first lines meme.

This one’s often fun. Especially when you feel like you will never be writing anything but this novel, forever and ever and ever amen. The first lines meme! In which I post the first sentence of everything I’ve got in progress right now, in hopes of being able to cross some of them off in the near future.

Yesterday in a fit of impatience I rewrote the first 1k of “Ruin Marble” between midnight and 2 AM, so I guess that’s actually in progress now as opposed to completely stalled while I decided what it was about. It’s a sort of writing productivity, even if it’s not The Novel.

WHY o WHY are novels a hundred thousand words in length, WHY o WHY am I not a fast writer, etc. The constant refrain. But hey, have some first lines.

The Hydraulic Emperor”:

The Hydraulic Emperor is nine minutes and twenty-seven seconds long, filmed on an eighteen-quadcopter neocamera rig back when neocameras were the only way to make immersive film.

“Ruin Marble”:

Spring was late.

THE PERILS OF MAHIT (working title; the novel.):

Mahit came down to the City in a seed-skiff, a bubble of a ship hardly big enough for her body and her luggage both.

“Untitled Clone Hive-Mind Story”:

Tsa-Five’s prison was old-fashioned: a cage of metal bars, twelve of her steps long and twelve of her steps wide.

“The Raven King’s Mail-Order Bride”:

The jackdaws are shrieking outside my window, as if I’d summoned them by researching their medieval ancestors.

“Untitled Perfume Wizard Story”:

Ava, who was only Ava by the narrowest of margins and the dregs of jasmine and leather clinging to the pulse-points of her wrists, ordered a second Hungarian coffee.


things I’m working on.

A quick update, because maybe I should use my writing blog as a blog more often!

things out in the world, awaiting their fates: flayed god story, second-person nanite revolution story, space gnostics flash (as of today, heh. I don’t usually write flash? This mugged me and now I’ve spent all of my Sunday on it.)

things in progress: The Novel (mindsharing space empire politics) — slowly but surely more of it emerges; cyberpunk film connoisseur story (requires me to come up with a heist plot); shattered clone hive mind story (needs to be reworked for maximal weird); perfume wizard story (needs something to link together all these vignettes about perfume); angel-insect erotica (does what it says on the tin)

things stalled until I solve them: possessed radio and formerly evil sorceress deal with consequences of a) possession; b) evil

things I am writing for no one’s benefit but mine and a tiny audience: suspense thriller AU fanfic about very bad demons becoming slightly less bad due to precisely-placed hammerstrikes of emotional trauma (going to be a novella, help me god)

things I am writing for work: translation and commentary of some 11th-century Byzantine letters; fixing up an article on mediated experiences of warfare; maybe doing some Armenian translation so that I have a new text to go along with this proto-article on philhellenism? maybe. I need to learn to write faster.

hello from Uppsala

New country. New town. New job (on Monday). New, exciting, hilarious failures of internet access! (I’m not really here. Or, I’m here because I took a walk until I got mildly lost, and then found a cafe with wifi and cappuchinos.) Good morning. So far I’ve found an English-language bookshop with a SFF book club prominently flyer’d in the windows, a river with picturesque bridges, and the grocery. Further goals for today involve locating the rock-climbing gym and somewhere to sell me a Swedish textbook, and having dinner with my new boss.

I am having so much fun. Leavened with language-shock (the sooner I get competent in Swedish the better) and vile terror of having landed in a completely new place alone, but hey. Mostly I am having a fantastic time. I love this sort of thing: picking up my whole life and reinventing it again, for good reasons.

April writing roundup: Not as much as I’d like. Moving from Canada to the US to Sweden will do that to a girl. Rewrote a short story (“All The Colors You Thought Were Kings”), at 6000 words — a fairly major rewrite, so I’m calling it a completely new story and counting it as part of my short-story quota for the year, which puts me at 2/12. Noodled at some other shorts (a couple hundred words each on “The Hydraulic Emperor” and “Dawn Machine” and The Untitled Clone Hive Mind Story and Perfume Wizards), but didn’t finish any of them. Avoided the novel (need to stop doing that). Wrote some fanfic. May will be better!

May goals: 5000 novel words; finish “The Hydraulic Emperor”; finish at least one other story; write enough of the fanfic thing to stop obsessing at the fanfic thing (it’s idfic of a very particular school, a “turn-left” AU which allows for productive emotional trauma in a character who doesn’t usually experience trauma actively. It has very little redeeming value aside from making my brainsquids happy, and entertaining one of my dearest friends.)

There is so much light here. I may object to this later in the year, but right now? Goddamn. It’s lovely.

2014/retrospective & 2015/goals

It is a new year. In the first thirty-six hours of 2015 I have been to a lovely party full of SFF people and sold a story. This seems very positive as a way to begin. I have a lot of hope for my life as a writer this year. A lot of hope and a bunch of terrifying goals.

The chief amongst those goals is the following: in 2015 I will finish a complete draft of a novel. I declare this now, in public, as a sort of vow. I have never finished a novel. I have never even gotten close, unless you count collaborative projects — and I don’t, quite, as collaboration fixes all of my novel-writing psychological horrors, i.e. I refuse to let down my collaborators, and thus I do not run away from the novel, and also if I get hideously stuck I can ask the other person to fix the plot, which also prevents escape attempts. I have a horror of plot. Or possibly my plots are a horror. One or the other. Either way, this time I’m doing it alone, and it’s going to be hard, and I am terrified, and I will write a novel.

(The novel in question is a space opera about memory and cultural preservation. Also there’s a murder in it. I feel pretty good about the murder.)

other writing goals for 2015: Twelve new short stories, one for every month of the year, so as to keep this gorgeous bit of momentum I’ve got going.

2014 was a really great year for me — I am actually, as of this morning’s acceptance note, out of finished stories to send on submission — and it was the year where I got serious about being a SFF pro, as opposed to getting ready to be a SFF pro, which was sort of my pre-Viable Paradise state. I had one publication before VP, but I wasn’t actively and consistently writing and submitting. This last year, I was consistently writing and submitting, and making contacts with other writers and editors, and going to SFF cons, and being part of the community, and I am so very pleased with how it’s gone.

And, as is apparently traditional, statistics from 2014 (and one day of 2015):

submissions: 25 (24 fiction, 1 poetry)

acceptances: 5 (4 fiction, 1 poetry) – 2 published in 2014, 3 forthcoming 2015

rejections: 12 form, 9 personal

I’d like to get that submissions number up over 40 for 2015.

I need to write faster. That is also a goal this year.

Happy 2015, all of you.

The problem with saying that you will write a blog post when you finish the story…

… is that you have to finish the story before you write the blog post. That took at least two weeks longer than I meant it to. (Extenuating circumstances include a deeply complex fight with Canadian immigration authorities, culminating in me citing NAFTA. I am a free trade good, it turns out. Also I’m moving this weekend. Forward momentum, etc etc.)

However: City of Salt, complete at 3750 words. High fantasy is a weird genre for me to work in. But I think I’m pleased with how it turned out. Next, a revision pass, annoying at least one friend for critique, and sending the thing out posthaste, since …

… I sold two pieces last week and need to fill out the rota again!

This is delightfully exciting. A poem to Strange Horizons (… first time’s the charm, apparently. Haven’t written poetry since I was a teenager, sent this one to one market, and they took it straight off; this might go to my head) and a short story to Ideomancer. Links when they’re actually out, naturally.

These are my first sales since Viable Paradise. I’m so pleased. And kind of encouraged.

Now I need to sell something to a SFWA-qualifying market. And figure out enough about the novel to keep writing it.

And, y’know, be a professor for the first time in my life. This year is rather exciting.

sudden employment.

So I got slightly distracted this week by suddenly becoming Employed In My Field Of Choice. This was extremely unlikely; I had a fun (definitions of ‘fun’ may vary) first year on the academic job market, in which I got five interviews — one which involved international travel — and zero resultant jobs. I was preparing to spend a year writing in New York City. Then one of my last-ditch stabs at not being vigorously broke decided to not only interview but actually hire me, and barring misadventures with the Canadian immigration authorities, I am moving to the province of New Brunswick for a year. You can now call me Visiting Assistant Professor Other Name.

This is extremely cool.

This has also not been that conducive to getting a lot of writing done. (Neither has reaching the point on the Slightly Less Hypothetical Than Before Novel where I have to sit down and worldbuild strenuously, because otherwise my politics are going to fall very flat.)

Nevertheless, weekly metrics.

novelthing, or MAHIT & THE CITY: 640 words, a bunch of scenery-related exposition, secondary lead being annoying even while (also because) he’s dead, realization that I have to define a whole bunch of secondary characters and find out who my antagonist is, and immediate subsequent backing off to write —

short stories: “City of Salt”, outlined, 400 words; “All The Colors”, revision started, which is closer to a full rewrite since there is no good reason for this to be in second person. I wrote it in second person to see if I could. I can. It doesn’t actually help the story much. I’m trying incredibly-tight-third instead, to try to preserve the intensely unreliable narrator and the linguistic register; “Ruin Marble”, stuck like being stuck is what I do for a living, took the ending I thought I had and turned it into

a poem: “Cloud Wall”, the first actual poem I’ve written since university.

okay, not horrible for a week in which I am doing an intensive language course, in an inhospitable climate (don’t live in Arizona, kids), and Suddenly Employed.