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Nebula Novella Inspired Poems

April is National Poetry Month, and this spring I took my very first poetry class. How could I NOT share some poetry?

One of the hardest parts of poetry isn’t writing the actual words, it’s finding something to write about. The challenge for a new poet is not finding the Truth in the whole world, but finding the Truth in something very small. Zoom in and inspect something closely. Figure out how it affects you and how it affects the things around it.

I’ve been reading for the Nebulas. There are seven novellas nominated this year, so my big idea was to write one poem per book.

And it was hard. Writing these poems forced me to delve deeper into the emotional core of each piece. It made me spend time thinking about each story on a level that I otherwise might have missed.

The poems aren’t retellings of the stories, and they don’t always exactly fit into the worlds of those stories. Some are more fan fiction. Some are an emotional evaluation of the contents. Some are simply ‘inspired by’.

One poem per book. Here we go.


This first one is inspired by A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers. I loved this quiet book for its attention to beauty and balance. I would like a tea monk to visit sometime soon.

in a world balanced
by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

purpose
in a world balanced
with the teleological tea
of the wants of machines and monks

a crickets’ quiet cataclysm 
in a world balanced
a life balanced
balance
not ominous but omnipresent
in the discontent
of quiet utopia

remnants and memories
in a world balanced
between city and wild
between human and robot
between hectic life and the introspection of quiet gods
who do not speak
but
in breath taken with tea in hand
in the pause between doing
in the memory of our ancestors
a balance returns
and the cycle continues

Next, I wrote a haiku inspired by And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamad. This story had such a dark premise and watching it play out is fascinating. It’s hard to boil ANYTHING down into a poem as short as a haiku, but I wanted to give it a shot.

dead lead the way
Anthony W. Eichenlaub

the dead lead the way
now empty of life’s baggage
truest in revenge

Eugenia TriantaFyllou has rocked the short fiction markets for a while now, and her novella The Giants of the Violet Sea does not disappoint. Among other things, it explores death and traditions and ritual in a harsh ocean world. This was a tough poem to write for me because Eugenia’s prose is so damn poetic it kept inviting comparison, and that’s not a great headspace to be in when writing poetry.

into the ink
by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

do you ever wonder where the current takes us?
our lives, an ebbing tide
to wine dark seas
past obelisk
black upon horizon
filling the moonlit night

are we pulled by the gods’ movement through that endless sea?
taken to their distant waters
they watch us
slow slick bulk breaking surface
eyes like abyss
scour us to essence
guide our slide into inky dark

or does the trajectory of our lives usher us through the beyond?
ink of yellow, red, and deepest violet
stories of those we touch
etched upon a canvas of skin
we are artwork cast to sea
nevermore beheld
by the living

Another author who writes beautiful prose is Aliette de Bodard, and Fireheart Tiger is some of her best. The three relationships fascinated me in this book, and when I went to write a poem about them I used it as a chance to explore some parallels.

three women for whom i have suffered love
by Anthony W. Eichenlaub 

there is a weight to her
though she burns. i once fled
the licking flames, sure
that death was at my heels.

she is the consuming rage
of passion. when she possesses
me in her arms there is
nothing else in the world.

my mother’s words leave
bruises that will never heal.
her trust is a heavy
blade above my head.

i remember the fire that consumes
i remember the passion that dominates
i remember the judgment that smothers
but which of these is love?

E. Catherine Tobler’s The Necessity of Stars is told from the perspective of a person with memory loss. It’s powerful and poignant and really an amazing accomplishment.

if memory is a story
by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

if memory is a story
i am protagonist
mary sue
flawed hero
anti hero
chosen one

if memory is a story
and my first memory never happened
then who am i
my origin story
made of sand
or am i a side character
in your story
of your memory
only there to be forgotten

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn was the hardest for me to read, but that’s not a bad thing. It deals with hard themes in powerful ways and I wasn’t sure I could go much deeper with my poetry. I had to try, though, and I’m reasonably happy with where it ended up. Deeper? Not really. But there was a lot to explore in this novella.

oh what it was
by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

oh what it was to be whole
with skin not split
and belly not a gnawing pit
in the center of all things
the sea hungers for us
blades in the sky
tentacles below

oh what it was to be one
with no vampire parasite
sucking wet slick
from sore breast
on a ship
wet with rot
among enemies

oh what it was to be sane
without memory scratching
at a fraying mind
when whispers were the
furtive tryst of lovers
and the musk of sweat
was the passion of
wild embrace

oh what it was to be only me

Aimee Ogden has been another favorite of mine since we shared a table of contents in the Fell Beasts and Fair anthology. Her novella Sun Daughters, Sea Daughters does wonderful things with the Little Mermaid story (like REALLY wonderful things.)

cost
by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

she sought change
at any cost:
a voice
a family
my love
all lost
for one 
who warms his face
in the burning sky

what could she know of cost?
this girl who has experienced only
the wealth of the sea king
the casual privilege of her beauty
the might of the ocean and all its relentless waves

she sought change
for a price she did not understand
she signed the contract without comprehension
but then again nobody ever reads a contract when they want what they want
they only sign
we all sign

we want what we want
at whatever cost
for love’s value outweighs it all
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2021 Awards Eligibility

It’s that time of year again. Time to talk about 2021 awards eligibility so that the powers that be (you) can go out, read my works, and nominate as per your heart’s desire. There has been a lot of great stuff this year, and I’m sure you have a long reading list.

I’ve been working hard this year. I have! Really! My list is short because a lot of what I’m doing isn’t eligible for one reason or another. Let’s break it down a little.

Short Stories

Escape from the Sunset Vista – This is my science fiction nursing home escape heist, and I really love this story. It deals with memory loss, regret, and that eternal drive to discover the truth. I write a lot about competent elderly protagonists, and I think this story encapsulates everything I love about doing that.

Unfortunately it’s a bit difficult to find. It was published through OnSpec Magazine on paper, but they don’t make everything available online. SFWA members can find this story on the forum.

The Last Tangerine – This is a late addition to the lineup. It came out late December and is now available to read on Issues in Earth Science. The earth science in this one is a little tenuous, but they liked the story and there’s enough teachable stuff in there that I think it was a good fit.

Novellas

My self-published Colony of Edge series is almost all eligible this year, so I’m just going to lump the whole thing together here. Of a Strange World Made came out in 2020, but the entire rest of the series was released this year. In particular I’d like you to check out Upon Another Edge Broken, since I absolutely love how colony-driven sci-fi worked with a cozy mystery wrapped up in it. Beware the Columbo references. I’m not sorry. You can check out the Colony of Edge series page for details on where to get those books (everywhere).


That’s pretty much it! Yeah, I know it’s not that exciting this year, but there’s more to come soon. The Grandfather Anonymous release this year was technically a re-release, so no eligibility there. My novella Beyond the Hazards Unseen is only available to people who sign up for my mailing list, so that’s not really eligible (I really do like the story, though).

And, of course, the stories I publish on my Patreon have WAY too small an audience for any real award consideration. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to check them out, though.

Happy reading, everyone. As always, it’s going to be a great award season. There are tons of great stories out there.

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Above a Distant Sky Seen Launch

A woman looking into the distance where a spacecraft hovers above the ground

Above a Distant Sky Seen is finally here. The final book in the Colony of Edge series has launched, and WE DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S GOING.

The Colony of Edge series has been a fantastic journey for me, and I hope it has been for you, too. We’ve followed Ash Morgan as she’s discovered treachery in her colony’s AI, tracked down a murderer, and uncovered the mysteries of the planet’s long history.

But how does it end?

The problems Edge has always faced are coming to a head. Danger is threatening the colony from all sides–and from the sky.

There’s only one good solution.

A heist. Ash Morgan’s putting together a team, and they’re going to steal everything.

All of it.

No matter what.


To celebrate the completion of the Colony of Edge, the first book, Of a Strange World Made is totally free (through Friday). If you haven’t started this series, please grab a copy and welcome to the Colony of Edge.

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Grandfather Anonymous Launch

Elderly, unarmed, and extremely dangerous.

The day is here! Grandfather Anonymous is launching on all platforms. Ajay Andersen struggles to protect his granddaughters from unknown dangers using nothing but his elite hacking skills and a solidly built cane.

Before Ajay retired, he was the best hacker the NSA had ever hired. He sank corporations, toppled governments, and broke cryptography. All of it.

And don’t think retirement has slowed him down one bit, thank you very much.

When his estranged daughter shows up on his doorstep with his two granddaughters, Ajay will do anything to keep them safe. He’ll hack biotech corporations and criminal enterprises alike. Nobody after his girls will be safe, but the more he digs, the more he dredges up the shadows of his own dangerous past.

He only needs to know one thing:

What makes his granddaughters so darn valuable?

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Grandfather Anonymous is COMING BACK!

Elderly, unarmed, and extremely dangerous.

This has been in the works a good long while. Grandfather Anonymous never did much when it was traditionally published. I don’t blame the publisher, and I don’t blame myself, but there were definitely things that could have been done differently. It’s a strange thing, this publishing business, especially in the year 2020.

So, when the publisher offered me the rights back, I took the chance. With the sudden start of my self-publishing career (wow it’s been a year since my layoff), this seemed like a good opportunity to put together a relaunch. I crafted a new cover, reedited the book, and I’ve done everything I can to give Grandfather Anonymous another swing for the fences.

The trick is going to be getting it into more readers’ hands, getting those critical reviews, and giving it a chance to really shine.

And now it’s time.

The relaunch is scheduled for July 5th. You can now preorder anywhere ebooks are sold, and the hardcover is up for preorder on Amazon. I’m already very happy with how preorders are going. It has more than twice as many preorders of any of my previous books. That might be the special launch pricing of $0.99 or it might be the fact that something that drifts more toward technothriller has a bigger draw than my other books, which are solidly in the sci-fi category.

Either way, I have high hopes for this book, and how well this does in the next few weeks is going to weigh HEAVILY on my decision of what to write next.

So, head over to the Grandfather Anonymous book page for links and details on next week’s big relaunch.

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From a Barren Seed Grown Launch

From a Barren Seed Grown is out! Book Four of the Colony of Edge series sees Ash return to the colony, which has had the audacity to change while she was away.

This is running up to the end of the series. Book 5 (tentatively titled Above a Distant Sky Seen) is well on its way, and should be ready soon, but in the end of From a Barren Seed Grown you’ll get a hint about where we’re going.

And what challenges lie ahead.

Every story changes everything, and with From a Barren Seed Grown, we’re getting another lens through which to observe the deadly, empty world of Sky.

So, grab your copy now.

Woman standing in front of a city under a red moon

The Colony of Edge will never be the same.

When Ash Morgan returns after a long time away, she finds she hardly recognizes the place she once called home. Black towers stretch to the sky, strangers wander the streets, and odd smells permeate the very stones.

Monsters roam the streets.

After a terrible attack, Ash must determine what strange monster lurks among the city’s newest inhabitants. How is it connected to all the changes happening in the rapidly growing colony? More importantly, can she determine when the monsters attack next?

And why?

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On a Forsaken Land Found

The time is here. Ash Morgan’s next big experiment has arrived, and it’s time to find out what twists and discoveries await in the forgotten deserts of the planet Sky.

On a Forsaken Land Found is a huge release, since it sets up the Big Next Steps in the series and marks three (3) Colony of Edge books. I’m so excited to hear what people think about this thing.

As you may have noticed, this series borrows themes from various classic monsters. On a Forsaken Land Found is the mummy entry. Not any particular mummy book, but a huge part of the inspiration (and, roughly, its story structure) comes from the fabulous Brendan Frasier The Mummy, which is a modern classic all on its own. I mean, it’s no Encino Man, but come on.

But don’t expect the twists in this book to resemble what you’ve seen in other mummy stories.

Because what follows them back is not what you’ll expect.

On a Forsaken Land Found

There are some mysteries best left unearthed on the planet of Sky.

A secret is hidden in a dead city at the center of a faraway desert. Lost technology might save the colony of Edge and finally bring sustainable life to a world that has been so close for so long.
 
…But what dangers slumber in that forsaken land?
 
Ash Morgan leads a team of explorers to find clues that will save her people and bring on a new era of prosperity. She battles the elements and hazards of the city, but can she hold together her team when the dangers prove too much? Can she prepare them for the very real possibility of failure?
 
And what if something follows them back to Edge?
 
Maybe that city’s not so dead after all.