First Story: “Infinity Syrup” by Laurel Winter
Fay was Zen shopping, something she had learned when she worked swing shift in card assembly at IBM. The effort of plugging six components into the right holes on four hundred cards had always left her too tired to think.
Too tired to think, but too wired to sleep. So she usually stopped at a twenty-four-hour grocery on her way home and let her hands do the shopping for her. Hands reaching mindlessly, plucking items off the shelves. And she was always surprised to find — when she got home and unpacked the paper bags — that she had exactly what she needed.
Odd combinations, perhaps. Who would have paired avocado and Kashi, kippered herring and strawberries? But the four basic food groups were always represented. No unappealing leftovers, tastebuds tantalized in wonderful ways.
And so, even when she worked her way from swing shift to first and from manufacturing to management, she still practiced Zen shopping. Like now. Totally absorbed in the moment.
Laurel Winter grew up in the mountains of Montana and attended a one-room country grade school with 12 to 25 students in grades 1 through 8. She then went 30 miles one way on the bus to Absarokee High School, where there were 33 in her graduating class. Since then she’s acquired an eclectic education, including credits in English, physics, and psychology from Montana State and numerous writing and art classes. A number of high school literature textbooks contain “egg horror poem” and she’s hoping her novel Growing Wings gets a baby sister this year. Her current passion is playing poker. Her first novel, Growing WIngs, was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award for children’s fantasy and she’s won back-to-back Rhysling and Asimov’s Readers’ Poll Awards for best poem, a World Fantasy Award for best Novella (“Sky Eyes”), and the 2003 McKnight Artist Fellowship for children’s fiction.
Second Story: “The Isle of Women” by Jacqueline Carey
We are nameless in the stories told by men.
Even the Lady, my gracious Lady, who wore her beauty as lightly as a garment of the finest-combed wool, on whose shoulders the mysteries perched like twin doves. It is no wonder they hailed her as Queen, although it was not what she was. For that, there is no word. Lady, we called her. But she had a name, too, although it was seldom spoken aloud. In the stories they told afterward, none of us have names.
I saw them first, from the ramparts. I saw their hide-bound curragh riding the green swell of the waves, a curragh so vast it might have been a small whale, making its way to our shores. Truly, it was a mighty vessel to hold such men; seventeen, bold and fearless, and boldest of all was their leader, Máel Dúin.
Jacqueline Carey is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Kushiel’s Legacy series of historical fantasy novels and The Sundering epic fantasy duology.
An avid reader, Jacqueline began writing fiction as a hobby in high school. After receiving B.A. degrees in psychology and English literature from Lake Forest College, she took part in a work exchange program and spent six months working in a bookstore in London. While living abroad, the desire to write professionally emerged as a driving passion. Upon returning she embarked in earnest on a writing career, which came to fruition a decade later. During this time she worked at the art center of an area college, gaining a strong background in the visual arts. Jacqueline enjoys doing research on a wide variety of arcane topics, and an affinity for travel has taken her from Finland to Egypt to date.
She currently lives in west Michigan, where she is a member of the oldest Mardi Gras krewe in the state. Although often asked by inquiring fans, she does not, in fact, have any tattoos.
You can find out more about her at jacquelinecarey.com.
About the Narrators:
Nicola Seaton-Clark lives in the wilds of (almost) Eastern Europe with her long-suffering husband, phenomenal children and a grumpy cat. Trained as an actress and singer, she has worked in entertainment for over 20 years and currently splits her time between writing speculative fiction, helping her husband run their voice-over company, Offstimme, and voicing everything from commercials and documentaries to public transport announcements. She also hosts this podcast…
Sarah Frederickson was born in Oregon in the United States, and was raised in beautiful Minnesota. At a young age she realized her passion for musical performance and the creative arts. Sarah spent most of her childhood singing and acting – both onstage and off – and affecting various accents for fun.
She soon found herself competing in local, state and national forensics competitions (that’s competitive speaking). Her experience and awards landed her a forensics scholarship to Bethel University in St.Paul Minnesota, where she continued to compete as well as train other speakers at the collegiate level. Sarah graduated with a degree in Music business and Audio Production. Shortly after graduation she traveled to Australia for a one-year holiday. During that time she became smitten with an Australian man who asked her to stay, and four years later the couple live and work in Australia, going on adventures, writing music and reading stories to their cat.