cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee wtf)
I haven't compiled a stats list this elaborate...ever. I've never shared payment info before. I post this information not to brag or bemoan my fortune, but to record for myself how much I've worked on this aspect of writing. Yes, it's been a struggle, but yes, I did accomplish stuff.

Also, as writers, it's really easy to get skewed ideas of how successful (or not) our colleagues are, since most of the time we only see sales or publication announcements, not spreadsheets. So, for the sake of transparency and camaraderie, I'm willing to risk embarrassing myself by putting my numbers out there.

Short fiction submission stats for the year are easy to compile (though depressing to consider), thanks to my account with The Grinder. Short lead times meant that my stories were published in the same year I sold them.

46 47 submissions [edited 12/29/16, because apparently I'm terrible at keeping records]
2 sales
4 subs still pending
$245 earned

Poetry submission stats are harder to produce, since each submission will contain anywhere from 1-4 poems, and obviously I don't send all the same poems to each market.

9 submissions
4 poems sold (2 from single-poem subs)
3 submissions still pending
~$183

Of the 6 poems published this year, I believe 3 were accepted last year. One poem accepted this year is slated for publication next year (but I've already been paid for it!). One payment was for a poem published last year.

My 3 nonfiction "subs" were abstracts for a conference and an anthology. One was accepted, the other two rejected. No payment, just glory. ;)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
Short Fiction

"The Flying Camel Goes to Tigerwood" (4800 words), a fun science fiction story about resistance on multiple levels, at Solarpunk Press, October 3. Available as text or audio.

"Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth" (reprint; originally published in my collection, The Haunted Girl), a sly South Texas fantasy, at Podcastle, September 27. Available as text or audio.


Poetry

"Coffee Shop Painting" (30 lines) / spellcasting with coffee! (and tea) / at Devilfish Review Issue 16, February.

"Uncommon Law" (25 lines) / Next time you need legal representation in the faerie realm.../ in charity anthology Angels of the Meanwhile, April. (with sneaky callback to "The Flying Camel..."!)

"A Personal History of the Universal History of the Things of New Spain" (100 lines) / imagined memoir of one of the indigenous scribes of the Florentine Codex / in Spelling the Hours, July 23.

"Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas Lost at Sea, 1527" (~60 lines) / subjects of Oceana wreak vengeance on conquistadors / in Strange Horizons, October 3.

"Why My Father Won't Be at My Wedding" (48 lines) / putting the strange in estrangement / in Polu Texni, October 17.

"Heliotrope" (34 lines) / When the dead come back, they don't always go home / in Polu Texni, November 14.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
When I posted about "Bilingual" at Podcastle, I had no idea the publications scheduled for October would all come out on the same day!

My story "The Flying Camel Goes to Tigerwood" is available to read or listen to at Solarpunk Press.

My poem "Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, Lost at Sea, 1527" is up at Strange Horizons.

My bibliography spotlight is up at ReadDiverseBooks.com.

Publishing is weird.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee wtf)
It's come to my attention that my collection of short fiction and poetry, The Haunted Girl, has been nominated for the Elgin Award, which is given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association for best book of poetry published in a preceding year. I was not informed by SFPA of the nomination. I only learned my book was on their website's list of nominees when voting members requested review copies of the book for consideration.

I am honored by the nomination and grateful to the person(s) who nominated my book. As I understand the rules, however, my book is not actually eligible for this award. The description of the Elgin Awards provided on the SFPA website states, "Books containing fiction as well as poetry are not eligible." Because The Haunted Girl comprises 21 poems and 5 short stories, it would not seem to be eligible. I have notified the Chair of this year's Elgin Awards that I am declining the nomination and I've asked them to remove my book from the list of nominees.

Again, I am very grateful that someone considered my book award-worthy. Thank you. I hope that one of my future collections will be nominated for (and maybe even win!) an Elgin Award.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (studying)
Not much reading for me this week. I'm pushing through another revision of my border blaster novel so I can send it to my agent (soon) for feedback.

I finished reading Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros, and I'm glad I did, because some of my favorite poems came at the end. I especially liked those in which the poet addressed her female friends, who sound every bit as wild as she is.

Still reading The Fast and the Furriest to Tweetie over breakfast every school day.

Unable to engage the right part of my brain to process On the Rim of Mexico, I turned to Gemma Files' A Book of Tongues, which was exactly the right thing to do. Like Patty Templeton's There Is No Lovely End, this is weird North American Civil-War era historical fantasy. I've long wanted to read A Book of Tongues, which is the first in Gemma's Hexslinger series, but there's a benefit to being so slow: I don't have to wait for the other books to be published! Knowing there's more, I sink into the pages like I sink into a hot bath, sighing with relief and pleasure.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
When I traveled to Texas for my sister's wedding, I took two small, easy to transport paperbacks to keep me from fretting overmuch in the airports. One was Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros, which I believe is her second collection of poetry. The poems are short, so I plowed through about half the book before my brain felt too full of thrilling turns of phrase and genius word choices. The themes are repetitive--a little too fiery for my tastes, especially since they tend toward self-immolatory passions. Which sounds weird coming from me, but... Maybe without grounding context, the passion is too easy to read as melodrama, or romancing martydom? In any case, I'd be happy to finish the book eventually.

The other book was Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber, which was recommended at one of the many "How to (not) Write the Other" panels I've attended, as an example of a white writer doing all right by his POC characters and subject matter. Whereas some folks want an easy breezy read on vacation, I was hooked by the main characters' attention to details. I read a lot of this crime novel (it's no mystery who the murderer is, ever) when I wasn't at the airport; in fact, whenever I needed a break from socializing I picked it up. I'd read it before settling to sleep, too, which gave me a deliciously uncanny experience: I was actually a little unnerved after I turned out the light! I am a huge horror fan, and I'm almost never creeped out by books anymore, so this was a welcome surprise. The creep-out factor doesn't come from the gore, although there's a good amount of that, but because Gruber does an excellent job of showing how an intelligent, highly educated American woman's stubborn rationalism cedes to belief in ritual magic. As I said in my Goodreads review, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Upon returning home, I returned to There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton. This is the Gothic Americana historical fantasy I've been wanting to read for YEARS. Patty's refreshing take on Sarah Winchester moves beyond the long-prevailing "sorrowing hysteric" caricature of the Widow Winchester and her insane house. Equally enthralling are Patty's original characters: criminal brothers Hennet and Walleye; the awful but kinda awesome hellion Hester (she prays neither to God nor the Devil but to HERSELF) and her besotted stalker, a dandy journalist who hangs himself to get her attention, then follows her around in ghost form for years; Hester's ghost-beloved but beleagured son Nathan who's targeted for murder almost the whole book through; traveling medicine man Reverend Enton Blake...not to mention all the animals and houses, all with their own personalities, living or dead. And Patty ties all the story threads together into a deeply satisfying conclusion. It may not be a Lovely End, but I loved it anyway.

No progress on On the Rim of Mexico, but Tweetie and I are continuing with The Fast and the Furriest.

A couple of online story recommendations:
excerpt from "Furious Angels," from the collection We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files. I was actually a little mad when I got to the end and remembered "Shit, yeah, excerpt." I definitely need the book now.

"The Husband Stitch" by Carmen Machado. A little funny, a little spooky with its callbacks to urban legends aplenty, sometimes sexy, a lot heartbreaking. It's one of those stories that looks so easy and yet, no one does it like Machado.

"Silent Snow, Secret Snow" by Conrad Aiken. Given my age, my first thought was "Any relation to Joan Aiken?" And yup, her father. This is a perfect creepy story for when the wind turns cold and winter lurks around the corner.

What do you look for in a vacation read? Or, if that's too far-afield for you right now, what are your favorite Halloween-y stories?
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bloody drinking)
I am ELATED to announce that my first collection, The Haunted Girl, will be published by Aqueduct Press as part of its Conversation Pieces series!

The Haunted Girl includes some of my earliest poetry and fiction publications (dating back to 1998!), as well as more recent works originally published in venues such as Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, and Stone Telling. The book also will include five previously unpublished poems and a brand new story: "Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth."

The Haunted Girl should be available for purchase, as a paperback and e-book, in late summer or early fall. More details when I've got them!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (drink me)
I've been waiting to make this announcement!

My dear [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume's story "Tilia Songbird" is now live at GigaNotoSaurus. By sheer kismet masquerading as mere coincidence, I got to read an earlier version of this fantasy not knowing who had written it. I loved it from page one. When I found out who the author was, my heart nearly burst with joy, just like when you read a story and the ending is both perfect and completely unexpected.

“I wanted you to know me,” the girl said, tracing the door jamb with the feather. “Now you know who I am.” Then she was gone.

It is such a pleasure to know Tilia. Read her story as soon as you can!

 
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)
J and I went to see Murder by Death in Des Moines and It. Was. AH-MAZING. Along the way, I deployed poetry cards of stealth. I came home to find my story "The Pearl in the Oyster and the Oyster under Glass" sold to the Fungi anthology coming from Innsmouth Free Press. Last night I woke up to write three related moon ku. And now I am off to Effigy Mounds National Monument to do some research for a story. And probably deploy some more poetry cards.

ZOOOOOM!!!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (studying)
Last week I watched Conan the Barbarian, Skyline, and Chrysalis. None of them would I recommend. I will note, however, that Conan was the first movie in a loooong time that squicked me hard enough I instinctively closed my eyes and turned from the screen. That, and I'm always amazed to see a horse get punched, which happens a couple times in Conan. Jason Momoa was the only thing right in that movie, otherwise. (Sorry, Ron Pearlman. I love you, but...)

This weekend I finished reading Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins. Extremely uneven book. The first section, "124 Worlds," started off interestingly enough but devolved to the point where all the worlds sounded the same, populated by the same three or four people, none of whom can speak about cops without using the term pigs and none of whom I wanted to spend much time with. Still, Rollins has a good eye and delivers many a sparkly gem, like this one from #26:

"A broken nose is a many splendored thing. This guy's face just exploded. It was like a rainbow--but all the colors were red."

And from #101: "The diamonds of his mind had been stolen by unseen hands. All things had turned to brass and tin."

Also, he speaks truth. From #77: "What the fuck is it about laundromats? When you go in there with your mate, you always come out of there in some kind of seething argument. Happened to me every time. It was easier to sneak out with the clothes and do the damn wash alone and not deal with all the petty bullshit. You could go in there at any time of the week and there would be a couple in there staring furiously at magazines, or watching the dryer like television. Hating each other's guts. I'd rather live alone."

The travelogue section, "Black Coffee Blues," was more interesting to me, partly because of his honest reactions to other countries and the people he encounters, both natives and fellow (tourist) Americans. The isolation also elicits honesties like this one:  "I don't work well up-close. I am abusive and I don't know when it starts or where it comes from." 

"61 Dreams" was excellent, reading like a set of surreal flash fiction pieces. My only quibble was that Rollins's relentless use of pigs to mean cops meant that Dream #2 made me laugh, until I realized that no, a hog was not making a pass at Rollins.

The book ends with the brilliant "I Know You," which is available as a spoken word piece on youtube. This version is decent, although the music annoys me (just because it doesn't need to be there) and there are errors in the text: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj-B42gXcoQ
 

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
I read about 32 books this year. It's hard to keep track, with all the co-reading I do with Tweetie.

Looking over the list, I suppose it was a bad year for nonfiction. With the exception of A Mind Apart by Susanne Antonetta, I don't have a lot of fond feelings for the book-length nonfic I read.

Adult fiction was better. Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman made me happy, and The Devil's Alphabet by Daryl Gregory has stayed with me. Zoo City by Lauren Buekes and Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson were also sturdy reads.

But this year, it was really MG and YA fic that thrilled me. The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban entertained our entire family, and I can easily see re-reading it every couple of years. Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi was an enormously ambitious adventure, with a rich cast of characters I cared about. Playground by 50 Cent was surprisingly effective and a lightning-fast read that I've already passed on to a friend.

But my favorite book this year, hands down, any category, was The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout. Meaningful action, inventive future, amusing and engaging characters, thoughtful commentary, and quite satisfying for the whole family. J read it on my recommendation, then he and Tweetie started reading it for bedtime, then while we were on vacation, Tweetie begged to be able to read it on her own on the iPad because the suspense was killing her, then once she'd finished it, I zoomed through it, and then I bought a copy for my niece and nephew for the holiday. Suffice to say, I want everyone to read it.

Tweetie's favorite book, ftr, is whatever she's just finished. :D




cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (spaced out)
My second nanofic, a science fiction piece, is now live at trapeze magazine. No piggies this time, but maybe a rat...

~~


cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (xmas)
My nanofic "My Buddy the Hog" is now live at trapeze magazine. If you subscribe to their twitter feed, @trapezemag, you'll see this 20-word story went out this morning. Enjoy!


cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
I love an unsympathetic protagonist--I AM an unsympathetic protagonist--but there's a world of difference between unsympathetic and just fucking annoying.

Last night I finished reading A Quiet Adjustment by Benjamin Markovits, which is about Annabella, who marries Lord Byron with predictably disastrous results. The deliberately affected narration reminded me of Jane Austen, with all its qualifications and discretion and seemingly contradictory descriptions. I almost stopped reading because "I don't have time for this. Say what you mean and mean what you say!" But, like Austen's books, this one teaches you how to read itself; there comes a critical mass of accumulation, repetition, and nuance, and one's focus suddenly shifts, like with a Magic Eye picture, and finally you can read between the lines. (Though there are bits of dialogue that still mystify me.)
 
Annabella is insufferably calculating, vain, and superior. Yet Markovits makes it clear to me for the first time just how suffocating women's roles were at the time, that an intelligent woman like Annabella was forced into vertiginous interiority because she wasn't allowed to direct that power outwards. Instead she measured every word and gesture, kept a running mental tally of "moral" victories and defeats, and orchestrated her relations with the precision and foresight of a chess master. (The reader can see very well how Annabella's daughter, Ada, would become the first computer programmer.) And yet, for all my understanding, I still didn't like her. Unlike the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons, Annabella takes no pleasure in her machinations, demonstrates no verve or style in her persecution of her wayward husband or sister-in-law. She is neither hero nor villain.
 
I endured Annabella's point of view because I'm fascinated by how a gnarled intellect like hers navigated the nightmare of her marriage, the potential disgrace of separation, the continued relationship with Byron's half-sister/mistress even after Byron left the continent. As a reader, I suppose mine became equivalent to the curious eyes Annabella felt watching her post-separation, and I felt the same cold reproof as she dealt them.
 
Whereas Annabella fell in that uncomfortable space between unsympathetic and just annoying, the protag of The Road (movie version) fell squarely into the annoying camp.
 
(Spoilers galore!

You've been warned!)
 
I remember, with the book, being frustrated by Cormac McCathy's rambling, faux-biblical style, but watching the movie, style didn't bother me as much as characterization. Beginning to end, I wanted to strangle the father. First, it wasn't clear to me whether the movie premise was stupid--some sort of nuclear apocalypse killed all the animals and plants but not all the humans?--or if it was just the father who was stupid, since he thought that was the case. Near movie's end, we see the father, despite being a doctor, was mistaken. There are, in fact, other signs of life, and his malevolent view of the universe is not supported by the facts.
 
(Neither is his notion of necessity; at one point he destroys the family's beloved piano--for firewood, we are given to understand--but how 'bout using all the houses in their ghost-town subdivision, dumbass?)
 
Another frustration, the father is constantly veering between "Must save son!" and "Can't save son, so must KILL son." I swear, no one threatened that boy with extinction more often than his sniveling father. The man had more endurance than will to live. The boy's hopeful optimism is validated at movie's end, but I don't see the point in dragging him (and us) along behind his sinking ship of a father for TWO HOURS just to "reveal" that humanity's not a total wash. Seems like a perversely Job-like trial.
 
And this reminds me of that other supposedly specfic-by-way-of-literary-luminary book-turned-movie, Never Let Me Go. "Stop wallowing in your misery and DO  SOMETHING!" I want to scream. "Even if it's pointless or half-baked or more symbolic than useful, sweet ass-grabbing Jesus, DO SOMETHING!"
 
lilo and stitch gif
 
/rant
 
~
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)

I finally finished reading a book for grownups! Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey. The cover blurb from William Gibson really sold it for me: "An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece." I love this scene where the hero, Stark, boosts a Ducati:
 
Rule one when you get back from Hell and haven't ridden a high-performance in eleven years is not to get on the bike after three or five Jack Daniel's. Rule two is not to try a stoppie...When you're drunker than you think you are, which is pretty much always, you're going to lean too far forward and pull the rear end of the bike up and over onto your dumb ass...

Off to my left, the bike is pinwheeling down the empty street, kicking up, sparking, and shredding its plastic and chrome skin as it flies apart. It's kind of beautiful, turning from a machine into an ever-expanding shrapnel flower.

Then I hit the street...
 
 
But what I lovedlovedloved about the book, what had me all heart-eyed as I read, was what Kadrey did with a secondary (tertiary?) character, Carlos. He's the owner/bartender of the punk-tiki bar Bamboo House of Dolls (where no "dolls" ever appear). Despite being an ex-con and big bruiser type that Stark sizes up as ex-football player or boxer, Carlos is nonviolent and not associated with any gangs. Which is why he asks Stark to fend off the skinhead assholes who are trying to extort "protection" money from him. Later, Stark tries to hand Carlos a gun, and Carlos refuses it twice: "I don't like guns," he says, simple. And as his part of the deal with Stark, Carlos provides nummy Mexican food and drink for free, for life. Stark says, "It's like God left his lunch in the microwave and you get to finish it."

I am just so grateful for a smart, funny, strong Mexican character who defies stereotype and doesn't get offed the minute the shit hits the fan, ya know?

I will definitely read the next in the series, Kill the Dead, due out October 2010.

~
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lightbulb)

No connection to my recent poem-a-day "Practice Time." :D

Unbeknownst to me, in February my cinquain "Unanswered Prayers" appeared on The Daily Palette, a subentity of sorts to "Iowa Writes," curated by the staff of the Iowa Review.

I was unaware that back issues of Cicada are available online through Encyclopedia Brittanica, including the Winter 2007 issue with my short story "Cloud One". Sign up for the free trial membership and you can read the whole story.

And apparently you don't have to sign up for anything to read the entire 348 issue of Weird Tales, which features my poem "Lament for a One-Legged Lady," online with Google Books.

The weirdness wants to be free!

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Maggie with Coffee)



~

His mother
His psychiatric nurse
slash
social secretary
His wife
(the whiny real life one
and the sultry dream version)
His private detective
and her pregnant lesbian lover
His as-yet unnamed
corporate pursuer, "She"
And me, Janey Come-lately,
his sympathetic Miss America



~
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (studying)

A poet friend of mine recently said, "I never know when to stop revision."

So of course I wondered if/how I know when to stop revising. Lately, I've felt confident pronouncing poems done, and not just the ones I post here on LJ, which I hold to a different standard than the poetry I submit for publication (though not a lesser standard; you're not getting my dregs).

I have a sense, even as the poem comes spooling out on the page or screen, of how close I am to my mark. The closer I am on the first draft, the cleaner that draft is, the easier the revision and polish is, and the faster I arrive at a final product. "Yes," I decide. "The poem is itself."

When I feel adrift in the first draft, I relax and just generate words and images, knowing I don't know where I'm going yet, knowing that I'll have to come back to the poem the next day or months later before finding my way. At the end of each draft, I think, "Yes, the poem is beginning to resemble itself" or "No, I've wandered even further afield." And I try not to sweat it. Thanks to my poem-a-day project, I'm less inclined now to pin too much self-esteem on a single work, or to force every poem to "pay off" in some professional sense.

I'm hesitant to draw any conclusions regarding my fiction revisions. I've been working exclusively on the novel for over a year now, and I feel like I'm on track, much as when I'm zeroing in on a poem's platonic ideal. (Philosophy major? Who, me?) But--Captain Obvious speaking here--there's so much more territory in a novel...

So how do you know when to stop revising? Or do you?



cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)

The Jan/Feb issue of American Poetry Review had a useful refresher for me, in the form of Natasha Saje's essay "Metonymy, the Neglected (but Necessary) Trope." It was a bit challenging, since I haven't read the referenced Lacan and Jakobson texts in about 10 years. Metonymy, essentially, is substitution as opposed to metaphor. Kleenex substitutes for tissue; stars and stripes for the American flag; in our house, we say "Let's watch Totoro," meaning "Let's watch My Neighbor Totoro."

Quoting Jill Matus, Saje notes, "Metonyms highlight positionality, blindness about which 'is the basis of many cultural and environmental problems: class, race, women in patriarchal culture.'...the very specificity...asks readers to question the power relationships that created the substitutions."

I think I found the article especially interesting because I have trouble "seeing" wholes. I tend to focus on parts. So I often use synecdoche (substitution of a part for the whole). Problems arise when I try to put the parts together (descriptions of facial features, for example) and end up with a freakish collage. I hadn't really considered the political implications of metonymy.

Yesterday when I went in for jury duty, I took along The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos. I only got about 20 pages in, but it's richly macabre and funny. I sank right into it like a plush hearse.

Also, I'm still reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I forget how much I enjoy Dickens's work until I'm actually engrossed in it. Reading this unfinished serial is prep for reading Drood, the description of which had me salivating.

Of course, I'm doing very little reading aside from the polysci editing right now. Just bits and pieces, here and there.




cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
The best thing about putting my characters in extremis is that they don't have time to dissemble. They blurt out their imperfect truths and grasp at straws I didn't even notice.

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