Tag Archives: The Colored Lens

The Colored Lens Buys “The Cartographer Gene”

One of the first magazines to publish my speculative fiction, The Colored Lens, has bought another of my stories! “The Cartographer Gene,” one of my most plot-intensive stories, is slated to appear in the Spring 2017 issue. The Colored Lens publishes a lot of talented authors with whom my publishing, reading, and/or social media paths have crossed, including Julie C. Day, Jamie Lackey, and Rebecca Schwarz and I’m grateful to Dawn, Daniel, Henry, and Charlie for selecting my story.

I wrote and workshopped this story for a class through UCLA extension.  Alyx Dellamonica taught the class. It was a fun group.

Unlike so many of my stories, this one did not start from an exercise. I did use some of the exercises assigned during class as an opportunity to flesh out some of the scenes — including the climactic one. But the story started from an idea about a hereditary ability. It grew into an exploration of family dynamics where some members have a “gift” that others don’t, and how empty such a gift can be if it can’t be used to help others.

I recently rewrote certain parts of the story to change the antagonist from a Russian immigrant to a home grown bad guy. Though it was never my intent to suggest that all immigrants are bad guys, given the current political climate I wanted to avoid any possible reading that could support that interpretation.

Indeed, I have noticed that some of my stories have taken on more or different meanings given what’s currently going on in the world at present. Sometimes these meanings strike me as net positives, as with Piper: A Song for Flute and Chorus and Rumpelstiltskins. These stories had thematic elements that current events heightened and made more relevant than they perhaps were when I wrote them.

“Cartographer,” though, as originally instantiated, seemed to me to go the other direction and potentially to play into a narrative I didn’t want my work to support. The enemy isn’t immigration; it’s racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia. And people with guns who shouldn’t have them.

In any case, the antagonist is still just his own person and not meant to suggest that all red-staters are violent villains. Through the magic of white male privilege, I’m pretty confident that the risk of a rush to judgment on all white males is small.







“Bottle This” Now Up at The Colored Lens Web Site

My story in the Spring 2013 issue of The Colored Lens, “Bottle This,” is now up at their web site.  You can find it here.

In other news, I’m in week eight of a ten week speculative fiction writing workshop with Alyx Dellamonica through UCLA extension.  It’s been really great to be back in a full blown academic workshop environment, even an online one.  I’m enjoying the other students’ commitment and participation as well as Alyx’s perspective and commentary.

In the middle of the workshop, we went on vacation to Costa Rica.  It’s a beautiful country with lots to see and do.  We went to La Fortuna, near the Arenal volcano, to spend a few days in the rain forest there.


Then down to Quepos, near Manuel Antonio national park to spend a few days by the Pacific.  We rode horses through the rain forest to a gorgeous waterfall.


I’ve posted a few more selected photos on Facebook (JJ Roth) and Twitter @wrothroth

I can’t say enough good things about Costa Rica as a vacation destination.  Pura vida!

The Colored Lens, Spring 2013

I just finished reading the Spring 2013 issue of The Colored Lens.  Admittedly, I’m somewhat biased because my story, “Bottle This,” appears in the issue, but my story is only one small reason you should read this issue if you like speculative fiction.  At $2.99 on Amazon, this issue is a bargain.

The issue includes twelve stories in addition to mine, all nicely done.  I particularly enjoyed Maigen Turner’s steampunkish whodunnitish story about a murdered wizard, “In Glamourglass Court,” Rebecca Schwarz’s lyrical mermaid story, “The Gyre,” S. R. Algernon’s fascinating and somewhat beguiling “Once More, onto the Beach,” and the themes of memory and love underpinning John Zaharick’s “Fossil Fire” and Michael Shone’s “The Flower Garden.”

Now, off to read the latest F&SF and Asimov’s!

“Bottle This” is Available!

The Spring 2013 issue of The Colored Lens is now available!  My story referred to in a previous post, “Bottle This,” is in this issue, along with a dozen other stories I can’t wait to read.  The issue is available for the Kindle at Amazon with a lush, inviting forest path on the cover.  Isn’t it pretty?

Work at my day job has heated up quite a bit over the past few weeks and my reading and writing have both suffered as a result.  I hope that the next time I have writing news to post, I’ll also have some good reading recommendations.

February Publication (and Other) News

I’m excited to announce that The Colored Lens accepted my near-future science fiction story, “Bottle This.”  The story is scheduled to appear in the Spring 2013 issue.  Thanks so much to everyone at The Colored Lens.  I admire the vision and aesthetics of this lovely publication.

I won’t give anything away in case you’re inclined to give the story a read — I’ve learned by now that the story I thought I wrote isn’t necessarily the same story readers read, and I don’t want to predispose anyone to reading in a particular way.  I’ll just say it involves futuristic pharmaceuticals and a lawyer for whom things are not going at all well.  Thanks to my beta readers for helping to improve this piece.

On the reading front, I’ve been curling up with Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, No. 28 lately and have started Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  I love how the stories in LCRW inspire me to dig deeper into weirdness in my own writing.  The Road has sucked me in from the first pages.  I’m trying to read it as a writer, but it’s just so appealing to read as a reader I have to keep reminding myself to examine McCarthy’s technique.

Finally, I was delighted to learn that my teacher, Cat Rambo, has a story on this year’s Nebula ballot.  The story is “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” and I read it in her collection, Near + Far.  It’s both lovely and disturbing on a visceral level.  I don’t have a vote — not yet, anyway — but congrats to all the nominees.  I’m looking forward to reading those of the nominated stories I haven’t yet read.