My Year in Stories 2017

Hey all! Nebula nominations have opened and award eligibility posts have started showing up on my timelines.

I had a great year writing-wise. My favorite story that was published in 2017 is my Phantom of the Opera retelling, which takes place in a high school and features a female phantom, a young outcast who lives beneath the high school stage and develops a taste for trickery and music. This one is eligible in short story categories.

For Hugo consideration, I offer “Party Tricks” for the Graphic Story category. This one’s a strange case, but here’s the situation: I won Wattpadd/Syfy’s #BattletheBeast contest with my 1,500-word story set in the world of their Syfy’s The Magicians. They made the story into an illustrated digital short, which debuted on their website in five parts, narrated by the actor who plays Eliot, Hale Appleman. The stills were drawn by artist Miss Tak. Here’s a story in the Dallas Morning News about the contest, if you’re interested in more info.

If you’re interested in reading more of my work from 2017, check out the stories below!

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Award Eligibility 2016

It’s that time of year again, when people like me rush to catch up on all the fiction we’ve missed throughout the year in order to nominate them for various awards including the Nebula, the Hugo, the World Fantasy, the Tiptree, etc. Lots of great stories this year. I’d be honored if you’d consider one of mine.

Thus, the annual Awards Eligibility Post. There’s just one work I present for consideration for the year 2016:

In the Novelette Category

The Orangery (December 2016 | 8,700 words | Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Eligible for Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, etc.

In several myths, women turn into trees to escape unwanted sexual advance. I combined three of these stories to tell my own story, an exploration of the cruel treatment of women in mythology.

The Orangery is a haven for these women-turned-trees, watched over by the Guardian. When Apollo breaks into the Orangery looking for Daphne, the Guardian must fight him–and make sacrifices in the process.

This one’s received some great reviews, with the following nice things being said about it:

Other People’s Work

Or: this is not an exhaustive list of everything I have loved this year, and I am still catching up on so much reading!, but here are some places you might start with if you are like me and working through All the Fictions

All the Birds in the Sky | Charlie Jane Anders | Tor | Novel

Anders combines sci-fi and fantasy to create a clever story of witches, AI, and apocalypse.

Summerlong | Peter S. Beagle | Tachyon | Novel

Well, we’ve established that I love retold myths, so Beagle’s retelling of the Persephone story is right up my alley.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison | Samantha Mabry | Algonquin | Norton YA

Beautiful magical realist YA novel about a boy who falls for a teenage girl rumored to be poisonous to the touch.

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into The Sea | Sarah Pinsker | Lightspeed | Novelette

I love Pinsker’s stories about musicians’ lives after the dissolution of society. This novelette is one of my favorites from the year.

Every Heart a Doorway | Seanan McGuire | Tor.com | Novella

This one explores what happens to children who, like Alice or the Pevensie kids from Chronicles of Narnia, have visited other worlds but are now not allowed to return; they’re sent to a home where they try to heal (and some try to go back any way they can).

This is Not a Wardrobe Door | A. Merc Rustad | Fireside | Short Story

I’ve been shirking on my short story reading this year, but this was one of the stories I read and loved, which, like the above, plays with portal fantasy tropes in a brilliant way.

Bogi Takács | Bogi Reads the World | Fan Writer

Love Takács’ reviews of works from marginalized authors and was excited to see their reviews given their very own space here.

Sarah Gailey | Women of Harry Potter | Tor.com | Fan Writer

Gailey’s series about the oft-underappreciated women in the Harry Potter world are brilliant–and part of my inspiration for re-watching the movies and re-reading the books.

Awards Eligibility 2015

First, this post is late. I meant to write it sooner–I usually love reflecting back over the past year–but a death in my family slowed my writing to a terrible crawl. I’ve been avoiding much that I meant to do. But an email from Sunil Patel, an editor of Mothership Zeta, with whom I published a 2015 story, spurred me to go ahead with it. After all, late is better than never.

Writing-wise, 2015 was a good year. My biggest news: I signed with agent Ann Collette for my first novel. I also published 19 original stories, 5 reprints, and one essay for Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue.

I’m going to highlight the originals, all of which are eligible for Best Short Story. One of these stories, “Everything Beneath You,” is on the longlist for the British Science Fiction Association Awards; another Beneath Ceaseless Skies story, “A Careful Fire,” is on the SFWA Recommended Reading List. My humorous sex ghost story “Sleeping with Spirits” (see what I did there?) is on the Tangent Recommended Reading List.

SSR Extra: A Brief Interview with Ken Liu

In honor of this year’s Hugos — and my excitement at attending WorldCon for the first time — I will be publishing interviews with the three writers nominated for Best Short Story; this week, I’ve interviewed, albeit briefly on account of his time constraints due to career obligations and a novel in the works, Ken Liu, author of “Mono no aware” (reviewed as part of my Hugo Short Story post).

Ken Liu‘s stories have appeared in magazines such as F&SF, Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. In 2012, he won the Hugo and the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award for his story “The Paper Menagerie.” He also writes poetry, and sometimes translates Chinese fiction into English. Among the likes that he lists on his website are “old clothes, old friends, new ideas.”

What is one of your favorite stories you have written and why?

Probably “Single-Bit Error.” I loved this story, but I had a really hard time selling it — years and years of rejections followed. In fact, it garnered so many rejections that I gave up writing altogether for some time. But finally, the editors of THOUGHTCRIME EXPERIMENTS, an anthology focused on stories that have been rejected by others, took it. That sale meant a lot to me, and basically revived my passion in writing. It doesn’t matter how many rejections you get, only that you find the one editor, the one reader who connects with what you’re trying to do.

I must say I also have a soft spot for “Mono no aware” as well. I wrote this story within a week from start to final draft, and it was fun to see that I could work under a deadline, which I think is a pretty essential skill for a writer.

How do you write stories? Do you edit extensively? Do you write so much per day?

With two young children at home and a fairly busy day job, my writing time is severely limited. I’m still figuring out a good, consistent process because right now the writing tends to be done in whatever bits of time I can find (on the commuter train, if I get up before the kids, right after the kids fall asleep, etc.).

What do you have coming out, and what can you tell us about these stories?

My big project right now is a novel set in a fantasy world my wife and I created together. It’s an archipelago where seven states vie for dominance, and the setting is influenced by some East Asian cultural elements and historical legends. I’m excited about it and hope readers like it.