New story! “Sun-Touched” up at Kaleidotrope

I have a new story up! You can now read "Sun-Touched" for free over at Kaleidotrope.

You can thank Neil Gaiman for this one. In 2010, I was invited to attend “The Gathering of American Gods” at the House on the Rock. I was trying to think of a cool costume to wear and, well, okay, I was looking for an excuse to dye my wedding dress with tea. I came up with going as the Moth Queen, because I had a pin shaped like a butterfly, but this party would be at night, so moths fit better.

Well, the costume idea petered out, (I wound up going as a vaguely steampunk lady). But the idea of a Moth Queen stuck with me, and I began to play with the idea. How I went from a Queen to a Princess, Queen and Dowager, I don’t remember. but when I came up with the idea of butterfly people (papilion) being enemies of the moth people (doptera), and how the moth people are attracted to light, I knew I had a story.

I will confess, coming up with the backstory and history of the world was somewhat difficult. After I finished it, I shopped it around. One of the rejections I got mentioned that it was a very good story, but the editor wished the doptera and papilion were more insect-like. And this is true. But I had no clue how to make them more insect-like without making them relatable. And besides, I had a selfish wish to keep the figurines as is, which play a part in the story.

Hmm. Writing that though makes me wonder. Can I make a lead character that’s not human, completely alien, and yet make them relatable? At the time I wrote Sun-Touched, I didn’t think I could. Now? I might be able.

In the meantime, enjoy "Sun-Touched", and let me know what you think!

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My first review! Sort of…and NaNoWriMo

Got this off the Kaleidotrope blog:

“Sam Tomaino of SF Revu offers a quick overview of Kaleidotrope #3, as well as some nice words…”

I hopped on over and read this:

“The October 2007 issue of Kaleidotrope is another nice one with a fine mix of stories and poems. I liked all the stories in the issue.

The issue starts off with “Click” by LaShawn M. Wanak. The story start with the narrator typing words into a keyboard, “A little girl is crying” and seeing the effect this has on the reader. More details are supplied. How long can the narrator manipulate the reader?”

He then mentions the rest of the stories and winds up with:

“Kaleidotrope is a small press magazine that deserves your support.”

Well, gosh! My first review…sort of. Granted, it’s more part of the whole, but still, it makes me feel great that I contributed to that overall nice feeling.

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By the way, you probably noticed the distinct lack of NaNoWriMo at the Cafe.

Around this time last year, I had already churned at least 8500 words and having the time of my life in writing abundantly and with abandon. It was great.

A year later, I haven’t given much thought to doing NaNo at all.

It was something I knew would happen. I figured I would be waist deep in doing Willow edits that I wouldn’t have time to work on anything new. And I’m quite glad I didn’t plan to do it–right now, life is so crazy that if I had added NaNo to the mix, I would be literally tearing the locs out my hair. So this year, NaNo’s taking a back seat while I focus on edits.

Will I do it next year? Depends. Maybe Willow will be out making its rounds at agents next year. Maybe I’ll still be stuck in editing mode. Maybe I’ll totally trash Willow and write erotica instead….

Nahhh….I’m not gonna do that last bit.

I’ll wait until Willow’s done first. I do have priorities, ya know.

More thoughts on being published

So the reason why I haven’t been able to go to the Midwest Literary Festival was that our family spent a week up in Cedarville, MI at the Intervarsity Cedar Camp there. Naturally, this meant that once we got back home, we had a huge pile of mail waiting for us. And the first thing on top of the pile was two copies of Kaleidotrope. And right there, on page 3, was “Click”.

Very, very surreal.

I’m not talking about the story itself, which can be described as surreal, I guess. I’m talking about seeing the words that I have slaved over for several months not hovering on a LCD screen or in loose-leaf, double spaced printed format with red ink all over it. I’m talking about Times New Roman single spaced, two columned, italicized, bound in a book with several other stories. With a graphic: A gargoyle/demon/wraith thing that fits so well with the story…but also looks disturbingly cute. I want to take it home and call it Iggy. He shall sleep in the shed and I’ll throw it raw chicken bones for dinner…

Err…ahumm…sorry…got a little carried away there…

I had mentioned in my post for the Writer’s Block that there’s something different about seeing your work in print. That it’s tangible. You can trace your name with your fingers. You can even smell it (and yeah, how weird is that? For some bizarre reason, I’ve been taking to holding the zine up to my nose and sniffing it. It’s most disturbing…and yet…I just can’t help it. It smells real!)

But there something else I didn’t count on in seeing my story in print…and that was almost the strange disconnected feeling as I read it.

I know the words intimately. I can almost close my eyes and recite the beginning off the top of my head. But when I open it up and look at it, it’s almost as if I’m reading something that someone else wrote. And as I get drawn into what I wrote, I think: I wrote this? Me? That can’t be right. This is…good!

It’s not an ego-boosting thing. Trust me. Nor am I saying this with a boastful air. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m astonished to see a story of mine in print, and I’m humbled that this was printed at all…compared to the other stories within the zine. And trust me, there are some very good stories in this zine. I haven’t finished it yet (when you read a short story zine, it’s best to read it in bits, I’ve learned. That way, the stories stay with you more.) but I did take a look at the bios at the back, and was blown away by some of the writers’ creds. There’s this one story, “Guy, Sky High” by Edd Vick about a guy dying that brought tears to my eyes. And my story is published in the same zine as his?! That blows my mind.

I guess that’s why it looks so strange to me. I’m not used to seeing my work in print like this before. And you know what? I want more. I want to get more stuff printed. Just to see what my stuff will look like.

That’s not to say that I’m giving up on the net market too. I find that getting published on the Internet is just as important. In fact, it looks like that article I’ve been working on all September will be getting published after all…and that one will be on the web. More details coming as soon as I get them.

In the meantime, it’s back to the grindstone. I got more stories that need to be polished and sent on their way. Aaaaand, starting next week, it will be back to work on The Weeping of the Willows. Huh…I wonder what it will be like to see that in print?

Guess I better start working on it so I can find out.

“Click” published in Kaleidotrope Issue #3

YEEEEEHAAWWWW! It’s out!

kaleidotrope cover

The latest issue of Kaleidotrope is out, and it’s got my story “Click” in it! I haven’t gotten it in the mail yet, but I should soon.

I had lots of fun writing “Click”. I love stories that screw with the reader’s mind. I had no idea this piece will turn into a commentary on women’s issues, but I hope it makes readers think.

You can get issue #3 of Kaleidotrope by clicking on the image above or the link here. It costs around $4. If you’re in Chicago, you can also pick up an issue at Quimby’s. Head down there right now. Go on. Supporting local bookstores is fun!

October Scheduling (or time to get down to business…eventually…)

October already, huh?

It amazes me how time simultaneously crawls and speeds. When Kaleidotrope sent me the acceptance note for my story “Click” back in April, I didn’t think I could wait until October for it to be published. And now, here it is, October 1, and it feels a little weird.

It’s not just a new story for me that makes this month eventful. This month was also my start point to start editing Willow again. I’ve been letting it sit on the back burner for just about 2-1/2 months now. I already know what my first step is going to be…and it’s cool that I’m itching to jump into it. But I can’t do that. Not yet.

My schedule, which I had perfected at the beginning of September, has been thrown off a bit. A couple of glitches have occurred–and I stress glitches. They aren’t major crises or anything like that–that has me scrambling to repair them. One of them is the fact that I’m taking more time than I thought with an article I’m writing. I thought I would be done with it in two weeks, tops, but it’s now stretching into a month. Luckily, I’m in the last stages of it, so I’m hoping to be done with it by Friday at the latest. But in doing this article, I had to put other projects on hold. It’s not terribly bad–it’s a good reason why I had blocked off August through September as a time to keep my writing light and easy–but this has ballooned into quite a project. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

Another glitch is that this weekend, October 5-7, is the Midwest Literary Festival taking place in Aurora, IL. There’s going to be a lot of authors there, as well as some wonderful looking workshops. I’ve attended it for two years now…but I won’t be there this year due to a conflict in schedule. I don’t feel bad about missing it–after attending the Midwest Writing Workshop in July, I’m pretty good as far as conferences go for the year. Besides, I think I will get a whole lot more out of the festival next year, when I plan to have Willow ready to pitch to agents. So all of you going to the festival this year, have lots of fun for me, and let me know how it goes.

I’m not going to completely turn my back on networking, though. When I learned that I wouldn’t be able to go to the festival, I decided to try something new and go to an online conference. The Muse Online Writer’s Conference boasts that it’s the only conference of it’s kind, with most of its workshops being down in chat rooms. Registrations are closed right now, but you can go to see what kind of workshops they have. I’ve only participated in a chatroom a couple of weeks ago (I’m not really the type of person who does chatrooms) so this will be a new thing for me. The conference goes from October 8 through 14, which I think is timely because then I can just dive into Willow on the 15th.

So, basically, October is shaping up to be quite a busy month. Stay tuned as I attempt to juggle the days and keep my sanity intact.