Perennial Featured in a List of Books About Queer People Dealing With Cancer

Well, this is nice — Perennial was featured in a list of books about queer people dealing with cancer. Surprised me a little, because the main protagonists in the romance are a man and woman, but I’m queer and there are other queer characters in the story, so…

(Locals, this book is set in Oak Park. 🙂 )

“In this unique book that combines poetry and fiction, Mary Anne Mohanraj draws on her own experience with breast cancer. The poems were written during the period in which she was diagnosed and went through chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. They are interspersed with her fictional take on the topic, the story of an aspiring artist, Kate, who has just moved to a small town. There Kate receives a cancer diagnosis, but she also meets Devan, a local florist and Indian Scottish immigrant. What follows is a very sweet, quiet romance. Although it is an M/F relationship, both characters are embedded in the queer community. In all aspects of the story, the theme of care is paramount: not only caring for yourself, but caring for your community.”

https://www.autostraddle.com/8-books-about-queer-people…/

TERMINATION NOTICE

I had a dream last night that ended with one of my bosses, Anna Guevarra, sending me a note saying, “Well, you even included the time stamp, that makes it particularly easy,” and attached to it was a file titled TERMINATION NOTICE, and I went to go open the file, and then I woke up, so I have no idea what I did — with a time stamp! — that merited prompt termination, but I’m sorry?

I think my subconscious thinks I’ve been lollygagging around long enough since end of semester, and it’s high time I start writing.

Sorry to drag poor unsuspecting bosses into the little playlets my subconscious is writing to kick my ass into gear! I will give my subconscious a stern talking to. It should be waking me up with story ideas instead, dammit.

The Bug Finally Bit Again

Took a few weeks off from writing, just rested a little after end of semester — it’s been a particularly exhausting teaching year. I’ve been trying to go easy with myself. No guilt for not writing!

But today, the bug finally bit again, and I found myself writing dialogue in my head while I swam. I’m going to need someone to check my Irish idioms on this particular story, I think — it’s set a few generations out, in space, but the grandfather in the story would’ve either been born on Earth, or born to parents born on Earth, so he’d still mostly speak in Irish language patterns.

Well, I’ll worry about that later — just drafting for now, and if the language isn’t quite right, it can be fixed. I just sketched out a bit of dialogue, haven’t done any description yet; I don’t even know what they’re doing while they’re having this conversation — probably making dinner or working in the garden, so I can interweave a little of that into the argument.

That’s for tomorrow, though. I’m trying to stay on an early schedule for the summer, which means 9:30 p.m. the devices go off, and I retire to bed with a book, aiming to be asleep by 10 and up at 6 the next morning. Ideally, it’ll be something like:

6 – 8 — coffee and meds and breakfast, putter, check internet and e-mail, weed and water, first round of exercise

8 – 12 — writing & gardening, interspersed

12 on: everything else

evening: maybe a little more writing?

We’ll see.

(For those following along in my writing, Peadar O’Brien below used to have a different name; he’s the father of Maya, from Liminal Space.)

*****

“What fool game are you playing? You’d best stop acting the maggot, or you’re going to get yourself into real trouble.” His sister Gráinne’s voice was sharp, but wasn’t it always?

“Acting the maggot, is it?” Peadar laughed. “You’ve been spending time with granddad again, I see.”

She frowned. “And why shouldn’t I? That’s what a dutiful grandchild should do, what you should do, instead of running around after a girl with your tongue hanging out. She’s going to clip it off for you, or her father will.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Peadar said stoutly. “If you’re referring to Ms. Sita, she is purely a workplace acquaintance.”

Gráinne lifted a sceptical eyebrow. “Oh, and what workplace acquaintance has you coming in early and staying late?”

“Don’t I always do that?” he challenged.

She admitted, “Aye…but usually that’s because you’re helping someone out, like when you stepped in for Jimmy so he could get a little more sleep, with his wee bairn fighting the colic…”

“Wasn’t that a good deed?”

“Yes, of course it is, and that’s exactly my point,” Gráinne said, hands on her hips, clearly exasperated. Hands on her hips were a bad sign; she was losing patience with him. “There’s a reason why they named you foreman, why they’re talking about running you for zamindar of the whole taluka. Jimmy needed you, and you stepped up. The community needs you, and you take care of them.”

Peadar started to respond, but she cut him off, her voice going higher, screechy in that banshee way she had – “What no one needs is for you to get laid off, or worse, because you’re messing with the boss’s daughter.” The last words delivered loudly enough that he glanced out the window to be sure no one was in hearing range.

When he turned back to his sister, he let a little of his own annoyance seep into his voice. Normally, Peadar O’Brien was an easygoing man, but Gráinne knew just how to put his back up. Big sisters were terrible that way. “What worse? What horrible thing do you think her father will do to me? This isn’t the Old Country, you know. He’s a respectable businessman.”

Gráinne shook her head. “Don’t you ever listen to granddad? No one gets as rich as that family is without doing something they shouldn’t,” she said, her voice gone solemn and foreboding. “You just watch yourself, boyo.”

“Fine, fine,” he said, tired of the fight. Agreeing with Gráinne had always been the only way to get her to give up an argument; she was like a dog with a bone otherwise. “I’ll watch myself,” Peadar said grudgingly.

In his mind, he thought, “I’d rather be watching her.”

*****

Finished Veronica Mars

I’ve finished watching all of Veronica Mars (on Hulu), which I mostly missed the first time around, so quick spoiler-free notes:

– the first season is really tightly plotted and a joy to watch; recommended for all writers interested in plotting, and also for those who like witty fast-paced dialogue and a sweet father-daughter relationship

– the first season, and the whole show really, can be pretty gritty at points, and specifically, there is a fair bit of material centering on sexual assault throughout, especially in the first and second seasons; I think it’s reasonably well handled, but still.

– season two is fairly tightly plotted, not quite as satisfying as season one, but I think you probably want to watch it too, if you liked season one.

– season three, I enjoyed, but I can also see why some people stopped watching during this

– there was then a decade-long hiatus, until the Veronica Mars movie, which at least at the moment, I had to pay $2.99 to watch — I couldn’t find it in any of my subscriptions

– the movie and the follow-up 8-episode season 4 do a pretty good job of wrapping things up while also leaving it open for picking up again, should they want to…

– HOWEVER, a thing happens at the very end of season 4 that I really did not love (please avoid spoilers in comments, as I’m glad I didn’t know about this in advance), and I know why they did it but in my head-canon, it DID NOT HAPPEN. Basically, I think the series ended about 15 minutes earlier than it did. So there.

– final note: I really like watching Kirsten Bell 🙂 (Although I’m a little confused because it seems like the end of VM must have overlapped filming with the end of TGP, and she seems notably older in VM movie + season 4, but maybe that’s just make-up and acting?)

I’m Planning to Go to the RWA Retreat in Nashville

I’ve decided it’ll be part of my 50th birthday present, since it’s happening a week before. I’ve always been interested in the RWA conference, which I hear is really chock-full of great writing business info, so even though I don’t primarily identify as a romance writer, I thought this might be a good option. And I do commit romance on occasion, witness Perennial.

(https://serendib-kitchen.myshopify.com/…/prod…/perennial)

I’m thinking I may use the retreat time (4 days) to re-read and potentially revise The Arrangement, which is a mainstream literary novel, but also, at least in some ways, a romance. This is the one that was cancelled by HarperCollins (mostly for not being romance-tropey enough even though it wasn’t intended to be a romance at the time). It’ll be interesting to look at it again through a deliberate romance lens.

Also, I’ve never been to Nashville! Please spam me with your Nashville restaurant / activity recommendations; I’m not sure if I’ll just spend the whole time at the retreat, but in case I don’t….

As a side note, RWA cleverly made it $25 cheaper to go to the retreat if you buy a membership to RWA first, and so I did so, which means that they have a good chance of collecting years of membership dues from me, even if I don’t stay active in RWA…see? Savvy business people. I have much to learn. 🙂

(Romance writer peeps — what does one wear to RWA? I am having a little bit of an attack of ‘all the girls will be looking at me and judging me’ — I have my SF convention clothing game pretty set (business casual, with plenty of stars), but romance is a whole different genre….)

Newest Episode of MRAH with Liz Gorinsky

I’m listening to the new episode of our podcast that just dropped, episode 11, where we interview the fabulous Liz Gorinsky, editor at Erewhon Books.

Writers, this particular episode of the podcast is chock-full of nitty-gritty details from someone who edited books for many years at Tor, and now runs a brand-new boutique small press that I, personally, would love to be published with someday. (Benjamin Rosenbaum‘s debut novel, _The Unraveling_ is launching from them tomorrow, and I am so happy for him, and only a tiny bit jealous. 🙂 )

We talk about a lot of the business of being an editor, and also about issues like wrestling with your own internal editor. Get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in publishing! I wish I’d known this stuff when I was starting out as a writer.

Podcast: Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans:

https://speculativeliterature.org/episodes/#ep-11

My Son is Now as Tall As Me

A photo of you and your sister scrolls across;
I feel the weight of you, ten years past,
sharp and sudden. I curve my body around
the ghost-memory, how you slept, sodden,

for hours against my chest, sweaty damp.

Yesterday we wrestled in the water, summer’s
arrival bringing backyard pool and water pistols;
you are stronger now, and relentless in battle,
but mama’s hug attack still makes you laugh

and wins me the sweetest (temporary) victory.

*****

June 7, 2021

This Is Nice News

I got another quarterly royalty check from Feast, $2200. That’ll pay my Serendib staff for another month or two. People are apparently still buying the book, woot! It’s still a slow recovery from COVID’s cancellation of the book launch / tour, but maybe there’s a hope that I won’t have 1500 copies sitting in a warehouse by the end of the year? Fingers crossed.

Also good Serendib-related news — it looks like all my staff will be fully vaccinated by the end of July, including our new intern, Ethan. We can have an in-person meeting again, and I get to feed them, yay! My 50th birthday is July 26th — what a nice birthday present for me. 🙂

All I Want to Do Is Garden

I have so much computer work to do, and all I want to do is garden. Sigh. Am slowly forcing myself to do the computer work, but it’s requiring interspersing it with little bits of gardening so I don’t rebel outright and just play video games in a funk.

But this is nice — my author copy of “Whether Change: The Revolution Will Be Weird” has arrived, including my story “Wake.” A little taste of it below:

*****

“Amudhini reached out to touch her husband’s hand, feeling guilty about disturbing his sleep, but needing the reassurance. Outside their window, the sun was climbing in the sky, and all seemed well, but Amu’s sleep had been troubled. A roiling mass of incoherent dreams, dark figures striding across a shadowed landscape, torches blazing. Stephen made a small, grumbly noise, but then his fingers curled around hers, squeezing.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Bad dreams.”

He tugged, and she shifted closer, into the shelter of his arms. She pressed her face against his smooth chest, inhaled the reassuring scent of him. “Me too,” he said. “All those torches…”

Amudhini took a quick, startled breath. It had been a long, long time since they’d walked in each others’ dreams. It happened so rarely once the children had arrived. She’d assumed the gift had mostly been smothered by the daily weight of meal planning, homework supervising, doctor’s appointments and clothes sorting. Their minds were so full, between the children and their own work, there wasn’t much room left for…well, whatever the dream-walking had been. They’d never really found a good word for it.

“Mom!” Roshan at the bedroom door, sounding vaguely irritated. “Your phone keeps buzzing and buzzing.” He held it out in one hand, his eyes still fixed on the device in his other hand, undoubtedly deep into whatever game he was currently playing.

“Thanks, sweetie.” She’d decided to try keeping the phone not in the bedroom, hoping to sleep better, but hadn’t factored in that some callers could be persistent. “It’s Shruthi; I’d better call her back.”

“You don’t want to talk about this?” Stephen frowned in concern.

“Later,” Amudhini said. She reluctantly left the shelter of his arms, sitting up in the bed. “Shruthi was on-call last night, and you know Darnell is slammed right now too. She can’t talk to him as much as she’d like. All the riots are bringing back bad memories from that time she got caught in one, back in Sri Lanka. I’m sure she got a lot less sleep than we did.”

Stephen nodded and settled back under the covers, closing his eyes – he was an owl, not a lark, and would be deep in sleep again shortly. Amudhini swung her legs out of the bed and got to her feet. Time to get to work.

###

The phone buzzed again, a few minutes after she finished the call with Shruthi. A group text: “We’ll be at the Cicero-290 bridge tonight, starting at 5. They’re shutting down the subway. If you’re walking over, don’t walk alone. Join us if you can.”

###

The sewing machine hummed along soothingly, until it didn’t, and Amudhini bit back a curse as it juddered to a halt. What now? She’d made hundreds of masks at this point, had gotten the rhythm down of turning the corners, avoiding getting fabric caught up as she backstitched, only needing to pause long enough to wind a new bobbin once in a while. If the machine cooperated, she could turn out four masks in an hour, and usually could find an hour or two each day to sew, in between work and the kids. But sometimes it seemed like the machine was possessed by some demon, and there was nothing to do but summon every ounce of patience and try to diagnose the problem.

Patience had never been one of her virtues. She wanted it all, she wanted it badly, and she wanted it now.

But at almost-fifty, Amudhini had had a few lessons ground into her. She was slow as she tugged at the fabric, pulling it away enough to snip the thread tangle free. She was careful undoing the screws, removing the throat plate, opening up the dark heart of her willful monster. Nothing obvious, but she blew out a few forceful breaths, hoping to free whatever dust or bits of thread might be clogging the mechanism. And then put it all back together, rethreaded bobbin and spool once again, inserted the fabric, sent a little prayer out into the universe. Please. And then foot down, steady and slow – thank you, universe. It was working again….

*****

Available here: https://www.brokeneyebooks.com/…/whether-change.html…