Friday, December 30, 2016

The Goblin of Wishes -- a flashfic

For my blog entry this time, I offer a poetic, weird little flashfic for fun. My gift to this month of December, 2016.

The Goblin of Wishes

Wendy Rathbone

On a moon called Firelight, in a sector of space more like black marble than hollow void, lived the goblin of wishes.
Where he walked, all energy bent and curved beneath him like candle flame. His hair leaked phosphorescence. He gave off a sugared scent.
At his core lay cold dark like longing, the taste of far voyages and dreamless nights.
No one who encountered him could capture and keep him, though many tried, hoping they could force him to make their wishes come true.
One day, in a starship shaped like a twist of ribbon, came three astronauts from three different sectors of space.
They kidnapped the goblin of wishes and put him in rooms of silk, behind bars of gold.
The goblin never defended himself. He was taken easily, with nets made of lilies and silver foam, and led to the cage where all of manner currency to buy his services awaited him. Poems. Rings. Roses. Pretty cards with funny bears on them. Promises. Violins. Wine. Rain sounds on a curtained window.
He was given furs and leather, shirts of taffeta. Boots of dragon scale. Kilts of alien light.
Songs carved from the tongues of extinct fairies filled the rooms.
The goblin sat among his beautiful gifts, in his prison, and said nothing.
He watched his captors with still eyes that rarely blinked, watched what they favored, how they moved and talked, what they ate, studied their language and what might be missing.
He knew what they wanted from him. It was why they treated him well.
One day, the astronaut called Million came to him and said, “If you can give me my heart’s desire, I will drug the others and set you free.”
The goblin produced, as if from the air, a small oval hand-mirror in a frame carved with images of snakes eating each other’s tails.
Million took the mirror and looked into it. He cried out, for within were the ghostly images of his wife and daughter, dead from an alien plague.
“This is a trick!” he said. “I will never set you free!” But he took the mirror anyway, and could not stop looking into it.
The edge of the goblin’s mouth lifted in a half-smile at the word “free”, for these astronauts were incapable of holding him forever, for they were mortal and he was not.
The second astronaut, Clea, came to see him later that evening when the ship was humming quietly and the goblin could hear the sad, grieving dreams of Million as he slept, and the erotic dreams of the third astronaut as he dozed in a fitful slumber.
Clea had blue hair and doll-like brown eyes, but those two traits were all that were physically beautiful about her. The rest of her—face, hands, body—was lumpy and scarred. Her mouth formed a hole beneath purple, misshapen cheeks.
“No one will love me because of how I look,” Clea told the goblin. “If you can help me, I will find a way to return you to your moon.”
As if from thin air, the goblin produced the loveliest mask in the galaxy, with filigreed edges and a feathered crown. Lunar lavender rhinestones outlined the holes for the eyes.
“You want me to wear that? Ridiculous! Offensive! Monstrous!”
But Clea took the mask from him anyway and left, her promise to let him go unfulfilled.
The goblin waited two days for the third astronaut, Gren, to visit.
The first thing Gren said to him was, “Clea and Million are not happy.”
The goblin watched Gren as he paced before the golden bars of the caged room. Gren had a kind face and smile, but he seemed shy. His black hair fell in a glossy braid down his back. He had a habit of chewing his lower lip. He would not allow his body to be still, to be himself.
“You fulfilled their wishes in ways they do not like. I’m not sure if I should ask you what you might have in store for my wish.”
The goblin did not need Gren to voice his wish. He’d felt it through the ship’s bulkheads for three days. He motioned Gren close. The young man hesitated, but finally moved forward until his chin nearly touched the bars.
The goblin came to him. Their faces were very close. Through the bars he leaned in and kissed Gren delicately on the lips.
Gren was the only one who hadn’t promised the goblin anything for his wish.
But it was Gren who stayed with the goblin after he took him home, where space is more like black marble than hollow void.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Good News Despite Set-Backs

Writing, whether it is part-time or full-time, is one of those occupations that is a continuous roller-coaster with ups and downs that never end. No matter how much experience or how many sales and publications you have under your belt, the let-downs happen, the set-backs occur. It requires a tough approach, a thick skin. Just when you think you're up, bad news floats in. Amidst the bad news, good news can pop in at any time. You never know. But you have to remember that the good does happen.

I have faced a lot of rejection this year, probably because I marketed my work more heavily this year than in the past. But I have also had some great acceptances. After all my years of playing off and on in various writing genres, I still find rejection hard. It's stupid, really, because editor tastes are individual and not for all, and because the competition is fierce and good things get rejected simply because editors can't fit all the good stuff they get into their projects. But still, rejection in general makes me second-guess myself, question myself. And these are dangerous waters to tread.

So I like to focus on the good, and on accomplishment. And this year I have had a lot. Here's the list:

I sold a novel to a real publisher. "The Android and the Thief" will be out from Dreamspinner Press April 2017.

I sold a novella. "Eve of the Great Frost" will be out in the holiday anthology "This Wish Tonight" from Mischief Corner Books December 14, 2016.

I published "The Coming of the Light," a sequel to my novel "The Moonling Prince."

I published a book of poetry, "Dead Starships."

I had a long poem nominated for the Rhysling Award.

I had a poem win third place in a long poem category of a poetry contest. It won a $25 award. You can read it here: We Shall Meet in the Star-Spackled Ruins.

I had poems published in Asimov's, Eye to the Telescope #21 and #22, Love is Love, and Lupine Lunes.

I focus on all these positive things on this list to keep myself going into the next year. It is about pushing forward, always striving to do better. I have a lot of writing experience, but the more I do, sometimes it feels like the less I know. Writing is about trusting. Running blind. Stepping off a ledge into the unknown. You just have to do it and hope. And then repeat and repeat and repeat.

I have more projects for the coming year, 2017. I am working on a new queer scifi romance called "Lake in the Stars". I am working on a new poetry collection called "Superheroes Take Over the World". I am working on a collection of the best of my best queer vampire stories, "Bitters," which will be out very soon (since all of it is already written).

I will not lie that disappointments for me in being a writer, and doing my very best, run vast and deep, but I keep looking at my list of accomplishments from just this year and I know I can go on. I'm not griping, I'm just saying that it's a very hard road. I always wanted to do this full-time, and I can't.
The enthusiasm and excitement with which I approach it comes with a lot of hair-pulling, anxiety and even resentment. Every writer overcomes these things in their own ways, but the battles are real. This has been both a good year for me, and a hard year. But I am off and running into new projects, new hopes, new dreams.

I look forward to 2017 and all it will bring.

Winter Fantasy

the utterances of
the winter dragon
his breaths of ice
snow over the tiny

sleepy town