Revel in Yes

May the 4th be with you!

Apologies for the previous entry’s good intentions not manifesting into actual posts. It’s a hazard of being me — I will find some new way of reminding myself to do it. Make the task part of my bullet journaling lists, maybe.

However! I come bearing good news!

You may have noticed the sneaky “Forthcoming” label now at the bottom of the “Works By Reed” section of my home page. And the three entries below it.

Yes, that’s right: ACCEPTANCES! Multiple! In a row, even!

March and April saw me with a slew of acceptances on submitted stories. And you know what, I’m new at this, so I’m going to revel in excitement over a YES. I don’t want to lose that, or get jaded about it, or take it for granted. An Editor said YES they love my story! YES they want to publish it and put it in front of other peoples’ eyes!

Because all those NOs get to one after a while, you know? (And there have been many — the rest of you reading this who’ve ever submitted work for review, whether that’s auditions or stories or demo reels, know that feeling). But if I burn those YESs into my brain, those NOs won’t sting as much later.

Or that’s the hope.

Anyways, the stories that got a YES!:

“Bound by Oak and Stone”, a short story, to Tales and Feathers, for publication in late 2023/ early 2024.  This is set in the same world as “The Scribe’s Garden”, a little further forward on the timeline (but referencing a familiar character from Scribe’s Garden!).

Only a Cartographer can Map the world and enforce its bounds, and forcing a Spirwood stand into captivity is no easy feat. Spirwoods grow and devour everything in its shadow—even homes and villages. But this grove of Spirwood is different: it speaks to Cartographer Tasji in desperation, begging him not to Bind it, not to kill it.  It is all that remains. Over a night of negotiation and stubborn Scribing, Tasji finally agrees to take the Spirwood’s Voice to the one person who can have the Maps redrawn: the Empress.

“Silver Tracings in Starlit Skies”, a flash story, to Worlds of Possibility, for publication in late 2023.

Every year, the Codex Writer’s Group has on their forums a friendly flash-fiction competition called Weekend Warriors, where one has from Friday evening to Monday morning to write a 750-word-or-less story from prompts, every week, for six weeks. This was my first time competing, as there was an even more friendly score-less division offered. “Silver Tracings in Starlit Skies” was one of the results of that competition, and as science-fiction instead of fantasy is a bit of a departure from my usual well-trod paths.

A failing power grid also fails Torrie’s brother, who relies on life-support devices to maintain his slowly failing body. Her doctoral research isn’t progressing fast enough to save him, but the work she’s done can be turned to other uses. Ones that might save him, after all—and everyone else in their city.

And last but not least, ✨ “Canyon Masks” ✨ a novella, to GigaNotoSaurus, for publication mid-2023.

Oh, Canyon Masks. Where do I start?

The characters and the world of this story have been in my head for ages. I wrote it because I wanted to start small in the world, and work my way up to a full-sized novel (I have plenty of plans for more stories in this world, friends, no worries there!). Joke’s on me, because the current novel project is this novella, only expanded and deepened. (You get the good stuff here in the novella—the climax, the drama—and more involved character arcs, backstory, and world-build fun in the novel version).

Caleb Raith, of Canyon Masks
art by me, Reed Mingault
Lyssa Starborn, of Canyon Masks
art by me, Reed Mingault

Canyon Masks is the first thing I wrote intended for publication, back in late 2019/ early 2020. The first thing I wrote for an audience of more than my small tabletop gaming group. The first thing someone with experience told me was Good Enough.

It is so gratifying to see it come out into the world, to know others will soon get to read it and meet the people in it, too.  

Here’s the quick off-the-top-of-my-head pitch:

Caleb Raith, an ex-outlaw Marked by Sudai, the divinity of heroes, has finally tracked down and killed the man who kidnapped and mindwiped Caleb’s people.

But the murdered man was a mercenary warlord–and a crucial piece in a Plan orchestrated by the Rix–the divinities of fate and destiny. Lyssa Starborn (A Marked of the Rix, one of Their champions) undercover in the Warlord’s stronghold, now has to figure out how to keep the Rix’s Plan from unravelling and its rebellion against the desert’s tyrannical Waterlords from failing. Thankfully, Caleb has more than a passing resemblance (both physically, and elsewise) to the dead man, and Lyssa knew all the warlord’s secrets. Caleb will just have to play the part long enough for the Plan to be fulfilled.

Between the two of them, their Divinity-given magic, Caleb’s terrible horse, and a fair bit of luck, the rebellion will succeed. They’ll make sure of it. And learn how to work together again–and more–in the process.

With these acceptances, I’m also qualified to join SFWA under the new membership rules, which has been a goal since I started writing for serious!! Whooo!

And in a bit more good news: I’ll be at the Riding Excuses Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat this coming week (May 8-13th, 2023) in the mountains of northern Utah.

 A week of horseback riding, falconry demonstrations, fellow writers, away from the routine and expectations of home? Sounds like perfectly tailor-made-for-Reed heaven.

And with that, I will sign off for today. Picture me riding off into the sunset with the hugest smile upon my face.

What’s In a Blog?

I was going to wait to make posts here until I had News or something Cool about my writing career to share — but like a lot of things, publishing is about a lot of Waiting so I had nothing new all year.

Which is kind of a sad state for an update-section of one’s website to be in, you know?

But since it’s my birthday and the end of the year, I figured I should do something! I also just read an article from Cat Rambo about what to write about when you have nothing to write about (for blogs) — and one of the suggestions is to share a snippet of what you’ve been working on.

Since sharing snippets on Fridays is one of my favorite things about one of the discord writing communities I’m in, I think I’ll give that a go here too. So you have that to look forward to in the next year.

In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to share my statistics for the year:

For 2022 in short fiction:

  • 13 Submissions –
    • 0 Acceptances
    • 8 Form Rejections
    • 2 Personal Rejections
    • 3 Still Awaiting Responses

But I also:
> Went to my first WorldCon (Chicago!) in September and had a great time and met so many fantastic kind people! Really enjoyed getting to hang out in person for the first time with so many Lady Astronaut Club members ❤
> Went to GenCon in August and discovered there’s a writing track?! and got to meet very cool people, snagged a last minute spot at a Read & Critique that was super validating
> Attended Futurescapes in March (hello cohort! Y’all are awesome!)(gosh was that only this year though? feels like forever ago)

One of the great things about WorldCon – aside from the wonderful panels and lovely people – was how much it reinvigorated my enthusiasm for writing on the novel. After two Futurescapes revamping the first chapter(s) for the umpteenth time, and then not making it into either of the other juried workshops I’d applied for (Clarion West and Viable Paradise), I was kinda stuck and bummed out about working on it despite learning a ton.

But the energy of being around other writers at GenCon and WorldCon was the best kind of infectious. I sat down after WorldCon and worked out a better structure for the novel, then started thumbnailing scenes and sections. It helped a lot — when I went back to prose-writing I doubled my word count in a month. Which is a lot, for me! And I’m keeping up the momentum, which is nice.

I wrote a couple new short stories this year, one for a flash fiction contest, the others just because. I’m always torn on writing shorts when I could be working on the novel, and vice versa — guess I just don’t know which path I ought to be focusing on.

I also worry about my writing style with short fiction. Many of the (absolutely beautiful) stories that I read in places like Uncanny or Strange Horizons or Deadlands or Beneath Ceaseless Skies and many many others — all markets I’d love to be published by one day — tend to be very… not sure how to say it. Message-heavy? Clearly hitting on something deep and emotional and relevant to the world today.

And I feel like my work tends towards “fun adventure” without that deep easily-felt modernly-relevant core. I suppose I just don’t think of things like the author of those stories I love do? My experiences throughout my life have been relatively sheltered, all things considered. Add in the ADHD disconnected-from-emotions and yeah. Fun adventure stories is me.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either approach, to be fair! Clearly, I love those stories! It just means I think my chances of ever getting into those markets with those editors is very small, because of it, since I don’t know how to write those stories. I wonder if I should just stick to novels, where I feel like it’s easier to just be “fun adventure stories”.

That’s what I’ve been musing over lately, anyways.

I did a pretty terrible job of keeping track of the short and long fiction I read this year, too, so guess what’s getting a dedicated page in my bullet journal to hopefully help with that in 2023.

I want to end on a positive note, so let’s celebrate what progress we have made!

Reed in the New Year

What the Heck was That and other Thoughts about 2021

 So here I am on January 5th, writing a blog post like a grown up serious adult Author with A Website and Presence and All

2021 was a whirlwind in a lot of ways. There were a lot of personal life upheavals from partner getting his PhD, buying our first house to losing job and finding one all in quick succession, to mystery medical nonsense (fixed) and ADHD diagnosis (a relief but not managed yet), kittens and snakes and spiders and fish tanks!!, Smol starting her new school amidst covid uncertainties— needless to say, my brain was all over the place this year.

And yet despite all that I still managed to

  • attend my first writer’s workshop (Futurescapes 2021, hello virtual class!),
  • got my first piece published (hello Scribe’s Garden, I’m coming back to your world soon),
  • participated in Apex Magazine’s first Snap Judgement
  • attended (virtually) the Nebulas and the Hugos,
  • contributed to Sarah Gailey’s Building Beyond: Mossing Around
  • wrote and rewrote and wrote some more — so many short stories in various stages of completion and the novel’s opening several times until I’m now at roughly 11k words.  

(welcome, new readers, and enjoy my overuse of bulleted lists and abuse of parentheticals)(we’re not formal over here.)

And I read! So much! Novels and short fiction and flash and craft books. The way my brain works the past and the future are giant clouds of ??? so I can’t remember exactly when I read things or when they were published, but stories I do remember this year are:

  • Jade War and Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
  • Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher
  • The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
  • Piranesi by Susannah Clarke
  • Archive of the Forgotten by A J Hackwith
  • The Four Profound Weaves by R B Lemberg
  • Queen of None by Natania Barron
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth

And a whole host of short fiction, too many to count. Ones that stick out include

I am one hundred precent sure I missed some but those are the ones that stuck out to me (and several have won awards) enough I that RT’d, foisted them on my friends, or otherwise posted about them somewhere. Which is really the only way I was able to compile this list, hah. I want to be better about recording what I read, when, and where this year, so that next year is easier. I’ll add another notebook to my writing desk to collect them.

Speaking of the writing desk:

The new house brought all sorts of advantages. A safe space to work out how, exactly, it is I work best (the adhd diagnosis also helped there). A huge desk where I can have a relatively ergonomic set up finally! A DOOR that I can CLOSE against the rest of the house!!!  I don’t always need to because smol’s in school (for now, omicron willing) and Partner works from the basement office, but it’s nice to have the option. And the space to spread out! I have room for guests now!

And I’m learning how I work best, given my weird brain. Some things that have helped include body doubling via Zoom (Jeffries Tube #4 crew and the Lady Astronaut Club coworking sessions have saved me), having a log book tracking my start/end/total added word counts for the day, music playing, and my very favorite: the Square Method.

I learned about squares from Sarah MacLean and the combination of Very Small Goals (100 words per square) and coloring them in with pretty pens— my lizard brain said OOH SHINY and latched on hard. I’ve made more progress with the promise of being able to color in little squares than anything else so far.

What’s New in 2022?

One of the last things I did in 2021 was apply for Futurescapes (again) and Clarion West. I was accepted to Futurescapes, and am looking forward to the March workshop! I would have loved to do the August 50page workshop that was offered, but my budget didn’t allow it.

I don’t have a lot of hopes for getting accepted to Clarion West, but it was important to me to not self-reject and at least apply. I might also do for Viable Paradise, but that’s a little further into the future.

That’s kinda the motto this year. “Fuck it, why not try?” That and “Finish the Gosh Darned Novel”

I’m not putting pressure on myself to hit a certain wordcount every day, or otherwise hit arbitrary goals — I know that is a recipe for spiraling failure (one bad day turns into two, turns into why should I bother, turns into I’m awful turns into not writing for weeks). I’m just gonna make time to be at the keyboard and try my best.

So, things I hope to finish and get out on submission this year. I am  not terribly fast so far, which is another thing I hope to work on this year now things have settled down:

  • Canyon Masks  – Novel, Adult Fantasy, hoping for ~110k
    • “A courtesan-spy in the service of Fate and a god-chosen ex-outlaw hero are forced to team up and impersonate a mercenary warlord to free their desert home from tyrannical water-hoarding lords.”
    • As of January 5th, sitting at 11k.
  • The Siren & the Sailor (final title tbd) – Short Story, maybe 5k?
    • Mostly I just wanted something to submit to Deadlands and/or Mermaids Monthly, and I think this’ll fit the bill when I finish it.
  • Three Lives for Risdyr – Short Story
    • Just-so story on the origin of herding-big-cats for a secondary world fantasy setting; where the spirit of Sabertooths annoys the Mother Goddess once too many and gets turned into a housecat to learn her lesson
  • Bound by Oak & Stone rewrite — Short Story
    • Set in the same world as Scribe’s Garden; the one’s so close. SO CLOSE.

Other things I have planned, if all goes well, includes attending the Nebulas and Hugos in person this year (covid willing). The Hugos are in Chicago, where I’ve never been and have friends there! Not sure about the Nebulas, but I’ve had such a fantastic time at the online ones, I’d really like to Experience it in Real Life if possible.

Closing In Gratitude

To finish off this self-centered ramble, I want to spotlight some folks. Even if they don’t know me (am shy), I’ve noticed Them and their Awesome. I really am trying to be better about speaking these things, making them visible in the world, even though I’m not super great at the True and Sincere Words (just the fiction ones):

  • The Jeffries Tube Crew: Alyson Grauer and Jordan Shiveley
    • What would I do without you guys? Your encouragement and presence and willingness to put up with my weirdness and read my stuff is a blessing every day ❤ Thank you so much.
  • Jordan Kurella
    • I see your all-caps hype every time someone posts positive news in the slacks and discord and I love it so SO much
  • Clarissa C. S. Ryan
    • From the first virtual Nebulas mentoring to now: you are a bright, encouraging light in the world, and how you have so much time to be everywhere I have no idea, but I appreciate it! Thank you ❤ See you in Kryta!
  • Glenn Engel-Cox
    • Your author birthday posts bring me so much joy, thank you so much for doing those. I look forward to them every day
  • Tyler Hayes
    • Your daily pins and happy things post are beautiful and uplifting and thank you for doing them. I love seeing what pins you’re sporting and why.
  • Sarah Gailey
    • Your writing dates are SO wholesome and I love them so much. Your encouragement means so much. Thank you for inviting me to contribute to Building Beyond.
  • Natania Barron
    • Your #threadtalks are amazing and inspiring, both in depth and breadth. I love your evident passion for the subjects and your detailing of the history around and influencing the fashions as well.
  • Seanan McGuire, Ursula Vernon, and Shepherd
    • For the delightful and wonderful and deeply compassionate weirdness you bring to the world. Your truth is meaningful and I am so glad you share it.  Thank you.
  • Discord Writing Communities: Odd Hours Café, Apex Magazine, Chez Rambo, and Writer Next Door
    • I don’t always contribute much, but I am deeply grateful to be part of you. I learn so much just listening/reading. Thank you for letting me stay.  

There’s more, there’s always more, but we’ll leave it there for now. Until next post~! Onward and Upward, friends!

Baby’s First Awards Eligibility

Oh, it’s that time of year: Awards Eligibility roundups!

And since I have my first story published!!! this year, that means, I’m told, I am eligible to be nominated for such things. Next year I hope to have more stories out in the world for your enjoyment, but for now, there’s just the one.

And because this is my first year publishing something I believe I am also eligible for the Astounding Award for new writers?

The Scribe’s Garden, a 500 word short story/ flash fiction, published in May 2021 by Cast of Wonders, can be found here:

It is firstly a story about passing on the torch to the next generation, but also of the consequences even good magic can bring, and the simple joys of gardens and flowers and fluttering things.

“The Scribe’s Garden” was inspired by a summer of raising caterpillars to butterflies with my daughter, and a scribal magic system that’s been quietly growing in my mind for ages.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!