November 20, 2014, 10.13 am
Since it's mid-November, now, writers all around the internet are putting together lists of their award-eligible stories published in 2014. In a similar vein, I thought it would be nice to do a sum-up here of all the stories of mine that were published this year, for my own sake (because it's a lovely reminder to me that yes, I really did get stuff done this year, no matter how it sometimes felt) and also in case anyone had wanted to read them and missed them the first time 'round.
I'll also talk a little at the end about the bigger story that I gave up on this year, and why I really needed to see this list.
First, here are all the stories I published this year, some of them original (and therefore award-eligible) and some of them reprints (so, not award-eligible). They're all free to read or listen to online (except for Courting Magic and "Red Ribbons"), and I really hope you enjoy any of them that you do try.
Original stories published in 2014
(Both of these were published in online magazines aimed at adults)
"Lighting Candles" - for anyone who ever felt a moment of sneaking sympathy for the older sisters in fairytales...
"Clasp Hands" - mothers and magic and powerful aunts, oh my!
My one original novella, which, er, you probably HAVE seen me talk about here before... ;)
Courting Magic: A Kat, Incorrigible Novella - Magical mysteries and star-crossed romance - Kat's all grown-up and making her social début!
"The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain" - a YA story of forbidden magic and romance in Victorian England.
"Foxwoman" - a flash fiction for adults about magic, marriage and unexpected discoveries, republished as an audio podcast.
"The Wrong Foot" - a frothy, romantic YA comedy of manners based on a skewed version of Cinderella and republished as an audio podcast.
"Red Ribbons" - wildly romantic, tragic, feminist historical fantasy for adults, republished in the anthology Wicked Women and available in ebook or paperback.
Aaaand...that's it! Whew. (I might be able to add one more story to that list if my story "Marking Time" gets published by Daily Science Fiction before the end of the year, but I'm guessing that won't happen until next year.)
Oh, but one more longer-form story did get republished - the Kat books came out as a boxed set! So that was pretty amazing.
And now, for the less fun but equally true and important part...
This was also a year when I had to give up on a book I'd been struggling to write for a year and a half, which was a hard and frustrating epiphany to have - I realized that I'd gotten so twisted up worrying about what other people would like, I had completely lost touch with the stories that I really wanted to write. (This is why I stopped talking here about Family Magic, alas. Maybe one day I'll figure out how to make it my book, but I can't even let myself look at it again right now.)
It was incredibly painful to make that decision - to decide that a year and a half's worth of writing was not, after all, going to lead to anything I would submit for publication - especially since I've had such limited writing time and energy ever since Baby X was born.
Writing Courting Magic this year - letting myself write Courting Magic, which was a story I'd wanted to tell for years, but which (because it was linked to my Kat trilogy, and because it was a novella) I couldn't possibly try to sell to a publisher - was the best thing I've done for myself as a writer in a long, long time. It forced me to let go of that desperate, overriding question "But will someone want to buy this???" and instead ask myself only, again and again: "How can I have the most possible fun with my work?"
It reminded me that writing is supposed to feel good. (Hard, sometimes, but good, at the core of it.) It reminded me that I do my very best writing when I'm writing the stories that I personally find enchanting, not when I'm trying to write to some nebulous commercial ideal in my head that doesn't really match my own personal tastes.
And I realized I couldn't keep doing that other kind of writing anymore. Because it doesn't work for anybody. That was when I finally gave up on Family Magic for good.
(I'd sat down to write it, a year and a half ago, with the idea in my head that this would be my "safe" book. The one that people would like, the one that would definitely sell, because it wasn't going to be the kind of quirky book that I wanted to read, it was going to be the kind of solid, commercial book that other people would want to read. Well...long story short: that's a really, really bad way to write a good novel.)
It took a while, but I feel like I'm finally back in the right place again, now, as a writer. I'm juggling two different novels (one MG high fantasy, one adult historical), and as different as they are from each other, they both feel like me. That's such a better place to be in my writing life! I feel like everything is right again inside me when I sit down to write, nowadays. But of course I still feel like I've been shoved back a notch in my publishing career by having to give up on that last book.
That's why this list feels so important to me. It's a reminder that no, this was not a wasted year for me as a writer in any way, shape or form. Things are moving forward, no matter how it sometimes feels inside.
Thanks so much, guys, for sharing this journey with me.
November 15, 2014, 1.44 pm
So, last week I posted here about my two big goals for this week: I wanted to start writing again, after two stressed-out weeks that were totally devoted to the house-move; and I wanted to have written at least 3,000 words by today, November 15. I promised to post back here for accountability...
...And hooray! I wrote every day this week from Monday onwards, and I ended up with 4600 new words for the week. Oh, do I feel so much better now!
How about you guys? How did your goals for the week go?
Over here, I'm feeling better in a lot of other ways, too. The new house is slowly, slooooowly coming into shape. (I'm trying to unpack one large box a day, although I haven't always hit that goal.) And today, MrD, Baby X and I made a wonderful new discovery: we have a small but fabulous neighborhood library within easy walking distance! MrD and I worked together to follow a map and find our way there this morning, and it was a lovely walk, with the mountains fog-shrouded but stunning nearby. Then we got there, and oh, we all loved it. It may be small, but it has a great children's section, and we could have stayed for hours (and would have, if only I'd remembered to bring Baby X's changing bag - oops).
Both boys had had many books read to them by the time we left, and MrD asked if we could please go back tomorrow! Sadly, I had to say no - it's not open on Sundays - but we will definitely be going back regularly. And it's amazing how much happier I feel about our house-move now. :) It's a huge treat to be able to actually walk to a library - in our last house, I had to take the bus or get a ride to the closest library, so having one so close feels totally luxuriant.
What about you guys? I'm really curious - what are your favorite things about where you live now?
November 12, 2014, 11.15 am
When you're in the middle of a big self-pity meltdown, there is really nothing better than hearing a knock on the door and finding a box of chocolate delights waiting for you, with a note from a friend that reads: Hang in there.
Oh, do I have such good friends.
I really was in total self-pity mode (my family left this morning, which is always hard and sad; I'm stressed and overwhelmed about a number of different house-move-related things, from the 40 boxes still waiting to be unpacked to the rat we've discovered in the new back garden; AND I got less than 3 hours of sleep last night, so my coping levels are not really as high as they should be)...but when I looked into that box and saw the note and the lovely chocolate gifts, it was like getting a warm hug and a burst of hope, all in one.
I looked up and saw Baby X grinning at me and bouncing with excitement as he tried to clamber into the box to see it all for himself. Maya-dog was curled up nearby, sweet and loving and steady.
Finally, finally, I started remembering all the good stuff. Like: I have a family that will actually fly out internationally just to do the hard physical labor of helping me move! (And oh, did that make a difference! With two little kids and M.E./CFS, I just don't know how we would have managed otherwise.) I have friends who care about me and send me chocolate just exactly when I need it. And maybe if I can't get the rest of the unpacking and organizational stuff done this week, or even this month, it will all be okay anyway.
Because the important things - family, friends, love - are all just right. And that's what really matters.
November 8, 2014, 1.13 pm
This has been a really, really hard week because of the move and various issues that have come up with that...but some really good things have happened, too, and I wanted to make sure I talked about them here.
First of all, my short story "Red Ribbons" (a wildly romantic, tragic, feminist historical fantasy with vampires, set in Revolutionary Paris) was just republished in the Wicked Women anthology. Hooray! This is one of my personal favorites out of my own stories - I loved writing it, and I still love it - and it's part of a fabulous Table of Contents that includes stories by Juliet McKenna, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Zen Cho and others. (Since my author copies aren't here yet, I haven't read most of the other stories, but I really adore the Zen Cho story.)
It's available as a paperback or as an ebook, and here are the US and the UK links. (Oh, and I should make it clear, so as not to mislead any MG readers, that this is an anthology of short stories aimed at adults.)
Secondly, just look - Sally Jane Thompson made fabulous Kat hot chocolate mugs! And she's offering them for sale in beautiful packages that include mini-prints and hot chocolate recipes - check them out!
If you're interested in getting one, do pre-order now, because she's only having enough mugs made to fulfill the pre-orders. Here's the listing on Etsy. (Pre-orders are open until November 19th.)
And finally...well. Taking a deep breath and shaking myself out of the cloud of stress that's been enveloping me for the last two weeks: I have three weeks left to focus on my own writing before I start my next freelance project.
In the last two weeks, I've been so stressed and overwhelmed by the house-move, I haven't managed any new writing. I didn't even finish reading this month's novel in time for my book club meeting! Anything that wasn't related to the house-move, the new house's issues, or my kids' welfare just hasn't gotten done.
But that has to change now.
So, as upsetting and stressful as our current house issues continue to be, I need to find a way to set them aside and really write for the next few weeks. By the time I check in next week, I want to have written at least 3,000 new words. I'm going to post back here next Saturday, for public accountability.
Do you guys have any goals for the next week? If you share them here, I'll cheer them on and keep you accountable, too!
October 31, 2014, 2.31 pm
Happy Halloween, everyone! Over here, we're dealing with a bit of a horror story with our new house (wahhh - oh, the stress), but for a much more fun approach to the holiday, I thought I'd post a quick reminder: you can still find my very Halloween-y story "Clasp Hands" (written last Halloween, in the spirit of the season!) free online at Daily Science Fiction.
I hope you enjoy it! And have a great holiday.