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Cover Art of Mother Earth Eating People

Mother's Revenge

ed. Cin Ferguson

In this mixed genre group of eco-tales, thirty-two authors from around the globe offer up some lessons in why it's wise to be kind to Mother Earth. Read and take heed. Your very life may depend on it! From my story, "The Miracle Material":

The landfill is safe. I think. Even tupperware frightens me now. The sight of a discarded teddy bear moves me to tears. I wonder if Meredith's teddy bear still lies abandoned on her bed, held under siege by the ever-glowing blue stars that decorate her bedroom.

 I tell myself that Meredith is safe and happy. We came from the sea, the scientists said. When there were scientists. What could be more natural than for us to return to the sea? I tell myself that she is safe and happy within the bosom of the sea.

I know I lie.

 

Read more!

Amazon | IndieBoundGoodreads
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Purple Carrot is a vegetable-based ingredient+recipe delivery service. They also have a recipe section on their website! I was hoping this would be a way to find vegan/vegetable company recipes.

https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/malai-chickpea-dumplings-with-almond-golden-raisin-pilaf

My first attempt was the Malai Chickpea Dumplings. The recipes have a few amounts or ingredients left deliberately vague. "Indian spice blend," for example, or "fresh ginger" without a quantity. I went with 2 tsp. garam masala plus 1/8 tsp. turmeric and 1/16 tsp. cayenne for the spice blend. I used 1 1/2 Tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger. I also used about 1/4 c. parsley as a sub for the cilantro (we hates it, precious). And I used 1 can of light coconut milk + 1 can of regular coconut milk because holy calories, Batman!

Result: 

The sauce was rich, creamy, mildly spicy, and pretty darn good. Two thumbs up for an Indian vegan recipe that has that particularly Indian blend of spice and buttery mouthfeel. BUT. The chickpea dumplings basically dissolved in the sauce. They were not very dumplingy at all. Maybe I did not make them large enough or cook them hot enough? I don't know. Also, the pilaf was a disappointment. Turns out that if you dump almonds and raisins into cooked white rice, it tastes like that's all you did.

Kid-take:

There was SO MUCH DRAMA at the dinner table because the kids wanted plain white rice, which was not available. Curries are usually a thing that works to feed the kids in my house, but this didn't work. It might if I also made plain white rice and offered the option of having the rice and curry in a chapati, burrito-style.

I learned:

Vegan yogurt is really expensive. It takes much longer than you might think to make chickpea flour in a food processor. Spinach sauteed in olive oil with a little bit of onion and salt and pepper ends up tasting pretty good! (Even if it contributed to the SO MUCH DRAMA from the kids.)

Verdict:

Might make the sauce again, but it's too calorie-heavy to be a regular meal and the dumplings and pilaf are a no-go.

P.S. Malai means 'cream', if you were wondering!

Picture of creamy Indian sauce with dumplings in cooking pan.
Picture from Purple Carrot

 

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New market list update is out!

In which there's a super-awesome short fiction contest about the idea of a basic income (and the prize is one!), and I ponder how writing time disappears.

http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/archive2017.html#091517
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Just finished reading Reliquary by Sarah Fine. Top-notch urban fantasy with a "fiance has a secret life main character is just finding out about that changes everything" plot line. Readers looking for a HEA in this book will probably be disappointed, and there was some unexpected explicit BDSM at the end that was surprising but done well.

But! This cover! It's lovely, but I interpret it as maybe fantasy, maybe romance, but not specifically urban fantasy. Expectation mismatch.

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Writing goals for the next 3 months, September - November

Summer is ending and autumn is almost here. The kids are going back to school. I put Cassius on his school bus today at 9 AM. Next week, Theia starts going to preschool 5 mornings a week. This means I get time to write and do writingy stuff! Today is a misc writing stuff day, so I'm tracking big goals and updating my writing to-do list.

Doing the math! Theoretically, if I get myself ready for the day before the kids are out the door (not something I've always succeeded at!), I'll have about 3 1/2 hours to myself every morning to work on writing, plus whatever I can scrape together at other times. Theia's been really uncooperative about staying quietly in her room during afternoon quiet time and bedtime recently, so that time is not as useful as it used to be. Phil usually gives me a couple of hours one evening during the week and also one weekend day.

3.5 morning hours * (5 writing days - 1 misc writing stuff day) + 1 afternoon/evening hour * 6 + 3 bonus weeknight hours + 4 weekend hours - 5 hours weekly of cleaning/bills/paperwork during regular writing time
3.5*(5-1)+1*6+3+4-5 = 22 hours/week to write, max

22 hours seems really high! It's something to shoot for, though. I don't think I'm going to get that much, given my other housework/parenting/social commitments. My estimate of only 5 hours of writing time weekly sacrificed to bills and paperwork and cleaning is probably low. I'm also not very productive in the first hour of a block of writing time.

I am really looking forward to finding out what my writing rate is when both kids are in school, at least in the mornings.

Project 1: Space Marine Midwife anthology short story, "Mother of Nobody" ("Mother of No Child" "Mother of None" "Mother of No-One"). Figure this will probably eat a month of regular writing time, between plotting, writing, critting, and revising.
CURRENT STATUS: I have some ideas.
ETA DUE: Submission period is maybe "late autumn." Hey, I need to get started on this one!

Project 2: Scorpion Dance. My main novel project.
CURRENT STATUS: 70,719 / 100,000 written.
ETA GOAL: Complete draft by 2018, which means 10,000 words in three-quarters of the months remaining. Oh! That's a lot, given everything else I'm doing (yet not much, considering that a full day of writing should net me about 2,000 words--if I ever got a full day of writing) and the various complications of life.

Project 2: The Unkindness of Ravens short-cut. Finish cutting novella down to under 25,000 words. Start sending it on the submission rounds for places that pay enough to make it worth it (i.e. no $100 advance or royalty-only small presses).
CURRENT STATUS: Over halfway done.
ETA: I expect to finish that project this week (by 9/1/2017).

Project 2b: Draw up project timeline, budget, and task list for self-pubbing novella, to be executed either after exclusive period from publication or after exhausting the limited well-paying options for novellas (up to 9 months). Remember to include sequels.
CURRENT STATUS: Not started.
ETA: Tentative, 9 months of collecting rejections would put it DUE BY 6/1/2018.

Project 3: Destroy revisions backlog, starting with "You May Also Like Gas Masks." Current rate for redmarking = 3-4 pgs/week. Then I'll need to make the marked changes (time = ???) and do a final read-aloud draft (1 day). Says something that I don't even know about how much time this process takes me.
CURRENT STATUS: Ongoing project. 13/23 pages redmarked for "You May..."
ETA: About 5 weeks from now to finish the redmarking, estimate 10/5/2017 to finish redmarking.

Project 4: Dragon Succubus, the fluffy side-project novel. The whole point of this project is that it is the thing I'm working on when I don't have anything else to do or when I have only a smidge of time and so I can't work on anything too complicated.
CURRENT STATUS: 56,246 / 80,000 words
ETA: I've been fiddling with it on and off since November 2015, sooooo maybe draft ETA 10/31/2018??

In the next couple of months, I'm also teaching a class at the Loft. I've run it before, so I don't need to come up with the lesson plans, but I need to make a couple of tweaks, do publicity, etc.

I want to get the pseudonym's stuff in the pipeline, but I think that'll have to wait.

And I've been thinking of poking at Circus of Brass and Bone, updating the layout to reflect the episodic nature of it, adding reviews to backmatter and interior, maybe trying some ads and seeing if that boosts sales, trying a bookbub or putting it in Kindle Unlimited. But those things take time and/or money, so. Not putting it on the official goals for the next 3 months, 'cause I have enough things there for now!
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Thoughts in Passing

I'm in the middle of a massive hack-and-slash on a finished novella project, cutting 29,200 words down to 25,000 so that I can submit it a shorter version to a particular place. That means I need to cut enough words that they would make a good-sized short story all by themselves. I'm about a quarter done. I approach this project in the spirit of taking out everything that I possibly can, from adjectives to not-entirely-critical character interactions to whole scenes that can be summarized or omitted.

That is not how I normally approach editing. I don't believe that cutting down to the bone is best for every story. You can lose a lot of your personal voice and style that way. (I still cut my fair share of weasel words and plot going nowhere and bits that only exist to get from Point A to Point B, I assure you!)

I've also cut a couple hundred words from my "finished" long version. Maybe 1/10th of the time, the shorter version is stronger, not just different. I don't recommend gutting your story simply to see what works better that way, but it's a good exercise to try once. Save the original version first!

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:

I held back on announcing this, because reasons, but I have a new publication to announce! My short story, "Miracle Material," appears in Mother's Revenge: A Dark and Bizarre Anthology of Global Proportions.

In this mixed genre group of eco-tales, thirty-two authors from around the globe offer up some lessons in why it's wise to be kind to Mother Earth. Read and take heed. Your very life may depend on it!


 
And if you're in Minneapolis, next Sunday I'm leading a free workshop on PoV (Point of View). Come and say hi!


Meetup event: https://www.meetup.com/MinnSpec/events/239675908/

(Read the rest of this Aswiebe's Market List update here: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/archive2017.html#081617)
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The concept of the Sin du Jour novella series is that there is a catering company that works specifically for the high-powered supernatural set. Yes, the dietary requirements and ingredient quests are as hair-raising as you might imagine. It's also great to see a behind-the-scenes look at a (highly unusual) catering company and what the day-to-day life of the people who work there is like.

 

In Greedy Pigs, the caterers find themselves double-booked for two inauguration ceremonies, one human, one not. They have to adjust on the fly. Meanwhile, one of their own is not acting like himself. It all comes to a head at the inaugurations. There is a certain amount of commentary on our political system, but not to a degree that should push away readers who are sick of the political news cycle right now.

 

This book pays off on a lot of the interpersonal stuff that was set up previously in the series. To which I said, "At last!" The motivation for the main plot depends on it. Although this series is intentionally episodic, you probably want to read at least the previous book (Idle Ingredients) before this one. I recommend the Sin du Jour series if you're interested in something that's funny, dark at times, a little crass, and rooted in the lives of everyday working folks. Most of the books stand alone quite nicely.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I'm a fan of Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace's Ditchdiggers podcast about writing, so I went into this story hearing his voice reading it and also with a lot of outside context about the author, which changes things a bit.


Read if: You like stories with working class protagonists.
Skip if: You hate novellas or politics.
Length: Novella.
First Published: Tor.com Publishing, May 2017.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Greedy-Pigs-Sin-Jour-Affair-ebook/dp/B01N5EUN84
How'd I get it: Won it in a Goodreads giveaway.

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Thoughts in Passing

As a panelist at conventions, I am fortunate enough to be put in a position where I need to intensively study a certain story-related question. It changes my reading list. It changes the way that I read my reading list. It changes the way I read things that are not on my reading list. Maybe you're not on any panels. Maybe you don't go to conventions. You can still benefit from a narrow focus on the topic. Find a nearby convention, choose a panel that you're interested in, and plan as if you're going to be talking on that panel: questions, observations, and reading lists. You may be surprised by how much you gain from this.

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:

I recently wrapped up a short writing project. I've gone back to working on my novel(s), except the next 6 weeks are full of conventions, related convention panel prep, and teaching classes. Classes! I am teaching classes! If you are interested in these, register. If someone you know in the Twin Cities area would be interested, please pass this information along. Register now!


Read more:
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We are in the thick of the part of the year known as "convention season." This is a mixed blessing for my reading list. Reading books is panel prep! It counts as working! On the other hand, I try to keep distractions out of my reading list and so there are all kinds of wonderfully tempting books that I'm postponing reading for the next couple of months.

This summer, I'm on panels at 4th Street Fantasy Convention (next week!) and CONvergence. I'm also teaching a couple of one-day classes at The Loft Literary Center, but they aren't the kind that require reading whole novels.

Stealth Characterization via Setting (https://www.loft.org/shop/product_detail/2/classes/998/stealth_characterization_via_setting/) explores creating characters indirectly, through how you construct and describe their surroundings.

 Writer ... With Kids: Finding Time to Create (https://www.loft.org/shop/product_detail/4/adult_class/1015/writerwith_kids_finding_time_to_create/) is a class for creative people with too little time.

 Interested? Go register!

 For 4th Street, I'm reading urban fantasy. I've started with a re-read of War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. It's been a few years since I last read it, but I know I'll enjoy it.

 My 4th Street panel is the very first panel of the convention: Even in Byerly’s, You’re Not Out of the Woods.

 Description:

Thirty years ago, Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks gave us a vision of Minneapolis in which the magic was, much like Minneapolis’ own, hung on a balance between the pastoral influence of parks and wilderness and the urban jungle of clubs, skyscrapers, restaurants, and cavernous grocery stores. How has this intersection of asphalt and isolation influenced the genre moving forward? What unique elements of the numinous can we find where green spaces touch city shadows? Fantasy fixed itself up a nice place in the city a few generations ago — is it still a comfortable tenant? What does pastoral even mean to those who’ve never known magic outside the shadow of a smokestack?

 Panelists: Holly Black, Pamela Dean, Casey Blair, Dana Baird, and me.

I'm on three panels at CONvergence. Two of the panels are discussing writing techniques, but I'm going to need to brush up a bit for the third one, which is about the surveillance state in reality and fiction.

Thursday, Jul 6, 8:30 PM
Soul of Wit
Description: Short story and flash fiction authors discuss their writing techniques and provide tips on how to make the most of a limited word count. Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Aimee Kuzenski, Ben San Del, Elizabeth Bear (mod), Roy C. Booth

Friday, Jul 7, 5:00 PM
What to Do When They're Watching You
Science fiction writers have long been concerned about a surveillance state, but recent technologies have made this fear more and more realistic. What technologies are watching us and what does science fiction tell us to do about it? Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Dave Walbridge, Craig A. Finseth, Jamie Riedesel, Eric Zawadzki (mod)

Friday, Jul 7, 7:00 PM
Pixar's Story Writing Rules
Pixar has published 22 rules to aid in writing stories. Which ones work? Do any NOT work? Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Melissa Olson (mod), John Heimbuch, Dave Walbridge, Tex Thompson

 

 Do you have any recommendations for good SF about living in a surveillance state? Let me know! The setting can be near-future or far-future. I am especially interested in stories that came out within the last few years.

 Do any of the panel topics raise questions in your mind? What are they? I want to be as prepared as I can be for what the audience might want to know.

Finally, if you know anyone who might be interested in the productivity or advanced characterization classes, please point them that way!
 

 Painted eyes

 

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Come to my experimental SF performance tonight! Kieran's in downtown Mpls, doors at 8 PM, I'm performing after 9 PM.

Inspiration: chance operations, love and loss, many worlds hypothesis, alternate timelines, wave function collapse, and choice strategies.

http://www.wordsprout.org/the-not-so-silent-planet-a-speculative-open-mic.html
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New Aswiebe's Market List update! Unshattering wants SF/F/Lit leading to a better future, pays $.10/wd. All the details and more: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html
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Rosie Revere, Engineer is the best children's book I've read to my kids in a couple of months. It's about a little girl who stopped showing people the things she invented after she got laughed at. It is funny in the absurd way that kids love, it has detailed illustrations that can be studied for long periods of time, and it gives great reinforcement to the idea that failure is only a reason to try again, better. My son bonded really hard with the girl in the book because he wants to be an engineer, too.


Test

Apr. 16th, 2017 04:21 pm
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Testing cross-posting to LJ. Testing. Testing. Testing.
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Beautifully written. Time travel, betrayal, revenge, family, love, cybernetics, and multiple identities, linked together into a coherent story that shoots ideas into your skull like bullets.

Read if: You're interested in a multi-layered story, and I do mean multi.
Skip if: You dislike spiral structure stories.
Length: Short story, 5,881 words.
First Published: Clarkesworld, Feb 2017. A good issue, this one!
Link (FREE!): http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/harris_02_17/
How'd I get it: I too clicked on a link.
Where'd I read it: In bits and pieces on the computer.
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I loved this book. I am ALL GOOD with flawed female protagonists who are proficiently violent. I am also a third culture kid like the protagonist (I even grew up in Chad and frequently visited Cameroon, featured in this book). It didn't give me linguistic superpowers, although I can pick up languages pretty well, but many of the character references clicked with me as being "done right."

Reading other reviews, I'm seeing a lot of comparisons to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I disagree. That book is drenched in and fueled by sexual violence. This one isn't. The protagonist was raped in the past, but it is described in pretty much just those words. It isn't dwelt on, and it isn't described in detail. Judging by the description of later books in the series, sexual violence may become a theme, and so I will approach with care.

Read if: You enjoy female protagonists who feel no need to conform to pressure to be "nice" or likeable.
Skip if: You avoid books where you feel the protagonist has unrealistic skills.

When did I read it: In one gulp, over the course of a morning in which I should have been doing other things--and wasn't.
How did I get it: From the library, after BookBub brought it to my notice.
Length: Novel
Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004IK8PWS
First published: 2011
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Grimdark Magazine wants the darker, grittier side of fantasy and science fiction. All the details and more market list updates:
http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html
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We have returned safely home from our trip to Wisconsin for the funeral of Phil's grandmother, Romayne. There was (just our) family cabin time and snow and more travel and funeral and funeral ham with cheesy potatoes and then the kids besieging their teenaged cousins and (extended) family stories and drinking and family gossip and very poor sleep (because my three-year-old has been waking--and staying--up at 3 AM, and also that hideabed was awful) and the most country kitsch motel I've ever seen, let alone stayed at.

Today there was a lot of driving home. The kids had predictable we-hate-traveling meltdowns and less-predictable we-hate-chicken-nuggets meltdowns. We made it home, hitting the beginning of rush hour traffic. Then I found and cleaned up all six places the cats had puked and pooped around the house, changed the cat litter, and wrangled the kids through dinner and homework and baths and bed.

And nobody killed anybody.

And I am all disoriented due to travel and missing work/school days and daylight savings time starting, so I thought today was Wednesday and I was going to save this to post in Small Victories Wednesday. It is Tuesday. I am still very proud of this victory, though, so. Posted.
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In which I continue reviewing things I have read, especially short stories.

Waiting Out the End of the World in Patty's Place Cafe
Naomi Kritzer--ahem, Hugo award-winning author Naomi Kritzer

This story does what it says on the tin. It is mostly about past events and what people need to get resolution, framed against the background of an imminent danger to the whole world.

Read if: You're looking for LGBTQ warm fuzzies.
Skip if: You only like your end-of-the-world stories extremely apocalyptic.
Length: Short story, 4,743 words.
First Published: Clarkesworld, March 2017.
Link (FREE!): http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kritzer_03_17/
How'd I get it: I too clicked on a link.
Where'd I read it: Over a breakfast of pancakes, which seemed quite appropriate!
Disclaimer: I know the author.



Of interest: Apparently, when the story was initially posted it cut off at the following paragraph. That ending would have left the story with a very different feeling!

It was dark out. Someone from the town had dragged out a box of fireworks left over from last year’s 4th of July and everyone took turns lighting them off, including me. (Mom had never let us have fireworks when I was a kid, because we might blow ourselves up, but if there was ever a time for YOLO, it’s when there’s a 4.3 kilometer asteroid on a collision
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One of my resolutions (along with combing my hair in a reasonable time frame every morning) is to write reviews of what I read and like, so that I can remember these things later. Especially short stories, which I can't rate by simply clicking on a star rating on Goodreads.

Detroit Hammersmith, Zero-Gravity Toilet Repairman [Retired]
Suzanne Palmer

I enjoyed this story tremendously. A repairman who's seen it all sees something new. The story's lighthearted, heartwarming, and it scratches that itch for stories about ordinary working Joes on space stations.

Read if: You liked James White's Sector General books or that one episode in B5 with the repair guys.
Don't read if: You're looking for SF that breaks new ground.
Length: Novelette
First published: Analog, September 2016
Link*: https://www.amazon.com/Analog-Magazine-September-2016-Various/dp/B01J6BMCSQ
How'd I get it: A magazine giveaway in the SFWA suite at MidAmericon II.
Where'd I read it: In the sauna at the gym. I swear, I wasn't lightheaded. This is also how I discovered that the sauna heat will melt some magazine glue bindings.

* They don't have back issues available for purchase. Not even digital ones. Let people give you money!

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Blind Spot publishes French and English SFF in translation (they go both ways), pays $.08/word. Details and more updates:

http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html

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