Goings and Comings: November 2015

I’ll be at Philcon this year on Saturday, November 21st. It’s my fourth time going to the con, but this year they were kind enough to invite me to be a panelist. Sweet!

Here’s my schedule:

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Tolkien’s Women
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Using Language Creatively
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM How Gaming is Important to Fandom
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM Using Real Life in Fantasy
8:30 PM – 9 PM Author Reading

Now, I just have to figure out which story to belabor regale listeners with Saturday evening. Hope to see you there!

Tag! You’re It! The 777 Challenge Edition

Hooray for friends prompting me to write blog posts occasionally. Tam MacNeil was kind enough to tag me for the 777 Challenge.

The rules are simple: Post 7 sentences of your work, start on page 7, count 7 lines down. But because I’m a rule breaker and/or don’t want this sample to end mid-thought, I’m going to post a few additional sentences. This is a short story I’m working on with the placeholder title: A Non-Hero’s Guide to The Road of Monsters.

I climb the nearest tree, which is not an easy feat one handed, let me tell you. But what I lack in abs I make up in triceps and quads of steel. Within five minutes I’m sitting in the tree’s crown looking down at the most amazing monster I’ve ever seen.

Forget its enormous size and its many, many talons on its many, many feet (that’s what heroes notice first, anyway), it’s neither a newt or hawk or even a snake.

It’s all of them.

From my perch, the monster looks like a starfish, with each arm containing the torso, forepaws, and head of a different creature. (You’ve guess it, a lion, a snake, a newt, a hawk and a hyena.) I can see now why the heroes were so confused. From the ground, depending on the angle the monster stood at, it either would appear to be one of these animals or a combination of a few of them.

Most heroes would be shaking from nerves or adrenaline or whatever right about now. But me, I’m wearing a smile that stretched ear to ear. I have yet to meet a monster that I couldn’t reason with and this one was going to make a fantastic blog post.

And now I just need to figure out how the silly story ends. In the meantime, I’m tagging (challenging?) Karl Dandenell, John D. Murphy and Laurel Amberdine next.

Writer’s Blog Tour: Four Questions

And here we are! I was tagged to answer some questions about my work and process by the wonderful Casey Blair. If you haven’t already, you should check out her thoughtful post.

What Am I Working On?

I usually have several stories in progress at any given time, all in different stages of creation. The one I’m currently fighting working on is about a young woman stuck in a time machine that can only travel backwards in time. Originally, it was only supposed to be 750 words, but that length didn’t do the story justice. So, it’s growing. I can’t say much more about it yet because it’s still in that OHMYGODWHATAMIDOINGJUSTKEEPGOINGFIXITLATER stage. But I think it’s going to have a happy(ish) ending.

How Does My Work Differ From Others in the Genre?

My stories are by no means reinventing the speculative fiction genre as we know it. That takes too much effort. (I jest, but Blair MacGregor makes a good point about novelty here.)

But I love taking different slants on tropes and I like experimenting with voices and point-of-views. I also try to keep characters unburdened with physical descriptions; I won’t tell you the color of their eyes or skin and I definitely won’t tell you how tall they are. Lately I’ve been experimenting with keeping their gender ambiguous too. The way I see it, this way the reader can make the characters their own. And it gets me around the obstacle of having to describe appearances – something which I’ve never enjoyed writing. For me, I hear my character’s voices, see their world from their eyes and know what their hands and mouths are doing. But their faces, for some reason, never stay with me.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

Snarky answer: Because I can.

Less snarky answer: Because each story is an experiment and an attempt at pushing my abilities in some way. Each one is written for a particular reader in mind – whether it’s a friend or my younger self. (Not that I ever tell anyone which one is which – always keep your readers guessing.)

My stories tend to be pretty dark and/or sad because I have a hard time caring about a character unless their situation is dire and the odds are stacked against them. Mostly, I like to write about protagonists who are fighting for something they’ve lost – or are going to lose. It buys them sympathy, even if they don’t deserve it.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

Very slowly. Stories of substance usually take a month to write. Or six.

My stories usually start with a seed – an image or phrase. The first draft is always the hardest for me. My demon is the endless, daunting white page that needs to be filled. Which is why I start most of my stories scribbling fragments in an old composition notebook. Not a fancy journal – a mass produced, squat, cardboard bound, wide ruled notebook. Basically, my notebooks are not allowed to be prettier than my words at this stage. At this point, there is a lot of jibberish and many crossed out lines. There are character profiles in the margins and notes to myself. Line edits are done on the fly while sentences are constantly being reworked as I transcribe them into Word. Which is why my grammar is always off.

Revisions, though, are a little easier. After the first draft, I have something to work with, there are words on the page and it’s no longer so daunting. Every story goes through a beta reader, sometimes many beta readers. Every story is revised. Some stories only need two revisions before I’m happy with them and some need five.

One of my instructors at VP told us that you never learn how to write a novel, you only learn how to write this novel. And to a certain extent, I think that’s true of short stories as well. Every time I sit down to write a new story, I have to learn how it wants to be told.

***

Phew. I did it. Now it’s my friends’ Bernie Mojzes, Sarah Pinsker, and Jessi Cole Jackson turn. Check them out!

And if you’re interested in even more blogs on the tour, I’ve already mentioned Blair and Casey, but Nicole Lisa, Tam McNeil, and Fran Wilde have wonderful posts up too!

ETA: My VP classmates and friends Debra Jess and Arun Jiwa are also participating. Check them out!

Updated and News – February 2014

So it’s been a while since I posted last. In the last few months I’ve been traveling and visiting friends and of course, writing like mad. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for that last bit soon.

So, briefly two update:

1. My story “I’m Still Here” is coming out in Buzzy Mag tomorrow! It’s crazy to think that I started writing this story two years ago. I remember thinking that there was no way I could pull this story off. Glad I was wrong.

Will post the link when it goes live. (And it’s live)

2. The 2014 Campbell Anthology is now out and available for download for free here. It’s a collection of stories by new writers who have published professionally in the last two years. So basically, it means FREE STORIES. And lots of them. There are 111 different authors in it. And one of them happens to be me, which is kind of completely awesome.

And that’s it I think? Maybe. Hopefully. Probably not.

News and Updates

Last month I resigned from my position as Editorial Assistance at Every Day Fiction. I had been reading for EDF for over two years and learned so much about storytelling and the industry while I was there. But I wanted to spend more time writing and move on to other things.

It seems though, I wasn’t off the hook that quickly. Another opportunity presented itself mere days after I handed in my notice (more or less). Flash Fiction Chronicles (EDF’s sister site) was looking for an interviewer that would talk to the author of the top story at EDF each month.

I don’t have much experience interviewing, but I guess I didn’t have much experience when I started writing either. So, naturally, I accepted.

If you would like to see my very first interview, it can be found here. My first victim (not really – I hope) is Dustin Adams, author of the story The Gift. This was lots of fun and I hope you enjoy it too.