"Lady Sakura's Letters" was inspired by my years living in Japan, and introduces my Realm of Words universe. A Japanese tengu spirit gets struck by lightning and trapped in the wood of his home tree. Not until he starts receiving mysterious letters does he realize his tree has been made into a box, and is now kept as a pillow by a lady of the Heian Imperial court. She has experienced terrible tragedy and is slowly losing her mind, but the two of them may be able to help each other in unexpected ways...
"Mind Locker" is my first sale to the new editor at Analog, Trevor Quachri. It is also not part of my Allied Systems Universe. Instead, it's a near-future story inspired by Google Glass and the changes the internet is making in our language. Hub Girl is twelve years old and lives in the slum of a major city. She keeps herself and her gang of friends fed by hacking the radio transponders of vending machines, and coordinating complex raids using the Arkive, an in-your-head internet which allows everyone to overlay customized information upon their reality. However, when the mysterious Locker begins kidnapping the children and disconnecting them from the internet, Hub Girl investigates, and finds a far bigger, more pervasive problem than even the police suspected. Here's the opening:
She's a night-walker, she's a child-stalker.
Won't see her coming, no use running
hands'll snatch you, she'll catch you
She's the night-walker, she's the mind-locker.
Since there won't be room in Analog for me to provide a dedication, I've decided to do it here. I would like to dedicate "Mind Locker" to a group of amazing authors who have provided me with incredible inspiration, constantly showing me what kind of excellence is achievable, making me think, and opening my eyes to new ways of seeing the world. My deepest thanks to the late Octavia Butler, and to the vital and vibrant Nnedi Okorafor, Nora Jemisin, and Mary Anne Mohanraj. I couldn't have written this story without them.