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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.

Towards the dark of the year

A simple carving job, but a pleasant result.

Barrelling on at high speed towards winter, now. Hallowe’en was nice, if quiet; we resorted to putting a jack o’lantern out on the front porch and a small sign asking people to follow the honour system, and then refilling the candy bowl regularly.

I’m working on NaNoWriMo, but rather than aiming for thousands of words, I’m aiming for hours of editing. It’s going pretty well so far; I’ve revised one story, and done the first half of my revisions on another.

(The first story I revised, I’ve also come up with an idea for another change to it that I think will make it stronger, so it’s not exactly done yet. I’m just figuring out how to make the change I want without completely altering the tone.)

If you ever find a good crit group, by the way, treasure them for they are absolute gold. Sometimes you genuinely do not see what is wrong with a story and then three people very gently tell you that you appear to have started a 21-page story on page 9.

Also, the Kickstarter for After the War kicks off on Monday, and I’ll be sharing my story “Interview with Cortesa Singh” then! Hoping you enjoy it.

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 week, interrupted.

I got less than I hoped to get done this week. Early Tuesday morning, a bat got into our room and would not leave, despite the windows being wide open and a couple of humans waving it hopefully towards those windows with the removed window screens. So after ten or fifteen minutes of that, we trapped it in a laundry basket and evicted it from the house.

I came into contact with it while we were doing this.

I have always thought that bats were cute. I still think that bats are cute, but I have picked up, from several members of the health care community, that I should also treat them as if they are flying pieces of raw chicken infested with herpes.

So I started getting my course of rabies shots on Friday. It is (unsurprisingly) a considerably rougher course of treatment than the annual flu shot, and I lost most of Friday to running around and then sleeping, most of Saturday to sleeping and being lightly out of it, and Sunday morning to sleeping. I’m a little worried about how hard the next shot will hit me on Monday, since the work crunch is starting, but I suppose I can cope with that tomorrow

Finally, September.

So, “Late Night at the Low Road Diner” got a review in Apex Magazine’s “Words for Thought” column on Friday, and I spent most of that day and several hours so far in September grinning like a fool.

(The woman who wrote “In the End, It Always Turns Out the Same” and “Final Girl Theory” said nice things about my story. I squeaked.)

On a weather level, it’s been a hectic summer–the multiple tornado warnings were probably my ‘favourite’ part–and despite the fact that the long weekend has reverted to the kind of weather where stepping outside feels like trying to breathe a wet towel, it seems to be starting to break. I’m looking forward to rain, some grey days, and the option to open the windows at night without being unable to sleep because of the heat.

I finished a novelette draft, and gotten some decent feedback that I want to mull over in the back of my head for a few days before I start trying to write them. I’m also trying to figure out what work I should bring to my Blue Pencil session at SIWC in October. Unfortunately, crunch time at work is starting in a week and is expected to last into October, so I’m going to be low on time for the next little while.

Catching up.

Okay. Time for a quick recap.

It’s been a week and a weekend since “Late Night at the Low Road Diner” got published, and I am still really pleased about it.

I should have another short piece coming out soon, set in the After the War universe–details soon! I’m very pleased to have been invited to write for the setting, and I hope you enjoy it when it comes out.

Crit group was yesterday. I am very lucky to have my crit group; they are a thoughtful, well-informed group who manage to articulate a lot about expectations and pacing and emotional weight and signalling, and even when it’s not my story getting critted it is honestly so good to be able to hear everyone else’s thoughts.

Consider that my writerly advice, rather than going on about adverbs. Find people who can give you good critique and treasure them. I find it’s too easy to be looking at your story and seeing what you meant to put in there rather than what’s actually on the page, otherwise. (Admittedly, I once wrote a story about a couple of fictional characters come to life and completely forgot to mention anywhere in the story that that was what they were. So I’m particularly prone to blind spots. Also I once wrote a story that I forgot to mention was about fictional characters coming to life, so you may want to take any advice I offer with a grain of salt.)

Also yesterday, I finished handwriting the edits to a 13,500 word story, and am now typing them up. I’m suspecting I will need to give it another editing pass, and it’s going to end up in the nearly completely unsellable length of 15-16K words, but it will be done.

I’ve also finished my travel arrangements for Scintillation and the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, so October is going to be a very full month, but at least one that’s well organized.

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.

CWW 2018 – final update

ETA: and today we learn that I messed up on post scheduling, for which I am very sorry.

2079 words this week, and a story revised. This brings my total for the Write-A-Thon to 8640 words, and three stories revised.

I am so very grateful to all of you for contributing, and patiently looking at my not-very-interesting updates. I think things are slowing down now a little, and I’ve got a few more things I want to talk about; for the moment, however, I’m going to do some final tidying on stories, and continue revisions, and work out what I can do for contributor’s thank-you’s for next year.