From the outside, writing looks like long, nearly endless stretches of Nothing interrupted by brief, fairly loud instances of Something, which last hardly any time before sinking back below the surface of Nothing again. Hopefully, each Something offers a writer enough momentum to get through the Nothing until the next Something arrives.
All of which is to say, I got Something recently.
In grad school (which was a really long time ago now), I wrote a novel for my thesis, titled Harvest. In a nutshell, it’s about a farmer at the end of the world as she knows it, whose brother offers her a way out: a chance to start over on another planet. Naturally, the road to liftoff is littered with complications: family drama, illness, natural disasters, religious fanatics, an ex-boyfriend. In short, I’m awful to her, but she’s pretty darn tough.
Last year, I submitted the first five pages of the novel to a contest run by the Stockholm (as in Sweden [as in ABBA]) Writers Festival. And since, you know, the last couple years have been A Bit Much, I promptly forgot about it until I received the announcement last month that it had been selected for the long list in the Science Fiction / Fantasy category. If you’re not familiar with how literary contests works—well, first, congratulations! Second, think of the long list as the list of semifinalists (“The very semifinals,” as Gloria Upson would say). There were ten folks on that list, which got narrowed down to a short list—think finalists—of five entries. Lo and behold, I made that one, too.
I haven’t submitted very much of my work recently. Actually, I haven’t submitted anything anywhere this year. I’ve been spectacularly lazy in this regard, for lots of reasons that I won’t go into, because this short story is getting kind of long as it is.
So here’s the bottom line: I won the science fiction/fantasy category.
This includes a free ticket to the festival in August and… well, I was thinking about it, and at first, I was categorically, like, no, not traveling at all. But it’s a lot of money which is something I’m not made of (I’d still have to get myself there, after all), and travel to Europe this summer sounds problematic at best. I really hope I get to visit Sweden someday—their record on queer rights is admirable—and of course, I love ABBA. So, someday.
Either way, successes like these help keep me afloat for the next long stretch of Nothing, which is not really nothing, of course. I’ll send the manuscript out to agents again (I’ve been researching), I’ll tinker with a couple of scenes I want to add to it, and I’ll keep working on the next book, which is currently around 36,000 words. That’s about the halfway mark, word count-wise, in my typical novel, but it doesn’t feel like I’m at the halfway point in the story, though. It’s a first draft, though, so anything can change. And usually does.
One last thing…
The science fiction novella I wrote during the pandemic, The Final Decree, is on sale for the month of July at Smashwords. You can find it here, if you haven’t bought a copy yet. The discount should apply automatically, but just in case, the discount code is SSW50.
Okay, one more thing…
If you were signed up for my newsletter, you would have gotten this news a week ago. I could say that’s by design, but it’s probably just because I’ve only got so many hours in the day and most of them are otherwise spoken for. But sign up, won’t you?