talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

I had several pieces published this very first week of the new year! And I won a giveaway, receiving an ARC of A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn courtesy of Penguin Random House! So expect thoughts on Veronica Speedwell’s latest adventure  at some point.

Things that I wrote: 

So Your Cat Has Worms…“, over at Front Page Meews.
New Year Style: Now Be You“, over at ISA Professional’s blog.
A review of Ghostbusters (2016), over at Nerdspan.

Things that I read:

Woman Facts” by Sandra Newman at McSweeney’s, being hilarious trufax about women.
A microstory about krakens and the sailors who hunt them, courtesy of Micro SF/F on Twitter.
Nine Duels: a Tremontaine Story” by Tessa Gratton, FREE, read it and SUBSCRIBE immediately.

Things that I made:

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness pieces were all about out with the outstayed-its-welcome and in with the you-better-do-better.

Just over a year ago, I pronounced this the Year of the Goddamn Unicorn. Well, we apparently spent the year playing leapfrog with said unicorn. I guess no one ever said we were smart. Let’s do better in 2017. Thanks to KC Green for my Whiteboard Weirdness inspiration. Fat Unicorn inspired by unicorns by janno-arts on DeviantArt, and by Jen Seng.

Welcome to 2017, the Year of the Otter! Let’s be adorable and flexible, juggle rocks, be vicious when necessary (river wolves represent!), and hold on to each other so no one floats away. Whiteboard Weirdness art inspired by Kat’s cute doodle at

Things that I’m excited about:






Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

Mirrored from Please comment there.

talkstowolves: From the 2007 film, Beowulf, featuring Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother and a perverted Oscar Wilde quote. (monsters: never simple)
I'm still slowly working my way through the Locus Recommended Reading List - at least those parts of it that are available online. This week, I made it to Gord Sellar's "Of Melei, of Ulthar" published in the October 2009 Clarkesworld.

I was really taken with the narrative, although that perhaps reflects on how I often move through my own life half-dreaming. For all its dream-like, inverted complexities, the story is relatively straightforward: whispers of mystery, brutality, and warmth intertwined. The prose wanders from verbose and overwrought to more concrete as the decision sharpens within the protagonist, and the slow realization of the dream-world's location - which could come off as overly trite or precious so very easily - is effective when wrapped in Melei's breathtaken wonder at fierce survival in the face of overwhelming bleakness and apparent lack of the divine (or supernatural).

For all that I haven't myself read any Lovecraft, I recognized within the first couple of paragraphs that this story played with ideas of his creations. The invocation of the name "Kadath" further confirmed it for me, and what a world where I can be so familiar with a constructed mythos and yet never have read any of the source material! I am also familiar with Lovecraft's prose style, having read snatches of it, and could see the why's and wherefore's of Sellar's prose choices.

Indeed, I think Sellar has finally inspired me to read some of Lovecraft's pieces, starting with "The Cats of Ulthar" and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

I apologize for the brevity of this discussion, but I must run for a ten-hour workday! Please, do, tell me what you think of "Of Melei, of Ulthar" and what I should next read in Lovecraft's playground.

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
Today's free fiction recommendation is available in the print anthology Dark Faith, recently published by Apex Book Company. This particular story, Catherynne M. Valente's "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" was recently featured on io9, thus fulfilling the "free" qualification in "free fiction recommendation."

Do you like zombies?

Well, I don't. At all. Yet they've been a popular thing for a while now, and I don't think that's changing any time soon.

What I like, however, is well-written fiction. Tell a compelling enough story, and it doesn't matter if it has elements I find in every way disturbing and distasteful. Of course, it's true that stories containing those elements have to work a bit harder to impress me: they're struggling against natural prejudice, and that can't be helped.

I say all this so you'll understand the strength of my recommendation: "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" is a zombie tale well worth your time.

It's not flippant or fun or action-packed or thrilling. It's frankly quite sad. It's painted in dark rooms and dripping ichor, in running water and the far pinpricks of stars. It's full of sadness and despair and the need to witness. The story is a bit wandering, but that's just fine because it comes to us scrawled in the pages of a notebook with flaming motorcycles on the cover. The narrator is just a girl, still herself and all alone in Augusta, Maine. She chronicles her days in notebooks of Kermit or punky princesses - an affectingly comic touch that turns out to be not really comic at all.

Perhaps this zombie story isn't fun, but it says something real: something about soul-killing weariness and despair and existence in tandem with these truths. Truths, unfortunately, that we can all identify with in some degree. Valente weaves in the flip-side, as well, shoring up her narrative with the indomitability of human curiosity and the persistence of life-preserving hope in the face of inexorable bleakness.

Valente has stated in her blog that "I have no plans to ever write a zombie story again, so this is pretty much it for me and this trope." If that must be so, I must say that I'm glad this is the one she gave us.

Have you read "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles"? And, if so, what did you think?
talkstowolves: Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch, made infamous by SFWA VP Hendrix (outgoing). (technopeasant)
Welcome to the Fourth Annual International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day! We're giving it away for free around here all day long. You can find more excellent content available through [profile] ipstp, which will likely be updated by participants throughout the day. You can also browse through the past three years of IPSTP offerings at that community!

Confused about what International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day is? Read the origin story at Wikipedia.

Here's what I said about IPSTP Day in:
2007 (Year One).
2008 (Year Two).
2009 (Year Three).

Behold my offerings, all currently available through my website, blog, or various publications:

"When Death Dances," published in EMG-Zine. - (Concerning La Muerta.)
"In Extremis" - (Concerning a working-girl demon.)
"The Brotherhood of Applied Sciences" - (Concerning two immortal brothers in science.)
"Our Lady of Crows" - (Concerning the earliest story of crows.)
"And My Sky Full of Stars" - (Concerning the myths we build from friendship.)

"My Small Army of Souls," published in Scheherezade's Bequest at Cabinet des Fées.
"Ireland, A Sapphic Poem," published in The Pedestal Magazine.
"Elegy for a Fallen Angel"

You can find further selections of prose and poetry at my website, or by perusing the IPSTP tag on my Livejournal.

I also encourage you to see my interstitial project marrying poetry and photography, Postcards from a Traveling Oracle: To Nine Sisters, from Kyoto. (You can find out more about this project at this post.)

Stay tuned for my next post, concerning further free content brewing for today!

This entry was originally posted on Livejournal. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
I decided to take a break from the Locus Recommended Reading List this week and check out the newest edition of Ideomancer, especially since they rolled out a beautiful and dynamic new layout with Volume 9, Issue 1.

(Many kudos to [profile] cristalia and [profile] zhai and everyone else involved with Ideomancer!)

Each piece of fiction chosen for this issue had a strong thematic element of isolation and a healthy, riveting dose of the bizarre. I found "Future Perfect" by LaShawn M. Wanak to be far and away the strongest piece: her story is hardcore awful and I love it. Concerning decisions and moments in time, and how one slight change can snowball into countless parallel scenarios, "Future Perfect" is an unflinching glimpse of obsession with imaginary perfection instead of real-life work and engagement. As some of the best fiction is, this story is an uncomfortable thought exercise and wholly captivating. If you read nothing else in this issue of Ideomancer, please read Wanak's "Future Perfect."

I found the remaining two stories to be much weaker in comparison. "Sunshine, Sunshine" by Autumn Christian was beautiful and demented by turns, cobwebbed with macabre joy. However, it just didn't come together in the end, feeling largely incohesive. My favorite part is actually that this piece was set in the South, down in Louisiana, in swamp-land, and this makes me incredibly happy; there's not enough contemporary fantasy set in the South. Nicole J. LeBoeuf's "The Day the Sidewalks Melted is notable for its bizarre premise (which is right there in the title), but it's too vague to really resonate emotionally. LeBoeuf used some excellent imagery, though.

The first two poetry selections did nothing for me, unfortunately: Rachel Swirsky's "Mundane" is remarkably self-descriptive, lacking in poetic fire, and "Voyager 2, Upon Arrival" by Chris Flowers has some nice images but is not really my cup of tea. However, the latter two!

Upon finishing Liz Bourke's "Autocannibalism: Not a Love Poem," all I could do was utter "Ouch" in an admiring tone. This poem is lovely and painful, hitting all the best notes of pathos in cosmic imagery. "Lunar Parable" by Shef Reynolds likewise captivated me, leaving me drunk on words and imagery and wishing for a poetry discussion group. Seriously, this poem invites re-reading and discussion. Anyone want to take me up on that?

Overall, this was a solid issue of Ideomancer and, considering it was my first issue read in full, leaves me excited to comb through their archives to discover more excellent fiction and poetry.

What did you think?

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal on March 5th, 2010. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Happy news! The March issue of EMG-Zine, all about dance, is now live: within its pages, you will find my very short story "When Death Dances." Please, do give the magazine a read-through! And, if you've a mind, tell me what you think of my sort-of fairy tale about dance and La Muerta.

I've recently begun blogging for Cabinet des Fées, although both of my early blogs have been reviews of one kind or another. I'm incredibly grateful to Erzebet for the opportunity to do so, and hope all of you will check Cabinet des Fées often (or join [profile] cabinetdesfees , where the notifications come to you) to see what new content has gone up between official issues. I'm not the only contributor: besides my two reviews linked below, Donna Quattrone has reviewed Impossible by Nancy Werlin.

My first blog went up on February 17th, and contains a rather personal look at the fairy tale "Brother and Sister" through the lens of Terri Windling's poetry and Lisa Stock's short film:

I remember, perhaps ten years ago, first reading Terri Windling’s "Brother and Sister." I was in college, on my own for the first time and, in several private ways, learning what it was to survive. It was the afternoon, golden light sliding through autumn trees and filtering through an unclothed window. I was thumbing through one of my favorite sites, The Endicott Studio, and there it was.

"do you remember, brother / those days in the wood…"

I read, rapt. I read again. And then I abandoned that cold dorm room of linoleum and concrete for the college green with its fringe of wood. I ached to leap and run, but I settled for hugging my goosebumped-arms and walking down to the white gazebo near the pond with its overgrown banks. Perhaps I wrote some; perhaps I only dreamed. Windling’s words rattled inside me, sowing fierce joy and nettling discontent.

[Read the rest of the article at this link.]

My second blog post, which went up just yesterday, covers Syfy's announcement that their new brand of Saturday Night Original Movies will be re-imagined fairy tales and the rather awful Beauty and the Beast that served as their launch piece:

Most of you are probably already aware of Syfy’s new Saturday night original movie plans: seeking fertile ground after endless iterations of disaster movies and mega-monsters, Syfy has turned their sights on fairy tales, legendary figures, and classic children’s literature.

It’s not completely surprising: Syfy’s airing of Tin Man in 2007 and Alice last year suggested a quiet testing of the waters, feeling for viewer response to dark re-imaginings of familiar childhood tales. I haven’t seen Tin Man, the bleak and fantastical riff on The Wizard of Oz starring Zooey Daschanel, but I’ve heard it wasn’t a waste. Its ratings were phenomenal (for Syfy) and it was nominated for several Emmys, one of which it won. This past December, I was fully immersed in the fan response to the grungy and noirish Alice starring Caterina Scorsone and Andrew Lee Potts — Alice in Wonderland post-legendary age, basically — and there is a relatively small, yet dedicated and thriving fanbase. Critical reception, on the other hand, has been much more tepid. (For my part, I thought Alice had great potential, but that’s a topic for a future review.)

[Read the rest of the article at this link.]

Discussion is keen! Share any thoughts you might have over in the comments sections at Cabinet des Fées!

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal on March 3rd, 2010. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: (all the poets know)
Apparently this story has been available on Neil Gaiman's website for some time, but I just became aware of it when he twittered a link just a few moments ago.

Which story? Why, "Cinnamon" - a luscious and exhilarating piece of his that has never been collected. I first encountered it on the Neil Gaiman Audio Collection; it snuck up on me, a shiver-inducing surprise after I listened to "The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish" and "The Wolves in the Walls."

A fond memory: laying in the darkness of a humid Tokyo evening, drowsing on my futon while Neil Gaiman read "Cinnamon" to me from my laptop's speakers. A jungle painted in my mind, a tiger's fur roughsoft under my palms, and a strong Indian girl flashing a confident and adventurous smile at me.

It's rather short, beautifully illustrated, and available for free right here. Do read it!

Also, if you've a mind to listen his gorgeous reading of it, it's available rather cheaply at Audible.

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal on February 28th, 2010. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: (firebird belongs to the holy)
Sorry for the silence, guys, but I lost most of this last week to Stephen King's It.

This week, I'd like to bring your attention to a further two pieces on the Locus Recommended Reading List (Shorter Works):

"Voice Like a Cello" by Catherine Cheek (Fantasy 5/4/09)

This story was odd and lovely, following the experience of a girl who cannot escape the voices of the dead. The text fully immerses you in her experience, an immersion that I found heady and compelling. The store moves inexorably toward insanity or solace, and I can't help feeling, at the end, that this tale is truncated. There should be more. Perhaps a novel.

"Three Fancies from the Infernal Garden" by C.S.E. Cooney (Subterranean Winter '09)

Oh, wow! I cannot sing my delight at this piece loudly enough or eloquently enough! Cooney is a marvel, a whimsical poet dressing in a writer's frock-coat and whisking all us unsuspecting readers off on a mortar-and-pestle ride through Koschei's infernal garden full of sassy scarecrows, enchanted princesses (who don't want to be saved, thank you very much), and furious firebirds. If I could paint, and I had a grand ballroom, I would from this story conceive grand murals in brilliant colors and cover the walls. And then hold a masque.

So, er, if you like fairy tales and whimsical delights of storydom shot through with darkness, you should read this. Now.

Also, remember, everyone: this weekend is your last chance to vote in the first annual Rose & Bay Awards!

This entry was originally posted over at Livejournal on February 26th, 2010. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: Books + tea, books + coffee, either way = bliss.  (reading is a simple pleasure)
I promised you all two posts concerning free fiction this week, and I mean to deliver! Unfortunately, my TMJD really wrecked me last night and so now I only have ten minutes here before leaving the work to make this post. So! Without further ado, please check out the following stories:

"Baby in the Basket" by Cecil Castellucci (Strange Horizons 5/18/09)

This story is absolutely fascinating, beginning with a domestic hook that I never thought would work as well as it did and slowly drawing us into a world fundamentally-the-same-yet-radically-different from our everyday lives. I don't want to spoil the experience of discovering the differences and enjoying the bizarre revelations, so please: just read.

"Dead Man's Party" by Seanan McGuire (Edge of Propinquity, 02/15/10)

Sparrow Hill Road continues unfolding the story of the hitchhiking ghost Rose Marshall in the second installment of "Dead Man's Party." This is a locked-room story, brutally focused and unyielding. If I were producing a Sparrow Hill Road television series, this would be a strong candidate for an introductory episode: it gives readers a familiar entry point into the series via the diner hold-up and then gets weirder and weirder from there. Deeper into the twilight. "Dead Man's Party" is definitely a worthy continuation of the series and I'm still incredibly excited to see where Rose goes next.

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal on February 19th. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
Last week, I began working through the stories freely available online from the 2009 Locus Recommended Reading List. My first choices were a bit random: I chose Catherynne M. Valente's "The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" because I've been interested in it. I accidentally clicked on Kij Johnson's "Spar" and then could not turn away, its text inexorably drawing my eyes onward in horrifying train-wreck style. I finished the week off with "On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War-Machines of the Merfolk" by Peter M. Ball because it was the first story on the list.

If one were to look for an unofficial theme to this unintended triumvirate of stories, I think it would be this: "bizarre steps to the left of everything."

Let's start with the least radical story and work up from there.

"On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War-Machines of the Merfolk" by Peter M. Ball (Strange Horizons, 07/06/09)

In this short piece, we have a fellow dissatisified with his life and dallying with a younger woman under comfortably false pretenses for them both; concurrent with their affair, Copenhagan (where the fellow's sister has been traveling) is attacked by salvage-built merfolk-mech. That last bit is compelling in itself, except for the part where that aspect of the story unfolds indirectly through reported news reports and the narrator's casual neuroses. I finished this story indifferent to the narrator and wanting to know more about his sister, which would probably deepen the narrator's depression.

"The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, 08/09)

There was much to appreciate in this one: beautiful and satiating language, a competently constructed mystery fraught with cosmic importance, and a bold, adventurous female filmmaker who manages to be the protagonist without ever appearing directly on screen, so to speak. (Directly on screen within the context of the story, certainly, but always through screens and images within the meta-screen of the text.) Unfortunately, I found it undercut by the juxtaposition of science fiction and its close adherence to the early forms of film. I could not reconcile extensive space travel and colonization with old film reels and vinyl soundtracks. And the balloons - I don't understand the exact details of the balloon-use, and the vague details of their use related to the story's space travel drove me to distraction. I'm in the curious position of appreciating the atmosphere, but being unhappy with the mechanical details.

That said, the closing image is completely killer.

"Spar" by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, 10/09)

I don't even know. I read this story in a mad rush because I couldn't believe what I was seeing and it left me feeling slightly ill and mildly distraught. What does it mean? Does it mean anything? The very questions that plagued the narrator plague me, except I'm not trapped in a tiny world of incessant barbarism and interspecies copulation and faceless rape and the eroding memories of Shakespeare. I don't really feel like I can recommend other people read this story; however, it is on the Locus Recommended Reading List and was a real contender for the 2010 Nebula Ballot (whether it made it still remains to be seen).

Since this is my make-up post for last Friday's free fiction offerings, you get another one this week!

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal on February 17th, 2010. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
As you've no doubt noticed already, Locus released their 2009 Recommended Reading List this week. It is chock-full of awesome, as you would expect. Parts of it also include a number of shorter works available online, and nearly all of them free of charge. For this week's free fiction highlights, I've decided to reproduce part of the Recommended Reading List here, with all the freely available1 stories appropriately linked.

I have no thoughts to share on any of them yet, sadly, for I haven't had time to finish reading any! I have started Catherynne M. Valente's "The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew," however; so far, it is quite interesting.

Locus Recommended Reading List, Shorter Works2

Short Stories

"On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War-Machines of the Merfolk", Peter M. Ball (Strange Horizons 7/6/09)
"Strappado", Laird Barron (Poe)
"Home Again", Paul M. Berger (Interzone 3-4/09)
"The Boy Who Cried Wolf", Holly Black (Troll's Eye View)
"The Coldest Girl in Coldtown", Holly Black (The Eternal Kiss)
"Under The Shouting Sky", Karl Bunker (Cosmos 8-9/09)
"Baby in the Basket", Cecil Castellucci (Strange Horizons 5/18/09)
"Voice Like a Cello", Catherine Cheek (Fantasy 5/4/09)
"Early Winter, Near Jenli Village", J. Kathleen Cheney (Fantasy 5/4/09)
"Three Fancies from the Infernal Garden", C.S.E. Cooney (Subterranean Winter '09)
"Erosion", Ian Creasey (Asimov's 10-11/09)
"Bad Matter", Alexandra Duncan (F&SF 12/09)
"Lady of the White-Spired City", Sarah L. Edwards (Interzone 5-6/09)
"The Pelican Bar", Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse Three)
"An Invocation of Incuriosity", Neil Gaiman (Songs of the Dying Earth)
"As Women Fight", Sara Genge (Asimov's 12/09)
"Child-Empress of Mars", Theodora Goss (Interfictions 2)
"A Story, With Beans", Steven Gould (Analog 5/09)
"Butterfly Bomb", Dominic Green (Interzone 5-6/09)
"Salt's Father", Eric Gregory (Strange Horizons 8/03/09)
"In the Lot and in the Air", Lisa Hannett (Clarkesworld 7/09)
"Spar", Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld 10/09)
"Collision", Gwyneth Jones (When It Changed)
"Going Deep", James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's 6/09)
"The Logic of the World", Robert Kelly (Conjunctions 52: Betwixt the Between)
"The Motorman's Coat", John Kessel (F&SF 6-7/09)
"Echoes of Aurora", Ellen Klages (What Remains)
"Singing on a Star", Ellen Klages (Firebirds Soaring)
"Dulce Domum", Ellen Kushner (Eclipse Three)
On the Human Plan", Jay Lake (Lone Star Stories 2/1/09)
"Ferryman", Margo Lanagan (Firebirds Soaring)
"Living Curiosities", Margo Lanagan (Sideshow)
"The Cinderella Game", Kelly Link (Troll's Eye View)
"Excellence", Richard A. Lovett (Analog 1-2/09)
"Useless Things", Maureen F. McHugh (Eclipse Three)
"Catalog", Eugene Mirabelli (F&SF 2/09)
"The Persistence of Memory, or This Space for Sale", Paul Park (Postscripts 20/21)
"Her Voice in a Bottle", Tim Pratt (Subterranean Winter '09)
"Narrative of a Beast's Life", Cat Rambo (Realms of Fantasy 12/09)
"Before My Last Breath", Robert Reed (Asimov's 10-11/09)
"Tests", Robert Reed (Postscripts 20/21)
"Edison's Frankenstein", Chris Roberson (Postscripts 20/21)
"Writ of Exception", Madeleine E. Robins (Lace and Blade 2)
"My She", Mary Rosenblum (Federations)
"Colliding Branes", Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling (Asimov's 2/09)
"The Men Burned All the Boats", Patricia Russo (Fantasy 2/9/09)
"Blocked", Geoff Ryman (F&SF 10-11/09)
"Of Melei, of Ulthar", Gord Sellar (Clarkesworld 10/09)
"Wizard's Apprentice", Delia Sherman (Troll's Eye View)
What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night, Michael Marshall Smith (Nightjar Press)
This gets a bit long... )

1. Two of the stories linked are only previews with the option to purchase access to the rest of the story. The sites that go with this model are Intergalactic Medicine Show and Jim Baen's Universe.

2. I've followed Locus' conventions in this list, italicizing magazine titles and bolding book titles.

This entry originally posted at Livejournal. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Cabinet des Fées is one of my favorite fairy tale-oriented publications on the Internet today: between this webzine edited by Erzebet Yellowboy and then Goblin Fruit under the auspices of Amal El-Mohtar and Jessica Paige Wick, some of the sadness left by the closing of Endicott Studio's The Journal of Mythic Arts in 2008 has abated.

Cabinet des Fées recently switched to formally updating three times a year, which means we get three issues of Scheherezade's Bequest with each turn of the wheel! This is a fine thing indeed: three issues full of poetry and prose, all tangled in the fairy tale aesthetic. The publication is pretty much guaranteed to offer new perspectives, old tales thrown askew. I'm ever eager to see what Erz brings in her basket: always the sweetest fruit, and the wicked too.

With the January 2010 update, Cabinet des Fées also debuted a new skin: dense and luscious, the fresh layout reminds me of all the excellent content already published there (Folkpunk 101! Interviews with Mike Allen and the Goblin Fruit ladies!) and leaves me eager for future updates. Plus, that title banner is lovely and the bright red apple in its center the most appropriate touch.

I'm sure you've realized by now that this week's highlights involve exhorting you to read Cabinet des Fées! Really, the whole site is worthy of your close perusal, especially if you're interested in fairy tales and folklore. Indeed, allow me now to segue into discussing my favorite pieces from the ninth issue of Scheherezade's Bequest:

Among the poetry selections for this issue, I found four particularly worthy of mention. "Tahlia, Risen" by Joshua Gage is a beautifully composed reflection on "Sun, Moon, and Talia" with a shivery, macabre turn at the close. "Bad Mothers" by Anne Brannen appeals to my "wicked girls saving themselves" sensibility, though I was at first surprised by the selfishness espoused by the narrator at the end; upon reflection, however, a little selfishness and hermit-like behavior is fair enough. "Song at a Cottage Door" by Megan Arkenberg inspired a gleeful exclamation of "Oh, I love this!" Really, it could be the beginning of a cautionary tale or a grand adventure, or both. Christopher W. Clark's "At the Palace of the North Wind" is a gorgeous piece about the life cycles of winds and the Lapland Witches.

I found nearly all of the fiction to be outstanding, beginning with the deliciously charged vignette "Her Heart Would Surely Break in Two," in which Michelle Labbé gives us a lesbian interpretation of "The Goose Girl." Anna Yardney's "In the Forest of Thorn" was also a lovely subversion, this time of the "Sleeping Beauty" trope, where we discover that, sometimes, perhaps it's best to let sleeping princesses lie. The last story, "The Wolf I Want" was a truly compelling and visceral retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" and, while it gave me pause in the beginning, it left me growlingly delighted by the end.

Also, I'd really like to given an honorable mention to "Nor Yet Feed the Swine" by Keyan Bowes - it had the makings of an excellent story and was not bad at all. I just felt that it would be even better expanded into a novel and not squished into a short story.

If you've read this issue of Scheherezade's Bequest, what did you think?

This entry originally posted at Livejournal on January 29th, 2010. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
This week's free fiction highlight comes with a bit of context; if you're not too concerned with context, I recommend you head over to The Edge of Propinquity right now and start reading. The Edge of Propinquity is a well-established zine with a significant back-catalogue and multiple recurring universes. As the lead-in goes, it's "a series of short stories from four different authors in four different universes exploring the world that lurks just beneath the surface of everyday life. It is the world of the unexplained, supernatural, magic, horror, duty, responsibility, black humor, conspiracy, unknown heritage and power. This semiprozine is updated on the 15th of every month."

The story I'd most like to recommend debuted in the 15th January edition: "Good Girls Go to Heaven" by Seanan McGuire, set in the Sparrow Hill Road series. It's a whole lot of America and folklore and ghost story rolled up in a pretty little dead girl package, and I can't recommend it enough if you like any of those things.

Now, let's go back...

A few years ago, I first got to listen to Seanan McGuire's Stars Fall Home, an excellent and eclectic album that immediately earned a prize place in my usual rotation of most listened-to CDs. There wasn't a song on there that I disliked, and its overall quality and complexity ensured that different songs would capture my interest, moving to the fore or fading back depending on mood or recent media exposure or what the highway called out for me to sing, full-throated, as I rolled along the miles. And one of the best songs for eating up those miles was the ultimate song on the album: a rockin' 50's girl-quartet piece called "Pretty Little Dead Girl."

In "Pretty Little Dead Girl," we're introduced to the urban legend of a hot car-loving, fiercely independent, no little dangerous ghost by the name of Rose Marshall. After several conversations with Seanan and reading her journal, I came to realize that there was an incredible untold story to Rose Marshall and so much more - and so much different - than the one framed in the song. The song is fun and catchy and specific and creepy, as all the best urban legends are. And, like all the best urban legends, it's neither the only story or the one closest to the truth.

In Seanan's songbook at her website, you can find several other versions or aspects of Rose Marshall's story:
"Graveyard Rose"
"Hanging Tree"
"When I Drive"
"Waxen Wings"
"On Dead Man's Hill"

Each song will give you a different window onto Rose Marshall, although I recommend not reading "Graveyard Rose" until after you've read "Good Girls Go to Heaven." You'll see why. Also, I've linked to the lyrics for "Pretty Little Dead Girl" above there, although I definitely recommend picking up one of the albums that it appears on. (Those albums would be Stars Fall Home or Pretty Little Dead Girl.)

I was incredibly thrilled when [personal profile] jennifer_brozek announced that Seanan would be one of The Edge of Propinquity's resident writers for 2010, and that she would be developing the story of Rose Marshall in a series of short stories called Sparrow Hill Road. I haven't ridden with Rose as long as some, but she's often been a companion on long drives for the past several years. I've wondered at her character, and found some roads in Georgia I just bet she'd wander along, if she ever moseyed on down south. And so, with all this, how did "Good Girls Go to Heaven" measure up?

Oh, it measured very high indeed.

Here's the thing. Folklore is my bread and butter: it fascinates me, it's what I study, it's one of my things. It's also one of Seanan's things and in her bones. I trust her to have done her research (hell, to have internalized her research), and thus to be steeped enough in these tales and bits of culture and Americana that she can create compelling folklore. Further, I trust her to be able to weave that part-created, part-borrowed folklore further into excellent fantasy.

My trust is not misplaced.

In one short story thus far, Sparrow Hill Road has managed to introduce me to an area of folklore previously unconsidered and left me considering it (i.e. truck-drivers and highway diners); evoked a believable urban legend and made the central figure of that urban legend multi-faceted and sympathetic; and enchanted me and fired my imagination with the intoxicating glimpses of a myriad of Americas, clothed in daylight, twilight, midnight. The other sides. The ghostside.

I absolutely cannot wait to see more of this series unfold and discover where Rose Marshall goes. Also, though I am always excited to investigate my best-loved field, I cannot deny that Seanan has provided me with a fresh infusion of enthusiasm for urban folklore.

Seriously: do yourself a favor and follow me into Sparrow Hill Road.

This entry was originally posted at Livejournal. You can comment here or over there.
talkstowolves: Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch, made infamous by SFWA VP Hendrix (outgoing). (technopeasant)
I really just made up my mind to start this yesterday, so forgive the paucity of this week's offerings! This week, I'm mostly just sharing stories that I have already read and recommended (but not lately) and one new offering: "The Horrid Glory of Its Wings" by Elizabeth Bear.

Now, I have sung the praises of the Interfictions Annex long and loud, but I'd like to inaugurate my first online fiction-oriented post by linking to my favorites in summary once more:

"To Set Before the King" by Genevieve Valentine - Of cooking shows and fairy tales, terrifying and strange.
"Four Very True Tales" by Kelly Barnhill - Of prose and poetry, true tales and ineffable fancies.
"For the Love of Carrots" and "The Luxembourg Gardener" by Kelly Cogswell - Of innocent, inanimate pornography, poetry and prose inextricably wound.
"Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair" by Chris Kammerud - Of all imaginative creation, and a woman's hair.
"Quiz" by Eilis O’Neal - Of impossible questions and the hard choices present in every fairy tale.

If you've a bit of time, pick one or two and read them! Then come back here and tell me what you think.

I finally had a chance to sit down and read "The Horrid Glory of Its Wings" by Elizabeth Bear, published at several weeks ago. With a title and character inspired by the harpy in Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, it concerns a very ill young woman and the filthy harpy that lives in the alley behind her home.

It is an incredibly ugly, bleak little tale and I'm not sure if it's redeemed by the fierce, transformative survivalism it advocates. It's provocative, for sure, but perhaps also a bit derivative. In short, my feelings are highly mixed and that actually increases the tale in my estimation. If you've read it, what do you think? I'd really like to discuss this one with others.

The illustration above - which I emphatically love - is the piece John Jude Palencar created to accompany Elizabeth Bear's story. You can see the bigger version at

Originally posted at Livejournal. You can comment here or there.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
The IAF Annex has been continuing apace these past couple weeks, bringing us further examples of engrossing fiction that denies categorization, instead sprawling web-like across our concepts of narrative and genre.

In "Stonefield," Mark Rich has developed an unsettling piece: a ghost story, perhaps, of time and place… or maybe a rumination on a type of American Atlas. Click on the excerpt below to read the full story:

Days at the drafting table had provided such neat mental constructions - perfect lines and angles within which he could situate himself, to feel measured and squared… he must have slipped away from sensing the roundness and fullness of the world.

This past Tuesday saw the release of Kelly Cogswell's "For the Love of Carrots" and "The Luxembourg Gardener," a short fiction and poem inextricably wound. Kelly's piece is innocently pornographic, in a way, an ode to sensation and misapprehension and the ridiculously feared animalism of taste and touch. It's also provocative: of thought, of laughter. Click below to see for yourself:

"Work dried up after the crash. My magazine folded, and the creditors came around demanding the office furniture and telephone and rent. They got one chair, a cancelled stamp, and a hundred and twelve copies of the second edition of Honeypot, which hadn't sold as well as the first. "And why should it?" Betsy asked. "Nobody's into poetry. Especially in the language of bees. They could be saying anything."

There are only two more weeks remaining in the Annex! Chris Kammerud's "Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair" goes up on October 27th, and "Quiz" by Ellis O'Neal will be released on November 3rd. November 3rd, by the way, is also the release date of Interfictions 2. Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)
Kelly Barnhill was up last week in the Interfictions Annex, ensnaring readers in a shining net of the natural world and lifelong relationships: her offering is both prose and poetry, true stories and ineffable fancies, about one's relationship with the sacred and the profane.

Read her story, "Four Very True Tales," and tell me: which one speaks truth to you?

Ron Pasquariello's "The Chipper Dialogues" went up yesterday and is perhaps the most challenging interstitial piece debuted so far: told sometimes in haiku, sometimes not, it is the collected debris of conversation between dog and man.

Have any of you been following the Annex from week to week? What have you thought of the stories debuted there thus far?
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
A new story went up yesterday in the Interstitial Art Foundation's Online Story Annex. If you missed my explanation of this ingenious bit of free fiction offering from last week, allow me to quickly recap here:

"You see, Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak received so many remarkable submissions for Interfictions 2 that they simply couldn't whittle their selections down to only the number of pieces that would fit into the book. And so, in a truly interstitial move, they decided to bleed past the borders of bound paper and publication limitations into the world of digital press. What that means for us is another entryway into the world of interstitial art via a smorgasbord of liminal hors d'oeuvres."

Last week, we were treated to a cruelly sumptuous interweaving of cooking tips and fairy tale from Genevieve Valentine.

This week, we're given the winding together of prose and song, in a compelling and stark combination of lyrics and scenes. There's even musical accompaniment by the author!

"Nylon Seam" by F. Brett Cox

What are you waiting for? (Headphones? Oh, okay. Hurry now.) Click on over to the Annex!
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Yesterday, the Ides of September, heralded the beginning of something wonderful and strange: an online showcasing of interstitial writings. You see, Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak received so many remarkable submissions for Interfictions 2 that they simply couldn't whittle their selections down to only the number of pieces that would fit into the book. And so, in a truly interstitial move, they decided to bleed past the borders of bound paper and publication limitations into the world of digital press. What that means for us is another entryway into the world of interstitial art via a smorgasbord of liminal hors d'oeuvres.

Behold: the Interstitial Arts Foundation's Online Story Annex!

Sept. 15: Genevieve Valentine, “To Set Before the King”
Sept. 22: F. Brett Cox, “Nylon Seam”
Sept. 29: Kelly Barnhill, “Four Very True Tales”
Oct. 6: Ronald Pasquariello, “The Chipper Dialogues”
Oct. 13: March Rich, “Stonefield”
Oct. 20: Kelly Cogswell, “For the Love of Carrots”
Oct. 27: Chris Kammerud, “Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair”
Nov. 3: Eilis O’Neal, “Quiz”

It is uniquely appropriate that we begin our annex with such a literal and literary feast as Genevieve Valentine's "To Set Before the King." Her deft interweaving of fairy tale tropes with practical cooking techniques will send a shiver down your spine and redistribute your perceptions of archetype and fortune.

While you're visiting the Annex, be sure to check out the rest of the new Interstitial Arts Foundation site! There are some great new features.
talkstowolves: Dayan, a cat born from an egg, takes his coffee with cream and dares you to say something. Punk.  (dayan takes his coffee with cream)
Have you gotten your copy of The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan yet? And if not: why not? (It's totally understandable if, like me, you are sans job and thus sans a reasonable book fund. The rest of you YA urban fantasy fanciers have no excuse! Get thee to a bookery!)

Anyway, [profile] sarahtales is doing something wonderful if The Demon's Lexicon does well. And that something wonderful is giving us free fiction.

Considering Sarah is pretty hysterical amusingly engaging in her typical posts, the addition of free fiction to her journal is a major coup in my opinion. Do your part to make sure they keep coming!

Oh, and read the first free story here:

Sorceror and Stone, Part I

In which we learn the background of one of the characters from The Demon's Lexicon, but are not spoiled in any way for the book.

talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)
As promised, here is the piece of flash fiction I wrote for the Weird Tales Spam-Ade contest.

Enjoy, and comments are welcome!

* * *

"Dark Knight Disapproved by Vaticans Due to Satanic Links"

by Deborah J. Brannon

Accessing: Newscasts Outside of Time
Channel: Medieval Times
Available Titles: Newly Discovered Body Transformation Formula
                                  Dark Knight Disapproved by Vaticans Due to Satanic Links
                                  Remove Your Debt the Christian Way

Accessing: Dark Knight Disapproved by Vaticans Due to Satanic Links

Video missing. Audio and transcription only.

“It's late August, 1359, and a demon infestation rages across Europe! The Vaticans, in a rare show of agreement, summoned a Dark Knight from the depths of Hell to combat the spreading demonic powers. Sitting twelve feet atop his destrier that crushes the innocent beneath iron hooves, I've never seen a savior look quite so imposing! Let's talk to him now. ... Sir! Sir, how are things going?”

The narrator moves toward the source of a disturbance, created or curbed by the Dark Knight himself. Screams, groans, and repetitive thudding sounds predominate. There is a blood-curdling whinny cut short as the reporter speaks.

"We had a quality scourge here: loads of flayed demons and forced exorcisms, it's been really quite grand. I'm just disappointed that Popes Innocent, Griseus, and Sinistra have seen fit to forgo my payment."

The Dark Knight sounds Irish, oddly enough, circa 20th century. He speaks with a laid back ease. The Popes he references are those of the Vatican Primus, the Vatican Vatican, and the Black Vatican respectively.

"And what was your payment, Sir-- er, Dark Knight?"

"The standard complement of fifty virgins, Tom, with a retainer fee of three hundred newborns. You won't get my quality for such a good price this side of Gomorrah."

Cries of “Unclean!” break out in the distance, with hoofbeats to end worlds echoing more closely. What one can only presume to be the Dark Knight's bellow, a fierce and harrowing sound, rips through the shouts. One can almost hear the blood rain down.

"We understand even the Black Vatican denies employing him in a bid to 'fit in' according to one Blood Acolyte. Let's ask the Dark Knight what he thinks.”

The moans of destroyed flesh grow nearer, with our reporter shouting over the din. He reiterates the Blood Acolyte's comment.

"I think that was a bit disingenuous of them, Tom. Just because you wash your hands of blood today, doesn't make them clean. ...of blood. ... Er, tomorrow."

“Quite right, Sir! Can you tell the folks out there what we can expect until the Vaticans settle up?”

A voice staggers closer, screaming relentlessly: “My God! Why have you forsak--?” We hear a ragged gasp, then a rather final-sounding thump.

“Where were we? Ah, yes. Scourging will continue on the general populace until fees are met.”

“Thank you! At this time, the Vaticans have offered no reply. You heard it here on Newscasts Outside of Time: Medieval Times first! This is Tom Lane, signi--”

Tom's voice cuts off, followed by a soft thud. There is a breathless moment, then the sound of hooves and deadly metal: screams begin once more and the sound equipment hits the dirt, shorting out, dumb and dead.

March 2017

   1 234
5 67891011

Custom Text


RSS Atom

Styled By

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios