Thursday, January 7, 2016

January Hot Takes

1. My flash fiction story "Human Resources" is now live at Fireside magazine! Here's a clip:
I used to be vain. I didn’t want my body carved up, so when things got rough I auctioned off a small piece of my brain for a luxury condo and free food for a year. You’ll never miss it, the broker said, and most of the time he’s right. I can’t focus too well anymore, and my memory is shot, but it’s actually kind of nice sometimes. Like living in a dream. 
Celia only got a car. The economy really is weak right now.

Economics and mutilation, a winning combination. The rest of the issue contains stories by A.K. Snyder, A. Merc Rustad, and Aidan Doyle, with gorgeous art from Galen Dara. And if you like what Fireside is doing, consider contributing to their Patreon!

2. You may have a word count tracker for your writing, but do you have the best word count tracker, the one that has colors to keep you motivated but which doesn't have all that crap you don't need? The word count tracker that's basically perfect in every way? Well, now you do. All credit to Christie Yant, creator of the best word count tracker.

3. I read a lot of single-author short fiction collections. Partially for learning, mostly for enjoyment. In 2013 I picked up an e-copy of Jennifer Pelland's Unwelcome Bodies based on a vague memory of reading and enjoying one of her stories in a defunct magazine called Helix. The notable thing about this collection is that every story was basically perfect. The collection closer "Brushstrokes" (a novella) was especially moving, a dark SF love story with extremely unique worldbuilding. Reading Unwelcome Bodies taught me a LOT about writing, and I can guarantee that if you like my stories you'll like this collection. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that it's only a dollar this month for Kindle so pick this sucker up now.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Novel sale: STAY CRAZY to Apex Publications

It's on the publisher's blog, so it's official: I'm going to have a novel published. Here's the blurb:

Nineteen-year-old stock girl Emmeline Kalberg isn't surprised when voices start speaking to her through the RFID chips embedded in frozen food containers. Ever since she left college after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, voices have been a mainstay of her life, something to be ignored. But when Em's fellow employees at Savertown USA start dying around her, victims of a mysterious suicide plague, she decides to listen in. What she hears has the potential to tear apart the fabric of her small western Pennsylvania town -- and maybe the entire world.

The story of Stay Crazy began in 2006, when I wrote a novel called Entity that melded my experiences working for Walmart in that strange-ass year after I graduated college with my love of stories that question the nature of reality. Then a year later I quit writing for reasons that made a lot of sense at the time, and the novel was basically trunked along with the rest of my writing. But the story never left me, I always wished I had done something with the novel, and that wish especially grew stronger when I un-quit and my writing reached a whole new level. Some time last year, I pulled out the novel and well... I'm a much better writer than I used to be. So I rewrote it, line by painstaking line. I gave the story the writing it deserved.

And now... it's going to be published. My weirdo reality-bending category-bending novel with a mentally ill, working-class protagonist living in a shitty small town is going to be available for anyone to read, anytime, anywhere. I'm especially stoked to be published by Apex, since they've released a whole lot of books I've just loved.

Publication date is set for August 2016, so mark your calendars! In related news, I will be at WorldCon next year, so... book release party? Book release party, yes.

EEEEEE!!!!!!

Friday, December 4, 2015

I Bet Owning a Gun Is Awesome

Like everyone else, I'm somewhat shocked but mostly desensitized about the mass shootings in... you know what, I don't even have to name a city here, because there's just gonna be another one tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. I don't understand why people can't see that all of these shootings are connected to the fact that guns in the United States are plentiful and unregulated and that we have a culture that worships guns. I can't see why the right to own a gun should be more important than the right not to be shot by a gun.

However, I think there might be an aspect to this that I've been overlooking. Because, like a lot of people who criticize gun culture, I've never owned a gun.

I mean, what if owning a gun is literally the absolute best thing ever? What if the mere fact of owning an automatic weapon is like the greatest high that a human being can ever hope to experience, like snorting a bunch of coke and high-fiving the Pope while riding a golden unicorn? And what if the sensual pleasure of gun ownership intensifies every time you leave the ammunition in, or store it out of its safe, or let your children play in the same room as the gun?

Pictured: a first-time gun owner.

Because that would explain it, right? If you take a group of rational humans and tell them that gun control will save hundreds of lives, if you tell them about Australia and some other stuff about Australia and also show them charts aplenty, then nearly everyone will be like "yeah, maybe we should get rid of some of these guns, because come on look at this shit." But maybe instead it's like telling a group of junkies about the dangers of heroin. Sure, they can rationally understand that heroin will kill them. Contrary to popular stereotypes, most addicts are not in denial about their preferred substances. They just can't stop.

And what if there's withdrawal symptoms? Maybe taking a gun owner's gun away is like going cold turkey on OxyContin. You get the shakes, you start hallucinating tiny European monarchs in your house taxing you without representation, shit like that. Man, I wouldn't want that to happen to me! Why do I gotta go through gun detox when I'd never shoot anyone? C'mon bud, just gimme one little Kalashnikov to get me through the end of the week. Maybe it's almost cruel to make gun owners give up their guns, although not as cruel as sitting around with our thumbs up our asses while hundreds of people die or anything.

In closing, based on no evidence whatsoever I believe that owning a gun must create a high so incredibly great that it makes you override your natural empathy and rationality to get a taste of that sweet, sweet steel. Therefore, I propose a new slogan for the gun control movement:

GUNS: NOT EVEN ONCE.

Monday, November 30, 2015

My Stories for 2015

As I have no additional stories coming out in 2015, I guess it's high time for me to list the stuff I had published this year, as is the style of the time.

Anyway, I had eight stories published this year. Damn! Three of them are flash, five of them are not. Probably the most "important" one, the one you should read first, is "Loving Grace," which marked my return to Clarkesworld Magazine after a whole eight and a half years, which must be some kinda record. You can read story notes here, but basically it's about what happens when human minds (and governments) are too small to accept the gift of post-scarcity. This story was originally titled "Fables of Post-Capitalism" until I realized that title was extremely pretentious (I did keep the fables, however).

I also had a return to the pages of Shimmer with "States of Emergency," which is another story I really like because like life it's just a lot of insane stuff that happens for no reason. If "Loving Grace" is too political, maybe you'll like a story with a sin-eating shredder, I don't know.

In flash country, my Queers Destroy Science Fiction piece "Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind" got some buzz (the concept of buzz for one of my stories is new to me) and I'm happy that most people seemed to realize what I was doing (implication over action).

I don't know why I thought this was
the best photo to illustrate this post.
Additional stories published in 2015, some not available online:

"The Species of Least Concern" in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show: Genetic engineering! Disabled protagonist! I was reading a lot of Nancy Kress when I wrote this story and that's not a bad thing at all.

"Clarity" in Daily Science Fiction: May just be the most depressing story I have ever written.

"A Slow, Constant Path" in Cats in Space: Robot cats and cyborg girls on a doomed generation ship. It's cute!

"Dear Conqueror" and "Summer in Realtime" in Daily Science Fiction: More stories to enjoy, and only one of them is about death!

I also had quite a few reprints published this year, including my debut in Escape Pod ("The Silent Ones"), which was very exciting! Even if nobody on the message board understood the story (not that I ever know what my stories are about either).

Other things I did in 2015, writing-wise:

  • FINISHED MY GODDAMN NOVEL. No, seriously this time, it's been submitted and everything. The one thing I wanted out of 2015 was a completed novel and that's what I got. So that's pretty sweet.
  • Started another goddamn novel, the rough draft of which will probably be finished this year. Maybe I can not drag on the revision/abeyance stage as long as the last one?
  • Finished nine short stories (and counting?), which doesn't seem like a lot, but one of them is a friggin' novelette and that one took forever so I think it counts as like four stories. Most would disagree. All of these are either sold or on submission. Crossing fingers.
  • Started teaching occasional adult extension writing classes at Portland Community College. Want to take a class from me? You can! (Well, if you live in Portland.)
  • Did a lot of freelance editing and here's a link for that too.

Anyway, that's 2015 for you. Not as productive as I should have/could have been, but isn't that always the case? Looking forward to what next year brings!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

OryCon Schedule!

Orycon 37 is next weekend (November 20-22) at its new location, the Waterfront Marriott Hotel. Here are my panels:


FRIDAY

2:00 - 3:00PM: Endings: Cuddling with the Reader - You've just blown your reader's mind with your story's climax. Make sure they'll come back for more--give them a good denouement! David D. Levine, Erica L. Satifka (M), Anna Sheehan, Ann Gimpel, Grá Linnaea

3:00 - 4:00PM: Strong Characters in SF - What are the truly memorable characters in SF and what makes them so? Is memorable the same as strong? How do writers develop excellent characters that are integral to SF settings? Esther Jones, Andrew S. Fuller, Erica L. Satifka, Clayton Callahan (M), DongWon Song


SATURDAY

7:00 - 8:00PM: Short Stories, Novelettes, Novellas, and The Markets Who Love Them - Online markets for speculative short fiction have blossomed since the 1990s. What are the ins and outs of the spec fic short fiction markets in 2015? What are these markets publishing? What might the future bring? Andrew S. Fuller (M), Erica L. Satifka, Wendy N. Wagner, Rob McMonigal, James Patrick Kelly


SUNDAY

12:00 - 1:00PM: Structurally Speaking - Stories have rhythm. Is there One True Pattern, or can we mess with it? Are we really bound to the Hero's Journey, or are there other models? Doug Odell, Leslie What, Grá Linnaea, Erica L. Satifka, Anna Sheehan (M)

1:00 - 2:00PM: The Death of the Stand-Alone Book - Trilogies, tetralogies--we're not even sure of the right names for five, six, seven-book series! Where does the madness end? Is there no market any more for non-series books? Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Fonda Lee (M), Erica L. Satifka, Esther Jones, Doug Odell

2:00 - 2:30PM: Erica Satifka Reading - Erica Satifka reads from her works. (Probably this one.)


See you there! Watch me defend the honor of the stand-alone novel!