FOGcon

I went to FOGcon for the first time this year. What a lovely local convention with lots of interesting panels on writing, science, and speculative literature. (Great environment for thinking up new story ideas.) In addition, I did my first (non-school) in-person writing workshop. If I have time, I’ll post some of my notes about panels.

Windows Published at Escape Pod

“Windows” is up at Escape Pod for Artemis Rising II.

After just three years, most of Gurt’s downtown was nearly unrecognizable. Roldan Street boasted a new tea shop, and the roads had been repaved with greenish eco-tar. Even the old sign at Marta’s Bakery, which had been shaped like a pink cupcake, was replaced with sleek blue lettering.

Score another one for the prophetic soup.

The episode is wonderfully narrated by Andrea Richardson–her reading makes the story come alive. I enjoyed the comments of guest host Kate Baker, who discusses the need for Artemis Rising, and has some nifty things to say about my story, too.

Where did the idea for this story come from? I started writing without an outline, and all sorts of things found their way in–anthropology, archives, holograms. But mostly, I wanted to write about prophetic soup.

The Wish Giver Published at Zetetic

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

There were other rules, which the elderly recited like a mantra during winter nights when the children had gone to bed, but the most important one was this: you could only have one wish.

There are many stories about wishes. (In fact, I wrote “The Wish Giver” shortly after reading one.) It’s a classic theme of myth and fantasy. What would you do if you could have any wish, anything in the world? But I thought, “What would happen if someone refused a wish? What would the consequences be?” In the middle of the night, I snuck out of bed, sat in the stairway, and jotted down the outline for what would eventually become “The Wish Giver.” Hope you enjoy it.

Ursula Le Guin Answers Writing Questions

On her website and at Book View Cafe, Ursula K. Le Guin has been answering questions about writing. One of the greatest authors of our time is willing to answer our questions–this is an amazing gift.

Her latest entry has selected comments about online critique groups, including one from yours truly. I can say without hesitation that Le Guin is my favorite author, and has been for a long time, so having her respond to something I wrote (even just a brief comment) leaves me speechless.

Le Guin is generously offering to answer more questions. You’ll find the form at the bottom of her latest entry (linked above). I have questions about everything–plot, structure, characterization, foreshadowing, etc. Basically, all possible aspects of writing. It will be difficult to narrow down the list to one specific question. Hope I can get it in before the queue fills up.

Reading Octavia Butler Stories

In preparation for FOGCon, I picked up a copy of Bloodchild and Other Stories. (And by “picked up,” I mean “downloaded to my Kindle.”) Although I haven’t read any of her novels, Butler is one of the many sci-fi greats on my ever-growing list of authors to read, so I was thrilled to find this collection.

Butler’s prose is concise and exact. No wasted words. The sparseness and clarity of her writing highlights the complexity of her ideas. Every story deals with difficult, interesting issues–from disease to communication to religion. Two of my favorites in this collection–“Bloodchild” and “Amnesty”–take a look at human and alien relations. I was struck by the interplay of darkness and hope woven throughout her writing.

Also of interest are two essays. In “Furor Scribendi,” Butler gives advice to the new writer, which boils down to the standard (but useful) read, write, and submit. She says, “Let nothing substandard slip through. If you notice something that needs fixing, fix it, no excuses.” She argues that habit is better than inspiration and talent. (I agree.) The end of the essay is one word: Persist.

“Positive Obsession” describes her life as a writer, including moments from her childhood and her first sale, an openly told account of her experiences. Not only did Butler persist, she got up at two or three in the morning to write. That level of dedication leaves me in awe.

In the future, I hope to read some of Butler’s novels. Her stories left me thinking (even days later, I’m still turning them over, viewing them from different angles.)