Accepted short story: “On the Inside”

I had actually shelved this story for a long time because I thought maybe it needed to be rewritten in a different way—either with a different point of view choice or even with the perspective of another character. I thought these things mostly based on the feedback of the first editor I sent it to, and I didn’t send it out for a couple years.

Then for some reason I revisited the story and decided it could use a cleanup but that I liked it mostly how it was. I sent it out a couple more times and it got accepted within a month. Huh.

On the Inside” will be published in the next issue of James Gunn’s Ad Astra, though I don’t know when that will be and haven’t done the paperwork yet.

I hope the readers like it. 🙂

Completed New Short Story: “Aquarius”

Hey, remember when I wrote a queer story for a submissions call? And I expressed doubt about the story being good enough to get into the magazine?

I was right. It wasn’t chosen. Surprise!

But. I figured it’s not very often that a person has a chance to submit to a special issue that’s looking for submissions from a small sliver of the population that you happen to fit into, and I wanted to take my chances one more time before the deadline and submit again.

So I thought . . . what appeals to me in science fiction? What cool questions do I like seeing explored? What concepts blow my mind? What do I love about this genre?

I thought about one of my favorite short stories of all time, Joan D. Vinge’s “View from a Height,” and remembered how compelling the protagonist’s situation was to me. It’s about a woman with an immune deficiency blasting off on a one-way trip into deep space, and how she reacted when she was far enough from home that she could no longer receive signals from other people. I decided to take a similar concept but do it with a different dynamic–with two people in a spaceship going to the stars for a different reason. The dynamic changes a lot with two.

So I wrote a short story that was primarily about the protagonist and her partner trying to get chosen for the space mission and dealing with prejudice that comes with being in a queer relationship. My protagonist, Becks, is my first ever aromantic asexual protagonist. Her partner, Austin, is gender fluid, and is also on the asexual spectrum (being graysexual and demiromantic). And they’re in a queerplatonic partnership. It was interesting to write partly because there were “rules” attached to Austin’s gender and what pronoun I used had to match. I enjoyed being subtle about that in the narration, even though there’s some very explicit stuff about the gender fluidity in the story.

I hope I’m not too much of a failure when it comes to the actual science, though. I’ve read a lot of stuff that happens on spaceships but I don’t know a lot of theoretical science that would make what I wrote realistic, and it’s not super advanced because it’s only set like a little more than 100 years in the future.

Anyway. “Aquarius” is 7500 words and is going to be submitted to the same submissions call. I like this story better than the previous one and if Lightspeed doesn’t want it then I actually think I’ll have a good chance of selling it somewhere else.

Completed New Short Story: “Everyone’s Gay in Space”

While looking for a place to submit a contemporary fantasy short story, I ran into Lightspeed‘s submissions call for science fiction by queer authors, and I cursed my luck. By their definition, I count as a queer author (they accept asexual people!), and I really wanted to submit to them; however, I’m more of a fantasy author, and most of my science fiction still leans fantasy, so I didn’t have anything I felt comfortable submitting. I wrote a story about clones in 1999, but it’s terrible (and it’s already been published on a website). I didn’t have a story.

So then I decided to think on it and come up with a science fiction idea. Another clone-related idea struck me, and even though the submissions call for Lightspeed claims they do not require the stories to contain any queer content, this story DID have an element of queerness along with its humorous, sort of depressing themes of identity.

I started writing it last Friday, but had some real trouble ending it. I finally chewed on it long enough to develop an ending, and I’m satisfied with it, but . . . I’m not sure it’s any good. Because the protagonist is kind of absurd and the tone of the story sort of tries to be humorous, I decided to opt for a funny title, so right now I’m calling it “Everyone’s Gay in Space.”

It’s definitely not as good as I thought it was going to be when I thought of it, but I’ll still probably submit it. So far I’ve never been unsuccessful when writing a story for a specific submissions call, so that’s on my side. But considering I only did it once and therefore succeeded 100% of the time but only once, I don’t know that that’s much to brag about. And Lightspeed is sure to be really picky. But hey, if they don’t like it I have time to write another one, and if they still don’t like it, well, maybe I’ll be able to get into their queer fantasy issue. 😉

It’s about 6500 words and it’s about a guy who meets his clone for the first time.

Struggling with a short story

While looking for a new place to send an older short story, I came across a submissions call that I would love to submit to. But drat, I didn’t have a short story that would be appropriate.

They’re looking for science fiction written by queer authors. Their submission guidelines specify that their definition of queer includes asexual people, and that it’s the identity of the author–not the content of the story–that qualifies them to submit for the special issue. I don’t actually write a lot of straight-up science fiction that doesn’t lean fantasy, and I don’t normally write stories deliberately for specific markets (though the one time I did, it ended well). But I thought about whether I had any science fiction–ish ideas, picked one of my half-formed ones, and started writing it.

Banged out 3,000 words in a couple hours. Loved it. Banged out another 2,000 words the next day. Got to the end and reread it and didn’t love the beginning as much. Fiddled with another 500 words yesterday. Still can’t quite figure out how to end it. And now I kinda hate the whole thing and think it’s nowhere near as clever, interesting, or worthwhile as I thought.

I hate when that happens.

The beginning: Mostly setup for how the protagonist got in the situation he’s in, retold unconventionally, framed in a way I convinced myself was humorous. It probably isn’t as funny as I think.

The middle: Mostly a straightforward conversation between the protagonist and the other focus character of the story, which is the meeting that the beginning of the story prepared us for. Most of it features the protagonist being awkward and the other character wiping the floor with him. And it’s also kind of preachy.

The ending: I don’t know, because the protagonist didn’t like the middle of the story and now he wants to pretend it didn’t happen, and I’m not sure where to go with that. Usually characters are changed by significant events in their lives, and they move forward somehow transformed, and that’s the exact kind of thing I usually write about. But since this character doesn’t really seem to be interested in processing what went on, now I have to figure out what happens if he just rejects the whole thing out of hand.

Usually my characters figure this stuff out for themselves. I’m writing a rather unsympathetic character, and he says and does a lot of things I disagree with, so I decided to write him in third person–not just to avoid the discomfort I would probably have to deal with in thinking his thoughts for him in first person, but because it’s easier to make the narration critical of offensive characters if the storytelling isn’t tied to their perspective. I’m afraid his terrible ideas would be too convincing if I flung them around the story in first person, so I’m maintaining the distance so readers will clearly see the story itself doesn’t condone its protagonist’s actions. However, I think maybe that distance has diminished my ability to make my characters solve their own problems convincingly.

So I don’t know where this is going to go. But I think I might decide to title it “Everyone’s Gay in Space.”

Completed New Short Story: “After She Comes Along”

I actually wrote this story on a plane on June 27, but I’d left out a couple details because I needed to research them, so it wasn’t “complete” until now. It was inspired by my book of choice on the plane–Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. His weird collection of short stories made a little whirlpool in my brain, and I ended up coming up with something that probably feels a little bit like one of his stories.

I’ve decided to call it “After She Comes Along.” It’s just a contemporary fiction that takes place in the woods, and even though it’s not fantasy, it kind of has a fantastical feel.

It’s only about 550 words, making it my shortest story ever written in my adult life. Woo-hoo!

Completed New Short Story: “That Story about Fortune Cookie Girl”

This is just terrible.

In October 2013, I started writing this short story. It’s been one of the most annoying, slippery pieces of crap I’ve ever had the misfortune to handle. I guess that’s weirdly appropriate, considering its subject matter.

So. I wrote this story’s beginning back in October, but I abandoned it because I wanted to write this other story that got my attention. I did write and complete that other story–it’s called “Her Mother’s Child”–and it ended up selling to a magazine a while after that, so hey, time well spent. But this story? It just kind of languished.

Part of the problem was that it involved a character getting injured in an accident and I wasn’t so sure about the medical stuff, and even though I talked to my nurse BFF about it, I didn’t really feel all that confident. And then on top of that, I was having trouble with the escalation in the middle. I knew the story needed to have something more “serious” happen beyond the initial conflict. I just couldn’t figure out what, realistically, the characters would do. Mostly because the entire thing existed to blast holes in romantic comedy storylines, so I had my doubts about whether I should even care whether it did what stories are supposed to do.

I went back and finished it in mid-June. Or at least, I thought I finished it. Then I got some feedback from people who were torn on its meta aspects, and I decided to tilt it toward MORE meta instead of backing off the meta. It’s that kind of story and Miles is that kind of protagonist.

Of course, then I couldn’t think of a title.

I called it “Heels Over Head” for a while, because that makes reference to a ridiculous line in the story. Then I called it “Head Over Heels” for a while, and then I called it “Head Will Remain Firmly Over Heels,” and then I gave up and started calling it “That Story about Fortune Cookie Girl.”

If I were Miles, I think that’s what I’d call it.

Considering the meta nature of this jerk of a story, I’m just going to let him have his way.

He can tell it while he’s drunk as many times as he wants now, and I don’t care. I wash my hands of it.

Except now I have to try to find this thing a publisher and it’s 12,000 words. :/

Published Short Story: “Your Terms”

“Your Terms” was published in Timeless Tales today.

Read it here.


As you should be able to tell from this cover, Timeless Tales is a fairy tale magazine and all of the stories for this issue are Pandora’s Box–inspired. It’s the last story in the pack, with a page following it that explains my inspiration along with some bio stuff. My contribution takes an unusual look at Hope, casting her as a modern woman with a case of agoraphobia. The story makes a point about invisible disability/illness and why it’s so important for people to stop framing such things in the context of “inspiration” for others. People with illnesses and disabilities need their stories and lives to be about themselves.

Accepted short story: “Her Mother’s Child”

My coming-of-age fantasy short story “Her Mother’s Child,” written in October 2013, was just accepted for publication by Kaleidotrope. It’s a mother/daughter tale set in a secondary world, with interwoven themes of growing up, parent/child relationships, goddess culture, elemental magic, and ladies who love ladies.

I’m told it will not be published until 2015, but I’m patient! Hope you are too, lovely readers.

Revised short story: “Your Terms”

In late March I completed a new short story and titled it “Hope Came Out.” I submitted it to a magazine and eventually the editor got back to me with good news: She liked it a lot, but she wanted me to revise a particular twenty percent of the story that made the story more meta than she generally likes her published stories to be.

I took her revision advice, submitted a new version of it that reconceived the “meta” section and added about 400 words, and retitled it “Your Terms” because the old title makes a lot less sense in the new version.

Happily, the revision was accepted. I will make a post about it here when it’s available to read.

[Update: You can read it in Timeless Tales Issue 2.]