My Worldcon drabble(s)

It’s around a month since Worldcon (what! how is it only a month; a gazillion things have happened since then…), so this is probably a good time to post the drabble I shared at the “Why Do Finns Love Their Drabbles” panel on Sunday 13 August.

I wrote a drabble in English, and then, out of a translator’s interest, translated it into Finnish – keeping the drabble definition of 100 words, of course. I discovered – not suprisingly – that I had to add almost a quarter more words to the Finnish version. The bare-bones translation only came to around 75 words. The wonders of an agglutinative language! I can’t see how you’d be able to translate a drabble (adhering to the 100-word format) from English to Finnish without collaborating closely with the original author: to get to 100 Finnish words, there’s so much stuff to add that translating becomes even more like rewriting than usual.

It’s far harder to write drabbles in English, too, in my opinion: you can get way more of an actual story into 100 words in Finnish. I can see why drabbles are so popular in Finland! Anyway, I thought I’d share both versions. Those of you who know both languages will be able to appreciate the extra details I added to the Finnish version. :)

***

Marketing Trick

The sign said: “First poem free!”. The poems were printed in green ink, sold by a woman on a street corner. Why would anyone want a second poem? But I can never say no to free stuff.

I read the poem that night. It was terrible, but I went back to the street corner the next day. I needed another poem. It cost 50 euros.

I went back the day after. And the day after.

By the time I realised the ink was addictive, it was too late. I needed more poems. Needed them more than my life savings.

Right?

***

TRANSLATION:

Markkinointikikka

Kyltissä luki “Ensimmäinen runo ilmaiseksi!”. Runot oli painettu vihreällä musteella; niitä myi mitäänsanomattoman oloinen nainen kadunkulmalla työmatkani varrella. Miksi ihmeessä kukaan edes haluaisi toisen runon? Mutta enhän minä ikinä pysty kieltäytymään ilmaisesta sälästä. Nappasin runon mukaani.

Luin runon samana iltana. Se oli järkyttävän huono ja lisäksi paperiarkin muste takertui kummallisesti sormenpäihini. Palasin silti takaisin kadunkulmalle seuraavana päivänä. Minun oli pakko saada toinen runo. Se maksoi 50 euroa. Maksoin mukisematta.

Palasin seuraavanakin päivänä. Ja sitä seuraavana.

Siinä vaiheessa kun tajusin musteen sisältävän koukuttavia ainesosia, oli jo liian myöhäistä. Tarvitsin lisää runoja. Tarvitsin niitä paljon enemmän kuin pitkään karttuneita säästöjäni.

Eikö vaan?

***

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Sunvault ToC & Flash Fiction Online antho

Two nice things to start off the week:

1) The Sunvault anthology ToC is out! I’m incredibly honoured to be among such fabulous writers. I’m really looking forward to this antho.

2) My story “Creation” is included in Flash Fiction Online 2016 Anthology Volume II: Fantasy. Yay! (You can get it here on Amazon.)

I wish I had more energy/time for writing and submitting new stories and poems, but alas, it’s challenging with my PhD and all. Also, I’m still concentrating my creative energy on novel revisions. I’m getting to the point where the bigger things have been fixed and it’ll soon be time for just adding smaller details / checking for consistency. And then for actually reading through the whole thing for voice and language. Not that much to go before it’ll be a finished third draft.

My work on it feels so inadequate, so slow – but I’m trying to be gentle to myself. I’m gaining more energy as the sunlight increases (spring equinox today! hurrah!), but I’m still recuperating from anxiety and exhaustion so I’m making every effort not to beat myself up over not “doing enough”. I’m working on the novel, even if it’s far slower than I’d like. That’s the main thing. Slow and steady, slow and steady.

Award Eligibility 2016

Award nomination season is upon us and I’ve had things published this year that I’m really proud of. I’d be honoured if anyone were to consider my work for nomination. I am also in my first year of elibigility for the Campbell Award.

So, with less self-deprecation than in the past couple of years, here are my award-eligible works for 2016:

Short story:

(eligible for the Hugos, Nebulas and World Fantasy)

“The City Beneath the Sea” (c. 1,100 words)
     Published in the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, edited by Rose Lemberg. This is a story on the borders of dream and waking. “They say it appears when the stars shift up right, shuffle into a straight line in their slow dance. And here we are, waiting.”

“Water, Birch, and Blood” (c. 4,100 words)
     Published in Strange Horizons, the special issue Our Queer Planet. This was inspired by summers spent in Finnish summer cottages, and wondering what happens to the children who save magical worlds and get sent back home. “Crows, their granite grey and black wings beating victory into the air, the flash of an unknown face like a fir tree–”

“Creation” (c. 1,000 words)
     Published in the August 2016 issue of Flash Fiction Online. Faerie is grim, but hope can be born even amid despair. “When the Queen of Faerie orders you to do something, you don’t refuse.”

(I’m very proud of all three stories, but especially since An Alphabet of Embers is not freely available, I’d like to recommend “Water, Birch, and Blood”.)

Poetry (short poem):

(eligible for the Rhysling Award)

“Creation” out in Flash Fiction Online

I’m happy to announce that my flash piece “Creation” is now out in the August issue of Flash Fiction Online.

You can read it here: Creation

It’s a story of Faerie, with an emphasis on language and Welsh things. I’ve visited the Welsh castle referred to in “Creation” myself, a few times: it’s a majestic place. (A seagull once stole my sandwich in Conwy town, but that hasn’t reduced my enjoyment of the castle.)

This story was born out of a writing exercise. From late 2013 to early 2015 I had a sporadic but persistent project where I wrote something – poems or short story snippets – based on the pictures in the 33 abandoned places in this post. The zero draft of “Creation” was written already in December 2013, inspired by picture #5, “The abandoned Wonderland Amusement Park outside Beijing, China”. I don’t know how I ended up writing about Faerie for that picture, but that’s how it turned out from the very start.

David Gray /Getty Images

David Gray /Getty Images

(Another of those abandoned-place stories has been published, too: The Ruin in Luna Station Quarterly, inspired by picture #8.)

Sunday recs: Hopeful fiction

The world’s been an awful place lately, so I think it’s a good time to read some hopeful fiction. So here are three such stories:

Songbird by Shveta Thakrar (in Flash Fiction Online): a gorgeous tale about music and identity, about the freedom to be who you are.

Prudence and the Dragon by Zen Cho (in The World SF Blog) this is just so ridic charming! I love Zen Cho’s writing (I highly recommend her short story collection Spirits Abroad!), and this story is no exception. I love the London-ness of this tale too: so very very London in atmosphere. “Prudence and the Dragon” made me laugh out loud several times and is just so warm-hearted. And has a female friendship at its core.

Iron Aria by A. Merc Rustad (in Fireside Fiction): what a wonderful, hopeful secondary-world fantasy story! I love how well Merc handles all the intersections of identity in this. The worldbuilding is fascinating (and so rich for a short story) and the characters really come alive.

An Alphabet of Embers update!

Aaasdgjhsdg I got my pre-release contributor ebook copy of Alphabet of Embers (ed. by Rose Lemberg)! The official print and ebook launch will be on the Nebula awards weekend, 12-15 May. The book has a Goodreads page already!

I just. Incoherence and happiness, right now. I reread my story (it’s in an actual book! along with contributions from some amazing authors who I really look up to! and the art is so amazing!) and felt a bit astonished that I’d written something that beautiful.

An Alphabet of Embers was my first professional fiction sale (and so far, my only; but I certainly hope it won’t remain my last!). And what a first! I feel so awed to be part of something this cool. This book jumped up to the top of my TBR pile – I can’t wait to get to read everyone else’s stories.

I’ll tell you more about my story once the anthology is officially out.

“Memory” in The Flash Fiction Press

My piece “Memory” is up in The Flash Fiction Press!

Read it here.

I wrote the first draft of this in summer 2013, based on the prompt “the smell of freshly-cut grass”. I occasionally do freewriting by hand in a notebook based on prompts written on paper slips that I keep in an old Cadbury’s jar. I should try to do it more regularly, because sometimes some cool stuff comes out of these scribbles.

"Memory" - first draft

“Memory” – first draft

Flash fiction sale to The Flash Fiction Press

My flash fiction piece “Memory” (fantasy, of sorts) will be appearing in The Flash Fiction Press on 21 September. I’ll post a link when it’s up!

After a bit of a fallow period during my all-too-busy summer, I’ve been increasing my fiction & poetry submission volume during the past couple of weeks. I’ve also got a lot of new – and some old – stories brewing, including a sequel to Moss. In fact, since I just spent the past hour and a half trawling through my notebooks and typing down ideas into a file for later consultation, I actually feel a bit overwhelmed by ideas. :D Always more ideas than time to write! And so many projects I’m working on/want to work on! (I really need to revise my poetry collection and actually send it out. I’ve been sitting on it for far too long…)

However, now out for a walk to brainstorm one of those story ideas.

Coming up later today: Sunday recs! I’ve been reading SO MUCH good stuff this week.

Finishing projects feels good

Around the end of December 2013, I came upon a post with pretty pictures of the 33 most beautiful abandoned places in the world. One of those clickbaity list posts, but this one struck a chord. I love the desolate beauty of abandoned things.

And so I decided to write something about all 33, inspired by the pictures but not necessarily relating to the real-world location or function of the place. I had thought I’d finish it all by the end of January 2014, but I didn’t keep at it diligently enough. I had a months-long pause and forgot all about it, but in mid-December I finally kickstarted my project again. And now, I have just finished writing a poem about the 33rd picture.

I didn’t manage to finish this project in the time frame I’d initially set myself, but I did finish in the end! And now I have 33 pieces of flash fiction and poems based on the pictures. Some of them will never make it past the initial draft phase; some of them I’ve already edited and sent off; some of them are rough now but contain interesting kernels of plot and character that might grow into proper stories one day; one of them will be published this year (as “The Ruin” in Luna Station Quarterly). Most excellent.

I’ve discovered that writing prompted by a picture is a good way for me to get my brain jogged into action. Will have to keep finding interesting pictures to leap into and write about. I should keep doing writing exercises of other sorts as often as I can, too – they’re a great way of building up writing muscle.

Award eligibility post (works published in 2014)

Firstly: this feels so weird. Award eligibility is for real writers, right? Not me? No, shut up, evil!brain. (This post by Amal El-Mohtar is very relevant…)

Anyway, I have done my research and to the best of my knowledge, it appears that the following works are eligible for awards (for 2014):

Poetry (eligible for the Rhysling award short poem category)

Short stories (<7,500 words)