Friday, March 27, 2009

Magical Feasts

Fantasy Magazine's blog-for-a-beer this Friday was instead a blog-for-an-amuse-bouche. But the point is that it got people thinking about food and feasts in general, and magical feasts in particular. My thoughts were drawn back to the idea of the faery feast, of which mortals supposedly must not partake for fear of not being able to leave Faeryland. What might the Top Chef of the faery realms come up with that would hold that much of a lure? I mean, sure, almost any food can seem like ambrosia when you're famished, but what would really lure a person beyond any idea of mortal food?

Not many nights past, I was watching a show about various anomalies in the human condition, from a man who can tolerate extreme cold to one who was born without eyes but can paint pictures accurate in every way, from color to perspective. The story that stayed with me the most was of a woman with synesthesia, who not only sees color when she hears sounds, but also tastes the sound as well. Her senses are fused so that they work together, allowing her a sensory range far beyond that of the usual human experience. So when faced with the idea of food, magic, and food magic, I wondered what it might be like if the synesthesia operated in reverse.

What if the taste of some magical amuse-bouche opened and fused human senses so that when you took a bite, you heard the most exquisite music or saw colors you didn't know existed? What if the effect of all your senses burst upon you all at once, and the ripe taste of a strawberry, for example, set off a symphony in your head and dazzled you with visual fireworks? Imagine you're at a goblin market. What would you pay for one bite of a delicacy that would do all those things? If Turkish Delight or faery food were like that, I can well imagine why a person would go back for more and pine away without it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Not much news--yet

No word yet from the third magazine I sent the short story to, but the guidelines say I'm not to expect any word until nearly three months from now, so that's no big deal. It's probably still sitting in the slush pile at this point.

The Brenna book continues in the marketing-to-publishers stage, and in a surprising twist, my first Oantra book is going out again as well. So we'll have to wait and see. That's the way it is with the publishing industry--lots of waiting. The best thing a writer can do is keep working on new stuff in the meantime. I need to finish the second Brenna book, since I'm about a third of the way through it. And I need to revise the third Oantra book, since Aspects of Illusion is going on submission this week. It's good enough news for the moment.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Realms of Fantasy is not closing! I cannot describe how much hope that gives me. And saved by a company called Tir Na Nog Press...what could be better? Joyous noise and smiles all around.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Importance of Light

Having researched short fiction markets extensively over the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about what my personal standards are going to be. I notice--and the online magazine Andromeda Spaceways comments on this as well--that there are an awful lot of speculative fiction magazines around today that seem to be dedicated to the dark and disturbing. I understand, to a point. I mean, what kid hasn't sat around a campfire and heard or told ghost stories? To an extent, we humans seem to love to be scared. To an extent. But as I contemplated whether to try to write something dark and disturbing just to break into print, I realized something about myself. I don't want to settle. I don't want to write something that doesn't come naturally to me or that I don't care about just to get credentials. If I can't honestly say that I'd be proud to have a particular story or topic appear as my debut story, then I won't even write it, much less submit it.

Today I tried out several ideas for dark, disturbing tales that I could write just for the markets that seem to want that sort of thing, and ended up dissatisfied with all of them. Okay, let's call a spade a spade; I hated them. The problem is, I find I don't prefer to write such dark and twisted things--not without some sort of redemption at the end. I am willing to explore the dark parts of the human psyche in my fiction, and I'm not afraid to write about the things that go bump in the night, but I want some light with my darkness. If a piece I've read disturbs me but leaves me with a map for how to get home, if it leaves me feeling that there's hope, whether bittersweet or not, then I'll probably like the story just fine. But if it takes me into the dark and leaves me there, I probably won't be back for more of that author's fiction. Likewise, I'm starting to realize that no matter how dark a corner I might lead a reader into with my writing, I probably won't rest until I've led the reader out again. If that means I can't get published in any of the magazines that want primarily dark fantasy, then so be it. Walt Disney used the rule, "Always leave 'em laughing." Well, I'm not that much of a comedian, but I at least want to leave them with a hint of a smirk.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Well, I now know what pending means. That's when the slush reader did not reject your story outright and has passed it on to the editor for consideration.It's actually kind of fascinating to watch a submissions tracker, particularly if you make it out of the slush pile and into the "under review" category. I'm going to take that to mean that the short story came very close to a sale this time before being declined. That's two markets down, so far. Onward....

Saturday, March 07, 2009


What does pending mean when applied to the status of a short story? I'm not sure whether it means the story is soon to be read, or has been read and now is waiting for a final verdict. I guess I'll find out soon. On the submissions tracker for the magazine it's currently at, the story used to be classified as "unread slush." Now it's "pending." What does that mean? I spent way too much time trying to search online to find out, but to no avail. Argh.

About the short story...a has to do with the Sidhe. No surprise there, right? So does the Brenna book. But as short stories go, this one is really something special. I can honestly say that it is the story I'll always be proud to have written--or whatever it was that I did with it. It wasn't so much that I wrote it as that it wrote itself through me (or something like that). What I can say for sure is that I lost over 4 hours of time, and wasn't even aware of it passing until just before the climax of the story. I suffered very little discomfort in my hands and wrists after all that concentrated typing. It's probably a good thing I have an ergo keyboard. I can't remember how long the last part took, either. None of that matters. What matters is that it was written. I'd love to be able to share it with people. So now I just need to get beyond "pending."