New Pub: “Crossing the Bridge” in GLITTERWOLF

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Apparently this is the week of new pubs, eh? I’m thrilled to announce that my short story, “Crossing the Bridge”, is included in issue #5 of Glitterwolf. The issue is available for purchase here, and I encourage y’all to check it out! Here’s a synopsis of the story to whet your appetite:

Maxine Yvette Martin dies. Maxine Yvette Martin lurks in the void. Then, Maxine Yvette Martin catches a break and slips into the body of suicidal young man. Her stolen body miraculously survives a fall from the Golden Gate Bridge, and Maxine Yvette Martin starts a second life as Max Hoffman. This body might be new, but her mind is still the same, and she struggles to find a way to live a familiar life in deeply unfamiliar circumstances.

CROSSING THE BRIDGE is a completed short story 5,600 words in length. It explores the nature of gender, the nature of compromise, and the way we shape the world to ourselves in order to survive.

I am so glad this story found a home with Glitterwolf. This story was a stretch for me—a contemporary piece, a fantasy not set in Aerdh, a ghost story, a short story written while I was still learning how to write short stories. And this story is personal; this story is about being trans*. Glitterwolf is a publication that celebrates LGBT poets and writers, and given that I poured a lot of my own transness into this story, given how linked the content of the story and my lived experiences as its creator are, I am really happy it found a home in a publication where my own queerness and transness can be explicitly stated. Many thanks to Matt Cresswell, editor of Glitterwolf, for including my story in the issue!

Submissions Update: A Bouquet of Near Misses

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Well, Ariah made it to the ABNA 2013 semi-finals and no further. I wish this year’s finalist the best of luck! In any case, this seemed as good a time as any to write up an update on my submissions process thus far.

I’ve been writing with discipline and with hard-earned skill for about four years now. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve let anyone besides my partners Jon and Sam read any of my writing. Just sending stuff to friends was incredibly scary, and I think I started doing that around last April. And it wasn’t until last October that I sent anything to publishers or agents–that is, it wasn’t until eight months ago that I actually decided I wanted to try getting published.

Eight months later, I still have no published fiction (though I do have some academic and personal experience pieces published), but I feel really good about my prospects! From what I can tell of the publishing world as an outsider looking in, these things take time. Eight months is for most a blink of an eye on the road to publishing. And, the thing is, though I am new at this and my query letters are most definitely rough around the edges, I have been making it pretty far in my pursuits. It’s been all misses as of yet, but they have been near misses, and that’s pretty  awesome.

Case in point: ABNA 2013. I may have only made it to the semi-finals, but HOLY SHIT that’s still pretty amazing! I thought I’d be cut in the first round…and instead my manuscript was in the top 25 of 10,000 entrants! And I have absolutely glowing external reviews of my manuscript which I can use to beef up my query letter for Ariah (and, incidentally, it’s never been queried–I finished it just in time to submit it to ABNA). So, that’s pretty heartening. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been awesome to snag a publishing deal with a $15k advance, but, hell, I got really, really far.

Way back in October, Harper Voyager opened up a digital submissions process. I submitted a couple of manuscripts, and one of them, Sound and Song, was only rejected last week. Last week! I mean, sure, I would have preferred for them to accept it, but being under consideration so long is certainly a good sign. Sound and Song has also resulted in requests for partials and fulls from agents. A couple of weeks ago it was rejected by an agent, but rejected in a very flattering way:

Even in the first few pages you establish yourself as a writer keenly aware of both characterization and world building.

I sent the agent a heartfelt thank you letter, because she most certainly did not have to go out of her way to say that in her rejection. So, this is yet another near miss.

Near misses I can take. I actually handle rejection extremely well (it’s sort of a secret superpower). I might not have gotten any hard bites yet, but near misses signal that I might get one a lot sooner than a bunch of first round rejections would. Again, the very best of luck to all the ABNA finalists this year, and anyone Harper Voyager picks up through its open submissions, and to any clients that lovely agent ends up representing. I feel good about where I am, and how far I’ve gotten at this point.

EDITED TO ADD – Just now, literally two days after I wrote up this post, I got a firm bite on one of my short stories. So one of these near misses is now blooming into a palpable hit, y’all!

Uncharted Territory: Short Fiction

Earlier this week, I started a short story about a ghost. This is notable for two reasons: first, I rarely write short fiction; and second, it’s not set in the same universe as my other work (Aerdh), which has no ghosts.

The idea for it came to me unbidden on the bus ride home. I couldn’t shake it. I had done some writing on the second draft of Ariah during snatched moments of downtime at work already, so I wasn’t in the creative-stewing-wordsmithing frame of mind. But the idea took root, and settled, and I found myself writing the opening in my head while the bus trundled north. I got a strong 500 word opening down on paper as soon as I got home.

I have a clear direction for the story, a clear sense of a middle and an end for it. It’s like it fell into my brain fully formed, just waiting to be written. It feels, strangely, like a story that’s not really mine. But, i’m going to write it anyway. Even though I’m mired chest-deep in these Ariah rewrites, i’m going to write this odd little outlier of a story that, instinct says, will stay a story.

I have a problem (maybe it’s just an Aerdh specific problem) where what starts as a short story ends up as a 120,000 word novel. A minor characters ends up popping up in book after book until they get their own book. I have exactly one stand-alone short story set in this universe. Everything else ends up novellas, or linked stories that do not fare well in isolation, or as novels. It’s nagged at me, this apparent inability to write short fiction. Not quite a failure, but a decided lack of well-roundedness as an author.

There is potential in this story to just be a story, and more than that: just a story, perhaps completely in its own little universe. If it works, it I write it and it blossoms, then it will be liberating. I may have convinced myself I can only write novels, and that I can only write Aerdhish novels. And maybe that has been true – maybe it’s taken a few years of diligent, daily writing to get to a point where this story was possible to write.

It’s all very exciting. I will let you guys know how it works out.