Quick Sips review of “Birch Daughter”

The awesome Charles Payseur wrote a wonderful review of my story “Birch Daughter” (he also reviews other great Fireside stories in that post):
 
“Sweet and with a great sense of magic sweeping over the setting, the piece is quiet but resilient, full of a will to reach an ending full of warmth, comfort, and love.”
 
I really appreciate Charles’s reviews, so it means a lot to me to see that he truly understood my story, and found levels in it that I didn’t even anticipate. I mean:
 
“It’s a story that almost seems easy until you think about it. Until you realize just how hard it is and just how much the characters are risking. And yet their certainty is contagious, their hope infectious in all the best of ways.”
 
I love love love seeing this kind of responses to my work. Thank you, Charles. 
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Fireside Quarterly!

I received my contributor copy of Fireside Quarterly already a couple of weeks ago, but life has been so busy I’m only blogging about this now. But isn’t this magazine beautiful! Such great design. Some stories, including mine, have a fold-out of the illustration, which is super cool.

Of course, Fireside Quarterly is also full of excellent stories and nonfiction. I’m so proud I have a story in this gorgeous print magazine in addition to the online version! And how amazing is it that Satu Kettunen’s illustration for my story is on the cover <3

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In other news: I was quiet about it, but I did Nanowrimo again this year, and completed the zero draft of a new space opera novel. I’m excited to start revising the novel sometime next spring when it’s had enough time to rest!

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.

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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.

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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.

“Birch Daughter” sold to Fireside

This news is a couple of weeks old, but it’s wonderful news despite that: my story “Birch Daughter” has sold to the amazing magazine Fireside. I’ve loved the stories in Fireside for a long time and am super excited that my story will appear there in 2018!

I should write my award eligibility post soon (it will probably be after Christmas at this point): I’ve been procrastinating doing it because of busyness and brain weasels. Things have been super hectic and stressful after getting home from my two-month visit to the UK, alas. But it’s all finally quieting down a bit: I’m on holiday, and hope to have the energy to write a lot. In any case, getting the Fireside news has buoyed me up in this dark season. And we’re already past Midwinter Day. I can do this. We can do this.

Short story publication: Chrysopoeia

Be still, my heart!

Quantum Fairy Tales has published my short story ‘Chrysopoeia’! This is officially my first story publication of more than 600 words, so I’m super excited.

Read it here. A wee snippet from the middle:

When his alarm clock rang, Simon snapped awake with the word chrysopoeia running through his mind like a fleeing stag. Chrysopoeia: the transmutation of base elements into gold, his lifelong goal. In order to achieve chrysopoeia, he had to create a true philosopher’s stone, not just the unerringly delicious drink that he mixed several times a night.

It’s about an alchemist bartender. I originally wrote it in a more fairytale-like style ages ago, and because I started it before I knew anything about alchemy, the alchemical theory in it was utterly nonexistent. I rewrote it at the start of this summer, which included adding some “genuine” touches concerning alchemical theory and history, from the readings I’d been doing for my PhD application. I’m really proud of the story in its current published incarnation. (Code for: when I found out it got published just now, I jumped up and down yelling happy obscenities and poured myself another glass of wine.)

I hope you enjoy ‘Chrysopoeia’! Check out the rest of the Fall issue, too. It looks great.