Keeping Abreast of the Fabulous

Sunny Dundee

All right, even I am having difficulty at times keeping up with all the news, so if I repeat something here, it just means you’re paying attention, well done, here’s a cookie! Soon I have to leave the glories of Alba for the um, gories? of Albany. Alas. Which means I have to figure out a few things that I haven’t yet. I will probably be a bit of a gypsy at least for a time, as I plan to be back here as soon as possible. More anon.

Have you read my interview with Lenore creator Roman Dirge? Do! He’s a hoot.
Good news: my story “Guide Me Soft” will be appearing at Shotgun Honey in October. I’m very pleased as they are a tough site to get into and you really have to tell a tight little story to thrill them in 700 words. Yes, the strange and seemingly ungrammatical title comes from a Fall song, although the events of the story were sparked as much by another song, “Wrong Place, Right Time”. I’m lucky to have such a bountiful muse in Mark E. Smith.

If you missed my last story out, “ASBO Bambi”, that’s up at Pulp Metal Magazine along with a load of other good stuff. I have to say, the darker the crime, the nicer the people. Like I’ve found in the horror genre, the people who write these torrid tales of murder and vengeance tend to be quite nice folks who exorcise all their darkness on the page.

Never cross a romance writer though! 😉

I’m about 20K words into the new novel White Rabbit. It’s supernatural crime which isn’t quite mainstream (I’m working on it!) but given the success of folks like John Connolly and Sarah Pinborough, I’m hoping that it will be a bit easier to market than oh, let’s say a science fiction/urban fantasy/alternate history/shamanic/road trip/retelling of the Descent of Inanna. But I should have news on Owl Stretching‘s cover art soon. I’ve seen the final version of the text. Just waiting on Ruby’s (doubtless gorgeous) art.

Speaking of which, I should be able to unveil the cover art for Weird Noir soon. Stories are coming in and I am looking forward to reading them and sorting out what the final collection will look like and then turning it all over to Fox Spirit Books so they can do the hard part (i.e. layout and ebook coding). I should be able to flog it with a vengeance at Noir Con, which looks to be shaping up into quite an event. If you think you have a story that fits the criteria, send it along.

Speaking of Fox Spirit: Tales of the Nun and Dragon coming any day now! And a song!

My Wisty-ish guide to world domination is up at The How-To Issue. Drop by and see all the wise women.

Noir-writing women appear to be the new thing. Yes, like most ‘new things’, it’s been going on a while. I’m not above piggybacking on the publicity though!

And I think I forgot to post the trailer for The Claddagh Icon here. As always, getting noticed in the cacophony that is the digital world these days is the biggest challenge for any writer, so every little thing helps. And trailers are fun. It’s got some lovely photos from Mirko Merchiori that appear in the ebook. Check out the page at Atlantis (where you can add other books at a discount, so pick up my pals’ books like Red Esperanto or The Secret Hour) or on Amazon. The series got a nice write up at Noir Nation. Drop by and check out a really terrific site.

Profiled at Eden Baylee’s Blog & News

I am profiled over at Eden Baylee’s blog today. Drop by and say hello to find out what lurks inside my mind lately. I suppose it’s the usual sort of thing, but Eden has some interesting questions that I have not had in an interview before, so maybe you will learn a few new things about me.

I sent back the page proofs of Owl Stretching last night. I’m just the worst at finding those last minute errors. I get caught up in the story and forget to check for errors, argh. Let’s hope that the careful eyes of Sharon and Storm have caught the most egregious errors. Any that remain are my fault alone. I was pleased to find that I still enjoyed the story. It has been so long since I actually finished writing it that I found I had forgotten a lot. Of course there are jokes that only a few people will get, but the I think the undercurrent of constant surveillance and the jaded audience are even more apparent now than they were when I was writing it. Yet so much of my life has changed since then; the acknowledgements capture those changes. And yes, there is a Ruby cover forthcoming; fingers crossed it’s just as gorgeous as her work for Pelzmantel.

I’m working away on White Rabbit. Not sure I can say much about it at this point but it remains fun and interesting, and while I’m sure that I know where it’s going, there are a lot of surprises along the way, so that’s a good thing. Writing the occasional short thing in between, but mostly in this for the long haul for as much of the time I have left in Scotland.

Alas, it grows short. And no, not sure what I’ll do once I get to the States. Sorting it out soon.

I have a few reviews lately over at A Knife and A Quill. Drop by and check them out.

Tales of the Nun & Dragon, out soon — and now with music!

We said good-bye to Steve Browne yesterday; his memorial was held at their place in Berne. Maryann told me that Mary had more people offering remembrances, songs and stories than they could accommodate in the service, so a friend was filming all those who wanted to speak or perform. I went to the Howff and thought of Steve and those who loved him and how we would all miss him. Good-byes are always difficult.

History Witch: Anglo-Saxon Death

I think the impulse that defines an academic nature is that one responds to difficult moments by turning to the past to see how others have coped with similar times. So still reeling from unexpected grief, I turn to history as I contemplate the ways we deal with the inevitability of parting from those we love for my History Witch column:

The unexpected death of a friend this week brought into sharp relief the differences between traditions around death and grief, not only between different communities but also between different generations. How we handle the dead and our sorrow shows a lot about our culture.

For the Anglo-Saxons, much of what we know of their material culture — apart descriptions in poems and histories — come from discovered burials. But burial wasn’t always the norm. We have a magnificent pagan shipboard funeral of a king in the opening lines of Beowulf. For a long time people dismissed it as a rather fanciful thing…

Read the rest at Witches & Pagans.

Converting Monks into Friars in Iowa

So, the trip to Iowa included an unscheduled night in Chicago. A bit irritating to spend all those hours in O’Hare, but the truth is the seasoned traveler needs to be prepared for this kind of inconvenience. I had books to read, things to write and social media at my fingertips where I could complain to my friends. I’d have rather been in Iowa having dinner with folks as planned, but there are worse things than the quiet solitude of an anonymous hotel room. I love hotels. I think it would be terrific to live in a hotel in London with room service and the whole city before me.

More later, but here’s the Powerpoint slides from my talk.Consider them an attempt to intrigue you. Forthcoming: the paper with these images embedded and a video of the images with the narration recorded there (assuming it sounds okay). Time’s tight: I’m off to PCA in San Antonio on Wednesday. Much to do, so I’m writing this while my students are watching a film. Multi-tasking is the word du jour.

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I woke up with this song in my head. Tick, tick, tick; is it already the middle of June? Must find a way to stay here…

Weekend fun with the Brookses: Sophie and I played footie in the back garden because the air is full of World Cup fever here. Yes, we even watched the England-US match (very poor!); well, Liz and I drank some wine and giggled a lot while Brad watched it. Fun!

To Spring

O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro’ the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell each other, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turned
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth,
And let thy holy feet visit our clime.

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languished head,
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee.

~ William Blake

I should have known better…

Yes, I was a glutton — three medieval classes in one term. I should add, I’m teaching three medieval classes with at least two different textbooks, so I am teaching some of the same texts in different translations (as if conveying the complexities of different parts of the Middle Ages were not hard enough!).

I can’t tell if it’s more perplexing to teach the same text at the same time with very different translations and aims (medieval lit for non-majors v. gender in medieval lit for sophomore majors) or the same text at different times — so I always catch myself saying, “Did we already talk about this? No? Oh, well — let me explain…”

My third class of the day — the upper division one — bears the brunt of this exhaustion and inevitable confusion. I’m always making them laugh as I get stuck stammering on a word, because suddenly I’ve lost the one following it as my mind races to check:

1) is this the right text?

2) have we already covered this?

3) am I confused because I said something similar in the previous class?

4) or was it in this class last week?

5) and now they’re all staring at my sputtering and thinking I’m crazy!

I generally recover quickly (I can always vamp on just about any medieval topic for a fair space of time until I recall where we’re supposed to be) but I’m beginning to think the Medieval Texts on Film class thinks they’ve signed on with a lunatic. Fair enough.

Nonetheless, it’s better to have this embarrassment of riches (teaching the field I love and have been trained for) than to be stuck with the dread thousand year survey. In my last position, I had to cover the class that lumped together everything from early Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry to transitional Anglo-Norman texts to Chaucer and the late Middle Ages to Elizabethan drama to the English Civil War to Restoration drama and the roots of early journalism. In a semester!

It’s like having a huge banquet and a half hour in which to eat it. You can cram your mouth with stuff, but you won’t digest a lot of it and you won’t even get to taste some of the signature dishes (I am so not going to teach Spenser! Just not qualified). You get the academic equivalent of heartburn.

Why do it? Often it springs from a desire to teach ‘foundations’, the explicit recognition that all writers stand on the shoulders of the giants who have come before. But it also devalues those foundations with the suggestion that a mere semester of running through that thousand years will sufficiently acquaint students with the complexities of these wildly varying texts and cultures. The often unspoken assumption is that the students can then be ready to move on to the ‘important’ (i.e. post-1800) texts — argh! Medieval literature is not just ‘background’ for modern literature.