Crosspost: Snippets from Hearts of Tabat (Cat Rambo)

Picture drawn by Cat Rambo

This takes place on a warm but rainy spring morning, when everything is starting to bloom and the air smells like new things.

I’m working on the sequel to recently-finished Beasts of Tabat, whose working title is Hearts of Tabat. Here’s a snippet I wrote this morning.

Adelina did something she’d mocked other people for doing. She consulted a Dream Reader.
Everyone sensible knew that Dream Readers were frauds, making up stories to suit the needs they could read in their clients. Everyone’s dreams were as individual as their minds, everyone had their own internal cartography leading to entirely different parts of their brains.

But the dream had come three mornings in a row. Three mornings when she woke up with a start, fear clamping its fingers, slender as reeds, strong as iron, around her throat, her hands clenched so hard that her nails bit into the heels of her hands.

She was walking along a bridge, which narrowed further and further, so much only a single person could walk across it, then crumbled away in the middle, leaving a two foot gap. She knew a wide enough step would take her across it, but when she looked down, she saw the water, seething with toothy eels, their lanterned eyes staring up at her, waiting for her to fall.

She saw Bella far, far away, down the long road on the other side, back turned as she walked away, too far to hear Adelina calling after her. Snowflakes were falling around her, as though a cloud echoed her progress overhead, and moonlight glinted on the snow, tinting it purple and red.
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More Things Said During Crit Session

Totoro At NorwesconFrom notes found while cleaning:

“I love the idea that you get so gothy and morose that you just become a vampire.”

“He could have legitimate powers once he starts throwing up spiders.”

“I didn’t understand the importance of the vampires.”

“There were a lot of places where the characters were just going somewhere.”

“Don’t sigh at me.”

“If everything is possible, nothing matters. Blow it out of the park.”

“There’s no non-stupid way of putting it.”

“There’s some well-intentioned fascist vampires.”

“There used to be a chapter entitled ‘Vampire Training Montage.'”

“I always like more detail as to which organs are missing.”

Hear That? #19: Algernon & Laidlaw

Picture of President Grover Cleveland.Crossposted from Sandra M. Odell’s Write or Gnorw:

Hi there! Welcome to another installment of HEAR THAT?, a review of fine audio fiction on the internet. I know there are any number of quality audio fiction podcasts out there, so if you happen across one that you think I might like then drop me a line and I’ll check it out. This time around we have two stories from two very different podcasts, not about heroes but about real people.

CAST OF WONDERS #66 brings us “The Egg Game” by S.R. Algernon, read by Graeme Dunlop. S.R. Algernon began reading science fiction at an early age, and honed his writing in North Carolina. He currently resides in Singapore. Graeme hails from Australia, is the host of CAST OF WONDERS, and can be heard on many a fiction podcast.

“The Egg Game” is the story of a family vacation at The Sun Spot, a resort just outside of Earth’s atmosphere and certainly not what the main character hoped when his parents agreed to a vacation in space. The character and his younger brother devise a game involving falling eggs in the variable-gravity lift tubes, and an elaborate point system that takes a wrong turn when matters go from boring to worse. I kept waiting for “something to happen”, but it didn’t take long to realize the joy of this story is the realistic portrayal of young teens looking for a bit of fun. The action comes in the form of the science behind their game, and the eventual solution to the sudden crisis. The main character is intelligent, likeable, and knows he’s definitely in for it if his parents ever find out what’s going on. This is a great story for pre-teen and teen readers who are just dipping their toes into the waters of good, short science fiction.

Next we have PSEUDOPOD #319, “Cell Call” by Marc Laidlaw, read by George Cleveland. Marc is a writer, gamer, thinker, and game designer who currently works at Valve Software. George lives in Tamworth, New Hampshire, and serves as the Executive Director of the Gibson Center for Senior Services in North Conway. And as an added bonus, he is the grandson of President Grover Cleveland.

“Cell Call” is the story of a man attempting to manage his new cell phone while finding his way home in the rain. Flustered by the phone, the weather, and his wife’s irritation, he misses his turn and ends up someplace unexpected. Here is a story about subtle terrors, the kind that curl around you when you think there is nothing wrong. Much like “The Egg Game”, the main character is not a hero, he’s just an ordinary guy who loves his wife, and Laidlaw’s understated use of setting and very realistic dialogue lent itself well to the chill down my spine as the story progressed. Definitely worth the listen.

And that’s a wrap for this installemtn of HEAR THAT? Drop me a line and let me know what you thought. Did you agree with the recommendations? Think I was way off base? Even better, if you liked what you heard with these podcasts, post a comment on the forums for either podcast, or donate a few dollars to keep great fiction alive and well on the web.

That’s all for now, gentle listeners. Until next time, kee your ears open!

Crit Session Quotes For 12/29/2012

Theater sign for Geek OutIn our last meeting for 2012, we critted stories from Kris Millering, Cat Rambo, and Emily Skaftun. In attendance were Liz Argall, Sarah Hirsch, Tod McCoy, Kris Millering, Erik Owomoyela, Cat Rambo, Vicki Saunders, Emily Skaftun, and Eddie Smith.

Here’s a scattering of what was said, but by request I have not attributed the quotes.

  • If there are monkeys on a planet, we need to know that immediately because we love monkeys!
  • That would really sock it to the tree, so to speak
  • Write a different story. Got it.
  • I wanted more apple magic.
  • I needed more rage on the part of the tree.

Afterwards, we had a joint outing to the theater and saw Geek Out, which included adaptations of “Black Box” by Jennifer Egan; “Instructions: by Neil Gaiman; “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang; and “The Unwritten” by Mike Carey, done in collaboration with literature-based music group, The Bushwick Book Club Seattle.

Crit Session Quotes for 12/15/2012

Kids Self PortraitsWelcome to new members Jei Marcade and Rachel Sobel!

We critted stories from Huw Evans, Caren Gussoff, and Tod McCoy. Here’s a scattering of what was said, but by request I have not attributed the quotes.

  • I found this exquisitely disgusting.
  • There are a lot of people with names.
  • Ditto Cat on wanting to be smacked harder.
  • Wow, you guys are really fired up about flour.
  • Land is really judgmental.

Crit Session Quotes for 12/1/2012

Image of a dinosaurWe critted stories from Emily Skaftun and Lily Yu. Here’s a scattering of what was said, but by request I have not attributed the quotes.

  • “We are not dissimilar from a blue lobster.”
  • “There needs to be more murder in the story.”
  • “Here’s MY version of how I would rewrite your story…”
  • “The manic departure from sensible decision making” (describing Seattle encountering a snow storm)
  • “The dinosaurs are such a great metaphor for love.”
  • “So I was like, fuck it, I’ll add some dinosaurs.”

Hear That? #15: Gregory & Lee

Welcome back for another quick review of some fine stories and storytelling. I hope these posts encourage you to take the time to delve into the wonderful world of audio fiction on the net.

First, CLARKESWORLD MAGAZINE brings us “The Battle of Candle Arc” by Yoon Ha Lee, narrated by Kate Baker. A confession. I dearly love Ms. Lee’s stories; they make my imagination’s mouth water, as it were, and this offering is no exception. Ms. Lee is a Korean-American wordsmith with a love of mathematics, computer gaming, and caffeine free Dr. Pepper. You can find her work in places such as CLARKESWORLD, Beneath Ceaseless Skies,, The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2012, ed. Rich Horton, and many more. Kate Baker is the Hugo-award winning Podcast Director for CLARKESWORLD Magazine, and frequent voice artist for other podcasts. She lives in northern Connecticut with her three children.

“The Battle of Candle Arc” is the story of General Shuos Jedao’s victory over a heretical planetary force, the workings of science as supported by the metaphysics of an official calendar, and a wonderful study of one man’s hopes to change the world one victory at a time. Hardly a cut and dry science fiction story (CLARKESWORLD stories rarely are), Ms. Lee uses the backdrop of tactics and intrigue to delve into matters of hierarchies, honor, loyalty, war, and technology. It took perhaps 2 minutes to get into the story, most likely because I listened while driving, but once the distractions cleared I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Next we have a story of a different sort, PODCASTLE #230, “Unpossible” by Daryl Gregory, narrated by Peter Wood. Mr. Gregory lives in Pennsylvania, writes “programming code in the morning, prose in the afternoons, and comics at night” (from his blog), has written three novels, and numerous short stories. Not only is Peter Wood the sound director for PODCASTLE, he is also an accomplished photographer and dabbler in theater and sound.

“Unpossible” is the story of a man hoping to go back again, back to the days of childhood adventure where anything and everything is possible. With his wife and child gone, he feels there is nothing left for him, so he takes to the attic to find his old bicycle. After making a few changes, he sets off on a journey that does not lead where he expects to go. This is a poetic, gentle story, one for the child in all of us. Old friends from books and television reappear, and along with them the realization that you can’t go back…but you can move forward. The outro essay after the story. Both is also worth your time and attention.

That’s it for another HEAR THAT?. As always, if you like the stories please stop by the forums and let them know. Even better, make a donation! Good fiction is often free for the ears, but the authors are still paid for their work. And when you’re finished there, drop by and let me know what you thought. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep your ears open!

Crossposted from Sandra M. Odell’s blog.

Cat Rambo: Clarion West 2012 Write-a-thon Goals

This was originally posted on my blog here.

Picture of the advance reading copy of Cat Rambo's Near+Far

I won the Leilani doll in the Locus Awards raffle, and the lei is also a souvenir of that delightful occasion. But the coolest thing received there was the Arc of NEAR+FAR!!

It’s the start of another Clarion West season. As always, it was marked by the Locus Awards, which were a ton of fun and extra cool because they were my first chance to see the ARC (advance reading copy) of the book coming out this September. I’ve been to the house and met most of the students — they all have that glazed, not-sure-what-to-expect look in their eyes. And the Clarion West Write-a-thon is starting. This’ll be the 6th or 7th time I’ve participated in it, I think.

This year I’m using it to spur effort on the urban fantasy novel I’ve been working on, THE EASTER BUNNY MUST DIE! At Rio Hondo, they suggested a new way to begin it, so I’ve got to write that chapter, tweak the existing ones so they fall in line nicely after that, and then take up where I left off, in a grumpy healer’s cavern, confronting the Marlboro Man. Nuff said?

So I must tell you, that should you wish to support me in the Write-a-thon, even if it’s just a buck, you’ll be receiving snippets in the mail that will not be made available to the public – perhaps ever, perhaps not until the book is done. I hope you’ll support me (or perhaps some other fine writer working on Write-a-thon goals) this summer.

Sandra M. Odell: Clarion West 2012 Write-a-thon Goals

This post originally appeared on Sandra M. Odell’s blog here.

As today is the first day of the Clarion West 2012 Write-a-thon, I thought I would outline a few of my goals for the event. In no particular order:

Picture of a brain scan1. No strokes. (Okay, I lied. Even more important than word count, this is my #1 goal. You may not be able to see all the details, the white lines that look something like a capital “I” mark the damage. Thanks, no thanks.) Not only did the stroke land me in the hospital, it seriously cramped my writing style.

2. A minimum of 2,000 words per week on my novel that will remain the working body of the text until the end of the Write-a-thon. That may not sound like much, but I have a deucedly difficult time with my Inner-Bitch, erm, Inner-Editor and I want to set a realistic goal. 12,00 words in six weeks. I can do this.

3: Encourage other Write-a-thon participants via email, Facebook, face-to-face, or messages in bottles.

4: Continue to solicit sponsors through my Write-a-thon page. Sponsoring is quick, easy, and a great way to show your continued support for a program that helps keep dreams alive.

5: Support the Clarion West class of 2012 through my writing, and, um, offerings of caffeine. Send me your caffeine donations and I’ll forward them to the class. Trust me on this. They’ll need all the caffeine they can get.

6: No getting discouraged when other Write-a-thon participants post progress reports such as “Wrote 10,000 words today, picked up my Hugo trophy, and made my application for the Nobel Prize in Literature.” The Write-a-thon isn’t a competition, no matter what my insecurities think.

7: Have fun!

8: No being eaten by mammoth space squid. (Kinda self explanatory, really.)

Can you think of any I missed?