It’s that time again, folks! I’ll be braving whatever weather comes to make it to the Westin Waterfront in Boston to enjoy the event that kicks off my geek calendar year. If you’re local and not familiar with Arisia, well, come out There is quite literally something for everyone. And, for the first time, I’m on the program!
You’ll find me here:
SAT 10:00 AM
Parents with Infants & Toddlers Meetup – Communities, Meetup – 1hr 15min – Otis (2W)
We have run into each other in panels, in hallways, and in elevators with strollers, but have we really met? Let’s let the kids run around for an hour, catch our breath, bemoan cluster feeding/colic/climbing/teething/growing pains, and celebrate the fact that we’re OUT OF THE HOUSE and among our people.
Aurora Celeste (m), Victoria Sandbrook
SAT 1:00 PM
Mosaic—PoC & Ally Meet Up – Communities, Meetup – 1hr 15min – Paine (2W)
People of Color at the con and allies helping us build a better space for diverse faces in fandom, get together for some social and casual conversation time. Recap the convention with friends and maybe brainstorm a bit on how to up our game for next year. (Deep thinking on social action of the future optional but appropriate to MLK’s birthday observance.)
Mink Rose (m), Victoria Sandbrook, TheoNerd
SUN 10:00 AM
Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make Fantasy – Literature, Panel – 1hr 15min – Marina 2 (2E)
From Susan Pevensie’s lipstick to fan-hate for Sansa Stark, feminine characters often get shortchanged by fantasy authors and fans alike, losing out in comparison with the Strong Female Protagonist archetype. Why does this happen? Which feminine characters manage to succeed against this stereotype? Is the trend changing, and why?
Victoria Sandbrook (m), Randee Dawn, Ariela Housman, Victoria Janssen, Henry M. White
Happy New Year! Thanks for reading along as I tackle the crazy world of the written word. It’s been a great and happy year and a dark and stormy year. I had some great wins. I had some tough losses. But we all did, and I think it’s important to take a minute to reflect and appreciate what we’ve each accomplished.
Here’s my Year in Words:
- Words Written: 122,416 (includes fiction, book reviews, blogs, and essays).
- Works Completed: 5
- 1 novel
- 3 short stories
- 1 esssay
- plus: book reviews and blog posts
- Submissions to Paying Markets: 19
- Publications: 1 (my first!)
- Books Read: 28
- Applied to grants and fellowships
- Got selected for programming for two local cons
- Got some amazing feedback on my work from fellow writers, editors, and others
- Attended Paradise Regained, the Viable Paradise reunion, and got some serious recharging done
And here’s what I’m shooting for in 2017:
- Words to Write: 200,000+
- Works to Complete: at least 10; there will be short stories aplenty, more novel writing, and hopefully lots of stuff to celebrate
- Submissions to Paying Markets: As the time it takes markets to review and respond can vary wildly, I can’t really judge how many subs I’ll get in this year, but I hope to keep 3/4 of my revised-and-ready stories on submission for the whole year.
- Books to Read: 30
- Attending two cons as a panelist/moderator
- Possible travel to an out-of-state con
- My first novel critique
- Lots of rejections
Um, wait. It’s December 1?
- Fifteenth rejection! Such is the business. Also got a rejection for a grant to which I applied, but it included some wonderful positive feedback.
- Five submissions, three still active.
- No new short stories. I promised myself I wouldn’t start anything new until after the novel revisions and I stuck with it.
- NOVEL PROGRESS (everyone’s favorite panic attack) continues well. I made some more great breakthroughs. I’m currently 8 chapters from the end. That could mean a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, depending on how much time I put in.
- NaNoWriMo went by and I didn’t write a word for it. This is good since I hadn’t finished novel revisions…
- I went to my writing group’s annual retreat (just for a few hours, really) and it was wonderful as ever. Nothing like your tribe to keep you sane and productive.
- I have a tentative schedule for Arisia programming and that makes me very happy. More on that as it happens!
- I haven’t been reading a lot this month, but I’ve been working, so here’s a STUFF I’VE BEEN DOING segment
- Calling my Senators/Congressman about issues at the national level. There are, ya know, a few.
- Calling my state legislators about issues at the state level, from taking a stand against some of the stuff happening at the federal level to bills I’m hoping get reintroduced in the new legislative session. I’ve gotten a really lovely personal call back regarding one issue, and it was great to know that I’d been heard.
- Calling my city counselors and finding ways to engage with city politics. I live here and I care. Therefore I should be doing more than getting upset when the newspaper reports decisions I don’t like.
- Donating. To the NoDAPL efforts and in support of the water protectors. To local organizations that matter to my heart. To movements that I believe in.
- Reading and listening to things that make me mad. I had done this relatively often before, but I think it’s definitely important now. Not knowing another perspective exists excuses nothing.
- Talking to like-minded friends. Just because there’s an echo doesn’t mean it’s wrong to converse and congregate and share resources.
- Sending and receiving support from wonderful friends. You guys have helped keep me sane in this crazy time and sending you reassurances has made me stay focused. So thanks.
- Upcoming Goals
- Dec 31 Have novel out for critique NO LATER THAN THIS (still doable)
- Dec 31 Keep at least 3/4 stories on submission at all times
- Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016 (3 down, 2 to go!)
I don’t know if you like reading these posts, but it turns out that I like writing them, so you’re going to keep getting them. So what have I been up to in the last month?
- Tenth rejection! *and the crowd goes wild* Yes, I submitted stories often enough in the last month that I got FIVE more rejections. Crazy stuff. Also, of the five rejections, three were personal. And of the personals, one (at least) is getting framed because it was so nice.
- Six submissions, three still active! That includes one new story in the mix. And I’m working on finding reprint opportunities for “Taking Care of Business.” This means that I’m already one over my ultimate submission goal for the year!
- One new short story. I missed the deadline for the Codex Halloween contest but then managed to write something after the Viable Paradise reunion. This means I have 3 works finished this year of the 5 that I’d like. Shooting for at least one more short that has been keeping me thinking and thinking, plus the novel (duh)
- NOVEL PROGRESS (that’s why you’re here, right?) has been amazing. No, I’m not done. Still plugging away far slower than I’d like when it comes to words/day. BUT. I made some really great revisions that have really made the Dreaded Middle pick up the pace. And my research reading has helped me along significantly. Can’t say enough about how important it is to be well read going into books like this one.
- NaNoWriMo is probably off the table for me. I am being very strict with myself that I cannot start another sizeable project without finishing the novel.
- I got two wonderful nods from my peers. Two short stories (both on submission currently) placed in friendly contests, one run by BSpec and one by Viable Paradise alums. I am honored and encouraged by the responses.
- Viable Paradise’s reunion, Paradise Regained, was exactly that. I needed that weekend so much and will probably be forever thanking the staff for all the extra work they did to host us.
- Stuff I Read This Month
- “Writing Begins with Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong” by Daniel Jose Older. This has been keeping me sane this month. I hope it can do the same for you.
- About Writing by Samuel R. Delany. Still working through this one and I’ll probably start re-reading it when I hit the last page. He bills it as a book for writers who already know what they’re doing, and I don’t feel pandered to. Nor do I feel like I’m being taught literary lessons at the expense of my love for genre. Nor am I learning lessons from genre at the expense of my love for literature. To Delany, talented writing is always that, no matter what you’re writing about. Huge thanks to the Writing the Other instructors for putting this on my radar.
- Walking the Clouds edited by Grace L. Dillon. I haven’t finished this, but everything I’ve read has been eye opening and great food for thought. I think of all of the books I’ve used for research, this has helped me the most (more on this when I share some experiences about the writing process). I’d hazard a very broad generalization to say that anyone writing SFF should read this anthology, because I think it can only help widen your perspective and because you can never go wrong when you’re reading good work.
- Upcoming Goals
- Nov ?? Finish novel revisions (I’m okay now with this taking the time it needs)
- Nov 30 Finish NaNoWriMo OR a novella (MAYBE. But only after novel revisions!)
- Dec 31 Have novel out for critique NO LATER THAN THIS (hopefully much earlier)
- Dec 31 Keep at least 3/4 stories on submission at all times
- Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016 (3 down, 2 to go!)
It’s been quite a month! I’m not even sure where it went, but I can say that I got some good work done.
- Fifth rejection! If rejected short stories tell you anything good about a writer, they are, at the very least, proof that the writer is submitting. Can’t publish if you don’t submit; can’t submit without facing rejection. So I got my fifth-ever rejection from a short story market today. Time to throw a rejection party!
- Three submissions. No, not three new stories, but three opportunities taken. I got my SFish piece out the door, put “Taking Care of Business” out for a potential reprint opportunity, and sent the third story to a new market. I might be able to log 10 submissions this year, depending on the turn-around on the existing submissions and how many more shorts are in my immediate future. It’s not exactly a square in Career Bingo, but it’s close.
- One new short story in progress. A Halloween-y story for a friendly contest on Codex. Trying out second-world fantasy in short form. The big question: can I get it done by next weekend and keep it under the required 5k? We’ll see.
- NOVEL PROGRESS. Okay, seriously. It’s been slow, but there. I pushed through a few chapters, struggled, pushed through, struggled. And then I needed to get the SFish piece out the door and had some freelance stuff come up. You know, life. So here’s the goal: I will finish the novel revision by Oct 31. There, I said it. Expect a Halloween update from me with good news on that front.
- I also had the exciting opportunity to put my name in as a potential panelist to two local SFF conventions, Arisia and Boskone. I filled out my participant surveys for both and will hear back about whether they think I’m a good fit for this year’s panel selection or not. I’m thrilled to give this a go. In addition, I suggested a workshop for GrubStreet’s Muse and the Marketplace conference in May. So next year there might be a great deal of public speaking to do. And if you know me, you know this is a good thing.
- Some Stuff I Read this Month (last month I did a “Stuff I Read on the Internet” section, but this month was more about fiction online and offline, so…)
- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. My review on Goodreads says it all: SO. RUSTING. GOOD.
- Saga, Vol. 1. Everyone said I needed to read this and everyone was right. Can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!
- “A Ladies’ Guide to Collecting Mermaid Love Songs” (Daily Science Fiction) by Aimee Picci, one of my very talented Viable Paradise XVIII classmates.
- There was more but these things floated to the surface for me when drafting this
- Upcoming Goals
- Oct 8 Finish/submit story for Codex Halloween contest
- Oct 12-14 Attend Paradise Regained (VP reunion!)
- Oct 31 Finish novel revisions
- Nov 30 Finish NaNoWriMo OR a novella
- Dec 31 Submit 10 times in 2016
- Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016
In the first of what I hope will be a series, here’s a look at my writing life in the last month and resources I’ve found particularly helpful.
- Short story sold! Is there anyone on the internet who doesn’t know that I sold my first short story this month? Check out Sword & Steam Short Stories‘ full TOC and marvel at what looks to be a really cool anthology. Add it to your Goodreads shelf and then pre-order a copy!
- Two new shorts written:
- one a [redacted]-punk story I submitted to both my writing group’s contest (anonymous, hence the redaction) and to a magazine.
- one near-future sci-fi that got written in all of three hours; it caught me off guard I’m excited about it
- Novel progress! Yes I promise I’m still working on it. I’m making some really solid headway on this revision and am enthused.
- Grant application sent. I applied for a Sustainable Arts Foundation grant, which go to artists who are also parents. Long shot? Yes. But what about writing isn’t long shot? If you’re a parent and an artist, apply. Deadline is tomorrow!
- I was honored to be a Sentient Squid Scholarship recipient which afforded me the opportunity to take two excellent Writing the Other classes:
- The Writing the Other Weekend Intensive: A weekend-long online course–taught live by Nisi Shawl and K Tempest Bradford–focusing on writing in an educated and sensitive manner about people who don’t look or live like you. We looked at specific categories through which people are othered (e.g., race, gender/sexuality, and class) and also craft issues (e.g., dialogue and worldbuilding) that can create problematic fiction if done wrong or really brilliant fiction if done right. I particularly loved the exercises, which have already made me think about my work differently (see “Novel progress!” and one of the short stories mentioned above).
- Writing Native American Characters Master Class: This two-hour class was packed with information, but it topic is deep enough to fill two days or two years or two lifetimes. The estimable Debbie Reese gave us a 101-level overview of issues in Native American communities–especially as they are often presented in fiction. Even thought I’ve been dutifully researching issues that would have been at the forefront of my Abenaki and Métis characters’ lives, Debbie’s lecture gave me more questions to ask. I have books to read, listening to do, and some hard thinking about everything from half-mentioned details to important plot points.
- General thoughts: Based on my experiences, I highly recommend the Writing the Other classes. The instructors are great. The alumni group is great. And the information you get is invaluable. We’re all always learning, and this is a safe and carefully crafted space in which to further the skill of writing others without othering.
- Stuff I Read on the Internet
Yes, you read that right. I sold a story.
“Taking Care of Business” (née “Twice Nightly”) will appear in the forthcoming steampunk anthology Swords & Steam Short Stories (Sept 2016), part of Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series. I wrote it during Viable Paradise XVIII (2014) and did not honestly think I had it in me until it was on the page. It will be my first professional fiction publication.
Many of you have read or heard about this particular short story, and your support has been elemental in getting me to rewrite, revise, and resubmit this. For that I thank you. Particular thanks goes to Peter Archer, whose Facebook comment birthed this curiosity in my head and who has been a great friend on this road.
For those who don’t know anything about this story, well, I won’t spoil the fun. I’ll just say that an American favorite winds up in the wrong time, in the wrong London neighborhood, with the wrong crowd. It’s gritty and dark and fun. And if you need a taste of it, just listen to the Jekyll & Hyde Original Broadway Cast Recording. I know I did!
Expect more here as the gears get moving! (All puns intended.)