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Entries tagged with “stories


It’s a new year! I intended to do one of those wrap-up posts that everyone does, but it’s already January 2nd so no one cares anymore. Suffice it to say that 2012 was a year of some pretty major ups and downs. On the ups, I published some stuff, including my first book, got an amazing agent which means my novel is now in excellent hands, and became involved with an extremely rewarding (and time-consuming) martial and cultural arts community. On the flip side of things, I lost a beloved parent, and as nothing else even comes close to that in terms of sadness, so that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

In re resolutions, one thing I’ve decided to do in this new year is blog more—but less about myself. To that end I’m going to start both posting my ongoing experiments with mixology, and also review kung fu movies. There’s nothing particularly thematic there, except that I like to mix cocktails and I watch a lot of kung fu movies. I’d love to inspire others to do more of both, so … okay!

But first, some (mildly hypocritical) housekeeping.

First! The Next Best Book Blog is hosting a giveaway plus an author/reader discussion of A Pretty Mouth. Basically you put your name into a hat for a free .mobi copy, then if you win it you read it and all through February I’ll be engaging in discussions/answering questions about the material. So pop on over and see what’s up! This reminds me to remind you that yes, the kindle edition of A Pretty Mouth is available, so tell any of your friends who mentioned being given Amazon gift cards for the holidays!

Next! “Herbert West In Love” is, as I mentioned, available for free along with the entire December edition of the Lovecraft eZine. But! You can also support the amazing work done by the eZine by either purchasing the podcast version of the issue or buying the ebook. I listened to the podcast of my story and it was an interesting experience! I’ve never heard anyone else read my work before.

Finally, I sold a story! “Tantivy” will be appearing in Steve Berman’s anthology Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages, out in 2013 from Prime Books. Mine’s about devious 18th century fops eschewing fox-hunting for hunting zombies. Well, of course it is!

Ho-kay! Now on to stuff not about me!

For Christmas I asked for a bunch of ridiculous wuxia/kung fu DVD sets, and my girl Raechel got me one that includes Vengeance is a Golden Blade, Have Sword Will Travel, The Water Margin, and The Wandering Swordsman.

I began last night with Vengeance is a Golden Blade, because great title. Too bad the title turns out to be misleading, just a bit. The golden blade is actually the MacGuffin of the film, and less the instrument of vengeance. Ah, whatever.

It begins with a bunch of shady fuckers, aka The Vicious Long Brothers, who are pissed at a marginally less-shady fucker and want to ambush/murder him because the Long Brothers provide “protection” for traveling merchants, but they rob their clients. The marginally less-shady fucker also provides protection but, you know, doesn’t rob his clients, so he’s gotten all their business. They are many but he is few, but he has the Golden Dragon Sword so he fights them and they lose and just get more pissed off.

This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Lead Shady Fucker of the Vicious Long Brothers has been carrying on a longtime affair with the wife of Marginally Less Shady. When Marginally Less Shady finds out about the affair, he tells his wife that because of her philandering she must kill herself. She doesn’t really think this is a particularly great idea (go figure) so instead she poisons Marginally’s eyeballs, temporarily, and he is forced to flee with his toddler-aged daughter Xiaolang. They take refuge with a crazy old herbalist and his son.

Fast forward to 18 years later, Marginally Less Shady is crippled and can’t do kung fu anymore so he has trained Xiaolang in swordplay and taught her that one day she must avenge him with the Hanglong Blade he’s been forging for 18 years, coincidentally. But he won’t tell her who will be the object of said avenging so she mostly hangs out practicing and flirting with the herbalist’s son in the bucolic Chinese countryside.

Then one day she begs to go to town and is allowed to for the first time, whereupon, because of course, she falls unwittingly into her now-a-Madam-of-a-whorehouse mother’s hands. But Madam Mother doesn’t know who Xiaolang is, so she tries to sell her body to a foppish magistrate who saw her doing kung fu against some dudes and was “impressed.” After a narrow escape from worse than death and learning that her mom’s a bitch, Xiaolang is pretty eager to wreak some goddamn havoc, and it’s a good thing too because Mom has realized that Xiaolang is her daughter, Marginally Less Shady is still alive and conveniently close-by, and her lover is still pissed about that shit way back when (even though he is in possession of the Golden Dragon Sword, quizzically). In the end, things get really real in the form of Xiaolang murdering improbable numbers of brigands with a sword, so basically my bread and butter.

I enjoyed the film, but I can’t give Vengeance is a Golden Blade more than 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. The herbalist motif is awesome, and Daughter Avenges Father is a favorite theme of mine … but the film is a bit slower than it needs to be, even for a Shaw Brothers kung fu epic, and the girl who plays Xiaolang isn’t all that great of a martial artist. Like, distractingly not that great. Still, definitely worthwhile!

Happy new year, everyone!

I’m sitting here eating Unfried Fried Rice from Appetite for Reduction, the low-fat cookbook I tested for last year, and it occurs to me that I should do one o’them end-of-year thingies I’ve been seeing all about the webz. It’s been a crazy year in general for me—as a writer, as an editor, as a daughter, and as a consumer of media, as well, so yeah. Some documentation seems in order:

As a writer:

2010 saw my first fiction sale ever, and then three others. In January I sold “In Sheep’s Clothing” to Running with the Pack, and the anthology—and my story in particular—got a bunch of really nice reviews and shout-outs. Then about midyear I heard “The Devil’s Bride” would be picked up by Palimpsest, and in October “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” was selected to be part of Innsmouth Free Press‘s forthcoming Historical Lovecraft anthology. Finally, Crossed Genres accepted “The Red Terror of Rose Hall” to be part of their subscriber’s content. I’m very proud of all of these!

As for non-fiction (or is it?!?!) my interview with zombie polka band The Widow’s Bane went up at Strange Horizons. That was a hoot, and I’m so pleased it found such a great home. Also this year, Jesse Bullington and I embarked on a quest to re-watch old movies from our childhood and blog about them. Right now “Films of High Adventure” is on hiatus due to both of us being busy (though our review of Dungeons & Dragons went up on Fantasy last week and I failed to make a note of it here—it was such fun), but throughout the year it’s been an interesting project to say the least. A hoot and a holler, yes indeed.

Since this is a rare writerly update from me, I’ll also talk about what’s up with my novel. Last year I typed THE END on the MS, edited it, and sent it on its merry way to an agent. That agent contacted me, and we talked on the phone about the book. While she didn’t wish to represent it at the time, she did say that if I wanted to rewrite portions of the MS, and do some other stuff with it, she’d be willing to give it a second looksee. All her suggestions made sense—total sense, actually—and so that’s where I’m at right now with my big project. It’s been difficult, but I’m starting to see a new book emerge that’s, I think, a better book, and so even if a revised manuscript is all that comes out of this, I sense it will be a net gain.

As an editor:

Last year I was already on board with Fantasy Magazine at the year’s dawn, but toward the end of the year, things started to get wild. It began with some changes for Fantasy: the editor and fiction editor announced they’d both be stepping down, and that John Joseph Adams would be taking over full editorship in March of 2011. In the wake of this, I was asked to take on managerial duties for John’s (now) two magazines—Lightspeed and Fantasy.

So far, this has been a total pleasure. Working with John is a lot of fun, and the Lightspeed team as a whole are awesome folks! I anticipate good things for Fantasy as 2011 progresses and we remodel a bit.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note a few of my favorite short stories this year, so in no particular order, my highlights for Fantasy (and a few from Lightspeed after I started) are:

At Fantasy:

And at Lightspeed:

As a daughter:

In the early months of 2010 my family found out that my dad was battling pancreatic cancer. This came as a shock to us all, as my dad is one seriously healthy dude. We had no idea just how much time we would have with him, but 2011 opens with my dad being healthier than he was this time last year, according to the doctors (I mean, as far as I understand it). His tumors, as of his last scan, were not particularly bioactive, meaning the hard-core chemo he was on did some damage to the cancer. He is working out, walking at least 10k steps every day, and eating healthy. It seems like he is baffling his oncologist and various other doctors with how well he is doing, so that’s awesome. I’m hoping 2011 holds even more remarkable health improvements for him. Big thanks to all who sent happy thoughts his way, in the form of prayer, well-wishes, emails, or anything else!

As a reader/movie-watcher/listener/video game player:

2010’s movie watching was largely “Films of High Adventure”-related, but there were a few others that rocked out and deserve a note. This year I actually saw a few movies that came out in 2010: Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and, um. . . Splice, but since that movie caused my first-ever film walkout, I dunno if it counts. The others were good! I also watched Hero, which was awesome, A Town Called Panic, which I liked far more than I thought I would, Moon Warriors, Mr. Vampire 2 AKA Crazy Safari, and the two late-in-the-year standouts, The Draughtsman’s Contract and The Prestige. Good stuff. I’m certainly leaving out a few, but those are what I can recall off the top of my head.

As for books, I think my Best Book of 2010 (that, shockingly enough, came out in 2010) would absolutely be Johannes Cabal the Detective by Jonathan L. Howard. I also read the first in the series in 2010, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, which was great—but I think Detective blows it out of the water. I actually participated in an inquisition of Herr Cabal around the time the book came out, which was a lot of fun, but the book stands on its own. It’s tremendous.

Also of note, I read Imaro by Charles Saunders in 2010, and that rocked my world, as did Elric of Melnibone and its sequel Sailor on the Seas of Fate. I also read Flora Segunda, which I loved, and a bunch of other stuff but I rearranged my books (read: put them on top of the bookshelf because I ran out of space) and now I can’t remember what I read this year. I’ll keep better notes in 2011.

I don’t ever listen to albums as they come out (I suck at keeping up with music) but omfg, Cee Lo Green’s The Ladykiller has been making doing the dishes actually fun.

And to round this out, as a gamer, motherfucking Cataclysm, nerds!

So that’s a year in review. I’m certainly neglecting things, like awesome new friendships made at World Fantasy and elsewhere, novels beta-read for my friends, things of note I’ll probably edit in later, and other stuff I’ve done/thought about/enjoyed/whatever (like, say, the fact that I actually typed THE END at the end of two manuscripts this year, but one will never-ever see the light of day), but I have to go to the bank to get quarters. It’s the first laundry day of 2011! Woo!