MystiCon!

Early post because this weekend is MystiCon! I’ll do a recap post next week, but in the interim please stop in and say hi if you’ll be there. I’d love to meet you!

You can use MystiCon’s handy scheduler to find out more about where I’ll be. I’ll mostly be around during Saturday’s sessions, but I will have one panel that I’m moderating on Sunday. It should be a great time!

Saturday I will also be doing a signing in the hall at 4:00pm, so if you have a book you need signed or just want to chat about my work, this is the time.

I hope you all have a great MystiCon!


Want to support this writer? Buy books, make a Paypal donation, or subscribe to my Patreon.

Multi-tasking, finishing, other

Hey folks, MystiCon is next week and I’m pretty caught up with preparing for that and my other projects, so no analysis posts in February. But I’ve been watching a lot of anime and probably you’re going to get a lot of anime recommendations and reviews in March, so hold onto your hats.

I think a lot of writers are multi-taskers, and I’ve been reading a lot lately about the importance of NOT doing that. Which is a little frustrating given that the deck is stacked against me.

For Christmas, I bought myself a book called The 30-Day Productivity Manual, which is, as you might guess, a book about how to become more efficient in your use of time. The premise is not that you should put more time into the thing to get it done, but that you should accept that you only have so much time in the day and develop routines and coping mechanisms to streamline your workflow. I got this book because I was feeling absolutely overwhelmed, mostly at the dayjob. This is because while I tell everyone I’m a mapmaker, and that’s true, I also do a lot more complex stuff, including a lot of writing of very long documents.

Sound familiar? (Really, let’s just assume everything that holds true for my dayjob is also true for my writing career. Except the meetings. So far no meetings as a novelist. YMMV.)

Unfortunately for me, writing something that’s very long and based on research, while quick once you’ve done all the research, is very hard to do between all the other smaller tasks I have. It’s also really hard to focus on the broader vision for such a large and bulky project when there are all these smaller projects vying for your attention. Managing my workflow in an effective way is essential. But it’s allowed me to reflect some on my writing processes as well.

It’s really easy to never finish something. For example, I give The Zombie Book, a project I drafted seven years ago.

(Sorry, I had to check the math there.)

Anyway, seven years ago I first sat down and wrote The Zombie Book. At the time it was a rip-roaring adventure and, I was sure, the best thing I had ever written. (Does this sound familiar?) Anyway, I pitched it to a few folks, they asked for partials and fulls, it was summarily rejected. Then I had grad school finals and finding a job to worry about, then I started writing DoM….suffice to say it was summarily trunked. But I always had it in the back of my head that it was a good, fun book and that I wanted to revise it and bring it back to my submissions folder.

Cue my 2019 New Year’s Resolution. I’ve been chipping away at this revision since December and… folks, I’m pretty sure that at the sentence level this is the… actual worst thing I’ve ever written. Oops. This doesn’t mean that it won’t become the best thing I’ve ever written. But it’s going to take a lot of work.

Meanwhile, it’s been a lot more fun to draft two new projects. Oh, and I’ve also been trying to polish up some of the short stories I wrote last year and submit them to magazines…. Plus I get to keep up with this blog, and the Patreon that theoretically pays me for doing the blog, events, and my social media….

Add to that the fact that I manage anywhere from 14-20 separate projects a year for my dayjob (which translates to actually working on four or five a week usually, because I’m human) and we can see that my brain is going literally everywhere at once. Plus, I really like to do a good job on things. I don’t want to let it leave my table unless it’s at least halfway decent.

Anyway, this is a lot of what I’ve been meditating on as I contemplate my life going forward and maintaining a healthy work-life balance with what is essentially two jobs that both require the ability to juggle multiple tasks. And it’s something to think about for both readers and writers that are interested in the writer’s process and why we can’t get that next book out when you want it. There’s just a lot going on, and finding enough focused time to knock out a single project sometimes seems impossible. As my productivity manual informs me, though, finding that time is up to me.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you writing isn’t hard work, friends.


Want to support this blog? Buy books, make a Paypal donation, or subscribe to my Patreon.

A brief bit of personal and a story announcement

Oh man, friends, this year has gone so fast already. We’re in February!

February! Where I just….sold my first short story? Already achieving my NYE goal? Somehow?

So yeah, I have a story called “At Love’s Heart” coming out in Luna Station Quarterly on March 1st. It will be available for free online for a week at their website, then will be available in ebook and print zine format. I am very excited. And I’ve already submitted two more stories to other markets, because I think it would be fun to get a bunch of rejections anyway this year.

Other than that, most of my writing time has been spent working on a new project, editing an old manuscript, and polishing short stories for submission. So I’ve got a lot of irons in the metaphorical fire. I’ve been using Tools for Writers by Christie Yant to track my progress towards each of my goals, which is a Google Sheet . So far this year I’ve written 12,000 words! It’s kind of amazing to watch those words build in the spreadsheet.

On the personal side of things, I’ve been happy to see the days get longer. Imbolc was spent getting a massage and soaking in a jacuzzi, in a true observance of this renewal-focused holiday. I’ve also recently subscribed to Hulu, which is apparently where all the anime is. It’s been lovely. There’s a lot of pressure coming down on me from my dayjob right now, but I’m trying really hard to make the time for the things that make me human.

Anyway, so far I can’t complain too much about 2019.


Want to support this blog? Buy books, make a Paypal donation, or subscribe to my Patreon.

Staying informed about the writing community

I am not a perfect author, and I have a lot to learn and a lot of benchmarks I haven’t met. That said, one of the things I have become fairly good at over the past few years is self-education and staying informed about resources for writers. Part of this, I’ll confess, is because I spend a lot of time on writing Twitter, which is the place to be if you want to learn about the writing community and new opportunities arising therein. Part of this is just because I have spent six years of my life trying to learn about what it takes to be a successful author and a good writer (not the same thing) which is a lot of years. Something is probably going to rub off in all that time.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some Twitter accounts, websites, and generally informative paraphernalia for the writing-inclined. These links are mostly targeted towards fantasy and science fiction writers.

Websites

If you want to be a writer of science fiction and fantasy, your first stop should probably be at Science Fiction Writers of America. It maybe should be a continual stop, actually. Bookmark this website is what I’m saying.

SFWA provides various resources for writers, both members and non-members. Membership is only possible once you’ve achieved certain benchmarks in your career, but SFWA understands that a lot of prospective writers won’t even get there without a roadmap. They maintain a Resources page that offers a high level overview of some of the information available on their site, and they also have a really great thing going on over at Writer Beware, which provides some information about predatory businesses and practices seeking to target writers.

Another great source of warnings for writers is the Absolute Write Water Cooler. Take comments on these forums with a grain of salt and do further research, but this is a good place to look for hints that all is not as it should be with a particular agent or publishing house.

But how do you even get to the point where you are worried about whether your agent is on the up and up? You have to query, of course. For one of the best resources on querying and tips and tricks, try QueryShark. Though no longer providing new posts, the QueryShark archives provide valuable critiques of hundreds of queries. Reading examples of good and bad queries is a great way to level up your agent search.

To find agents and editors, you can look several ways. Twitter is an option, and grabbing a Writer’s Market from the store is another. However, if you are looking for a single website that has a lot of information about what agents and editors are looking for, you may want to visit Manuscript Wishlist (MSWL). Please remember to verify the information with a secondary search of the agent or editor or by checking out their website directly.

Helpful Authors

I’ve mentioned I spend a lot of time on Twitter, but it’s not only to build my platform. It’s also to learn. There are some great, helpful accounts on Twitter, specifically other authors who are offering a lot of advice for free.

First of all, Chuck Wendig has made a name for himself for his off-color writing advice. He’s got several books out if that’s more your speed, but you can find a lot of that information in the archives of Terribleminds, his personal website and blog. His advice is mostly geared towards the craft of writing itself.

On Twitter itself, one of my favorite authors to follow is Delilah S. Dawson. She does periodic posts geared towards new and upcoming writers about the traditional publishing process. They provide helpful insight into her process and the way she has managed to get where she is.

Author Kameron Hurley tweets a lot about various parts of her writing career, but especially about work-life balance or the lack thereof. She also talks a lot about money. This is a really important bit of advice for writers that often gets overlooked. The Authors Guild recently published this survey of income for authors and writers at all levels, which shows that it can be really hard to make it as a writer even once you get published. Hurley is very open about her monetary issues and what she makes off of her writing, and it’s helped me to have realistic expectations and strategies for my longterm career.

Self-Publishing

There are several resources out there for self-published authors, and that deserves a whole other post. But one place you can start is the 20Booksto50k Group on Facebook. Be sure the read the FAQs before you ask any questions!

I hope these resources have been helpful for you. If there’s something you think is missing, chime in in the comments!


Want to support this blog? Buy books, make a Paypal donation, or subscribe to my Patreon.

Upcoming events!

I wanted to go ahead and let everyone know what events I will be at this year so far.

Roanoke Regional Writers Conference (tentative), January 25-26

I don’t have any panels lined up, and this will largely be a networking conference for me. If you’re interested in the craft and business of writing and want to meet other writers in the area, this is a good conference to attend!

MystiCon, February 22-24

MystiCon is a fan convention, and I’ve already got my schedule for the year. Feel free to come by and check out any of my panels, or come buy a book! I’ll also have free stuff to give away.

  • Balancing the Geek Life with Mundane Adulting,Saturday, 11 am
  • Signing Table, Saturday, 4 pm
  • Let’s Take Flight, Saturday, 9pm
  • Ghosts, Witches, Wizards, Magic: Shakespeare and the Supernatural, Saturday, 10 pm
  • Beyond Western Europe – Other World Cultures for Fantasy (M), Sunday, 2pm

Roanoke Author Invasion, April 6th

This is the annual signing and book sale. I haven’t figured out exactly what all I will be bringing to this event yet, but I should have more information before April!

Hope to see you there!


Like my work? You can find out more about my books or check out my Patreon!

It’s movie time!

Guys, I’m starting to get excited about movies in 2019. I haven’t felt excited for any movie releases for months, keep in mind. Then I saw this:

How did I not know?

If there were two people in this world more worthy of taking up the mantle of MIB, I cannot think of them. The movie is coming out in June, and I think it’s going on my most anticipated films of the year list already. I’m hoping it has everything I like about Thor: Ragnarok

Also a thing I’m looking forward to? You probably don’t have to guess. This trailer dropped a few weeks ago and…. I’m cautiously hopeful?

Like admittedly I’m only hopeful because the narrative weight seems to be being placed on Iron Man and the Cap/Black Widow duo (my favorite Avengers movie is actually Captain America: Winter Soldier, followed by Ragnarok, followed by all the Iron Man movies because I can’t pick one? But Natasha and Steve play so well, I love them.) I’m a little nervous about what they’re going to do with Thor because honestly I feel like he ranked as the Most Shafted Character in terms of overall development in Infinity War. Also have I mentioned that if that’s really how they killed Loki I’m never going to forgive anyone?

I am slightly less excited about Captain Marvel mostly because I am just…Marveled out. The continued introduction of new heroes is exhausting. I need them to chill. That said, I will definitely be in the theater for a woman-led superhero movie. I do not like the actress’ voice, though, and I hope that it will grow on me.

Other movies I am probably going to keep an eye on, though I haven’t decided if I will see them yet, include the Terminator Reboot, Charlie’s Angels, Zombieland 2, Aladdin, and Dark Phoenix.

The New Mutants is the last movie on my tentative list. I’ve not been seeing most of the recent X-Men titles in theaters, mostly because I’m just not that excited about them. But this seems like an example of taking a franchise idea and doing an original spinoff with it, so I will see how future trailers go, despite the rumors about delays. It looks a lot more horror focused, which is not my usual cup of tea for movies, but the premise seems really interesting. Plus a couple of the actors are ones I like.

Are there any movies you’re looking forward to? Let me know in the comments! If you want to read my previous movie reviews and analysis, you can do that at the Movies tag.


Want to support this blog? Buy books, make a Paypal donation, or subscribe to my Patreon.

Goals for 2019

And just like that, we’re in a new year.

I’m kind of at a crossroads this year, as I’ve alluded to in previous posts. Writing a book takes up so much time, and there are so many projects in the wings that I would like to be working on. Just off the top of my head I can think of three or four books that I have partially outlined and begun research on. Only one of those will get written this year, if I’m lucky. I don’t have any specific contractual obligations to guide me as to which one I should pick.

Last year I wrote two novellas and rewrote part of a novel. You can estimate that I probably wrote about 60-75 thousand words in that process, not counting my blog time, etc. That is barely a book. Really in speculative fiction I need about 90,000 words to make a book, at least. So you can see, easily, that writing a book is a minimum of a one year commitment. That’s assuming I work on nothing else, which is not how writing works. There’s still editing and submissions and everything else.

So, with all that said, I wanted to be very intentional about my goals this year. 

1. Focus on my edits and submissions

I have written a lot of stuff, and some of it is very good, and some of it I have self-published. But I have realized after five years as a self-published author that my writing speed and my lifestyle mean that I’m probably better suited to being a traditionally published author, or at least a mix of the two. I can’t keep writing things and not putting them out there, not trying to move towards that eventual goal. So while I will be writing new work this year, my number one goal will be to improve some of my existing stories and submit them to agents and publishers and magazines. Accordingly, I want to accrue fifty rejections or an acceptance by the end of the year. That’s a little under one per week, so I’m going to have to work hard.

2. Give myself permission to work on something new

There is nothing more frustrating than having to pick from amongst these ideas clamoring in my head. I want the time to do them all. I want to be able to write you so many books, so many worlds. But I only have so much time – a few hours of the week that I snatch greedily for my work. That’s all I have.

So this year I am going to pick the story that’s been shouting the loudest, and go for it. I’m not going to think about the market or if I can sell it. I’m just going to do it. I’m going to write the story I hope I can get out before I die, every time. After that, we’ll see. So my goal is to have a new project picked out soon. Once that happens, I hope to write 30,000 words on it before the end of the year.

3. Continue my Patreon

For self-publishing projects, I have my Patreon, and I plan to keep that up. It’s been a somewhat stable source of income, unlike most of my other work, and I would like to see it grow. Unfortunately, there’s little I can do to control the growth of pledges besides talking about my Patreon, so the goal here is to talk about my Patreon projects regularly. This means at least once a week there should be something up on Twitter or Instagram about Patreon. I’m already doing some of this, so the goal will be to keep it up.

Final Thoughts

This year already feels like a trust-fall exercise. Accordingly, I’m going to reassess these goals a few months in and see how I feel. If things feel comfortable, or the right kind of scary, I’ll leave things where they are. But if I feel like I need more definition, I’ll address it then. You may see me in April totally redefining everything here. I give myself permission to do that, if that’s what is needed.

I want to keep making lovely stories for you, but I also want to write for myself. And that means I have some hard choices I need to make about where I see myself. Thanks in advance for supporting me in this process.


New Year’s Recap

It’s that time of year! Let’s see how I’ve done on my New Year’s Resolutions.

Last year’s resolutions were:

  • Finish Daughter of Madness.
  • Finish APM.
  • Successfully attend Futurescapes.
  • Successfully attend my planned events, RAI and MystiCon.
  • Figure out my next novel project and start on it.
  • Be better at not over-committing myself, and on following through.
  • Keep up with my short story craft.

I think overall I’ve done pretty well with all of these. Daughter of Madness is published. I drafted APM and took it to Futurescapes to workshop, which was a blast. I made it to Roanoke Author Invasion and had one of my best years there, and attended MystiCon as well. And I have continued to write and edit short stories, though I’m a little behind on some of my work there.

As for my next novel project, I’ve been working on research and outlines for a couple of ideas. I’m not really sure what I’m doing yet, and more on that next week, but I did finish a whole other novella after APM for my Patreon subscribers. The Patreon is a huge win this year, in my opinion, though I am excited for it to continue to grow. I didn’t have any specific resolutions regarding it, so everything has been extra credit, as it were.

As for not over-committing myself…this is a thing I am still working on. I don’t think that I will ever be totally free of the impulse to add to my plate on projects. But I’ve been a little less frantic in the latter half of this year, trying to take the time to recharge. I’ve also been working on figuring out what I actually want from my writing career. That navel-gazing will probably continue going forward, but I’m hopeful that it will be valuable time spent prioritizing my efforts, and that those priorities will help guide me in balancing the many aspects of my life.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me this year. Here’s to the end of 2018!


Happy New Year!

Best of 2018 – Short Stories

Have I mentioned I read a lot? I feel like I have. But in case you didn’t know, I read. A lot.

And sometimes I really need something quick and lovely to rake its claws down the insides of my heart. That’s where short stories come in. Somehow, this medium can pack a punch that leaves me pining for days, sometimes far longer than a novel. So with no further ado, I give you the nine short stories that I have dearly loved this year. While the list is not exhaustive, these are some of my favorites and I hope you will like them, too.

“If We Die Unjustified”

The day never really dawns, not like in poetry or paintings. The clouds just stretch and itch at the sky, so it’ll scratch a scab wide enough for the sun to show face. Winter’s got hold of the city and all the other cities ‘round, and sometimes the sky’s just too weary to bother.

The world we live in is unforgiving, and if you sometimes want to remake it, I recommend this story by A. Merc Rustad.

“In the Ground, Before They Freeze”


The story goes: there was a mountain woman who loved a lowland man.

This one is going to gut you and grow in you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s by a new-to-me author, Margaret Ronald. 

“Asphalt, River, Mother, Child”


There is no way to mark the seasons, here in the underworld, Mebuyen’s town with its endless river and little stone house. The sky turns from a pale gray day to a soft blue night, and there are no stars. She recognizes all this only because of Adriana’s endless questions. Mebuyen answers, and tries not to grow fond. She’s too old for that sort of thing.

Isabel Yap remains one of the brightest voices in the short fiction world right now, and this story is no exception. Dealing directly with the current political climate in the Philippines, this story is rawly human and will twist your heart into knots.

“Till Human Voices Wake Us”

Okay, another tear-jerker here from writer Rachel Halpern. This one is about mermaids and families and you should probably know there are content warnings for suicide and self-harm associated with this story. But I promise it’s about healing, too.

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”


You’d think it would make us happy when a kid checks out the same book a zillion times in a row, but actually it just keeps us up at night.

This is a story about doing what’s right, regardless of the consequences. It’s about the escape that books can give you. It’s about magic. Thanks to Alix E. Harrow for this read.

“Field Biology of the Wee Fairies”

This story by Naomi Kritzer is one of my favorites for this year. It’s wonderful and engaging and I love Amelia, the main character, with all my heart. 

“Angel of the Blockade”


My ship’s been voted ugliest on Corona Nine Station ten years running. Her name is Goodluck Gray Pearl, after my parents and my auntie, the way my auntie named me after her auntie, Chrysanthemum. No one but her calls me Chrysanthemum—to everyone else I’m just Nata, because I didn’t want anyone getting weird botanical ideas. I don’t know what the Pearl looks like, and I don’t care. She’s my elephant: Each of her parts feels random, unrelated, and adds up magically to spaceship. All that matters is that I can weave them together into a set of wings so we fly across the void, faster than anyone else.

If you look at the publication date for this one, it technically came out in 2017. Fortunately, I didn’t find it until 2018 so it made this list. Alex Wells is responsible for this grungy-lovely piece of science fiction featuring a blind smuggler. The science on this one is really fun.

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”


The first Negro tooth purchased for George Washington came from a blacksmith, who died that very year at Mount Vernon of the flux. 

This is another sizzling story from Fireside Magazine, written by Phenderson Djèlí Clark. The title speaks for itself.

“Mothers, Watch Over Me”

This story by Maria Haskins wraps up our list. It’s another story that might make you cry, and I listed it previously on the blog. 

I hope you enjoy these reads! If you have a story you think should have made my list, leave it below. I’m always looking for more stories to read. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday, if you’re celebrating, and I’ll catch you next week for the last post of the year!


Want to support this blog? Buy books, make a Paypal donation, or subscribe to my Patreon.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑