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xmas me
I haven't talked much about The Flash here - partly because I haven't talked much about anything here, but mostly because there's just not that much to talk about: it's a fluffy popcorn show. Fun, but for the most part forgettable. But last night's episode, while one of the weakest so far, did something fairly interesting.

Cut for major spoilers for the show and last night's episode, and a spoiler for the first episode of this season's Arrow.Collapse )


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Mostly to prove that I am capable of blogging about something besides recent publications, let's chat about the first season of that gloriously, unrepentantly terrible show Reign, which I just finished watching.

Oh, internet. You warned me, but you didn't prepare me.

For those who have missed the show so far (and I'm not blaming you), here's what you need to know:

1. One of the characters wanders around wearing a burlap sack on her head. Sometimes she hums things.

2. Anne of Green Gables – that is, Megan Follows – is in it, playing a character named Catherine d'Medici, who has to put up with a character called Mary Queen of Scots. And someone called Francis who has a lot of sex. Any resemblance to the actual historical personages with similar names is purely coincidental.

3. Also there is a character called, and I am not making this up, Lola.

4. Most of the acting, except for Megan Follows, who is surprisingly good (surprising mostly because finding anything good on this show is surprising) runs from serviceable to terrible, with Terrance Coombs, playing the completely made up for this show king's bastard son Bash who almost becomes king without anyone thinking "King Bash? Is that really the branding we should be going for?", mostly managing to avoid the "You want me to say this line? Really?" look but often failing and Celina Sinden, who plays the mostly made up for this show Greer, perfecting the "Look, we all have to earn a paycheck" look in most of her scenes, which I appreciate.

5. As far as I can tell, conversations in the writers' room go somewhat like this:

"Ok, in this episode, at least two people need to hook up. No need for a reason, just have them hook up. Also, someone has to be poisoned."

"We did that last week."

"Maybe trying burning someone this time? And then, back to the poison!"

"Got it!"

6. Speaking of which, in the first episode five girls – Mary and her four handmaidens – say very serious and nice things about the importance of keeping their virtue and finding husbands. By episode 10 four of them have had sexy times without the benefit of marriage, generally with more than one person.

The fifth one is dead.

I'm not making that up.

7. Naturally in episode 16 a marriage happens between two of the characters for no particular reason except "Hey, you are getting married" and by episode 17 they are friends and by episode 18 not so much and by episode 20 all happy again except that one of them IS FIGHTING THE DARKNESS which may complicate things.

8. For a show that takes the CW's love for love triangles to new extremes (every episode features at least two, more usually four) it manages to get through an entire season with only one threesome. I am impressed. Not in a good way, but I am impressed.

Two of the people in that threesome end up dead. The other one gets all involved with The Darkness.

I'm also not making that up.

9. As you might be gathering this show likes killing people off.

10. This is the sorta show that when it needs a forger, suddenly for no apparent reason a character with no reason to know how to forge anything, hi, Greer, is an expert forger. I appreciate this.

11. Also, this is the sort of show that happily divides everyone into three religions: Catholic, Protestant, and Pagan. This is how you can tell the difference:

Catholics live in castles and are Catholics and can easily be deceived by actors pretending to be priests who are very very against any type of BDSM play that might involve or refer to crosses. Some Catholics love Mary and want her to take over England. Some Catholics hate Mary and don't seem to be aware that England exists. Some Catholics speak in what the show would like you to think is an Italian accent, to show that they are from "Rome."

Protestants live in castles, are all YAY ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND (who so far hasn't shown up in this show, but I'm expecting it at any point, and before anyone points out that the historical Elizabeth and Mary never met, let me just note that this is not the sort of show that cares about that sort of thing at all) and hate Mary and want her dead.

Pagans do not live in castles. They have Evil Whistles (really); sometimes fall into frozen lakes (also really); believe in the Darkness (also really) and hunting things and hanging people up by their feet. Sometimes they say "gods" which is a total giveaway and they are into foot tattoos.

I hope I have now given you all a deeper appreciation of European religious conflicts in the 16th century.

12. Once this show mentioned Turks. We didn't see their feet (or them; just their wedding gifts) but they love Mary so I assume they are Catholic. At least in this show.

13. The Darkness I've been mentioning? Is very very helpful for a Darkness! It provides things for the side cast to do when the main cast is debating whether or not they should poison someone or attack England. Also, the Darkness helpfully predicts meteor showers and plagues. This is the sort of information I need from my Darkness.

14. Characters on this show are not nearly as excited about heading off to Trinidad for the duration of the show as they really, really should be. (I don't know why Trinidad, but that's where they went.)

2015 Convention Appearances

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Quick list of where I'm so far scheduled to appear in 2015:

International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, Orlando, FL, March 18-March 22, 2015. As always, I will mostly be hanging out by the pool, although since I'm an invited author this year there's a small chance I might actually end up Doing Something. Stay tuned.

Megacon, April 11, 2015. Let's be frank: I'm just here for the Legos and the Star Wars robots, and, depending upon crowds, the chance to see if David Ramsey's arms are really as big in person as they seem to be on TV.

OASIS, May 1- May 3, 2015. The schedule for this isn't up yet, but I should be there for a couple of days, along with Usman Malik.

World Fantasy Con, November 5-8, 2015. I'll be at the bar.

There's also a chance I will be appearing at Dragon Con, but we'll see how things go.

The Knot

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My flash story, The Knot, just went live at Pantheon Magazine.

A few quick points about this one: one, even though it's in a speculative zine, this is actually the first non-speculative story I've published in 15 years. Which is saying something. It actually felt a bit strange. Though, to be fair, it's not entirely non-speculative either - it's somewhat inspired by the myths of Persephone and Orpheus. Somewhat. Which I guess just goes to show that I can never quite rid myself of myth and fairy tale, not entirely, even when my words are wandering in the real world.

Second, this is one of many Persephone inspired stories in the issue - I'm delighted to be sharing a TOC with Megan Arkenberg again, and, for what I think is the first time, with Valya Dudycz Lupescu. Enjoy the issue!

After the Dance

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The second issue of Uncanny Magazine just launched, featuring fiction from Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu), Sam J. Miller, Amal El-Mohtar, Richard Bowe, and Sunny Moraine, poems from Isabel Yap and Rose Lemberg, and a poem by me, After the Dance.


Publication round-up, 2014

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I originally planned to post this yesterday, as a nice Year End summary, and then Animal Kingdom happened, as such things do. Probably just as well, given that as it turned out, I ended up publishing something in the last 15 minutes of 2014.

Anyway, here it is, the annual list of everything I published last year:

Short Fiction

1. Ink, in Unlikely Story, which earned a Recommended from Locus.

2. Coffin, in Daily Science Fiction, very loosely based on a fairy tale and some memories of a certain village in the Alps.

3. Memories and Wire in Upgraded, edited by Neil Clarke.

4. Death and Death Again, in Nightmare, my one outright horror story of the year.

5. Offgrid, in Three-Lobed Burning Eye.

Flash Fiction:

1. Toads, Daily Science Fiction.

2. Undone, Apex Magazine.

3. Beans and Lies, Daily Science Fiction.

4. Survival, Goldfish Grimm.

5. The Store, Flapperhouse.


1. The Restoration of Youth, Strange Horizons.

2. Bone Song, inkscrawl.

3. The Silver Comb, Mythic Delirium.

4. Myrrha, Through the Gate.

5. Feather, Goblin Fruit.

6. And right under the wire for 2014, Demands, Goblin Fruit.

Fewer short stories than in 2013, but a few more flash pieces and poems. And now to see what 2015 brings.


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Just as 2014 was about to explode into 2015, the poetry goblins over at Goblin Fruit released one last treat for the old year: their new issue, which includes my poem, Demands, and new poems from Rose Lemberg, Sonja Taaffe, Ada Hoffman and Neile Graham, among others.

"Demands" came about because of a previous poem, Snowmelt (also reprinted at here) which somehow seemed to need more. By more, my muse apparently meant "two more chain poems," this one, and Feather. They don't need to be read in any particular order.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Christmas gifts: the PetPetter

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Understand this, before you read any further: my brother often says very very mean things about the two cats who have been gracious enough to agree to live with us, mere humans. One has even condescended to climb into my lap right now and curl up, watching me type, just to offer his comfort and love. (I myself am certain this has nothing to do with me wearing velvet or the plunging temperatures.) That same cat happily follows my brother around squeaking and squeaking not, as suspicious minds might think, because my brother might be a source of chicken or tuna, but to make sure my brother never has to feel lonely in the kitchen. And yet, my brother has accused them of doing nothing but sleep around and has even - I shudder to tell you this, but it is the absolute truth, and I have witnesses - said they are lazy and useless. Just because the Grey One was demonstrating how efficiently she naps to make sure that she has the energy to position herself into the right napping position later. I call this very clever. And sometimes he has - I shudder to tell you this as well - refused to go over to a cat and scratch the cat or cuddle the cat even when the cat is in CLEAR AND OBVIOUS NEED of such affection. And each Christmas I get a wrapped can of tuna fish that's labelled, in his writing, "from the cats" and various gag gifts for the cats.

So it was with this knowledge that I ripped off the Peanuts Christmas wrapping paper today to see a gift called the PetPetter, a machine that pets your pets so that you, and I quote the box, can "Never touch your pets again!" It is, the box assured me, designed with both pets and human immune systems in mind.


fbhjr had another objection: "Rechargable for hotel use?" (That was also on the box.) "Why exactly would you be taking your pets to a hotel if you don't want to pet them?"

My brother fell over laughing.

It's his sense of humor, and he'd already given me a real gift - a coffee grinder. So, although I couldn't exactly say "Thank you" because it was mean, I did keep reading the box. "DO YOU SEE WHAT THIS GUY SAYS? 'All pets have one thing in common: they are dirty disease-carrying friends.'"

"Absolute truth."


"Yes, cats are filthy," said my father, unhelpfully.

"It'll be useful when you're gone for three weeks," someone said.

"That's true," I said, glaring. "Because SOMEONE DOESN'T HUG THE CATS WHEN I'M GONE. WAIT! WHAT IS THIS? 'SHOW YOUR LOVE FROM A DISTANCE WITH THESE OTHER GREAT PET PRODUCTS?' You don't deserve to live with cats!"

The Christmas peace was almost ruined. To restore the calm, my brother then handed my mother a gift in that Peanuts Christmas wrapping paper - a video game that keeps track of the household chores you do. Similar, I thought, to a game that tithenai and others have been chatting about over on Twitter - some sort of quest game that unlocks things the more you walk or something like that. Because she is nice my mother said "Thank you," and put the box aside saying she would open it later. I followed her example, thinking kindly thoughts of Goodwill figuring someone might want to give someone else a gag gift like this until my brother handed me another box.

This one was worse: a Petsweep, or an "Animal-Powered Debris Removal System": little pads that can be put on the feet of cats so they can sweep the floors as they walk. "THIS IS EVEN WORSE. WHO IS THIS GUY?"

"This will make the cats useful," my brother said cheerfully, handing a very large gift over to my father. Which turned out to contain a box, which turned out to contain another wrapped present, which turned out to contain a box, which turned out boxes later, contain a silver Roman coin featuring the head of Julius Caesar, c. 46 BC, in a very tightly sealed container. The entire thing was so small malterre was terrified of losing it, though we all passed it around carefully enough.

And then a real gift from my brother for the cats: a little cat bed. (The Little One is now 15, and slowing down, and we have wood laminate floors, so this is good. I'm also going to get a step for the bed in a few more months; he can still jump up, but I can see him looking for alternative routes to the couch, and my bed is pretty high.) So all was mostly forgiven.

My original plan was to follow this with Settlers of Catan, but I'd been getting increasingly dizzy, and food right after this made things worse, so I went back to my room and crashed for a few hours while the rest of them hung out and chatted. That is, my parents and fbhjr and malterre chatted; my brother went back to his usual quiet mode. And then I joined them for another hour before the four of them took off, leaving me with my brother.

"You know," he said. "You can't always trust the box."

In our family, unless the gifts come from my father, who has the store wrap them, this is true, since my mother has a notorious habit of reusing all of the boxes used for last year's Christmas gifts whether or not the box has anything to do with what's inside. My brother has occasionally followed her example - using the box that the squirrel baffle came in to wrap my birthday present just yesterday, for example.

The room was still spinning a bit. "What?"

"I think you should probably open the box." He paused. "Mom probably should too."

I'd already put the PetSweep back in my room. I looked at the PetPetter suspiciously. I opened the box.

As most alert readers have undoubtedly already guessed, it contained, not a PetPetter, but a note on the box flap visible only once the box is open: "Don't get too excited, your real gift is inside." True: a solar charger for mobile devices.

(The other box - the PetSweep - contained Darth Vader coffee beans - to go with the coffee grinder.)

My brother was almost doubled over. "Five people! Five people fell for it!"


"The one box had a DOG WEARING SHOVELS. I thought for SURE you'd guess it THEN, but no!"

"Because it was a clearly MEAN GIFT! I can't believe you didn't say anything UNTIL EVERYONE LEFT!"


(Amazon has it here, along with a few others. Also, Mom, if you are reading this, you should probably open your box.)

Oh Blogging Folks, oh Blogging Folks

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Oh Livejournalers, livejournalers,
You blog so wittily,
Oh Dreamwidth folks, oh Dreamwidth folks,
...I don't actually read that feed.
But a merry day, to one and all,
May you all have a total ball,
And hear some songs better than this -
Or be filled with Cookie Bliss.

(The above entry was written prior to a full consumption of coffee. Author does not usually recommend attempting the danger of rhymes prior to full coffee consumption since rhymes are tricky enough as it is without adding auugh my brain doesn't work to it. The author is also not responsible for any damages that may come from excessive cookie consumption lightly inspired by this entry especially since she really doesn't believe that excessive cookie consumption causes any ill effects anyway. The author now has to stop typing because a cat has landed on her arm and from his expression intends to stay there.)

Happy holidays!

Shockwave Flash

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Unlike most people, I don't mind internet ads. I know the ads pay for the stuff I'm reading/playing with. It's all good. With some sites, I even click through ads, or head to those sites before I make any Amazon purchases.

Yesterday I joined most of the rest of the planet and installed AdBlocker on Chrome and Explorer anyway. Not so much because I'd suddenly turned against internet advertising, but because pretty much every single one of those ads now comes loaded with Shockwave Flash, which means that Shockwave Flash is sometimes running four to six times per page; if I have two tabs open, and I often do, that doubles it. And kills my laptop computer, which can apparently handle Windows 8.1, or Shockwave Flash, but not both.

The computer is now running smoothly.

And advertisers? Your insistence on having ads that blink and move and dance around means that I'm not seeing them. Your loss. I'd advise you to at least wait until Windows 8.1 works through its issues....though, to be fair, that might take a long, long while.

The Store

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As Flapperhouse notes, it's the holiday shopping season, the perfect time for a little story about a store.



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My short story Offgrid just popped up over at Three-Lobed Burning Eye today, along with short stories by writers like Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, and J.M. McDermott.


Was: Blue Line to Memorial Park

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I interrupt this blog silence and general greyness of the morning to point you at this, which was still as awesome this morning as it was when I read it last night, pushing pretty much every one of my happy buttons. Seriously: click, read, click the little button, and then read again.

(Plus, although I can't take any credit for this, I can take credit for telling people to keep an eye out for Bogi Takacs. I love being right.)

Quick note

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Still not up to recapping World Fantasy 2014, but I did want to make one important point:

Apart from two minor issues with my hotel room, both promptly addressed by Hyatt, I did not have any disability issues at this con.

(I did have issues outside the con while attempting to navigate Alexandria and DC, but that's on those two cities, not World Fantasy Con. I also did get sick more than once anyway, but...well, I think that's more or less my status quo now.)

As long time readers know, this is not something typical of World Fantasy, which for the last several years have featured Disability Fail after Disability Fail after Disability Fail. So it's a major relief to find that yes, this convention can get it right, and I want to thank the 2014 World Fantasy Committee for getting it right this time.


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I have, on occasion, been accused of having a certain - what's the word? - obsession with structured poetry.

This will only add weight to the fire, I'm afraid.


In other news, I am back from WFC 2014, but very tired and more than a bit dizzy, conditions that do not do much for my control of commas and other punctuation, so any blogging on the event itself must wait a bit.

WFC 2014

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A brief note to say that I am here; that my presence in DC, as expected, coincided with a minor riot, resisting arrest, tasering and confused tourists which blocked my access to the Metro; that to my shock, my WFC bag contained, among other items, a book including work by ME! (this never happens ever); and that an editor who we shall name Neil Clarke has already rejected my little zombie verus writers story before I even wrote it, which is kinda sad.

If you are here, I have been more or less hanging out in the bar/lobby area. I will be maknig some sort of appearance at the Tor party tonight, although if past history is any guide, I shall be fleeing the Tor party within minutes (love you, Tor, but your parties are very very loud. I am also signing things for people, so if you have the Daily Science Fictions, Upgraded, Mythic Delirium, or anything else that I'm in, you don't have to wait for the Friday signing; just wave at me.

And now off to find food.

Oooh, and speaking of World Fantasy

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I forgot to mention: yes, I will be attending World Fantasy Convention, November 6 - 9, in Arlington, VA. As far as I know, I have nothing scheduled.

(And yes, that includes the SFWA meeting. I fully understand why it's scheduled at that unreasonable hour, and also that I'm probably the only one who thinks it's unreasonable, but I think it's safe to say I shall be hunting for coffee at that particular moment.)

Which suggests that, as always, probably the best place to find me is either at the coffee or the bar.

Various people suggested that I owe attendees a bit of a warning for this one. No, it's not about the wheelchair, it's about me and DC, namely that generally when I head to DC Bad Things Happen: hurricanes, snipers, people in tractors threatening to blow up the Washington Monument, a fire at a certain party at American University that I thought we were never ever going to mention again (cough) and so on. This does seem a touch unfair, but on the off chance that everyone has a point here, I am mentioning it.

Assuming we have no repeats of any of that, and even then, see you there!
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Poet and friend Mike Allen just posted this description of an upcoming World Fantasy Panel:
Poetry in Fantasy: Yesterday and Today
Time: 11am-12pm, Nov. 7, Regency F
Panelists:Mike Allen (M), Maria Alexander, Rain Graves, David Lunde, Laurel Winter

Description: Including poetry in fantasy, both by the author and quoted from other sources, used to be more common, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings, and The Worm Ouroboros. Why is poetry not as prevalent now as in the past? Are certain types of poetry, such as non-formal or non-rhyming verse, under-used in fantasy?
Why is poetry not as prevalent now as in the past?

After blinking at this for a bit, I went to YouTube, and typed in "Rains of Castamere," a poem that first appeared in a fantasy book published in 2000. YouTube currently lists 165,000 videos of this song, including versions sung by cats. YouTube also lists 26,000 versions of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair," a poem that originally appeared in the same series.

One of last year's most popular fantasy movies was Frozen, which had, as I recall, quite a few songs/poems. Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Sofia Samatar, Theodora Goss, L.E. Modesitt and multiple others have included poems in their prose work. And this isn't even considering the multiple, successful online zines publishing or focusing on poetry today, fantastic or otherwise. I'd argue that poetry, and in particular speculative poetry, is far more prevalent and visible than it's ever been.

But...for some reason, this prevalence doesn't get recognized in the field. Granted, part of this is that poetry collections (as opposed to poems that appear in prose works, HBO shows, or Disney cartoons) in general don't sell well, whatever their theme. But I don't think that quite justifies ignoring the fact that yesterday afternoon, the next door neighbor kids were shrieking "LIBRE SOY! LIBRE SOY!" (the Spanish version of "Let it Go,") for TWENTY SOLID MINUTES. Poetry's popular. It's out there. Let's celebrate it.



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I woke up to the news that a new issue of Through the Gate Through the Gate is out, containing my little poem, Myrrha.

It's no secret that I love this little zine, which on every irregular appearance shines like a jewel. I highly recommend checking everything out here, which includes poems by Sonya Taaffe, Rose Lemberg, Michele Bannister, Brittany Warman and Jack Hollis Marr.

Various things that do not make a post:

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1. Delightful news: the first Mythic Delirium anthology is out in the wild. I have a poem in this one, alongside such amazing people as Amal El-Mohtar, Marie Brennan, Sonya Taaffe, Georgiana Bruce, Jane Yolen, Ken Liu, C.S.E. Cooney, and many, many others.

2. Once Upon a Time is even more snarkable than I could have dreamed in my wildest hopes. Good thing, too, since I will be recapping each episode for this season. You can catch the initial posts here, here and here.

I've also been chatting about Paddington Bear, because, Paddington.

3. I finally got to the new Harry Potter section at Universal, and I have to say - I like it a lot more than the first section. Fake London, complete with the little teddy bears that I was chasing all over London (at, I must say, a higher price, which - Universal, if you are more expensive than anything in London, you really need to reconsider your pricing stategy), a dragon that blasts fire every few minutes which is undoubtedly going to be very unpleasant in the summer (you can definitely feel the heat), ice cream, evil wands - yay. Did I mention the dragon? Yay! If you can splurge for the dual tickets for both parks, I recommend it - that lets you take the little train over to Hogwarts, which was fun. (I kinda would have liked at least one view from the train to the rest of the park/Orlando area, but I can see how that would have spoiled the Harry Potter effect.

The one negative note: if you do use a large mobility scooter, the restaurant at the new section may be difficult to navigate - to the point where the greeters at the entrance will suggest leaving the scooter at the entrance and walking in. (I know, because they asked me to do just that - and I was in a smaller scooter.) I would recommend NOT leaving the scooter outside - it's a longer line/distance than it appears.


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Mari Ness

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