Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Currently Reading: William Goldbloom Bloch, The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel

This is a book that, fittingly perhaps, I am reading because I discovered it in the library. The library at American University, that is. Not the Library of Babel.

 Although this book could, conceivably, be discovered in the Library of Babel. I wouldn't give much for your chances of finding it, but it's possible.

The central challenge Jorge Luis Borges poses to any writer is that he has, at least on a meta level, surpassed and completed us. Any story we can ever write has already been written about by him. Every conceivable combination of letters, punctuation, and spaces is contained in one of the 410-page volumes that fill his Library of Babel.

As I struggle to revise the second draft of One Hundred Days, I take comfort in the fact that the final version could be found somewhere amid those shelves. That is to say, it is logically possible, therefore it should be only a matter of work and dedication for me to bring it into existence. But then, there on those shelves, librarians could also find a of it abandoned...the opening chapter, with every page thereafter filled with empty lines...or the eye-gougingly horrible first draft, or perhaps worse, the perfect Form of my novel, each word perfect and vivid and pure, in sentences I could not string though I tried a thousand million years. There are versions of my works out there written in a far better way than I could ever write them. And there are all the stories I want to write but can never find the time to (there are also, and this is only somewhat a separate issue, the concluding volumes of Frank Herbert's Dune series but written by Herbert himself as he would have wanted them written. And the Wheel of Time as finished by Robert Jordan. And the novelizations and scripts of the Doctor Who series that ran through the 1990s.) Short stories may exist in collections or on their own, twenty seven pages of text surrounded by emptiness (actually, logically, there are hundreds if not thousands of copies of these, with the spacing of each differing just slightly), or may be continued in multiple largely-empty 410 page volumes. Any work of more than 410 pages would of course come in those separate volumes, which delights connoisseurs of the 18th century. Think of a story, and essay, and expose, a religious text. It's there. It's all there.

The part where this poses a challenge to the writer is that, if we aren't careful when thinking of this, we'll realize that all our work is really just a matter of sorting the same few shapes onto sheets of paper. Nothing a relatively simple algorithm couldn't do, given world enough and time.

I read the short story as a sophomore and it blew my mind. Now William Goldbloom Bloch is blowing my mind all over again--among other things, elaborating upon that 'world enough and time' I suggested in the previous paragraph. Bloch says in his introduction that he originally wanted to be a creative writer, and it shows in his lively, vivid text; text so lively, vivid, and clear that it makes manageable--mostly--the brain-bending topology, graph theory, and combinatorics of these 9 chapters. But it didn't even have to hit the part explaining Klein bottles, 3-manifolds, and the necessities of mirror-reflected forms to dizzy me to the point of exaltation. That comes in the first chapter, where Bloch calculates, relatively simply, the actual number of books in the Library, all possible combinations of 25 symbols onto 410 pages. Each page has 40 lines of 80 letters, so there's room for 1,312,000 symbols in each book. Each symbol slot fits 1 of the 25 options (I should note here the Library of Babel does not contain, so far as we know, Arabic numerals)--
so the total number of books is


25 to the power of 1,312,000.

All well and good, right? But how big is that?

With some more mathematical jiggery-pokery that would have had him burned at the stake in earlier, more cautious ages, Bloch demonstrates that the known universe of 10^27 cubic meters could only hold, if it consisted of nothing but 410-page books, about 10^84 of them.

I'll leave it to people with calculators handy to figure out how many times the known universe would fit onto the Library of Babel's shelves, then.

And that's only part of chapter one!

In short, if you have the slightest interest in mathematics, Borges, or glimpsing infinity, I'd suggest you track this one down through a library system at once. I don't think there's another book like it in the world. It's such a select taste that I can't in good conscience run about accosting strangers and shouting "BUY IT!!", but it would look excellent on a shelf in your office, den, or waiting room.

(My other favorite revelation comes on page 110, where it turns out that even trained mathematicians can't help reading factorials--such as 12!--as a very excited voice gleefully exclaiming the number. TWELVE!..factorial!)

Relevant Links:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My 48 hours of the 24 Hours of Gallifrey One

After last year at Gallifrey Network 23, which seemed to last forever (in a good way...and, also in a good way, its effects never quite ended...) this year it flew by way too fast. I think mostly because I missed Thursday night LobbyCon and Friday's opening and panels. Last year, my school and volunteerism schedule was much more forgiving and allowed me to take 5 days off from them. When I registered for a second helping, I had no idea I'd be in Washington, D.C. this semester.

Not that I'm regretting it! All in all, the con was a much-needed break and, weirdly enough, a jolt of familiarity in a year that's so far been full of changes.

It also gave me a refresher course in How to Use Airplanes, always helpful.


Business as usual in the morning and afternoon--that is, I attended a classroom session for my seminar and then our class met a speaker at Dupont Circle. I'd been worried that I would need to leave the speaker early (as I explained to my professor, I didn't know where I'd be when I registered for the convention last spring! ) but in fact there was plenty of time not only to attend & get back, but then to repack everything and make some last posts, updates, and adjustments to my class group's service project IndieGoGo Campaign (about a week left!) before braving the Metro. I say braving, because while the Metro is quite nice and convenient, this was my first time attempting it with luggage in tow and something of a time constraint. The Metro is quite nice and convenient...except on weekends. But I didn't miss any transfers and, though trains were probably running 1 to a track somewhere in DC, they were not along the portions I was using. I made it to Regan National with time to spare a) looking for my carrier's concourse and b) remembering you need things called boarding passes and then running to get one. I enjoy traveling, but I'm still learning all the nitty-gritty steps one has to take to survive it.

All the while I had not only my just-barely-small-enough-for-carry-on suitcase, but also my backpack, which I was snuggling in my lap whenever I sat down because it contained my laptop, my books, and Plushie Eight.

Plushie Eight has traveled as much or more than I have, given he was shipped to me from my friend in Maryland this Christmas, just in time to join my family roadtrip to move me in to D.C., and then came with me on several sightseeing trips.
Photo: I am a mature and responsible adult, and so is my plushie fellow tourist.

In short, if I'm going somewhere, it's with Plushie in tow. Either because he's a security toy and I need security at this point in my life or, equally likely, he's just so splendidly photogenic.

I'm like one of those Facebook moms who uses a picture of her kid as a profile image. Expect to see a lot of this little guy throughout the rest of this post. It won't be a hardship, I presume.

Anyway, Plushie Eight and I made it through security (he once greatly charmed a security guard at the Library of Congress, where they physically look through your backpack; but on the X-rays he is just a mass of fluff and so arouses no suspicion or amusement whatsoever) in 30 minutes of the 2 hours I'd been warned to set aside for such, so I spent the remaining time eating expensive airport food, reading the books I'd brought in my backpack, and calling a few people to let them know I was coming West. This included my family, who met me at O'Hare airport during my layover to exchange news, some stamps (my dad collects them) and my Eight Doctor costume. Happy as I was to see my family, my good mood didn't last once I took my leave of them, rushed to my next flight (this meant having to go through security again, although this was nine thirty at night and there wasn't exactly a line) and then waited...for over an hour...on the runway because an indicator light wasn't working.

Waiting for one hour, doing nothing, when you have half a continent to fly across and will probably be awake not less than 20 hours straight to manage it (some people can sleep in coach. I am not one of them), it an extraordinarily demoralizing experience. But, to cut a long and pitiful story short, I made it to LAX and reached the hotel in time to see some Gallifreyan karaoke. The bright side of conventioners staying up until 5am!

I was sharing the hotel room with 2 friends (Plushie Eight's creatrix from Maryland, and a California native) and things got a bit crowded, but pleasantly so. Even if I did have to work my way around an ironing board while I tried to fasten my cravat and keep from spilling coffee on anybody else's frock coat--our closet was filled with 8th Doctor coplay, and nothing else. We really should have had ribbons to pass out. Some slogan along the lines of "Eighters Gonna Eight."

Pictured above: Eighters Eighting

Once we got down to the convention center, it was great! We got to revisit the TV Movie TARDIS console--with added posts from the Eye of Harmony

(don't worry, I didn't look into the mirror)

and then met Daphne Ashbrook

Who was greatly impressed by the "Paul Doll"--I think everyone at the convention over 35 referred to my plush toy as a doll, showing the demographic breakdown of this particular trend. She also wasn't the only person to view it as a little snuggly Paul McGann rather than by the character. Which makes me sound an even more obsessed fangirl than I am...I think...(although she did say something along the lines of "So you've got it bad, too?" which was either referring to my friend and fellow fan, who had spoken with her yesterday, or perhaps to herself. We're all McGannites here.)

 Also, she was truly sweet and kind. We talked about where I came from and I talked about going to school in D.C. and not being very certain what I'll do at the end of this, my last undergraduate semester. She compared it to stage fright and personalized the photo she signed for me with "Follow your dreams! You can do it!"

The Eights (3 cosplayers and a Plushie) were able to get our picture with her at the console later in the day:

As we were leaving, Daphne was talking with a TARDIS cosplayer who had designed her dress around Grace Holloway's in the movie. It was gorgeous.

I attended more panels this year than I did last. The Big Finish preview session fully explains why so many Whovians bemoan "Big Finish owns my soul, and also my wallet." Their 50th anniversary episode (is it still an episode when it's an audio serial?) preview induced chills and Feels and also a profound sense of relief that it isn't all in Stephen Moffat's hands. I liked some of Moffat's early episodes (by which I mean "The Empty Child" and "Curse of the Fatal Death" and no more--later on I even had the chance to articulate with another fan just why I don't think "Blink" is the greatest episode of all time ever! I love conventions!), but I don't trust him as a showrunner any further than he can resist throwing his characters off a rooftop.

So even if, as I fear, the 50th anniversary on TV turns out to be nothing but an orgy of Moffat's ego, with more absurd and empty twists in the convoluted, inconsistent plot than previous Doctor guest stars, at least I get to listen to a Classic multi-Doctor episode.

During a lull in the panels, our group walked to the In-n-Out burger. We figured at 4 in the afternoon there wouldn't be much of a line. We were wrong. On the bright side, the kitchen space was open and spotless, and we got to watch the potato-chopping and -frying mechanisms while waiting for our meals to arrive. If our food had been a little bit later they might have found us convinced to hire on; that looked fun.

Although the walk was much farther, and the wait much longer, than we expected, we ate on the way back and returned in time to catch the Classic companions panel. It felt a bit like eavesdropping on the conversation of really interesting people as they talked about what they were doing with their lives, so of course it was wonderful. Yet also a little strange to hear that, say, the person I still think of as Vislor Turlough has moved to New Zealand and is doing documentaries on wildlife poaching in Mozambique. And isn't ginger (I already knew, doesn't mean it's not traumatizing to see confirmed. We do not speak of the Eighth Doctor's wig.)

The next few hours we waited in line for the Masquerade. This paid off, though, as we got far better seats than we had last year after arriving late. We were reminded to have our badges out before being seated. Whether or not this was any reflection on the incident last year where, after arriving late, I discovered I had left my badge in a hotel room in a different hotel and had to run back for it, but not before having to be escorted inside the conference chamber to borrow my friend's room key, and just generally had an adventure and gave the volunteers a bit of one, too...

No such adventures this year, although many interesting costumes, more Gangham Style than I'd have expected, and a Sarah Jane Adventures skit that made everybody cry. Also the halftime show as the costumes were judged produced Ottergatethe in-joke of the convention. I'm glad I was there, because you really had to be there. I suppose the moral is twofold. 1, respect your audiovisual people, they are powerful beyond imagining. 2, OTTERS.

After the masquerade I and a friend were able to get into the comedy routine performed by a group of longtime masquerade veterans, but jetlag was catching up and I can't recall much of it, although I'm sure it's on YouTube somewhere. It was funny, I just can't summarize any of the skits well.


Sunday was the day of meeting people in elevators. In fact, if I were to return to Gally (not sure my finances will allow it next year) I would seriously consider spending several hours doing nothing but riding up and down in elevators and seeing who I'd encounter. The first was Mark Strickson, ironically as I was heading up to my room to get the book I wanted autographed by him. I'd picked up a novelization of Mawdryn Undead at the Milwaukee airport bookshop on my way to the previous Gallifrey One and, well, you never know... When I did get the book signed I also wished him luck on his next trip to film nature documentaries, and mentioned my own upcoming trip to Ghana, which will include an environmental component I've been forewarned is extremely depressing. Not a conversation I'd ever have expected to have at a Whovian convention. Support the Nature Conservancy or the African Wildlife Foundation or the WWF or other such organization of choice, y'all ("if not for the charismatic megafauna, do it for Turlough!" may become my new battle cry.)

Speaking of causes, this year's charity auction raised funds for Alex's Lemonade Stand, addressing childhood cancer (chosen because the past two years have been extremely tough for Whovians, Who actors, and cancer--although it almost makes me wish they'd chosen a foundation fighting cancer in adults instead, given the closer link). My friend and I tried and failed to win a teddy bear signed by Paul McGann, but I did manage--accidentally--to win 3 Star Trek books. I heard Diane Duane's name mentioned, and as I've always meant to read Spock's World I thought I'd give it a go, expecting to accomplish nothing but push the winning bidder higher. It turned out nobody wanted to bid more than $10--well, it was a Whovian convention, not Trek--so now I have 3 Star Trek books. Spock's World is even better than I expected, and I expected it to be quite good, while the novelizations of series 2, 3, and 8 are a bit rushed but comfort me in my current absence of ready TV access. Reading Space Seed only after seeing The Wrath of Kahn is probably not the optimal way to go about it, but it worked fine for me (now, has it prepared me for the next Star Trek movie, is the million dollar question...and I can hear a great disturbance in the Force, or is it in subspace, as if a hundred thousand Trek fans winced and cried "I hope not!" at once).

After the auction, we attended a panel on Doctor Who merchandise. Amazing what they have tried to sell in the past...or are trying to sell now (destroyed Cassanda action figure? Really?), and also some interesting discussion of branding and packaging.

Plus, Plushie Eight made a new friend:

I'm not sure if the Adipose is cosplaying the 11th Doctor, or if the Eleventh Doctor had a bit of an adventure of his own...perhaps a chameleon circuit mishap? Either way, it's adorable. Now *that* should be liscened merchandise!
(Speaking of which, the effort to convince my friend to start a business making Plushie/Chibi Doctors/Paul Dolls has not yet borne much success, although many, many people were asking if she took commissions. For now, my Eight is an original. I'm very proud.)

Then came another Classic reunion panel, and closing ceremonies began. In between, we ran to get snacks at the con suite just before it closed. In our haste, I dropped Plushie Eight's flower and had to go back for it--usually I would not be so attached to plastic flowers, but ever since I worked as a cashier at Michael's craft stores I've begun collecting them, and this one would fit perfectly in the collection. Plus, it suited Plushie adorably. Going back, we wound up in an elevator with Deborah Watling, better known as Victoria, which was pretty cool. And then on our way down to closing ceremonies we met June Hudson, who not only though Plushie Eight was cute but was so charmed by him she took out her camera and snapped a photo! We spoke a bit as we walked to the convention room. She seemed to be having a great time and was plainly sorry the convention was coming to an end. "I'm almost forgetting it's not real," she said. I would have taken her for a fellow fan if she hadn't left us at the guests of honor only hallway. Not, of course, that you can't both work on the show and be a fan of it.

(I wasn't sure I knew her work at the time, but it turns out June Hudson is the designer of the awesome alt!Eight costume concepts which circulate among the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel fans. I'm not sure if anyone really loves the original costume except we cosplayers...and Daphne Ashbrook, who said she could see it as her kind of thing. A colorful coat and a vest--what's not to love?)

Last and...well, to be honest, least. I'm not certain that President's Day 2013 ever really happened. I spent it all going through airports, and I lost 3 hours because of time zone differences. I did get some time to sit in the absurdly comfy LAX waiting room chairs and read Daphne Ashbrook's biography (speaking of eavesdropping on the conversations of more interesting people...) Once I get the hang of them, I find airports cool places to be--busy, spacious, high-tech. Life was also easier for me because this time, with 3 extra hardcover books and a Edwardian-era costume in my suitcase, I chose to check my luggage. American Airlines let me do it for free and did not lose my bags at the O'Hare transfer. There wasn't much to do except pass the time, wait to board, board, wait to get off. Simple and direct.

Then we landed in DC, and while figuring out the Metro system to get home wasn't all that difficult, I found myself back in the thick of things with work, homework, and not a jelly baby to be seen.

Of course, jelly babies because of the coloring agent used in them are strictly speaking not supposed to be readily available in the United of course nobody at Gallifrey One offered any to their fellow convention-goers...after all, asking "Would you like a jelly baby?" is merely an inquiry into one's emotional state, desiring or not desiring a candy. The fact that the questioner held a bag of said candies and allowed those they asked to reach in and take some without protest does not in any way imply an offer. *cough cough*

What are the morals of my story?
1. Check your luggage, if it's free and you can survive the small chance of having it misdirected. It's easier. (You also are--erm--less likely to accidentally knock fellow passengers while trying to wrestle a suitcase into the overhead storage. Which makes everyone happier, or so I'm told.)
2. African wildlife is a sad story. (Also I would not usually compare Mozambique and Ghana--Africa is an entire continent, after all, it's not homogeneous--except the issue pops up both places and if it's the conversational topic that comes to mind when talking to Mark Strickson, well.)
3. Everyone wants Plushie Doctors. And should you ever decide to make and sell them for a living, the best form of advertising is, of course, to give Therese one and have her walk around a convention with him. Call me.
4. Upon reflection, the Celestial Toymaker/merchandise panel taught me there isn't much you can make that's Doctor-Who themed that people won't be willing to buy.
Still. Plushie Doctors.
5. Do not place a bid in an auction unless you are prepared to win
6. Elevators. Watch this spot. Don't be creepy about it, obviously.
6a. No really, watch the elevators. There're 6 of them at the LAX Marriot, and sometimes the one that's headed where you want to go has just opened up right behind you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Family: A Story for A Cause

"The Family" originally appeared on my old LiveJournal page as part of Crossed Genres' Post A Story for Haiti project. The idea of the project was that writers would post a free short story, and readers could show their appreciation by donating what in their minds the story was worth to a cause assisting Haitians after the devastating earthquake early in 2010. A bit like sponsors supporting someone racing for the cure. But instead of doing something easy like running a marathon, we go the distance to write & offer you free fiction.

I've always had a soft spot for this short, sweet (for certain values of 'sweet'), hard-to-classify story, and I was glad of the chance to share it for a good cause. As I move away from LiveJournal to continue with this blog, I thought it would be sad to let "The Family" languish there. So, after almost three years, I'm bringing it to light again--after a round of polishing and expansion--and, once again, it's for a cause.

Friday, February 15, 2013

On why I'm dressed as The Doctor in my Facebook profile photo

That's my personal Facebook profile photo, not the one on my new author's page--which I've recently created upon realizing that, if my only Facebook presence is my goofy personal profile, of course my goofy personal profile will start showing up anywhere Facebook touches.

Which is exactly what's happened.

Oh, don't fret (for that matter, I'm sorry to disappoint), there's no scandal here. I was just amused when a Google alert led me to this cool wordpress site dedicated to reviewing a short story daily, where they reviewed my dark fantasy "A Wizard of the Roads" on December 21st.

First off, I'm downright squeeful to see my writing was used somewhere to celebrate that day where non-Maya across the world panicked based on their misunderstanding of a sophisticated culture's complex calendar system and decided the only imaginable outcome was the world's magnetic poles flipping and everything going asplode. The actual Maya, from what I've heard, were themselves troubled by the fact that they were not permitted to practice their actual beliefs on their ancient cultural sites. Isn't life funny.

I see the above paragraph suddenly became a bit snippy. Sorry, there hit a point around the end of November where I began getting tired of telling people that, among other things, "No, the Maya really do exist in the modern day! They're not extinct! But that doesn't mean the world will go aspolde on December 21st!" A weariness I'm sure many other rational human beings shared. But that's in the past now, we'll never have to go through it again (at least not for another Long Count...good enough for me) and in the meantime, lots of fun end-of-the-world jokes were had at the expense of the foolish panicking non-Maya folk.

And in addition, there I am in all my Facebook profile glory, decked to the nines in an Eighth Doctor cosplay.

I know, I know, and you're right. The Doctor Who TV Movie wasn't even good.

 But that was not the fault of Paul McGann or his wardrobe. As it happens, both were present at the convention where that picture was taken, Gallifrey One 2012 in Los Angeles. Even as this post goes live, I'll be attending my second Gally. This is because--in part thanks to the incomparably gracious Mr McGann's presence (December 21st jokes aren't the only thing I can go squeeful about), and which makes up part of the reason I am keeping this peculiar picture as my image to the 1 billion users of Facebook and beyond--it was some of the most concentrated, unadulterated fun I have ever had in my life. There's something about being completely immersed in a subculture where you understand all of the references. It's like you already know everybody before you get to know them. It's fandom come to life--which could potentially be a horrible thing, I guess, but this is the *good* side of fandom that organizes and hosts conventions, and to someone who is usually just an online fandom lurker this was mind blowing.

The other reasons I'm keeping this picture as my profile image is that
-I am wearing a 19th century gentleman's waistcoat and green velvet frock coat (not actually 19th century; a friend sewed them for me, but still). This is the stuff Oscar Wilde fantasies are made of.
-I'm not usually one for photographs (I've just discovered, since the beginning of 2013, how to use both my netbook's webcam and the camera function on my archaic flip phone), so pictures of me are not dense on the ground. I'd venture to guess that the majority of the pictures of me online are of me in that costume, taking during 3 days in February 2012 (including the picture of Paul McGann kissing me on the hand after I sloppy fangirled all over him. Now you understand the 'incomparably gracious' epithet).

 I return from LA on the 18th, but as this will involve a flight across the entire continental United States I expect to be jetlagged and good for very little for the duration of next week. That doesn't mean I won't gamely try to keep abreast of things (in fact the night I wrote this post I drafted several others so I'll be able to keep updating this blog come heaven, hell, killer flu, or Cybermen invasion). Concerned readers should probably prepare for a second influx of cosplay pictures, though. Along with my Eighth Doctor plush toy this time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

News: Grim Corps' Debut Issue and Dell Magazines' Award Honorable Mention!

 Today I am reading my contributor's copy of Grim Corps' magazine's premier issue, which contains a reprint of my psychological horror story and Poe* homage, "Ms Brellin". Along with of course my own piece (I haven't yet had the time to read up to the page where it starts yet, so my commentary is on other writer's stories and thus perfectly unbiased), there's some quite effective dark fiction here, with chilling lines dropped at just the right places. And the ink illustrations are ominously gorgeous.

Also, my science fiction story "The Astrologer's Telling" received an Honorable Mention in the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. I'm sorry I waited until my penultimate undergrad semester to discover this contest! My fellow finalists, as we've gotten to know each other through email, are some friendly and spectacularly talented people. I'm sorry I won't be able to meet them in person, as the International Conference on the Fantastic, where the awards ceremony is held, begins in Orlando on the very same day my class flies out to Ghana. Studying abroad is a great reason to miss anything, I suppose. Yet I am sorry to miss this one.

*I keep saying it's a Poe homage because I wrote it after nobody in my American Lit class agreed to go along with my alternative reading of "The Fall of the House of Usher." So then I decided, fair enough, I'll go and write a story that fits with my reading. Readers do seem to agree that "Ms Brellin," at least, is a contemplation of the horrors of loneliness...and the perhaps worse horrors that can come in attempting to escape it...but I've not yet heard any comparisons to Poe. But I thought I'd put it out there, in case anyone wanted to smile and nod and make my day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Added: Publications List

If you look to the right of this post, you can now see a link to my Publications List, probably the single most useful page on this blog. It offers links to my stories, roughly organized by length and genre and also by series. There are currently 3 of the latter in progress:

A Dark and Wonderful History: Stories of Women and Monsters, is a sort of parallel history in a secondary world that has a share of similarities to our own. Also its share of differences. Gods, ghosts, the shapeshifting and blood-drinking Dihneen, sacred and magical trees, and doors that open to unimaginable places appear in these stories, all encountered--and sometimes, if only for a short time, controlled--by women.

The Curse-Strewn World is a planned series of at least five short stories and one novelette. Currently the first story--not the first chronologically, but written as a bit of an introduction--is available in Beneath Ceaseless Skies' 110th issue. "The Storms in Arisbat" was originally written as a sort of personal exorcism. I hoped if I could get down at least one story featuring these characters and their journey, which kept haunting me, I could move on with other projects (of which, like many writers, I always have too many). Well, I did complete the story, and some readers and reviewers enjoyed it--they enjoyed it so much that, like Lois Tilton in her Locus Online review, they wondered if there were more stories to come. The answer is: Yes. Yes, there are.

Heart's Kindred, featuring the swordsman Rathin and the wizard Anweth, I've written to be a purely enjoyable adventure series. As more stories are completed, they'll continue to build up the world where the wandering couple lives--a world which is linked, in fact, to several other stories I've written (read Of the Generation, based in the same setting, and you'll discover at least one custom, or perhaps a sort of spiritual or lifestyle practice, that also appears in Aqua Vitae). These links are far from unusual, and even my unsorted science fiction and fantasy stories may share references with each other. There's a scavenger hunt, or perhaps a bingo board or a drinking game, in there somewhere.

It's also for reason of shared setting that I've grouped the stories taking place in and around the Xeocin empire, though they are not by any means a series. The world-spanning empire's capital city of Xeocib is the locale of the novel I'm currently writing (reviews of The Halcyon in Flight especially have stated that there seems to be more background to the story than is shown, and probably further stories as well. They're right). While these short stories will not by any means be necessary to understanding the novel's plot or characterization, I think every single one of them has been referenced in the current draft of the manuscript.

As I created this Listing, I discovered a lot of 'dead links' and the reality of several stories which are no longer available online, in print, or in either medium. One of my next orders of business is looking for reprint markets so that some of these stories can enjoy the light of day again--and most importantly, so readers can find and enjoy them!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hello World

This blog happens to be started in the midst of a crisis of identity for me. I've just recently graduated college and am finishing one last semester in Washington, D.C. before...what? I'm making the shift from student to young professional. I think that young professional's career will lie in the nonprofit sector, but anything more specific than that I'm still feeling out. In my time I've been a volunteer income tax preparer, a cashier, a library page, a volunteer member of an advocacy event planning committee, I've (wo)manned a booth selling Fair Trade items, and currently I'm working on an internship preparing a novel for publication.

One thing that's remained constant is the fact that I'm a writer. I've written since I could hold a pen--let's be realistic, since I could hold a crayon. I've written since before I could spell (don't we all, though). And I've written for publication since 2009, not counting the Fictionpress and accounts I created to share my writing with a nonpaying audience.

I write science fiction and fantasy, and occasionally what a reviewer will describe as horror, to my mock-dismay and secret pleasure (I read Lovecraft at a formative age). I've also a soft spot for love stories, and dabble in romance under a different name. My current project for this year is to finish revisions on my first completed novel, an urban fantasy story in the sense of an OddCon panelist whose name I no longer remember but whose words were, "The city has become the new forest." As the forests I write cannot be found on any real world map, neither can this city. To be fair, the real world cannot be found on any of this city's maps, either. And lots of other things cannot be found on this city's maps, but still share a world with it--there are too many secrets underneath its crystal streets and behind the brass-plated walls of its soaring towers.
(Do you see the Lovecraftian influence? Yes, I prefer the Dunsanian Dreamlands tales to the tentacle monsters. Though the occasional charnel wind that blows out the stars does haunt me.)

My first book, the science fiction novella Aqua Vitae, has been available from WolfSinger Publications for a little over a year now. It has even garnered 4 and 5-star reviews from people who don't know me (with the exception of my sister, Megan, Rysling Winner and all-around literary genius, most of my family aren't that interested in speculative fiction). I'm proud of it with a characteristically hesitant writer's pride, although the thought never ceases to nag me that I really ought to write a second book. Thus I am.

As for other projects, I continue to write short fiction as I have the past four years--in fact, I have plans for several short stories and novelettes that will round out the three or four short fiction series which have evolved over the years. Part of the reason I've finally gone and created a central author's site is so I can link to them in an order helpful to a casual reader who doesn't want to play detective.

I think that about does it for an introduction, as I've said about as much about myself as is appropriate for someone in an identity crisis. Other aspects of me--my (aiming to be intersectional) feminism, my fannishness (fenness?), the philosophy degree I've earned and will certainly use over the course of my life, though not in the conventional 'get a job, buy a car, meet a spouse and produce 2.5 kids' way--will appear as they become relevant.