Forthcoming Story: How Do Wolves

Upon a Thrice Time cover image

I’m thrilled to hear that my noir fairytale mashup story “How Do Wolves” will be appearing in Upon a Thrice Time. A Kickstarter campaign to support the book’s publication launched today, and it’s already funded, but if you’d like to pre-order a copy of the book, now’s a great time to jump in.

Needless to say, I’m excited for this story to appear. It was inspired by a random comment in conversation from my Clarion West ’16 classmate Cae Hawksmoor, and officially it’s a mashup of “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs,” but it borrows quite a bit of its structure from “The Wolf and the Kids” too.

I’d been reading that story to my children, but the version from Richard Scarry’s book, and I could just tell it had been toned down for modern sensibilities. I had to look it up for my own benefit.

A little research later, the original version melded with Cae’s comment, “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs,” to become something completely different.

I can’t wait for you to read it.

New Story Published: “You Should See My Scars”

Underland Arcana issue 3 cover image

My story “You Should See My Scars” was published today by Underland Arcana in their new issue, Issue 3. When I was submitting this story, I attached a content warning, identifying sexual violence (consensual), self harm, and suicidal ideation. If that doesn’t dissuade you, you can read the story online, or buy the e-book or print editions.

I wrote the first draft of this story at the Clarion West writers workshop when I attended in 2016. (This is the third of my seven Clarion West stories to be published.) I’d always wanted to write a “talking sword” story, and in the weeks leading up to my writing this, several classmates wrote stories involving buried knives. I wanted in on that, and enfolded it into my obsessions, including opaque AI and the Internet of Things.

As far as I can recall, the only round of critiques the story received were from my Clarion West classmates. Many thanks to Team Arsenic for your compassionate and thoughtful reads that did not let me off the hook too easily.

Cocktail Recipe: Small Craft Advisory

Sometimes things aren’t dark and stormy. I wanted something with some of the flavor, but lighter and breezier.

Or maybe I was looking for another way to use Banks 5 Island Rum, a blended white rum that co-stars in my ideal daiquiri. (The other rum in that is the El Dorado 3 year old, but that’s another recipe entirely.) The Banks 5 Island is light and full of tropical fruit flavors, and would be absolutely swamped by ginger beer.

Enter DRY Soda. Their ginger soda is clear and much less sweet than even ginger ale, but still a bit spicy. I like half of a 12-ounce can over ice in a tumbler or double rocks glass, with a shot of the Banks 5 Island stirred in and a wedge of lime on the glass. Nothing could be easier!

Cocktail Recipe: Jon’s Regular

Like so many others during quarantine, my cocktail game has improved.

Especially during the early days, my wife and I ordered a number of cocktail kits from Navy Strength, our favorite tiki bar in Seattle. (As distinct from Rumba, our favorite rum bar. I don’t know that we have a favorite non-tiki cocktail bar these days.) With one of those cocktail kits came a one liter bottle of Suntory Toki, a lovely, exceptionally delicate and floral Japanese whisky.

At this time I had in my refrigerator a bottle of honey syrup I’d made from the recipe in Shannon Mustipher‘s Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails. Honey syrup is just simple syrup made with a 1:1 ratio of honey to water. I’d made mine with a lovely wildflower honey from the farmer’s market that I just happened to have in the cabinet.

Finally I picked up a bottle of Elemakule Tiki bitters, also to make recipes from that tiki book. Then (perhaps inspired by Cocktail Codex) inspiration hit: an Old Fashioned variant that’s light and floral, highlighting those aspects of the Toki, but also unfussy enough to make after a busy or stressful day.

Recipe: In a rocks glass, mix 1 tsp honey syrup and 1 dropper of tiki bitters. Add 1.5 oz Toki whisky and an oversized ice cube. Stir. Add a twist of lemon, then serve.

Virtual Reading next Wednesday, April 28th

It seems like only yesterday I was an invited reader at Two Hour Transport, Seattle’s (currently virtual) open-mic speculative fiction reading event, but no, it was last year. That time I read my artificially-intelligent-stuffed-animal-psychopomp story; this time I don’t yet know what I’m reading. But I’ll figure it out soon, as the event is one week from tonight, at 7 pm PDT. [ETA: The official event post with Zoom details is now up here.]

This time the other featured reader is Elly Bangs, whose novel Unity comes out this very week. She’s read snippets of it before and it manages to be horrifying and wistful and funny all at the same time, and I’m looking forward to a longer sample. If you won’t come for me, come for Elly–and if you won’t come for her, just order her book already and save yourself the disappointment of not having read it.

My copy of Unity is on order, but I can’t read it until I’ve completed as many of the Nebula Nominee finalists as I can. (I’m probably not going to make it through the four novels I haven’t read yet, or any of the Andre Norton nominees, but I am hoping to finish reading the novellas before voting ends. And no, I have no idea how to rank the finalists in the Novelette and Short Story categories.)

Anthology Availability – and Award Eligibility

Cover for Two Hour Transport Anthology 2019

Two previously-published stories of mine are now available in anthologies:

First, the Two Hour Transport anthology from 2019 is now available as an e-book at Amazon at the low price of $3.49. Two Hour Transport is a monthly Seattle reading (online during the Pandemic, of course) of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, with both invited readers and an open-mic portion. This anthology includes my story “Real Selfies,” as well as stories from Elly Bangs (whose novel Unity is due out in April), Keyan Bowes, Patrick Hurley, Nisi Shawl, and others. If you want to get introduced to the Seattle speculative fiction community, I can’t think of a better place to start reading. The paperback anthology is still available as well.

Cover of Little Blue Marble 2020 anthology Greener Futures.

Second, my story “An Apology From the Natives of Earth,” published back in February by Little Blue Marble, is now in their annual anthology, titled “Greener Futures,” which is available from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. The e-book is $2.99 (USD) and the paperback is $15. LBM features speculative fiction about the environment, and this table of contents is impressive as well!

Speaking of which, “An Apology From the Natives of Earth” is eligible for the Hugo and Nebula awards, and it’s both short and free, so please do check it out. My story “Oh God, Not Again” was published by Hybrid Fiction back in February, and is also eligible, but is unfortunately not available for reading free online. I truly love this story, so if you’re nominating for the awards and would read it, please let me know and I’ll get you a copy.

New MacOS tool: swiftbar-imap-counter

Several years ago, I moved my mail from Google to FastMail. I don’t regret a thing.

No, that’s not true. I miss Google Notifier in the menu bar of my Mac telling me I have new mail to review.

I looked, but was shocked to find that no similar menu bar tool existed for IMAP. I considered writing one, but it seemed like there would be a lot of learning and I just didn’t have the time.

Enter SwiftBar, a new tool descended from BitBar, which I hadn’t managed yet to try. SwiftBar and BitBar allow you to run plugins that show up in your menu bar. Surely there would be a BitBar/SwiftBar plugin for IMAP?

Nope.

But this, ah! This was a programming project small enough for me to take on in a single day (okay, two). Welcome to the world, swiftbar-imap-counter!

For now, all it does is talk to your IMAP server and put an icon in your menu bar telling you how many unread messages are in your inbox. But that’s (almost) all I need it to do. It supports SSL/TLS (though only one of the two paths is tested), and seems generally to work for me. I make no promises, though I’m happy to help.

(Now to figure out how to add it to the BitBar plugin repository…)

Virtual Reading, April 22nd

My lovely local SFF open-mic night, Two Hour Transport, has two featured readers every month. This month, I’ll be one of them!

Of course, everything is virtual, so if you’re not asleep by 7 pm PDT, you can join from anywhere. There will be an hour of open-mic time (you, yes you, can sign up to read for five minutes), then my friend the redoubtable M. Huw Evans and I will each read for 25 minutes or so.

For my part, I’m planning to read a story that mashes up parts of my recent cancer post-surgery experience with a classic Twilight Zone episode.

Full Zoom meeting invitation details are in the blog post, and I’m told there’s a Facebook Invite as well.

The Joys of Retrocomputing; also, Announcing a MicroDrive/Turbo image tool

For a bit over two years, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with the Apple II. Some of this is rank nostalgia; some is the joy of retrocomputing: limited environments where even a less-than-expert programmer can reach their arms around the whole system. (All right, not the whole system, but a much greater percentage than when I’m working in Python or Go with a dependency chain nine levels deep.)

A few summers ago, I implemented John Conway’s Life in 6502 assembly language, a project I’ve had in mind since age twelve, when I implemented it in Basic. It’s not yet feature complete, nor is it performant, but I delivered for myself on this long-term goal.

As I was preparing to return to work this fall, I added a few more features–then I got the urge to convert it to a ProDOS application This led, eventually, to the purchase of an Apple IIGS, and a MicroDrive/Turbo, which enables use of a CF card as a set hard drives.

Much to my chagrin, I discovered that the only tool to manipulate the partition table was the one that ran on the Apple 2, and the only tool to move files onto or off of it was CiderPress, which is Windows-only and whose interface I didn’t love.

In turn, these discoveries led me to implement microdrive, a Go tool for manipulating compact flash (or HD) images on the Unix/Linux/Mac OS X command line.

It’s still under heavy development, but now you can add partitions to your disk and copy existing .hdv or .2mg images directly into those partitions.

Thanks to Henry Courbis of ReActive Micro, who has supported this project with the donation of an external CF drive–saving me from opening up my IIGS a dozen times a day, or leaving the darned thing open all the time!

Now all I have to do is get a desk in my office for my Apple //e, and a second MicroDrive/Turbo. (If you’ve got a spare DuoDisk lying around, that’d be handy too!)