Story Release Day for “Cold Currents”

Happy New Year!

For me, 2019 is immediately looking up, because today my short story, Cold Currents, is available at Abyss & Apex Magazine. It’s very short, but very special to me. Let me tell you why.

Over on Codex, where I’m a member, there are a number of flash-fiction writing contests each year where contestants are given prompts and have a short amount of time to write a new tale. This story started here, with the prompt being “Interview an older generation relative and write a story around something you learn from them.” Well, at first I thought that prompt was out for me, since all my older relatives are gone. My siblings and I are now the eldest of our tribe.

But then I remembered that my sister had, just two weeks before, sent me a clipping she’d found from an old newspaper. It turns out that our maternal grandfather, a fireman in Toledo, Ohio, had jumped into the river to save a potential suicide’s life. I’d never known this about him–none of us had. Grandpa had died when I was just three.

Now I really wished I could talk with him and find out why he’d done this. The clipping had plagued me, so I decided to write this story using that clipping as my “interview.”

I changed a whole lot, of course. My grandfather’s background was German, but his name was Arthur, not Otto. And as far as I know, no one in my family has committed suicide, thankfully, although there is a streak of depression running through us.

This story is also special because it marks my first “repeat performance,” and at a market I love. A definite Writer’s Career Bingo square, if not two.

So there you have it. A chance bumping together of a story prompt and an unexpected, yellowed newspaper clipping about my grandfather’s young days on the fire squad brings about my first repeat sale to a market.

Here’s hoping the year only goes up from here. Wishing you hope, health, and happiness in 2019.

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December Travels

The Spousal Unit and I celebrated a Significant Anniversary this year, so we celebrated by taking a Significant Trip. We chose to return to Nürnberg, Germany (where we lived for a couple years) to visit the annual Christmas Market, or Christkindlesmarkt (which we haven’t seen for nearly 20 years!!!!!!).

The view from our window on a rare, blue-skied moment.

It was a magnificent trip! We stayed at a VRBO just inside the Altstadt walls, close to the tower gate that we entered when we lived there. It was quiet and peaceful, and close to everything, including mass transit. Perfect! Here’s a view from our window.

The market was everything we recalled: nice and fun and filled with delights during the week, and a crazed mass of wall-to-wall people on Saturday night. Honestly, even wearing a winter coat, some of those folks I skooched by now know me really well. But the food was good, the glühwein warming and yummy, and the sound of the bells ringing out from each church a sheer delight. We brought home gifts both for ourselves and our friends, but the best thing we brought home was memories–both reawakened old ones, and new ones from this trip.

Here are a few pics from our adventures.  

 

 

 

It was amazing how many things had changed. But it was also reassuring how much had remained the same. And as with every good trip, I’m glad we went, I’m gladder to be home again, and yet I can’t wait to return.

Nürnberg holds a tiny piece of my heart, forever.

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It’s That Nominating Time of Year

It’s awards season in the SFF world. Time to think about what you’ve read in 2018, what you’ve loved, and if you’re able, nominate works for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and/or Hugo Awards, among others. To make it easy, many writers, now including me, make a recap post of what they have that is eligible.

I had only one short story published this year, but it’s one I love dearly. If you’ve read it, I hope you love it too, and will consider it in your nomination choices. Waaaaay back in January, Galaxy’s Edge Magazine published After the Story Ends. (It’s in Issue 30, if that helps.) It’s a story about the Fae, and depression, and how sometimes, bringing your stolen child back from Fairy isn’t the hardest part.

Thanks for your consideration.

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Finally, It’s Fall

This morning I woke to a thick blanket of fog rolling up from the low spaces. It hung heavy over the earth, dampening sound as well as grasses and shrubs. As the sun rose, it shrouded the sky higher up, making distant trees indistinct and grainy, and obscured the yellow ball of the sun until just recently. Even the crows respected the fog, remaining quieter, longer.

A sure sign of transitional weather, this is the first fog I’ve seen this season. It means cooler weather to come, and a quick check of the weather proves this to be true. I’m ready for fall–real fall, that sticks around instead of fleeing at the first sign of Summer’s pushback, letting temps climb back into the upper 80s and above. I’m ready for long sleeves, and long pants, and maybe a roast or stew for dinner. Change: it’s good, and it’s time.

I’ve been writing on the novel, but my written words aren’t as prolific as they were at my residency. This makes me feel like I’m slacking, or shirking, while in reality, it’s just life slowly gobbling away my time and attention. I’m trying not to let it get me down, but (like with so much in this world, and this life), it’s hard.

To counter the sense of getting nowhere fast, I’ve re-started a daily word count spreadsheet that some of the people I went to Taos Toolbox with use. We keep it on a Google Docs spreadsheet, available to all of us, so there is a small public accountability built in. And I’ve got to admit, seeing the “smaller” daily word count building up is helping me see that I am making real progress after all.

I’m also taking one day a week to work on editing short stories that I’ve written which have been languishing, unsubmitted, unedited–sometimes only half-written–in favor of the novel. This, too, feels good. The “instant gratification” of a short story, or a short story submission, is a shot of endorphins straight to the brain. “Look, see–I am a writer! I do have submissions out!” Brains, they’re such silly, manipulatable things, amiright?

Things to look forward to:

  • I’m approaching the mid-point of the novel! Things really pick up pace after that.
  • Thanksgiving! (and Thanksgiving leftovers!) Yum.
  • Hearing the return of the sandhill cranes as they wing overhead.
  • Watching Dasher get frisky, and run and play longer in the newly cool weather.
  • Anniversary travel in early December. Even though our wedding was in September, our big trip is planned for December. You’ll see why, once I post some photos. 🙂

Well, the crows have ceased their calling, so it’s time for me to start the writing day. Enjoy fall, in whatever form it takes for you (or spring, if you’re in the southern hemisphere!). Linger in the moment, make it a good memory. Something you can see and feel and smell again, over and over, when you need it. Yes, there’s definitely magic in that.

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A Very Successful Residency, with Sunset Pics

My two-week residency is, alas, over. I am home again, and fully immersed once more in my “real life.” Which isn’t bad–I missed my husband, and my dog, and I’m glad to see my neighbors and friends again, and to be back in my house. But I have to admit that the time I spent at the Key West Literary Seminar apartment was magical. It was so quiet there at the end of the lane! I greeted every dawn from my tiny balcony, watching the sky turn from white to pink to blue while roosters crowed their dominance to the world, and temperatures rose from moist-and-blissful to daytime sweaty-hot. Which meant it was time to retreat inside and write.

My workspace at the residency: spacious and inviting.

And write I did! In just 2 weeks, I managed over 27,000 words on the novel alone! I also edited four separate short stories, and sent one out on submission for the first time. On one particular day, I wrote 2800 words on the novel, then came back later to edit a short story–and I didn’t feel burned out or destroyed! With no other responsibilities on my plate, all my energy went into my writing. I felt (and still feel!) like during this time I was transformed into Super-Writer.

I broke my writing into three, sometimes four, separate sessions, and them divided with time spent walking or biking across the island, taking in sights, or doing activities. I snorkeled at the beach, watched many sunsets, visited the KW Garden Club’s awesome location, rode through various neighborhoods taking in the sights, ate ice cream, cruised Duval Street, toured both Hemingway House and the Oldest House, played pinball, walked the waterfront often, and took a sunset cruise. I caught up on my sleep, read a lot, and felt like I was living in a slightly-fuzzy dream.

Then I look at my novel, at the word count tracker and the number of plot points I’ve already written and realize it was no mere dream. It was real.

A series of sunrise photos:

Thank you again to the KWLS and the people that make this happen. The dream is real; you can apply.

Sunset from Ft Zachary Taylor State Park

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Hey, What the Heck’s Been Going On? A Round-Up

I’ve had an incredibly busy summer–and now that it’s fall (by human reckoning, if not by Mother Nature’s calendar), I’d like to tell you about it. Get comfy–grab a cup of tea, pull up a chair–as this may take awhile.

First off, I’ve been battling some not-fun health issues. I won’t get into them here, but suffice it to say, I’ve not been getting as much writing done as I’d like, and that has made me a bit grumpy. And, it loosed the ever-patient brain weasels–you know, those mad little beasts that like to nibble away at your self-confidence, erode your cheer into fear, etc., at any chance. If you’re a creative of any time, I’m sure you’ve experienced them. Basically, not writing made me cringe, but whatever writing I did wasn’t “good enough,” or even just “enough.” I should have been doing more. Which made me want to not want to write, because it made me feel bad. Which unleashed yet more brain weasels…

You see how this is a nasty cycle. Fortunately, (I think?) I’m familiar enough with this that I just keep plugging away at it. I let the weasels run riot and do my darnedest to ignore them. They don’t go away, but at least I don’t let them monopolize my brain.

So despite the weasels, I managed to finish the first draft of Unspoken, and I’m closing in on my plan for the rewrite, which is what Draft 2 will be: a complete rewrite.

You might think I’d be upset about that, and well, let’s face it–I wish I could just do a quick polish and know it’s “perfect.” Of course I do. But it’s not, and I’m okay with that. I know what I need to do, and I want this novel to be good, really good. I feel it can get there, and this is the way to do it. (Thanks go to my husband, and my VP, Taos, and Codex friends and acquaintances who’ve been cheerleaders along the way, keeping me up when I got down, and shouting down the weasels when they got to me.)

How can you not love this guy?

The dog has been mostly good, fortunately. He had a pretty hard seizure yesterday, but it’s the first for a while. Since he’d been kenneled, I’m not sure what the trigger was for this one–maybe just stress? He is a homebody and a cling-on boy, so it may well be the case. Other than this, he’s been good. No surgeries, no real illnesses (other than a startling case of allergy to some pollen or another), just chillin’ away the summer heat and humidity. So YAY!

How would you even describe that shade of purple?

At the beginning of summer, the plum tree went berserk, and I managed to make all the plum jam. Now the beautyberry bush is in full lavender berry, and I’m making beautyberry jelly. It’s really very good, and made a terrific ice cream! Fiddly as all get out to pick the berries off the stems, and pull out the leaves and other various debris, but worth it in the end. The recipe I used is here.

Spousal Unit and I celebrated our anniversary recently–a big one, too. One that’s valued as a precious metal, even–Silver! (But it’s odd, I don’t feel that old.) To celebrate, we went to Disney World (hence the dog being kenneled), and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I got to wake up and look out our balcony window to see giraffes, zebra, antelope, springbok, and more. I was in heaven! Interns from various African countries worked at the lodge, and were very happy to discuss their countries’ various cultures, animals, foods, economies, etc. It was really amazing, and I loved every bit of it. Here are some pics, just because I need to share the joy:

Giraffes from our lodge

Reaching for that palm

Mama and baby Nyala antelope at the lodge

Another stretch!

Sunrise antelope

Evening at the lodge’s main viewing station: pink pelicans, giraffe, wildebeest…

A great group of interns finishing up their year at Disney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last pic is of a fantastic group of interns we met while in line at the Pandora ikrom ride (which is awesome!). They were finishing up their yearlong internships at Disney, and would soon be heading back to Singapore. We had a great 50 minutes line-wait chatting together, and they had nothing but good to say about their experience.

Which brings me back to home. And the upcoming trip…

This next weekend, weather and hurricanes permitting, I’m heading off to a 2-week residency in Key West, where I’ll be feverishly working on the novel’s rewrite. I’m so excited I’m bouncing at the prospect of 2 full weeks with nothing to do but write and, well, basically keep myself alive by eating and sleeping. I’ll report back once I’m home, but don’t expect to see a lot from me (yeah, I know–what else is new?!?) during the end of September. Maybe on Twitter now and again, but probably not too much.

I’ll leave you with a bit of good news: my story Cold Currents has gotten a publication date! You’ll be able to read it in January 2019 at Abyss & Apex Magazine. Hurray! And yes, I’ll be sure to update with a reminder at publication time.

Until then, enjoy September!

 

 

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Another review for “After the Story Ends”

(Note: Yes, this is rather late. Sorry about that–life, yada yada)

Back in the spring, SFRevu did a column on Galaxy’s Edge Magazine #30, which includes my story, After the Story Ends. And it seems they liked it! Hurray! Here’s the relevant bit:

“After the Story Ends” by M.E. Garber -+- Melanie Smead has rescued her daughter, Aurora, from Fairy and returned home with her. Happy ending? Well, the problem is that she misses the beautiful land of Fairy and can’t stand the humdrum real world. What can she do? An imaginative tale with a good resolution.

Needless to say, I’m very pleased that the reader/reviewer enjoyed this one, and I hope you do as well. You can find it in the archives of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine’s website.

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Home Again, Home Again

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I’m back from my trip to London, where I stayed with friend and Taos Toolbox roommate, Mel Melcer. We had a great time, and ended up nearly walking our feet off. And hey, I discovered some things about the UK. … Continue reading

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