May I Want by Tiah Marie Beautement

May I Want, a brand new original short story of mine, is now LIVE and FOR SALE on Amazon, thanks to my lovely publishers, Stubborn Raven.

Synopsis:

To some the seas hold many mysteries, but not to Laila. Her seaborne gifts have given her much, but when she is visited by an old acquaintance from her previous life she will find out that all gifts, hers included, come at a price.

Quotes:

MayIWantMedium.png
Cover of May I Want by Tiah Beautement

~The ghostly light of the waning moon shimmered on the skin of the sea, creating an endless road. To Laila, it beckoned with promise. Seduction. “May I want?” she whispered, borrowing her daughter’s phrase.~

~The need to keep secrets was as much a part of the village as the stones it was built on.~

~A weaver’s magic cannot be forced.~

~Please know that I, too, have lost.~

~Her mother had whispered in her ear two of the vows sea-weavers must make: first, do not harm; second, never accept coin for the art.~

~No gift is truly for free.~

USA Amazon link

UK Amazon link

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Permission by Saskia Vogel

~Before I grew old, the land would claim our bodies and we would rise again as ghosts.~

~Only after I met Orly and understood that loving in the way you love is not enough, that you have to pay attention to how people need and want to be loved-did I come to realize that [my parents] were blind to each other.~

~The hardest part is most people don’t know how to ask for what they want. They don’t think they’re allowed.~

~By the time I was a pre-teen [my mother] had become a person who fussed over surfaces: kitchen countertops, the cleanliness of floors, me.~

~’It’s the best part,’ he said. ‘Healing. It reminds me that my body works and everything is as it should be.’~

http://saskiavogel.com/

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Cover of A thousand Ships has a black back ground, with blue swirls and orange-gold lines radiating outwards, with two ships in yellow gold at the top and bottom of the title. 

Underneath the title reads: This is The Women's War

~When a war was ended, the men lost their lives. But the women lost everything else.~

~I’m not offering [the poet] the story of of one woman during the Trojan War, I’m offering him the story of all the women in the war.~

~When a city was sacked, everything within it was destroyed, right down to its words.~

~A woman who lost so much so young deserves something, even if it’s just to have her story told.~

~First you [Odysseus] asked your mother how she had died. Then you asked after the health of your father. Then your son. Then your honor. Then your throne. And then, when you had asked about everything else except the dog, you remembered to ask after your wife.~

~He is learning that in any war, the victors may be destroyed as completely as the vanquished. They still have their lives, but they have given up everything else in order to keep them. They sacrifice what they do not realize they have until they have lost it. And so the man who can win the war can only rarely survive the peace.~

http://www.nataliehaynes.com

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

~I have lost my way. Eighteen characters. But the words have the undeniable ring of truth to them, the way middle C does.~

~Entering the park, he’s surprised by how familiar it seems. It’s an entirely different kind of nature from what he grew up in, but it turns out that trees are trees, flowers are flowers, birds are birds, and wind is wind.~

~It’s an honor to be with people as they leave the world.~

~”Tell me something good.”
The command irks Harun. What if there’s nothing good to tell? What then?~

~You can’t measure sadness in numbers.~

~”Don’t apologize. I’m glad you fell on me.” “Why would you be glad I fell on you?” she asks. Because you can’t fall on something that doesn’t exist.~

www.gayleforman.com/

Made the 2019 Nommo Shortlist

I MADE THE 2019 NOMMO Shortlist!!!!!

A mer-woman swims off the docs while death waits, holding a towel and robe.
Artwork by Sunny Efemena.

Yes, I am shouting. I am grinning. I am ridiculously happy. I am like a 5 year old on Christmas morning right now. Memento Mori, published by the wonderful people at Omenana, made the shortlist.

This is a big deal to me. I have adored all sorts of speculative fiction since I was a child. From running into the back of my closets (I didn’t have a wardrobe) hoping to find distance lands, to Tolkin, to Stephen King, to Margret Atwood, to naming my first adult-owned-dog Orwell – speculative fiction is something I’ve always enjoyed.

But I didn’t think of it as something I could write seriously. Because I didn’t know the cannons by heart, hadn’t memorized Tolkin-lor, and, while my dyslexia does not impact my reading, these worlds where you make up names…do you know how hard it was for me to learn how to pronounce Beautement? Let alone spell it?

So I have supported speculative fiction by reading it. I published it through Short Story Day Africa. I’ve helped developmental edit it, and worked with writers in workshops. I’ve even dabbled in writing it, but never sent it to publications that paid – because I didn’t think I was good enough. Then, once upon a time, in a weird mood, I sent something to Tor.com, just because.

Tor.com was going through their final stages of taking unsolicited work. At that time, the longer you didn’t hear from them, the more hoops you’d passed through. I expected to be rejected in a week. It took much. much. longer than that before they said no. That story went on to fill a hole in an anthology (practically self published) but was well received in the LA Books Review and I started thinking…maybe I’d like to try doing this with the big kids.

So I joined ASFS. I read and voted for other people’s work. Writers I have watched and admired for many, many, years. And I always thought it would be lovely if someday I wrote something worthy of making that list too.

So I left SSDA, to give myself more time to write. Joined TSSF, began writing for FunDza (such a challenge, such a joy) and when I started to get the hang of that…decided it was time to try to writing stories for the paying spec-fic market.

The first story I wrote for my new adventure was An American Refugee, which made the 2019 Nommo longlist. The acceptance of the story made me braver. I started writing more main characters who I wanted to see greater representation in fiction (any fiction, not just spec-fic). Memento Mori was one of them, often rejected with the words along the lines of, “You’re so brave to have written a main character in a wheelchair.”

Where I would think, “You are talking about something that could actually become my reality.”

Living life is just what a person has to do, regardless of our challenges. It isn’t brave, its refusing to give up. I have Ehlers–Danlos syndrome and fibromyalgia. I don’t know if my EDS will progress to the point I’ll need a wheelchair in order to live my life to the fullest. But I’m glad such a useful tool exists. Because while I am coping, living my life better than I have since my health went south, my body is not doing all that great. Recently got some pretty crap-tastic news about my spine. You know, your SPINE, that thing in your body that’s pretty damn important. Yet, later today, I’m climbing on the back of a horse and riding with my daughter. Because the problems with my spine having nothing to do with horse riding, and, life is there to be lived. Living creates stories, even of the fantastical.

By publishing Memento Mori, Omenana was saying that it was okay if people like me are in our fantasy tales. Not as a side character, not for a special “disability issue”, but as a main character, in a regular issue, making it clear it had as much of a right to be told as any other story. That wearing braces, having joints do weird things, living in pain – that those things don’t regulate us to only to inspirational “carp diem” tales for able readers. That we can have lovers, jobs, pets, and magical fantasies.

All writers want to put out good work. We care about the worlds we create, and want to do our best, each and every time. But to see that story make the shortlist – the one that was “very good” but “not quite right” – to see it up there with names I’ve long admired – I can’t even tell you how good that feels. Goal made, with all the icing, pixie dust, and dragon’s breath on top.



So Far from God by Ana Castillo

Cover of So Far From God shows a bell in an archway, looking up to a cloud-scattered blue sky.

~Gambling was in the man’s blood. And gambling is what Sofi did when she ran off with him, sheltered by the dark night of a new moon, and came back a señora.~

~These were transitional years where she felt like a woman with brains was as good as dead for all the happiness it brought her in the love department.~

~She was beginning to feel like part of a ritual in which she herself participated as an unsuspecting symbol, like a staff or a rattle or medicine.~

~She had grown up in a world of women who went out into the bigger world and came back disappointed, disillusioned, devastated, and eventually not at all.~

~The land was old and the stories were older. Just like a country changed its name, so did the names of their legends change.~

http://www.anacastillo.net/

That Thing by Tiah Marie Beautement

That Thing has been published by the fine folks at FunDza.

The story features strong South African women, while addressing the love of reading, period poverty, and endometriosis awareness.

Chapter 1:

The book, A to Z of Amazing South African Women, is framed by a variety of sanitary products.

That thing.

That thing we don’t like to talk about. That thing nobody wants to hear. That thing that grabs my insides, and twists them until I’m curled up like a songololo. We all have at least one – a thing – that in families is rewritten until obliterated from our history. Except it sits, like a rotting toad in our bellies, fermenting until our gut sours, making us ill. Yes, that thing. Whatever it is for you, and it might be more than one thing, or six, or ten.

Me, I’m not supposed to talk about my pain. Every month. It rides in on my monthly menstruation, making me want to vomit. I get the runs so bad, and it even hurts to pee. But everyone keeps telling me to be quiet; that this is just a normal part of being a woman. My big sister Bianca rolled her eyes the first time I tried to say anything. “Don’t be so dramatic. Take a Panado and you’ll be fine.”

Clutching my belly, I penguin-walked over to Ma. She looked up from her phone and gave a big sigh. “Melody, you’re fine. Quit whining. What do you think will happen when you have a baby? Now that’s pain.”

So I keep quiet, and try to bear it. Even when I feel my eyes crossing, it hurts so much. And every month I have to scrape together my change, because Ma never buys enough pads.

“These are expensive, hey?” Ma said. “You should only be using seven to ten a month.”

I stared at her, opened mouthed. On my heaviest days I can go through three in an hour. “Ma, I need more.”

She shook her head. “You want to use them like toilet paper, then you need to get a job.”

“But where would I get a job?”

“Go ask the tannies. They need errands done all the time. Maybe they’ll have work for you.”

It was humiliating, knocking on doors, asking these little old ladies, and big old ladies, all alone without husbands or children around, if they needed anything. “You want money just to do your Christian duty?!” Mevrou Phillips screeched. “You kids should be helping your elders, not trying to take money from people on fixed incomes!”

I was so embarrassed. But if I didn’t find a way to get more pads, I would have blood dripping down my legs. How would I go to school on those days? How would I play hockey?

So I kept knocking and knocking, and getting yelled at, or scolded. Or, with poor Mevrou February, so confused, who just kept saying, “But I paid the municipality. My bank, my bank has it all set up. I tell you, I go to the bank …”

“Yes, Mevrou February, yes. I’m sure it’s fine,” I had to say, as I slowly backed away.

Last tannie to try was Mevrou Jacobs. Everyone says she’s a witch, because her eyes are this blue-milky-white. But I knocked on her door, because there was nothing else I could do.

“My dear,” she said, “I already have somebody who comes in twice a week to help me. My son arranges it.”

I couldn’t help it. I tried not to cry, to just say, “I understand,” but my voice cracked on the last syllable and the tears leaked out.

“Now, now,” Mevrou Jacobs said. She tilted her eerie blue-white gaze at my face, but it was slightly off, like she was focused on my ear. “Come, come. Maybe I need to hear more about this over a cup of tea.”

Click to Read Chapter 2

The Book of Malachi by T.C. Farren

Cover of The Book of Malachi by T.C. Farren features an ocean in the foreground, a moon leaving a path of light to a shadowy platform.

~My job is to check the plastic, see that it seals off the body parts, splays the flesh flat like the faces against a windscreen.

~I have seen decapitation. The head disengages as if the spine is nothing. A mere rumour.~

~The subjects were suffering in mime.~

~There’s no point in having a child if you didn’t have time to love it.~

~Words are water.~

~The movies at the refuge center cured me of diving to the ground at the sound of bullets, and pissing, just pissing. Some children had to be packed into their metal beds with blankets to muffle the sound while the movies played for two hours. It didn’t occur to the welfare workers to simply not play films about war and devastation, for goodness’ sake.~

~This is the first time [X] has spoken of their earthly life. It’s like Jesus suddenly saying he has Weet-Bix for breakfast.~

http://www.kwela.com/Books/20749

In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

Cover of The Vanishers' Palace features a Vietnamese girl in tunic and trousers leaping while a dragon eyes her in the background.

~It hadn’t sounded like much of [a life], more like a slow, steady act of drowning, a gradual choking of the light.~

~Words are actions and actions are words: when all is aligned, then the world will react in answer.~

~I want to know what we are apologizing for.~

~What matters with mistakes is what you do afterwards. How you choose to fix it.~

~We all stumble. We all fail. You always do the same thing: you apologize and change, again and again and again. There’ll never be a place where everything is right, but we can try our best to strive towards it. It’s the striving that defines us.~

~”It’s a story.”
“So are dragons.”~

http://www.aliettedebodard.com