jueves, 25 de marzo de 2010

"Slow Stampede" on the short list for The Harper Pen Award

The Harper Pen Award, formerly known as the Ham-Sized Fist Award celebrates short heroic fantasy fiction published in the previous year. "Slow Stampede" has been deemed short, heroic and fantastical enough to enter and I'm thrilled they chose it as a finalist.
Pretty good bunch of names on that list too... It's always good to keep good company.

domingo, 7 de marzo de 2010

Asimov's April/May: Malick Pan

"Malick Pan" has come out in the April/May issue of Asimov's.
It's a rather more fragmented and techie story than my usual stuff and I can't wait to see how people like it. So far the only review I could find was at the Last Short Story Project and it's a rather good one.
I'm glad I didn't let them down.

Destination: Future is out!

My story "No Jubjub Birds Tonight" is available as part of the Destination: Future anthology, edited by Eric T. Reynolds and Z. S. Adani. This is my second story in a Hadley Rille anthology and needless to say, I'm thrilled.

You can buy it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your usual bookstore

lunes, 15 de febrero de 2010

Sins of the Father to Asimov's--my first Spanish story

Asimov's has accepted "Sins of the Father" for publication. This story has a particularly tortuous history. It was conceived almost two years ago, and slept on one hard drive after another in several larval forms. Then it was critiqued at a Villa Diodati--and promptly allowed to ferment for another year. The reasons are several.

First, it's the first story I've written inspired by Spain. Not real Spain, mind you (I'm an SF writer, I couldn't just go and do something simple like that). No, my Spain is a twisted version of all that was wrong with the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Spain, extrapolated into the future. With mermaids. Because everything is better with mermaids. That mix was bad enough to justify some of the procrastinating.

Another problem was that the themes I was dealing with were way too big for the story: I was trying to talk about poverty and drought and hunger, oppression and sexism, a low-technological lifestyle and the elements of social oppression enforced from within a social group. I also didn't want to give anyone the wrong idea. In my experience, Americans are gloriously ignorant of anything Spanish and I didn't want anyone thinking modern Spain was remotely like the Spain in my story (this may sound exaggerated, but in high school a friend of mine went on an exchange program to the US--his American family taught him how to flush a toilet, just in case, and wondered aloud whether he went to school on a donkey).

I worried about this for a while. Then I stopped. I reasoned that my readers are surely smarter than that. ( :P )

Once I gave up and let the story be what it wanted to be, it came out more or less fine.

I wrote "Sins of the Father" while listening to three songs by Juan Manuel Serrat, but I took all the artistic licenses I could think of, so don't infer too much there, either.

The first song is "Pueblo Blanco". It's a sad song about one of those little villages where the sun beats down on cracked thirsty land and all the young men think only of escape. The second is "Nanas de Cebolla," a song adapted by Serrat based on the poem by the poet Miguel Hernandez. Miguel Hernandez was with the Rojos in the Spanish Civil War and imprisoned by the Nacionales. His wife wrote to him to tell him how she and their baby-son only ate bread and onion--so he answered with this poignant lullaby.

There's a third song by Serrat that inspired the festival scene in the story. It's called "Fiesta".

I thought you might be interested in reading translations of snippets of these songs. I've embeded the youtube videos for the songs in the original version.

Pueblo Blanco

Hanging from a cliff, sleeps my chalk-white town
Under a sky that, from never seeing the sea, forgot to cry
Through its streets of dust and stone not even the War passed, only forget
Walk slowly, bordering the old lamb-road where not even a flower grows, nor a Shepard passes.
From sowing to harvest, one lives in the tavern
The old women murmur their stories in the doorways
and girls knit lace, looking through the holes for that young man
that they forged in their minds at night

The girls dream of him and he dreams of going away
and the old men dream of dying under the sun
open-mouthed like lizards, half hidden under a straw hat.

Run away tender people, because this land is sick
Don't expect from tomorrow what it didn't give you yesterday
Take your mule, your woman and your instruments
Take the road of the Hebrew people
Maybe tomorrow fortune will smile
And if you must cry, it's best to do so near the sea.

Nanas de Cebolla

Onion is frost, closed and poor
Frost of your days and of my nights
Hunger and onion,
black ice and frost big and round

On hunger's crib my child lay
on onion blood he suckled
but your blood,
frosted with sugar, onion and hunger

A dark woman, silhouetted by the moon
pours herself thread by thread over the crib
Laugh child, I bring you the moon
when it's necessary


Glory to God in Heaven,
they picked up the trash from my street
which was dark yesterday and today strung with lights
Let's climb the hill, because up there my street
is dressed of Fiesta

Today the noble and the villain
dance and hold hands without caring who is which
The sun catches them together
drowning in alcohol, hugging some girl.
For one night we forgot
That each person has a place

These are my own sucky translations, sorry! I hope I've encouraged you to go look up the original songs. They're exhilarating, poetic and tacky. And yes, that defines Spain just fine.

sábado, 12 de diciembre de 2009

Two more stories and the fun is over

Way back when I started writing in 2006-2007 (can't remember which) I made a pact with myself: I wouldn't attempt to write a novel until I had written and published ten stories in professional markets. The idea was that by then I'd be a good enough writer not to be wasting my time and energy trying to make a novel work. I did try to write a novel after my fifth published pro story. Hubris! I said, and resolved to wait until I'd completed my goal.

Of course, it works both ways. My total pro stories now number 8 (some of them have been accepted but not actually published yet). I can hear the clock tick, if you know what I mean. The day of Novelizing is 'night, and I hate it.

But, but... (you're saying)... isn't this what you wanted? To write stories to learn the ropes and then write that fantastic novel you've had in your head all along?

Yes, and no. I do love writing stories and seeing them into print, and I have learned a lot since I started, but I'm nowhere near ready for the novel. Plotting is still a stranger to me. I still feel my way around a 5000 word story, spilling it out without logic or reason and then relying on my poor critiquers (sorry Mom, sorry Villa Diodati) to make suggestions. Then I apply their common sense and and think about the plot a bit and collage the stupid thing into some sort of shape. I am occasionally successful with this approach, but the most frequent critique leveled at my stories is still that "they just don't make any sense".

The thought of having to go this route with a novel makes me shudder. I have a monstrous case of cold feet. It's already hard enough to figure out why people do things in a 2000-5000 word story, my current project is aiming at 20000 words and I'm totally and irreversibly lost (or so it seems). How can I even think of spending a whole year (or more) drafting out a 90000 word monster to then have to reassemble it bit by bit?

So, am I happy I've almost achieved my goal? Sure! Will I be terribly sad if my next submissions come back rejected?

Eh--I'll go get some ice-cream now.

lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2009

The Clockwork Jungle Book (Shimmer #11) is out!!!

Fans of the minute, delicate and strange, here's the return of your favorite magazine.
My very own "The Story in Which Dog Dies" is in this issue, along with stuff by Jay Lake, Susannah Mandel, Alethea Kontis, Amal El-Mohtar and others.

Purchase a print issue for 8 bucks plus shipping or, if you prefer, download the electronic version for 4$.

I can't wait to get my copies.