Teaching on Mars

Welcome to my journal!  

On this page, you will find various writing announcements, signal-boosting for worthy artistic causes, and the occasional soft ramble.  My short fiction and poetry are predominantly speculative, with the occasional non-spec publication.

If you'd like access to personal musings or a rare writing draft, please leave a note here or send me a message.  

LitBulb Festival - Scrying Through Crystal, by Alicia Cole

This story is posted live as part of the LitBulb Festival, an international short fiction festival.  Please enjoy, and check out the other great stories on the festival programme:

Scrying Through Crystal
By Alicia Cole

My sister poured me a glass of Shiraz.  It caught the light, red liquid faceted through the crystal of the glass.

"How come you don't call me?"

Her voice, plaintive, rose like a reed through brackish water.

I turned to catch her downcast glance, shoulders slumped over one of the damask-covered chairs that lined the breakfast nook.
My ring finger tapped the crystal rim, eliciting a crisp ping.

"We've been busy."

Taking my ring off, I dropped it into the glass.  It sank, ruby bubbles surrounding it.


My sister's hula hoop saunters through the hot air.  As it spins around her waist, the plastic sparkles. 

The air breathes out.

Our mother cries sharply as the car veers, the O's of its tires screeching.  My sister’s hula hoop scrapes the ground.


“You could still call,” she replied petulantly, swinging her body into a chair.

“You learn to work with the robotic parts,” she’d once said, standing in my doorway, her hair wavy under a patchwork hat.

Catching me glancing at her leg, she laughed and tapped the metal rhythmically against the chair.  "Some men are into the prosthetic."

Fishing my ring out of the glass, I hitched a laugh.

She survived three surgeries before the age of nine.  I can’t handle one impending divorce.


“Does he still make you laugh?”

Her voice is now calm.

She has pulled the confession from me as neatly as pulling a wing off a dead damsel fly.  I pour our second glass of wine.

“Sometimes, but it’s a disturbing sort of laughter, the kind that makes him uncomfortable.  The kind of laughter you force out when you want to cry instead.”

It is wormier than my strong ten-year old laughter, shielding my sister from taunts.  This laughter has holes in it.

“Is he cheating on you?”

I take a drink.

“Not that I know of, but he’s distant.”


After the first surgery, my sister lays on the sofa, tracing the air with a finger.  She makes limnus patterns, saying little.

Our mother brings her green jello in a flowered bowl. 

She is much cleaner than I.  She drops none of it. 

I slept on the sofa, my head heavy with red wine.

Subsequent nights, men arrived, quietly.  Sometimes, I would hear them laughing from my sister’s bedroom.

I traced my own hands across my knees, wondering if losing flesh helped to loosen the body from its vice-like grip on the heart.

My sister would certainly slap me if I spoke these words out loud.

When I decided to return home, after he texted to tell me his things were packed and he was leaving the dog, my body moved automaton.

My sister ambled down the street after, laughing to cheer me, the wings of her body aimed at the sun, metal glinting like a sparrow, flechette clenched in its beak.


Awards Eligible Writing

2013 was a banner year in my life for many reasons.  Thankfully, in the writing realm, these reasons were positive!  My gratitude to all who have read and enjoyed my work this past year.  Below, please consider my awards-eligible work from 2013:

2013 Awards Eligible Writing

·         Short Fiction – Nebula and Hugo Eligible

“Flower of Flowers, Bird of Birds” – Demeter’s Spicebox; Volume One, Issue 3. July 29, 2013.

·         Poetry – Rhysling Eligible

"La Sirène" - Eternal Haunted Summer, Winter Solstice

"The Shoe War" - Spaceports and Spidersilk, October

"River Song" - Witches & Pagans, Issue 27

"The Gravedigger's Song" - Underneath the Juniper Tree, Fall 2013

"The Lift Equation" and "If Sappho Studied Egyptology" - Abyss & Apex, 4th Quarter

"Truants" - The Martian Wave, 2013 Issue

"Where the Rabbits Run, Near the Shore" - inkscrawl, issue 6

"Teaching on Mars" - Asimov's Science Fiction - September 2013

"Once, I Was a Mermaid" - Strange Horizons - June 17

"Milky White" - Paper Crow - Spring/Summer 2013

"Artemis Speaks to Aphrodite" - Ideomancer 12.2

"Among the Angelic Orders" - Mirror Dance - Summer 2013

"Our Hearts Cried Out" - Star*Line 36.2

"Asteroid Orphan" - Aoife's Kiss – Issue 44

"Maud Gonne, After" - Mythic Delirium, 28

"Ariadne merione" - Hyacinth Noir - Spring Equinox

"Atibon Legba", "Marrying Spirit: a Song for Bawon Samedi", "Papa Damballah" - Eternal Haunted Summer - Spring Equinox

"To Bits, Body and Bones" - Punchnel's - February

"Tarantella" - Plunge Magazine - Issue 1

"Moral" - Goblin Fruit, Winter 2013

"Speech Lessons" - Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science Fiction – February


Writing progress - looking back, looking forward

Once again, a bit negligent - I've been out and about and to the carnival.

Recent wonders:

  • "Teaching on Mars" was published in September's Asimov's

  • "Where the Rabbits Run, Near the Shore" has gone live at inkscrawl

  • "The Gravedigger's Song" was accepted by Underneath the Juniper Tree

Long-ago delights:

  • "Cowboy Hats and Blue Tails" - if you're in the mod for some slash fan-fic, try this out

Back to snoozing dogs, and mental alacrity.


Recent News

Aside from school starting back (which elicits a shrug juxtaposed with a yay!students), the following has recently occured:

1) My story "Earthen" has been accepted to NewCon Press' Looking Landwards anthology.  A collaboration with the Institution of Agricultural Engineers, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, this anthology contains speculation on the future of agriculture, farming and food production.  My family has farming roots and I've been raised gardening my whole life; it's a pleasure to be included.

2) Demeter's Spicebox #3: Islands went live today.  Among the companionship of Bogi Takács' "Mouse Choirs of the Old Mátra" and Mari Ness' "Stronger Than the Wind, Stronger Than the Sea", you'll find my story, "Flower of Flowers, Bird of Birds".  I am so thrilled to be a part of this hypertextual storytelling experiment!  All of the stories in this issue are based on the Aarne-Thompson-Uther (ATU) folktale type 2031C, "The Mouse Who Was to Marry the Sun".

My best to all for the enjoyment of these late July days.
  • Current Mood
    accomplished accomplished


It's been a really whirlwind month; I can't broach even half of it.  Like climbing a steep mountain with intermittent bursts of surfing.  I do love the surfing.

I am very grateful for a few things as of late:

  • Amal El-Mohtar featured my poem "Moral" on - almost a month later, I am back to speaking, but am still happily flabbergasted.  I'm looking forward to reading the next poem featured and taking part in the poetry study.

  • My poem "Tree Dreaming" has been accepted to Dark Mountain Book 5.  Hurrah!

There's more, but it's raining now.  I'd like to lay back on the couch and listen to the rain come down.

March Monster blogfest

March Monster

Write 1 Sub 1 is a really excellent project for  me - following in Ray Bradbury's footsteps, the challenge is to write and submit and story (or poem more often in my case) every week of the year.  It's really keeping my productivity up despite my hectic life.  I've managed to keep up the pace so far this year and am happy with the results.

Two new acceptances this week, of which I'm very pleased:

"The Lift Equation" and "If Sappho Studied Egyptology" were accepted by Abyss & Apex for their July 2013 issue.  I love both poems, but am particularly fond of "The Lift Equation".  It was written in honor of my mother's scientific contributions at NASA, particularly her work on the ProSEDS tether.  selidor, you might have some knowledge of this project, considering your field.  I'm looking forward to its publication later this year.  Sappho, I am also proud to honor. :)

Two new print publications this week - "Asteroid Orphan" in Aoife's Kiss 44 and "Maud Gonne, After" in Mythic Delirium 28.  I will wait until my contributor copies arrive for a proper review.

Now, back to working on a new story.

Things to Love - Signal Bumps

Thing the First

The Grey Fox Epistles, by Sylvia Victor Linsteadt - a monthly story-in-the-mail project, complete with sprigs of evergreen and small treasures; my story this month (so heartbreaking and lovely, a retelling of the Children of Lir), arrived in a beautifully decorated, wax-sealed envelope.  I cannot wait for next month's offering!

Thing the Second

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History - already fully funded and aiming for a stretch goal of adding more stories, this project aims to represent the "voices of silent dreamers".  The premise: [Long Hidden] will feature stories from the margins of speculative history, each taking place between 1400 and the early 1900s and putting a speculative twist—an element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the unclassifiably strange—on real past events. 

An exciting and necessary project!


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