Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction

Can I talk for a hot minute about how excited I am to hear about Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction? Not only is it an anthology that is much-needed in the world, edited by a crew of disabled folx, it will also include stories that address the subject of what it means to be a disabled human now or in visions of the future.

As someone who’s struggled with chronic – often debilitating – pain for the past 9 years, this forthcoming anthology feels like it’s being made just for me. Considering that pain and disability can be one of the most isolating experiences around, having this collection around makes me feel like I am welcome here in the world and that it’s okay that I take up space – which we disabled people often feel isn’t true.

Widowmaker Banner

Open submissions will come around early next year according to the Kickstarter page and if you think I’m not submitting Widowmaker (a time travel/Wild West story with a disabled protagonist), you don’t know me at all. Considering that Widowmaker won an Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future 2016, maybe it has a shot.

Fingers crossed!

Knowing When to Walk Away (Hint: Not Yet)

I’ve been trying to find representation for my urban fantasy manuscript, Dark of the Wood, for at least two years now with no success. If my tactics aren’t working, clearly, something needs to change. I’m taking a two-pronged approach: deep edits and a rewrite based on notes that are forthcoming from a writer friend as well as re-branding it as contemporary fantasy and re-writing my query letter. I may also re-work the title.

Urban fantasy is no longer at the height of its popularity and, moving away from some common expectations for the genre, my book doesn’t contain a romantic plot; my two main characters are most definitely not romantically entangled. They have an interesting relationship, but it’s utterly platonic. I had thought that urban fantasy might be a relatively easy sell for an unproven author, but that hasn’t been the case.

I’m not giving up on the project, though.

I also recently unearthed a partial manuscript and some notes and snippets from an earlier project: a fantasy erotica novel with BDSM elements. But let me tell you what, if urban fantasy has been a hard sell, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find representation for this. It’s also nowhere near being finished, so I’m playing a long game on this one.

Micro Fiction WIP

Flash fiction, somewhat by accident, has become a passion of mine. More specifically, micro fiction has been something I’ve been working at for a while. In line with Hemingway’s iceberg approach to writing, micro fiction requires you to utterly strip down your piece to the barest bones of pure necessity. It forces you to boil your story down until it is a potent elixir of words and implied meaning.

I actually taught an interactive workshop on micro fiction with two friends at Capclave in 2016. We’re hoping to teach it again (or maybe something else) this year as well.

Here’s one that’s in progress, clocking in at 23 words:

Helena shook the snow globe again and watched the glitter dance around the tiny figures inside. Her friends would never leave her now. 

What Blogging Has Taught Me

I run two blogs: this one and Beerily Thus, which updates Mondays and Fridays with beer reviews, knowledge, commentary, and more. I’ve been working on this blog for about three years now (it used to have a different name, but I shifted everything that I could over to here roughly two years ago) and Beerily Thus has been going just since November 2016.  And let me tell you, pumping out new and original content three times a week in addition to all of the other writing and critique that I’m doing tends to go over better some weeks than others.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Titles are hard. Seriously. I’ve never been good when it comes to naming stuff and that hits home every time that stupid subject line sits there, blank, mocking me. You’ll note that this week’s title is… uninspired.
  2. Planning ahead is crucial, but I am very bad at it. I tend to forget that big holidays are coming up until just a few days before they arrive, which is why I almost never have seasonally appropriate posts.
  3. Queuing posts up in advance is a godsend. WordPress lets you write and then schedule posts, making it possible to keep things updating regularly no matter how busy life gets, when I’m traveling, or even if I forget what day of the week it is.
  4. Writing regularly, even when I don’t want to or don’t feel like it or am busy or am burnt out is important to do. I’ve preached about it before, and I’ll say it again: write every single day.
  5. List posts are easier to write when you’re suffering from writer’s block.

guilty

Everything Must Change

Change is absolutely inevitable. It is the very definition of living, I think, to change and to be changed by both internal and external forces. Stagnation is nigh impossible. Even if you hide from the world, the world finds a way to work its magic on you and shove you down, lift you up, or push you onward.

Some changes are uplifting: marriage, birth, a new job, an exciting opportunity, a vacation.

Some are relatively neutral: moving house, a shifting friendship, a change in a relationship structure, engaging in a hobby.

Some are less than ideal: divorce, sickness, death, a natural disaster, job loss, a pay cut.

You cannot avoid or ignore change. Even if you do not work it on yourself, it will come to you in time. It may be time to turn your gaze inward. What transitions have you gone through lately? What changes still lie ahead? Change may often feel intimidating and overwhelming, but it can be transformative in a positive way. Even the negative changes can offer an opportunity for a kind of rebirth,

Change inherently feels disruptive, espesically to creatures like us, who are hard-wired to prefer the routine and predictable. Change is daunting and rarely easy, and to claim otherwise would be disingenuous. Transitions often seem like craggy mountains looming in our path. There’s no way around and so we must climb. The way is hard—harder some times that others—and it can take a long time. But we all reach the peak eventually, and are often better and stronger than we were before the climb.

Remaining calm and focused during great change can makes the process easier. Since you have no control, being upset is wasted energy (and let me tell you, I understand this well – I am a master of wallowing). A clear mind guides you through high-stress situations and enables you to get your affairs in order when it’s time to take control again. It’s helpful to focus on good things, whether a monthly dinner out with friends, regular trips to the gym, or a weekly phone call to a loved one. Do your best to keep those small lights burning in your heart and use them to help you through the challenging time.

Growing as a Writer

Last week, I talked about how valuable the critique process was for me. That’s one of several threads that have allowed me to really bloom and grow in the craft. One of the others is writing conferences. These, to me, are so so worthwhile.

Now, I’ve only ever been to a proper writing conference once, actually, but I’ve mostly gone to genre fiction fan conventions that tend to be writing-heavy in their programming. For example, Capclave, RavenCon, and ChessieCon, which are all in my general area of the US. I’ve also attended DragonCon for some of its author panels and genre fiction, but it’s also a huge social event for me, so it’s hard to network and focus on professional development when there’s also a lot of drinking in costume to do.

The point is that these events can be invaluable. I encourage everyone to go to fan-run conventions in their area! You can listen to panelists talk about topics that interest you, meet writers, and maybe even get in on some writing workshops while you’re there. And, crucially, you can start to network. If you’re looking to be a professional fiction writer, you need to build yourself as a brand. Because you are the product that you are promoting. This is all another post for another time.

Recently, I decided to get a little brave and apply to be a panelist and to run a workshop at Capclave last year. And it was both exhilarating and totally terrifying. Have you heard of imposter syndrome? Well, it hit me HARD that weekend. I had a crisis of faith and an anxiety attack and it was a pretty terrible hour of sobbing and self-doubt. I almost packed my bags and left the night before I was supposed to be on two panels. Luckily, my wonderful friends talked me down and convinced me to stay.

And you know what? The world didn’t end. I spoke on two panels and helped teach an interactive micro fiction workshop and I think the whole thing went over well. It was worth sticking around for. It was a hard lesson in believing in yourself, even when things aren’t going your way at all.

And let me tell you what, that imposter syndrome still haunts me to this day. Every day, it whispers in my ear that if I were any good, I’d have representation on my manuscript by now. But you know what? It can absolutely eat it. I’m doing well. I’m getting better. I’m still working on becoming a more skilled writer all the time. And as long as I’m still working on honing my craft? Then I’m moving forward. And success will come in due time.