Welcome to the Stone Soup Weekly Digest! This is where I share what I'm up to and some of my favorite things from around the internet. Subscribe to Stone Soup to get this in your inbox every week.
Did you know that you can develop an allergy to mosquito bites in your thirties? Did you know that the allergy can get worse every time you get bitten? Have you ever thought about how big your arm can swell up? It’s bigger than you’d think!
Anyway I didn’t get much work or reading done this week so the digest is going to be very brief this week. To make up for it, I’m going to tell you about a cake I made.
This is a blood-orange olive-oil cake with a lavender-honey and clementine glaze, garnished with sugared clementine segments and glazed lavender blossoms. It went wrong at literally every step of the way: I started mixing it when I discovered that somehow, I was completely oil of olive oil (kind of important for an olive oil cake). Then, after my beloved had procured me olive oil, I discovered that the yogurt I needed (to sub in for the buttermilk I didn’t have) was frozen and needed to be thawed. Then I found out that (again, somehow!!) I was out of baking soda. Also I didn’t have parchment paper. And the cake pan I’d planned to use had a dead bug in it, which you can wash out but the vibes are bad, so I had to pivot to a pie tin. I finally got the thing in the oven and mixed up a blood orange glaze, and then when the glaze was made I realized I’d forgotten to set an oven timer, and while my back was turned my olive-oil-procuring beloved decided to wash dishes and ‘cleaned up’ the blood orange glaze by mistake.
A nightmare at every step – but not a debacle, in the end. My beloved procured the olive oil. I got the yogurt to thaw quickly enough. I substituted a triple-dose of baking powder for the baking soda. I had the pie tin handy, and plenty of butter to use instead of a lining. The absence of the blood orange glaze forced me out into the garden to find last-minute backups, and it turned out the clementine tree was bursting and the lavender was blooming.
And then I decided to put a crackling sugar crust on the clementine segments and a sweet glaze on the lavender, because why not? And anyway, we ate the whole thing.
This week I spent most of my time with one hand and arm pretty much unusable, which meant I couldn’t work very much. It gave me lots of time to gaze into the abyss and what I decided is that it’s time to stop goofing around. I need a hobby or else I’m gonna lose it. I’ve had a lot of false hobby-starts but this cake situation was, I think, just what I needed: something that went as imperfectly as it could, entirely because I didn’t do the necessary planning or preparation, but it was fine. Nothing was lost. We got to have cake.
Get ready for more baking photos in the Digest, is what I’m saying.
I had the great good fortune to write an essay for Meg Elison, the nonfiction editor at Uncanny Magazine. It’s a love letter to short stories. I hope you love it. I guarantee it loves you.
We are reaching for each other. There is so much space between us, and yet still we are always reaching for each other, even if we’ll never quite manage to bridge the gap between our fingertips. We are reaching, although we are very tired. We are reaching as best we can.
Do you have a moment?
The legendary Charlie Jane Anders dropped in this week with a gorgeous piece on how to write villains without succumbing to some of the most pernicious villain tropes out there! Go check it out and then scroll on down to the featured new release to buy her new book, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak!
There’s an ARC giveaway for my upcoming novel, Just Like Home! Go enter!
It’s always such a joy to get to see friends and colleagues being celebrated as they deserve. I hope everyone on the ballot is celebrating!
Featured New Release: Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders
Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and journey out into the galaxy -- but after an encounter with an alien artifact, she can't make art at all.
Elza Monteiro is determined to be the first human to venture inside the Palace of Scented Tears and compete for the chance to become a princess -- except that inside the palace, she finds the last person she ever wanted to see again.
Tina Mains is studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends, but she's not the badass space hero everyone was expecting.
Soon Rachael is journeying into a dark void, Elza is on a deadly spy mission, and Tina is facing an impossible choice that could change all her friends’ lives forever.
My Favorite Reads of March
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.
What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.
Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge T. Kingfisher fan. This reexamination of Fall of the House of Usher is everyone you want from a Kingfisher book: creepy, intoxicating, fun as hell.
Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link
Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids . . . These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty--and the hidden strengths--of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.
I’ve been on a big Kelly Link kick in an effort to break out of my reading slump, and Get in Trouble not only helped me remember why I love reading – it helped me remember why I love writing. Fantastic, powerful, versatile.
A little moth got into the house this week. The situation went great for the kittens. It went very, very poorly for the little moth.
As you’re surely aware, queer and trans children are still under attack across the United States; Ukraine is fighting against a Russian invasion; AAPI communities are facing discrimination and violence. If you’re struggling to figure out how to help, here are some places to start.
If you’re a paying subscriber, come by the Stone Soup Supper Club for our weekly chat! I can’t wait to find out how you’re doing.