Two writing-related things in a day seems like a good reason to revive this poor neglected blog! Let’s get to it.
- Soft sale of a story I’ve been shopping since 2014, one of the first ones I submitted anywhere. I’m so excited that it’s finally found a home. More details once the contract is signed.
- Today I attended Conversations & Connections, a literary conference presented by Barrelhouse. It was a great, small, focused event. I attended a panel on research and another on shaping topics for personal essays, as well as the group reading by four authors whose most recent books were featured. That reading was fantastic across the board; information about the authors and books can be found here. I chose Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias as the book got a copy of, and I can’t wait to read it. Review to come, hopefully.
Barrelhouse runs a fall conference as well, in Pittsburgh, and has summer writing camp retreats, which I hope I’ll be able to try out in the future.
More soon, I hope, including catching up on lists of books I’ve read. Gotta log those for my own reference at least!
Running a little behind again; the winter blahs are real and they are rude. Writing proceeds slowly but I’m not giving up. Onward and upward.
- The Mirror Thief (Martin Seay)
- After the Winter (Guadalupe Nettel)
- South Pole Station (Ashley Shelby)
- The Plague of Doves (Louise Erdrich)
- Our Animal Hearts (Dania Tomlinson)
- The Map Thief (Michael Blanding)
The Mirror Thief and the Map Thief are not in any way related; the former is a three-story novel braided together, and the latter is a nonfiction account of people who really enjoyed destroying old atlases (in general, but the “thief” part was at museums and libraries) in order to sell the maps. The Plague of Doves is so good it makes me want to peel my skin off, as Erdrich tends to be. Our Animal Hearts and After the Winter aren’t excellent in quite that urgent frantic way, but both very good. South Pole Station just wasn’t meant for me as a reader.
I just finished my second book of February and haven’t opened a new one yet, so no “currently reading” for this post.
In 2018 I met my goals of finishing a novel draft and doing writing-related work every day; 500 words minimum most days, with flexibility to count editing, market research, or submitting a story instead as needed.
I submitted a partial novel draft to a publisher for consideration, which was a great feeling.
I submitted a lot of short stories to a lot of places, had some great discussions with editors, and sold two stories, to the Hidden Animals and Strange Economics anthologies.
I earned $110.37 from my writing in 2018.
On to 2019!
First, movies! Fifteen seen in theaters in 2018:
- Phantom Thread
- Deadpool 2
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Ocean’s 8
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Crazy Rich Asians
- Bad Times at the El Royale
- Outlaw King
- Free Solo
- Mary Queen of Scots
The full list of 82 books read in 2018! * denotes recommended; + denotes read in December.
I’ll do a full year-end post soon, but just wanted to note that my story “The Death Edda” has been kept for further consideration at Abyss and Apex Magazine. That’s a nice email to get to round out the year, submissions-wise. Appreciate the little things!
- Flights (Olga Tokarczuk)
- There There (Tommy Orange)
- Rumble Tumble (Joe R. Lansdale)
- Aetherial Worlds (Tatyana Tolstaya)
- Insurrecto (Gina Apostol)
- The Woman Who Married a Bear (John Straley)
All fiction in November. Flights is a strange, semi-experimental book that’s not a novel but not short stories either, exactly; fragments that fit together into an abstract mosaic. I think if you stepped back far enough you’re supposed to be able to make out a whole picture, but I didn’t quite get there.
Aetherial Worlds and Insurrecto are both really strong and lingered in my head after reading; the former is a short story collection and the latter a novel.
The Straley book and the Lansdale book are both mysteries written by and with protagonists who are white men; I need to seek out some different mystery authors and protagonists, because I’m not getting as much as I want to out of making my way through the Lansdale series, and the Straley didn’t grab me enough to continue through that series at all. (Also the library doesn’t have any of the Straley books, which surprised me but I suppose is for the best.)
There There is a highly-recommended book and very well-written but I’m not sure I was in the right mindset to read it. I definitely didn’t get everything out of it that I feel like I should have.
- The Best Bad Things (Katrina Carrasco)
This is interesting! I’m only a little over 10% in, but we have a crossdressing Pinkerton-trained queer mixed-race lady detective in Washington Territory in the Olden Days. Interested to see where she goes.
- Seasonal depression is a real bear. I haven’t been able to make myself write posts, beyond the monthly booklogs. Fortunately, I have been able to keep writing and working on various projects.
- This has included several short stories, both new ones and revising older ones for submission somewhere new. No sales recently, but the writing has been chugging along, which is good.
- I’m especially proud of the progress I’ve made on the mystery novel draft. In fact, I was able to prepare a sample from the draft, as well as associated documents, for Carina Press’s open call for unfinished manuscripts. I submitted the first 10k of the currently-38k draft. I’ve received helpful feedback from first readers on the draft and hope to complete the full draft manuscript by the end of the year.
- I also have notes and some tentative first pages on a post-modernday-civilization novel that’s sort of fantasy, sort of not. Writing something weird and difficult to classify feels comfortable right now.
- So much reading, so many wonderful books, and I always want more.
So my brain is still open, still working, still writing, even if for some reason blog posts aren’t what it wants to do. I’ll take it; better this way than vice versa.
I have a few more short-story submissions planned for the next month, and some rough plans for next year’s writing goals. More on those soon. But I’m pretty pleased with my 2018 overall.
- Heart Berries (Teresa Marie Mailhot)
- Mucho Mojo (Joe R. Lansdale)
- Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life (Kim Addonizio)
- Unfathoms (Kirsten Kaschock)
- A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes (Adam Rutherford)
- The Two-Bear Mambo (Joe R. Lansdale)
- Bad Chili (Joe R. Lansdale)
- If You Leave Me (Crystal Hana Kim)
- Impossible Owls: Essays (Brian Phillips)
A mixture this month. Three more Hap & Leonard books (the Lansdales), two memoirs (Mailhot and Addonizio), one poetry collection (Kaschock), a family saga novel (Kim), an essay collection (Phillips), and a general-interest nonfiction (Rutherford).
There were no real duds, though both memoirs felt weak to me, and the Hap & Leonard books are so deeply rooted in the politics of the era they were written in (the 90s) that they can be a bit hard to put into perspective now. Lansdale is still writing the series, and I’m very curious to see how that changes as they catch up to the present.
Impossible Owls is the clearest rec for this month; a strong and interesting collection, not a false note in it. As ever, I’m jealous.
- Flights (Olga Tokarczuk)
This is a deeply weird book. It’s not short stories; it’s not a novel. I don’t know what it is. It’s Polish, in translation! More when I finish it.
I haven’t had much to say, unfortunately, but I have been reading! And I’m hoping to get some more posts up in October.
Books read this month:
- Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World’s Strangest Brains (Helen Thomson)
- Eat Up: Food, Appetite, and Eating What You Want (Ruby Tandoh)
- The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered (Laura Auricchio)
- Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (Karen Armstrong)
- Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (Gaiutra Bahadur)
- Whiskey When We’re Dry (John Larison)
- Savage Season (Joe R. Lansdale)
Every book this month is marked “recommended” in my tracking notes. That may change by the end of the year when the recency bias wears off, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of these.
My current work-in-progress is a mystery novel, so Savage Season was an important read because it’s the first book in the Hap and Leonard series of mysteries. I need to refresh my feel for the structure and tempo of the genre. Savage Season was written in 1990 and is much shorter than modern mysteries are expected to be, but it was an excellent, tightly-written book and I think that’s the most important thing for getting my brain going in that direction.
- Mucho Mojo (Joe R. Lansdale)
The second Hap and Leonard book. There are ten in the series currently and I have a feeling I will chug through all of them while working on this project this quarter.