Friday, July 3, 2015

New Stuff!

Issue #26 of Shimmer is out! This issue includes my story "States of Emergency," an insane travelogue set in an altered America:

In a no-tell motel just outside Billings, the psychotic cattle rancher known as Paranoid Jack freezes when he sees the baby-blue eyeball glowering at him from the mouthpiece of the Bakelite phone.

This issue also contains stories by Lavie Tidhar, Roshani Chokshi, and Cat Hellisen. My story will be online in August, but if you want to read it now, go grab a copy.

Meanwhile, some rad folks had some nice things to say about "Bucket List, etc." Over on, Brit Mandelo calls it "a nice brief punch of feeling," while K. Tempest Bradford at io9 Newsstand named it as one of her stories of the week. What are you waiting for? Get the full issue of Lightspeed's Queers Destroy Science Fiction now!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Destroying Science Fiction, One Flash Story at a Time

The special "Queers Destroy Science Fiction" issue of Lightspeed is out, and my story's in it! Along with a lot of other awesome stories! Check out "Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind" as part of the free content, or better yet buy the issue and unlock stories by Sarah Pinsker, Rose Lemberg, and many others. I really enjoyed "Emergency Repair" by Kate M. Galey, which you can also read for free.

I've been having a hell of a time finishing stories lately. Over the past month I've started at least five different stories, three of which were variations on a single theme. Sometimes, no matter what you do, a story just won't gel and none of these were working. They were technically good, but felt lifeless. Protip: if your own stories seem lifeless to you, then they definitely will seem that way to an editor.

Most of my stories written in the past two years have been plotted instead of pantsed (improvised) and I've become kind of an evangelist for plotting. However, I think plotting was strangling these stories. They were just sort of limping along from one scene to the next, and while I probably could have "fixed it in post," all of them eventually became chores to write. (And also, five stories. Kind of hard to care about any individual story when your focus is so divided.)

So I started fresh. I reread a few stories that had inspired me in the past and were close to the tone I was trying to set down, figured out the narrator's voice, and just started writing. The new story has pieces in it lifted from the five different stories, but it's really its own thing. It's perhaps a little similar in theme to stuff I've already done, but hey, lots of writers run to similar themes (including some of my all-time favorites). I wrote 1700 words in the first session and plan to finish the story in a second session today or tomorrow, to achieve maximum freshness. I hope this story gels! I think it will. It feels like it will, even if I already see a whole laundry list of tweaks I'll need to tend to.

Not really sure why I felt the need to document this. Perhaps it's just a way to keep myself honest?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

New Stories: Intergalactic Medicine Show, Cats in Space

IGMS story art by Andres Mossa
My short story "The Species of Least Concern" is now available to read at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show... if you're a subscriber. But hey, check out that art! This is a somewhat hard SF story about agribusiness run amok and deceptively adorable artificial animals, featuring a disabled protagonist in a futuristic corporate-controlled Kansas. It'll be temporarily unlocked for subscribers in two months, but if you want to read it now, subscribe! I hope to have story notes for this one in a bit.

And because these things always come in clumps, the short anthology Cats in Space, which includes my story "A Slow, Constant Path," is now available in hard copy from Paper Golem Press. See link here. What happens when human beings revolt on a spaceship staffed by talking robo-cats with electronic brains? Obviously, nothing good. Also includes stories by Jody Lynn Nye and Beth Cato, among others.

In other writing news, I am thirty percent of the way through the final ever pass through my novel. (Well, not counting the passes an agent or publisher will do. Let's not even think about those.) It's an excruciating process, to put it lightly. But so near the end(ish)!

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.