a week in the life

This past week has been a bit of a roller coaster.

I sold a short story to Escape Pod. Woo!

My husband had to work 24 hours of overtime and the kids get wildly insecure when he’s missing. Boooo.

I was solicited for a super cool reprint anthology. Woo!!

I’m sick for no good reason. Boooo.

The medicine is giving me hilariously neon orange urine. Lol woo??

Today is the 18th anniversary of my high school shooting. Boooo, booo, extra boooo.

I’m feeling… contemplative. I wrote about my weird lingering feelings last year, so I won’t rehash that. But my kids are approaching school age, and I’ve been trying not to think about how that will make me feel. My older sister only sends her kids in twice a week and home schools the rest of the time. Another sister, my mother, and both my sisters-in-law work in schools, plus yet another sister and four more nieces/nephews are in elementary.

The dissonance of knowing what can happen and actively just pretending it won’t ever touch our lives again is very real. It comes up once a year, when my community collectively says, “oh man, has it been X years already?” And that’s not even accounting for, you know, every other public space in America. That’s not even mentioning how we wave hello to the police snipers positioned above Comic-Con every year, or Pride. It’s not including the fact that I attended active shooter training at my last job because I worked in *gasp* a museum in a large public park.

I’m mad. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t be.

brief surface from the novella pit

Eek, yes, I have vanished from the blog this month, but for a good cause! I’ve had a book idea noodling around since 2015, and every time I’m ready to start a new project I dust it off, get 30 pages in, and decide it isn’t substantial enough for a fantasy novel.

And then I realized: nov…ella??

So I’m finally doing it! I’m drafting this damn thing come hell or high water (lol I’m in Southern California it’s not gonna be the latter) and then I am going to let the rough draft sit for a while so I can tackle my real goal: THE TWENTY-NINETEEN BOOK.

And yeah, it’s deeefinitely going to need to sit for a while, because I’ve got four years’ worth of hodgepodge ideas crammed into this draft. And YET AGAIN, I have attempted to write a large story that transformed before my eyes into a small, personal story. Will it ever find a home? I’m not sure. But it’ll be out of my head, and that’s worth a couple months of work.

I’m 20,000 words in, with probably about 5,000 to go! It’s really happening this time! And this is a weird length to work in, I’m not gonna lie. It’s feels like a too-long short story, or a too-short book, my opinion flip-flops every day and I can’t tell if I’m being verbose or shallow or what.

By this time next month, I’ll be knee-deep in my comfort zone: extensive worldbuilding for a 100K word book that will never touch on most of that world!

strange waters longlisted for bsfa awards!

Exactly what it says on the tin! “Strange Waters” has been nominated for one of the British Science Fiction Association’s annual fiction awards. You can find the full list here. This month, members of the organization will vote to narrow the long list down to a final ballot, so for the short fiction category 44 stories will be reduced to 5 or 6.

Frankly, I’m so dazzled at being long listed for anything, I’m not even considering the possibility of making a ballot. XD But man, you never know, right??

It’s award season all over the place, and I’m a clueless baby so I only just realized I’m also eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for best new SFF writer in the field. Thank goodness there are two years of eligibility, because my pro sales in 2018 kind of took me by surprise and I didn’t plan ahead AT ALL regarding self-promotion and the like.

Have I mentioned how scary promo is? Because my quasi-Italian fear of malocchio is kicking in hard. I shared one happy post on Twitter about making the BSFA list and promptly received two short story rejections and lost a morning’s worth of writing by shutting Word down incorrectly. And then instead of telling me I’m being superstitious, my mom said it was my fault for not making the sign of the horns and assuring the universe I was celebrating, not bragging.

*siiiiigh*

This is a weird career I’m trying to jumpstart, you guys.

 

[P.S. j/k j/k I love you mom]

emergence (and Thanksgiving 2018)

The pit was dreary, my friends, and deep.

For 22 days, I moved. For 22 days, I unloaded, unpacked, organized, painted, culled unnecessary old things, bought necessary new things, spent hours at Home Depot and Target, went back to Home Depot again for one more thing, went back to Home Depot again for one more thing, threw a slightly subdued Thanksgiving party, gave up on Christmas shopping and just ordered a bunch of toys off Amazon, handmade 40 Christmas cards, and decorated, decorated, decorated.

For 22 days, I didn’t write! At all!! D: D: D:

I haven’t had a writing gap longer than a couple of days since the dark month after my second child was born. That was about a year and a half ago. I always stumble in November because of holiday commitments, but the move really kicked things into high gear.

I know that once I start a project, it’s painful as hell to bounce in and out of project mode, so I decided to buckle down and finish my New House To Do List as quickly as possible, rather than spend months of weekends doing one piece at a time.

Anyway, it took 22 days.

But I’m back, baby! In approximately two hours one hour, naptime will begin, and I shall finish reducing the word count on a synopsis I wrote a month ago, and then I shall very grimly contemplate how to next prioritize my time.

Knock out some short stories, because I have lamentably little on submission? Or dive into research for 2019 Book in order to fill in the outline? Or dive into the outline in order to suss out what I need to research?

Wish me luck!

And finally, a couple of subdued pics from subdued Itsa Me, Thanksgiving!

mario thanksgiving

Itsa me, Italian stereotype!

thanksgiving dinner

Itsa me, Thanksgiving lasagna!

We had already planned a lasagna regardless of the theme. I know what you’re thinking: it’s supposed to be a Christmas lasagna! To which I say: nah, nah, Christmas is for fish.

Now, away! I have naptimes to exploit!

2018 reading recs and eligibility post!

Award season is upon us!

Eligible Short Story:

Strange Waters,” published in Strange Horizons April 2, 2018. A time-traveling fisherwoman is lost and trying to get home to her children.

It’s made some best-month-list and best-of-year lists! (SFF Reviews, Quick Sips 1and 2, Barnes & Noble). And it’s been longlisted for the British Science Fiction Association’s short fiction award. Exciting!!

Campbell Award Eligibility:

I have officially entered my first year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award! What!! I know!!

Now, on to my favorite reads for the year!

Recommendations:

Novels:

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland [YA, where that factors in]

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi [YA, where that factors in]

 

Novellas:

The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield

 

Novelettes:

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births by José Pablo Iriarte in Lightspeed

Murders Fell From Our Wombs by Tlotlo Tsamaase in Apex Magazine

 

Short Stories:

“Bride Before You” by Stephanie Malia Morris in Nightmare Magazine

“Mother Tongues” by S. Qiouyi Lu in Asimov’s and Escape Pod

“And Yet” by A.T. Greenblatt in Uncanny Magazine

“Your Slaughterhouse, Your Killing Floor” by Sunny Moraine in Uncanny Magazine

“She Who Hungers, She Who Waits” by Cassandra Khaw in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

“The House of Illusionists” by Vanessa Fogg in Liminal Stories

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by Phenderson Djèlí Clark in Fireside

“Don’t Pack Hope” by Emma Osborne in Nightmare Magazine

“It’s Easy to Shoot a Dog” by Maria Haskins in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

“Flow” by Marissa Lingen in Fireside

“Mother Jones and the Nasty Eclipse” by Cherie Priest in Apex Magazine

“The Chariots, the Horsemen” by Stephanie Malia Morris in Apex Magazine

“Asphalt, River, Mother, Child” by Isabel Yap in Strange Horizons

the eleventh hour

Oh no oh no oh no, it’s November. It’s November, and I’m moving out in one week, then couch surfing with two small children for a week, then moving in to our new home and immediately hosting Nintendo Thanksgiving!

I was frantic to finish editing my current WIP (Project 2017) last month, knowing how hard it would be to get my momentum back after a whirlwind of moving and holidays. And…

I DID IT!!!

P1030262

Okay, I’m still tweaking a couple bits of dialogue here and there, but essentially draft five is done, in this, the eleventh month of the year two thousand eighteen.

Which means… I did not write a new book in 2018. D: I thought I had accepted this fact months ago, but it still stings. On the flip side, I did get extremely serious about the editing and submission process, which is a workflow I had to learn sooner rather than later.

I’m not going to drive myself wild for the next two months to artificially inflate my word count for the year. Instead, I’m going to work on some short stories, hit my reading goal, and start noodling with the outline for my next book.

[Aside: whose terrible idea was it to put NaNoWriMo in November? Once in a while I feel a vague temptation to join in, but it is immediately shut down by the knowledge that November is THE MOST HECTIC MONTH OF THE ENTIRE YEAR.]

Anyway.

I’ll post an obligatory New Year’s goals post at the end of the year, but I already know that the gist of it will be:

  • patiently (PATIENTLY) await my partial/full responses for Project 2016
  • prep Project 2017 for the query process, should Project 2016 be passed upon
  • and then gleefully, gleefully, gleefully dive into Project 2019, the seeds of which were sown in a brainstorming notebook back in 2015, and which have been growing, growing, growing ever since

I am extremely excited and extremely nervous about Project 2019. I’ve been putting it off for years, convinced I couldn’t do the concept justice. Well, I’m finally ready! I’ve had the plot, structure, and supporting cast in place this entire time. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the main character–which is bizarre for me, since that usually comes first.

But I’ve got a lock on her now. I’m definitely gonna make my beta readers cry. All I have to do now is…

*hyperventilates*

WRITE IT.

2018 reading and writing progress report!

I didn’t want to write a mid-year progress report in June because I knew I was wildly off my game this year, but I’ve come to accept the shift in what I consider productive work, so why not touch base while there’s still a quarter of the year left?

READING

Ayyyiii I still have a chance at reading my 52 books for the year. I’m currently sitting at 34 with two books in progress. (A physical book to settle in with at night and an ebook to read on my phone while patting the baby to sleep.) I’ve got nearly 16 weeks left to read 18 books! I can do it!!

And the stuff I’ve been reading this year is SO GOOD. New authors I’ve tried and loved: Cassandra Khaw, JY Yang, Kelly Robson, Aliette de Bodard, Rebecca Roanhorse, Justina Ireland, April Daniels, R.F. Kuang. Authors I already read and continue to love: Catherynne M. Valente, Mark Lawrence, Naomi Novik, Ursula K. LeGuin, Robert Jackson Bennett.

I’ve been lagging in books because I’ve been reading more short fiction. It’s really easy to lose a half hour here and there reading chunky fantasy shorts, and I don’t have an exorbitant amount of reading time to begin with. But it’s a form I love to read and a form I am trying to get better at writing, so I think I’m striking a good balance.

WRITING

Here is where my productivity spreadsheet has gone off the rails. My biggest resolution at the beginning of the year was to learn some patience. I took it to heart, GALLING though it may be. And that means I have spent way more days editing than writing new material.

I also added short story AND novel submissions to my workload, and it takes an enormous amount of time to research markets/agents, craft a submission package, and then format those submissions.

My word count for the year is riding low at about 46,000 words. So far, I have spent 218 days working, only 132 of which increased my word count. And, most GALLING OF ALL: only 43 of those days were writing NEW short stories, and exactly ZERO were spent writing a new book. ;_;

So what the hell is all that daily activity? Thorough overhaul and edit of my 2016 book; thorough edit of my 2017 book (I’m hitting the halfway mark today); editing and submitting short stories I finished late 2017; writing and editing a submission package for my 2016 book; beginning a submission package for my 2017 book; researching agents for both; sending out submissions for 2016 book.

So I knowww I’ve been busy. I knowww it is all necessary work, and that a long-term career means juggling shorts and novels, writing and editing, research and submission.

But owww, it stings that I won’t have a 2018 book, especially because it is all my fault for letting so many rough drafts pile up. The next book I want to write has been waiting in the wings since 2015, because I knew it needed a lot of extra care and research to do the concept justice. So instead of rushing through it in three months for the sake of a spreadsheet that matters to exactly one person in the world (me!!), I’m going to follow my own advice:

Patience, Sam.

LIFE

Bonus life update, because this is the other reason my free time has been spread so thin, and it’s important to remind myself that life is always a factor, and that is okay:

I have a toddler. I also have a baby. She just stopped breastfeeding and she just started walking, so my daily life next year will look absolutely nothing like my daily life did this year. That’s okay.

We’re trying to move. I have spent the last two months packing, doing minor household maintenance that fell to the wayside during baby year, and constantly cleaning my home for showings. That’s okay.

The holidays are coming, and I ALWAYS overestimate what I will accomplish between October and December, and I ALWAYS fail to meet those marks. So this year, I’m trying to be more realistic about what I can do. I usually go overboard for Thanksgiving (like, weeks of preparation and themed decoration and costuming) but this year I don’t even know where I’ll be living, and my kids are getting old enough to want to do Halloween right before that, and there are 30ish family members to start planning Christmas for, and–

BREATHE, SAM, BREATHE! THAT IS OKAY.

That’s my 2018 so far. I’ll see you on the flip side.