New Short Story: “A Shadow to Light”

I wrote a new short story that changed its name a few times before I tentatively settled on “A Shadow to Light.” It’s about 6,000 words. I wrote its first draft in two days.

This is an unusual one because it’s the first time I wrote a short story based on a longer story. (I’ve done the reverse multiple times.) In short, this story is an expanded and embellished retelling of a short arc from my webcomic, Negative One. The words aren’t the same and the action has some differences, but the characters are the same and they’re all in the same situation they were.

I decided to write this after getting most of the way through the book of short stories I was reading in my leisure time. Weirdly, I was inspired by the book because I didn’t actually like it.

I’ve been reading Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link. The short stories are all a little surreal and it’s not just the subject matter. They aren’t bad stories at all but I can pretty decidedly say they aren’t for me. But I looked up some interviews with the author because I was curious as to why she writes the way she does, and I pretty quickly found something that explained it: her stories grow out of a concept she likes. You can really tell that the story exists so the author and the readers can swim around in that concept.

And even though I didn’t enjoy the book of stories as much as I wanted to, I wondered whether ideas I’ve written could support a story that’s more about an idea than it is about a character or a series of actions.

In writing “A Shadow to Light,” I did not succeed in keeping it mainly to the concept because I just always end up leaning into letting the characters carry it, but at least the kernel of the idea was inspired by the same process I was going for. I also figured that Kelly Link’s extreme weirdness and lack of closure did not stop her from being successful with these stories, so there was no reason I need all of my stories to be traditional beginning/middle/end journeys or cohesively presented buildings with their architectural plans all in order either. So it’s a little loose, a little inconclusive, a little bit more about a moment.

We’ll see how it goes.

Accepted short story: “Aquarius”

I wrote a short story called “Aquarius” in 2015. You can see some of my thoughts on developing the story and its journey in a previous blog post. But what I can say on the story since then is that I’ve thought for a long time that this was one of my best short stories. My mom even liked it, and my mom doesn’t like science fiction.

Evidently, the publishers didn’t agree with my assessment. Or my mom’s. Because I couldn’t seem to find a home for it.

I’ll admit one thing: I’m picky about selling short stories. I don’t like to sell them to unstable markets, so I generally only pitch to publications that offer compensation beyond a free copy. So with that and the fact that the story is on the longer side, maybe the odds just weren’t on my side for selling “Aquarius.”

Or, more likely, I just lack the capacity to be objective about which of my stories are any good.

But right after I sold a story I didn’t think I liked very much to the first place I offered it to, this story sold next. I got an acceptance on September 29, 2022.

Why didn’t I post about it then? Because I didn’t know any terms and there was no communication about the story for a long time after that, so I didn’t want to make an announcement and then find out it wasn’t actually going to be a thing. I don’t like to spread news when I don’t really HAVE the news.

But as of today, I did get my contract and the release terms. I can now tell you that after a long streak of years, my (probably) second-queerest short story will finally be published in November 2023.

Aurelia Leo bought the story for their 18th PRIDE anthology. A placeholder purchase link is up, and it has a cover.

Published Short Story: “Her Experiment”

My short story “Her Experiment” sold to Spoon Knife. It’s in the March 2023 issue: Volume 7, Transitions.

Reading this one isn’t free on the Internet but as of today it can be accessed one of these ways:

New Short Story (in progress): Karma’s Dead

Tentatively titled “Karma’s Dead,” I’ve got a short story cooking. For once I actually did what I always tell myself I’ll do and did some writing while on vacation. I don’t know how much to pat myself on the back for it considering I didn’t finish it, but I have some notes and some thinking to do.

It’s a strange one about people finding each other at the end of the world. (And what happens if all you have is each other and it’s not enough.) I hope the markets I eventually pitch it to won’t be sick of stories that involve a pandemic, though it’s way more like the fictional one in Stephen King’s The Stand than it is like the one we’ve just been through.

So far it is sapphic fiction and involves something I’m not very experienced with: people who write fanfiction.

I have stalled out on writing it for the time being but I will revisit it when I feel like it.

 

Accepted short story: “Her Experiment”

Just got word that my short story “Her Experiment” has been accepted to Spoon Knife Volume 7, which involved a submissions call for stories about transition.

I’m pretty surprised. I did something with this story I don’t like to admit: I didn’t let anyone read it before I sent it out. I actually don’t think I’ve EVER done that before–I value the input of readers and I would always advise writers to get at least a few people to help them work the kinks out.

And then it was accepted at the very first place I submitted it. Welp.

(I do not plan to learn from this that it’s better to go without beta readers. Terrible lesson.)

I also was very pessimistic about this story and didn’t like it after I wrote it. Worried that I rushed it and forced it. Worried that it was ugly. Worried that it was too long.

It IS too long. But that’s allowed where I sent it.

Anyway, it’ll be published in Spring 2023. I’ll give information about how to read it at that time.

Here’s my post about writing the story.

Completed New Short Story: “Her Experiment”

I’ve been thinking lately about people who insist on asking invasive questions even when their subject is uncomfortable. It’s mostly in association with my asexuality awareness activism that I end up telling someone their subject matter or querying style is inappropriate for a non-consenting stranger, and almost without fail I’m then told they JUST WANT TO LEARN and if I’m HOSTILE to their curiosity, probably I just want to be offended, want to shame them, or hate science. Never do they acknowledge that they need a consenting educator if they want to ask intense personal questions about abuse, sexual experience, or physical health, and never do they recognize the damage they do by simply taking our availability and willingness to educate them for granted.

I once met someone at a party who said she was not on Facebook because stalkers had made it too dangerous for her. I didn’t ask. When a different friend asked me who she was in my photos and why she wasn’t tagged, I told him she said she had stalkers. And when he asked me for more of the story, I told him I didn’t know because I had not asked her.

He was FURIOUS.

He demanded to know how the hell I could possibly live with the curiosity of NOT KNOWING who is stalking her and why, and how could I be so cruel as to now pass that mystery on to HIM knowing he has no way to dig up the True Story of Stalkers of a Girl He Has Never Met.

“I just can’t believe you’re not a CURIOUS person,” he scolded me.

And when I said it had been clear to me in the moment that she didn’t want to talk about it–after all, she had been driven off a social media platform by STALKERS–he essentially said it didn’t matter if I hurt her by asking the questions this situation would NATURALLY raise–that she should have known if she told me the stalkers existed that I would want to know everything, and in fact she probably WANTED me to ask the question because why else would she leave that door open? Why, he needed to know, was I such an asshole as to burden him with the knowledge that there was something out there he now could never know? I had cursed him to wonder forever!

It’s this weird entitlement to information at the KNOWN expense of its source, in a general sense, that inspired me to write a new short story. It’s called “Her Experiment.”

The story has nothing to do with asexuality activism or stalkers, but it explores this type of person and the way they manipulate and control people who are harmed by their attempts to help (or satisfy their own curiosity).

To be honest, I’m not sure I like the story. I wrote it in a strange way, continuing to come back to it even at times that I didn’t feel like writing, and finishing it mostly felt like just getting through it. And like most stories I write, it just kept getting longer and less publishable every time I sat down.

I’ll sit with it a bit and then see if anyone wants ten thousand words of entitled curious person.

After Dinner Conversation Podcast

After Dinner Conversation has discussed my short story “Everyone’s Gay in Space” on their podcast. They have promoted the story on Twitter and on their podcast page.

You can listen through one of the links on their post. It’s carried on these podcast providers. I personally like Stitcher.

To quote from their site:

STORY SUMMARY: Douglas Junior and his wife both have a rare, recessive, genetic disease. They donate their blood to a lab to help them find a cure. Through a medical mix-up, Douglas Junior’s DNA is used to create his clone. 20 years later he finds out about his clone and reaches out to meet him. Things don’t go exactly as planned as Douglas Junior is a blue-collar working man, while his clone is a top-of-the-class gay student who plans to join the space program.

DISCUSSION: Interesting story that mirror some of the research done with sexual orientation differences between identical twins, as well as nature vs. nurture. Creates a springboard for good discussions about what information we would want to know about our clone. For example, are there unexplored genetic aptitudes I missed out on? Douglas seems to be very picky about which science he believes in, and which he doesn’t believe in, as so much of it is tied up how he self identifies. His clone is rightly frustrated by all the questions and says what may often be on the mind of others gay individuals, “it’s not my job to teach everyone in the world ‘Gay 101’”.

Hear the discussion!

Published Short Story: “Everyone’s Gay in Space”

My short story “Everyone’s Gay in Space” sold to After Dinner Conversation. It’s in the November 2020 issue.

Reading this one isn’t free on the Internet but as of today it can be accessed through a monthly subscription or by purchasing the story individually.

Here’s my post about when I wrote the story if you want more info.

 

Published Short Story: “On the Inside”

My short story “On the Inside” is now available in the fourth issue of James Gunn’s Ad Astra.

Read it here.

adastra

 

 

 

“On the Inside” is set in an alternate world in which the sexes of male and female are strictly separated in terms of their gender roles and elemental education. Protagonist Lihill was determined at birth to be a boy, but she knows in her heart she’s a girl, and her story is about trying to be seen, heard, and believed.

Published Short Story: “Her Mother’s Child”

“Her Mother’s Child” was published in Kaleidotrope today.

Read it here.

kaleidotropesummer2015Kaleidotrope publishes mostly speculative fiction and prefers unconventional stories. My story, published in their summer 2015 issue, features a coming-of-age tale in a gently magical secondary-world setting, featuring goddess spirituality, queer perspectives, and a protagonist with an unusual disability.