Odds and Ends

The last few months have been a whirlwind in my personal life, making wording a bit more difficult than I’d like. But! Some fun things have been happening.

 

StarShipSofa Podcast of “Jump Cut”

One of my favorite stories has been turned into a podcast by the team at StarShipSofa! “Jump Cut” originally appeared in Unlikely Story’s Journal of Unlikely Cryptography last year. The story is wonderfully narrated by Mike Boris and includes an interview with U of Washington professor Ryan Calo on robot law. Check it out!

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It’s also cool to see some of the scifi elements I included in the story become closer to reality. Recently, Ars Technica profiled a company called Halo Neuroscience that uses electrical impulses to stimulate parts of athletes’ brains to boost performance. Very similar to the performance-enhancing implants central to my story. To see more how Halo’s technology works, check out the video below:

 

 

SF Signal Mindmeld on the best writing advice

I was recently asked “What’s the best writing advice I’ve ever received?” for SF Signal’s Mindmeld feature, a roundtable of SF/F writers. Over the years, different nuggets of writerly wisdom have stayed with me, often as a function of where I am with my craft. Check out the column to see what’s guiding me these days.

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There’s also more fantastic advice from Alex Kourvo, Nghi Vo, David D. Levine, Pear Nuallak, Jon McGoran, Janet Harriett, Adrian Van Young, Yolanda Sfetsos, Robert Kroese, Kallen Dewey Kentner, and of course moi.

 

 

Reprint of “Forge and Fledge” in Spaceports and Spidersilk

Earlier this year, my story “Forge and Fledge” was included in the January 2016 issue of Spaceports and Spidersilk, a speculative fiction magazine for young adults. It was originally published in the now-defunct but not forgotten Crossed Genres Magazine and focuses on a young teen’s yearning for a better life than a hydrocarbon mining rig floating in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon, Titan. Support the magazine and all the other talented authors in the issue.

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Recently, Titan’s been in the news thanks to Cassini spacecraft’s most recent flyby, confirming that methane fills one of the largest hydrocarbon lakes on the moon’s surface. Cool stuff!

 

 

Paperback release of The Change anthology

Last but not least, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, featuring my story “Against the Wind,” is now available in paperback! So get yourself to the bookseller of your choice, and snap up a copy today for a great collection of post-apocalyptic adventure stories.

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That’s it for me!

Professional Milestones or The Little Story that Could

Earlier this month, Unlikely Story—a fantastic venue of, well, unlikely speculative fiction—announced they were now a SFWA-qualifying market. This was exciting news for me, as they published my short story “Jump Cut” earlier this year, and I already had two SFWA-qualifying sales under my belt. With three sales, I’m now considered a fully-fledged member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Yay!

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This is a huge professional milestone for me for a number of reasons. First off, I primarily consider myself a novelist, so to have my membership based on my short story sales has bolstered my confidence in my craft. Since novels take more time and effort than short stories to develop (at least for me), I’m grateful there are opportunities to engage in the speculative fiction community as a professional even if I haven’t had a novel published yet.

Second, because my novel-length work is often geared toward young adults and contains romantic elements, I felt it important to demonstrate I was capable of writing a wide-range of stories for all ages. Given the tensions in the speculative fiction community over the last few years dismissing women, YA, and stories that don’t necessarily adhere to elements of the Golden Age of SF/F, I wanted my induction into this community to be unassailable. That’s also why I didn’t join SFWA as an associate member when I made my first sale, because I didn’t want to risk being viewed as a one-hit wonder. (Obviously, other writers may feel differently as to when it’s appropriate to join SFWA, but this was my process. As with anything, YMMV.)

Finally, it simply feels good to know I’m creating at a professional level. Each story I’ve had published has been a labor of love, and I’m proud of every one, regardless of what market they ended up at. But joining SFWA has been a goal of mine since I started writing SF/F, and I’m happy I’ve finally achieved it. Doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do, but I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.

And all this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t kept submitting “Jump Cut” to markets. I’ve talked before about the submission process, and the time it took for the story to find a home. I was thrilled when it was finally accepted for publication, and knowing it has become my third qualifying sale is just icing on the cake. For me, it is the little short story that could.

UnlikelyStoryBannerSo thank you to Unlikely Story, as well as to Crossed Genres Magazine for publishing “Forge and Fledge” and to S.M. Stirling and Roc for including “Against the Wind” in The Change anthology. You have helped me enter a new phase of my career!

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Summer Roundup!

This summer has simply flown by, and I’m appalled we’re nearly halfway through August already. My writing has ebbed and flowed these past few weeks but I’ve been staying busy, even if it hasn’t always translated into words on the page. Behold:

June

To celebrate the release of The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth by Roc, including my story “Against the Wind,” I participated in the anthology’s book launch in Santa Fe (which I talked about last time). There was also another author event a bit closer to home in Albuquerque at Page1 Books. I joined editor S.M. Stirling and fellow contributors Jane Lindskold, Emily Mah, Victor Milán, and John Jos. Miller.

Milan, Miller, Lindskold, Me (answering a question), Stirling, & Mah

Milan, Miller, Lindskold, Me (in orange), Stirling, & Mah at Page 1 Books in ABQ.

I’m so happy to be a part of this anthology, and am still thrilled with the review of my story in Open Letters Monthly.

July

I spent most of July on the East Coast, three weeks plus recovery time. There I visited with friends and family but also used the trip as an opportunity to attend Readercon in Boston. I’ve heard tremendous things about the convention over the years and decided my travel dollars would be better spent attending Readercon instead of this year’s Worldcon, which has been mired in controversy after controversy.

I had a wonderful time at Readercon, particularly the part where I got to hang out with some of my SF/F writing friends and make new ones. I was also able to meet Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt of Crossed Genres Magazine and thank them for not only publishing me twice in one of their anthologies as well as their magazine, but also giving me my first pro sale. So that was a special moment as well.

While I was in Boston, I also met with my agent Lana Popovic where, over a delightful lunch, we plotted world domination—er, rather discussed my next project. She’s closed to queries at the moment, but I highly recommend her if you are looking for an agent with a strong editorial eye and market savvy.

When I returned to New Mexico, I learned my short story “Jump Cut” published in the Journal of Unlikely Cryptography earlier this year had been nominated in Lady Business’s Short Fiction survey from Jan to March 2015.

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A heartfelt thanks to whoever nominated my story! I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know about this site, but I’ll be participating in the Lady Business’s quarterly recommendation periods to come, and I hope you will too!

Finally, the end of July saw the release of Vic Milán’s The Dinosaur Lords from Tor. I got a sneak peak of the book while it was being workshopped, and know you are in for a treat if you like Dinosaurs and epic medieval battles!

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August

This month has been thankfully quiet so far, allowing me to get back into my writing routine and get caught up on things. However, I’m looking forward to participating in my local convention Bubonicon at the end of the month.

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The theme this year is “Women of Wonder” with co-guests of honor Tamora Pierce and Catherynne M. Valente, toastmistress Mary Robinette Kowal, and guest artist Ruth Sanderson. August 28-20th at the Albuquerque Marriott Uptown.
I also want to mention that The Future Fire magazine is celebrating ten (!) years of publication! They published my story “Digital Ligatures” last year, and I encourage you to check out their stories and support their crowdfunding campaign by preordering the celebration anthology.

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That’s it for me. Happy writing!

“Jump Cut” in Unlikely Story #11 Now Live

I’m happy to announce my cyberpunk story “Jump Cut” is now live in Unlikely Story #11, The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography!

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“Jump Cut” includes hover cross, gambling, and a dash of film theory. To learn more about the inspiration behind the story, check out my related Pinterest board and my author interview with Unlikely Story. The story is a personal favorite of mine and holds the record in close-but-no-cigar rejections out of all my short pieces. I’m just glad that the unlikely editors of Unlikely Story loved it as much as I do!

Be sure to check out the entire issue for stories by Levi Sable, Curtis C. Chen, Barry King, Fiona Moore, and Joseph Tomaras:

you’ll find stories exploring the limits and possibilities of technology and the various ways it defines, enhances, and intersects with humanity. An unorthodox application of a 3D printer; the creation of private worlds; hacking the human brain with extreme video sequences; parents customizing ideal children through knitted code; a self-aware AI taking up the pirating life; and a cult seeking transcendence through transformation — all of these stories explore coding, hacking, cracking, and our relationship with technology in most unlikely ways. (Editor’s Note, Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, Issue 11)


In other news, there’s only a week left to get a print copy of Fat Girl in a Strange Land, the 2012 anthology from Crossed Genres Publications, featuring my story “The Tradeoff.”

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To learn more about the anthology, check out the CGP website.

The Story Behind The Story: Forge and Fledge

Yesterday, the Runaway issue of Crossed Genres Magazine went live, which includes stories by Rachael Acks, Angela Rega, and yours truly!

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If you haven’t yet, you should go read “Forge and Fledge,” a young adult science fiction story about an orphan of Titan desperate to escape life on a hydrocarbon mining rig. No worries, I’ll wait.

I’m so thankful to publishers Kay T. Holt and Bart Leib, as well as editor Kelly Jennings, for selecting my story for inclusion in the issue. Recently, Crossed Genres became a SFWA-qualifying market, and they are running a Kickstarter to keep publishing diverse stories and paying pro rates. If you love speculative fiction that bucks the norm, consider subscribing to the magazine and/or donating to the campaign.

Story spoilers follow:

A while back, I started researching Titan, a moon of Saturn, thinking it would be a great story setting. Originally, I wanted to use it for a novel, but the unique characteristics of Titan, that it’s mostly ice and covered in hydrocarbons, made it difficult to write the story I had already plotted out in my head. I eventually turned to Mars and wrote my novel, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking about Titan.

It’s considered a candidate for human colonization, but there are a lot of technical hurdles to overcome, not least of which is just getting there. Subzero temperatures, a thick atmosphere that exerts a pressure one and a half times that of Earth, and a gravity that’s slightly less that of the Moon’s. But it has plenty of water, nitrogen, and methane, so, as long as you get the engineering right, people could theoretically live there. (This is essentially the TL;DR version of the Wikipedia article: Colonization of Titan.)

And what would be the attraction to colonizing Titan? Why the hydrocarbons, of course (or perhaps the water depending on which post-apocalyptic future scenario you subscribe to). But even if it were possible, I couldn’t see people jumping up and down to live on a frozen iceball. Hence the corporate mining facility and the penal labor force in my story. And my main character Zhen wants nothing more than to get away by any means possible.

Remember the low grav and high atmospheric pressure? Well, it’s been theorized that humans could strap on wings and fly on Titan so long as they didn’t freeze to death first. In fact, this concept was recently featured on io9—propulsion is still an issue, but Zhen’s dive off the rig’s platform, where it hovers over Titan’s surface, would hopefully provide enough momentum for flight. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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Image courtesy of stans_pat_pix of Flickr

 As to submission stats, I only sent this to three markets and lucked out on the third one. I’m so happy it found a home. I hope you enjoy it as well!