Jude-Marie Green, Associate Editor
The regular monthly meeting of the Orange County Science Fiction Club is staring at me. Dick Nordrum asked me to talk to a group of my friends and acquaintances about being a science fiction writer.
I’m stumped and not a little terrified. I’ve hated public speaking since my 8th grade “scary” English teacher gave me a C– for mangling an oral report. Parenthetically (and I speak and write parenthetically, it’s preferable to elliptical writing, of which I tried to cure myself some years ago) I wonder if this early humiliation seeded my writing obsession … but no. (And there’s an ellipsis. Damned things sneak in when I’m not paying attention.) I’ve always written.
“Always” is one of those weasel words writers are taught never to use. “Never, never, never use absolutes!” Life isn’t absolute, and I don’t always write. Case in point: the month of April 2008. This has been, to badly paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II’s melodramatic words, a Monthus Horribilis.
But before I detail my woes, let’s backtrack a trifle, shall we?
Some issues of this magazine ago, our poetry editorship changed hands. Trent Walters is an accomplished, published, and honored poet. More than that, he is a teacher and reviewer of poetry. He pulled together two issues of incredible poems and editorial before accepting a teaching position and disappearing into the internet–free wilds (no, not some bereft third–world Trashcanistan; even Transylvania has internet); the wilds of Nebraska.
We love Trent and appreciate his work; we want him back here at the magazine! Could someone please inspire Nebraska to go wireless some time soon?
Poetry selection has been left to my ham–fisted and tin–eared ideas of meter and imagery; though I think the two selections from Issue 25 truly shine. I’m also sure it will surprise no one to learn that we are currently closed to poetry submissions. We’ll have a new submission address and guidelines, plus a new interim poetry editor, when we resume.
As normal for an all–volunteer magazine, we are again short–staffed. Somehow, we manage. Our Managing Editor, Wendy S. Delmater, is one amazing lady. Did you know she works as a safety engineer for the City of New York? Thus was spawned her livejournal handle, safewrite. Safety Engineer, Science Fiction Writer. She’s a killer editor. The content of this magazine is hand–picked and polished to gleaminess by her nibs personally. I’ve watched her agonizing over word choices and characterizations and … what’s that you say? You noticed that many of last year’s stories were romantically–inclined? Love stories, not to be too blunt? I’m sure Wendy’s romantic life had NOTHING to do with that.
On the other hand, her romantic life may have influence on a computer she broke last year and cell phones… no, we won’t talk about cell phones. Perhaps romance is antithetical to electronics? Hmm, something for the idea file.
Despite Wendy’s forays into the dating life and in spite of her misfortunes with electronics we managed to put together a fabulous Issue 25. But some warmth was missing in her work life as well as at home – literally, neither had heat. So Wendy decided to move.
Her new place is a vast improvement over the old place (“Look, Ma, hot water! From a faucet!”) and the location is sweet, but further from her work.. As a result, she has a longer commute to a new assignment. Our Wendy is back to enforcing safety regulations and gets a warm feeling not just from saving lives but from a thermostat.
I haven’t mentioned her cancer scare yet. Nothing demolishes focus like fear for your life. Wendy’s”girls”, whom she calls Lefty and Righty, have been feeling unwell and lumpy all year. She dealt with her fears by writing stories where they took their concerns to God, who reassured them as much as He could. Wendy took her concerns to the doctors, where various insurance delays stalled a diagnosis for six more months.
I’m pleased to report that Ms. Delmater does not have breast cancer. However, a year of fear, ill–health, and stress have a way of derailing the fictive life. Now that Lefty and Righty have returned from their celestial visit and her laptop has returned from the restorative spa, I’m sure we’ll see more of her in the weeks to come.
(As I write this, news has broken of Jay Lake’s cancer and treatment. In his usual style, he is blogging about it. Fearlessly, with humor and honesty. We love Jay, a frequent contributor to our pages, and are keeping him in our thoughts.)
On with my horrible April – though on consideration, this month has not been so bad. No one close to me has died, I’ve maintained what passes for good health in my life, and my laptop purrs along like a sturdy trooper. Also, I traveled to Elko, Nevada, to participate in a signing for the Desolate Places anthology.
I will not discuss why I titled April 3’s livejournal entry, “Code 245: Felony Assault with Deadly Weapon (nonfirearm)” but I will admit that the events of that day gave me an even deeper appreciation of the problems and solutions provided in Vylar Kaftan’s “Disarm.”
While in Elko, my hippie/tie–dyed sense of humor did not ring true with the button–down cowboy smoking hand–rolled cigarettes. Schoen’s “Xenosomnambulism” outlines differing cultures’ search for mutual comprehensibility.
I spent a happy half hour in Fresno, California, watching a baseball game in Chukchanski Park. I didn’t see any ghosts or dinosaurs, darn it, though after reading Hodges’ “Ghosts of Cretaceous Park,” I’m more glad than not about that!
I moved. This was a sudden and unplanned event and I had to find new homes for my pets, for their own good breaking up our household. In Gilman’s “Wolfling,” the characters act for the best good of their pack. I understand.
How much stuff do you have in storage? Any of it wicker? After reading Fuller’s “One Wicker Day,” you may want to dispose of those particular items. I know I did.
I did not choose any of this quarter’s offerings and yet each story echoes my current real life events. (Schoen’s “Xenosomnambulism” resonates with Wendy, who sleeps on the train on her way to NY City every day). Any good fiction uses common life experiences to grab the reader; with a great story the reader exclaims, “Yeah, that’s real!”
The OCSF panel has ended and no one has asked The Question. As a newbie writer I’ve only gotten The Question a few times (though I look forward to a lifetime of fielding this one.) Where do you get your ideas? they ask, bright–eyed and hungry for some received knowledge.
I smile. Where don’t I get ideas? They’re all around me, in real life.
Jude-Marie Green is Associate Editor, slush reader, and chief cook and bottle-washer at Abyss&Apex, one of the best online genre mags in the business.
She also writes fiction, which has been published by Ideomancer, Every Day Fiction, Hadley Rille’s anthologies Visual Journeys, Desolate Places, and Ruins Metropolis, the ghost story anthology Legends of the Mountain State, and RavenElectrick’s fabulous Sporty Spec anthology.
By day, she works in a hospital’s blood donor center. And eats garlic. Just in case.
Editorial © 2008 Jude-Marie Green. All other content copyright © 2008 ByrenLee Press
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish