Sun of a foreign sky

Crowd-funded stories of war and exile to help refugees

The time has come for the stories from the ragged edges of silence to be given a voice, stories that will shine a light on some of the most painful conditions that a human being can endure: existence as an exile, a migrant, a refugee.

“Children of a Different Sky” is a crowdfunded anthology of short stories and poems from many authors you know – Jane Yolen, Brenda Cooper, Marie Brennan, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Patricia McEwen, Jacey Bedford, Irene Radford — and many others, some of whom may be unfamiliar to you, writers who might have a more intimate, more visceral, connection with the pain of exile.

Any money collected beyond the costs of publication will be donated to organizations working to help the dispossessed human tides of our era.

You can learn more about the project at the crowd-funding website HERE

Still from Alma videoIncluded on the website is my video explaining how it works and why I think it is so necessary. (Another link below)

I am one of the unmoored myself, although I was not driven from home by war like so many recent refugees.

But at age 10 I did leave the country of my birth, the ground where the bones of my ancestors are buried, where their ghosts walk, where a sliver of my spirit lives still, lives always. I understand on a visceral level what it means to be FORCED to leave a place one calls home.

Back in the land I come from, there is a beloved poet called Aleksa Santic, and a beloved and well known poem entitled, “Ostajte ovdje” – “Stay Here”. Young children of my heritage and culture know these lines – they are engraved on the souls of the humans of my nation.

Loosely translated,  with poetic license, they read:

Stay here – the sun of a foreign sky
Will never warm you like this one in your own heaven
Bitter is the bread in that place                                                                                   Where you you’re among strangers and not amongst your brothers.

This anthology is an effort to make sure that the dispossessed are not forgotten. It is my attempt to help save both the souls and the bodies of those who now need us most.

If you marched in any city in the world…if you had the courage and the fury to join the thousands who protested Donald Trump’s heavy-handed refugee/immigrant travel ban in the last days of January 2017, I salute you.

Supporting this crowdfunding effort is another way you can help.

Watch the video and give what you can HERE

11 Famous Authors Who Were Once Refugees

In a story at Bustle, Charlotte Ahlin writes: “Let’s clear something up right away, though, because some people seem to be confused: refugees are human. 100% of refugees are real, human people trying to survive, like you and your friends… Whether they go on to be famous authors, or Steve Jobs’ parents, or just ordinary, non-famous human people on the planet, every refugee deserves to live in safety.

Refugee author Ishmael Beah book coverIshmael Beah

At age 12, Ishmael Beah fled his home and family following an attack by rebels in Sierra Leone. At age 13, he was picked up by the government army and forced to fight as a child soldier for over two years. Beah was finally rescued by UNICEF, and eventually made his way to the United States, where he is now an author and human rights activist. A Long Way Gone is his harrowing, powerful memoir of his life as a boy soldier.

See all the authors at the Bustle website HERE

But you didn’t

But You Didn't cartoon

I posted this story and a link to it more than a year ago, but it still keeps getting rediscovered and reopened. It is an incredibly moving poem.

“But You Didn’t” Poem Translated & Illustrated by Chinese Netizen: by Fauna


See the whole illustrated poem HERE


HELP ME WRITE: author illustrationPublishing is in flux and most authors need new sources of income to remain full-time writers. If you would like to help me continue writing about wizards and Weres, Jin-shei sisters, and girls who rise from the gutter to become an Empress, consider pitching in with a small monthly pledge. For the cost of a latte or two you too can become a patron of the arts.

Details on how you can help can be found HERE

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Blind is a man without a book ~ Icelandic proverb

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Fantasy, the new science?

Science in fantasy novels is more accurate than in science fiction, Annalee Newitz postulates at io9. (See link below.)
dragonImage by Todd Lockwood from the cover of Marie Brennan’s Voyage of the Basilisk

As a fantasy writer, I’m not unbiased, but I think that is absolutely true.

Hard science fiction can fall into one of two traps: either it becomes infatuated with its own tropes and throws in things that LOOK scientific but could not possibly be, or it finds it has to break known science rules because otherwise the story it is trying to tell crumbles.

For example, if a story takes place in more than one star system, it depends on FTL space travel. Without Faster Than Light travel, it is arrant nonsense because of all the relativity issues, and because the speed of light does not permit easy back and forth travel between suns on a time scale that is compatible to human participation.

The genre itself thus falls lower on a scale of science than a really good well researched self-consistent fantasy which postilates a science that may be science of magic, but still a science with its own rules — and it then STICKS to those rules and does not break them. Marie Brennan’s “Natural History of Dragons” is a beautiful example of this.

In the Were Chronicles, my new Young Adult series, I’m going back to my own science roots and working out the genetics of the Were phenomenon – exactly how humans turn into beasts.

It’s been fascinating. I hope the readers are going to agree. Book 1 of the new series, “Random”, will be published this fall. But it’s in book 2 that the real science of my story spreads its wings and flies. It’s worth waiting for…

Scientific fantasy

40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers

Cool coversThe science fiction book cover is a hard one to get right.

Shortlist has picked some of the very best sci-fi book covers, ones that are “exciting, clever, vivid and unforgettable.” Do you agree with their choices?
After the RainAfter The Rain, Author: John Bowen
Copied a million times over by Hollywood disaster movies, this artwork by an unknown artist for Bowen’s 1958 novel is a classic science fiction image – a stricken Statue of Liberty with arm aloft above violent and energetic waters.

Cool covers

The Green City
Green LondonThis isn’t a Utopian Vision,” Annalee Newitz says at io9 about my favorite city in the world, “it’s actually what London is like today.”

There’s a common sense idea that cities are the opposite of nature. And yet if you look at this visualization of green space and gardens in London, what you’ll find is that this giant metropolis contains more plants and wildlife than buildings.

London is an incredibly diverse place. 8.3 million humans speaking 300 languages share the city with 13,000 wild species as well as lots of cats and dogs. You may be excused of thinking there was not much space for all these Londoners, but 60% of London is open land and 47% of Greater London is green. As well as the 3,000 parks, 142 local nature reserves, 36 sites of special scientific interest, 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 2 National Nature Reserves within the city’s limits, there are 3.8 million private gardens. For its size, London is one of the very greenest cities in the world.

Green London

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Alma Alexander
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A Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Book Meme

At SF Signal, John DeNardo wants to know what people think about the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror books they have been reading.

Here are my answers to his 10 questions:

The last sf/f/h book I read and liked: Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan. A beautifully done book, tone perfect.
natural-history-dragonsThe last book I read and wasn’t crazy about: Ocean at the end of the Lane, Neil Gaiman. It’s a story that I have a sneaking suspicion would have been sent back by return mail if anyone other than Neil Gaiman had submitted it to a Big Six publisher. It feels like there’s something deeply personal in here, yes, but it also feels like it was skated over – and that ocean really WAS just that pond.

The book I am reading now: Hild, Nicola Griffith. It’s supposedly HISTORICAL, but it’s far enough in the past for there to be a shade of fantasy about the history.

The book I most want to read next: Freedom’s Maze, Delia Sherman. I look forward to this one.

An underrated book: Havenstar by Glenda Larke. She is a good writer who too often flies under the radar.
An overrated book: Game of Thrones, GRR Martin. I get overwhelmed by it all – the cast of thousands, the wars, the violence. There is real imagination here but it’s being stretched very very thin over the subject matter.

The last book that was recommended to me? Too many to choose from. I won’t pick just one.

A book I recommended to someone else: Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay I tell EVERYONE about this book. It is sublime.

A book I have re-read: Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien. Don’t ask me what I think of the movies.

A book I want to re-read: Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake. I remember it as being eerily fascinating. But I last read it too many years ago to be sure.

Take the quiz (and if any of my books are on your list, please let me know.)

A sf/f/h meme

Language by the Book, but the Book Is Evolving

The O.E.D.Michael Proffitt,, the O.E.D.’s new chief editor, speaks of its future in an article in the New York Times. Some things might surprise you.

Take, for example, where the Oxford English Dictionary is now getting some of it’s quotes — from blog and Twitter postings, quotations from gravestones, an inscription in a high school yearbook. Not that modern terms from these sources are as far afield as you might think.

Historical quotations in the O.E.D. show that many infamous terms of today are older than expected. The following sentence might give most traditionalists hives — literally or figuratively.

OMG, I Am, Like, Literally Unfriending You


OMG The first recorded appearance of this breathless acronym for “Oh, my God!” comes, surprisingly, in a letter to Winston Churchill.

1917 J. A. F. Fisher Let. 9 Sept. in Memories (1919) v. 78. I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis — O.M.G. (Oh! My God!) — Shower it on the Admiralty!!

LITERALLY Word curmudgeons wince when “literally” is used figuratively. Examples of this inversion go back to 1769. Even Mark Twain did it.

1876 ‘M. Twain’ Adventures Tom Sawyer ii. 20 And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth.

LIKE Few words annoy the purist like “like.” Plopped into sentences, “like” is a rest stop for the hesitant, and not just tweens.

1778 F. Burney Evelina II. xxiii. 222 Father grew quite uneasy, like, for fear of his Lordship’s taking offence.

UNFRIEND Facebook was born in 2004. Unfriending began a tad earlier.

1659 T. Fuller Let. P. Heylyn in Appeal Injured Innoc. iii, I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.

WHATEVER, The earliest record of this fashionable retort may not go back centuries. Still, 41 years is older than many of its expert practitioners.

1973 To our Returned Prisoners of War (U.S. Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs) 10 Whatever, equivalent to “that’s what I meant.” Usually implies boredom with topic or lack of concern for a precise definition of meaning.

Change at the O.E.D.

The story of Stagecoach Mary

Mary Fields was the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier in the US, and just the second woman. Born a slave about 1832, she stood 6 feet tall and weighed about 200 lbs, liked to smoke cigars, and was once said to be as “black as a burnt-over prairie.” When she moved to Montana, Native Americans called her “White Crow” because “she acts like a white woman but has black skin.”

In 1895, Fields, then about 60, was hired by the postal service because she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses. She drove the route with horses and a mule named Moses. She never missed a day, and her reliability earned her the nickname “Stagecoach Mary.” If the snow was too deep for her horses, Fields delivered the mail on snowshoes, carrying the sacks on her shoulders.

Mary_FieldsMary Fields, c. 1895.

Actor Gary Cooper once wrote an article for Ebony in which he said: “Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38.”

Stagecoach Mary

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In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on. ~ Robert Frost

Alma Alexander

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