and darkness. Here are some stories—hopeful, warm, strange and dark and more—to spend time with this fall. Visions of the Future “He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars” by Grace Chan in Clarkesworld Yennie shivered. His assistant was right. Fans were obsessed with the intimacy of a bodily merger with their favorite celebrities. Inside Your Idol had become a cornerstone of an entertainer’s profile. A couple of bad ratings could nosedive a promising career.    A story about an absolutely nightmarish pop idol training program of the far future. Yennie was bred to be a pop star, engi

Book review: Wendy, Darling by A.C. Wise

There is a boy outside her daughter’s window. Wendy feels it, like a trickle of starlight whispering in through a gap, a change in the very pressure and composition of the air. She knows, as sure as her own blood and bones, and the knowledge sends her running. Her hairbrush clatters to the floor in her wake; her bare feet fly over carpeted runners and slap wooden floorboards, past her husband’s room and to her daughter’s door. It is not just any boy, it’s the boy. Peter.     A.C. Wise’s debut novel instantly pulled me in with these evocative first lines. “The horror-tinged feminist Peter Pan retelling I never knew I needed,” says one of the blurbs on the back of this book (by writer Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam), and that is an apt description indeed. This is a fabulously dark and gorgeous reimagining of the Peter Pan story, one that goes to surprising places. And though Neverland, in Wise’s telling, is indeed magical, Wendy’s life as an adult in the real world of post-World War I London

Short fiction recs! May-June 2021

  This roundup is way overdue, and I also confess that I haven’t read as much as usual these last two months. I do note that I’ve found myself particularly drawn to dark fiction and horror of late, and these selections reflect that. But though many of these are stories of darkness and horror, there are also stories of beauty, hope, and love. . . and stories in which all of these coexist.       Darkness and Horror “Of Claw and Bone” by Suzan Palumbo in The Dark Your mother begins collecting the tiny skulls as soon as the flutter of your limbs causes her heart to skip. She curates each specimen, ensuring it originates from a disparate source: A mouse carcass picked from a ravine trail; a desiccated red squirrel shipped from her sister out East; a marmot, snared in a field three hours from the village.   A strange and striking story of a world where people choose animal bones to represent themselves—bones that represent their personalities, and perhaps influence their persona