Catching up, perpetually

I have recovered from April! Unfortunately, we’re over halfway through May, so.

The combination of “fiscal year end” and “end of term” was interesting. I really enjoyed the chance to teach, and from the (safely anonymized) student comments I didn’t do too badly?  I’d like to do it again (although as a part-time professor, I won’t get the chance until winter).

I’m currently looking for stories to recommend for a slightly updated version of the course. I’m largely trying to keep it to prose, and looking to the Hugos and Nebulas as a filter, but it’s still going to be a bit of work.

I went to TCAF this weekend past! It was honestly fantastic, and I had a great time. Came back with a few more books than I was expecting, but it was a great weekend, and the trip each way gave me a lot of time to read. I’m hoping to get some reviews up.

On a personal note, I just handed in my comments on the page proofs of a story that should be coming out later this year, and I’m generally feeling pleased with that.

Looking back on things I’ve read

I’d honestly forgotten about the Hugo nominations until today. My notebook is looking a little sparse; I don’t know if I started forgetting to write things down when they impressed me, or if the end of the year was just so hectic that I fell far, far behind on actually reading and watching new work. It’s probably a combination.

(That said, with having read 105 books (or at least “things with ISBNs”) last year, plus a great number of short fiction magazines, I am pretty sure I can come up with a few nominations.)

Working fulltime (or fulltime-plus) is not making it easy, plus there’s been a little pet trouble so far this year, but overall I’m actually relatively happy with the amount of writing and submitting I’ve gotten done so far. Hoping it continues.

Interview with Cortesa Singh

Three questions with Cortesa Singh, resistance member of Bradbury Weeps and asteroid belter, survivor of the Oort Line on 2311.04.17, when the Chorister fleet swept towards earth. Interview recorded at the Silton Repository on Dirt.


Where were you from?

The belt. Parents planned against a kid but the pills didn’t work, and they wouldn’t sign me over to MarsCorp. Started flying our mining skiff–the Stendahl’s Promise–at fifteen. Wasn’t legal, but we fixed the pilot logs, clocked enough hours to start paying down the company debt.

Lost my leg and dad died in a space grit shower. Other belters got us back but the Promise needed repairs. My cousin Orsina fixed our maintenance logs so MarsCorp couldn’t deny the death benefit. Patched the Promise up, shared what we could with those who got us home.

Orsina taught me Bradbury.

Old Earth writer, before space flight. Told stories that ended with Earth gone and Mars being where we moved past the worst of what people did to each other.

You seen MarsCorp? All us little lights out in the black and they’re sucking us dry on contracts and margins.

Bradbury weeps.

So MarsCorp probes got lost and their systems broke and their scales weighed heavy and paid out extra and we’d share it round.

We were close to getting caught, when the war started.

How did you experience the war?

War, hah. Was a leaking massacre. Scrappy little ships what couldn’t cross a galaxy on the Oort Line, and what came for us–

Orsina and me stripped the Promise down to fuel and power, clad on extra armour, swapped scanners for weapons. I flew, she was gunner. Got through a Chorister hull, but half our weapons were blown clean off. Rest stopped firing.

Wanted to think they’d run dry.

We weren’t getting back anyway.

Gearing up to run the Promise right into the Chorister’s guts when Orsina–

Didn’t hear her coming. Was wearing Bashton’s Ears.

She used a medkit sedative.

Woke up too late.

People talk about Earth and Mars. Not about what it was like out in the black, after. Tatters of the Line stretching all the way to the belt.

The frozen air, leaking.

Understand it. Known her since we were too young to work. If we’d have been dying over nothing, fine, but…

Promise could’ve slowed that Chorister.

Haven’t seen Orsina since I dropped her on the Calabrese. Don’t know if she’s on Dirt or off on a Permancer ship or what. Haven’t checked.

Got nothing to say to her, now.

What are you doing now?

Fixing shit. *chuckles* Haven’t had time to take Promise off-world since I got here.

Dirt’s pretty easy. You can breathe free, step outside free… even water’s free, just leave enough for others. So much give here.

Sloppy or unlucky can kill you, but the belt taught me a lot that’s useful. Sinkhole at Jadoc? My filter masks kept the kids breathing long enough to get fished out. Webster flood? I welded the bridge that held. It’s not just scrabbling. It’s building.

Dirt’s…

We’ve got a chance here. Something new, like Bradbury dreamed we could be on Mars. Fleet’s holding on. Dirt’s building up. Kids from the sinkhole’re doing okay.

Couple still have bad dreams, imagine they heard things.

Dirt’s home now, right? It’s ours, free and clear, thank the Permancer.

Sure they meant well. Only.

Have dreams myself sometimes.

Bradbury said things about free dirt.


After the War is a science-fiction tabletop roleplaying game of memetic horror by  and . Ten years have passed since the end of the galactic war, and now we rebuild our new home on this alien frontier world. The Kickstarter is over, but soon you will be able to tell your own stories on Dirt.

Someone left the clock running. (It might have been me.)

Greyscale head-and-shoulders illustration of a woman with glasses in a space jumpsuit.
Seriously, isn’t it lovely? Belters unite.

First off, you may note that my avatar has changed; it is currently an illustration by Claudia Cangini in the vein of the After The War RPG, which will be debuting on KickStarter in a few weeks–on November 12–at which point I’ll be able to share the story I wrote for it.

October was a one-convention, one-conference, one-vacation month in the middle of crunch time, which means the time off was lovely but also extremely dense. Coming back to work has been a bit of a shock, but I think I’m catching up on things again.

A final note: I went to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and would love to go again; I have not taken notes like that since university, and I feel like my brain is still digesting quite a bit. It was lovely to see people (I finally met Cat Rambo in person!), it struck me as an incredibly well-planned conference, and there was karaoke.

Fortnight’s passing.

First, I’m very pleased to announce that the Kickstarter for After the War will be launching on November 12, and I’ll be able to share my story “Interview with Cortesa Singh” then! I’ve had a chance to read some of the other stories that will be published, as well, and I think it’s a really fantastic collection in a great setting.

Second, it’s been a bit. We’ve been getting into crunch time, and last weekend was mostly spent recovering, and this weekend I was planning to post an update but we lost power for nearly thirty hours (along with much of the city), so plans were kind of knocked for a loop.

I really do want to give a huge shout-out to the Journalling for Creativity with Fran Wilde class that Cat Rambo orchestrated; it was fantastically helpful in terms of a way to get some things organized, and I’ve managed to figure out a couple of sticking points as a result. I’d really recommend it if you get the chance (and please remember that Cat Rambo’s classes have three scholarships each).

(Finally, I’m done with my rabies vaccines. So that’s nice.)

 

A stop on a late-night drive.

My story “Late Night at the Low Road Diner” is available now in issue 5 of Liminal Stories. It can be read online for free here (although if you’d like to support them, they’re on Patreon).

A small story on the care and feeding of strange things that may come into a diner at night.

I am really pleased with this one. My thanks to Shannon Peavey and Kelly Sandoval for the acceptance and the editing (much as I love “tatterdemalion”, I have to admit it just didn’t fit), and to N.G. Lancaster for the art.

I hope you like it.

Counting ink, 2017

I had one story come out this year; “Thou Unnecessary Letter”, which was started in one of Cat Rambo’s classes and published in the Alliteration Ink anthology No Shit, There I Was…. One of the slush jackalopes for the anthology referred to it as “magical alphabet noir”, and I can’t think of a better summary.

I submitted stories 51 times in 2017, and got 46 rejections (43 were from 2017 submissions, and 3 were from submissions made in 2016). I also withdrew two stories (one from a 2017 submission, and one from a 2016 one).

At the end of the year, I had seven stories out. Last year I only managed 36 submissions, and this year I was aiming for 50; next year I’m going to try for 70.

Here’s hoping 2018 is a little gentler all around.

Remember, remember, making it through November

This is fairly belated, in part because as soon as I won NaNoWriMo, I collapsed under a gentle heap of unanswered emails and overdue to-do items.

That said, I did win NaNoWriMo. Hit 50,084 words on November 26th, and wrote another 483 on the 30th for a grand total of 50,567 words.

I’m both saddened by how much other things seemed to pile up, and encouraged by how relatively easy it was. (Also, no joke: the light of my life helped with that a lot.) It wasn’t very easy, but it wasn’t like pulling out my own teeth, the way I’d been worried it would be. It was at least interesting to me.

(This isn’t to say that I think that everything I wrote was good, and I would like to thank Story Hospital for reminding me that it didn’t have to be, and Captain Awkward for the incredibly useful coping technique of responding to an internal editor saying “this sucks, no-one will care” with “you’re right, no-one will care, guess I’m writing it anyway.”)

If I just didn’t need to sleep, or work, I could get so much more done. Failing that, I’m looking at what’s possible in terms of carving an extra couple of hours out of each day.

Truckling along.

The title of this post was actually a typo, but I’ve decided I like it. Nice combination of “trucking” and “trickling”, which is what writing has started to feel like.

I’m just over 36,000 words (36,120! 13,880 left!), and I’m getting pretty tired. I’ve also learned that I need breaks; I can write every day for a solid week, but after that, there is going to be a day when my brain rebels, shuts down, and insists on just eating someone else’s words for a while.

(This might be different if I wasn’t also working full-time. I do get that. However, I do not have “November” amounts of vacation time, so that is a moot point. Relatedly, I am also very behind on all my reading and watching television.)

I’ve hit the point where I’m actually not sure what I have left to write, so I’m probably going to take the day and plot out what I already have (including some text from before November, because this novel has been hanging around for a long time), what order everything should be in, and what I need to still get down.

Ten days left, I should be able to manage 1,388 words a day. Wish me luck.