Thursday, March 1, 2018


March 1. Woot! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we've made it through the coldest and dreariest part of the year, otherwise known as January and February. Welcome to the light at the end of the tunnel.

I surprised myself this month. After my short story attempt blew up, I spent about a week not writing anything. In the last two weeks of the month, however, I've written the first 5,000 words of a novel. Yes, a novel. If that's not surprising enough, here's more: It's mainstream fiction, not speculative, and I'm working without an outline. This feels like, "Hey, why don't you jump into the ocean without a life jacket and dog-paddle back to shore?" It's daunting and exciting.

Also in February, I read a couple of books, "Six Wakes" by Mur Lafferty and "Roomies" by Christina Lauren. I'm currently about a third of the way through "The Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeleine L'Engle, which I'm not enjoying as much as the first two books in the series, but it's still good.

It's amazing how much I've managed to get done, considering the other demands on my time. There's the day job, of course, and my 2e teenager is requiring more attention recently, as well. Speaking of the day job, I need to go do that, so I'm cutting off this post here. Have a wonderful day, all.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

End-of-January Progress Report

A couple weeks ago, I posted my goals for 2018. Mostly they are monthly goals. Let's see how I did in January:

One new story completed and submitted every month. In January, I completed a story and submitted it to an invite-only anthology. The editor accepted the story! That's my first acceptance of the year. I'll share more after the contract is signed.

I immediately jumped into another story and was 3,000 words into it. That's when I started reading an SF book that came out last year and is getting attention in awards circles. My story and that novel have too many similarities in premise and execution in the opening pages. This happens sometimes. There are no new ideas. In this case, any editor who would see my story would think I was copying at best, stealing at worst. So it's with quite a bit of frustration that I'm abandoning the half-finished story, at least for the time being.

Resuming my involvement in writer groups? Hasn't happened yet.

Read at least one book I haven't read before every month. I read "The Book of Dust" by Philip Pullman. I also reread two books I last read when I was about 10, so it was like reading them for the first time: Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" and "A Wind in the Door."

Take Care of Myself. Well, no. I haven't done this. I haven't had time to think about me. Unless you count taking an actual sick day when I had food poisoning instead of going to work. I did go see "The Post" with my dad one morning while the kids were in school. Does that count?

The end result: I was half successful on my resolutions in January.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Publication! "Terra Forms" in Perihelion Science Fiction

After a hiatus, Perihelion Science Fiction is back!

Even better, I have a story in the January issue. Woot!

I co-wrote "Terra Forms" with Dustin Adams, an excellent writer and friend. It's a short story about two androids whose mission to help their human crew scout out possible planetary homes for a new colony goes awry when the human crew all dies in a horrible accident. Now these two androids have no choice but to complete the mission alone, but they have opposing ideas on how to accomplish that.

Dustin and I wrote this story to submit to the Writers of the Future contest, where it received a silver honorable mention. We're excited that our story found such a great home.

If you want to read more of Dustin's stuff, you can check out his blog right here.

I've been published once before in Perihelion, a time travel story called Loopholes, in February 2015. Don't bother clicking on my blog link to the story, though, because it appears to not be working. Hmm. I'll have to check on that.

Anyway, enjoy the new story! While you're there, linger awhile with the rest of the issue, too.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

3rd & Starlight Available Now

Hey, check this out!

3rd & Starlight is now available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

This is a fantastic anthology edited by Robert Finegold. It includes the story "The Temptation of Father Francis," which I co-wrote with Nick T. Chan. I would describe this story as weird West dystopian steampunk. There are mechanical bees and a dirigible operated by an AI who thinks she's Annie Oakley. What's not to love?

But, wait, you already read it and you want more? There's also 1st & Starlight and 2nd & Starlight! I have stories in both of those, too. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Resolutions for 2018

We're halfway through January, but it's never too late to think about goals for the year. In fact, I make (and break) resolutions all the time. Here are some goals I'm thinking about right now.

One new story completed and submitted every month. Last year I did very little writing. I finished two stories, and one of those was co-written. My excuses for this: I started a new job in a new industry with lots to learn, and this sucked up my attention and left little space in my brain for creative pursuits; and also I've suffered from some depression on and off. This year will be better. Already I've completed and submitted one story, which leaves me 11 more to go.

Resume my involvement in writer groups. Without realizing I did it, I withdrew from participating in writers groups last year. I want to get back involved.

Read at least one book I've never read before every month. I haven't been reading much, either. I read novels with my kids at bedtime (currently Warrior Cats and Doug Adams), but I don't read much for myself. In a first step toward fixing this, I'm currently reading "The Book of Dust," by Philip Pullman.

Take care of myself. I haven't done a great job of this lately. I haven't been eating well or exercising. I've been neglecting some basics like getting my hair cut (haven't done that since last winter) and buying new clothes. I take care of everyone in my family except me. This is a chronic problem. If one of my kids develops a cough that won't quit, I take them to the doctor; if I develop a similar cough, I tell myself it'll go away on its own. Why do I neglect myself? I don't know. But it needs to stop.

That's it for now. That's plenty for any one person.

One last unrelated comment: To those who posted comments on this blog or in other places tell me you enjoyed my Joe Ledger story, thank you. It means a lot to me.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stuff and Fluff

Weekly roundup!

Maybe I can make this a usual thing again.

I completed my 41st orbit of the sun yesterday and am working on orbit No. 42. When I was a kid, I thought anyone older than 40 was ancient. Now I don't feel particularly old. There's a lot of life and creativity left in this body, and a lot of cool stuff to come.

To celebrate my birthday, my family treated me to lunch and a movie. We saw "Thor: Ragnarok," which is soooo much fun. There were a couple of twists I didn't see coming. It's always a nice surprise when that happens. I would go see it again in a heartbeat.

Coming on Tuesday, big news for the anthology "3rd & Starlight," in which I have a story I wrote with Aurealis Award winner Nick T. Chan. Stay tuned!

My current reading: "The Speed of Dark." I've never read it before, and I'm wondering how I missed it because it's amazing. Elizabeth Moon writes in the viewpoint of an autistic man in the near future who must decide whether to undergo a new procedure that would make him "normal." This is the level of writing I aspire to someday.

TV watching: I recently finished the first season of Stranger Things. I'm not one for '80s nostalgia, so what prompted me to watch it? I was starting to feel like I was the only science-fiction geek who hadn't. My verdict: three out of four stars. The kids are fun, and the Upside Down is terrifying. I'll watch season 2 at some point, but other shows will come first, like Outlander and Mindhunter.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Publication! "Three Times" in Joe Ledger: Unstoppable

Hello, friends.

Something big happened last week:

Joe Ledger: Unstoppable by [Maberry, Jonathan]

I have a story in this exciting anthology, co-edited by Jonathan Maberry and Bryan Thomas Schmidt. These are stories by other authors based on the Joe Ledger books by Jonathan Maberry. The book released on Halloween. As I write this post, according to Amazon rankings, Ray Porter's reading on Audible is #1, the Kindle version is #3, and the paperback is #14. You can make your purchase through Amazon right here.

Sometimes on this blog I will share how a story or publication came to be. So let's talk about my story "Three Times."

Bryan Thomas Schmidt had previously published one of my stories, "Malfunction," in his anthology Ray Gun Chronicles. About two years ago, he invited me to submit a story proposal for this project. Confession time: I'd never written a story proposal. This was painfully obvious when I sent over my proposal to Bryan and Jonathan, and it didn't pass muster. The less said about that, the better.

I'm not one to give up, though. Knock me down and, well ... you know how the rest of that goes.

So I sat down to write a second proposal. This time, I took a completely different angle. I admitted to myself that I was not knowledgeable enough in certain areas to write an action story about a military-style team of monster hunters. This could have been a problem when writing in Maberry's fantastic world about military-style monster hunters.

What I am good at: Quiet stories that tug at the heartstrings. How could this fit into Joe Ledger's world? In his novels, Maberry occasionally switches for a short time to the viewpoint of an ordinary person who is affected by Joe Ledger's team and the monsters they are hunting. Most of those people end up dead. I wanted the story of one who survived and how that person dealt with the trauma of what they had been through.

I also wanted to write about a character whom I loved who disappeared from the series too soon (for me): Grace Courtland. Grace was strong and confident and capable. She was the sort of woman who could inspire others to make more of themselves and to be better.

I took those two ideas and wrote a proposal in about fifteen minutes. I didn't agonize over it or revise it. I wrote it and sent it off. Jonathan and Bryan gave me the go-ahead to write the story, so I did.

The story ended up being about more than I intended, which stories tend to do. Yes, it's about surviving trauma and using it to become stronger. It's also about: How journalists struggle to deal with the tragedies they cover. How a woman copes with sexist stereotypes when she isn't a strong and confident person. How a mother isn't always a great mom but can always do better. All this sounds gloomy, I know. But really, this story is full of hope and optimism. And zombies. I loved writing it.

So now "Three Times" and Joe Ledger: Unstoppable are out in the wild. Hooyah! I hope you enjoy every story in the collection.