Tuesday, January 10, 2017

City of Weird Contributor: Linda Rand

Kevin Meyer submitted his City of Weird story at the eleventh hour - specifically, twenty after eleven on the very last day of open submissions. I'd like to award him the "Last Submitter" award, especially since waiting until the last moment is my own strategy, but I can't. The "Very, Very, Completely and Utterly Last Submitter Award" goes to Linda Rand, who sent me a Facebook message at 12:14 AM on April 16, 2015, technically fourteen (fifteen? I don't do math) minutes after endgame.

"hi gigi! i hope this isn't a huge faux pas," she wrote. And she explained that she'd had trouble getting her submission to go through on the Submittable page we'd set up. Finally admitting defeat after midnight rolled over, she'd decided the only thing she could do was send the submission to me via Facebook. She looked up my name and sent a message. I didn't know her at the time and wasn't Facebook friends with her. It's very lucky that I got the message at all, that it didn't just languish in my "other" folder, which I don't even think I knew existed at the time.

"I'm thinking this is particularly wrong because it was a blind reading...*sigh*" she said. What she meant by blind is that the rules for submissions specified that submitters were not to put their names on their manuscripts. Knowing that I was friends with many, many Portland writers, knowing that it would be hard to be objective if friends sent me stories, I had asked publisher Laura Stanfill to police my submissions and keep the writers' identities from me. Essentially, we'd said that if a writer put their name on their submission, they could be disqualified. Linda couldn't help but disqualify herself by appealing to me through a Facebook message with her name right there. She pasted the story, in full, into the message.

I'd spent that last night of open submissions working on a book cover design and periodically watching the Submittable page, as there had been more writers than just Linda and Kevin who gave it until the last day to upload their stories. I felt kind of ceremonious and festive on this last night, so I was also posting random images on Facebook for good measure, images of old Weird Tales magazines, like this one: the clutching hands of DEATH.

Here's my hastily-jotted commentary from my diary the next day:

A fun night. Periodic posting of old, campy illustrations on facebook, and watching submissions come in while I worked on Ellen’s back cover and listened to Suspense old time radio shows. My last submission was from a woman who apparently used to work at the Blue Monk, which I saw on her facebook page after she appealed to me through a facebook email at 12:15ish after her story wouldn’t go through on Submittable at ten till midnight. It’s a sweet, little flash piece.

I remember when I read her piece for the first time, I laughed out loud. Flash was definitely a plus for me. I'd so been hoping for some flash fiction and hadn't gotten much. Another plus, beyond the story being short and funny, was its landmark, the Blue Monk, a bar that used to be on Belmont but now is no more. And her otherworldly element, a gorgon, was completely different from any of the tropes used in the other stories.

And luckily the question of the blind didn't matter. I didn't know who she was. In the end, not only did I take the story, I also gave it one of the eight illustrations in the book, which I made as separators for the anthology's different sections.

Linda Rand is both a writer and an artist. Her artwork has been included in PDX Magazine and the book Oneira: I Dream the Self, curated by Peggy Nichols of Studio C Gallery in the Santa Fe Arts Colony in LA. Her writing has been published in Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, by Ariel Gore, in the anthology The People’s Apocalypse, edited by Ariel Gore and Jenny Forrester, and most recently in the Unchaste Anthology, Volume 1, edited by Jenny Forrester.

Here's a beautifully written story of Linda's up on Nailed Magazine.

Not only all that, but this past year, Linda's been making a human! I mean, how cool sci-fi otherworldly is that!

Here's a taste from her story "Stone Cold Monk." It's hard to keep from including the whole thing since it's so short and lovely, but I'm going to make myself cut it off. She will be reading it in full at American Legion Post 134, Friday, January 13th. The event starts at 7:30.

“Linda, what’s with the Medusa when I walked in? It can’t be good for business.” My friend Vaslav rolls his gray eyes, finding this yet another annoying factor at the Blue Monk. For someone who says he hates jazz and hipsters so much, he still manages to visit me a lot. I note he dyed his hair a becoming champagne blond. 

 “What?” I’m coming out of the walk-in with two trays of fruit for cocktails, balancing the cherries so the juice doesn’t spill. “I’m happy to see you but I’m totally running late.” 

Then I see a stone statue toward the center of the room. Just a guy. A statue of some guy. It looks like he is about to duck into a booth, his hand on the dark table, mouth a perfect O of unhappy surprise. With his 1950s glasses, beard, and skinny jeans, practically a uniform in this town, I have to peer in super close to see if I recognize him. There are no tattoos and I wonder if they would even show, as I stare at each perfect stone eyelash. I decide I don’t know him, but with the lack of color, it is a guess. 

The door to the basement is slowly closing, but before it does, I think I catch a glimpse of drab muslin and maybe scales disappearing into the gloom.

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