Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Publication Day! In Nature: Futures

"Transference," my little story about dogs and gods, is published today. You can read it online here. It's also in the April 23 edition of Nature magazine. You can also read how the story came about right here. This is my first publication in Nature. It has been a wonderful experience, and I hope you enjoy the story.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What I'm watching: Daredevil

I've never watched one of Netflix's original series before. But this one is about a Marvel superhero, created by Drew Goddard and Steven DeKnight, and stars Charlie Cox and Debra Ann Woll. Great start. Plus, I'm hearing a lot from Facebook friends about how awesome it is. So I watched the first two episodes yesterday, and I will attempt to resist the urge to binge the rest of them today (because I have other things to get done). To illustrate the awesomeness of this show, I give you the final scene from Episode 2. I wish the clip would have included the minute or so before and after, but here you go:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What I'm reading

Mostly, I'm reading for the Hugos right now. That will probably continue for a month or two. But as always, I'm also reading with my kids.

Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword, by Anne Leckie
I read these back to back over the past two weeks. I like them both. I can see how the first one dominated the major awards in the SF field last year. The second one isn't as focused, the protagonist's goals not as clear, and therefore I didn't enjoy it as much. But it's still a good book and worthy of its place on the Hugo ballot.

I've also read the short story "Goodnight Stars" by Annie Bellet, which she has sadly withdrawn from the ballot, though I understand her reasons. And the novella "Flow" by Arlan Andrews, Sr.

Next up in my Hugo reading: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

Warrior Cats series, by Erin Hunter
My 8-year-old daughter loves loves loves this series. We're now on Book 4, which I think is called Rising Storm. I read two pages, then she reads one. When we started Book 1, she read haltingly and had difficulty sounding out words. Now she's reading fluently with only occasional word issues. With those sorts of results, I'm willing to read to the end of the series with her, if she wants. That's dozens of books, by the way.

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
This is the book I'm reading with my 11-year-old son. I've read it on my own several times before. It's one of my favorite books of all time. I'm excited to share it with one of my kids. We're about halfway through it, and he has already figured out part of the twist at the end. That makes him more perceptive than I was at his age, when I read it for the first time.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Stuff that's not Hugos

On my Facebook feed and the writers' boards that I frequent, all anyone seems to want to talk about is the Hugos and Puppygate. In the interest of pulling away from that, here are other things going on in my life that do not involve writers grumbling about the Hugos.
  • My family is getting toward the end of its annual birthday-palooza. One of my sons turns 11 tomorrow. During the past three weeks, my other son turned 19 and my daughter turned 8. Also in there, birthdays for my dad, sister, niece and cousin.
  • My husband and I celebrate our 12th anniversary next week.
  • I'm starting work on co-writing a story with two-time Writers of the Future finalist Dustin Adams. It's our first time writing together. I'm excited to see where the story goes.
  • I've hit the halfway point in the novel. Which is so say I'm being a very slow writer. It has taken me nine months to get this far. I will have to light a fire under my butt to get a first draft done by summer.
  • The new dog is working out. She's still a sweetie, but she doesn't yet understand what is an acceptable chew toy and what isn't. Last night's casualty: a stuffed dog that my Aunt Julie, who tragically died a few years ago, gave to me when I was a kid. The stuffed dog is repairable. I hope.
  • I'm reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. It's really good. Next up is the sequel.
  • Outlander came back on Sunday, but I haven't had time to watch the episode yet because I've been swamped with reading, writing, birthday preparations and the new dog.
  • Life is pretty good.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hugo nominations

Yesterday, this happened.

And there was much outrage and celebration. Not from the same people.

The Twitter and Facebook explosions were like a train wreck. Kind of awful, but in a "can't look away" kind of way.

There was some "What is this Sad Puppies thing?" And, "Who the heck is John C. Wright?" I know about the former. I know very little about the latter. Except anyone who lacks the grace to turn down all but one nomination in a given category is going to have to work doubly hard to win me over.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, which I will try to put down in words. (I'm a writer, so I do that sometimes.)

First off, congratulations to the nominees. Especially Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Mike Resnick and Kary English. All class acts as human beings and great at what they do. My mixed feelings about the Hugos aren't about any individual. The nominees have all worked hard and deserve this moment.

My comments also aren't about the majority of the people who participated in the nomination process. As was pointed out to me yesterday, voters are not mindless drones following an agenda. Many people who turned in a ballot had thoughtful reasons for their picks. I respect that, even though I might not agree with some of your choices.

However, I suspect there were those who did vote for a specific slate of stories because those stories were recommended by certain people. Some of those stories might be fantastic and deserve to be on the ballot and would have been there anyway. I don't know because I haven't read them yet. I'm reserving judgment until I do read them. I'm willing to give every nominee the benefit of the doubt.

Here's where the mixed feelings part comes in.

I'm very excited for certain people who are nominated. I would have nominated them, too, had I participated in this process. But I didn't. I'm kicking myself for not having offered up my picks for the ballot. Partly because I don't think I have much latitude for criticizing if I didn't vote. Partly because the overall slate is not the slate I would have chosen.

I read some great stuff that came out last year and thought to myself at the time, "I hope this gets a Hugo nomination." None of those stories are on the final ballot. Not a single one. Would my one vote have made a difference? Probably not. But at least I would have made the effort.

The Hugos really mean something to me. When I was a kid, the little badge on the cover of a book that said "Hugo winner" made me feel awe. A Hugo meant that this novel or story was the best of the best, chosen solely on the quality of the work.

Then I got older, and somewhat less na├»ve. The Hugos strike me more like a high school election for prom queen and king. Popularity is a big factor. So is politics. Would I have liked to have been on the ballot for prom queen? Sure, why not? It never would have happened, but it would have been fun. Which is why I don't begrudge anyone their place in the spotlight. Enjoy it. I sure would.

But here's the thing: No one takes a prom election seriously. The results aren't regarded with the sort of awe I felt as a kid, reading a bone fide Hugo winner.

The Hugos should be more.

Which is why I cling to my childhood ideals of how the Hugos should work. This should be about the fans honoring excellence in science fiction and fantasy literature, free of all other considerations and outside opinions. It should be about quality and artistry. Each voter's picks should be their own, and the best work should rise to the top.

This year, there's at least the perception that's not happening. That the process has been gamed and tainted.

I'm going to put my money where my ideals are. When it comes to the final ballot, I will vote, as I should have done in the nominating process. I will buy the supporting membership and read all the things (or at least as many of the things as I can get to and/or stomach).

If a story is deserving, in my estimation, I'll give it a spot on my ballot. If I don't think it's deserving, I will leave it off entirely. "No award" is an option. As I said, this isn't the ballot I would have chosen, but it's the ballot we've been handed. I'll give the nominated stories a fair chance on their own merits, not on the politics and controversy behind them.

I'll vote as I think everyone should vote, and how a lot of people do vote. Not everyone. But a lot. No political machinery. No social outrage. No Twitter wars. Just me and the story.

And then we'll see.

Will my one vote make a difference? Again, probably not. I will watch the livestream of the winners announced at WorldCon and know that I made an effort.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March stats

We are already one-fourth done with 2015. In March, I finished and submitted a story to Writers of the Future (my 26th entry there). I sold a story to Nature Futures. I proofed the galleys for two stories that will be publishing in the coming weeks, to Nature and Galaxy's Edge. I wrote another couple chapters in the novel. I finished a novella that will probably never get submitted anywhere because, really, it wants to be a novel (and will be, someday).

In March:
  • Stories completed: 2
  • New submissions: 3
  • Stories out on submission: 6
  • Acceptances: 1

In first quarter, 2015:
  • Submissions: 14
  • Acceptances: 2
  • Publications: 2
  • Stories pending publication: 4