Category Archives: Writing

2018 in Review & Awards Eligibility

Another year is coming to a close, and much to show for it. I finished the first draft of a new novel, and worked on more short stories than I can shake a metaphor at. I lost a Hugo award with the rest of the amazing Escape Pod team, and made the Campbell Award longlist. My last submission to Writers of the Future became a finalist, but I withdrew my story over ethical concerns. I sold 4 original stories, but two of those sales fell through when the magazines closed.

I had five original stories come out in 2018. In chronological order:

  1. Toward Lands Uncharted – Mind Candy, Feb 2018 (secondary world fantasy, 4900 words). A diplomat and spy must try to save her nation and its very history from their conqueror’s Sykes-Picot border magic.
  2. Where the Anchor Lies – Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Feb 2018 (science fantasy, 4000 words). A general visits the grave of the sentient battleship she loved, to use it as a political tool.
  3. The Seeds We Plant – Compelling SF special issue, Sep 2018 (science fiction, 2200 words).1 When a colony ship suffers a brutal accident, the pilot must reply on his emotional-control neuroprosthesis to save his cargo.
  4. Elegy of Carbon – The Internet Is Where The Robots Live Now, Nov 2018 (science fiction, 4400 words).2 In the waning days of the solar system, a mining AI must find a new way to fulfill the purpose it loves.
  5. The Hammer’s Prayer – Diabolical Plots, Dec 2018 (contemporary fantasy, 3300 words). A golem hides away in ugly places, to help him resist the compulsion to share his gift of animation.
    • If you only have time to read one story, this is the one I’d recommend.

I didn’t have much time for nonfiction this year, but I did publish:

  1. The chapter “What’s Possible with Cyborgs and Cybernetics” in Putting the Science in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books). I’m also quite proud of my associated writing-prompts post, “Machines, You, and Other Synonyms.”
  2. Twelve new entries in the #NeuroThursday Twitter feature.

If you’re in a position to nominate for awards of any kind, I hope you’ll consider not only these fine works, but the whole team over at Escape Pod. We work hard every week to bring you the finest in audio fiction, and we’ll be eligible once again for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. We also published a lot of awesome stories, so take a look back at that list and see if one of them feels worthy of your love too!

Social & Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology

Last fall, I attended the 2016 Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology conference (SoCIA, pronounced like “social”), a small academic conference on the big questions about life beyond Earth! The conference topic extends across a wide range, from social and ethical questions such as “What are our ethical obligations to alien life?” and “How can we leverage the popularity of astrobiology to improve science education?” to theoretical questions within science such as “What exactly is ‘life’ anyway?” and “What can be predicted about how extraterrestrial life might evolve and develop?”

Sound exciting? Well, that conference was only the start: SoCIA will return April 13-15, 2018, at the University of Reno in Nevada!

You don’t have to be an academic to present. In fact, the organizers would love to have some contributions from science fiction writers who want to tackle and discuss the future of humanity’s contact with alien life! Last year the speakers ranged from astronomers and biologists to social anthropologists and philosophers, plus two keynote speakers: one space simulation veteran and the former NASA historian.

If you’re a writer who’d like to contribute to the cutting edge of debate about the ramifications of real-world contact with extraterrestrial life (microbial or otherwise), consider submitting an abstract! 300 words, due date August 15. There’s no website yet for the 2018 conference1, so email me or leave a comment here and I’ll forward you the full info.2

Monthly updates?

Once upon a time (in the bygone days of 2016), I would post monthly news updates here. This year, not so much. Too redundant, with all else going on. If you still want to see a once-monthly roundup of what I’ve been doing, sign up for my mailing list! It has all the same stuff you would’ve read here, plus exclusive content of story excerpts and cat photos.

But fear not – new events and excitements will continue to appear here as they happen!

Event Horizon 2017 Anthology

The Event Horizon anthology has come out today, and is free for all to download until July 15!

This is the latest in a long line of Campbellian Anthologies, containing the works of over 75 people eligible for this year’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Everyone in here published their first professional piece of science fiction or fantasy in 2015 or 2016. I’m eligible myself, so you’ll find one of my stories in the anthology – though if you follow my blog, you’ve probably read the story already!

The award is selected by members of this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, with the finalists decided this week, and the winners in a few months. But anyone can read and enjoy nearly 400,000 words by this year’s most promising new writers!

November 2016 Update

Let me keep the coals hot here with a quick monthly update…

  • More travel. Oh god the travel. But it was fun! I ate 5 thanksgiving dinners! And now I’m back.
  • Novel revisions coming along, a little behind schedule, currently hope to be done by the year’s end.
  • May be shifting up my convention plans for 2017. Jumping toward the Nebulas, which may mean skipping Capricon. Still aiming for Worldcon but don’t know enough about my summer schedule.
  • I wrote and submitted a nonfiction article to a major market! They accepted the concept pitch, but we’ll see about the article itself. “The Evolved Brain” is based on the second half of the talk I gave to the Viable Paradise Reunion in October.

October 2016 Update

Brief post this month, because I’m in the middle of a 2-week academic conference travel loop.

  • Attended the Viable Paradise 20th reunion, and gave a neuroscience talk on how to understand the brain. For the countless among you who missed it, fear not: I’m working on adapting my talk into a nonfiction article for various publications!
  • Finished up a new short story, “The Hammer’s Prayer.” It’s in the second-draft stage, will need some more thought & revision before it’ll be ready for launch.
  • Sold my first reprint, of a short story that didn’t get spread far on its first sale!
  • Continuing apace with second-draft revisions of the novel. May not hit my December 1 self-imposed deadline, but I won’t be too far behind it.
    • Thus, instead of doing NaNoWriMo, I’m doing NaNoFiReMo. (That’s “Finish Revising.” Or “fire,” as needed.) But no promises since I have multiple end-of-November deadlines.
  • Current short story status: 11 submissions circulating, 3 of them shortlisted.

September 2016 Update

September was busy! September continues to be busy! (What do you mean it’s not September anymore?) Monthly update all quicky-like:

  1. My short story Shiplight came out at Metaphorosis!
  2. The text version of Sweeter than Lead (previously audio-only) went up on Podcastle!
  3. First draft of new short story! So far, pretty terrible!
  4. Novel revision status: behind schedule, but progressing! I’ve solved all the big structural problems, now I just need to implement it all.
  5. I attended a Social & Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology conference. Super-amazing!
  6. Spent today at Archon! Had my first public reading, and I was on a bunch of fun panels. Got to play the expert for a little while, and meet a bunch of excellent people.

October will include 3 weeks of travel (2 for work, 1 to visit family). Hopefully I can get a lot of revisions done meanwhile!

July 2016 Update

How was your July? Was it amazing? Mine was!

  1. My story “Sweeter than Lead” came out at PodCastle. Neo-Lovecraftian dark fantasy about addiction, succession and malevolent timelines!
  2. My story “The Time Cookie Wars” came out at Flash Fiction Online1. Black comedy about time travel and delicious cookies!
  3. I finished the first draft of the Conquistador Dragon novel: 106,000 words of Age of Exploration epic fantasy, now titled The Cannon and the Coin!
  4. I got my Worldcon panel schedule!
  5. I attended Mary Robinette Kowal‘s short story intensive workshop. Folks this class is fantastic. My favorite parts were the tools for expanding ideas into stories at turbo speed, and especially the methods for plot structuring. And in the process I wrote up the openings to two super exciting new stories.

I think that’s it? It sure feels like enough! This coming month will bring yet more of the joyful chaos. Two weeks until Worldcon! And after that, only one week until my wife returns from Mars!

Almost there!

Tonight, the Untitled Conquistador Dragon Novel passed 100,000 words.100kWords

It’s long enough to be a proper novel. A big milestone, but not quite the end. It needs another 2.25 scenes, probably 5-10k more words.

Holy crap. I’ve been working on my first novel draft since mid-March, and it’s going to be finished by the middle of next week.