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Helsinki!

Oh yeah, I'm at WorldCon. I guess that might be of interest.

I'm on two panels on climate change in fiction, one Thursday and one Saturday. I'm still trying to come up with insightful things to say that don't conflict with my day job (don't ask). Nonetheless, it will be fun. Or depressing. But interesting!

The panels are super-crowded, but the people are great. It's amazing how many people I know in Finland, this week at least. I made it to one panel, but was turned away from another because it was full. I think I've given up on programming that I'm not part of, which is sad.

I'm enjoying Helsinki, now that I'm slightly recovered from travel exhaustion. I did have the interesting experience of grocery shopping in a country where I know exactly one word, while jetlagged and exhausted. (My lodging has a kitchen, which is the best.) I found the smoked salmon readily, but I ended up standing in the dairy section googling Finnish names for dairy products trying to figure out which was which. I managed to buy lactose-free cheese, because I selected it solely based on appearance, but it tastes yummy so no harm.

It is unlikely to surprise _anyone_ that I went to the botanical garden before even visiting the con. Lovely!

If you are at the con, please say hi! Ping me on twitter or just say hello if you see me.

#SFWApro

Just Another Woman in Love

150 word story #9 for 2017.


“Hello, world!”
“Hello, rainstorm!”
“Hello, mud!”

I held down my skirt as the wind tweaked it, and maneuvered around the holographic ads floating nearby, even though it meant walking into a puddle sheened over with oil. I loved puddles.

I loved the ads too. I still didn’t want to walk through them, even if they were intangible, but I loved them.

“Hello, traffic!”

I stopped to let a truck pass, spraying me with mud and water. I loved being wet.

I breathed in, and out, and in again. I loved the faint medicinal smell of the air. It wasn’t always like that, but the megacorps set it up.

I walked through a bevy of ads. I loved the way they whispered in my ear as they dissolved around me.

Do you remember the days before we loved everything? Most people don’t seem to recall, but I do.

I love it.


Random wikipedia prompt

Habitat

There’s only so much we can do. Conservation funding is hard to find. There are so many other ways to spend money, ways that have quicker results, or more immediate impact. Infrastructure, education, tax cuts.

We use what we can get to create reserves, save important sites from development. We put up barriers to protect the organisms we’re trying to save, to keep them in and keep poachers out. Resource extraction is a big problem. Miners are always trying to sneak in, and plant collectors. It doesn’t matter how out of the way the reserve is, we have to keep rangers onsite.

I wish we could do more than just set aside a planet or two. That doesn’t seem to be enough to keep these humans from destroying themselves through overpopulation and pollution. I keep asking for more funds, a bigger area.

But there’s only so much we can do.


I haven’t been writing much if any fiction, as you can tell from the radio silence here. I’m trying to get back on the horse, but the nonfiction I’ve been writing seems to be coloring my outlook.

The random Wikipedia prompt didn’t help any.

Balancing

I am delighted to announce that my second appearance in Fireside, the fantasy short story “Balance Point,” is out today. Magic gone sideways, the price of knowledge, and the difficulty of being young.

Trygvi says you should go read it right now!

#SFWApro

Geordie

Back to the flash-writing project (#7 for 2017). Today’s prompt is a 19th-c coal mining song from Newcastle, Geordie Black. There are a couple of recorded versions, including this one by Ian Campbell Folk Group.


They say young men can’t imagine being old, but I can’t either imagine being young. There was never a time when my bones didn’t ache, when I slept at night, when I could hear a young lady whispering in my ear, when I had a young lady or two who wanted to whisper in my ear.

There was never a time when I went down in the mine.

This town mines, or cooks and cleans for those that do. I can’t cook, so I must have mined. This town can’t imagine anything more. I look around; all the young men have coal dust for skin. I look around; there are no old men. Young men descend, day after day. They come out old, or not at all. They leave themselves in the mine, bit by bit, swapping self for coal.

I do not recall the mine, but it remembers me.

Hit

Sirisha slid on beaded black evening gloves, concealing the tattoos that wrapped her forearms. If Devudu noticed the intricate traceries, he would never allow her close enough to kill him. The slithery scarlet fabric of her dress plunged here and swooped there, concealing as much as it bared. Sirisha twirled, ensuring her knives were among the items concealed. The blades were brightly polished, but insufficiently formal for tonight. A clutch held only her forged invitation to the gala and a lipstick that matched her gown. Everything else she might require was hidden on her body.

The gallery was packed with people enjoying the champagne and pretending to enjoy the exhibits. Devudu was the pivot around which the crowd flowed, each person hoping for a moment of his attention. Sirisha too desired a moment, a timespan as thin as a blade. She eased her way into the eddy, eager to work.


150-word flash #6 for 2017.
Random Wikipedia prompt

The Ponies

“I wanna play the ponies.”

I turned to face the little man following me around the room. “I already told you that you can’t. Whining won’t help.”

“I was on my way to the track. I’m gonna win big, you know. I always do. You’re costing me huge amounts of money.”

I looked at the threadbare knees of his suit, at his scuffed shoes. “Sure you are.”

I slid into the shuttle command seat, ignoring his grab for my arm.

“I was meeting my friends, they’ll be looking for me.”

“No, Arthur Daniel Jameson, you weren’t. You were going to the track alone, where you were going to lose all your money and have a heart attack. Now sit down and shut up.” Jameson sat, ashen. He might have had that heart attack on the spot, if I hadn’t already fixed it. Couldn’t have my pony keeling over just yet.


Back at it, with another random Wikipedia prompt.

God’s Little Acre

You get two stories today. The previous one was from yesterday; this is today’s, from another random article.

God’s Little Acre

Dandelions and crabgrass covered the carefully tended hillslope, a patch of green drawing the eye amid the landscape of rubble and scorchmarks. So far had we fallen that those weeds were the most beautiful things, and I tended carefully each yellow bloom, guarded each clock, planted each seed myself, distributing them around the fallen gravestones. I keep an eye out for sprouts in the burned area. Someday I will find other plants for my garden.

I have some medical supplies left, bandages, some antibiotics past their prime, a few syringes of morphine. I store them in the chapel, alongside my crates of canned goods. I tend anyone who sees the green and came, but mostly I bury them. I can’t carve them stones, but I plant dandelions on the graves.

She would have liked it, you know. It doesn’t snow here any more, not ever. She didn’t like the snow.

Delivery Only

I’m continuing the 150-word stories, this one from this prompt.

Delivery Only

The Mitsuko latched neatly onto my airlock. These automated delivery drones were the best. I could order anything I wanted without talking to another human, and then it arrived.

I got to the airlock fast, to keep the hexapedal delivery tractor from hauling its load beyond the cargo bay. I didn’t want even a robot poking around my habitat. I unloaded my things, signed the delivery stub, and slammed the lock behind the Mitsuko.

I eagerly rooted through the containers, each sealed with the trademarked arrow. The last batch of parts I needed! I’d been holding back a fraction of the ore I mined for years, not enough to make the bosses suspicious. I was reshaping entire asteroids, building death ray platforms. Delivery drones weren’t smart enough to notice, but a human would be suspicious. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime. They’d made it possible to take over the solar system.

Writing numbers roundup

Data! My favorite thing…

My first short story submission was in 2009.

Since then I have submitted 18 stories a total of 66 times, and sold 9 of them, 4 for SFWA professional rates. I’ve never finished more than 3 stories in a calendar year, made more than 15 submissions, or sold more than 2 stories. I sold 4 stories on their first submission, but my most popular story took 8 tries, though it has now been both podcast and translated.

In 2016, I finished 2 stories, made 7 submissions, had 2 stories sold in previous years appear in print, and sold 1 story.

My intent for 2017 is to finish 4 stories, completely revise 2 others, and to make at least 20 submissions, although I’d also like to work on a novel, and have several nonfiction projects in the works.

Here are the titles and first lines of four of those stories:

Crossing the Water: A sparrow landed on the road, deceived by its placid surface.

The Dirt of Denela: Loredana Ney’s troubles ended here, up against a red-tinged crater wall, with the dirt of Denela under her fingernails and poison coating her throat.

Spindle, Apple, Thorn: The air smelled of dust and ozone.

Learning to be Terrestrial: I clutched my full mug of coffee, the memory of warmth enough to keep my hands wrapped around a cooling cup.

#SFWApro