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Goodbye for now

Hello all,

It’s been approximately an age since I last posted here, and frankly I don’t see myself writing anything again soon.  Part of that is that my life is very full right now.  Some good stuff, like a new job, lots of friends, a brief spate of dating.  Some bad stuff, like an unutterably terrible thing that just went down that’s left me running on coffee, nerves and emotion.  I will be running on coffee, nerves and emotion for the foreseeable future, while we’re at it.  This too, unsurprisingly, is taking up a lot of time.

I haven’t written anything in…months, actually.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been busy, or a bit low, or what.  I don’t particularly miss it — I do a fair bit of writing for my job, so it’s not like that itch isn’t being scratched.  I don’t feel any particular pull towards romance anymore either, if I’m being honest.  I’ve been reading a lot of classic SF, some really good fantasy, lots of fiction, things along those lines.  Maybe this will spark something; maybe not.  I’ve got a lot of other creative outlets.  Rest assured, if I write again, I’ll leave another note here.

Until then!

Sophia

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Apparently I publish in clumps?

I Reach Through Time and Touch the Other Side* will be out April 6th.  It’s another novella, this one speculative fiction.  It was quite an odd little story to write; I started it in Philadelphia International Airport after having a dream about finding a new floor on the Humanities Building.  I was telling my mother about it, and she mentioned she’d had dreams of finding a hidden room on the third floor of my parents’ house.  (I should note that, when she was a little girl, my mother actually did find a hidden room in their big, rambling house!)  I’d just finished spending a lot of time on trains between Philadelphia and New York City and was full of those strange, wonderful, postwar towns in North Jersey that exist in a kind of odd limbo, not quite their own space, not quite 100% commuter towns.

It’s a story about not quite where I grew up, about a place that can’t quite exist.  I hope you enjoy it.

*Michael Swanwick is waging a one-man protest against SF stories with one-word titles.  It’s now a one-man, one-woman protest.  Long, lyrical titles are what made classic SF what it was!

***

And from the proud daughter of a union city, and the sister of a union member, to the government of Wiscosin:

Sabo Cat
The workers will triumph!

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Young Man in Paris

Cor, that was fast!  My historical novella, Young Man in Paris, is up at Dreamspinner Press’ store, and will be released March 16.  I am stupidly excited, and only a little bit because it’s been yoinks since I last had a new story out.  Go and check out the cover and tell me it is not twelve thousand kinds of awesome.  It’s by Paul Richmond [warning: audio], who I honest-to-God love.  He’s done a series of paintings that are vintage-inspired male pin-ups.  [click through to ‘cheesecake boys’] I was stunned when I learned he was doing my little cover, and I adore what he’s done beyond all reason.  He’s exactly my style — a bit camp, referencing everything and everyone for his message, combining sexy and beautiful and a bit of madness.

So.  New novella, and reading week coming up, so life takes a bit of an upturn.  Also, I’m beginning to plan for summer, so I have something to look forward to…

Love,

Me

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I Aten’t Dead (Yet)

HEY KIDS!

Yeah, not quite dead yet.  But frankly, about 95% of my life violently blows right now, and I’m a fairly miserable human being.  So, not so much blogging.  You do not come here to listen to me be dead inside, which is how things are right now, frankly.

In writerly news, though, Dreamspinner will be releasing a novella of mine set in 1920’s Paris very soon, which happens to have a cover that makes me feel all happy in the tummy.  I’ll be pimping that far and wide; it’s a story I started writing six years ago, and though it’s undergone massive changes, I’m so proud that it’s really a story now.  I’ve got another novella slated for…sometime later than that?  I’ll let you know when I do.

I’ve also got dozens of ideas for posts and fun things to write about and stupid videos to make (I invented the frantic, semi-drunken beehive updo on Saturday night!), so hopefully at the end of April, when my life has meaning again, those things will start to go up.

Oh!  And!  Barring last-minute crazypantsness, I’ll be at the UK Author’s Meet in July.  Sweet.

xoxo,

Sophia

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If you know how my birthdays usually go…

…what is about to happen is both typical and hilarious.

So!  I am very nearly 29 (in two hours or so, EST).  I think I am more worried about freaking out over nearly being 30 than actually nearly being 30.  28 should be pretty nifty.  I’ll graduate (well, presumably), hopefully get a job, visa, and a new flat in Cardiff.  Basically, I will get to start the life that’s been on hold for two and a half years, and I’m honestly so happy about it.  (When I’m not having panic attacks.)

28 was pretty neat too, I guess.  I managed to meet Tommy Bowe, do some really fun metalworking stuff, and publish for the first time.  Which is my really awkward segue into the meh review I managed to find here. (It’s an old entry, it’s just the way her site is constructed, with every new post, I get a google alert oh god I just told the internet I have a google news alert on my nom de plume fuuuuuuck.)

It’s strange and not really hurty* because 1) Christ sakes it’s a review the woman’s entitled to her opinion 2) it’s kind of all true.  Except what she doesn’t like, I liked writing!

I think it’s because it’s not like a lot of short story romances that are out there, so I just wasn’t expecting it.

Okay, seriously, that’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about my writing.  Seriously.  It’s not a backwards compliment, it’s just…yes!  Yay!  That’s what I want!

The entire thing has a distant storyteller quality to it, much like some literary fiction or older works. […] I can’t engage with it, which is why I don’t enjoy a lot of what is considered classical literature.

There are two ways to view this:  Life is too short to read a Henry James sentence.  (Well it is.)  And that at first I was sort of backwards-compliment pleased, and then I remembered that I don’t actually like most classical literature, I just like pretending I do (see Henry James joke above).  So, heh.

The rest of the review points out some of the flaws, but I think what I liked best was that the author just kind of admitted that it wasn’t her kind of story, which, fair do’s.  (Dear Book Utopia Mom:  if you happened to find this, I really am sorry you didn’t like it much.  It’s a style I’m really moving away from (HAY GUESS WHY IT’S NOT COS IT’S DEATHLESS), so I hope you give another of my stories a try someday, if the description appeals to you!  But thank you for taking the time to read it, and review it.  Seriously, it’s good feedback.)

So I have survived my first non-tactful “er…no.”  Cool.  I shall now go count down the days until I’m plunged back into the UK where I hear you remember what warmth is.

*Not to say it was fun to read, but I wasn’t in tears or anything.  I can feel plenty glum about my writing with no help, really.

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On being back ‘home’

Well, I have managed to be pretty much the only person to make it out of Heathrow just about when I expected to do so, and even the jetlag is mostly gone after a day or two.  Philly’s all right; I think I’ll be happier when I get out of the house a bit tonight to have dinner with friends.  Mostly, though, I’m overwhelmed by how much I…frankly kinda don’t want to be here, and don’t particularly feel at home.

One of the first, if not the first word I learned in Welsh was hiraeth, which doesn’t have a good English translation.  The guy who taught it to me admitted that it might come close to homesickness or the feeling you get when you listen to really good blues, but that doesn’t cover it.  It’s just a feeling of being wrong, subtle but there, as soon as I cross the Severn bridge.  It’s inexplicable, and not necessarily painful (maybe because I know I’m going back?), but its’ so very much, powerfully, there.  I wasn’t expecting that, although I keep meeting people who tell me that I’ll feel hiraeth now, essentially, forever.  Wales gets under your skin.

(So does the terrible, terrible history of the country my mother lent me to read, but that’s a post for another time.  For now, let’s just say that it’s pretty rare that I’ve ever wanted to actually shoot a book.)

Aaaanyway, this all has a slightly funny (I hope) and inappropriate ending, because I was whinging to the patient Charlie Cochrane about all of this, stating that I wanted a mince pie, a sheep, and Alun-Wyn [Jones, of course!], and she pointed out that that scanned perfectly into Bread of Heaven.  So, with abject apologies to everyone, especially the sheep:

[annotations below]

The coach did cross the Severn Bridge
And it was not much fun.[1]
I did not want to go to Heathrow,
And I don’t want to be here.

I miss Welsh things;
I miss Welsh things!
Mince pie, a sheep[2], and Alun Wyn[3]!
Mince pie, a sheep, and Alun Wyn!

Don’t forget the
smell of Metros[4]
and the violent footy fans!
And the rugby our boys lose.[5]

[1] This could be because it took two hours to drive from Cardiff to Newport.  No, I don’t want to talk about it.
[2] Mind out of the gutter, please.
[3] Alun-Wyn Jones, the very lovely forward lock who needs to shave that wombat off of his face.
[4] Metros is this awesome club that’s basically located in a basement, and is pretty much the only place on earth that got worse after the smoking ban.  See, because it’s underground, the smell of human fug doesn’t ever dissipate.  And when it’s really full, moisture gathers on the walls and ceilings and drips down on you!  The reek is infamous and no matter how drunk you are, it’s like getting slapped as soon as you walk in.  It’s my favorite club.
[5] SOB

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Speak Its Name Advent Calendar

Hello Cats and Kittens!

Before I begin, I think I should let you have a peek into the exotic life of your average romance writer.  I am sitting here, having completed my chores for the day (including the fastest re-soleing and re-heeling of a pair of boots in the world I love you Timpsons on Queen St!), dying my hair with Lush’s henna bricks.  This has many advantages over chemical dyes in that it gives me a nice, auburn shade that’s actually found in nature, it doesn’t make my eyes water, and my hair is nice a soft and yummy afterwards.  (Also, it lasts more than 4 #$%^ weeks.)  The downside is that I spend five hours with what is essentially a curry-scented cowpat wrapped in an argos bag, covered in a sacrificial towel, on my head.  I SUFFER FOR MY BEAUTY.

(It does force me to stay inside and get work done, though.)

AAAAAAANYWAY, for many of you (I hope!), that deathless prose is your welcome to my blog from the Speak Its Name advent calendar.  My short story “For the Benefit of the Public” is published today as part of their lovely seasonal (and now annual!) gift to the world.  It was great, great fun to write, because it gave me an excuse to research the state of the British Museum in the 1860’s, smack in the middle of the Victorian movement towards education as something that is for the benefit of all, and should be accessible to all.  (Oh the fucking irony, Mr’s Clegg and Cameron, the irony.)

See, before the British Museum (and Sir John Soane’s museum which is a gem too many people miss), there really was no thought of public access to works of art, artefacts, or representative items, particularly from the classical world.  (Representative items from a community’s own history were, of course, Right Out until fantastic museums like St Fagan’s started in the 1950’s, and quotidian life began to be preserved and presented by those who had lived it.)  Very, very wealthy people who could afford to go to the Continent, Egypt, or the Classical world did so, brought curious items back with or without permission, and put them in Wunderkammers to show their friends — literally, cabinets of wonder.  Of course, these could be genuine cabinets, or they could be whole rooms, and they were so delightful I cannot find the words to tell you how awesome they were.  The Pitt-Rivers museum isn’t a million miles away from the photos I’ve seen, and if you’re near Swansea, they’ve got a kind of wunderkammer room in their city museum that is absolutely worth going to.  (If you’re in Philadelphia, The Rosenberg Museum also isn’t a million miles away, and is equally worth visiting, and we are now out of cities whose museums I know inside-out and upside-down.)  As much as I adore these wunderkammers and, frankly, want one as soon as I’ve got a spare room, they were not accessible to…well, anyone, really.  Perhaps if the nobleman was very nice and understanding, and the scholar came from the right sort of people, aforesaid scholar could have access to things, but for anyone else — unthinkable.

Until this Victorian movement towards educating the working-class.  The BM has many, many problems, but you’ve always got to give them this: anyone could visit.  You had to apply in writing in advance, and prove you were of good character and not show up drunk (although I believe they served alcohol there which, frankly, is brilliant and all museums should do so), but you could get in, even if you didn’t have a title or a double-barrelled name, or weren’t an Oxbridge student.  This was huge.  This is huge.  I can go to museums and do whatever research I like, or enjoy art, or just walk around and absorb whatever I want?  Yes, please.  Yes, a thousand times please.  And anyone else who wants to can do the same; I think this, this access to education and art and culture, was the great gift of the Victorians.  As the song says, one cannot live on bread alone, but one must have roses as well.

So, you can see why I leapt at the chance to write a little love story in amongst some dusty (and, frankly, questionably-sourced) objects in a grand building in Russell Square.  I hope very much that you enjoyed it.

Love,

Me

PS  Lee and Daniel were borrowed from a story I started yoinks ago.  Don’t think you’ve seen the last of them!

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