Writing Update (with Sales!)

Folks, it has been a hell of a summer.

Short Fiction News

2016 is the first year where I’ve tried actually submitting things in any systemic way. In 2015, I finally hit a point where I could look at my finished writing and feel emotions other than frustration. There’s still a lot I’d like to improve on in my writing, but I felt like I’d reached a point where I’d be happy to see my stuff out in the wild.

And (drum roll please) I’ve sold two pieces!

My weird, second-person-POV monster hunter story “Extinctions” will be appearing in Shimmer, and my  motherhood in multiple dimensions story “Seven Permutations of My Daughter” will be appearing in Lightspeed. I’ve been reading the stories in these magazines for a long time, and they’re both on my “dream markets” list. I’m honestly still in a bit of shock.

Anyway, watch for these pieces, which will be out sometime before the inevitable heat-death of the universe.

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Numbers to Satisfy My Inner Rejectomancy Nerd*

So far in 2016, I’ve made 27 submissions. One of those is technically from December 2015, but since I didn’t hear back on it until well into 2016, I’m counting it as this year. I sent seven pieces out into the big wide world and got about an even split between encouraging personals and somewhat less encouraging form rejections.

Interestingly, the sales are my oldest piece and one of my newest. My word processor informs me that “Extinctions” was written in October 2014, while “Seven Permutations” was finished in May of this year. They’re also two of my longest pieces, which doesn’t tell me much beyond “fiction between 1000 and 2000 words is hard to sell” which I already knew.

In the interest of recording totally useless statistics, “Extinctions” was rejected four times before acceptance and “Seven Permutations” three times.

Other Projects

I am shamefully behind on novel writing. Novels for me take a kind of highly focused attention that I don’t have right now. I have written a bit on Untitled Project #1 (“lesbian knight YA epic fantasy”) but Project #2 (“detective solves mystery in post-magical-apocalypse Philadelphia”) really needs a full outline and god, I just hate outlining.

I’ve also got two longer projects in the very beginning stages, which means I mull them over in my brain occasionally.

In short fiction, I’ve got one old story I’d like to see if I can polish up, as my other stories are all out on submission right now. This seemed like a quick project, but as I got into it I realized that I’ll probably have to rewrite most of it. The bones are there, but I’ve grown a lot as a writer in the three years since the first draft.

Here’s hoping life stays interesting.

 

*I gotta say, I really like the numbers part of this business. The Submissions Grinder has really gamified the whole process for me. Every time I get a rejection I get all excited to update my counts.

Dang Good Stories #3

This week, two stories about sadness because I’m in a melancholy mood today.

“A Flock of Grief” by Kat Howard (Lightspeed November 2014)

This story lingered in my TBR list for far too long because for awhile it seemed like every other story out there was about birds as a metaphor, and I kept clicking on it and going eh, birds again. But this story uses birds in a way I haven’t seen before. This is a world where birds appear after a death to burden the bereaved, literal specters of grief. In high society, men and women hire professional mourners to host their birds. That is, until the protagonist’s husband (who she didn’t love and didn’t want) dies and her complicated grief breaks the delicate system.

My favorite stories have multiple layers of meaning, and this one is no exception. On the surface it’s an interesting world with a neatly built economy of grief, but at deeper levels it’s also about the ways the rich use the poor, the constraints on women in this Victorian-esque society, and the social acceptability of public mourning.

“City of Salt” by Arkady Martine (Strange Horizons March 16th, 2015)

I love short stories that are concerned with the past. Usually we see only the immediate present, because of the limitations of length, but stories that address how the past haunts the present can work wonders.

“City of Salt” is all about aftermath. Ammar returns to the city he fled years ago, to see what became of his friend Sogcha who remained inside when the king they both loved used dark magic to try to win a war. The city is a dead place now, the ground entirely salt, and Sogcha has become a part of it.

This is a story not about regret, exactly, but about how past choices shape the future irreversibly. Ammar and Sogcha both made the only choices they could, neither right nor wrong, and now they can’t quite forgive each other. It’s also a story about death, and how grief endures. The dead are everywhere here–the undead army that the king Nilaq tried to raise, the illusions of the dead that Sogcha creates to keep Ammar away, the ever-haunting memory of Nilaq himself, the bodies that Ammar takes from the city for burial. I’ve reread this story several times, and each time I discover a new moment to savor in it.