2015: The Year in Writing

Let’s have an overview of the year in writing!

Just for interest’s sake, I’ve sent out 216 queries this year of a variety of sorts for 10 short stories, 1 novella, and 2 novels. The good news is that while I still receive impersonal rejections, I receive more promising than unpromising personalized ones. No one likes any kind of rejection, but the ones where you almost made it, or someone compliments your work are better than the cricket factor.

I also went to two writers conferences this year to pitch. That was an awesome experience and as soon as I have a fully done novel in hand again, I will undertake that again. I felt very professional and taken seriously. I attended the usual author conventions I go to, and did plenty of reading, being on panels, and moderating.

Of the two novels, both are still in play. Abigail Rath Versus Blood Sucking Fiends is still with an agent as a partial, and still has a couple of agents I’m waiting on. I will probably be done with it by March, if it is destined to be unpublished, and then I will think about what to do with it.

The Vessel of Ra is about 1/3 of the way through its process in terms of querying. It’s also had a couple of solid connects. Not only agents are getting it, but a couple of publishers have the manuscript, so there’s that. I think I’ll be finishing up the circulation process for it this time next year, if I don’t have good writer fortune.

In my hands right now I have another edit letter for The Ground is Full of Teeth. The publisher I’ve been sending it to continues to send me the same encouragement in each letter, but finds things it wants repaired each time. I will give it a try again. I believe it is a good piece, and they do too, but as they put it, it’s not quite there yet. I am reminded of my dissertation advisers. I did, however, eventually graduate, and I expect I will here too.

My most exciting authorly news this year is thanks to Sean Wallace, I made my first professional sale to The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, which was published in July of this year. In spite of all the flattering near misses, this was my one sale of 2015.

So, that’s this year. What does next year hold?

A revision of The Ground is Full of Teeth
Completion of The Pawn of Isis
Continued circulation of all 10 short stories and one novella until there is no where else for them to go.
New short stories to replace the ones that inevitably sell or don’t.
A decision on whether my very long Klaereon series would be better served to completion as a long-running serial under my control, a la Hugh Howey’s Wool. I worry that it’s too long for a publisher to want to commit, and I want to write the books regardless of monetary numbers, so there’s that.
A lot of fun podcasting with my other fellow Unreliable Narrators, which has paid off in immediate dividends of fun and contributing to the conversation, as opposed to the delayed gratification of publishing prose. This is not only just chatting and talking, but is also interviewing and reading stories and all sorts of fun stuff. Fun? Hmmm…
Possible writing in a shared universe with aforementioned narrators.
Attending one writer’s retreat and several writing conferences. Right now I’ve got an eye on conferences that can help me get published if I’m going beyond local. I would love to be able to make the transition to conferences that would help me promote published works. All in good time.

All of this would not be possible if I had received a job at the University of Central Florida, so I will endeavor to use the gift of this time, as it was given to me for obviously some sort of purpose.

As I look back through this post, and I realize that since VP XIII it has been 8 years, I see that I am clearly farther ahead in my writing career, working toward craft improvement, and more optimistic about publishing. I’ll be interested to see what happens in the next several years.

I hope you all ring in 2016 in a way of your choosing, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Unreliable Narrators and Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing!

Two new things to tell you about!

Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing now has links up to Paradise Icon Readings Part 1 and Part 2. Thank you, Brent!

And our next Unreliable Narrators 2.1 about our experiences with NaNoWriMo is also up.

I am spending a quiet Christmas Eve at home after a delicious Granite City dinner. I hope you are all enjoying yourselves tonight. After I’m done updating, I’m working on the new novel.

Insert Your Favorite Solstice Holiday Here and Enjoy!

And what are you doing for Christmas, little girl?

The husband and I are hermiting up and enjoying the glory that is our new bathroom, because once you re-do your bathroom, that’s about as far as you can go. 🙂 Honestly, though, you try showering at the gym for a month, and then see how much you appreciate a new bathroom. Aversion therapy works!

I know what my Christmas present is. But no big reveal yet.

And I’ll be writing a lot. Carlo and I need to spend some quality time together while I figure out which of the three directions I can take Sofia in I want to go. Then it’s back to Hathersage where terrible, TERRIBLE things happen.

If I had fans, they’d hate me. But no, honestly in seven books, everything will be fine.

Tonight it’s Weight Watchers (staying about the same), shopping for Christmas dinner (roast tenderloin, Greek potatoes, tomato and mozzarella salad with crusty bread, cranberry sauce, light key lime pie and light strawberry semifreddo, washed down with sparkling grape juice or champagne), and recording Unreliable Narrators early this week.

I wish all of you the best holiday season.

Miranda Gets an Agent

My good friend Miranda Suri has landed a great agent, Sarah LaPolla of the Bradford Literary Agency. Lucky both of them! Miranda is an awesome writer and an awesome person. As someone who betas her work, I’ve read at least three of her novels, and yeah, she’s got the goods. AND it’s always wonderful to see something nice happen to someone you really like. It validates karma, that kind of thing.

Congratulations, Miranda, and happiest of holidays.

Writer Tamago’s Ten Best Books of 2015

And here we are, another year gone, and another one hundred and some odd books read. True confession time: I read the entirety of His/Her Circumstances this year, which was about seventeen of these. There’s a few hours I won’t get back.

However, I don’t regret reading the following books. Remember, these books did not have to be written in 2015. They’re just books that I read and I thought you might enjoy too. I’m cross-posting this over at Unreliable Narrators.net, which you should go to to listen to our podcast where my fellow unreliables and I talk about the books we liked this year.

Here we go!

1. Lamb by Christopher Moore. Scratched two itches with this book. I’ve always wanted to read a Christopher Moore book, and I am a sucker for different literary discussions regarding Jesus. And this book did not disappoint. It is both reverent and irreverent at the same time. The book covers the adolescent years of Jesus and his best friend Biff, who travel off in search of the three wise men to understand Jesus’s role as the son of god. Jesus is referred to by his more historically accurate name Joshua, which was perhaps a wise and strategic move on Moore’s part. At any rate, a good read and an earnest one, and I am interested now in reading more Moore.

2. Midnight Riot. One of the books that totally immersed me this year. Like many urban fantasy books, I could see the underlying premise of the plot, but since most folks from the US might not get it (because I’m half British everyone!), this made me feel smart and validated when the key to the mystery came out. I love our hero, I love how learning magic is not easy, and I love the sheer British-ness of this book. Immediately, I went out, snapped up the other four, and will be following through on reading them as I reach each one in the giant book stack. You should read these too.

3. The Black Count by Tom Reiss. Hey, spend ten years writing an amazing book, accessing incredibly rare historical documents, and you too just might win a Pulitzer prize like Tom Reiss did. This is a book about The Count of Monte Cristo‘s author’s father Alexandre Dumas, a multi-racial soldier who served the French republic during the revolution at a unique time in France’s history when there was a seemingly blank spot in France’s racist history. Alas, for only the space of the revolution did this occur, but it gave Dumas senior unparalleled exceptional opportunity. He became a national hero, but he also became an enemy of Napoleon. Read this book. It’s important, and it’s a crime that General Dumas is not better known.

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Thanks to Danielle Burkhart for sending this one my way. In Las Vegas at one of our retreats, she said I had to read this book about a girl named Cath who wrote Harry Potter-like fan fiction. Well, yes, of course. And it was wonderful, not only for its sheer geekiness and nods to the fan fiction community, but also because of Cath’s triumphs as she grows into her life as a young woman during her freshman year at college. Another must read from my list this year.

5. Immortal Muse by Stephen Leigh. Follow the Flamels as they live immortally through history. Perenelle feeds off artists’ souls. Nicolas feeds off Perenelle’s pain. See Stephen Leigh engage in some very interesting re-envisionment of historical events. It’s long, but it’s brilliantly executed. It’s hard to know who to root for. It’s complicated. I like that.

6. A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon. What got me with this one was a beautiful cover, but the book is a rich, spiritual journey, questioning the nature of enlightenment, bringing the east and west into direct cultural conflict. This book is nuanced and complex, and I am disappointed that more people haven’t read it. It’s worthy of a Nebula and dares to address colonialism in ways that most books are afraid to.

7. The Comorant by Chuck Wendig. Well, this was the hardest Miriam Black book to read yet. Miriam changes substantially in this book, but the book is told in this detached style, like she’s watching herself change. We learn more about her background, an old enemy comes back to finish her, and in the end, Miriam discovers her limits, but more importantly, where she wants to go next. Gods, this was good.

8. Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton. If you could make really witty jokes about Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, and history in general, and send them to the humanities majors in the world that would peal laughter over them, well, you’d get this. Hark! A Vagrant! is still available on the web, but lucky me has good friends who get her hardback collections for her birthday.

9. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Historical setting and folklore meet in this tale of early 20th century New York, where a jinni and a golem become unlikely friends across ethnic boundaries. Engaging prose and beautiful imagery make this book an important crossover. There are many reasons why it was one of the most talked about books of its publication year.

10. Copperhead by Tina Connolly. I know, I know. Why isn’t the best one the first book in the series? Well, I’m contrary like that. No, honestly, Iron Skin was Jane Eyre and I think I might be the one person on the planet who doesn’t care for Jane Eyre. But I did love Helen, one of the supporting characters from the first book, and could not resist her getting a story of her own and proving to be a much stronger person than she initially appears. It’s a terrific coming out story of an individual woman’s strength.

Unreliable Narrators’ First Podcast!

Chris Cornell, Chia Evers, George Galuschak and myself decided to do a podcast. You can find our origin story on our new blog Unreliable Narrators.net. We’ll be updating with both audio and written features on a consistent, regular basis. Check us out. We’re having a lot of fun, and we’d like to share it with you.

Check out our wonderful theme song. I honestly thought it was a They Might Be Giants piece I didn’t know, but Chris wrote it! And it’s perfect.