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Jenn Grunigen
19 March 2016 @ 12:55 am

There isn't much I can say right now, only that I need to write something. Words not winding or aslant will come later. In the meantime, prose poetry.

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In the Hammer's Wake.

I expected the ocean, the tidepool big as a cauldron full of wyrd that looked down through the earth and showed stars. I expected cobralillies, digesting mnemosynic silver in their freckled pregnant bellies, rimmed 'round the sunken place where the sea ended, rimed in blue frost. I expected that fossegrim fiddling in the briny turmoil and the steel strings wrapped 'round my neck, biting, and the cold salt in my mouth and the confusion over whether it was ocean or blood grown slow in my veins. But I never expected you.

You, terroir and terror, a sheaf of ribs in your hand, red wheat. You trod the seafloor, dense, a dying star.

When mjölnir fell, there was a song. Fiddling and fixenwhine, that golden apple wine of Iðunn, how did you forget? Mjölnir fell and you stood there laughing. I found you down in the ocean, I stood on the rim of Thor's Well and when the waters receded, there you were, draped in dulse, rust searibbon aflap, your arms aloft, hands open. An octopus and squid had you, asquirm and wrapped 'round your legs, a starfish on your hip, your hair caught up in urchins. You smiled and smelt fled into the antigravity.

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sound: Aerial Ruin and Opeth
 
 
Jenn Grunigen
27 February 2016 @ 12:12 pm

From November, 2015:

Last night on campus I found a squirrel with two broken legs. I was on my bike, ready for another restless night of pacing in and out of Old Nick's whenever I feel its time to head elsewhere or riverward (not that I ever make it to the river; I stop at the trees for something to climb or hold onto or sit under). But I couldn't keep on. Have you ever seen something crawl on its belly? Not by choice, but because it had no other choice. It is not comfortable. The squirrel's back legs were limp and splayed; it dragged itself toward the road, belly to wet cement, then gave up and turned for a corner.

My fucking conscience spoke up and I headed to the library for a box, then returned to the squirrel. It hadn’t made the corner. I put it in the box. I don’t know if this was the right thing to do, fuck my conscience, probably it was the wrong thing and anthropocentric, but if I were a squirrel with broken back legs I wouldn’t want to die underfoot near a road. In hindsight, I didn’t do a good thing.

I rode one-handed with a squirrel in a box wrapped in a towel all under one arm, praying the frat boys in their clone suits could hold off their jay walking so I could pass without braking abruptly and having to explain why I was throwing broken-legged squirrels at them. At Old Nick’s, I walked in, I walked out, waiting and winding myself up and chasing dogs off from the squirrel. Then Disemballerina, who were good and what I needed. It felt nice and cathartic and not, to sit on the floor and hide my face and get a hug and a candle from a friend who sat beside me awhile. I panicked in the way I know best (quiet) until the music was over and none of this has anything has anything to do with squirrels, but none of this really does and anyway, I write what I want.

Then the last note and I stood and things were better in the way that cresting a hill and seeing the forest is better, only it’s still far, so you smile and put your head down and keep on. Then I am Skaði. Then shots of icemelt, because that’s what the water at Old Nick’s makes me think of, every time. Then alar, because how can everything be all right and utterly not at the same time, then time dilation and Fae chronology, because in a moment there is every moment from there until another that is white and vodka and linen and birch/birch and goat hide and respite and deltoid, and then even further back (stars, trees, eyes) and then back again.

I suspected the squirrel was dead by then, but I took it up Skinner’s Butte anyway. Really muddy. At the top, I took it from the box; it didn’t move. Dead, almost there. I knew, then, I had been wrong. There is no kindness in intention. I had waited and I was cruel. I opened my knife and spoke to the squirrel. I told it I had no right, I didn’t know what else to do, I’m sorry, I’m nothing and we’re scaled and the choice was never mine. Only then it had to be, because I had gone that far.

After a point I was only talking to delay my hand. I shut the fuck up.

Stabbing is harder than it looks. I need to practice my aim.

I put my knife in the ground, then through the squirrel’s throat slantwise, and the brain was as bright a gray as winter overcast. No blood, so, dead already? I only felt something before I dropped my knife, craven; after that, nothing. Just motion, up down. I laughed, wry, when I had to pry my knife from its skull.

I didn’t bury the squirrel.

After, I watched the stars on my back in the leaves.

 
 
sound: Hretha
 
 
Jenn Grunigen
20 September 2015 @ 01:16 am

Octopi, otters and a fox raised by chickens! (+ much, much more)

This is the first in a series of Storyfox-related interviews. Most will concern foxes, but today’s interview is a bit broader in scope, focusing instead on Mary Lowd’s relationship to animals in narrative. Show notes are below.

STORYFOX podcast, episode 1: Mary Lowd

Interview Audio
Interview Transcript

Mary E. Lowd is a science-fiction and furry author, best known for her novel Otters In Space.  She’s had three novels and more than fifty short stories published so far.  Her fiction has won an Ursa Major Award and two Cóyotl Awards.  She also edited a collection of furry fiction, ROAR 6, for FurPlanet.  She’s a member of SFWA, the Furry Writers’ Guild, a judge for the Cat Writers’ Association, and co-chair of the Wordos. Mary lives with her husband, two children, and a bevy of cats and dogs in a crashed spaceship, disguised as a house in Oregon.

Homepage:  www.marylowd.com
Free fiction:  http://marylowd.com/free-fiction.html
Twitter:  @Ryffnah

 
 
 
 
Jenn Grunigen
02 September 2015 @ 11:16 pm

The road between deadend Voluspa on the outskirts of the Bogachiel and the salt-pocked driftwood spat out by the Pacific is long, though not by birdflight. The road layers switchbacks upon itself heavy as intestines and I am only halfway inland, still looking for somewhere where I no longer feel like getting a lobotomy, so I asked to be let out of the copper Toyota that’s fourteen tones of red and rust. Actually, I’m meeting up with friends at a bar in an inconsequential town, but that’s not till night time and so I have time. The rain is only damp cold troll’s breath on my neck, so I keep my hood down and ask for a pound of smoked salmon from the man selling fish out the back of his truck on the side of the road under heavy moss and usnea. I was hungry and I can always find another ride and sitting in a car has always felt like giving away a part of my soul, anyway.

The salmon seller wears his rain jacket with his hood down, too, and his hair is heavy with mist, damp-mat of pounded cedar bark and just as rich a menstrual crimson. I take my food and rip the vacuum with my teeth, even though my right incisors are still young and soapstone soft and will die before growing old; I am hungry. He watches my first bite, I watch back and see him stripped to the blue and freckle of his skin-over-bone in the bend and froth of rivers, fossegrim without his fiddle beneath maidenhair and spiny wood fern. Blink and it’s rain jacket and hiking boots and waterbead on his blood red lashes. I don’t smile. I walk toward my game in the woods and eat fish and lick liquid smoke molasses brine from the bag’s inside and try not to think about the man who is still asleep six hours behind me and won’t wake for another two hours because it is only nine am and he spent the night counting the wrong things and now can’t attend, while I counted each hour last night—three, of course three, three (and one) says fairy tale morphology, three’s the charm (but fehu has four branches, maybe that’s why it works) three as I beg/end my try/fail cycle. But I’ve only had one, though you’d never guess from the red dry winterbleed of my hands, no white-banded skin cold as the veil I never wore. I don’t think in threes, except when it comes to men, because three hours pass before the fish-seller pulls up beside me on his way home and offers me a ride. Three hours, three hours, three men, one I left in bed, one whose bed I have never seen, though the known and unknown collide in a terrifying sympathetic note like yawping up an empty stairwell alone at midnight or hearing water dripping in an elevator shaft each time I relearn how to talk to him. In The Bed is the one I know how to leave, like I did this morning, because I had the chance, I had chance, took a chance, last chance and know I will come home because I am always coming home and that is misfortune.

There is music as we ride. I watch the fish-seller trapped in the window glass, beads of rain racing up his jaw, his chin, his cheeks to his hairline like he is crying upside down and soon I imagine him wet again with his burgundy hair slicked back, some salmon-eating undine and then—stop, stop, stop, I know where this is going and it’s nowhere good, it’s everything good like crossing the threshold when there is a storm to greet you on the road and I am on the road and I am no Loki, bound, though I am bound for a bar and drinks and god, I hope they have pear cider. The man beside me speaks and I pause the narrative always tongue lolling from inner calcified cambium to beneath my heels. He wants to know where I am going. I catch myself and redirect the palm placed over my sternum and if I looked relieved to see his understanding I hide it quickly and point at the leaf-skinned pavement, thattaway, I’ll tell you when to stop and if you don’t, if you keep driving until empty and we have to walk for the sea because saltwater is the closest we have to gasoline, then. Then we wade in until we are floating in the great kelp beds of the Pacific because it was only all ever an excuse to step into the sea and we will have arrived, somewhere.

…………………. ………………………….  …………………. . ………………..

I recommend this as musical accompaniment:

 
 
where?: roadward
sound: fossegrim fiddling
 
 
Jenn Grunigen
02 September 2015 @ 11:15 pm

I should be writing about a fossegrim from the deep south or, at the very least, foxes, but I read something beautiful this morning and the only way I can think to undistract myself from it is by writing about it.

This morning I went for a very wet and semi-long bike ride. It was my first in awhile. I had my one and only wisdom tooth extracted two weeks ago, so I’d been taking it easy, because apparently your face needs time to heal after your mouth’s been stuffed full of fingers and sawed-up tooth. What I’m trying to say is that the bike ride would have been good no matter what, because I was out and in my head for the first time in too long. But when I woke this morning, the clouds were steady in the sky and I felt safe packing my rain jacket before heading out, which means the weather was promising that my ride would be more than good.

By the time I reached the Willamette, rain was falling hard. I stopped under the train tracks for a drink of water and to put on my jacket. My boots were soaked halfway across the bridge over the river. I could have been miserable, but I felt more euphoric than pissed off. I looked upstream and all I could see was an oceanic microcosm, a white island jagged with evergreens on a backdrop of fog, a scene straight out of Deception’s Pass at dawn. Then I was off the bridge and into forest, leafdamp, leatherdamp, hardturn close call wipeout and I fuck you not, all I could think is I’ve never been happier.

Theodora Goss got it right in her blog post this morning:

I think that beauty is an underlying order that captures and encompasses chaos…It does not make us more comfortable. What it makes us feel, I believe, is more alive.

And how could I not write about that after such a beautiful ride? Because it wasn’t just mud and prime salamander grounds and river so still you probably could have tread on it–it was also me, in my head, thinking and not thinking. Thinking about things I shouldn’t think about or feel. Thinking about shape and form and red and rune and want and ace and aro and sex and twins and unreachable gravity wells. When I’m out, alone, especially in the rain and under the trees, I just am. I am. I. Am. (Someone please take note of that reference.) And I am both fucked up and breathtaking. Not to anyone else–but maybe to myself, close to almost. I am a mess and at most myself, and that is fucking beautiful.

 
 
sound: Pain of Salvation - Road Salt I, Road Salt II
 
 
 
Jenn Grunigen
30 August 2015 @ 01:17 pm

When I was a kid, I was always writing books. None of them were ever much over two hundred and fifty pages and the first one, something about a dog, a dog thief and a girl named Jenn (hey, that’s me) written at nine years old, was twenty pages (totally still a novel). But by age thirteen or fourteen I had four book-shaped things, plus numerous projects started and never finished. In ninth grade or tenth grade I watched The Matrix for the first time. Two hours after I finished the film I started writing a book about dreams and reality. It was first called Puzzle and last called The Dream Tree. In the space of eight years, I started to rewrite it seven times and rewrote it fully for my undergrad senior project. Then I rewrote it a third time and edited that draft from 95k words down to 48k, which was probably a little drastic. After all that, you’d think I’d have learned something. But I didn’t know how to write a novel before Puzzle, I didn’t know how write one during Puzzle and I still didn’t know how after The Dream Tree.

Somewhere during the time that Puzzle became The Dream Tree, the author Karina Cooper told me to escape. Run away. Stop. Just stop beating the horse dead in the rain.(She didn’t say that, exactly; she was nicer. But let’s be brutal here.) I listened, but not really, and continued wasting my time.Compulsion is strong in me and I have a hard time letting go even when I know I need to. But it wasn’t just a matter of writing this one book over and over. When I was a kid, everything was a novel. Every idea was worth tens of thousands of words.

I don’t know why, maybe because books were it. They were big. They were better because of their greater gravity. But actually, I think it’s because they were all I knew. I didn’t read poetry or short fiction as a child, not unless it was mandatory for school, in which case of course I did (remember my compulsive compulsion?). But even though novels were all I read, I didn’t actually know a thing about them. I knew, sort of, how to read them. I definitely knew how get high on them. I wrote them start to finish, but not very well. Of course, I thought I knew them, but the further I got from them, the more I realized that, no matter how close we’d been, I hadn’t known a thing. I listened, but didn’t engage.

A month after moving to Montana, I finished that third full draft of The Dream Tree and finally listened to Karina Cooper’s good advice.I finished my 47k wordhack, realized the book was broken. I don’t think I’ve opened that file since. I read The Melancholy of Mechagirl and At the Mouth of the River of Bees, two collections that were pivotal. I started writing more short fiction and joined a writer’s group, were I met Richard, a friend full of snark and wordlove, who told me that applying to MFA programs was a shitty idea, because I already had a voice and stories, and that I knew what I needed to do to figure the rest out. Once again, I didn’t listen. His advice was good, but I think that this time I made the right decision. I ended up in a Master’s program of folklore and it’s both good and upsetting. I finished my first year in June. I don’t think I’ve ever been further from novels than during those nine months. All I wanted to do was write stories. Instead, I wrote papers and annotated bibliographies. We were long-distance lovers, novels and I (especially bad because I hate phones and it was all one-sided, anyway), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them clearer than in my first year of grad school. Distance does wonders. (Side note: Richard’s amazeballs–he’ll appreciate that word–The Flood Girls is due out from Simon and Schuster February 2016. Fuck yeah. If you’re reading this Richard, I want an ARC, hahaha.)

When I moved from Montana to Oregon to begin my folklore degree I was deep into a sword and sorcery novel about wormholes and magpies and revenge. I reached 65k words before the term started. I haven’t looked at the manuscript since. I spent the fall, winter and spring reading and writing about foxes, studying Swedish, philology, cosmogony, eschatology, and some of the stuff in between. The only novels I read were during a fiction seminar I took from the university’s MFA program and The Blue Fox, excusable because it was vulpine and relevant. I read probably a couple novel’s worth of fanfiction–sometimes when I had a little down time, but mostly when I had absolutely no time–but no intentional books.

Then summer came and I was supposed to be jobbing, and researching and reading for my terminal thesis project, which I did and am doing. But I got desperate. I read The Republic of Thieves when I was supposed to be reading Convergence Culture. I read The Name of the Wind instead of Marvels and Tales, 2015 (Vol. 29) No. 1, SPECIAL ISSUE: Queer(ing) Fairy Tales. When I wasn’t misbehaving, I did read plenty for my thesis, including Jeff Vandermeer’s Wonderbook, which I think is what really did it. I read Wonderbook parallel to the Lynch and Rothfuss, and while I fried chicken and burritos and jo jos and yet more chicken at Safeway’s deli, I thought about writing books. I’d enjoyed Republic, but Name made me want to write (and just read, forever). But in between reading Le Guin’s Cheek By Jowl for pleasure by way of my annotated bibliography, pretend-coding a database and writing my prospectus, I didn’t actually have much time left for writing. But it turns out that frying chicken leaves you with plenty of time for thinking.

I thought about Wonderbook. I thought about The Name of the Wind. I thought about what was wrong with my magpie book. I thought a lot about wanting to write a book, but I couldn’t think of an idea wide enough and intense enough for a novel. I had ideas, sure, but were they book ideas? Before, when I was a kid, when I was in high school, when I was an undergrad, they would have been, but I wasn’t so sure anymore.

As a kid, I thought about plot and imagery. Plot because I knew that’s what stories are all about*, imagery because Tolkien. This time, I thought about character. Every time I wanted to know how the tale was going to finish, I wrenched my thoughts back to who, and the whys that defined the whos. I thought about many characters, but the ones that stuck were the ones with stories thick enough around them to warrant novels. And it was the around that really got me. I stopped thinking linearly. I thought about what came before and after the pivot point of character, not the story I wanted to write on them. I started with that seed, sure, but I didn’t cling to it. I considered the possibilities.

And that’s what’s most important, I think. I stopped flogging the horse. (It’s still raining, obviously, because I need rain for story writing, and because it’s been smoky and hot in Oregon and if I can’t get it anywhere else, I need rain in my head.) Before, I could recognize when a plot line or scene wasn’t working. So I’d rethink the scene, seeking the key that would make it work. But there’s not always a key, not when all you’re dealing with is brainplay (which is both it’s wonder and its bane). Reading Wonderbook made me realize that I was just trying to unbreak something rather than finish the break and kill it completely. And I understand why I stuck with that method for so long and will probably always have to remind myself that it’s not the only way–beheadings are hard work. Spinal cords are tough. But rather than reviving a scene back to shambling life, I’ve started to wonder what else works. What are my options that have nothing to do with the broken thing at hand? What can I do that’s completely other, unexpected, unplanned? How quickly can I give up a thing and be okay with it?

I think it’s working. After almost a year of knowing I have books in me, but not knowing what they were, I now have a trilogy and two novels to write. Maybe one, two or five of them will fail. But all I know right now is that I’m procrastinating on my thesis not because I’m subscribed to every single Buzzfeed channel on youtube, but because I’m writing.

I’ll be honest: compulsion still dogs me. I still think about The Dream Tree. I haven’t let it go, not completely. There’s something compelling about Fel, Kit and Jiiki, the book’s three main characters–I’m not relinquishing them yet. Their stories aren’t dead–but I don’t think they’re novels, either. There’s an exercise somewhere in Wonderbook, and maybe I keep thinking about it because it feels like a condolence:

Excise a scene from a trunked novel
Keep the scene, the character
Removing the context
Write something new

There, there, little novel. You aren’t dead yet.

But actually? I don’t think it’s a condolence. I think it’s an acknowledgement. I have good ideas, sometimes, but they don’t always come out right. And that’s okay, but beware: repeats might be treacherous. A rebirth might be better. Or maybe go back to the conception. Different egg, different seed, and when you do get around to squeezing that idea out, find a midwife with steadier hands. (Also, be careful around extended metaphors. [That’s probably my favorite advice from Wonderbook.])

Or burn your ideas. I hear that works, too.

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*the asterisk exists to make note of how little I know

 
 
where?: home-ish
 
 
Jenn Grunigen

Don't think I've posted this to LJ yet, so. Here it is (my probably proto-thesis):

STORYFOX
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I’ve been foxbitten. For the past year, I’ve had a vulpine literary foreshadow. I keep finding science fiction and fantasy that’s paw-printed and lushly tailed. I’m not complaining. Quite the opposite. But these glimpses are making me obsessive (foxfoxfox), and as a grad student of Folklore already thinking about thesis ideas, I want to make this into an ongoing project, known simply as this:

Storyfox: a Database of Vulpine Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The obvious question, of course, is this: why foxes? At the moment, I honestly don’t have a well-defined answer (one of many reasons for this project)–thus far, it’s mostly because I’ve got this gut-deep attraction to the creatures. But I’m also drawn to the intersections that seem to be rising to the surface as I explore these fox-laden stories: a meeting of folktales, foxes, gender, sexuality, and the feral/becoming feral.

In time, and with help of the community, I hope to make Storyfox into a sort of database of SF/F works that feature the fleet-footed creatures. Short stories, comics, poetry, novels, films, video games–any kind of media, really, as long as foxes play more than a passing role in the tale. In its present state, this idea of mine is admittedly self-serving, but my intent is for it to evolve into a resource, a reading list, a study of foxes and the reasons they’ve nosed into our media. I know I’m not the only one who’s been breathing vulpine aphrodisiacs, so hopefully this collection will be of interest to others, as well, and help us all find new, fox-boned narratives.

If you want to help gather an endless reading supply foxful of goodness, send on your recommendations and send out the word. Any and all contributions are welcome! THAT SAID. While I’m interested in material from any/all sources–because whatever form it is, whatever state it’s in, it exists and I am thusly curious–I’m especially interested in making this list diverse. Diverse media from a diverse cosmos.

So. Spread the word. Submit links, book/film/etc titles, and I’ll expand the list, which can be found in its current kit-like form, here. If you have anything to add to the list (whether of your own creation, or otherwise), please let me know! You can contact me here, or on twitter.

Thanks much! Now send on the foxes.

 
 
Jenn Grunigen
05 October 2014 @ 09:10 pm

Saw two of my favorite bands back-to-back in late September. Day one, I waited against El Corazon's freshly painted walls, slightly sticky and pungent, the alternate scrape of brick and splinters catching my back. I watched the sky and the planes in it, and waited, and listened to the sound check. Not many people showed up early. More next time, maybe.

That night was Pain of Salvation, of Sweden, of rich and rending and vulnerable music with unbreakable bones. The set they played was good, but cut short by twenty minutes due to…frustrating reasons. It meant they didn't play anything from their most recent albums, which was a little disappointing; the music on Road Salt I and II makes me feel storm-wrecked and campfire-warmed. But they played well and sweaty, nonetheless, and anyway, I've been waiting since I was fourteen to see them, so finally watching them play not a foot from me was a relief. Sometimes release is all you need, and I got a little of that that night (and a hunger), so I'm okay.

The next night was Sonata Arctica of Finland. I've seen them six or seven times now, but the show they played on the twenty-fifth felt like one of the best I've attended. One of the better shows of my life, too. Even managed to worm my way to the stage's front and center, despite being too poor to afford VIP tickets. And as usual, I snared my usual drum stick from Sonata's drummer, Tommy Portimo, which makes that the…sixth? stick he's handed to me personally, with a thank you. Super nice of him, though I'm forever paranoid of the moment he realizes he's been handing drum sticks to the same girl every time he's in Seattle.

The next morning, I was up by 5:30. I had orientation for my grad program five hours south. I photographed my mom's bacon-lattice masterpieces, packed the houseplant she'd been watching, wrapped Cavan's breakfast sandwiches, and said goodbye to her and my dad and the evergreens, and damp air that feeds me better than anywhere else.

 
 
Jenn Grunigen
17 September 2014 @ 03:11 pm

I seem to neglect my LJ a lot these days. I mean, I read the entries everyone else posts voraciously, but forget to cross-post from my main blog/website. Someday, I'll get a paid account and set up an rss feed. Ugh.

ANYWAY. I have many entries that haven't made it over here, but this is the important one.

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I’m going to talk about publishing–specifically, my publisher, Sparkler Monthly. But first, I’m going to talk about apologies.

The word sorry leaves my mouth a lot. And yet, never often enough. Sometimes, it’s fear that stops me. Or ego. Usually ego, especially because the fear is often there because my ego is a coward (clarification: I am). But I try to keep my ego in tight-check, so I’m usually able to get the apology out. Sorry.

I’ve also had apologies made to me, and in both instances (as the giver and receiver of remorse), apologies can be genuine or they can clog themselves with inaction. Because apologies are half-assed when all you do is say sorry. You can look at me all frowny and penitent, with contrition bleeding sweet as liquified lollipops from your eyesockets, but if action doesn’t accompany your words, sorry sounds like an insult. Same goes for me: if I ever apologize and neglect to follow up, I am (again) sorry, I have failed and you now have permission to stuff my socks full of meal worms and snap my drum sticks and poke holes in my rain pants. I will be better. Do better.

Here are a couple guides to apologizing: Getting Called Out: How to Apologize and Apologies: What, When, and How.

This framework of inaction = questionable sincerity, and action = sincerity that might actually mean something can be applied elsewhere, too. For my purposes, I’m using it to talk about writing and publishing—specifically, women and diversity in writing and publishing. Other people have discussed it (eg: Malinda Lo, Kameron Hurley, and nattosoup), with more eloquence and intelligence than I will, but this is an important conversation. And a conversation is only a conversation if there’s some conversing occurring.

A piece of the dialogue: you can talk all you want about diversity in publishing and narratives, but true support is action. I can say I support diverse authors all I want, but if I go out and spend all my (paltry) allotment for book purchases on Scott Lynch and George RR Martin, then I have failed. I mean, I fucking love Scott Lynch (GRRM I enjoy, but not to the same extent), but I love Aliette de Bodard and Ann Leckie just as much, so wouldn’t it make just a little sense for me to swipe my card just as often (if not more) for them?

I’m not saying don’t ever give a straight white cis male your money ever again, the end. I’m saying that if you believe in something, act on it. Give women your money, prove we have value, that we sell. Which, yeah, is objectifying as hel and a really terrible way to frame this, BUT. In many ways, this is how worth is established. With money. You want more diverse writers, stories, characters, settings? Buy it ALL. Everything you claim keeps you grinning and thrilling and screaming in biblioporno bliss? Let it feed upon the belly of your bank account. (This is, also and by the way, a reminder to myself.)

As I said earlier, I’m just pissing at the mouth, basically regurgitating what my betters have said, so here’s my personal spin on it:

I have a serialized novel running in Sparkler Monthly.   (It’s called Skyglass, and is about sex, cyber- elves, rock ‘n’ roll, and murderous firecats). Sparkler Monthly is a multimedia publisher of comics, prose and audio dramas written from the female gaze, with diverse, ensnaring casts: people of color, a wide breadth of sexualities, fluid genders. This is quirky and not normal, because what is normal, what is expected, is the male gaze, is lack of diversity, and to have someone out there giving us great stories that aren’t cemented into that default? It’s vital.

But Sparkler is only just entering their second year and if they want to see a third year (and beyond), they need the support of everyone who says they support this kind of thing. (That’s you, by the way.) To keep stable, they need 2000 subscribers. Right now they have 142. They’re still small, and relatively unknown, but they deserve to be known. Their stories deserve to be read, and listened to. They deserve, and need, your support.

I admit: I have a stake in this. Multiple stakes, actually:


  1. Sparkler Monthly gives me money, because I give them words. It’s a good arrangement, and worthwhile for us both, I like to think.

  2. They publish really addictive stories, really important stories because they feature strong, diverse, female characters (and male characters, as well as those who don’t strictly adhere to that binary). And let me be clear: when I say strong I don’t intend ‘strong’ to only mean brawny-but-still-beautiful, kick-ass women. When I say strong, I mean nuanced, and potent. And deep. Women who get to be full characters. Which leads me to my last stake (and look! I could almost raise a tent with all these stakes…)

  3. Me. The third stake is me, because I’m female, and I get to see myself in the stories they publish. I’m not wallpaper, or a bed-prop, or a convenient orifice. I am a necessary, narrative creature with lungs and teeth and heart and spine, and I want more. So much more.

I know I’m not the only who wants all this. I know I’m not the only one who wants to do something. So consider a membership to Sparkler Monthly. Read up on their membership drive, and all of its excellent tiers. If you’re lacking funds, try their sampler issue, which is free to download. Also, their submissions are currently open, so if you’re looking to get published (or if you’re a voice actor), go send them something. (Something good, preferably.)

There’s continuing the conversation–and then there’s engaging and leveling it up. Make art that matters, art that syncs with this necessary diversity, and keep talking. Do everything you can, keep on and keep on, and the storyworld will grow close and colossal.

 
 
where?: Eugene, OR
sound: Gåte
 
 
Jenn Grunigen
17 July 2014 @ 11:55 am

A companion piece to my short story "The Seaweed and the Wormhole", out now in Shimmer's July issue:

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FRAGMENT 133:

Me (retrospective—in part)

179 lbs. 5’11″. That’s one small wheelbarrow of fresh seaweed, and about half a thallus of bladderwrack. Once, the sea knew me best. Then, many knew me best from the waist down. Now, a man knows me best. He knows me like the others knew me. But also, he knows me from the inside because I think we share a soul. Which explains a lot. The constant hunger, for one.

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FRAGMENT 1

Dinner #1

Him: Snails, butter, dill. Three game hens, oranges (zest and juice), mint, sherry, butter.

Me: Salmon, salt, fennel. Fingerlings, olive oil, peppercorns. Chocolate mousse—eggs, sugar, vanilla, cream, chocolate. Wine-soaked cherries. Whipped cream.

#

FRAGMENT 14

The Dead Terrarium

This project took Peregrine two weeks. Before he started, he put a case of bottled water in our room, plus a couple boxes of Kleenex, and a twenty-five lb sack of trail mix (chocolate, raisins, whole dates, almonds, dried habanero). There was also a wooden box I wasn’t allowed to see inside of, and after he shut the door to our room I wasn’t allowed in. He didn’t lock it because he knew I wouldn’t try to get in. After two weeks, he opened the door and waited for me to come. The first thing I saw was him, sitting in his boxers with his hair alluring and chaotic around his face and eyes bruised by sleepless nights. There was an ocean of stiff tissues, empty water bottles, and raisins all around him. Raisins because he’d picked them out. He hated raisins. His feet were pressed together at the soles and he gripped them with his hands as he looked up at me, not sheepish in the least. He tilted his head at my desk, which I hadn’t seen in 14 days. It was large and made out of a door. It had to be large, because half of it was reserved for the trinkets and other things Peregrine brought home or made me. Among the artifacts, stood a large glass jar. Inside the glass jar was a rat skeleton, bones joined by bits of grass. Inside its ribcage were the skeletons of 17 baby rats. The jar had no lid. Instead, he’d taken the rat hides, sewn them together and rubber-banded them to the mouth.

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FRAGMENT 150

Dinner

It’s beautiful out. I’d like to go to the ocean—and not gather seaweed, for once, but Peregrine’s turned the living room into a giant blanket fort and has about ten heat lamps in there and I’m worried he’s going to burn down the house if I go out. I guess dinner’ll be boiled pasta again, with a can from ‘grin’s giant stockpile of cream of mushroom soup.

#

WINTER #19

Groggy

Wasn’t there a time you wanted to be a poet? I ask myself, as if I failed in that regard. I am a poet. I distill humanity with my cock.

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FRAGMENT 5

Depredation

Am I okay with self-annihilation? I choose—repeatedly—to ruin myself, but I wonder: is it a choice or a cycle? For instance, this man—Peregrine—who’s just started living with me. He pays to live with me. Is he here because I’m already in love with him (because I think I’m already in love with him), because we have great sex, because he’s familiar and comfortable (because he’s familiar and makes me comfortable with his money), because he’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before—because really, how can you taste yourself?

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FRAGMENT 42

Universes

Tonight is my first night without him since he moved in. I’m eating pizza and watching The Cosmos. To celebrate? To fill his absence? I have no idea where he is or why he left or if he’ll come back. I do know I’m afraid.

#

FIGMENT

Rum

Ive been drinking tooo much lately. Like now I gotta a liter of coke alot of rum. In me. Soon just be vomit and me wishing for

#

SUMMER #13

(retrospective)

She was the best friend I ever had and I don’t even know what the hell she was. She had skin the color of black antlers and sandy hair, oddly long fingers and dirt-colored nails. She always gave me ice when I got my black eyes, even though she lived in a cob-and-cacti-house five miles into the desert. Everything else, all my other memories of her, I’ve successfully drowned in oceans and lakes and occasionally, when I’m feeling especially tristful, rum-and-coke. I saw her every day that summer and never loved anything more, until…

Can you imagine what losing someone like that would do to you?

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FIGMENT

The more Peregrine clings, the more I feel alone. Why? Because the closer you are to something the harder it is to see all of it. I think we’ve lost sight of each other. I hope this trip won’t be our last. We have something, I really feel we do.

#

FIGMENT

It’s impossible to know yourself, I think. You, a single speck in the everything that’s also you. I don’t understand anything I’ve ever done. Twice, I thought I found something different. But I wonder now if they ever were.

#

FIGMENT

Gasoline

Dulse

Cabbage

Brine

Clean boxers?

Palimpsest

Peregrine

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If you want more of Ebb and Peregrine, if you want to try to decipher these fragments, or find out their brutal end, wade over to Shimmer and read my story The Seaweed and the Wormhole. The pieces above were culled from the piece during a much-needed bout of editing; they diluted the story, but I still liked them well enough on their own to post them here.

There’s also an interview with me, if you’re into the whole process and brain-picking thing. : ) (I know I am.)