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I Loved Star Trek Beyond


I did not watch original Trek during its original run, being that I wasn’t yet upon this earth. Growing up geek, I always caught a few episodes when they ran on whatever channel in whatever syndication, but I never invested.

Until The Next Generation showed up.

TNG nabbed my interest right away — ridiculous space jelly fish and all. It turned into appointment television. After TNG, I watched TOS, and fell deeper in love. I was wary about DS9, but it soon reeled me in (darker Trek? IN.), and by the time Voyager debuted, friends and I were getting together for episodes, ordering in food, staying long after the show ended to talk about it.

I started a fanzine because of Star Trek, and wrote my first fanfic because of Star Trek. It was a Tasha Yar story, of course it was. The first fiction I sold to a professional venue was in the Strange New Worlds anthology series. Friends and I went to conventions. We collected autographs. We rubbed shoulders with actors and oh god they were all gracious and kind and… Leonard Nimoy was at the first convention I attended, and when he sits down and talks to you about whales, well. Fangirl for life.


I was wary of a reboot, a retool, a a re-whatever, because Trek, in my mind, was always fine. Dudes having space adventures! Why mess with it? WHY. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do.

Star Trek Beyond holds to Trek traditions and still pushes into the future. I love that in movie three, we’re still blowing up the Enterprise, because that’s how it went down before. I love the idea that here are people we know, but here’s a slightly different path they’re on. It’s the Trek we have always loved, but it’s striving to be better. Can they escape the paths their other selves have been down? Time will tell.

Are there things that still need improving? This is Earth and we who build our entertainment are human, so absolutely. Would I love to see a stronger Uhura who isn’t shunted into the role of the girlfriend? Yes. Do I wish the Carol Marcus undressing scene in Darkness didn’t exist? Oh yes. Do I wish they’d cast someone else as the rebooted Khan? YEP.

It’s Trek as it ever was — it’s Bones being a butt and yet loving everyone impossibly well. It’s Kirk playing the hero, but being weary deep down inside. It’s Spock struggling to bridge two worlds (not necessarily Vulcan/Earth this time, but his verse with the alt verse). It’s losing your home and discovering oh, you didn’t lose it at all because home isn’t a ship.

(And the Leonard Nimoy tribute.)

(And Anton.)

Fangirl for life.




Rage Against the Machine


I’ve been home from Launchpad Astronomy Workshop for more than a month now (!) and I keep meaning to write about the experience, but I keep not doing it. The world has been a little overwhelming since I got back and there’s been a book release and short stories aplenty– and let’s face it, 2016 in general is…what’s the word…is there a word for what 2016 is?

The more I think about writing about Launchpad and how amazing it was, the less I want to, because it was also, in the end, pretty personal. I learned a good deal about space, but also about other people and myself. And I didn’t want to put that out there. Because everything’s out there. And everything is getting a little overwhelming.

We used to worry about the government becoming Big Brother, but I think we have become a kind of Big Brother. We are each Person of Interest‘s Machine. Most of us carry a device that allows us instant and constant access to the world. All its glories, all its woes.

We know almost in real-time when a thing happens. When a friend sells a book. When a terrorist bomb explodes. The results of an election. When a plane goes missing. The fallout of a friend’s personal relationship. We know how someone’s surgery went, we know who’s on our porch and what they’re delivering. We know where our packages are from point to point to door. We see you when you’re sleeping, we know when you’re awake. (Even as I write this, a friend is waiting to board a plane, and we’re chatting.)

I don’t think the world is any worse than it’s ever been — crazy men have always run for president and have always connected with a larger segment of the population than most of us would like to acknowledge. But I think our access and interaction with the world has changed in a way that we can’t quite ever take back. It’s hard to close the eyes on the world once they’ve been opened. It cannot be unseen.

It’s important to try to reclaim some of our space though — going to Launchpad was, in a way, going away from the world at large. Even as we studied the unending universe, the world seemed smaller. I stood on a mountaintop with colleagues and teachers, in starlight alone, and could breathe easier than ever when I looked through a telescope’s lens, to watch Titan gleam off the rings of Saturn. I could see the bands of clouded color across Jupiter and count four of its moons. The world was big and small all at once.

Every summer, I’m very lucky to have access to the community pool, where I can go after the sun has long since set. Where I can cannonball into the deep end and listen to…nothing. Where I can swim endless laps and stare at the stars above (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, still keeping me company, though Jupiter sinks fast into the west these nights). Where I can think about precisely this rectangle of glowing blue light and for a little while else, nothing else. (This is the story generator, the percolator, the chlorine womb.)

We have forgotten those spaces. Even when we take to the mountains, the satellites slip across the skies, carrying calls to friends, depositing the freshest, hottest news into our inboxes and eyes. We know that books are coming out months before they do. We know when someone’s life is tragically taken. We know when someone is to speak, when a deal is to be closed, a bell to be rung. We watch death tolls creep upward in real-time. We smirk at everyone hunting wild Pokémon. We send emails that arrive instantly, but forget the joy of a handwritten letter we aren’t expecting. We fret over Scrivener releases when there remains a distinct pleasure in writing by hand in a notebook of smooth paper.

One of the strangest joys I remember is this: I was in the mall, wandering through Waldenbooks, when I spied Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon on the new releases wall. Outlander stood so well on its own, I had no idea a sequel was planned or due, and I remember telling myself to be calm, that maybe it wasn’t related at all, but gosh the cover did look related, and when I opened it up to read the flaps, my breath caught in my throat, because the story I loved so well was continuing. (This was about three years before I was regularly online.)

We have, to some extent, forgotten those experiences too. We hound authors for the next volume in the sagas we love — why are you online when you could be making this thing I want! We know exactly how much an author still has to write; we know the book has not been delivered and we know when it is.

As much joy as can be found in sharing the wonderful things that happen to the world and our friends, there’s an equal measure of sorrow when things fall apart. How do we balance that? How do we not sink into despair when the world appears so awful? Does Big Brother ever turn itself off? Do we, like Winston in Nineteen Eighty-Four, smile up at Big Brother in the end, because it is us and we are it?

We are part of the Machine, but the part that still has access to the off (or at least the pause) button.







The Kraken Sea Giveaway

You found it washed up on the shell-shore and weren’t sure what it was, not even when you slid your hand under its surprising warmth and it curled around your wrist. Among the hollow shells, it alone was flush with life.


Last week, The Kraken Sea (Apex Book Company) burst into the world, and this week, I’m giving you the opportunity to win a copy of the book as well as the beautiful tentacle pendant pictured above. This pendant is 4″ long and 1.5″ at its widest point, made of polymer clay.

300px-krakenIn the past, I’ve tried elaborate treasure hunts, puzzles, and games, but today, we’re going to make it easy. If you’d like to win a copy of The Kraken Sea and the pendant, all you have to do is leave a comment on this thread.

After you do that, skip over to Apex and read an excerpt of The Kraken Sea, a novel set in my traveling circus universe. In this tale, the man who assembled the circus is but a boy, setting out on a cross coutnry journey that will forever change his life.

I’ll choose a winner with random.org on Monday July 4th!

The Kraken Sea is available through: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBook|Nook + Apex Book Company!





The Indigo Mantis

Today, The Indigo Mantis kicks off The Book Smuggler’s Superhero Series. I am delighted to have a part in this adventure, and hope you’ll come by and read my inspirations behind the story, and the story itself!

Indi is on the trail of the insidious creature who killed her father — and is having some trouble accepting some things about her own nature, which might tie right in to who killed dear old dad… While she searches the mean streets, er branches, for the killer, she saves bugkind along the way, and tries not to fall in love with the dude she should rather be eating…

The Indigo Mantis looks like this:

by Melanie Cook

But, there are also blue mantises that look like this and each one makes me squee:





Enchanting, no? You might even say, super!

So please hop over to The Book Smugglers for more mantis goodies (and of course to read the story!), and be sure to come back over the course of the summer, as they unleash more superheroes on the world! Authors Tansy Rayner Roberts, John Chu, Jessica Lack, Meredith Debonnaire, and Isabel Yap have so many SUPER things in store, I can hardly wait!

Thank you Ana and Thea, for taking a chance on a very different superhero.



Beneath Ceaseless Skies

bcs-year5In 2009, I made my first submission to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I had to take a deep breath as I clicked SEND, because I had been reading BCS for about a year, and loved both the fiction they published and their overall aesthetic.

They ran fiction from authors I already loved (Marie Brennan), and authors I was only just getting to know (Erin Cashier). There were Big Names in BCS, and the idea that the editors would ever consider a story of mine was folly.

And then in 2010, it suddenly wasn’t, when I sold them a story about ghosts and true love and pirates.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has since become home to many of my traveling circus stories, with Scott being the first editor who usually sees them when they’re newly finished. He has a good sense of what works, what doesn’t, and has taken a chance on a few ideas I thought might’ve been too dark for BCS’s pages.

From the start, working with editor Scott H. Andrews has been a tremendous joy. He isn’t just interested in acquiring good fiction–he wants it to be the best it can absolutely be. Every story, down to its very commas, has been carefully considered and digested. Sometimes what one wrote on the page isn’t how it was read on the page; Scott has a keen eye for making writer intent and reader interaction align perfectly.

bcs199Even rejections from him are instructive and helpful; Scott is someone who is invested in good fiction, but also the speculative fiction community itself. There would be a vast hole in our community if BCS ceased to be. But now, here they are at issue #200! An extraordinary feat and one that I hope repeats.

They’re having a subscription drive–where more subscribers = more benefits. If you don’t already subscribe, consider supporting this tremendous publication.

Congrats Scott and the entire BCS team. Here’s to the next two hundred issues!


Cloud Dweller

artist, Duy Huynh

artist, Duy Huynh

When it comes to my traveling circus, I don’t include a lot of “normal” circus tropes. My circus doesn’t have an elephant, for example. But there are a few tropes I want to play with, because I think they’ll fit well.

I also like writing about my home state, so when I realized I was going to write about a tightrope walker, I started wondering where in Colorado this person could walk. The Royal Gorge seemed daunting and perfect.

My ridiculous muse is largely responsible for what came next. I couldn’t get a handle on this character — I knew he was tall and thin and strange, but he refused to tell me where he’d come from. “He’s a Russian Jew,” my muse said, “running from the pogroms that destroyed all he knew and loved.” My muse can be painfully insightful.

And then, everything clicked.

Of course you would walk tightropes — you always had, though not as literally. Always running, never looking back, never looking down because down was doom. But what if you walked into something very strange, into a world of ghosts that only you could see?

I spent a lot of time reading about wire walkers, in circuses and out. I spent a lot of time with Philippe Petit and his charming story about walking between NYC’s twin towers while they were still under construction. I read about the Royal Gorge and its bridge, and how humanity thinks they can fill all empty spaces, even though some should possibly stay empty as a reminder of what was once there.

This story was born in those spaces, but doesn’t strive to fill them. It seeks, rather, to cross them and keep going. To walk the sky like Vasily does.

Read Cloud Dweller in Issue #199 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies

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F&M #5

I’ve started outlining Folley & Mallory #5, which does not have a working title. Here’s a peek…



All the Things


Writing, as we have said, is both the best and the worst at the same time; it is, perhaps, the Schrodinger’s cat of the arts. You can slog away for a long, long time, and see no results. You can think oh my god this is the actual worst I’m doing all this work and it is not paying off in any way and this wasteland is never going to end. But then! You find yourself handling multiple releases and schedules and Kickstarters and you realize oh, look I did do all this work and now it’s about to be vomited into the world where it can be ignored hooray!


Maybe not that last part. Here’s what’s on tap!

800px-krakenThe Kraken Sea

The Kraken Sea is coming from Apex Book Company this June (the 21st). The Kraken Sea tells the story of a strange boy named Jackson, who takes an orphan train across the country and into an entirely new life. This is a story set in my traveling circus world, yes! Hooray!

Right now, you can:

Stay tuned for more tentacletastic goodies — including a Goodreads giveaway coming in May.

If you are a reviewer and would like a review copy, please let me know!

I also have a new circus short story coming out this May or June. “Cloud Dweller” will be in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

No Shit There I Was

noshitNo Shit There I Was is a new anthology of improbable fiction from editor Rachael Acks and Alliteration Ink. We are currently fundraising through Kickstarter, and would love it if you can contribute.

My story, “Blush Response,” will appear alongside fellow authors Matt Dovey and Stewart Baker, William Ledbetter, James Beamon, Rachael K Jones, Wren Wallis, Heather Morris, Tyler Hayes, Darcie Little Badger, Jo Robson, Premee Mohamed, R. K. Duncan, Sarah Tchernev, Linda Tyler, Anne M. Gibson, Andrew Barton, Sunil Patel, David Jón Fuller, William Wood, Devyani Borade, Adrian Simmons, Frances Rowat, Lou J Berger, and Alanna McFall.

There are so many great rewards with this one. My personal crit on a story is already taken, but you can still grab story critiques and books and ebooks and tuckerizations, and more. I hope you will come by!

Folley & Mallory

300-honey_fullThe Honey Mummy is the newest release — and book three for those counting.You can grab your copy from Amazon, in paper or digital; it’s also part of Kindle Unlimited if you’d rather! (It’s also a matchbook — if you buy the print, you get the ebook free!)

If you’re into Pinterest, you can also come check the pinboard for the book!

So when’s book four?! The Clockwork Tomb will appear this October, and sees our intrepid adventurers exploring a tomb at long last! But it’s like no tomb they’ve ever seen, filled with peril and skeletons, and…was that a sphinx in the shadows up there? Riddles and more await!

And, I think you’re caught up.

Unless you’d like me to talk about the Minecraft 1.9 update. I could do that, but in short: it’s swell.

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Going Away


who made this, it’s brilliant

This past month (or forty days, who’s counting), I’ve been away. I took a break from bullshit and annoyances, which meant going quiet in a couple realms where I usually participate, reading less on social media, and doing something altogether new in regard to the book of face.

Sometimes, I once wrote to a dear friend, you have to go away so you can come back.

Sometimes, you have to shut out the things the people who are annoying you, so you can listen to yourself, and remember what it was to trust that internal voice.

Sometimes, you have to change from a moon into an octopus.

I think I’m at the midway point of that process — not quite a moon, not quite an octopus, but I have these emerging tentacles and arms and they are beautiful and fascinating and I can’t wait to see what they do.

This break involved stepping back from a long-time friend, to figure out where I stood with that relationship now — twenty-six years on. I mean, doing the math was staggering enough. That’s a long time to know someone, to allow them into your life and all its mess. It’s not easy to walk away from something like that. But sometimes, you have to go away.

This break involved stopping the cycle of “likes” on Facebook, and instead posting comments, in order to see how that changed my feed — and it did. It pulled up posts from friends I hadn’t heard from in a while, and it was great to see what they were up to. I also broke off with a lot of people there, and stopped saying yes to friend requests from people I’ve never interacted with before — sure, we have mutual friends, but that doesn’t really tell me anything else, does it?

This break involved stepping back from a writing project that has its hooks in me, to figure out where I stood with the ideas and characters now. This is a project that will not quite let me go, and yet I have not moved forward with it. It’s time to shut the fuck up and either write this project or let it go, and move on to the next thing.

This break involved stepping back from my long-time writing group, a place where I no longer seem to fit as well as I once did. I’ve been there a long time, too — but can still remember how nervous I was when it came to time to apply. Did I have the chops? I did and still do, but my voice feels irrelevant there most days — I no longer feel like “fellow writer,” but rather “editor they want to sell to,” which changes the dynamic.

Not quite an octopus, not quite a moon.

This break was good and I’m ready to shut the fuck up and get on with things. I need to write a letter, and I need to write a book, and I have hopes that, despite this week’s twenty-four inches of snow (!), it’s going to be a beautiful spring.

I had to go away so that I could come back.




When I was a Girl Scout Brownie (I still have my beret and dress and vest, with all my patches and pins and accomplishments), we spent what felt like forever but was probably only a long weekend at a local mountain camp. I wish I remembered more clearly where.

I hated most of the activities, because the summer mountains were buggy and I wasn’t terribly enamored with the rest of my group and, you know, I was generally a cranky young lady who didn’t want to be in the sunshine, thanks.

But lo, one evening we got to ride horses, and got to ride them up this gently sloping trail to the top of a mountain, where, oh good gracious, telescopes had been set up. I thought they were having us on. Were we really going to get to hang out after dark and look at the sky? Oh yes. The cranky young lady who didn’t want to be in the sunshine exhaled and looked up.

It was the first time I saw Saturn.


In high school, I took a class called Wilderness Survival, and it’s precisely what it sounds like. We learned about surviving the wilderness, this class being capped off by a long weekend actually spent…oh hey, surviving the wilderness.

We went into the very snowy Rocky Mountains with our instructor, our backpacks, and our cross country skis. We had to sky into the back-country, to reach our tiny camp. We spent a lot of time skiing, in fact, and there was one flat trail that was safe enough to take at night.

One night, I went out with two classmates, and in the middle of the trail, we simply stopped skiing and threw ourselves to the snowy ground. We looked up. We saw forever, I’m pretty sure. That far from city lights, forever goes on a very long way.


It’s always been the stars for me and when I realized I wasn’t going to be an astronaut (this brain just never got the hang of the math — and let’s not linger on how I got a little queasy on the Star Trek Experience rides in Vegas, uh…), writing about the stars was second best. And now?

This summer, I’m going to the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop, which is an amazing workshop given to writers and editors to increase science literacy. I’m going to learn a lot of things, and look through big telescopes, and ahhhhhhh.


I might burst with joy.

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