Tag Archives: fiction

The Pop-up Artisan of Drink Me Cafe published in Cast of Wonders

It’s here! This is a story I wrote early this year (back in February I believe) and is making its debut appearance in Cast of Wonders for their Banned Books Week!

Five Reasons to Give it a Listen!

1. Experiencing a coffee shop via proxy since most of us can’t go out right now. [And not just any coffee shop…]

2. Ever-changing decor! You never know what it’ll look like next!

3. Dragons, electric sheep, and the grandfather clock our favorite unicorn walks through…as just a start.

4. Today’s Specials: Whiskey Barrel Ride (bourbon-roasted beans) and Molten Ring Latte (with chili powder & gold-chocolate shavings)!

5. A suggestion jar stocked full of fantasy & science-fiction ideas for the next pop-up. Maybe yours will be chosen!

This is a contemporary fantasy story about feeling lost, about the comfort fantastical worlds give to us readers, about the power of sharing our favorite stories. Please go give it a listen! (or a read!)

<3 Marie C.

 

My Odyssey Workshop Experience: The Critiques

For Odyssey, each student had to turn in six stories. Four of them are for in-class and two are for private critiques with a guest.

The in-class critiques are done in a typical manner: round-robin, each person given a limited time to speak their thoughts on the piece, starting with positives, the author remaining silent until the very end.

One of the mantras for any critique circle or workshop is that what is said during critique remains in the critique. We didn’t discuss stories outside of the critique time except to ask what an author might be planning to do with it or something else similarly innocuous. And I’m certainly not going to discuss what was talked about here.

That being said, I do want to put down a few memories of these six weeks.

For our first two in-class critiques, we received little gifts to open afterward. This was my first, that I forgot to open after my critique XD

Because we were doing things virtually, we had deadlines early morning (at least for me, some people were outside of the time zone) before lecture started to mimic the turning in of our stories in class. We had to save and upload our final draft on a board so that all other students could download the stories. These deadlines happened approximately six times during the six weeks (a few people had to send their first sub before the workshop began) so the deadlines were staggered so only 2-3 people had to do a turn-in each day.

We also had a similar deadline each morning for our due critiques. These would be the stories with our documented notes and thoughts. We would upload our critiques as a response to the author’s story, many of us saying something positive in the comment section. Continue reading

My Odyssey Workshop Experience: The Introduction

For those unfamiliar with how the Odyssey Workshop works, it is a six week long course that includes lectures and full-class critiques. There are added Q&A sessions with visiting authors and editors (though “visiting” is only loosely used this year given everything was virtual), a Slam event, and many small side meetings and check-ins.

WHAT IS TO COME!

I’m going to admit, I have always been terrified of anything that draws people’s eyes toward me. The more people there are, the more terrified I get. The more time I have to think about it beforehand, the more anxious I am. There doesn’t need to be a stage. There doesn’t need to be a microphone. There just needs to be people, the anxiety going up in an exponential way according to the total.

So there were a number of situations about the workshop I knew I was going to be muscling through by sheer force of will. First up: the dreaded icebreaker meet.

None one likes these, least of all anyone with even a modicum of social anxiety, and being on a virtual setting does not change things. [I did have bare feet (as I did for 99% of the workshop) to give me a small level of comfort.] I got to meet my fellow Odyssians for the first time via their heads, torsos and backgrounds. We did a typical icebreaker game that divided us into breakout rooms a few of us at a time, and that had the typical stilted conversations that come with having no idea who you’re talking to. Continue reading

March 2019 Recommended Books

I haven’t had much action going on in the submission/publication department, but even with this dearth, I’ve been keeping busy the past few years with reading, writing and general lifey-type things. Since I’ve begun (again) the ever-consistent process of submitting, I thought I would at least keep better track of what I’ve been reading. And then, since I’ve been keeping track, I can now look back over and consider which books I’d recommend to friends (or at least to friends who enjoy similar genres XD)

So, here are my favorite books that I read in March!

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
(Dark/High Fantasy)

This was a delicious blend of the macabre and the fanciful that I wasn’t quite expecting when I began, but absolutely adored by the end! The spirits in this story are disturbing, strange and carry all of the wrath of old fae-type legends and makes for a scary undertone in an otherwise beautiful setting. Incredibly quick-paced, even during its comparatively slower portions during the lead’s training sections. I loved that there was a welcoming inclusion of female friendships (the women more often working together despite the competitive nature of their chosen path in the world) that didn’t overshadow the rest of the adventure and action. Recommend to anyone who isn’t afraid of a little death and dismemberment ;)

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
(Science-fiction)

Finally picked these four books up, though I don’t know why it took me so long considering I’m a big fan of Wells’ Raksura books. All Systems Red has been on my list since it came out and I just kept adding to it with each subsequent publication. A part of me is glad I waited though, because I got to read them back to back without much break between to forget details of the stories. They’re each a fun romp with an interesting lead who is constantly balancing its own secrets with its desire to protect the humans around it. Each story revolves around a new (or newish) conflict, goal and enemy, with the lovable rogue SecUnit at its core. They’re softer sci-fi, more focused on the character of Murderbot and its introspection and humanization, though they don’t delve too far into what it means to be human, keeping instead to the adventure and character development of Murderbot itself. I think I liked that best about the story overall, because it was a beautiful story about someone who didn’t want to be anything but itself in a world that expected it to want to be something it wasn’t.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
(YA Historical Fantasy)

I hadn’t tried Chokshi before so this book was a fun surprise. The Forging abilities were not only fresh and interesting in a magical design sense, but they were also embedded in every scene, on every page, in both the history of the world and in the details of the everyday. At its core, the story is a heist, with puzzles and math and specialized characters each with their own unique views and skills. It is YA, but it’s most definitely open to a wider audience. Even if you don’t generally enjoy historical settings, I think you’ll like this one because it’s put together beautifully.

Ship of Smoke And Steel by Django Wexler
(YA Fantasy)

This was another author I had not tried before; I had a few of them this month hoping to find some new fun adventures for my bookshelf. This one made me pick it up because…ghost ship! And the ship was just as intriguing in the reading as it was before I opened the book, and a whole lot bigger. You could call the Solitan a labyrinth it’s so huge. There are strange creatures and ghostly mysteries, not all of which are solved by the end of the book, but enough to leave you satisfied. I’d say, that although the genre is considered YA, the novel feels geared toward an older YA to adult audience given some of the more gritty representation and blunt, experienced characters.

Space Unicorn Blues by T J Berry
(Science Fantasy)

Another one with an interesting ship concept, this time in space. I admit, the Jaggery, a living ship where the bulk of this story takes place, is part of why I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. (It has a lake and a secret network of tiny tunnels for all its dwarves!) That, and the interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy that often had a comical undertone to it despite the dark situations. As for the characters, there’s a half-unicorn, a disabled ex-military, a trans ‘business-woman’, and a grizzled older pilot, all of whom have lost and suffered because of choices they’ve made in the past. The fact that these characters had to deal with actual loss because of past (and later current) choices, made this story more layered than just what seems to be on the surface.

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I did read more science-fiction novels in March, but unfortunately they weren’t quite for me. Maybe next month! I also read a couple of older books, including a few Agatha Christie. I started a quest to read her work a few years ago and I don’t think I’m even half-way through yet, but I’m three books closer :) They’re nice, calming stories that are good to read as almost a reset button if I’ve struggled to enjoy the last few books.