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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Next Big Thing Meme

I was recently tagged by Fran Wilde, a fellow writer and friend I met at Taos Toolbox, to talk about my current Work-in-Progress. Be sure to learn more about her WIP Bone Arrow, Glass Tooth, which I had the privilege of reading part of at the workshop.

1. What is the title of your Work in Progress?

Fireproof

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, for starters, it wasn’t always a book. It started out as a short story. My response to a particularly bad season of wildfires—one actually got very close to my house. I wondered what it would be like to live under threat of fires all the time, how that would define you as a person and shape your culture. And the idea evolved from there.

Around that time, Wily Writers announced their YA post-apocalyptic theme, and I wanted to submit Fireproof. But I soon realized that wasn’t possible—my short stories are often novels in disguise, and Fireproof was one of them. So I set it aside and wrote Chicken Feet (which was accepted by Wily Writers and later reprinted in The Shining Cities anthology). I then returned to Fireproof with the new goal of fleshing it out as a novel.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

YA Science Fiction

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Let’s see if it gets picked up first.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

I hate writing these. How about a paragraph?

Tanwen’s father trained her to be a survivor, but the colony will train her to be a spy. When a rogue collective takes aim at the colony’s water supply, she’s ordered to infiltrate enemy territory. Away from her family and friends, Tanwen must come to terms with all she thought she knew about her life. And when her mission objective changes from recon to sabotage, she’ll learn what’s really worth saving.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Representation, I hope. One day. Fingers crossed!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The idea was kicking around in my head Spring/Summer of 2011. Starting in Fall 2011, I started treating it as a novel and had a full draft by late Spring 2012. It’s complete and polished and I’m largely pleased with it, but still making the occasional tweak.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

The dreaded comparables question? I think this meme hates me 😉

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See Q2. I also wanted to explore a couple different themes:

  • Sacrificing what you want for the good of the community
  • How specialized education/skillsets can lock you into unwanted trajectories
  • We don’t have to repeat the mistakes of our parents
  • Grief and all the different shapes it takes
  • And, of course, hope in the future

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The southwestern setting is a huge part of the story, despite its SF trappings. Many elements are rooted in the culture and the people who make the high desert their home—and some things were ripped straight from the headlines. Granted most readers won’t care about all that, but it was important for me to have that extra layer of authenticity.

I also wanted to present a possible, if not probable, apocalyptic scenario because so many other books gloss over what happens in the past. In Fireproof, the connections between what happened and its impact on the resulting society are tightly drawn, showing the messy transition from apocalyptic event to resulting post-apocalyptic society. One of my trusted readers called it a pre-post-apocalyptic story, which is awkward to say, but in some ways accurately captures my intention.

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Thanks again to Fran Wilde for tagging me!
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New Story Live

Just a quick note to say my story “Daughters of Demeter” is now live at Eternal Haunted Summer.
 

The story is a re-imaging of the Persephone/Hades myth. I always thought Demeter’s scorched earth policy when Persephone disappeared was a bit of an overreaction, which made me wonder just what else she would do to keep her daughter safe.

And if you enjoy mythology and other pagan themes, check out the rest of the Autumn Equinox issue.

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