Just FYI

I have a guest post today over at the Potomac Review blog. It’s about why I do NaNoWriMo. (I did not title the post.)

I’m currently working on the sequel to the Christmas Tree Farm Murders. It’s shaping up nicely, I think. Oh, and also another SF novella.

Whole family’s been fighting illnesses off and on for the past week. For me, it’s mostly congestion and tiredness — the usual fall crud. Hope it passes more quickly than usual.

Next week, back to copyediting and proofreading. Should be interesting to see how much writing I manage. Schedule has been mostly out the window with kids home and what-not.

Also, a couple friends of mine were at the Viable Paradise writers’ workshop last week. Each has blogged about it: A dream realized; A return to the ordinary world. I’m planning to apply for next year. We’ll see how that goes.

Hope you’re all well and healthy. What’s new and exciting in your life?

No Friday Flash today

Sorry; I didn’t get one written, although Chuck Wendig had some lovely location-based prompts posted last week. It’s been a week of not getting much done, despite having a lot to do. Some weeks are like that, and Monday I’ll be back up on the productivity wagon.

Meanwhile, I have news about some upcoming things in September for you to look forward to: September 10th, I’m participating in the What’s Your Chocolate? blog hop.
And September 13th marks the second anniversary of my blog, so I’m planning a giveaway to celebrate.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

All the news that I can think of

First, I finally filled out the application for SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and I’ve received notice that my application was approved. I am now a full-fledged pro by the standards of that body (three professional short story sales).

Second, my short story “Pretty Bauble” is scheduled to be in issue 117 of Space & Time Magazine. I’m not sure when that will be out, but I’ll let you know when I do. (For those of you who may have short stories, the magazine is open to submissions until August 5.)

Third, David Bridger is running a wonderful week-long group therapy for writers on his blog this week, helping people think about what their personal obstacles are to writing and what they can do to overcome them. (I posted on Monday, but I’m dropping out. Through no fault of the commenters, some of the things said trigger negative feelings for me, which leaves me in a place I don’t like to be. However, I recommend everyone check it out and see how it works for them.)

I’ll be back tomorrow for a Q & A that has nothing to do with my writing life. 🙂

So what’s new with you this week?

Random Friday

Did I tell you I have a new flash story coming out? “The Call” will be the e-mailed story for Daily Science Fiction on Monday, May 14. If you’re not signed up to get their e-mailed stories, this is a good time to do it. Or you can wait a week, and they’ll have it posted on their site.

Spells & Swashbucklers, an anthology of pirates and magic from Dragon Moon Press, has my short story, “Maskèd Panama.” The official launch party will be over Memorial Day weekend at Balticon, but it’s available for purchase now (paperback at Amazon) (Kindle).

I did pick a winner for the Live and Let Fly giveaway contest and e-mailed to find out what format of e-book was preferred. Nutschell, if you’re reading this, check your e-mail. If I don’t have a response by next week, I’ll pick another winner.

It’s been a month since I’ve done a post on genres, and I do intend to get back to them. Life’s just been hectic — to keep those up while doing the A to Z posts would have required a lot more pre-planning (which I’m noting for next year). I will start those again next Friday. I’ve actually been pleased to see people find my blog in search engines by looking for things like the definition of urban fantasy or what makes cozy mysteries different from hard-boiled ones. Clearly, these posts are filling a need.

The A to Z challenge was a lot of fun, and the hosts of the challenge encouraged everyone to do a reflections post. They said, “You can put up your Reflections post anytime between now and Saturday May 12th.” Mine will go up tomorrow. If you’re interested in my thoughts, what I liked, what I’d do differently, come check it out. Otherwise, feel free to go enjoy the weekend. It’s supposed to warm up about 10 degrees here and be sunny (which still leaves it cooler than California and Nevada — springlike weather here generally is for the most part in the 60s and 70s). I may even get outside to plant the flowers I bought from the fundraiser at my daughter’s daycare (begonia, portulaca, impatiens, and geranium).

Award season is upon us

I’ve seen several notifications this week that Hugo nominations are open (including a PIN number being sent to me by e-mail). I’ve also seen a number of blog posts mentioning eligible works. These range from slightly humorous in tone (John Scalzi) to helpful (Mary Robinette Kowal) to matter-of-fact (John Joseph Adams) to oh-yeah-there’s-a-reason-people-make-these-posts (Tobias Buckell). Also, Scalzi has put up his annual thread inviting others to list what they have available for nomination because he’s awesome that way.

I don’t know the details on Nebula nominations — not being a SFWA member yet — but Hugo nominations are open until March 11 (11:59 p.m.). If you were a member of Renovation or are a member of Chicon 7 or LonestarCon 3 (including a supporting member — only $50), you’re eligible to nominate works from 2011. (These are the World Science Fiction Conventions for 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively.) The Hugo awards are the fan awards, the ones where people have a chance to say “This is the best thing I read last year.” (Or “watched,” in the case of TV shows, movies, and some related works or fancasts.) If you want a say in what the best is in the field of science fiction and fantasy, this is your chance. (Note that several of the works I reviewed in my women in science fiction and fantasy series may be eligible for nomination!)

Here’s the real kicker: every vote counts. You have to scroll down to get to the nomination stats, but the gist is there are slim differences between those that get on the ballot and those that don’t. Last year, Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold had 78 nominations and Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor had 74. Cryoburn was on the ballot. For best novelette, there was only a difference of 2 nominations, and for best editor short form, 1.

Also? It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of nominations to get something on the ballot. For Best Related Work, the one that made it to the ballot with the smallest number of nominations had 35; for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo, but nominated, voted on, and awarded at the same time), 40. Graphic stories, editors, and novelettes got on the ballot with between 20 and 30 nominations.

You don’t have to nominate in every category, or for as many places as you can (up to 5 in each category) if you don’t feel you know enough to do so. But if you think anything you’ve experienced that first came out in 2011 is award-worthy, please consider nominating. Join Chicon if you need to. It’s worth it.

Oh, and if you need something to put on the ballot, may I suggest

  • Short story: “Matchmaker” in Clarkesworld Magazine (Issue 55, April).
  • Best related work: My A to Z blog series on women writers of science fiction and fantasy.
  • Also I note that I’m in my second year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (as my first qualifying publication was in November 2010).

It was a very good year

Some of the things I did this year were things I set out to do:

  • I took my son with me to Boskone this year.
  • I sold a story to a SFWA-qualifying venue.
  • I became eligible to join SFWA (Associate level), although I haven’t done so yet.
  • I finished writing 1 book I’d previously started (Daniel).
  • I wrote more than a dozen new short stories.
  • I wrote a new book for NaNoWriMo.
  • I wrote and submitted a new novella for the UPC SF contest.
  • I attended my first WorldCon.
  • I ran a 5k race. (Okay, the original goal was a half marathon.)
  • I read, on average, more than a book a week (including magazine issues).

Some of the things I did weren’t on my agenda to begin with:

  • I started a sole proprietorship publisher, Hartshorn Publishing, to put some of my work up as e-books.
  • I got my first book contract (with Moongypsy Press, for Touching Time). (Didn’t actually get a formal contract yet, but then, I don’t have a complete book to deliver yet, either.)
  • I put four short works and a novella up for sale as e-books.
  • I lost a fair bit of weight and a couple of inches as a result of my running. (Honesty compels me to admit that the lack of said running through the summer and fall did away with the majority of this progress, especially with holiday treats to cap it off.)
  • I participated in the A to Z blog challenge in April.
  • I wrote another A to Z series of blog posts, focused on women writers of science ficiton and fantasy.

And, of course, there are things I planned to but didn’t:

  • I wanted to complete the quilt I was working on for a contest deadline in January.
  • I wanted to finally get a raised bed put in to grow vegetables and herbs.
  • I wanted to have more novels under contract with publishers.

Making money from my writing? (These numbers combine all avenues of income.)

  • Short stories: $558.48
  • Articles: $38.25
  • Novellas: $20.77
  • Novels: $0

Overall, definitely a very good year. Now, having exceeded expectations, I need to start working on my dreams and goals for 2012. Onward and upward!

short, long, and other fictions

I apologize for the general lack of bloggery last month. I probably should have mentioned that I was doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, writing of 50,000 words during the month of November), as I have done every year since 2003. Between that, the day job, and lots of family time, writing blog posts kind of got put on the back burner.

First: did I win NaNo? Yes, I did, with the amazing feat of writing 17,607 words on November 30 to both finish the book (middle grade book, first in a projected series of five) and win. I’m fleshing out the outline for the next book in the series already. Very happy with how this is shaping up.

Second: what about Touching Time, my Mayan novel? That’s been indefinitely back-burnered, as Moongypsy Press has been temporarily closed. I may still work on finishing it up over the next couple of months, but it’s not a priority right now.

Third: any new short stories coming out? I haven’t sold anything recently, and the two anthologies I have sold to (Assassins: A Clash of Steel anthology and Spells and Swashbucklers) have had changes in their publication status. Spells and Swashbucklers has had some contract revisions, and I’m hoping to hear soon that there’s an actual release date (hoping, not expecting). Assassins, along with other books from Rogue Blades Entertainment, will be published in a joint venture with Black Gate, and further details on that are forthcoming.

Fourth: what’s up with “no excuses” in writing? Well, I haven’t done very well with that this year — managed less than 30,000 words total January through October, I think. Part of it was Touching Time, actually. I sent my entry off, not really expecting anything to come of it, and then discovered I was going to have to deliver a complete novel. So that moved to the top of my “to do” pile, and any time I started to work on something else, I’d tell myself I should to the Mayan book first, but it wasn’t coming together . . . so nothing got done. Excuse after excuse, but no writing.

I added another 10,000 words to Touching Time at the beginning of the month, realizing there was a whole subplot that would make the story much richer. I’m now feeling more like this is something I want to get done, but not yet.

When I switched to the MG book, though, and especially at the end, when I knew what was happening and what was going to happen and how disaster was going to strike and I kept typing and typing, it reminded me of something I’d read in a comment on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog recently, that we make our own speed limits (a phrase he attributes to Nina Kiriki Hoffman). Thinking about this as the slightly altered, “The only limits on my writing are the ones I put there,” I felt incredibly liberated. I’m excited by the writing and the projects I’m hoping to get done over the next year. I also found great inspiration from Rachel Aaron’s post on going from 2k to 10k a day.

(I know that there are limits that we don’t put there, really. My friend Dawn recently broke her hand, which makes typing hard and slow. But the hand will heal, so taking the time to try to learn and implement Kevin J. Anderson’s dictate-a-story method probably isn’t worth it for the time she’d be using it. I mean this phrase in terms of when I say things to myself like, “Oh, I’d never be able to write 10k two days in a row,” or “I can’t write in that genre,” or “I don’t know how to do this, so I won’t.”)

Fifth: what’s up with “no excuses” outside of writing? I did the Couch-to-5k running plan earlier this year, then fell off the band wagon with a foot that hurt, sick kids, son out of school for the summer — and other excuses. Then we went on our family vacation, and despite packing my running shoes, I didn’t run once. Then there was the disastrous 5k in September, which I completed in just barely under an hour, and left myself feeling unable to do most anything for a week or so afterward.

Since then? No exercise, and lots of eating the wrong kinds of foods. I’ve put back on a chunk of the weight I lost earlier this year, and I’m feeling tired and drained all the time.

Solution: Today, I started over. Back to basics, week 1 of the Couch-to-5k plan. I’m also going to be reading the book Chi Running, which Dawn recommended to me. (Due back at the library today, and I’ve got a hold on it, so I should get it later this week.) I don’t know how long the weather’s going to hold, leaving it reasonable for me to keep running outside three times a week, but I’m going to go as long as I can, and if I have to switch to running in place in front of the TV downstairs, then that’s what I’ll do. I liked being in better shape.

Last (What am I up to, sixth?): I’ve set my goals for next year. They’re simple and easy to track:

  • Finish something each week. (Novel, short story, article for Vision, drabble, haiku, paying work project)
  • Have something new up for sale each month.

So that’s it for this update. I’ll be trying to blog more frequently going forward. How are you doing as you wrap up this year and prepare to move into the next?

Summer’s end

As I write this, we have mostly blue skies and sunshine outside. A cool breeze is blowing, and no pollen remains in the air, courtesy of Irene. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones or sustained damage because of the storm, and I know there is more flooding yet to come. Right now, right here, however, it feels like the first taste of fall.

I’ve always loved fall — loved going back to school, loved new chances and opportunities, loved the promise of new beginnings. This year is no different; I’m energized and excited, ready to write.

So as my son heads back to school to learn (but not tomorrow because schools are closed — Irene, I presume) and my husband heads back to school to teach, I’m heading back to what I do. The running, which fell by the wayside for the summer, once again is on my schedule. I have a list of old stories to complete and new ones to write. And I’m looking forward, beyond the next four months, to chart where I’d like to go over the next few years.

What about you? What thoughts does fall stir in you?

As always, thanks for reading!

Coming up in December

snowy treeThis week — tomorrow, in fact — my drabble “Heartbeat” will be e-mailed out by Daily Science Fiction. A week later, it’ll go up on their Website. If you haven’t subscribed to their e-mails yet, why on Earth not?

Deadlines approaching:
Bewere the Night, edited by Ekaterina Skedia, has a December 31st deadline, but she urges earlier submission if possible.

Quarterly deadline for Writers of the Future contest is also December 31st. My friend D. M. Bonanno recently became a semifinalist. Who’s next?