I've been back in California for two weeks now, after spending the holidays in Wisconsin. Due to poor planning--or constitutional incapacity to meet deadlines--I wound up bringing the drafts of three overdue short stories home with me. Frustratingly, coming back to short fiction after a hectic academic quarter feels less refreshing than I wanted it too. I have lighter teaching responsibilities this quarter, and more time to dedicate to writing, but I feel like I haven't been able to get a through-line on any of my stories-in-progress. I can tell you what they're about, but putting down one scene after another has been absolutely draining. I second-guess myself after every paragraph, if not every sentence. Maybe I'm just out-of-practice.
On a less serious note, I'm starting the new year with a new website. The switch was mostly prompted by the realization that it's no longer 2009, and I should really have my own domain name. But it was also an excuse to play around with free stock images from Unsplash and Little Visuals, especially on my Browse by Genre page. This kind of digital tinkering satisfies the same region of my soul that constantly rearranges the art on the walls and shelves in my office.
I'm also catching up on recently published short fiction. Well, "catching up" makes the last week sound much milder than it's actually been: I mean I've been binging on short fiction, plowing through the last three months of Shimmer, Apex, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, and Kaleidotrope. On that note, I want to get better about recommending stories I love, so here are two off the top of my head:
1. "The Salt Wedding" by Gemma Files, in the winter issue of Kaleidotrope - This story is a lot of things and I'm terrible at summarizing, but you'll love it if you like alternate history, magicians, pirates, female leads, queer characters, strangely sweet relationships or utterly perverse ones, and/or distinctive narrative voices. Files is one of my horror heroes, and this story (and its companions in Beneath Ceaseless Skies) might make her my historical fantasy hero, too.
2. "Caretaker" by Carlie St. George, in Shimmer #22 - I just read this flash fiction this morning. It walks the delicate line between dark fantasy and fantastic horror, in that it will give you a chill but ends on a melancholy (rather than terrifying) note. Again, I'm terrible at summarizing, but this one has ghosts, suicides, and a main character with a unique calling. This is my introduction to St. George's writing, and I will definitely be seeking out her other stories. ETA: I lied! This wasn't my introduction to St. George--I also enjoyed her humorous-yet-melancholy (there's that word again) superhero story "This Villain You Must Create" in Lightspeed a couple summers ago.
There are many more where those come from (seriously, three months of six magazines), and if I need to take a break from the two short stories currently sitting on my desk, I'll post more later.