2018: Writing and Reading Goals


Reading Goals


  • I am striving for a book a week this year. Or maybe 50 books total, because sometimes you read a really long book and it takes a little bit to chomp through. 50 books a year! For reference, that is twice as many books as I read last year.
    • Gonna start DNF’ing books that just don’t grab me for whatever reason within the first 20% of the book.
    • Gonna start reading books instead of defaulting to twitter on the bus.
  • Also striving to read 1 piece of short fiction per day. I just plain want to read more short fiction! There’s so much out there, and so much of it is excellent! The time is now.

Reviewing Goals

  • I’m shooting for 35 book reviews in 2017. Look, sometimes I read books with no intention of reviewing them. Sometimes I read books and I don’t even know where to begin reviewing them. 35 is a good, solid number to shoot for. Enough to keep me busy for sure.
  • Gonna try to also review/rec 35 pieces of short fiction this year.
  • And maybe branch out a little? Review some movies and games, too? Other types of narrative fiction, as the mood strikes?

Writing/Publishing Goals

I was really productive last year. Maybe too productive? It got in the way of reading. It also got in the way of taking any time off to like…relax. So this year, when I sat down to make a master schedule of All The Things for my subscribers, I was like……maybe publishing a short story a month and a novel is too much?

I think it might be.

So here are my goals for 2018:

  • Publish A Tale of Rebellion book 2, The Incoming Tide.
  • Put the finishing touches on A Tale of Rebellion book 3, The King and his Makers
  • Return to one of the (several) drawer novels I’ve got and start tinkering with it again.
    • I’ve got a very promising novella I think I’m a good enough writer to finally rework now. Maybe that one.
  • Write 4-6 new short stories. I’m trying to get better at short fiction, and the only way to do that is to A) read a lot of short fiction and B) write a lot of short fiction.
    • I want some of this to be queer fluff. Maybe Ariah-centered queer fluff. That will definitely be a stretch for me, but hey, I’m all about growth.
  • Keep subbing the short fiction that hasn’t found a home yet. One day they will find their homes!
  • Release the first 3 issues of Vulture Bones – I am honestly so incredibly psyched about this project my friends.

Become a Subscriber

A lot of this work will be exclusive to or initially available through the Digital Goodies subscriber package I’m running. You can sign up for this through any of the following platforms and receive (usually) weekly content:

Patreon | Paypal | Gumroad

Subscribers will get the following:

  • Early access to book reviews
  • Early access to short fiction reccommendations
  • Exclusive teaser chapters and excerpts from works in progress (like upcoming novels!)
  • Exclusive short and interactive fiction
  • Videos about the writing and publishing process
  • Quarterly book rec surveys where you can rec things for me to read/review
  • other stuff I haven’t even thought of yet

Here’s to 2018!


2017 Year in Review



This year fucking sucked, huh? It was a gross year. Just surviving this year means everyone gets a gold medal. Here you go:


This here is my 2017 retrospective post. I like doing this to remember all the things I managed to do, even when it feels like I didn’t actually do much at all.


I was way more productive this year than I expected to be. I didn’t feel very productive at any given moment.




  • Resistance – re-released with The Kraken Collective, July 2017
  • Extraction, book 1 in A Tale of Rebellion – released with The Kraken Collective, November 2017


Short Fiction

Interactive Fiction

Other Writerly Stuff

  • Did some heavy duty editing on the third book in the Tale of Rebellion series, The King and His Makers
  • Started poking around in a ~brand new universe~ I’m tentatively calling the Soulbroker universe. We’ll see where that goes.
  • Attended Sirens 2017 this year! It was great, and I loved it!!



  • Read 27 books this year (fewer than last year)
  • Reviewed 5 books this year (waaaaayyyy fewer than last year)

Overall, my writing productivity went up, but it took a toll on my reading/reviewing. I’d like to find a balance between the two next year, because I like reading and reviewing, and because I feel like I am a better writer when I’m reading more regularly. Reviewing also makes me a sharper, better reader–and a better, sharper editor of my own work.


Ok, but from what I did manage to read, these were my favorites!!

Personal Life


  • I bought a house this year!!
  • I started a new job with a much better work/life balance, which is probably why I was able to get so much more writing done.
  • So far this year, I haven’t had a major depressive episode. Anxiety is still a damn mess, but my coping strategies are working, so that’s good. Migraines are still chronic. Seasonal Affective Disorder this year is of a grumbly and restless variety instead of last year’s hibernatory type.
  • I somehow managed to pay down the balance of one of my credit cards. The extra monthly income from writing really helped with that, so thank you, friends!!

In Conclusion

I’m still not great at balance, but you know, that’s what life’s about, right? Learning and growing? So maybe next year I’ll stop pushing myself to produce so much and read more. I’ll reinvest in reviewing, because it’s something I genuinely like doing, and it’s a way to give back to the book community. I like analytically engaging with art, figuring out just why I respond to things and why I don’t.

I was super-productive this year! I want to find a way to keep the momentum going without working myself to the bone. I have definite workaholic tendencies that need to be kept in check. There’s time enough to work.

Stay tuned tomorrow: I’ll post some writing and reading goals for 2018.


Book Review: WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore


Amazon | Goodreads

Notes on Diversity/Inclusion:

Something I dearly, dearly love about this book is that it’s a depiction of small town America, but that small town is diverse. There are people of color in that small town. There are people with disabilities in that small town. There are queer people in that small town. And there are transgender people in that small town.

Just like in the small town where I grew up, where, yes, people were queer even though it was in Texas. My town was a mix of brown and black and white and Asian. It was poor, and with that came a bevy of people living with disabilities. McLemore created a story about growing up and surviving and eventually thriving in a small town that felt real and true and representative.


Content Warnings for Book:

  • Transphobia (addressed and subverted throughout, but it is there)
  • Self harm/suicidal ideation (Sam throws himself in a river and is rescued by Miel. Miel has her own particular brand of self-harm in there, too.)
  • Physical assault (Miel gets crammed into small spaces by the Bonner sisters and gets parts of her body removed by said Bonner sisters, which causes her literal physical pain)
  • Child abuse (like all of Miel’s pre-water tower memories are horrible)


When Miel was five, she poured out of the water of the felled water tower. Sam was the first person to talk to her, and the two of them have been inseparable ever since. Miel, her hem perpetually damp with water from nowhere, grows inexplicable roses from her wrist and lives with Aracely, who cures the town’s citizens of lovesickness. And Sam works the Bonner’s pumpkin patch and wrestles with his gender day and and day out. When the Bonner’s pumpkins start turning into glass, and the Bonner sisters turn their sights on Miel’s roses, Miel and Sam are faced with hard choices and harder truths.

I loved this book. I have been foisting When the Moon was Ours on anyone who will have it since I read it. It has not one but two of the most sensitive and nuanced portrayals of trans people that I’ve read in a long, long time. It is a rich, living book, and you can feel in every page McLemore’s identity as a Latina writer. The way Aracely’s house is depicted, the language, there is a depth here that truly reflects the need for #ownvoices literature. I took this book slow, and luxuriated in it like you do a hot bath. I didn’t want it to end. As an AFAB* non-binary person, the depiction of Sam, especially, read so true that sometimes it made me tender and raw.


me reading literally every scene with Sam in it

But there was, perhaps, too many things in the book. Too much texture. Honestly, we could have had one book of just Sam, Miel, and Aracely coming to grips with each other, and entirely separate (and incredibly creepy) book of the Bonner sisters and their weird coffin and glass pumpkins. There are so many good ideas and flourishes here that some get crowded out. Some are not given the space to breathe and develop. It is a book that either needed to be bigger and longer and even more intricate, or sharper and smaller and more precise.

McLemore is a gifted writer. Virtually every character is full of life. The town itself is a character, something living and breathing, a place at once constraining and comforting. This is an essentially character driven book, one about Miel’s uncovering of her past and how it informs her future, and Sam’s solidification of his gender identity. It does both things beautifully. But the meandering plot driving those realizations is an odd vehicle for it. At times, the plot feels absolutely crucial to Miel and Sam’s self-discoveries, but at other times, the plot feels divorced and separate from them.

Takeaway & Rating:

Read it! Read this rambling witchy story of two teenagers shambling towards themselves and love and happiness! Also, maybe brush up on La Llorona first if you’re not super familiar, but then read it, and roll with the book as it throws a million things at you because this is a sweet and tender book I wish I’d had to help guide me to myself as a sixteen year old.


*Assigned female at birth

Short Story Rec: “Three Points Masculine” by An Owomoyela

“Three Points Masculine” by An Owomoyela was published in issue 72 of Lightspeed. It is free to read here.

The damn rev had a point: I got to be a guy because I took a test and it said I got into enough fights, played enough sports, had enough right interests and few enough wrong ones. I got to be a guy because some white-collar jackhole stamped and signed a form. I never would’ve got to be a guy just because I was a guy.

This story hit me hard.

This is some of the realest shit I’ve ever read about what it feels like to be transgender in a ciscentric world. In the context of the story, there are Gender Assignment Tests, and you are rated based on points as feminine and masculine. Certain thresholds of one or the other get you into certain positions and can get you access to certain jobs.

The thing is, this is not that different than the world we live in now. The thrust of the story, the interactions between the trans narrator and John, the trans colleague he works with and ends up depending on, are the kinds of conversations I’ve had with my trans friends. And they boil down to the idea that when cis people are running the show, you’re never going to get those last three points you need. Somehow, that brass ring is always out of reach.

Your identity is never really yours, because it’s always qualified. You have to keep proving it over and over again, justifying it to people who don’t experience gender and life the way you do but serve as gatekeepers anyway.

The story is beautifully written–hard, and sharp, and vicious. The world Owomoyela creates drips with bitter realism just cranked up to eleven. This story gave me all the trans feels and then some.

Short Story Rec: “First National Forum on the Position of Minorities in Malaysia” by Zen Cho

“First National Forum on the Position of Minorities in Malaysia” by Zen Cho was first published in Fantastique Unfettered, September 2011, and is included in her collection of short fiction, Spirits Abroad.

Tell him I always save one piece of the cake for him. Just for him.

Zen Cho’s “First National Forum on the Position of Minorities in Malaysia” is a remarkable work of short fiction. It’s a story of great depth about how constraint creates choice, and how choice forces lives into a set trajectory. The thing about this story is that it’s not long, but it is a slow build.

The characters we’re first introduced to, who are effectively the point of view characters, are not the characters the story is about. The setting in which the action takes place is not really where the story is–it’s a framing device where the real story is told. So, yes, essentially the whole story takes place in one small, stuffy room where a disembodied voice tells a story to an old woman that she already knows. But the trick is that in the telling it is revealed that mountains of story, lifetimes of story, have happened off screen. And I, as the reader, felt all of it. That’s incredibly hard to pull off, but Cho manages it, and she manages it without the seams ever showing.

Book Review: LABYRINTH LOST by Zoraida Cordova

This review was first published on the Sirens Conference blog.


Amazon | Goodreads

Labyrinth Lost is a quick, rich read. It is fast-paced and brimming with imagination. The book starts in Brooklyn, but quickly shifts to the netherworld of Los Lagos. In doing so, Córdova immerses the reader in the splendor and the weirdness of bruja magic. The story has an episodic, questing feel that is comfortable and familiar, but updated by the sharp banter between the three leads: Alex, Nova, and Rishi.

The emotional stakes in the book remain high throughout—it helps that they are grounded in excellent character development. Alex grows immensely throughout the book, moving from a scared, insular girl to a self-possessed and confident person. She owns her mistakes and understands why she made them, which is the heart of growing up. For a coming-of-age story, this kind of growth from the protagonist is key to get the story to work. Nova borders on the edge of too heartbreaking—he is one more tragedy away from caricature, especially contrasted with Alex’s intact and loving family. As his exculpatory tragedies unfurl, I was left with more questions than answers.

Rishi, on the other hand, is both a breath of fresh air and a cipher. She is an outsider in all respects: the only one among the trio not from bruja culture, the only one not Latinx. Rishi is dragged into this bizarre situation purely through her worry for Alex and her innate curiosity. Yet, she is the most one-dimensional of the three leads. I wanted her character to be more than “Supportive Almost Girlfriend,” but really that’s what she is. She has very little interiority of her own; nothing about the surreal nature of Los Lagos or the many, many reveals about Alex shocks or fazes her. I kept expecting a twist or a reveal about Rishi, but nothing came. Just more devotion. But devotion is not character development.

Still, I enjoyed Labyrinth Lost. I enjoyed its scope, and its intimacy, and I look forward to the next book in the Brooklyn Brujas series. If you’re looking for a queer-friendly book full of wit and magic with where the worldbuilding and cast is steeped in Latinx culture, definitely pick up Labyrinth Lost. This is not a diverse cast for the sake of being diverse; this is a diverse cast where the story and the people are rooted in their culture, history and future.


Short Story Rec: “The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life” by Zen Cho

“The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life” by Zen Cho is included in her collection of short fiction, Spirits Abroad.

But she needed to have a surface that could catch on things. She needed to be capable of friction.

This is not a perfect story, but it left me with an indelible image and metaphor of what it feels like to finally, finally come out to yourself and have it stick. And for that, it’s worth a read.

Angela has an excess of magic in her blood, because her best friend has been hanging out with a dragon a whole lot (that’s quite literally another story – see “Prudence and the Dragon”*). As a result, Angela’s teenage self has manifested and started hanging around her. So, she goes on vacation to bring down her blood magic levels in the hope that her past self will disappear. But of course, it’s more complicated than that.

Angela’s literal discussions with herself are gentle and prodding, but what struck me most is the integration of Angela’s two selves, and how that is portrayed. Angela’s past self, who essentially more comfortable with her queerness, is described as imperfect. The adult repressed Angela is perfect, but insubstantial. And this rings true to me, because when you’re in the closet, you’re covering for yourself. You’re spending so much emotional and mental energy making sure you’re not giving yourself away that your self-presentation is locked down, but your interior is emptied out. The imagery of the two unifying, of Angela letting herself become her imperfect but substantial self, was superbly resonant.

*That story precedes this one in Spirits Abroad and was also published in Crossed Genres in February 2011. RIP, Crossed Genres.

Book Review: ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders


Amazon | Goodreads

All the Birds in the Sky is a love story. A story of redemption. A story of an ideological war for humanity’s soul. And a coming of age story of an AI. The story is a lot of things, but it’s never boring.

Patricia Delfine is a witch. Laurence Armstead is a burgeoning engineering wunderkind obsessed with rockets. Both were outcasts in middle school, and as outcasts are like to do, they banded together. Then they drifted apart—or were torn apart by weird circumstances. Weird circumstances throw them together again as adults, and that’s where the story really begins.

I quite liked All The Birds In The Sky. This is an odd, hard to categorize book—equal parts science fiction and fantasy, which is a difficult trick to pull off. The structure of the book is surprising; I was sure we would see more of Patricia’s Hogwarts-esque magical academy than we did, but I’m glad we skipped it. Learning about her training as she went about her (unpaid) business as a working witch was a smart, clever choice. I loved seeing the practical applications of magic—it helped to interweave the fantastical elements of Anders’ worldbuilding into the world as we know it. Also smart was holding back the descriptions of her odd, magical society until Laurence meets back up with her. This way, we could be brought into the loop about the arcane elements of the world as she saw it along with Laurence. The infodumping had a clear narrative purpose.

I found Patricia to be the more interesting character, but Laurence to have more emotional weight and honesty. Patricia’s life and experiences are naturally more intriguing, since she is a witch. Being a witch, alone, is interesting! She has magic, and with it, untapped potential. But Patricia’s motivations were never quite clear to me the way Laurence’s were. Laurence’s emotional arc is simpler and easier to intuit, maybe, because he is just a guy trying to make his employer happy and find a nice girl, but I would have liked for Anders to demystify Patricia’s motivations, too. That said, Patricia’s evolving relationship with her older sister, Roberta, is a thing of beauty and heartbreak—and Roberta’s moment with the hen is spectacular.

Overall, the book is a touch too twee for me. The names alone—Patricia Delfine, Laurence Armstead, Theodolphus Rose—all sound like characters from a Decemberists song. Some of the tweeness works, like when Bay Area hipsters start singing madrigals as the end of the world approaches, but it often felt like I was reading a Wes Anderson script dressed in genre clothing. Underneath that tweeness, though, there is real grit to the book. Characters die, stakes are high, and I was emotionally engaged throughout. For me, the grit throws the peculiar tweeness in a weird relief. I’m not sure, stylistically, what that sort of forced whimsy was doing there, orwhat Anders was going for, since there is so much natural charm and warmth already embedded in the story and the characters.

I’d recommend this book for anyone looking for a story that blends magic and science, and for people who like writing with a dash of hipster style. Anders brings the twee charm, but grounds it in some thoughtful and gritty questions and careful character work that will leave you thinking.


The Poet Returns Cover Reveal


Cover by Samantha Cantu

The Poet Returns will be released to subscribers of the Digital Goodies package on 12/20/2017. You can enroll in the Digital Goodies package through either Gumroad or Paypal–see this page for information. On with story blurbs!!

Amran is double-bad-luck: mixed race and transgender. But he’s also a poet, and his poems have gone where he couldn’t, and garnered fame he never expected. When Ralah University, the most prestigious institute of learning in the Qin Empire, offers to bring him out to do a reading of his poetry, Amran is faced with a choice: does he ignore the summons, or take them up on their offer? And if he does return to the Empire, this homeland that never wanted him in the first place, what is he really returning there to do?

I’m SO EXCITED for this novella! And Sam Cantu did a lovely job on the cover–that there is Ralah University, all stoic and regal in the desert and shit.

Where and How to Nominate Me For Things: The 2017 Edition

It’s the most awkward season of the year: awards season. One thing that is true is that for marginalized writers throwing one’s hat in the ring and saying, “hey! I wrote A Thing of Quality! It’s worth consideration for awards!” is actually a political act. Our narratives are not default narratives. Our narratives are considered unrealistic, inconvenient, and unrelatable. It makes us live a lifetime of various shades of imposter syndrome. It makes it hard to write these kinds of posts.

I’m writing one anyway. Here goes. Also, want to nominate me, but haven’t read something listed here? Email me. I’ll probably send you what you’re looking for gratis.


EXTRACTION, published with The Kraken Collective in November 2017, is eligible for the following:


In The Company of Strangers

Short Fiction

“The Music of the Spheres”
“On the Market”