Monday, June 30, 2014

Clarion Week One

Everything hurts. Mostly my feet and my brains. But it's a good hurt.

Nothing can really prepare you for Clarion. You can read All Of The Blogposts, talk to All Of The People, but in the end it's a massive push off the high tower into the deep end.

And we're making a splash, surfacing, dog paddling in gasping circles...

Weirdos Of the Future, 2014
On Sunday June 22, I was picked up in Los Angeles by class mate Ryan Campbell, with shotgun rider Haralambi Markov. Much squeeing ensued. Here were these people I'd only had in text and photos for months, flesh realized! Much enthusing ensued as we trundled down the highway to San Diego. Freaking Caly-forn-ay-yay. I was feeling a little overwhelmed.

That feeling was about to intensify. By 7.30pm, I was fed, watered, had made my bed, exploded my bag all over my room, and was facing off with seventeen people I was getting to know all over again, and tutor Gregory Frost. Many great things were said, and even only 7 days later they're a little bit hazy. But the gist of it was: water wings off, kiddies, you're in the grown up pool now.

There's a lot of walking to do. UCSD campus is big, and our apartments, cafeteria, and class room are very spread out. But La Jolla is beautiful, has it's own micro climate, and the Pacific Ocean is right at our back door.

Monday and Tuesday work wise, in hindsight, were a breeze. Lectures in the morning, writing in the afternoon, Party All The Time in the pee-em. Monday was inaugural Beers On The Roof (a past time now curtailed by a perturbed security guard). Tuesday was Karaoke at the campus dive pub (holy sheet, I haven't sung Meat Loaf in years, plus there's nothing quite like Greg Frost singing "Walk The Line" in the style of Porky Pig). I was thinking: if this is life for the next 6 weeks, this is pretty damn fine.

Ha, I say to you. HA! Cool Uncle Greg had us fooled. FOOLED I TELL YOU.

Wednesday was when the first stories rolled in, and the critiquing began. Suddenly it was lectures, writing, AND reading and marking up 3-4 stories a day. Still, there was much fun to be had at the Mysterious Galaxy reading by Greg on the Wednesday (wonderful bookshop, fantastic staff who treated us like royalty), and critiquing was still a novelty come Thursday. Friday we celebrated an epic session of critiquing with a walk to the nearby cliffs, and gentrified imbibing of a few beverages (until 12.30am, because, yanno, gotta celebrate that tutor that's just held our hands through our first week and made us feel like we've all already won the Hugo).

Saturday? The BEST MEXICAN EVER in Old Town San Diego, with touristy bits, superb shopping, and ice cream.

Geoffrey Ryman arrived, Greg made us sound like godlings (Best Class Ever might have been bandied about), and the game shifted. New style, new work. Much thinking. OW.

Nino Cipri and myself looking SPLENDID 
at the Geisel Library Steampunk Tea
Sunday? An emotional send off for Greg, with group hugs (I didn't cry. Read: I TOTALLY DID). Getting to know Geoff. A cool Steampunk themed event at the library where I got my first ever straw moustache. And now, holy cow I'm tired. But I've got through my workload, though my word count has suffered from brain mush.

This is all very time-liney, you say. What about Great Things That Have Been Said? The Amazing Things All Learning Up In Your Brain? Well, I'm sorry, I'm reliably informed I'd have to kill you if I told you. That's between me and 18 other people. But I can tell you this: I have never felt like a REAL writer, someone with talent people really believe in, until this moment. We do nothing but eat, sleep, rave, repeat craft. People laugh at my jokes. They take what I think on crafty things seriously. People smile, and laugh, and tell me great things are due. And we laugh some more.


Pickle Brain, OUT.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Heiresses of Russ 2014

I've arrived in Los Angeles, and I've barely been here 12 hours and I've got great news to share.

Actually, this is news I've been sitting on for a few weeks, but I'm super stoked to finally be able to let it out.

My story "Blood, Stone, Water" has been chosen for Heiresses of Russ 2014, published by Lethe Press. Heiresses of Russ is an annual reprint anthology of the best lesbian speculative short fiction from the previous year, and this year's edition is edited by Lethe publisher Steve Berman and Melissa Scott.

"Blood, Stone, Water" was originally published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies in April last year.

I'm so happy about this because when I first started writing I made myself a list of Bucket List venues I wanted to see my work appear in, and Lethe Press anthologies was one of them, especially Heiresses of Russ (it is named in honour of one of my favourite authors of all time).

Steve posted the below ToC on Facebook, and the order may not be set in stone yet, but these are the stories picked for Heiresses of Russ 2014. I'm honoured to be sharing a ToC with Benjanun Sriduangkaew's "Vector", and Tori Truslow's "Boat in Shadows, Crossing", two of my favourite stories from last year.

Heiresses of Russ 2014 Table of Contents

Introduction by Melissa Scott
"The Gold Mask’s Menagerie" by Chanté McCoy
"Counting Down the Seconds" by Lexy Wealleans (her first story!)
"Love Over Glass, Skin Under Glass" by Penny Stirling
"Hungry" by Robert E. Stutts
"Liquid Loyalty" by Redfern Jon Barrett
"Her Infinite Variety" by Sacchi Green
"The Coffinmaker’s Love" by Alberto Yáñez
"Terminal City" by Zoë Blade
"The Bride in Furs" by Layla Lawlor
"Your Figure Will Assume Beautiful Outlines" by Claire Humphrey
"Blood, Stone, Water" by  AJ Fitzwater
"Vector" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
"Of Selkies, Disco Balls, and Anna Plane" by Cat Rambo
"Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer" by  Kenneth Schneyer
"Difference of Opinion" by Meda Kahn
"Boat in Shadows, Crossing" by Tori Truslow
"The Raven and Her Victory" by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I'm about to set out on an adventure, and my bag is only 3/4 full. What have I forgotten?

In amongst my packing lists and dying my hair, a recurring thought keeps popping up: I don't want to forget any of this. I'm a shocker at journaling or keeping a diary, it's never come naturally to me. But the next two months are too big to rely on my memory and photos alone. There's not just a lot of Writerly Things to take in, but there'll be Comic Con and Pride and lots of exploring and lots of good times with people and wonderful tutors (OMG, I'm gonna be working with Nora Jemisin and Catherynne Valente)...

*mental gasp*

So I've decided I'm going to try and blog as much as I can while I'm away at Clarion. Hopefully I'll put something down at least once a week. I'll be Twittering and Facebooking too, so if you want to catch up on my day to day, come on over to those places.

I'm so looking forward to meeting everyone in my class. We've been chatting for the last couple of months, but really getting to know them is going to be fun, and a big ask (yay, my social anxieties! I will hug you and squeeze you and call you George). I've been bunked in with Harry Markov (who I've known for a couple of years now so it's gonna be major squee when we finally meet up), Ryan Campbell (my limo driver and turning into organizer extraordinaire), and Vida Cruz (Lego Lokis untie!).

So here I go, about to hop the long haul to Los Angeles. Wish me plenty of sleep. And if not enough sleep, plenty of laughs.

Lego Loki prepares for the long haul to LA
"There will be Bohemian Rhapsody. Oh yes, there will."