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.

Don’t Fear the Kitten

This came up in another writer’s blog some time ago, was discussed roundly there, and keeps coming up so I’m going to talk about it here, too. The question was about whether to add a certain element — in this case a kitten, but it could as easily been something else equally dangerous: a certain character, explicit sex, non-standard gender roles — knowing even as you do so that it will make the story harder to sell. To emphasize the point, an editor pointed out how hard it indeed would be to sell any such story to him. Not impossible, but very very hard. My position is: if the kitten is required then put the kitten in and damn the consequences.

I can be dogmatic at times (Gee, ya think?), but I know there are times when compromise is required. We don’t live anywhere near Perfect, as the drug store ads used to remind us constantly. And yet…there’s a limit. There has to be. Trends fade. Today’s hot topic is tomorrow’s fishwrap. Prejudices morph. “Marketability” is a will-o-wisp if ever there was one, and trying to second-guess and anticipate it leads to bog-downs and hackdom. Continue reading

In the Palace of the Jade Lion

When Realms of Fantasy closed it had two of my stories in inventory, and now that the contracts are signed I can mention that the first of them, “In the Palace of the Jade Lion,” has sold to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This is a 12,000 word ghost story set in ancient China during the Warring States period, and the first non-Yamada story that I’ve placed there.

I’m rather proud of this one. Which I suppose is the kind of thing a writer would normally say, but it’s true. I think it’s a fun story and I’m rather pleased with the way it turned out. Naturally I’m happy that it found a good home.