Recap: The Change Anthology Release Party

A week ago, I drove up to Santa Fe to join S.M. Stirling and eight other contributors to The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth anthology for the release party at the Violet Crown Cinema in the historic railyard district.

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George R. R. Martin was our host, and he introduced Steve to an enthusiastic crowd, joking that he was confused as to why Steve chose to focus an anthology on menopause. He didn’t, of course. The Change was established in Stirling’s post-apocalyptic novel Dies the Fire, where all electronics, explosives, and internal combustion engines mysteriously cease working and humanity must find a way to survive. Since then, eleven other books have followed, some hitting the New York Times bestsellers’ list. Steve provides a great introduction to his world (and a tasty recipe!) in the Book Bites feature on Fran Wilde’s blog.

The anthology is testament to the success of Stirling’s Emberverse novels and their enthusiastic fanbase, and Steve announced that if the anthology sells well, another one could be in the works. For The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, he asked his writing friends and colleagues to contribute stories.

The Change anthology participants at the Violet Crown Cinema. S.M. Stirling fifth from left.

The Change anthology participants at the Violet Crown Cinema. S.M. Stirling fifth from left.

Going from left to right, we’ll start with Diana Paxson. She flew in from California for the event, and Steve said her The Chronicles of Westria novels were a huge influence on him, so much so he’s named the Emberverse version of California Westria. Of course, that’s where she chose to set her story as well.

Next is Kier Salmon, who since the beginning of this series has served as Steve’s Wiccan adviser, given the role of the religion in the books, and edits the Emberverse fan fiction site. She was able to adapt one of her beloved fan fiction pieces for the anthology.

Jane Lindskold is a prominent New Mexican writer, currently with a science fiction series with Tor that starts with Artemis Awakening. Her story for the anthology is set in the Southwest, a part of the world that hasn’t really been explored in the Emberverse books.

Similarly, Walter Jon Williams, another well-regarded New Mexico writer, chose a story setting that fell outside the reach of the books, a nautical tale rife with politics in post-Change Venice. He provides more context about his story in his blog post Time for a Change.

Stirling, the central figure in the picture, chose to write a side story about the main character from The Golden Princess, book ten in the series.

Next to him, Victor Milán, another New Mexican writer, whose Dinosaur Lords releases next month from Tor, chose to explore the post-Change environment in Mexico. And you can learn more about the inspiration for his story in the blog post The Change: Sandbox Play.

John Jos. Miller, also based in New Mexico, long associated with the Wild Cards franchise as well as the comics and graphic novel industry, explored what happens to zoo animals and the humans still struggling to survive in post-Change Florida by updating the Tarzan trope.

M. T. Reiten, a local author and finalist in the 2005 Writers of the Future Contest, used his doctorate in physics to explore what scientific principles had changed and what that actually meant for society in his story for the anthology.

Emily Mah, also known as E. M. Tippets in romance circles, mined her LDS background to show how the Change affected a number college students at a faith-based college. Emily also has the honor of being tuckerized by Steve in the series.

Finally there’s me on the right end if you squint!

I’d been in a critique group with Stirling, Miller, Milán, Reiten, and Mah for about a year when Steve invited me to write a story for the anthology. I admit I was a little freaked out when that happened. It’s a huge honor to be asked, and it implies a lot of trust on his part in my abilities. And I almost said no, since I didn’t want to let him down with whatever story I came up with.

But I couldn’t ignore the opportunity, so I wrote my story “Against the Wind,” sent it in to Steve, and was beyond thrilled when he accepted it.

A review from Open Letters Monthly says:

“But there are more than enough standout stories to make the volume a must for Change fiction fans. In Lauren Teffeau’s “Against the Wind,” for example, a single father named Mitch – with his young son and daughter as crew – has survived the early days of the Change by using his wind-powered yacht to scavenge dead vessels at sea off the west coast of Alaska. Teffeau does a very effective job of describing some of the horrors they encounter at sea, and she’s equally effective with the more complicated dangers Mitch faces when trying to barter his scavenged goods with a man named Dixon, head of a new and growing settlement that’s becoming more and more wary of his business.”

Needless to say, I’m grateful to Stirling for the opportunity to play in his world and that people seem to like the story so far!

A candid of S.M. Stirling, George R. R. Martin, and Walter Jon Williams during the celebration after the panel

A candid of S.M. Stirling, George R. R. Martin, and Walter Jon Williams during the celebration after the panel

The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth is a great introduction to Steve’s world or a nice companion to his novels, so please consider purchasing it from your local bookstore. If it continues to do well, there just might be another volume in the future!

And if you live in New Mexico, join us at 4pm on Saturday, June 27th at Page1 Books in Albuquerque for another author event with Stirling showcasing the anthology! See you there!

Realizing Representation

Once you achieve something that you’ve been working toward for a long time, it can take a while for the realization to sink into your bones. You have to keep reminding yourself that you’ve succeeded. That it’s time to look forward to the future, to whatever comes next.

In the last week or so, I’ve had many of those pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moments, usually whenever I get the urge to pull up QueryTracker or the latest post from the Guide to Literary Agents blog that appears in my RSS reader. That’s when I have to tell myself I’m no longer in the market for an agent.

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photo courtesy of Bridget Lewis of Flickr

I’m still trying to absorb all the nuances of what’s happened and what’s yet to come. I never would have dreamed my story of “the call” would include three compelling offers and two nerve-wracking weeks of PS3-playing to keep me from checking my email. Or that my love for the manuscript that got me my agent would be eclipsed by my excitement for my current work-in-progress (that I’m very eager to get back to after writing this post).

Within a few short weeks, everything has changed, and yet I’m still me, with the same insecurities, the same hopes and dreams, and the same stories in my head clamoring for attention. But I have an advocate now to make the journey forward a little less fraught. And that is an amazing thing.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to announce I’m now represented by Lana Popovic of Chalberg and Sussman. I know I’m in good hands for this book, and I hope our partnership flourishes going forward.

I didn’t get to this point alone. Lori M. Lee, Fran Wilde, Christopher East, L. Blankenship, Catherine Schaff-Stump, Laura Snapp, Christopher Cornell, the Critical Mass writing group, and my husband Eric all provided me with support, encouragement, and most importantly feedback, on this winding road.

Hopefully the news will sink in soon. In the meantime, please accept this GIF-free post as testament to the exciting next stage of my writing journey, whatever it brings!

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!

 

 

Fits and Starts

Between the holidays and some personal issues that I won’t go into here, these past few months have been rather…stressful for me. Of course, my writing routine has suffered, along with the blog. A self-perpetuating cycle of guilt and exhaustion that I’m just now getting out of…in fits and starts.

If you’ve had similar trouble, I recommend reading (Not) Writing My Way Through Stress from the Inkpunks blog for strategies to stay productive when the world conspires against you.

Anyway. It’s not all been doom and gloom. I’ve had a few pieces of good news.

First, my story “Daughters of Demeter” which originally appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer will be reprinted in Potnia: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Demeter published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina this spring. It’s always exciting to see my digital projects find their way in print.

Second, I’ve made my first SFWA-qualifying sale. I’m happy to announce my story “Against the Wind” will be appearing in an anthology of stories set in S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse, a series of post-apocalyptic books set in an alternate history where technology fails and humans struggle to survive in a changed world. I’ll be sure to share more details as this project progresses.

So as with anything, there’s good with bad. Either way, I’m writing again, and for now, that’s enough.

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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