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Proposed changes to Hugo Awards

Quite a lot of people just directed my attention to The Sasquan business meeting agenda, which will be discussing some proposed changes to the Hugo Awards. As a short fiction writer and a novel reader, I'm an interested party, sorta, I guess, but budget limitations mean that I won't be making it to Sasquan this year. So here are some initial, not necessarily well thought out thoughts.

Which I will cut for those of you whose eyes are already glazing over.Collapse )

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A note found beneath a moonstone

The latest issue of inkscrawl, one of my favorite poetry zines, just went up, with my poem A note found beneath a moonstone. Enjoy!

A place without bookstores

This month, the local Barnes and Noble - a place that, in the winter, I could reach via my electric trike - closed down. According to the employees, this particular Barnes and Noble was doing well - better, they said proudly, than the Barnes and Noble up in Altamonte Springs (which is still open). And presumably less well than the Barnes and Noble down in the Dr. Philips area. The store had originally benefited from being only the second major bookstore in the west Orange area. Once the Borders in Ocoee closed, it was the only major bookstore in the west Orange area, benefiting from the expansion of Winter Garden and Clermont and the quiet wealth of Windermere. The other bookstores are all twenty, thirty minutes away at best from this area - a Books-A-Million up in Leesburg, which is more or less the equivalent of the moon for me, and another one in Altamonte Springs - less moon like, but four buses is a bit much - and the previously mentioned Barnes and Noble. Some customers said they would trek there anyway. Others said they would use Amazon. No one, despite hopeful hints from Barnes and Noble employees, said they would use the Barnes and Noble website.

(This is more about physical bookstores than websites, but I'll say it here anyway: Barnes and Noble, speaking as someone with a Nook who really wants you to succeed, your website is very difficult to search/browse through, both online and through the Nook, and Amazon's recommended feature leaves yours far behind. Kobo is sending me better, more targeted emails and I don't even visit their site. I'd work on this.)

Apparently, the company behind Forever 21 agreed to pay three times the rent that Barnes and Noble is paying. The outdoor mall management loved this idea. Barnes and Noble balked at a rent increase, and here we are.

I'm not sure what, if any, effect this will have on that particular mall, which is an outdoor mall in one section and a line of huge, big block stores like Lowe's and Target in another section. Bitter Barnes and Noble employees claimed that the idea was to bring in more teenagers with the Forever 21. The place does seem rather short of teenagers, but then again, I'm usually there on weekday mornings in winter, not a peak teenager shopping time, so it's entirely possible that in the afternoons, teenagers pop up everywhere, eager to spend. Or not. What seems to be more of a concern, specifically to the employees of the Bath and Body Works, was that Barnes and Noble tended to draw a relatively upscale crowd that was happy to wander over to Bath and Body Works and spend money there. Also, this now means that the Bath and Body Works people either have to cross a large, and, in the summer, painfully hot parking lot, or a six lane street in order to reach Starbucks, which means, they guess, they're stuck with Panera which isn't as good for coffee.

Which brings up another slight issue: that area did have three - count them, three - Starbucks in a very limited location: the one at Barnes and Noble, the one at Target, and the actual Starbucks just across the road. I wondered how sustainable that was.

Then again, this complex is located directly north of a very well to do area, and south of a patchily well to do area - some streets are very well to do indeed, and then there's my street, which isn't, but can afford the occasional stop at Starbucks, and east of a solid, rapidly growing middle class suburb. Who knows.

Anyway, everyone agreed that the Barnes and Noble was an anchor store that brought in customers, and was a place for people to meet, and study, and talk books, and this sucks, and the hospital going up across the street is not a substitute for any of this.

For me, this is personally painful for another reason: with the exception of my first months here, before I got my electric trike of awesomeness, it's the first time since I was 11 or so that I have not been able to get to a bookstore on my own. Granted, reaching one in a Connecticut winter was nearly impossible on a bicycle, but the bookstore was there, and I knew it was there, providing a certain comfort. Afterwards, I could always reach one. Two decent ones easily available my first year of college; three my last three years. Several in South Florida; several in Tokyo (overpriced English language bookstores, but definitely there. You can buy anything in Tokyo if you have the money.) The all too short lived Here Be Dragons bookstore, and this Barnes and Noble.

And now, without a ride, nothing but online bookstores. Which, for all of my severe addiction to the Orange County Library's ebook selection, just isn't the same. You can't feel a book on a website. I don't get the same sense of reassurance. Of home. Of books.

I'm going to be resenting this new Forever 21 for awhile.

The Dollmaker's Rage

My latest little story, "The Dollmaker's Rage," up on Daily Science Fiction this morning.

Inhabiting Your Skin

My latest short story, Inhabiting Your Skin, just popped up over at Apex Magazine, along with an interview with me.

In the interview, Andrea Johnston asks questions about why so many of my stories - including this one - don't have character names. Usually it's because I can't think of names, to the point where I deliberately wrote an entire story around that. In the case of this particular story, however, I knew from the first sentence that nobody would have a name - you'll see why as you read it, I think.

The actual problem I had with this story was with the title. I went through 30 different titles for this story, all worse than the last. "Inhabiting Your Skin" wasn't, as it happened, the final title - by mistake, I sent Apex the story with an earlier version of the title. By the time they responded, I'd realized that the final title was even worse, and told myself I would just try to think of a new title before the story was published.

Which didn't happen. Oh well. I can only say now that in my opinion - for what that's worth - the story is a bit better than the title. Enjoy!

SFWA Cookbook now available for preorder!

The The SFWA Cookbook is now available for preorder. I am, to be honest, slightly embarrassed about my own contribution to this, but then again, this has resulted in probably your one and only chance to see me in a Table of Contents with Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. I know.

Beyond that highly unlikely combination, the book also contains recipes from Octavia Butler, Barbra Hambly, Jane Yolen, Carole Nelson Douglas, Charlene Harris, Jim Hines, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick, Spider Robinson, Nancy Springer, Connie Willis - that is, it's quite a list. It sounds like a lot of fun.

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A genuine puzzle:

For Christmas, my brother gave my mother a jigsaw puzzle comprised of old family photos. She loved it, but had just one tiny, tiny problem putting it together: the puzzle was missing one piece. Finally, she took it back apart without finding said piece, and passed the puzzle over to me.

I, in turn, had just one tiny, tiny problem putting it together: the puzzle now has one extra piece.

This is more puzzling than the jigsaw puzzle itself.

Hugo nominations, updates, continued

The Hugo ballot has changed again, with a press release for this that includes the hopeful phrase: "The ballot is now going to the printer and there will be no further revisions."

I feel we all should, as a group, respond to this in two ways:

1. Buy the poor SASQUAN committee, who did not ask for any of this, a round of drinks.

2. Watch this again:



Edit: SF Signal has the final list of nominees here.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Dragon

We're smack dab in the middle of National Poetry Month, which has led to not one, but two poems from me:

First, over at Tor.com, as part of the celebration of National Poetry Month, and as proof that I may be just a touch obsessed with dragons, my poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Dragon.

And second, buried down in the website, my little poem, The Binding, in Eye to the Telescope.

The Disney Readwatch

And on a MUCH happier note, I'm very pleased that after a few delays on my part, The Disney Readwatch has started up over on Tor.com, with Snow White.

I look forward to destroying more childhoods.

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So, the Hugo nominations

I've debated whether to blog about this weekend's Hugo nominations. Given the amount of ink that's been spilled already, adding more, especially at this stage, may be unwise. But as a Hugo nominator/voter, I am tangentially involved in this. So, here we go.

Cut to spare those of you with no interest in the Hugos and science fiction inside baseball, or who cannot take any more of this. I understand.Collapse )

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Of limericks and clowns

Ignore the date. Mostly. The following announcements are real. Mostly:

1. Stone Telling has launched its joke issue, which includes three limericks by me. (And yes, one of those includes dinoflagellates because, well, dinoflagellates.) If the thought of limericks makes you cringe, good news: the issue also includes a considerably better villanelle by David Sklar which is definitely worth a look.

2. But if the thought of limericks doesn't make you cringe, read on. Well, read on anyway: Unlikely Story is launching Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix. If the project funds, it will contain a book with a little flash story by me about, natch, a clown. (Actually it's only somewhat about the clown. That is, it has a clown, but it's mostly about other things.)

Among the backer awards: limericks, by me, printed on little clown postcards. If that horrifies you, and I can't say I blame you, Unlikely Story is offering other, better awards, including microfictions, clown art, and short story critiques. Or you can just grab the ebook.

Samples of the sort of story you'll find in the final book appear here.

There could - there COULD - be limericks.

Dr. Lemberg hated rhyme -
Or so she told us very time,
"Writing rhyme is such a crime --
it covers all poets with icky grime --"
And so we believed her little mime.
Until one morning, in her prime
she dazzled us with rhymes sublime
and we decided, with one ringing chime --
Swamp Stone Telling with awful rhyme!

....I'm pleased to say that it appears we have, in fact, accomplished this. Stay tuned.

Quick ICFA roundup:

Ah, ICFA. The conference centered around a pool. And tropical drinks. These are good things.

Tidbits:

1. For the all of two of you following this saga, the queen bee has successfully been moved from the owl house to the new beehive, and two jars of honey -- labeled Blak Kat - have been harvested. (Technically none of that happened at ICFA, but it did happen during ICFA and was mentioned during ICFA, so it kinda counts.)

2. I read a poem in front of Patricia McKillip again and didn't feel the need to throw up this time! ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

3. Speaking of that reading, have you ever noticed that a Samsung Galaxy will happily enlarge every font on every webpage ever for you, often when you don't want it to, except the one time when you really need it to, at which point you will be forced to do some fancy eyeglasses adjustment and do a poetry reading with a Samsung Galaxy for all intents and purposes covering your mouth (seriously, it was maybe three, four inches from my face). On the bright side, this will serve to distract you from your audience.

For the curious, you can find the other chain poems here. I do not recommend attempting to work with the decalet form used in the earliest two examples, which is why I worked with a different form in "Snowmelt," "Feather," and "Demands."

4. Fortunately, I was able to increase the font size during the spontaneous pub sing around the hot tub - fortunately because I was the only one not in the hot tub and therefore the only one who could safely check the lyrics for "Wild Mountain Thyme." On a related note, if you don't want to become the designated lyric checker, get into the hot tub.

5. It was somewhat disconcerting to run into people and realize hey, the last time I saw you was in London. Or Ireland. Or DC. It reminded me of how much in many ways Loncon was a big group trip.

6. This isn't exactly ICFA related, but I got into two very interesting discussions about the Hugo Awards, the gist of which boiled down to "too many categories." I think this was the natural result of meeting with some people who were also Hugo voters just a short time after filling out that long ballot, but I was surprised by the consensus. (And convinced that this isn't going to change - almost none of the people involved in the discussions wanted to attend the Worldcon business meeting where that sort of thing can be changed. I'm not even heading to Worldcon this year. But I'm throwing the thought out there.)

7. ICFA also included several really marvelous meals with really marvelous people. And yes, conversations that just happened to bring up clowns, kink, and cousins in the same sentence. Something that I'm sure also happens to other people.

8. Much thanks to the various people that helped me get around the conference in general and on Thursday and Friday when I got too sick to make it back to my hotel room on my own. You guys were great.

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The Fox Bride

While I was off at ICFA, The Fox Bride, popped up at Daily Science Fiction.

If Twitter is any guide (though it probably isn't) this is hands down the most popular thing I've published in years.

ICFA

ICFA, which for most attendees is an academic conference discussing profound issues of fantasy, science fiction, art, and creativity, and for me, is drinking stuff by the pool, starts up today. Technically, for me, it started up, rather unexpectedly, yesterday, when I had the chance to meet up with a few writers for dinner. But the real start is today.

As always, my conference participation will mostly consist of hanging out by the pool, but I do have a short reading Saturday morning. See you there, if you're around!

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Understand

My poem, Understand, just popped up at Polu Texni.

Enjoy!

Flapperhouse Year One

It's legitimately cold today, so, to focus on warmer stuff, good news: Flapperhouse Year One, which contains a little flash story from me and works by many other massively talented people like Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam and Natalia Theodoridou, is in print. You can obtain a copy at:

Createspace

or

Amazon.com

Stay warm, everyone. For those Australians reading this currently facing down a hurricane, stay dry.

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Mari Ness

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