Monday, January 28, 2013

365 Project: Stories Read as of 26/1/2013

This is the first week of the 365 Project. I promised I would read a short story a day, but of course moving house got in the way. I did read some good stories this past week though before the energy demons broke the toothpicks holding my eyelids open, and here they are:

Week Four Update

It's moving house week in the Pickled household, therefore internet connection, energy (oh my god, I'm so tired!), and ability to write have all been truncated.

However, I'm pleased to say I managed 3900 new words by last Wednesday before I had to throw myself full force into the moving bitniz. Not far off my weekly total, so I'll take it!

I also expect this week to be disturbed as unpacking is a big effort, my office isn't set up yet, and I still have to do the Day Job at the same time. Boo-urns. I'm feeling the itch, and my current WiP is calliiing meeeee....

I was thrilled this week to receive a "close!" rejection from Clarkesworld again, so that's two in six months. It means that the story is good, and I'm improving quickly with the extra effort I'm putting in at the moment.

I'll see what I can peck out this week, unpacking allowing, and hopefully I'll be back on track with hitting the full word count total from next week.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Menial" Publicity: Amazon, Library Thing, Good Reads, Tangent Online, Publisher's Weekly

Reviews have started trickling in for "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF".

Check out the first five star review for the antho on Amazon: "It is a testament to the work that it can drag you in and leave you surprised and disappointed that it ends. There is no more. It is also what drove me on to read the next story, that high that comes from being completely immersed in a strange land means that when you reach land's end, you need to push on and lose yourself in the next adventure."

A reviewer on LibraryThing has positive things to say as well: "This anthology had a few thing going for it in terms of being different: the subject matter (see title), with a number of the laborers being women, several characters with mental differences and/or body work, and the authors, all of whom were new to me. Many stories had hardship and sadness to them, but also hope and poetry."

If you're on Good Reads, add it to your list and add me as a fan or friend

Chuck Rotham from Tangent Online has done an extensive story by story review (but oh noes mis-genders my protag!): "The concept for the anthology certainly deserves attention. But there is a certain sameness to the stories: the workers always are oppressed; bosses are always uncaring. That may say something about American society these days, but the lack of variation is a problem. A bigger problem is that, though none of the stories are actually bad, most are unmemorable. It certainly is decent reading, but I had hoped it would have been better."

And here's a short piece from Publisher's Weekly: "The anthology’s heart is in the right place, but it never recovers from a tepid start."

Thanks to everyone spreading the word!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Menial" Release Day: Christchurch Rebuild Making The Point Loud and Clear

Release day has arrived! "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF", edited by Kelly Jennings and Shay Darrach, art by Jael Bendt, and published by Crossed Genres Publications is now available in ebook ($US4.99) and paperback ($US11.99) editions. More information and ToC is available at the link, and I'm proud to say my story leads the ToC.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to build a new city from scratch, with all the cultural and financial challenges that will entail? It's a massive job, almost science fictional in its scope. And yet, I'm living it, here and now.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week Three Update

This week has been a sterling one for progress!

I started a new story entitled "Long's Confandabulous Clockwork Circus and Carnival, and Cats of Many Persuasions". It seems to be heading into novelette territory because it has so much to say. It's also my first attempt at Steampunk.

I hit my full word tally by Wednesday, and by today I've totalled just over 6300 words for the week.

The next week or so will be a little skew whiff because I'm moving house. Internet and access to computers will be somewhat interrupted (along with energy levels as I clean and hump boxes and furniture!). I'd like to think I will get some work done, but won't beat myself up if I don't since this last week has gone so well.

On the submissions front, I received two very encouraging rejections with superb feedback which helped me rewrite/edit two pieces on the days I didn't write new words.

Week three over and out, only 49 left to go!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Starting The 365 Project: Read A Story A Day for 2013

The speculative fiction short story is my favourite literary form, to read and to write. So many themes, so much characterization, so much to say, all in a just few thousand words. When it comes together, it zings. They're easy to consume too; most can be read in under an hour, sometimes less than half an hour. And they're good for a taste test of an author's style.

Recently reading some short stories, I've come to the conclusion that I don't read them enough, for enjoyment and for research or academic reasons. It's time to remedy that.

From today on, I am going to read or listen to a reading of a speculative short story or novelette every day for the rest of 2013. By the 31st of December, 2013, I want to have consumed 365 stories.

Since I'm starting this a little late, I do have some catching up to do. Some days in the early parts of this project I will read two stories a day as a make up for the first eighteen days of the year missed.

Each Saturday I will post a listing of the stories I've read for the previous week along with some short comments.

Onwards with the Pickled 365 Project for 2013!

Furst Rule Ov Book Club...Thar Iz No Book Club

Friday, January 18, 2013

4 Days Until Menial: Let's Talk Gender

Again the silence, and her mouth and eyes work as if trying to frame a question. I've seen this before, and I offer Dusty a reassuring smile.   
"It's okay. You can ask it. I think we can call each other friends," I say.  
She blinks a few times, and takes a steadying breath. "Which personal gender pronoun do you prefer?"  
She nods from the shoulders, an over-enthusiastic undulating motion, processing this, bouncing in place. After a few moments she gives a little nod-shrug, a quick tilt of the head, and a smile fills out her lips. I never noticed until now how lush those lips were and I have a hard time dragging my gaze away.  
And just like that, we're There. 
Excerpt from  "Diamond in the Rough", available in "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF"

Writing non gender binary characters is very important to me. Looking beyond the binary is about accepting everyone in their wonderful, infinite variety. I find it very boring and quite unrealistic to think we have to be only one or the other - there's little room for expression or examination in a tight binary. That doesn't sound like a genetically diverse, free-thinking sentient species at all. If we can imagine all sorts of wonderful creations and diverse aliens in our science fictional universes, why can't we accept the reality of diversity within ourselves? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Six Days Until "Menial" Release: Let's Talk Poo

We're on the countdown! It's less than one week until the release of the Crossed Genres Publications anthology "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF", edited by Kelly Jennings and Shay Darrach, which includes my story "Diamond in the Rough". The antho will be available in paperback and ebook format from January 21st, 2013.

Why "Menial"? Sure, stories of the blue collar have been told in space, but true to Crossed Genres editorial intent, "Menial" explores more intersectional aspects of physical labor in space and/or the future. What impacts will capitalism, gender, race, sexuality, and disability have on transitioning these jobs into a different environment?

One aspect of science fiction that amuses me in its absence is the toilet habits of space goers. I don't mean in a scatological sense; we all must pass waste from our bodies, and I do not understand the almost puritanical avoidance of talking about basic bodily functions, let alone in unusual environments. We can talk about the fantastical ideas of light speed and meeting alien beings, but pee and poo is almost a no-no unless aiming for eye-rolling toilet humour.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week Two Update

Captain Picklesworth reporting in, ma'am! *salute*

Another productive week of ripping words from my brain has been undertaken. I achieved my word count by Sunday night, slightly exceeding it for a total of 5193 new words.

I completed a total rewrite of an old story at 4300 words, edited and polished two drafts to submission stage, submitted three stories, and began a new WiP. I still have 3 stories awaiting another hurl out into the traps.

Though I began a new WiP last night, it's off to a shaky start and I'm not happy with its direction or tone. Will be revisiting my notebook of ideas.

To end on a positive note: one week until the release of "Menial"!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The SJVs Nominations Now Open

It's that time of year again - nom nom nomination time!

Nominations are now open until March 31st for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards 2013, New Zealand's very own speculative fiction awards. Voting and the award ceremony will take place at this year's national con, Au Contraire. You can find the guidelines here, the rules are here, and addresses for making a nomination (email and snail mail) can be found on the SFFANZ front page.

I have two stories eligible for nomination. The first is "The City of Sand and Knives", which appeared in the The Future Fire Issue 22 in February 2012. The second is "Cartography, and the Death of Shoes", from Crossed Genres anthology "Fat Girl in a Strange Land", released February 2012.

If you liked either of these stories, I would be honoured to be considered for a nomination. And if you know of any stories or books by New Zealand authors released in 2012 you think worthy of a nomination, drop me a line in the comments. I already have a list short stories I'd like to nominate, but a refresher never hurt!

And nao, fer teh kewtness:

Nom nom nom nom nominated

Monday, January 7, 2013

Menial vs Skilled

The Crossed Genres anthology "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF", containing my story "Diamond in the Rough" comes out on January 21st. The book attempts to discuss the framework for the dirty jobs of the future - will the race, class, gender, and disability lines be crossed? Will capitalism make way for better wages for these jobs? Will capitalism even be relevant in the future?

My story includes a fictionalization of better wages for the people who do the jobs others don't want to do - sanitation, the heavy lifting, the repetition, the security muscle. And it is fictionalization, because nothing proves the point of the degradation and discrimination of poor manual labourers better than a local article that popped up today about a worker shortage in Christchurch.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Week One Update

Well, here I am at the end of Week One of the 2013 writing plan, and I'm pleased to say I've hit my target, plus more!

I've set myself up a wee database to keep track of my word counts, and this week I have written 5921 new words, hitting my target by Saturday afternoon.

I finished the first draft on Monday of "Cabbages and Onions", an urban fantasy set in a bookshop, and I completed the first draft by Saturday of "The Princess and The Princess", a high fantasy set in the same world (but not with the same characters) as "In Bloom".

A lot of my usual markets that I submit to are on holiday hiatus or closed to submissions because of overstocking, so I'm a bit short on venues to submit to at the moment. I'm also back to manually tracking my submissions as I am not using the new Duotrope paid service.

It's been a good start to the new plan, considering I'm in the midst of packing up the house for moving. I'm pleased to say the plan and motivation has made it possible to get a lot done in a short time. I feel like I've achieved something every day and I'm not getting that hectic sense of maniacally spinning my wheels when I play it by inspiration alone.

Only 51 more weeks to go!

Congratulashions. U won an lolcat