Reflection

I started out writing short stories. I’ll admit they aren’t my strong suit, but at the time they felt like a testing ground and less of a commitment than entire novels. One of my earliest stories was published in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine (now defunct) in 2004, and that gave me the courage to keep writing.

I put that story in the anthology The World Ends at Five, which I first published in 2008 then republished a few years ago. I think my favorite story in the collection is “Raising the Ruins,” which is told from the point of view of a Jewish-Japanese woman dealing with the loss of her culture because Japan has sunk beneath the waves and her mother is dead. Of course, I am not Japanese, and I’m only Jewish by marriage, so I’m sure some people would find the fact I wrote the story problematic. But I enjoyed exploring the themes of how we connect to our heritages, particularly if and when they are diverse. I myself grew up Creole and . . . Well, I don’t know what to even consider the other side, but my parents came from two very different backgrounds, and I am the result of their struggle to compromise and make something cohesive. Whether they succeeded is still a matter of debate.

I’m not sure why I chose Jewish and Japanese when I wrote “Raising the Ruins” all those years ago except that I very much admire the Japanese culture (what I know of it), and found the touchstones for it and Judaism easier to express in a story than Creole and mutt. I have since started a story called “Voodoo Lessons” that will more explore my Creole heritage; I don’t know yet whether it will be a short story, novella, or novel.

When I look back at The World Ends at Five I both think that the stories are better than I remember, and that they still show the marks of a writer finding her voice and learning her trade. But I’m not ashamed of them. At least one of them found professional publication elsewhere, which is worth being proud of. And I’m able to read the fairy tale “A Tale of Two Queens” to my kids’ classes; it is the only story I’ve written that is suitable for that. (I originally wrote it as a birthday gift for a friend and co-worker.)

Not sure what brought this one to mind today. Guess I was feeling nostalgic.

A Handful of Water

I have a few things going on at the moment. For one, trying to get Faebourne ready for publication in August. For another, I’m waiting on responses to Hamlette from five places that are considering it. And then my short story “The Zodiac Clock” is likewise on submission to four places.

I’ve stopped submitting both Hamlette and “The Zodiac Clock.” If Hamlette doesn’t take, I’ll most likely self-publish it. Probably the same for “TZC” though I’d maybe try to write a few more stories and package it as an anthology.

I’m also waiting to hear from conferences where I’ve been put on lists to possibly be a featured author. I love going to conferences, but I’m at the point that I can’t justify the expense—particularly if there is a lot of travel—unless I’m at least contributing and being acknowledged. Still, I also recognize that I’m not as well known as some authors, and conferences want known names that will draw a crowd. At the same time, it’s a bit like the book marketing and publicity Catch-22: publishers put their marketing dollars behind authors who already sell. You’d think conference-goers would maybe get tired of the same handful of authors at each event and instead look for some new and interesting names? Or not.

I try not to be bitter, but I’ll admit a certain amount of frustration. People will say I should hide that side of me, but I believe in being real and honest about the hardships of being an author. It’s not all glamor. A lot of the time it feels like scraping and elbowing your way through a densely packed crowd.

So why call this post “A Handful of Water”? Because that’s also what it feels like: trying to hold something in your hands that leaks through. It’s fluid, and it’s running everywhere. I’ve got so much going on with submissions and my WIP . . . It’s hard to hold on to it all sometimes. And maybe I don’t have to. Maybe the only person who insists on it is me. I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself, but . . . I feel worthless otherwise. All I have to offer the world is me and my work. If that’s not enough, then I don’t know why I’m here.

“The Zodiac Clock”

I’m currently trying to find a home for this story I wrote called “The Zodiac Clock.” I don’t write many short stories these days, and I only wrote this one because there was an open call for submissions and I wanted to give that a shot. My story didn’t get picked for the anthology, so now I’m like, Well now what do I do with it? I think it’s a good story (though I’m probably biased), and I’ve been told to maybe write more and put out my own anthology, but before I go through all that, I’m looking for a place that might take the story first.

All this is a very long introduction to what I really meant to write about, which is: How I came up with the idea for the story.

I used to see this ad for a book called The Zodiac Cooks. It’s a cook book based on astrology, I guess? The image with the ad showed this blue cake divided into an astrological wheel/chart. Well, every time I saw this ad—every single time, even though I’d seen it a dozen times before—I’d think it said The Zodiac Clocks. Something about a quick glance at the image, and seeing the words out of the periphery of my vision—the cake looked a little like a clock, and “cooks” at a glance can be read as “clocks.” And I was sort of disappointed that it wasn’t The Zodiac Clocks because to me that sounds like an awesome book.

Well, as they say, if you can’t find the book you want to read, write it.

I didn’t write a whole book though, just the story. It does lend itself to expansion however. There’s potential there. I could either turn the story into a full novel or write more stories in the same world. I just don’t know yet if I want to do that.

Hopefully one of the places I’ve sent the story will want it. Otherwise I’ll shelve it for the time being.

Some stories start with the story and the title comes later. But sometimes you’ve got this great title and just have to find a way to make it happen.

The James vs. Clarence Thing

I’m pleased that my new Sherlock Holmes Professor Moriarty story is finding readers. (If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it here—free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited, and just 99 cents otherwise.) I even received my first review, and it was 5 stars! But I did notice the reviewer wrote that, really, she gives it 4.5 stars because she was confused by the James/Clarence thing. So I thought I’d answer that question in case others also had it.

In Conan Doyle’s story “The Final Problem,” Watson writes:

My hand has been forced, however, by the recent letters in which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his brother…

Colonel James Moriarty is not the criminal. You can be forgiven for thinking as much since there seems to be an ongoing use of James/Jim/Jamie for the character of the evil Moriarty in books, films, and television programs. But, going by the original source material, this isn’t true. James is just the professor’s brother. So I gave my version of Professor Moriarty the name Clarence. Which happens to be my father’s name. And before you think that says something about how I view my dad, you should probably read the story first. In any case, I’m sure my dad will be hugely amused when he reads it. (He and Mom are on a cruise at the moment, so…)

Anyway, that’s my reasoning. Sorry for any confusion. Hope you still enjoy the story!

New Story Out!

I have a new short story out on Amazon today. I’d say it’s a Sherlock Holmes story, except it’s told from the perspective of Moriarty. You can check it out here. Kindle Unlimited members can read it for free!

What if the famously evil Professor Moriarty wasn’t as evil as Holmes made him out to be? Hear his side in this new short story that revisits the Reichenbach Falls.

WIP Wednesday

Now that my three previous Sherlock Holmes stories have been tidily collated into a single volume, I started writing a new story, though from a decidedly different POV:

Let me begin by saying I have no “domed head,” or however it was Dr. Watson described me. Nor am I particularly old—though older than Holmes, I daresay I haven’t more than half a decade on his biographer. I am a professor, but of chemistry rather than mathematics. Holmes knows this full well. I tutored him.

Having fun with it, seeing where it takes me. If all goes well, you’ll be able to come along for the ride when it’s finished.