Random cool future

This weekend I sold a story, “Draft Letter on Research Potential Suggested by Recent Findings in Gnome Genomics,” to EGM Shorts. It started with an offhand tweet about how I have to read carefully because both gnome and genome are words my friends could reasonably be writing to me, and then it snowballed from there into a short-short. I love all the writing I get to do, but honestly when it’s something full-out gleefully weird like this, I just feel like I’m getting away with something. The rule that I should never, ever say, “But who would want something that peripheral/oddball?” is being reinforced by this sort of sale. I should just write things, and we live in a future where there’s some chance that people can be united with their chosen weirdnesses.

Which reminds me of my friend Mary’s Patreon project. Mary proposes to write science news poetry: poems about scientific advances and concepts that have been in the news each month. She is already an accomplished poet and nerd, so this project would give support to focusing those talents. And honestly, $1/month is not very much for a bunch of cool science poems. Certainly not much to help bring them into existence. Because honestly, this is the kind of future I want to live in: the kind where the stuff about which I would have said, “Can you do that?” when I was a teenager is out there being done, with joy and verve and–what was that last bit, Bull Durham?–oh yes: poetry.

Shinies of great goodness

Between now and midnight tomorrow, Elise is having a sale. She has asked those of us who have favorite or particularly inspiring shinies to talk a bit about them. As it happens, I’m wearing one right now–it’s reversible, it’s one of the rare things Elise has made with words actually visible in it, and the side I have out now says “make beauty,” and the other side says, “learn secret.” It is silver and broken shell and subtle purple glass. It was a gift from my godzillas*, and it makes me feel that I am loved very individually, that the things I do are valued as my things and not just as generalities.

I will tell you another Elise-thing story! I have had this necklace called “Eleven Words for Home” for awhile. It is a set of ocean jasper cubes of various colors on thick silver links. And I have been working on bits of it as a mosaic novel. And then I was sitting in the audience waiting for a Josh Ritter show, talking to Tim and Sarah and Mr. Sarah, and my brain said, “IT’S A TRILOGY.”** And lo. Lots and lots and lots of lo. So I texted Elise right that very minute and got “Playing Dice With the Universe,” which will probably also be called Nine Planets I Found Along the Way, and it goes with “Eleven Words for Home” and “Ten Reasons She Loved Science,” and it makes a set, and I have sold bits of them to Tor.com and Analog and–like I said, very much lo. They just keep coming, these stories. They have silvery bits and blue and black and shiny bits and little stars. And they feel cool and smooth, and I pet them while I am working, and they are something solid when I am trying to put words on stardust.

*Doesn’t everyone have this as a collective noun for “godchildren and their parents”?

**If you read on, you may notice that there is room for more than a trilogy in this titling scheme. Timprov has pointed this out to me already, and I said NO, but y’know. It’s quite a lot of lo.

Now don’t say I never give you anything nice.

1. Yesterday my friend Ginger Weil and I both had stories in the new issue of Apex. Mine is called The New Girl and is in the same universe as some other stories you’ve seen from me–most recently “The Salt Path,” also in Apex. Ginger’s is The Stagman’s Song and happens to be her professional fiction debut. Go, read, enjoy. (There’s also the rest of Apex I haven’t gotten to yet.)

2. Today I have a story in Nature, Boundary Waters. There is also a guest blog post from me on the Nature blog about it. So if you don’t have time to read “The New Girl” and “The Stagman’s Song,” “Boundary Waters” is much shorter but one hopes also a good read. (My two pieces go thematically together more than I expected, since I didn’t write them together and couldn’t plan that they would be published together. Very different settings and so on. See what you think.)

3. Speaking of my stories, there’s still time left in the Not Our Kind Kickstarter. It’s more than 60% funded, and there are new backer rewards that are worth checking out.

4. Not at all speaking of my stories, Tim is having his holiday print sale early this year. Lots of excellent new work in that as well as old favorites, and an easy way to see the existing photo gallery behind that link if you’ve been trying to remember what it was you wanted.

5. I have been doing a new craft project or art project or something. I have been making things. And the problem is, I am surprising people with these things for Christmas, so I cannot say what they are. I am even surprising Mark, so when he isn’t traveling for work, my materials get bundled away into my office closet. I am really not good at not talking about this kind of project, and it’s driving me a bit bazoo to not be able to talk about what I’m figuring out from first principles and what I’m learning from other people’s successes. A few of you are getting this on email. The people I would most want to say it to, though, are my mom and Stella and Sherry, and they are the people who most need surprising. It keeps coming up naturally in conversation and making me go, “Nnnng!” There was even a Terry Pratchett joke I couldn’t make yesterday. It is so unfair, and we’re nowhere near Christmas yet. (On the other hand, we are near enough to Christmas that I do need to keep working steadily on these items when Mark is out of town!) I finished Kev’s yesterday, and it’s lovely, it’s–

Not a pony. It is not a pony. Nobody is getting a pony.

That’s all I have to say about that.

And the title’s a quite good one, too.

You know what short story writers like?

Magazines. We really, really like magazines that publish short stories. (Y’know. Like the ones we write.) Which is why I commend to your attention the Kickstarter for Uncanny magazine. It’s the new project from the twisty, uncanny brains of the Thomases, who used to work with Apex and who were some of the editors I worked with on the Apex story some of you may have enjoyed earlier this summer. If I listened carefully (I’m pretty tired, so you should go listen carefully yourself), it looks like their business model is to have subscribers get an early e-book version of the magazine and then provide the stories online for the general reader, so if you help fund, there’s more stories for you early and then more stories for everyone eventually. I think pretty much everyone who reads this can get behind that idea.

So: Thomases! Weird speculative fiction projects! Track record good, outlook positive, go think about their new thing and whether you have two dimes to rub together and throw into making it go.

Prepare to help me hobbit!

Today is Sunday, and my birthday is Saturday. I have already read two books (one paper, one ebook) that were early birthday presents, because I am spoiled and because apparently the concept of delayed gratification is not a strong suit at the moment. Anyway, in making a dinner reservation for this evening, I got asked, is it anybody’s birthday? and usually I lie and tell them no, because I don’t want to make the waitstaff feel obliged to sing as well as their real jobs, and I worry that they will give me a nasty piece of white cake instead of letting me decide whether I want good dessert or no dessert. But this time I chirped, “Yes, it’s mine!” Because this year, honestly, with all the horrible and disappointing news the world has brought us in the last week, I kind of feel the need for all the birthday assistance I can get.

This post is a list of things you can think about getting for yourself–or just drooling over if you don’t have the spare cash–as presents for yourself for my birthday. Sadly, I can’t get them for all of you. I am not that much of a wealthy hobbit, to be able to buy all of you these lovely things as presents for my birthday. But I will at least show you the shinies that I would get you, if I could have a proper hobbit party and give you all the proper hobbit presents that I would like to give you. (Please note that this is the opposite of the usual wishlist: I am not asking you to get this stuff for ME but for YOURSELVES. Not that I wouldn’t like it also, but some of it–like the Kickstarter stuff–I already have, and mostly: the point is you, not me.)

1. Nerd coloring books. Specifically, Dinosaurs With Jobs. Mostly I would get this for my old college friend Scott, but the rest of you might want it too.

2. Chad Jerzak Raku ceramics. Saw these at the St. Kate Art Festival. Very cool.

3. Fresh Mud Pottery. Also at the St. Kate Art Festival. So many things in the gallery, be sure you look at the slide show.

4. Elise’s Current Shinies. Ooh. Shiny. So many shinies, so few body parts to hang them from.

5. Tim always has lovely things. Here are two of his newer ones (that first link was from the Pop Art Minneapolis series, the second the newest Reader photo).

6. Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky are doing a Kickstarter. For those of us who have been yearning for another Cry Cry Cry album, even two-thirds as good will almost certainly be good enough. (Did you miss out on Cry Cry Cry? Here they are singing Northern Cross. The third member is Dar Williams. Oh, fine, here’s another: By Way of Sorrow.)

7. Julie Dillon, who has done the gorgeous art for my Tor.com stories, is also doing a Kickstarter. Many ways to support her art; go look.

Any other loveliness you want to share with each other? There’s a whole week before it’s my birthday, and the comments section lies before you.

Wednesday assortment

1. I am in SF Signal’s Mind Meld this time around. It’s about the Suck Fairy and avoiding same. I think one of the things I thought of after, reading the other answers, is that you’re bringing different things when you’re at different ages. Sometimes you’re bringing your innocence or naivete. You shouldn’t feel bad about that–but you also shouldn’t feel bad about bringing greater judgment and experience later.

2. DDB is having a print sale at The Online Photographer, a very different kind of photo than the ones I usually link with Tim’s work. Check it out here.

3. I made a Sooper Sekrit Short Story Sale. It is both Sooper and Sekrit. I will let you know the details when I can, but suffice it to say: I am pleased.

4. The electric company is performing shenanigans in our vicinity. This is what I get for saying things about how I value infrastructure, isn’t it? Sigh.

5. If I have a fifth thing, this will remind me of Rise. And being reminded of Rise is a good thing, because there are still those of you out there who miss her and her “five things make a post” posts, too. Cancer: it stinks. Hearing news from another friend reminds me of the stinkingness of cancer and of how the little things that remind us with a smile of fallen friends are not to be neglected.

Good things, early June

1. Apex Magazine’s June issue is out, and in it my short story The Salt Path. Go, read, enjoy. This is one of the good times when I went back and reread it and discovered that I actually did write the story I wanted to write. It’s in the same mental framework as my Tor.com stories have been, in case that matters to somebody other than me.

(Okay, in case it matters to somebody other than me and Alec and Timprov.)

2. Speaking of Timprov, now that the Kickstarter has succeeded, those of you who didn’t get in on it–or possibly didn’t order enough copies of the book or prints–can pre-order copies of the book or order copies of prints here.

3. Speaking of things that are shiny and gorgeous, Elise is having a shiny sale. I have already bought some of the wonders, but I generously left some for you! See how I am nice to you and want you to be happy? Go. Be happy.

Good things, late May

1. Some of you have already heard this on other social media, but this week I sold a short story, “The New Girl,” to Apex Magazine. Hurrah! Apex will be publishing another short story in the same universe (but not with any recognizably similar elements) next week, so stay tuned.

2. Marie Brennan is doing a Kickstarter for a novel. Chains and Memory will be the sequel to her previous novel, Lies and Prophecy, and you can get them both. Notice how I am saying “will be” and “can get”? That’s because the Kickstarter has already funded. But there are stretch goals, so go give it a look. (Even when there aren’t stretch goals, usually the funding goal for a Kickstarter is not the point at which the project creator starts swimming, Scrooge McDuck style, in vats of money and can make all the cool things in the world happen without anxiety, related to their project. Backers can always back out, expenses always exist. If you think a Kickstarter looks like a good idea from a trustworthy source, overfunding a bit it is nearly always a good idea.)

3. Hanne Blank is doing a new subscription project called 52 Weeks To Your Best Body Ever. Unlike most projects of this type, it will not be strictly gendered, focused on “bikini bodies,” or anything weird and icky like that. This is a “feel better in your skin” sort of project. (It’s Hanne, so there may also be a few “make your skin feel better” things, I don’t know.) I’ve enjoyed Hanne’s previous subscription project, which was recipe focused, and I think she’s got a lot to say here that will be of value to a wide variety of people.

two additions

1. With the Reader: War for the Oaks Kickstarter closing at 4 Central Time, I hear that it now has a Pamela Dean essay included in the photo book. Very, very cool. Go, little Kickstarter, go!

2. You can add to the pool of dragons in my friend Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent series if you want to design your own. Write up a description of no more than two hundred words of your new dragon or draconic cousin sub-species, send it to dragons.of.trent@gmail.com with the subject line “DRAGON: [your dragon name here],” and if your dragon is among the chosen ones, you’ll get an ARC of the new book, which is full of sea serpents. I should totally do this, because I can easily be bought with sea serpents, but since I often get ARCs as a reviewer, I’m going to leave it to those of you who imagine draconic species but don’t usually get sent free sea-serpenty books. But think of your 12-year-old self (or if you are 12, think of yourself): “you just write a short description of a new kind of dragon, and if they like it, they send you a free fantasy novel.” That’s a pretty good deal.

(If you start noodling with dragons and writing it up and think, “Wait, this new kind of dragon is too awesome to give to Marie Brennan, I will go write my own dragon story,” I bet she would consider that a pretty nifty outcome too. More dragons for everybody! But no free book in that case.)

Good news you might have gotten elsewhere

1. I sold a story, “A House of Gold and Steel,” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s not actually very much like “Minnie the Moocher,” although that’s where the title comes from. When I announced this on shorter social media, I linked to Cab Calloway singing in Blues Brothers, which is classic, but I also always do get Stephen Fry in my head saying, “Yes, His Majesty King Gustav does seem to have been extraordinarily generous with the young lady, sir.” But really, His Majesty King Gustav is Sir Not Appearing In This Story.

2. Tim’s Kickstarter funded! If you’re interested, there’s still time to back it and get yourself a lovely photo book, or the related cards, prints, etc. This is a thing that will definitely happen now–he’s completed all the photos, the Kickstarting is for the cost of printing etc.–and as Kev said in another social medium, it is a lovely bandwagon to jump on. Mostly I am pleased that it funded before the last minute. You may not have known this about me, but I am not the least anxious person ever, and knowing that this very cool project will actually exist in the world has been a very happy relief for me.

3. It’s raining. I like rain. I like rain almost as well as snow, and everybody else is a great deal less grumpy than if it was snowing today, so hurrah rain.