The Runner-Up

sign-01-seuratI am thrilled to share that I am a runner up in the Futurescapes Writing Contest!

A year ago I saw a call for submissions for the contest with the theme Cities of Empowerment. Reading the blurb about what they’re seeking, I thought “This is what I do!”

For this year’s theme, we ask you to envision how a city, thirty years from now, can create a civic experience which virtually eliminates what today we consider “disabilities.” Further, how might a future City of Empowerment amplify the natural abilities of citizens to enhance the experience of living, working, and governing a city? How might a city create the super-citizen of tomorrow?

I don’t do dystopias, even though they are very popular in today’s market. Although I wouldn’t describe my work as utopian, it is definitely a positive future, along the lines of Gene Roddenberry’s vision in Star Trek. My story, With Her Blessing, focuses on one man’s journey to join the pioneers on the moon and how his leaving affects his family on Earth.

Futurescapes is sponsoring a writing workshop April 24-26, 2017 at Sundance Resort in Utah. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this year, but it looks like a great time!

An anthology including the six stories from the contest winners will come out in April.

The winners will be published alongside professional authors including, Malka Older, Anjali Sachdeva, and Andre Norton & Compton Crook Award winner and Nebula Award-nominee, Fran Wilde, in the anthology, Futurescapes: Cities of Empowerment.

The anthology, created and sponsored by the Office of New Urban Mechanics at Utah Valley University – a civic innovation office in partnership with the cities of Boston, Philadelphia and cities throughout Utah – is meant to turn the future-facing vision of science fiction writers toward solving major civic problems like civic engagement and accessibility. As such, copies of the anthology will be provided to mayors, city managers, members of Congress, and other major civic leaders throughout the United States. The anthology will be published in late April.

I will share information about how you can read the anthology this Spring.


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sign-01-floatingJust a quick ROW80 update this week!

Most days were good… I finished a short story, added to the hand-written novel, then edited and submitted the short story in time for the contest deadline. I have to wait until the end of March to find out if I won.

The theme is similar to With Her Blessing, which is a runner-up in the Futurescapes Writing Contest this year. More about that tomorrow…

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The Amorphous To-Do List

Headshot red 2017In the beginning, my to-do list as a writer was clear. Write an entire novel. Edit, revise, polish. Meanwhile, I began to establish an online presence. I started this blog and other social media outlets, and began to network.

Later came more writing and polishing, as well as querying. Networking came very naturally to me, and although it grew by leaps and bounds, it took a lot of energy to maintain.

I’m in the process of breaking the “aspiring author” mold and embracing the “professional author” identity. I’m updating the website, and changing up my usual to-do list.

An author’s to-do list is an amorphous thing. If it was nothing but actual-writing, or even writing and revising, it would be simple. But there are a thousand little tasks that should be done, things that contribute to the whole even though, taken individually, they don’t seem like much.

While updating the website, I realized that my cover image is underwhelming. It’s a moon image, which is appropriate to what has been my current project for a couple of years now. But it doesn’t exactly say either SciFi or Romance. I decided that a new cover photo would be a good idea, as well as a few new headshots that are more fun.

But there was one problem…looking in the mirror, my cute tagline of “A redhead by choice” wasn’t exactly true! The color had faded. Taking headshots while I don’t appear as I represent myself isn’t a good idea.

So today, I colored my hair.

Not writing. Not exactly writing-related either. Maybe writing-related thrice removed.

I haven’t been as good with my ROW80 goals this week. I can honestly say that I’ve worked every day toward my greater long-term goals, but the actual writing is only fitting in about half the time. I need to be better about that. Even if it only happens five days a week, that’s progress. And actual-writing needs to remain a primary concern, not an afterthought.

Wonderful News!

I’m a runner-up in the Futurescapes Writing Contest! More about that later…


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Squid Earrings from BitsNBots on Etsy! I think they’re cute. Click the pic to go to the shop.

A short time ago, I looked at the entropy section of this site where I list the stories I’m working on. I was disturbed by the fact that there are several which are dear to me, but have been sitting on the shelf for too long.

I’m changing a few things with the new year, including making a plan to finish or at least move forward with them, starting with those I think are most marketable. Contrariwise, I’m starting by writing a story that is NOT one of these, but that is because I intend to enter the story into a contest for which one of the rules is that it can’t be part of something already published.

Meanwhile, I spent yesterday morning in the ER. I have a kidney infection, and am now resting up and taking my prescriptions according to the doc’s instructions. My antibiotic is cephlo-something, which makes me think of squid, but apparently it’s not related. Go figure.

As for my ROW80 update, my very simple goal of writing something six days a week and not stressing over exact wordcounts is going well. It’s what I need to do at this precise point in my career. A lot of it is by hand, which is freeing in many ways.

Have you ever picked up something that’s been on the shelf for a while? Did it change significantly for the wait?

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No Word Count

excerpt-airship-princessA new year and a new Round of Words in 80 Days!

I am trying something new this round. I’m working on a novel, and I’m writing it by hand.

Although I usually type my stories straight into MS Word, I have written several of the stories in The Cities of Luna in lab notebooks. They’re just the right size for a five to ten thousand word short. When I transcribe them, it automatically becomes revision one because I edit and revise as I transcribe.

This is the first time I’m doing it for a novel-length work. I expect it will take a half dozen notebooks. I average about 150 words per page, and there are a hundred pages in each.

When I first started posting with ROW80, I kept track of how many words I wrote in the blog, in my WIP, and whatever else I had going that week. It pleased my OCD to have this detailed information, but it was exhausting. I soon switched to simply reporting the wordcount in my WIP and just noting that I’d done a blog post or two.

Short stories don’t have chapter breaks. I know if I fill close to half the notebook, my story will be over five thousand words. I don’t need to know the exact wordcount until I transcribe it.

In the past few weeks, it’s bothered me that I don’t know my exact wordcount. I don’t know how many words I had when I sat down to write, and how many words I had when I stopped. I have no idea whether I’m ever reaching the magic rate of 1k/hr, and there’s no way to tell if I reach the ever-evasive 2k/hr.

Yet, this also means I can not obsess over my wordcount. I sit down with my notebook, either at home or while I’m out with the kids. (This is one big advantage of writing by hand.) I start writing, and I keep writing, only allowing myself brief internet checks on my cell phone to figure out something like the altitude of the Kármán line, (100 km, by the way) or to pick a character name. I’m finding myself getting more done, even though I can’t back that up with an actual wordcount.

So, for the ROW80 goals…

Write at least a page or two six days a week.

That simple. If I sit down to write a page, I usually write more. But I’m not keeping close track. Next round, I might go back to writing directly into MS Word. I will definitely have different goals then.

It will be the spring.



…are happening in the spring!

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And Now, For Something Completely Different…

space-foundation-globe-5x7Well, not completely different. But I am steering my career in the direction I want it to go, working on long-term goals.

I was honored to be selected as a semifinalist in the Futurescapes Writing Contest. I’m eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner and finalists! The results of the contest could affect the twists and turns of my writing in the near future.

I’ve released twenty short stories in The Cities of Luna. This Spring I will release a collection that includes those and a few more in both print and electronic format. I am calling this first set The Mercury Collection. Eventually, I hope to put together Gemini and Apollo collections as well

Although I love putting out a fresh new story every month, there is going to be a break between collections. I will be putting my energy into getting The Mercury Collection ready, and working on novel-length stories for a while.

I will not be publishing any new stories in The Cities of Luna until I’m ready to start The Gemini Collection. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the twenty stories that are available in e-format, and please check out The Mercury Collection this Spring!

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800px-johnglennThe loss of John Glenn earlier this month hit me hard. I set down my WIP and started a story based on how John always told his wife Annie “I’m just going down to the corner store for a pack of gum,” when he was leaving for a mission. She’d always reply “Don’t be long.” Their love story was truly one for the ages.

I didn’t get a story out in The Cities of Luna this month. It’s the first time in over a year that’s happened. I didn’t make any big apologies or explanations on social media. In fact, this is the only public mention I have made of it. It was more than my own feelings of grief over the loss of a true American hero; there were many factors involved. I should be back on schedule in January. I’m planning to do a print version of the collection too— more about that later.

I’ve been looking seriously at my various projects, the ones on the shelf and the ones I’m actively working on. I believe The Cities of Luna  has not yet found its audience, but it is a heartfelt endeavor that deserves a chance to be discovered. With the current tech moving steadfastly toward space, this has the possibility of being something big.

One short-term goal I have is to enter the Zebulon, an annual writing contest sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers, my local group. I had originally planned to use this year’s NaNoWriMo story, (I failed this year, only a few thousand words, but I still plan to finish it) but then I realized that one of the rules is that it can’t be related to anything already published, and it was the second story of Tumbleweed. The first story was serialized on the All For Science site. After giving it some thought, I decided to go with the same theme I used to enter the Futurescapes Writing Contest, in which I am one of ten semifinalists. I do relationships well, and that story centers on how family relationships are affected in the near future when the main character has a chance to go to space. In the short story With Her Blessing the MC is a man with three grown daughters. The new story, Twenty-First Century Airship Princess, is about a young married woman planning to start a family when the opportunity comes up for her to go to space. I’m hand-writing it, which I do sometimes for short stories, but this is the first time I’m going to do it for something novel-length.

And then Carrie Fisher died.

Whereas John Glenn began his heroic deeds before I was born, I was in Kindergarten when Star Wars, A New Hope came out. My hair was long enough to wind up into Princess Leah buns. I grew up geek, and Carrie Fisher continued to inspire not just that world, but she was also a vocal feminist and advocate of mental health. She also had an irreverent, wicked sense of humor that was often spot-on regarding the foibles of humanity.

excerpt-airship-princessThe main character in Twenty-First Century Airship Princess is named after Princess Leah, and she gets a lot of her chutzpah from Carrie Fisher. In the pages I’d already written before she was hospitalized, I’d already described her as spending her childhood cosplaying as the Star Wars princess, even taking a brief foray in the metal bikini in her college days. The term princess has been redefined, and that started with Princess Leah’s heroics in A New Hope.

Suddenly, what I’d started writing as an homage just felt…off. Everything felt off. She was only sixty; she shouldn’t have left us so soon. We still needed her. It didn’t feel right to be writing a character who had so much of Leah and Carrie in her…blatantly so.

I wanted to put the story down. I wanted to change it so it wasn’t so obviously a reference to her. But even in just a few pages, I’d already established a character I loved who embodied everything I liked best about the character and the woman. Rewriting it would have been much more than a simple tweak of name and quirks. I would lose my character.

So now I have new inspiration. I may be afraid, but I’m going to do it anyway. What’s important is not my fear, but the action I take. I don’t have to wait to be confident. I’ll just do it, and eventually the confidence will follow.carrie-fisher-meme

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Merry Christmas!

20161212_212356It’s time to slow down a bit and spend time with family.

Merry Christmas to all and a happy new year too!

I’ll see you in January.


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futurescapes-semifinalistMany moons ago I saw a call for submissions for the Futurescapes Writing Contest. The theme Cities of Empowerment caught my attention because I have a deep love of architecture, and a degree in Architectural Engineering Technology. Reading the details, they were looking for writers to “Envision how a city, thirty years from now, can create a civic experience which virtually eliminates what today we consider “disabilities.”” My teenager has special needs, so I’ve put a lot of thought into how she will be able to participate in society when she grows up.

I just found out last night that I am one of ten semifinalists in the contest! I am so honored that my story received this recognition. It will be at least a few weeks before I find out whether I’m a finalist. Wish me luck!

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It Wouldn’t Be That Way

But first, a quick update:

Writing is happening, but it’s mostly finishing up The Flip of a Coin instead of working on The Turn of a Phrase, which is my NaNoWriMo project. I am not going to win NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m not going to look at it as a failure. I’m going to finish the novel over the next few months, then polish it and maybe enter it into the Zebulon next year.

SciFi Q of the Day 2014One thing that often surprises me when I post a SciFi Question of the Day is how many people claim “It wouldn’t be that way…” on something that is postulated. One example is when I talk about a space station, many people assume it will be government run, small, and lacking in resources. At the moment, that kinda describes the ISS. It’s run by a co-op of governments, it’s small, and the resources are precious. However, it won’t always be that way. We’re a long way off from something like Elysium or Babylon Five, but a large-ish station with a significant civilian population is almost within our grasp. Many of the folks who comment on the #SFQotD postulate their own circumstances when they answer a question. “Well, if it’s in orbit around Venus…” or “If we’re talking about something size of DS9 with artificial gravity…” and that leads to some fantastic discussions! But every once in a while someone pops in with a “But it can’t be that way…” backed up by the fact that, at the moment, we don’t have the tech to do the thing.

I loved the Steampunkish idea in The Phantom that advanced communication would take place using a system of vacuum tubes threading throughout the city. They didn’t postulate today’s electronic communication. In any good Science Fiction, there are very few things that can be dismissed as “That couldn’t happen…” when talking about advances in technology. We never know when science will take a strange turn and open up new possibilities we never imagined!

As a SciFi author, it is my job to explore the what ifs in our existence. Although the 20th century prophets did predict many of the advances in science and tech we enjoy today, their intention was not to accurately foresee the future, but to postulate what could be. I want to postulate as widely as possible. That’s partly why The Cities of Luna is about not one  city, but many, and Tumbleweed is a conglomeration of modules. They all have quirks. Many of them have aspects that make some people say “But it wouldn’t be that way!”

You know… it could.


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