I’m super excited!
If you read it, I hope you enjoy.
I’m super excited!
If you read it, I hope you enjoy.
Happy new year, everyone (at least per the Gregorian calendar). I am peeking out of my warm and cozy writing nest to announce that my first published poem, “The Nagini’s Night Song,” about a nagini (half-serpent, half-human being from Hindu and Buddhist mythology) is now available!
It’s in the January issue of Mythic Delirium, and you can read it here. I hope you enjoy it.
I’m happy to share a few cool things with you before I go out to run some errands. (A writer’s life–so very glamorous.)
First, I’ve sold a couple poems to Mythic Delirium, “The Nagini’s Night Song” and “Star Fishing,” for publication in 2015. I’m super excited about this! I used to think I could never write poetry, and then . . . Don’t worry, I’ll definitely let you know when they’re out.
(Side note: Mike Allen is a great editor for helping you find just the right word for the image/feeling you’re trying to evoke. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.)
By the way, all the Mythic Delirium stories from 2014 are now free to read on the site, so go enjoy!
Secondly, I am delighted to announce I’ve sold a personal essay to The Toast! Yes, the same Toast full of insightful writing and Mallory Ortberg’s hilarious takedowns of things like Western art history and classic movies. My essay is titled “Thorns in My Throat” and will go live in spring 2015. Again, I’ll let you know when it’s out.
Finally, I just learned that Kaleidoscope, the anthology I have a story in (“Krishna Blue”), made NPR Books’ Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2014 list! NPR!!! Eee!
Thanks for celebrating with me!
Happy autumn! It’s been a busy few months, what with Viable Paradise and my birthday and and and. But I’m writing to let you know that I’ll be doing my first-ever bookstore event at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia on 12 November. Details below.
Wednesday, November 12, 6:30 P.M.
Futures & Fairy Tales: A Kaleidoscope of Diverse Adventures
For this fabulous night of sf/fantasy, we’re combining two groups of authors into one big YA event! The Futures & Fairy Tales Tour comes to Philadelphia with Claire Legrand (Winterspell), Sarah Fine (Of Metal and Wishes), and Sarah Raasch (Snow Like Ashes), presenting books inspired respectively by The Nutcracker and The Phantom of the Opera, and another that’s described as “Game of Thrones meets Graceling.” Joining them will be local authors Shveta Thakrar and E.C. Myers, both contributors to the anthology Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, and Julia Rios, one of Kaleidoscope’s editors. “The diversity is so thick on the ground here that it’s like walking through an Alison Bechdel comic strip — or like walking through Mt. Airy.” (See Jen’s review of Kaleidoscope on our blog.)
Also, there will be snacks!
Hope to see you there!
You can buy Kaleidoscope today! I’m so excited; I’ve been waiting to share my color vampire story with you for a while, and now I can. It’s a story about hunger and art and sisters and belonging. And eating colors, of course.
And while we’re at it, here’s a sample of the story!
Neha blinked back her tears. That ignorant jerk wanted to see her heritage in her work. Which to him meant melodramatic imagery from the kind of red-sari literature she couldn’t stand. And instead of refusing, she’d frozen.
A thought unfolded. Her heritage, huh? Her palette with its bold smears of color was the artist’s version of her mother’s steel spice box, the same way her mother’s canvas was the tongue. There, multihued pools of fragrance and flavor joined to create something even more sensual and complex.
In the same way, Neha could blend the paints that would create the shades of turmeric and chilli and garam masala, amchur and cumin and coriander.
She uncapped another tube. Turmeric yellow oozed out, making her gasp. It was so bright, so beautiful. Its golden glow promised to fill her, to illuminate the corridors of her arteries and veins and soothe the dark, lonely chambers of her heart.
Images and ideas slipped through her mind in dreamy golden waves. If turmeric was like paint, then paint was like turmeric . . .
Stupid. Oil paint was toxic. How many teachers had drilled that into her head? Neha shook her head and reached for a paper towel.
Turmeric, something within her insisted. Somehow, instead of the paper towel, she’d seized the blob of paint. The tip of her index finger glistened yellow.
Neha paused, trapped between possibilities, teetering between potential universes. She might hate her life, but she didn’t want to die.
Yet her finger was at her lips now, parting them. She was so sick of everyone knowing better than her. She wanted to do this for herself, to taste turmeric yellow.
At the brush of her lips, the color exploded, bursting over her taste buds and splashing liquid saffron into her bloodstream.
Everywhere Neha looked she saw sunlight. The yellow was hers now, bright and bubbling. She twirled joyfully, radiant with it.
Then she glanced at the smudge on her finger. Horror and wonder fought to leave her breathless.
The paint had turned a lifeless gray.
Hi, everyone! I hope you’re having a good summer (or winter, depending on where you are). I am, though it’s flying by. I’ll tell you why below, but first, some news!
I recently had my first ever poem sale—“The Nagini’s Night Song,” to issue 1.3 of Mythic Delirium! I could not be more excited about this and am super grateful to C.S.E. Cooney, Julia Rios, and Mike Allen for their editorial guidance. I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
Okay, on to the recap of July!
On the weekend of the fourth my friend and super-talented jeweler Meenoo Mishra and her husband came to visit, and I bought one of her gorgeous mythic necklaces. I’m modeling it in the picture! We baked cupcakes and ate and laughed a lot. Good times.
Then it was off to Readercon in Burlington, Massachusetts, to catch up with dear friends, make new ones, and give readings! I read from “Krishna Blue” during the Midnight Speakeasy reading, and even though I was the last one to go, I’d say it got quite a great reception. The other readers were wonderful, too, and one of them won the Shirley Jackson Award!
Me, Patty Templeton, and Matt Kressel (Matt’s camera)
Then just a few days after returning from Boston, I boarded a train bound for New York City to attend the monthly KGB Bar Fantastic Fiction reading. (The readers were Sofia Samatar and Victor LaValle.) I got to see lots of wonderful people and meet one of my Viable Paradise roommates-to-be! And tour the offices of TOR, thanks to the always lovely Marco Palmieri.
Tempest Bradford and me (Tempest’s camera)
Then I gave a talk to a group of kids at my local library. They all perked up when we talked about horror, I read them a bit of “Krishna Blue,” and they wrote the beginnings to their own (horror-inspired) stories. That was all a little nerve-wracking at first, but I did it, so yay! (And who knows; maybe I inspired some of them to give writing a try.) I also raffled off a copy of an Amar Chitra Katha comic.
Asking what books this reader likes and why (Miss B’s camera)
Reading from “Krishna Blue” (Miss B’s camera)
And then I went to my brother-in-law’s fifties-themed wedding. I wore a borrowed fascinator and a polka-dot dress and round-toe heels. We ate lots, and I danced with my nieces and nephews. Fun! (Meeting my newest niece and having her select me as her dancing partner was the best part.)
Rocking the netting and polka dots (my camera)
And now I can collapse (or else return to work on Star Daughter). Whew! Well, until Friday, anyway, when I go see Mike Allen, Anita Devi Allen, and Nicole Kornher-Stace for Mike’s reading from his upcoming story collection Unseaming . . .
How’s your summer so far?
Sometimes you write short stories about color vampires and sleeping beneath blankets of sea, sometimes you critique other people’s equally odd and wonderful stories, and sometimes, well, sometimes you apply for writing workshops and find out you got in.
In other words, I’ve been accepted to Viable Paradise XVIII!
Dear readers, I am so excited. I get to have a story workshopped among speculative fiction pros like Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, and Sherwood Smith (and many others)! I get to talk about writing and books and narrative and YA fantasy for a whole week! On beautiful Martha’s Vineyard in the autumn! I get to eat delicious dinners prepared for us every night and take walks to see bioluminescent jellyfish! I get to meet writers I don’t yet know and room with them! I haven’t done anything like this since I attended Clarion back in 2006, and I can’t wait!
Just before I learned I’d been accepted last week, I visited my incredibly talented friends C.S.E. Cooney and Julia Rios and read them the story I’ll be workshopping at VP (which was also my application story). We also wrote, watched Firefly, discussed what makes a poem work, and ate lots of vanilla ice cream drizzled with Bailey’s Irish Cream. If you haven’t tried that last, do. It makes writing retreats even . . . sweeter.
And I’ve been reading so many wonderful books. Stories–the core of a writer’s diet. It’s like you’re a butter churn, and you fill yourself with rainbows and pieces of sky and end up with new seeds of your own stories. The latest on my to-read pile: Welcome to Bordertown, Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Dark Metropolis, Otherbound, and Stargazing for Dummies. Check them out if you haven’t!
Anyway, back to work! I’ve got a novel draft to finish, after all.
I’m so delighted to announce that my short story “Krishna Blue” will be in the amazing lineup of the forthcoming YA speculative fiction anthology Kaleidoscope. Check it out below!
(Yay, wonderful diverse fiction that isn’t just about being diverse!)
This story is particularly dear to my heart; I began it in 2006 at Clarion, when I had the idea of an artist who eats colors, and then I kept rewriting it over the years until I finally got it right. And now it’s in . . .
Table of contents (in alphabetical order by author’s last name):
“Welcome” by Will Alexander
“Double Time” by John Chu
“Celebration” by Sean Eads
“The Truth about Owls” by Amal El-Mohtar
“Careful Magic” by Karen Healey
“Chupacabra’s Song” by Jim Hines
“Ordinary Things” by Vylar Kaftan
“Every Little Thing” by Holly Kench
“End of Service” by Gabriela Lee
“Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon” by Ken Liu
“The Day the God Died” by Alena McNamara
“Signature” by Faith Mudge
“Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell” by E. C. Myers
“Happy Go Lucky” by Garth Nix
“Cookie Cutter Superhero” by Tansy Rayner Roberts
“Walkdog” by Sofia Samatar
“The Lovely Duckling” by Tim Susman
“Krishna Blue” by Shveta Thakrar
“The Legend Trap” by Sean Williams
Just look at all those great names! I’m so excited. The anthology will be available soon, and you can find out more here: http://kaleidoscope.twelfthplanetpress.com/.
Aspiring novelist and fellow Sirens Conference goer Artemis Grey invited me to take part in the My Writing Process blog tour, and though I normally don’t do memes, Artemis is too awesome to refuse. So here are my answers to four questions.
1) What am I working on?
A short story about a shadow collector and my second novel, a young adult fantasy about a girl whose mother is from a Hindu constellation. I love mythic stories, so I’m writing one myself!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write about South Asian American characters, both because that was my experience and also because there’s such a lack in the young adult North American market. Reflecting the real world for the win!
3) Why do I write what I do?
There’s so much to learn about the world and one another, and books are an excellent way to step into someone else’s head. We all deserve to see ourselves, and we all deserve to see one another in the stories we read.
Also, I believe in magic and imagination, and I love fun, exciting, well-told tales. Young adult has a lot of those. There’s nothing like seeing what came out of another person’s cranial treasure box–and plumbing the depths of my own to tell the story only my personality and experience and brain could come up with!
4) How does my writing process work?
Now that is a question! I have been rethinking how and why I write over the past year or so, but it does seem to involve a bit of procrastination and what I call Adult Onset Perfectionism, where I want the first draft to be perfect. Of course that’s impossible, so what I’m trying to content myself with instead is editing as I go along–even though I know there will be revisions (maybe even heavy ones!) once I finish the draft. Still, whatever gets the words down!
Terri Windling talks a bit about the idea that some people are inchers, that they need to dip their toes and slowly slip into the water. I’d say that’s me for sure.
Next up in the tour is Francesca Forrest, whose blog you can find here. Francesca is the author of the middle grade novel Pen Pal: “Em is a twelve-year-old girl in a floating community off the Gulf Coast. Kaya is a political activist in a terrifying prison. They are pen pals. Em’s wistful message in a bottle finds its way to Kaya, imprisoned above the molten lava of the Ruby Lake. Both are living precarious lives, at the mercy of societal, natural, and perhaps supernatural forces beyond their control. Kaya’s letters inspire Em, and Em’s comfort Kaya—but soon this correspondence becomes more than personal. Individual lives, communities, and even the fate of an entire nation will be changed by this exchange of letters. Pen Pal is a story of friendship and bravery across age, distance, and culture, at the intersection of the natural and supernatural world.”
It’s been a long, especially challenging winter in my part of the world, and even though spring has sprung, we’re still dealing with cold weather and the threat of yet more snow. I spent a lot of it feeling blue and trapped beneath my electric blanket. But nothing can stop the crocuses from popping their purple heads out of the ground, just as nothing can stop the light from growing longer every day. Happy things, these.
I’ve been seeking refuge in Storyland, with revisions to one piece to get it just right, plans for revising another, and slow but steady progress on my second novel. Work on the novel involves researching Hindu constellations, which I know very little about, and relearning how to let my imagination flow, the way it did when I was little and unhindered by doubt. Laini Taylor talks about this sort of brainstorming here, where you throw out the first few ideas that come to you in favor of letting the more interesting stuff bubble up from the deep. You’re finding the real tale you want to tell, the way only you can tell it.
It’s a journey of discovery, really, something my Adult Onset Perfectionism struggles with. But I’m also very excited; I love my characters and my concept, and I’m curious to find out how the rest of the story goes.
Have a selfie of yours truly, dreaming about her characters while on a train. Yep, I totally got a starry circlet to wear for inspiration, and sparkly silver eyeliner, too!
I’m grateful for many things, and one of those is how packed with joy and people my last few days have been. I got to go to New York City to see friends and attend the monthly KGB Fantastic Fiction reading, a good friend sent me a golden butterfly ornament in the mail when she knew I was sad, I made a trip to Fabric Row in Philadelphia to select fabric for the skirt yet another friend will be teaching me how to make, and yesterday I spent with my fellow Star-Dusted Siren Barb, who gave my website a complete overhaul. A fresh new look for a burgeoning spring, when old fears and thoughts are cast off like heavy coats.
And what do you think of the website makeover? It’s perfectly in keeping with the novel, and I’ve always loved the stars, anyway. The night sky holds a numinous magic for me, one that’s difficult to put into words. But hopefully I can manage it in the novel!
Ahhh, I just feel so full of joy and potential, sweet, raw, untapped possibilities. They’re a warm spring breeze to this girl who just broke free of her chilly, lonesome cocoon. Shaky legs teeter, and wings unfurl, still damp, still slightly unsure. What might lie ahead? Adventure? Inspiration? Fresh-baked cookies? I don’t know, but I have a good feeling about it. After all, no mud, no lotus.
(a flowering plant my husband gave me)