It’s a major award!

Or at least it feels like it, even though there are no aesthetically questionable lighting fixtures involved…

Near the end of March, I had hit something of a creative low. I’d finally completed a new story for an anthology’s deadline, was pretty happy with how it turned out, felt confident about it getting in — and, of course, it didn’t. As much as I’ve learned to bounce back from rejection (at least after a day or so), it’s always a letdown to feel like your work is perfect for something, and have such good feelings about it, and then find out you were completely wrong. I knew I had to send it back out again (always the best balm for any rejection letter), but because of a lot of other things going on at the time, I felt too tired and disheartened to figure out where.

And then I ran across a link on Twitter to a writing contest.

Whose theme just happened to suit the story perfectly.

With only two days left to submit.

So I shrugged, and sent the story in, and waited, and hoped, while at the same time trying desperately not to get my hopes up (because it’s been that kind of year), all the time thinking, “wouldn’t it be funny if…”

And now I can say that my story “The Frog Who Swallowed the Moon” won the fiction grand prize in the latest Spark contest:

It’s my first writing contest win — for fiction, anyway, not counting things like essay contests in high school, so it’s pretty exciting.

This sort of thing has happened before — story gets rejected only to wind up getting published someplace that’s somehow better in the end — but not quite this dramatically, so in addition to being a nice ego and confidence boost, it’s also a nice boost to the kind of faith you have to have to keep writing and revising and sending stuff out time after time.

Although I have to admit, I always feel weird about writing these sorts of announcements. There’s such a fine line, to me, between announcing one’s accomplishments and sounding like you’re bragging about them. I’m taken back to that feeling of elementary school, sitting at my desk with a completed test, waiting for somebody else to finish and hand theirs in before I get up, so everyone won’t know I’m the first one to finish. And on the flip side, I know what it’s like to feel that everybody else’s success always happens during your own driest spells, and to write congratulatory comments with your teeth gritted.

In the end, though, I come back to this, a passage that’s been quoted so much it should feel like a threadbare clichĂ©, but one that still rings true to me:

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

And besides, I got a particularly snarky rejection letter a couple days later. So the universe is still in balance. 🙂


“The Spirit of Pinetop Inn” in Andromeda Spaceways (and other news)

Andromeda Spaceways #58 coverJust got the new issue of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine in the mail this past weekend (all the way from Australia, which means cool echidna stamps). Issue #58 includes my story “The Spirit of Pinetop Inn,” a lighthearted look at what happens when a young couple decides to hire a ghost to help drum up business for their bed and breakfast. Really enjoyed writing this one — I don’t often get to write a lot of humor in my usual fiction, and some of the dialogue during the ghosts’ job interviews was especially fun.

The full list of contributors can be found here:

And you can buy the issue in print, mobi (Kindle) format, epub, or PDF here:

I’m happy to say I also found a home recently for a short story called “The Claw in Her Heart,” which is my dark take on childhood portal fantasies (Narnia, etc.). “Claw” will be part of episode 1 of the brand-new magazine FictionVale when it comes out in mid-November — and thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, they’re going to be able to pay pro rates to the authors, which makes it even more exciting. To everyone to contributed to that Kickstarter, I (and my checking account) extend my heartfelt gratitude. 🙂

As far as the writing part of the process goes, I’ve been busy over the past several weeks on a novella I was invited to submit for an anthropomorphic-themed anthology that’s coming out in January. This makes for a September 1 deadline, so don’t expect to see much else here for a couple more weeks unless it’s just another quick announcement or the like.

Off to do my 2K word quota for today…

Free short story collection and other writing-related updates

I’m a bit behind on publication announcements, so let’s get caught up…

First, I’ve put together a sort of ‘sampler’ ebook called Six Impossible Things, made up of six of my short stories. The collection includes “Childish Things,” “Moon, June, Raccoon,” “Norma the Wal-Mart Greeter Meets the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” “Swear Not By the Moon,” “Drawn From Memory,” and “The Garden.” It’s available for free on Smashwords, where you can download it in Kindle format, EPUB, PDF, plain text… pretty much everything except semaphore and interpretive dance. (It’s also on Amazon, but the process of making a book free on Amazon has taken longer than expected, so at the moment the Amazon price is still 99 cents. It will eventually be free, permanently; it may just take a couple more weeks. I’ll make another announcement when the price finally changes.)

Six Impossible Things

Second, the issue of Black Static including my story “Horseman” is due out next month, and as a preview, check out the awesome illustration done for it by artist Rich Sampson. It’ll be in black and white in the actual magazine, but at least you can enjoy it here in all its glory. 🙂

Third, this month saw a really exciting acceptance for one of my stories — “The Bear with the Quantum Heart” was accepted to the online sf/f magazine Strange Horizons, tentatively slated to appear sometime around December. It’s a place I’ve dreamed of being published in for some time now, and tough to get into, so this was an especially satisfying ego boost. The story is about a state-of-the-art educational toy who grows up alongside the child he was bought for, and ends up having a much deeper relationship with her than either of them expected. Call it “Velveteen Rabbit” meets “A.I.,” I suppose. 🙂

As for writing new stuff, a lot of real-life issues have interfered with my writing time and energy over the past several weeks, but at this point I’m still planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo again in August. Before that, though, I’m working on my next Smashwords/Kindle offering (a novella called “Signal”) and trying to get a short story together to submit to this quarter of the Writers of the Future contest before the deadline slips past me.

And, of course, I’ll try to update here more often so I’m not doing these long omnibus posts instead of sticking to one topic and keeping things short, the way all the blog-writing how-to blogs say you should. (Which is one of several reasons I consider this an online journal and not a real “blog.”) :p

2010 acceptance list

As one final bit of closure for 2010, and also just as a backup to my personal files, a quick rundown of acceptances/publications for the year:

To the Anthro Dreams podcast in 2010, as reprints: “Moon, June, Raccoon”, “The Raccoon and the Sea-Maiden,” and “Cover of Darkness” and “Sideshow” (grouped together into one podcast). I highly recommend the podcast to those interested in anthropomorphic fiction.

To ROAR volume 3 (due out next month), published by Bad Dog Books, “Drawn From Memory.” One of the few short stories I completed last year, this one is a sweet romance between a young human woman and the suave tiger toon she idolized as a child. I’m really pleased with how the story turned out — and that this will be my debut in a Bad Dog Books publication, hopefully reaching new readers who haven’t come across my work yet.

To Different Worlds, Different Skins Volume 2, as reprints: “Swear Not By the Moon,” “A Winter’s Work,” “Transformation,” and “At the Bridge.” (I was also surprised and pleased to see that the cover art for this volume was based on “A Winter’s Work.”)

To Fearology 2: Beware All Animals Great and Small (publication date TBA), a contemporary dark fantasy piece called “Horseman,” about a horse breeder grieving his wife’s death, whose mare gives birth to a monstrosity.

And finally, “Swear Not By the Moon,” as a reprint, to the anthology Bewere the Night — table of contents here, and it can be preordered via here (due out in April).

All in all, not as bad as it could have been, given that 2010 was a year of personal/financial upheaval with my husband’s job situation, leading to not very many new stories being completed, and given that I had more trouble than usual getting responses back in reasonable amounts of time (maybe in part because I was submitting to brand-new markets just getting their first issues going). At any rate, now we work on 2011…