cross-posted from my Patreon because the topic is both creative content-related AND general life stuff
The “too much detail, get to the point” headline: I have a lot more publication credits than I realized I did, and I think I should do something with those stories.
The Whole Story: (mostly)I visited a good friend this weekend, chore-hanging while a brisket cooked. (I also helped with the slicing & general logistics of said cooking.) General fun was had, tasty fried matzoh was snacked upon, and there was wide-ranging conversation, as is typical of our hangouts.
(Small digression about friend. She’s a book blogger*, a big SFF fan & supporter of indie authors, a library advocate — there are lots of reasons we are friends, a shared love of chore-hanging being among them. We met at a convention, we later found out we’re both living in the same area, and, you know, friendships develop.)
ANYWAY. At some point in our chatting about books & libraries & catalogues, the The Internet Speculative Fiction Database came up. I think because I mentioned learning from ISFDB that I had a name-twin who’d published an award-nominated SFF story in Australia in the 80’s. (this is all I know of her, other than a picture from a con program that came up on an image search years ago.)ISFDB is a labor of love, built & operated by dedicated volunteers since at least 1995…or maybe earlier.
It’s a delightfully geeky site. A HUGE milestones on my journey to feeling like a Real Author ™ was the moment a reader at a convention told me he was buying my books to make sure they got into ISFDB.
It’s also a handy place to find info about short stories from out of print anthologies. That’s how I confirmed the title of a story I hate-loved long ago whose title I immediately forgot, about the world ending because no one cares enough to stop it. (“And Us Too, I Guess,” George Alec Effinger)
In any case, while I had the site up, of course I also looked up my own entry, mainly curious to see if Sharp Edge of Yesterday had been added yet. It is there! All shiny with a live link and everything.
But wait! There’s MORE!
My ISFDB entry also has a long list of short fictions I’d forgotten I wrote, much less ones that were submitted for publication, accepted and published.
I did recognize the one paid story: Up On the Roof won prize money in a contest. And I remembered the fluffy solstice-themed entry I wrote for a charity anthology. But the others? None of the titles rang a single memory bell.
Now, once I opened up the webzine links and read a few paragraphs, I could say, “Oh. Right. This totally reads like me.” And when I searched on my computer, the dated files are all in my writing backups, buried a few folders deep.
Just goes to show, memory is a weird thing.
These stories were all published shortly before Spouseman’s cancer diagnosis & my subsequent shift to a relentlessly outward focus. I knew I’d dropped a lot of creative balls during that shift– but until this incident I hadn’t recognized realize how thoroughly I’d dropped some of them, to the point where I forgot I ever had them.
I’m really grateful that ISFDB exists, and that I checked my record.
Did I immediately look up those old stories and reread bits of them aloud to friend? Yes, I did, because much to my relief & surprise, they are actually pretty darned good stories.
Friend promptly suggested I gather together all these newly-rediscovered works and all my newer shorts and publish them as a story collection anthology.
She is very persuasive. And I won’t have a new novel ready to publish for at least another year. So, I’m gonna do it. Story collection will happen.
I’m also going to add roast brisket to my “things to cook when I want a nice, warm, savory-smelling house in the cold, cold winter,” because it’s super easy and absolutely delicious.
It was a successful weekend, is what I’m saying. And now y’all know I will have a book next year after all.
Bonus Pippin pic, why not?
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So, I’ve come up with a personal spin on the old, “It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk” saying.
It’s hot enough to peel the labels off plastic snack containers.
Here’s the context.
It starts with me being a cheapskate who likes to repurpose empty snack food containers as kitchen storage. Big barrels of cheese balls, rectangular canisters for peanut-butter pretzel nuggets, cylinders full of Jelly Bellies & salted caramels — I like them all.
(random side note: the PB pretzel containers are 2x the size of the caramel cylinders but use the exact same lid!)
Anyway. Once emptied of their original snacks, some containers are perfect for containing other snacks — all the ones that come in unseal-able bags or flimsy boxes. Things like, oh, breakfast cereal, other pretzels, crackers, potato chips, veggie straws, pistachios. They’re also excellent for smaller quantity baking supplies.
Basically, they’re just as clear, and durable, and conveniently-sized as fancy Container store canisters, but they don’t cost an arm & a leg. Heck, they free. What’s not to love?
In a word, the labels. I don’t want to put food in things with worn, half-peeled, wrinkly old wrong labels. Ick. But label removal is a tedious, time-consuming chore involving Goo-gone & much swearing. Or olive oil, even MORE time, similar amounts of cursing, and lots of things falling on the floor. In fact, the better the container is, the more of a PITA the label is to remove. It’s almost like the makers don’t want them repurposed.
But I digress.
Herkes House regularly ends up with a new empties, but I tend to procrastinate the de-labeling part, so I always have a bunch lying around waiting for me work up the energy to deal with them.
Now here’s a fun fact about glue: the adhesive used for many food packaging labels softens to the clean-removal point at roughly 110 ºF.
It’s hot here this week. Officially we got to 99ºF today, with a heat index of 114F. At lunch time, I got the bright idea of putting all my empty snack containers outside on the patio for an hour while I ate (indoors, in the cool) And then I went back out and easily peeled off all the labels in less than five minutes.
I’m pleased to have a batch of clean containers, but damn, that is scary hot, for real. Hot enough to melt glue is H O T.
The Sharp Edge of Yesterday
A mother on the run from her criminal past can’t escape the dangerous superpower developing inside her own body.
Grace Reed just wants to be left alone with her daughters, her small business and her quiet suburban life.
Fate has something bigger planned for all of them.
A contemporary fantasy novel about coming of age in middle age, The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is in bookstores & libraries now.