Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Scragamuffin: A New Chapbook on Patreon

Today, I’m sending my patrons a new chapbook–Scragamuffin.

I didn’t intend to write another chapbook; it just sort of happened. Unfortunately, we lost another one of our cats, and this one was only nine. So, it’s been kind of a bummer.

Scragamuffin, Poems about Pete by Rachel Swirsky brown cover image with white cat sketchI wrote a bunch of poems about Pete, and also started drawing pictures based on photographs of him. I lucked into a style I like a lot so I’ve been drawing other animals–pets and otherwise–since.

This Patreon chapbook contains about twenty poems, about twenty illustrations, and the rules for one game (which can only be initiated by a cat).

I hope folks find it fun or funny–or at least furry.

All of my patrons receive premium content every month. Donations of any amount are gratefully appreciated. Every little bit helps. (Especially, alas, as my husband has been laid off again. Poor Mike.)

 

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Haiku Roundup for September 2021

The cats cuddle close
wanting the warmth of my skin
offering their fur.

No leaves sprouting yet,
but the warmer, longer light
promises they’ll come.

Crowded coffee shops
overheated in the
rain  of broken voices.

Sunset mid-evening
lights over the pier are twinned
in water, dawning.

Reasonable dawn
glows white outside my window,
strange swaddled morning.

sunset mid-evening
lights over the pier are twinned
in water, dawning

Brightly overcast
where the sky, this morning, wept,
like all seasons here.

A note about Haiku: A while back, I decided to write one (or more) haiku a day about my life. These are semi-traditional haiku: I used seasonal imagery to explore my transient experiences, but I didn’t follow any other content rules. I also used English syllables instead of Japanese morae.

 

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Check Out “Wake Up, I Miss You” in Apex

Wake Up, I Miss You - Woman at Window Image

Terra stands alone in the middle of the room, staring at nothing. She moves sometimes like someone dreaming, but never reacts.

My poor sister, locked in her own world.

Read more.

Poppy’s sister, Terra, is lost in a dream world. All Poppy can do is visit the hospital and watch.

When a strange man grabs Poppy’s hand, he warns her that something is coming for Terra in her dreams. He urges her to find a way to wake Terra quickly before it gets them both.

Apex Mag Issue 125 CoverHow can Poppy succeed where medicine has failed, and resolve the dream mystery keeping her and her sister apart?

Wake Up, I Miss You” is now live in Apex Magazine! Surreal, weird–maybe even a little funny. Plus, tons of references to Les Miserables and The Babysitter’s Club. Happy to be back in Apex’s TOC after too many years.

Enjoy!

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Off to MileHiCon!

Headed to MileHiCon in Denver as a Guest of Honor this Friday!</p>

MileHiCon 53 IconHere’s a reminder of my schedule:
 
Friday
  • 6 pm — Opening Ceremonies 
Saturday
  • 12 pm — Gender Beyond the Binary Panel, a panel
  • 1 pm — An Hour with Rachel Swirsky
  • 4 pm — Art as Resistance, a panel
  • 5 pm — Starfish Out of Water, a panel about alien biology

I hope to see some of you there!

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

I’ll be at MileHiCon as a Guest of Honor!

I’m a Guest of Honor at MileHiCon in Denver in two weeks–the weekend of October 1. I’ve got a packed three-day schedule with lots of interesting panels.</p>

Friday
  • 6 pm — Opening Ceremonies

Saturday
  • 12 pm — Gender Beyond the Binary Panel, a panel
  • 1 pm — An Hour with Rachel Swirsky
  • 4 pm — Art as Resistance, a panel
  • 5 pm — Starfish Out of Water, a panel about alien biology
It’s exciting–and a bit intimidating!–to be going to a convention in person again. (Don’t worry, I’ve got a mask, my shots, and doctor approval.) It’s kind of hard to believe there’s even still a world outside Portland. Well, really, it’s kind of hard to believe there’s even still a world outside of like a couple miles from my house!

Is anyone going? Any experiences from MileHiCon to share? Any thoughts on what I should make sure to cover on my panels? I’d love to hear it all.

milehicon53 banner, rocketship in left corner, october 1-2-3 2021 and additional information in right corner

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Check Out Apex Magazine’s Issue 125

Terra stands alone in the middle of the room, staring at nothing. She moves sometimes like someone dreaming, but never reacts.

My poor sister, locked in her own world.

Apex Mag Issue 125 CoverExcited to be back in Apex Magazine‘s table of contents with a surreal mystery about a sister’s struggle to wake her twin from a dream world

“Wake Up, I Miss You” won’t be freely available to read online until September 29, but if you can’t wait that long, Issue 125 is already available for purchase!

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Haiku Roundup for August 2021

I posted this a few years ago, but I think it’s worth posting again.

A while back, during a phase when I was having trouble writing fiction, a friend of mine showed me a haiku they’d been working on. I couldn’t manage something like a whole story, but writing seventeen syllables of poetry came easily, and felt right. 

These poems are only sort of traditional haiku. For one thing, I used English syllables instead of trying to adapt English words to Japanese morae which are similar to syllables, but not the same. I did use a seasonal reference in the first line of each, but they aren’t necessarily the kind of seasonal imagery that would have been used in a traditional poem. Also, I talked a lot more directly about what I was feeling, instead of using the metaphors to convey it.

However, I did try to convey my thoughts as I experienced them in that transient moment. I also tried not to revise, to just let them be as they were. (I think I cheated a couple of times, though.)  

These haikus aren’t necessarily in order, and they’re from a bit ago, so they won’t match up with the current weather, but I hope the words mean something to you.

 

Light through naked trees.
My dreams were not peaceful, and
I just want to sleep.

In night’s deep belly,
midnight is a great crevasse,
dark but sheltering.

Pet me, please. Now, please.
Stop tapping on that machine.
I’m here; I love you.

Evening starts at three.
I have a day’s work to do
in the waning light.

The twilight sky bleeds
to deeper and deeper shades
of thoughtful Winter.

Half-naked branches,
black, with yellow flags waving
gently in the wind.

Bitter, windy, dark,
clattering cold strikes the rain,
sharp, overwhelming.

Hasten through the cold,
the wind pushing you backward.
The windows are bright.

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Zombies Need Brains Kickstarted Three New Anthologies!

shattering the glass slipper cover image green background with various items in corner such as a broken glass shoe and dented lamp

Live happily ever after… or don’t. It’s up to you.

Zombies Need Brains (@ZNGLLC) is kickstarting three new anthologies, including an anthology of fairy tales that have been smashed up and remade into something new, SHATTERING THE GLASS SLIPPER.

I’m one of the authors who’s signed up to participate, along with awesome folks like Alethea Kontis, Cat Rambo, Jose Iriarte and lots of others whose work I’m excited to get to know. (The editors also plan to consider open submissions once the kickstarter funds.)

At the same time, ZNBLLC is also funding two other anthologies, NOIR and BRAVE NEW WORLDS.

I’m contributing some rewards!

I’m offering up to three backers a printed copy of one of my short stories with  margins full of ridiculous, hand-drawn doodles. When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve drawn on copies of my flash stories “Death and the All-Night Donut Shop” and “Again and Again and Again.” Not sure which story I’ll pick this time!

Early backers who contribute before the Kickstarter reaches its goal will get an original poem that’s not available elsewhere online. If the Kickstarter reaches its stretch goal, I’ll send all backers a copy of a short chapbook including six flash fiction drafts and an original poem. 

As for my story, I’m planning a Rapunzel set in an urban fantasy version of Seattle–not my usual thing! However, I’m also working on a Little Mermaid retelling about alienation, fish reproduction, and the combination thereof. Hopefully, I’ll be able to offer the editors a choice.

I adore fairy tale retellings, both writing and consuming them.

As a child, I obsessed over Shelley Duval’s Faerie Tale Theatre, Datlow & Windling’s fairy tale anthology series, and Tanith Lee’s collection, Red as Blood.

Here are a couple more recent retellings I adore:

And here are a couple of mine (I swear not all my retellings are NSFW!):

  • All That Fairy Tale Crap” — NSFW post-modern Cinderella
  • Tea Time” — NSFW (especially if you happen to be working in a Victorian time travel situation) romance between the Mad Hatter and March Hare

Thanks to ZNBLLC for doing the work to keep small press anthologies alive!

Check out the Kickstarter for SHATTERING THE GLASS SLIPPER and its siblings, NOIR and BRAVE NEW WORLDS.

You can follow Zombies Need Brains on Twitter for updates regarding the kickstarter and anthologies.

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.

Rachel Swirsky, author photo

Check Out “Innocent Bird” in Lightspeed

I’m really excited to be in Lightspeed again with my new short story, “Innocent Bird!”

It began with Shoko finding feathers in her bed. It was her third year of high school. She’d just turned seventeen.

She was falling in love, and her wings were coming in.

I wrote the first draft of this story as part of the Codex message board contest Weekend Warrior. The prompt was to “Write a story inspired by your favorite video game. Stay away from anything copyrighted, but use the sounds, activities, or setting for inspiration.”

At the time, I was playing a rhythm game based on a Japanese anime, Love Live, about girls in a musical performance club. 

During rough times in my life, I’ve often found myself inclined to media about friendships. Love Live is a very gentle universe where conflicts are low stakes and kindness wins out. 

My story isn’t like that–but I loosely used it as a point of departure for creating a contemporary fantasy world. I’ve written a couple of other stories in this setting, about the girls coming to terms with magical abilities as part of their adolescence. I’m not sure how they all fit together as a whole yet. I greatly admire Isabel Yap’s “Hurricane Heels” which is a multi-part novella, written in a literary style but following the characters in an imaginary magical girl anime. I want to avoid putting together something that’s too close to hers in structure, but it’s definitely an inspiration for me when I’m thinking about how to put the two conflicting genres in tension–and harmony–with each other.

I also went to another of my common inspirations for this story–reversing a common storytelling element. In this case, I wondered about reversing the themes that resonate in selkie stories.

I hope you enjoy this story! I talk about it more in my spotlight over at Lightspeed. My many thanks to Akemi Marshall for her advice and expertise. 

At first, there were not so many feathers, but soon there were more and more. She’d assumed they’d be white; in drawings, most people with wings had feathers like swans or doves. Hers were like a sparrow’s: tones of warm brown like her skin in summer, speckled with olive-black like her hair and eyes.

Day by day, Shoko’s feeling of incipience rose. She wanted to kiss Ichika. She wanted to hold her close. Love fluttered inside her as her wings soon would in the air.

She was desperate to stop it.

Lightspeed July 2021 Issue 134, dragon with rider

Mirrored from Rachel Swirsky.