Yes, I’m basking in golden goodness right now! Why? Because two of my short stories were just accepted, both oddly enough (or not all that oddly, actually, since I’m living on an island at the moment) about the sea.
The first, “Deep Waters,” has been accepted for The Cougar Book, edited by the talented and amazing Jolie du Pre. I included a bit of the draft in an earlier post (when it was originally called “Submerged”), and I’m incredibly excited about this opportunity. I met Jolie a few years back at the Saints & Sinners event in New Orleans and she really impressed me with her drive, her honesty, and her smarts, and also totally knocked me out with her beauty. (I have to admit that I’m incredibly shy when I’m at events, often feeling like I’m such a newbie that I wouldn’t dare go up and talk to so-and-so, thus I’m so glad that Jolie introduced herself to me, or we might not have met!). I know that so far, Rachel Kramer Bussel also has the story in the collection, and that other fantastic writers will soon be joining us. It looks to be a hot, sexy, literary take on the older woman/younger man scenerio.
The second bit of news is that my story, “Beneath Sea and Sky,” was just accepted by Circlet Press for its collection Wired Hard 4.0, a collection of male-male sci fi, fantasy and slipstream stories. This time, my sea-story was influenced by some of the mythical creatures of both Oregon and Scotland, thus combining my two most recent homes. Here’s the opener:
Skye is hunting off the prow of the boat. His real name is not Skye, and he is not actually hunting. But this is what he would like me to say about him.
In truth, his name is Scott. His last name is just as simple, and the combination embarrasses him, taints him, he thinks. So he has become Skye. And so he hunts for things. Last month, it was an undiscovered planet in the western sky. The month before that, it was buried pieces of a UFO wreck in the Arizona desert. This month, he’s hunting the elusive Blue Men of the Minch off the coast of Scotland.
He has never found anything on these hunts, only wisps of just-eluded bits, fragments he can’t capture, but can lament over for ages. “If only,” he says. “If only I’d been there earlier.” “If only I’d been looking two degrees to the north.” “If only the camera was working.”
Skye has brought me with him on this hunting expedition under the auspices of love. And lust. But I’ve begun to think he has truly brought me to bear witness. To reflect him as Skye, to validate his hunt when he comes back, as he will, as he always does, empty handed. Empty handed except for a new thing to hunt and the new lilt that he’s already tacked onto his American accent like a fake logo on a cheap watch.
“Do you see anything, Abihail?” he hollers from his lookout.
Unlike Skye, I was born with a name that requires no sprucing up. It is as complex and as laced with history as all the myths Skye aches for. Perhaps for him, this is my appeal. Most people call me Abe, but Skye likes to say my name, sometimes my full name, Abihail Joseph Levin, as though he himself is naming me, calling me into being. And he likes to suck me, pushing back the uncut length of my skin until he exposes the head, gasping and telling me I’m beautiful by name before he buries me deep between his thin, pink lips.
“I don’t see anything,” I say. It’s not true. I see many things, but none of them are the things that Skye cares about. There are dark birds skimming the water so low they nearly touch it, but somehow, impossibly, do not. There is the moon in the afternoon sky, its barely-there crescent curling toward the water, guiding the waves in some way that I once read about, but have never understood. Far off, there is a small island, curving green and brown above the blue of the sea, as if some god dropped a jeweled ring and then, in time, forgot it. If I lean over the edge of the boat, where the water slaps at the ship, I would see the blues and greens and greys of the Scottish sea, and maybe even a flash or two of the things that live beneath its surface…
Another cool thing about this acceptance is that the original guidelines asked that writers be either male or willing to write under a male pseudonym. In my submission letter, I mentioned that I hadn’t yet written under a pen name, but would be happy to make one up if the story got accepted. In the acceptance letter, the editor wrote back: “…Cecilia [Tan] decided to drop the requirement for male pseudonyms in the sincere belief that our readership is mature enough to cope with female writers.” I think this is fantastic news, in all kinds of ways, and it goes back to that gender-bias discussion we were talking about earlier this week. Readers are smarter than we think, and when publishers make smart choices like this, I think it benefits not only the publishers and the writers, but the readers as well.
So a very very good way to start off the day! Now if I can just buckle down and get some more writing done (instead of taking the day off to play and be all self-congratulatory, which is what I really really want to do), it’ll be even more fantastic!
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
“Though it be honest, it is never good to bring bad news.” ~William Shakespeare
PS – Gorgeous black and white image by Marrrakesh.