asakiyume: (Em)
The same day my friend showed me the photo from the previous entry, I had a great encounter in a pharmacy. There were two pharmacy technicians, young women, chatting. One came over to give me the prescription I was picking up, and I saw on her name tag that she had the same surname as Em in Pen Pal, and a really pretty, unusual first name (so unusual that when I typed the whole name just now into Google, a picture of her popped up on the first page of results).

I don't know if you've seen that meme on Twitter that goes

don't say it
don't say it
don't say it
don't say it

And ends with you blurting out the thing, but that was what happened with me. Don't say she has a pretty first name; that's intrusive, I told myself. And DEFINITELY don't mention that her surname is the surname of a character in a story you wrote.

But I did, and she smiled and said, "Oh really? My name? Where does the story take place?" So I told her, describing Mermaid's Hands, and said that it was kind of a fantasy, and she said, "I love fantasy! You know, that was one of the things I wanted to do before I turned twenty-one--write a book. I started, too, and got 2,000 words ... but then I stopped."

"Oh no! Why?"

"Oh, I let a friend read it, and she had so much to say. She was really sarcastic."

"That stinks! What a terrible friend!"**

"I know, right? The story was about the four elements, and now I see so many stories like that! If I had only finished it. . ."

"So maybe if you write your next idea? It sounds like you're tapped into what people want to read."

... I love encounters like that.

**I really believe this. When a beginning writer gives you something to read, it's terrible to close them down like that. I'm not talking about a situation where you're in a writer's group together and sharing critiques, or if an experienced writer asks you to beta read something--that's different. (Though even then there are ways and ways of giving criticism.) But if a friend shares something they've created with you, you don't shit all over it, any more than you would if they showed you their first photos or their first pottery or knitted item or sketch. If the thing genuinely appalls you, there are still ways of begging off without giving the creator a world of grief.
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: created by the ninja girl (Default)
This'll be the fourth year running that I post resolutions.

I didn't do a good job with last year's. I didn't find a way to incorporate conversational Spanish practice into my learning, and I didn't work on the novel twice a week. However, this year I have two possible leads for conversational practice, so even though I failed last year, I think I'll try again with that this year:

(1) Continue to practice Spanish every day, and find a way to work in conversational Spanish every week. Grace period of a month to get that up and running.

As for the novel, what I found helpful was what I did in November, slip-streaming along with the NaNo crew--namely, keeping a tally of words written each day. When I did that, I put much more effort into at least opening the document and turning attention to it. So this year the goal will be ...

(2) to open the document each day and to record words written. If I don't write anything, but I stare at it, musing at possibilities, that's still something (I'll record zero words but note that I opened the document). If I undo a bunch of words and tinker, that's still something too.

A third, less-important-to-me resolution is to continue with Duolingo Portuguese. Still, it's a resolution.

(3) Do Duolingo Portuguese each day
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: (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)
asakiyume: (miroku)
Since finishing Too Like the Lightning, my mind has been burning up thinking about it. There are elements of the story that made me wonder if I wanted to read further in the series, but after a few days, I can say yes, I do, in part because I want to see what the author’s going to do with those elements.

I thought I could talk here about three things the book brought up for me. Maybe parcel them out over a few entries. Those three things are (1) Flavors of Divinity; Or, What Makes a God? (2) Will a Powerful Enough Computer Result in Unerring Predictions? And (3) Asking the Wrong Questions: Yet Another Asakiyume Rant on the Trolley Problem.

So this entry is for (1). In lots of stories, a god is basically a being who’s much more powerful than your ordinary human. Gods often also rule over and/or protect some collection of ordinary humans—and sometimes menace others. They’re like people, only with higher stats. As the witch says in The Silver Chair, “You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You’ve seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion.”—same with gods.

Sometimes a deity’s motivations and thought processes are inscrutable, but usually, when we’re talking about these stat-enhanced creatures, they’re very, very easy to scrute.

But in some fiction, the gods are ineffable, mystical. The story may not specify how powerful they are, because that’s not where the interest is; the gods are there for wisdom and communion. This type of god may be intimate with humans or may be remote, but whatever the nature of the relationship, they’re definitely not simply more-better mortals.

I can enjoy stories with either type of god in it but what I don’t think I like very much is mixing the two; I guess I have an instinct I’m not going to like the two flavors together, so to speak? ETA--maybe because it represents two different kinds of worldbuilding? Or two different types of thinking on divinity?

But I’m also thinking maybe I’ve got too restrictive a taxonomy here. Maybe there are other, different ways of depicting gods in stories that are neither of these two and not just a mixing of them, either.

So… that’s one thing I’m curious about, going forward in the Terra Ignota series.
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: (feathers on the line)
On Twitter people were posting the three things they need to write. It was interesting because people were taking it in all sorts of different ways--very abstract or big-picture, or very particular and concrete. Some were external things and some were internal. So for instance, Virginia Molhere listed "A decent pen (non-traditional ink color helpful)" as one of her three, and Aliette de Bodard listed "A universe (basic idea of the thought system and where my MC is on the scale)."

Care to share your three? Not limited to writing--apply it to the creative endeavor of your choice.
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: (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: (snow bunting)
In the creative writing workshop I'm doing, I did a version of "what is taller, higher, softer, smaller?" Some of the answers are beautiful. You can read all of them here, but here are a few highlights:

As quiet as a fish, moths, smoke (Victor D)
I'm not brave enough killing spider (Lilliana)
I am empty like a cup of juice when I drink it (Abraham)

(photo of smoke by Nur Uretmen: Source)

And I promised to link to some of the stories they'd written, too. This one is written by Victor M, who's not as old as the man pictured, but getting up in years--I feel like he had real empathy for the man in the photo: "Remembering his youth."

Laly said she picked this photo because the woman reminded her of her grandmother: "Waiting on her food."

(Laly wrote a moving piece on being transgender and choosing her own name, here.)

Yamayra liked that the couple in the photo she chose were dancing in the kitchen.


asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I'm a copy editor by profession, but even though I can see copyediting errors in other people's work, I still make those same mistakes myself, and it's much harder to catch them in a reread of my own work than it is in others' work. That's natural--when it's your own stuff, you know what it's supposed to say, and that's what your eyes or mind tends to see.

Same with beta reads: I can notice things about narrative flow, voice, character--whatever--in another person's work and be much too close to my own story to see those same difficulties.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can have someone reading your work who wants it to do exactly what you want it to do, who seems right in tune with the story--and they can point out places where you've skimped or wandered off course, or been unclear, and it can be so eye opening. (Other times people offer you suggestions that are just ehh, well, maybe, or that are wrong-headed for what you're aiming for-- though even those can tell you something--but when you get the good kind, it's wonderful.)

I beta read something for someone recently--not anyone I know online--who'd given me that kind of a beta read. I very much wanted to do the same for her, but you never know! Will I have read the story with the right eyes? Will what I say make sense? I'm happy to say she seemed as pleased with my comments as I was with hers.

In her work, she mentioned the full moon at the summer solstice. Her story takes place above the Arctic circle, so the full moon at the solstice would be sharing the sky with the unsetting sun. I was curious about what it would look like, and I found this cool photo, taken by Birgit Bodén in Sweden.

Full moon at midnight, summer solstice

(Source: EarthSky)
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Today I did a creative-writing session using the collection of photos I'd put together, and it was fascinating (and in some cases touching) to see what photos people chose, and why. It'll take me some time to put the stories online, but when I've got them up, I'll link to them.

But here are some of the photos people chose:

That's by Wanda Lotus, who does great photos from the subways, streets, and parks of New York City. Check out her work here or here, and consider supporting her Patreon.

This next one is by Marcey Jacobson (1911–2009), an American who moved to Chiapas, Mexico, and took many photos there during the 1950s. (Her Wikipedia entry is here.)

The next photo, by Federico Rios, is of FARC guerrillas in Colombia. The source is a 2016 photo essay in the British Journal of Photography (Note: All the photos were printed in black-and-white for the prompt)

FARC soldiers

This photo of boys playing soccer is by a Ghanaian photographer, Francis Kokoroko, whom I follow on Tumblr (here). The original, larger version of the photo is here.

And here's one that I took, of a baby contest at the B-town fair in 2009.

Baby contest

There are many more pictures! But the cat is whining, so I'll call it a day with these.

Quick PS--I'm slow to come to songs sometimes, and this Sia song "The Greatest" has been out for a year, but the chorus, Don't give up, I won't give up, don't give up, no, no, no, is a great message.
asakiyume: (man on wire)
Back when I was doing Inktober posts, I posted the image of the eight of swords, from the Rider-Waite tarot deck:

I decided to use that and other tarot images as writing prompts with the group of adult students I'm working with, and that image prompted two very diverging responses. You can read both of them here, but I wanted to feature the first--a story told in just four sentences, but so full of drama--here:

The woman is from Sparta and she’s the king’s daughter. The Romans want to retaliate because a Spartan prince stole a Roman king’s wife. Now Sparta attacks on a sneaky tip and saves her. Sparta had to kill 650,000 soldiers to get to her because she was in a high hidden place in the Rome kingdom.
--Abraham Viera

The guy who wrote that, Abraham, is new to the class. I hope he sticks around!

asakiyume: (miroku)
Wakanomori is providing me with all kinds of interesting items these days. For today, have some cat kanji. It looks made up, doesn't it? But it's a bone fide form of seal script--that is, stylized kanji used for signature seals. The source is 篆楷字典 (Tenkai Jiten), a dictionary of seal script (tensho) and kaisho, a very clear, blocky style used in inscriptions.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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