Welcome to the Twenties! How weird does that sound? I had an extra busy final week of the year so my yearly wrap up post is just a touch late.
2019 saw me primarily occupied with getting up to speed in my new job. But I also wrote more this year than I have in a very long time. I sold two stories and saw one of them published in 2019. If you haven’t already you can listen to my take on Beauty and the Beast, the Rose Sisterhood, on Cast of Wonders. Leigh Wallace’s narration is excellent.
Most of my writing-related activities in 2019 centered on my monthly meetings with my awesome critique partners. In addition I attended Fourth Street Fantasy again and have every attention to go again in 2020. I also hosted another 2-Page Workshop for MinnSpec.
Okay Enough about me, time to gush about my friends. Two of my Viable Paradise 20 classmates published novels this year. I got to read the opening chapters of Valerie Valdes’s Chilling Effect at VP and fell in love with it. I was thrilled when the rest of the book was as funny and irreverent and heartfelt as those first chapters. I highly recommend it! I also read the first chapter of AJ Hackwith’s Library of the Unwritten. And while I have not yet read the full novel (though I will be soon) I have no doubt it will be as good as the amazing sample I read on the Island.
Several other of my VP classmates had good years, publishing stories and poems and putting out Hugo nominated podcasts. So if you are looking for even more reading material check out Wren Wallis, Karen Osborne, Jo Miles, and Jennifer Mace.
On to the book talk!
My favorite reads were, in no particular order:
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Wayward Sons by Rainbow Rowell
Pumpkinheads also by Rainbow Rowell.
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
Puddin‘ by Julie Murphy
Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
What can I say? I read a lot of good stuff in 2019.
I have not read anything by this author but I ‘m going to start now because I just loved this book. It was so unexpected and fun. On its surface, it’s a run of the mill YA fantasy. A young man from the “real world” is recruited by a magic school in a fantasy world. But it has a lot to say about training teenagers to be soldiers and diplomacy over violence. However what really drew me in was its characters. I got so invested. The main character Eliott is so marvelously flawed. He is a bit awful but in a very relatable and entertaining way and his two best friends, Luke Sunborn and Serene Heart in the Chaos of Battle are fully realized and also have their own distinct and satisfying story arcs. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Plus there’s mermaids and unicorns and elves and so much LGBTQ awesomeness. Also, it’s just plain hilarious.
Another author I was not familiar with until this year. This series of novellas is narrated by an AI created to be a hirable security unit with no free will. But the AI has hacked their own programming and can make decisions for themselves. They dub themself Murderbot for several reasons, not the least being because self-aware robots are almost always portrayed as killing machines. I absolutely adore Murderbot. They are not very trusting of humanity and mostly want to be left alone to watch TV. As an introvert with anxiety, I can relate. The novellas follow Murderbot as they investigate an incident in their past from just before they became self-aware. They run afoul of an evil corporation and often find themself feeling responsible for the safety of different groups of humans despite not really wanting to be. All four books are great but the second is my favorite.
The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samatha Irby
Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories by Naomi Kritzer
Opal: A Raven Cycle Story by Maggie Stiefvater
Favorite Authors by the numbers:
Neil Gamin – 5
Martha Wells – 4
Bryan K. Vaughan – 3
Becky Chambers – 3
Seanan Maguire – 2
Maggie Stiefvater – 1
Naomi Kritzer – 1
Samantha Irby – 1
Marissa Meyer – 1
George R.R. Martin – 1
Connie Willis – 1
Holly Black -1
John Scalzi – 1
David Sedaris – 1
Nnedi Okorafor – 1
Three of my stories were published this year, including my first professional sale. Read them here: Seeded, Amenities, Cat Lady.
Fourth Street Fantasy Convention was another big highlight this year. I got to meet up with several Viable Paradise friends and made several new ones. I’m looking forward to attending again next June.
I completed my revision on my superhero novella and have begun submitting it to publishers.
I’m working on a long-form WIP that I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with once it’s done and a few more ideas percolating.
And here is the current state of my to read shelves.
It’s still completely out of control. Maybe by next year, I will have conquered the piles on the floor. Hahahahahahahahahahahahsob.
I get to announce that I have a story forthcoming from Galaxy’s Edge Magazine! As of yet I do not know what issue it will be in or when it will be published. I will definitely be linking to it when it comes out.
The story in question, Cat Lady, was written during my time at Viable Paradise, though it’s been revised a few times since. It’s my first professional sale and I shed a few tears when I opened the acceptance email. If you’re curious about what qualifies a market as pro, semipro, or token the SFWA has a guide here. The gist of it is it depends on how much the market pays, how long they’ve been publishing, and how big of a readership they have.
I have been submitting my stories to pro markets since 2015 and have racked up over a 100 rejections split between 7 stories. Cat Lady was rejected 17 times before Galaxy’s Edge accepted it. That is about average from my understanding. There were several times I felt I was so close to making a pro sale and other times when it seemed like the impossible dream. This doesn’t mean that I won’t get any more rejections, in fact I’ve gotten 3 in time the since. But it’s one more hurtle cleared. I get to call myself a professional. Even if never sell another story I will always have one professional credit to my name. I’m tempted to order a little pin or plaque to remind myself of that, but I think having the issue in my hands will be enough.
In other news, in a few short weeks I’ll be attending 4th Street Fantasy Convention for the second time. A few of my favorite people in the world will also be there and I can’t wait to see them all again. And celebrate the hurdles they’ve cleared since we last saw each other.
Finally, here we have another Fraggle. For such simple designs they really are hard to capture in 2D.
This week my story Seeded was published by Gallery of Curiosities. GoC is an audio market, which is a first for me. I love the reader they chose and am very pleased with the final product. This is one of my stranger stories but I think it reflects my sense of humor pretty well. It is the second of two stories in the episode.
You can click through below to reach the episode’s credit page and download.