Story up at Lakeside Circus (and Happy New Year!)

A couple months ago, I announced that I had sold a story to Lakeside Circus. That story is available on their website now, and can be read here: Natalie

I’ll have a New Year’s post coming in the next few days, and possibly a recap of my month-long December trip to the East Coast as well. It was a fun trip, and 2014 is looking exceptionally promising. In the meantime, hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!

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A Few Notes on Published Stories

Best Regards, Waylines Magazine

Waylines Magazine is holding a Reader’s Choice Poll for Best Story of the Year, and Best Regards, which was published earlier this month, is in the running. If you read my story and enjoyed it, please consider dropping by to cast your vote.

Natalie, Lakeside Circus

Issue One of Lakeside Circus is out, which contains my science fiction short story Natalie. The only way to read it at the moment is to subscribe, but over the next couple months the stories will gradually be released to the website one at a time. I don’t know yet when Natalie will be available on the web, but I’ll let you know when it’s up.

And that’s about it for now. Sometime soon I’ll post a more substantial blog entry; on Wednesday I’ll be heading back to the East Coast for a few weeks to see friends and family, and needless to say I am very much looking forward to that.

I hope everyone had a great and delicious Thanksgiving!

New Story Appearing in “Lakeside Circus”

I’m happy to announce that one of my short stories will be appearing in the debut issue of Lakeside Circus. Lakeside Circus is a new quarterly magazine, edited by Carrie Cuinn, and in its first issue will have 42 pieces spanning flash fiction, poetry, and short stories. My own story, titled “Natalie,” falls in the flash fiction category, and I’m quite pleased with how it came out. It’s a science fiction story, about a geologist who finds herself involved in a particularly unusual way with a mission to Saturn’s moon Titan.

The magazine will be released on November 29th; subscribers will receive it via e-mail, and will also receive .epub and .mobi versions (suitable for various e-readers). After that, the stories will gradually appear on the website over the next three months, one every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I don’t know yet when my story will appear on the website (when that changes, I’ll update my “Stories” page accordingly), but in the meantime, you can receive my story and lots of others by subscribing to Lakeside Circus– I believe an annual subscription works out to $20 for around 200,000 words (about 800 pages) of original genre fiction. In addition, folks who subscribe by November 15th will receive the first issue of the magazine a week early, on November 22.

Right now they’re a semi-pro magazine, but their goal is to raise enough money through subscriptions to become a pro magazine. Moreover, I have a huge amount of like and respect for the editor, Carrie Cuinn, who’s repeatedly put herself on the front lines of the fight to make all of science fiction & fantasy field more socially aware, and more inclusive to less privileged folks. So beyond selfish reasons, I’d love to see this latest venture work out, and a new, forward-thinking pro magazine take root in the field.

Anyway, that’s my plug for my story, and for Lakeside Circus. Check ’em out for yourself.

Podcast Up At Every Day Fiction

The first story I ever got accepted, From Here to the Sargasso, is now available as a podcast on Every Day Fiction. The podcast is produced and narrated by the inimitable Folly Blaine, who has my sincerest gratitude and thanks.

From Here to the Sargasso is special to me because even though it appeared on Every Day Fiction, it’s not really fiction at all. One evening in August 2006, my mother, my aunt, and I went walking at dusk on a Florida beach, shortly after my brother had left home for Los Angeles. And we watched the sea turtles hatch.

I wrote the first draft of this story that same evening in a paper notebook. It was the first story I had written since college, and it was the first tiny little snowball that started rolling down a hill, until I ended up where I am today as far as my writing. Given that I moved to Seattle at least partly to focus more on my writing, it’s safe to say that Freddy the Sea Turtle may have drastically changed the course of events in my life.

In the intervening six years, a lot has happened:

My brother, Charlie Williams, has taken roles in two major Broadway Productions, Memphis and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, where he performed alongside Daniel Radcliffe and John Larrouqette. He’s also been in numerous other productions and events (including the Tony Awards and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular), and has done some choreography work as well.

My mother took ill with breast cancer in 2009, and after a masectomy and chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission. A year ago, she had a seizure, at which point it became clear the cancer had metastasized into her brain and lungs. Surgery and radiation appear to have successfully removed the cancer from her brain, but the tumors in her lungs have so far resisted chemotherapy. The cancer also manifested in the form of two cysts under her skin, and she’s undergoing radiation treatment for those. Her cancer appears to be very aggressive, and we will be extraordinarily lucky if we achieve remission again.

As for me, I’ve moved across the country, had some stories published, dabbled in various hobbies, and probably fallen in love, though I wasn’t willing to admit it at the time. Of the three of us, I’ve lived the most mundane life, although perhaps I should be grateful for that.

So when Folly asked me about doing From Here to the Sargasso as a podcast, I readily said yes, and then didn’t think too much about it afterward. I went home to North Carolina over Thanksgiving, where I had Thanksgiving Dinner with both my Mom and my brother for the first time in several years. I spent ten days at home, accompanying Mom to doctor visits and catching up with Charlie; going to see Lincoln; decorating the Christmas tree. For the first time in a while, I wished I didn’t live in Seattle.

A few days after I got back, Folly sent me the mp3 of the podcast. I was staying late at work that evening, and I played it over my headphones as I worked. And everything cracked. I work in a large, wide-open room, and I found myself shaking quietly, suppressing sobs, as Folly read back to me the words I had first written six years ago. When it was over, I had to go to the restroom and shut the door, where I could cry without drawing questions from co-workers.

I suppose it goes without saying that I’m emotionally fragile these days. You only had to see my reaction to the Newtown shootings, both on Twitter and on this blog, to realize that. I don’t hold any illusions that other folks will have the same emotional reaction to this story as I did; it’s pretty much impossible to get across years of context in a few hundred words, and the fact that the story is so dependent on context and knowledge of my family is, in fact, one of its objective weaknesses.

But still, even if nobody else has even a tenth of the same emotional reaction I did, I’m glad it’s out there. It almost seems like an emotional disorder these days, that I feel this compulsion to vent my emotions in the form of public stories and blog entries and letters and tweets. I suppose it’s called “being a writer.”

Thanks for listening.

“Flush Fiction” Now Available

I just found out that Flush Fiction is on sale starting today. The latest addition to the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series of books, it’s an anthology of short stories designed to be read in one “sitting,” as it were: each story is less than 1,000 words. And I have a story in it called The Taste of Failure. It’s silly science fiction, which is about as different from my last story, The Talisman of Hatra, as you can possibly get. But hey, diversity’s a good thing, right?

Flush Fiction is for sale at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Powell’s, and hopefully your local indie bookstores as well.

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!

Story Up at Every Day Fiction

March 8th continues to be an auspicious day for me. In 2004, it was the date I embarked on an Appalachian Trail thru-hike. One year ago, on March 8, 2010, I wrote a post on that, and began hinting at what eventually became last year’s big adventure: a move from North Carolina to Seattle.

Appropriate then, that March 8th is the day my first “published” story appears. The title is From Here to the Sargasso, and it’s viewable over at Every Day Fiction. Go check it out.

From Here to the Sargasso is a slightly-fictionalized account of an encounter that really did happen, on New Smyrna Beach, in August of 2006. Charlie really is my brother, he really did go to L.A., and now he’s on Broadway, performing alongside Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Here’s his website.

Freddy the Sea Turtle, to my knowledge, does not have a website, but if anyone finds one, let me know. It would be nice to know he’s doing all right.