asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I ... have written my first-ever** fanfic, about one of my favorite moments in Voyage of the Dawn Treader (actually, one of my favorite moments in the whole Chronicles of Narnia)--the moment when Lucy sees the Sea Girl in the Last Ocean. The story is from the Sea Girl's perspective. It's very short. Thanks to [personal profile] osprey_archer for a read-through and advice on posting!

[ETA: In my rush to post I, um, neglected to include a link to the story. Here it is! Sorry about that--it's kind of hilarious to post an announcement like that and then not remember the link -_-]

And here are some beautiful examples of seagrass for you to look at, to accompany the story.



sickle leaf seagrass
Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii)
(click through for source)



**Actually I did once write a piece of fanfic earlier. I was in seventh grade, and it was for Space 1999.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
I’ve finished reading It Happened at the Ball—very interesting to see the directions the stories took the theme.

I have to start with Sherwood Smith’s story, which is the crowning jewl of the collection. It’s a novella, which means you can really sink into the place, the characters, and the situations. If you’re familiar with Sherwood’s Sartorias-deles world, this story shows how Colend became its own nation—but if you’re not familiar, no worries at all. This story is completely comprehensible on its own.

The situation: A great ball is being held; all the nobility of the region will be at it. Warriors from an aggressive bordering state are also in the city, on a pretext of being interested in trade but actually planning an attack. They, too, are invited to the ball—what will happen?

The genius of the story is in the characters, especially the intelligent, charismatic, and above all kind protagonist, Martande Lirende. It is a delight to watch him defuse situations, deflect unwanted attention, and engage enemies without spilling blood (blood does get spilled, but not on screen). Here, for example, is how he reacts when a noblewoman he’s dancing with makes fun of the looks of the king:
“Prince Fish Face. Now the king. Surely you know that [name for him]. Everyone in the first circle says it.”

“Ah, but I find him beautiful,” Martande said.

Luor slanted a glance of derision, assuming shared mockery, to smack into a wall of sincere

“Beautiful,” she repeated, the exclamation half question. “I’ve seen him, when my mother presented me at court. He cannot have changed so materially in ten years.”

He lifted a shoulder as they dipped, turned, and met palm to palm again, toes pointed, shoulders back. “We know the word beautiful,” he said in that tone of calm sincerity, “but I expect we all define it differently. For me, that which delights my heart is beautiful, and King Eniad, in all his painstaking doubt and generosity of spirit, is beautiful.”

But it’s not just Martande whom we get an intimate feel for: it’s pretty much any character who steps onto the page--the elderly (female) Count of Ranflar, tasked with dancing with the warlord Rajin; the warlord himself, whose misreading of the ballroom is an object lesson in cultural blindness; Messenger Yedoc, struggling to express herself in a language she can’t speak well; even little Gelis, a child:
“Everything was fascinating! Even the older people. Usually so boring. It was strange, how expressive elders were when you couldn’t see their faces. ”

Seriously: even if you didn’t like any of the other stories in the anthology, it would be worth it for this one tale.

But I suspect you'll find things to like in the other stories--each has something unusual or interesting to recommend it.

the other stories )

And that’s all of them!
asakiyume: (Inconvenient God)
Today The Inconvenient God is available for purchase, from multiple sources and in multiple formats! Andrea Johnson, the Little Red Reviewer, gave it an excellent write-up
The Inconvenient God touches on lost history, colonialism, the best (and worst) ways to chat with divinities, culture clash, and how to enjoy the new without forgetting the old.

I love the chatty style of Andrea's reviews. This made me laugh:
To be honest, when I read the back cover copy, I thought this was going to be about an old sky beard who was a professor at a college, and the guy refused to retire even though he had dementia. Yeah, that is not at all what this story is about!!

To pique your curiosity further: there's an apple goddess in this story too. That fact makes its autumn release feel just right.

Don't forget that if you do buy the story and send proof of purchase to the publisher, you can get a coupon to receive the lovely story The Lilies of Dawn for just 99 cents. More on that promotion here.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
I finished the Timor book, Eden to Paradise. It continued as it had begun, being very satisfying when it was talking about Timorese customs and lifeways and very irksome when the author's biases became too intrusive. Do people still use the word "pacification" unselfconsciously, when talking about colonial adventures? And she's got a section where she talks about how hard it is for the Portuguese administrator to deal with all the Timorese interpersonal conflicts. Oh hey, I know a way to solve that... But anyway. It was still genuinely great to have a look at how people were living so long ago.

A few interesting short stories:

In Apex Magazine, "Field Biology of the Wee Fairies," by Naomi Kritzer, available to read free here.

It starts out in a way I found unpromising: spunky science-interested girl in 1962 doesn't care about getting a fairy the way all the Other Girls do--but then it surprised and delighted me by where it went next.

In Fireside Magazine, "The Ceremony," by Mari Ness, available to read free here.

It's a flash fiction take on Sleeping Beauty from a weird-creepy, but not horrifying, perspective.

In It Happened at the Ball, the first story, "The Siret Mask," by Marie Brennan. Available for purchase from multiple venues, links at the bottom of the page here.

This is an excellent tale of concealed identities--good for a story about a mask--and transformations, featuring a dashing thief. I particularly loved the details of one costume change--I always wonder how masters of disguise manage it, and this showed how!

And the promo! Annorlunda Books is offering Vanessa Fogg's beautiful The Lilies of Dawn for just 99 cents with proof of a preorder or (after October 10) purchase of my novelette, The Inconvenient God. Details here. Look at these covers together!

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
It Happened at the Ball is out--an avowedly escapist, feel-good anthology whose stories all center, in one way or another, on a ballroom. [personal profile] sartorias compiled it with the intention of providing a pick-me-up in the face of the relentless grimness of current events. Here's the table of contents:
The Şiret Mask ~ ~ Marie Brennan
Just Another Quiet Evening at Almack’s ~~ Marissa Doyle
Homeworld Stranger ~ ~Sara Stamey
Kerygma in Waltz Time ~ ~Charlotte Gumanaam
Dancing Bangles ~ ~ Irene Radford
A Plague of Dancers ~ ~Gillian Polack
A Borrowed Heart ~ ~ Deborah J. Ross
The Gown of Harmonies ~ ~ Francesca Forrest
The Dress ~ ~ Lynne April Brown
A Waltz for May ~ ~ P.G. Nagle
Sherbet on Silver ~ ~ Brenda W. Clough
Gilt and Glamour ~ ~ Layla Lawlor
Lily and Crown ~ ~Sherwood Smith

"The Gown of Harmonies" is my contribution! It's about a blind seamstress who makes a musical gown. Of the other stories, I've only read "Lily and Crown," but I can tell you: it is **excellent**, [personal profile] sartorias in top form.

I'm really excited to read the others--I will report to you about them as I do. And if you would like to read these goodies, check out [personal profile] sartorias's entry here--it has all the links. (They're for e-books, but a paperback will be available through Book View Café shortly.)

asakiyume: (autumn source)
Hanging on a wall in my father's house is a three-inch-deep wooden frame, about a foot tall by eight or so inches wide, divided into cubbies of different sizes. Many of them have 1970s Star Wars action figures in them: an R2-D2 that my brother buried in the garden and that decades later my mother unearthed; Luke in Episode Four white; Luke in Episode Five snow gear. One cubby holds a blue plastic barrel, which, if you unscrew it, opens up to reveal a slightly smaller yellow barrel, which can also be unscrewed to reveal yet another smaller barrel in a different color. There are about eight nested barrels, and when you open the smallest one, there's a monkey glued into one of its halves. A barrel of barrels, with one monkey.

But the lower right-hand cubby contains something remarkable: a tiny red door, a perfect miniature of my father's front door, complete with dolphin door knocker, sitting in a miniature door frame. The door knob is only about four millimeters in diameter, but if you take it very carefully between your thumb and forefinger, you can turn it and open the door. If you put your eye close to the open door and lean to the right, you can just see into the kitchen, and out the window above the sink to the backyard. And, if you take something long and thin and strong, like a cooking skewer, you might be able to get that window open. Then, if you wait and if you concentrate, you might feel a tiny breeze against your cheek, and you might hear the leaves of the big oak tree in the backyard rustling, and the oak's battalions of devoted chipmunks, chirping.
asakiyume: (God)
Here is the final cover for my novelette, The Inconvenient God, which Annorlunda Books is bringing out in October! In case you can't read the text blurb, it says,
What happens if you try to retire a god who is not ready to leave?

An official from the Ministry of Divinity arrives at a university to decommission a local god. She is expecting an easy decommissioning of a waning god of mischief but finds instead an active god not interested in retiring and university administrators who have not told her the full story about the god. Can the Decommissioner discover the true story of this god in time to prevent his most destructive round of mischief yet?


This story had its genesis in a conversation on [personal profile] sovay's journal years ago--the talk turned to exorcisms and exorcising a god from his precinct (this entry; this thread), and the idea lingered.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I am staggeringly lucky to have cover art by Likhain for "The Inconvenient God," a novelette (maybe a noveletina? Extra long short story?) coming out this fall from Annorlunda Press.

Behold! (All Likhain's art is just gorgeous.)

(link to her original tweet here)


Aug. 13th, 2018 09:50 pm
asakiyume: (misty trees)
I saw a scarecrow today--I thought it was a person, standing very still. It was a very realistic scarecrow.

Today was also a rainy day, so there were no shadows, no direct light, confusion of air and water as rain misted down, confusion of earth and air too, as hills and trees melted away into clouds. A good day for summoning ghosts . . .

You can do that, when the rain brings ghosts up near the surface of the earth. Sorcerer farmers trap them in old clothes like helium in balloons, and make them wander the fields, scaring away anything that trespasses, until the bright light of an unclouded day frees them.

Yeah, ghost scarecrows only work when the summer is wet. In parched farmlands shriveling under an unrelenting sun, I'm guessing sorcerer farmers rely on phantasmal illusions of sparks and flames to terrify intruders away.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I tuned into an episode of The Moth Radio hour about halfway through a segment called "The Hat," by Omar Musa, a Malaysian-Australian author, rapper, and poet. The things he said about machetes and words stuck with me enough that I want to share them--those things, and an almost fable-like story of his father, which comes in the middle.

First, the machetes. At one point, as a teenager, Omar goes to visit his grandparents in Borneo, and they go to some family land, and his grandfather has to cut a path for them to get to the house. Omar reflects that the parang, the Malay machete, is associated with piracy and headhunting, but as he saw his grandfather clearing the path, he has a different impression:

suddenly in my head I realized that the parang ... can be something that forges a path between places that don't usually connect, places that don't usually communicate.

Hold that thought for the end, when he talks about words. And now comes the entrancing story of his father:

So we get to this hut in the middle of the jungle, and there's a family of orangutans living there, and we have to shoo them out of the house. And my grandparents tell me that when my father spent time at this little piece of land, he would sit in front of the hut, and he would read the Quran with this very deep, mellifluous, beautiful voice, and suddenly dozens of orangutans and families of monkeys would start climbing down from the trees and sit in front of him like a rapt audience ... and listen to him reading the Quran.

I couldn't stop thinking of it: his dad, like Saint Francis, sharing sacred text with the animals. I could picture it so vividly, all those orangutans and monkeys, gathered round, listening.

And then the last part: when Omar goes to his cousin's wedding and his cousin asks him to come on stage and do some hip-hop:

"Hey Omar, I want you to get on stage, I want you to do that thing that you do, that type of poetry, that hip-hop, that thing that you do in Australia, I want you to perform for us for the first time."

So he does, and then afterward...

And I stood there, and they were cheering and applauding, and I went and I sat down next to my grandmother, and my grandmother looked at me with these piercing eyes, and she said, "You know, I never learned how to read or write ... I've been illiterate my whole life; I left home at the age of nine, and tapped rubber and lived on the streets ... but I have 150 poems in my head that I created when I was living out there, kicked out of home at the age of nine, A-B, A-B, pantoums, the traditional improvised form of Malay poetry. This poetry that you're doing now is like the poetry that I used to help me get through these hard times."

And it was then that I realized I had found my own parang, my own machete, my words, my words that could cut through worlds, that could cut through time and even generation.

And I thought that was brilliant, because it was was the cutting that was doing the connecting, the sharp slicing not to hurt but to cut down barriers, so that people can find a connection.

Link to the complete segment: "The Hat"
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
A student said one of the best things in class today. People were sharing stories they'd been told when they were young, and she recalled being at her grandparents' house during a thunderstorm. It was dark--no power--and it was thundering and the lightning was flashing, and all the kids were scared, and her grandfather said about the lightning, "Don't be scared--it's just the astronauts taking pictures."

The lightning flashes were the flashes from the astronauts' cameras.

Isn't that the best?


Mar. 17th, 2018 04:54 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I really love the work of the photographer James Morgan.** He takes me all over the world--like to a Newar wedding ceremony:

Mr. Morgan explains the photo:
Among Newar people in Nepal, young girls are first married to a bael fruit, as in this image. They will later be married to the sun. The third marriage is to a man
Source on Twitter; source on Instagram

Fascinating! I just can't stop thinking about the possibilities of consecutive marriages like this--it's sparked a story in me, I think. I can feel it tingling to get out.

If you'd like a little more on the Newar marriage traditions, here's a post that goes into more detail about the marriage to the bael fruit, and here's one about the second marriage, the one to the sun. (My story won't be about their marriage traditions; I'm intending on taking the idea somewhere else.)

**You can follow him on Instagram or Twitter, if you're on either of those platforms, or just check out his website.
asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)
In the last nor'easter, the ocean got on the subway at Aquarium, and it hasn't gotten off. Like a phalanx of manspreaders, it's laid claim to all the seats. Like a voluble crowd after a Red Sox game/July Fourth fireworks/protest, it's filling the aisles--there is no room for anyone else.

By all accounts, it got on without paying. It seeped in through the roof and slid in under the turnstiles. It does not have a monthly pass; it did not stop at the machines to purchase a Charlie card. Like the fabled Charlie himself, will it be forbidden to exit until it pays?

No: MBTA spokespeople tell us that while they take issue with its destructive behavior, the ocean is not being detained on the train.

(Destructive behavior? Seriously? We shake our heads at that remark. There is no sign that the ocean is anything other than a respectful transit passenger. So salt water damages and corrodes--so what? Countless tramping feet and jostling bodies take their toll on trains too. Such things must be categorized as ordinary wear and tear, not willful damage or mischief.)

Yes, the doors have ceased to function, but this should not present a problem for the ocean. It seeped itself in; surely it can reverse the process. And yet, if you go stand on a Blue Line platform and watch the train pass by, there is ocean, cold and abyssal, gazing back at you from every salt-rimed window.

Perhaps it is unsure of its destination. Does it understand it may need to change trains? If it has a hankering to hear a symphony or wants to catch the Escher exhibit, then it should switch to the Green Line. If it is interested in acquiring a credential or in broadening its knowledge--well, there are institutions of higher education crusted like anemones along the entire reef of the MBTA system, though tourists gravitate to the Red Line. But this is nonsense. What is the sum of human wisdom compared to the ocean's own?

We are beginning to suspect that it needs to transfer not to another subway line but to the commuter rail--not the Newburyport/Rockport Line, of course; the ocean is already at Newburyport and Rockport. And not the Plymouth Line--the ocean is already there too. We sense in it an inland urge, and while climate change may one day acquaint it more intimately with Chelsea, Revere, and Lynn, it would take a lot of carbon to bring the sea to Fitchburg or Worcester. And yet all that is dry land today was ocean once--brine thou art and unto brine shalt thou return. The sea seeks reconciliation with its long-estranged children.

Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR. (Source)
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Back in 2009 a story of mine, "The Gallows Maiden," about a crow girl, was in an anthology called StereoOpticon. It's been reanthologized in Fell Beasts and Fair, which is now available for preorder at Spring Song Press.

Thieves, dragons, nightmares, fairy warriors, pookas, enchanted bear-men, and other magical creatures will delight you in these unique tales of possibility, courage, and hope.

My impression, just paging through the ARC, is that "The Gallows Maiden" is an outlier in being dark, and possibly for an older audience, though I won't know for sure until I've tried reading some of the other stories. I asked the publisher about the others, and here's what they said about a few:

"A Midsummer Knight’s Bedtime Story" --charming, unexpected.
"Winter Horses" --so well-written, kind of quiet.
"The Dove of Assisi" --lovely, sweet
"The Lady and the Unicorn": --took the idea in a completely different direction

asakiyume: (good time)
Last week's prompt for the students in Holyoke was "This cat is very strange ..." I did a couple of illustrations to go with some students' descriptions:

This cat looks like a dog. The cat ears are hanging to the floor, has a long tail but the cat skin is red and blue.

Then there was this cat:

I was in the park and I seen a cat with three eyes looking at a bird.

What did you think when you saw this three-eyed cat?

He has a better chance of catching the bird! LOL

A few students were suspicious of black cats, though when I asked one if black cats were bad luck, she said,
No, cats are not bad luck, they just cats. They are good of seeing ghosts around, though.

When looking for an image to illustrate that woman's writing, I found this fun story about Sable, the crossing-guard cat, who comes out every day to watch the kids safely cross the street to school in the morning and leaving school in the afternoon.

Sable has been watching over the students from across the street for about a year. Tamara Morrison owns the cat. She says one day, Sable just walked outside to greet the students, and he's been doing it ever since ... [Tamara] has now bought a safety vest for Sable to make him an honorary member of the Enterprise Safety Patrol.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

A wise old woman gives you an item. She says it is very valuable. Why is it valuable?

Here are five items and eight interesting answers to the question: A wise old woman give you an item.


From Victor:

The old wise woman I seen at an antique shop came and told me what is it that I seek in her sanctuary of wisdom and knowledge. I said to her that I am seeking a lock to protect stuff I put away.

From Reniell:

One day I was walking down the street, and this lady walk up and said, “Here, have this. I can see that this item call to you.”

From Leshiara:

she wanted to share this beautiful shellfish with me cause she probably seen in me that she didn’t see in anyone else.

From Mario:

She said some magic words, Azarack Meteron Zinthos, as the gold started to glow.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
In the last entry, [personal profile] osprey_archer, [personal profile] sovay, and I got to talking (thread here) about the background premise of Every Heart a Doorway--namely, that there could be some kind of special school for young people who can't readjust to life in our world after having an adventure in another world. I realized I had some questions that go beyond that particular novella.

(1) Where does the notion that a portal adventure leaves you messed up come from? Is it all down to the fact of not being able to return to the magical world? What examples of this are there from portal fantasies themselves--excluding portal fantasies that are written as responses to other portal fantasies precisely to explore this point?

(2) In cases where the protagonists lose the ability to get back to the magical world, what elements make that most hard to deal with? To me, arbitrary limitations (like age-based ones) are more distressing than plot exigency ones (the latter being things like having to return to our world after your task in the other one is complete). Y/N? Random inexplicability is also troubling (thinking of people in folklore who have one taste of faery and then spend the rest of their lives trying to find a way to get another taste).

(3) Supposing a bunch of people who've traveled to other worlds did come together for mutual support, what kind of story would you imagine arising for them in that context?
asakiyume: (misty trees)
"On the Highway" is available for purchase now. Here's the first paragraph:

One moment the little Hyundai’s fishtailing on black ice, then there’s air, three bone-shaking bounces, and stillness. Jolene has a faceful of airbag and a tidal wave of adrenaline tingling in her fingertips, lips, and toes. Slowly it recedes, and she gingerly tests her arms and legs, twists . . . yes, her back is fine, her neck is mainly fine. Above her right eye, her forehead feels tender, but that’s probably from the airbag. The headlights reveal a frosty ditch. Above, the highway is quiet. It’s New Year’s Eve—everyone’s with their friends, waiting to welcome the new year together. Abruptly, Jolene kills the engine.

If you would like to find out what happens to Jolene, stranded on the highway on New Year's Eve, you can buy the rest of the story for 99 cents . . .

Through Amazon here

Through Barnes & Noble here

Through iTunes here

Through Kobo here

If you're inclined, read, review, and recommend--or give as a gift!

Here's another evocative highway photo from Mary Gordon to put you in the mood:


And a crashed car for good measure:

(Not a Hyundai. And Jolene's car is not in as bad shape as this. Still. MOOD.)

Abridged Edition

asakiyume: (misty trees)
Thank you to everyone who responded yesterday to my question about when to release "On the Highway"--I really appreciate it.

In terms of the story, it made intuitive sense to me to release it between Christmas and New Year's--after all, it's a story set on New Year's Eve! When would people want to read that story? When they're thinking of New Year's Eve--or so my logic went.

But the arguments for releasing it as early as possible made good sense to me too, and that's what I've ended up going with. The story will be available Monday, and I'll post links.

I've been playing with this story in my head for years. I'm fascinated with all the possible permutations of the ghostly hitchhiker tale, and also [supernatural] roadside encounters generally. Another story I wrote that played with those elements was "The October Witch," which some of you may remember. "On the Highway" isn't as folklorish as "The October Witch," which is part of why I decided to publish it myself--I couldn't really think of venues to submit it to, and thought I could do a good job packaging and presenting it myself.
asakiyume: (misty trees)
I have a short story that I'm going to self-publish--it's a New Year's Eve ghost story. Here's the cover!

The photo is by Mary Gordon, a Wyoming-based photographer. You can see more of her work on Flickr; she's gebodogs there. I searched on "ghostly highway" and her photo was perfect. (The original photo is horizontal rather than vertical--check it out here.)

Here's the very brief blurb (it's a very short story--about 3,880 words)

After catching her husband in the arms of another woman on New Year's Eve, Jolene spins out on the highway--but a mysterious stranger comes to her aid.

So.... when would be a good time to release this story?
(1) Now!

(2) Sometime closer to Christmas

(3) Between Christmas and New Year's

(4) Right before New Year's

(5) Some other time that you'll share in comments**

**Please don't specify a time in the past. I can't do that yet!


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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