Posts

Failing, better.

So a thing that’s been on my mind a bit lately; I wrote a very small game, and it’s not very good.

I’m figuring out how to be okay with this. It’s not as hard as I expected it to be (the coming to terms, I mean, not the writing).

I don’t know how to fix it, exactly – I have fetched up hard against the taste gap, and knowing it’s not as good as I want doesn’t mean I can tell how to make it as good as I want. And I’m not sure I have the time to learn how to fix it. I mean, I could read up and study and analyze and fix it (or make a new one that was better), but I only have so much time to spend on making things , and ultimately, there are things I want to do more than I want to figure out how to make the game better.

(This feels like a very old-person post, in some ways. The finite amount of time.)

And it was a fun game to make, too. So I guess I’ll give it another pass to polish it, and call it good. It’s useful to know that I can still just do something to play around, and enjoy that.

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.

Possibly spring

Well, we’ve had stretches of full thaw interrupted by days of below-zero temperatures and snow, but I’m pretty sure spring is going to actually show up shortly, and stick around.

Work (both jobs) seems to be going pretty well overall. I got an encouraging rejection recently, and I’m pausing to be glad for editors in the world who actually manage to deliver those kindly, because it was actually a really nice email to get. (Yes, the story’s been resubmitted.)

It occurred to me today that I’m looking at travelling to up to three cons this year–two conventions and a conference–and I’m thinking that should be about the most I plan for. I’m not sure I’ll make it to all three; I am sure, however, that planning for more than three is going to end up draining me before I get there, so none of that.

And in other news, Camp NaNoWriMo is being surprisingly motivating this year. I’m trying something new. (I’m also repeating every “fail faster” fragment of advice I’ve ever heard to myself. It seems to be helping.)

Thaw, and rejections.

It’s actually above freezing here, for a change. Some of the sidewalks are still covered with three or four inches of ice, so the thaw isn’t helping much there, but the roads are getting steadily clearer. (And it does help with the sidewalks which aren’t covered with that much ice, so really, all to the good.)

The end of February (and the end of Google Events, dammit) came on a lot faster than I was expecting, so this weekend has been a lot of catch-up. I updated my record of rejections and got four stories out on submission. Skype seems to be working as a Google Hangouts alternative, at least, so that’s a plus.

I found out today that TCAF is coming up and at least two creators whose work I am really smitten by (Junji Ito and Emily Carroll) are going to be there, so I may try making it out in May. Looking at the logistics this next week coming up.

Recuperating

At some point, I’m really going to need to try going back to editing an electronic document. I like writing my edits on hardcopy and typing them up, but when you do that with a seventy-two page document, it results in hand cramps.

(I think I’m pretty happy with the end result, though.)

Anyway. The novella (I wrote a novella!) has been revised and is with my crit group for feedback. The new job has started, and having the extra five hours in the week is already making a difference. Mostly it’s making a difference in how much sleep I’m getting, and I am treasuring that.

I’m about a third of the way through the semester on the class I’m teaching, and I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s fascinating to see other people’s takes on SF, and I’ve added several things to my list of works to check out. Since I’m slowly getting used to having free time again, too, I may actually get to do that sooner rather than later.

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.

Counting ink, 2018

I had two acceptances this year; one for “Late Night at the Low Road Diner” which is mentioned in my eligibility post, and one for “Ink, and Breath, and Spring” which should be coming out next year. I was also asked to contribute “Interview with Cortesa Singh” to After the War, an SF roleplaying game of mimetic horror.

I submitted stories 34 times in 2017, and got 34 rejections (29 were from 2018 submissions, and 5 were from submissions made in 2017). I also withdrew three stories (one from a 2018 submission, and two from a 2017 one).

At the end of the year, I had two stories out. I was aiming to get a lot more submissions out this year than I actually managed, and am hoping to do better next year.

Fingers crossed for 2019.

Free fortnight

My vacation has officially begun! (And I already have a list of things I’d like to do that would take me approximately three months, so managing expectations is going to be a big thing.)

Mostly, though, I’m hoping it will be a pretty quiet two weeks that gives me time to settle in to some heavy editing, get some stories lined up for submission next year, and a chance to sit down and play some video games. (Kentucky Route Zero has really grabbed my attention; I think there’s something to be said for all the questions it doesn’t let you ask, and thus forces you to take as somewhat natural to the setting.)

Eligibility in 2018

It’s that time of year, and I’m really pleased to say that I had two short stories come out in 2018, both free to read online:


Late Night at the Low Road Diner”, available in Liminal Stories. August 2018. 3550 words. A waitress dealing with a boy and a pale thing that come into the diner one night.

Reviewed in Apex Magazine’s Words for Thought by A.C. Wise, and also in Vanessa Fogg’s August and September Short Fiction Recs.


“Interview with Cortesa Singh”, released online and on Twitter to promote the After the War Kickstarter. 12 November 2018. 500 words. An asteroid miner’s story of surviving the War and coming to rest on Dirt.

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.