Friday, May 22, 2015

New Story at Escape Pod, New Classes at PCC

My short story "The Silent Ones," originally published in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, is now available for free reading and listening at Escape Pod! Here's a sample:

Not everything happens all the time, everywhere. 
That’s the first line on every bit of literature dealing with the alternate worlds. Want to visit a world where the triple World Wars never happened? You can. Want to see a place where computers run on steam power and even the horses wear corsets? Go for it. 
This makes sense in context.
Or you can just muck about in a world full of beautiful hillbillies or debauched Atlanteans. That’s more your personal speed, anyway. 
Most of the planes open for travel aren’t that different from your world. The atmosphere has to be breathable, at least, and it’s helpful if the inhabitants are roughly human, and mostly your size. Nothing will destroy a plane’s Yelp rating quite like a tourist crushed by forty-foot-tall giants. 
Nobody stays in an alternate world for long. The languages aren’t remotely learnable, and the social structures are often even denser. But it sure beats a week at Grand Cayman! 
You keep the glossy travel brochures in your nightstand. Sometimes you fan them out, a little universe. And only fifteen days of vacation a year, you think wistfully.

Also, I have TWO classes upcoming at Portland Community College this summer! Here are the details:

First, it's the inaugural TEEN SF/F writing workshop, a four-day class where students aged 12-17 can learn the finer points of writing fantastical literature, receive feedback from their classmates, and most importantly have fun!:

Title: Teen Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop
Dates: July 14, 16, 21, and 23, 2015 (Tuesdays and Thursdays)
Time: 6:30 PM - 8:20 PM
Location: Southeast Center, 2305 SE 82nd Ave.
Cost: $65
Note: Please bring pen and paper or a computer to class.

I'm also teaching another adult SF/F writing class:

Title: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Dates: July 11 through August 1, 2015 (Saturdays)
Time: 10:00 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Southeast Center, 2305 SE 82nd Ave.
Cost: $55

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

More Recent Publications!

I have some new-ish stories out this week:

First up, my paranoid VR suburbia story "Days Like These" is up in audio form at The Overcast and narrated by J.S. Arquin. This is a new podcast focusing on speculative fiction from writers in the Pacific Northwest. There certainly are a lot of us here! I hope you'll check it out.

Also, my short story "Hand of God," originally in PodCastle, is now in "print" in Fantasy Scroll magazine! This is an older story, one of the first that I wrote when I started writing again in 2011, There's also an interview with me up at the site. I may have blathered.

Also re: Hugos: I have never cared about them, but now I really don't care. I know that by all rights I should have An Opinion About This. It probably doesn't say anything positive about my character that I don't. Yes, the Puppies' tactics (both sets, though one much more so than the other) were skeevy. But also, it's an award. Just an award. If I were one of the fans who has been attending WorldCons for years or spent the past decade as a supporting member, I might care. But I'm not. I don't have the money to travel to faraway conventions and while I could afford the $40 for a supporting membership, I'd rather use that money to buy books (you get books with the supporting membership, but they might not be the ones I want to read).

I appreciate that people are upset about this and they have the right to be angry, but I also have the right to be indifferent. Seeing the words Hugo (or Nebula) on a dust jacket has never made me any more likely to pick up a book. There are hundreds of quality works published every year and only a fraction of them will ever win awards. That's life. This year, a different and possibly less quality slate of works were nominated. But does that mean no more great stories will be published? It certainly does not. If works of lesser quality are nominated from here on out? Perhaps that's a little crappy, but you always have the option to not care about the Hugos. Care about a different award instead. Or care about... no awards at all. Crazy thought, I know!

Selfishly, I am unhappy that my first WorldCon will be marred by tense conversations about a stupid award. Every panel: award talk. Hugo talk at the bar, Hugo talk at the pool. Maybe all WorldCons are like this? Or maybe by that point nobody will care. That's the best case scenario, a world in which we all just kinda say "you know what, this doesn't matter." And then we all go read things we like, and write other things we like. The work is the prize. All else is gravy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

One-Year Portlandiversary!

1. Today is our one-year Portlandiversary!

The view from the car almost exactly a year ago.

As I told Rob earlier, my life is basically 95% perfect, and it's all because we took a chance. It has been a truly exciting year. In this year I:

  • Secured a part-time day job, the schedule I wanted.
  • Wrote something like a dozen stories.
  • Re-wrote and re-re-wrote my novel (it's done now).
  • Started teaching classes at Portland Community College.
  • Got some kick-ass tattoos.
  • Slayed the dragon and drank his blood.
  • Did not have to look at snow for the first time ever in my life.
  • Started up my freelance editing business.

It's been an awesome year, perhaps the most awesome year ever. Seriously, the only year that could possibly compare to this one is the first year I lived in Pittsburgh (and if you want to know what I was like back then picture Kimmy Schmidt sans bunker). I am looking forward to many, many, many more years here in Portland with Rob, doing what I do, letting the tiny animal statues downtown alert me to the changing of the seasons because the weather sure doesn't.

They are wearing tiny hats! This isn't a real city!

I figure next year is the year when I'll finally be Oregonian enough to tell those damn transplants to get off my lawn.

2. I have a new flash story up at Daily Science Fiction, "Clarity." It is really depressing! Read it and weep, but also feel paranoid, because if I try to elicit any sort of emotions with my writing those emotions are depression and paranoia.

3. I also sold a flash story to Lightspeed's special Queers Destroy Science Fiction issue! The title is very long! As a bisexual woman married to and monogamous with a male-bodied person living in the most liberal city in America, I am aware that my queerness is largely invisible unless I come out and talk about it, which I rarely do because... sometimes I think it's not relevant? Although it is, and it certainly was in the past, and I think it's important for people with misplaced straight privilege to come out. So I'm out, I've never been in, but now I'm visible and I am thrilled to be destroying science fiction with many fine writers. Full list of authors/stories here.

4. I have Thoughts about this year's Hugo Awards, which you can read beneath the jump cut below (it got long).

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Class! New Angst!

First off, registration for the next cycle of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing class at Portland Community College is open! This is a four-week Community Education (non-credit) class based around short speculative fiction writing, with one week each devoted to plotting, worldbuilding, characterization and voice, and a class critique session. After this class I'll be moving over to the Southeast campus for a while, so if that affects your desire to take the class, sign up now!

Since getting back from the Rainforest retreat, I've fell into a bit of a writing funk. Part of it is simply that I've been spending far too much time editing, and not enough time writing. And while editing is (usually) a necessary part of the writing process, you don't get the same sense of forward momentum, and it's clearly not as exciting as actually writing. Right now I have at least five stories that need to be edited, some of which have been through first-round edits by my in-house editor, a few which haven't. And it's so daunting! Two of these stories are also novelettes or nearly so, and one of those is in a genre that I've never written before. There's something like 25k words that need to be looked over, scenes rearranged or eliminated, new scenes that need to be written, and in the case of one of those stories, research. It's a lot of work, and it leaves me drained for writing new stuff. I need to finish what I start, not just keep piling on new projects.

Another reason for the funk is that I've been way too focused on originality. I wrote a couple of stories in late 2014/early 2015 that I thought were incredibly original (she says pridefully). I'm sure that someone else who's better read -- or just differently read -- than me could be able to point to half a dozen stories that are similar to those stories, but I'd never read anything with those concepts behind them before, at least before I wrote them. So now, when I try to write something new, I'm trying to make it even more original than those stories. Then I get stuck, because every story feels like "nope, seen it before, discard." Which is dumb, because there are no new ideas... but some ideas are fresher than others. Some people will fight me on this, but I maintain it's true. So far, none of my new outlines (as in, written in the past month) are passing my own personal barrier for originality. It's a moving bar, yeah, but it's my moving bar, and unfortunately just going through the motions of writing doesn't get me in the mood to write. I have to be excited about the idea. And the better-read I become in genre, the more I see that a lot of what I do has been done before. Maybe not done in quite the same way, but it only takes a whiff of similarity to take the bloom off the rose.

Anyway, I'm sure it's just a temporary thing that will fade once I get this huge set of stories (or at least half of them) revised and sent off. I know what a real slump is and this isn't it. Just... revision is kind of the worst, you know?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Marching Into March

First, I have a new-old story up on Drabblecast this week, a reprint of my "classic" (hah!) story "Sea Changes," first published in Ideomancer in 2008. Check it out! This all-flash episode also contains stories from Keffy Kehrli and Jonathan Schneeweiss.

Second, I now have a tab that lists all the Community Education classes I have upcoming at Portland Community College, or you can just follow the link here. The next four-week cycle of classes starts April 11 and the sign-up isn't active yet, but once it is, I'll let the world know.

Last weekend Rob and I went to the Rainforest Writers Retreat in Lake Quinault, WA. I had a great time, though I didn't get as much done as I wanted to. I only wrote a shade under 15,000 words, all on short stories. We also went on a hike (well, Rob went on the hike, it was too slippy for me) and saw waterfalls and a herd of wild elk. I'd recommend it for anyone looking for a laid-back place to hang out and write for a few days. We likely won't be going back next year since we're saving up for a possible East Coast/Readercon trip, but if you want to go, register fast! It always sells out.

Some jerk elk sticking his tongue out at us.

Finally, today it was 55 degrees and sunny all day oh wait I mean it rained all day and was terrible don't move here. Man, everywhere in the entire country sucks except this place.