Ode To A Vegetable Steamer

We used to have a vegetable steamer. I think it was my Dad’s and he never used it so his girlfriend-at-the-time gave it to us. We used it all the time, it made the best vegetables and didn’t cook all the flavour out of them. We loved it. We loved it to death. One day, the timer stopped working, I still steamed the vegetables though, so we kept using it and just used the oven timer to time it. Then the element stopped working, and it didn’t steam anything anymore. It died. It was an ex-vegetable steamer. And I’m a flight student and starving writer, kinda too broke to get a new one.

Technically I’ve been paid for my writing before. It was nanofiction–tweet-length stories–and the transaction fees to claim the payment would have been more than the payment itself. Athena’s Daughters 2 was the first time I was going to be paid more than the price of a cup of coffee for my writing. I was pretty excited. It wasn’t quite pro rates, the original $100 per story the submission guidelines stated, but $100 was good.

But that was an advance against royalties. And the Kickstarter (thanks to all you people) was a smashing success. So when I got my payment from the publisher, the success of the sales pushed it past the $100 and started paying me royalties, bumping it over pro rates. And then some. And then I realized the amount was in U.S. Dollars, and with the current exchange rate, in Canadian dollars it was even more.

I think it was Jim C. Hines that I saw say in a blog post, that first time you make enough money from selling a story to pay a bill is a big deal. I think he might have said that’s the first time you feel like a real writer. There’s lots of landmarks to hit as a writer and this is definitely one of them.

But it’s not just that that floored me. I was expecting one amount, and ended up with three times that amount. It’s not just enough to pay a bill, it covers more than a third of our rent for the month. Or three hours of flight instruction. Or cat food, groceries and the phone and internet billls together.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying this so that you understand I’m not just being sentimental when I say thank you, and tell you all that you made a difference in my life and did something that matters to me. Because that extra cash was because of all the people who contributed to the kickstarter and bought the anthology, and all the people who shared the word on social media to get more people to back the kickstarter.

So thank you for the cat litter, and the cat food, and the internet bill and the phone bill. And for our new steamer.

You guys all rock.

Athena’s Daughters Volume 2, Kickstarter Closing in a Few Days

Last day to contribute to the Athena’s Daughters 2 kickstarter is January 14th. We did make the hardcover goal, so the hardcover reward levels are available, and the hardcover will only be available during the kickstarter, so when I’m a big shot famous author, it’ll be a priceless collectible. *nudge, nudge*

Also, the artwork for my story has been released, so I can show it to everyone! It’s pretty much exactly what I imagined the artwork for that story to look like, and I’m stoked about the story not just getting published, but illustrated as well. Here’s the link to the update where the artwork appears: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/athenas-daughters-volume-2/posts

I picked up the first anthology for myself, and I’ve read a bunch of the stories in it. I don’t read a lot of short stories because I find it hit and miss as far as quality, sometimes, but as far as anthologies goes, Athena’s Daughters 1 is top notch, so I can only imagine the second volume will be just as awesome. I’m honoured to be included in it.

The link to the main page again, in case anyone needs it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/athenas-daughters-volume-2/comments

Thanks to everyone who’s supported the project so far, it’s been a smashing success, and I look forward to seeing the anthology in the wild!

New Year’s Goals

It’s been a rough year. Between home drama, moving in april, worrying about my husband’s health and him being in and out of the emergency room, I’m not where I had hoped to be this year. But I’ll give myself a break because I’ve worked hard and haven’t given up. Checking over my goals for last year:

– Reading goals: Read a novel eligible for the auroras and vote in them. Read a debut novel. Read an author I haven’t read before. Read another book in at least one series I started. Read a novel by an author I know in person. I think i got all of these, Samantha Beiko’s debut novel The Lake And the Library, and Chad Ginther’s sequel Tombstone Blues both count as novels by authors I know in person; an author I haven’t read before: Chris Wooding’s Retribution Falls, and another book in a series I started: Kinslayer and Endsinger by Jay Kristoff. 

– The usual: Stay happily married and not die. No surprises here. 

– Get my commercial pilot’s license. Did not make this one, but I have made progress, building time and passing my commercial written exam. 

– Get my multi-IFR rating. Commercial license first. 

– Finish Skybound. Got this one. 

– Get a solid start on revising another novel. Started Earthbound, the sequel to Skybound.

So I didn’t do as bad as I thought. I haven’t flown as much because I’ve been under a lot of stress, and that’s not a good way to learn. I got some aerobatics training in, and that was fun. I needed something to challenge me.

Plus, I’ve got a short story coming out in an anthology, and the Chiseries event coming up.

Anyway, my new goals for this year:

– Stay happily married and not die.

– Do my three hundred nautical mile trip requirement for my commercial license.

– Get my commercial licence.

– Get a good ways through revisions on Skybound.

– Write a short story for that idea I came up with inspired by the documentary “Blackfish”.

– Reading: I think I want to get back to reading more female authors again. I also want to get through a bunch of novels I’ve had kicking around on my TBR list – The Name of the Wind being one major one, I need to get to, because people keep raving about it, and we have it and the second book.

It’ll be a busy year. We very well might be moving again at some point, but with Chiseries in a week, and Athena’s Daughters coming out this year, I think 2015 is getting off to a good start.

January Chi Series, Featuring Sherry Peters, E. C. Bell, and Lindsay Kitson

In all the excitement over Athena’s Daughters 2 (which is going strong, and creeping closer to the hardcover stretch goal, so if you want a hardcover, head over and back it) I haven’t gotten to posting about the January Chiseries event.

It’s a group that organizes readings by local authors. They’ve invited me to read at the January event on the 7th at Mcnally Robinson book store at Grant Park. I sent out invites like nuts on facebook, but it’s a free event, open to the public, so if you’re in Winnipeg on January 7th, come by at 7pm to hear me and my fellow writers Sherry Peters and E. C. Bell do readings. I’m really excited about it, so I hope to see lots of people there!

Athena’s Daughters 2 is Live!

And as of this writing, already funded. I want to thank everyone who’s backed the kickstarter so far, and also everyone who’s shared it on social media to help spread the word. You’ve all been a part of the success of the anthology.

We are barreling past stretch goals – the first stretch author, JY Yang has already been added, at $5000. At the $6000 mark, my story, “The Maelstrom At The End Of The World” gets added.

It’s a steampunk story about an airship captain and a pair of skywhales in a dying world. And because you all clearly need more enticement, here’s a short excerpt:

#

Out in the fading light, Kelle thought she saw something drifting through the clouds. A faint glow, and a violet coloured wake behind it.

“You see that out there?”

Weston squinted. “Is that a skywhale?”

“You’re seein’ what I’m seein’.”

“Got to be the last one.” Weston stood with his mouth open as Kelle turned the tiller towards the great beast arcing through the sky.

If they could catch it, it would feed the hundred evacuees on their ship for weeks.

“Get the harpoon ready,” Kelle told Weston.

Weston hesitated. Kelle understood why. Skywhales were beautiful creatures, and the sky had been empty of them for so long. Skysailors had told stories ever since the first airhsips, of skywhales guiding them to safe harbour when they were lost in a storm. To see one again was a symbol of hope.

To kill it would break Kelle’s heart as much as it would Weston’s. But his little one’s needed food, and there was none. And this skywhale was headed into the Maelstrom anyway.

The crew around her readied the main harpoon. It was a heavy thing, bolted down to the outer deck. An older model—this wasn’t a whaling vessel, never had been. The harpoon had been added on when things started getting bad, and they needed to take down the whales for food whenever they could. Still, until now, Kelle had never been able to bring herself to do it. If she were alone, or just with the crew, she might still have claimed the whale was too far away, or too close to the Maelstrom.

But for Weston’s little ones she would do it.

“Weston, tell them evacuees in the hold they might be in for a bumpy ride in a bit, but with any luck we’ll have dinner tonight.”

The Skywhale loomed closer. Kelle wondered aloud to Weston, “I never understood, after all the time humans have been hunting and killing them suckers, they’ve never learned to fear us.”

“My father always said they’re wise beyond our comprehension,” Weston replied.

The skywhale disappeared into a rose coloured cloud of aether fleas, opening it’s gaping jaws to suck in a mouthful. When it came cresting out, they were close enough to see clearly. The creature’s skin glowed white and shimmered with colours in the faded light of the sun. It was a cow—a she-whale—and her fins spread out as long as her body, filmy and glistening like the wings of a giant dragonfly. She didn’t flap—no one knew what kept a skywhale afloat, but the fins were merely rudders, the tail much like the front fins.

And she wasn’t alone.

Sailing next to it’s mother’s dorsal fin was her calf. Both glowed against the cloud, and a white and violet shimmer reflected over their bodies as they moved.

“We taking the baby too?” Weston asked, appearing beside her again.

#

So. Yeah. Not even twenty four hours and we’re only about $500 from this story being included in the anthology. I’m really excited to see my work in print, and thank you again for all your support!

Keep your wings level.

Update: And I woke up this morning to see we’re at $6060 – this story will officially be included in the anthology! There are five more stretch author’s though, so if you haven’t backed the Kickstarter yet, we want to get all of them in! Click here to back the Kickstarter and help my fellow writers get included in the anthology: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/athenas-daughters-volume-2/description

Athena’s Daughter II Goes Live Monday! (And How You Can Help.)

I’ve seen a draft of the kisckstarter and is sounds awesome. I’ve also picked myself up a copy of the first one, Athena’s Daughters, and what I’ve read so far kicks ass. (There’s an aviation themed story in there, so if that’s your schtick, pick it up and read Janine Spendlove’s story.)

I’m really excited about this. As much as I come off pro and all, and people assume I have more published than I do, but this will be the first time anyone’s paid me more than the price of a cup of coffee for my writing. The first Athena’s Daughters was really successful, and I’m hoping everyone will make this one as successful as the first one. And you can help.

Okay – they’ve got a thunderclap planned for this kickstarter. A thunderclap, as far as I understand is when a group of people get together and plan to all post about the same thing at the same time. If a bunch of people do that at the same time, social media sites will pick up on it, and bump popular posts to the top of people’s feeds or even get it trending on twitter or facebook. There’s a website that makes it simple: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/20175-athena-s-daughters-2

If you click that link, it’ll take you to a page with an option to schedule a facebook post and/or a tweet and/or tumblr post, that will automatically be posted on December 16th, the day after the kickstarter goes live. This will help the project get more attention and reach more people who might be interested in backing it. If you love me, click the link and schedule a post.

Thanks to anyone who’s already clicked on the thunderclap link and scheduled a post already. We had a minimum of 100 participants in the thunderclap, and we’ve made the minimum, but the more people schedule a post, the more the signal will be amplified over the internet.

Oh, and of course, if you really love me, back the kickstarter on Monday!

Meet Your New Manitoba 99’s Web Admin

For the uninitiated, the 99’s is a club started by none other than Amelia Earhart, the famous aviatrix lost on her way to Howland island in her attempt to be the first woman to circumnavigate the earth in an aeroplane. The club was founded in 1929, and originally had ninety-nine members, hence the name.

You have to be a woman to be a member, and you have to have a pilot’s licence, or at least a learner’s permit. Which makes it that much more special to me to be a member.

Anyway, the time came around to hold elections, and I got invited to run for a position. I showed up to the meeting and realized that the chapter’s membership had been flagging for years, the leadership long on the shoulders of only a few women, who’d carried their burden a long time. It was refreshing, for them, to see so many young women showing up for a leadership meeting, ready to carry the torch they passed on.

The elected individuals are named at the bottom of the Manitoba Chapter’s page, and as you can see, I’m their new web admin.

They’ve set me up with a login to the site now, and now that I have all the info, I’ve realized something. The Manitoba chapter’s page is just a child page to the national site. Which means they’ve given me write access to the national 99’s website.

I always get a little bit giddy when people give me that kind of power. I mean, if I was a complete bumbling idiot, I could click the wrong button and delete the entire website. Obviously I’m not that kind of idiot, but I do admit to a mischievous nature. My husband calls me his fox, after all.

Let me tell you a story.

This isn’t going to be nearly as funny as it was when it happened. It was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments. But at my previous job, I was part of the second level support team and we all had a chatroom to communicate efficiently, and one day one of the supervisors came in bragging about how he’d spent so long tracking down this guy who’d left us a voicemail with no info except what city he was located in, and after calling every company building in the city, he’d finally got in touch with the guy.

I commented that he’d spent way too much effort on this guy, and this was (company name detracted), not Myst.

Everybody laughed and Sean said, “That was awesome, now do one for Sim Ant.”

I may be dating myself here. I don’t care.

I told him I can’t just do them, you have to set them up for me, and we went back to work.

About a week later – you know, long enough that something’s not forefront in your mind, but recent enough to remember it – one of the team leads sent an email that was ambiguous in meaning, and I was getting after him about clarifying. And Sean started making fun of me, going “Can you explain that? Be more clarified? What does that mean?”

And I said “It means Sim Ant.”

Now, keep in mind that we were working long hours, we were stressed out and exhausted, every one of us, to the point that anything would have been funny. It was a classic you-had-to-be-there moment, but I shit you not, none of them could talk for five minutes, they were laughing so hard. I didn’t think it was going to be that funny either, but at the time, in that mindset, it was.

Fast-forward to my last day, when there was no IVR message to record (my plan for my last day was always to record an IVR outage notification and end it with “this message will self destruct in ten seconds.”) I had another job lined up and was working out the last of my notice days. My team leader gave me explicit orders to log out of my phone and do something unproductive.

I had write access to their knowledge base (internal website that stores all the info and processes for the employees to do their jobs). There is, in that knowledge base, and still is, as far as I’m aware, behind a link under the subject matter expert heading that says “hymenoptera simulation.” If you click on it, it leads to a screenshot of Sim Ant that reads “Your health is low, find some food!”

Now, I’m too professional to do something like that on the 99’s website, but temptation is there. Oh it’s there.

That said, I may or may not have planted an easter egg on my website from my favourite vintage Windows DOS game. I also may or may not have spent two hours trying to get the game to run on Windows 7 to get the screenshot I wanted. If you find it, send me an email through my contact form, and I will come up with some kind of prize!