deborahjross: (Shield #1)
The Seven-Petaled Shield was inspired by four short stories that Marion Zimmer Bradley bought for Sword & Sorceress. Now they're together in one collection (with a gorgeous cover by Dave Smeds!) Here's the skinny:

Across the Azkhantian steppe, warrior women ride to battle against foes both human and supernatural. From the world of The Seven-Petaled Shield come four fantasy tales, originally published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress.

Prophecy links a mother and daughter in an unbreakable bond.

A young woman defies tradition to become a shaman.

When twins are magically divided, the survivor searches for the other half of her soul.

A warrior woman discovers that to wield a magical blade dishonorably carries a heavy price.

This collection includes a previously-unpublished Introduction and a sneak peek at The Seven-Petaled Shield.

Only $1.99 in DRM-free multi-format from Book View Cafe
deborahjross: (Default)
New from Book View Cafe:

Eleven original stories by recipients of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship (2007 through 2012), plus a reprint of "Speech Sounds" by the scholarship's namesake, Octavia E. Butler. This anthology also includes a brief memoir of Butler by her Clarion classmate Vonda N. McIntyre and an introduction by Nalo Hopkinson. Edited by Nisi Shawl and published by the Carl Brandon Society, the administrator of the Butler Scholarship Fund.

Nisi Shawl is reviews editor for The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a member of the Clarion West board of directors, and a founding member of the Carl Brandon Society, which administers the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund. Her collection Filter House won the 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.
deborahjross: (Default)
"A Hunter of the Celadon Plains" to Sword & Sorceress 27, ed. Elisabeth Waters.

Happy Author Dance! And it's spring! What more can I ask for?
deborahjross: (croning)
I grew up with a love-hate relationship with short fiction. Having to read short stories in school almost ruined them for me. Actually, the reading was fine; it was the having to answer the brain-dead, pointless, intellectually insulting questions about those stories that made me want to throw the books across the classroom. I had no idea what criteria the textbook authors were using, but if this was what short fiction was about, I could not understand why anyone would voluntarily read it.

And yet, as soon as I got a library card, I checked out volume after volume of Groff Conklin's anthologies. I read the few digest magazines in my possession so many times, I wore them out. I could almost recite some of those stories word for word. I decided that the field of short fiction was divided into two parts: the dry, tedious stuff that no one in her right mind would have anything to do with; and the cool stuff - the stories that grabbed me right away and swept me into worlds filled with surprises, nifty ideas, and no-holds-barred excitement. I could indulge myself for an entire afternoon, or sneak in one of my favorites and still have time to finish my homework. Although the prose was not of the elevated literary sort (a good thing, in my opinion) and the characters might be cardboard supporting actors for the above-mentioned Incredibly Nifty Ideas And Situations (I didn't care), these stories got the most important things right. They didn't muck around with showing off the author's vocabulary; the "point" wasn't dreary and obscure. They were complete stories, single-minded of purpose, with well-defined beginnings, middles, and ends, and the characters had actual goals and perils. These were stories I wanted to read, and hence they were what I attempted to write.

Two academic degrees and a kid later, I embarked upon a serious writing career. The conventional wisdom of that time, still held by many, was that you began by writing short fiction and then "graduated" to novels. This was supposed to teach you the fundamentals of writing. Short fiction, you understand, contains all the necessary elements, only in condensed form, like literary Campbell's Soup. Why anyone thinks it's easier to make every sentence accomplish three things when in a novel-length work it has to do only one, I don't know. In this case, short does not equal simplified. In addition, at that time there were quite a few markets for short fiction, and new ones popping up all the time (and disappearing, so it behooved the beginning writer to keep track of current listings, an art in itself).
It turned out, however, that short stories were no more difficult for me than those of any other length. It was easier to send off a short story for critique than an entire novel, not to mention the savings in copying and postage. Having to create a new world for each story gave me lots of practice. The clincher came when Marion Zimmer Bradley, with whom I'd been corresponding, told me she was going to edit an anthology of women's sword and sorcery and would I like to send her a story, no promises. My fate as a short fiction writer was sealed.

Print markets for short fiction have come and gone, editors have come and gone, and yet people persist in reading the darned things. Clearly, I'm not alone in loving good short fiction. But one of the enduring challenges has been the ephemeral nature of most magazine publications. The issue comes out one month and all is rapture and celebration. A few short weeks later, that issue has been replaced by the next, and the availability of back issues shrivels rapidly. Unless a story is reprinted in an anthology, it may be impossible to find (or to find at a price one can afford for a collector's copy) a decade or two hence. Those anthologies I loved contained reprints, "The Best Of...", but these have largely given way largely to originals. (Not that I'm complaining. I've had the pleasure of editing a number of original anthologies.)

I think that electronic publishing may be the best thing to happen to short fiction in a long while. Most of your favorite authors have backlists of those ephemeral stories. (I say most because some writers are natural novelists, and they are no less wonderful, they just don't have long bibliographies of shorter work.) Epublishing is a great way to make these available again. Shorts are usually priced so a reader can pick up one or four to explore an author's work without having to invest a great deal of money.
And shorts still offer the advantage that you can read a whole story in one sitting. In the airport or doctor's office, on your lunch break, at bedtime. Just load up a couple of dozen on your ereader and you're set. Sometimes you want the length and complexity of a novel, to spend hundreds of pages exploring a world and hanging out with characters who have become your friends. But other times, you want to jump into a story and jump out again with the full satisfaction and sense of completeness that a short story can bring.

At Book View Café, I'm embarking on an experiment in short fiction publication. Today, I offer you not one but four for your delectation. Three are fantasy, and one is science fiction. I had a wonderful time writing each of them, and I hope you'll enjoy reading them, too.

"Take two, they're small." And only $0.99 each.

mirrored from my blog.
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
One of the challenges of writing short fiction is how much must be accomplished in how few words. Harry Turtledove once said that novels teach us what to put in a story, but short stories teach us what to take out. Every story element must serve multiple purposes - setting the scene and evoking the larger world beyond it, creating and heightening tension, revealing character -- oh, and moving the plot along. It's a tall order to accomplish in only a few thousand words. Some writers do the world-building part so well in even so short a space that it keeps beckoning them to return. That happened to me with a series of short stories I wrote for Sword and Sorceress (that eventually became a fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield). It also happened to Madeleine E. Robins with her world of "Meviel."

The first I saw of this wonderful place was the story Madeleine wrote for the first anthology I edited, Lace and Blade from Norilana Books. It was called "Virtue and the Archangel" and began thus:

Veillaune meCorse left her virtue in the tumbled sheets of a chamber at the Bronze Manticore. This act, which would have licensed her parents to cut her off from family and fortune, was a grave error; but with her maidenhead, Veilliaune also left the Archangel behind, and that was a calamity.

I guess the world of Meviel was just too enticing for one such tale to suffice, and when I was reading for the next volume, Madeleine queried me whether a second story in the same setting would be of interest. Bring it on, I said, and received the hilarious "Writ of Exception." I'm not going to divulge any of its secrets; you'll have to read it for yourself.

Time passed, as it does, but the years did not dim Meviel's luster, because when I inquired of Madeleine if she would like to do a story for the anthology that would become The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring, she wrote:

I'm working on a Meviel story... No alternate sexuality per se (after the last two stories I sort of wanted to change things up a bit) and no romance particularly: just a girl who reads too much and gets kidnapped by pirates and...

I ask you, what editor could resist that premise? Who knew there were pirates in same world as Veillaune meCorse and the Archangel? True to form, the pirates in "Wreath of Luck" are and are not your usual sort. There's a lovely twist of -- is it magic or superstition or a plucky young heroine creating her own good fortune?

If you love Madeleine's work as much as I do, you'll want to check out her wonderful Regency novels on Book View Café (and the latest "Sarah Tolerance" adventure, The Sleeping Partner, in paper, too). Madeleine's also got a story in Beyond Grimm: Tales Newly Twisted.
deborahjross: (sabertooth)
First of all, a Happy Editor dance... [dance, dance, dance]

This is the first anthology I've edited (actually, co-edited with Phyllis Irene Radford) for Book View Cafe. It began, lo these many many months ago, with an in-house discussion along the lines of "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to..." Book View Cafe has already published several anthologies (Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls, Dragon Lords and Warrior Women -- which has a story of mine! -- The Shadow Conspiracy I and II), so there was some precedent. We knew to ask things like, Will this be reprint, original stories, or both? Will it be a benefit for BVC or will the authors receive shares of the proceeds? How will we define the theme? At a certain point, we'd reached a sufficient level of enthusiasm and clarity so that someone had to put on an organizational (aka editor's) hat.

Thinking this would be marvelous fun, I volunteered, and the way it worked out, Phyl co-edited it with me. I supplied time and my own editorial experience, and she had the expertise of working with the BVC anthology publication procedures. Because there were two of us, we could submit our own stories to one another, thereby avoiding the editing-your-own-work scenario.

One of the things I love about editing anthologies is watching the process, the landscape of that adventure, unfold, discovering moments of truth and hilarity and heart-wrenching sadness and sheer beauty and poetry in prose. Beyond Grimm was no exception. Although we started with "let's retell classic fairy tales," our imaginations took us in other directions as well - the sun-drenched islands of Greek mythology, legends from the frozen north, Arthurian tales, nursery rhymes, even my own riff on the plots of classical ballets. Fairy-tale lands, contemporary urban settings, magical and not-so-magical steeds, spells and epistles of the people's revolution, mysterious locked chambers and shape-shifters...moonlight and storms.

Here's the blurb:

Not your grandmother's fairy tales...
From the far-ranging imaginations of Book View Café authors comes this delirious collection of classic tales newly twisted into dark, dangerous, and occasionally hilarious re-tellings. From the golden isles of Greece to the frozen north, from fairytale castles to urban slums, join us on an unforgettable journey!

And....drum roll....

The Table of Contents...

Through Forests Dark and Grimm...
Hair Raising, by Pati Nagle
No Newt Taxes, by Patricia Rice
Rum Pelt Stilt’s Skin, by Alma Alexander
Of Rats and Cats and Teenagers, by Irene Radford
Tinderbox, by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Any Brave Boy, by Laura Anne Gilman

Across Golden Seas...
Elfleda, by Vonda N. McIntyre
Harpies Discover Sex, by Deborah J. Ross
To Serve A Prince, by Brenda Clough
The Rapture of Ancient Danger, by Sherwood Smith

In Another Part of the Forest...
Mending Souls, by Judith Tarr
Sister Anne, by Sylvia Kelso
Princess Dancer, by Sue Lange
Nimuë's Tale, by Madeleine E. Robins
Ricky Cowlicky, by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Little Red in the Hood, by Irene Radford

Around A Campfire...
Hero/Monster, by Amy Sterling Casil
To Ride Beyond the Wide World's End, by Judith Tarr
Turnabout, by Deborah J. Ross

Secrets Unveiled... [this last part is author bios, every bit as delightful and fanciful as the stories they contributed!]
Here's where to buy it, for only $4.99.

The cover photo was taken by my husband, Dave Trowbridge, and is the maze in our back yard.

Mirrored from my blog.
deborahjross: (Default)
Kris Rusch offers perspective and encouraging insight into why short stories have been and continue to be important.

The Business Rusch: Short Stories | Kristine Kathryn Rusch
deborahjross: (Default)
Spent far too much time determining that the mail-order prescription for our senior cat (perched on my shoulder in the icon) has been delivered but heck if I can figure out where I put it. A helpful person at Pet Meds is sending out one of the refills. The original will almost certainly turn up when the refill arrives.

Drove into Santa Cruz to leave off the June newsletters at the Quaker Meetinghouse, since I will be walking with the meeting's contingent in the Pride Parade on Sunday. Went by health food store and regular market. We are now supplied with milk, cottage cheese, eggs, frozen calcium-enriched orange juice, 5 lbs of organic carrots, canola oil, some interesting-looking local goat cheese, and a few other necessities.

Did innernet stuff to calm down. Put up this month's free short story on my blog.

Proofed "A Borrowed Heart" for F & SF and am feeling immensely pleased with it. Wrote a page or two on The Children of Kings.

It's such a cold, gray, drippy day that I'm amazed I got anything accomplished.
deborahjross: (croning)
Just sold a short story, "A Borrowed Heart," to F & SF. This is wonderful for a bunch of reasons. I don't write a lot of short fiction, so I try to make every one the best I can. This was one of those "hit the ground running" stories where the voice was so clear, it practically wrote itself. I had such fun writing about a succubus and a courtesan. And a few other characters less readily classifiable.

Private gloating: This was the first market I sent the story to. I've now sold stories to every editor of F & SF since Ed Ferman.


Apr. 5th, 2011 08:28 am
deborahjross: (Default)
I don't write a lot of short fiction these days, but when I do, I remember how much fun they are. I've had a story in the almost-ready stage for awhile now, and have been wrestling with a few details, mostly names of places that feel right for the culture and aren't alphabet-soup made-up words.

One name came to me in the shower last night. Normally I take really short showers and don't stand there cogitating. This was lightning-strike time. Once I had that name, everything else fell into place. Now all I have to do is nestle the names into their proper places, one more go-through and it should be done!

I'm immensely pleased.
deborahjross: (sabertooth)
Here Jonathan Moeller talks with Deborah about her story, "The Casket of Brass" in Sword & Sorceress 24 -- and also a few other writerly things.


deborahjross: (Default)
Deborah J. Ross

May 2017

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