Once & Future

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

November 6, 2017

SFContario 2017!

In a couple of weeks, I will be hobnobbing at my local convention, SFContario 8. I’m not going to glad-hand this one – SFContario is pretty awful about letting people know what is going on ahead of time. There is virtually no information on their website about what you might find upon attending the con, but if you’re considering it, you can piece together some ideas from the posts made by other guests and panelists. A quick round-up (and if you have posted your schedule somewhere, let me know! I’m happy to link it.)

Alyx Dellamonica!

Kelly Robson!

Lawrence M. Schoen!

I will be there too! Here’s my schedule:

Eating and Ethics
Saturday, November 18th, 11 am w/  Alyx Dellamonica, Lawrence Schoen, and Gunnar Wentz

What is the ethical scope of our food choices? Is buying local really better than buying imported food? Are Vegans better for the environment? How do things like socioeconomic status, mental health, and disability intersect with the ethics of food consumption? 

I’ll be moderating this panel and BOY is this in my wheelhouse. I have a degree in this! This exact thing!

Reading
Saturday, November 18th, 2-2:30 pm

I’ll be reading (probably) “The Ur-Ring” from my Archipelago world. This story is a good time, funny and crazy in good measure. Hope you’ll come listen!

How to Overthink Your Way Out of Writing
Saturday, November 18th, 3 pm w/ Charlotte Ashley, Matt Mayr, Ira Nayman, and Kelly Robson (moderator)

Theodore Sturgeon famously taught “Ask the next question.” Beginning writers everywhere are advised to ask “What if…?” as they develop their story. With a little research and some extra caffeine you too can come up with such a plethora of possibilities that your story becomes a dense jungle with no clear path–impenetrable and neverending. As denizens of the Digital Age, with its abundance of information and surfeit of attention span, we have never been in a better position to over-complicate our stories–and our lives!

How not to write an encyclopedia when you’re trying to tell a story. This should be vital.

Food in Fiction
Saturday, November 18th, 4 pm w/ Erik Buchanan, Eric Choi, Cathy Hird, and Gunnar Wentz

Stories that make you go, “Nom!” How do you describe food to express mood or set the scene? Join our panelists as they dish on the culinary delights that tantalize us in fiction, from regional teas to kingly feasts. What works? What doesn’t? And what should you know about a food-centric scene. 

I’m moderating this one too – and yes, it will be very different from Food & Ethics! Expect this one to be much tastier and less sociological. 😉

See you guys there!

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.

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!

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 15, 2016

Distant Skies – Tomorrow @ 7:30pm!

Well, what do you think? Do I look like I’m from the 25th century? My partner says I look like I’m from the ’70s, which by today’s very low standards, is pretty much the future. I am from the retro-future. The future that should have been.

Tomorrow is the big show. At 7:30pm, I will take to the stage with the Junction Trio and we will mount the first-ever performance of Distant Skies. 

Okay, Charlotte. We’ve heard you talk about this show, like, constantly for the last two months. What on Earth is Distant Skies?

Distant Skies is my latest short story. It is also a chamber music concert, a collaborative dramatic performance, and a spectacle.

Through music and words, we will tell the story of Aerobelle, a community on the brink of change. Though Aerobelle’s citizens are bound to her ancient towers by body promises – genetic, heritable contracts – they are about to discover older, even stronger promises their bodies have made. This is a story of love and loyalty, the familiar and the unknown, trust and resistance.

As I tell the story, the Junction Trio and two guest theremin players will present complimentary music, including works by Vivaldi, Mozart, Hayden, and a new work by Ivana Popovic. One part reading and two parts performance, Distant Skies is something else.

I’m nervous excited as hell about this! I hope you’ll come see one of our performances. You can get more details at the Facebook event here, or just come out on a whim. Wish us luck!

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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