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UPDATES, June 2015 edition!

UPDATES, June 2015 edition!

Over the last month or so I made a couple of sales and a bunch more things came out. I thought to myself, time to make a blogpost with updates!

And then it turns out I haven’t made an update post since October last year so this one turned into a giant. textwall.

An announcement first, though. I’ve recently started as first reader for Strange Horizons, which has been excellent so far. The only downside is that I now have to read so much slush each day, it’s putting a serious dent into my ability to keep up with the vast array of published fiction each month. Regrettably, this means that I’ll no longer be doing my Fiction Nuggets round-ups, so if I’m quiet on that front, this is why.

Right then, on to the textwall…

STORY PUBLICATION:

Apparently, one of the side effects of selling stories is that at some point, these stories will be released into the wild. I really thought I only had a couple to link, but since I haven’t done an update post in eight months there are a bunch more to link than expected.

As a chronically lazy person I’m just going to drop links to the ones which came out earlier this year.  Cold Hands and the Smell of Salt in DSF, Tiger Baby (a reprint) in Lackington’s.  Then there’s A Sister’s Weight In Stone,  my week 2 Clarion West story, which came out in the May issue of Apex. (It’s an alternate steampunky (ish???) Singapore with dragons and Samsui women!)

Red Is The Colour Of Mother Dirt, one of my Clarion West application stories, was included in the Athena’s Daughters 2 anthology after the Kickstarter campaign hit its stretch goals. The book is out now, and you can buy either an e-book or print copy here! The story centers around Sal, a woman who runs up against her Martian colony’s draconian laws when she tries to sneak into a hospital to visit her dying sister while on her period. Yes, I wrote a story about menstruation. Course I did.

I have a story in the inaugural issue of Bahamut Journal, which you can purchase right here.  It’s a great issue, with content from the like of Lauren Beukes, Nisi Shawl, Rose Lemberg, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, etc etc etc. (Seriously, it’s a fantastic TOC, go check it out). My story is titled (deep breath) Re: (For CEO’s Approval) Text for 10th anniversary exhibition for Operation Springclean and it comes in the form of an email reply to another email and may or may not be informed by my brief life as a civil servant. And also the rat invasion of Singapore.

And then there’s Letter From An Artist To A Thousand Future Versions Of Her Wife, my flash story in Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue. It is a massive issue, with an incredible amount of incredible fiction, and my story is one of the ebook/print-only exclusives. So you’ll have to purchase if you want to read it. But do it anyway, because it’s a whole lot of amazing SF by QUILTBAG folks for a few dollars. It’ll also annoy annoying people!

I might have to do a separate post for the QDSF! story. I feel I should!

SALES

In the time that’s gone by, I’ve also sold a bunch of things; some of the things I’ve sold have actually been published because I am just that slow at updates.  A quick list of the pending ones, then:

  • A House Of Anxious Spiders will appear in the August issue of The Dark. It’s set in a world where, instead of arguing, spiders come out of your mouth and fight instead.
  • Song Of The Krakenmaid will appear in the Fall issue (around Oct/Nov) of Lackington’s. I basically sold them tentacle porn. This is my second story with them, and the first original, and I’m super-pleased about it.
  • Secondhand Bodies, about intersections of class, race and body policing in Singapore, will appear in a future issue of Lightspeed! I’ve wanted to sell something to them for years, and all of a sudden they bought two stories from me. It was a bit of a trip.
  • Temporary Saints, a flash piece which killed in Codex’s Weekend Warrior contest, has been acquired by Fireside. It’s centered on a mortician living in a town where kids get strange powers before dying. Cheerful!
  • Ya-Ya Papaya, one of the earliest stories that I had published (in 2011, by a local zine), will appear on Pornokitsch as a reprint at some point. I’m excited!
Award Eligibility Post, 2014

Award Eligibility Post, 2014

Right. I have been encouraged to make one of these, so here we are. My award-eligible stories from 2014.

I didn’t publish that much last year. Mostly I had three stories out in the places that people know–my first pro sales and I’m very glad of them. Some people have said very nice things about them too, for which I’m grateful. Yay, my little babies  have found places in people’s hearts!

All three of my works published this year have been sci-fi, and are eligible for the Hugo, the Nebula, and — as was  just brought to my attention today– the BSFA.

I am also eligible for the John Campbell Award For Best New Writer. It’s the first year I’m running. **

Storytelling For The Night Clerk at Strange Horizons — My first pro sale! My baby. It was favourably reviewed by Lois Tilton, and later made her list of favourite stories in 2014. It also made Nina Allan’s list of recommended 2014 fiction.

Harvestfruit at Crossed Genres — My first flash sale, to CG’s special flash issue. I know flash is a hard sell at awards time, but I listed it here for completeness of portfolio (since, Campbell, etc)

Patterns Of A Murmuration, In Billions Of Data Points at Clarkesworld — aka, “Why the hell couldn’t I have picked a shorter title?” Seriously though, if I had to pick this is probably my favourite story that I’ve sold this year (and thus far). Lois Tilton also liked this one, and it also made her favourite stories list. It was tipped as noteworthy on Fantastic Stories of the Imagination and the Verge, and also made Usman Malik’s and Nin Harris‘ 2014 best-of lists.

Seriously, everyone– thank you for your consideration, thank you for reading, and thank you for your support.

**I don’t feel I’ve read enough in 2014 to come up with a good best-of round-up list, but my picks for Campbell award nominees? Usman Malik, Alyssa Wong, Natalia Theodoridou, Rachael K. Jones, Carmen Maria Machado. Every story of theirs I’ve read has blown me away. Highly recommended.

Airplanes and Martian Colonies, Oh My

Airplanes and Martian Colonies, Oh My

Can we talk about anthologies? Let’s talk about anthologies.

In the unlikely event that you’ve been following this blog, you may remember that I once mentioned having a story in Athena’s Daughters vol 2 as a stretch goal author. Well GREAT NEWS!! The project funded and hit all the fiction stretch goals, so this book is coming out and I’m going to be in it! Give me a moment to octopus flail about this.

Right, octopus flailing done.

Now, the Kickstarter for this project is still running, and I’d like to get more backers for it. Because at this point the KS is basically a book pre-order, and I want more people to buy the book because I want more people to read my story, darn it ;___;

The story I have in the anthology is titled RED IS THE COLOR OF MOTHER DIRT. I originally wrote it for the open call for Body Boundaries, a Singaporean anthology of feminist fiction. I wrote two stories. The second one was a fictionalised account of my short & ultimately doomed history of dating men. The editors told me they liked both stories but they could only publish one. I thought, eh, at least the SFF story I can sell to other markets. So they took the confessional piece, and it’s in there, a neat little tale about how pickling spiders in formaldehyde is a more worthwhile pursuit than having sex with men. Go check it out if you like. There’s plenty of amazing & subversive Singaporean feminist writing in it!

RED IS THE COLOR OF MOTHER DIRT, now,  is set on a Martian colony where women are barred from so-called sterile areas when they’re on their period. It centres around the story of Mian, a menial worker arrested when she breaks the rules to visit her dying sister in hospital. It was partly inspired by a dream I had, and partly inspired by the ridiculous aesthetic requirements Chinese female astronauts apparently have to meet. Also the patriarchy. (Fuck the patriarchy.) I tried to write Chinese poetry in it. I shouldn’t try to write Chinese poetry. (I shouldn’t try to write anything in Chinese, at all,  given how bad I am at anything outside of ordering food or telling taxi uncles where I want to go.)

The story has been kicking around for a while; I wrote it while on month-long leave from work in 2012 (because that’s a thing that happens when you’re a journalist, you rack up so much overtime and unused annual leave that you can vanish for months at a pop). In later drafts I injected unhealthy doses of my work as a journo at a national paper into it (that happens).  The story has been rejected from markets for being “too much of a polemic” (which was exactly what it was meant to be). Because it was so political, I thought a feminist anthology might be a good place to submit it to. Back to its roots. And I’m very, very glad the story found a home here.

I have a lot of love for this story. It formed the bulk of my successful application to Clarion West in 2013. Yes, folks, this was the story that got me into Clarion West.  And CW was not just a singular experience that changed me as a writer and a person, but it also altered the entire path of my future. I wouldn’t have written all those stories last year, and I wouldn’t be headed to Norwich for my Creative Writing MA this fall, if not for Clarion West. I owe this story a lot. I want y’all to read it.

So yes. If anything I’ve written has tickled your fancy in the past, please do consider putting in a pre-order for the anthology! They have e-book editions and also lots of different perks further down the reward levels!

TL;DR Please support the Kickstarter for this anthology because this story means a lot to me and I want as many people as possible to read it. Kickstarter runs till 15th Jan!

Can we talk about more anthologies? (And not self-rejecting?)

The Table of Contents for An Alphabet Of Embers is out and it’s one of the anthologies I’m most excited about in 2015, Not just because I’m in it, but because look at all those people I share the TOC with. Nisi Shawl! Zen Cho! Yoon-Ha Lee! Vajra Chandrasekera! Oh my god I’m about to just sit here and yell names of about 70% of the TOC in excitement. There’s a bunch of reprints from writers that I admire hugely, and first prose sales from people whose writing I’m very excited about. Also, the fantastic M Sereno, who is an amazing artist on top of being a wonderful writer and a sweetheart, is making illustrations for the anthology. It’s not just a cup of squee, it’s an entire smörgåsbord I could eat for days.

It almost never came to be, where I was concerned. Although I shared & supported the Kickstarter for the anthology very enthusiastically, I thought “it’s asking for lyrical almost-poetry prose. I can’t poetry. I don’t think I can write something good enough for it. I’ll read the pretty when it comes out!” I wrote off the submissions call in my head.

But then, out of the blue, editor Rose Lemberg approached me and encouraged me to try sending in something, saying that she had enjoyed my story in Strange Horizons and thought that sort of thing would be a good fit for the anthology.

So I thought, well, maybe it’s worth a shot.

I wrote the story during and after my travels in August (to London cons & Scandinavia). The hotel at NineWorlds was next to Heathrow, next to one of the runways, and as you walked back at midnight you would be pushed along by planesong that sank into your heart and bones. And I thought, you know what, I fucking love the sound of planes taking off, it’s the best sound in the world, I want to write about the sound of planes taking off.

So it went from there.

The result, Transfers From Connecting Flights, is… really not about airplanes at all. But I like it, and I’m glad I wrote it, and I’m glad Rose told me that writing it –or anything, for that matter– would not be an futile exercise.

A lot has been said about not self-rejecting on Twitter recently, particularly for people with marginalised identities, who have to struggle with the aftereffects of poor media representation while growing up, and tend to get hit by Impostor Syndrome hard. I honestly thought I was immune to this, but I’ve come to realise that I do this. I do this a lot. I’d have self-rejected for this anthology if Rose hadn’t prodded me.

Now that I’m more aware of it I try harder not to do so. It’s one of my goals for 2015. Try for markets that scare me. Try for markets that are too big. Try for markets that make me think I have a snowball’s chance in hell: I probably do, but try anyway.

I’m also very grateful to Rose for her editorial commitment to showcasing a wide variety of voices. She clearly reached out to a number of different folk and encouraged them to submit something– I’m sure I was not the only one. She has some wonderful essays here and here, on encouraging diversity from an editor’s POV. And that’s why the Alphabet of Embers TOC is GLORIOUS. With open subs, final products can only be as diverse as the slush it gets, and Rose clearly did an amazing job in encouraging that diversity. I’m glad such spaces exist.

**Another anthology I’m really excited about it Michael Matheson’s reprint anthology The Humanity  Of Monsters. Aaaahhh! Look at that lineup!

TO TUSINDE FJORTEN AF BEDØMMELSESUDVALG**

TO TUSINDE FJORTEN AF BEDØMMELSESUDVALG**

Time is an ad hoc measure of the physical universe, invented by our soft and limited mortal minds, to divide the infinite into chunks we can reasonably digest. It is a thin and feeble guide-rope to anchor us to sanity as we scale the ineffable, unfathomable face of the endless universe. As someone who struggles often with the vicissitudes of globe-spanning timezones I know how little meaning the human measure of time holds. Dates mean NOTHING. Hours mean NOTHING. The calendar is a fiction invented by fools who thought the Earth was the center of the universe. The New Year of my ancestors doesn’t arrive until February.

Yet, if one were to take a breather, to powder your fingers, to look down at the worm-trail you’ve left behind and consider the miniscule progress you’ve made before climbing up and on, what more convenient moment than at the boundary between the arbitrarily-defined years?

So, one of those usual year-end round-ups for 2014, then.

It was a watershed year for me, SFF writing-wise. In 2014 I started to write and submit stories regularly. An experience new to me. I sent out a grand total of eight submissions in 2013. In 2014 I sent out enough that I sold eight submissions. I wrote more stories this year than I did for the past five. I’m a slow writer, it was hard. Several times I thought of giving up.

But I stuck with it, and I think it paid off. I qualified for SFWA. I broke into at least four markets I had been dying to break into. People sometimes told me nice things about the stories I had published, and Lois Tilton liked my stories enough she called me “this year’s new author of promise” in her 2014 review roundup. Neo-whoa moment. MAJOR Neo-whoa moment.

As running starts go, I think I did alright.

There were other things about my 2014 which were cool, like attending cons & being on panels for the first time, finally getting out of the newsroom, being accepted into a pretty good grad program (Creative writing at the University of East Anglia). But who cares about that silly real-life stuff, really!

Apparently, yearly submission stats are a popular thing to do these days. I’ll show you mine if, etc etc etc:

 

My 2014 In Submissions

Submissions: 38
Acceptances: 8 (22.6%)
— 6 to pro-rate markets, 2 to semi-pro markets
Personal rejections: 12 (31.6%)
Form rejections: 12 (31.6%)
Pending: 6

Three of the stories I sold were published this year (här, här, och här); the other five will appear in 2015.

I shopped around a total of 15 stories this year. 6 of them were written this year, 2 were complete overhauls of old story ideas.

Of the 24 rejections I received in 2014, a single story accounted for a whopping 12 of them (6 form, 6 personal). That’s 50% of the rejections I got!
The second-runner up took 5 rejections (20%). 3 forms, 2 personals.

Of the stories I sold, 4 sold to the first market I sent them to, while I had one outlier which was rejected by 7 markets before it sold. The others had 1-3 rejections each.

My quickest sale was 4 days (!!!), to Strange Horizons (seriously, !!!). Slowest sale took 99 days, to Apex. (Still great!)

The fastest rejection I got took 2 days, from Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi. And it was a personal! The longest wait for an R took 99 days to a form, from Nature Futures.

 

And there we go. 2014 summed up in a number of pithy lines. That was fun, let’s do it again!

P.S. Due to perfidious things called deadlines and more deadlines, the December edition of Fiction Nuggets will be combined with January’s, meaning it’ll show up around the start of February.

P.P.S. I still need to blog about the story I have in Athena’s Daughters vol. 2 before the Kickstarter closes on January 15th. Kick me about it if I don’t.

 

** “To tusinde fjorten af bedømmelsesudvalg” is what Google Translate told me “2014 in review” is in Danish. This is, however, also the Google Translate that told my friend “I heard you like potatoes” translates to “jeg hørte dig som kartofler”. Which actually means “I heard you, as I would potatoes.” Moral of the story: GOOGLE TRANSLATE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

ETA: I have been reliably told, i.e. by an actual Danish person, that “bedømmelsesudvalg” actually means “REVIEW COMMITTEE”. WOW GOOGLE THANKS FOR THE MEGA HELP. It has been suggested that “En gennemgang af 2014” or “Et tilbageblikk på 2014” would have been a suitable alternative.

Update update update update

Update update update update

I am a terrible person who shouldn’t keep a blog since she never updates it, ever, so here is my apology in the form of a roundup of what’s been happening in my writerlife since Conventions August.

Updates!

Ett. After having made a few more qualifying sales I am now an Active member of the Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Of America. Despite not being American, living in America, or identifying particularly with America for that matter. ~*~*~GLOBALISATION!!!~*~*~ Or something like that.

Två. I’ve joined the team at Crossed Genres as a slush reader! Send your juicy yummy monthly-themed short stories please, I like recommending pretty stories to editors Bart Kay and Kelly!

Tre. I’ve been attached to the Athena’s Daughters vol 2 anthology as a stretch goal author! What this means is that my Clarion West submission story, Red Is The Colour Of Mother Dirt, will be added to the anthology Kickstarter campaign as a stretch goal. The Kickstarter campaign will run in December, so you’ll hear more about it when that time comes. A few months to start saving pennies!! It goes without saying that I would love to have my story included in the anthology. I am deeply fond of it.

Here, a teaser of the gorgeous cover art, created by Kelli Neier. <3

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.05.35 pm

 

Calls to action!

A few awesome calls for submission. ✐ Temporally Out Of Order seeks stories about temporally-displaced objects. Submissions close November 30th. ✐ Buku Fixi are seeking Malaysian cyberpunk stories for an anthology edited by Zen Cho. Submissions close Dec 31st. ✐ The Booksmugglers are looking for First Contact stories for their fiction series. Submissions close December 31st.

Strange Horizons are running their annual fundraising drive! SH do excellent work and some of the favourite stories I’ve read this year were from them. (This one by Usman Malik for example, or this one by Sunny Moraine. Let’s not forget Alyssa Wong’s recent amazing two-parter.) They were also the venue for my first pro sale this year, and for that I’m forever grateful. I would love to see them continue for a long time, but for that they need support from the community! So do contribute, if you can. Plus, the funding rewards we can unlock sound amazing.

As added incentive, SH are doing a lucky draw for everyone who donates! And because I am the sotong of all bokeh, I’ve only just realised that one of the prizes is a South-East Asian specfic bundle, donated kindly by Victor Ocampo. It comprises print copies of the second issue of LONTAR and Fish Eats Lion, both edited by Jason Erik Lundberg. I have a story in the second one! Exciting.

Story sales!

I have a few to announce. I store these up for a few months before dumping them all on your heads like a plate of overripe tomatoes.

In local publishing news: I will have a story, Pocket Cities, in the airport-and-air-travel themed anthology In Transit. I will also have a tiny flash piece each in the MILO and ICE KACANG issues of the 24 Flavours zine series. All of the above are published by Math Paper Press.

Will have a flash piece, Cold Hands And The Smell Of Salt, appearing on Daily Science Fiction…. whenever it shows up. I made the sale in September, so I expect the piece will be out early next year. This was one of my entries to the summer flash fiction contest on the Codex forum.

Delighted to announce a sale to Lackington’s for their Winter 2015 issue. Tiger Baby was originally printed in Math Paper Press’ In The Belly Of The Cat anthology and it will now be available to read online! With an illustration! Sometime in Jan 2015– can’t wait.

And last but not least, one of my Clarion West stories, A Sister’s Weight In Stone, will appear in Apex sometime around summer next year. Sigrid Ellis acquired the story in July this year and I’ve gotten permission from EIC Jason Sizemore to talk about it! The story is set in a fantastical, alt-history not-quite-steampunky Singapore and tells the story of a young Samsui woman’s struggle to save her sister. My Clarion West classmates were quite fond of this one and I’m glad it’s found such a marvellous home!

One More Thing…

AND HERE’S WHERE I UNVEIL A SHINY, MARKET-DISRUPTING TECHNOLOGICAL DEVICE.

No. Not really.

Two things are happening at once: I’m trying to work short fiction reading into my life as a regular thing, and I’m also looking around for venues that review short fiction. I’m also trying to blog more. Okay so that’s three things. Three things are happening at once.

My take is that short fiction could use more regular review venues. More of these have been popping up lately, but there’s so much fiction out there and the community could really use a dozen more short fiction review sites, IMHO. So I’m going to try to do this myself.

Instead of trying to review everything, though, I’m going to do a monthly round up of the 5 to 10 stories I liked best. I think that’s a reasonable start. I’ll start with October, so look for the first instalment at the end of this month!

Saying this in public on a website so that I can be held accountable for it and not flake out AS IT IS VERY LIKELY TO HAPPEN IF I ONLY SAY IT TO MYSELF AND THEN GET TOO LAZY TO DO IT

Clarkesworld issue 96

Clarkesworld issue 96

It’s not every day one has a story up at Clarkesworld, so I thought I’d commemorate the publication of my story “Patterns Of A Murmuration, In A Billion Data Points” with an actual blogpost. I wrote this story as part of a flash fiction challenge, with added prompts from my lovely Clarion West classmate Kelly, and folded in a Tuckerisation request from my friend Wayne Rée (who incidentally has out a book of short stories). It’s about mothers, and death, and revenge. Also Big Data. Possibly. Definitely.

I’m also really thrilled and really looking forward to Clarkesworld’s new project to publish a translation of a Chinese SFF story with every issue! Yesssss. One of my greatest self-regrets is that I’m not proficient enough with my mother tongue to be able to read literature in the language– I want to read more Chinese SFF but I know my Mandarin CMI (I have very poor character recognition–I can understand a great deal of the spoken language but I can barely read it beyond an elementary level). I am deeply ashamed that I have to wait for English translations (the older generation will mock you, 华人不会读华语), but at the same time, I’m just really happy that they’re available.

The first of the series is a brilliant, magical CNY story by Xia Jia, “Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy“, translated by Ken Liu. All the little touches–the superstitions, the precarious family ties– just made me really, really happy to read. I’m sorry. I keep saying I’m really happy. I should probably stop that.

Clarion West 2013: And one day, I got in

Clarion West 2013: And one day, I got in

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It was around this time last week that I got a call.

I was at work, manning the desk on a solo Sunday shift, playing my role as a one-person news service that my colleagues and I often get to on weekends.  My phone rang. A +20 number. I had no idea what that was, so I Googled it. My phone was still ringing. I found out that +20 was international dialing code for Egypt. Right, except that I don’t know anybody in Egypt and there’s no way anyone in Egypt would have reason to call me — my life is parochial, and does not extend much further beyond the cramped borders of the island nation I call home.

So I rejected the call, thinking: Prank, or international scam. (It’s happened before.)

A minute later, the same number calls again. I reject the call a second time, thinking, what the hell, right? Wrong number, get your shit together.

Two minutes later, I get a call with a +1 code that said it was from California. By this time, my mind is in full WHAT THE FUCK mode because I hardly get any international calls, ever. If the +1 number had called first, I might have picked up, because I had a colleague in New York covering the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch. As it was, I immediately rejected the call, by now convinced that an international network of scammers with fake numbers was trying to hack into my phone.

Seriously, what the hell. I’m at work, I’ve got stuff to do.

My shift ended. I stayed in the newsroom for two more hours because the first race of the Formula 1 season was on, and the sports desk gets ESPN and I don’t. It was a good race, I had a good time. While celebrating the Iceman’s well-deserved win, I forgot about the strange calls entirely.

Then I got home, and I checked my personal email account.

The calls hadn’t been from Egyptians, hadn’t been from spammers.

It had been from the folks at Clarion West, trying to get a hold of me.

See, I applied for Clarion West this year. Completely under the radar: I told no-one. Not friends, not family, not fellow writers or colleagues. I just put together a couple of stories I’d written, wrote up a short essay, and sent it in. It was a pipe dream, and in the grip of particular superstition I didn’t want to jinx it by talking about it.

It was apparently a strategy that worked. Because the calls finally did get through. And the news? I’d been accepted. I was one of the eighteen. In the words of Kevin Flynn set to a Daft Punk backdrop: I got in.

I am a first-time applicant, and if I had done my due diligence, I would have known that acceptances come in the form of a call, not an email as I had been expecting. Instead, I had tried my best to forget about my application, burying myself in work, thinking if the acceptance email comes, it’ll come, and so be it. Thus: Blindsided by the call, like a complete and total butt.

It’s been a week since, and I still can’t quite believe it. I am thrilled, honoured, nervous, excited, or some unholy combination of all four. Since the embargo on our acceptances was lifted earlier today I’ve been stalking some of my fellow attendees on Twitter and getting myself worked up over the idea that in just three months we’ll be together in one place, being taught in turn by Elizabeth Hand, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Margo Lanagan, Samuel R. Delany and Ellen Datlow.

I asked — and I am the first Singaporean to have been accepted into the program. Possibly because not many have tried — I’ll never know.

I want to thank the Clarion West organisers, the staff and the readers, for taking a chance on me, for giving me this rare, priceless opportunity to work on the craft that I love.

I am grateful. I am happy. I am not yet convinced this is not a dream.
I suppose I have three months to get used to the idea.

** Photo is a selection of the items we randomly gave out at yesterday’s Speculative Fiction Tea Party, which I’ll get to blogging about… Soon. I promise.