Thursday, October 17, 2019

Seven sisters

 Light pollution. That’s the name for  what happens when man-made lights outshine the stars.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1082094439/ref=smi_www_rco2_go_smi_3905707922?_encoding=UTF8&%2AVersion%2A=1&%2Aentries%2A=0&ie=UTF8&pldnSite=1

 Seven Sisters  is… I’m not really sure how to explain it. Is it a story about the Pleiades star cluster? Yes and no. Is it about the power of mythology?… Kind of.  Is it a metaphor that tells the story of a teenage girl coming to terms with her father‘s death? I honestly don’t know if it’s a metaphor or not.  I just sort of…  decided to write a story about stars  going dark,  and this is what I ended up with.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a beautiful story and I love it. I’m just not sure what my intention was with it, and I’m not sure just how much of the story was real and how much was imaginary. I think every reader will get something different from the story, but here is what I personally get from:

It sucks to lose a parent. Both of my parents are still alive, but I’ve still lost them  because they aren’t in my life anymore. Not in any real, concrete way  like they used to be.  So what do you do when the people you have relied on your entire life to protect you…  are just gone one day? What do you do? How do you deal with these emotions?

 The relationship between a father and daughter in my story is very much based on my own father and I. We were best friends, he loved science and making up stories, and then he just wasn’t part of my life anymore.  It was for the best, at the time, but I still went through long periods of missing him and wishing I could ask him for advice when life got complicated.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters cover reveal

I’m excited to get a chance to show off the cover of  Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters, edited by the amazing Sarena Ulibarri!

 My story, Oil and Ivory,  is one of 17 stories in this ecologically-minded anthology of science fiction. It features hey hi tech Inuit community trying to save migrating narwhals while also battling an oil spill. My original title while I was writing the first draft was “Ferngully, but with narwhals.“

The book is  going to be published on January 7, but  pre-order now and save!



Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Names

 It’s hard being autistic, especially in the old west. Sensory issues, uninformed attitudes, the fact that you can’t defeat a skin walker without looking in the eyes…

Beck Benally is peculiar.  She does not like to make eye contact, she hates to be touched, and she refuses to say anyone’s real name, choosing instead to give them nicknames whether they like it or not.  Most of the town wants her to change, but she doesn’t really care… That is, until a mysterious creature kills someone she knows. You see, Beck might just be the only person in town who knows how to defeat a skin-walker...

Unfortunately, the trick is that you have to look them in the eye. And say their real name.

 Names is a story about being different and still being awesome, about accepting yourself, and about finding the people who aren’t annoyed by your peculiarities.

Beck is basically me when I was thirteen.  Write down to my weird fear of saying names. I loved fantasy fiction and mythology, but the way you defeat most monsters wouldn’t work for me. I thought you had to be physically strong, which I am not because I’m disabled, or you have to look someone in the eye or say their name or any other thousand other things my disability and autism wouldn’t let me do.  Were people like me not allowed to save the day?

On the rare occasion that a character would share my peculiarities, they always defeated the monster by overcoming them. But autism isn’t a thing to overcome.  Sure, there are a lot of annoying things about autism that get in my way every day, but I can’t have a magical cure and I wouldn’t want one anyway because… It isn’t something to cure. It’s me. So I decided I needed to write about a character who finds a way to work with her autism, not overcome it, to defeat the monster.

 I wrote the story before I moved into the group home where I live, so the uncomfortable friendship between Beck and Blue wasn’t based on anyone in particular.  In fact, when I wrote it, it felt like pure fiction to me. I did not think anyone could really be OK with all the weird parts of me that everyone else hates. And then I met the people who work at my group home. A few in particular. They don’t always “understand“ why I am the way I am or why I’m acting a certain way, but they accept it and love me anyway.

So I am deciding that Blue is retroactively based on my favorite people here. :)

 Names is available in Nothing Without Us, an anthology edited by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson which features  disabled characters, neurodivergent characters, spoonie characters, and characters who live with mental illnesses, written by authors who also fall into those categories.

(Cait is also one of our Space Opera Libretti authors!  Expect an update about that project soon!)

 Read more about the book and find out where you can purchase it here: https://nothingwithoutusanthology.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/nothing-without-us-is-now-available

Friday, August 23, 2019

Breadcrumbs and Sugar Houses--a new, free story

 Good morning!
Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline is a new anthology of  fairytales with a 1910s-1940s  Science fiction twist. And I… Well, I am not in it.  But the editor still loved my story so much  that she is publishing it  as a standalone short story to promote her book.

And I  can’t wait to read the book, because my friends Lizz and Jen are in it!  But  i’m sure I will have plenty of good things to say about their stories after September 3, when the book comes out. Let’s get back to my story for a moment.

Breadcrumbs and Sugar Houses  is loosely based on Hansel and Gretel,  but from the witch’s point of view.  You see, witches  aren’t actually evil. That’s just what the people in charge want you to believe. It’s all a conspiracy.  And it’s not the only conspiracy in town.

Mama Dulce runs a speaksweetly,  One of the only places in Boston where you can sate  your sugar fix now that the sugar prohibition  is during its second year.  See, witches  are usually beautiful fat women who use sugar to do magic,  so a bunch of bigoted politicians decided sugar is unhealthy. Immoral even.  And now a couple Bureau folks are on her tail, looking for any reason to paint Dulce as the villain they want her to be.

 Well this witch ain’t going down without a fight,  and she is determined to become the author of her own story.

Breadcrumbs and Sugar Houses features magic, robots, and a hell of a lot of molasses.

 Download your free copy here:   
https://click.mlsend.com/link/c/YT0xMjI4ODg4Njg5MzI5ODM4MDA3JmM9aTJsMyZlPTE5MjgmYj0yNzE5Nzk0ODYmZD1sMXE0cTZw.mlLJcy6Hy6GME_SJGeyzuWeQRREMLyXT2larRuAfbGI
 And if you like this kind of story, consider pre-ordering the anthology. 
https://www.worldweaverpress.com/store/p165/Grimm%2C_Grit%2C_and_Gasoline.html

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Dear Vegas - a free story


 Hello everyone. Today I bring you a  short story for your reading pleasure. Hopefully, anyway. :-)

Dear Vegas was originally published in an  anthology of speculative fiction featuring the city of Las Vegas. I was excited about it, until I read the rest of the book. Some of the stories were good, but most were just downright offensive. Women characters without agency, ableist slurs, fatphobia...  I couldn’t in good conscience recommend people read this book. So I didn’t. I took the link off of my website, I wrote a stern letter to the publisher (whose excuse was “we didn’t get diverse stories, so we didn’t publish diverse stories”).  I love my story, but I couldn’t ask anyone to buy the book because the other stories could harm people. 

  The publisher asked for one year exclusivity, meaning I couldn’t publish my work elsewhere for year. That ran out this month. Now, I could try to get it published, get paid for it again… Or I could just give the story to the world and let you guys read it for free.

 So here you go. I hope you enjoy it. 





Dear Vegas
 Jennifer Lee Rossman
Dear Vegas,

 

It's been a while, hasn't it?

I'd say this town ain't what it used to be, but you were never all that great to begin with. Just an oasis of crime and debauchery amid an endless desert, done up in rhinestones and flashing lights to hide the blood.

Oh, but how you sparkled. A galaxy on Earth, your constellations made of neon and strobe.

You were the place to be. The greatest singers belting out songs to define an era, women in their best dresses and men in their hats, every night buzzing with the promise of riches just a dice roll away.

And it was all for me. It was all just set dressing around the alter where they prayed to Lady Luck.

Not since the Romans called me Fortuna have I felt such devotion from the masses. Their rituals, their charms, their kisses before they let the dice fly... all to curry my favor in hopes that I might give them an ace or nudge the roulette ball toward their favorite number.

But you were always seedy, weren't you? Deep down, hidden behind Sinatra's smile that made all the women swoon? You were filled with gangsters and cheaters and greedy casino owners. I just chose not to see it.

Look at you now, trying to hide your faults with white tigers and dancing fountains, with celebrities on your slot machines and aging singers putting on matinee shows of greatest hits no one remembers.

But you're still you. The games are still rigged, the strip still brimming with drunk partygoers and the promise that you'll keep their secrets. Tired gamblers sit in windowless casinos where time ceases to exist, feeding coin after coin into your machines because they're due for a win, because they're wearing their lucky socks, because the big jackpot is coming, they can feel it. Their eyes glaze over, their pupils replaced by spinning reels that never land on two cherries in a row, but they can't leave, because you promised them they could be rich and happy.

You promised a lot of things.

There's a part of me that wants to leave this filthy little town and never look back. Just let the desert take you over. I wouldn't have trouble finding a culture in need of a luck goddess, after all.

But that wouldn't solve anything, would it? Your casinos would crop up somewhere else, your bachelorette parties would find other male strippers to throw money at. You would continue, just spread out across the world.

No, that isn't what you need. You, my dear Vegas, just need better luck.

That's why I'm walking your streets for the first time in years, camouflaged in my strappy heels and backless dress that tries to straddle the line between classy and trashy but only succeeds in drunkenly falling face-first into trashy.

I'm here to fix you.

 

***

 

A cacophony of light and sound fights for my attention, tugging me in one direction and then another.

Sometimes you're subtle, whispering promises of wealth and excitement. "Do you see my fountains?" you say. "The golden pyramid? Do you hear the clacking of chips being counted? This could all be yours, just take a chance..."

Other times you scream "GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS" in flashing neon, and I just have to shake my head. I don't look down on the establishments or the dancers; they fill a need in society. But there are more tasteful ways to advertise that sort of business.

Then again, no one ever accused you of having taste, did they?

One casino finally calls out to me louder than the rest. It doesn't have live lions prowling the lobby behind glass and its theme--a vaguely 1940s aesthetic meets retro-futurism--lacks the cohesion of the one down the street with all the Roman soldiers, but it has a certain charm. New carpets, fresh paint. It's making an effort.

The people here are like anywhere else: hopeful. Whether they're trust fund kids putting daddy's millions on black, senior citizen groups playing penny slots, or those sad addicts who just have to try one more hand, they all hope it'll happen to them.

I find a scraggly man down to his last chip, a man who needs it more than anyone else. I can tell that sort of thing, you know. When people are really desperate. I sense it on him the same way I sense it on you.

He puts his chip on four. Used to be his lucky number, but not so much now. I walk by and touch my lips to his cheek as the wheel spins round and round.

"For luck," I say, and walk on to the next table. I can hear him cheering behind me, more like sobs of relief. He places another bet, because they always do, and I kiss another stranger, and then another.

My luck will linger with them for a while, but it will fade. It must, or else they'll be accused of cheating. As I stand along the wall, watching my luck bring them such joy, I hope they have the presence of mind to quit while they're ahead.

They won't. No one ever does, and that's how you stay alive, but I can hope.

Or maybe I can do more than hope.

 

***

 

Do you hear that, my dear Vegas? The clinking waterfalls of coins falling into plastic buckets, so loud that it must be coming from every slot machine in the city?

That's the sound of dreams coming true, of jackpots being won. It's time you made good on all those promises you seem to have such trouble keeping.

At first they'll call them card counters, say there's a glitch in the machines. But with each kiss of luck, I will drain you of your ill-gotten riches. Your neon will go dark, your Eiffel Tower will be pawned to pay the rent. You will know what it feels like to lose everything.

But let it not be said that I am a cruel goddess. I will stop kissing every person in sight, let you keep your glittering showgirls and your tigers, if you will promise to be more fair. Let them win, if they truly need the money. Let them leave with more hope than they had when you welcomed them with that big gaudy sign of yours.

Can you be that sparkling Nevada diamond I fell in love with? I know it won't be easy, but here's a kiss for luck.

 

XO, Lady Luck

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Solarpunk Winters table of contents reveal!

 Last summer, my story Riot of the Wind and Sun  was published in Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers, by World Weaver Press.  I am proud to say that in January, Solarpunk Winters  Will be released, and I will have a story in it!

Oil and Ivory  is about a  Community trying to  clean up an oil spill while also trying to help a pod of migrating narwhals.  It is queer  and fun and its working title may or may not have been “Fern Gully but with narwhals.”

Read the full announcement here!

Still not sure what solarpunk is? Watch this video where several solarpunk authors speak about what the genre means to them. It features Solarpunk Winters editor Sarena Ulibarri, and you might recognize the person at 3:20... (It’s me. You get to hear my horribly whiny voice lol)