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.”

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

David G. Hartwell

7b0d3f0e5b-fc2e-4ffe-b6f1-a01ee1f81da57dimg400  I, along with pretty much everyone who works in science fiction and fantasy, got the word yesterday that David Hartwell was in very serious condition and not expected to survive, and unfortunately so it proved. It’s not my place to give details, partly because I’ve only heard specifics second and third-hand, but mostly because that is for those closest to him to do or not as they see fit. I’m here for a different reason.

I only met David Hartwell once, at World Fantasy Convention 2003 and doubt we exchanged more than 20-30 words total then, but the reason I’m writing today is to say a long overdue (and in Mr. Hartwell’s case, sadly too late) thank you to both him and his wife and editing partner, Kathryn Cramer. The reason I spoke to David Hartwell that one time was because he was making sure he received a copy of my first collection, The Ogre’s Wife. I was on my way to give a reading at the time and had one copy with me. Not being a complete idiot, I gave that one to him. I should have thanked him then, since he and his wife and editing partner Kathryn Cramer had shown an interest in my early stories, taking two to reprint in their first two yearly editions of their Year’s Best Fantasy. In another incident where I wasn’t present, a (reliable) friend reported that, on a panel about newer and emerging writers, my name had come up as Ms. Cramer reportedly said something to the effect that, “If you haven’t read him yet, you should.” Such kindnesses were a huge boost to me at the time. Maybe writers shouldn’t need validation other than the work itself, but as human beings we savor it as much as anyone, and getting those two reprints at that point in my writing career was a big deal for me. So I should have said “thank you” to David Hartwell when I had the chance.  It never occurred to me at the time that life and circumstances would dictate that I never spoke to him again.

So I’ll say it now, and especially to his widow Kathryn Cramer who is still with us and I hope will be for a long time: Thank you.

 

The Ogre’s Wife: Fairy Tales for Grownups, Obscura Press Edition–OOP

Front_cover3If you follow the link to the Amazon page for The Ogre’s Wife: Fairy Tales for Grownups (TOW) at Amazon, you may note its status reads “Temporarily Out of Stock.” The fact is, other than whatever copies might be floating around with dealers—not many, I’m thinking—and not counting the few copies I still have, that edition is now officially Out of Print. The original publisher of TOW, Obscura Press, had been moribund for some time but finally decided to pull the plug on the operation. I’d been in contact with Gordie and knew this was coming. Frankly, I’d expected it to happen a lot sooner.

TOW was my first collection of stories, a World Fantasy Award finalist in 2003, and I was and am very proud of it. The book came out when PoD (Print on Demand) was just taking off, and PoD was a boon to small publishers who now didn’t need to sacrifice cash flow to print large numbers of books. The PoD outfit would print them instead, and only when orders were in. You’d start with a print run of maybe 250 or so for review copies and initial orders. It was ideal for shoestring operations and a lot of them sprang up and withered just as quickly, since they only lasted as long as the publisher’s enthusiasm and disposable income held out—even with the new technology, most of them weren’t money makers. Obscura did better than many, publishing books by Mike Resnick, among others. When Gordie offered to do my first collection–which so far as I knew would be my only collection–I couldn’t say yes fast enough, and it was a decision I’ve never regretted.

Regardless, it was once said of PoD books that part of their beauty was that they’d never go out of print. Wrong. It still takes a certain outlay to keep a book in the pipeline at a printer like Lightning Source and even though the print edition of TOW still sold a fair number of copies each year, the tipping point for Obscura finally came.

It’s not a bad thing. I already did the ebook edition on my own because I was dealing with a publisher who never claimed any rights that weren’t in the original contract. The ebook (Kindle, Nook, etc.) is still around. Now the print rights have reverted to me as well and I’ll eventually do a new print edition, probably through Createspace or the like. Likely with a new cover to differentiate it, and probably with some of the additional material I included in the ebook. But I’ll pause for a moment to acknowledge the passing after twelve years to Out of Print status of my very first book.

New Story Time

TrunkThe new Story Time (see link on the right) is “How Konti Scrounged the World,” which first appeared in Realms of Fantasy back in February, 2000, and reprinted in THE OGRE’S WIFE in 2002. I’m including the story note I wrote for the ebook edition of the collection, with the understanding that the note was written long after the fact, and might have no more to do with the story than something anyone else might say about it. Continue reading