Sema (A Tale of the Northern Clan) now on Penumbra

Few things make me happier than knowing my work is appreciated.

By editors and publishers.

Readers, definitely. Other authors, oh yeah.

And editors and publishers? Yeah, you betcha.

Such is the case with Sema (A Tale of the Northern Clan).

The Northern Clan stories started out quite differently. The first one, written in the early 1970s, dealt with someone becoming aware of their magical powers and realizing the responsibility their use entailed.

What is it based on? Well, first, myself and my experiences (I’ve often stated I write autobiography).

Do I think I have magical powers?

Of course I have magical powers. I write stories, don’t I? What can be more magical than that?

And specifically, the story is a metaphor of growing up, becoming aware of one’s needs, abilities, and responsibilities in the world. More than growing hair in funny places, the original Tale of the Northern Clan was written before the concept of a Northern Clan existed and simply dealt with dealing with new feelings, new wants and desires, and deciding whether they would rule your life or you’d rule them in your life.

What teenager hasn’t experienced that?

For that matter, what late sixties-year-old hasn’t experienced that?

That original story received praise from early readers (we didn’t have the concept of “first readers” in the early 1970s) and I was never satisfied with it. The first version of Sema came out in 1988, went through several revisions, and now appears in Penumbra (it’s also in my Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires anthology), and somewhere in the middle of Sema‘s revisions I realized it and several other stories-in-progress were all part of a single mythology and thus The Tales of the Northern Clan was born.

That original story is still in progress and should be done early Spring 2022.

Meanwhile, enjoy Sema (A Tale of the Northern Clan).

 
Enjoy!

Cold War

My first draft of Cold War is dated 22 Jul 1987 and is based on my experiences in the arctic and working for USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs. I wrote the story for a workshop. Self-reflection and -inspection wasn’t in vogue at that time and wouldn’t be for another five or so years. Most stories presented were tech driven and bored me. The one or two character driven stories were weak because the character aspect had to break through the tech aspect.

Anyway, since then it’s been published in Midnight Zoo ’92, Horizons Science Fiction ’99, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires 2016, and Daikaijuzine Sept 2020.

Enjoy.

Cold War

Home is…south? Gotta be. Everything’s south.

Which way is south? Can’t smell it anymore. Damn compass froze, it’s so cold.

Cold didn’t bother me the first 250 miles. Neither did the glare of the sun. Or the endless white. Or the total lack of smells. Someone told me there’d be weird smells up here. There aren’t any. Not this far north. There’s the smell of the ocean, humming beneath this glacier. I could smell the snow at first. That stopped after a few hours, after my mind got so use to the smell of white that it got blocked out. The winds don’t howl like I thought they would. They wouldn’t this time of year, anyway. But they whisper. The glacier surface is so flat I can hear conversations back in Mantinac Bay. They come to me when I let my mind rest, when I lay down to sleep. That’s not like in-country. You lay down in-country, any thing’s got legs uses you for an LZ, a runway. The ice surface is uneven, though. Up close it’s uneven. That’s like in-country. But nothing crawls over you. Nothing living, nothing but the wind.

I don’t sleep that much anymore. The monitor’s attached to my chest. Physically attached. They sowed it into me where the skin is thickest. So I can’t sleep on my stomach and when I sleep on my back I can see this damn little red light blink blink blink. Blink blink blink. Keeps you up all night, you know? Blink blink blink.

How much farther? I use to be able to do this in my head when I started. Mantinac to the Pole is nine-hundred sixty klicks. I’ve gone four-hundred. What does that leave?

It’s a long trip. Some nut told me the ice would smooth out. This from a guy with a Ph.D. in cold weather research. Guy learned from a book. That was back at USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs in Hanover, New Hampshire. New Hampshire can get cold, when the Montreal Express comes in the from the north and we get a Nor’Easter heading in from the Maritimes. One year we had a snow squall New England style. That’s a hurricane in winter. It got cold. Not like this. This is a dry cold. They didn’t modify me right. I can feel it. Right up my legs to where my willy used to be. I can feel it.

I started with just over nine-hundred kilos of supplies. Stupid bastards. Over nine-hundred kilos in the sled, my body weight just under a metric ton. Oh yeah. They figured this one right. Each time my feet splayed, the fishtails on my soles picked up little slivers of ice that worked their way in. Deep. Kind of like shin splints that itch. I’ve only used a third of the supplies. That part of the design went right, anyway. Big as I am, I don’t need much food anymore. How ’bout that, mom? Mother never raised no tiny children, she used to say. What you think of your poor boy now, momma? They took what you and papa made one night and made me something no woman will look at again.

Everybody thinks they find test subjects in jails. He’s a lifer, he’ll do this to get out. Maybe a college student who needs extra beer money. Oh, and there’s this one, where they volunteer some private to go hazard. You know how Garrett got to be The Flash? Fricken’ lightening hits his lab bench and douses him with chemicals. Fricken’ Bruce Banner would have a tumor the size of a football if he ever sat in a gamma ray like they said. Remember ‘When Captain America throws his mighty shield’? The next line should have been ‘That ninety pound wimp gets a dick as hard as steel.’

Used to read comics all the time. Can’t remember too many of them now.

How much further do I have to go?

Got this thing in the side of my head. They said it was like what they did to help me walk after Charlie sent me a baseball as I jumped off the Rome. I never walked right. They said they would fix all that, too. Make me a fricken’ Steve Austin. Fuck. This thing in my head, under this plate, it listens to me and signals some satellite where I am and how I’m doing okay.


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The Boy Who Loved Horses

Years ago I studied in Appalachia and met some amazing people. The Boy Who Loved Horses came from my time spent with them.

It’s had a long publishing history: Pulphouse May ’94, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires 2016, and Allegory May 2020.

Enjoy.

The Boy Who Loved Horses

I was born in a town like this. Mine’s on the eastern ridge and closer to Raleigh. My town had the same dirt roads, the same one-room wooden church, the same old store where you asked for things instead of getting them yourself, the same people but with different faces, the same old men carrying coon rifles, girls getting married when they’re thirteen and younger, having kids before they’re through being kids themselves, the same sense of what’s ours and what’s not. I left my town and got educated. Made it into the extension service. Decided to come back and help others in towns like mine. My education didn’t take all the hill out of me, though. Knew enough to carry a gun in case I got too close to a still. But it did take some of the hill away. I forgot about towns like this.

I came here about a year ago; my big, state-issue Buick all shiny as it passed suspicious eyes. The state needed a count of school age children to qualify for funding and I came to count the children in this town.

Hill’re wary of anything new. They saw my car and suit and whispered “city” as I passed. It was true. When I come to this town, I acted like I was an educated man and everybody was suspicious of me. I went into the general store and bought a pop, sat down and tried to talk with some of the folk. Took me a while, but I got a nod, then a wink, then a smile. Turns out some of us had kin.

Eventually had to tell them why I came. They got quiet after that. I asked if there was some place I could spend the night. Nobody said. I should’ve left. I know hill. I known the signs. One of the men, Burt, left. The rest of us talked some more and, when there was no more to say, I thanked them all and left.

I saw Burt as I drove out of town. He was walking, two steps forward and one step back, and I could tell he was tasting squeeze since he left the store. Should’ve kept on driving. Should’ve known. Hill’s got mysteries they need to keep. “Hey, Burt, you need a ride?” I opened the door for him and he winked and handed me his bottle getting in.

Burt lived in a cabin up a short, rutty, old road about a mile out of town. We drove there talking hill, talking kin. By the time we got to Burt’s cabin, he was smelling like a coon’s been rolling in ‘shine. There was another jug on his table. He offered me more but drank most of it himself. “They won’t tell you about the boy,” he said.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
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“AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: INTERVIEW WITH JOSEPH CARRABIS” now on JustineManzano.com

I met Joseph Carrabis through his former publisher. He’s a fun guy with a wonderful imagination, and a very interesting past in marketing. Today, we’re going to talk all about that, and he’s going to introduce you to his work.

 
The great and glorious (and everwise. mustn’t forget everwise) Justine Manzano, author of The Order of the Key and other novels, interviewed me on her blog.

We talked about The Augmented Man, my writing process, music I write by, my publishing plan (currently in phase III of IV), examples of good publishers and an example of a bad publisher, blogging about wildlife, and more.

Give it a read.

And comment. It’s always nice when you comment.

“The Weight” is in The Fifth Di… December 2020

This has been a great year for me publications-wise, and it’s capped off with The Weight‘s appearance in the Dec 2020 The Fifth Di…

The Weight has an interesting history. The story grew from meeting Peter Frampton when I was (considerably) younger. I wrote about that meeting in Peter Frampton – The Weight. The story was published by The Granite Review (now defunct) in 1995 and nominated for the Pushcart Prize (didn’t win, but hey, I got nominated). It’s next appearance was in my self-published Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires anthology.

And now, The Weight is in The Fifth Di… Dec 2020.

Thanks to Tyree Campbell and the rest of the Hireath Books crew for accepting my work.