New Publication!

Quick word of good news! My short story “Chameleons”—a story that includes zero actual chameleons but at least one octopus—has just been accepted for publication with Cold Mountain Review, a terrific magazine that

aims to recapture strands of its founding vision as well as to offer new and innovating ideas about place, sustainability, writing, and art. Come join us as we create the serious mischief of cultural change.

Look for “Chameleons” in the upcoming issue!

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Here’s just a quick taste of the story to come…

Chameleons

By K.C. Mead-Brewer

The doctor didn’t have time to be worried for Clara during her labor; it was all over before he ever got in the room.

“I guess the speed of it makes sense,” David said, looking up at his wife from across the kitchen table. A pile of books sat stacked between them, the titles including Human Oddities: Then and Now, Ten American Alien Abductions, and The Wild World of Cephalopods. “It says here that octopuses don’t have any bones, so they can squeeze themselves through just about any opening without much trouble.”

 

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Fresh Writers Series, Part IV

Last year I started a “Fresh Writers Series” here on Writing Reconsidered in order to spotlight different emerging writers whose work I’ve stumbled across and–for one reason or another–fallen in love with. Last April, I focused on writer and academic (soon to be Dr.) Haylie Swenson. Now, I’d like to throw some attention to Mr. Casey Quinn.

I first encountered Casey Quinn’s work through Post Road Magazine (Issue 28)with his short story, “Grandpap’s Burials.” Here’s a little teaser:

“At noon, Grandpap takes aim and shoots the crow in our garden.

‘Get it, boy, sniff it,’ he says, shooing me with one hand. I burst out the back door into the heat, sprinting towards the trellis on which the grapevines grow.

The crow is four feet, four inches and boy-shaped.”

Quinn’s “Grandpap’s Burials” arrested my attention immediately with its dark, snappy intro. But Quinn kept my attention with consistently sharp prose, smart imagery, and fascinating characters. Throughout the entire story, Quinn exhibits tremendous control and restraint, giving us readers only exactly what we need and not a syllable more.

Clocking in at 963 words, “Grandpap’s Burials” could rightly be considered a work of flash fiction rather than a full short story, but this doesn’t mean it skimps on depth. In my opinion, the best short stories are those that know how to steer a reader onto the proper street, into the proper building, up to the proper floor, into the proper hall, and then leaves them there, standing before a row of doors, some locked, some simply closed, some cracked open, and some flung wide as a scream. Quinn manages just this feat here with “Grandpap’s Burials.”

But perhaps what’s most impressive is that this is Quinn’s first published story. What’s more, Post Road Magazine announced only this past December their nominees for the Pushcart Prize, and Quinn’s debut story made the cut. Congratulations, Quinn!

Here’s the bio Post Road provides:

Casey Quinn is originally from Upstate New York. He has received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and Hamilton College. This is his first published story.

Congratulations again, Casey Quinn, both for having such a strong debut publication and for being nominated for the Pushcart Prize!

I definitely expect to be reading more of your work very soon, Quinn. Keep writing!

Research is the Sh*t

I don’t know about other writers, but one of my most favorite parts of the job is getting to constantly research into new topics.

For my first novel, a work of near-future scifi starring a pair of women scientists (married), I learned a ton about childbirth, pregnancy, reproductive history, trends in reproductive practices and technology (I even got hold of a placenta cookbook!), as well as about everything from Tibetan goddesses to classic Mexican ghost stories to various ways someone might survive a lightning strike.

For my current novel-in-progress, another near-future scifi work that focuses on a pair of women scientists (this time a pair of sisters), I’m getting to delve into the wild worlds of microbiology (I always knew those years of microscopy camp would come in handy!), astrobiology, entomology, astronomy, astrology, witchcraft — needless to say, I’m just picking up breadcrumbs as I go along this trail, I’m not actually expecting to be able to bake a full scientist cake one day myself. However, I might gather enough crumbs to feed a few hungry storybook hounds. Or maybe to patch up a witch’s lakeside cabin.

Here are just a few of my favorite resources that I’ve come across already:

ask an entomologist

Your resource for any weird (or normal, if you’re into that sort of thing) questions you might have about our six-legged insect friends: Ask an Entomologist. (It’s also worth checking out simply on grounds of Sheer Awesomeness :-))
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Got a random question about America’s natural wonders? Chances are, the U.S. National Park Service has a site, video, book, or expert who has the answer.

 

 

 

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For information on grimoires and magical books, definitely check out Owen Davies’ Grimoires: A History of Magic Books.

 

 

 

 

 

ursula king book

 

For a solid look at the role of women in a variety of religions from around the globe, look no further than Ursula King’s Women in the World’s Religions.

 

 

 

 

 

A tremendous book on modern witchcraft is Alex Mar’s recent Witches of America. I’ll be honest, I’m completely obsessed with this book right now. It’s fascinating A, and B, Mar is a wonderful, wonderful writer. Definitely check this one out!

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toomey

 

Another book that’s proved immensely useful as well as a plain terrific read is David Toomey’s Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different from Our Own. Grab it, (pay for it), read it, pass it on :-)

 

 

 

 

 

As always, Happy Writing (and Happy Researching)!

 

 

Advice from Women Writers

 

Don’t romanticize your ‘vocation’. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle’. All that matters is what you leave on the page.

—Zadie Smith


This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.

—Barbara Kingsolver


First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.

—Octavia Butler


Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

—Margaret Atwood


Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.

—Anne Lamott


It’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote.

—Tina Fey


You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.

—Maya Angelou

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Happy Birthday, Charles Perrault!

In case you didn’t already know, today is the 388th birthday of French writer Charles Perrault, Father of the Fairy Tale. (Now commemorated with a Google Doodle!)

A few facts on the fantastical Monsieur Perrault…

  • He was born and died in Paris, France, January 12, 1628 – May 16, 1703.
  • “While the Brothers Grimm are widely credited with creating the fairy tale as we know it, Perrault actually wrote Le Petit Chaperon rouge, La Belle au bois dormant, and Cendrillon a full 200 years before.” —Rhiannon Williams, The Telegraph
  • “In 1671 he was elected to the Académie Française, which soon was sharply divided by the dispute between the Ancients and the Moderns. Perrault supported the Moderns, who believed that, as civilization progresses, literature evolves with it and that therefore ancient literature is inevitably more coarse and barbarous than modern literature.” —Encyclopedia Britannica 
  • His most famous literary work, Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals: Tales of Mother Goose, contained only eight stories. Of course, they are eight that have influenced Western literature for centuries now: Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Blue Beard, The Fairies, Cinderella, Ricky with the Tuft, and Little Tom Thumb.
  • “He borrowed several elements from stories that were already widely narrated, but provided what were then modern twists to the narrative. Moreover, the act of presenting them in written form was itself an unprecedented move at the time, and made him a true pioneer of storytelling.”
  • “…in a symbolically significant gesture, [Perrault] did not publish [Tales of Mother Goose] under his own name but rather under the name of his son, Pierre.” —D. L. Ashliman, University of Pittsburgh 
ChPerrault
Portrait by Philippe Lallemand

It’s Here! It’s Here!

The winter issue of Menacing Hedge is out at last, and it features one of my latest short stories, “New Skin.” Check it out now :-)

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Flower Still Life
Flower Still Life; Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Dutch, 1573 – 1621; 1614; Oil on copper; Unframed: 30.5 x 38.9 cm (12 x 15 5/16 in.), Framed: 47 x 55.2 x 4.4 cm (18 1/2 x 21 3/4 x 1 3/4 in.); 83.PC.386

Here are just a few of my personal favorites from this issue:

  • Jen Stein’s prose poem “Hiraeth” (look up the definition of the title if you don’t already know what it means; it’s absolutely perfect!)

A strange journey through the worlds of writing and publishing

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