Novella Sale: Le Jardin Animé (1893)

Amid the joyous chaos of our second daughter’s birth in April, two conventions (one while pregnant, one while breastfeeding), and a pile of great books, I’m overjoyed to announce that I’ve sold my novella, Le Jardin Animé (1893) to GigaNotoSaurus! It will release January 1, 2020.

Without giving too much away, I hope, it’s about ballet-dancing automata, an aging thornback inventor, and a female Muslim doctor in an isolated Philadelphia mansion in 1893. I’ve referred to it as my mad-scientist gothic.

I have Codex‘s annual novella contest to thank for its existence, and many friends and colleagues there who read and critiqued it across various stages. Several other good friends read it and offered feedback and cheered me on as I sent it into the world for submission. I might never have attempted this without the safety of my writing community. So thank you.

I also sought sensitivity reads once I was pretty sure I was done. I wanted to be sure (or as sure as one can be) that I’d done right by my doctor and one of two POV characters, Zaynab. Their feedback helped me hone what I’d absorbed through research into my best possible characterization of her individual motivations, faith, and world view. Any blind spots are absolutely my own.

I also want to thank Writing the Other for the lessons in craft and in being a good human. In the cacophony of extreme opinions about how writers should navigate diversity, their classes have been a clear voice advocating for thoughtful inclusivity and careful self-examiniation. I highly recommend them to all writers. I hope I have put those lessons to good in this work.

Most of all, I have to thank GigaNotoSarus’s editor, LaShawn M. Wanak, for buying it. I could not be more thrilled.

So stay tuned for a publication announcement first thing next year! And I’ll have doubled-up book reviews coming this week!

Reprint Sale: “El Cantar de la Reina Bruja”; General Update

Happy 2019 indeed!

SWORD & SONNET cover. Edited by Aidan Doyle, Rachel K. Jones, & E. Catherine Tobler. Artwork by Vlada Monakhova.

How lovely it is to get to start the year off with some good news to share! My beloved witch-queen story from last year’s Sword & Sonnet will run on an upcoming episode of Podcastle! That makes my third sale to an Escape Artists podcast and my first to this fabulous home for fantasy fiction.

It’s been a long time since I’ve properly updated here for a whole host of reasons, most of which center around the fact that I spent two months languishing through morning sickness last summer. Yes, Baby #2 is due in April, and that means a very interesting year ahead indeed for this writer-mom. I’ve got lots of irons in the fire for the year ahead, including another wonderful Boskone (schedule TBA when it’s final!), my thoughts on forthcoming SFF novels and short story collections (and probably a few older ones, too), and who knows what kind of answers for story submissions galore. I’ve been very active on Twitter lately, so check there if you want blow-by-blow updates as the year progresses!

February Writing Round-Up

Twenty-eight days of work. Twenty-eight days of not taking any downtime for the sake of downtime. This has been a good month.

  • Words Written: 33,543  (YTD: 55,981 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+)
  • Works Complete: 1 flash piece finished, revised, and submitted! (YTD: 2 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 9 (YTD: 22)
  • Books Read: 4 (YTD: 7* | 2017 Goal: 30) *I think I missed a book in my January report
  • PLUS
    • 7 rejections (1 personal)
    • Attended Bokone 2017 as a panelist and moderator! Best Boskone yet for me!
    • I did take those days and one for prep off of writing, in part because what little down-time I had was given to ELF. But I’m okay with that. That was work, but it wasn’t writing. I’m proud that I got back to it with no hesitation. That’s how it should be.
    • I interviewed author Meg Howrey and the Q&A appeared in Publishers Weekly! I’ve got a few more of these in the work beyond the reviews I’ve been doing for them.
    • Codex Weekend Warrior 2017 wrapped. I wrote 4/5 stories and have revised and subbed 2 of those 4 already this year. Very pleased with the other 3 ideas that came from the contest, and they’re in my queue. I’ll definitely play again next year, and I’m going to shoot for finishing all 5 stories.
    • I’ve entered #PitchMadness! Just a good way to get myself prepped for everything that comes next for Botanizer.
    • Speaking of Botanizer, my critique is next Sunday. #dyingofbrainweasels
    • I ended January with 13k written in #Brains, my jaunty drivel project that has nothing to do with zombies. This month, that MS us up to 45k and counting!
    • Days I’ve written this month: 24/28
    • Days written since the inauguration: 34/38
    • Longest streak: 31 days

A note for March and April: I’ll be moving away from hard-and-fast metrics as I revise. My big goals: 1) Finish #Brains, 2) Revise Botanizer, 3) get a short story written, revised, and submitted.

2016 in Review; 2017 in Preview

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
  • PLUS
    • 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
  • PLUS
    • Attending two cons as a panelist/moderator
    • Possible travel to an out-of-state con
    • My first novel critique
    • Lots of rejections


What I Can’t Do, What I Can Do

It’s official: I won’t be physically hiking for Wilderness Heals this year.

This is a really, really hard thing for me to handle. If you’ve talked to me at all in the past six years, you know how important the hike and the hikers and the Elizabeth Stone House have been to me. In 2010, I signed up having never put on a pair of hiking boots. Since then, I’ve summited half of the Four Thousand Footers in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, hiked hundreds of miles, team led, and told pretty much every woman I know about the hike. Heck, the hike even inspired the novel I’m writing.

Wilderness Heals is no small commitment, but I’ve always made space for it. I went on the hike a week before my wedding. I went on the hike when I could barely afford to take the time off from work. I went on the hike even when I knew I likely wouldn’t be able to raise the $1,500 minimum and would have to cover the balance myself. The only thing that kept me from hiking last year was the fact that I was 9 months pregnant. ELF made her entrance one week after the hike.

What keeps me coming back? Every bit of the hike. The mountains. The women who have stood by me through so many important life changes. And then there’s the Elizabeth Stone House. For 42 years, they’ve been serving the community and working to stop the cycles of homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse, and trauma. They provide emergency and transitional housing. They provide childcare and peace of mind. They counsel and empower and educate and support. They build and enrich the community. How could you not show up for an organization like that?

I promised myself that I’d hike this year. I was prepared to pump-and-dump breastmilk on the trail. I was prepared to really tighten the belt to make sure I could cover the fundraising minimum since I’m not salaried anymore. I was gearing myself up to leave ELF and Mike for three days to do something bigger than myself.

But I can’t.

The only pack I’ll be carrying this summer. But what a bundle!

When you have a breastfed baby that doesn’t take a bottle, you can’t leave. You can’t spend more than  a few hours away because they need to eat and you are their only source of food. We got here the way we got here, and we’ve exhausted the options we’ve exhausted; if you’re interested in minutiae, PM me. What it boils down to is this: I can’t go on a three-day hike, no matter how wonderful the cause.

It feels like a failure, which is really tough considering all of the negotiating (read: feels like failing) I’ve been doing in every other part of my life lately.

A few years back one of the Elizabeth Stone House’s clients stood in front of the hikers as we got ready to leave and reminded us that there are always some people who need help and some people who can help. And though I won’t be on the trails this year, I’m still someone who can help.

For the second year in a row, I’m virtual hiking to support the Elizabeth Stone House and the 2016 Wilderness Heals hikers. I’m sure that, in time, I’ll come up with some awesome statistics of how far ELF and I have walked together, of how much we’ve accomplished together, but for now, it’s enough to tell you this. And to ask you to join us.

If you’re a woman in the Boston area, consider hiking. I cannot tell you enough how much you’ll love it.

And if you’re not able to hike, lend your support some other way. Contribute towards my goal. Share this post and information about the Elizabeth Stone House with your own communities. Start tough conversations about domestic violence and homelessness and substance abuse with the people around you, and don’t let silence enable your communities to assume these are inevitable parts of people’s lives. Find a way to be a person that can help by doing what you can do.

You’ll be glad you did.