New poems out in Blossomry

Poetry news, yay! Two of my poems recently appeared in Issue 1 of the wonderful new magazine Blossomry, which publishes one-line poems:

Artemis–

When They Belittle Your Nature

I highly recommend reading the whole issue in order, though, since it presents a lovely kaleidoscope of poetry. One-line poems are super quick to read, too!

I’m very happy to have two poems in this first issue. I had actually not written explicitly one-line poems before, but I wrote some specifically with Blossomry in mind when submissions were open. So I’m especially pleased two of them found a home!

I look forward to more Blossomry in the future. Such a lovely concept.

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In other news, oh hi, it’s been a while since my last bloggings. Life has been giving me the ridiculously busy treatment: I’m currently in Cambridge, England, on a two-month research trip for my PhD. (Going back to Finland at the start of December.) As you might imagine, work has been time- and energy-consuming: I haven’t done this intense and lengthy a bout of manuscript research, well, ever. It’s amazing and I’m getting so much work done for my PhD, but it’s also very tiring!

Despite that, I’ve managed to get some writing done too. In October I finished draft 4.1 of my Beauty and the Beast inspired novel WIP: it’s almost ready to start submitting, but I’m saving all of that for when I get back to Finland. Instead, now in November, it’s Nanowrimo time! I just passed 10k words and am quite pleased. My novel draft is terrible but at this point I just really need to get some sort of new words out and not worry about quality – I’ve been doing so much revision for the Beauty and the Beast novel that my zero-draft-production skills need some brushing up. :)

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“The Queen, After” in Through the Gate!

A little belatedly here on the blog (world news has been causing me a lot of anxiety and it’s been difficult to get things done) – but still giving me joy – my first poetry publication of the year:

The Queen, After” in Through the Gate.

This tiny poem has dreams and foxes in it. I wrote it back in 2013: the first couple of lines in March, the rest in August of that year. I’m very happy that this piece finally found a home!

2015 award eligibility post

My impostor syndrome is telling me not to post this but nyaaahh, brain, I’m posting it anyway, so there. Even though my face is all aflame with embarrassment (or that might just be the cold I’m currently nursing).

So! To the best of my knowledge, the following works are eligible for awards:

Poetry: short poem

Short story

Novelette

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I’d especially like to recommend “Moss”. It’s a story I’m very proud of.

(Incidentally, “The Ruin” and “Moss” are both set in the same world.)

Strange Horizons 2013 Fund Drive

So! It’s September, and that means it’s time for Strange Horizons’ annual fund drive. I’m posting to signal-boost this thing, because people, with just a few dollars (or as much as you like!), you can help one of the best SFF magazines keep operating.

From this Strange Horizons blog post:

Strange Horizons is — all together now! — a non-profit, volunteer-run, donor-funded organisation, which means that we depend on this month to raise enough money to keep going for another year.

Here is a link to the main page of the Strange Horizons 2013 Fund Drive. Check it out for more info on how it all works! Everyone who donates will be entered into a prize draw – and there are all sorts of awesome prizes.

With the help of your donation, SH will have the opportunity to keep publishing some of the best SFF around.

I’ve been a huge fan of SH long before I got published in it. It’s the zine I read most consistently, because it consistently has great stories and poems, and other interesting content. I love a lot of other zines as well – the more the merrier, too! – but so many of my recent favourites have been published in SH. Also, it’s been lovely to be published in SH: everyone I’ve corresponded with on the editorial staff has been a pleasure to work with.

I really want SH to keep on keeping on, so go ahead, read it (I’ve recced a lot of SH stories and poems, for instance; or check out my Wolf Daughter ;) )- and decide if you want to help the magazine keep going, too.

Sunday recs: A novella

I just finished reading an amazing fantasy novella:

Martyr’s Gem by C.S.E. Cooney.

It’s a gorgeously written story with characters that jumped off the screen and will linger in my mind for a good while, I suspect. The island culture she’s created is fascinating and vibrant. Sharks and gemstones! Bantering, loving sibling relationships! A society where men and women are pretty equal! An interesting oral storytelling culture and stories-within-stories!

I love pretty much everything about this novella. Go forth and be immersed!

Beginnings and endings

Today I read two blog posts on writing, and the topics fit so nicely around one another, ouroboros-like, that I thought I’d post my own thoughts inspired by them. The first post, by Terri Windling, is on beginnings. The second, by Carrie Ryan (blogging at the awesome Magical Words), is on endings.

Windling’s post is not so much about actual story beginnings as it is about the act of beginning. It’s a love song for head-over-heels story-exploring! It really resonated with me because (see below), I’m all about the headlong rush into story. Windling’s quoted some really lovely stuff that I utterly agree with. Just go for it: don’t be afraid of beginning! I found the whole post really inspiring. (Also, pictures of trees and a lovely dog!)

Ryan’s post is a more general discussion on endings and their difficulty. It’s rather validating to know that published authors also struggle with the matter of endings! :) Good points about how endings should resolve aspects of the story.

Which is easier?
Beginnings, endings: two essential features of any story. No matter how non-plot-driven, every story has a beginning and end. Beginnings affect endings, vice versa too. And like in all aspects of writing, every writer has their own ways of dealing with both beginnings and endings. So what are mine?

I’ve always found beginnings far easier than endings. I can come up with a bunch of beginnings for stories in half an hour, but struggle for months with finding endings that feel right. Oh, the number of unfinished stories languishing (possibly forever) in my writing folder, lamenting their want of a proper ending! (Well, in truth, the stories that never get an ending probably weren’t worth the trouble in the first place: had ideas that didn’t take wing, were clumsily done, etc.)

Note: I’m talking first drafts here. In the editing process, beginning and ending alike pose their own problems. What felt like the perfect scene to start a story can end up being cut, or changed entirely.

Sometimes I’ll know the ending of a story the moment I start writing it, but mostly I’m a pantser. Or at least, more of a pantser than a planner. I guess I’m a percolator, really (to quote from the link: “I let the drips of a story filter through my mind over a long period of time, letting it steam and swirl about without determining it”). So, yeah. I’ll plan a bit before starting a story – unless sudden, unexpected inspiration hits.

I think mostly it’s about the attitude to beginning. Even if I’ve planned something in advance, the ending is rarely entirely clear. So I jump into a new project with mind open and a blind faith that eventually I’ll find my way through the maze to the ending. I love hurtling into a new story (or longer poem) without quite knowing what’s going to happen along the way. Only once I’m past the initial rush do I start giving serious thought to how the story’s going to end.

My problem with endings is something that’s plagued my writing my whole life. It’s not like every story is problematic with regard to its ending, but like I said: beginnings are definitely easier than endings. I think one of my main problems with endings is that they are what resonate (or not!) with the reader once the story’s done, so there’s a lot of pressure to make the ending Matter, and be Brilliant. Of course, beginnings should also be Brilliant, and hook the reader and so forth. But I can forgive a book a lacklustre beginning if it has a breathtaking ending, because the ending is often what lingers with the reader.

Case study
I’ve been trying to plan a story for a competition organised by a Finnish sf/f con (named… wait for it… Finncon!). In Finnish, naturally. It’s nice to flex my Finnish-writing muscles again, but what’s been difficult so far has been the ideas and planning, not even the writing. Since the deadline is in around a month, I thought I’d plan the story first. Efficient, organised, all that.

Well, yesterday I came home from work with the snow falling briskly around me: the city all white again, daylight gone. And suddenly, bam, an idea (only vaguely based on my previous plans) and words tumbling out so fast that I had to type the first sentences into my mobile phone so I wouldn’t forget them. So now I have a typical me-situation: a first page of prose with the initial scenario, plus a few notes for the future. No actual plot yet, and definitely no ending in sight. But a strong atmosphere and a love for the words and characters.

I wish I knew the ending for this story. But I think I’ll have fun finding it out even as I write! It’ll require more editing, but I hope I come up with a satisfying end… erm… in the end.

What’s more difficult for you, dear readers? Beginning a story or coming up with an ending?