Well, hello there.
You might have noticed it has been some time since the last blog post. I was dreadfully delinquent and didn’t even make a post when a bunch of my fiction came out this year. Because sometimes my brain is full of stories, and sometimes (read: more often) my brain is full of goo and/or cotton candy or maybe…socks? Not sure.
So here’s what has happened since my last update:
1.) I published a collection of five short stories, all light contemporary fantasy, as a late Christmas present for my mother. This was the secret I was teasing at in my November post, because I didn’t want to give away the surprise to her. (She loved it, by the way! You might too: Magic for a Rainy Day.)
2.) One of the two stories I sold during the anthology workshop last year, “We, the Ocean,” finally came out! It is in Fiction River #22: No Humans Allowed, and it is still one of the best pieces of writing I’ve done. You can buy my story on its own for 99 cents if you want, but I also think No Humans Allowed is one of the strongest anthologies I’ve read–I love nearly every story in it. The editor, John Helfers, is a genius.
“We, the Ocean” also got a surprising and wonderful shout-out in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s introduction to the volume. I couldn’t believe what she (a Hugo award winner!) said about it: “[One of] the kind of stories anyone who reads them will remember forever…inventive, heartbreaking, and wholly original.” Later, the anthology was professionally reviewed on Tangent Online and the reviewer also had good things to say about it. You can assume that at some point during all that I went ahead and keeled over dead from too much shock and excitement.
3.) I resurrected long enough to continue to grow my freelance book cover design side of things, and finally managed to get one of my most-coveted objects: a gold star from The Book Designer’s e-Book Cover Design Awards in May. And then I got another in July for We, the Ocean’s cover. And THEN another in September!
4.) Despite the continued cover design work and multiple copyediting projects for fellow writers, for the majority of the year I…wrote absolutely nothing new. I started and stalled out on a few projects here and there, and took a few more writing workshops, but I completed no new stories, and that was really sad.
The dry spell is over.
After many trials and tribulations, I finally completed one unexpectedly long story (more on that in a bit!) and have launched into about a month or so of furious writing for my beloved Anthology Workshop (plus reading and prep for an upcoming Writing Fantasy Workshop as well). I think one of the most important things for a writer is to be constantly trying new things, pushing for new challenges, and improving craft with every new story. I’m trying to be more aggressive about that.
Case in point: my newest release: The Giving Year. It’s probably some of the best writing I’ve done yet. It also put me through the wringer. It was supposed to be a short story for a specific collection/anthology, Midwinter Fae, and I wanted to write a romance between a human and a fae creature, set in the same universe as my Wyndside Stories. Then, because we all know this is the kind of nerd I am, I decided to set it on a fictional island near the Orkneys, with a cairn and standing stones and Iron Age Picts and…etc.
But about 500 words or so in, I realized I was just skimming the surface and not connecting with my characters at all.
So I backed up, and dug deeper. I gave the human woman, Eithni, connections to her clan that had been missing before. I gave her emotional stakes. I fell in love with her. Then I gave the Fae woman on the other side, Sable, a mission and a plan and stakes of her own. (Yes, this is a romance between two women.) And I fell in love with Sable, too.
And suddenly the story was expanding into novella, maybe even novel, territory instead. And instead of taking about a week to write and about 5,000 words, it consumed the better part of one and a half months, and grew over three times that long.
I had a deadline looming, however, so I managed to scale it it to a novelette (i.e. a long short story) to still fit the parameters of the collection it was supposed to go in…and it totally works at that size. But I see a novel coming in the future, and wow.
In the meantime, if you want to read “The Giving Year” as it stands, you can do so here!