Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sale! "Djinn Coin" to Every Day Fiction

This is a nice way to close out 2013: I opened my e-mail this evening to find an acceptance from Every Day Fiction on my make-a-wish-with-a-twist flash "Djinn Coin." I think that means the story will on the roster for January, which will be a nice way to start 2014.

Happy New Year's, everyone!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

"Raggedy Man, good night."

The finale of the Matt Smith era of "Doctor Who" ended up a lot like his tenure as a whole: at times brilliant, funny and moving, and at other times a hot mess; mostly satisfying but could have been better, if only Steven Moffat hadn't tried to cram in everything plus the kitchen sink and a Cyberman head.

Actually, that's unfair. I loved the Cyberman head.

The Time of the Doctor tried to wrap up every loose thread from the Smith era, and as a result felt like Moffat had a list he was checking off as he went. What are the Silents? Check. Who blew up the TARDIS? Check. Appearances by Weeping Angels, Daleks and Cyberman? Check, check, check. There were references to River Song, the War Doctor and Ten's meta-crisis regeneration. Oh, and don't forget the crack in the universe.

And yet, and yet, I cried. Or very nearly. Because the last 10 minutes could not have been more perfect.

The plot is this: There's a mysterious signal broadcast across all of time and space. The Doctor and Clara go to investigate. They find that just about every alien race the universe is also parked around the planet where the signal is originating from. On the planet's surface, the Doctor finds that the signal is coming through a crack in the universe -- a remnant from the explosion of the TARDIS way back when -- and that it's the Time Lords asking the question hidden in plain sight: Doctor who? Which means this planet is the one the Doctor has tried to avoid at all costs: Trenzalore. If the Doctor answers, that gives the Time Lords confirmation that they've found their universe and they will come through, sparking a resurgence of the Time War. And yet, the Doctor cannot abandon this town and its people to all the bad guys floating around their planet. So he holds the line, for centuries, until he is about to die from old age, and with no more regenerations, that will be his end. But Clara persuades the Time Lords to shoot a new cycle of regenerations through the crack, the Doctor uses his regeneration energy as a weapon to blow the Daleks to kingdom come, then regenerates into Twelve (or Thirteen, depending on how you count it).

You'll notice I didn't mention Clara's family Christmas dinner because it had no effect on anything that mattered. The episode would have benefited from dropping the pretense of being a Christmas episode all together and used that extra time to tell the Doctor's story. Perhaps then the episode would have had some breathing room and not felt quite so crammed.

Despite the issues with the writing, Matt Smith brought his A-game. This is arguably the best performance of his tenure. He's at times funny and goofy, while at others gives the fantastic, sweeping speeches that his Doctor is known for. The death of Handles the Cyberman head shouldn't have been so moving, but Smith sells his quiet grief so well that my eyes watered a little.

But the waterworks didn't really threaten until that last scene in the TARDIS. The Doctor says he will never forget one minute of the time that he was Eleven. He takes off the bow tie and drops it to the floor. (No gesture could have carried more symbolic weight than that for the end of Eleven.) For one beautiful moment, he imagines Amy Pond coming down the stairs to the console: "Raggedy Man, good night."

If anything, Karen Gillan's cameo was a reminder of the electric chemistry she had with Matt Smith and what the show has been lacking since she and Arthur Darvill left. I hope that with a new Doctor, Jenna Louise Coleman's Clara will get a fresh start out from under the long shadow of Amy and Rory.

Speaking of the new Doctor, we finally got a good first look at Peter Capaldi in the role. It was a bit of a shock how fast the regeneration happened. No morphing of the faces. It was just a snap of the fingers, and there he was. In those few seconds, what did we learn? He gets to keep the Scottish accent. He looked rather crazed, but that might have been the regeneration aftereffect. And he doesn't know how to fly the TARDIS. What's that about? We'll find out in about nine months.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sherlock minisode

It's a Sherlock minisode! Merry Christmas, everyone.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Writing update

This morning I reached "the end" on the first draft of my Quarter 1 Writers of the Future entry and now have 11 days to revise and polish before the deadline. That might not sound like much time, but it's much more than I've ended up with the past two quarters. Feels like a luxury, even with the busyness of Christmas between now and then. I really like this story. I'm not a fantastic judge of what does well in this contest, though, so we'll see how it goes over.

I wrote the bulk of this story at a Starbucks near my house. I'm more productive at writing when I'm away from the house and its myriad distractions. The coffee shop was unusually empty when I arrived there about 9:30 this morning. By the time I left an hour later, the place was so packed that a woman was making her claim on my tiny table by dumping her stuff there before I had even finished packing up my laptop or had put on my coat. A part of me wanted to maliciously say I had changed my mind and no I was not leaving, but my bosses wouldn't have been happy had I been late to work. So I let the rudeness pass.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Publication Day! Every Day Fiction

My story "An Unauthorized Tree" is live today at Every Day Fiction! It's flash piece about a dystopian world where the EPA forbids unauthorized growth of plants and about a man who defies the law. This tells you how crazy my week has been that I forgot it was publication day until I saw the story in my e-mail box.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

This past week

Happy Saturday. It's less than two weeks until Christmas, and I've hardly wrapped a thing. That's because I've been busy with two projects with looming deadlines. The first is my next Writers of the Future story, for which the submission deadline is Dec. 31. The other is a cross-stitch I'm trying to finish in time to give it to my daughter for Christmas.

So here's how my days went this week. Got up about 7:15 to take the kids to school; walked the dog; went to Starbucks to write until it was time to go to work; went to work; came home from work and put the kids into bed; cross-stitched until I fell asleep. This is how next week will go as well, and hopefully I will have a finished story by Friday. The cross-stitch is more iffy on whether I will get it done in time.

We here in the Denver area suffered another community tragedy yesterday when a student at Arapahoe High School entered the school with a shotgun with the intention of killing a teacher. The teacher was warned and left the building, hoping to lure the student out. Instead, the teenage boy ended up shooting and wounding two students before he killed himself.

The good news is that our law-enforcement officers are so well-practiced in dealing with these kinds of situations that they knew exactly what to do, which meant the whole thing was essentially over in 14 minutes and the casualties were blessedly low. The bad news is that our law-enforcement officers are well-practiced in dealing with these kinds of situations. Our front page headline this morning on The Denver Post was one word in large, stark type: "Again."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writers of the Future Quarter 4

I don't think I've ever been so happy to report this particular result in all the time I have been entering the Writers of the Future contest: Rejection! Yes, I'm happy that my story was form rejected. When I opened my e-mail and read the "your story didn't place," it came as a relief, and I have none of the usual jealousy of those who are finalists. I'm happy for them and am thanking my good luck that I'm not dealing with that pressure this time around.

So, in 20 quarters of entering:
Finalist: 1
Semi-finalist: 1
Silver honorable mention: 1
Honorable mention: 10
Rejection: 7

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cold snap + snow

The temperature this morning at Denver International Airport was -15, which ties the record for this date. We have about 4 inches of snow on the ground from the storm yesterday, and the temperature is not forecast to get above freezing until next Tuesday. That's an entire week of below-freezing temps. In walking my dog this morning as the thermostat said 1 degree, Buddy's paws kept slipping on the snowy sidewalks like a car spinning its wheels.

But according to a fascinating Denver Post article this morning, this isn't the worst weather the city has seen on Dec. 5. One hundred years ago today, the biggest blizzard in state history dumped 45.7 inches of snow on Denver. The best part about this article, which you can link to right here, are the photos. Nowadays we have an army of monster-sized plows; back then, they cleared out the snow with horse-drawn wagons. Someone at The Post did a fantastic job trolling the archives for this stuff.

Today is also my husband's birthday. We've had some historically bad weather on his birthday before. In 2002, when we were living in North Carolina, the state got hit with the worst ice storm I have ever experienced. Looking out the living room window into the dark on Dec. 4, I could see the explosions from transistors. They went off with booms and pops like fireworks. Power was out across most of the region for three days, which meant no light or heat, while temperatures remained in the 20s. The temperatures this week aren't that bad, all things considered. We can handle a little cold.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Raygun Chronicles and Fireside Magazine

I have a couple writerly bits and pieces to pass on, so here we go.

Fireside Magazine, which this month is featuring my story "To Catch a Fallen Star," is running a year-end subscription drive. There are prizes, and of course you get great stories by amazing writers like Ken Liu and Chuck Wendig. The drive runs through Dec. 15. You can read more about it here.

And Raygun Chronicles is live a couple of days early on Amazon in hardback, with trade paperback and ebook to follow soon. You can also order through Barnes and Noble, and there's a Goodreads giveaway. (BTW, Goodreads readers are giving the collection a five-star rating.) If you're thinking about buying this collection because you love space opera or you're looking for a holiday gift for someone who does, now is the time to put in your order. Buying in the first week will help push the anthology's rating higher and give it a more long-term profile on Amazon and other sites.

And now I'm off to the coffee shop to plot out my next story. The end-of-month deadline for Writers of the Future will be here before we know it, and I haven't written a word yet for that contest. Time to get going on it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November stats

Time for my monthly writing stats (except for the months when I forget). I wrote an astounding (for me) number of words this month. Most of the word count got poured into a Sleepy Hollow fanfiction, which I wrote simply for the pure joy of writing. The rest of the words went into a co-writing project with the talented Nick T. Chan. (You can read his Writers of the Future winner here.) So, onward with the November numbers:
  • Word count: 14,500
  • Submissions: 1
  • Stories on submission: 7 (longest time out is 106 days, shortest is 4 days)
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 1 (which you can find here)
The next couple of months are shaping up to be good ones for publication. Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age releases in two days (Dec. 3). Every Day Fiction will be publishing my flash "An Unauthorized Tree" on Dec. 17. And Abyss & Apex will publish another flash, "To See Sarah," in its January issue.