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  2. I occasionally offer my blog to fellow creative travelers and today it is my great pleasure to hand over this space to Lancelot Shaubert. I first met Lance through the Writer Unboxed community and attended several writing retreats with him in the past few years. He is a bright, driven, passionate artist in all senses of the word. A writer, a musician, a filmmaker, Lance is someone whose vision includes collaboration and connection. I am honored to know him. Honored to be named a mentor by him. Honored to be part of his anthology. Lance sent this to me when I was experiencing a low moment - feeling as if my creative work was at a dead end and not reaching or touching an audience. I didn't know until reading this how profoundly my story had moved Lance. He saw in it elements I did not consciously intend, but as all art is a construction between artist and audience, I am honored by what he sees in it. I leave you his thoughtful piece to consider. The Metaphysics of Sci-Fi Lancelot Shaubert Since the meaning of anything is first and foremost the meaning of everything, sci-fi stories can carry a heavy metaphysical burden by virtue of containing lots of things: big things, small things, multiple planets full of things and so forth. When it comes to awakening the metaphysical import of science fiction inside of me, no living author has done so both through their craft and friendship more than LJ Cohen. It seems every time we get together, she and I end up talking about meaning and philosophy and metaphysics. Time and again, both in those talks and through her work, she proves that sci-fi carries that burden better than any fiction genre other than fantasy. Take her most recent short “Perpetual Silence” from the Of Gods and Globes anthology I edited this summer. For starters, I cry every time I read her story. No exaggeration. I cry every time I read her story for the amount it says in so little, the weight it carries with such honesty and curiosity and melancholy: this is a story that gets the essence of nostalgia, of Sehnsucht. Spoiler alert for those of you that care about such things (though I tend to think spoilers enhance rather than detract from the reading experience), but her story features a young woman researcher creating an instantaneous comms link in the distant heavens through a satellite. It’s like internet for deep space, a phone call to the other end of the galaxy. Strictly speaking, this should be impossible, but they figure it out. Problem: this instantaneous communication works like a virus and erases all lag from all communication between satellites. It’s inconvenient to the scientist long-term and she terminates her team’s life’s work in an instant of code. Why? “She’d called the universe. The universe had called back.” She sought the ultimate consciousness behind infinite being and total reality and that consciousness responded. It scared her enough that she shuttered the program. Think about that: she discovered and verified prayer. The story’s a metaphysical and astronomical argument for prayer. And for why we don’t pray: we’re actually scared of an answer, scared of the grounds of all reality, of the necessary and sufficient cause of being having... well... a mind of its own. It’s not the only time an author asks such questions in a sci-fi story. Star Wars quite famously proffered a sort of gnostic dualism as the grounds of its magic system. Dune dealt with the nature of prophecy to affect not only space, but timelines, and what time means for one’s identity. Firefly asks classic existentialist questions over and again: particularly the "Out of Gas" episode where they ask why does a screwdriver exist? Why is there such a thing as a screwdriver when there should be nothing? When a screwdriver and none of the material or efficient causes of a screwdriver can possibly contain the cause of a screwdriver’s being, moment to moment? Heady questions from space cowboys... The Martian, of course, asked if raw conscious courage can trump mindless matter. The Foundation (poorly, I think) asks questions based on the Hegelian picture of history (bolstered poorly by the Wellsian picture of history and mythology), questions that Sanderson picks back up in Elantris and... in a way... stumbles through to something like a more holistic picture. The Man in the High Castle more than any asked if America would ever create true art, a true work of beauty (one that delights in making intimate the great distance between two things while preserving said distance) when we Americans obsess on the one hand with our hyper utilitarian purgation of art and on the other hand with profiting off of commodities and frauds? If art, in other words, makes a new culture by preserving our own special uniqueness via a singular intimate encounter with what’s us and no one else, then we ought not (1) worry about profits first, for art is not advertisement, nor (2) worry about how many copies of our work exist, for art is about preserving that beatific distance in an intimate encounter and not about the proliferation of our namesake, nor (3) the efficacious or tangible or systematic affect of our work on the immediate society, for art is about the seventh generation and not about us and therefore the virtue it forms in us is far more important and far-reaching than whatever system it could tweak or technology it could inspire. Though, strictly speaking, the Elon Musks of today are a few generations removed from the scifi of yesterdecade. And then there’s Station Eleven, a sci-fi book written by a literary author (whatever that means) who typically writes for The Millions. Emily St. John Mandel builds a whole book out of graphic novel meta references and quotes from Star Trek claiming things like SURVIVAL IS INSUFFICIENT as well as songs and skits from a rag tag traveling orchestra and theater company — all of this points to the value of science fiction and dreaming of the future in a post apocalyptic world mostly killed off by the flu. She ends the book with the first set of folks taking off in the first plane since the plague, dreaming of the first ships sailing in the dark since the crisis, and drawing a clean line between the sci-fi of today and the best parts of that science fiction vision which motivated The New World mythos, Columbus and all... Whether or not the metaphysics of the 17th century was true — or whether or not the Manifest Destiny it upheld is just or beautiful or good — is a question for another day, but no one can deny that the idea of Manifest Destiny showed up first in 17th century science fiction. After all, the metaphysicians and fictioneers of that time were only following in a literary tradition solidified by Dante — an author only willfully stupid readers would claim had no metaphysical impetus behind his description of that great reversal of gravity the protagonist of Inferno experiences while passing down the frozen demon’s belly button. ____ Lancelot Schaubert has sold hundreds of stories, articles, and poems to markets like TOR (Macmillan), The New Haven Review, McSweeney’s, The World Series Edition of Poker Pro, The Poet’s Market, Writer’s Digest, and many similar venues. To grab a free copy of chapter one of his best written work (slated for 2019) and his best song, click here. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  3. I occasionally offer my blog to fellow creative travelers and today it is my great pleasure to hand over this space to Lancelot Shaubert. I first met Lance through the Writer Unboxed community and attended several writing retreats with him in the past few years. He is a bright, driven, passionate artist in all senses of the word. A writer, a musician, a filmmaker, Lance is someone whose vision includes collaboration and connection. I am honored to know him. Honored to be named a mentor by him. Honored to be part of his anthology. Lance sent this to me when I was experiencing a low moment - feeling as if my creative work was at a dead end and not reaching or touching an audience. I didn't know until reading this how profoundly my story had moved Lance. He saw in it elements I did not consciously intend, but as all art is a construction between artist and audience, I am honored by what he sees in it. I leave you his thoughtful piece to consider. The Metaphysics of Sci-Fi Lancelot Shaubert Since the meaning of anything is first and foremost the meaning of everything, sci-fi stories can carry a heavy metaphysical burden by virtue of containing lots of things: big things, small things, multiple planets full of things and so forth. When it comes to awakening the metaphysical import of science fiction inside of me, no living author has done so both through their craft and friendship more than LJ Cohen. It seems every time we get together, she and I end up talking about meaning and philosophy and metaphysics. Time and again, both in those talks and through her work, she proves that sci-fi carries that burden better than any fiction genre other than fantasy. Take her most recent short “Perpetual Silence” from the Of Gods and Globes anthology I edited this summer. For starters, I cry every time I read her story. No exaggeration. I cry every time I read her story for the amount it says in so little, the weight it carries with such honesty and curiosity and melancholy: this is a story that gets the essence of nostalgia, of Sehnsucht. Spoiler alert for those of you that care about such things (though I tend to think spoilers enhance rather than detract from the reading experience), but her story features a young woman researcher creating an instantaneous comms link in the distant heavens through a satellite. It’s like internet for deep space, a phone call to the other end of the galaxy. Strictly speaking, this should be impossible, but they figure it out. Problem: this instantaneous communication works like a virus and erases all lag from all communication between satellites. It’s inconvenient to the scientist long-term and she terminates her team’s life’s work in an instant of code. Why? “She’d called the universe. The universe had called back.” She sought the ultimate consciousness behind infinite being and total reality and that consciousness responded. It scared her enough that she shuttered the program. Think about that: she discovered and verified prayer. The story’s a metaphysical and astronomical argument for prayer. And for why we don’t pray: we’re actually scared of an answer, scared of the grounds of all reality, of the necessary and sufficient cause of being having... well... a mind of its own. It’s not the only time an author asks such questions in a sci-fi story. Star Wars quite famously proffered a sort of gnostic dualism as the grounds of its magic system. Dune dealt with the nature of prophecy to affect not only space, but timelines, and what time means for one’s identity. Firefly asks classic existentialist questions over and again: particularly the "Out of Gas" episode where they ask why does a screwdriver exist? Why is there such a thing as a screwdriver when there should be nothing? When a screwdriver and none of the material or efficient causes of a screwdriver can possibly contain the cause of a screwdriver’s being, moment to moment? Heady questions from space cowboys... The Martian, of course, asked if raw conscious courage can trump mindless matter. The Foundation (poorly, I think) asks questions based on the Hegelian picture of history (bolstered poorly by the Wellsian picture of history and mythology), questions that Sanderson picks back up in Elantris and... in a way... stumbles through to something like a more holistic picture. The Man in the High Castle more than any asked if America would ever create true art, a true work of beauty (one that delights in making intimate the great distance between two things while preserving said distance) when we Americans obsess on the one hand with our hyper utilitarian purgation of art and on the other hand with profiting off of commodities and frauds? If art, in other words, makes a new culture by preserving our own special uniqueness via a singular intimate encounter with what’s us and no one else, then we ought not (1) worry about profits first, for art is not advertisement, nor (2) worry about how many copies of our work exist, for art is about preserving that beatific distance in an intimate encounter and not about the proliferation of our namesake, nor (3) the efficacious or tangible or systematic affect of our work on the immediate society, for art is about the seventh generation and not about us and therefore the virtue it forms in us is far more important and far-reaching than whatever system it could tweak or technology it could inspire. Though, strictly speaking, the Elon Musks of today are a few generations removed from the scifi of yesterdecade. And then there’s Station Eleven, a sci-fi book written by a literary author (whatever that means) who typically writes for The Millions. Emily St. John Mandel builds a whole book out of graphic novel meta references and quotes from Star Trek claiming things like SURVIVAL IS INSUFFICIENT as well as songs and skits from a rag tag traveling orchestra and theater company — all of this points to the value of science fiction and dreaming of the future in a post apocalyptic world mostly killed off by the flu. She ends the book with the first set of folks taking off in the first plane since the plague, dreaming of the first ships sailing in the dark since the crisis, and drawing a clean line between the sci-fi of today and the best parts of that science fiction vision which motivated The New World mythos, Columbus and all... Whether or not the metaphysics of the 17th century was true — or whether or not the Manifest Destiny it upheld is just or beautiful or good — is a question for another day, but no one can deny that the idea of Manifest Destiny showed up first in 17th century science fiction. After all, the metaphysicians and fictioneers of that time were only following in a literary tradition solidified by Dante — an author only willfully stupid readers would claim had no metaphysical impetus behind his description of that great reversal of gravity the protagonist of Inferno experiences while passing down the frozen demon’s belly button. ____ Lancelot Schaubert has sold hundreds of stories, articles, and poems to markets like TOR (Macmillan), The New Haven Review, McSweeney’s, The World Series Edition of Poker Pro, The Poet’s Market, Writer’s Digest, and many similar venues. To grab a free copy of chapter one of his best written work (slated for 2019) and his best song, click here. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  4. Earlier
  5. I'm taking a brief break from the long and twisting tale of my adoption search story to return to some hard numbers about my publishing journey. I do this periodically, mainly because I believe in transparency and it helps me maintain perspective. First caveat: I am almost entirely self-published. Second caveat: I do very little promotion or paid advertising. I have a small mailing list of under 1000 subscribers. I could probably earn more/sell more if I focused on this side of the business. Third caveat: I walked away from amazon page reads to keep my books widely available. This resulted in a definite drop in income that I'm starting to recover from. It was a long term choice to eschew the immediate money for long term sustainability. Fourth Caveat: I have learned I can write/publish a book a year and no more than that. Fifth caveat: YMMV This is an overview of my earnings from January of 2012 through yesterday, August 7, 2018. I've marked when each of my 8 novels were published. They are color coded for the series they belong to. A few things to notice: 2014 was an anomaly year. In June of 2014, I published DERELICT, the first novel in my space opera series, Halcyone Space. I did little that I hadn't done for my prior books, but this one (forgive the terrible pun) took off like a rocket. There were fewer books being published in 2014 and Amazon's algorithms (impenetrable to mere mortals, then and now) somehow picked up on a week or so of modest sales and decided to promote the book in its genre newsletters. Unfortunately, I had no way of capitalizing on this good fortune directly, as Amazon doesn't share its sales intel. While I had my social media links in the book and a link to my newsletter, I had no way to directly promote to all those readers. One year later, when ITHAKA RISING was published, (book 2 of the series) I had no way to let all the readers of book 1 know it was out. And Amazon didn't magically do it for me. You can clearly see the tiny bump in income for that release. However, sales of all books over the following months were slightly higher than in the prior year. In 2016, I had greater traction with the release of DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE, again mainly due to the power of Amazon: At that point, I had taken the newer books exclusive to Amazon in their Kindle Unlimited program and a big chunk of my income that year was through page reads. Book 5 (PARALLAX) debuted in 2017, when I had pulled out from KU to have all the books available wide. My income between mid 2017 to mid 2018 was given a lovely boost by a .99 Bookbub feature on DERELICT. This second graph is a yearly comparison of earnings between January of 2012, when I published my first novel, through yesterday, August 7, 2018. With 8 novels in the marketplace, and a completed series, and greater traction on non-Amazon marketplaces (especially Kobo), I'm on track to exceed my KU exclusive/boosted-by-page-reads 2016 income. If you omit the outlier of 2014, and factor in the switch from Amazon exclusive to wide, the trend is towards higher earnings year on year with more books available in the marketplace. (Note: the 2018 bar is only 7 months of the year and doesn't include the earnings from my latest bookbundle participation.) Take Home Messages Publishing is a long game More of your books in the marketplace translates to more potential points of contact and sales Amazon is still the biggest player in the market. Some writers choose to stay exclusive with them and can do extremely well on page reads and the specific promotional tools that gives them. Going wide entails risk and it can take a long time to gain audience share outside of Amazon Of my 8 novels to date, 4 have earned back their production expenses, the 5th is on track to do so. 3 have not and probably will not. This is the case even in traditional publishing: good sellers bankroll poorer sellers. This is not the business to be in if you need a steady income. AKA keep your day job or have a partner with one. Luck and timing play a larger role in financial success in publishing that any of us want to admit. You have no direct control over luck or timing. Hard work is necessary, but it's not enough. If you, like me, find creating as necessary as breathing, there is no hope but to keep working. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  6. For anyone just stumbling on this story, the earlier installments are here: Part 1: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-1.html Part 2: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-2.html Part 3: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-3.html Part 4: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-4.html After that intense, emotional, incredible first conversation with my new uncle, Paul and I continued to talk - via phone, email, and text. Over the next weeks, we got to know one another. I found out more about my sprawling family tree, including cousins and an aunt (Paul's half sister through my maternal grandfather) who is almost a decade younger than me! I had several phone and email conversations with her and she is lovely, kind, thoughtful, and welcoming. She put me in contact with Robin's late second husband Ed, who she had kept in contact with. I then had a long chain of email conversations with Ed, learning about Robin as an adult. They were very much in love and had a very happy life together. She's been gone now 8 years and I know he misses her keenly, still. He was even able to find and send scans of some old photos of Robin, from when she was in her 20s. My birthmother, Robin, late 1960s?Ed was thrilled to know something of Robin's survived her death. Even he hadn't known about me. He and I continue to be in contact. And here's where I have to pause to repeat that writing cliche: truth is stranger than fiction. My experience has confirmed that is very much so. I mentioned in an earlier episode of this tale that my uncle Paul and I had mutual friends. It goes deeper than that. We had been at the same science fiction & fantasy conventions, not once, but several times. Balticon in the Baltimore area and Arisia and Boskone in Boston. These are not huge conventions. It is more than possible that he and I were at the same sessions and never knew there was anything other than a fan connection between us. In fact, we were both invited guests at cons and might have bumped into one another in the 'green room'. Paul retired from his teaching and his work with SETI (yes, the listening in outer space for sign of alien life!) and performs as a filker - think a combination of Weird Al and Tom Lehrer with a science fiction twist. He is unbelievably smart (2 PhDs), a lifelong geek, and with a sense of humor that prizes cleverness over mockery. Reader, I adored him. Even before we met (spoilers! We got to meet!) I knew I would feel comfortable with him. We discovered that we were both invited guests at Boskone, to be held in Boston February of 2018 - just a few months away. I was thrilled that I'd have the chance to meet him and we made plans to have my family join me there as well. Then a few conversations later, he asked me if I would be attending Arisia - another Boston con, one that takes place in January. Because he was able to attend and was hoping to meet me even sooner. And yes, I was also on program there. And yes, I was eager to meet my uncle in person. And here we are. We sat near the con's registration area and talked for hours. He would often break off in the middle of a thought to stare at me and smile, remarking how much a particular expression of mine was so like Robin's. Was it weird? Yes. Was it remarkable and incredible? Yes. To be continued. . . Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  7. TheRealLindsey

    F-BOM Book Clubs IRL?

    That's an excellent question @drewbarrycarey, thank you for asking it! And thank you @Fiona J.R. Titchenell for your awesome offer This is actually something we have on our master to-do list for F-BOM in the future. I'm glad to hear that there is interest.
  8. TheRealLindsey

    New from California!

    Welcome to F-BOM @drewbarrycarey
  9. Fiona J.R. Titchenell

    F-BOM Book Clubs IRL?

    Hi, drewbarrycarey, I don't know about this as a regular thing (though it sounds like a great idea!), but if you're interested in discussing Out of the Pocket with your in-person book club, I'd be happy to suggest some discussion questions if you like. Let me know
  10. If you've been following along, this is part 4 of my adoption search story. While it reads very much like the end, truly, it marks the start of a new journey of discovery that is ongoing. Stay tuned! If not, start at the beginning: Part 1: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-1.html Part 2: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-2.html Part 3: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-3.html After I had my hard, ugly cry and caught my breath and washed my face, I was ready to call the phone number, ready to speak with my Uncle Paul. With shaking hands, I called.. I honestly can't really remember much of that conversation. My whole body was trembling. I'm sure my voice was strained. Part of me was still afraid he would hang up on me, or angrily insist on proof of my story. I half expected the same kind of hostility and rejection I had received from his mother, despite the email he'd sent. Instead he expressed wonder and astonishment. And he welcomed me. As I quietly cried, we traded our histories - sketches of a lifetime compressed into an hour-long phone call. I learned that he hadn't known of my existence. That his parents and sister had kept the secret all these years, and took it to their graves. Paul was a year older than his sister - my birth mother. He was away in college when she got pregnant. All he knew was that his sister deferred her college acceptance for a semester, saying she had some kind of job or internship in San Francisco. What she did, was have a baby and give her up for adoption. Then she started college in January of 1964. Paul gave me so much more than the answers to my lifelong questions. He also helped give me context for my maternal family. My sketchy handwritten notes As Paul describes it, my maternal family tree is less a tree than a vine. Part of that is because my maternal grandfather (Ben) was married and divorced multiple times and had children with several of his wives. Ben was born in Eastern Europe, walked across much of the continent, got passage on a British freighter to Liverpool where he learned English. A self-educated man, my maternal grandfather became a British citizen and traveled to Toronto. He then took a train to Chicago, because he knew they didn't check papers. He married my maternal grandmother Phyllis and enlisted in the army in WWII, and became a citizen afterwards. Ben was a poet and he worked as an advertiser. A man who came here as an illegal immigrant and self-educated, self-taught in English. I told Paul about my experience with his mother, all those years before. After a brief silence, he expressed regret that she had reacted in such a negative way. That she had been a fierce family matriarch and he was sorry I had been rejected. And he told me about Robin. She was the one who introduced him to science fiction. Yes, my birth mother was a science fiction fan. She also was a writer, a theatre costumer and set designer, and was outspoken for social justice. It hit me, then, and I think I started to laugh: Poetry, geek, and social action were, in part, genetic. My legacy. I remember telling Paul my greatest regret was that I never had the chance to tell Robin that I was okay. More than okay. That I had a wonderful upbringing and harbored no anger about the circumstance of my adoption. That I had two grown sons and a family and a life that I loved. Paul was silent for another long moment. There was a sadness in his voice when he said how much Robin would have liked to have been a grandmother. He also told me that she had been married and had had a child - a son. My half-brother. J (and I'll be using initials for some of the people in this story, first names for others, all to protect people's privacy) had estranged himself from the family decades before. Paul had no idea why. Only that when Robin was dying, J never responded to their emails and didn't attend her funeral. She was divorced from her first husband, but had found happiness in her last years with her second husband, Ed. Sadly, she died at 65, of cancer and I will never know her. The best I can do is learn about her from the stories of those who loved her. And that will have to be enough. To be continued . . . Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  11. Sailorbloom

    New from California!

    Welcome!!!
  12. drewbarrycarey

    F-BOM Book Clubs IRL?

    Does anyone take their F-BOM books and do an IRL book club? Is there a place where we can get pre-made questions?
  13. drewbarrycarey

    Bookstagram Anyone?

    I follow quite a few bookstagramers myself! But I don’t actually do anything with my own account. I’m a lurker. My favorite bookstagrammer is Kimmersbooks.
  14. drewbarrycarey

    New from California!

    Thanks @Lynn Vandermeer! What kind of internship are you doing? I would love to swap betas in the future :)
  15. I had to laugh when several people who I'm connected with on social media mock-chided me on ending the first 2 installments of this story on cliffhangers. Yes, I'm a novelist, so part of what I do as a storyteller is to ramp up the stakes to keep the reader interested. However, where I chose to stop each piece of the story mirrors my own experience during this journey. As I replied to them: #sorrynotsorry Here's part number 3. Pat 1: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-1.html Part 2: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-2.html For several days, I sat with the knowledge that I had a new uncle in the world, and that he'd had a close relationship with his sister - my birth mother. I studied her image in the photos my friend had linked me to, searching for the kind of resemblance she clearly saw. But mostly, I tried to read between the lines of my uncle's website to figure out what kind of person he was. Clearly, he was a geek. That was a huge point in his favor. And a scientist with an interest in astronomy and space. He'd been involved with SETI, which set my own geeky heart racing with excitement. So in the quiet of the house one day, I decided to send him an email, through his website. I clearly stated who I was, who my mother had been. The circumstances (as I understood them) of my birth and adoption. And then I waited. And waited. A few days went by and I was convinced that this, too, would be a dead end. And I realized I didn't want it to be. More than that: I needed to make contact. Maybe that sounds selfish. I'm willing to admit there is an element of selfishness in pursuing old secrets, regardless of how revealing them might affect other people. But there's also some degree of feeling I had a right to know my own history. And certainly, I had a duty to my children to find out about our genetic legacy. So when I didn't get a reply, I searched for my uncle on Facebook. I figured that someone with such a large internet footprint would likely have a Facebook profile. And he did. That was not really surprising. What was surprising was that we had several friends in common. People I had met and interacted with over the course of several years. One an editor of a small press out of Brooklyn. The other, one of my fellow members of Broad Universe. By this time, I had traveled with my husband to Denver, where he was attending a conference and where in a few days, I would be attending a science fiction convention. So from our hotel room, I reached out to my editor friend, and sent him a private message on Facebook. And when my friend replied with his email, I sent him this: Well, it's kind of complicated and a little wild, but. . . [redacted] is my maternal uncle. And I only discovered it a few days ago. You may or may not know I'm an adoptee. ([other mutual friend] and I talk a lot about how weirdly parallel our lives are). I had obtained my records - which were scanty - about 30 years ago and didn't do anything about it until my eldest was born 25 years ago. I contacted my birth grandparents and long story short, they weren't very pleasant and hung up on me. End of the line. End of story (I thought). Over the years since, I would occasionally search for my birth mother, but nothing showed up. Then I thought the records burned in our house fire in 2010. I was looking for something in our attic and found them in a box of random paperwork and decided to do one more search.The good news is I found her. The bad? She died in 2010. But I was able to find bits and pieces of other information, including that [redacted] was her older brother. If he's someone you know, and you feel comfortable pinging him on my behalf, I'd really appreciated it. I think you know I'm not an ax murderer or wacko stalker. And if geekiness is carried in the gene line, I know where mine comes from. :) I also reached out to a filker I know through Broad Universe who knows him as well. So that's what's up. Thoughts? My friend wrote back right away, that he indeed did know my uncle and would be happy to forward a message from me. I think it was only a matter of a few minutes when I received an email. The subject line read: Call your Uncle Paul The email began: We have lots to talk about. Alone, in a hotel room in Denver, Colorado, I had the biggest, loudest, ugliest cry I've ever had in my life. Huge gulping sobs. It felt like my heart was heaving so hard it was going to tear itself apart. I couldn't catch my breath. I couldn't sit still. I wasn't alone in the world. After losing both my folks in a five year span, I had felt as if I'd been orphaned. All my aunts and uncles had passed away and an entire generation was gone. Never mind that I was a married woman in my 50s with a family of her own. Never mind that I had a sister, cousins, neices, nephews, in-laws, I was suddenly among the oldest generation in my family or origin. And I felt that I had no one to call on to ask for advice, or look to for their experience. It was a very lonely place. But in that moment, I knew no matter what came next, I was not alone. That some part of me was still alive and welcomed me home. To be continued. . . Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  16. Yesterday, I started to tell the story of my search for my birth family. If you haven't yet seen part 1, it's here: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-1.html So, we're at the point last December when I realized I hadn't lost my adoption file in our 2010 house fire and that the paperwork had been in a box in the attic for the prior 7 years. My birth mother's information The file consisted of about a dozen pages of handwritten notes - information about my birth mother, her parents, birth father, his parents, 2 letters she wrote to the adoption lawyer, a CA birth certificate, and the court proceedings ratifying my adoption. The last time I had googled her name was early in the 2000's and didn't find anything helpful. This time, my search turned up a genealogy website with her name on a family tree. The limited information that was there matched - including her birthdate and my first shock was finding that she had died in 2010. My second was that she had been married and had had one child. Somewhere in the world, I had a half-sibling. I spent some time looking for her husband and finally found him and his email address. I sent him a message, but never got a reply. (7 months later, I still have not.) Another dead end. I told a friend what I had found and she decided to do some internet sleuthing. She found that Robin's brother had a large internet footprint and even found his online family holiday letters, including photographs of Robin in adulthood. And though his website, I had his email address. Everyone I showed the photos to told me how strong a resemblance they saw. Suddenly I had to make a choice. Do I try to contact this man? How would I be received? This was no small matter. Because this wasn't the first time I had held these papers in my hands, facing a similar decision. * In 1992, my first child was born. A son. With my blue eyes and black hair. My round face. It was like looking down at an infant version of my own face and it was an incredibly powerful moment: Here was the first time in my life where I was actually in the presence of someone I was related to. It shook me. It made me understand that my past wasn't just a matter of my own curiosity, but a deep need to connect my history with my future; especially for the sake of this new life I had helped create. And, as a mother, I had a surge of emotion and empathy for my birth mother. If I had to give up a child, I would want to know that child was okay. That I had made the right choice for that child's best future. I was determined to let Robin know I was okay. I was more than okay. And I felt she deserved to know she had a grandchild in the world. These were the notes the lawyer wrote ahead of his first meeting with my birth mother I've redacted the identifying information, but included in this document was her parents' address and phone number as of June of 1963. I gathered all my courage. By this time, my son was about 5 months old, and looking more like me by the day. I called the number. A woman answered. It was Robin's mother. When I told her who I was, she had her husband pick up the other line, and she began to interrogate me. I don't remember the exact conversation - it was almost 25 years ago, and I was in a highly emotional state - but the gist was she didn't trust me. She kept demanding to know what I wanted. When I tried to tell her I just wanted to make contact, to let Robin know I was okay, she strangely responded that she wasn't going to give me any money. I tried to tell her I didn't need money. I was a physical therapist. My husband was a physician. We had just bought a house. We were fine. After making no headway in trying to get any information about Robin (they told me she wasn't married and had no children, which I later was to discover was not true), I asked for a photograph of her. The woman who was my grandmother offered this: she would send a photograph if I swore never to contact anyone in the family ever again. I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. I stammered something about that being emotional blackmail. They hung up on me. I sat in front of our home computer shaken and weeping. It took some time for the hurt to fade, but in some ways, it made me even more grateful for the incredible family I had. * So fast forward to December of 2017. I have a name - my Uncle. I have his email address. And I have the painful memory of being rejected by his mother. More importantly, I have a decision to make. To be continued. . . email: Free eBook Free/DRM-free short fiction publication news View the full article
  17. Unsealing the Records When you were born blue eyes owl round, dark downed there was no one to ask if loss too was passed through placenta and blood. Sixteen now, when you meet my gaze, looking glass familiar, no relative wonders who you take after. Born on your grandmother's birthday, one more gift for a woman terrified of too much fortune. I was far younger than you when I learned some questions were weapons even in the right hands. How words could be strung on a necklace or garrote. I swear there is nothing you could say as sharp or shameful as silence. I am here. Ask me anything. LJ Cohen, 2010 How’s this for irony? In 2010, I was finally ready to locate and contact my birth parents after years of struggling with what was right and if my own need to know superseded both my adoptive family’s feelings and the chance of exposing old secrets in my birth family. I wrote this poem in the fall of that year. It helped me realize it was time to dig out the records I had received years earlier. I was going to do what it took: search on the internet, hire an adoption detective. But life got busy, as it always does, and I figured I’d have time during the kid’s winter school vacation. On December 1, 2010, we were woken up by the smoke detectors blaring. Our house was on fire. And we fled barefoot and in our pajamas. Dealing with the emotional impact of the fire, being displaced from our home for almost a year, and the overwhelming amount of administrative work that followed drove my adoption search to the bottom of my priority list. In hindsight, 2010 was a really awful year, and not just because of our housefire: It was also the year my birth mother died. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The following year - 2011 - when we moved back into our rebuilt house, I believed that the large envelop with my handwritten adoption paperwork had burned in the fire. With the lawyer who handled the adoption now long dead, his office closed, I knew there was no way to recreate the files. I only had what I remembered from them, which was incomplete. In the years that followed, I would occasionally search for my birth mother’s and birth father’s names on google, but wasn’t able to find anyone either on the internet or on social media who matched what I knew of them. I had registered my information on several adoption matching sites, but with incomplete information, I wasn’t very hopeful. And it was during those years that my parents were becoming ill and their safety and medical needs occupied so much of my time and focus. There were other family crises during those years, too, and my own “curiosity” (such an incomplete word to describe my deep, primal need to know about my past and my history) took a back seat to everything else. Parents. Adoptive parents. Birth parents. We just don’t have enough precise language to describe all these relationships. Me, Mom, and Dad, Florida Vacation, 1969 When I say parents, I mean the mom and dad who adopted me and raised me. Hanford and Bea Cohen, both now of blessed memory. They embraced me into my new family when I was just 5 days old, never hiding the fact that they had adopted – chosen – wanted me. And there was no one in the extended family on either side who didn’t embrace me as family. I grew up surrounded by love, encouragement, emotional security. And yet. . . And yet, there were always unspoken questions. Questions I knew would make my mother sad if I asked them. Which didn’t make the questions go away, it only buried them deep in my psyche. Why was I given up? To a young child, the unspoken, terrifying answer to that question had to be that something was wrong with me, or that I had done something wrong to not have been wanted. It didn’t matter that my rational brain knew that wasn’t the case. As I’ve said many times: humans are not primarily rational creatures. We are emotional creatures who justify our feelings with a coating of rationality. So my need to search wasn’t really a need to find a new family, but a need to find myself and release a hurt I didn’t really know I was holding. And it was completely serendipitous that one day, in December of 2017, I found myself in our attic looking for the old clock radio I knew my husband had put up there because he doesn’t throw things away. Next to the radio, were several banker’s boxes of papers we had rescued from the house and tossed in the attic when we returned after the fire, six years earlier. Boxes I had never looked through. Until I did that day. And inside one of the last boxes was my adoption file. To be continued. . . email: Free eBook Free/DRM-free short fiction publication news View the full article
  18. TheRealLindsey

    Spring 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Winners

    Here are the winning stories from F-BOM’s Spring 2018 flash fiction contest, Someone Is Watching, judged by C.A. Hartman. Did you miss the contest this quarter? Our next topic will be revealed in August, during our interview with Fiona J.R. Titchenell. Follow us on Facebook for updates. Click here for submission guidelines. First place: Societal Ants by Agajem Jemima Japhet… Read More The post Spring 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Winners appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  19. Here’s our spoiler-free review of Out of the Pocket by Fiona J.R. Titchenell. Get your copy by becoming a member today and then join us in the F-BOM forums. We look forward to hearing your thoughts! Angela Ironwright is a sixteen-year-old girl that I am very familiar with. Insecure? Check. Self-conscious… Read More The post Out of the Pocket: F-BOM Book of the Month Review appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  20. It’s our birthday! Well, kind of. We began in November 2016 when Lindsey registered F-BOM as a business with the state of Minnesota. And before that, we were a media review blog Her Story Arc. And before that, we were Lindsey’s personal blog. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But one year… Read More The post Happy Birthday, F-BOM! Here’s Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  21. Lynn Vandermeer

    New from California!

    Welcome to F-BOM and hello from Minnesota! I've shelved my WIP because I'm in a pretty intense internship right now, but in the future I would be interested in swapping beta reads. ~Lynn
  22. I had worked up the courage to finally talk to one of my favorite authors at the convention this past weekend. It was right before a panel was about to begin and I wasn’t sure there was enough time. Scanning the other seated attendees frantically, I was worried she might not be in the room. Perhaps she left the convention early? Then I heard her voice directly behind me. I turned around and there was Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Shades of Milk and Honey and one of the voices on the Writing Excuses podcast. She said “You listen to my podcast, don’t you?” When I asked how she knew, she said because I had turned around when she started to talk and had recognized her voice. While she signed my notebook (because her books are on my kindle) with her own fountain pen, she told me a story about meeting one of her own favorite authors, asked about my writing, and talked about the crochet project in her lap. She is as lovely a person as you could ever hope to meet. In my notebook she wrote “Be kind to yourself”. Another author I adore, Caroline Stevermer who co-wrote Sorcery and Cecelia (using the letter game!), wrote me a note saying it was lovely to meet me. The panels were a gold mine for sure, but that was only half of what made 4th Street amazing. They’re just a bunch of lovely human beings who somehow manage to have a tight knit community that is still welcoming to newcomers. 4th Street Fantasy convention, to me, was like drinking from a fire hose while having an IV drip sustenance into my veins at the same time. There was so much to take in. I couldn’t take notes fast enough. But there was also something incredibly energizing about being immersed in the atmosphere of 200 or so other writers and readers. This was not CONvergence, which is my only other con experience, where thousands of people create a lot of noise and there is occasionally a panel on how to write. This was a little known gem filled with authors and editors who are dedicated to their craft. There was so much knowledge and experience in the room, that often the audience would take over the panel, offering comments and suggestions as well as asking questions. I’ll never forget when I saw one man interrupt the first panel I attended and the entire panel stopped to listen to him, and he had a lot of good things to say. I found out later he is a Senior Editor at Tor books. I’ll probably occasionally rehash some of the panels here on the blog as I have time to decipher and type up my notes. No promises on accuracy, cohesion, or doing it in a timely manner. I have a lot to think about now and I’m excited to get back to writing. And reading, of course. I came away with no less than 231 book recommendations that aren’t your ordinary recommendations where you put them on your list because you have a nebulous feeling that you ‘ought’ to read them. These recommendations each came with a reason, as they were mentioned in the panels as examples of authors who wrote a particular thing well. I know which books to turn to if I want to encounter well-written examples of moving the plot forward without the use of war or violence, realistic depictions of war and violence and the fallout from that, what books have good soft magic systems or hard magic systems, authors who have done well at restrictive writing and cutting things out. Even video games, plays, and podcast recommendations. There was talk about how to end a series, or kill off characters, the emerging genre tags Grimdark vs. Hopepunk and how they’re not mutually exclusive, and how cities are built in layers over time and how we communicate with people across time by what we leave behind. There was even a lovely older gentleman whose hobby is finding toys and fixing them, who gave my ten month old daughter a Happy Apple that he had repaired. I also came away with a pair of dinosaur bone earrings made by Elise. Elise even had a piece of meteorite in a bottle sealed by wax from one of Neil Gaiman’s beehives, so it was pretty much straight out of the Stardust novel. I cannot say enough good things about my experience and I hope that if you have any desire to further your craft of writing, or to discuss your favorite fantasy novels with high-minded thinkers, that you’ll take a good look at attending next year. (Especially if you want to meet Mary Robinette Kowal or Caroline Stevermer.) Of course, since I’m all about reading, I’ll be posting the book recommendations soon, and hopefully with the reasons they were recommended. Stay tuned! View article on original site
  23. drewbarrycarey

    New from California!

    I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm a writer in California living the dream as an administrative assistant at a small marketing firm. In my non-work time (i.e. my REAL life) I work on writing and am aspiring to be the next Martin, Tolkien, or Rowling! I'd love to connect with other writers, especially for swapping beta reads
  24. Sailorbloom

    Avengers excitement anyone?

    I still haven't seen it!!!! Gah, I've heard people die, so great, I have THAT To look forward too...
  25. Sailorbloom

    Trusting the future self

    This reminds me so much of a story that John Cleese tells about his time in college. He did sketches with a group at the college, and one day he lost the script. He had to rewrite it fairly quickly in order to have it in time for a performance. To his surprise, the second script ended up being much better than the first. Between the two writings, his brain had been working behind the scenes basically refining what was good and ditching the unimportant. I have thought about this too with my own writing. I have a TON of notes and drafts of a story that I thought up when I was 13. I know in my heart I have to start fresh at this point, but it's REALLY hard to do!
  26. Sailorbloom

    What are we afraid of?

    Gosh that's so tough. It's equally hard when you read studies about how people double down on their misinformed beliefs in the face of facts. It's hard to know what will work to persuade someone! If they haven't formed an opinion yet that's one thing, but when they are in the polar opposite came it seems like there is little that can be done except to humanize what they have dehumanized. Hopefully that would restore their humanity. It's really difficult to do that though, especially when the problem is so far away from us geographically!
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