Dog Days

They aren’t quite over, no matter what Florence and the Machine says, but as the summer begins to wane, I’m feeling more optimistic about so many more things than I was earlier this year. That shift has been on a lot of fronts both personally and professionally, and I’d be lying if that wasn’t also bolstered by the January 6th Committee’s hearings and the work across the nation to galvanize women voters after the Dobbs decision. The Inflation Reduction Act’s impact on climate change is also another point of optimism. While it is not enough, it is a much-needed start, and I can only hope we can build on from there. Plus it helps that the monsoon season here in Albuquerque has been amazing–I stopped taking rain for granted years ago when we first moved to New Mexico, and I still marvel when it torrents down, soaking the mountains and riding roughshod over the city as it makes its way to the river.

So some good things, even though that same river went dry earlier this year, even though a dear friend was killed last month by a motorist while on a family bike ride, even if I now officially need reading glasses after spending the overwhelming majority of my life with perfect vision, even though the daily grind continues always across multiple fronts. There is good with the bad, even if it can be fatiguing to search it out sometimes. So long as we keep looking for it with a weather eye on the horizon, we will be okay—that much I am certain of.

There have been some bright points this summer as well. For starters, I finally got my hands on my contributor copy of Chromophobia: A Strangehouse Anthology of Women in Horror. I’ve gone into more detail about my story in previous posts, but it was a great experience overall working with Sara and the creative team at Rooster Republic Press.

I also attended Armadillocon this summer. It was my first time back since lockdown, and while it felt a bit like ripping off a bandaid getting back into the swing of paneling, I had a great time reconnecting with the Austin area writers and readers. While it is so easy to feel forgotten in our field if you are for whatever reason unable to stay on the hamster wheel of publishing, my interactions with the con-goers showed that that’s not true, that those connections matter.

A good reminder, particularly with our local convention Bubonicon gearing up this weekend!

Finally I am excited to share that I’ve been asked to contribute a solarpunk short story to Solar Flare, one of four new anthologies that Zombies Need Brains will publish, so long as their Kickstarter campaign is successful. If you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve already seen me plugging the campaign. We’re more than halfway through, and I’m excited to dig into my story idea for the anthology. There are a lot of reward tiers for backers to contribute and three other anthologies chock-full of stories by some amazing creators. Please consider supporting if you are able.

That’s all for now. May the last days of summer treat you well!

New Story in DreamForge Magazine

I’m happy to announce I’ll have a short story in DreamForge Magazine’s Founder’s Issue that will be available this February. My short story “Sing! And Remember” is set in the same fantasy world as “Those Who Wear Their White Hair Proudly” that was published in Flame Tree Press’s Heroic Fantasy Short Stories anthology. It’s a sweeping tale of swords and sadness, monsters and mayhem, and the occasional bad rhyme. And if that’s not convincing enough, it’s illustrated by Hugo award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett!

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DreamForge is a brand new SF/F market looking to inject more optimism in our world, and it’s an honor to have been selected to appear in their founding issue. In their own words:

We’re a new quarterly magazine of science fiction and fantasy on a mission. We believe words are important; that the stories we tell ourselves affect the present and become the future. 

At DreamForge, we are about hope in an age of dystopia. Our goal is to encourage the abandonment of the dystopian mindset and promote the ascendency of reason and humane values, civility, community, and scientific advancement. We see the human challenge through an optimistic lens.

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Be sure to check out the rest of the Table of Contents featuring some serious heavy hitters in the SF/F field and consider helping their Kickstarter to bring more amazing stories into the world!

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!

 

 

Story Sale to The Future Embodied

I’m pleased to announce that my story “Resonance” has sold to The Future Embodied, an anthology of speculative stories exploring how science and technology might change our bodies and what it means to be human.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, editors Jason Andrew and Mae Empson announced a call for “character-driven, near-future stories of how the trajectory of current science and technology could impact our daily lives and choices.”
My story “Resonance” is about two friends who meet for the first time after already having a very intimate virtual relationship facilitated by implants.
This story originated at Taos Toolbox, where we were asked to write a short story the second week of the workshop. The story benefited from the collective genius in the room (check out my fellow Toolboxers here). After incorporating everyone’s feedback, I workshopped it with my local writing group and my crit partners. Then I sent it off into the world. I’m very glad it has finally found a home.
The anthology is slated to be released in December 2013. Check out the table of contents and all the other great authors who have contributed stories
Happy writing!

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Recursive Plotting with Guest L. Blankenship

Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from L. Blankenship of Notes from the Jovian Frontier. Not only is she an awesome critique partner, but she also contributes to Unicorn Bell and Science in my Fiction. Enjoy!

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First, a thank-you to Bluestocking, my awesome CP, for letting me guest blog here to promote my Kickstarter project! Details for that at the bottom.

Recursive Plotting:
I’ve been working on a six-part, gritty fantasy romance for some time now. As popular as multi-volume fantasy stories are, they’re not so easy to write. Some of that is because of plotting. A six-book series has all the same plotting problems that a one-shot book does — only with the added size and weight of a lot more words.

There are many ways to break down plots into stages. Here’s the one I use: inciting incident, first plot point, other plot points, climax, resolution. You can further group these into a three-act structure or apply other methods of plotting if you want. For now, I just want to focus on the inciting incident.

The inciting incident is that event which sets off the whole story. It sets things in motion. Some call it the point of no return — because of this incident, something must be done. Something will happen. Because of the inciting incident, the first plot point happens. Because of that first plot point… and so on, building toward the climax.

The first part of my novel has an inciting incident: my protagonist, Kate, is given an early graduation into the duties of a physician and told to attend to a small party heading into the mountains on a mission that nobody seems to want to explain.

 Something must be done: the authority figures in her life have laid this on her, and being a bright young student she wants to live up to their expectations. The rest of the plot hinges on this one event happening, or Kate would have just stayed home and kept studying.

To step back, this is Part I out of six. and while each individual Part contains a plot structure of its own, the series as a whole also contains a plot structure. Writ large, as it were. The series has an inciting incident, first plot point, other plot points, a climax and a resolution.

Part I is, as a whole, the inciting incident for the other five parts. It sets a larger plot structure in motion and because of this, certain things must happen. Certain things must be resolved by these characters. Part II is, as a whole, the first plot point. This larger plot will build its way up to a climax and resolution in Part VI. Though, as I said, each Part will still contain all the plot stages to support what happens within that Part.

In short, plotting is recursive. (This makes my nerdy little heart smile.)

Shameless Plugging:

I’m running a Kickstarter project to fund the professional editing, proofreading, and cover artwork for my gritty fantasy romance, Disciple, Part I: For Want of a Piglet. There will be six parts in total, published over the course of the next few years.

I’m pre-selling e-books, paperbacks, offering promotional bookmarks, and more at various pledge levels (ranging from $1 – $100). Check out the project page for my book trailer, budget, and production schedule.

Kickstarter.com is a fundraising platform for all sorts of creative projects. Artists post a profile of their project and offer rewards in exchange for pledged money. The pledges are not collected unless the artist’s funding goal is reached within a set period of time. If the goal is reached, the artist receives the money, carries out the project and distributes the rewards promised. It’s a fascinating site and easy to lose time in!

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I’ve had the privilege to read the first three parts of Disciple, and can’t wait to see the rest of the series. If you like strong heroines, unique magic systems, and realistic medieval detail, both action and character, these books are for you. 

Be sure to check out the first chapter here

And please consider donating as a little as a dollar to help L. get these books into the world. Thanks, and happy writing!  
 
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