everything i do is so fucking amazing that sparks are going to shoot out of your eyes

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My Norwescon 36 (2013) Schedule

I’ll be at Norwescon next month, sitting on a lot of panels and pretending that I have good advice and hopefully not boring anyone to tears. I don’t think this is a completely final schedule, so it’s possible some things might change (time, location, other panelists, etc.) But this should give you an idea of what I’ll be up to.


4 pm Surviving the Slush Pile
If the editor doesn’t read past the first page, it doesn’t matter how good the rest is. How to quickly capture and hold a slush reader’s attention.
Cat Rambo, Gardner Dozois, Jenna M. Pitman, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[Cat pictures in your cover letter. Works every time.]


2 pm Crossing Boundaries: Writing the Other
Can you write a great character of another gender? From a different culture? A different sexual orientation? How do you know what’s good characterization and what’s stereotyping?
Caren Gussoff, Dennis R. Upkins, J.M. Sidorova, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Sheye Anne Blaze

7 pm SF & Fantasy Themes in Metal Music
Do you fondly remember the first time you heard Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” or Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”? Do you love GWAR just because they claim to be from outer space? Have you mocked black metal bands for their misuse of Orcish? If so, join us for a discussion of the use of science fiction and fantasy themes within the metal genre. Whether your interest in metal is recent or long-lived, occasional or die-hard, there’s something for every lover of the fantastic and loud!
Lilith von Fraumench, David J. Peterson, John (J.A.) Pitts, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[\m/ \m/]

10 pm Future Management
Science fiction has its ideological roots in technocracy and the belief that you could manage a better society. But lately, SF seems to have lost much of this feeling, giving us darker and darker futures. Is hope still a feasible story-line, or is it a non-starter in SF? Are we doomed to dystopian futures in SF, or is it just a phase? And if it is, how can we get back on our traditional track (and do we even want to?)
Stina Leicht, Gregory A. Wilson, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[Are current SF futures actually darker than those of the past? Much of what was proposed in “Golden Age” SF sounds like a dystopia to me, so iunno.]


Noon My reading!

4 pm Short Stories — At the Cutting Edge of Science Fiction
Novels may get more attention, but short fiction has many advantages, and much of the best fiction, both inside and outside of the genre has been short. Join us as we look at some of the best short fiction of recent years and how the Internet has revitalized the market for short fiction.
Leslie Howle, Gardner Dozois, Jude-Marie Green, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[I hope this doesn’t turn into a panel where the audience just shouts short story titles for 20 minutes straight because snrrrrrrr.]


Noon Being a Good Ally
You may be a straight, white, able-bodied person who means well, but somehow you just seem to keep putting your foot in it while trying to be supportive. What does it mean to be a good ally to groups you don’t actually belong to? What can you do to help without silencing others or co-opting their message?
Sheye Anne Blaze, Gwen Yeh, Jennifer McCreight, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Ro Yoon

2 pm Queer Voices in SF/F
Science fiction and fantasy authors often use the fringes of mainstream culture as plot material. How do authors portray gender and sexuality in their works, and how realistic are the works of those who write outside their own identities? Are the tales of early authors who played with gender still relevant? And have these worlds of SF&F changed the attitudes of fandom and made those in the QUILTBAG community feel welcome?
Amber Clark, Gregory Gadow, Gwen Yeh, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[I would just like to go on the record here as saying that I hate the word “quiltbag.” Not that others can’t/shouldn’t use it, but I don’t.]


I also switched my blog theme because I was tired of the old one (didn’t like the contrast levels on the posts) but didn’t have time to pretend I know CSS and screw around with it today. I’ll probably start hating this theme tomorrow, or something.

I’ll be presenting at Cascade Writers Workshop this year! :)

The hunt for applicants to Clarion UCSD and Clarion West is ramping up. Both instructor line-ups are really great this year (across both workshops, three of my instructors are back at it — Nalo, Kelly, and Neil were great teachers). If you’re thinking about applying to either of the Clarions, I’ve blogged about it consistently. Some relevant posts (maybe) are here and here.

Also, if you have more questions and for some reason I’m the one you want to go to for them, you can drop me a line in email. Some people also choose to ask me things through Facebook, but that requires you to be lucky that a) Facebook will actually forward the note to my email, since I don’t log in if I can possibly avoid it, and b) that I then remember to log in and respond to you. (I just find the user interface completely unusable.)


BUT! Clarion costs thousands of dollars and takes six whole weeks out of your summer. If you don’t have that much time or money, I’d like to recommend another workshop, especially if you happen to be on the west coast, so getting to Portland, OR for a weekend won’t break the bank. (Alternately, since the workshop is only a weekend, you could take a vacation and visit the rugged pacific northwest… or whatever.)

Cascade Writers Workshop is a Thursday-Sunday workshop with classes/talks by various people (including ME!) and Milford-style critiques. That’s the same critique style used at most major workshops, including the Clarions.

The workshop leaders are pretty cool:

Claire Eddy, Tor Editor
Nisi Shawl, Author
Delilah Marvelle, Author
Cameron McClure, Agent
J.A. Pitts, Author
Patrick Swenson, Editor/Author

It’s also reasonably priced, and there are two tiers. So, if you want to do the whole thing, it’s $245. If you just want to go to the talks and don’t want to get critiqued, it’s less.

AND! There are now scholarships available that will fund your registration fee. So that’s pretty awesome.

I’d recommend registering ASAP. Registration is open until June 15, but the deadline to apply for the scholarships is May 15th. Also, I believe that unlike Clarion it is entirely first-come-first-serve, so if it fills up, you’ll be doing the sad waiting list dance.

Anyway! I hope to see some of you this June.

Lackluster update of some variety

So, what’s been going on for the past few months? (Besides Twitter. Twitter is always going on.)


Despite classes, general disgruntlement with my abilities, and every procrastination technique known to the modern writer, I finished what I tentatively called “a draft” of my novel. It was the first time I’ve slapped THE FUCKING END on a novel and gave it to other people to read, so I guess it was an achievement of some kind. And just like XBox achievements, it doesn’t really count for much of anything. Oh well!

I had my critique group (Horrific Miscue in Seattle) go over it, and got additional feedback on the beginning. This was illuminating in a “fuck, that thing I thought was a problem but just kind of hoped nobody would notice because I wasn’t sure how to fix it is actually a problem and everybody noticed” sort of way. Due to being busy, etc, I haven’t started pulling teeth redrafting yet, but that’ll happen soon.

Also, there is general disagreement about what genre it is.

I’ve been working on short stories AND keeping track of how much I’m writing, which is why I can sadly sigh and say that writing 5,000 words in about a week feels less useful when you’ve been bouncing between three stories. But, well. Progress. I only mostly hate what I’ve been doing.

That said, I SOLD a short story last month, which was great because I was starting to get that mopey “oh man, I will never write or publish again! I’m just going to be one of those people who goes to cons for years on end and sits on panels but never publishes anything until finally the audience starts wondering why the fuck I’m there!”

Story: “This is a Ghost Story” to Apex. I’m not sure when it’s going to come out, but I’m assuming April or later this year. Probably later than April, since I suspect March/April line-ups already know who they are. BUT I AM JUST WILDLY SPECULATING. I’m excited to have this one out, and also nervous because I have no idea how people are going to react.


I’m still editing for Shimmer. This consists of being the most horribly picky slush reader (which is less a point of pride and more “sorry, I’m just really, REALLY picky”). Now that there are enough numbers for it to matter, about 3% of what comes through my first reads pile goes to the second reads forum. I also do actual editing… though by the time we decide a story all the major edits are taken care of, so it’s mostly copy-editing with the occasional, “WTF are you intending to do with this paragraph, can you clarify this description?”

I always get anxious about it, like the author’s going to get my edits and go, “Wow, these are stupid. STET 4EVA, MOFO!”

We recently put out Issue 16!

I also moved on the last weekend of 2012, which basically sucked on pretty much every level. We were able to find one person to help, and we moved two apartments in one day. I’m not really sure where my boundless energy for leaping into and out of UHaul trucks came from, but it was probably my impressive fat reserves. Pete (who helped) is basically a saint at this point, in some religion that I just made up where they have saints and I can just declare that someone is one.

I’m still doing science for the time being as a day job, and am slowly reaching the point where I feel vaguely competent with regards to some biological science topics. TA-freaking-DA. I probably should have been a bio major in undergrad instead of physics/linguistics. That said, people do get all O___O at a physics degree, which is nice. Ish. Right now, I’m taking Advanced Human Genetics or something, also known as, “No, seriously, how are we even alive?”

I’m sure there’s other stuff that’s been going on that I’ve missed.

OH. On the subject of the Duotrope thing, there was not enough money for a crowdfunding replacement effort to get off the ground, but there’s now The Submissions Grinder which is a free replacement. Includes data visualization, for people who want to look at a given magazine’s bimodal distribution. Right now is a good time to check it out because it’s still in active development. If there are features you’d like to see, you can suggest it to the site admins.


So Duotrope is going to a paid model, which is not surprising as they’ve been telling people they would go to that model for years if “keep it free” didn’t pay the bills.

The Important Announcement!

So their roll out is just announcement that basically says “thanks for the donations, guys, but now it’s going to cost $5/month!”

Well, or $50/year.


So on a personal level, I’m not going to cough up that much money. Sorry guys, but just no. For various reasons I’ve just cut my subscriptions to things that cost money by a TON, so adding a new thing was really banking on it being in the $1-$2 a month range (I actually assumed it would be something like $20 a year with an option to pay more).

I think I know where the numbers came from. Previously they’d said that “if every user gave $5 a year” they’d make enough money. Since about 10% of users donated some money at some point, I guess the assumption is that those 10% will now remain users and give $50/year and everyone goes home happy. Or something.

Mostly this has resulted in a wild flurry of free-flung assumptions on Twitter, which is always fun. As usual, we end up in the swamps of doom and confusion and “my financial decisions are more pure than yours” or whatever, which is usually reserved for the conversation about whether or not an e-book should cost $15.

My personal, “What what what!?” response came from a) sticker shock, because $50/year is considerably more than their previously quoted yearly amount, b) because, sadly, the main value for the site for ME comes directly from the submission tracker being free, thus inducing writers to give up their data for free to be crunched and obsessed over, and c) because even assuming the data didn’t degrade in quality, I’m not sure the site subscription would be worth that to me.

Yes, I’m aware that in the dark ages, authors bought Writers Market for $20, and it wasn’t that great. Well, but I don’t think I’ve heard anyone suggest paying for market info in the past six or seven years because, uh, we have the internet. This isn’t 1993.

I’ve also seen both the coffee comparison and a cell phone comparison, neither of which make a ton of sense, and both of which primarily exist to shame the other party into feeling bad about what they have or haven’t chosen to spend money on. I mean, yeah, I spend considerably more than $5 a month on my cell phone. I have also indulged in overpriced coffee beverages, both of which give me more enjoyment than paying $5 to have a look at some market listings, most of which I can recite from memory at this point. But mostly, whatever. I don’t have to justify whether or not I have a $5 bill somewhere and whether or not I’d rather go blow it on pinball and hard cider down the street.

Likewise, I know some people for whom the site is worth it, in which case they’ve probably already set up their subscriptions. To whom I may say BUT THAT $5 COULD TOTALLY HAVE BEEN SPENT ON VEGETABLES.

I was being slightly facetious when I suggested on Twitter that a Duotrope Kickstarter (keep it free for one whole year!) would have probably funded and overfunded, at least for the first one. But… the thing is that’s probably true. What would have helped Duotrope would have been to be less terrible at fundraising, which has never been their strong point.

2008-2011, I gave them $10-$20 a year in donations* to keep it free, because they said they wanted $5 and I was like “well, this is for me and 1-3 other people.” The thing is, I have no idea how much that helped. At no point in their years of “if you don’t donate, we’ll have to make this subscription!” have they ever said “you know, it costs us $X a month to run this site.” So that might have been a good start? You know? Instead of “give us some unspecified large amount of money or we’ll never stop nagging you.”

Here’s a cache of the Keep it Free page from about a week ago.**

As far as making most of the site subscription only… Why not do it in a way that isn’t stupid? Like … here’s the subscription tracker, but for free you can only look back at your last month or two months of submissions history — if you subscribe, you can see the full history. Or here’s the submissions tracker, but if you want to see the response times, that costs money.

Since I wrote the majority of this post last night, Duotrope has responded to concerns: I know some of you want specifics on our numbers, our decision process, etc. While we understand your desire to know the inner workings of Duotrope, we are a private company, and our internal data is not public domain.

Oh, okay. They couldn’t tell us how much money they needed us to donate because they’re a private company. That’s cute. It’s a secret as to how much money they needed us to give them to remain free, but we were supposed to just come up with it passively. Now they want to charge us twice as much as the average yearly contribution to donate our data to their super secret company. I guess it’s good to know that they’ve always been coy about how much they actually need in donations on purpose and not just because they’re substandard fundraisers.

But anyway. Duotrope can charge whatever they want for their service, and I’m free to point out that I’m perfectly capable of tracking my submissions in a searchable excel file for free. I’m sad to be losing access to their searchable index, but it’s not worth $50/year to me as I rarely go spelunking for markets and when I do the majority of the new ones I find there are non-paying or token. There are others for whom it may be, and who aren’t annoyed by the company communications. It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out.

*I didn’t donate this year because I haven’t had stories out anywhere I didn’t know about and barely visited the site compared to years previously. However, some of the people who did donate (including last month) are annoyed that there’s no acknowledgement of that, no subscription discount for people who just dropped $20+ on them, nothing. Good job. Because the last thing you’d want to do is warm up to the people who have given you money in the past.

**Also, based on a highly informal poll that is biased as all fuck, most people assumed the subscription rate for Duotrope would have been in the $10-$20, which tracks well with the data from the cache of the Keep it Free page, where they give the mean and median average donations as $19 and $10, respectively.

And now I’ve officially spent way too much time talking about this.

NaNoWriMo: Still not destroying publishing as we know it

This year, the NaNoWriMo haterade has been more delightful than the past few years, much to my overall joy. I’d thought we’d all moved on to “Kindle will ruin the publishing industry, so don’t even bother submitting to agents/editors, kid!” It’s good to see that the classics still exist.  (But, to take a quick break from kicking my feet and giggle-snorting)…

Here’s a link to my blog post from five years ago, (old, old post) which was brought on by various amateur (at the time, some may have successfully sold novels and/or short stories since their days of bitterness, in which case hooray for them!) writers talking about their terror that NaNoWriMo was going to produce too much competition for them, thus preventing them from being published.

(Some parts of that post make me cringe a little, but hey.)

As of last year, the number of participants was about 250,000 and the number of “winning” novels was about 36,000. But 36k is really only the the number of files that had 50,000 words in them that got uploaded to the website, irrespective of quality or actual novel contents. Yeah, that’s a big number, but judging from the people who show up every year, it still consists of a lot of people who heard about this and thought it might be fun, many of whom are teenagers. Most of the people I talk to don’t actually have any publication goals, and are just doing it for the hell of it.

There are two dueling misconceptions at play, I think. The first is the idea that everyone has a novel in them — which N did not start by a long-shot. The second is the idea that putting your time in as a “writer” means anything.

As to the first, long before N was anywhere near as large a thing as it is this year (or last year, or the year before, or five years ago when I wrote that post), I heard people saying that they would write a novel if they only had time. I find ten people who are typing up novels that sound terrible far preferable to one person droning on about what they would write.

As to the second, yes! Working hard for years is how you build up any skills, especially the skills necessary to later create art. But it doesn’t entitle you to anything. If I read two books and I like one more than the other, the amount of time that the two authors spent on their books is meaningless. There will always be someone who shows up with far less experience and does better.

I mean, I have a long and storied history of failing at novels, but I sold the first serious attempt I ever made at a short story to Talebones. I’m certain that there were people who sent stories to Talebones throughout its run and never managed to sell to Patrick. I’m certain that there were people who had been writing short stories since before I’d even learned how to type who hadn’t been able to sell to Patrick. It didn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter. When I read slush at Shimmer and I get the occasional cover letter that says, “I’ve been writing short stories since 1987” or whatever, my response is never “Oh! This person is DUE, I better buy this story.”

Someone who has been writing for fewer years, who spent less time on their project, and who may have even participated in NaNoWriMo could write a book that gets chosen over yours for any number of reasons, none of which have anything to do with how many years they did or didn’t spend writing it.

Tough shit.

Also, who the hell has time to police who does or doesn’t try to write a novel?

On the Occasion of My 10th NaNoVersary

I don’t have much time, but want to blog ON THE DAY damn it, instead of several weeks later when I remember, buried in a post in which I’m trying to do four things at once but fail because I should have been blogging regularly but wasn’t.


I may have actually heard about NaNoWriMo in 2001, but was working on My Grand And Epic Science Fiction Novel That I Had Started At Age 16 In Response To The Fountainhead Being Bullshit. Plus, I thought NaNo sounded stupid, so I didn’t bother.

Regardless, on November 8, 2002, I opened a forum account on the NaNoWriMo forums because some of my friends were doing it (from back in the Elfwood/IRC days, oh my). I wasn’t too excited about it. Actually, I thought it was a terrible idea, and I didn’t want to start anything new anyway, so whatever. I probably TOLD everybody in IRC that NaNoWriMo was the stupidest idea I’d ever heard WHILE I was filling out the account info. I was 18, and it was my freshman year of college, and I was kind of a shit.

(There are people who met me in my late teens/early 20’s and I have no idea why they still acknowledge my existence. Waiting for schadenfreude?)

It’s been ten fucking years, now.

I mean, it’s just this thing that happens one month a year. It’s an event, sure, sometimes little more than a social event. I’ve showed up to meet other people doing NaNo in Bellingham, Helsinki, and Seattle. This year when I stopped at Powell’s during Orycon, I ended up in the middle of a Portland write-in. Every year, I churn out about 50,000 words of shit, usually finishing right at the very last minute so I can get that pixel star or whatever next to my name.

Yeah, none of those books are published. We can argue about whether or not they were ever finished.

I’ve got some short stories, though. And the novel I’m almost-just-so-close-to-done-with now. The thing is, besides being 18 and a disgruntled college student, I was also a procrastinator, and I had no idea how to finish anything.

That novel I mentioned up at the beginning? That I’d started when I was 16? It persisted for a while (even post NaNo, and after I’d started other projects in November). By the time I gave it up, I did have about 40,000-50,000 words of manuscript! Awesome! And I was pretty sure the plot was just… about… to… start. Yeah, so it was kind of a soap opera that was supposed to be science fiction about an active rebellion, but really it was just a lot of people running around and being dramatic at each other. Yet, somehow I had a small fanbase for it even though I would currently title the project, “The Author Desperately Tries To Come Out of the Closet To Himself But Is Persistently Clueless.”

(Actually, that probably explains WHY people sent me folders of fanart…)

In 2003, Cory Skerry and Liz Coleman were doing NaNoWriMo in Bellingham, and they attempted to make contact, but that was during the one time I tried to date someone, and he was pretty much all of my social contact until he dumped me because he found my reluctant blow job unsatisfactory (and I beat him at Risk). Also, I was still working on the terrible novel rather than starting something new, so I still wasn’t too into the whole NaNo culture yet.

But in 2004, I responded to their NaNoLy summons and did something I had not done much at all during my previous two years… I DESCENDED FROM THE CAMPUS ON THE HILL.

The thing is, until I wandered through downtown Bellingham in search of this mythical place named, “The Black Drop,” I was totally and entirely one of those amateurs who is going to finish a story Someday. There was just other shit I needed to do first. Somewhere, there’s an alternate universe in which I’m working a perfectly ordinary job, and getting slowly more and more bitter about how disappointed I am in myself. I mean, more than I am anyway. Like the way I am now, but a thousand times worse. Alternate universe me probably gets paid more, though. Thankfully I was sucked into the weirdo artsy coffeeshop crowd in Bellingham before I turned into someone respectable.

I participate in NaNoWriMo every year and it’s part of my life, but it wasn’t until I sat down and thought about it this morning that I realized just how much it meant to me. Without the relationships I formed through NaNo, I suspect I may never have written short stories, found out I could finish things, had a webcomic, transitioned, gone to Norwescon for the first time, or found out about Clarion. I’d be one of those sad fuckers with a 9 to 5 I hate, a chip on my shoulder, and a sagging pile of overworked mush that I was still calling a novel “in progress” after 12 years.

I see new people show up at write-ins now, people who always wanted to write, but weren’t sure if they could, who aren’t too sure about what this whole nonsense is about and just want something to do in November. Most of them will just have fun and put everything aside for the rest of the year, sure. And there are always plenty of people writing their fanfiction opuses for themselves and their friends.

Still, when I see people joining for the first time, I wonder if what they’re about to start is a novel or something much more profound.

Orycon! (Nov 2-4, 2012) (Otherwise known as “WFC weekend”)

Ack! People keep asking me if I will be attending World Fantasy this year, and the sad, sad answer is no. I enjoy attending WFC in general and someday wish to go to Toronto (I have lived within 90 miles of Canada for my entire life except for the 9 months in Finland, and yet have visited Vancouver so rarely that it is shameful), but… finances. Woe.

Instead, I will be at Orycon next weekend, and I even have a schedule! I’m only on panels Saturday and Sunday because I was unsure of whether or not I’d be able to get down to Portland on Friday. I will, as it turns out, but I might spend the Friday of the con exploring the magical land that is Portland. I’ve only been meaning to do that for… uh… yeah. Anyway.


Historical Figures in Action
Hamilton             Sat Nov 3 11:00am-12:00pm
What are the pitfalls of using people “everyone knows” in your fiction?
How can you get the “depiction” right?
Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Sara A. Mueller, Jim Fiscus, Louise Marley

I think the second set of scare quotes should be around the word “right.” 🙂

A touch of Farmer, a pinch of LeGuin
Morrison             Sat Nov 3 12:00pm-1:00pm
Panelists discuss their biggest influences and what books have changed the
recent landscape in SF/F/H literature.
Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Deborah J. Ross, Joyce Reynolds-Ward

Which reminds me that I need to do a rampage through my bookshelf and flip through a few things to remember why I was so taken with them. A lot of my influences weren’t SF/F, so much. THE HORROR.

The structure of writing
Lincoln              Sat Nov 3 5:00pm-6:00pm
Structurally speaking, what makes a good story?  Scenes, acts, pacing,
climaxes, dark moments, failure cycles … how do they all fit together
and when should you worry about structure?
Keffy R. M. Kehrli, A.M. Dellamonica, (*)Richard A. Lovett, Steven
Keffy Kehrli’s Readings
Grant                Sat Nov 3 6:00pm-6:30pm

I’m not sure what I’m going to read yet. I imagine the audience for this will have some overlap with my audience  from Norwescon, so I’m wary about reading the same piece. (Even if I do enjoy going into performance fugue and screaming FUCK YOU at a crowded room.)

In any case, if people come to my readings (0r show up right afterward) we can go do dinner when I’m done! Which is much more exciting than anything I will do.

Getting your first professional sale
Hamilton             Sun Nov 4 12:00pm-1:00pm
An author can struggle for months or years before achieving their first
success, but even after writing their opus, they can be tripped up by a
process which is both entirely new to them and yet critical to their
success.  This panel describes what an author may  experience as they
revel in their first success.
Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Edward Morris, (*)J. A. Pitts

WOOHOO. I will talk about being a basket case and shooting yourself in the foot, and Pitts will talk about not being a basket case and actually building a career.

Beware newbie writers: Scams and pitfalls abound
Hamilton             Sun Nov 4 2:00pm-3:00pm
Eager new writers are always looking for a break.  And people looking for
a break are easy targets for scams that can sap both their money and their
motivation. This panel discusses professional pitfalls for new writers to
watch out for.
(*)Todd McCaffrey, Bill Johnson, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Jim Fiscus

I was on a very small panel about this at Norwescon in which there were only two audience members. Before it started, I thought, “Okay, surely this will be a very dull, pointless panel, and everyone in the room already knows everything.” It turned out that the two people in the audience actually didn’t know anything about writing scams. One of the two had gotten taken by, and neither had heard of Writer Beware.  So, it seems pretty basic, but hey, I figure if a writing scams panel gives one person the tools to figure out if they’re about to lose money on bullshit, it’s worthwhile.


Hopefully I will see some of you in Portland next weekend!

A little less than 6 hours to go…

Four years ago today(ish), I had to pack up all my stuff, try to cram 6 weeks of belongings and books into my single suitcase, and catch a flight back to Bellingham. Even though it was horrifyingly sunny the whole six weeks (which just seems unnatural to me), I miss San Diego. Well. Okay, I mostly miss the people. Even though today is the sad leaving day, I hope this year’s class had a great 6 weeks. I hope they learned as much as they could and that they’ll stay in touch with each other. Endings are hard.

Anyway, the Clarion UCSD Write-a-Thon has a little less than 6 hours to meet its fundraising goal! Which means I have a little less than 6 hours to finish my last story. Phew.

And, I’m still offering to send books to people who sponsor me for $10 or more. 🙂

To donate to Clarion, you can visit my page, or the main page.


HUGE thanks to everyone who has sponsored or participated this year!

Yet Another Write-a-Thon Update


So, I finally finished a second short story draft, with what… a week and a half to go?

(No, you can’t read it yet, it’s terrible. No, you don’t want to, trust me.)

Basically, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to have to suck it up and finish drafts of all these miserable and abandoned stories — and do that WHILE taking the first two weeks of a super-condensed organic chemistry class.

Yes, because pacing myself was apparently too difficult of a concept. Whoops! But, I’m still going to make it, because a) it’s for Clarion and b) at this point, I’m so fucking tired of having no finished fiction that I don’t even care if these are terrible. I DO NOT CARE. That’s what rewrites are for!

ANYWAY. Besides the update, I have a reward for people who have donated!

If you have sponsored or pledged $15 $10 or more to my write-a-thon drive (or if you choose to do so before August 5) I will mail you a signed perfect bound dead-tree edition of the PDF I made last year. It contains four of my short stories: Advertising at the End of the World, Machine Washable, Bone Dice, and Daha’s Son. And illustrations! The PDF copy is available online, but I don’t sell the print version, so this is going to be a veeeery limited print run.

I’m on the wrong computer right now, so I can’t find the cover image complete with terrible font choice, so here’s the full image I used for the cover (I drew it in December 2010.)


And, either way, here’s the PDF (I kept forgetting to put it back up after I switched my site around:


Thanks, everybody!



ETA: If you already sponsored for $10 or more, I’ll be in touch with you on August 5 or 6. Also, if you don’t want another book (I totally understand), then I won’t send you anything. 🙂


I still sometimes see people asking questions about author websites. Do I need one? What do I put on it? Who should I pay for it? Do I really need to blog? Do I need to social network facespacepintwitlr? Blah blah blah.

Okay, first, the obligatory HA HA, why would anybody take website information from a site as ugly as this one? (I don’t know.)

There are roughly a million billion sites that will tell you stupid minutiae about what your website should look like, and how to blog, and whatever. 99% of all that shit is optional. I won’t say that nobody cares about that stuff, but it’s not essential. I’m not saying that more advanced/complicated questions aren’t good. But sometimes I see websites that are full of all sorts of fancy bullshit but not the basics.

I don’t care how pretty your design is. Your website exists to tell people who you are and what you write. If it doesn’t do that, fix it.

You need:

a website
with your name on it
and a way to contact you
and a list of your published fiction (if you have any).


It does not have to be a fancy website. You can go to or blogspot, or even LiveJournal if you are feeling nostalgic for 2003. Try not to make your site look like it was designed in 1996. If you don’t know what means, just choose something like WordPress and use one of the free themes. It’s sufficient.


It does not need to be your legal name. It needs to be the name that you put (or intend to put) on your fiction. Recently, I went to an author’s site to try and figure out who the author was, since their Twitter account didn’t have their name attached. I had to dig through several pages of the site until I finally found a jpeg file of a book cover with the author’s byline. Their name was not on the main page, in the header, in their bio, or on the “about this blog” page.

Don’t do that. Make sure it’s visible on the main page of your site.


Shit happens. Especially in slush piles. Your email provider can decide that the magazine you’ve submitted to is spam. You might fuck up and send a submission with no contact information. I don’t know. Name anything that could possibly go wrong when submitting a story. It’s happened.

Editors become very, very sad if they read a story, want to buy it, and can’t get into contact with the author. No, if you somehow forget contact info, good editors are not going to automatically reject the story. Why? Because if it’s worth publishing, it’s worth the (admittedly annoying) task of typing the author’s name into Google and sending an email.

It can also result in awesome stuff falling in your lap. Example: a few weeks ago I got an email out of the blue from an independent film producer who wanted to give me money and make a short film based on one of my stories. So that’s cool. I felt all validated about making myself easy to contact.


List things you’ve had published (or published yourself). Link to everything that’s online. If I find one of your ancient stories in a back issue of a magazine, make it easy for me to find something more recent to read.

Okay? Okay. Everything else is optional, so stop freaking out about how some person is claiming that you ABSOLUTELY NEED an account in the current trendy social media site.

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