Personal Life, Writing

World Postcard Day is October 1

 

Postcrossing postcard image front designI know it’s nearly a “lost art,” but the humble postcard is 150 years old this year, and the world is celebrating that with the first-ever World Postcard Day. Postcard fans like me will be celebrating by, what else, sending postcards!

Over at Postcrossing.com’s blog, there’s a design you can print yourself, if you’d like; both sides, or just one–your choice. And they also have a teacher’s packet for incorporating into schooling. Naturally, you can sign up with Postcrossing (it’s free!) to exchange postcards around the world all year long. There’s more fun going on at 150 Years of Postcards. ¬†And over at Christopher Arndt Postcards, they have their own postcard design already printed and for sale.

Of course, you don’t need any special postcard to celebrate World Postcard Day. Any card will do. Just write one, and send it–and voila! You’re part of the celebration.

What’s the big deal with postcards? Well, for me, with COVID-19 keeping me home and preventing the travel I love and crave, postcards a great way to armchair travel, and treat others to similar “travel,” without leaving home. It’s a sheer delight to go to my mailbox and find a postcard from some wonderful part of the world awaiting me–or three! And on Postcrossing, I’ve gotten delighted thanks for the cards I’ve picked out specially for each individual, or the stamps, or both. (yes, getting cool stamps from the post office is another thing you’ll start to do–and why not? they cost the same as the boring ones!) Getting and bringing joy in one small step. Honestly, it’s an amazing boost for such a small investment. These days, I need all the joy I can find.

 

publication, Writing

Publication Day! “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” is live today at DSF!

What a great thing to wake up to on a stiflingly humid Monday morning! My story, “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” went up as today’s story at Daily Science Fiction. Oddly enough, this sold before “What You Do for a Friend,” but that’s kind of typical–there is no known rhyme nor reason to when stories get published after a sale, and you can only make yourself crazy trying to figure one out.

This story started out, as so many do, as a Codex contest story. One of the prompts was, quite literally, the first line: who figured it out first? And then, all I had to do was figure out what they figured out, and who they were. And why it mattered. You know, the little stuff ūüėČ

Oh, and one more tiny little secret about it? The name Jancy? It came from a vet’s office nearby. I’d always liked that name, wondered about it–and for this story, it simply popped into my head. It’s one thing that never changed, through all the edits.

Anyway, I’m really pleased with this one. It’s one of my favorite stories that I’ve written, so I hope you enjoy reading it. And if you can, go ahead and tip DSF a little bit, okay? The reason the story is there is because they paid me for the right to publish it. Thanks, and happy Monday to you, too!

 

publication

“What You Do for a Friend” Live at Nature’s Futures

Today is publication day over at Nature! My flash story What You Do for a Friend is now up in their “Futures” series, and free to read online. If you subscribe, it comes in a truly fancy PDF publication with the most awesome illustration gracing the top of the story!

At the bottom of the story’s concluding page, there’s a spot explaining the inspiration behind the story, which covers what I’d normally do here on the olde blogge on publication day. So, what to do, what to do? Well, I can expand a wee bit on that inspiration, and give you more!

Like this:  What You Do for a Friend was also written during a Codex flash fiction writing contest. We’re given prompts, and 52 hours to write a story of 750 words or less. I picked two of the 6 prompts given, and got to writing. The published story was my third attempt at “finding” the story I wanted to write, before I truly began. The first two ideas fizzled out completely, (sometimes I’ve gotten “extra stories” from these contests, but not this time) but I latched onto this one and immediately loved the vibe, and the ideas I could explore with it. I’m pretty sure this is the first time that one of my story’s first drafts and its final version looked so similar!

Oh, a final bit of fun: one of the prompts I used was to utilize x number of words from a list of unrelated words. Not all those words made it into the final story, but Seeker’s name certainly did!

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Writing

Exit, pursued by a bear…

I’m stealing William Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction because I’ve recently been enamored with the National Park’s explore.org site, specifically the Katmai National Park’s Bear Cams. They have 5 separate live cams showing different areas, and all of them have given me great views of bear in the river, leaping trout, and the intersections of the two. A couple have audio as well as video, so I’ve been doing editing to the sound of rushing waterfalls, or a babbling broad river, and glancing up now and again to see wild bears! It’s pretty awesome.

And so, to tie in with that headline, here are some of the screenshots I’ve snapped. I didn’t get a good one of the bear cub interacting with–I think–a coyote (or was it a wolf? too grainy and half hidden for me to be sure), but I think you’ll agree these are pretty cool.

Just look at all those salmon!
Mama and twins!
Caught one!
Hmmm, there might be fish there…
Another bear wanders into the scene..
publication, science, Writing

Story Sale = A Great Monday!

I found a fantastic email awaiting me this morning: I’ve already signed and returned the contract, so now I’m absolutely delighted to tell you that I’ve sold a story to Nature’s Futures!¬†

“Wait, to whom?” I hear you asking. Let’s look at this. From their website, “Nature¬†is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions.¬†Nature¬†also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.”

So yes, this is primarily a non-fiction publication catering to those in the scientific fields. But here’s where my sale comes in: Nature has a special section, called Futures, that publishes flash fiction of a scientific nature–Science Fiction, simply put. Stuff to make you think, ponder the future, and maybe let us consider the route we chose to get to that future.

Now back to the squee: a sale to this market has been a dream of mine for some time. I really love the stories they publish, and being read by scientists, I mean…what’s not to love about that? It’s pretty awesome, and I’m still floating on cloud 9.

I don’t have a publication date yet, but I’ll be sure to update this blog once I have it. Until then, wheeeeeeee! Happy Monday!

conventions, Personal Life, Today's Desk, Writing

Writer’s Desk, 6/8/20

Out the window:¬†Thick gray and white massed clouds, misting rain, humidity, and yuck. Better than Saturday night’s tornado warning, at least!

sad face
After the Nebulas were over, Sad Writer is facing massive edits and structural work

On the desktop:¬†a scattering of notes from the SFWA Nebula Awards Conference (which was held entirely online, and was simply amazing!), a water bill that I needed help decoding (I love it when the numbers simply don’t add up and you can’t even figure out how much to pay, don’t you?!?), various scene cards in states of revision, the residue both tears of rage and tears of frustration, which leave entirely different marks, trust me.

Today‚Äôs Work-in-Progess:¬†¬†Breathing. Thinking hard thoughts. My novel’s early chapters are broken. They need revising, badly, and that may entail re-envisioning the entire first half of the novel. Ugh ugh ugh. I took a great risk going with the protagonist I chose, knowing it would be far too easy for this to fail, and it did. Now I need to go back to the drawing board to make it right. Wish me luck.

And Another Dozen Things:¬†This year is a dumpster fire. It shouldn’t need saying, and yet it does: Black Lives Matter. Racial inequity and inequality are unjust and inhumane. COVID-19 is still a thing, so please please please stay safe, protect your health and the health of those around you as much as possible. Hurricane season is upon us, so please prepare and take precautions to stay safe, especially in light of the first two items above. Look out for your friends and neighbors. Be kind. Be generous. Breathe. Be.

And finally, if you missed out on the Nebula Awards Conference and wish you hadn’t, it’s not too late. You can still get a membership! All the panels were recorded, and the accompanying Slack is still live and active. Re-watch parties! Write-in dates! Camaraderie! Social networking! Also, through June, every 2020 Nebula Conference membership purchased¬†“creates a seat for a Black writer. If you are a Black Writer, please email events@sfwa.org for instructions on how to register.” ¬†Where is all this wonderfulness to be found? Right here!

publication

Sale to DSF!

Now that the ink is dry, I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold my second flash fiction story to Daily Science Fiction‘s online magazine! I don’t have a publication date yet, but “Jancy8146 and the RealHouse” will be published there within a year’s time, and I’ll be sure to update you when it’s available to read!

Or you could subscribe to DSF and find out even earlier–it’s free, after all. And if you’re feeling the love for the stories you read there, you could tip them a small monetary contribution to help keep them up and running, and keep the good stories coming your way.

That’s it for now. I’ll make my usual “behind the story” post here once the story is up. Until then, stay home, wash your hands, stay safe.

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Writing

…Please Pause…

That kind of feels like what my brain is saying in regards to “the new normal” of living life alongside/with a pandemic. I am healthy. So far, my family and close friends are all healthy (or at least not suffering from COVID-19 symptoms). But my brain is “noping out” of serious stuff right now, apparently filled to overflowing with dread and malaise from keeping up with the news.

In practical terms, this means my brain refuses to let me work on my novel. Working on novel edits requires a massive amount of “holding stuff in my head” in order to keep moving forward: each character’s arc, the plot arc, the overall scene goal, the chapter goal, the corrections currently necessary to each of the previous, the finer points of wordsmithing, AND the ability to mark something for later attention.

And I just…can’t. It’s too much right now, too overwhelming.

And while that’s okay, it’s not okay for me to stop writing altogether. I don’t want to do that, or to let even these circumstances control me so much. Instead, I’ve returned to short fiction. I’ve had several dozen short stories languishing in various stages of (in)completion, and added more to that number in January, when I participated in another Weekend Warrior flash fiction contest over on Codex. These stories, along with previous years’ stories, have been begging for revision, for editing and refining and rewriting before they can achieve a story’s ultimate goal: submission to market. And that’s what I’m doing.

This is the exact type of challenge I need. Each story is short, far smaller in scope than a novel, and thus easier for me to hold all the parts in my head. Also, each story can be completely reworked in a matter of days, so I get a rush of much-needed endorphins to propel me into the next story. And I can work different stories on different days, changing tone or genre or sub-genre depending on my ever-shifting mood and the mood of the world happening around me.

It’s been a great change for me, and has re-invigorated my writing practice. I’ve sent out more stories in 3 weeks than in the previous seven months, when I’d been exclusively noveling. In fact, right now I’m sitting on some really good news–but until contracts are signed, it’s got to remain my little secret. Just know that I’m holding something shiny and new against my heart, waiting to share it all with you as soon as I can.

Be safe, everyone. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Stay at home to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the health and safety of healthcare workers and first responders who are unceasing in their efforts to save as many lives as they can. Be good to each other, and to yourself. To quote from The Red Green Show, “We’re all in this together.”