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Improbability is in the Details
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's Journal
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13th-Mar-2016 06:15 pm - [sticky post] Welcome!
Hello there!
I'm Abra Staffin-Wiebe, a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I've had short stories appear at publications including Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Odyssey Magazine. When not writing, I shoot photographs, collect folk tales, and wrangle two small children, three large cats, and one medium-sized mad scientist. You can find out more at my website: http://www.aswiebe.com/.

Upcoming events and appearances

4th Street Fantasy Convention
St.Louis Park, MN, June 17-19, 2016

CONvergence Convention
Bloomington, MN, June 30 - July 3, 2016

Térata Extravanganza!
Big V's Saloon, St. Paul, MN, July 24, 2016
A delightful event filled with music, art, and dark fiction!

Submit It Now! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Short Stories
Teaching 2-day workshop at The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis
August 6th AND August 13th
Openings are limited. Register now!

MidAmeriCon II (AKA WorldCon 74)
Kansas City, MO, August 17-21, 2016

Other Places Online

Note: I don't usually post the same thing in multiple places, except for my market list updates, new publications, and other major news (writing-related or not).

http://www.aswiebe.com/ - The best place to find things I've written.

Livejournal - Here! I don't post as often on Livejournal as I used to, but I tend to keep my longer daily life posts and the important updates over here, along with the occasional photo or recipe post.

Facebook - Short updates about my life, bemused writing-related comments, as well as random links I enjoy or find useful. You know. I use it like most people do.

Twitter - Mostly SF/F and writing-related posts these days.

Goodreads - Strictly business. This is my author account on Goodreads, not the personal one that I deluge with my to-reads.

I also occasionally post on Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and Ello.

9th-Oct-2016 09:53 pm - Cabbage Fried Rice
I occasionally use this for more than just a recipe repository, I swear! Anyway, cabbage fried rice. I'm pretty happy with this recipe because both kids liked it as-is, including the extremely picky eater, and it got veggies (cabbage, carrot, onion) and protein (egg) into them. And I used the leftover lime cabbage from chicken fajitas with lime cabbage and avocado, so winner winner leftovers dinner.

Serves 3.

1 1/2 c. uncooked rice or about 3 c. cooked
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
vegetable oil
2 c. chopped cabbage (about 1/2" squares), packed in the measuring cup
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced or finely grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. fish sauce


Cook rice with:

Meanwhile, chop, mince, beat, and measure all the things.

Heat oil over high heat in a wok or your largest pan. Add:

Stir constantly until vegetables are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add:

Stir for another minute.

Make a well in the center of the pan by pushing rice to the sides. Lower heat. Pour eggs into center and stir eggs constantly until mostly cooked. Then stir all the contents of the pan together.

Combine in a small bowl:
soy sauce
lime juice
fish sauce

Drizzle sauce over rice and mix.

28th-Sep-2016 11:07 am - Dear Miss Dilemma
Pete Sutton's Sick City Syndrome is now out! "But Abra," you may ask, "what does that have to do with you?" Well, Pete included some material from other authors in his book as part of the worldbuilding. My contribution, "Dear Miss Dilemma," is near the middle of Chapter 1. Conveniently, that is within Amazon's "Look Inside" free sample. Go, read my piece, and get a taste of the rest of the book for free!

Dear Miss Dilemma,

I've followed your column for years, but I never expected to be writing to you for help! I hope you can advise me as to what I should do. I am very worried about my nai nai. She has always been an independent and strong-willed woman, but I know she feels lost since my grandfather's death. In her grief, she has become irrational.

She denies that my grandfather's ghost exists.
Read more.

Sick City Syndrome is currently available as an ebook, with a paperback version to follow in late October.

About the book:
What if it was accepted that there really were ghosts? That mediums could actually talk to the dead. That your dearly departed continued to exist on a spiritual plane and that at certain places, or in certain people they could manifest?

Susan is living in a fog of grief after the death of her fiancé. When she is given a dossier that promises answers as to why he died she starts to investigate.

Susan is about to discover that the city is sick and things are much weirder than she ever imagined.

Helios Quarterly wants SF, Fantasy, and Horror about *secrets*. All the details and more publishing news here: http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html

Thoughts in Passing

Now that the kids are in school (the littlest one for only three mornings a week), I'm struggling with the eternal question: how do I budget my time? Writing is one of those things where almost every aspect of it will expand to fill up however much time you give it. The famous productivity metaphor of putting the big rock in the bucket first doesn't work as well when instead of rocks and sand you have seven fire hoses! We'll see how it goes.
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:

Presentations and novella revisions, mostly. I also heard back about my tiny part in a project that was tabled a while ago--because they needed to pay me because it's going ahead! That was a delightful surprise, like finding $20 in your winter coat when you take it out of storage. You'll hear more about this once it's out.
Read more
This is a pretty basic recipe, a solid kid-pleaser (other people's kids, not mine) that's packed with vegetables. I'm writing it up because I had a recipe request and so needed to write it up anyway.

Use a 9x13 pan (no greasing needed) with tin foil. Recipe may be halved and cooked in a 9x9 pan, instead.
Pie ingredients:
1 pkg. spaghetti
vegetable oil
olive oil
1 small to medium eggplant
3 Tbsp. butter
1 onion
1 pkg mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
5 eggs
1 c. cottage cheese
1 c. Parmesan, shredded
3 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 c. spaghetti sauce, separated (2 + 1)

Cheese topping ingredients:
1/4 c. Parmesan, shredded
2 c. mozzarella, grated
1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, minced
Mince onion. Chop mushrooms. Mince garlic. Slice eggplant into thick rounds (about 1/3") and salt lightly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Start salted water boiling in a large pot. When boiling, cook 1 package of spaghetti (about 8 cups prepared*) to al dente. Add a bit of olive oil to keep spaghetti from sticking together.
In your largest skillet, heat about 1/3" vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add eggplant slices and fry on each side until browned, turning every couple of minutes with tongs. When browned, remove and set on paper towels to drain.
Meanwhile, melt butter in medium skillet. Saute onions and mushrooms until reduced in size. Add garlic and keep sauteing for another minute or so. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add 2 c. spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, Parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. Combine.
Take cooled fried eggplant, lightly salt, and chop into 1" squares. Maybe eat a slice or two yourself because freshly fried eggplant is delicious.
In another bowl, combine all cheese topping ingredients. If necessary, use your hands to work it together.
Take 9x13 pan. Put 1/3 of cooked spaghetti in the bottom. Sprinkle with 1/2 the mushrooms and 1/2 the eggplant chunks. Pour 1/2 of egg combination on top.
Layer another 1/3 of spaghetti on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the mushrooms and eggplant. Pour the rest of the egg combination on top.
Put the rest of the spaghetti on top. Drizzle reserved 1 c. of spaghetti sauce across the top. Cover with the cheese topping.

Put tin foil on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove tin foil. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle.**
Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
* I used leftover spaghetti that had been boiled with split habanero peppers to make it slightly spicy. Regular spaghetti should be fine, though.
** The potluck version had been reheated in the oven as well, so it may have been cooked for an even longer time.
2nd-Sep-2016 10:33 pm - Recipe: Taco Pizza
A crust of flour tortillas and a filling of refried beans, and/or shredded rotisserie chicken and salsa. Top it off with some taco sauce and cheese.

Serves 8.


  • 1 (16 oz) can refried beans (you may not need the entire can)

  • (optional) 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

  • ½ cup salsa

  • vegetable oil

  • 8 flour tortillas, fajita or taco size

  • taco sauce (to taste)

  • 8 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese or cheddar

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced

  • 8 Kalamata olives, sliced thin


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

  2. Warm up beans in a small bowl in the microwave. If using chicken, combine chicken and salsa in another bowl and warm it up in the microwave.

  3. To toast the tortillas, heat oil in a skillet and fry both sides of the tortilla.

  4. Lay four of the toasted tortillas on a large baking sheet. Spread thinly with refried beans on each tortilla. Add tomatoes. Top with the salsa/chicken mixture, evenly dividing it among the four tortillas. Top with another fried tortilla.

  5. Spread a thin layer of taco sauce on the top of the top tortilla. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, evenly dividing it among the four pizzas. Sprinkle olives on top. Bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

  6. Cut into triangles and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Book Smugglers wants stories of gods and/or monsters, pays $.06/wd. All the details and more new markets:

21st-Jul-2016 08:22 pm - New market list updates!
New market list updates! Brave Boy World anthology wants SF with trans male protagonist, pays $100. All the details and more new markets: http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html.
19th-Jul-2016 03:25 pm - Updated Bio!

I poke at my writer's bio and make tiny little adjustments all the time. This is the latest version, written to accompany a forthcoming article on ...drumroll... writing bios!
Abra Staffin-Wiebe loves dark science fiction, cheerful horror, and futuristic fairy tales. Dozens of her short stories have appeared at publications including Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Odyssey Magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, where she wrangles two small children, three large cats, and one full-sized mad scientist. In her mythical spare time, she writes, collects fairy tales, and photographs whatever stands still long enough to allow it.

This August at The Loft, Abra Staffin-Wiebe will guide writers through the process of submitting their short stories in Submit It Now! Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories. (This class is open to writers in all genres, although it focuses on science fiction and fantasy.)
So that's me!

6th-Jul-2016 03:01 pm(no subject)
As part of Smashwords' July Summer Sale, A Circus of Brass and Bone will be 75% off through July 12, 2016, and then 25% off through the end of July. This deal is available through Smashwords only. They offer many formats including epub and mobi (for Kindles). (You must USE THE CODE below the buy button to get the discount.)
That means that RIGHT NOW, A Circus of Brass and Bone is available for the low, low price of ONE DOLLAR.


It's the end of civilization, but the show must go on. When a traveling circus returns to Boston after a tour in British India, they discover that an aetheric calamity has sent a wave of death rolling across post-Civil War America, killing a third of the population and rendering basic technology dangerously unstable. In such desperate time, what use is a circus?


"Read if: You would love to read about circus freaks, espionage, war elephant golems, intrepid female ship captains, monkeys finding true love, and the authentic smells of large cities."

- Heidi Waterhouse, Goodreads

"...the world has a texture and a past that appeals even as it appalls ... The characters have a lot of bad stuff happening to them, but they retain both agency and their moral sense. The darker scenes never devolve into hopelessness or pointless gore."
- Marissa Lingen, Novel Gazing Redux

A Circus of Brass and Bone

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