March 20, 2012

Free toys!

I promise not to be a pain on this subject, but today the kindle version of Attic Toys, with my creepy teddy bear story in it, is FREE on Amazon. That's right, zero dollars and zero cents. If you won't buy it for that price, you're sillier than a chicken in a chicken suit.

And that's sillier
than this.
I'm also pleased as punch to be mentioned in two of the three reviews on Amazon. I'm someone's favourite! With a "U"!

Also free today are these other titles from Evil Jester Press: Evil Jester Digest Volume One, The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse, and HELP! WANTED: Tales of On-the-Job Terror. I know nothing about these other books. Let me know if they're awesome.

March 15, 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, er, Genre

Actually, it did start with the bomb.

Novel #1 (the homeless wonder) left my brain as a literary work, in which characters are guided by their prophetic dreams, sometimes to do things like build nuclear bombs out of smoke detectors and car parts and commit a little terrorism. Perhaps oddly, none of this struck me as fantastic or science-fictional. I do believe that dreams can show us things, and I do believe in the ingenuity of properly motivated and educated people. But the novel was widely seen as SF by literary folks (perhaps explaining its unsold status, but that is another story). This irked me, because I didn't want my book shelved alongside sword-toting elves.

Sometime lately I realized that although I was once a literary snob, sneering over my spectacles into the genre ghetto, concerned with "respectability," now I tend toward snobbery of another flavor. Or at least I have been seeing the (permeable, imprecise) distinction between literary and genre more clearly, and I have been seeing it in a way that makes me proud to live, for the most part, on the SF side of the wall.

Because I just read it, Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake will be unfairly singled out in this post as an example of what I mean. It is certainly not the only book to suffer from an uncomfortable blend of genre and literary sensibilities, nor is it even a bad book. I kind of recommend it. Read it if (as I was) you're traveling standby and end up waiting in an airport for six hours. But the book left me with an odd taste in my mouth, and it wasn't sadness or lemon cake.

The book focuses on Rose, who as a child develops the ability to taste the emotions of food preparers, starting with her mother's sadness. The SF element is presented matter-of-factly. It is a Real Thing, and the solidness of that aspect plants a foot in the fantasy realm.

And yet. The book's real focus is Rose's unbelievably distant family: her adulterous mother, withdrawn father, and even more withdrawn--to the point of barely speaking to Rose--brother. Rose's emotional balance as she grows up is far more important than her superpower. (Which, incidentally, is almost totally negative for her. Why, I wonder, did she so rarely taste happiness?) And so the other foot stands in a literary place.

March 09, 2012

Attic Toys

My story, "Down in the Woods Today," is in this collection:

I'm an "and many more!" Just like the Professor & Mary Ann.

You can buy it for kindle today, for the low low price of only $2.99. If you get the sample first, or "look inside" the text, you'll get tantalizingly close to the end of my story, hopefully to the point that you won't be able to resist buying the book just to find out how it ends. Or something like that.

If you don't have a kindle (or kindle app), you can't buy the book yet, but I'm told there will be a paper version too. I don't know when or where, but I'll let you know.

March 02, 2012

Villains & Cool Kids

In high school, there were two girls who I called friends for a time. Until one day I pulled up with my lunch tray and they said, "We don't really want you to sit with us anymore."

It was pretty much like that.

Why am I telling you this? Aside from the fact that apparently I enjoy sharing my embarrassing pain, I've been thinking about character, about bitterness and villainy. Because it hurt me when they said that, and I've clutched that pain to my chest for these years, crushed it into angry diamonds. How could they do such a thing? I asked myself.

And just the other day my paradigm shifted. The thing about people--and characters--is that no one is the villain of her own story.

Maybe those girls weren't trying to be mean. Maybe I was really annoying. Maybe I was obtuse, ignorant to the many gentle signals they tried to give me, pushing me away. Maybe my clumsy, desperate attempts to be loved made me repulsive. Should they have been forced to suffer through my presence every day for the rest of high school? Of course not. It seems to me now that they were only being honest with me, respectfully direct.

And yeah, my mind is blown. But this is exactly the kind of character insight that makes for well-rounded characters, flawed "heroes" and sympathetic "villains."

Speaking of cool kids (which we weren't, really--the girls I aspired to be friends with weren't cheerleaders or even star theatre nerds; they were quirky potheads, themselves pretty far down the social pyramid). But speaking of cool kids, I am a lucky writer-girl now. I've sidled up to a new lunchroom table, and no one has yet asked me to leave. We have a blog, over at, and from time to time I will be posting content there, if my talented new friends will keep tolerating me.