Sunday, August 28, 2011

Poetry sale to Illumen

I sold the poem "Haibun: Carved in Alien Stone" to Illumen. The haibun is a fun form to work with, combining as it does prose and minimalist poetry, so I'm happy this one found a home. I'll post a link when the issue is available.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Short Fiction Tuesday

It's probably worth revisiting why I do these short fiction call-outs. For more than a year and a half now I've been making note of particular stories I've found online. It's never been with the intent of doing a formal review, though. Rather, it's always been with the intent of a signal boost--these are (generally) free-to-read, online magazines, most of them pro-level. So I figure one way to support them is to talk about their stories and hopefully get other people to go read them. It's not necessarily a discussion here that I'm after...but I'm certainly willing to discuss them more, if there's any interest.

So this week I have three stories to mention. The first is from Daily Science Fiction, "Our Drunken Tjeng" by Nicky Drayden. Because of how DSF's subscription works, I was emailed the story and read it last week already, but it wasn't available online until this week. It is fiercely visceral and wildly imagination, a story of a people who live inside a huge human and take care of their host. Their drunken and aging host, which is seemingly also a spaceship, is not doing well, and the job of the caretakers (slicing away tumors, clearing arteries, making sure he doesn't thoughtlessly reproduce too often) is increasingly difficult. The ending is gut-wrenching and stone-heartedly pitch perfect.

Both stories in the most recent Beneath Ceaseless Skies stood out for me as well. "Bone Diamond" by Michael John Grist is a dark story of an ancient Egyptian who discovers a diamond in a crocodile skeleton, and of his logical and horrifying fall into cruelty.

"My Father's Wounds" by Ferret Steinmetz at first didn't draw me in as much as these other two. But after finishing it, it seems to keep drawing me back. It's the story of a woman who is expected to master the healing of her father, a form of healing he claims derives from a goddess, though she suspects it might be an inner ability...and fears it's one she lacks. The tension of faith and doubt, or the healers wishing to help and lamenting that they can't help everyone is just very well handled and memorable.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Story sale to Penumbra

My short story "The Square That Hides a Thousand Stories" has sold to this new ezine and will be appearing in their inaugural issue come October. I love that cover--it reminds me in some ways of cover art from 20-30 years ago, in magazines that I come across but wasn't at all aware of at the time...and yet not in a completely throwback way: it feels contemporary as well.

I'll write more about the story itself and give a link to the issue once it's released.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Twitter haiku

I have a trio of twitter haiku that were published today at @microcosms. There's something very addictive about twitter fiction and haiku--they're fun to do...and I spent quite a bit of time that I'd set aside for revision to play with these instead. But it's divine play, so that's OK, right?

I have another trio of twitter haiku plus a featured interview that will be appearing in @trapezemag in December.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Short Fiction Wednesday

I absolutely loved a story in Daily Science Fiction the other day...but that goes out to subscribers one week before it's available online, so I'll have to post the link to that next week.

For now, "Crossroads" by Laura Anne Gilman (in Fantasy Magazine) is well worth reading. It's a western fantasy hybrid that plays on gunslinger tropes in a way that I found charming.

Also, in this month's ChiZine is the story "Visions of Destruction Series, Mixed Media" by Polenth Blake. This one is more difficult to pin down, which is part of its enjoyment. An odd, at times unsettling series of short glimpses into what seem to be subversive works of art in a dangerous city. It's a story that will reward rereading.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch

Back in college I took a one-month class in improv. I wouldn't say that improv itself is something I'm especially skilled at, but the purpose of the class wasn't so much learning to perform improv as it was learning to use the concepts of improv to spark creativity in other venues, especially in writing. Some of the ideas of that class I still draw on consciously. Even more, though, I think it's been something I've absorbed into my approach to writing so that it comes through subconsciously.

One of our textbooks for the month was the book in the title of this post, Free Play. I remembered it the other day during an online conversation and decided to pull it back out. I can tell I'd actually considered rereading it more recently and had taken it up from the basement and put it on the desk up here...but hadn't gotten around to reading it. So this time I'm planning to actually reread it...

I've actually read the first few chapters, and I'm hoping to post occasional thoughts about it as I read it--I'll probably dip into it for a chapter or two at a time and then set it aside for a few days, so the posts may be scattered. For now I wanted to just put the opening quote from the book. I've said at various times that I find writing to be play...but play, to me, doesn't imply frivolous. There's something deep and deeply important about play. It's an idea that I can trace back to well before I read this book (the first poem I remember writing in high school was called "This LifeGame"), but I can tell that my thinking was definitely reinforced and likely shaped in part by the opening to this book:

There is an old Sanskrit word, lîla, which means play. Richer than our word, it means divine play, the play of creation, destruction, and re-creaction, the folding and unfolding of the cosmos.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Reviews of my "Tree Ring Anthology"

Des Lewis is collecting the links to all reviews on the HA of HA website. So far my story has been getting a lot of good comments, which as you can imagine is deeply gratifying. Karim Ghagwagi writes "The story is densely packed with rich, suggestive imagery. The original variation on the theme is refreshing, and the tale’s fantastical elements are also aptly employed to highlight environmental concerns." Matthew Fryer calls it his favorite in the book and writes, "Anthropomorphic, dark and strangely moving, this is a superb piece of unconventional storytelling and a great twist on the theme." Anthony Watson calls it "perhaps the most interesting" and says, "It's a clever story, beautifully written and even manages a sting in the tail." And the Stars at Noonday blog writes, "Daniel Ausema's 'Tree Ring Anthology' uses the description of the rings on a tree stump to recount a range of ecological nightmares with a science fiction edge, demonstrating again that perspective and voice can lend any subject a strange and disturbing atmosphere."

What really stands out as I read these reviews, though, is the high praise for the anthology as a whole. Not every reviewer liked every story, of course, but every reviewer (so far) comes away with a positive recommendation for the anthology. The anthology is not yet available from Amazon, but you can purchase it directly from Des Lewis (or from Lulu).

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Two moons

I've come across a number of fantasy and SF stories set on a planet with two moons. Some of the images you'll come across show a lack of understanding about how the phases of a moon would work, but that's really beside the point here...

Maybe it was those stories that made me take note of this article about a theory that the earth once had two moons. After that presumed early-Earth/Mars-sized-planet collision that likely created the moon, there might have actually been two moons, and there might have remained two moons for ten or a hundred million years before the second moon's orbit destabilized and it (eventually) crashed into the larger moon, creating some of the anomalies mentioned in the article.

It's an interesting parallel to one theory about that initial impact. One possibility is that the Mars-sized planet was at a Lagrange point with Earth and the sun for fifty million years or more until the orbit degraded, leading to the crash. If that crash led to a second moon at a Lagrange point for ten million years until its orbit was disturbed and they's like chaos theory's fractals...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Story available for purchase

I mentioned this on Facebook the other day but not here on my blog...

Issue two of One Buck Horror is available now for Kindle and Nook, and their associated reading apps/programs. For one buck you'll get five stories, including my flash fiction piece "What Swims These Waters."

This story was a one-hour writing exercise. I don't actually recall what the prompt was...maybe something as simple as the story had to be about water in some way. By the end of the hour I'd written most of the story already (which doesn't usually happen for me with those exercises, even something as short as a flash). It certainly required some significant revising after that, but that was primarily wording issues and didn't significantly change the core story.