Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

April 24, 2017

Spring Cleaning!

I love change. You know that thing where you get frustrated with your life, so you cut all your hair off and dye it blue? That’s me, only with everything. Starting a new novel, painting a room, quitting a job or adopting a cat: it doesn’t matter how big or small a change is. The prospect of something new and different is my personal catnip, irresistible.

My desire to shake things up has often been at odds with my sense of responsibility, and one of the greatest lessons I have had to learn as an adult is the value of stability. Before I had kids, I often pictured myself as the sort of mother who would raise her children in a camper-trailer, traveling from place to place and training my children to be circus-performing ninja pickpockets. I cultivated an array of diverse skills from juggling and fiddling to sourdough baking and knitting, thinking I would live by my wits one day at a time, doing something different every day to suit the needs of the moment. I hated the idea of stagnation, of repetition.

I have had to learn differently. Change is exciting, but it is precarious. The greater, more lasting victories in life require harder work, slogging, dreaded repetition. You can’t give up on a thing when it becomes hard or boring. Building a legacy, even if it is just a family, requires roots. I learned to sit still and work.

This isn’t always good either. Sometimes, especially if staying put doesn’t come naturally to you, you can fail to see the point at which it is normal, and not compulsive, to give up on a thing. Change isn’t always just for thrillseekers. Sometimes it is the necessary next step.

This winter, I broke with my partner of 14 years, the father of my children. Subsequently, I realized I was not going to be able to make ends meet, going forward, by staying in the same bookstore I have worked in for 15 years. Big changes are coming.

The Short Game

I have been writing short stories for four years now. This spring, I sold the last of my unsold short stories – yep, I emptied the trunk. I am beyond thrilled with my success as a short story writer, but in light of my new work and financial situation, I know I will have less time and energy to dedicate to it.

No, I am not giving up writing. Au contraire, I have my sights on bigger projects than ever. Next month, I will be launching Archipelago, a shared-world, interactive serial swashbuckling novel. May 1st, we will launch both a Kickstarter campaign and a Patreon page through which you will be able to sample and support this endeavor.

It is so good, you guys. I say this is an utterly non-self-promotional voice… we’ve written something fantastic here, and I am so excited to share it with you. Watch this space for more.

My short work will continue to appear over the next year or so. Last month, I spoiled the TOC of Sum of Us from Laksa Media, including my story, “Orang Tua Adventure Home Academy.” I now have this book in my hot little hands and it looks GREAT. That should be coming in September.

In June, “A Fine Balance” will turn up once again in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 ed. Rich Horton. Watch for a selfie of that one too, possibly of me drooling on it, because YEAR’S BEST, GUYS!

I am pleased to tell you about two new sales as well!

My breakup revenge fantasy ecopunk scifi story, “She Falls,” will appear in Upper Rubber Boot’s forthcoming anthology Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good. URB will be facilitating pre-orders via a Kickstarter in May, so release details will come then.

Then, one of my personal favourite stories, “Gog and Magog,” will appear in Kaleidotrope in 2018. “Gog and Magog” takes place in 12th century Georgia under the reign of Queen Tamar, told from the POV of an illiterate prostitute in the style of a medieval (Byzantine?) chronicle. And it is hilarious.

I will also suggest that there might be a sequel to “La Heron” on the horizon. *mysterious whistling*

But then what?

With Archipelago consuming most of my writing time and resume-writing taking up the rest, I am going to leave off short fiction for a while.

But then what?

Well, I don’t know. I have the world ahead of me. I am looking for a new job (writers, publishing people, leads appreciated) and wondering if I can – or should – keep my house. I’m meeting new people and trying new things. I’m thinking about school again. I’m letting myself get excited about potential.

It’s spring, and change is here. It’s hard not to love it.

April 3, 2017

Aurora Nominations are Open!

Happy April, everyone. Apparently it is spring in the warmer places of the world. In Canada, spring doesn’t reliably arrive until May and we don’t have fresh produce until mid-June, so I could say something pithy about rebirth and growth and sunshine here except I’m not really feeling it. April is the month where you die of starvation lying in a sunny, plush, green field because winter took too long finding the door.

But I’ll tell you what keeps this writer from starving in April’s glory, and that is AWARDS SEASON. The Hugos and the Nebulas are off to the printers, but the Canadian awards are just thawing off. The nomination period for the Prix Aurora Awards opened last Friday, and let me tell you, I am severely interested in earning your nomination.

Here’s how that works:

To nominate people and works for the Aurora Award, you need to be a member of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association. Membership is $10/yr (Canadian play money dollars) and gives you the right to nominate and vote for the awards, as well as other CSFFA business. Additionally, you get the Aurora nominees packet, which traditionally includes a great pile of really amazing work, so that book is more than work the price of admission alone.

Once you are a member, you can nominate! You have until May 7th, 2017 to fill out your ballot.

I am eligible in the short story category, as ever, but if you have a look at the eligibility lists, you’ll see a lot of familiar, excellent names on there. You can nominate things NOT on those lists as well. The list is just a handy reminder! The full eligibility criteria can be found here.

I have three stories on the eligibility list (La Clochemar, More Heat Than Light, and A Fine Balance), but I encourage you to nominate one in particular: “A Fine Balance” from the Nov/Dec 2016 F&SF. Why? First of all, this is my favourite of last year’s stories. Secondly, it can currently be read for free in Event Horizon 2017, the anthology of Campbell-eligible writers, making it the easiest to access of my stories. Lastly, this story has received some of my best reviews of the year, and has been selected for inclusion in Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2017, which I think is a pretty great endorsement.

But wait, there’s more! The Auroras have a “Best Related Work” category that I invite you to look closely at as well. Canada has become a producer of a large number of really stellar short fiction anthologies thanks to the efforts of places like ChiZine, Exile Editions, Laksa Media, and EDGE, and this is the category where those books get their due. My selfish favourite this year is Exile’s Clockwork Canada, ed. Dominik Parisien. I would be proud as anything to see this book on the ballot.

That’s me. What have you read and loved in Canadian SFF this year? Join the CSFFA and let us all know. Writers eat praise and this might just keep us going until the strawberries show up in June.