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.

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:

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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.

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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 Daughters II

Last Dec/Jan, Silence In The Library Publishing did a Kickstarter for their anthology of women authors writing women main characters called Athena’s Daughters. It was the most successful literary anthology ever done on Kickstarter.

This December, they’re Kickstarting Athena’s Daughters II. Why I’m excited about this: I’ve posted this on facebook already, but when the kickstarter goes live, one of the stretch goals will be the inclusion of a story by yours truly.

How stretch goals work: for those unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it’s a crowdfunding service. People put forward a proposal, state  how much they need to do what they’re proposing, and offer rewards in return for donations. Stretch goals are for when they pass the amount they are asking for, at which point they can afford to do extra things. Like include more stories. Like mine.

I’ll put out reminders and updates closer to when the Kickstarter goes live, but if you want another fantasy and science fiction anthology full of awesome stories about women, with a story from me about an airship, a skywhale, and the end of the world, here’s your head’s up.

Discarded Passions

I used to draw and paint when I was younger, and have a ton of art supplies that I haven’t touched in years. I spent a lot of money on them, and had them packed away in a tackle box to keep them organized.

I’ve been writing for the last 16 years, and that’s the art that stuck with me. From an early age, even my art was about telling a story, so it makes sense that I eventually found my true passion in writing. Since thn I’ve also become a pilot, which is only the most awesome thing in the world.

So I figured I’d put away my art supplies in a box, and used that lovely tackle box for office supplies.

You know how when you pull out something you once loved, and suddenly you want to get into it again? I was thinking, I’m gona go through this stuff and suddenly I’m gonna want to draw or paint something again.

And I went through my art supplies and thought, “Shit man, I’m never gonna use any of this shit ever again.”

There was a distinct lack of nostalgic feelings. Nothing. Like the art thing was just something to do, something to justify my existence, something I did to please the people around me and get that pat on the head I so desperately needed. The more I think about it, the more I think that’s what it is. I was decently good at it, having practiced, and anything I was decently good at, I’d do it more because it got me positive attention. I don’t think I really differentiated between enjoying an activity and enjoying the attention I got for doing it.

It’s kind of a weird revelation. The stereotype is the young girl passionate about art, chasing her dream of being a professional artist, drawing and painting for the love of art. I was good at drawing, so I embraced the role. That’s a thing about Aspies – they imitate. I can’t even help it. At least now that I’m older, and I know I’m an Aspie and have that tendency, I can consciously pick and choose who to imitate, and what roles to embrace. Like my flight instructor – I can adopt her attitudes towards aviation safety, and aspire to one day fly as well as her.

But painting, it seems maybe there wasn’t the passion there that I thought there was. There was a lot of encouragement – way more than the encouragement I got when I took up flying. But with flying, the passion is there. It’s different. Writing too – I couldn’t stop writing, even if there was no hope of anyone ever wanting to give me money for it.

Anyway, I’m gonna go finish dumping my art supplies into a bin and see if my roomie wants any of it before I see about donating it to a school or something.

Self Publishing As A Religion

And a missionary religion at that.

There’s a phenomenon that I’ve observed. Or maybe I should say “had shoved down my throat.” This is definitely not true of, or directed at *all* self published authors, but there is a subsection of them that are…annoying.

They are the ones that find some way of getting your attention, either by compliment, or otherwise expressing interest in your writing, and then the second thing they say is “Have you considered self publishing?”

Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Amazon, and their Great Plan for us, Kindle Direct?

Because if you’re not self publishing, you are obviously unaware of the glorious benefits of being in complete control of the publishing process. Because if you knew, you’d agree with them, right? And no matter how you explain that yes, you’ve considered all your options, and after careful deliberation decided that self publishing was not the best option for you, they  will conclude that you be misinformed in some way – you must be, otherwise you’d agree with them. No other possible explanation.

They will remind you that traditional publishing doesn’t guarantee quality, no matter how many sub-par self published books you tell them you’ve read. They’ll tell you the publishers are just out to screw you out of your money. They’ll explain that a good editor will make sure the book is ready for publication and that it’s just as well edited as any traditionally published books. And publishers don’t even market books these days you know.

And when you tell them, thank-you, but not interested, they get that tone like the Jehova’s Witnesses telling you that they’ll be sad to see you go to hell, and say, too bad, sad to see a book like yours that will be years before it gets into the hands of readers. If it ever gets published at all.

Why do they do this? Is there some pyramid scheme where Amazon gives them a commission for suckering people into KDP? They’re not even trying to sell you *their* book – they’re trying to convince you to self-publish *yours*. They don’t benefit from it at all. There’s only one explanation that I’ve been able to come up with.

They’re insecure. They’re worried they’ve made the wrong decision, so they try to convince others to join them to reassure themselves that they’re okay.

Don’t be that author.

And by “don’t be that author” I don’t mean don’t self publish. I mean, don’t treat it like a religion that you need to convert people to your way of doing things. Don’t self publish your book until you’re so confident that it’s ready for the public that you won’t need validation from fellow authors of your decision.

I’ve put a lot of work into my writing. When I talk to some writers, they’ll say oh, I’ve been working at this so long – it’s been like three years I’ve been writing. Or a year, or five years. So they know they’re ready to be published. They’ve put in their time. I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. That’s about sixteen years of developing my craft. And maybe a year or three years is enough for some people to hone their craft to the equivalent of traditionally published authors. But looking at most of the self published novels I’ve read at this point, more often that they think, it’s not. And people like the aforementioned make me think they know it, and they just desperately don’t want to admit it.

I know self published authors who were ready, and who self published for the right reasons. I’m not going to go into what the right reasons to self publish are – there’s tons of that on other blogs. But look at your work and take a step back and really ask yourself, are you doing it because you’re impatient? Are you doing it because you know it’s not good enough for an agent to say yes, but you’re tired of developing your craft and just want to get to the part where people pat you on the head and tell you it’s wonderful? Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and you won’t sound to others like you regret it.