Guardian Spirits v 1 is Done!

I have a new laptop! Everything’s set up on it, and I’ve gotten back in the writing groove.

Most of my work this draft went into developing the POV character. I actually didn’t do any work with MICE, but I did come up with a satisfying ending.

The story still feels like it needs a good polish. I’m starting to notice that my sentences feel stale. I’m not sure how to fix that. I’m not very practiced at editing on that level, but I’ll give it a shot. In the meantime, I’m sending it out to beta readers to see if there’s anything I’ve left out explaining.

Stats:

  • Started: March 4
  • Finished: March 11
  • 1,356 words (133% v 0)
  • 1 scene

Hugo 2019 Reading – February

This month has been a crazy one. We got way more snow than we normally do in Seattle, leading to the kids not having a full day of school for three weeks. And I dumped a water bottle on my laptop, so I was busy trying to recover from that. I did finish Writers of the Future volume 34, so here’s what I thought of that.

“The Face in the Box” by Janey Bell
a short story published in Writers of the Future vol 34

This story had an interesting concept – most farmland is on floating islands in the sky run by organic AI, one of which goes rogue. My main problem with this story is that it didn’t feel finished. Yes, Cara recovers the AI she brought down, but I didn’t know what that meant for her going forward – if she was going to become friends with it, or just ignore it.


“Flee, My Pretty One” by Eneasz Brodski
a short story published in Writers of the Future vol 34

I don’t care for the aesthetic of gritty tales like this. It had an interesting theme exploring the hypocrisy of using the tools of the corrupt regime against itself, and an interesting disabled protagonist, but it didn’t work for me.


(5 stars) “Illusion” by Jody Lynn Nye
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 34

This is the type of story that I love to read. All about cleverly outwitting the enemy that is superior in strength to you. The illusions were clever, and Angelo was a human character, who had to face breaking the previous illusions he had made with his ruler.


“A Bitter Thing” by N.R.M. Roshak
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 34

I like the alienness of the extraterrestrials in this story, and how that was the heart of the conflict between Ami and her alien boyfriend Teese, how she kept misunderstanding what he was trying to tell her. The story just wasn’t my cup of tea.


(5 stars) “Miss Smokey” by Diana Hart
a short story published in Writers of the Future vol 34

I’ve read several “magic is restricted” stories, and they never seemed to ring true. It did here. Part of that stems from the fact that the conflict wasn’t about breaking out of the unfair laws – it was on how to find purpose in life and still achieve goals in the face of unchangeable circumstances.

Plus the description of dealing with kids on field trips was excellent. Delightful concept to have a shapeshifter pretend to be Smokey the Bear to tell the kids how to prevent forest fires.


“All Light and Darkness” by Amy Henrie Gillett
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 34

My main problem with this story was that I didn’t feel grounded in the characters. In the beginning, I didn’t have a clear grasp on what his goals were. Even if he didn’t know where he was going, I would have liked a better grasp on what he was running from and why he was supposed to be repulsive. Yes, it was revealed later on, but it meant the stakes at the beginning weren’t clear, so I wasn’t invested.

Guardian Spirit v 0 is Done!

Almost two weeks ago, I dumped my water bottle on my laptop. It rose from its watery grave long enough for me to back everything up before dying completely. So, while I wait for a replacement, I started a new story that’s been kicking around in my head.

I couldn’t come up with a good ending that wraps everything up, so I kind of just left it there. I think part of the problem with that is I didn’t have a good grasp on the character of the POV person. I’ll also set the story beats against the MICE quotient to tell me what would be a satisfying ending. Add in all the description I have to add as well, and this story is going to grow.

I bet I could get this story into good enough shape to submit to WOTF this quarter. I hadn’t expected submit this quarter, with my focus on my fanfiction.

Stats:

  • Started February 27, 9:30 am
  • Finished February 27. 12:30 pm
  • 1019 words
  • 7 named characters (5 of which speak)

Hugo 2019 Reading – January

This month I had a medication change that really did a number on the amount of energy I have to do tasks. While this enforced rest has been bad at getting stuff done, it has given me time to do a lot of reading.

(5 stars) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
a novel published by Tor Books

This novel was a delight to read. I love the idea of the space race getting kicked off early, and all the details that went into that. I loved all the worldbuilding that went into how the ’50s would have been different if a meteorite hit Chesapeake Bay. I loved how brilliant Elma was, her southern charm, her Jewishness, and also how she had to battle anxiety. I want more spouses like her loving, supportive, and equally smart/capable husband. Highly recommended.


“Turnabout” by Erik Bundy
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

I liked the twist on the genie tale. However, I had no sympathy for the main character. You tell me that his girl left him, I’ll assume it was probably for a good reason. He kindof, sorta redeemed himself at the end, but he still felt selfish and unrealistic (where did all his money to travel come from?)


“A Smokeless and Scorching Fire” by Erin Cairns
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

I’m not a real fan of accidental marriage stories, which this one was. It had an interesting world. While the main character was interestingly conflicted about how to deal with the opinions and desires that should have been conditioned out of him, he felt rather ho-hum to me.


“The Howler on the Sales Floor” by Jonathan Ficke
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story was amusing about a devil in a corporate office (“NOT EVEN THE CHAOS LORDS OF THE MAELSTROM USE MICROSOFT WORD. WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS PLACE?”). Unfortunately, that was overshadowed by the feeling that HR did not take the health of Nya’s co-workers seriously, as the consequences for driving someone mad was to just attend sensitivity training.


“The Minarets of An-Zabat” by Jeremy TeGrotenhuis
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story had some great descriptive language. However, the plot felt predictable, so I wasn’t really drawn into it. And it felt like the romance between Nayeni and Atar was rushed.


(5 stars) “Odd and Ugly” by Vida Cruz
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 34

I love fairy tale retellings, so this retelling of Beauty and the Beast was right up my alley. I loved that there was no Stockholm Syndrome at work here. Maria goes to work for the kapre of her own free will. And I loved the Filipino setting. It’s something I’ve not seen much of before, and it felt so well drawn.


“Mara’s Shadow” by Darci Stone
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story had an intriguing parasite – a moth that reproduces by inserting its genetic code into its host and then emerging some 5 generations later. The terror was visceral. My main problem is that the solution was supposed to be satisfactory, but it was still going to leave a lot of people dead because it was too late for them to get vaccinated. But there’s no thought given to them.


“What Lies Beneath” by Cole Hehr
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story had an interesting character – an immortal warrior that feels regret over the murders committed to achieve his revenge. I felt confused by the beginning though. Why would Magrius threaten to kill the narrator if he wanted to petition for help? Also, while the narrator was clever in freeing Amandros, it felt cheap for him to break the oath that he had just made.

Hugo 2019 Reading – December

I hit a bout of depression in December, which killed my desire to do anything. I did read a bunch of Fairy Tail manga which helped refill my creative well, but that doesn’t count for the Hugos. So most of this was read in the past week. Here’s what I got to.

(5 stars) “A Bond as Deep as Starlit Seas” by Sarah Grey
a short story published by Lightspeed

Though I haven’t studied computer science in ten years, I still appreciate when I come across a story with AI that feels like artificial intelligence instead of a human inside a computer. Though Cleo’s AI had emotions, it felt natural, like it came directly from the intuitive programming meant to give the captain optimum comfort. And it is natural that would form a bond between the two. I appreciated that. I liked the emotional wrangling, and the solution formed at the end.


(5 stars) Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
a novel published by Delacorte Press

Like “A Bond as Deep as Starlit Skies” I liked the AI in this book. And the hacking wasn’t handwavy “I suddenly have access to everything.” It gave enough details to know it was following the rules of security that we currently have. The characters were all delightful. Very distinct. Made us care when people died. I especially liked the examination of when it was worth it to eject, and when it was worth it to save the plane. I liked the twists and the battle tactics. Looking forward to the next in the series.


Sour Milk Girls” by Erin Roberts
a short story published by Clarkesworld

This felt like a raw look at the foster care system, and was an interesting examination of the effect memories of trauma has on people’s behavior. The metaphors gave it a real gritty feel. It’s not my favorite thing to read, but it was definitely intriguing.


The Things I Miss the Most” by Nisi Shawl
a short story published by Uncanny

I really appreciate this look at the side effects of a futuristic method to treat seizures. Stories about people with disabilities feel refreshing as they overcome challenges I am not familiar with. The description of interacting with an imaginary friend, complete with wonder about whether she interacted with the world or not, drew me in.


Court of Birth, Court of Strength” by Aliette de Bodard
a novelette published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I was put off this story at first, because I really didn’t like Asmodeus. By the end, my dislike had decreased, but I still wasn’t a fan. The prose was really beautiful. Even though I didn’t completely understand what was going on in this world, I was able to just let things go.

Goals for 2019

If I Perish, I Perish – Short Story
I’m planning on submitting this retelling of Esther for the 2019 Mormon Lit Blitz. Still needs some polishing before then, as I’ve only written a single draft so far.

Status: revising

Leo’s Human Diary – Novelette
After I’ve made this story as good as I can, I plan on publishing it on Fanfiction.net. May not get me any money, but maybe it will get me some fans.

Status: revising

Masculine Rescue – Short story
I wasn’t liking this story, so I quit working on the draft part way through. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it, but not now.

Status: retiring

Soulmates – Short story
I just got feedback from critters on this story. Some of that feedback triggered a bit of depression in myself. It just feels like I’ve been working on this story forever, and it isn’t there yet. But it has been improving. Hopefully this time I can get something publishable.

Status: revising

Drone of a Fal’Cie – short story
This story is currently in the critters queue awaiting criticism. It hasn’t gone through any beta readers, so even though it got flat out rejected from Writers of the Future, I’m looking forward to a rewrite.

Status: revising

Tattered Flower – Short story
This story is currently on submission, and I can’t think of anything more to do to improve it. Hopefully this year it finds a home.

Status: on submission

Refusing the Call – Short story
Like Tattered Flower, this story is also currently on submission, and I can’t think of anything more to do to improve it. It’s one I really want to find a home.

Status: on submission

Subverting the Prophecy Subversion – Short story
I wasn’t happy with the plot from this story, so I took the world and created “Refusing the Call”. I like that one much better. Maybe one day I’d come back to this plot, but not in the near future.

Status: retiring

After the Escape – Short Story
This story did well in Writers of the Future, but as I pondered changes, I started to feel uneasy about it. It’s a story about the culture clash a fantasy Japanese person would feel about going back to the country they were born in after being raised in fantasy Germany, and I don’t think I’m doing it with enough cultural sensitivity. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to tell it.

Status: retiring

Meddling Gods – Novelette
This story has been rejected at pretty much all the markets that will take something this long and pay at least 1 cent per word. Time to trunk it.

Status: retiring

Unstop the Wind – Short story
This story has been rejected at pretty much every market I have on my list. It’s gotten great feedback, but I think it’s time to trunk it.

Status: retiring

Changestone – Short story
This story has been at its current market for almost 2 years now. It’s possible it could still be accepted, but if it isn’t, it’s getting trunked.

Status: on submission

Silent Scars – Novella
I have no plans or desire to work on this any time in the future.

Status: retiring

Lightning Born – Novel
I have been feeling like my grasp on the world is not very good at all. Maybe one day I’ll come back to this novel. I do love the magic system in it. But not right now.

Status: retiring

I feel sad to be abandoning so many stories. Also, the rejections got to me this year. Which is part of why I wanted to work on “Leo’s Human Diary” – it’s a purely for me project so I can refill my well. Since I don’t have as many stories ready for submission right now, I don’t know how many rejections I want to try for this year. So I think I’ll skip that goal this year. Similarly, I’m going to skip my goal of submitting every quarter to Writers of the Future.

Now this does free me up to try NaNoWriMo in 2019. I was actually tempted to this year, but decided not to. Good thing, because I was pretty stressed that month. But starting this fall, all my kids will be in school full day. And I’ve started working on a novel idea. November is hard for me, so maybe I won’t try for the full 50,000. But it would be fun to get something started!

So to sum up, in 2019 I want to:

  • Revise “If I Perish, I Perish”
  • Revise & publish “Leo’s Human Diary”
  • Revise “Soulmates”
  • Revise “Drone of a Fal’Cie”
  • Write timetravel/shapeshifter novel

Accomplishments of 2018

This month I’ve felt really depressed about my goals. But when I look at last year’s resolutions and accomplishments, it’s not been as bad as I thought.

What I Did That I Planned

  • Revise “Tattered Flower”
  • Revise “Soulmates”
  • New story for Mormon Lit Blitz – “All Worthy Men”
  • Get a 30 day streak on 4theWords.

What I Didn’t Do That I Planned

  • Revise “Subverting the Prophecy Subversion”
  • Revise “Lightning Born” – did start brainstorming changes
  • 2 more stories for Writers of the Future (max 1 revised story) – I submitted 3 out of 4 quarters this year.
  • 35 rejections or pro publication – received 32 rejections, no pro publication

What I Did Instead

  • Wrote 3 drafts of “Refusing the Call”
  • Wrote 1 draft of “If I Perish, I Perish”
  • Revised “Unstop the Wind”
  • Started draft of “Masculine Rescue”
  • Wrote 1 draft of “Leo’s Human Diary”

Leo’s Human Diary v 0 is Done!

Back in high school, I wrote fanfic for Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. Then I started writing original fiction, and thought I’d never go back.

This summer, I decided to start watching Fairy Tail. My cousins were posting and liking memes about it, and I thought the chick in armor looked pretty awesome. She was, but the character I fell for was Loke. This caught me completely by surprise. I hate womanizers. But his tragic backstory sent me back through past episodes, examining his character to the point that I started to contemplate fanfiction, and it wouldn’t be satisfied with just an outline.

I didn’t want to write it, because I knew it wouldn’t ever earn me any money. But that need to tell the story was still there. So I decided to treat it like a writing exercise. I went into it with two goals. One – give Loke an “I’m a Fairy Tail wizard” moment. These are very emotional points in the anime, and I wanted to see if I could recreate it. Two – unfridge Aries. Ok, she didn’t actually die, but it bothered me that all of Loke’s sympathy was bought by Aries’s suffering. So I wanted her to have some agency, even though her role couldn’t be seen in the foreground.

I haven’t hit the intensity of the first goal as well as I’d like, so I am going to do another rewrite before asking for beta readers.

Stats:

  • Started: October 24
  • Finished: December 29
  • 8,856 words
  • 3 parts
  • 15 scenes
  • 44 pictures of manga for research
  • 20 entries in excel timeline

Hugo 2019 Reading – November

November was a bit of a whirlwind for me. Beyond holidays and life, I did another draft of Soulmates, though I never blogged about it. Waiting for some feedback from beta readers before submitting it again. And I’ve been reading/watching Fairy Tail. Became a bit obsessed with it, actually, to the point I’m actually writing fanfiction for the first time in 15 years. Before talking about that though, here are the stories I read this month:

Waves of Influence” by D.A. Xiaolin Spires
a short story published by Clarkesworld

Halfway through, this story had a plot twist that took it to a surprising, yet inevitable ending, and in doing so made an interesting commentary on people who seek fame through social media. For some reason, I never felt attached to the character, probably because I didn’t understand her motivation of becoming someone else to get her sister’s attention.


Monologue by an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end” by Cassandra Khaw
a short story published by Uncanny

This story is very poetic. I do prefer my prose plain, so I didn’t get as much out of this story, but I can appreciate the beautiful turns of phrase and the emotion behind it.


(5 stars) “The Thing About Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer
a novelette published by Uncanny

I love the emotion Kritzer is able to put into her stories. This one, about the connection the narrator had with her mother and the struggle of dealing with Alzheimer’s and death was really sweet. And its an interesting juxtaposition with the narrator’s own skepticism of ghost stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. It surprised me, made me laugh. Really good story.


Care” by Michael W Cho
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

I don’t particularly care for this kind of story, where we don’t get the full details of the situation until the end. I didn’t really buy that Makato was feeling love at the end either. I didn’t understand who he was supposed to love or why. I guess its supposed to be Care, but she was so clinical, that it felt like she was caring for him because it was her job, not because she loved him first.


Rotkäppchen” by Emily McCosh
a short story published by Shimmer

This story is full of great sensory detail and a mournful mood. It’s an interesting twist to the Red Riding Hood story, about Little Red when she’s now a grandma, passing the legacy to her granddaughter, and the wolves aren’t evil. Personally, I didn’t care for the wolf’s obfuscation, but to each his own.

Hugo 2019 Reading – October

It’s been a busy month. At least I have settled in to my writing schedule pretty nicely. I’m only writing 3 days a week, but I’m getting more total done than before, and I feel more relaxed about getting my chores done on the off days. Since its hard to break 1,000 words a day, I’m not doing NaNo, even if I was at a point where I was drafting more instead of editing. Perhaps next year when all my kids are at school full time I’ll get around to it. In the meantime, here’s what I read.

If Only Kissing Made it So” by Jason Kimble
a short story published by Cast of Wonders

The characterization of this first kiss story was good. I could really feel Martin’s desire and confusion over everything. The time travel bit was neat too, and it resolved paradoxes by making each day have to match up with what happened originally.


(5 stars) “Shod in Memories” by M.K. Hutchins
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

I enjoy fairy tale retellings, and this was no exception. I especially loved how Ella expressed disappointment that the prince didn’t recognize her the next day after dancing at the ball, and that the prince wasn’t in love after just one night. He went around the kingdom looking for her just because he wanted to ask her about her shoe. Very cute story.


“This Isn’t a Home, It’s a Wilderness” by Holly Lyn Walrath
a short story published by Flame Tree Press

This story will be on the Flame Tree Press website next month, so no link yet. I had a hard time getting into the story. It definitely feels like a metaphor for all the ills that went into colonizing here on Earth. So it was hard to care about any of the humans who traveled to this alien planet.


Fitting In” by Max Gladstone
a novelette by Tor.com

Though I enjoy the Wild Cards universe, I found myself falling asleep while reading this, as I’ve not been sleeping well lately. So, the inability to pay attention spoiled my enjoyment of the story a bit. I do like the struggle to do good in mundane ways (as a guidance counselor at a middle school) as well as fantastic (busting a group of thugs that want to force a bakery to sell to them). Jan was hilarious.


The Multiverse of Michael Merriweather” by Stephen S. Power
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

This story felt like a series of vignettes than a real story. I do like alternate futures, but I felt a bit let down at the ending when we learned why someone was seeing all these different futures. I couldn’t see what had changed.


(5 stars) “STET” by Sarah Gailey
a short story published by Fireside Magazine

The desktop version of this story clues you in right away that this story is told in the footnotes and editorial notes and not the textbook text that is presented first in the mobile version. Since I first read this on my phone, I was a bit confused at first, and almost didn’t go read all the footnotes. I’m glad I did. It’s a haunting look at the ethics of training AI, and expectations on dealing with grief. And I thought the unusual form was great.