Hugo 2018 Reading – September

Schedules have changed once again and we are settling into new routines as kids go back to school. I’ve been slack on my reading and listening, but here’s what I got to.

How the Maine Coon Cat Learned to Love the Sea” by Seanan McGuire
a short story published by Uncanny

This was a sweet fable type story about cats (which I love). Very fun to see the transformation of puffy cloud-like Angora cats to Maine Coon cats.


(5 stars) “That Lingering Sweetness” by Tony Pi
a novelette published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This was a really fun story about breaking a curse. Full of magic inspired by Chinese culture. I was a little worried about understanding things since I hadn’t read the other stories about this character, but it stood alone very well. The plot had intriguing and interesting twists.


(5 stars) “The Eternal Army” by M. K. Hutchins
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

I really liked this story of the army of undead summoned in the near future to fight for Rome. The twist in circumstance was unexpected and delightful for the contrast in circumstances we normally see undead armies in.


The Library of Lost Things” by Matthew Bright
a short story published by Tor.com

Libraries of lost tomes are common, but this one had a richness to it, from sorting things by the manner they were lost (burned, author death, hard drive crash), to the speaking rats, to the expectation that employees be uninterested, which Tom pretends to be for his own end. The style was also interesting with the “And then” paragraphs to show Tom pretending to not care. Well done.

2 Flowers v 3 is Done!

2 flowers banner copySoon after I finished v 2, I realized that to fix the conflict, I needed to cut the entire first scene. The conflict in it distracted from the conflict I wanted to focus on. Bonus, cutting it meant that this would qualify as flash fiction. The downside is that many people thought the first scene was the best written, so it was a darling, and I cut it anyway.

I really like how this has shaped up as flash. It still needs a bit of polish work on it, and then I’ll send it out to the markets.

Stats

  • Started September 19
  • Finished September 20
  • 900 words (65.6% of v 2)
  • 2 scenes (66.7% of v 2)

Hugo 2018 Reading – August

Another busy month getting kids ready for school (when I wasn’t keeping them from fighting each other) and going to Oregon to see the solar eclipse (so cool!). Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to anything this month that I really loved, but here’s what I got to.

Sunwake, in the Lands of Teeth” by Juliette Wade
a novella published by Clarkesworld

I really liked the perspective of the dog-like aliens in this novel. The way their language worked, and their senses all felt real. For some reason, I wasn’t invested in the plot, but it did have some intrigue and suspense.


The Stone Lover” by Marta Randall
a short story published by Lightspeed

I’m a bit of a prude, so this story was not for me. I should have seen it from the title. Ah well. It was well written, and I did enjoy seeing the queen get her comeuppance.

Trigger warning: sexual acts


Crickets Sing for Naomi” by Eden Royce
a short story published by PodCastle

Naomi seemed to just be a witness for much of the story, so I didn’t get very interested in her. I did like the way things turned out in the end.


A Slumbering Storm” by Rafaela Ferraz
a short story published by Strange Horizons

I kept expecting this story to turn horror, but it didn’t, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it until reader Anaea Lay mentioned the metaphorical examination of getting treatment for depression. Thinking back on it, I can see that it’s pretty accurate.

2 Flowers v 2 is Done!

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It took me much longer than I thought to get this draft done. I still haven’t quite nailed the characterization in it, which makes the conflict feel weak. I’m not sure I will before the deadline for Writers of the Future, but I’m going to do my best. For now, I’m going to work on some personal projects while it is out at beta readers.

Stats:

  • Started July 28
  • Finished August 17
  • 1,371 words (110% of v 1)
  • 3 scenes (100% of v 1)

Hugo Reading 2018 – July

July involved a lot of travel for me, which allowed me to get a lot of reading done. However, I was focused more on beating down my three-years-long reading list than reading things published in the last year. Still, I didn’t have to play catchup when it was time to write this post, so that’s something. Here’s what I got through:

(5 stars) “The Chaos Village” by M. K. Hutchins
a novelette published by PodCastle

Rob is a character with many similarities to someone on the autism spectrum. It was really nice to have that sort of character be the protagonist of the story instead of a side character. I loved his interest in the ever changing world and how he tried to make sense of how gravity seems to go down only sometimes, even if the other characters did get annoyed at his questions. The conflicts were interesting, though I was able to guess at how some of them would be solved.


Welcome to Astuna” by Pip Coen
a short story published by Apex

The conflict of this story is really interesting. Woman wakes up in bed, thinking she’s been drugged, then realizes she’s lost 15 years worth of memories. Characterization is really good, keeping her feeling like a college freshman when her body is older. And I loved the twist at the end when she regains her memories.

Trigger warning: strong language


Masterclass” by Cassandra Khaw
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

This story failed me on two accounts. The first is my fault for not being familiar with the Dragon Lady stereotype. Having researched it afterwards, I can see that this is a nice way of Asian women owning that trope and breathing fire. The second is that the fantastic element is more metaphorical than substantive like I prefer.


Two Bodies in Basting Stitch” by Allison Jamieson-Lucy
a short story published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This story has many similarities to my story “Soulmates” so I really want to take it apart and study it. My first impression wasn’t super, as I found it hard to tell in audio when we were in the present and when we were in flashback. Sere’s despair felt real – I couldn’t see a way out for her – as did the attraction and anger in her relationship with Tashet.

2 Flowers v 1 is Done!

2 flowers banner copy
This story is a struggle for me. I’m not super excited about it, but I am determined to polish it up. So that means I have a lot of crafting ahead. I need to really dig into who these characters are, and develop their character arcs better, because that is the soul of this story. Kamila, the main character, is more quiet than most of my characters, so she’s harder to pin down. I could also probably work on what theme I want this story to tell too, in order to help it be more compelling.

At least its short, so while this draft felt like pulling teeth, once I sat down to do it, it didn’t take too long.

Stats:

  • Started July 11
  • Finished July 20
  • 1,252 words (147% of v 0)
  • 3 scenes (100% of v 0)

Hugo 2018 Reading – June

June was a roller coaster month, ending with kids out of school, which completely throws my schedule for a loop. At least now they’re at the age where they can mostly self-entertain. I just have to feed them now and then. 😉 Here’s what I managed to read this month.

(5 stars) How the Paladin Got His Scar by Rich Burlew
a graphic novel published by Giant in the Playground

I am not sure if this is eligible for the Hugo as it is not publicly available yet. It’s only available to those who contributed to Burlew’s Kickstarter 5 years ago. It’s a prequel story to one of the side characters of the webcomic Order of the Stick. This story was the reason I contributed to the Kickstarter, and I did not expect it to be so long (96 pages!) or this good. A great struggle for O-Chul, who just wants to solve a crisis diplomatically when both sides are eager for war. Also loved seeing young Miko and Hinjo.


(5 stars) “Paradox” by Naomi Kritzer
a short story published by Uncanny

I loved how this story touched on many of the different takes on time travel that have been written over the years. And then it ends with a call to action, saying why rely on time travelers to do the work of fixing the timeline when you can influence the world now.


(5 stars) “Wendy Darling” by A. C. Wise
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

I really like how this depicts the creepy nature of Peter Pan, and how nobody listens to Wendy, but she is still determined to bring her daughter back from Neverland.


Rick and the Green Gunslinger” by Zach Chapman
a short story published by Persistent Visions

This story had a lot of good gritty details and a clever duel in the weird west where shooting bullets casts spells. Yet while this is based on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which was about testing Gawain’s honesty, Rick is anything but honest. Fun story, though a fair amount of swearing.


Monster of the Soup Cans” by Elizabeth Barron
a short story published by Diabolical Plots

This story was really cute, about a shy scientist and the shy monster she accidentally creates.

Soulmates v 3 is Done!

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I got a bunch of comments from critters, half of which seemed to consist of “Describe the raths better!” So I worked on that, and putting in a bunch of things called emotions. The second half was overhauled a lot too, not because people thought it needed it, but because I had an idea that made it better.

I continue to feel really good about it. I’m going to do a polish, and then see what I can do with it.

Stats:

  • Started June 20
  • Finished June 23
  • 2,894 words (124% of v 2)
  • 3 scenes (150% of v 2)

Go Vote for “Daughters of Ishmael”

coverAll the stories in the 2017 Mormon Lit Blitz have now been published, including my story “Daughters of Ishmael.” Now, voting is open to determine which of the 12 finalists will be the grand prize winner. Instructions and a list of the finalists can be found here. Go, enjoy, and vote! The winner will be announced on Monday June 19th.

And if you’re curious, here is my author commentary on my story. An e-book with both story and commentary will be available for free after the winner is announced.