New Story, "When All the Clocks Are Wrong"

What would happen if time travel existed, but you couldn’t control when it happened? If your life was interrupted by jumps that pushed you forward or backward in time by hours, or even just minutes? What would you do, and would anyone believe you if you tried to explain? That’s the premise of my newest story, “When All the Clocks Are Wrong,”, which is now up at Escape Pod.

Snippet:

Before she reaches the theater, Jen feels a familiar frisson, disorienting, dizzying. When the red lights of the marquee blink 12:45 a.m., Jen isn’t surprised. The clock thing is happening again. She left her house with enough time to meet Ash outside, buy a ticket, grab a soda. But now, it’s 12:45 a.m. One hour later than it should be.

All her life, time has disappeared like this.

Read or listen to the rest here.

“When All the Clocks Are Wrong” started out life as a 750-word flash fiction story for a contest held by the Codex Writers Group. I had the bones of the story in those few pages–brief scenes following the life of a woman who gets thrown around in time. While rewriting, I added a bunch of stuff to the middle, like several birdwatching trips (which are more exciting than they sound, I promise) and an expansion of family relationships, but the beginning and ending scenes stayed very similar to what I originally wrote in that 750-word version.

I wanted to take a look at how small changes in life can have big effects (see also: chaos theory, where it’s hard to predict how starting conditions can affect changes over time.)

When I think about my own life, it’s easy to pick out times when I made big decisions, like where to go to college, but the outcomes of those decisions were often surprising. I couldn’t have predicted who I’d meet at college, but those relationships certainly changed my life.

And even little decisions had big effects. In my freshman year, I got a late registration slot. By the time I signed up for classes, all the interesting English classes were full. I went through the catalog looking for electives, and signed up for the first classes that looked interesting, two anthropology courses. (Yes, I started at the beginning of the catalog.) I liked those classes so much that I decided to do a double major in English and anthropology.

It can be hard to know what decisions will have a big effect. That’s something I wanted to think about in “When All the Clocks Are Wrong.”

The story itself covers quite a bit in time, going through scenes in Jen’s life. I hoped the jolt of jumping ahead in the story would mirror Jen’s own disorientation when she travels through time.

New Time Travel Anthology

Flame Tree Press has put out another gorgeous anthology of short fiction. The Time Travel Anthology has stories from contemporary writers, as well as classics like H.G. Wells.

I’m thrilled that “Murder or a Duck” will be appearing next to these fabulous stories from writers all across the timeline.

Here’s a look at the inspiration behind some of the stories.

New Story--Pulling Secrets From Stones

My newest story, “Pulling Secrets From Stones,” is out in issue 3 of Mythic Magazine.

Mythic Magazine, Issue 3

Snippet:

In the lakebed by the mountains slept stones full of secrets. Waiting memories. Dissipating memories. Rachel could feel the hum of them, their longing for closeness, pressing against her as the sun pressed down.

In this story, I wanted to write about the magic of ordinary things–stones and memories, trucks and dusty land, rain and mountains. There’s longing and a trusty Toyota Stout and the memory of spontaneous berry pie.

I also wanted to write a character who’s older and wild and doesn’t conform to society’s expectations. That’s the woman in the mountains, who refused, for this story, to even accept a less mythic name.

To the Eggplant Cannon Published

Take one magician, place her in a vegetable-themed amusement park, and make her late for her gig. That’s the start of “To the Eggplant Cannon”, my newest story, now up at Metaphorsis.

Snippet:

The amusement park was so large that it had two trains named after root vegetables. Vienne got on the wrong one.

Read the rest here.

Although I’m interested in magic, I’ve never performed a trick myself–unless you count that time when I was eight and made a salt shaker disappear (by dropping it onto my lap).

While writing this story, I got the urge to learn one. Since Vienne is an expert at card magic, of course I had to pull out a deck of cards.

This, intrepid reader, is the story of how I failed to learn “The Greatest Card Trick in the World”.

For this trick, you need to know two moves: the fan and the double-lift.

The fan. Pick a card, any card.

(The fan. Pick a card, any card.)

I practiced the fan for hours, and I still can’t get it right. I go too slowly or quickly, the cards clump up, and I can never get a satisfying grip. The first time I asked someone to draw a card, the whole deck went spinning out of my hand.

I’d like to blame my tiny hands, but I imagine the real problem is my lack of practice, knowledge, dedication, and talent. But also, I have really tiny hands.

My hands are the tiny ones.

(My hands are the tiny ones.)

The next move is the double-lift. Surprisingly, I found the lift easier than the fan, although I can only manage a satisfactory lift one out of every ten times.

I am holding two cards. This is a secret!

(I am holding two cards. This is a secret!)

This trick never goes right for me. I’m still trying to get that darn fan to work, and I’m not comfortable with the double-lift, either.

It turns out, learning a magic trick is hard. Learning to do it well is even harder. To master a trick, magicians have to be incredibly dedicated. I’m in awe of what they do–not only by the effects of their tricks, but by their mastery of a craft.

In which the author learns she is not cut out to be a magician.

(In which the author learns she is not cut out to be a magician.)

But as for me, I think I’ll stick to writing.

Hugo Nomination Considerations for Short Stories

My goodness, the deadline for Hugo nominations is less than a month away. I want to get my nominating done early, because deadlines like that tend to creep up on me.

I read quite a few short stories last year. (Thank you, golden age of short fiction.) After all of that reading, I’ve narrowed it down to 10 stories I’m considering for my ballot. I don’t know how I’ll pick between them, because they’re all amazing. It was hard enough getting it down to 10.

So here’s my list. I’m putting it in alphabetical order by title. If you’re nominating, or just looking for some excellent short fiction, I encourage you to take a look at these stories.

“All Things Remembered.” John Richard Saylor, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet

“The Elixar of Not-So-Digusting Death Smell.” Carlie St. George, Mothership Zeta

“Fish Dance” Eric Schwitzgebel, Clarkesworld

“Forever Now” A.E. Decker, Fireside Fiction

“For the Children.” Jamie Wahls, Mothership Zeta

“Lazarus and the Amazing Phoenix Kid” Jennifer Giesbrecht, Apex Magazine

“My Grandmother’s Bones” S. L. Huang, Daily Science Fiction

“The Spider” Rahul Kanakia, Daily Science Fiction

“We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You?” Rebecca Ann Jordan, Strange Horizons

“You Can’t See it ‘Til it’s Finished” Joseph Allen Hill, Liminal Stories