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

2016 in Review

Here’s a list of my stories published in 2016:

Murder or a Duck (4,000 words, Escape Pod)

This is my favorite thing I had published this year. Steampunk and time travel, afternoon tea and proper ladies (who turn out to be not so proper after all), and a great deal of silliness.

Eating the Sun (700 words, Mothership Zeta)

Space poetry, an epic journey, an alien-godling and sentient sun.

Windows (4,000 words, Escape Pod)

Anthropology, archives, holograms, prophetic soup.

The Forgetting Place (700 words, Zetetic)

Memory and the relationship between the past and the present.

The Wish Giver (1,500 words, Zetetic)

A look at what would happen if someone refused to have a wish granted.

This is my first year of eligibility for the Campbell Award.

The Forgetting Place Published

My story “The Forgetting Place” is up at Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry.

Snippet:

In the Forgetting Place, a person forgets two things—a memory of happiness, a memory of sorrow. Sometimes it is the same memory.

You can read the rest here.

This short, almost dream-like story was written in one burst and then revised several times. The idea came quite suddenly, and I can’t say exactly why. As an archivist, I think a lot about how memory affects our lives–both our personal memories and collective memory. If what happens before shapes what happens after, then how would a person be affected if she decided to give up the memory of a formative event? How would her understanding of the value of memories change over time?

Mostly, I didn’t think about these questions as I was writing that first draft, although I thought about them after. Instead, I had this image of a woman traveling back the way she had once gone–to the Forgetting Place.

Murder or a Duck Published

Time travel. Afternoon tea. Scandal. My new story, “Murder or a Duck,” is up at Escape Pod.

Snippet:

The convergence point, for once, was clear. To discover Mrs. Lane’s intentions, she only needed to determine if the park on Stanton Street still existed. If the park was there, murder. If not, the duck.

Read or listen to the rest here.

Many thanks to Amy H. Sturgis for her wonderful narration and Alasdair Stuart for the thoughtful comments at the end of the podcast.

I thought up this story because I’d forgotten to bring a book along while visiting some relatives. While everyone else was engaged, I started building what would become “Murder or a Duck.” I didn’t think I was going to write it, but then bits of the plot kept slotting into place, until it was churning along like a many-geared machine.

As for the duck…

I’m always surprised by the things from my past that find their way into my writing. For “Murder or a Duck,” I suspect some of the inspiration came from a game I used to play with my friends. It goes something like this:

“Would you like to buy a duck?” says Player One.

“A what?” says Player Two

“A duck.”

“Does it quack?”

“Of course it quacks.”

The game continues when the second player asks the next person in line if she’d like to buy a duck.

The best part about this game is that, as more players are added, the response goes down the line. Soon, the game sounds like this:

“Would you like to buy a duck?”

“A what?”

“A what?”

“A what?”

“A duck.”

“A duck.”

“A duck.”

I have many fond memories of playing “Would You Like to Buy a Duck.” Hours of amusement! This probably says a lot about me and my life choices. Hope you enjoy the story!