Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stats for January

I have started 2015 in a good way, with one caveat. I intended to spend the month working on the novel and got sidetracked by other projects, specifically a story that I'll most likely send to Writers of the Future this quarter. Here's how the writing sausage got made in January:

My word count was 11,700 or so, broken down as:
  • 6,500 on a novella
  • 2,000 on the novel
  • 2,200 on three flashes
  • 1,000 on an outline

Also there was this:
  • Stories completed: 3
  • Submissions: 7
  • Stories out on submission: 6
  • Acceptances: 1

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sale! To Perihelion Science Fiction

I've signed the contract, so I can share the news that my short story "Loopholes" has been accepted for publication at Perihelion Science Fiction. This is the acceptance I mentioned a few days ago that happened in a half-hour, which makes editor Sam Bellotto Jr. the most efficient editor I have ever had the privilege to work with.

And I have a second acceptance to crow about. I received the acceptance last year, and am signing the contract today, for my short story "Street Rat" to appear in Abyss & Apex. This will be my first short story in Abyss & Apex, which last year published my flash story "To See Sarah."

So, at least in terms of writing, 2015 is starting off as an excellent year.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My family dog

This is Buddy.

In May 2005, my husband and sons and I rescued him from a flea- and tick-infested animal shelter that was hardly better than a shack. The little brown mutt worked his way into our hearts right from the start, and we took him home and adopted him into our family.

Jump forward to today, almost 10 years later. Buddy died this afternoon after a struggle with cancer.

He was a 55-pound boxer mix. I didn't know until two weeks ago, when the diagnosis came in, that dogs could even get cancer, let alone that boxers were especially susceptible.

I know he was only one dog of millions, and dogs are born and die every day. Nothing special. But Buddy was special to me. He was the one who greeted me with tail wagging every night when I got home from work. He was the one I took for a walk every morning, up until two weeks ago, when he didn't have the strength anymore. He was the one whose hair I picked out of my sweaters and probably will continue to do so for many months to come, even though he's gone.

My kids called him "The best dog in the world."

He probably wasn't. But he was the best dog for us.

I want to tell you a story.

A couple years ago, when my daughter was in afternoon kindergarten, we walked to school and took Buddy with us. One sunny, warm day, a dog as big as Buddy ran out of an open garage door and sprinted right at us, barking like mad. My daughter jumped behind me. Before I could really react, Buddy had put himself right between us and the charging, barking dog, crouched down and growled. That dog came to a very abrupt halt.

The dog's owner came running out a few seconds later, apologizing to me. She said that her dog was friendly. Once Buddy had assessed there was no danger, he and the other dog sniffed tails and started to play. But when Buddy thought we were in danger, he put himself right in harm's way to protect us.

That's the kind of dog he was. Sweet and loyal, and also fiercely protective.

I'm going to miss our walks, and his friendly mug greeting me at the door after work, and playing tug-of-war and fetch, and how he curled up next to me on the floor.

I already miss him. He was part of our family.

He was the best dog in the world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New experiences

Some of my writing colleagues have a "bingo card," with each square an achievement that the writer wants to reach. I don't have a bingo card. But I've had two experiences this week that would be on my card if such a card existed.

Yes, I will be boasting in this post. You're warned.

In the first experience, through the magic of Google, I stumbled across an online class for adults who are learning English as a second language. The instructor based an entire lesson around my story "Star Box," which is in the current issue of Flash Fiction Online. I watched the hour-long video of the class. It felt a bit like eavesdropping, I'll admit. The main point is: A story I wrote was the subject of an English lesson. Achievement unlocked.

The second experience came this afternoon, when I submitted a story and received an acceptance a half-hour later. That's super fast. Really, it says more about the editor than it does about me. Still, I've never recorded a "0-day acceptance" before. Definitely a bingo card square. That the acceptance comes from an excellent semi-pro market makes it that much sweeter. I will crow with more details once I've signed the contract.

These have been bright spots in an otherwise difficult week. Thank goodness for bright spots.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What I'm reading

One of my resolutions for 2015 is to read more. So here's what I have read so far this year and what I'm reading now:
  • The King's Deryni, Katherine Kurtz. I got this for Christmas. I've read every one of Kurtz's Deryni books up until now. I'm about 100 pages into this one and enjoying it so far.
  • Flash Fiction Online, January issue. OK, so I have a story in there, so I'm biased. I enjoyed the other two stories as well.
  • Galaxy's Edge, January issue. I'm working my way through it. So far I've read the Heinlein reprint "All You Zombies" and "In Secrets, Absolution" by Andrea G. Stewart. Both good. I recommend Stewart's story.
  • Asimov's Science Fiction, February issue. I'm about a third of the way through Nick Wolven's novella “On the Night of the Robo-Bulls and Zombie Dancers.” I like the idea behind it, of a pill that allows humans to stop sleeping and the unintended consequences of that.
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins. This is the book I'm reading to my kids right now. For me, it's a reread, but it's been a couple years.

And for a bonus, some books I have on my reading list for this year:
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Slow Silent Regard of Things by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • Dangerous Visions, anthology, ed. Harlan Ellison

Friday, January 2, 2015

Resolutions for 2015

New year, new goals. Here we go.

1. Beat my submission total from 2014.
This is my goal every year, to beat the number of story submissions I made in the previous year. The number to beat: 39. If I do 40 submissions, that comes to an average of 3.3 submission per month.

2. Finish the novel.
I am about 30K into the urban fantasy novel that I workshopped last summer at KU. That's probably about 1/3 done. I would like to finish the novel by July 1, which would make it one year after the workshop. We'll see how that goes. If I were only writing the novel, I could do this easily, but I have other projects.

3. Read more.
I didn't read as many novels or short fiction pieces last year as I wanted to. After the day job, family and writing, I don't have much time left in the day for reading, which is sad. I love to read. So I'll use my blog this year to keep account of what I've read, and maybe that will help me to read more.

4. Keep losing weight.
Last year, I lost 5 pounds. This year, I want to lose another 5 pounds. I need to get back into a exercise routine and exert self-control over my diet. (In a side note, I read this story from the Washington Post about how only 5 percent of morbidly obese people who say they want to lose weight actually reach their goal. Among the rest of us, 92 percent fail to reach our New Year's goal. The best solution is prevention: avoid putting on extra weight in the first place.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Publication Day! "Star Box" at Flash Fiction Online

I woke up groggy this morning (and not because of some wild partying last night, unless you count watching Penguins of Madagascar cartoons until midnight with my daughter),  but it definitely helped to see that my story "Star Box" is published in the January issue at Flash Fiction Online. There's a wonderful illustration by Dario Bijelac. Here's a snippet:
The Old Man opened the old wooden box and lifted out Betelgeuse, red and shining, and the other stars of Orion followed like pearls on a string. He arranged the constellation on his work table. Orion’s shoulders and legs were the brightest points, and the belt glowed blue.
Because you were nice enough to drop by my blog, I'll share a little behind-the-scenes on this story. This is my only story published that has its origins in my childhood. No I didn't climb through a window and find a man with a box of stars, though that would have been awesome. I did look out at the stars at night and wonder where they went during the day. Instead doing of the intelligent thing, which would be to pose the question to my parents, I made up an answer. I decided that there must be a man out there, maybe God, who kept the stars in a box during the day and opened the box to let them out at night. I believed this until I was probably 4 or 5, when someone (I don't know who) must have explained the truth to me. But 35 years later, I still remember my childhood belief in the star box.