storyrainthejournal: (Default)

"A Salt Moon" explores the very beginnings of the Thorough Order of Physic Arts, which appears in my novels Substrate Phantoms and The Z Radiant.

The Terra Nullius anthology is available as the actual book, pictured with cat for scale, or as an ebook:


storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
It has, in myriad ways, been a pretty difficult year. Certainly I am, and have been, beside myself with our country's seemingly unstoppable slide toward most decidedly not-a-democracy, but a fascist kleptocracy.

Lost a lot of bright lights from the humanscape, too.

On the personal front, I've had some pretty demoralizing health patches--but, 2016 has also brought a few very goods in my life. SUBSTRATE PHANTOMS found a home with awesome Resurrection House Books and I couldn't be happier about that; I got to go to Sycamore Hill and--painful fingers wrapped like sausages despite--really loved being there and spending time with a bunch of wonderful fellow writers; and the luminous Ellen Datlow bought my Sycamore Hill story, "Bourbon, Sugar, Grace" for

I also got to spend lovely time with my beloved sister for the occassion of her daughter's wedding and have felt the support and love of friends and family.

Good things happened in the world, too, and will continue to do so, evil dystopic abusive bullies in power despite--unless of course that giant meteor takes us all out. Until then, however, it behooves us each to be the best and kindest--to ourselves, other humans, other animals, and the environment that sustains us--that we can be, in whatever ways that we can encompass.
storyrainthejournal: (bookship)
I have an important SUBSTRATE PHANTOMS update! Arrival of this novel--of which I am really proud, and which I am really excited for you to read--will now take place in May 2017, which is further away than February 2017, in, you know, time.

Thank you for your attention.
storyrainthejournal: (bookship)
My poor LJ lags behind FB  on the news front, and someday, really, I'm going to update my website at in such a way that I can blog there and it will update here automatically. Really. I will.

But, meanwhile, Resurrection House (I have, elsewhere, called this press redoubtable, and it is) has acquired my novel SUBSTRATE PHANTOMS for its Arche Press speculative fiction imprint!!! No, really, !!! Substrate Phantoms is far future science fiction, set, to begin with, on a space station plagued by a strange haunting. It's currently slated for a winter/spring 2017 release, and I can't wait for people, for you guys (you're people!), for everyone to read it!

Been waiting to use that book ship icon for myself for a long time. Mega happy face, people. 
storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)
Throwback Thursday, special edition.

Me, as a young science fiction and fantasy lover. Or, portrait of the speculative fiction writer as a kid.

I've been a science fiction and fantasy fan since I was a toddler soaking in Star Trek, the original series, and believing tribbles were real at four years old. As most avid readers do, I sought out what I wanted and it was, by and large from a very young age, speculative stories (with a leavening of mystery), that hodge podge, cephaloid-armed armageddon of work that spills out messily from under the science ficton, fantasy, horror, and literary, umbrella(s). I loved language, I loved wonder, I loved possibility, and I loved a well told story--page turner married to a drunken spirit of poetry was and is my ideal.

I also loved and sought out movies and television shows with any whiff of the skiff about them. But while I was a 'fan' in that sense of the word, I had no notion of fandom and did not actually encounter it until I went to Clarion West--after grad school, writing fellowships, and a masters in creative writing (a degree of questionable use). Here were people, finally, who loved a lot of the things I'd spent my life thus far loving. I was more formally introduced to fandom as a phenomenon when I went to my first convention after Clarion West.

It was an odd experience, not entirely enjoyable at all, those first few conventions. It was all so familiar, but I was kind of an outsider, because most of these people knew one another and had for years. Being suddenly an outsider with respect to the enthusiasms and loves that had, for much of life, constituted my safest, happiest place, was disorienting.

And the thing is, with respect to my reading and other media loves and enthusiams, I have pretty much always gone my own way. Awards are cool; they can be helpful in clueing one in to good stuff one may not have otherwise known about. Often, however and also, award lists have left me kind of scratching my head, because I check out the work and it's, nope, not for me. That said, as a SFWA member, I have nominated for the Nebulas, and voted, and have, in general, been glad to see more works I find interesting and worthwhile on the lists in the last handfuls of years. I can almost never afford to go to World Con and so have only participated in the Hugos twice.

I wish...well; I feel bad for everyone in fandom, because there are a lot of lovely people of good will and their award has been hijacked by asshats. (if you have no clue what I'm talking about and you care at all, just search on Hugo award and you'll find it)

The only award I ever really dreamed of getting is the Mythopoeic, because the writers I most love seem to get that one. But my parameters and measures of the thing called a writing career, of success, expectations, and awards, have been much squished and squashed by life and its viscissitudes. (The SNL lowered expectations ditty plays in my mind.) I will have a dayjob until I retire (or get disability, given current health stuff), so a lot of the concerns of writers who have to make a living off their books are not ones I feel like taking on board. Since the big SFF awards only seldom seem to love what I love and strive for, they have never loomed with great relevance. Yes, like any writer, I wish my work was more recognized, taken up, published and enjoyed, and awards are one way to support that. But I would, ultimately, rather keep writing what I most want to write, eke out my little career, and enjoy my little byways and side roads away from the madding crowd.

I keep thinking, for perhaps obvious reasons, of Katherine Dunn, who I was lucky to have as one of my Clarion teachers, reading from a work in process at the weekly Clarion reading series. The scene she read was one of the most powerful, gripping, depth charge in the mind creating bits of a novel I have ever heard. I have wanted to read the book from which she was reading many times since then (and this was 20 years ago, now) and it has never yet appeared. I remember commiserating about it with Lucius Shepard a couple years later.

We're here, and then we go. I would rather think about that amazing passage, work on my own twisty stories, celebrate, wherever I find them, beauty, kindness, and wonder wrestled from pain, loss, and ugliness--would rather do that than give any internal real estate to the asshats. 


Apr. 3rd, 2015 10:52 am
storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
Speaking of guilty pleasures, or not terribly literary or art-filmic pleasures for which I don't really feel any guilt, I give you the Fast and Furious movies. This little paean addresses some of what it is about these movies that gets me. Though I'm not young and didn't "grow up with them," I took the Fast and Furious movies to heart right from the first. Nope, don't love cars or car culture, either. But diverse, found family, adrenaline-fueled capers, crazy stupid adventure (and let's not leave out the lovely lovely potential subtextual slash of Dom/Brian), yeah, it's a sweet spot. I'm so there for that, that I already have a ticket for the seventh movie on this, its opening weekend.

My enthusiasm for these movies generally surprises my friends when they come upon it.

I'm complicated.


Between these hubs of human life, there was only sea and the web of float tracks on an endless beading of amber bladder bubbles, stretching in all directions. The sectors—they had names, but I generally couldn’t remember one from another—were strung like gaudy baubles on the lace ribbon of tracks around the world. Except where there was no sea at all, just dust and the empty; they say there’s towns there, too, and nomad bands, but it’s just what they say.

-- from "The Chambered Eye" in Rayguns Over Texas

Come hear me read from this story, E. J. Fischer read from his recent Asimovs cover novella, "The New Mother," and Janalyn Guo read from her work tomorrow, Saturday April 4, 7-8pm, A Speculative Evening at Malvern Books, 613 West 29th Street.

Here's a flyer!


Mar. 25th, 2015 10:38 am
storyrainthejournal: (littleowl)
Two items:

Coming up next week, Saturday, April 4, A Speculative Evening of readings at Malvern Books, with Eugene Fischer reading from his cover story in the current Asimov's, "The New Mother;" Janalyn Guo reading from her work, which she calls "little markers in time and space;" and me, reading...something good, I promise. 7-8 pm, at 613 West 29th Street here in Austin. Come and be transported! Buy books! Socialize!

And, today's post from Terri Windling, which is a little bit of perfect, Among the Pines
storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
This year’s ArmadilloCon has some fine guest action (Ian McDonald! Ted Chiang!) and looks like it will be fun.

You can find me…

5-6pm in the Dealer’s Room – Autographing…probably nothing much, but you can come talk to me. I’ll be one of the people next to Ian McDonald.

10-11am in Room E – Panel: Watch Out for that Plothole! w/Simmons*, Acks, Bracken, Fung, Reisman –Tips and advice on fixing the plotholes in your works.

4-5pm in Southpark A – Reading, cage-match style, with Amanda Downum. There may be a betting pool. (There may not.)

10-11am in Room F – Panel: Angels or Demons w/de Orive*, Faust, Leicht, Reisman, S. White – Which make the best antagonists?

2-3pm in Room F – Panel: Writing Pulp-Paced Stories w/Reisman*, Finn, Hardy, Johnson, Nevins – In which I moderate a discussion on writing fiction that has heft, depth and aspirations of greatness but the energy and pace of the adventure, mystery, horror, penny dreadful pulp story--a proposition I suggested, based on a Michael Swanwick quote.

...or find me in or near the bar. 
storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
Have begun work on a new novel, one I’ve been writing around the edges of, and finding the heart of, for years. I have a couple of stories related to it, published here and there. This is exciting, and scary, and, um, exciting. Also, for reasons of dayjob, I am back to writing my first draft longhand—which I have  not done for a long time—and finding it kind of awesome. The words poured out this morning. While who knows how many of those words will ultimately be part of the final draft, the pouring out of words is a splendid thing. They’re even going into some pleasing configurations. Language and story working together is a kind of bliss. It is not always thus.

What should I offer to any possible pledgers to my efforts? I will take suggestions, but for now, sponsor me at three dollars or more and I’ll write you a brief description, with origin, of one of the many strange creatures that will ultimately populate this book (among a number of human creatures). You can even request a characteristic or two.

Par exemplar:
Lemonstone: A rabbit-esque creature the size of a pony, with multiple, replaceable sets of ears. Named for the look and smell of its shit, Lemonstone originated in the dream of a 10th century Persian child who would grow up to be a poet. Lemonstone is getting old now, and often wonders where its flying ears, that could harness the wind, have disappeared to.

Just let me know here or on FB. For my sponsor page, go here or, if that doesn't work, go here and search for Jessica Reisman. (the direct link to my sponsor page wasn't working, but it's there) 
storyrainthejournal: (colette'shandw/cat)
Originally published by Five Star Speculative Fiction back in 2004, my first novel THE Z RADIANT is now available as an ebook! It's been brought out by Biblio Publishing with new cover art and it's available for all formats. You can get it through the Biblio site, or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

ZRadiantCoverWeb"This is thinking readers' sci-fi."

From the Library Journal review: "Suspense and action combined with four strong and distinct protagonists make this debut a good choice for most sf and mature YA collections."

Here's the first chapter.Read more... )

storyrainthejournal: (luminousrain)
Songs I am currently enjoying a lot:

Andrew Bird, Tenuousness

The Civil Wars, Twenty Years - The Civil Wars held a contest for filmmakers to create the official video for the song, "20 Years" from their debut album, Barton Hollow. This video, from South African production company, Innerview Productions, was the winner. (this video makes me cry everytime I watch it)

Of Monsters and Men, Your Bones

The current writing playlist is long and shifts a lot, and also includes a lot of soundtrack music, but these are on it. So here's a snipped from the current writing, a short story called "The Demon of Russett Street," which I'm revising:

A smoky steam lifted off the creature’s rough fur and leathery hide as it hulked in the middle of Sirin’s room, tusks and eyes catching the light. It sat back on the elephant hind legs. The carpeted floor creaked under the beast’s weight. Its long tail curled around, the end caught in clever, black-fingered hands playing with the tail’s fur tuft. Its tusks were nicked and scarred. It’s eyes glowed black, like coals rotten with ember.
storyrainthejournal: (happycat)
I put this here to remind myself that the writing does get out there, and does get appreciated and enjoyed, because it seems all too easy to forget and despair.

Two nice things in the recent: one of our SFWA grandmasters emailed me to say how much he liked my story in Ekaterina Sedia's anthology, Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top, and that it is "fine, fine writing." :)

And a friend informed me that a friend of hers introduced one of her students to some of my stories and I have a new fan.
storyrainthejournal: (Default)
I really love this essay, Why We Need Impossible Worlds from John Stevens (erudite ogre), over on SF Signal. The essay is a response to recent discussions of SF as an exhausted genre. My own SF stories do try for a sense of possibility while you're in the story, but at this point the projected far future universe with many inhabited planets, space stations, and vessels that travel the impossible distances of deep space between them, is pretty much fantasy, a very particular kind of retro-futurism. But I don't care--the possibility and speculation about humanity and the universe and living in it that can be explored in such stories is every bit as valid, to me, as that in stories based near future on hard science. It's freeing, it's fun, it's worthwhile, it's essential, and this essay explains why pretty cogently. An excerpt:

By creating worlds and people and situations that can never occur, we dive into a context that dislocates us, if slightly or temporarily, from our environment and allows our minds to be elsewhere, to take even a short trip and return to that real world a little (or sometimes greatly) changed.

That displacement and return from an impossible world is something that invigorates our minds. When we encounter the unfamiliar, the cryptic, or the preposterous, we take in and process them a little differently than something conventional, obvious, or “common-sense.”

In other news, I went on a mini writing retreat this past weekend, which was productive and pretty much awesome. I have pictures and some thoughts to post, probably tonight. I know you're waiting breathlessly. 

storyrainthejournal: (Default)

Patrice Sarath tagged me in her Next Big Thing entry; these are posts in which writers talk about their WIPs. Patrice was tagged by Nicky Drayden. You should go read both their posts, because they are entertaining and funny. Then read mine because you love me.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing

1. What is the title of your Work in Progress?

I'm going to talk about the novel on which I'm in the process of a first revision, rather than the newest project, which is still in development phase and a little too delicate for the light of day. Or undercooked. Choose your metaphor.

Um, yeah, so the title of the novel is DEEP TERRAIN (I’ve been advised to change it, and will, but haven't settled on a new title yet).

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

My love of a certain three-character relationship dynamic that appears in many pirate and swashbuckling movies (and others) but is never played out in a way that pleases me. Also my love of adventure/swashbuckling tales in general.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Alternate earth/alternate history dark fantasy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Snow - Ziyi Zhang; Thaniel - a talented young unknown; Captain Brule - Gael Garcia Bernal

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

On the waters of an alternate 1600s South China Sea, two adventurers and the crew of the Sophia Obscura hunt for the Ordinaith, a legendary device for the navigation of the deep places of the earth's crust, where potent magic infuses mineral, water, and the life forms of the dark places.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Represented by my agent, if she goes for it.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I have a dayjob, so, a while.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

I’m really bad at these kinds of comparisons…

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The energy in the unfulfilled, dissatisfying relationships and arcs in stories I’ve otherwise liked. Also, what always inspires writing—reading, and other forms of storytelling (film, in this case, a lot of movies); for me, also and always, the wonder and inventive artistry of the natural world, which is so very amazing.  

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Chemical witchery, derring-do, swordfights and sea battles, sea serpents and arcane works, exploration and discovery…


Don’t forget to check out Patrice’s post; Patrice is the author of the Gordath Wood series and the Jane Austen-inspired The Unexpected Miss Bennet.

I’m tagging the following authors, all truly wonderful writers; interested to see what they have up their sleeves:

A.M. Dellamonica

Martha Wells

Meghan McCarron

Katharine Beutner

storyrainthejournal: (Default)
Went to the Pecan Street fest this past weekend with god kids and their 'rents. Here's a pic from our perambulations through the crowds:

I got a hat with ears and the most amazing goat cheese concoction, from this wonderful sounding goat farm: Coon Ridge Organic Goat Farm Dairy

Also, my god daughter has adopted a mod/steampunk style, including top hat. She was pretty adorable.

Phantom Drift issue #2, Valuable Estrangements, is now available. Get it here or order it at your local bookstore.

From managing editor David Memmott:
Issue Two presents 166 perfect-bound pages of estrangement wrapped in a gorgeous cover featuring the darkly mysterious art of sculpture-filmmaker John Frame and includes sixteen original stories, twenty-one poems/prose poems, three essays, a review and six letter compositions.

My little "Boneshadow" appears among the original stories. Here's an excerpt:
     It was summer under the eaves of the sky and the city echoed with heat. Sadie ran, on the curved shell of dusk’s descent, through a downtown of worn concrete and brick.
     The city owned many architectures, deep and thick with the dreams, spoils, battles, victories, and longings of its inhabitants, whose lives stained its walls as a smoke accreted as the rooms, ells, and stories of its many buildings accreted, souls coloring an alley or a forgotten room here and there in luminous shades, while everywhere else was gray and aged.
    “Where are you running, Sadie?” “Why are you running, Sadie?”
     The questions hissed and echoed up from grates, around corners, out of the air, in voices sly and insistent and gentle.
     Sadie had seen a thing, a crack in the bone and breath of the world, and it had seen her.

Also, there's this, the best story ever. "They had gone on a very long trip."

storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)
CIRCUS - FANTASY UNDER THE BIG TOP, which has a load of stories by awesome folks, and my own “The Vostrasovitch Clockwork Animal and Traveling Forest Show at the End of the World," is orderable through B&N or Amazon, in print or e-format.

In other pleasurable reading news, Kathe Koje is offering a new story about Istvan and Rupert of UNDER THE POPPY--a lovely wonderful book, recently out in paperback edition--for the price of a picture of you with the book.

As a celebration of the publication of the paperback edition of Under the Poppy,  due out on 9/10 (and available now for preorder from Small Beer Press, B&N and Amazon, among others), I’m offering a PDF of never-before-published Poppy fiction, called “An Interlude of the Road”: the tale of a young Rupert and Istvan, and their encounter with Herr Nagler, the smiling herring-monger in the satrap’s robe.

To receive the story, all you need to do is send a picture of yourself and your copy of Under the Poppy.

And, in not so pleasurable, but educational, reading, Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, long form journalism in Rolling Stone.

storyrainthejournal: (onward)
I've been a bit off social media the last little while; just not very posty. It happens.

Ayup. I can testify that this is true. You would be shocked at how high my IQ measured when I was a kid (higher than the supposed IQ of Dr. Reid on Criminal Minds). But I smoked a lot of (really good) marijuana through my teen years. And I can tell the points got knocked down. I'm still reasonably intelligent, but not the super-intelligent kid I was.

Which is no reason adults shouldn't be free to smoke, as far as I'm concerned, but maybe not kids and teens. We really need more smart people, not fewer. As developments at the current RNC would indicate. We don't need them Puerto Rican furriners, nope.


Writing continues; just finished a short story draft, "The Demon of Russet Street," about to revise another called "The Chambered Eye," then it's back to noveling, noveling, noveling. Where I am happiest, really.

storyrainthejournal: (littleowl)
This weekend is ArmadilloCon. Friday I'll be teaching in the writing workshop all day; I'll be around in the evening, wherever there are drinks. The rest of my schedule looks like this:

Imagining a World without Fossil Fuels
Sat 10:00 AM-11:00 AM San Antonio
E. Bear, A. Porter, J. Reisman, A. Simmons*, K. Stauber, F. Stanton
Discussing the implications of this all-too-plausible scenario.

Sat 11:00 AM-Noon Dealers' Room
C. Brown, U. Fung, C. Neill, J. Reisman

Building a Fictional Society from the Ground Up
Sat 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Sabine
A. Bishop, A. Downum, A. Goldsmith, J. Mandala, J. Reisman*, M. Wells
A discussion of worldbuilding in sf/f.

Sun 10:30 AM-11:00 AM San Marcos   Come to my reading! It's on Sunday morning at 10:30! Ha!
Jessica Reisman

Workshopping to Success
Sun 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Sabine
M. Dimond, K. Jewell, S. Leicht*, M. Maresca, N. Moore, J. Reisman
What the ArmadilloCon / Clarion / Clarion West / Odyssey did for me (as a student or a teacher)

storyrainthejournal: (Default)

Neologisms get a pretty bad rap in fiction of the fantastic or speculative persuasion. There’s even an entry in the Turkey City Lexicon that goes like this: “Call a Rabbit a Smeerp - A cheap technique for false exoticism, in which common elements of the real world are re-named for a fantastic milieu without any real alteration in their basic nature or behavior. “Smeerps” are especially common in fantasy worlds, where people often ride exotic steeds that look and act just like horses.”

There is sense and wisdom in that admonishment, of course. Just coming up with a new word/name and doing nothing else (especially if the word is as silly as smeerp) is lazy and does a story no favors.

A lot of the time, however, people fail to consider this portion of the admonishment: if the word or name is applied to the common element “without any real alteration in their basic nature or behavior.” I suspect a lot of people really don’t understand when a neologism is a smeerp and when it’s not.

The case for neologisms

Language is alive and changing. I often cast about for a new term or word which, on the very surface, may seem not so different from one with which the reader is familiar. I don’t do this lazily or offhand, however; I do it studiously, applying thought as to how a particular culture or world view might see and think of something, or about how a particular creature or technology or object might have developed in that world.

I don’t just throw those words in there for no reason, but to 1) cast a narrative and the things in a world into the terms in which the people of that world think of them and 2) bend the reader’s mind slightly, cant the reader's own language centers to strangeness, to shift the reader's perspective. To say, yes, it is that thing, but it might not be exactly that thing—and it doesn’t occupy precisely the place and context in the world of this story as it does in the life of you.

Or maybe it does—but it’s still useful to make you look at it in a different way. There's something to be said for problemnatizing the nature and understanding of what is "common" itself—as long, of course, as it serves the story rather than undermining it.

Here is the Wikipedia definition of neologism: (fromGreek νέο- (néo-), meaning "new", and λόγος (lógos), meaning "speech, utterance")a newly coined term, word, or phrase, that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event.

And here are some words that began life as neologisms:

So, the next time you think, aha! I caught you! neologism, I hate those! -- think about it and check to see if it’s really a smeerp or if something a little more complex might be going on.

storyrainthejournal: (bunny)

Recently I heard most of Watership Down on audio book while roadtripping. I first read Watership Down when I was nine (the year it came out, as a matter of fact), and reread it about a bazillion times shortly thereafter.

Listening to it all these years later (and then rereading the last couple of chapters, as my sojourn on the roadtrip ended before we'd finished the book) I realize that a lot of what's important to me in fiction came from it. Characters you truly root for and care about, a sense of both this world's realities and of some extra or otherworldliness--of the fantastic, hand in hand with the wonder of the natural world. All of that, but most strikingly, I think, is how deeply this book spoke to and deepened a love of nature and the naturalist’s eye in me.  

From near the end (but the novel is so rich in such observations of nature): Along the edge of the wood a sheet of wild clematis showed like a patch of smoke, all its sweet-smelling flowers turned to old man’s beard.

That's writing, wonderful writing.

I'm working toward establishing an actual blogging schedule for myself, with a loose rotating set of topics. I have a bunch of ideas I'm refining, but if you have requests, toss 'em at me. I'd especially appreciate any thoughts on a guest post format, what you'd want to hear about from any future guests here.

Jay Lake states here a lot of what disturbs/scares/drives me crazy about the conservative party in this country. Add to that that Mitt Romney clearly--based on his own words and actions--does not care about the wellfare of ordinary (that is, anyone not ultra wealthy or a corporation) people at all, and the idea of the man as president is terrifying. That isn't hyperbole. It hollows me out with shuddering dread. For this country, for the people who live here.

This, btw, is what corporations as people, unregulated financial and industry sectors, and the greed is good motive of business have gotten us.


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