It’s my first ever Awards Eligibility Post!
Not the first time I’ve had stories eligible; just the first time I’ve gotten around to actually making a post about it. So, here are my awards-eligible stories:
—The Clock, Having Seen Its Face in the Mirror, Still Knows Not the Time (Clarkesworld, 8/21)
“…A tear-jerker of a story, imagining John Joseph, one of the earliest automatons to achieve sentience, how he befriends a young woman and outlives her, and how his people are treated in different lands.” —Karen Burnham, Locus Magazine
“A touching story about a clockwork man and his long life…a lovely, wonderful read!”—Quick Sip Reviews
“Best story of the collection. Poignant and sentimental. I loved the nonlinear presentation. Hit.” GoodReads reviewer
—To Go Forth in Mail Shirt and Shield (Daily Science Fiction 6/9/21)
—Werewolf Eulogy (Wyldblood Press 2/16/21)
A little bit about the stories. The first two are NOT behind a paywall, so I hope you go read them. I mean, I hope you go read all three of them, but I’m a realist; far easier to give an unknown quantity a shot for free rather than paying for the privilege.
Both of the first two stories grew out of my reading Alyssa Wong’s amazing story A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers. I’ve mentioned it a lot by now (at least I hope I have, it’s an amazing story), but that story completely blew up my understanding of the traditional strictures of plot, structure, sequence etc. that I’d once thought key to writing short stories. If you haven’t read it already, you should definitely do so. Don’t worry, it’s already won all the awards.
Back? Great story, right? Anyway, back to my stuff…
The Clock… is kind of the big hitter of the bunch. Got a couple great reviews, got on a Recommended SFF List. If you love all the stories equally but only want to nominate/vote for one, this is the one with the best shot at actually winning something. As for the story itself, this one plays with sequence within a first person narrative that allows the plot/theme to grow almost in the corners of the tale. A lot more thematic content than I usually do, but that’s kind of what makes it a special story to me. And my mother actually complemented my prose! (For context: my mother has always been a fan and supporter of my writing. But she is a Jewish mother in the most literal and metaphorical sense; pure complements are pretty thin on the ground.)
To Go Forth…is a flash piece that is almost a prose poem (I formatted it both ways to see which one I liked more). The flash format has been a godsend for me. I began writing them when my eldest child had class on the form en route to their creative writing degree. I wouldn’t thought it’d be a form I’d enjoy—I love the complexity and freedom to explore a novel length allows—but after writing one I was sold. The story sold, too. In fact, I’ve sold a number of flash pieces in a variety of genres. One of the great things about flash fiction is that you can start with the thinnest of ideas and just run with it. Wild experimentation is my watchword for this style, as there is very little penalty for failure, and you can end up with some very innovative and inventive stuff. When I began writing To Go Forth…, instead of having an idea for plot or character, I had only a single line in my mind: The dragon is not a metaphor.
Werewolf Eulogy is more traditional in plot and length than To Go Forth…, and it runs linearly from start to finish, unlike The Clock… But despite not being as experimental as the others, it still took a crazy turn for me when I wrote it. See, I set out to write a literary flash piece—I’ve sold two non-genre flash pieces, Molotov Medley (Raconteur Magazine) and A Season’s End (Orca Literary Magazine)—but somewhere in the fifth paragraph of the first draft, a werewolf showed up. I believe my own interior dialogue went something like, “Well, I guess this might as well happen,” and I soldiered on—much like the old Minnesotan narrator had to when a werewolf began raiding his chicken house.
I hope you enjoy reading these pieces half as much as I enjoyed writing them.