Mother's Revenge: A Dark and Bizarre Anthology of Global Proportions, which contains my story "Midwives", is now available in the UK and via Kindle. Soon to be available on Audible, too!
The first half of this year has been a busy one for me. I've had 2 fiction pieces and 2 non-fiction pieces published:
My story "On Tradescant Road," which I first wrote in summer 2015 and workshopped at Milford that September, was published in the British Fantasy Society's Horizons #4. It's a story about a time capsule that doesn't travel the way it is expected to. It's also about memory and scent and holding on to possessions. And, strangely, I wrote it about a museum exhibit before the exhibit was announced.
A second story workshopped at that same Milford, "Midwives," was just published in Scary Dairy Press's Mother's Revenge: A Dark and Bizarre Anthology of Global Proportions. (Link to buy it is on the Writing page.) This story is about flower workers in South America and the invisibility of women. Both stories were inspired by my garden-history research, but for both I messed with reality a bit.
I've had my first ever academic paper published. The National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) has a yearly conference here in the UK. This past November, I presented a paper about performance in feedback in SFF writing workshops. The association has published the paper in their Writing in Education journal.
Finally, the fourth piece came about by accident. After the Manchester bombing, I wrote a mini-rant on my Facebook page, and my old boss (an editor at the Dayton Daily News) asked me if I wanted to expand it for the paper. Of course! I did so and then Wright State University (my BA and MA alma mater) picked up on it, and a representative has this week sent an email interview. They are going to print a profile of me, about my time at WSU and where I went from there. Another bit of serendipity is the fact that WSU and my university here in the UK have over the past couple of years forged a relationship and become quasi 'sister' schools. The world, she is small!
In spite of attempts to eradicate it, I have a bit of a Fb addiction. I take it off of my phone in hopes of leaving the world behind for a while, but it's only a matter of time before I re-load the app so I don't feel out of the loop for too long.
ANYWAY, last week there was another terrorist attack here in the UK, this time in Manchester. It seems like not a week goes by without some new tragedy happening, and it is easy to let it become part of everyday life. The more I thought about it, the more angry I got. So I posted a bit of a rant on Fb. My old boss, an editor at the Dayton Daily News, sawit and offered me the opportunity to expand my soapbox in the paper (you can read it here). Unknown to me, my alma mater's Fb page got a hold of it and posted it. As a result, one of my former professors is going to talk to a higher-up there and they may contact me for a profile, a "where is she now" sort of thing to follow graduates. Which is a bit of serendipity because as of a couple of years ago, my UK university has forged a connection--a sort of sister-school link--to where I got my BA and MA in the US.
This reminds me that though I write, and publish some things, there are people out there reading. It's easy to forget that the words GO somewhere.
Tomorrow morning I run away to Birmingham for Eastercon. I'll be on four panels, talking about academia, workshops, literature & films & TV, and even art! Here is my schedule:
Pedagogy and Speculative Fiction (Saturday from 1-2pm): Anglia Ruskin University, based in Chelmsford and Cambridge, is recruiting the first intake of students for their newly launched masters degree in science fiction and fantasy. In this session the centre director, Helen Marshall, along with colleagues and visiting lecturers will explore the significance of studying speculative fiction in this era of alternative facts, where George Orwell's 1984 has recently benefitted from a sales boost. With Helen Marshall, Val Nolan, and John Clute.
Writing Groups, Conferences and Workshops: Which Way to Go? (Saturday from 8.30-9.30pm--yes, likely clashing with Doctor Who!): Clarion West, Milford SF Writers' Conference, and Manchester Speculative Fiction are examples of creative writing groups. What benefit do writing groups, workshops, conferences and classes have? Are there down sides to them? Our panelists discuss their experiences and use their knowledge as participants and organisers to suggest which ones might be worth your while. With Val Nolan, Jacey Bedford, Peter Calu, and Helen Claire Gould.
You Want a Revolution? I Want a Revelation! (Sunday from 4-5pm): We live in a time of establishment, yet we exercise the fantasy of political rebellion in SF, Fantasy, and historical fiction including Rogue One, Outlander, and Hamilton. We return to historical rebellion at times of political atrophy and disillusion and fear – luring the unsuspecting and the recalcitrant in with a false sense of safety with the material by placing it in an unknown galaxy or a Highland glen. This panel focuses on grass-root movements led by diverse groups be they Black Lives Matter or the Women's March and asks questions such as when does civil-disobedience become violent rebellion? With Phil Dyson, Jan Siegel, Russell A. Smith, and Jeannette Ng.
Fantastical Art (Sunday from 10-11am): Fantastical art has a different aesthetic, purpose, and conceptual/philosophical underpinning than what we normally think of as fantasy art. Our panel of experts explore those differences and talk about what is the best of the fantastical art both in and out of the genre publishing world. With Judith Clute, Andrew M. Butler, Jackie Duckworth, and Meg Frank.
My job is busy.
My job is CRAZY busy.
And I thought I could leave for a week and go to an international conference (ICFA--the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, to be exact) in the middle of the semester.
I am an idiot.
Between the work I had to do to prep to leave, including setting up my classes for someone else to take over, the work I have to do on a daily basis anyway, the jetlag, the catching up with emails and admin after I got home, and the shitheap I find myself in now while I try to finish my marking as quickly as possible so my colleagues can 2nd mark and my students can get feedback asap, and finishing all the prep for a very important event I am running on Tuesday, and ignoring the PG Cert assignments that are piling up ... I am in a world of hurt.
In other news, my Milford 2015 story "Midwives" (originally titled "La Madremonte") is being published very soon in an anthology of stories about Mother Nature kicking ass and taking names.
I'm on holiday. I AM ON HOLIDAY! <cue Kermit flailing>
Until January 9. But I don't feel like I'm on holiday yet--it's still sinking in. I know the end of it will be here too quickly, so I am going to try to enjoy it, to forget about work and stress and *stuff*. I plan to travel, eat, drink, sew, and READ. And on that topic, here is what I read (so far) in 2016:
That makes 37 books. By no means a record for me, but it was a busy year. Next year the plan is to read 52--it's a nice match, books to weeks. I have a research project that will require wide reading of post-apocalyptic books (some re-reads), so that will help with the numbers!
It is nearly the end of term and I have hit that point when I have so much left to do that I am all but paralysed. So let's blog instead!
The past 3 months have been a blur. I've worked in some capacity nearly every day. A whole weekend off is a rarity. I like my job--I do--but I haven't yet figured out how to have a job that doesn't eat my life. Hence the total lack of posts here. This space is supposed to be about writing, but I have done pretty much none this autumn. And that's an important part of my job: to write stuff--fiction or non-fiction--and get it published. I can't publish what I don't write, and I can't write when there is just. no. time.
I'll figure this out. It just might take a while. Once I am out of probation and finished with this teaching certificate I have to do (it's a class that eats at least one day a week--a day I don't have to spare), I will be able to think for 5 mintues. And once I can think I can plan.
In other news, I am getting knee surgery in early January. It'll be nice to be able to exercise again. And a paper proposal has been accepted for Helsinki WorldCon. It's 8 months away--plenty of time to oh-so-slowly work on it.
So the summer is over, and it went by way too quickly. But I spent much of it unable to walk well or sleep without pain or go down stairs like a grown-up. I sprained my knee at the beginning of July: leg-length brace, crutches, painkillers, etc. I only started physio a few weeks back and my appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon is in a couple more weeks. So, no, it's not been the best few months.
It's Welcome Week at uni, which means my schedule has ramped back up and the commute has begun again. I meet my new MA Publishing students this week, as well as some of the undergrads and MA Creative Writing students. And in January I get my first PhD students. It's a lot, all at once, so I am doing what I can to keep up. This means it's back to 2 planners (one for the schedule, the other for notes). And a new backpack. And office supplies. (OK, I really only got into this line of work for an excuse to buy cool pens.)
It's also the last con of the year here in the UK. This weekend is British Fantasy in Scarborough: Fantasycon by the Sea. On Saturday I am on a panel at 11am: What I Go to School For: How Important is a Literary Education to a Writing Career? Joining me will be AK Benedict, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Conrad Williams, Marc Turner, and my good pal Val Nolan. Then, at 1pm, I have a reading.
What am I reading during my slot?
I HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE! This is why I am at my desk at 10pm on a Monday, tearing my hair out trying to find something that will work in 15 minutes--that will be interesting enough to keep an audience's attention. Granted, my audience will likely be about 3 people, and all of them friends. And someone who got lost looking for a panel. So, yanno, no panic there.
Cue the fraud police.
My first ever short story sale, "If Wishes Were Horses," has been reprinted in the British Fantasy Society's journal BFS Horizons #3.
Here it is, looking cool. Edited by Jared Shurin, the theme of this edition is British Fantasy, and the ToC includes stories by Rose Biggin, Den Patrick, and Sarah Lotz, among others.
In other news, I attended Nine Worlds GeekFest (it's 4th year and my 4th time attending) as a guest. Yesterday I gave an hour-long talk on doing a Creative Writing PhD, complete with slides. Where I discussed the advantages of doing a PhD, I couldn't help but share that one "advantage" is being the face of the Nine Worlds Academia & Humanities track. This photo was taken last year while I was on a panel, obviously explaining *something* interesting...or not!
Finally, recently I found out that a 2013 anthology I was part of, that was only published as an ebook, got the dead-tree treatment. Tails of the Pack: A Werewolf Anthology now has a paperback version, where you can find my story "Bright is the Water, Dark is the Land," about a mysterious--and seemingly empty--ship that appears off the coast of seventeenth-century colonial Virginia after a big storm.
It's the end of the semester and I have started marking papers (that's grading for you USians). I think I an honestly say that it is the hardest part of my job: harder than writing new lectures, harder than encouraging very frustrated students to try again, harder than reading the end-of-term module evaluations where the students get to say what they want about me and about how the class went. Marking is both exciting and, well, not. I get to see where my students have ended up after 12 weeks of hard work; and I get to see where my students have ended up after 12 weeks.
We teachers do a lot to make sure we are fair and consistent in our marking. We have meetings about it, we second mark or moderate (this is where we mark behind someone else, and then see whether the mark we would give a paper meets up with the original mark), and we talk about it. A lot. The students trust us to be fair, and we do everything in our power to be. But it is still difficult. Sometimes a paper is *almost* there, but not quite. We see the hard work that goes into these papers; we know how stressed-out our students get. But, in the end, it's what's on the paper that counts.
In that way, it's like anything that I write--fiction or non-fiction. I can't sit on my reader's shoulder and explain what I meant here, or what I thought they'd understand there. All there is, is what's on the paper in front of them. There's a contract between reader and writer, and there's a contract between teacher and student.
You hold up your end, I'll hold up mine.
Here, have a photo of Queen Elizabeth I, from the inside of Hatfield House.
Mostly thoughts on writing and the creative life.