First Time for Everything
This is my first quarterly reading update, despite making a goal to have these each quarter in 2022. That's because I read about three published books along with several beta reads prior to August 2022. I've been struggling to read for most of 2021 and 2022.
Audiobooks and novellas save the day!
I have no idea why, but I asked a group of avid readers about the best audiobooks a couple of weeks ago. Reading print is still a struggle for me. The only published book I've read in print for most of the year was Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire on a plane flight to go to a close relative's funeral this summer. That book is a) written by one of my favorite authors, b) filled with characters I already know from a series, and c) short.
And if I may make a confession, I hear that title sung in the same cadence as "Where the Down Boys Go," which both dates me and tells you some of the music I listened to in my formative years.
My group made suggestions and I cross-referenced them with books already on my wishlist. One was All Systems Red by Martha Wells. I already owned both a physical copy and an e-book copy and had yet to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed Keven R. Free's rendering of the story and the story itself.
Okay, you may see a trend here, of novellas that are also Hugo and Nebula Award winners or part of a series that is. Sometimes when in a reading funk, you have to go with what you know is good and easy.
I'm pleased to say that in the past ten days, I've completed four published books. In June, I read two books, and a single book in February. This doesn't count beta reads and critiques (on which I'm constantly behind my promised timelines.) This doesn't count short stories, of which I read 20-100 monthly.
As of the writing of this post, I'm reading the third Murderbot Diary novella. I'm interspersing them between longer reads as pieces of candy. Hopefully, this reading streak will continue. I'd had high hopes after reading Beowulf A Translation by Maria Headley, but they were for naught.
That's my 2022 Quarter 3 reading update. Do you have some excellent audiobooks to recommend?
Gnashing Teeth from the Deep and the Children Hang on Tight - A Checklist
On the one year anniversary of the publication of my non-standard form flash fiction published in Issue 2 of Constelación Magazine - Myths and Monsters learn the story behind the story. Be sure to go read the flash before reading this blog post, for there are spoilers ahead. You will want to buy a single issue (and buy both issue 1 and 2 because they are both great!) rather than use the subscriptions.
This publication will always be very close to my heart. In the fall of 2020, I attended a Writing Prompts and Games session with Cat Rambo via her Discord Server. Cat read this prompt, which was what became the title, "Gnashing teeth from the deep and the children hang on tight," and I immediately thought this was a checklist. And I was off writing my story.
I am a pantser and other than write a little snippet per word or phrase, as told from this Nightmare Monster's perspective, I didn't know where this was going as I wrote for the ten minute writing time. For the Monster, who has no name, it is a transitional time, a coming-of-age of sorts, moving from a young and shallow voice into a more mature and motivated voice.
When our ten minutes was up, I'd mined some of my own trauma for the resolution - because when I got to the phrase "children hang on tight" I asked myself, why would the children hang on tight to a monster from the deep that I've created here? And the answer is that the Nightmare Monster become a savior from the terrors in life. Terrors I knew well as a child.
I volunteered to read my story during the reading time. I recall a couple of the other attendees that day. As I read along, the sing-song nature of some of the prose and the inital voice elicited smiles from Cat and the other Zoom members. And at the twist, the smiles faded and it was silent. We mute ourselves when we aren't reading, but it took a moment for Cat to say anything. And I wasn't sure if the faded smiles and silence was a good sign or a bad sign about the story.
I don't recall what Cat said, to be honest. But I polished it, taking the somewhat blunt twist and wrote it a little less extreme and severe from its initial course.
Submission and Acceptance
In December 2020, I began submitting my fiction to markets. My initial method involved finding best fits as I saw them. The call for Issue 2 of Constelación Magazine - Myths and Monsters was opening. I spent an afternoon in an early December co-writing session from Cat Rambo's Discord polishing the story specifically for this call. At least one other person on the Zoom session mentioned they were also polishing a story for this call.
Polished and ready, I submitted "Gnashing Teeth from the Deep and the Children Hang on Tight - A Checklist" on December 15, 2020 through the Constelación moksha portal. It was my second fiction submission since the 1990s. I generally just consider it my second fiction submission ever since I was not paid for any of my 1990s fiction. It was the first submission of this story to any market.
I continued to submit other stories to other markets, a total of six that December. I used The Submission Grinder to track my submissions. I watched rejections turn the Constelación graph from purple (pending) to red (rejected) while my story stayed purple along with a chunk of others. I am supersititious about nudging for responses and only do so under duress. I simply waited, along with those other purple lines.
On Monday, March 29, 2021 around noon local time, I received an acceptance email from Coral Alejandra Moore and the Constelación Team!
Many authors have dream markets. By March 2021, I hadn't really made my list of dream markets, but Constelación Magazine would definitely be on it.
Issue 2 was supposed to be published April 15, 2021, according to the Constelacion Kickstarter. As a new publishing author, I didn't know much, but I knew that would be a tight turn-around. It didn't matter. I was thrilled for the acceptance and to be a part of this publication and its journey. This also signified my first pro-rate sale.
I attended the Flights of Foundry virtual convention in 2021, where the Constelación editors were guests of honor. I attended their panels and their open room. I may have fallen all over myself and possibly (definitely) cried in excitement at meeting Eliana and Coral. (I'm not cool. At all. And my ND brain cries at any opporunity, much to my dismay.)
I waited six months for my second story to be published. Spring acceptances with fall publications is currently a 2-point trendline. On October 5, 2021, Issue 2 of Constelación Magazine - Myths and Monsters was published with my story in it. With this publication, another wishlist item on my author dreams was achieved - have my work translated from English to another language. Natasha Besoky wrote the translation into Spanish.
The publication announcement was met with wonderful tweets and an amazing review from Charles Payseur. It also earned me a spot in The Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index.
On September 2, 2022, Coral Alejandra Moore announced the closure of Constelación Magazine. I am gutted for her and Eliana. They and Constelación were fabulous, and I wish them and the Constelación Team well in their future endeavors.
We're getting into the spooky season and I started early. Please enjoy theese 17 stories. Not all are horror and there are fewer than normal because I am on an unexpected social media hiatus. I planned one for mid-October but sometimes life demands things on a different time scale.
HOAX published A Panther in Every Pantry, a Lion in Every Living Room by Andrew Kozma as a reprint from 2016.
Tilly's Dolls by Sarah Jackson was published by 96th of October in September.
Balancing the Scales by Cislyn Smith was published by ZNB Presents in September.
All the Boys in the Sea by Marie Croke was published by Fireside Fiction in August.
The Sleep Cure by Alice Gauntley was published by The Dread Machine in September.
This Shattered Vessel, Which Holds Only Grief by Izzy Wasserstein was published by Apex Magazine in 2021.
Writer of spec fic.