I need to…

…read and sign a contract.

Review a proof.

Explain why I chose a particular title, or change it.

Write two bios (Aargh!)

Create an author photo. (AAAAAARGH!)

Find markets for 4 stories, work out what they want in submission formatting, and submit.

Maybe I can send the family out to hunt the Snark.  That should keep them occupied long enough…

What’s your writing list like?

First sale of the year

Issue 6

I’ve been a bit lax with my submissions this year due to the trans-continental move.  But I finally got my act together and started submitting again this week.

So my first sale of the year is “Rebirth” to A cappella Zoo.  They’re very much a “strange” market, but I read one of their issues last year and found it fascinating.

They’re open to submissions until the end of May, so if you have an odd, offbeat story languishing on your hard drive, consider submitting to ACZ.  And don’t forget to track your submission progress through Duotrope’s Digest (it’s free!).

Shock Totem Cover Art

The cover art for Shock Totem #3 (which will have my story Day Job) has been released. I’ve had this in my inbox for ages, but just haven’t managed to get it onto the blog. (Click to embiggen.)

The issue comes out in print on January 1, 2011.  I’m looking forward to seeing what else is in there.

What do you think of the artwork?  Unfortunately I have no idea who the artist is, so I can’t provide a link.


Hint Fiction: An anthology of stories in 25 words or fewer

My contributor copy of this anthology arrived the other day and I’ve been devouring it in small bites – very good for the literary waistline.  It’s a cracker of a book, and I’m embarassed to say that, when I submitted, I really had no idea what it was.

So now I feel like the backwater cousin among such names as Joyce Carol Oats and Tess Gerritsen and J.A Konrath.  But it’s certainly a nice place to be, even if I am hovering beside the punch bowl and eating all the vol-au-vents.

But the anthology is brilliant – I read some stories out to my husband on the way home (25 word stories are just right for car reading and discussion) and we were alternately amused and touched.  It’s amazing the depth of feeling you can get in 25 words.

You can find out more about the anthology at Robert Swartwood’s site, or pick it up at Amazon.  Read the review in The New Yorker for more of an idea. There’s also a giveaway at Goodreads.  I think it would make a great Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for person.

Creative project – rebuilding the rockery

The sad state of the rockery when we moved in.

So our first view of the so-called rockery wasn’t very inspiring. But I was 8 months pregnant at the time, and not at all interested in doing anything physical.

Fast forward two years, and the first flush of spring had me elbow deep in the soil and loving every minute.  I decided it was time to change that dull corner into something with a little more pop.  But it isn’t our garden, and I had no intention of pouring money into it.  Still, I was sure with a little creative relocation of some of the plants from the rest of the garden, we could come up with something lovely and low-cost.

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Spread your wings

Icarus flew from his prison
On wings of bone and wax.
His father warned him not to fly too high
But he reached out for the sun.
The brightness burned
His wings
And he fell into the sea and drowned.

The elders crouch around the fire
Like ancient boulders
Gnarled hands like roots
Gripping tight to the placid earth.
“Heed the lesson, children!
If you fly towards the sun, you will fall.
Stay close to the ground, and you will be safe.”

But they are wrong.
That is not the lesson.
If your wings won’t carry you high enough
Build better wings.
Carry them on your back
Up the steep paths
To the edge of the cliff where the falcons soar over the spray.

Do not look down
At the rocks below.
Look up, at the sun
And spread your wings.
Fly, little dreamer.
The sky is yours.

Photo courtesy of Hashmil and used under a Creative Commons License.

A bit of alphabetic fun

Anna over at Quills and Zebras posted another challenge.

The rules are this: write a story that is 26 sentences long. This first sentence must start with the letter ‘A’, and every following sentence begins with the subsequent letter of the alphabet, ending with ‘Z’.

It’s a cute challenge, but there are some letters that are just a bit too difficult to work around.  So I cheated, and went for 26 lines of dialogue instead.  Enjoy!

**Update!  Janette and Chris have joined in, and produced two great SF shorts.  Post a link in the comments here or on Anna’s page if you are going to play .


“All staff initiate emergency procedures.  Exhaust containment failure.

“Bloody hell!  How close is the station?”

“Collision warning.  Collision warning.”


“Engines non-responsive.”


“Get down to the engine room, clear those lines!”

“How?  The blast doors are locked down!”

“Impact in T-minus 10 seconds.”

“Just do it!”

“Karma’s biting back, boys!  Should have left that last freighter alone!”

“Look to your stations, and cut the malarky!”

“My boards are offline.  We’re losing power.”


“Open the port bay and dump the cargo!”

“Port cargo bay dumped.  If this ships a-rockin’, baby, don’t come a-knockin’!”

“Quiet down!  Where’s that power reroute?”

“Rerouting now.  Boards should be coming back up!”


“Thrusters online!  Get us out of here!”

“Unable to engage thrusters!”

“Vitals failing!  We’re losing servo control!”


“Xenon leakage in the hydraulics!  We’ve got pressure overflow!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”


The View from the Narrative


Merrilee crept through the plot, ducking the twisted branches that threatened to entangle the fragile narrative she carried on her back.  A flock of adverbs fluttered heavily across the page.  With no foreshadowing, a minor villain appeared; throwing the readers into confusion.  Action was needed, and fast.

She drew the gun, hand shaking.  Her alpha reader’s comments came back to her; truthful, damning.   “Watch out.  You’ve got guns appearing out of nowhere.”

Behind the villain, she saw that the scene was weak and shaky.  She was angry at the situation.  She heard the narrative falter, then felt it start up again with a lurch.  Telling was choking the life out of it.  She looked over her shoulder.  There was only one way out of this exposition.

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