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It’s 4:30am, Day Two of the Great Jet Lag Escapade, and I’ve just returned from a whirlwind tour of Italy, in which I consumed every edible, drinkable, and cultural experience I could lay my hands on.

The trip was fantastic, offering a glimpse of what the Grand Tour of yore must have been like (you know, if you had a chaperone, gobs of time on your hands, a well-developed sense of superiority, and infinite money). Still, to wander the loggia of Florence, admiring the sinuous bodies of marble sculptures, to climb the towering domes of ostentatiously beautiful cathedrals, and to stroll the shores of rivers like the Tiber and the Arno, turgid with history, was all pretty spectacular.

And the food. And the wine. I partook of it all and I have no regrets (well, maybe a few…eating all that gluten wasn’t exactly without consequences…).

Now I’ve returned to Brooklyn and am eager to get back to work. The last few edits to the novel, and some more work on the query letter, await. I have some ideas for new short stories and plenty of brainstorming work to do for the next novel project. I’m also taking a couple of Coursera classes on astronomy, which are turning out to be very interesting.

A few small items to mention: I have a recipe published in the latest issue of Flash Fiction Online, titled Norwegian Waffles (for weekends, before or after the apocalypse), as an accompaniment to a delightfully creepy story by the wonderful Sunil Patel. Also, upcoming in August, my story The New Arrival will be podcast on Pseudopod – details to follow!

Before I leave you, I thought I’d share a few photos from my journey through Florence, Tuscany, Rome, and Pompeii. Enjoy!

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I’m excited to announce the publication of my latest short story, The Firefly Girl, which appears in Penumbra’s themed issue A Night at the Villa Diodati (Volume 3, Issue 6).

The Firefly Girl is set in Venice and tells the story of two lost souls. It was inspired by a dream I had of an immortal woman trapped in a tower filled with fireflies. It’s a little bit spooky and a little bit romantic. If you’re interested in reading it, you can download the whole issue (packed with good stories!) for $3.99.

Enjoy!

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Welcome to this writer’s workspace. Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk.

What I’m working on: whew – what aren’t I working on these days? There’s still grading (there ALWAYS seems to be grading), but now that classes are over I have a lot more time. I’ve finished editing the (hopefully last) major revision of ABSENT and sent it along to readers. So, now I’m polishing a few short stories and getting my two other novel projects rolling again. The first of these is, of course, PROJECT AWESOME. I workshopped this at Paradise Lost III last month and got some good feedback from the pro instructors that’s put a fire in my belly to see the project to completion sooner rather than later. I’m also gearing up a new novel project, currently untitled, that I’ll be doing a plot break for at an upcoming writer’s retreat in Colorado. It’s sort of a near-future Earth, post-apocalyptic, Firefly meets Tomb Raider sort of thing. It’s early days on this, so we shall see.

For now, here’s the opening lines from a short I’m working on (about a body-snatching rock star and the necromancer hunting her):

Snippet from the screen: “There’s an electric L.A. sunset smearing the sky like a toxic leak. I watch it through the double-tint of Aviators and smoked glass as my limo slides down the boulevard. On the corner, I spot the Four Horsemen smoking weed and drinking Jim Beam. No one else can see them, not yet. Not quite.”

On the iTunes: I’ve been enamored with the soundtrack to Liberal Arts lately, but you can’t listen to classical music all the time. So, right now, I’ve got Florence and the Machine’s Shake it Out on.

In my mug: my current favorite tea is Harney and Sons Royal English Breakfast. It comes in a big red tin. Get some. It is awesomesauce to the tenth power.

Out the window: the ongoing saga of the Refusal of Spring continues. I can’t speak on this subject, as it is too heartbreaking.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone: I’ve got a couple things to share this morning. Probably you’ve seen some of them, as they are currently making the rounds on FB and such. But they’re too good to pass up.

First, there’s this YouTube video of the “Sad Cat Diaries” – I haven’t laughed this hard in some time. Also, you might enjoy reading this piece on the representation of women in popular culture called “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the “Women, Cattle, and Slaves” Narrative”. It’s funny and true and worth a read.

Then, after you’ve laughed and thought some deep thoughts about the state of the world, pop down to the comments and let me know what’s happening liiiiiiiiive at your desk.

Then go write.

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Another week, another writing prompt.

Take a stab at this:

  • Plot: a rescue romance
  • Character: a golem
  • Setting: a scavenger world
  • Wild card: burnt cookies

Heh!  I’d love to see what you guys come up with for this one !  Have it it 🙂

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I don’t know about you, but I haven’t written anything new in weeks.  Granted, it has been a very crazy couple of weeks around here, but still.  Bad on me!  So, time for a new writing prompt.  I’m going to do this one, and I hope you will too.

You know the drill.  Use the prompt.  Write it in one day.  Don’t agonize.

  • Plot: Rebirth
  • Setting A carnival
  • Character: a suicide bomber’s ghost
  • Wild card element: a lucky sock

Oh, boy.  *cracks knuckles*

Get to work!

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If you’re like me, the midweek slump has just kicked in.  You’re regretting all the things you didn’t accomplish in the first part of the week or eying up what’s coming with a weary glance.  Or you’re just feeling uninspired and sure this week is twice as long as the one that came before.  So, as a little kick in the pants, here’s an assignment to help you break the slump and re-energize.

1 short story. 1 day. Plus a prompt to get you going.

The Prompt (drawn at random from my own story elements generator):

  • Plot element:  a wrong turn
  • Character:  a children’s party magician
  • Setting:  a hot air balloon
  • Wildcard:  a photographic memory

The assignment:  using as many of these elements as possible (all is best!), in whatever way you like, sit down and write a short story.  Write it today, start to finish.  Don’t obsess over it, or revise, or stress about it.  Just write it.

It’ll be awesome.  Or not.  But either way you’ll have written something new that you didn’t plan on.  And that’s always a good thing.

Oh, and let me know how it turns out!

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Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  This week I intended to take time off from my novel projects and write a short story every day.  What’s actually ended up happening is far cooler.  I’ve written a story a day (3 down, 2 to go) AND I’ve continued work on my novel projects in the afternoon.  It’s been crazy productive (though, just writing that phrase has probably jinxed it).  Anyway, here’s a little excerpt from the short story I’m working on this morning:

…A snippet from the screen:  “I met Lenora in the desert, on my way from nowhere to nowhere.  She lived among the sage bushes, in a ruined settler’s cabin, under a sea of stars.  People in town said she was mad, an oddity.  They eyeballed me when they said it, glancing at my graffiti-covered van as if I were an oddity too.  I was curious, so I went to see her.  I found out they were wrong.  Lenora wasn’t mad, she was dead.”

On the iTunes:  All Along the Watchtower, cover by The Bandits

In my mug: Yorkshire Gold, baby.  Seering the sleep out of your brain since 1886.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/?ui=2&ik=9e4adc5084&view=att&th=1389f97ad421ae0c&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=d45bc3808a033b9e_0.1&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8VIlAPcHFKXrogtX_FxaC5&sadet=1342708032275&sads=7DpjZcwh9iMYH1N8l8j5u-b3CI0&sadssc=1

Keeping me company: No one! Ramses has abandoned me (and his beloved Tower of Terror) to snooze in the laundry basket atop (you guessed it) a pile of clean laundry.  Thanks, buddy!  I’m happy to redo that wash.  Really.

Out the window: Apocalypse. Flood. Hellfire. It’s like a 100 degrees, 120 percent humidity, and stormy.  If I weren’t heading to Kansas this weekend I’d think Brooklyn’s sporting the worst summer on record.  But, I suspect a week in the Burning Plains will change my view on this.

A little procrastination never hurt anyone: …especially on a Thursday.  Here’s a really cool image from Jay Lake’s Moment of Zen series.  Reminds me of an Andrew Wyeth painting.   For anyone who hasn’t read about the GR Bullies stuff, here’s a good post on it from Rachel Aaron’s blog.  This one I found via some links from my friend Ferret, and it struck me as so helpful I thought I’d better share it with you all as well:  a post from Inkpunks about outlining.  Be sure to follow the embedded links to Alexandra Sokoloff’s story elements checklist.

And with that…go forth and be productive!

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