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free fiction for friday!

If you haven’t yet snagged a copy of the critically-acclaimed Sybil’s Garage No. 7, for a limited time you can download a free PDF of the issue courtesy of Senses Five Press. It will be available online until February 15th, 2011, when the nomination period for the Nebula Awards closes. This is a beautiful magazine packed with excellent fiction, articles, and poetry–but don’t settle for my (moderately biased) opinion, when you can read it for yourself.

Selfishly, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to look at my science fiction short “My Father’s Eyes.” I’m very proud of this story–one of my best pieces to date. It has received some notice in reviews, and I would of course be thrilled if anyone enjoyed it well enough to nominate it for a Nebula or a Hugo Award. One can dream, right? But if my story doesn’t do it for you, I believe that you’ll find at least one in the issue that you will love, and none of them would be out of place on an award ballot.

Thanks to Matt Kressel for making this electronic edition freely available to everyone. This is the best issue of Sybil’s Garage yet, and I’m pleased that many more people will be able to sample it now.

And here’s a brief excerpt from “My Father’s Eyes”:

My hands tremble as I swirl developer solution over the photographic paper. I’ve never been more anxious to see one of my pictures before. My classmates would say this is another drawback to traditional photography over digital: delayed gratification. I’ll never make that technological leap; I still shoot in black and white. My father never dabbled with digital photography either, and it’s because of him that I decided to become a photojournalist in the first place.

A cloudy scene emerges on the paper floating in the tray. Shapes and shadows magically replace the blank white surface, gradually forming trees and rocks. I’ve had this image burned into my mind ever since I glimpsed it through my lens and my finger instinctively clicked the shutter. It’s a bad photo, the subject slightly unfocused and too far away, though I’ve blown it up as much as I can. It won’t help my thesis project or launch a career, but it’s the single most important picture of my life.

As I squint at it in the dim red glow of the safelight, a crouching figure fades into the scene like a ghost. His face is blurred, captured in motion just as he’d turned and darted away. Despite the blurring, and the fact that I haven’t seen him in fifteen years except in other pictures, I know he’s my father. I knew it even before I unloaded the film from my camera.

Read the rest in Sybil’s Garage No. 7!

another review of “My Father’s Eyes”

Sybil's Garage #7Seamus Sweeney reviewed Sybil’s Garage No. 7 for SF Site, with some complimentary remarks on my story, “My Father’s Eyes”:

This was one of the most moving, and in an unforced way original, stories in the collection–my joint favourite with M.K. Hobson’s “Kid Despair in Love.”

Overall he seems to like the rest of the issue quite a bit:

Sybil’s Garage achieves a satisfyingly universal appeal, and an extremely high degree of literary quality… it is pretty wonderful stuff—beautifully produced, and never dull. The stories are a mix of slipstream, near-future, horror, comedy horror, mythic and pseudo-mythic—eschewing anything as vulgar or misleading as a neat straightjacket of genre.

You can check out the full review here and pick up a copy of Sybil’s Garage No. 7 at Senses Five Press.

children’s literary salon

This afternoon I joined some friends at the New York Public Library Children’s Literary Salon, a monthly gathering of adults who love children’s fiction of all age groups and genres. I used to frequent this series when it was the Children’s Lit Cafe at the now-defunct Donnell branch of the NYPL, but despite my best intentions, this is the first event I’ve attended since the Children’s Room moved to the Main Branch. (You know, the one with the lions.)

The room was mostly full, which is encouraging when the media keeps trying to convince us that no one reads anymore. It’s also wonderful that so many grownups are interested in children’s literature. (There actually were some kids there too, though this seems to be frowned upon.) Betsy Bird moderated a panel on the topic of “Blood, Bones, and Gore: Horror and the Modern Children’s Book,” which featured authors Kate Milford (The Boneshaker), Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark & Grimm), and Michael Teitelbaum (The Scary States of America). The Boneshaker and Dark & Grimm were already on my to-read list, now joined by Teitelbaum’s short story collection of 50 scary “true” stories from across America. The authors preferred to classify their books as scary/creepy rather than horror, which they defined as the uncanny–a twisting of the familiar into the unfamiliar–and an exploration of the things that frighten us in real life.

I was glad that the “ARC cart” is still a feature of the Salon: a library cart full of advance reading copies up for grabs. Have you ever seen a group of avid readers descend on a pile of free books? Watch out! Actually, everyone is polite and orderly–even when someone takes the last copy of a book you really want just before you can get to it. (Not that this has ever happened to me, mind.) I made out pretty well though, which is good since I have three new books to buy.

I love getting early release copies of books, partly because I’m impatient to read an upcoming book I’m excited about, and partly because it makes me feel special to have something before most other people and I’m needy that way. I’m not alone in this, right? Unfortunately, I’m also usually way behind on my reading, so I may not read an ARC until long after the actual book has been published (eg. Fire by Kristin Cashore). I’ve been hearing about Cindy Pon’s Fury of the Phoenix for a while though, so that moves pretty high on my list of next reads, even though it’s on the bottom in this picture for structural integrity. What’s next on your reading pile?

The Salon is generally held on the first Saturday of the month at 2pm at the NYPL Children’s Center at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue. Next month they’re going to discuss children’s poetry on February 5.

good news, everyone!

At this moment, words fail me because anything I come up with seems like a massive understatement. So I’ll just come out with it:

My first young adult novel, Fair Coin, just sold to Lou Anders at Pyr!

I’ll share more details when I have them, but for now I’ll say I couldn’t be more pleased to work with such an amazing editor, and I think Pyr is the perfect place for this book. It will take me a while to write out the final acknowledgements page, but I have to thank my awesome agent, Eddie; my fiancee, Carrie, who encouraged me to write the book in the first place and did an impressive job editing the early drafts; and of course, my friends and beta readers, including members of Altered Fluid and Clarion West ’05. This was totally a team effort and I would be lost without all of your sharp critiques and constant support.

I’m sure there will be many related blog posts about this in the days/months/years to come, but for now I’m just letting the news sink in. I actually sold a book!

the year we made contact

I wasn’t going to do a 2010 review of my accomplishments because it’s a lot of work to recap everything and I’d rather spend my limited free time building toward an even better year. (If I had a New Year’s Resolution, it would be to blog more frequently.) But a lot of people are doing it, so I figured I can at least post some highlights you may have missed, in brief. In no particular order, the things I am happiest and proudest of:

  • I proposed to my wonderful girlfriend of six years in a fairly geeky way, and she said yes! (No surprise that the impending wedding will preoccupy us for much of the first half of 2011.)
  • One of my favorite and best short stories, “My Father’s Eyes,” was published in Sybil’s Garage No. 7. Even better, this story has been getting favorable comments both online and offline. If you have the opportunity to read it, I’d appreciate it if you considered nominating it for the Nebula or Hugo Awards. I read part of it on Jim Freund’s original Hour of the Wolf radio show on WBAI 99.5 FM with editors and writers from Sybil’s Garage, and it may be dramatized in part in a short promo film for the magazine.
  • I sold my short story “All the Lonely People” to Shimmer, a magazine I have wanted to be published in since I saw the first issue. It should appear in the next issue, lucky number 13. I read “All the Lonely People” at a New York Review of Science Fiction Reading featuring other members of my writing group, Altered Fluid: Mercurio D. Rivera ( who co-hosted with Jim Freund), N.K. Jemisin, and Devin Poore. I look forward to more people getting to see this one.
  • My writing group also participated in a round-table interview at Clarkesworld Magazine.
  • I finished the first draft of a contemporary YA novel, tentatively titled Untwinned (formerly known as Birthright), which I hope to revise sometime this year, after I finish the current revision of Who We Used to Be.
  • I read 55+ published books, mostly YA, which is far less than I would like. I read and critiqued 6 or 7 unpublished and soon-to-be-published novels too, but I suppose those don’t count, though they certainly had an impact on the time available for other reading.
  • I helped Ellen Datlow read for the next Year’s Best Horror for Night Shade Books, right up to the wire. Unfortunately I won’t be able to continue reading for future volumes, but I enjoyed working with her a lot over the last few years and I think my writing improved from exposure to such a wide range of short fiction.
  • Torie Atkinson and I moved our celebrated Star Trek Re-Watch from to our own dedicated website, The Viewscreen. This endeavor represents a significant amount of time and effort from both of us, but I enjoy the challenge of maintaining a weekly blog and we’ve built a fantastic community there. I also think our reviews are consistently thoughtful and well written, though I will be honest and admit that I can’t wait for the third season to be over. I know I frequently post about my reviews here, which may not interest everyone, but we’re rather proud of the site and it deserves as much attention as we can attract. We have big plans for it in 2011 too. Some recent reviews: “Wink of An Eye,” “The Empath” (this episode to be avoided at all cost!), and “Elaan of Troyius.”

I may have missed some things, but I’m officially done with 2010 and ready to move on to bigger and better things. Happy New Year!

ETA: I did forget two important things!

  1. I fully completed New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
  2. I began editing book trailers for a few different clients, but my best is the one I made for Alaya Dawn Johnson’s book Moonshine. Check it out–it’s only 30 seconds long!