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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!
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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

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.

24th-May-2016 10:33 pm - CONvergence Panels
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I'm an invited local pro at CONvergence, and these are the panels I'll be on this year! Tell me--what questions do you have on these topics? What concerns would you like to see addressed?

Friday, July 1

Risk of Going Nowhere
As a safety and headline driven nation, how will we explore dangerous, distant places that are inherently unsafe without losing the public will or disrespecting the lives of those who go? Panelists: Desiree Schell (mod), Sarah Prentice, Jim Tigwell, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Rebecca Watson

Westerns in Sci-Fi and Fantasy
These days, the Western is the genre equivalent of peanut butter: not often served on its own, and yet it seems to go with just about everything. Why is the Western so appealing and adaptable, and what are the best examples of great Western fusion? Panelists: William Leisner, Camille Griep, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Bradford Walker, Eric Heideman

Saturday, July 2

Diversity in Writing
"If you want more diversity, you should go out and create it." That's just part of what needs to be done to get more representation in fiction. We will discuss the importance of creation, good representation, and support. Panelists: Michi Trota, Briana Lawrence, Jessica Walsh, Mark Oshiro, Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Face Value: The Truth is Trickier Than You Thought
That thing you posted? It's not real. Why do humans keep believing false things over and over, even though it's easier than ever to check the facts? We'll discuss the history and psychology of false beliefs and how they apply to the modern digital era. Panelists: Siouxsie Wiles, Kavin Senapathy, Brianne Bilyeu, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Stephanie Zvan
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Deep Magic is a new publication of family-friendly SF and fantasy, and they pay better than pro rates! More details and all the new writing market listings at
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It feels like this week has been full of socializing, although that's partly because any week where I see friends more than once feels crazy-busy!

It also feels like this week has been horrible for productivity, and that is true for a couple of reasons. Primary among them is that I have been a bit stuck in the two novels that I'm writing in parallel. Not stuck as in I-don't-know-what-to-do-next, but stuck as in I-need-to-plot-the-next-bit (side project Codename Dragon Succubus) and I-need-to-do-lots-of-research-first-and-I-don't-wanna (main project Real Name Scorpion Dance). And I've been feeling somewhat stressed and responding to it in my usual unhelpful avoidance way. Grr.

Speaking of which, notice how I'm writing a journal entry now instead of writing? Sure, my goal is to write a journal entry every week and it's been over a month since my last one, but that doesn't mean it isn't avoidance. It just means I am super-well-supplied with other things to do. Like sort through the thousand-plus emails in my inbox, which is next on my avoidance plan for the day. Oops, sorry, this is my Mother's Day Away. Make that my "Relaxation Plan." There, that sounds better.

I've started using my gym membership to the YMCA, which is going pretty well. During the week, when Cassius is in preschool, timing doesn't work out so well for me being able to go and take a full class and use whatever's left of the 2 hours of free babysitting to write, so I usually just hit the machines for a while, shower, and then edit for a half-hour before I have to pick up the kids and get on a bus to take Cassius to preschool (his preschool is in the afternoon). I do like the working out part, though, even if I wish I could make my time usage there more efficient to take advantage.

Also, annoyingly, even though we won a month of "Whole Family" membership, that doesn't mean I can get the member rate for Cassius' swim lessons. You have to register about a month in advance for that, and you have to have the child be a full member both IN ADVANCE when you register, and AT the time of the lessons. Grr. Ripoff. Still getting him lessons, though. Just not sure if family membership is going to be worth anything more than my individual membership, because it doesn't really get us anything extra.

Our poor girl kitty is slowly improving. We found out a couple of months ago that she had kidney failure, which led to near-lethal high blood pressure, which led to lethargy, refusal to eat, and one of her eyes having blood vessels rupture inside of it. She already had cataracts and so was mostly blind, but with that, she became completely blind on that side. I don't know if her sight will come back (even slightly) once the blood has all left the eye. It was totally black, filled with blood. Now I can see the rim of her iris again and there's a pale pink cloud in the center of her eye where the blood is slowly being reabsorbed. Her blood pressure is under control with 2x daily medication. And apparently cats can live with kidney failure for several years, although it's best if they eat a special diet for animals with kidney failure, and she's picky.

Lots of fun with socializing lately.

A pack of Phil's female relatives came up from Wisconsin to visit. We drove through downtown looking at all the lights that turned purple in memory of Prince. We went bra shopping at the Mall of America (so much not fun, but necessary). We ate at IKEA and they went shopping while I lounged on a couch and fiddled with edits. We went to Surly Brewery, where they were sad that they could not purchase growlers and I learned why they have so many glasses from drinking establishments they've visited on "girls weekends." Then we went to Betty Danger's Country Club (by the owner of Psycho Suzi's), enjoyed the ferris wheel tremendously, ate the delicious foods, and utterly failed in our attempt to visit her other two establishments, partly because the designated driver doesn't parallel park ... and this is the city.

Dave had a biking pub crawl birthday party where he asked the guests to be made up as "subtle" clowns. I was able to make it to the Eastlake portion of the night. Our whole family went to the Sabathani Prince block party earlier in the afternoon, where we mostly watched the kids go down bouncy house slides and bounce around in the bouncy maze. Total madhouse. Cassius also asked for a snowplow balloon animal, which was a real challenge for the balloon clown. I asked for a snake with pop eyes, which I gave to the birthday boy later. Also managed to get face paint done for the clown birthday party at the prince block party. Multitasking!

The rest of the week(ish) in brief:

May in Minneapolis means the May Day Parade. Thanks to Drew's friend Anna for letting us join the house-and-lawn party that she throws during the parade. I took many pictures.

Cassius brought home baby chicks from preschool, and we successfully kept the cats from eating them during their overnight visit. Cassius is good and gentle with chicks. Theia not so much.

Cassius lost Theia and I in the library, freaked out, and ran out of the building, only to be caught a block later. So scary. Spouse yelled at me a lot. Full story from Fb: We were at the library in Uptown. I took Theia into the bathroom to change her, and when I came back out, Cassius was GONE. Not in the kids' play area, not among the book shelves, not in the sitting area. Turns out, he didn't hear me tell him where we were going, freaked out when he didn't see us, and RAN OUT OF THE LIBRARY (after us, he thought). Thank God for the concerned stranger who came back to find me, the ones who pointed which direction he'd gone, and the ones who stopped him and helped. He made it about a block away, in the direction of his preschool (also in Uptown). Most of us have that "I lost my parents" (in the grocery store, etc.) memory. I think this is going to be the one that sticks for him.

CenterPoint repair guy actually had the part required to make our dishwasher mostly functional again. Amazing.

Thursday, I made it to Electra's graduating senior art reception, admired the art (hers was sealife-themed), and took lots of pictures that I now need to edit and watermark. Then we went to the Riverview Cafe and chatted over yummy brownies.

Friday, I went to my old friend Jason's birthday party, tasted kava for the first time, and saw it prepared ... burlesque-style. More pictures were taken. The stuff looks like off-colored, watery milk, smells like dirt with an acrid undertone, and tastes like nothing much although the aftertaste is pretty awful. The first effect is a tingling tongue. The effect it had on me seemed to be a sharpening and clarity of sight and sensation. No idea if that's how most people feel, as I had to leave then. Silly buses and their schedules.

Saturday, I was peopled out. Morning, went to the gym. Took a weightlifting/body pump group class. Afternoon, went to coffee shop, plotted/adjusted the plot for the rest of the side project (Dragon Succubus), and wrote some. Spent the night fighting with trying to figure out watermarks and custom brushes and why it wasn't working damn it. Figured it out, eventually, but still need to manage batch watermarks for things I don't edit before uploading (like May Day photos).

Today is Mother's Day. I slept in a lot. Made myself French toast. Left to go to a coffee shop until dinner, which is where I currently am. Cassius being in two preschool classes meant I got two Mother's Day presents from him! I got a shiny bead-and-button bracelet that has a whole lot of gold buttons and some red and green flower beads, and a bar of soap that he felted with sheep's wool during their field trip to Gale Woods (which he loved--he says he likes spinach now).

Oh, and also the car died in the middle of the highway and Phil had to get it fixed. So that happened.

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Market List Logo

http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 5/15/2016.
Permanent link to this newsletter in the archives: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/archive2016.html#041516

Random Thoughts
Part of the trick to getting the most out of writing time is to have fallow non-writing time when the subconscious can ponder and process and imagine without having other engagements--whether those are good (joys, projects) or bad (worries, stress, illness). When you're a parent, that becomes a *real* trick!

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Registration is open for the class I'm teaching on formatting and submitting short stories! By the end of this class, students will have submitted their short story and will possess a set of skills and tools to assist them in the future. More information and registration at The Loft Literary Center: https://www.loft.org/shop/product_detail/4/adult_class/366/submit_it_now_fantasy_and_science_fiction_short_stories/.

Writing is going well. I'm halfway through the half-dragon/half-succubus urban fantasy side project, and I'm at about the same point in the contemporary fantasy/thriller in Belize main project. These are different wordcounts, though, because the urban fantasy will end up around 60,000 words and the Belize fantasy will be about 100,000 words. So naturally, now that I'm deep into two novels at the same time, I feel like I should get a few more short stories written and out. And of course, I always have the big backlog of editing to do.

Read the rest of the newsletter.
24th-Mar-2016 09:04 pm - My Hugo Nomination-Eligible Works
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Hugo nominations close on March 31. To nominate, you have to be an attending or supporting member of Sasquan (Worldcon 73), MidAmeriCon II (Worldcon 74), or Worldcon 75. You have one week!

I do have a couple of eligible stories from last year. If you read them and enjoy one of them enough to nominate, please do so! (I like you too, but please don't nominate based only because of any personal liking.)

Best Short Story
"And Other Definitions of Family" is a light, humorous SF story about a xeno-anthropologist who takes a very intimate approach to field research. Read it for free here: http://www.unlikely-story.com/stories/and-other-definitions-of-family-by-abra-staffin-wiebe/

Best Novel
A Circus of Brass and Bone, which I published writing as Abra SW, is a post-apocalyptic steampunk serial novel about a circus traveling through the collapse of Reconstruction Era America. The Vita.mn review says, "It's a dark, supernatural and altogether bizarre examination of the human condition and it remains true to form for a post-apocalyptic novel: It's also a class commentary that asks how we'd adapt to a world in which society, with all its benefits and ills, suddenly and violently imploded." It's no longer available to read for free, but you can read a good-sized sample at Amazon or Google Play Books before buying.

Best Novelette
"A Stranger Comes to Town" is a post-apocalyptic steampunk Western. It's a stand-alone installment from A Circus of Brass and Bone. You can read it for free at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, or Google Play Books, and it's $.99 on Amazon (because that's the cheapest they'd let me make it). It reached the top 100 for its category on Amazon.

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I will no longer be posting the full market listing update on Livejournal, but you can read it at http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html. To get new updates emailed to you, subscribe to Aswiebe's Market List Update.

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Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation
anthology wants diverse, optimistic environmental science fiction and fantasy.

The anthology will focus on times of environmental crisis and the people inhabiting these tipping points, fighting to effect change and seek solutions, even if it’s already too late. But these are stories of hope, not just disaster! Turn your lens to those crucial moments in a world’s history when great change can be made by the right people with the right tools. Remember: hope can spark in even the grimmest of situations.
The basics: environmental-themed, science fiction and fantasy, 500 - 7,500 words, $.06/wd, reprints okay, submissions will be open for 1 month after Kickstarter funds in April. Guidelines at https://sunvaultantho.wordpress.com/submissions/.
20th-Mar-2016 03:36 pm - Still Sick. Still No Shower.
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Things that go together: stomach flu and bathrooms. Things that don't work so well: stomach flu and non-functional bathrooms. This Tuesday I got sick with the horrible stomach flu that the kids had last week. It was ... horrible. I started feeling sick while I was getting Cassius to his Uptown preschool for a special morning field trip. The plan was to stay in Uptown so I could pick him up after his field trip ended, get him lunch, and then bring him back an hour and a half later for his regular preschool to start. We stuck to the plan, but by the end I was entirely miserable and also grateful for the cleanliness of the public library bathroom and the bathroom at Potbelly. :(

I started feeling actually health several days later, on Friday. In the mean time, Phil stayed home to help when he could and went to work when he couldn't, the kids watched way too many episodes, and the plumber and contractor came and went.

Our bathroom still isn't fixed, but by Friday our shower at least had walls again, even if it has no fixtures. On Monday they'll come and put those in. However, we could use our bathtub again this weekend, thank goodness, at least for bucket baths. You know it's bad when you're really grateful for a bucket bath.

I'm also grateful for good friends who live nearby and let me use their shower! So grateful. Thursday night, Electra let our whole family go over to her house and I got to wash my hair (and the rest of me, but the hair was the worst because I really can't do anything about that in a sink) and bathe the children and she fed Phil (and Theia) spaghetti, which I know he was really grateful for because we went over around 8, right after he got home from work and before he had a chance to eat a proper dinner.

What else this week? Friday Theia and I went to the library storytime and she saw a little girl that she usually plays with at the coffee shop nearby. Friends! Saturday Phil started getting sick, but he seems to have the congestion-and-coughing version without any of the digestive problems. Theia has been accepted to preschool for three mornings a week beginning in September. I will be alone in the house. This is shocking. Cassius has Scottie Bear home from preschool, so he gets to take the bear everywhere and then we write a story in a notebook about what we did while Scottie Bear was here. I learned that Cassius likes my chili, as long as I put it in a chapati for him. We're trying to get Theia to start potty-training, but even having her sit on the potty for two minutes is a challenge. This has become more urgent lately since she's started taking off her own dirty diapers (including the poopy ones). Danger Danger.
13th-Mar-2016 05:51 pm - This Week in the Life
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Two big changes and one irritating mistake. Okay, the changes aren't THAT big. Practically speaking, they're quite small on a lifetime scale. But big on a weekly scale!

The biggest thing in my life lately has been my inability to shower or bathe at home. Our shower went from decrepit but sorta functional to entirely non-functional. It no longer has hot water, and using the shower is also bad because the walls aren't as waterproof as you would want shower walls to be. We figured this out when Phil looked up at the ceiling of the kitchen and saw that there was water damage. :(

My solution for this has been to take advantage of all the gym trials available that include childcare (and one that didn't, even though its website said it did). This way, I can take the kids, get a workout, write for a bit while the kids stay in childcare, and then wash my hair (the big problem with normal bucket-bath solutions) and the children. It's been fun. I don't have disposable income on a monthly basis, so I won't be able to permanently join a gym-with-childcare and do the short workout, longer writing game plan that some other writer parents and members of gyms-with-childcare have. Sadface. But I've learned that I like group classes and weight machines, and I really like being able to work out again.

Monday the plumber comes and starts the process of retiling the shower alcove, replacing the fixtures, and installing a new toilet while he's at it. I'm very happy about this. I'm just sad that we didn't have the budget to have them also tear up the wood floor and put in tile while we're at it. Alas. Wood floors look great and wear well in many rooms, but bathrooms aren't one of them.

Other things that happened this week(ish), briefly:
1. Tried writing with The Most Dangerous Writing App (change #2), liked it, and beat my weekly word quota for the first time in a long time;
2. Went to preschool auction, got one month's gym membership cheap(!), and collected lots of compliments on my candid portraits of the kids;
3. And, finally, messed up communicating with Cassius' school bus about me taking him to school instead (after gym time in Uptown), leading to confusion all around and a cranky school bus chaperon. Oops.
4. Wait, that's not the end after all! Last Sunday, the children became miserably sick, complete with 105 degree fevers (Cassius) and vomiting (Theia). That was no good. The combination of vomit and nonfunctional shower was particularly unfortunate. I forgot about that earlier, even though the kids are still coughing and congested. They're no longer feverish and they seem to be back to normal energy levels, though, so no more sick days watching videos for them!
25th-Feb-2016 08:11 pm - Time is not infinite
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Oof. Just checked the internets and learned there was a mass shooting (disgruntled employee version) in/near my Kansas hometown. The main shooting was in nearby Hesston, my mother's hometown, but it sounds like someone was shot in Newton, where my dad still lives.
I'm lousy at making phone calls and writing letters to people I care about, because I'm always busy and I think there will be more time later. That ain't always the case. Talk to your loved ones, people.
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