The sirens have just stopped, but their wails still tingle in my ears. Above me, the sky is a flat sheet of glowing grey-white. I know the terrain all around me as closely as I know the map of my veins, the topography of my own skin, so I know there is no cave or house or building near enough for me to reach before the snow begins.
The sirens give a two-minute warning, no more, sometimes less. The snow will melt my cotton clothes and leather coat and boots before I can even get in sight of shelter. Winter has never come this early, not in my memory.
The rabbit I caught, the one I chased all the way out here, wriggles in my trap. I release it, and let him run. May his feet bring him better luck than my empty stomach brought me. I can smell the sudden cold in the air, the death of everything that breathes and grows.
Off to my left, I hear a faint sizzle. A black maple tree has a yellow-edged hole in one of its leaves that is spreading slowly, burning the leaf into white flecks of ash.
From the corner of my eye, I see a snowflake fall.
The shop door closed on my hand, catching the last two fingers. I breathed through the pain. “How much for this?” I asked, pointing to the accursed ring.
The shopkeep pulled it free, stared, weighed. “Three hundred.”
I left with an empty hand and a full wallet.
The postcard was handwritten in smooth black ink. “I’m not finished,” it read. My hand shook so hard, I dropped it back into the sink. On the reverse, there was no stamp. The sender and return address were the same. My house. Through the open bathroom door, I saw a shadow pass the bedroom light that I hadn’t turned on.
In my last blog post, I mentioned that I had three pieces being published this year, and they're all available now!
My poem, "Widow's Walk," appears in volume 3 of the Unchaste Anthology. The collection was in a very limited run, but if you want a copy, you can find @unchastereaders on Instagram and ask if any are available. It's a beautiful book, and I'm thrilled to have been a part of it.
My short sf story, "Shelter," is in the Two Hour Transport Anthology 2019, which just became available on Amazon this week. It's the first anthology put out by the Two Hour Transport reading series, and it's quite a collection! Again, I'm thrilled to be involved in this project and can't wait for my copy to arrive.
And a dark fantasy short story, "Sargasso," is in Supernatural Tales #40, which you can get in print or ebook format.
The wild thing is, that's not all! Another one of my poems, "Lost Soul," was accepted for a combined poetry/art show called Stanza: Fire here in Seattle at Push/Pull Gallery. Writers submitted their work and a small group of us were selected for the show. Our works were then provided to artists, who created new art based on them! I also had the pleasure of reading my piece at the kickoff event with some of the other writers.
And there's more. I have two MORE pieces that will be published later this year. My flash fiction piece on fatherhood, "On The Day You Were Born," is slated to appear in the July issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly. This fall, my short urban fantasy story, "Nilscape," will be included in the anthology Graffiti, due out around October. (Info for both to follow when it's available. Links to all my work can always be found on my Published Works page too.) I can't wait! Mostly I'm just pinching myself that all this is happening right now.
At the end of this month, I'm going to the Locus Awards for the first time. (No, I haven't been nominated, but I thought it'd be fun to attend and fangirl since they're literally down the street from my place.) And on a personal note, I got engaged to my longtime fella in March. I haven't started to navigate the wild world of wedding planning yet, but that's definitely coming up. Meanwhile, more writing!
Here we are in a new year, and I have new publication news! But first: I've registered for this year's AWP Conference in Portland. If you'll be there too, stop by the Wayward and Unchaste table (table T2060) at the Bookfair! I'll be volunteering there for part of the conference. If I'm there, say hello! If I'm not, give your greetings to the wonderful women working the table, and buy an armful of merch if possible.
Now to the writing: I have THREE publications lined up for 2019 already! I've never had so many things in the pipeline at once. In the second half of 2018, I decided to make an effort to submit as many of my unpublished pieces as possible, in the hope of getting them published but also to encourage me to write new material to replace them. I am VERY encouraged.
First off, my poem "Widow's Walk" has been selected for the Unchaste Anthology Vol. 3, which is scheduled to come out in late March and should be available at the table at AWP, while the copies last. I'd been looking for the right place for that poem for a while, and I'm thrilled that it found a home in this anthology.
Second, my short story "Shelter" will appear in the upcoming anthology edited by the hosts of Seattle's own Two Hour Transport, a fantastic genre fiction reading series that I've featured at twice, most recently in October. The anthology is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2019, so I'm on track to have a busy spring! Details will be provided as soon as I have them.
And last but not least, my short story "Sargasso" will appear in an upcoming issue of Supernatural Tales! Which issue/release date is still TBD, but you'll know when I know.
In the meantime, I'm working on some new projects and trying to stay dry here in the wintry PNW. More updates soon!
Prayer for students who wish to learn in relative peace:
As we walk these bustling hallways, hallowed be their name,
Raised by those we may (or may not) be eager to please,
Know, Death, your quest to win this cold, godforsaken game
Leads us to ensure this fire for learning will not cease,
And the hand that holds the gun bears the burden of shame.
Never again will a child’s blood coat your mouthpiece
Devoid of louder voices, active minds, truer aim.
The last two weeks have been pretty busy in terms of my writing! Here are the highlights:
Last Sunday: I facilitated the Community Writing Circle at the Capital Hill Library here in Seattle! The CWC is run by Minor Arcana Press, an indie poetry press where I happen to be Editor *subtle self-serving plug* and I've attended several, but this was my first time as the facilitator. It was a lot of fun! The point of the CWC is to bring writers of all levels together, and also let everyone write on a few prompts and maybe try out a new form or genre. We had a small but enthusiastic turnout. I discussed the elements of flash fiction and encouraged everyone to attempt a few short pieces -- and I think I scored a few converts. You really can tell a story in 250 words, I promise!
Last Monday: I got the very happy news that It Starts With Hope, the anthology of poetry released by the Center for Victims of Torture (from their wonderful Tumblr project of the same name) is now available for sale, and I'm very proud to have my poem "Convalescence" included and to support the wonderful work that the Center is doing every day.
Last Tuesday: More amazing news - (official announcement here) my short nonfiction piece "Nine Kinds of Ice Cream," which appeared earlier this year at Dead Housekeeping, has been nominated for 2016's Best of the Net! I am humbled and thrilled and really terribly excited, not least because the piece is a personal favorite.
Wednesday: This week, I learned that the Unchaste Readers Series Anthology, which will include my poem "Beauty is Low," will launch on October 22nd in Portland! More details to follow.
***In non-writing news, last week was also a banner time for my health. I suffered a bad fall on July 25th, spraining my ankle and injuring all the ligaments in that foot, as well as lacerating my face to the tune of nine stitches. After a lengthy initial recovery, I was cleared by my doctors last week to go forth and be free of all crutches and bandages. (For a while there, I looked like a walking infirmary.) I still have some long-term healing to go in both cases, but the worst is over and I'm still able to recognize the person in the mirror, so I'm counting it as a double win. Plus, now I can walk and carry stuff in my hands at the same time! It's the little things.
One final note: For you fellow flash fiction enthusiasts, the one and only Yeah Write is running a microfiction Super Challenge beginning October 7th! Registration opens tomorrow (9/9) and I am READY. You should give it a try too! Join me in the madness.
Apologies for not having blogged in a while, but I had a busy spell after AWP, followed by a bout of pneumonia at the end of May that knocked me off course for several weeks. But I'm back and getting caught up, and I wanted to put up this post as a little reminder that the life of a writer is not all (or even mostly) readings and acceptance letters and conventions in fabulous locales.
Here is a list of my rejection stats for the last six years. I think there are actually a few more than the number shown in some cases, because I didn't get really hardcore with tracking until about 2013.
2010: 2 acceptances, 10 rejections
2011: 10 rejections
2012: 11 rejections
2013: 4 acceptances, 20 rejections
2014: 12 rejections
2015: 1 acceptance, 33 rejections
and so far for 2016, I'm at 5 acceptances, 15 rejections, with 6 more submissions still waiting for a response, including my first-ever application for a fellowship. Plus anything else I submit this year.
There's a lot of rejection that you have to face in a writing career. A LOT. I don't even write full-time. Plus, I'm counting these rejections by venue, not items submitted. So some of these represent one story rejected by a magazine, while others represent five poems that received a single form rejection letter from a contest. The item numbers are BRUTAL.
Did I think about quitting during that looooong stretch between 2010 and 2013? Yep.
Did I think about it again during 2014 and into 2015? Uh huh.
Am I glad I didn't give up writing? Yes - though with the caveat that, again, this is a career that will ride roughshod over whatever scrap of ego you have. It isn't for everyone. And there is no shame in deciding it isn't for you, or that you're happy to write just for yourself but not submit anywhere. I know several writers who do exactly that, and they are joyful creatures. I am not them. I have a need for misery.
I will point out one other thing, though. The more I submit, the more acceptance letters I receive. Math doesn't lie. It is important to keep sending out those emails and manuscripts, to keep making the attempt. You'll never have what you didn't try to get.
Now, I'm not going back on what I said in the previous paragraph. You're allowed to quit. Just - send one more submission before you do.