Story Time: The Plum Blossom Lantern

I’m a bit late with this, so I have to apologize. A remodeling project took most of my day so I’m just getting to this now. Story Time this week is based on an Edo period ghost story called “The Peony Lantern.” The Edo period Japanese did love their spooky ghost stories, and who could blame them? However, I’d always felt there was aspect to the idea being neglected, and that was the ghost’s point of view. Once you look at it that way it becomes a different story entirely, and so my version, “The Plum Blossom Lantern.” Its first appearance was in Small Beer Press’ Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet back in 2003.

Standard Reminder: “The Plum Blossom Lantern” will be online until next Wednesday, October 18th. After that, there will be something else in its place.

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Story Time: The Trickster’s Wife

This week’s Story Time is “The Trickster’s Wife,” originally published in Realms of Fantasy Magazine back in 2001 and later included in The Ogre’s Wife: Fairy Tales for Grownups, my first ever story collection and finalist for the World Fantasy Award. In a way this piece is a meditation on the nature and limits of fate. Mostly, however, it is a simple revenge story, using inevitable fate as the weapon.

Almost everyone knows the Norse myth of Sigyn, Loki’s wife. For his many crimes  Loki is bound to a rock in a cave where a venomous serpent drips poison on him, causing him to writhe in agony. His faithful and devoted wife catches the venom in a bowl to spare him the pain, but every now and then the bowl has to be emptied, and in that time the venom hits him and his thrashing causes earthquakes. But Sigyn is always there to catch the poison again, even though, one day, she will spill the bowl and Loki will thrash until he is free of his chains, signalling Ragnarok, the end of the world.

I always thought fate handed Sigyn a very raw deal. It occurred to me that perhaps Sigyn thought so too. Which puts her activities in an entirely different light, and so the story.

 

Standard Reminder: Next Wednesday, October 11th, the Story Time will change.  Until then, I hope you enjoy “The Trickster’s Wife.”

Taking Inventory

I’m not sure if this is a blog post or an inventory report. Recently I’d been thinking of planning a new collection. Not that I’m ready just yet; my recent forced hiatus has put me a little behind where I’d like to be, production-wise. Yet when I started looking over my oeuvre, so to speak, I realized, for a great many of my stories, I didn’t necessarily remember if it had been collected or not. I usually did, but not always, and even then not always where. It occurred to me that this is the sort of thing I should know, that it was kind of and certainly at least potentially important. Even my own Bibliography was incomplete. Clearly I needed a better system than my faulty memory.

So, on a morning when I really should have been working on the trim in the mudroom, I was instead feeding story data into an Excel file. Every story collection I’ve done, whether print or ebook only, what stories are in each, and the publication year. All by way of making sure that, when I look at an individual story, if I need to I can quickly look up if, when, and where it’s already appeared. For instance, I’m already thinking of what story to put up for the next Storytime, but one I was considering as an original turned out to have appeared in one of the collections. It had completely slipped my mind. That’s the kind of thing that could lead to severe embarrassment, if not worse.

There are already some duplications, though they’re of the sort to be expected. Aside from their first magazine appearances, some of the Yamada Monogatari and Eli Motherbaugh stories had appeared in earlier general collections before being gathered into their respective character’s collections. I know to some of you out there this falls under the category of “High Class Worries,” but when you’ve published over a hundred stories, that’s a lot to keep track of even without considering reprints, and keeping track of everything is part of the job and I’d been neglecting it. This should get me back on track, but while I’m pulling this data together I may as well share some of it. Listed below are all my collections to date, together with the year, including major collections, special collections, and chapbooks.

The Ogre’s Wife: Fairytales for Grownups, Obscura Press, 2002

Worshipping Small Gods, Prime Books, 2007

On the Banks of the River of Heaven, Prime Books, 2010

Our Lady of 47 Ursae Majoris and Other Stories, Canemill Publishing, 2011

Ghost Trouble: The Casefiles of Eli Mothersbaugh, Canemill Publishing, 2011

The Devil Has His Due, Canemill Publishing, 2012

Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter, Prime Books, 2013

Two for Christmas, Canemill Publishing, 2013

The God of Small Troubles and Other Stories, Canemill Publishing, 2014

The Collected Tymon the Black, Canemill Publishing, 2017

 

The four done under Prime Books  imprint I consider my “major” collections, as in larger and more complete. Those listed under Canemill Publishing are the ones I take upon doing myself, for whatever reason. For instance, “Deal with the Devil” stories are pretty old-fashioned and there aren’t many markets for them. However, they’re fun to do and every now and then I wrote one anyway. So I put them together in The Devil Has His Due just to give them a home. Because I could. Two for Christmas, likewise for Christmas stories, though those are the only two I’ve ever done.

For this week’s Storytime I plan to have an original. Now with my story list up to date, I can be reasonably certain that it really is one.

 

 

 

 

 

New Story Time: “On the Banks of the River of Heaven”

3rd Story CollectionThis has long been a favorite of mine. It was originally published back in April 2008 in Realms of Fantasy magazine and was the title story of my third collection, On the Banks of the River of Heaven (Prime Books, 2010).

The story is based on the Japanese Star Festival (Tanabata) of July 7th, which in turn was based on an older Chinese legend. Once a year, the Divine Weaver and the Divine Herdsman (Vega and Altair)  would meet across the Milky Way (the River of Heaven) to renew their love. The legend goes that their intense affection for each other caused them to neglect their duties, the Weaver to make clothes for the gods, the Herdsman to keep the Celestial Ox out of the gods’ gardens. So they were separated and only allowed to meet once a year after that.

Naturally, in my version things were a little more complicated. But nothing that couldn’t be sorted out with good will and a little help from friends in unlikely places.

Story Time.

 

 

Edited to Add: Note and Disclaimer: The Story Time link will always point to the current story, whatever it happens to be. As soon as a new one goes up, the previous one goes away. There is no archive, I’m afraid, so get them while they’re here.

Waiting For the Eclipse

In fact, I’m taking a break from painting the living room this morning in preparation, also getting my blog on. I did the pinhole camera thing during the last partial solar eclipse, and probably will do the same this time, weather permitting. We’re nowhere near totality, but we were supposed to have clear skies here in central NY. Now clouds are moving in. At worst we’ll just enjoy the light changing.

Speaking of enjoying things (Notice what I did there? It’s called a segue. Ask for it by name), my contributor’s copy of Tales of the Sunrise Lands: Anthology of Fantasy Japan arrived today. It’s a nicely put together book and I’m glad to be in it with “The Cat of Five Virtues,” a sort of made-up fairytale, except the title creature (and all the others) come from real traditions. I like doing fairytales; too bad there aren’t many outlets for them these days. A fault of the times, I think. Regardless, the ebook edition is still on track for September. I’ll post when I have a confirmed date.

By my count I’ve had stories in over forty anthologies, counting reprints and “Bests of the Year,” and a lot more magazines, print and online, easily in the hundreds. I’m here to tell you that it never gets old. I remember reading, years ago, where L. Sprague de Camp (google him if you’re too young to remember) said, paraphrase, “A little bit of stardust accompanies each publication.” This from a guy who’d been doing it for over forty years at that point, but I believe it. If I make it that long, I’ll report in.