Murder or a Duck Published

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


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!

Eating the Sun Published in Mothership Zeta

It’s up! You can find my story about an alien-godling and sentient sun in Issue Four of Mothership Zeta. Space poetry, an epic journey, and an ending that I hope will make you smile.

This story started with a prompt about the weather.

Every year, my writing group holds a flash fiction contest. It’s a super fun way to get motivated, with quick feedback from all of the participants. The catch? You only have one weekend to write the story, from initial brainstorming to completed draft.

“Eating the Sun” was the first story I wrote for one of these contests. When I saw the prompt about weather, I thought, “Well, the sun affects the weather.” I figured I couldn’t write about the sun unless it had a speaking role. The story unfolded from there.

I often don’t understand the heart of a story until after I’ve written it. After taking in the insightful feedback from my writing group, I let this one sit for a few weeks. In revision, I didn’t change much, but I did shift more focus onto the fourth planet–that hope of life, which I think is at the center of the story.

When I got the acceptance from Mothership Zeta, I was sitting on the floor at library storytime with my family. There was much huzzahing!

I’m super happy to see the story out in the world.

Two Upcoming Stories

After looking in my inbox last week, there was much joyous shouting. And lo! Two acceptances.

“Eating the Sun,” a flash fiction story, will be in Issue 4 of Mothership Zeta. A hungry godling needs energy. Good thing there’s a sun close by.

“Murder or a Duck” will be published in Escape Pod. Time travel, tea time, and the possibility of murder (or a duck).

Running, Writing, and Perseverance

As a kid, I never liked running, but in high school, I somehow found myself on the cross country team. My best friend had joined, and I wanted to keep in shape for wrestling, so I figured, “Why not?”

I was not just bad at cross country, I was terrible. Epicly terrible. I came in last place almost every race. Once, the coaches had to start another race before I’d finished the course. That’s right, I held up hundreds of athletes because I was the slowest runner ever. Picture a geriatric tortoise.

But I stuck with it. I did cross country for three years, and I finished every race.

Writing is a lot like cross country, at least for me. I plod along. I finish things. When it turns out that I’m not last, I celebrate. I’ve experienced runner’s high (once) and writing has something like it–that feeling of totally flowing, as if I’m saying exactly what I want to say.

Back in my cross country days, I was jogging along when someone on the sidelines pointed and laughed. (Literally.) I can’t blame them. Here I was, slogging through a race, and it’s entirely possibly this person was walking faster than me. Seriously, I was that slow. But I thought to myself, “At least I’m running.”

When things don’t go my way, when my stories get rejected, or it seems like I’ll never write anything very good, I think the same thing. I tell myself, “At least I’m writing,” because even last place is better than not being in the race at all.

I feel like I should say something here about perseverance. That’s common writing advice. “Just persevere.” It’s not so useful on its own. I mean, it’s kind of obvious. If you want to get good at a thing, you have to work hard at that thing.

But it’s easy to underestimate the power plodding along, of working at something continuously, frequently, and with the intent to get better. I think what perserverance really means is that if you keep plodding along, eventually you’ll get somewhere, even if it’s not quite where you expected to end up.

Achievement Unlocked: First Review

Over at Short Science Fiction Review, Jon Cronshaw posted a nifty review of “Windows.”