More on Sales! and other Holiday Stuff

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Am still being productive. I’ve been to the Knoxville Writers’ Guild to do a reading tonight, and tomorrow night I’m going to be at the Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center, a local gallery, for their First Friday Christmas art sale, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST.

Meanwhile, a couple of my recent sales are now up for reader enjoyment. Here’s “Zombie Love” a short poem in Liquid Imagination, narrated by yours truly. And here’s “Wine and Magnolias” at Mischief Media: A Story Most Queer Podcast narrated by Gwendolyn Boniface. The story takes about a half hour, but the poem is quick. Please check them out!

Also, this Sunday (December 8) I’m singing in a couple of holiday concerts. The evening concert will be at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church and will stream from the website from 6:00 to about 7:30 p.m. EST. The link I’ve posted should go direct, but if not, from the website, click on the link that says “listen.” Trigger warning: this is a sacred concert, as you might expect from the setting, and includes two choirs and an orchestra. I sing first soprano, and assuming the after Thanksgiving cold clears up, you will hear me at one point or the other. If you’re in the area, the concert is free, but get there early to get a parking spot. Enjoy!

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Sales!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all in the US!

I have to give myself a little pat on the back here, as I’ve been really productive this fall. I did some painting and made a decent profit at a local art show. I also got my butt in gear and submitted some stories, so now I’ve got sales that will be appearing in upcoming books, magazines, etc. Here’s the list, so please check them out!

“Zombie Love,” a short poem to appear in Liquid Imagination at the end of November 2019.

“The Investor,” a dark fantasy short story to appear in the anthology Afromyth2 from Afrocentric Books in 2020.

“The Mending Tool,” a steampunk erotica short story to appear in the anthology Sensory Perceptions from Jay Henge in 2020.

“Wine and Magnolias,” a lesbian romance short story to appear in Mischief Media: A Story Most Queer Podcast

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Review of This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

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I think this novella is meant to be science fiction. According to the authors, Gladstone wrote Red and El-Mohtar wrote Blue. It was published by Saga in 2019, and runs 209 pages. This review contains spoilers.

Red and Blue are transhuman operatives in a time war, augmented with technology and able to change shape at will. Red works for the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia, and Blue works for the Garden, a consciousness embedded in all organic matter. The two scheme against each other and eventually begin to admire the other’s work. They start to leave messages for one another and eventually fall in love. However, there’s a risk in this, and eventually they become suspect. Can they engineer a scheme where they can be together?

On the positive side, this has evocative scenes and makes good use of poetic metaphor. There’s a symbolism in the opposition: technology versus nature. The time war seems to make use of butterfly-effect actions and weapons that echo down through the time threads and may or may not change the course of history, depending on whether the other side can analyze the effects and counter quickly enough. This was a pretty quick read, as the lack of significant events allowed for skimming. The solution to the problem is fairly clever.

On the not so positive side, this has very little in the way of either plot or world building. It’s an art piece: a series of nebulous, fantastical scenes unmoored in either time or space, interspersed with poetic letters that do little to clarify the situation. This means the characterizations are also poor. The whole thing is so vague that we can’t get a grip on either the two main protagonists or the flow of side characters that have no names and only a transient presence. Plus, I don’t see any reason for these operatives to fall in love. There’s very little content here, and the book comes off as mostly nonsense.

Two stars

Review of In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

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This novella is a finalist for the 2018 World Fantasy Award. It was published by Tachyon and runs 174 pages. This review contains spoilers.

Claudio Bianchi is an aging farmer and sometimes poet in Calabria, Southern Italy. His farm is remote, generally visited only by the postman, and he’s gotten used to having no company but his own. That means it’s a surprise when a unicorn begins to build her nest under his chestnut tree. After a period of gestation, she drops a black colt. The secret gets out and suddenly news reporters, tourists, unicorn hunters and animal rights activists are trampling over Bianchi’s farm, looking for the mystery beasts. The unicorns are elusive, and eventually the horde of people thins, but then Bianchi gets a visit from a representative of the local crime syndicate. Bianchi refuses to sell the farm, which puts everything he has at risk, including his newly discovered love for the postman’s sister Giovanna. The crime syndicate ups the pressure, but there’s something no one has considered. Where is the male unicorn?

This story is character driven and is a positive, enjoyable read. It has a simple plot, and Beagle’s prose has a magical, Old World feel to it. Bianchi is a simple man who enjoys his wine, his cows, his cats and his poetry. We get a good feel for the farm and the old house, plus revelations about what made Bianchi the near recluse that he is. The best thing about this is the symbolism, though. As soon as we see that demure little unicorn on the front cover of the book, we know it’s going to be about sex, right? Bianchi is revitalized by his developing relationship with Giovanna, and the ending is very powerful. Beagle is a pro, after all.

On the not so great side, there’s not much in the way of action here—it’s not that kind of book. I didn’t come away with a good feel for the village, either, or the surrounding countryside. Also, there’s not much character development for anybody but Bianchi. Giovanna comes across fierce, but we don’t know anything much about her but that.

Four and a half stars.

Scary poems!

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Edward LearI’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, and I may be back to posting next week. We’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I’ve got a poem called “The Haint” and a piece of artwork titled “Demon Face” up at the SFPA 2016 Halloween Readings page. Since I’ve been so busy, I need to thank Stace Johnson for doing the reading for me. This was a really fun poem to write, and it’s in no way serious. Please click the link to go check it out.

Bio of Hispanic SFF pioneer Jorge Luis Borges

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Jorge Borges (1899-1986) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of Jorge Guillermo Borges Haslam and Leonor Acevedo Suárez. The family was middle class, though not wealthy. Borges was home-schooled until age 11, and soon afterward the family moved to Switzerland because of political unrest in Argentina. Borges graduated from the Collège de Genève in 1918, and after World War I the family moved to Spain for a while and in 1921 returned to Argentina.

Borges published his first book of poetry Fervor de Buenos Aires in 1923 and by the mid-1930s was writing existential fiction in a style called “irreality.” In 1938 he nearly died after a head injury, and after recovering began to write in a different style. In his 1941 story “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan” (The Garden of Forking Paths), he wrote a combination of book and maze that can be read many ways, arguably the first example of a hypertext novel.

In his later years, Borges lost his eyesight, but continued to work with his mother as his secretary. In 1961 he came to international attention when he received the Prix International prize, and in 1971 the Jerusalem Prize. In 1967 Borges began a collaboration with the American translator Norman Thomas di Giovanni that made his work available to English-speakers. In 1967 Borges married the recently widowed Elsa Astete Millán, but the marriage failed after three years. In 1986 he married his personal assistant María Kodama, an Argentine woman of Japanese and German ancestry. Borges died of liver cancer on 13 June 1986 in Geneva.

Borges’ works include philosophical and political themes, and he is recognized as a pioneer in magical realism, with some critics considering him to be the originator of this type literature with the release of his “Historia universal de la infamia” (Universal History of Infamy). Regardless of his marriages, he was rumored never to have had sex. The philosophical term “Borgesian conundrum” is named after him, which is the question of whether the writer writes a story, or it writes him/her.

This information is from Borges’ article at Wikipedia. You can read more here.

Am being delinquent tonight

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FeatherPenClipArtI’ve been working on a novella about time travel instead of writing for the blog. Will get back to it tomorrow night.

In other news, I hear I have a poem and a photograph published in the Florida Poetry Association’s 2015 Anthology 33 this year. I don’t have my copy yet, so can’t say much more about it. The poem isn’t a surprise, but the photo is. If this sounds interesting, you can pick up a copy here.

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