Once & Future

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

May 5, 2017

A Sequel, and Your Chance to Hear It!

I am absolutely thrilled to be able to tell you all that I have sold my sequel to “La Héron” – “The Satyr of Brandenburg” – to F&SF! This will be my 4th F&SF story, but my first sequel, and I’m really excited about it.

Short story writers, we have to get used to killing our darlings. A short story is a brief, stand alone medium. Nobody gets three-story short deals, and selling to the same place more than once is not always easy. You have to make a new case for how awesome your story is every single time you submit. It’s easier to write one and done – close all the loose threads and move on to new characters, new settings, new plots. Because you never know what will happen to it.

But I love La Héron and Alex. I loved them right away, and I knew from the get-go that they had more life in them than one fairy duel. I really, I realized, should have given them a novel right away, but I love the episodic format, meeting up with the same characters every week, or month, or year, for a new adventure. It was a hard sell, but a sell I knew I needed to gun for, because I couldn’t just leave these guys alone. They have adventures to undertake, foes to defeat, and intrigues to uncover.

I have no idea when “The Satyr of Brandenburg” will hit the shelves, but I will be reading from it this weekend at Ad Astra! This is your chance to get a little preview. I’ll be reading in the Markham B suite tomorrow morning at 10:30am – come for my co-readers, Tonya Liburd & Malon Edwards, and stay for a little taste of the further adventures of La Héron. It will be worth it all around!

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.

 

March 14, 2017

Sum of Us TOC Announcement!

I have been waiting months to tell you about this one, you guys. Yes, I have another short story coming out in, yes, another nifty anthology. But lest you should think these are becoming routine, let me correct you. There’s is nothing routine about a project like this. I have been fired up about it since Lucas Law asked me to contribute.

Sum of Us is an anthology of stories about the complexities of caregiving, explored through the lens of speculative fiction. That sounds specific, I realize, but it is something that is more fundamental than that: care, connections, community, responsibility for the sum of a people, rather than just the self…. these are things that inform all stories – or should – and I was really invested in exploring it.

I came up with my story immediately, inspired by my father’s attitude towards his own end of life (when it should come, which is hopefully not for ages and ages.) The elders in my life have been curmudgeons and grumps to a man, the sort of people who don’t want to be cared for and who stubbornly intend to raise hell until the moment they (presumably) spontaneously combust, leaving nothing to bury. These are people who, in my opinion, have a lot of energy to harness for grand adventures.

“Orang Tua Adventure Home Academy” is the story of one such curmudgeon who turns up on a beach in Penang, intending to vanish into the jungle, and winds up being pressed into some 17th century hydrodynamic engineering. This story wrote itself. I had so munch fun, and love my characters to pieces.

When I got the final TOC this week, my heart nearly exploded. I am in fantastic company. I genuinely can’t wait to see how this batch of geniuses engage our empathy. Check it out:

Foreword, Lucas K. Law
Introduction, Dominik Parisien
The Dunschemin Retirement Home for Repentant Supervillains, Ian Creasey
Bottleneck, A.M. Dellamonica
Mother Azalea’s Sad Home for Forgotten Adults, James Van Pelt
Things that Creep and Bind, Christie Yant
The Gift, Bev Geddes
The Gatekeeper, Juliet Marillier
The Healer’s Touch, Colleen Anderson
The Crystal Harvester, Brenda Cooper
The Burdens We Bear, Hayden Trenholm
A Mother’s Milk, Heather Osborne
The Mother’s Keepers, Edward Willett
The Oracle and the Warlord, Karina Sumner-Smith
The Beautiful Gears of Dying, Sandra Kasturi
The Gardener, Amanda Sun
Number One Draft Pick, Claire Humphrey
Orang Tua Adventure Home Academy, Charlotte Ashley
Sunshine of Your Love,- Nisi Shawl
Good-bye is that Time between Now and Forever, Matt Moore
Ambassador to the Meek, Alex Shvartsman
Gone Flying, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm
Am I Not a Proud Outlier?, Kate Story
Blinders, Tyler Keevil
Dreams as Fragile as Glass, Caroline M. Yoachim
Afterword, Susan Forest

Anyway, Sum of Us is due out on September 8th, 2017. You can pre-order the book directly from the publisher, Laksa Media. The official launch will be at When Worlds Collide in Calgary, AB in August. I won’t be there (unless someone wants to fly me out there, ha ha ha) but I’ll be at various Ontario launch parties. Watch for it!

March 13, 2017

Event Horizon 2017 – A Free Campbellian Anthology

I blogged earlier this month about the Campbell Award, offering a suggestion or two for who you might want to nominate for it (including me). My list was short n’ sweet, being mostly stellar and very high-profile writers who have shot out into the field like a bundle of fireworks, but it was far from comprehensive. There are dozens of writers who have done some absolutely heartbreaking work in the last two years. Choosing a ballot of 5 is tough work.

But Jake Kerr and Shirtsleeve Press managed to pull of a miracle. Over the course of about a week, they have pulled together Event Horizon 2017: An Anthology of Authors Eligible for the John W. Campbell Award. This free anthology includes the work of over 75 authors eligible for the Campbell award – some 400,000 words of fiction, some of which is being offered for free for the first time.

This includes my short story “A Fine Balance,” which can otherwise only be read on the paper pages of the Nov/Dec 2016 F&SF and the forthcoming Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2017.

Event Horizon will only be available for a limited time. This link will disappear on July 15, 2017. But that is plenty of time to give it a skim and pick your Campbell nominees! You can nominate for the Campbell Award (and the other Hugo Awards) up until March 17th, 2017.

You have nothing to lose! Download the book for a tonne of great reading and an introduction to your next favourite authors. Enjoy!

March 2, 2017

In Which I Am Eligible for the Campbell Award

It’s awards season!

I have been keeping an eye on the award eligibility posts of others in my field, and I think I have the hang of what is expected.  Modesty is the name of the game, fellow Earthlings, and I am nothing if not modest.  Everyone tells me how modest I am. I’m also the most humble. Ask anyone.

I don’t deserve any awards, I’m pretty sure. Personally, I hate my work. Everyone does. The cool people, anyway. Everyone else’s writing is better than mine, probably; if there is even such a thing as quality in art, which there isn’t. Awards are just excuses for fancy parties and circle jerks. Nobody likes those. If I was nominated for any awards, I would refuse them; at first anyway, until you FORCED me to accept them.

On my honour, I have stood impassively in my bubble of authenticity, merely breathing art for its own sake. If any of it happened to make it out into the wider world, I promise that was only an accident, or maybe the unavoidable march of its genius. They published it, not me. I donated my fee to puppies. I never even read it, myself. Oh, you read it? Well, there’s no accounting for taste.

*record scratch*

*struggles not to laugh*

Okay, okay. OKAY.

There is exactly one reason I started writing: because I love my writing. I wanted to read particular stories told in a particular way, so I wrote them myself. I knew just how to craft each character and just how to turn each scene because I needed them to be like that for my own satisfaction, for my own enjoyment. It has been the greatest joy of the last two years to discover that the stories I write resonate not just with me, but with other people – a lot of other people.

My first story to appear in a major publication was “La Héron” in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in early 2015. This story went on to be nominated for both the Aurora Award and the Sunburst Award, and was picked up for podcasting by PodCastle last summer. This was a pretty great start, but 2016 beat that start by a mile.

First, I had my second F&SF appearance with my Quebec Revolution novelette, “More Heat Than Light,” in May 2016.

In June, “La Clochemar” appeared in Clockwork Canada ed. Dominik Parisien, garnering some fantastic reviews.

In August, “La Héron” went up at PodCastle.

In September, Haralambi Markov featured me in his Tor.com column, “Innumerable Voices.”

In October, I undertook a musical collaboration, writing and performing “Distant Skies” with the Junction Trio.

Then, in November, the publication of “A Fine Balance” marked my 3rd appearance in F&SF. Soon after, I placed the story in Rich Horton’s forthcoming Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2017.

In between I sold reprints, did readings, talked at conventions, gave workshops, and joined writer’s groups. I wrote more, sold more, and took on more challenges than ever before. I kicked ass and took names. Not bad for my second year as a professional writer.

My stories are eligible for a variety of awards this year, but what has made me most proud over the last couple of years is not any one story, but the trajectory of my career in general. I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I am doing it. Not only that, I’m doing it well.  I could not be happier with my progress so far, nor could I be more excited about what the future has in store for me.

That’s why the award I am shilling for today is the John W. Campbell Award.

The Campbell Award is a companion of the Hugo Awards, awarded to the ” best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of the two previous years.” I am in my 2nd and last year of eligibility for the Campbell. I would appreciate your nomination.

To nominate for the Campbell (as well as the other Hugos!) you must be a member of the 2016, 2017, or 2018 WorldCon. If you were a supporting member of any of these conventions, you will have received your nomination link! If you join WorldCon 2017 (to be held in Helsinki, Finland) now, you will be eligible to vote for the awards, but not nominate. They will close to nominations on March 18th, 2017.

I hope you will consider me.

And me? Well, okay, *I* am pretty great, but I get to nominate 5 people! Here’s your bonus today – my Campbell ballot. Aside from myself, I will be nominating:

Kelly Robson

Roshani Chokshi

Cassandra Khaw

Tamara Vardomskaya

Cheers, everyone!

November 24, 2016

November, Continued.

I didn’t mean for this to be The Month With Everything. But sometimes, when it rains, it pours, and all I can do is try to keep up with the deluge. So here we go…

“A Fine Balance” in Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017!

The headline pretty much says it all! My latest F&SF story, “A Fine Balance,” has been picked up for a Year’s Best! I got this news a mere two weeks ago when I was in dire need of a pick-me up, and I’m still flying.

For the full Table of Contents, check out Black Gate. The book should be published in June 2017 and available in bookstores everywhere. You can even pre-order it soon!

“Eleusinian Mysteries” in You Are Here: Tales of Cartographic Wonders!

You Are Here is the latest anthology put together by the amazing folks of SFFWorld, and I’m pleased to be able to say that it includes my story “Eleusinian Mysteries.” This is the tale of a 17th century engraver who finds a map of the moon.

You Are Here is available as an ebook now! You can get it from:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

This Weekend in Toronto! A Workshop, Some Music, the Distant Skies

The Festival of House Culture wraps up this weekend, but my two events are yet to come. If you find yourself in Toronto this weekend, you can join me at 7:30pm on Friday, November the 25th for Words and Music 1, an evening of writing and music. Bring your work in progress for some workshopping, and enjoy some jazz while you are at it! Entry is PWYC. Check out the Facebook event for more details.

Then, on Saturday at 5pm, the Junction Trio & guests will be mounting our second performance of Distant Skies! This showing will be at CrossFit Lugal on St. Clair (right at Landsdowne) and will be more intimate than the first concert. Bring folding chairs or cushions, if you like, though there will be plenty of gym-equipment seating. You can RSVP for this show also on Facebook.

Hope to see you!

November 17, 2016

SFContario This Weekend!

Never one to let a fresh haircut go to waste, I will be reading at SFContario this weekend! This is traditionally Toronto’s “downtown convention,” but this year the organizers decided to take a bit of a breather and scale the event down. “Fannish Stone Soup” is this year’s theme, meaning it’ll be whatever it is, given the ingredients. Think of it as an extended BarCon!

The ingredients are looking pretty great, though. The Con Suite will open at 5pm Friday night for socializing, with most “special guests” booked for Saturday. Saturday’s line up is as follows:

2:00 PM — Tonya Liburd
3:00 PM — Charlotte Ashley (that’s me)
4:00 PM — Herb Kauderer
5:00 PM — Caitlin Sweet and Peter Watts
6:00 PM — Kari Maaren
7:00 PM — Peggi Warner-Lalonde

Earlier in the day, expect a variety of silly and fun activities, including sugary cereal breakfast in the Con Suite, electrifying pickles, and the David Hartwell Memorial Fancy Tie Contest.

For my part, I will be reading some or all of my latest F&SF story, “A Fine Balance,” and talking about ACTION SCENES! I’ll have copies of my stories on hand for sale, and flyers for the next Distant Skies show. For all SFContario-related info, visit http://www.sfcontario.ca/ or follow them @SFContario on Twitter!

November 7, 2016

Nov/Dec 2016 F&SF Now Available!

It’s here! The November/December 2016 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which includes my story, “A Fine Balance,” is in stores now!

A Fine Balance” by Charlotte Ashley is a twisting and turning political story where the politics are based upon duels… This was well written and quite enjoyable.” – Bob Blough @ Tangent Online

A Fine Balance” has taken all that made “La Héron” exceptional, perfected it, and distilled it.” – Haralambi Markov @ Tor.com

If your local magazine shop doesn’t carry it, you can get paper copies and subscriptions directly from F&SF at: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1611.htm

NEW! You can now get DRM-free issues & subscriptions from Weightless Books!

Amazon sells the Kindle edition, of course.

If you are an SFWA member, you can check out any of F&SF’s stories in the Nebula forums.

WORST CASE? You can buy one from me! I’ll be widely available to the public myself this month.

You can join me at the first performance of “Distant Skies” with the Junction Trio at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, November 16th 2016.

You can come see me read & chat at SFContario 6 66/100 at 3 pm on Saturday, November 19th 2016.

Or maybe you’d like to join me for an evening of writing workshopping and jazz as part of the Festival 0f House Culture at 7:30 pm on Friday, November the 25th 2016.

Or maybe you’d prefer to come to the 2nd performance of “Distant Skies” on Saturday, November 26th, 2016, at CrossFit Lugal.

I will have copies of all my back issues of F&SF at these shows, as well as copies of Clockwork Canada. I’d be pleased to see you anywhere!

October 24, 2016

November!

Okay, DON’T PANIC. It isn’t November yet. We are all still living, physically, in October – scrambling for last-minute Halloween costumes, buying Dollarama Halloween decor for everyday living [mugs and candlesticks AMIRITE] – but my brain has been in November for months now. I’ve got publications, shows, conventions, more shows, and a workshop coming up. The dreary rains of November have never seemed so exciting – for me.

A New Story @ F&SF!

I have a new short story out in a week! “A Fine Balance” is the story of two perfectly-matched legendary duelists who find their rivalry is being meddled with by persons unknown. Chases, escapes, daring duels and miraculous feats! You know, the usual. Over at Tor.com, Haralambi Markov says:

“A Fine Balance” has taken all that made “La Héron” exceptional, perfected it, and distilled it.

The Nov/Dec 2016 issue of F&SF should hit newsstands everywhere on November 1st!

Reading at SFContario 6!

Can’t find a copy of F&SF in time? I will be reading “A Fine Balance” at this year’s “Fannish Stone Soup” iteration of SFContario. I will be there on Saturday, November 19th 2016 as well as, probably, the meet-and-greet on Friday.

In addition to reading, I will be talking a little bit about physicality in SFF literature, exploring how we can use action to talk about broader themes of ableism, militarism, gender roles, bullying, and more. Come on out – this should be an intimate and chatty little gathering. Just some fun.

A New Work – With Music!

I will be debuting a new story, “Distant Skies,” in collaboration with The Junction Trio, on Wednesday, November 16th 2016 at 7:30pm, St. Anne’s Anglican Church (270 Gladstone Ave. Toronto.) I will perform this story live as a dramatic reading and concert, featuring the chamber music of the Junction Trio, a new composition by Ivana Popovic, and a guest theremin player!

Marrit Shaw’s life was promised to others centuries ago. Genetic, heritable contracts called “body promises” haunt every decision she makes. What choices are truly her own, and which were coded into her by her forefathers? Marrit is determined to fight to keep her people free from their genetic obligations, but looming on the horizon is her body promise to a generation ship which has just returned from a 200-year voyage.

Follow the Junction Trio on Facebook for more on them and their work!

And If You Miss The First Show…

We will be performing “Distant Skies” a SECOND TIME! The second performance will be held at CrossFit Lugal (1331 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto) as part of the Festival of House Culture on Saturday, November 26th, 2016 @ 5pm. This performance might just make a little more use of the space, and involve a bit of an acrobatic element. WE WILL SEE. 😉

Writing Workshop + Culture!

And finally… also as part of the Festival of House Culture, I will be running a small writing workshop on Friday, November 25th, 2016 (location TBA.) Here’s the pitch:

Bring your works in progress to this 2h writing workshop hosted by editor, critic, bookseller, and author, Charlotte Ashley!

Your host will read, anonymously, the first 250 words (approximately 1 page) of each manuscript out loud. Participants will then be invited to provide friendly and constructive feedback, led and moderated by the host. Issues of style, craft, and marketability will all be addressed. Come ready to ask questions and share experiences!

We will conclude with a general question and answer session, addressing a writer’s life, from outlining to publication. Writers of all levels, genres, styles, and mediums are encouraged to attend!

The writing workshop will likely be paired with another House Culture performer, so in addition to some writing work & talk, you will get some [probably musical] entertainment as well. I don’t see how this can go wrong!

Phew! Right? Yah, I’m a busy bee. But I like it that way. As ever, I’m always happy to hear from people in the comments or by email. Don’t be shy – I am people people!

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