Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 2016 and year end wrap up

Well, 2016, I hope you're happy with yourself. What a year. Everybody knows what I mean so we won't get into that because I don't want to and you can't make me.

So let's talk about writing! On January 1 of this year, I talked about my goals for 2016. I did not do the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, and actually only read 14 books this year. Lots of short stories, though. So I've got a goal related to that for 2017 that I'll squeeze another blog post out of.

Friday, December 9, 2016

2016 NaNoWriMo winner!

As I reported on November 20, NaNoWriMo went quite well for me. I validated my winning word count at 57,333 words, which I am quite pleased with.

I had several days in which I wrote only a couple of hundred words, and many more days in which I reached the minimum word count goal (1667) and still others where I wrote more than 4,000 words! All in all, I call that a productive month. 

However, I did not reach "the end", which really was my goal this year, especially with how well my word counts were going some day. However, I have still been working on it, which is unusual for my past NaNoWriMo experiences. Not 4k a day working on it, but some, and that's a pretty sharp contrast to "I validated I'm done now!"

Additionally, I rewrote one of my short stories, committing to making it actually science fiction. Previously it was just a little odd, a little Shirley Jackson-esque (think "The Lottery"), taking place in an unspecified place and time, perhaps a little old fashioned, but a war torn esque country. Well, I replaced the setting with an unnamed planetary settlement, replaced bombs with meteor showers, and thought "well...actually that works." We'll see. I've of course already submitted said story in its newest state (after letting it sit until November was done).

So I consider November to be quite the success. Even if I didn't write "The end" on the novel just yet ,I'm still considering under the umbrella of "write a new story every month". I just need to write a story in December now (have a couple of ideas knocking around already, if you can imagine such a thing), and this year's writing goals will be fulfilled!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: cyberpunk sequel madness (and assorted esoteria)

I know you're all very surprised, I'm doing NaNoWriMo this month. And can I say how goddamn delighted I am by the SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE theme that the flair has? I already bought a participant t-shirt, and I'm debating on when to order the winner shirt (I haven't won yet, but....)

I'm not writing a space novel this year (though I did last year!). No, this year I'm writing the sequel to the novel that I wrote in July for CampNaNoWriMo. I really liked those characters, actually, though I will confess that bits and pieces of their personalities and tics may or may not come from characters I've played, and may end up in some way familiar to people who were in those games with me. Other things, most things, are fresh. But, in July, the novel was a cyberpunk diamond heist carried out by three young independent women. This month, the novel is two of the three, and something to do with militias and hijacking army supplies and what they spent their money on from all those diamonds. Because the characters don't know yet, I don't have to know yet, isn't that great? I think that's great.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I finished October Madness early. No, I don't care that early is "cheating".

I don't know what it was this year, all those stories on submission made me super frenetic about how I had all those stories on submission. So I loaded up the submission queue super quick and then crouched over my email like


But, I soldiered on and got it done!

31 submissions for the 31 days of October! Of those 31 submissions, I have received 11 rejections. I'm not going to give you the form/personal breakdown, but I will tell of those rejections was a one hour rejection,which was a first. I mean, don't get me wrong, the agony of Schrodinger's Submission is real, but one hour? Ouch.


I also know that submissions are very subjective. There could be a specific issue an editor is building, and an editor's taste and vision is always a factor as well. It isn't necessarily a value judgement. Etc. Etc. It's hard to keep that emotional balance on a day when you get 4 or 5 rejections, though.

But, the fact that I still have 20 submissions from just October is staggering. And 5 more from prior to that, with a grand total of 25 submissions, 24 of them unique submissions (I simultaneously submitted that one story which had its submission birthday. What've I got to lose, right?) That's an awful lot of short stories I think are ready enough to be out there, just waiting for the right editor and market to say yes, and that's something I'm pretty proud of.

Monday, October 17, 2016

October Madness 2016!

Well, we're just past the halfway point on the month  (how did that happen?) and it's a good a time as any to give you a submissions update. I know you're eager to hear all about it!

This year, I got impatient and jumped the gun a bit on some submissions, so to date, since October 1, I've submitted 22 times (as opposed to the more correct 17, but whatever, this is my game, I'll play how I want ^^). I've gotten....almost alarmingly few rejections so far, actually.  4 so far, out of those 22 submissions.

I had a story pass it's submission birthday (365 days and counting!), so I went ahead and simultaneously submitted it elsewhere. 

Some of those stories are ones that I wrote just this year, as a part of my New Year's resolution to produce at least one short story a month. Some of the are stories I've written over the years, that I've edited and rewritten and, I think, made better. This is the obvious of objective, of course; I think my stories are pretty great, or I wouldn't bother.

My rejections so far are from Uncanny, Gamut, Fantasy & SciFi, and The Dark. I've turned around and sent each of those stories someplace else, of course, because that's the way it goes. And it helps me not dwell. At least one of those stories is kind of running out of places to go, but that's when I got both The Lion and the Dragonslayer and Sugar and Spice published, so there's that.

I've started a number of stories this month, and at least one of them is this close to being finished. I've also, I think, decided on my 2016 NaNoWriMo project, which will be a sequel to the cyberpunk novel I wrote in July.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Strange Horizons annual fundraiser!

Strange Horizons is a very, very good online magazine that publishes scifi/fantasy/whatever short stories, poems, columns, and reviews. I've been reading them for years, and been submitting stories to them for years as well. No "yes" from them yet, but I have gotten some very good personal rejections from them as well, not just forms.

They've got 8 days and change left in the fundraiser, and are at about $7500 out of their baseline $15,000 goal. It would be really great to see them reach it! They've got some great things they want to do, like publish stories in translation, do interactive stories, that kind of thing.

If you haven't checked them out, go. Do so. Here are some things I've really liked recently that they've published:

Million-Year Elegies: Oviraptor, by Ada Hoffman

The Beef, by J.D. Moyer

Noise Pollution, by Alison Wilgus

little stomach, by Charlotte Geater

You can donate to them via Network for Good, PayPal, subscribe to them via Patreon, or even send in a physical payment.  Strange Horizons is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization and so in the United States, donations are tax deductible.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September 2016 Goals Roundup

Well. September seemed like a reallllly long month to me. You?

Lots of writing in September. A lot of it was Shadowrun writing (not the same character as in "A Shadowrun Story" which, improbably, has become one of the most popular posts on this blog, but a character with similar elements. She's also a decker, for one. It goes from there), and some of it was workshop writing, as my writing workshop has begun again. Workshop writing is not always complete, though I do have one flash piece to show for it, and what we did today (which is October 1, and will not count for my September goals, mais oui).

Sunday, August 28, 2016

August 2016 goals roundup

I finished my August Story early this month, so I blog early this month.

I really should blog more than once a month. You think? I think. Here's my best Elka picture to make up for it

Sunday, July 31, 2016

July 2016 goals roundup

Well, July was more productive than I'd intended.

See, I'd set out to write a 25k word novella, a female-cast cyberpunk diamond heist. I thought it would be fun, I thought I'd have just a tight story arc about that one thing, kind of like how I wrote a novella on purpose in April. But no, I really liked the characters, I really liked the setting I was trying to pull off, and the story grew. Arguably, it's because sometimes I lack focus. Other times, though, the story length I intend when I get started isn't the one the story needs. I've done this before with two short stories I made into novels (The Last Song and the still unfinished biker exorcism novel). I'm doing it right now, I think, with a novel I'm making into a short story.

So my July project, instead of being 25k, reached The End at 44,400 words. I need to add about 20k more words of international hijinks in there (for whatever reason, everything just stayed in the same city until the epilogue, which doesn't really make sense for my larger vision of the scope, but works for a first draft. You can't fix what isn't written.

I've had great feedback on my short story "Sugar and Spice", published in the Summer issue of The Sockdolager. It was a story I really enjoyed, which has gone through a few iterations, though all very similar to the original, and I'm really pleased that it found a home.

I've also had good feedback on "The Lion and the Dragonslayer", in the Mosaics 2 anthology (of course I read the reviews. How could I not?) Several of the reviews on Amazon and on Goodreads mention my story specifically, and one of the reviewers say they really want more of The Lion! I do have other Lion stories written, but no others have been accepted yet. I should probably do a new one of those this year, edit it, and start it on the submission circuit.

In story submission news, I have 11 stories currently submitted. One of those is still an October Submission, and I'm interested to see if it will reach its submission birthday. How does one celebrate such a thing? By considering it a "no reply means no"? By drinking a miniature bottle of Kraken or Crystal Skull Vodka? I'm not sure it's a cake occasion, but maybe it is. Suggestions welcome!

Monday, July 4, 2016

June 2016 goals roundup

First off, if interested, you can read the story I mentioned in my May roundup in the summer issue of The Sockdolager! My story is entitled "Sugar and Spice" which, by the way, is a title I'm happy with for once. The rest of the issue is good too, so I do invite you to peruse. It was a pleasure working with the Sockdolager folks, and it's a pleasure to be in that issue. If reading online isn't your thing, you can purchase a physical copy of the issue here for $7.

In May, I got no story acceptances, but did receive several helpful rejections. I discovered that the New Yorker's form rejection is very nice and mild (or I got the nice and mild one). I have 11 stories on submission right now; it should be 12, just have to send that other one off somewhere. It's funny, for me, the "odd stories out" are the ones with no speculative elements. They still have their oddness, though, which I think makes them difficult to place.

In May, I didn't write a new short story from scratch. See, briefly opened a submission window for novellas, so I edited and revised an older novella I'd written. And, because the minimum required word count was 20,000 and I was at 17,000, I added about 3,000 words to the story. That's about short story length, and I feel it strengthened and updated the overall work, so I'm going to count it, for the purposes of my "write a story every month" goal. I did a bunch of writing that I'm happy with . Good enough! Really, this novella is something I've consistently been happy with and, as always, I very much hope the answer is yes.

Though that's kind of my approach to submissions in general. I always hope the answer is yes. I submit to markets I'd be happy to see my stories in. I aim high for my submissions, and I keep trying.

Keep trying!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May 2016 goals roundup (And another acceptance!)

I'm very happy to say, I've had another story acceptance! My short story, currently titled "Sugar and Spice", will be in the Summer 2016 issue of Sockdolager magazine. This is my second story acceptance this year, and I don't think it will ever stop being thrilling.

I got a couple of very nice personalized rejections for my short stories this month. One of them has prompted me to get a few more sets of eyes on that particular story, and I'm chewing on the comments now. The other personal rejection was more "we really really liked this story, it just didn't fit with our magazine, please keep us in mind for something else." And while yes, that still means "no", it's the best possible "no" one can receive.

I wrote one short story in May, keeping me on track with my New Year's resolution. That makes 8 stories written this year. I don't intend to stop at 12, if I reach 12 before the end of December; even if I double up in a month, I still want to write new words every month. And it's nice to see my "packet" of stories grow. Some of the stories I've submitted, and still submit, were originally written in college. Regardless of their current states, as they've been edited and rewritten and what have you, I've put in a lot more writing time since college, and do think (hope?) that my writing, and sense of story, has improved since then. Hence, the need for new words, not just retreading old ground.

I do need to consider what I want to write in July, for Camp NaNoWriMo. My library writing workshop has June off, and will return in July for "camp". I don't hold them to writing a book, not least because everybody's goal is not to write a book, but I think some manner of goal setting dimension should come into play for July specifically (suggestions welcome).

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Just Writer Things: Reading

So this week, I was invited to do my first reading under the auspices of being a Published Author. My local arts council has a writer's salon once monthly, with an open mic first, and a published author to round it out. This month's published author became ill and had to cancel, and they called me!

It was an interesting experience, and a positive one. The crowd was somewhat small, and seemed very receptive, overall. I read the entirety of "The Lion and the Dragonslayer" (published in Mosaics 2). I'm not sure how long it took me, but it was long enough that I could feel when I was rushing myself and try to slow it down. I stumbled over words sometimes, but so did everybody else, so whatever. I was also, once again, reminded of the value of reading one's work out loud as an editing tool. Mostly, there are a few words I would've cut just because of redundancy or clumsiness, and I left some of those words out in the writing.

I also really understand the value of WATER. About halfway through I became acutely aware of my thirst, but I had not previously grabbed a bottle of water and didn't want to interrupt myself so I soldiered on. The podium was also somewhat small, and I was already somewhat leaning on it (not the best approach) and also resting my paperback copy on it (this worked out better, but I really need to get contact lenses again. I kept having to reposition my glasses, and I know that little gestures like that when one is on stage seem like terrible fidgets).

There was a little Q&A afterwards (which I took a bottle of water for), which was interesting. I was able to confirm I have had more "The Lion" stories planned, actually. I'd only ever finished one other, but I should read it back ove and edit it, and finish others. Definitely something to look towards for information, as time goes on.

All in all, I was very happy to be invited to read, and very happy to do the reading. I thought it went well, and that everybody stayed engaged throughout my little adventure story.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April 2016 Goals Roundup

Mosaics 2 has launched! Technically, today (May 1) is the Kindle release date (, but the Paperback became available on April 23.

Also, for right now (until Monday, May 2?) volume 1 of Mosaics is on Kindle sale for 99 cents ( ). All proceeds from both Mosaics and Mosaics 2 will go to the Pixel project to end violence against women. 

There's even a promo trailer!

There are already 5 reviews on Amazon, and one of them specifically mentions my story (and some others), "The Lion and the Dragonslayer", as a "be sure not to miss!" and says "all names worth keeping an eye out for the future!" I know there's some rule about not reading the reviews or whatever, but apparently I can't not. I will not REPLY to reviews; that's the golden rule.

and finally, here is the art for my particular story! That's right, each piece has art!

 There is a Facebook Launch Party today, but we have a bbq thing and then Dungeons and Dragons, so I will not be hosting, just  (I hope) occasionally popping in to comment.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mosaics 2 now available!

I announced my acceptance into Mosaics 2: a Collection of Independent Women back in February, and the time has finally come. It's here, it's here!

The Kindle date still appears to be May 1, but if you want to order the paperback, you could have it by Wednesday! Isn't it lovely, sometimes, to be living in The World of Tomorrow?

My included story is "The Lion and the Dragonslayer": when the village of Orford asked for help with a dragon, they didn't expect the king to send a woman, no matter how big her sword is.

(I was particularly pleased with my little story blurb there; I typically struggle quite a lot with producing an interesting summary of literally anything, much less what I've written.)

In conjunction with this publication, I've created a Goodreads author profile . I hope to see titles of other anthologies, and my own books, attached to it pretty soon!

Obviously, I encourage you to get the Kindle or paperback of Mosaics 2 (or get it from your local library! And request that your library orders it; mine is, as volume 1, anyway, was available through the book distributor Ingram) and I also encourage (entreat?) you to review it on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Every time you review a book, an author gets its wings. Or something.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March 2016 goals roundup

As of this writing, I'm up to 6 completed first drafts in 2016. I finished two more stories in March (one on the very last day of March), and have submitted one of  my January stories. There's at least one other I think may be close to ready for its first foray into the world. Or I should let it sit longer, read it again, work on it a little more. I think I'm in the habit of jumping the gun.

I've received a query rejection and two short story rejections last month. I have a number of short stories out (11? I think it's 11) and the wait is starting to really grind on me. It does that; I agree with Tom Petty, waiting is the hardest part. Same with queries. I haven't sent out any new ones in awhile, and I'll  probably work on revision pretty soon. Not now, though.

I've completed all my edits (I think) for the Mosaics 2 anthology. I've written my author bio and my story blurb, and even got an author photo I don't hate with my lovely coworker's help. 

I've begun my "Untitled April 2016" #CampNaNoWriMo project. It's something to do with the Westward Expansion in America, sequoia trees, mysticism, and dragons. I'm aiming for novella-ish length, 25k words, and from there I can either pare down to acceptable lengths for magazines, or expand into a more substantial novel length. I've actually  made a gesture at outlining, which really was more of a list of "this happens. Why?" "this character. What do they want?" Which is a kind of goal-oriented focus I don't always have when writing a story.

I will probably also be working on at least one short story this month, because it seems like I always need at least one alternate project to give my "main" project breathing room. The writing workshop at the library tends to give me a lot of story stubs which can be polished and expanded, and it will likely be one of those that I complete. Or maybe not. I've got some ideas floating, some with a few sentences written. Overall, I feel like my writing is in a pretty good place. I'm glad I've set this "at least one story a month" goal.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

February 2016 goals roundup

Well, it's March already. How'd that happen?

In February, I wrote not 1 but 2 first drafts. And already wrote March's story. So I'm up to having written 4 new stories this year, one story ahead of goal. Plus, the writing workshop I run at the library has started again, and I wrote what might be the beginning of a longer piece, or might be a "finished" flash piece. So we'll see how I feel about that. When I look it over after it has some time to cure.

I've read 4 more books, with the 5th drawing to a close. I of course have more in the "To Be Read" pile. I always have more in the To Be Read pile.

I have not worked more on any of my novels. I had an irritating setback where Open Office decided the document was "locked" at one point, and so a full day's worth of edits were lost.

I have not sent out more queries for The Last Song. My other full request came back as a Revise and Resubmit, so I'm going to let that mull over while I wait to hear back on the other queries. The comments were good and make sense, but I don't want to plunge hastily into anything.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My second acceptance! Mosaics 2 (A Collection of Independent Women)

Well, ladies and gents, I've gotten my second story acceptance!

My fantasy short story, "The Lion and the Dragonslayer", will be in Mosaics 2 (A Collection of Independent Women), released by DayDreams Dandelions Press. You can preorder it for Kindle here, and I'll update this post when the paper edition preorder is live as well.

Volume 1 is being released on March 8 (Kindle preorder here), which is International Women's Day. Proceeds not going to contributors and costs will be donated to the Pixel Project, which is a charity to end violence against women.

Both collections are fiction, non fiction, and poetry and contain (I think?) 10 contributors. They plan on doing a Volume 3 with stories, essays, etc. from allies, if volumes 1 and 2 break even.

If you'd like to help spread the word regarding the anthologies, they've set up a project on this thing called Thunderclap, which you can use to authorize your social media account (Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr) to post about once, on March 8.

Edited to add:  You can now order a paperback Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women from Amazon. for $12.99. It's got one review already, hopefully more come rolling in!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Book Review: The Big Rewind, by Libby Cudmore

I'm one of those people who hopes to always have a tape deck. I have mixtapes I made through the years, things on cassette I have access to in no other medium, that kind of thing. And when I heard the premise of Libby Cudmore's The Big Rewind, and saw the cover, I knew I had to read it.

(Disclaimer: I also know Libby; she's one of my few in person Writer Friends)

(Cover image linked from the Harper Collins site)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

How to dress for your CT scan

They're going to tell you, "Don't eat or drink anything for four hours before your scan. Anything. Except water, keep drinking water." They won't think about how water is a thing, even if in your amusement you ask them to repeat the instructions.

When you check in, when you see a nurse, when you see the CT scan tech, every last one of them will tell you the injected contrast dye will make you feel as though you'll pee your pants. If you press them for further detail (after assuring each person no, you are not allergic to the iodine, as far as you know), they'll say it's an all over body flush feeling, and yes, perhaps a strong urge to urinate. You will not pee your pants. If pressed even further, they'll say "some women" feel this way, which leads to the logical question, well how do men feel then? Apparently rather than an urge to urinate, their butt feels weird. Except the CT scan guy says "bottom" and that's irrationally funny for no good reason.

Depending on the setup, they'll put the IV port in your arm before you change into the gown, or after. They'll tape it down, so you don't have a loose coil to catch on a doorknob or something. It isn't painful to move your arm, but it isn't terribly comfortable either. 

You may be able to leave your belongings in an examination room. Or they may have  you divest yourself of clothes in a separate area, the mirror no more friendly than that of a department store, and leave your things in a locker like a bus station, key on a coiled cable for your wrist. No pockets in hospital gowns. The gown will not fit you any better than that coveted department store item. You can't wear your bra if it has any metal in it at all. You can't keep your jeans on because of the zipper and rivets. When you mention your IUD, they'll tell you sort of snidely that it isn't an MRI, and you'll reply that they were so concerned with all the metal, you figured it was in the interest of full disclosure. Next time you'll wear yoga pants and a sport bra. Fuck those gowns.

Keep your shoes. Maybe you should've brought  flip flops or fold a flats or something, but how were you to know? They should have patient guidelines for this kind of thing, a dress code of regular clothes you own that you can wear into a scan. Or gowns that are more bearable. Then you see a dude who was apparently given hospital pajama bottoms for this, and you resent the hell out of him, ill fitting though they are. You really need new sneakers, though. You haven't worn them for awhile, and didn't notice the holes until you were under the unforgiving hospital fluorescents.

Just in case, you'll want to go to the bathroom one last time. Who knows how long you'll be waiting? Who knows how long the scans take? You don't know. But after all that water, and with all the warnings....

You'll wait in that ill fitting gown, sitting on the edge of a made bed, or in an otherwise empty waiting room, wondering what exactly is happening next, when. People more visibly sick than you are taking visitors, making calls, getting invited to the nurse's wedding. Alarms go off, indistinguishable things are said over the intercom, doors open and close. Is that high pitched noise the CT Scan or the MRI? Nuclear warning signs are on certain doors.

They won't tell you what to do with your phone. If you leave it in the locker they'll say you could've had it and set it on the counter. There's kind of an idea that phones should be turned off in the hospital, but maybe it's an old idea? If you bring your phone, they won't even think twice about it, just show you where to set it when you walk in, before you lie down on the table. The hospital is the first place you've seen people still using beepers in a very long time.

It's helpful to concentrate on your hunger rather than your worry. Do you have something right after this? Can you get something to eat? When they scheduled your appointments, whoever "they" ultimately were, they didn't seem to take that into consideration, that human beings need to consume food. If you're lucky, your appointments will more or less be in the same building. Or the CT scan will be your only appointment.

When the scan is done, they'll pull the IV (or not, if you're going somewhere else right away to get your blood drawn for labs) and send you to get dressed again. Getting re-dressed with an IV still in your arm is interesting. If you're lucky, you don't have to wait a week to find out what the insides of your body are doing.

Knowing is always better than not knowing.