Monday, April 14, 2008

Under the weather, reading

I'm not feeling so great today, as the temperature climbs ( we are in sharav season - a scorchingly hot, dry desert wind which blows from the Arabian Desert - which means it's getting hot hot hot), my body is refusing to cope. Lethargy has taken hold, and a rather unpleasant dry cough. I was trying so hard to stay well and not to pick up every germ going. Two months isn't so bad, I guess. My head is too foggy to do much but play Scrabulous and surf the web.

However, the post just came, and with it some very welcome new reading material to cheer me up:

First, Mslexia (which always has the same smell, has anyone else noticed?), the magazine for women who write. While I loved this mag when it began, I have been pretty disappointed with their fiction selections and, frankly, do now wonder if "women who write" need their own magazine? Perhaps some of the WWW could comment here and let me know. I used to find their listings, calls for submissions and contests invaluable, but with the wonder of the inter-web, with their quarterly publication schedule they seem out of date, to say the least. For WHW who aren't web-connected, this is great (I know at least one WWW who still refuses to become webified, so there is a market). Anyhow, not holding out great hopes for the fiction, or the article on How to Write a Bestseller, but the nice news is that they have reviewed Vanessa's collection, Words from a Glass Bubble, and it is a lovely review, congrats V!

On to slightly more exciting and uncharted waters. Having reviewed the Logorrhea anthology for The Short Review in which most of the writers write science fiction, and now reading Kelley Eskridge's wonderful Dangerous Spaces, described to me as "feminist science fiction", for the next issue, my eyes have been opened to the genre, which is not at all what I thought (a cross between Star Trek, Star Wars and a bit of Buffy). It seems that today's science fiction is not necessarily set on alternate worlds but in our world with a twist. And it seemed to me that this is what I often do in my stories, something akin to magical realism. So, I thought I should take a look at some sci-fi/speculative lit mags and see if there is a place for me.

Two arrived this morning:

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet
(which wins the prize for Best Lit Mag Name Ever): it is not so impressive on first glance, seemingly photocopied. Yet the openings of some of the ten short stories are very intriguing:

The new sickness. I stopped being able to sleep.

The curmudgeon's face was not immediately visible as I stepped outside to embrace the still autumn air.

It is Christmas Eve. Rain rushes black down black walls.
No aliens, spaceships, wierd life forms...yet. And an article on New Wave and Speculative fiction in Japan. I will keep you posted.

Sybil's Garage is the second mag. This one is glossy, fabulous colour cover, mouth-watering. Also intriguing first lines:

The night is a blackbird and it lives on Gemma's arm.

Third grade was the winter that Nicholas' little sister died and that Audrey first decided to bring her back from the dead.

Noff sat last and alone, thinking on sidebars and footnotes as the text of her life threatened to overwhelm her.

I must say, I am excited about diving in to the unknown in these two magazines. None of the writers' names are familiar to me. A whole new world. How thrilling.


Kerry said...

Oooh! Good first lines - you have almost made me want to read some sci-fi. An urge, which I assure you, has never arisen before! Good luck with the subs and get well soon :)

Little Jezebel said...

Hope you feel better soon! I am so glad I chanced upon your blog. I will definitely become a regular!

OSLO said...

I think you've made a good point about Mslexia not benig as useful as it may once have been; since joining an online writers' group, its arrival doesn't fill me with the excitement and determination to write more that it once did. I subscribed initially as I had no writer friends and, once a quarter, it made me feel less isolated. You're right too that the www is a much better source for submission and competition info. I'm still waiting on this month's issue which seems to be lost in the mail. Of course I'm determined to get into their New Writing section just because it's such a tangible, if not unachievable goal, but admit to only reading some of the fiction that does get in :-) Completely agree about the weird and distinct smell- I wonder what it is.

Anne Brooke said...

Dare I say it? I hate Mslexia!! So 1970s and old-fashioned! I say scrap it and start again ... hush my mouth.

Hope you're feeling better soon though ...



Tania Hershman/The Short Review said...

Kerry - do read some, go on! I've read a few of the stories now and really enjoyed them. I think "sci fi" means "let your imagination run wild", it is liberating somehow. Great stuff.

Little Jezebel - thanks for stopping by!

Oslo - I understand about wanting to get into the New Writing section, I've been trying for years. Writing to their themes has inspired some interesting stories, so I don't regret that. The main question is: do you like what they publish? If not, then there are SO many other places to send work to. I've got a load of my favourite lit mags on my website here . Enjoy!

Anne - there's no need to hush, you are completely right. Let's sing it loud! WWW don't need magazines for WWW :) THanks for your good wishes, you've cheered me up.


OSLO said...

Thank you for the lit magazine list; that's very useful.

Vanessa G said...

I hope you'se feeling better!

I love modern well written genre... have a look at GUD for example... even my stuff fits sometimes.

I tend to agree about the fiction in Mslexia, although I have seen a few strong pieces in the bland forgettable stufff. That's the test for this reader... how many Mslexia stories can you remember? Not the titles, but the characters, their stories?

Not many! er... two?

and the flashes... aaagh. What do they think flash writing is for heavens sake? They aren't exactly doing the readers/writers any favours here.

But I do think there is a lot of useful stuff in there. I always get a lot from the writing craft exercises, the insights from well published writers, the calls for subs (yes I know you can get much of it from the web, but its nice to have it there)... the 'what's on' pages, sorted by region, and the reviews!!

I love the reviews (of course...) especially as they chose Bubble's cover to illustrate the short story collection reviews, and stuck mine first!

Mind you, having called Ann Enright a genius (which she IS..) it would have been a hard act to follow, so I'm glad they put Taking Pictures last!

Women Rule Writer said...

Mslexia, hrmmn. So I'm not the only one with a love-hate relationship with it. I sometimes hate the cryptic/smarmy tone of the articles. I cancelled my sub for a couple of years, then re-subscribed cos a friend lent me hers and I felt I was missing out, on the Calls for Subs section especially. Stopped tying to get into their writing section as they clearly don't like what I do.
And yet and yet, I still get a buzz from it.

Tania Hershman/The Short Review said...

Hi V - I am glad you find Mslexia useful, yes the reviews are good. I tend to avoid the craft sections, somehow I feel it never applies to me, that it's not talking about the kind of fiction I write. Well, sometimes it's not about fiction at all. I will look more closely.

WRW - yes, cryptic-smarmy tone, I do agree with that. But glad that you still get a buzz, for some reason it brings out the cynic in me!