Beth Wodzinski Hi, I'm Beth. I create: words and art. I do yoga. I cook tasty food. I publish Shimmer magazine. Now 37% more purple.

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What To Get Me For My Birthday: Help The Philippines

Published November 11, 2013 - 18 Comments

Hooray, it’s my birthday! It’s been a good year, and the next year should be even more incredible. I’ve got a good husband, a good house, good friends, a good job, and everything’s terrific. So presents are nice? But really: I’m all set.

So today, let’s leverage the power of the Velociraptor Birthday Princess to help out some people who aren’t having such a terrific time right now. Donate to Philippines disaster relief, and I’ll match. Just leave a message in the comments with the amount and the organization you chose, and tomorrow morning I’ll total it all up and make a matching donation. Cool? Cool.




Trusting the Reader

Published September 27, 2013 - 0 Comments

Shimmer’s 17th issue is now available.

As we read stories for this issue, one question kept coming up, over and over again: “Will the readers be willing to do that?”

Will they be willing to read a story that’s told backwards?

Will they be willing to see the heart of this story, or will the viciousness be too much?

What about the ambiguity in this one, will they be OK with not knowing which character is which?

What about all the subtle hints in that one, will the readers take the time to put the puzzle together?

Every time we asked ourselves that, the answer was, yes.



Sneak Peak: One Tiny Misstep (In Bed)

Published July 10, 2013 - 0 Comments

Hey, want a sneak peak of my story One Tiny Misstep (In Bed)? This story will appear in the What Fates Impose anthology. We’re in the final days of the Kickstarter, and only need about another $600 to fund. So chip in, and tell a friend.

The first (and only, as far as I am aware!) review of the book calls out my story:

And then there’s Beth Wodzinski’s “One Tiny Misstep (In Bed).” Holy. Shit. I don’t know what else to say about this tale of a marriage gone stale and fortune cookies and the alley outside a Chinese restaurant and… Oh my. Imaginative, realistic in its characterization, and absolutely crushing.

You know you want to read it.

Here’s the first section:


You thought this was a great idea: bring your wife back to the China Terrace, and hope that simply being in the place where you had your first fumbling dates back in college will bridge the chasm that has grown between you.

This place was all you could afford back then, but you didn’t need a restaurant to be anything more than cheap. All you needed was Sarah and the newness of your love and the promise of your future.

The China Terrace hasn’t aged well; the dragon wallpaper is peeling, the vinyl of the booths is cracked and peeling, and the whole place reeks of old cooking oil. You notice an unpleasant zoo-like odor, as well, subtle but out of place. They’re playing some kind of tacky Chinese Muzak, at a volume that makes you pay attention to it.

You and Sarah haven’t aged well in the past twenty years, either. You’ve both grown fat and placid and spend your evenings watching TV instead of changing the world or chasing your naive dreams. You were going to be a writer, remember that? Novels, plays, poetry: you’d master them all and set the world on fire. And Sarah was going to be a paleontologist, discover amazing new dinosaurs, revolutionize science with her brilliant ideas.

Instead you teach English to bored tenth-graders. Sarah is a receptionist at an insurance agency and every year complains about how her boss, Dean Wilson, grabs her ass at the company Christmas party. Though she hasn’t complained about that for a year or two, now that you think of it.

You can’t figure out how this happened. You don’t remember choosing this path; it just seemed to happen, one tiny unnoticeable misstep after another, until you’re in this ancient stinking restaurant, trying to save your marriage with forced conversation and greasy egg rolls.

Finally, mercifully, the waiter clears your plates of half-eaten chow mein, and brings your fortune cookies. You used to love to read each other’s fortunes, and add “in bed” to the end. You thought you were so clever. You thought you were in love.

The cookie cracks in your hand. You pull out the fortune and flip it over. “YOUR WIFE IS FUCKING HER BOSS,” it says, “IN BED.”

It’s like a punch to the stomach, but suddenly everything makes sense.

That’s why she started wearing makeup to work, after years of not bothering.

That’s why she doesn’t complain about him grabbing her ass any more.

But suddenly nothing makes sense. This is not how fortune cookies work. You look at the slip of paper, but the words do not change. It must be someone in the kitchen, just screwing with your head. Some bored college student, probably.

You look at Sarah, and she’s waiting for you to tell her what your fortune says.

If you ask her when she started being a lying whore, go to #2.

If you demand to speak to the manager, go to #3.


If you want to read the rest, hit up the Kickstarter and make sure this book gets published. Thank you!

Why The What Fates Impose Anthology Is Going To Be Awesome

Published June 18, 2013 - 3 Comments
What Fates Impose cover

What Fates Impose

The What Fates Impose anthology, edited by Nayad Monroe, is going to be awesome. I am going to tell you some of the reasons, so that you’ll want to support the Kickstarter for this project.

 Reason 1: Contains Me!

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m in this book. Now, some people might say that makes me biased, or an unreliable narrator.

Pff, I say. Because if you’re reading this, you probably think I’m kind of awesome; so the news that I’m in an anthology is good news. And because if it was a stupid project, I wouldn’t be involved. And because unreliable narrators are more fun, anyway. So: Contains me! If you like my fiction, you’ll like my story in this anthology.  It’s about implacable fate, a fortune cookie, infidelity, ecoterrorism, dinosaurs, and a bunch of really terrible decisions.

Reason 2: Contains Amazing Authors!

But hey. Maybe you don’t like my fiction. That’s ok. I bet, though, that you’ll like the stories from the other contributors. It’s a stellar list, including Cat Rambo, Damien Walters Grintalis, Ken Scholes, Eric James Stone, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Ferrett Steinmetz, Keffy Kehrli, and a bunch more. Go read the full Table of Contents and see which of your favorite authors I was too lazy to type out here.

Reason 3: Great Concept!

This is a book of stories about divination and fate. This is a timeless theme, from the Greek tragedies all the way up to that guy in the phrenology booth at the mall. I think as long as there have been humans, there have been humans trying to discern their fate — and there have been humans striving to embrace, or avoid, what fates impose. (See what I did there?) The classic themes resonate strongly throughout this anthology, but in delicious new ways, because….

 Reason 4: Great Editor!

…editor Nayad Monroe is the perfect person to forge a fresh and unusual collection from such a classic theme.  If you don’t know her yet, track her down on her blog and twitter. She’s smart and funny and weird. Nayad is also offering some extra prizes as part of the kickstarter; contribute now and you could win some of her art.

Reason 5: Pretty Cover!

Check out that eye-catching cover. It’s by Steven C. Gilberts, and you will look very smart and attractive carrying a copy of this book around with you while you devour the stories.

Please Support the Kickstarter!

So there you go. I’ve given you some reasons why you’ll like this anthology.  We’re already over 30% of the way to our goal, and with your help, we can make this anthology happen. Please head over to the Kickstarter and see which reward level suits you the best.

Dead North Cover Reveal

Published May 24, 2013 - 2 Comments

Check out this incredible cover for the Dead North anthology, containing my story “Food Truck of the Zombie Apocalypse.”  The image is by Simon Siwak. Release date October 1.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the editor, always gets fantastic covers for her anthologies. Just stunning.

Dead North cover

When Everything Is Stuck

Published March 1, 2013 - 2 Comments

So you’re having one of those days (weeks, months). Everything’s gray and stagnant and impossible. You try and try, but can’t seem to get any traction, and you’re just so tired. You know this isn’t the truth, you know this is just the jerkbrain kicking up dust, but there’s so much dust that you can’t see the simple quiet clarity that’s at your core.

It is slightly possible that by “you” I mean “me.” It is slightly possible that by “you” I mean “all of us.”

Try this. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes.


First, lie down take a deep breath. Remind yourself that this is a dust storm, not the eternal truth. Remind yourself that this normal, even though you feel like the most broken fucked-up freak in the world right now. Remind yourself that this is temporary, even though you feel like things will be like this forever.

Remind yourself, even though you don’t believe it at all.


Now, start breathing in for four counts and out for four counts. You can count as quickly or as slowly as you want. In-2-3-4. Out-2-3-4. Even though all this breathing stuff is hippie bullshit and won’t work. Even though you’re way too fucked up for simple fixes like this. In-2-3-4. Out-2-3-4.

It’s just breathing. You were doing that anyway. All we’re doing is bringing the tiniest bit of concentration to it.

Maybe you’re starting to feel a little better. Shh, don’t tell your jerkbrain. Or maybe you’re feeling stupid now because this isn’t working, of course it isn’t working, and you were an idiot for thinking it might help. Whatever you’re feeling: just keep going. In-2-3-4. Out-2-3-4.

Do this for as long as you want, but for at least ten breaths (in and out = 1 breath). When you’re ready, take the next step.

In with Clarity, Out with Stagnation

Now it’s time to sit up. Sit comfortably, no fancy meditation position required. You don’t even have to sit up straight if you don’t want to (and I know you don’t want to.) Continue breathing as in the previous step. When you breathe in, imagine the quality of clarity filling you up. When you exhale, imagine the quality of stagnation leaving you. Imagine these however you like: perhaps quality is a white light. Perhaps it is cool clean air or the scent of irises. Perhaps stagnation is a dark fog, perhaps it is a thick tar, perhaps it is the smell of old onion, perhaps it is dust.

Just trust whatever images or sensations come to you. Even if none come at all. Even if you’re clearly too stupid/broken/clumsy/unimaginative to do this right. Even if it’s all bullshit. Even if there are a thousand other things you should be doing right now, if you weren’t such a loser.

Do this for as long as you want, but for at least ten breaths (in and out = 1 breath). When you’re ready, take the next step.

Add Your Arms

Continue breathing. Continue visualizing clarity coming in and stagnation going out. To this, add some rhythmic movements of your arms. If you’re familiar with the Dance of Shiva, try that (it’s ok to use a level you’re super-familiar with for this; no need to do something too hard and make yourself cry). If you’re not, just move your arms around, in rhythm with your counting and your breath.

Even if you’re really clumsy, even if your movements are graceless and uninspired, even if this actually helps perk up your brainmeats a little and oh God we can’t have that because then you’ll have to do something, maybe even that thing you’ve been avoiding.

Do this for as long as you want, but for at least ten breaths (in and out = 1 breath). When you’re ready, take the next step.

Add Your Legs

Now it’s time to get your legs moving. Stand up. Start moving your legs. If you know a Dance of Shiva leg pattern, use that. If you don’t, just move your legs around, in rhythm with your arms and your counting and your breath.

Even if the only leg movement you can think of is an awkward high-school dance shuffle. Even if you try kicking like a Rockette and stumble. Even if all you can do is march in place. Even if it’s too hard to keep your arms and legs and breath in synch and oh damn you forgot about the qualities and obviously you suck at this and should just give up and go back to bed and eat Doritos until you die. Even if all of that, just keep going.


Visualize clarity coming in and stagnation going out.

Move your arms.

Move your legs.

Do this for as long as you want, but for at least ten breaths (in and out = 1 breath).

Everything Is A Little Bit Better Now

Maybe just the tiniest bit. Maybe there’s just a little more energy, a little more room to breathe, a little more possibility.

What will you do now?

Writing and Pie

Published February 20, 2013 - 1 Comment

If someone invites you to a writing retreat, say yes.

I spent last week at a wonderful retreat with fifteen writers. I managed about 10,000 words on my new project, napped a lot, and ate an absurd amount of pie. Pecan pie and chess pie and chocolate cream pie and  lemon meringue pie and a few more that I am forgetting. Pie, pie, pie.

It was fantastic just to be in such a free space, where I had nothing to do but write. No reason to get up early, no external obligations, nothing but me and my iPad and the good example of other diligent writers (and pie).

I learned that I can happily write for hours while lounging comfortably on the couch with my laptop on my belly; this was a huge surprise, and it was probably worth going just for that little bit of self-knowledge.

It was also interesting to watch which patterns persisted even out of my usual environment. I really do like to be done with the day’s work by 5 or 6 and have the evenings free; I really do need a day off after a big word-count day; I really do need a good night’s sleep if I’m going to be worth anything. I’d thought that these patterns were related to the constraints and commitments and frustrations of my regular life — but they persisted, and now I have a marvelous clarity about them.

And that clarity? Makes it easier to just accept those patterns and start learning to workwiththem, instead of struggling against them.

Now to figure out how to integrate the things I figured out, and get my writing momentum back in my regular life. Perhaps pie is the answer?


Shimmer 16 Now Available!

Published February 5, 2013 - 0 Comments

Issue 16

Woot! Issue 16 is now available.  I already told you why I love this issue; now it’s time for you to go grab yourself a copy.

While you’re over there, check out the Shimmer blog. We’ve got some cool interviews up with the Issue 16 authors.

K. M. Szparza talks about our cover story, “Ordinary Souls,” which has made more than one reader cry already.

Christie Yant tells us about the origins of her story, “The Revelation of Morgan Stern.” Awww. The origin story is as terrific as the story it inspired.

Helena Bell talks about stuffing her great grandmother’s bra for her funeral, poetry, and her story “In Light of Recent Events I Have Reconsidered the Wisdom of Your Space Elevator.”

Charlie Bookout talks about playing music in a mortuary, photography, and his story, “Goodbye Mildred.”

More interviews to come!


Would You Like a Letter From Me?

Published January 31, 2013 - 0 Comments

A Month of Letters

Do you know about the Month of Letters? It’s hosted by my friend Mary Robinette Kowal, author, puppeteer, and genteel bad-ass.

The idea is to take some time to slow down, to reconnect with our correspondents, to send and receive tangible letters instead of deletable email, to remember the delight of the mail being about something besides bills and advertisements.

Here’s what Mary says:

I have a simple challenge for you.

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

All you are committing to is to mail 23 items. Why 23? There are four Sundays and one US holiday. In fact, you might send more than 23 items. You might develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month.

Write love letters, thank yous, or simply notes to say that you miss an old friend. Let yourself step away from the urgency of modern life and write for an audience of one. You might enjoy going to the mail box again.

I think it sounds like a great deal of fun — and letters can be as short and simple as a post card, so the pressure is low.

Won’t you join me? I’m registered on the site as bethwodzinski; friend me if you join, and you just might find something from me in your mailbox in February.


Preorder Shimmer Issue 16

Published January 3, 2013 - 0 Comments

Shimmer Issue 16 is now available for preorders! The official release date is Tuesday, January 22.

I love this issue so hard.

This is the issue where we raised our pay rate for authors to three cents a word (with a comparable rate increase for artists). This tripled our pay rate (woo!). E. Catherine Tobler did a great job of selecting the stories for this issue, her second at the head of the fiction helm.

Would you like a taste of the stories? The issue closes with the story “In Light of Recent Events I Have Reconsidered The Wisdom of Your Space Elevator,” by Helena Bell.  I’d read her strange and wonderful fiction before in Clarkesworld and other fine venues, so I was thrilled when this story came our way.

But I was even more delighted when Hel and her brother made this trailer for her story. Check it out!

Oh, this issue. “Ordinary Souls” by K. M. Szpara, “Tasting of the Sea,” by Shimmer veteran A.C. Wise, are quintessential Shimmery stories. They’re gorgeous stories of love and loss and yearning and the cost of magic. “The Sky Whale,” by Rebecca Emanuelson, a tale of a young girl’s incredible loss, made at least one staffer cry.

“Goodbye Mildred” by Charlie Bookout, and “Gemini in the House of Mars” by Nicole M. Taylor show a more wicked kind of love. “Goodby Mildred” has a delicously nostalgic tone, which it shares with “The Haunted Jalopy Races” by M. Bennardo.

“Lighting the Candles,” by Laura Hinkle, is our fourth unicorn story. I friggin’ hate unicorn stories, but somehow they keep being awesome enough to win me over.

“The Binding of Memories,” by Cate Gardner, is a curious confection of cake and revenge and memory.  In “Word and Flesh,” by Dennis Y. Ginoza, the hero gets to eat all manner of treats, but to insidious intent. “Opposable Thumbs,” by Greg Leunig, also features sweets in a prominent role, but to very different results.

I have a real soft spot in my heart for “The Life and Death of Bob,” by William Jablonsky. Dying was the best thing that ever happened to Bob. It’s a feel-good life-affirming story — right up until the point when it isn’t, and then it just sort of makes you want to wash your hands of the human race. (Is it a spoiler to say a Shimmer story does not have a happy ending? I sure hope not.

Here’s another treat for you: the trailer for the issue, by E. Catherine Tobler.


Mmm. Preorder today.