Quick Update: Story Sale!

I’ll post a more substantial life-related update in a few days, but for now, I just wanted to say, YAY! I’ve known for a couple of months, but now it’s official: in April, one of my stories will be appearing in an anthology of flash fiction. The name of it is Flush Fiction, and it’ll be published by Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader– a collection of stories to be read in one “sitting,” as it were. My own little contribution will be a 700-word science fiction piece titled The Taste of Failure.

Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader has long been a fixture in the humor section of major retail bookstores. So sure, it may not be the most prestigious of literary magazines, but I’m still pretty awesomely happy about it. Heck, it means there’s a chance I could walk into any given Barnes and Noble and see one of my stories! It makes me kind of giddy.

This also counts as my first professional sale, as defined by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Joining SFWA has been a goal of mine ever since I started writing seriously. And while Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader isn’t explicitly listed as a qualifying market (strange, that), the story is science fiction, and the pay rate and the market do meet the qualification guidelines.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to apply yet. For one, if they do accept my application, then whenever I go to a SFWA event, every time someone asks where I’m published, I’ll have to answer, “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader!” This will either be sort of embarrassing or kind of cool. Or both. Either way, I’m willing to bet it’s a pretty unique first pro sale. (Insert “crappy fiction” joke here.)

More news later, including a report on my first week of working the night shift at the “day job”, and an answer to the question of whether the Calvin Method of Writing paid off for my latest short story (spoiler: No).

Ciao for niao!

Happy New Year, Take 2

After spending a week in North Carolina over New Year’s, and getting Mom settled and recovering from surgery at home, I’ve returned to Seattle and am settling back into routine… sort of. My work schedule is in flux as it moves from day shift to swing shift to night shift over the next few weeks, and my personal life has been an interesting mix of hectic and terrifying. But I’ve also managed to make time to write, and my writing goals for the next year are beginning to take shape.

In the short term, I really want to submit a story to the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest, which is specifically geared toward optimistic, near-future science fiction. I feel like my space-based science fiction short stories have, in general, been some of my strongest writing to date, so any excuse to write another space-based sci-fi story is a good one! The deadline is the end of the month, and I only have a few vague plot ideas, but no worries. I’m taking a page from the book of Calvin:

I’m also taking a class on novel revision at Bellevue College, in which I finally buckle down to the work on writing a second draft of my fantasy novel, In a Land of Wind and Sky. It’s not an easy task; the novel is 175,000 words and 600 pages. The read-through, in which I build a detailed outline and annotate what I do and don’t like, is probably going to take a solid twenty or more hours or work (I’m about 350 pages through, after spending four long evenings at Bauhaus Coffee last week). But the class is already giving me some good ideas, and helping me focus on the task. No doubt about it, though, it’s going to be a lot of work. And I’m not sure how much time it’s going to leave for me other things, like, say, writing a new sci-fi short story.

As far as long-term goals for the rest of the year, I want to completely finish the second draft of In a Land of Wind and Sky, as well as write a second draft of Ghostrunners (the urban fantasy I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year). I also hope to write a third novel, either for NaNoWriMo or sooner. And, amidst it all, I want to write at least one new short story every quarter.

There’s other cool stuff coming, too. In March, I’ll be going to the Rainforest Writers Village, in which I get to spend five days hanging out with cool writerly folks amidst the rainforests of the Olympic Mountains, and hopefully getting a lot of writing done in an awesome setting. And in April, Norwescon rolls around again. A good chunk of my travel budget this year will probably go toward trips back to North Carolina, so I’ll just have to see how things go as far as attending non-local cons, like WorldCon in Chicago, or Dragon*Con, or World Fantasy in Toronto. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend at least one of those. We shall see.

Between family, writing, work, and personal life, 2012 is shaping up to be a more challenging year than 2011… though possibly a more fulfilling one.

It’s gonna be an adventure.

Happy New Year. Fuck Cancer.

I wrote a long blog entry that I was planning to post for New Year’s. It was a fairly comprehensive look back on 2011. In it, evaluated my goals from last January, reviewed my submission stats, and took a look forward to next year.

Then, on the evening of Wednesday the 29th, my mom called. She had suffered a seizure and was in the hospital. Preliminary tests had found a lesion on her brain, and the doctors suspected it was metastasized breast cancer.

By Thursday afternoon they had confirmed the lesion was a tumor. They found cancerous growths in her lungs, too.

Thursday night, I caught a redeye flight from Seattle to Raleigh.

Friday my brother flew down from New York, and my uncle drove down from Virginia. In her hospital room, Mom had a long stream of well-wishers from her work, her church, and her neighborhood.

Saturday she had brain surgery, and the tumor was successfully removed.

I write this on Sunday, New Year’s Day, with a pen and a pad of paper, sitting in the ICU. A few feet away, the strongest person I know has been laid low by a few tiny clots of cancer cells and the prospect of another excruciating round of chemotherapy. And that long blog entry I wrote about 2012 seems rather trivial. What comes will come; hug someone you love, because in the end, that’s what matters. Of all the problems and obstacles you can run into on the road of life, rejection letters don’t even count as pebbles.

But I may still post that blog entry at some point. Because in cancer, there’s another reminder: strive for your goals now. Don’t put things off. If you have your health, take advantage of it. And just don’t say you’ll do things “one day.” Because that “one day” may instead be the day that you wake up with a healthy, normal life, and end the day in the hospital with a brain tumor. Cancer doesn’t give warning. It just happens.

It looks like Mom will get past this. But that’s what we thought back in 2009 when she first beat breast cancer. There’s no way of knowing for sure. All we can do is trust in modern medicine… and god, if that’s your thing. Although, for the record, if there is an all-powerful God out there who’s in charge of the world, then cancer is a really, really, really shitty thing to let happen. I don’t think you can appreciate how truly, awfully shitty it is until you see it up close in all its painful reality, until you see someone you love get struck down with it multiple times, or watch someone, like my grandmother, die a slow and agonizing death as it eats away at her. Seriously, fuck cancer.

Admittedly, it could be worse. The tumor was small and discrete, and easily removed, and there have been no side effects from the surgery. Mom has a wonderful network of friends and family who are supporting her, and will help her get through this. The family’s been brought closer. But looking for a bright side in this is a bit like the old joke: Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

I hope you and yours have a happy 2012 and beyond. We may too, yet. But from where I’m sitting, I mainly just want to get past the next few days. Then we’ll see about the rest of 2012.