Category Archives: My Short Stories

Posts about my published short fiction and any works underway.

What Are You Working On This Autumn?

photo by Kelly Robson
photo by Kelly Robson

Today I am shaving 260 words from one of the squid stories*, so I can send it to a market with a firm 7.5K word limit. I can tell I’ve been through the story before. There’s not much to trim. It’s tempting to simply change the word count at the top of the page and assume they don’t really care about that extra half page or so.

But that would be errant smart-assery, not to mention unprofessional. Even if I weren’t generally rule-abiding, I know it makes me nuts when my students blithely ignore my guidelines. So–a sentence here, an adjective there. Nip, tuck, smooth.

Next weekend I am one of a bunch of Tor authors heading off to the New York Comicon, so I’ll continue working on these little bits and bobs for awhile yet. I’ll shoot a few stories off to market, push paper on a grant application, comb through the files looking for reprint opportunities, that kind of thing.

But this Saturday is my (so far) favorite Toronto event, Nuit Blanche Last year we made our way through the throngs to Nathan Phillips Square, and back, and saw many awesome things. Then we were home, in bed and exhausted, just as the party was properly starting.

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2013

This year we are practically at City Hall the minute we step out our front door. So I hope to see even more incredible sights and performances before thronging home to collapse at some ludicrous hour like ten.

How about all of you–what’s on the boards for October?

*Squid Stories
______________

Five Good Things about Meghan Sheedy,” in Strange Horizons, and “The Town on Blighted Sea.” (The latter is also in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection)
The Sweet Spot,” in Lightspeed and Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing.
“Time of the Snake,” in Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge.

Apocalypse, Canada Style

imageMy story “Snow Angels” is now out in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and featuring stories by (among others) Claude Lalumiere, A.C. Wise, and Michael Matheson. The full Table of Contents is here; I looked for reviews, but haven’t found any yet.

“Snow Angels” may be the first story I wrote after I moved East. I had imagined the apocalypse as seen from British Columbia many times, perhaps most notably in stories like “Wild Things,” and as I accommodated to being here in Toronto I made a real effort to imagine something less Pacific Raincoast, more urban. As a result, this story may have more car per column inch than anything I’ve ever written.

I also wanted to play with the image of Canada and Canadians as quiet, low-key, even boring, while also steering clear of some of the standard end of the world hits–zombie infestation, atomic war, global warming. So the apocalypse in “Snow Angels” creeps in like an unrelenting fall of snow: cold, stealthy. A few flakes at first. Then, eventually it’s a silent, windless blizzard, a creeping not-quite-death that covers the world, a chilly colorless smothering blanket.

Here’s the beginning:

Lindy was elbow-deep in window glass when the tech started giving her hell about her Winkles.

“You haven’t been dusting.” He ran a rag over their faces. They were on a stretcher beside Lindy’s varnishing table: a boy, a girl, a something. Not kin, from their looks: the girl had Southeast Asian features and the boy was a mixed-race cherub with honey curls. “This one’s got cobwebs. You gotta take better care.”

“Who’s taking care of me?” Lindy had been fusing scavenged windshield shards, filtering out the surviving smartcrystals and printing a self-charging pane which drew power from the weak northern sun beyond her window.

“Red here’s got an elevated heart rate.” The tech meant the devil child, the one in the cheap Halloween costume.

Tag, I’m It: Writer’s Process Blog Tour

write memeIn our last exciting episode, the kittens continued to be incredibly adorable, while Caitlin Sweet tagged me and Kelly in the Writer Process Blog Tour. She’s posted her answers to the questions in that meme here.

What Am I Working On?

I’m currently waiting for other people to get back to me on a few things, so in the meantime I’ve been writing short stories, putting together grant proposals, and looking over old projects. I wrote the first chapter of a mystery novel to see if I liked the voice and the direction I was considering. This week I reread a horror novel I drafted in about 2011, but haven’t yet rewritten. There are a couple anthologies I’d like to submit stories to, but I’m not happy with any of the ideas I’ve had for them.

(Yet, she said hopefully.)

In other words, I’m sort of snuffling around to see what grabs my imagination hardest. This is less fun than it probably sounds.

How Does My Work Differ From Others In Its Genre?

Early in my career a writer friend praised me for, essentially, having a wild imagination. Now, whenever I’m stuck, that’s where I try to push things. I’m not saying my work is more imaginative than anyone else’s–that would be insanely egotistical and untrue–but lately I’ve been getting praise from reviewers about the worldbuilding in Child of a Hidden Sea. I see the two things as being related: the positive reinforcement for some crazy-ass thing I wrote fifteen years ago and the invention of a world with over two hundred island nations, each with its own microclimate, magical resources and system of government.

By that token it could mean that imagining stuff means, for me, going out of my way to make it horrifically over-complicated.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

The only thing I don’t write much of is straight-up literary fiction, so the answer to this is: because I’m greedy! I want my mysteries, my horror SF, my seafaring adventure crime procedurals, my magical toxic spill sexfests, my thinly veiled Vietnam War stories. I write because I feel driven to write, unable to stop.

And I write all sorts of things because that’s part of what makes it fun.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I write drafts longhand, except when I type them directly into the computer or dictate them into a note on my phone. From there they go straight into a properly formatted manuscript document on a simple word processor–no Scrivener for me!–and I rewrite them from beginning to end. Then I rewrite them again. And again. And, OMG, again. And then I get someone to read it and I rewrite it again. And again. And again…

I often do over twenty passes on a single project. Sometimes I reach a point where I’m convinced it’s irrevocably broken, but I’ve invested too much time to quit. (Sometimes it’s irrevocably broken.) Other times, there’s a moment where the clouds part, and I see a fine thing shimmering just beyond my grasp, and I run after it like a fiend. Only, you know, from a seated position, in a coffee shop.

Eventually I find myself desperate to write something else, or making it worse rather than better, or the deadline comes, and so I send it off to market.

Tag tag tag! I tag Jessica Wynne Reisman and Gemma Files.

Hear “The Cage” and win a copy of my latest book!

Tor Shorts2Rocket Talk is presenting an audio version of “The Cage” today, and there’s a Child of a Hidden Sea giveaway if you enter by July 20th.

And, over on SF Signal, A.C. Wise has included a mention of “The Color of Paradox” in her Women to Read, Where to Start.

Rather get horrortastic? “The Color of Paradox” is out!

imageBirthdays upon birthdays. Not only did Child of a Hidden Sea come out yesterday, to much whooping and some great reviews (I’ll post a round-up, possibly tomorrow) but I am so incredibly fortunate as to have a story out today.

It’s called “The Color of Paradox,” it was acquired by the marvelous Ellen Datlow for Tor.com, and unlike my brand new novel, it is emphatically not a rollicking adventure at sea.

I am proud to say it comes with a bit of an ick-factor warning: here’s the write-up:

“The Color of Paradox,” by A.M. Dellamonica, is a science fiction story about one of a series of time travelers sent back to the past in order to buy more time for the human race, which in the future is on the verge of extinction.

Like some other stories published on Tor.com, “The Color of Paradox” contains scenes and situations some readers will find upsetting and/or repellent.

Repellent! It is an odd thing to be delighted by, but I’m pleased.

Friday Friday Three Bags Full

full_wildthingsIt has been a full week. There was an extra run to the allergist, and I got a tooth filled before it could crack. Yoga, as usual, happened Monday and Wednesday and will happen again this evening. I also got to go on a cafe-writing date with Gemma Files. I love writer dates; I refer to them sometimes as parallel play and I find they inspire me to get a lot of writing done.

I am waiting on some notes from my editor on Daughter of No Nation, the sequel to Child of a Hidden Sea, and in the meantime have been chasing a short story. It’s a piece that’s been fighting me. I think it’ll be somewhat different from my usual sort of thing, if I can be said to have a usual sort of thing, and maybe even a leap forward in some ways. But right now the POV is slapping me around. Oddly, this fills me with hope, because “Wild Things” was a pretty tough ride, too. In the end I was quite delighted with it. So we’ll see if it catches fire or fizzles.

I read Joe Hill’s Horns, did some teaching, and, as mentioned in other posts, did some more guest-blogging. I walked a lot, voted in our recent provincial election–first time as an Ontario voter!–and didn’t answer quite enough e-mails or post enough pictures of the cats.

So here they are napping by the pool:

There were dark edges here and there: Jay’s death was on my mind at times, and Grandma’s birthday came and went. But things were and are generally good. The weather is fine, the new neighborhood is lovely, the cats continue to grow like extremely fun weeds, we have friends coming to visit on the weekend from Vancouver, and I’m excited about my upcoming book birthday on June 24th.

The True North Strong and Apocalyptic

imageEditor Silvia Moreno Garcia has posted at her blog about the cover and release date for Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse. My “Snow Angels” will be in it, and the TOC promises stories by Michael Matheson, Claude Lalumière and Christine Ottoni.

The book will be out in August and I recommend it heartily to anyone who’d like to see Canada take one, or twenty, on the chin.

Cover reveal: “The Color of Paradox”

imageTor.com has released the cover for a story I sold Ellen Datlow not long ago,  “The Color of Paradox.” The image is by Jeffrey Alan Love and it’s very creepy and appropriate. I feel as though I could fall into it, staring for endless hours… or possibly just until the kittens do something irresistible. (Attention spans are lamentably short at Dua Central right now.)

The elongation of the figure and its placement in the upper left corner draw the eye first, delaying the moment when you track down to the city and see that Bad Things are happening. The brushwork is delightfully scratchy, and naturally I headed right off to Love’s blog to see what the rest of his work looked like. He’s got an image for Tolkien’s Beowulf that is sheerly amazing, and I liked his take on Excalibur, “The Sword in the City” very much.

“The Color of Paradox” is a first attempt to write  something I have been trying to wrap my head around for years: a series or novel or some damned thing set in a universe where there’s time travel, but it only moves backward.  All of the missions are one-way missions. You can receive instructions and resources from the future, but your only option for responding is to essentially leave time capsules where nobody else will find them.

It is also one of those stories that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I dropped everything and wrote it in a bit of a mad haze. It’s very different from Stormwrack and the impulse was probably driven by a desire to write in a different key.

Another thing about the story that delights me is having gotten to work with Ellen Datlow again, because she is a brilliant and generous editor and it had been too long since I had anything to send her.

It will be live on the Tor site and readable, for free, on June 25th, the same day Child of a Hidden Sea hits bookstores.