Last Friday my little family packed our things and piled into the car for a trip to Albuquerque (and I CAN NOT say that word without getting the Weird Al song stuck in my head). One of Nathan’s relatives passed away and his family was planning on holding a memorial on Saturday morning. Of course events like this are really important for all sorts of reasons, but on top of the obvious, a lot of Nathan’s extended family were going to be there, some of whom the kids and I were looking forward to meeting for the first time. And of course, the kids were stoked to see Grandma and Grandpa.
The drive was supposed to take us about seven hours. A couple hours into the drive, our battery warning light came on. Hubs was pretty concerned, considering we’d just replaced our alternator a couple months ago, and apparently these things are related. We made it to a mechanic (who had cars propped up on rocks instead of jacks), who couldn’t help us. The issue was not with the battery itself, which could easily be replaced. Instead, the bracket that held our alternator was broken. So then we went to another mechanic that called every mechanic around town for the replacement bracket they needed to fix our car and…no one had it. They said they could order the part and get it in by Tuesday. Remember, this was last Friday. We were planning on coming back on Sunday.
All the local car-rental places were closed, but even if they weren’t, we couldn’t rely on our busted car to get us there, and the town was too small to have any taxis, so…not an option.
Nathan and I sat in the car and narrowed it down to three viable options:
- Call Kris and ask her to come save us and just take us home. (Kris has confirmed that she would indeed have come and saved us. Everyone, get yourself a Kris in your life.)
- Stay in a hotel for a night and then rent a car to drive home the next day. (The memorial was Saturday morning, so if we drove down Saturday we’d miss it completely.)
- Catch the next Greyhound bus to Albuquerque. Departs: 10:00pm, Arrives: 4:30am. (Our car broke down around 5pm)
And thus we had a rather classic set of roads set before us. Admit defeat, return to the known and the easy…or do it the hard way, take a risk, and go on an adventure. Well kids, we took the Greyhound.
We spent five hours trying to kill time, walked all the way to four different restaurants recommended by Google before finding out they were all closed, listened to our children bicker and complain, realized in a panic that if we didn’t retrieve our luggage, the mechanic might lock our car into his shop with all our stuff in it, sent Nathan running across town to retrieve said luggage, and then hauled that luggage around town, and then the bus station was closed in the evenings so there were no vending machines or bathrooms for anyone to use and let’s be real–all bus stations get a little creepy after dark. And finally, when we arrived, our two small children were as jet-lagged as if they’d flown to Japan (and I say that from personal experience.) At least, that’s one way to tell the story.
Another way to tell the story is like this: we took a walk along the river, found a weird metal thing in the water and decided it was a magical key from the Land of Hyrule, found a coffee shop with wi-fi and donuts and a four-way chess board (on which Bubs learned to play chess for the first time), we ate some stellar cheeseburgers and beef-stuffed sopapillas with Pina Coladas, and by the grace of heaven we remembered to get our luggage out of our car before the mechanic closed his shop, and we made it to the Greyhound station with time to spare! And we all made it to the memorial in the morning! Bubs was so tired he even slept through it, which was actually super helpful, hahaha.
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, have all had similar highs and lows. Meltdowns and naps. Lots of easily happy moments, and lots of opportunities to choose happiness.
I haven’t taken any pictures during this trip. Trust me, the idea of archiving the whole thing crossed my mind right at the beginning. The potential for a good story was obvious. But there was more than one adventure to be had. One was about “type two funny” travel disasters and the challenges of dragging children onto Greyhounds at four in the morning, and the kinds of things that make for good youtube videos. The other adventure was a little harder to grasp, a little quieter. It was about taking the time to get to know my kids a little better, teaching my son to play chess, spending time pretending to be mermaids with my daughter in the hotel pool, going to the family graveyard, meeting people I’ve never met before, and helping my husband manage being away from work for several unexpected days. I suppose I could have recorded those things too, and I have recorded that kind of thing in the past. All I can say is this: that a camera changes things. Sometimes taking pictures and footage enhances your experience. Sometimes the camera makes you an outsider in your own adventure. This time, I didn’t feel like looking at everything through a lens.
In the meanwhile, I’m still in Albuquerque. Looking forward to getting back home–hopefully tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, well, at least I’m in a magical, far away place, where the sun is always shining and the air smells like warm root beer, and the towels are oh so fluffy, where the shriners and the lepers play their ukuleles all day long, and anyone on the street will gladly shave your back for a nickel.
Wacka wacka doodoo yeah.
Okay kids, I’m back from the Storymakers 2018 writing conference, and it’s time for a play-by-play.
First, Christina Parks came ten days before the shindig. She’s one of my best buddies (and one of the best writers I know). This year was extra special because she brought her five year-old daughter and 10 month-old daughter. We even hung out with our buddy Kris Atkins and her kids in Denver, and stayed overnight. It was a lot of kids! Much fun was had. Driving to and from Denver, I started reading I Feel Bad About My Neck out loud to Christina and it made the time fly. Christina and I happen to have the same *exact* palate, so we made a lot of freakishly delicious food. I made carrot cake that lasted all of two-and-a-half days. She even made meat pasties for the family one night, and let the kids roll out their own dough.
Storymakers is a writing conference in Provo, Utah. On the drive up, we had Christina’s two little girls in the car and they were COMPLETE ANGELS. Her baby literally did not cry until about 20 minutes before we arrived at the hotel. Her five year-old stayed with “grandma” during the conference, but Angel Baby stayed with us. With all the stresses of plane flights, long car trips, strange houses, weird hotels, and new people, this kid took it all in stride and amazed us all. Spending time with her was one of the highlights of the trip. Though one thing I often say about babies, is that having a good baby is like having a good bull. Even when they’re good, they’re still a lot to handle, and I was so proud of Christina for going to Storymakers regardless of the additional challenge.
On Wednesday, we went to the Austen Tea Party, a regency-themed get-together for historical or semi-historical writers. This year we were allowed to break from convention and wear anything from any decade. I wore my Moroccan kaftan, Christina wore a regency dress she made herself, and Kris dressed up like a 90s rocker chick. You know what though? I like our pictures from two years ago better, and I never got much of a chance to share those, so that’s going here, hahaha.
The next day, Kris went up to Salt Lake to visit family and Christina and I spent the morning walking Provo, visiting the temple grounds, and stuffing ourselves on Belgian frites and Hruska’s Kaloches. Those little things are like heaven wrapped in a cloud. The sausage and gravy is my favorite. We went there again before we left so Kris wouldn’t miss out.
On the first day of Storymakers we went to a three-hour intensive on social media. You can thank that class for me resurrecting the blog, since the instructor asked us to send her a link to three blog posts a month or so ago and at the time I didn’t have any. The class was actually really amazing and informative–something that’s hard to do with any social media class these days. One of the best takeaways was the idea of just focusing on something. Not trying to create an account everywhere, but really finding where you feel most comfortable and rocking that. I think YouTube + this blog are going to be my focus from here on out. So now I have to resurrect my YouTube channel…
Oh, and we wore matching shirts. Christina made them. Christina was kind of the woman-of-the-hour every hour that week. She knows how to make it happen.
Shannon Hale was the keynote speaker at the conference. When I came home and showed my son pictures, he said he wished he was there and that he thought the Princess in Black was really cool and it wasn’t fair I got to meet the author. I told him her big speech at dinner was about how there were no boy books or girl books, but just books for people, and he yelled “That’s right!!!” So apparently I’m doing something right.
We also had classes by awesome authors like Sarah Eden and Dan Wells. Dan’s class was really weird for me because I listen to him talk on the podcast Writing Excuses almost every day (they update once a week, but I listen to reruns), and getting to learn from him in real life was an amazing experience.
Another fun part of the conference was pitching my book to an editor. This is me right before my pitch:
Hahaha, I’m actually just kidding around. To be totally honest, I wasn’t super nervous about this pitch at all. I see pitches as an opportunity to fine-tune my concept and make some great contacts in the industry. This pitch also included a query and first page critique. The editor actually thought both my query and first page were really solid and didn’t have any suggestions, but I got some great feedback about what was working. We had a little bit of extra time, so he asked me if there was anything else I wanted to talk about. I ended up telling him about some of my short stories, even though he doesn’t rep them, but just for fun. He got really excited about the concept for “Satellite” and wanted me to send him a link so he could read it when it finds a home.
After the conference, our whole trio + Christina’s husband went to see Hamilton! Again, it was Christina with the hookups. She jumped on this whole thing months ago and had all four of us coordinate our attacks the moment the tickets went on sale. This woman knows how to make it happen.
The show was a revelation. I know everyone says this production is a work of genius, but it really is. It deserves the reputation it has. The talent was totally overwhelming, and there was so much to take away from it and think about later. I loved it so much.
And that was a wrap! Christina and her family stayed for some extra time with family in Utah, and Kris and I drove home. On the way back to Colorado we brainstormed an entire book together.
When I got home, I finally got Satellite on submission. Since then I’ve outlined plans for two more short stories. Storymakers is fantastic for so many reasons. The classes, the speakers, the friends, the professionals…but I underlying it all and making it magical is an incredible surge of creative energy. My fire is rekindled for another year. I’m home. I’m writing.
And I’m not going to miss my shot.
In the world of science fiction and fantasy short stories, getting a Hugo Award is like winning an Oscar. As a short story writer currently in the throes of submitting her work, I’ve been really interested in which anthologies tend to get their stories nominated for, and win, Hugos. Of course getting something published in one of these carries no guarantee of success, but it does demonstrate the fact that there are Hugo-voting eyeballs looking at these collections. I figure if I want to make the team, it’s a good idea to show up for tryouts.
Since making bar graphs is apparently my definition of fun, the following charts are all created by me. The data was collected from the Hugo Awards website.
The graph below illustrates which publications have had their short stories nominated for a Hugo in the last twenty years.
As you can see, Asimov’s has dominated the short story Hugo Awards with 38 nominations in the last two decades. Analog and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction come in second with 10 each, Clarkesworld goes for bronze with 7, and Tor gets an honorable mention with 6.
When it comes to actual wins, not just nominations, the odds are even more stark. Asimov’s has 11, while the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is the only other publication with more than one. However! It’s worth noting that this trend has changed greatly in recent years. Short stories online have grown in popularity, new anthologies are popping up every day, and there’s been a relatively recent pushback to the not-so-affectionately called Sad Puppies, as well as the Rabid Puppies.
For whatever reason, Asimov’s actually drops off the list of short story nominees completely in 2013.
Currently, the 2018 nominees are:
- “Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017)
- “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand,” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny, September 2017)
- “Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017)
- “The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata (Tor.com, July 19, 2017)
- “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017)
- “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017)
We won’t know who this year’s winners are until August, but that’s three more nominations for Uncanny and one more for Tor and Apex. It’s also the first nomination for a story from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which is pretty exciting! Look how much it changes the dynamics of our five-year graph:
Over the years, a few of the short story winners have come out of print anthologies, but most of them were published in print and online magazines. If you’re also looking to submit your work, I recommend this very handy list I put together of short story magazines and anthologies currently taking unsolicited submissions. It has a lot more information on many of these anthologies, plus a few more I believe we’ll see make the list in the near future.
A while ago I mentioned that Patrick Rothfuss has, in my opinion, the best author blog on the internet. Although, like his books, his blog is a bit of a behemoth. Where to start a book is simple–at the beginning (unless you’re one of those monsters who reads the last chapter first). Where to start a blog with eleven years’ worth of posts written by a famously (infamously?) verbose author is another matter. That said, the effort is well worth it. And since there’s nothing I love more than subjecting people to my obsessively organized passions, I’ve curated a list for your convenience.
Who is Pat?
1) A Guy Game: everything you need to know about Pat. And life in general.
2) Following Diogenes: an unironically fascinating story about a man putting on his socks.
3) Pat Rothfuss Escort Service: Pat briefly becomes mother to a flock of baby ducks.
4) Circadian Spring: “that local fantasy author” gets a little extra fantasy author-y.
5) Concerning Love: what back rubs, roses, and Pedialite have in common.
What’s writing like for Pat?
6) Is It Drafty in Here?: behold, two beautiful babies.
7) The Perils of Translation: perils also here, here, and here. Perils everywhere.
8) Fanmail Q&A: Revision: how Pat spends his Friday nights.
9) Everyone Hates their Jobs Sometimes: the world’s worst librarian.
10) Why I Love My Editor: Betsy Wollheim saves Pat’s career.
What’s Being a Famous Author Like?
11) Losing my anonymity: is there anything more charming than seeing someone genuinely struggle with becoming more and more and more famous?
12) Hollywood News: in which Pat is the prettiest girl at the party.
13) The Way of Kings: Brandon Sanderson is starting to piss Pat off (in a rom-com kinda way).
14) My First Signing: To Hell.
15) The Wise Man’s Blurbs: love letters from fans.
16) Reaping the Whirlwind: watch Pat’s charity grow year after year.
17) Bilboing it Up: that time Pat convinced an entire fanbase to take off their shoes.
18) Making Change with my Boy: the story of a little boy who just wants to buy a cow.
19) A Familiar Book: the book that keeps coming back–year, after year, after year, after year.
20) Terrifying Favors: in which Pat forges a ring of power.
What About the Things that are Hard to Write About?
21) A Story about My Mom, Haiti, and Irresistible Math.
22) The Things My Dad has Said.
23) Saint Patrick’s Day: because we could all use some shamrock cookies sometimes.
24) Not Your Usual Mother’s Day Post: not an easy day.
25) The Things that Children Know: lessons learned from The Velveteen Rabbit
I should mention–after all of this–this caveat: that the persona created by all of Pat’s writing, whether it be in book or blog, is a mere shadow of himself. It’s what he refers to as My Fictional Nature, and his thoughts on it are worth noting. All I can say is, if this is the shadow, I would love to meet the person.
Later Space Cowboys…
Whew! Things are getting interesting over here in Tyler Land. I have a number of writing projects I’m working on right now, and I thought it’d be fun to keep you updated on my progress!
Sci-fi short story I’d like to be about 5k-7k words. My original draft was 5k, but the premise is kind of far out and so many of my beta readers had so many questions, I decided to let myself wax verbose on the second draft and answer all the questions. This resulted in the story swelling to 9k (almost twice the length of the first draft). I figured I could review how the additional 4k felt and shave it down if needed. Adding more narration and more backstory, as well as changing the starting point, made the whole thing feel like the first chapter to a Young Adult dystopian novel instead of a sci-fi short. It was so far from what I wanted, I considered shelving the whole project. But I talked to my critique partner Kris, and she helped me create a vision for draft number three, where I could refocus and hone in on the story I most wanted to tell. So that’s what I’m currently doing. Goes on submission: May 31
Sci-fi flash fiction about 650 words long. The concept behind this story is so niche I have no idea if it will ever get published. That said, I think it may be one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. I’ve recruited help from my husband and my best friend from high school to help me with some of the technical stuff. They’ve been geeking out about it, which is absolutely thrilling to me. I brought the story to my library writing group and had one person understand it completely, one person understand the gist of it, and three people who couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I asked the group if there was a way to balance the story so it could be understood by a wider audience. The group unanimously advised me to ignore the wider audience, commit to the idea, and charge ahead with it. Goes on submission: April 30
Sci-fi/fantasy short story I’m hoping to keep between 7k-10k words. This story is still in the note-taking phase. When looking for ideas, I often begin with my resources. My husband and brother-in-law both worked on submarines for three years, and I simply couldn’t pass up the spec fic opportunities! This will definitely be my most challenging short story to date because it deals with the ethics of nuclear war, and I’ll have to get all my technical and inside information from interviews and research. Goes on submission: August 31
4) “The Island Book”
Historical fantasy novel about 100k words. This is the first installment in a series of books about two families struggling for control of a fictional island. Magical beings and speculative science get involved. Chaos ensues. Currently working on: chapters 11 and 12
Sci-fi short story about 5k words. This project was inspired by my years in Japan, one very interesting SCUBA instructor, and memories of my grandpa introducing me to various SETI programs. The whole story is essentially a conversation–hopefully an interesting one. Currently on submission: Writers of the Future
Okay, that’s it for now! Wish me luck!
For anyone interested, here is my list of science fiction and fantasy magazines/anthologies I plan on submitting my short stories to. These are, in my opinion, the very best SFF collections out there that accept unsolicited submissions. In other words, you can submit your work to them without an agent. I’ll be updating this information as time goes on. I haven’t numbered or rated the venues because they each have different strengths and specialties. Zoetrope, for instance, is the most literary on this list, while Beneath Ceaseless Skies only publishes second-world fantasy. I think it’s a good idea to peruse the list with a specific story in mind and consider which would be the best fit.
Not gonna lie, it’s a very good list.
Here’s a breakdown of what we’re lookin’ at:
- Title (links to the magazine’s submission guidelines page)
- If the title is followed by (SFWA), that means publication in the venue qualifies the author for membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.*
- Pay (in cents) per word and acceptable word counts
- Notable awards given to the magazine, or short stories published in that specific magazine
- Notable authors published by the magazine
- Whether or not submissions are exclusive (you can’t simultaneously submit your story to another venue)
- Average response time
- Special notes or exceptions
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (SFWA)
8-10 cents per word for short fiction up to 20,000
6 cents per word for serials up to 40,000-80,000
Winner of Hugo (54) and Nebula (23)
Published: Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Greg Bear, Ben Bova, David Brin, Lois McMaster Bujold, Michael F. Flynn, Robert A. Heinlein, Geoffrey Landis, Spider Robinson, Robert J. Sawyer, Charles Sheffield, Michael Swanwick, Harry Turtledove, Timothy Zahn, Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey
Exclusive (response time 2-4 months, tracking number provided)
Apex Magazine (SFWA)
6 cents per word for short fiction up to 7,500 words
Nominated for Hugo
Published: Neil Gaiman, Poppy Z Brite, Cherie Priest, Eugie Foster, Maurice Broaddus, Ben Bova, William F. Nolan, Sara King, Brian Keene
Exclusive (response time 30 days)
Asimov’s Science Fiction (SFWA)
8-10 cents per word for short fiction up to 7,500 (1000 word minimum)
8 cents per word up to 20,000
Winner of Hugo (75) Nebula (30) and Locus (63)
Published: Isaac Asimov, George R. R. Martin, Octavia E. Butler, Jonathan Lethem, Kim Stanly Robinson, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, Fran Wilde
Exclusive (response time 5 weeks, tracking number provided)
Beneath Ceaseless Skies (SFWA)
6 cents per word for short fiction up to 14,000
Mag finalist for Hugo (5) WFA winner (1) WFA finalist (6) Nebula finalists (4)
Non-Exclusive, but no Multiple Submissions (response time 1-7 weeks, avg 2-4)
Special note: Fantasy (secondary world) ONLY/ no science fiction
Clarkesworld Magazine (SFWA)
10 cents per word for short fiction up to 5,000 words (1000 word minimum)
8 cents per word up to 16,000 words
Winner of Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus
Published: Elizabeth Bear, Kij Johnson, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Sarah Monette, Catherynne Valente, Jeff VanderMeer, Peter Watts
Exclusive (response time 2 days, tracking number provided)
Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores (SFWA)
6 cents per word for short fiction unlimited (1,000 minimum)
Exclusive (response time 1-12 weeks)
Special note: also accepts podcast, video, comics
Escape Pod (SFWA)
6 cents per word for short fiction 2,000-6,000 words
100 dollars for reprints of any length
Some reprints have won the Hugo
Exclusive (response time 3-6 months)
Special note: sci-fi ONLY/ no fantasy/magical realism
Fireside Fiction (SFWA)
12.5 cents per word for short fiction up to 4,000 words, flash fiction up to 1,000
Multiple Hugo nominations
Published: Amal El-Mohtar, Jennifer Campbell Hicks, Mary Robinette Kowal, Daniel José Older, Chuck Wendig, Caroline M Yoachim, Ken Liu, Kevin Hearne
Exclusive (response time 1 month after close of submission period)
Galaxy’s Edge (SFWA)
7 cents per word for short fiction up to 7,000 words
Published: Orson Scott Card, Mercedes Lackey, George RR Martin, Larry Niven, Lois McMaster Bujold, Gregory Benford, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert A. Heinlein, Kevin J Anderson
Exclusive (response time 6 weeks)
Interzone (does not qualify for SFWA)
4 cents per word for short fiction up to 10,000 words (£30/1000 words)
Winner of Hugo and British Fantasy Awards
Published: Brian Aldiss, Sarah Ash, Michael Moorcock, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, M. John Harrison, Stephen Baxter, Iain M. Banks, J.G. Ballard, Kim Newman, Alastair Reynolds, Harlan Ellison, Greg Egan, Gwyneth Jones, Jonathan Lethem, Geoff Ryman, Rachel Pollack, Charles Stross, Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Exclusive (response time unknown)
8 cents per word for short fiction 1,500 to 10,000 (5,000 preferred)
Hugo winner (1) Hugo finalists (3) Nebula finalists (16) World Fantasy finalist (1)
Exclusive (response time 2 days, 2 weeks if under consideration)
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (SFWA)
7-12 cents per word for short fiction up to 25,000 words
Winner of Hugo and Nebula
Published: Stephen King, Walter Miller, Daniel Keyes, David Gerrold, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Bisson
Exclusive (response time 8 weeks)
Motherboard: Terraform (SFWA)
20 cents per word for short fiction up to 2,000 words
Exclusive (response time 4 months)
Special note: tech, science, near-future
Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show (SFWA)
6 cents per word for short fiction up to 17,500 words
Nominated for Hugo, Recommended in Locus magazine
Published: Peter S. Beagle, David Farland, Tim Pratt, Eugie Foster, Bud Sparhawk, Mary Robinette Kowal, James Maxey, Mette Ivie Harrison, Sharon Shinn, Eric James Stone, Orson Scott Card
Exclusive (response time 3 months)
6 cents per word for short fiction 2,000-6,000, $100 for reprints of any length
Some reprints have won the Hugo
Exclusive (response time unknown, narration auditions 3-6 months)
Special note: Fantasy ONLY/ no sci-fi
Shimmer Magazine (does not qualify for SFWA)
5 cents per word for short fiction up to 7,500 words
Published: Mary Robinette Kowal, Aliette de Bodard, Amal El-Mohtar, A.C. Wise
Exclusive (response time 2 weeks)
Strange Horizons (SFWA)
8 cents per word for short fiction up to 10,000 words (5,000 preferred)
Nominated for Hugo and Nebula, Winner of the Rhysling and World Fantasy
Published: Nnedi Okorafor, Saladin Ahmed, Aliette de Bodard, Zen Cho, Nino Cipri, Becky Cloonan, Amal El-Mohtar, Kameron Hurley, N.K. Jemison, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, George RR Martin, Garth Nix, Naomi Nowak, Yukimi Ogawa, Daniel José Older, John Scalzi, E. Kristin Anderson, Aimee Bender, Gwenda Bond, Roshani Chokshi, Cory Doctorow, Ursula K. Le Guin, Rachel Hartman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kelly Link, Sylvia Moreno-Garcia, Phoebe North, Brenna Yovanoff
Exclusive (response time <40 days)
Pay confidential for novella-length fiction from 20,000 to 40,000 words
Winner of Hugo, Locus, and Nebula
Published: Maria Dahvana Headley, Karin Tidbeck, Nnedi Okorafor
Exclusive (response time 6+ months)
Uncanny Magazine (SFWA)
8 cents per word for short fiction up to 6,000 words (750 word minimum)
Winner of Hugo, Finalist of World Fantasy and Locus
Published: Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Catherynne M. Valente, Charlie Jane Anders, Seanan McGuire, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Alex Bledsoe, Kameron Hurley and Ken Liu, Amal El-Mohtar
Exclusive (response in 30 days)
Zoetrope All-Story (does not qualify for SFWA)
Pay confidential for short fiction and one-act plays up to 7,000 words
Winner of National Magazine Award, Best American Short Stories, O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes
Published: Gabriel García Márquez, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, David Benioff, Mary Gaitskill, David Mamet, Ha Jin, Elizabeth McCracken, Yiyun Li, Don DeLillo, Andrew Sean Greer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Salman Rushdie, Woody Allen, Yoko Ogawa, David Means, Susan Straight, Charles D’Ambrosio
Non-exclusive (website states: simultaneous submissions are accepted)
If you see anything that’s become outdated, or if I’ve accidentally omitted pertinent information, please let me know in the comments.
I’ve mentioned how important it is to me to write more than I talk about writing. The same goes for daydreaming. I don’t want to end up dreaming more than doing. Dreaming takes a lot of energy. If I’m not careful, it can waste a lot of time as well—like last night, when dreaming (both literally and figuratively) resulted in me sleeping in and missing my a.m. writing time. As Dumbledore would say, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
So this morning, after dropping Bubs off at school, Rosebud and I did our hair, packed our bags, and headed to the library. Lucky me, it was my turn to share a short story with my local writer’s group and get a critique. I work with a lot of awesome writers, but I love the guts out of my local library group. We’re a bit of a motley crew. We’ve got an age range that spans several decades. We write everything from genre fiction, to memoirs, to exposés, to beat poetry. Today, I had two people rave about my short story, one say “I couldn’t get past the third page. I’m astounded anyone could read it,” and I had to break up an argument over whether or not the opening needed more description. More than once. I seriously love these people. If your local library group doesn’t regularly end near fisticuffs, you’re missing out. We also have cookies.
Going to the library today helped me a million times more than staying up and planning my winner’s wardrobe. And it didn’t just help my writing; it helped my morale. Because I was out there doing something. I was sharing my work. I was getting feedback. I was talking about ideas with real people. I wasn’t thinking about dresses or awards, but I was closer to them than I had been last night.
Because dreams aren’t accomplished by dreaming. Dreams are accomplished by laying down real efforts, brick-by-brick, and trusting that what you build will be beyond what you imagine.
So tonight, I’m going to bed on time. Let the dreams settle with the feathers in my pillow. And tomorrow morning, I’m going to wake up and write.
Full Disclosure: this isn’t my first blog. In December 2010 I created a blog that lasted almost exactly three years. I had 98 posts and 81,592 views. All things considered, that ain’t bad. So what went wrong? Why’d I quit? And why is the blog nowhere to be found? Well, as far as I can tell, I made five crucial mistakes.
1) I gave unqualified advice.
I talked a lot about things I had no experience in or real understanding of. I gave advice on how to write a query; I’d never written an actual query. I wrote about reducing your novel’s word count; I’d never finished a novel. I even had a series of posts where I helped a friend write her synopsis…you see where I’m going with this. Out of all the mistakes I made on my old blog, this was the one cringe-worthy enough to make me delete it.
2) I didn’t make it personal.
I thought writing blogs weren’t supposed to read like personal journals. So I didn’t talk about my family, my fears or my goals, I didn’t even talk about the book I was working on. I talked about writing, but not my writing. As a result, I missed out on a chance to chronicle a very exciting and formative time in my life. Out of all the authors whose books I love, only one of them has a blog I love. Patrick Rothfuss. I’ve read his entire archives (all eleven years’ worth) just for fun. Why? Because he’s figured out how to be real on the internet. He talks about his feelings, his family, and his writing too. It makes you feel like a ghostly traveling companion on the journey of his career.
3) I took myself way too seriously.
Okay, I admit it: this post took me a month to write because I still struggle with this. I spend way too much time hemming and hawing about the perfect thing to say instead of just settling on something good enough. I should relax and trust that, if I’m myself, people are going to like me. And if I’m sincere, they might even like what I have to say. I don’t have an issue with this in real life. Maybe it’s that writing something down makes it seem so definitive, sharing it on the internet makes it immortal, and whoa, hold on now, baby, I’m just not ready for that kind of a commitment! But perfect is the enemy of good (and done). And, as you can probably tell from reading this, that extra month didn’t serve to improve this post at all, now did it? Nope, it just made it take longer.
4) I posted too frequently, or not at all.
Consistency is key. That’s true for gaining any kind of social media following, as well as growing individually as an artist. Unfortunately, while I understood this maxim in 2010, it didn’t stop me from either posting obsessively every few days, or checking in every few months. If I’m being honest here, it’s something I still struggle with (I went to Morocco in March and still haven’t posted any YouTube videos about it. Oh. I mean, March of last year.) From here on out I’m planning on posting once a week, but if I can’t maintain that I’ll post once a month. Which leads me to the next thing I did wrong…
5) I didn’t adapt.
Instead of reviewing my progress and priorities and making appropriate adjustments, I quit. As nature’s law states: adapt or die. After running into these issues I didn’t give better advice, share something meaningful, or rethink my post schedule. I’ll admit, I have mixed feelings about this. Because I think it’s a very important truth that in order to be a successful writer, you need to write more than you talk about writing. Quitting my blog was a solution. But here’s where I went wrong: it wasn’t the only solution, and it wasn’t the best solution. Sometimes I wonder how much I would have learned by now, how much interesting content I would have created, had I adjusted my sights and trajectory and kept at it.
Now, my old blog wasn’t all bad. Some of the posts were really fun, or even excellent! You’ll see some of that material recycled here. But the best thing that ever came out of it, came because of the best move I’ve ever made in my writing career–and I’m gonna get real dopey on you here–in my adult life.
What I got right?
1) I used social media to make friends.
Specifically, I used my blog as a way of meeting people who were interested in the same things I was. I didn’t “establish an author’s platform.” I have some beef concerning that tack. I actually networked. I’d love to write a post in the near future on the difference between networking and creating a platform, but for now I’ll just say that I’ve met literally hundreds of people because of Blogger. I have critique partners, beta readers, and best friends because of it. What worked for me was using my blog as a landing spot for people to get to know me, and then reaching out to them through email, on the phone, at a conference, or planning a meet-up. I’m over thirty years old, married with two kids, and thanks to the “blogosphere,” I get to have sleepovers with my girlfriends. There’s Game of Thrones and popcorn and caramel cookie crunch Talenti involved. It’s pretty radical.
With all that in mind, I have a pretty good idea how I want to operate my blog from here on out.
Let’s be friends, eh?
Hey. I’m Christine. I’ve thought a lot about what I want to write as my first official entry in this blog. I imagine that someday, when I’m published, I might wander back here to remind myself what things used to be like. I hope there may be a person or two who will enjoy my work enough to be curious about where I started. So my aim here is to create a Time Capsule, to capture a bit of who I am, what I’m working on, what’s important to me, and where I want to go with it all.
First and foremost, this is a writing blog. I create YouTube videos, I draw illustrations, and craft (a lot), but in so many ways, I see those creative endeavors simply as facets to my one true love: storytelling.
As a child, I had an idea for a fantasy book that served as my main obsession all the way through high school and college. In 2010, I finally got serious about the project and began writing every day. I spent the better part of the last decade working and reworking the same book. It evolved from fantasy into historical fantasy. The characters grew and evolved and matured. The world grew. The story grew. And then…I realized that I actually wanted that book to be a sequel, rather than the first in the series. I’m currently eleven chapters into the new “Book 1,” and am enjoying using everything I’ve learned to finally do this story-of-my-heart justice.
Meanwhile, I kind of got tired of writing and writing without pitching and publishing. I’ve always had a great love for short stories, but never found time to work on them because of my novel. This year, I made the goal to write a short story every three months, and submit one to each quarter of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest. If one of those stories meets with rejection, I’ve prepared a list of science fiction and fantasy magazines to submit them to. If it’s rejected by one of those, I’ll send it to another.
Lather, rinse, repeat until published.
I can’t explain how happy just being involved in this part of the process has made me. So stay tuned for updates on both my novel and short stories! Also art. Also YouTube. Also random craftiness.
What are my goals? To finish my historical fantasy series. To tell the best stories I can to as many people as I can. To have fun doing it. To make friends with people who share the same definition of fun.
What are my fears? Oh, I don’t know. The sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man. Everything else is a learning experience.
And I’m not even taking this journey alone. Let me introduce you to Team Tyler.
These are the small humans I created, holding up some small robots they created:
This is Bubs. He likes science, dinosaurs, robots, and playing Ocarina of Time and Banjo-Kazooie on his dad’s old Nintendo 64.
This is Rosebud. She likes princesses. Today she had me do her hair like her favorite: Princess Leia.
And here’s Nathan, the love of my life, building a robot with my son. We really like robots around here.
And if this is being read in the year 2074 by our post-Singularity Robot Overlords, let this be proof that Team Tyler was always loyal to you.
Looking forward to looking back.