Thursday, August 13, 2015

I have your SF fix right here

Anthology news!

First off is "1st and Starlight." This anthology is edited by Sky McKinnon and includes 14 stories by writers who have, at some point or another, been named finalists in the Writers of the Future contest. Some of these talented folks have gone on to win the contest. One is a Hugo nominee, Kary English. There's a mix fantasy and science fiction, and all the stories are fantastic. One of the stories I'm most proud of, "Catch a Fallen Star," is reprinted here. It's available for purchase right now on Amazon.

And World Weaver Press and editor Bascomb James did the reveal today for the cover and table of contents for "Far Orbit Apogee," a space opera anthology that will be released in October and is now available for preorder. This one includes some writers whose work I've read and admired for a long time, including James Van Pelt and Milo James Fowler. Also included is my story "Masks," which is all about political intrigue, space battles and hidden identities.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My home for sale: 106 Pandora Circle, Erwin, NC

I'm going to interrupt the blogging about writing, journalism and pop culture to go into another subject that is very important to me. And that thing looks like this:

This is a house at 106 Pandora Circle in Erwin, N.C., that my husband and I have owned since 2003. We bought it when we were about to have our second child because the place we lived in at the time was too small for a growing family. This house was perfect for us. The right size for our family, and within our budget as first-time homeowners.

It's not perfect anymore, though, because now we live in Colorado. It will be perfect for another family, or a couple that needs some extra space. Our Realtor listed the house for sale today. You can find our listed price, information and photos on his website right here.

I'm going to talk about the what makes this house great that you won't find in the listing, stuff that comes straight from someone who lived there for years.
  • All four bedrooms, the living room and the dining room have ceiling fans. I miss that so much. The extra air circulation cut down on air-conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. I loved to lie in bed at night with the fan going softly overhead.
  • Heating controls are separate for upstairs and downstairs.
  • The backyard is big with shady trees, and a new fence. It's great for kids and/or pets. The porch is a good place to spend summer evenings with some outdoor furniture and a grill.
  • The neighborhood is quiet and safe. The house is at the back of a cul-de-sac where the only traffic comes from people leaving and returning home. Our oldest child was friends with the boy who lived in the house across our backyard, and they would walk between our houses to play.
  • In fact, the entire town of Erwin is like that. It has a small-town feel. Our kids played soccer and baseball at the town park, and the downtown festivals and parades are a lot of fun. But only a couple miles down the road are Walmart, Lowe's, stores, restaurants and entertainment. Access to medical care is easy with Betsy Johnson hospital only 10 or 15 minutes away by car.
  • When we lived there, my husband worked in Fayetteville, and I worked in Raleigh. We were a commuter couple, going in opposite directions, and I know other couples deal with the same issue. Erwin is the perfect location for that because it's halfway between the two larger cities.
  • The master bedroom and another bedroom are upstairs. The other two bedrooms are downstairs. Our oldest child enjoyed the extra privacy of having his bedroom downstairs. We also used one of the downstairs bedrooms as a library.
  • The attic has easy access from a door upstairs (no climbing through trap doors in the ceiling) and has lots of space for storage.
  • We just finished up more than $10,000 in repairs and renovations right before putting the house on the market.
If you're interested in a tour, contact our Realtor, Rod Hudson. His website is right here. You can also call him at (919) 524-1800.

Semi-finalist, Writers of the Future

Hello and welcome back after a long hiatus to my blog. The day job is keeping me more busy than I had ever imagined it would, leaving little time for other stuff. My time crunch is such that I have to choose between writing and blogging, and writing wins. But I'll do my best to blog a couple times a week so that this little corner of the Internet does not become a wasteland.

Let's start with some semi-good news.

In Quarter 2 of the Writers of the Futures contest, my story was selected as a semi-finalist. That means out of hundreds (thousands?) of entries, mine was judged as one of the top 16. It also means I will get a critique from coordinating judge David Farland. Only semi-finalists get the critique. It's the consolation prize for being not quite good enough for finalist.

Last time I made semi-finalist was in 2011. My critique then pointed out exactly one sentence in a 4,000 word story that kept me from the finalist circle. I fixed it, and the story sold to the wonderful Fireside Magazine. I'm curious what I'll get this time.

So in 26 quarters of entering:
  • Finalist: 1
  • Semi-finalist: 2
  • Silver honorable mention: 1
  • Honorable mention: 13
  • Rejection: 9

My Writers of the Future career is about to come to a close. My friend (and two-time finalist) Dustin Adams and I submitted a co-written story for Quarter 3. And then that's it for me. (Unless I submit one particular story that I love and no editor seems to want in Quarter 4, as one of my writer friends keeps pushing me to do.)

Why stop? Because of the rules. Writers of the Future is for writers who have sold fewer than four stories to professional markets. I should have become ineligible awhile ago, except that the lovely people at the contest keep finding reasons to say this sale or that sale doesn't really count. In my mind, they do count. I could keep entering if I wanted, but it feels like I'm cheating. So, I will stop.

Besides, I have other priorities nowadays than writing a story for Writers of the Future every quarter. I need to finish my novel. I have a story to pitch and write for an anthology. Especially with my new, crunched schedule, I have to pick and choose my writing projects.

After almost seven years of entering every quarter, I'm down to one last chance to win. It's a good story. We'll see in a couple of months whether David Farland agrees that it's worthy of finalist and a shot at the big prize.