Award eligibility & 2018 in review

I had one piece out in 2018. My short story “Birch Daughter”, appeared in Fireside Magazine in November (and was included in the October issue of Fireside Quarterly): it’s eligible for your consideration.

Read “Birch Daughter” here!

My father told me that the spell was too strong to break, that I should never trust the forest-folk. But the thought of my mother trapped within a gnarled birch tree in the far north was too much for me to bear. I had to go, even just to see her.

This story is inspired by Finnish folklore; it features forests, bears, and queer women. It’s the only thing I had published this year, and I’m very proud of it.

* * *

This is also a good time to reflect a bit on 2018 in terms of my writing. I used to do rather detailed year-in-review posts, outlining writing goals for the next year, &c. I think, this time, I’ll keep the writing goals within my bullet journal and just reflect more generally on this year.

My main goal for 2018 was to finish novel revisions and to start querying agents. Well: I did that, although due to mental health issues, I was not able to get properly into querying. A lot of my other goals, I did not really succeed at — but the problem was, my goals were too ambitious and I also didn’t realise, at the end of 2017, how rough 2018 was going to be.

But all in all, the main thing is: I kept writing. I took a bit of a break in the summer, when I was healing my poor brain, but I returned to writing again when it felt good. (Writing longhand in a nice notebook, outside in the warmth of the summer sun. I wrote a whole story longhand for the first time in years.) And after that, writing has felt good. After my healing beak, I’ve written a couple of short stories and a Nanowrimo novel draft, and am finding joy in writing. Really, that’s what matters.

In 2019, I hope above all to be more gentle to myself in terms of writing goals and ambitions. I’m working on a PhD; I have anxiety issues; I need to look after myself and stay clear of too much perfectionism and achieverism.

I’ll end with by quoting myself from last year’s year-in-review post:

No matter what, I will keep writing words of hope and kindness in the face of hardship.

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Award eligibility and year in review

I didn’t have much published this year, but here are my award-eligible works from 2017, one short story and four poems:

Short story:
07/2017 “Don’t Look a Wish Horse in the Mouth” in Cosmos Pen, the English special issue of Finnish SFF magazine Kosmoskynä. Short story, 2065 words.
— This is a bit hard to get hold of since it’s in a Finnish print magazine, but I’m happy to provide anyone who asks with a digital copy of my story.

Poetry:
01/2017 “The Queen, After” in Through the Gate.

08/2017 “Sunharvest Triptych” in the anthology Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Wieland.

10/2017 “Artemis–” in Issue 1 of Blossomry.

10/2017 “When They Belittle Your Nature” in Issue 1 of Blossomry.

The poems are all eligible for the short poem category of the Rhysling Award.

***

YEAR IN REVIEW

My writing goals for 2017 were:

  • Finish revising novel; get everything in shape for submission and start submitting it to literary agents.
  • Get back to the poetry collection thing; revise the collection, try to get the ms in shape and submitted.
  • Write more short stories.
  • Get back into the poetry habit.
  • Submit more poetry and stories.
  • Look over previous Nanowrimo novels, make plans for the potentials (rework as novel / condense into novella or novelette).
  • Have fun with writing. Play with it too.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other writers in the bad way. We all have different paths.

Well. Ambitious goals, considering I’m also working on a PhD, and this year was difficult in many other ways too. I obviously didn’t succeed with all of my writing goals, thus.

However: the novel is almost entirely revised to be the best I can make it. I’ve worked on it a lot this year: most of my writing hours were spent on it, which is partly why I’ve not succeeded so well at the other goals. Writing a novel is a long slog, and takes a lot of energy and time. But the time I’ve spent on the novel has paid off: the novel is at the polishing stage, and – importantly – I still love it. I’m looking forward to finishing it in early 2018.

I did not have the energy/time to start submitting the novel to agents, or even to properly start doing my agent research. But that is something that I don’t want to rush: the novel has to be good first.

Re the poetry collection mentioned in my goals: I did basically nothing to it because the novel gobbled up my time/energy. I will eventually try to do stuff to it, though.

I didn’t write many short stories – again, because of the novel. BUT I did complete one new short story, wrote part of another (should get back to it!), and am almost done with a third.

I did not get back into the poetry habit, sadly. I wrote 13 poems, most of which are just short things and not too many of them good. I’d like to get more poetry written: should do some poetry exercises in the new year.

I didn’t submit that much stuff in 2017. 17 poetry subs (14 rejections, 2 acceptances, 1 pending), and 12 story subs (11 rejections, 1 joyous acceptance to Fireside). I have no stories out on sub right now: should try to fix that soon. And also write more stories!

I did not have time to do anything about my previous Nanowrimo novels – but I wrote a new one instead in November. It’s not very good, but it’s proof that I can still plonk out 50,000 words in a month.

As for my final goals for 2017: I haven’t played around as much with writing as I’d have wanted, mostly – again – because I’ve been busy with the novel. But I have managed to compare myself less with other writers. I’ve been so damn busy with work and other life things that it’s a wonder I managed to get through 2017.

Every creative word written is a win, especially when you’re working on a PhD. Really, I’ve done a lot this year even though the brainweasels tell me it’s not enough. My novel is almost submittable – I’ve done some other creative writing on the side – and even though I haven’t submitted much stuff, I submitted something. I kept going, kept writing.

***

My writing goals for 2018, then:

  • Finish novel revisions; send it out to agents. Revise again as needed.
  • Do something about the poetry collection.
  • Look over previous Nanowrimo novels, make plans for the potentials (rework as novel / condense into novella or novelette).
  • Write for yourself – write amazingly self-indulgent things that make your heart sing.
  • Make time for writing. Don’t shuffle writing to the bottom of the priority list.
  • But also: be gentle to yourself and accept that your pace will be slower because of all your other commitments.

Happy New Year, dear readers. I hope it’s a better year, a happier year, a more hopeful year. No matter what, I will keep writing words of hope and kindness in the face of hardship.

2016 in review

What a year. It’s been a shitshow for the world, and my own country too: Finland’s current government is awful and seems to oppose pretty much all the things I hold important. The past autumn ended up being difficult for me on a personal level, too. Haven’t been that anxious and close to burnout for an age. I’m glad I weathered it, though, and a week’s holiday has given me back some energy and hope. Still, on the whole 2016 has been pretty horrible.

Yet: on the writing front, things have been good for me. Very good, in fact. Thinking about 2016 gives me a weird dissonance: on one hand, terrible things have happened worldwide and bad things have happened to people I care about. On the other, in 2016 my first pro publications came out – making me eligible for the Campbell Award – and I revised a novel.

***

Here were my writing goals for 2016 (from this post):

  • Submit more stuff, both prose and poetry! Try to submit something at least once a month.
  • Get more stories + poems published (in pro markets if possible).
  • Revise the ms and submit poetry collection for publication.
  • Start gathering poems together for a speculative poetry collection.
  • Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day, even if it’s just a short poem or writing exercise.
  • Revise The Beast of Briarwood Hall and (possibly! maybe! yikes!) submit the ms to agents.
  • Have fun with writing and remember the joy of it even amidst PhD stress.

How did I do with them, then?

  • Welp. I did not manage to submit something at least once a month, alas. PhD and busytimes sap energy. Only 17 poetry subs (most including more than one poem), and 5 acceptances. 26 short story subs, and 2 acceptances. So – I didn’t manage to submit as much as I wanted to, but I kept submitting, if sporadically, throughout the year.
  • I got more stuff published – and as mentioned, in pro markets too. A wonderful thing. All my short story publications were in pro magazines. (See below for my 2016 pubs.)
  • I basically did nothing for my almost-finished poetry collection. Siiiiigh. Searching for potential publishers was too overwhelming amid my busyness.
  • I did not gather poems together for a spec poetry collection – see above, apparently this was not the year for poetry collections.
  • I don’t know if I increased my overall writing output. I have not been writing every day. However: I’ve been writing through thick and thin. Not consistently, but I’ve kept writing despite the demands of my PhD dayjob and everything else clamouring for attention.
  • The thing I’m proudest of this year: I revised The Beast of Briarwood Hall. I did not get to the point of submitting the ms, since it still needs final revisions. But I took the novel from a skeletal first draft to an actual novel, draft 2. I got immensely helpful comments from beta readers. I’m currently working on draft 3.
  • Writing has been an escape for me this year, reminding me of its importance in the dark times.

***
My 2016 publications are all included in my award eligibility post, but let’s recap them here for the sake of completionism:

POEMS (5)
02/2016 “Village Woman” in the Winter 2016 issue of Goblin Fruit.
03/2016 “Witch’s Lens” in Polu Texni.
06/2016 “After Selling Your Soul to the Trickster God” in Issue 59 of Abyss & Apex.
09/2016 “Taboo” in Strange Horizons. (Podcast version here.)
09/2016 “Bird People” in Volume 1, Issue 4 of Remixt.

FICTION (2 short stories, 1 flash)
07/2016 “The City Beneath the Sea” in the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, edited by Rose Lemberg. Short story.
07/2016 “Water, Birch, and Blood” in Strange Horizons, the special issue Our Queer Planet. Short story. (Podcast version here.)
08/2016 “Creation” in the August 2016 issue of Flash Fiction Online. Flash fiction.

I’m really proud of everything that I’ve had published this year. Poems and stories written with all my heart in them.

***

My writing goals for 2017:

  • Finish revising novel; get everything in shape for submission and start submitting it to literary agents.
  • Get back to the poetry collection thing; revise the collection, try to get the ms in shape and submitted.
  • Write more short stories.
  • Get back into the poetry habit.
  • Submit more poetry and stories.
  • Look over previous Nanowrimo novels, make plans for the potentials (rework as novel / condense into novella or novelette).
  • Have fun with writing. Play with it too.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other writers in the bad way. We all have different paths.

Those might be somewhat manageable goals. (I have a hard time proposing manageable goals for myself.) I hope that 2017 will be less awful than 2016, world-wise; although it’s possible we’re actually headed for darker times. But then again – those are precisely the times when we need art most. So I will do my utmost to keep arting in 2017, to write stories and poems with hope at their heart.

Happy new year, Dear Reader. May 2017 treat you with compassion and mercy.

2015 in review

Last day of the year; I’m still going to do some writing (on an ooold tale that I just can’t bear to abandon yet); then off to a New Year’s thing if I have the energy.

Anyway, time for my now-traditional writing-related year in review thing.

My writing goals for 2015 (from this post):

  1. Get more stories published.
  2. Get more poems published.
  3. Revise the ms and submit poetry collection for publication.
  4. Start gathering poems together for a speculative poetry collection.
  5. Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day, even if it’s just a short poem or writing exercise.
  6. Continue to write more in Finnish. It’s been so great to tap into that part of my writing brain this year, so I want to continue experimenting in my other native language too.
  7. Rewrite Dim Vanities entirely. Do this with the help of a proper outline.
  8. Improve my plotting skills.
  9. Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.
  10. Submit more stuff, both prose and poetry! Try to submit something at least once a month.

Uh, that’s quite a lot of goals. No wonder I didn’t complete all of them. :D Well, that was mostly because of PhD/work-related stress and lack of energy/time. Especially the past autumn has been, quite frankly, rather horrendous because I’ve been juggling so many things and only just managed to keep from bursting apart with stress. But so, how did I do with these goals?

1) I totally got more stories published! Yay! Not in pro magazines, perhaps, but nonetheless I got four stories published. I’m especially proud of “Moss”.

2) I got more poems published too, although less than I’d have wanted, alas. But I’m especially happy with my sales to inkscrawl. And with the cute origami chapbook Watching the City.

3) Wellll I failed at revising my poetry collection and submitting it. Sigh. I’ve been putting it off because of busyness for ages – and I was going to work on it now in December, at latest – but nope. Too much stress –> it’s really hard to revise such a thing.

4) I actually forgot I even had this goal of gathering poems for a spec collection, probably because I wasn’t making headway with my other collection either. Anyway, um, this is totally a good goal and I should pursue it next year.

5) I don’t think I’ve actually increased my writing output – 2014 was pretty good for writing lots. This year has been so busyyyy that I haven’t written as much as I’d have wanted. However, I have finished more short stories than in 2014, so that’s something. (Haven’t sold too many of them, but still.) Definitely didn’t manage to write every day except during Nanowrimo. This is defo something to work on – the routines of writing.

6) I wrote more in Finnish! Yaassss! Poetry as well as some prose. This is a big deal for me and I’m very pleased that one of my Finnish stories (first draft written in late 2014, though) got published.

7) I REWROTE DIM VANITIES (now with a different working title: The Beast of Briarwood Hall). This is one of my biggest writing achievements of 2015. During Camp Nanowrimo and then Nanowrimo proper, I rewrote the novel that keeps haunting me – and the version I have now feels like it could actually work. Like I only have to revise instead of majorly rewrite. And I did it with more outlining than I’ve ever used before. I feel so happy about this. I’m planning on starting the revision in January and am really looking forward to it!

8) Improving plotting skills – hmmmm such a vague goal. I have written more short stories, and thought extensively about plot wrt the novel rewrite, though, so I suppose I have improved a bit?

9) I finished some short stories – and finished the zero draft of the novel. So yeahhh. And I’ve been working on finishing some previous stories that I’ve left to languish on my harddrive.

10) I submitted stuff, yes, but not nearly as often as once a month, alas. The silliest was submitting so little poetry – I have oodles of the stuff lying around, but didn’t submit much. Work-busyness can mostly be blamed for this. It’s hard to muster energy for submitting stuff when you’re tired. However! I have submitted more short stories than ever this year. Lots of rejections, naturally. But I have compared to previous years, I’ve submitted so many short stories. Yay for that.

***

To remind myself that I did indeed publish stuff, here’s all my publications in 2015:

POEMS (7 + the 6 in the origami chapbook):
03/2015 “Palimpsest” in Issue 216 of Snakeskin.
04/2015 “Pomeranian”, “Lauttasaari Bridge”, and “Human Nature” in Issue 217 (April Short Poems) of Snakeskin.
04/2015 “The World in Springtime” in The Stare’s Nest.
06/2015 “Betweening” in Issue 8 of inkscrawl.
07/2015 Watching the City, a micro-collection of six poems from the Origami Poetry Project. Print it out and fold it into a tiny book!
12/2015 “Storm-yarn” in Issue 9 of inkscrawl.

PROSE (4 stories):
03/2015 “The Ruin” in Issue 21 of Luna Station Quarterly. Short story.
06/2015 “Moss” in Issue 26 of Silver Blade Magazine. Novelette. (TW: implied incest)
09/2015 “Memory” in The Flash Fiction Press. Flash fiction.
12/2015 “Vierain silmin” (‘With Strange Eyes’) in the Finnish speculative ezine Usva. Short story. I recommend downloading the PDF, it’s got pretty pictures and nice formatting. (in Finnish)

***

Also, I joined Twitter. :D It’s been a wonderful way to keep up with the writing community and I’ve met some great people! Procrastination galore, of course, but Twitter has really helped me connect with other writers.

***

Soooo what about the new year? Here are (some of) my writing goals for 2016:

  • Submit more stuff, both prose and poetry! Try to submit something at least once a month.
  • Get more stories + poems published (in pro markets if possible).
  • Revise the ms and submit poetry collection for publication.
  • Start gathering poems together for a speculative poetry collection.
  • Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day, even if it’s just a short poem or writing exercise.
  • Revise The Beast of Briarwood Hall and (possibly! maybe! yikes!) submit the ms to agents.
  • Have fun with writing and remember the joy of it even amidst PhD stress.

There. Tried to make those somewhat more concrete than last year’s. You will notice a lot of stuff got carried over, too. PhD and other workstress has been making it harder to concentrate on the bigger goals. But I need to write – writing makes me happy in a way nothing else does – so I need to work on finding the mental space and energy and time to write even as I’m working on my PhD. Here’s hoping I manage, and that 2016 is less stressful than 2015!

I wish you a wonderful new year, dear readers. May the writing force be with you!

2014 in review

On 1 January I made a post about my writing in 2013 and my hopes for 2014. I like looking back on the past year at its end, so here we go again.

My writing goals for 2014 were (slightly abridged):

  1. Get a story published!
  2. Get more poems published.
  3. Work on a poetry collection.
  4. Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day.
  5. Rework Dim Vanities and decide what to do with it (whether to continue editing it smaller-scale, or do a total reboot, or just stick it in the trunk).
  6. Improve my plotting skills.
  7. Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.

So, how did I do?

1) I exceeded my goal of getting one story published – I now have three stories out and two forthcoming. I am really proud and happy about this.

2) I got more poems published – nine of them. And to some highly awesome magazines, too. Yay!

3) I haven’t got the poetry collection into a submittable shape yet, but it exists! and it’s looking pretty good. Finishing it up and submitting to potential publishers is one of my goals for (early) 2015.

4) I haven’t managed to write fiction or poetry every day (except during Nanowrimo), but I have increased my writing output, I think. But this is something to work on – writing something creative every day even if it’s just an exercise.

5) Haven’t had the energy to start reworking Dim Vanities or do anything too much with it. However, a couple of weeks ago I got a flash of feeling that made me decide something: DV needs a radical rewrite. It might still not be publishable even after that rewrite, but I’ve got to give this novel one more chance. I still love so many aspects of it – I just need to rewrite the plot and give the characters higher stakes and more emotion. This is, therefore, a project for 2015. (Camp Nanowrimo, perhaps?)

6) I haven’t worked systematically on improving my plotting skills. I’ve been writing more stories, which I think helps, but plotting is definitely still something that I need to work on.

7) I have been trying to finish more things that I start! And I’ve managed to edit at least some first drafts of stories into a submittable point (and sold a couple of them, too – “Chrysopoeia” and “The Ruin”).

***

As for more concrete evidence of my writing in 2014, here’s a list of my publications this year:

POETRY (9 poems)
02/14 “Ninety-Eight” and “City of Stones” in Issue #33 of Chantarelle’s Notebook.
02/14 “Helsinki Love Song” in Wild Violet Magazine.
05/14 “The Alchemist’s Lover” in the “Alchemies” issue of CSHS.
06/14 “Looking-Glass Lover” in Issue #28 of Niteblade, “Looking-Glass Lover” (after my poem).
06/14 “Shrug Charm” in the Spring 2014 issue of Goblin Fruit.
11/14 “Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)” in Issue 11 of Stone Telling.
11/14 “Sorrow-stone” in the “Summer Is Dead” issue of Goblin Fruit.
12/14 “Raw Honey” in Strange Horizons. Listen to me reading the poem in the SH December Poetry Podcast.

PROSE (3 stories)
07/14 “Wind Chimes” in 365 tomorrows. Flash fiction.
10/14 “Chrysopoeia” in Issue 9 (Fall 2014) of Quantum Fairy Tales. Short story.
12/14 “Munankuorikehto” (‘Egg-Shell Cradle’) in issue 3/2014 of Spin, the quarterly magazine of the Turku Science Fiction Society (TSFS). The magazine can be ordered from the TSFS webpage. Flash fiction. (in Finnish)

Oh, and rejections? There were many. It’s especially heartening to see some poem or story published that has previously been rejected (many times, even). I don’t really post about my rejections, but of course they happen. A lot. Way more than acceptances. I’ve learned how to deal with them pretty well – I usually don’t take them too personally any more, although getting a rejection is always a disappointment of course.

In addition to this published stuff, I also wrote oodles of poem drafts (I really can’t be bothered to count, there’s so many), several writing exercises with potential for more, one Nanowrimo novel (crapola zero draft, but with definite potential), and some short stories. Oh, and I edited two 10k+ novelettes. NOT BAD.

***

Now, what about the coming year? Here are some writing goals for 2015 (many of them, as you can see, carrying over from last year):

  • Get more stories published.
  • Get more poems published.
  • Revise the ms and submit poetry collection for publication.
  • Start gathering poems together for a speculative poetry collection.
  • Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day, even if it’s just a short poem or writing exercise.
  • Continue to write more in Finnish. It’s been so great to tap into that part of my writing brain this year, so I want to continue experimenting in my other native language too.
  • Rewrite Dim Vanities entirely. Do this with the help of a proper outline.
  • Improve my plotting skills.
  • Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.
  • Submit more stuff, both prose and poetry! Try to submit something at least once a month.

In general, I’m really pleased with how much I’ve written this year and how I’ve improved as a writer. So far it’s been easy for my PhD work to coexist with my writing life – I really hope that state of affairs will continue! And I think it will, if I just make good use of my time.

***

In conclusion: Dear readers, I wish all of you joy and fun writing times in this coming year!

My writing in 2013 – and my hopes for 2014

In a moment I’m going to get down to some actual writing – there has to be proper writing on the first day of a new year! But first, a round-up of 2013 and some writing goals/wishes for 2014.

I thought I’d do a list of the writing I’ve done this year. It’s difficult to quantify this stuff, really, because a lot of things are in some stage of unfinishedness, but here’s an estimate:

Written:

  • 69 poem drafts (not all of them edited or reworked, and some never will be; many have been submitted, and a few of them have got published too!)
  • 5 flash fiction pieces (4 finished, 1 still in draft phase)
  • 3 stories of <5,000 words (should send a couple of them out; one still needs editing)
  • two novelettes (still need final edits before can be sent out)
  • one failed attempt at reworking my novel Dim Vanities
  • several writing exercises with potential to become more

Published:

Rejected:

  • 32 poems
  • 1 flash fiction piece
  • 1 short story
  • –> As you can see, I didn’t submit too many stories in 2013!

*

So, that’s the numbers. Now for some more words:

What pleased me writing-wise:

  • The writers’ group I’m in – Helsinki Writers’ Group, for people in this area who write in English – has been really great. It’s been amazing to actually share my stuff live with other writers, and to get to talk about writing with people who get it. It’s brilliant to have a group where constructive criticism actually works. I’ve been able to radically improve so many of my pieces from feedback I’ve got from the group. And of course it’s heartening to have people laugh out loud at the funny bits. :) We’ve got a really good, supportive atmosphere, I think. Looking forward to our first meeting of the year this Friday.
  • I wrote a surprising amount considering I was quite stressed out for much of the year and had too much on my plate. Extreme yay!
  • I got some poems published that are very special to me. The fact that ‘Orthography: A Personal History’ is out there makes me especially happy.

What I was disappointed in:

  • As I have mentioned previously, I was disappointed in failing to get a proper edit started for Dim Vanities despite the reasons for my failure being completely understandable.

*

Now for the 2014 part of this post: the forward-looking, hopeful part. :D

What are my writing goals for 2014?
My major non-writing goal this year is to apply for a PhD position in my field of English historical linguistics and manuscript studies. However, my freer schedules this spring will hopefully result in more creative writing time too, despite my intended focus on academia. And even if (when!) busyness ensues, writing will always be high on the priority list. Hence, goals – which I may or may not achieve, but it’s better to have some nonetheless, methinks!

Some goals writing-wise (aim high!):

  • Get a story published! I’d like to get more than just my poetry out there, since, you know, I am not exclusively a poet. Achieving this goal – in addition to luck and writing well – means getting more stories (especially shorter ones) edited, finished and actually submitted.
  • Get more poems published.
  • Work on a poetry collection. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, and I’ve already got a lot of ideas and some preliminary work done.
  • Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day.
  • Rework Dim Vanities and decide what to do with it (whether to continue editing it smaller-scale, or do a total reboot, or just stick it in the trunk).
  • Improve my plotting skills.
  • Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.

I could probably think of tons more goals if I really got to it – there’s always room for improvement and there are plenty of things in my writing that I want to work on. But these are the major goals. I will also work on not stressing out if I don’t manage to fulfil them. With Ye Olde Perfeccionisme, that’s going to be the greatest challenge of all!