cafenowhere: close-up photo of champagne cork (champagne)
JJ and I received our contributor copies of Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland. I knew Upper Rubber Boot produces good-looking books, but the cover for Sunvault by Likhain is even more gorgeous and vibrant than you'd expect from the press photos.

village built on water with numerous multiple-story buildings graced with vertical and rooftop gardens

"Strandbeest Dreams" is a five-page poem inspired by Theo Jansen's Strandbeests, elegant kinetic artworks that Jansen aims to make self-sufficient and one day release in herds on beaches.



Because humans are not very good at letting creatures exist for their own sake, I imagined any such herds would be pressed into service, perhaps as beach cleaners. From one of our family vacations to a beach of Lake Michigan, I knew there would be plenty of clean-up for 'beests to perform on shores carpeted with zebra mussel shells. 

mounds of zebra and quagga mussel shells washed up on Lake Michigan

JJ has long admired the Strandbeests. When he found out Theo Jansen would be giving a lecture at the University of Iowa, he insisted our family attend. Jansen spoke of the 'beest evolution in a couple of different ways. Strandbeest enthusiasts all over the world download plans and create their own versions of the 'beests, often improving or customizing the designs. This is one mode of evolution. (Our family has actually bought and constructed two mini-Strandbeests, but we followed the instructions as closely as possible.) Another form of evolution is Jansen's pragmatic recycling of damaged, failed, or retired 'beests for parts. Subsequent generations may use the same PVC pipe "bones" or plastic pop bottle "air bladders" as their "ancestors" did.

Our poem posits both methods at work in our imagined Lake Michigan cleaner 'beests. The steward of the 'beests is a Latina scientist with lupus. Initially, the scientist (called The Hands) does not understand the titular 'beest's idiosyncratic malfunctioning, but eventually she applies her own experience of chronic illness to formulate an explanation and possible solution.

text reads "Star-lit, lupus-bit, The Hands reviewed the last few screens of diagnostics" over swirly yellow background

I have a different form of lupus than The Hands, but I'd really been wanting to write about the lengthy road to diagnosis for a host of autoimmune disorders. I also wanted to acknowledge the agony of these often invisible illnesses while honoring the achievements of folks suffering from them. It's not that good comes of the illness, but that we find and create good in SPITE of the illness, often using skills we've developed to cope with our illness. The distinction is fine, but important.

Our poem incorporates Spanish, pseudo-code, and the kind of medical questionnaire I've grown to despise. We were very careful with the formatting of the code, because, even though it's made up, the steps must be precise. If one has any hope of debugging a program (or navigating the health care system, for that matter), one must follow protocol, no matter how arbitrary that protocol may seem. Formatting turned into a big deal for the poem as a whole. Fonts, emphasis, columns and rows...we tried to maximize every inch of the page to reflect transitions in physical space, mental states, between languages and the narratives structured by differently purposed systems. That meant some back-and-forth in the copyediting stage, but publisher Joanne Merriam was very accommodating and conscientious, even when, late in the game, J and I decided we couldn't possibly use the word micron. No, it had to be micronewton.

Obviously, this was an incredibly personal poem for us. And our first poetic collaboration! We hope you enjoy "Strandbeest Dreams" and all the solarpunk speculations that Sunvault has to offer. 

cafenowhere: close-up photo of champagne cork (champagne)
Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Edited by Phoebe Wagner and Bronté Christopher Wieland, published by Upper Rubber Boot Books, Sunvault promises "a revolution against despair. Focusing on solutions to environmental disasters, solarpunk envisions a future of green, sustainable energy used by societies that value inclusiveness, cooperation, and personal freedom."

I'm proud that my poem "Strandbeest Dreams," cowritten with my husband, José Jimenez, is included in Sunvault, alongside work by Nisi Shawl, Daniel José Older, Bogi Takács, Jaymee Goh, and so many talented folks.


cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee wtf)
I haven't compiled a stats list this elaborate...ever. I've never shared payment info before. I post this information not to brag or bemoan my fortune, but to record for myself how much I've worked on this aspect of writing. Yes, it's been a struggle, but yes, I did accomplish stuff.

Also, as writers, it's really easy to get skewed ideas of how successful (or not) our colleagues are, since most of the time we only see sales or publication announcements, not spreadsheets. So, for the sake of transparency and camaraderie, I'm willing to risk embarrassing myself by putting my numbers out there.

Short fiction submission stats for the year are easy to compile (though depressing to consider), thanks to my account with The Grinder. Short lead times meant that my stories were published in the same year I sold them.

46 47 submissions [edited 12/29/16, because apparently I'm terrible at keeping records]
2 sales
4 subs still pending
$245 earned

Poetry submission stats are harder to produce, since each submission will contain anywhere from 1-4 poems, and obviously I don't send all the same poems to each market.

9 submissions
4 poems sold (2 from single-poem subs)
3 submissions still pending
~$183

Of the 6 poems published this year, I believe 3 were accepted last year. One poem accepted this year is slated for publication next year (but I've already been paid for it!). One payment was for a poem published last year.

My 3 nonfiction "subs" were abstracts for a conference and an anthology. One was accepted, the other two rejected. No payment, just glory. ;)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
Short Fiction

"The Flying Camel Goes to Tigerwood" (4800 words), a fun science fiction story about resistance on multiple levels, at Solarpunk Press, October 3. Available as text or audio.

"Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth" (reprint; originally published in my collection, The Haunted Girl), a sly South Texas fantasy, at Podcastle, September 27. Available as text or audio.


Poetry

"Coffee Shop Painting" (30 lines) / spellcasting with coffee! (and tea) / at Devilfish Review Issue 16, February.

"Uncommon Law" (25 lines) / Next time you need legal representation in the faerie realm.../ in charity anthology Angels of the Meanwhile, April. (with sneaky callback to "The Flying Camel..."!)

"A Personal History of the Universal History of the Things of New Spain" (100 lines) / imagined memoir of one of the indigenous scribes of the Florentine Codex / in Spelling the Hours, July 23.

"Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas Lost at Sea, 1527" (~60 lines) / subjects of Oceana wreak vengeance on conquistadors / in Strange Horizons, October 3.

"Why My Father Won't Be at My Wedding" (48 lines) / putting the strange in estrangement / in Polu Texni, October 17.

"Heliotrope" (34 lines) / When the dead come back, they don't always go home / in Polu Texni, November 14.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
When I posted about "Bilingual" at Podcastle, I had no idea the publications scheduled for October would all come out on the same day!

My story "The Flying Camel Goes to Tigerwood" is available to read or listen to at Solarpunk Press.

My poem "Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, Lost at Sea, 1527" is up at Strange Horizons.

My bibliography spotlight is up at ReadDiverseBooks.com.

Publishing is weird.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (jack skellington)
I like to spread Halloween out for as long as I can. Podcastle has encouraged my habit, by providing an early holiday treat: my autumnal tale "Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth" is now available as a podcast! This story evolved from a poem I wrote, "Hello Kitty, Hello Blood." It has goats and telescopes and teens, psychic mouths, magic wishes, and fey infection. If you prefer reading to listening, the entire text is at Podcastle, or you can read it in my collection, The Haunted Girl.

October will be a busy month for me. I'll have a new story at Solar Punk Press, a new poem at Strange Horizons, an author spotlight at readdiversebooks.com, and my poetry workshop at Sirens.

Less exciting but necessary nevertheless, I'll be undergoing a sleep study for my insomnia. I know these studies are pretty common nowadays, so if you've had the experience, tell me what you wish you'd known going in!

Okay, time to get back to my pumpkin-spice coffee. Happy Fall, y'all!

Poetry News

Feb. 8th, 2016 04:58 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hannibal's couch)
In case you missed the announcements on Twitter and FB, a new poem of mine is now online: "Coffee Shop Painting" appears in Issue 16 of Devilfish Review. This poem is about painting with coffee as a magical art form. I suspect it's partially influenced by viewing my mother's sketchwork when I was a child. She used charcoal instead of coffee, but it still seemed like conjuration to me.

And since the deadline for nominating works for the Rhysling Award is coming up (February 15!), I'd like to point out that I had three poems published last year. "Levity" and "Aboard the Transport Tesoro" are eligible in the short poem category, and "glass womb" is eligible in the long poem category.

Thanks for reading!
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
Poetry Notes for "Aboard the Transport Tesoro"

In November, my poem "Aboard the Transport Tesoro" appeared in Issue 7 of Uncanny Magazine. Now it's available to read for free online or listen to in a podcast.

The idea for the poem came to me on one of the many nights I lay awake in bed, in pain. I'd tried ignoring it, then meditating through it. I'd taken various medicines. I had my heating pad. I'd tried stretching out, scrunching up, lying on my back, belly, side. Nothing helped. To think of something other than hurting, I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could've done that day to trigger the pain. Nothing stood out. Eventually, I started to wonder what I had done, ever, in my life, to bring on this pain. Had emotion metastasized into physical ailment? Had I committed some sin or transgression? Was I being punished?

Pain makes me weird and illogical. (Or maybe that's my Catholic upbringing?)

These addled thoughts intersected with a conversation I'd seen on Twitter, about the difficulty of venerating elders (or ancestor worship) when your family is problematic. How do you overcome (or maybe just put aside) a history of conflict, or even abuse, for a continued relationship with the deceased? Can you ever trust them, let alone honor or respect them?

I wondered which of my ancestors might be inducing my suffering, and what they were trying to convey through the punishment. Only my grandmother seemed vindictive enough, but what had I done to piss her off this time? She held a grudge like a tick with lockjaw, so I supposed it could've been something I'd done in the past. But surely she knew my heart had changed over the years. I actually felt closer and more sympathetic to her than ever before. Maybe she was only acting out? Maybe she was hurting too?

And if I was so adrift, I wondered, how much more complicated could ancestor worship get in the future? With life-extending medicines and procedures, we might know our great-greats much more intimately, for better or worse. I imagined what it'd be like to have a wonderful, nurturing relationship with a great-great, and what I'd be willing to do for her when she finally passed.

Though I was still in excruciating pain, the poem came together very quickly after that. I got out of bed and wrote it down. I don't know how long it was before the pain subsided enough that I could sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I moved a couple of lines and typed it up, and it was done.

I don't see anything romantic about pain or suffering. If it were up to me, I'd have slept pain-free and never written the poem. But I do feel a grudging awe for the alchemy of poetry, which can take something as stupid and pointless as my pain and transfigure a bit of it. From lead to gold seems too self-congratulatory. So...shit to Shinola, maybe.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
This week I had two poems published!

The first, "Aboard the Transport Tesoro," appears in Uncanny Magazine, Issue 7, alongside work by fellow poets [livejournal.com profile] mariness and [livejournal.com profile] sovay. Also, I'm pretty tickled to share a ToC with Yoon Ha Lee, a Sirens guest of honor. By chance I was invited to join him and two other Sirens for a last, con-lagged lunch at the airport. (Hope I didn't get him sick.)

"Aboard the Transport Tesoro" grew from my sickbed thoughts about chronic illness and ancestor worship. I got up and wrote it in the middle of the night, cleaned it up, and sent it out. Quickest turnaround between composition and publication I've ever had!

The second poem, "glass womb," is online at Interfictions. This poem has perhaps my longest turnaround between first draft and publication. It took me a really long time to find the poem's final form. I can't say why exactly, why it never clicked, why I never abandoned it. I think I had to wait for tumblr to be born and show me pictures from the Mütter Museum and the specimen still lifes of Frederik Ruysch.

And that's my good news for the week!
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
While I was on vacation, I accumulated some good news.

First, the table of contents for Spelling the Hours, a poetry chapbook forthcoming from Stone Bird Press, has been announced. The chapbook (a bonus for backers of An Alphabet of Embers) focuses on previously forgotten figures in science and technology, and it includes my poem "A Personal History of the Universal History of the Things of New Spain," which is about the unknown Nahua artists of the Florentine Codex.

Second, my poem "glass womb" is slated for publication in the fall issue of Interfictions. I think I've been subbing this poem for over ten years, but it crystallized into its final form quite suddenly in January. I credit gruesome pics on tumblr.

Third, my poem "The Skin-Walker's Wife," originally published in Strange Horizons, will be reprinted in the Queers Destroy Horror! issue of Nightmare magazine, which should be out around October.

More details (possibly even poem notes!) when publication draws near.

Cheers, my friends!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (accomplished)
Editor Mitchell Hart has posted the newest issue of Through the Gate, which includes my poem "Levity." A short, whimsical piece about what [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume aptly terms "inconvenient miracles," this poem was loosely inspired by old photos of spiritualists. Also included are works by [livejournal.com profile] popelizbet, [livejournal.com profile] sovay, Bogi Takács, M Sereno, Neile Graham, and Sarah Page, in an ever-changing lineup that prompts the reader to consider connections between the works. Or maybe the Table of Contents is just tricksy and having fun!

At Lightspeed, [livejournal.com profile] tithenai has reviewed three books from Aqueduct Press: [livejournal.com profile] sovay's latest collection, Ghost Signs, Jenn Brissett's novel Elysium, and my collection, The Haunted Girl. Amal is very complimentary, which is thrilling in itself, but she also clearly "gets" my book. I wanted to hug these words:

...at the collection’s core: resistance to norms, to imposition, be they of language, sexuality, or mortality. There is a sharpness, a sting to most of these poems, of the kind that makes you hiss and then seek it out again....I loved the collection’s bilingualism, both in the presence of Spanish and the musings on being between languages, on the thermodynamics of translation.

I am so grateful my work is out there, being read, being appreciated.

Now, back to work!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (neon sign)
Bogi Takács ([livejournal.com profile] prezzey) recently featured my poem "Golden Age" in eir #diversepoems recommendations on Twitter. Knowing how much Bogi appreciates bonus notes, I thought now would be an excellent time to elaborate on my poem, which originally appeared in Devilfish Review.

A note about the venue: Okay, coolest name ever! And some kind of cephalopod on their banner? I was sold! But when I read the editors' profiles, I realized they too are from the Rio Grande Valley. That definitely influenced my decision to send them "Golden Age."

I titled this poem "Golden Age" because I thought a certain type of science fiction becomes really appealing when one is first coming to understand mortality, specifically the mortality of our older loved ones.

Diabetes runs in my family. The grandmother I grew up with had Type 2 and her brother had Type 1. He needed regular injections, and the needles frightened me. I don't actually remember him doing the blood test strips, but he'd already lost an eye from diabetes complications. His glass eye was another fright to me, especially when he didn't have it in the socket or he took it out to tease us kids. Not understanding the difference between the two diabetes and seeing the common problems they caused my grandmother and her brother, I had a constant background worry that my grandma would get "as bad" as him. (And, in fact, she did have a host of health problems, related and not to the diabetes.)

Bogi mentioned the code-switching in the poem, and honestly, I had to go back to see what I'd done. I knew I'd used Spanish, but I'd forgotten how I'd had the child and Abuela go back and forth from English to Spanish, the give and take that was necessary to have that conversation between a mostly English-speaking Latina child and her mostly Spanish-speaking grandmother. That bilingual waltz was so ingrained in my childhood--and continues to this day between me and my mother-in-law--that it naturally emerged in the poem.

I had a difficult relationship with my grandma. In my opinion, she was not a good mother and she was unfairly thrust into the role a second time when my parents separated and she became responsible for us kids most of the time. I've written unhappy, even angry things about Gram, so I was glad to write a small, intimate remembrance that condenses the tender moments we shared.
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
I'm pleased to report that my poem "Levity" has been accepted for issue 6 of Through the Gate. "Levity" is a short, whimsical, non-angsty piece, and I look forward to sharing it with you. :)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (xmas)
Some of this info is listed in my previous "Brain Weasels" post, but I know folks are busy and have a lot of reading to do. If you're voting and don't yet have my collection, I can email you the eligible pieces from The Haunted Girl.

Rhysling-eligible poems
nomination deadline Feb 15


Long form
"Teratoma Lullaby" in Stone Telling
"Una Canción de Keys" in Strange Horizons
"Backbone of the Home" in Mythic Delirium

Short form
"Golden Age" in Devilfish Review
"Love Letters for the Itinerant" in Liminality
"Geminids" in The Haunted Girl
"Ankhst" in The Haunted Girl
"Empty Nest" in The Haunted Girl

Eligible Fiction, Short Story
nomination deadline for Hugos, Mar 10; for Nebulas, Feb 15

"Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth" in The Haunted Girl

Respect

Dec. 26th, 2014 02:14 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
Something I've noticed and really appreciate in the reviews I've seen for The Haunted Girl--and I know, I said I wasn't reading reviews and I WASN'T but I've had to break down and at least skim some, for marketing reasons--is that folks are careful not to make assumptions about what and how much is autobiographical and what's fictional. It's hard to explain how grateful I am for that. Like a sunburn gone unslapped, a bruise unpressed, a chink in armor respectfully avoided.

When "The Skin-Walker's Wife" was first published, a few folks looked at me differently, as if I'd confessed something they weren't comfortable knowing.

I imagine all emotional writing is in some sense autobiographical, and for sure, I put a lot of myself into the individual works, not really thinking about what would happen when they were collected. And no doubt some critics would say that if I wasn't ready for folks to ask uncomfortable questions, I shouldn't have published. But (and so) I am really glad that readers have been more compassionate, and I hope that any uncertainty they feel, as to where the line between my memories and imagination falls, enriches their reading experience.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hammer head)
I have depression. It's worse in the winter. It's especially bad around the end of the year, when I start seeing "Best of" lists and begin taking stock of my own accomplishments, "or lack thereof!" as my brain weasels are eager to interject.

I always feel like I haven't written enough, I haven't published enough, I haven't submitted enough, I haven't whatever. You might think that having a collection released this year from a publisher I deeply admire would assuage the self-doubt--after all, it's a physical thing in the world I can touch; I didn't have to bribe or murder anyone for it--but oh how wrong you'd be!

(Er, about the self-doubt being assuaged, not bribery or murder.)

For the fucking record, in addition to The Haunted Girl, I had five poems published this year:
"Teratoma Lullaby" in Stone Telling
"Una Canción de Keys" in Strange Horizons
"Backbone of the Home" in Mythic Delirium
"Golden Age" in Devilfish Review
and "Love Letters for the Itinerant" in Liminality

Earlier, I thought it was only three poems, because depression is an unjust editor or a stuck delete key or something.

I don't know how many poems I wrote, but I wrote one novel and three short stories. (Doesn't matter that the book needs major revisions, it's drafted and that's nothing to sneer at. Doesn't matter that one story is an utter failure. It was also an experiment. Shut up, brain weasels.)

I am bad at keeping track of subs, but I'm pretty sure I made at least six, and four of those were to new-to-me markets. I'd forgotten some of those, too, before I checked my sent emails. [Update: managed 2 more subs before year's end!]

I put together an author website (which needs to be updated) and created author pages on Amazon and Goodreads. I did a Goodreads giveaway.

These are just the writerly things I accomplished (and can remember). And writer is only part of who I am. But next time I feel crummy about what I did or didn't do professionally in 2014, I can look at this entry and tell the brain weasels to fuck right the fuck off.

Hmph!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bloody drinking)
Only 12 hours left to enter to win a FREE copy of my book, The Haunted Girl, via Goodreads! Spooky, sexy, and sometimes shocking, this collection of poetry and short fiction with a South Texas slant will keep your blood pumping through the cold winter months.

Enter now, or tell a friend!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bloody drinking)
I am giving away two copies of my collection, The Haunted Girl, through Goodreads. Click the cover to enter the drawing! And please, spread the word!

haunted girl cover

This contest ends October 31, 2014 and is limited to Goodreads members in the US and Canada. If there's enough interest, I may do another giveaway that's open to (more) international readers.

You can also purchase the book directly from Aqueduct Press or Amazon.

And you can ask your public library to acquire the book. Requesting the book can be especially important if you believe your library collection needs more diversity!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (skull gloves)
I shared this on Twitter, but now it's time to share with a larger audience. Behold, the cover of my forthcoming collection, The Haunted Girl !

The art is "Texts for a Lost Tribe, #9" by ceramic artist and art educator Jenny Andersen. I am so grateful Ms. Andersen allowed Aqueduct Press to use the image, and thrilled that Aqueduct's managing editor, Kath Wilham, spotted the art and thought of my book.

I believe the manuscript has now gone to the printer, so we're on track for release in the fall.

hauted-girl-cvr-lr
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bloody drinking)
I am ELATED to announce that my first collection, The Haunted Girl, will be published by Aqueduct Press as part of its Conversation Pieces series!

The Haunted Girl includes some of my earliest poetry and fiction publications (dating back to 1998!), as well as more recent works originally published in venues such as Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, and Stone Telling. The book also will include five previously unpublished poems and a brand new story: "Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth."

The Haunted Girl should be available for purchase, as a paperback and e-book, in late summer or early fall. More details when I've got them!

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