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Dragons and Mutants and Lettuce, Oh My!

My garden has been invaded!


Ferocious dragons have nested in my garden, flying in from who-knows-where. These mysterious beasts popped up earlier this week.

See them glaring at me? I think I woke them up...

I found another nest of them hidden on the other side of my garden...soon I'll be overrun with them! At least these are still sleeping.

I've spoken to a few people about my mutant basil problem as well. The seed package promised a height of 8-10", and as you can see, my basil mutants are actually topping the length of an entire yardstick! I am now calling them my basil behemoths (or basilmoths for short). I worry sometimes when I get too close that the basilmoths might eat me...

And because I had no idea lettuce flowered, i am sharing that as well. At least there is some innocence in my garden, though those lettuce stems grow suspiciously tall as well as you can see from the curved and bent lengths of their stalks. I think I've kept them from mutating, though, by eating their leaves as they stretch out to devour me. The only good mutant is one in my salad...


"On the Sweetness of Children"

Doh! I got distracted yesterday and forgot to announce that my flash piece "On the Sweetness of Children" went live on Daily Science Fictions' website yesterday. You can check the story out here (but don't blame me if it makes you hungry!).

DSF has been sending some great stories out over their email subscription list, and I highly suggest checking them out. :)

Weirdest Convention Question

You know, the weirdest question I'm asked at conventions is often at the bar: "Am I allowed to join you guys?"

Seriously. So let me just say now, if you are the kind of person who asks this question, then yes, you are automatically allowed to join me. The folk who are annoying rarely have the social awareness to realize that they might be overbearing and the mere fact you are asking this means you are and are likely among the majority of convention-goers who are super fun and awesome to hang out with. I don't care if you are an established writer or just trying to break in and write your first words or just a fan who wants to have fun, but go ahead and join me. I like you already. :)

Slush Reading

Well, I have been slush reading for The Little Death of Crossed Genres for a few weeks now, and it has been an interesting experience. On some level, I went into the gig with certain expectations of what the slush pile might be like, and I must admit that the variations on my expectations have been all over the place.

1. Cover Letters

For some reason, I had the notion that there was a standard cover letter similar to what I used which most submitters also utilized. Essentially, the basic professional information imparted as detailed below:

Dear Mr./Mrs. XYZ,
I have attached "My Story", a 1234 word <genre> short, for your consideration. My fiction has been published in A, B, and C. Thank you for your time.

Best wishes,

Instead, I have found this style to be nearly nonexistent, replaced instead with extreme casualness. The Little Death of Crossed Genres submission form requests location information, as I discovered, so that quickly explained that additional information in the CL's. But outside of that, the CL styles have ranged widely. I'm starting to think my standard cover letter is not as standard as I'd assumed...

On that note, of all the different variants, none of them particularly bother me, though they are sometimes sorely lacking in information. What does affect my reading, though, is the rare cover letter which includes too much information--primarily those including story summaries. Short stories are not particularly long beasts, so including a summary seems a bit much. Additionally, they tend to color my reading by removing certain elements of surprise. A story should, of course, remain an excellent reading experience with multiple reads, but it is difficult to separate that pre-knowledge on the first read, the read that is most likely to build my emotional attachment. So, while I don't want it to distance me from the tale, it does.

2. Grammar

I am a bit insane when it comes to grammar. I've stared mortified at one of my stories before when I realized it went through several submissions with a punctuation error in it (and I only noticed the error right after I sold the story--waiting on the corrected proofs now so I can fix the poor thing officially!).


Yet I am reading stories--good stories--which have some occasional flumps. And some with more than occasional flumps. And I am finding that I must be far more forgiving of others than I can be for myself. While I will likely still remain mortified at discovering grammatical issues in my own submitted work, I think reading the slush pile at least somewhat lessens my internal instinct to throw myself into traffic for the discovery. Heh.

Good writers and good stories can have a few mistakes. (Just please not too many--too many grammar snafus make me put my editor hat on instead of my reader hat, and it is difficult to take that editor hat off!)

These are just a couple of the things which have bent my expectations, and small things at that, insignificant on the larger scale. But they are things I notice, things I observe, and things I find patterns in for my poor brain's consumption.

Hmm, I think it's time for me to go check the slush pile now and see what else I can learn...

Dueling Banjos and a Bad Acid Trip

Hee hee!
The editor of the Belong anthology, punkrocker1991 , has just reached me in his discussion of the stories he bought for the anthology, and his comments are pretty funny.  My short story, "All Tales Must End", has been described as "a bit like duelling banjos" and "reminiscent of Pratchett on a really bad acid trip".

Doesn't that just make you want to buy a copy right now?

Head over to Russell's LJ for more of his author explorations (and to read the full text and context of my dueling banjo madness!). It's pretty fun reading his entries over the Belong authors. :)

Signal Boost: Polyphony 7 Deadline Today

In 2002, the Polyphony anthology series debuted. Conceived as a short fiction venue for stories that would skate gracefully across the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, and literary fiction, it was quickly recognized as the standard bearer for cross genre work. Since then, the series' six volumes have become a vital, unique collection of voices in literature of the fantastic.

Polyphony has been twice nominated for a World Fantasy Award and the stories therein have been featured in several "Year's Best" anthologies, along with garnering accolades from several award judges and committees. Polyphony authors range from multiple-award-winning seasoned writers to the previously unpublished. The series is truly a melodic interweaving of many voices: old and new, speculative and literary, heralded and unknown. Polyphony has not merely crossed literary boundaries, it has reformed and redefined them.

The harsh economic climate threatens to kill this vital series. Wheatland Press is asking for your help.

The authors have graciously made concessions to make Polyphony 7 a reality. They've agreed to a reduced pay rate to see the volume published. Now we need readers.

In order to publish Polyphony 7, Wheatland Press must receive 225 paid pre-orders via the website by March 15, 2010. If the pre-order quantities cannot be met, Polyphony will cease publication. It's that simple. The preorder link is here: http://www.wheatlandpress.com/polyphony/v7.html

If the preorder number is met, then Polyphony 7 will be published on or about July 1, 2010.*

We have heard from many in the SF/F literary community that Polyphony is a vital part of landscape. We agree, but we cannot continue without your support. We hope that you will support our fine authors and their art by becoming part of the Polyphony community and pre-ordering a copy of Polyphony 7.

Ta Da?

...and the name change is complete. Thanks everyone for your votes and fun input!


Name Change at High Noon!

Well, the Name Change Extravaganza poll results are in, and it looks like the hatred of underscores undid m_muenzler in the stretch, and the apparently tasty mmuenzler won. So somewhere around high noon today (CST, of course!) I'll be activating my rename token.

Soon, poor drachin8 will be no more...bwahahahahaha!

Name Change Extravaganza

Well, I have decided to indeed change my LJ and Twitter user name (as per the discussion a short while back). Now I just have to figure out what variation to change it to...which brings us to the Name Change Extravaganza poll! Woooo! Woooo!

*throws confetti in the air*

Poll #1536430 Name Change Extravaganza

So, awesome folk, given that my actual name is "Michelle Muenzler" and is too long for the 15 character limit on LJ and Twitter, which of the below do you like best as a new user name?

other (specified in comments)

Belong Anthology: Cover Preview!

Cover previews are always fun, so I thought I'd share this one with you. The editor of the anthology, Russel B. Farr (punkrocker1991 ), just posted the preview yesterday. He even has information on pre-ordering--whee!

As a reminder, this is the anthology that will have my story "All Tales Must End", a meta-story about stories, giant turtles, and the end of the world. It was a fun tale to write, if odd in that it ended up becoming a meta-story (as opposed to, you know, an actual story like the first three drafts wanted it to be). But that's what happens sometimes. You think you are writing one tale, when suddenly a new voice wallops you upside the head and sends you into a dizzying spin down a different path.

It is a bit interesting that the subtitle for the anthology is "Interstellar Immigration Stories" as well. I think my story might barely qualify under that header as it is primarily a fantasy tale with a bit of a spin (I could tell you how the story inches into belonging, but that would just ruin the fun when you read it!). Then again, perhaps that is what makes an anthology more interesting-all the stories that just skim the target. It does at least make me curious as to how the other stories fit in and how they all fit together. Anthology creation is part science, part art, it seems. A mesh of technique and gut instinct. Personally, I find the process fascinating.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the quickie cover preview. I'm increasingly looking forward to my contributor copies (I mean, heck, just reading the titles of the stories included intrigues me).

(And yes, I need to post more--I hate feeling like such a "fly by" right now)


Michelle Muenzler

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