So excited to get this affirmation as I journey further into fiction land... Today I learned that I received an honorable mention in the recent Glimmer Train short story contest, meaning my story ranked in the top five percent of the 1000+ submissions they received. The full list of honorable mentions is available here. Very grateful for a boost of confidence to keep sending this story out until it finds a good home.
Rose Lemberg has announced the table of contents for An Alphabet of Embers, and I'm thrilled and humbled all over again that I get to be a part of this anthology. It's an amazing lineup of writers -- and so many fellow first-timers! When I saw the project on Kickstarter and eventually decided to submit, I realized I had entered the dangerous "smitten" zone of hoped-for publication. By the time I was done revising (and revising and revising) my piece to submit, the little deer of hope in my gut was prancing around and shouting, "This has to be the place! I don't want any other home but this one for this story!"
It was my first fiction submission, after devoting the past 10+ years to poetry. Over the last year, thanks in large part to a magical realism class at The Grotto in San Francisco, I've been exploring my fantasy brain and fiction muscles. It started as a kind of cross-training to keep my poetry on its toes, but now fiction is where I'm spending more and more time. The result is that I tend to straddle that murky space between poetry and fiction... I love how the two can blend, and I'm working to understand plot and character development without losing the nebulous, image-driven heart of poetry.
So An Alphabet of Embers spoke to me right away as a project that lives in that space. If I could have picked any place to make my first fiction sale, especially in the SFF community, this was the one. And now seeing the full table of contents, I'm ecstatic that my story will get to meet the world alongside such an array of voices... the titles alone read together like a dreamy poem. I can't wait to read the anthology this spring!
I'm over-the-moon, into-the-stars excited to share that one of my stories will be included in An Alphabet of Embers, an anthology of lyrical, magical, and border-defying short stories. I backed the project on Kickstarter before I even knew I would submit... it resonated as soon as Rose Lemberg, the editor, described it as “the kind of book you’d pick up when you’re drowning for a gulp of beauty on a gray day.” My story "Outfitting the Restless Heart, or How the Sky was Made" will hopefully deliver on that promise. It's my first fiction sale, and my first-ever submission to a science fiction/fantasy market. I've been blown away at how different the experience is compared to submitting to literary magazines. Being paid for my work and being part of a "pro market" has added another level of excitement to the acceptance. Maybe it's the rose-colored glasses of being a newcomer, but I'm impressed at how the SFF writing community engages in both the craft and the business of writing... it's a nice shot of self-respect for those of us who are just starting out.
I can't wait to meet the other writers who will be part of An Alphabet of Embers, and I'll be eagerly awaiting May 2015 when this very special anthology makes it way into the world!
A couple days ago I finished reading a novel that I’d been eager to get my hands on and had heard a lot of raving about on Twitter and whatnot. I’m trying to stretch beyond poetry writing and understand what makes fiction tick, so I’m reading more novels. This particular book threw me for a loop. The first half was beautifully paced and threaded together. I was enjoying it as a reader and taking notes as a writer. But then, in a matter of about 10 pages (in a 300-ish page book), the climax arrived, was delivered via hasty dialogue, and dissolved without any real revelations or conclusions.
My first reaction was, So what? And that was quickly followed by, Wait, this counts? This counts as a finished book?
This tends to be my struggle with literary fiction. Poetry - and story for that matter - doesn’t have to resolve itself or present neat conclusions, but I do feel that strong writing has a revelatory quality. While literary fiction is often symbolic, that doesn’t always come together as meaningful, satisfying revelation.
Carl was next to me as I sighed through the last few frustrating pages of the book. When I explained myself, he offered his own revelation:
Every book a writer reads brings the target closer.
Before I read this book, I was sure this author must have some magical quality, some secret knowledge of fiction that must be an ocean away from me. Reading the reviews and blurbs certainly gave me that impression. This is where fiction always intimidates me.
But Carl is right — despite the disappointment in the end, when I looked up from reading the book, I saw a target instead of a vast ocean with no shoreline in sight. I saw a place to aim.
It’s always said that writers should read, read, read. And that is true, true, true. But the image of bringing the target closer is one that helps me a lot. I wonder how many books I need to read before I can push the arrow in the target like a pin?