Story Sale: “El Cantar de la Reina Bruja”

New sale–and not the one I teased in my post last week!

I’m delighted that my fantasy story “El Cantar de la Reina Bruja” will appear in the battle poet anthology Sword & Sonnet. (Click the link; the artwork is phenomenal!)

I’m as excited to read this as I am to be a contributor! I owe a huge thanks to the friends that read and critiqued this before I sent it out and everyone who attended my reading at Boskone and offered kind words (it was out on submission by then).

Expect more details as everything comes together, but the anthology will be available in print and digital later this year.

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February and March Writing Round-Up

Ug. So.

February ended and March began with a blizzard that knocked my power out for three days. All has been well since then, just busy and harried and I didn’t really have time until this moment to sit down and catch up with myself on this.

WHAT WORKED

The short of it really is that February and March were not the most successful writing-y-the-numbers months I’ve had. Is that okay? Sure. Mostly because what I did do was significant. I put the finishing touches on a few stories and submitted them. I re-wrote the beginning of the new novel I’m working on and reworked the outline to cut a projected 20k out of the book (always a good thing for overwriters like me!). And I sold a reprint! More news there when I get the countersigned contract!

Possibly as important as writing time these months were the hours spent with friends, colleagues, and family. I had plenty of dips and dives (see below), but they were all tempered by getting to return to my extrovert ways here and there. If I can cobble together a year that is both productive and filled with people, it’ll be a good year indeed.

A CAREER BINGO LANDMARK: 100th Rejection

I got my 100th short fiction rejection recently and had a little self-care party in its honor. I think it important to celebrate landmarks like this for lots of reasons. First, it’s a sign that I’ve been submitting, that I’m actively doing the work it takes to be published. But I also think our society could use a little normalizing of struggle. Social media casts a rosy light on so much of our lives that any one of us in a rut might end up feeling like we’re the only one not “living our best life.” I know that kind of living isn’t without hard work, mistakes, ad outright failure, and I think there’s no shame in being honest about the ups and the down of the process. So yeah. One hundred rejections.

WHERE I STRUGGLED

I have a kid in daycare and that means we get every bug that breezes through. A whole week in February to the flu and the intermittent colds have slowed everything down. Oh and the snowstorm and resulting snow days. And February vacation week (no, not “we went on vacation,” just “no school.” And migraines. And needing to adult. I resented a lot of the stops and starts for a while, but really, there was nothing to be done about them besides work through them and after them. And I did. Life’s never going to give me the all-clear-to-write-without-interruptions, so I’ll just keep making the most of what I get. And I’ll be glad for it later!

BY THE NUMBERS

  • Words written: 29.805/200,000 (chugging along)
  • New works (goal: 12 new shorter works submitted in 2018):
    • Started: 7
    • Drafted: 6
    • Revised: 3
    • Submitted: 3
  • Books read: 12/30 (see above)

January Writing Round-Up

New year, new round-up format!

WHAT WORKED
I spent so much time reading this month! Ten books. TEN. That’s a full third of my goal this year! I’m going to feel so well-read by the time I get to my Boskone panels. This is totally all due to manuscript avoidance, but HEY. I. Read. Good. Books. That’s a win all on its own.

I’ve been enjoying the annual Weekend Warrior contest on Codex. One week of the 5-flashes-in-5-weeks contest. I think two of the ones I’ve written this year are good enough to go somewhere. The others will be great trunked seeds for something later on. Who knows what this (final) weekend will bring!

I wrote a story mid-week and it flew from my fingers fully formed. It was great and I can’t wait to get comments back so I can shine it up pretty and submit it to the market I wrote it for.
WHERE I STRUGGLED
Life. Is life ever not a struggle? I’ve been dealing with existential dread on every level: politics, novel querying, novel drafting, short story submissions, and on and on and on. I’ve got a couple of coping mechanisms that work just enough, but I need to not play manuscript avoidance forever. Time to get the butt in the chair.

Words on the page. I really wanted about double my goal for this month, but I’ll take what I got. It was my most productive month since last May when I was drafting my novella, so frustrated or not, it was an objectively good month. Now I just need to tell my head that.
BY THE NUMBERS

  • Words written: 16,167/200,000 (on track!!!)
  • New works (goal: 12 new shorter works submitted in 2018):
    • Started: 6
    • Drafted: 5
    • Revised: 0
    • Submitted: 0
  • Books read: 10/30 (see above)

 

My Boskone Schedule

Not much longer to wait for one of my favorite conventions ever. Boskone holds a special place in my heart because it was my first con, a con I’ve always shared with my husband and some of our extended family, and a con where I feel like I know so many people. Looking at my panels, I’m really excited to get to have conversations with these smart and talented SFF people, and I cannot wait to devour panels morning-to-night.

I’ll be bringing a copy of Shimmer 2017 (in which my story “The Moon, The Sun, and the Truth” appears, among many other superb works) to give away to one lucky reading attendee. Please come! I’ll be reading something new! (/suppresses a satisfied cackle)

Where and when you ask? Oh. Here.

 

AIs and the Female Image
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2018, Friday 14:00 – 15:00, Marina 3 (Westin)
When it comes to AIs wearing mechanical bodies, until recently, many “female” AIs were all about gorgeousness and sexuality. Now some portrayals emphasize strength and intelligence. Can you do both? How well do these creations represent women, metaphorically or realistically? How does the representation of “male” AIs differ?
Victoria Sandbrook (M), Catherine Asaro, Christine Taylor-Butler, Laurence Raphael Brothers, John P. Murphy
Angels in Speculative Fiction
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2018, Friday 15:00 – 16:00, Marina 4 (Westin)
Angels in fantasy, science fiction, and horror aren’t always what you might expect. There are the ones that behave, well, angelically, and the fallen angels — but also bad-tempered angels, angels from advanced civilizations, and more. What attracts writers (and readers) to this motif? What common themes, like redemption or the Fall, recur? Are there novel ways to write an angel?
Bob Kuhn (M), Alexander Jablokov, Victoria Sandbrook, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Walt Williams
Feminist Fairy Tales
Format: Panel
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 10:00 – 11:00, Burroughs (Westin)
Women frequently serve as the main characters of fairy tales. (Why, by the way?) It’s hard not to notice they’re often presented as victims, or the subjects of a lesson learned. Do any tales instead offer strong female role models? What can modern feminist perspectives contribute when considering stories from so long ago and/or far away?
Jane Yolen, Victoria Sandbrook, Andrea Corbin, Julia Rios, E.J. Stevens

Reading by Victoria Sandbrook
Format: Reading
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 11:00 – 11:30, Independence (Westin)

Women Who Write Science Fiction
Format: Panel
18 Feb 2018, Sunday 12:00 – 13:00, Marina 3 (Westin)
Mary Shelley, Leigh Brackett, Ursula K. Le Guin, Connie Willis, N. K. Jemisin —  women have been in the thick of writing science fiction for a very long time. Let’s discuss some of their landmark publications that captured our imagination. Why do we love these stories? What works should we look for the next time we’re browsing the shelves?
Victoria Sandbrook (M), LJ Cohen, Catherine Asaro, Erin Roberts, Marianna Martin PhD

My Arisia 2018 Schedule

It’s January and that means Arisia is here! It’s here! I’ve got panels on three of the four days and I hope you’ll consider stopping in for some great conversation.

Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading
Adams Sat 10:00 AM

Morven Westfield, Victoria Sandbrook, LJ Cohen, Larissa Glasser, Julie C. Day, Dianna Sanchez, Randee Dawn, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Anna Erishkigal, Heather Albano

Description Come discover your new favorite writer as members of Broad Universe read short excerpts from their work. Each writer has just a few minutes to show you what she’s capable of! We offer chocolate and the chance to win prizes. Broad Universe is an international organization that supports women writers, editors, and publishers.

Mosaic – PoC & Ally Meet Up
Otis Sat 2:30 PM

Victoria Sandbrook, Benjamin Chicka, Diana Hsu

Come hang out with people of color and allies in a welcoming and inclusive space! Chat about the con and make new friends. Discuss ways fandom (including Arisia) can work to be more actively inclusive of fans of all backgrounds. If so inclined, talk about what can be done at Arisia to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.

Fantasy that Speculates
Marina 2 Sat 5:30 PM

James Hailer (mod), Victoria Sandbrook, Ruthanna Emrys, Victoria “V.E.” Schwab, Debra Doyle

Fantasy lands such as Westeros or Stillness, with their dramatic variations in climate or seismic activity, provide a fertile ground for speculation within the story. The Stillness plans ahead and takes these factors into account; Westeros does not. Why? This panel will discuss speculation in fantasy, which stories are more speculative, and how fantasy can extrapolate from its premise.

You Got Your Science in My Magic
Marina 2 Sun 11:30am

Ken Gale (mod), Victoria Sandbrook, Andrea Corbin, Roy Kilgard, Gwendolyn Clare

We often talk about science fiction, realism, and fantasy as separate things, but the genre borders are awfully fuzzy. In stories, what does magic look like in a modern setting? We’ll explore what happens when science collides with magic, especially when that magic isn’t rule-based, and books or movies where magic and non-handwavy science work together.

In Praise of Villainesses and Antiheroines
Marina 2 Sun 5:30 PM

Henry M. White (mod), Victoria Sandbrook, Hillary Monahan, Tom Deady, Gwendolyn Clare

We love villains. We love compelling, break-out, has a point villains and badass antiheroes who look cool and say cool one liners. The problem is, the list of those compelling bad (and sort of bad) guys are all… guys. Those femme-of-center villains and antiheroes that do appear often find themselves in the love-to-hate, rather than the hate-to-love. Our panelists will be exploring compelling villainesses and why they deserve more appreciation than they often receive.

Disney’s Second Renaissance
Burroughs Mon 11:30 AM

Heather Urbanski (mod), Victoria Sandbrook, Hilary L. Hertzoff, David Olsen, Hanna Lee Rubin Abramowitz

From 1989-1999, The Walt Disney Company experienced a period of creative resurgence known as the Disney Renaissance; *The Little Mermaid*, *Beauty and the Beast*, and *The Lion King* were artistic and financial wins for a studio coming out of a long slump. Recently, *Frozen*, *Moana* and others have led some to declare that the company is in the middle of a new success streak. We’ll discuss what we’ve seen in the past few years from this animation powerhouse, and look ahead to what’s to come.

2017 in Review; 2018 in Preview

If my writing life were corporate America, someone from HR would be sitting down with me and my boss and reviewing my metrics with a tense smile and platitudes about getting back on track.

Thank God my writing life isn’t corporate America.

Because honestly, does it really matter that I was about 36,000 words shy of the random number I thought I could hit? Am I less of a writer because I was two new works shy of what I wanted to write this year?

No.

Not one bit.

I’m not saying that goals don’t matter. I’m not saying that pushing myself doesn’t matter or that I have no room for improvement (excuse me while I vomit at that phrase) or that I’m going to write-off objective metrics for 2018.

But I am saying the sum of what I’ve one this year can’t be characterize by what I didn’t do. That 36k, those two short stories: writing crap just to hit them wouldn’t have done me any good. Not spending time with my loved ones during two painful family illnesses and subsequent funerals wouldn’t have made me a better writer. Letting my kid watch another 36 hours of TV instead of reading or playing together wouldn’t have been worth it just for a “HOORAY LOOK WHAT I DID” blog post and ephemeral back-pats.

So how would I characterize my successes this year? Let’s see.

I wrote when I was furious, grief-striken, exhausted, depressed, sick, migraine-ridden, afraid, and sad. And I did it because I had work to do, a story to tell, something of myself to give.

I wrote when I didn’t want to write, when I only wanted the reassurance of having written, when I didn’t know why I was writing. And I did it because some days you know you need to sit your butt in your chair and do the work even when it feels like work.

And sometimes I didn’t write. Because I sat down and there were no words to give. Because I was consumed by research. Because I didn’t want to. Because I had obligations away from my computer. Because I was lost or exhausted. And most of my zero-days were worth it in the end, because they gave me space, context, and fuel (be it a better idea or the angry energy to just pound out words).

I wrote happy things, sad things, scared things, scary things. I put parts of myself on the page that I wouldn’t talk about outside fiction. I tried new forms and pushed my craft with new elements of all sorts. I entered friendly contests. I sought out new readers and new sources of critique. I submitted to markets big and small. I got rejected everywhere, sometimes with the most wonderful and inspiring comments about my work to see me off. I cried about a rejection this year–THAT was new. And I survived it.

I think that’s one of the most important things any of us can say about this last year: that we survived.

But I did more than that, didn’t I? I worked. I wrote. I wrote more than I’ve ever written in one year. I wrote better than I’ve ever written. I took the risks I set out to take and then some. And that’s what makes a writer.

Here’s what I want my 2018 in words to look like. Sure: I want to wrap the year with at least one new novel drafted, revised, and out in the world. I want new stories in my stable. I want a whole host of other’s books in my have-been-read pile. But really, I want to wrap the year confident that I didn’t dither away my precious writing hours. I want to wrap the year confident that I’ve grown. And I know that’s doable.

So, for whatever it’s worth, here’s the breakdown by numbers and bullets. Do with it what you will. Just promise that you’ll think the same way about what you’ve accomplished this year. Because you’re worth way more than your numbers, too.

My Year in Words
PART 1: Personal Accomplishments

  • Words written: 164,495
  • New works completed:
    • 1 novel drafted
    • 1 novella (drafted, revised, submitted)
    • 6 short stories (drafted, revised submitted)
  • Other works:
    • 1 novel critiqued, revised, and queried
    • 6 additional short stories started
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 76 (8 outstanding)
  • Books Read: 30 (ok, I’m finishing one today; hold me to it)


PART 2: Extrinsic Accomplishments

  • Sales and publications: 2 (Shimmer and Cast of Wonders)
  • Non-paying reprint: 1 (inclusion in Event Horizon 2017, the anthology for Campbell Award-eligible writers)
  • Rejections: 64 total; 45 forms, 19 personal & higher-tier
  • PLUS
    • Moderated and participated on two panels at conventions
    • First reading!
    • First review of my work
    • First story podcasted
    • 50th lifetime rejection (current tally: 98)
    • First-place in my division of a Codex Contest (for the novella; still blown away  by this btw)

 

2018 in Preview
Because I like having metrics, even when I don’t/can’t meet them

  • Words written: 200,000
  • New works to complete: 12
  • Books read: 30

November Writing Round-Up, plus Award Eligibility

Happy past and impending holidays! This year has been….Alright it’s only December 1, so I don’t have to write a year-end post yet, right? Good. This won’t be that.

This past month has been a challenge. I struggled with feels after rejections. I fought through more rounds of preschool grunge. I got just enough good news and found time with friends to keep me sane. I may not be on-track to sweep my goals for the year, but HOLY HECK I’ve accomplished a lot.

Two of the things I’ve accomplished include two lovely stories out in the real world. If you’re looking for works to nominate for any of the various writing awards, I’d be honored–of course–to have your consideration. “The Moon, the Sun, and the Truth” ran in Shimmer‘s July/August Issue 38. “Phalium arium ssp anams” aired as Cast of Wonders‘s episode 256, also in July. This is also my second year of eligibility for the Campbell Award.

With no further ado, here’s how this month stacked up for words.

  • Words Written: 10,276  (YTD: 153,199 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+)
  • Works Complete: 0 (YTD: 8 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 3 (YTD: 79)
  • Books Read: 2 (YTD: 26| 2017 Goal: 30)
  • PLUS
    • Short Story Rejections: 2 (1 personal).
    • Two of my stories are officially in editors’ hold piles. Yay!
    • Querying agents is hard. There will eventually be a whole post about this.
    • I finished Part 1 of my new novel. I like it so far (that’s not always a given).
    • I wrote 15 reviews for Publishers Weekly this year and I’m really proud of them.
    • I’m on programming for both Arisia and Boskone! More on that soon!