The Winner of the 2020 A.C. Bose Grant

Congratulations, Asha Thanki!

2020—The Speculative Literature Foundation and DesiLit are pleased to announce that Asha Thanki is the winner of the $1000 2020 A.C. Bose Grant.

Thanki’s winning piece is titled “Somewhere in Bombay, a Fog Descends.” Thanki is a fiction writer and essayist living in Minneapolis, where she is completing an MFA at the University of Minnesota. She is the winner of the 2019 Arkansas International’s Emerging Writers Prize and a finalist for Redivider’s 2020 Beacon Street Prize. Her work has appeared in Platypus Press’ wildness, The Common, Catapult, Cosmonauts Avenue, Hyphen, and more; more information can be found at ashathanki.com.

Read the story here: https://www.arkint.org/asha-thanki

Grant info: http://speculativeliterature.org/grants/slf-ac-bose-grant/

Publishing My Jump Space Sci-fi Stories

Okay, here’s another question for you folks, while we’re brainstorming. We were thinking of putting together little selections of my Jump Space sci-fi stories and releasing them as mini ebooks. Keep in mind that you can read them for free on the web! But this would let you have the convenience of reading them from your e-reader device, nicely formatted, etc.

Does this sound interesting? If so, should I do:

a) only already published stories (presumably vetted by excellent magazine editors) or include some original stories too?

(NOTE: If I include original material, I’m forgoing the chance of publishing it in a magazine, so that’s $300 – $500 not in hand, plus the visibility of the magazine bonus. On the other hand, people like original material, and it’d be an extra reason to buy something, since those aren’t up on the web already.)

b) put them out in little sets of 3 stories (about 15,000 – 20,000 words) for $1.99

c) put them out as a set of 5-6 stories (about 30,000 – 40,000 words, or half a novel) for $3.99

d) something else?

What are people doing, what seems appealing to you? Bujold, for example, is releasing her Penric novellas directly, about 125 pages, for $3.99. I need some market research here!

If You’d Like to Visit Kriti

Vintage travel tea towel, complete. In the last draft, added a golden glow and a little flyer. Mock-up of tea towel as it’d print through Spoonflower, as well as the original design.

Travel is pretty limited right now, of course, but If you’d like to visit Kriti, you can read stories set there here:

http://maryannemohanraj.com/science-fiction-fantasy/

🙂

And now, off to the hand doctor, to see if I can get a more concrete diagnosis for my wrist. It’s much better with immobilization, but typing is still a problem, as is carrying things, slicing veggies, etc. No more blinding pain, though, so that’s good — more just unpleasant twinges.

Well Worth a Fan’s Time

I’ve been rewatching Discovery in preparation for season 3, which started yesterday (no spoilers, please). It’s good research for my own space opera too. I just finished 15 episodes of season 1, and it really was very satisfying. I had quite a few concerns in the first episodes, but they resolved most of them pretty well.

I know lots of people didn’t want to sign up for another streaming service to watch this, but even if you just sign up for a month of CBS and binge that season, it’s something like 7 movies’ worth of content, and I think well worth any Star Trek fan’s time.

A Weird COVID-Cost

Here’s a weird little COVID-cost. You know my cookbook launched in March, which was pretty much the worst possible timing for a pandemic book launch?

We ended up cancelling many, many events scheduled for spring and summer, and in fact, completely lost March / April for promotion due to being overwhelmed with pandemic stuff: switching teaching to remote, helping to set up Oak Park Mutual Aid, learning how to sew masks for first responders, being intensely worried about all my relatives and friends in healthcare, and generally stressing the hell out.

In May, we picked ourselves up again and started working on promoting the book a bit (props to my Serendib Press staff, Stephanie Bailey, Emmanuel Henderson, and Darius Vinesar), but honestly, it’s been a fairly erratic sort of thing. A cooking video we post on YouTube here, a press release we send out there, some photos on Instagram…

In promoting products (or anything), consistency is key. But it’s hard to be consistent about book promotion (or anything) when the world is on fire.

We did sell some copies — in fact, we’ve sold more than 800 copies of our initial 2000 copy hardcover print run, which is pretty satisfying, considering pandemic. Huzzah!

But we’d of course hoped to sell those much faster, and sell all of them (and dreaming big, maybe have reason to order a second printing…?). All of which means that as we approached the end of the year, we got this letter from our hybrid publisher, Mascot:

*****

As part of your publishing agreement, Mascot provided storage and distribution for A Feast of Serendib at no additional cost for the first year. Your current inventory is 1,134. As your anniversary date is approaching, we wanted to offer you four options for any inventory you have remaining. Your options are:

1) Continue storing your inventory at our warehouse. If you choose this option, please remit the storage fee as indicated in the enclosed invoice within ten days.

2) If you no longer wish to keep your books at our warehouse, please reply with an address where you’d like your books shipped. We’ll provide an estimate of shipping costs associated with returning your inventory. Before returning your books, we’ll send you an invoice for the estimated shipping charge. Once payment is collected, we will ship the books. If you choose to remove your books, they will be removed from all distributors, as we will no longer have the book to physically sell and distribute.

3) If you’d rather donate your books or have them destroyed, please let us know and we’ll make those arrangements on your behalf. There is a $35 handling fee for either selection.

4) You may also pick up your books in person at our warehouse in Ashland, VA. Arrangements for pick up can be made by contacting us about a week in advance and a $35 handling fee will be charged.

*****

We’re paying the $395 fee to store the books for another year; I’m reasonably confident we can sell them all in that time, barring disaster, and we want Mascot to keep up with their distribution (which is what lets the book be on Ingram, so booksellers can get it at the standard industry discount, etc.)

The reviews have been glowing, people seem to love it. ALL 24 of the current reviews on Amazon are five-star, which just makes me all verklempt if I let myself think about it. (More reviews would be welcome, there, on GoodReads, etc.) It really is a good book. So I think it’s mostly just a matter of being consistent about promotion, getting the word out.

Stephanie Bailey and I have been working on Vegan Serendib (a print POD edition + revised electronic edition, much more substantial than the previous sampler version), and I’m hopeful that we’ll have that out in time for Christmas sales, which will likely also drive some additional sales of Feast.

But that $395 is going to hurt a little. Sigh. Ah well — as pandemic costs go, it’s really not so bad. Onwards.

Not One of My Strong Suits

I’m a little groggy today because Kavi woke me up in the middle of the night, crying because she couldn’t sleep and she was so worried about school. Poor munchkin. She’s been coping pretty well with remote so far, but Kavi lost track of time yesterday, when she was supposed to be catching up on missed assignments, and she wasn’t completely finished when it was time to go to bed — I’m afraid her perfectionist streak came out as buried anxiety.

*We* aren’t worried about her missing a few assignments, but she frets nonetheless. It seems like helping to keep her on track is probably the best approach — I’m thinking a big wall clock might help? Kevin points out that she carries her phone everyone, which has a clock on it, but that doesn’t mean she actually looks at it…

I put her to bed with me and she’s doing fine today, but it was a bit disruptive. And then I had my alarm set for 6:30 (I’ve been getting up closer to 9 lately) because I had a U+ board meeting at 7 a.m. I’m really in favor of these international projects generally — I think it’s so important that we take global approaches to futurism. But time zones can be brutal. Today’s meeting had people from France (where U+ is based), the Netherlands, China, India, Africa, and the U.S. — 7 a.m. turns out to be one of the few feasible times for hosting that kind of meeting.

So, thinking slowly. It was a good meeting — U+ is starting to do more, and I may have just signed up to be on the committee reading submissions for the next zine, which is on the future of food. These are unpaid, but we select some to be published by us, so if you’re interested in the future of food and want to submit a poem, essay, fiction piece, artwork, design concept, etc., please do. (Short is better for prose — I’d aim for under 1000 words.) I’ll put out a proper call soon.

Also having a bit of a tough time today because my wrist is much worse. I have a lot of mid-term grading right now, so I ended up spending a fair bit of time typing yesterday (responses to student stories, etc.). I also dug out a big bunch of yellow irises to divide, when I needed a break from the computer. I thought I was being careful; I’d gotten a brace, and was wearing it all day and everything, trying not to use my left hand much.

But I woke up with my wrist really hurting any time it was moved, basically. It’s fine if I don’t move it, doesn’t hurt at all, but y’know, that’s rather limiting. I cut up some chicken, and y’know, cutting up chicken with one hand? HARD. I had six pieces, and gave up after two. (Kevin took care of the rest.)

There’s lots of household stuff I can’t do right now (even just carrying my laptop around with a mug of coffee is a little tricky to manage, as my left wrist can’t bear that much weight), and I just have to accept that limitation.

Accepting limitations is not my strong suit, folks.

At least it’s my left hand. I think my plan for the rest of the day is to do the computer work I need to do, record some teaching videos for my students (no hands!), maybe start a new sketch (right hand!) for another Spoonflower challenge, and read (one hand!) I think I have to be pretty strict about resting the left hand for a few days, because it WAS getting better, and then I clearly overexerted it yesterday.

If you’re local and want some irises, come help yourself (up to 3, as I’ve also posted in the garden club group, and would love to spread them around). They’re pale yellow bearded irises — sorry I don’t have a photo. I’ll try to remember to post a comment here when they’re gone. 332 Wisconsin, the blue and purple house.

An Interview with Minal Hajratwala

Here’s a really fun interview I did with Minal Hajratwala at the very start of the Portolan Project — we talk about attending Clarion, about South Asian SF/F, and much, much more. At this stage, I wasn’t set up for video yet, so it’s just audio, which you can listen to or read!

“South Asian work in particular, it’s interesting because I feel like…a modern South Asian science fiction sensibility, if there is one, is still forming. And of course we’ve talked about this, how diverse South Asia is, so many different strands. So whether you can even say there is “a South Asian sensibility” is disputable. But at the same time, I do think that South Asian countries have this deep wellspring of myth…and religion, which is nothing if not speculative. To me, that’s the definition. We don’t know things; therefore, we will speculate about how reality is constructed. And so drawing from that is this really fertile ground that I think people are still just beginning to tap into.”

Minal Hajratwala

“South Asian work in particular, it’s interesting because I feel like…a modern South Asian science fiction sensibility, if there is one, is still forming. And of course, I mean, we’ve talked about this, how diverse South Asia is, so many different strands. So whether you can even say there is “a South Asian sensibility” is disputable.

Almost Ready

Spent three hours (!) yesterday recording another podcast episode with my co-host Benjamin Rosenbaum and perennial guest Jed Hartman. We’re getting ready to launch a Kickstarter VERY SHORTLY — I think on the 15th, if I can get everything together in time. It’s exciting! Also a bit nerve-wracking.

We’ve recorded a full season, at least, over the summer and fall, and while there’s still editing to do, it’s coming along nicely. If you can like / share / comment on the Kickstarer when I post about it, that would be very much appreciated. This is part of the SLF’s Portolan Project, so the SLF has been covering the video / audio editing costs so far, but we really need to actually raise the funds to cover it now.

It would’ve been nice to do that in advance, but it’s hard to ask people to support art projects without showing them what it’ll actually look like. I suppose that’s true of a lot of business, that you have to go a little into the red when you’re starting up. Makes me anxious, though — I’d love to get us back into black quickly!