Feminist Futures Storybundle!

Cat Rambo has been busy. Writing, teaching, and most relevant here: curating the 2019 Feminist Futures Storybundle. Oh yeah! You can check out Cat’s collection by clicking this link.

Since Albatross is part of this bundle, I got a sneak peek at the contents. And I’ve been READING! Storybundles are a great way to sample some writers you may not already know, or revisit some of your favs to see some of their other work. (How excited was I to see an N.K. Jemisin story in Sunspot Jungle? Very Excited, dear Reader. Very Excited!! Excited enough to hurl around misplaced capital letters and multiple exclamation points. Yes! That Excited!)

If you’re new to the Storybundle concept, it’s basically the chance to get your hands on several books/story collections/poetry assemblages, what have you, for a price that you choose. There’s also an opportunity to designate a portion of your price to go to charity. So you can support writers, get a bundle of new reading material, and do some good at the same time. Word of warning: refill your tea or other favorite beverage before you start reading. Because you may not want to put the story down… and there’s a lot of book in this bundle.

The Telling Detail

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We have new family members.

Some of my new works contain mice. Mice are Essential. I don’t have much real-world experience with mice, and it seemed wrong to draw them and write about them (or their analogs) without knowing them. So I adopted a pair of sisters who are, at this moment, sleeping in a nest they built themselves. Did you know that a Playstation 4 comes with cardboard in the packaging that converts to fabulous mouse housing? You do now.

See? Research rocks! Just this second-hand exposure to mice has taught you something, too. While I won’t advocate immersion learning for everything you may write about, there’s something to be said for deep and immediate understanding. But it comes with a cost. I’ve cared for many other small animals in my time so I had some idea of what I’m in for. I did my mouse-specific research, and was prepared to make up to a three year commitment before I adopted these mice. I’m buying their food, bedding, and (because I want them to live their best lives) three cages of increasingly large size. Right now, they’re in a 40 gallon long glass breeder aquarium with a screened top. And I decided beforehand how much *smell* I could deal with, and figured out how to keep them safe from my cat. But you don’t have to go this far in your research.

Second-hand info can be fantastic! People are generally thrilled to be talking about what they love, so don’t be afraid to ask politely. Your genuine interest will show. And if you ask deep questions, they may share the telling detail: something that conveys a depth of understanding or immediate experience. Then you can convert their knowledge into your character’s knowledge, using that detail to create a believable reality for your reader.

Back to mice: such joyful little creatures. They love to explore, and are curious about any new thing in their habitat. Bonus: I’ve learned that a mouse’s tiny forepaws feel like eyelashes flickering across your hand. Such a lovely thing.

Want a writing exercise?
Susan has moved to a new city. She enjoys gaming. She is lonely, so she adopts some mice. Use the info I’ve given you about mice and create a quick scene of Susan unpacking and giving the mice the carton inserts. Note for new writers: you don’t have to say she enjoys gaming. Just show her unpacking the PS4 and some games. Feel free to post in the comments if you feel like sharing. Posts in which Susan also has a pet snake, featuring an unfortunate outcome for the mice, will be deleted. 😉

A World in Itself

I wrote this as a comment in a metafilter thread. If you don’t know metafilter, you should. The topic was trees and plants we love.

 

I love the song we are singing today, the long slow tale of trees.

My first and best friend was an oak, and I grieve her still today. As a child, my fingers fit into the grooves of her bark. I spent hours discovering the lives hidden, making their home in her. Ants on their invisible highways. Caterpillars wondrous in their strangeness, moths well camouflaged discovered as hidden treasure, and once the glorious green of a luna stunning my eyes, a gift of beauty not meant for me but that I shared in nonetheless.

But that tree’s hours were long ago, in the way we humans measure time.

So today I celebrate the bloodberry, native here in this hot wet place. It flowers and fruits long, often at the same time. It grows fast, wild, abundant. Small leaves, small flowers, small fruit. Bees of many kinds crowd its blossoms. The tiny glowing red berries are just the size to feed baby birds, so many species will attend at once. The hawks are not much of a bother here, because the thin branches will not hold their weight, and the small leaves obscure birds who might otherwise be prey. After watching the wild mockingbirds harvest and feed their young, I gathered those same berries for orphans in my care, that they could know their native foods and have a better chance of surviving. I have seen ducks standing beneath it, gobbling every berry that can reach, and I have fallen into quiet laughter watching these ducks hop – hop! – to reach the brilliant sunstruck globes above them, and sometimes succeed.

It is not a tree. It is itself, a wiry and wild shrub, but I always feel there is a knowing in it. And when its children have escaped the flying ones and sprung up around their parent’s feet, I  have lovingly rehomed them, to spread this wonder. I have moved to a new home myself, and the scion of the bloodberry grows here alongside me. And I think we will be good friends.

Happy as a Cat in a Box

IMG_7010Here’s Kyle on my desk, joining me in listening to the final chapters of the Albatross audiobook. Kyle APPEARS drowsy, but he is in fact purring busily.

As am I. Breaking open a bottle of elderflower and rose lemonade to celebrate! I’m so pleased with the way this project turned out. I hope to announce its availability for you soon.

Meanwhile, Kyle and I already have the first chapters of SHIMMER waiting for us to hear. Time to break out the catnip!

I’ve been sick recently, and minus the use of my right hand and arm. And we all know what pain and meds can do to you. However, I HAVE managed to do some reading of classics (Prisoner of Zenda…thank you, Project Gutenberg!) and some more contemporary books and stories. Watch for reviews coming soon.

And also maybe some photos of my new glove collection. Or maybe photos of Kyle with my glove collection. (Yes, he found that box too. But one cat photo per post, yes?)

 

 

 

A Voice Fills the Air

pexels-photo-185030.jpegOne of the best parts of my day: opening the digital file and listening to the sonorous voice of the Reader working his way through Albatross.

His audition recording impressed me very much. But I’m usually reading books rather than listening to them. So I did a simple market test, and checked in with a few friends who are audiobook people. John, who first asked me about getting Albatross  in audio, seemed a good place to start. I popped in on John while he was working, and played a clip.

Me: What do you think?

John: You need to hire that man RIGHT NOW.

The others who heard the sample had a similar response, and Bertie was herself delighted. So we did extend an offer, and he signed on. The chapters I’ve heard so far are really solid. I can hardly wait for you to hear them! I’ll post links as soon as the audiobook is available. And more on the man himself once the project’s wrapped.

ALBATROSS in Print!

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This book is now available in print, as well as digital format. I’m old enough that this makes it seem somehow more real. It sits here on my hearth, soft and solid against the warm brick. An artifact of sorts, documentation of these days. A story of the near future, that is in some ways an attempt on the part of the authors to find their way through a troubled time.

This is the book we needed to write. We’ve have been told by a reader that it’s the story they needed to read. And so Bertie and I, and the good folks over at WordFire, are quietly launching Albatross into the world.

Wishing you all peace, a warm cup of tea, and a quiet spot for reading.

— Nancy Palmer

Parkland Florida, November 2017