Awards Eligibility Post (aka SF/F works in 2017)

I’ve never done one of these before, but I’ve always wanted to and I guess I’m finally getting it done. I’m still not sure how a lot of SF/F awards work (in terms of categories and schedules, there’s just a lot of them out there for a newcomer to figure out!) but here’s an awkward “a thing I wrote you might want to nominate/vote for if you’re into that sort of thing” first time post anyway.



In 2017 I wrote a novella, Three Keys in the Desert (39,000 words).

In a sentence: it’s science fiction about kids and staff at a military boarding school on a remote planet.

I’m also eligible for the Campbell Award this year.








New poem: “Only the Trees”

ARSENIKAJPGI’m very excited to announce that I have a new poem in the latest issue of Arsenika!

(I’ll always remember the publication history of this poem, because I nearly missed the acceptance notice for it /o\ It had gone to my junk folder and I saw it a week late, and might never have responded to it if I hadn’t accidentally checked the status on Arsenika’s website itself. KIDS, ALWAYS CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER.)

“Only the Trees” is kind of difficult to sum up, but I will say it’s one of my most explicitly romantic poems.


A storm blew down
the tree your bones
nourished, through the
roots. They cleaned
you from the dirt and
tore you away from
where I left you, lying
peaceful, reborn an
older creature, my
heart with you, a
piece of tissue and
blood, keeping you

Read the rest of “Only the Trees” >>


New article: Five Ways To Build A More Believable Futuristic Military


Hello friends!

My first article of 2018 is already out, and it’s only January! (Well, it’s February, but it was still January when it was originally posted.)

This time I got to talk about military science fiction for Book Smugglers, a venue I love a LOT and a topic I can basically talk about forever.

The five points in this one are mostly about the way fictional militaries represent gender, sexuality, attraction, and the politics and sociology around it all.

Five Ways To Build A More Believable Futuristic Military >>

Things I did in 2017

Person silhouette standing in 2017 on the hill at sunsetIt’s almost the new year, and everything is… well, not snowy at all where I am, but certainly a bit rainy? And I always want to make end-of-year posts and never manage to write them up, so, here’s to breaking that tradition.

In July of 2015 I sat myself down for a chat and decided that I for sure, definitely, wanted to try and write original stories for publication, and transition from being a media critic exclusively to being an author of SF/F as well.

In that sense, 2017 has been my second full year of Taking Writing Seriously. Of course, like for most writers, this came in between other things, like a full time job, grad school, and disability, but despite the time constraints I’m pleased with how 2017 turned out. I did a lot less writing than I’d hoped to, but I did a lot of writing-related new-to-me things, which was a different kind of exciting and necessary.

I wrote articles for huge markets I never imagined I’d be able to successfully pitch to. I did lectures at SFF cons for the first time. I attended an SFF con abroad for the first time (and did 3 events there!). I published a work I’d been sitting on for a decade, the longest SFF thing I’ve written, and more than 5 people bought it! That’s still mindblowing to me.

Stories I wrote

The main thing here is of course, Three Keys in the Desert. I novella I told myself I’d publish “really soon” for about 10 years, and finally got it done in 2017. I waffled a lot over whether to self-publish or go the traditional route, despite the still minuscule market for novellas from first-time authors, but ultimately self-publishing taught me (and continues to teach me) so much. About communicating with audiences, about the business side of publishing, about my own strengths and weaknesses (like most writers, I am terrible at promoting my own work!)

But I got to post this story I love on my website, and get responses from people, and do several giveaways, and through all of it I basically did everything myself, and it was hard but it was also really exhilarating. Thank you, again, to everyone who took part in this journey.

Articles I Wrote

I wrote two reviews for Strange Horizons: one of the TV show The OA and one of the fantasy novella The Drowning Eyes.

(I also had a lot of feelings when my former editor at Strange Horizons, Abigail Nussbaum, who is basically responsible for me having a career as a media critic in the first place, won a Hugo award this year.)

I also wrote two articles for VICE, both of which got a lot more attention on the internet than I’m used to.

The first was about the TV show Black Sails: ‘Black Sails’ Depicts the Untold Story of Queer Pirates. The article was shared on twitter by the creators of the show, quoted by some of the lead actors, translated to Portuguese and had its own thread on Reddit.

I couldn’t imagine such a huge response when I wrote it, so it was all pretty amazing to experience. I still love the show, though I have a lot of thoughts that never made it into the article (I did have a word limit).

The second VICE article about a movie: Wonder Woman’s Best Superpower Is Destroying Sexist Tropes. (I have to confess the editors at VICE came up with the titles, not me.) That article also got a bigger response than I was anticipating (friends kept linking me to discussions and mentions of it at various places online), which was again a lot of fun. The best responses were from people who told me I’d pointed things out about the movie that they’d never considered, but that suddenly made things fall into place for them.

Events I Did

In 2017 I went from going to SFF cons as a fan, to going as an author and media critic, and doing panels and lectures. I went from having done zero of these things in my life to doing 6 of them in the span of 8 months. (One of the lessons for 2018: this was a little too much too fast, and I need a break.)

In April I submitted a lecture called Women Write About War where I talked about debut novels from authors Naomi Novik, Karin Lowachee and Kameron Hurley and analyzed the different ways war narratives work in SFF. I did the lecture twice, in two different languages, once in London and once in Tel Aviv, and the experience was pretty great each time.(My favorite part is always the audience questions/interaction at the end, and I got to meet a lot of wonderful people.)

During the summer I designed a new lecture, called A Pirate and a Gentleman (and a Lady) about “Treasure Island”, “Black Sails” and the fact and fiction of pirate stories, in historical fiction as well as in SFF. I did the lecture twice, though both times were in the same language, about a month apart. The first time was at an SFF con, in the biggest room I’ve ever had to carry on my own – a movie theater with over 100 seats. The second time was in a small living room, where a few dozen people were occupying couches, chairs and the floor.

In London I also got to do two panels. (The last time I was on a panel was as an undergrad student, in Japan, at a press conference. Don’t ask.) One was on International Fandom, and I got to talk about Russian fans, fandom and canons, and the other was about screenwriting and SFF, and I got to talk about pitfalls and tricks for successful adaptations. (And also, to listen to some of my idols talk about their own craft as writers and screenwriters, which was pretty amazing.)

Wow, just writing it all out makes me feel a little tired again! No wonder I spent most of this year feeling like I was doing Too Much (and somehow not getting any writing done). I kind of went zero to sixty with public speaking at cons this year, which ended up being kind of a weird experience. On the one hand I enjoyed every single second, and part of me wanted to keep doing it forever, on the other hand, my inner introvert wanted to crawl into a cave once it was all over and not emerge for two years.

What’s next for 2018?

What am I planning for next year?

– Work on more short stories. I already have several drafts that are in various stages of done and need a few more passes. Start the first draft of the fantasy novel I’ve been working on for years.

– Write about books, TV shows and movies (look out for an article by me at Book Smugglers around January!)

– Experiment with doing events that aren’t lectures/talks, such as workshops, collaborative activities, other formats I’ve never tried before.

Mostly: keep applying for things, submitting things, trying out new things, and be OK with rejection and failure and disappointment. It’s the hardest part of any creative business, and it’s the one skill that it took me the longest to develop.

Happy holidays, everyone, and happy new upcoming year!



Giveaway winner!


The giveaway has ended! Thank you so much to everyone who participated and signal boosted. As I’ve said before, I wasn’t sure Three Keys in the Desert would be read by more than a handful of people, to have a giveaway for people who’ve not only read it but have felt moved to leave a review feels pretty surreal.

Anyway, without any further ado, the winner of the giveaway is Rine Karr! Please make sure to check your email and get back to me about a physical address to send you winnings to 🙂

Three Keys in the Desert: Giveaway!

So, Three Keys in the Desert came out a few months ago, and I figure it’s been long enough to do a fun little giveaway. I’ve been looking for something really cool and personal to use as a prize, since this novella has meant so much to me and in my wildest dreams maybe 5-6 people were going to read it once I put it online.

Instead, the response has been… beyond what I could have imagined. Everyone who’s written posts about this story, who’s recommended it to their friends, who’s taken the time to write a review… thank you. To see so many people read the story and react to it has been amazing.

So, in between working on more short stories and developing my novel idea, I wanted to do something to celebrate.


So what swag are you offering?

Several things!

  • A key shaped watch on a long chain. You can take it off the chain and keep it in your pocket or on a shelf, or you can wear it as a necklace. It offers a world of unlimited possibilities, really.
  • A personalized postcard from me, from the postcard coloring book Secret Garden. Meaning this will be a postcard I will color in especially for you, and write you a personal message (could be from one of the characters in Three Keys in the Desert – up to you!)
  • A digital copy of “Futuristica: Volume 1”. This is an anthology that has stories by amazing authors like Stephanie Burgis, Megan Chaudhuri, Wole Talabi and many more, including a story by yours truly called “Life and Death in the Frozen City”.


And what do I have to do for this hoard of treasures?

One or more of these things:

Then just SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY with your email and the relevant links!

What if my review isn’t 100% positive?

There are no requirements regarding the nature of the review to enter this giveaway. It doesn’t matter what you said, as a reviewer myself I’m not looking to sway you to be positive. Your honest opinion is good enough, whatever it is.

What if I already left a review a while ago?

That totally counts! Link me to it!

Where are you willing to ship the physical prizes?

Anywhere in the world.


ANYWHERE. Are you doing research in Antarctica? I hope the postcard cheers you up through the long winter.

Any way I can increase my chances?

Sure, you can also sign up for my New Release Mailing List (or confirm that you’ve already signed up with the email you used for the giveaway). That’ll give you an extra point.

When do I get my prizes then?

The giveaway will end on December 9th. I’ll announce the winner a few days later.

Anything else I should know?

Make sure you’re comfortable with giving me a physical mailing address (for the postcard and the watch), and make sure you check your email in the days after the giveaway ends. If I don’t hear back from you within 48 hours I’ll have to pick another winner.


Book review: “The Drowning Eyes” by Emily Foster


It’s been a busy couple of months, friends. Between posting Three Keys in the Desert in June, submitting a thesis draft in July, attending Nine Worlds in August (\o/ STILL TO WRITE A POST ABOUT THAT!) and now going abroad again in a week, it’s been.. a lot. A lot of really great things! But a lot nonetheless.

Which is why I’m especially pleased that I managed to squeeze in reading Emily Foster’s “The Drowning Eyes”, a novella I’d been wanting to get my hands on for a while, and review it for Strange Horizons.

Emily Foster’s debut novella is everything I like about modern fantasy. The world it builds is not a fictional Europe or a fictional North America; instead it’s set in a tropical climate, in the middle of an ocean, with many small islands dependent on the weather for trade and survival. The characters are a seafaring crew who don’t shy away from illegal work, people from the margins whose life philosophy is that money and happiness should be grabbed wherever they happen to be found. The cast is ethnically diverse and most of the action is centered on women, including older women, who occupy positions of authority within the small world a story of this length allows. All of this is refreshing and a pleasure to read and the reason I was excited to pick up the book in the first place.

And yet, as much as I wanted to fall in love with The Drowning Eyes, as much as I liked its setting and magical elements, as much I enjoyed its characters individually, there were a few structural problems that stood in the way of the book having true momentum. It’s not that the story isn’t enjoyable; it’s just that, considering its premise, it comes across as a little underwhelming.

Read the full review at Strange Horizons >>