She’s All Light on the Million Writers Notable Stories of 2010 List, and Guest Post at Tor.com. I am not making this up.

Wow.

So, right after the post I made about Future Perfect being on Escape Pod, two other publishing news happened one right after another. May as well combine them in one post.

Okay…so…Sunday night, I said goodbye to the last of the guests who came up to celebrate my 40th birthday. This week, I had planned to ease back into the short story I’m working on and getting ready for the Easter weekend. I took a look at my Twitter feed, and saw some congratulation emails. I thought they were for Future Perfect, but they mentioned other writers too, like Charlie Jane Anders, editor of I09, who I met at Wiscon last year. So I was confused.

Finally, someone sent me a link, which took me to the The storySouth Million Writers Notable Stories of 2010. And guess what? She’s All Light made the list!

So what does this mean? Well, first of all, I get to put the nifty tagline “listed as a storySouth Million Writers Notable Story of 2010” on my published works page. But this also means that if it is listed among the top 10 stories on May 20, then “She’s All Light” is eligible for the storySouth Million Writers Award. To be truly honest, I don’t think it will make it that far, because there are so many awesome stories on the list, the fact that “She’s All Light” made it on the list in the first place makes my head spin.

The cool thing is, some of these stories I have already read and can absolutely vouch for their inclusion. “Memories in Bronze, Feathers, and Blood” by Aliette de Bodard. Nearly all the nominated stories from Clarkesworld, including “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” by Catherynne M. Valente, which deserves first prize because I loved, loved, loved, the bits about the science fiction writer. “The Notebook of My Favourite Skin-Trees” by Alex Dally MacFarlane, which also appeared in Daybreak Magazine. “Standard Loneliness Package” by Charles Yu. (And speaking of Lightspeed, they won Million Writers Award for best new online magazine! How cool is that?), “The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model” by Charlie Jane Anders, John Scalzi’s “The President’s Brain is Missing”

But there are other stories on the list that I haven’t read, stories by Amal El-Mohtar and Mishell Baker and An Owomoyela and Sandra McDonald and Mari Ness and Yoon Ha Lee and Rachel Swirsky…so many that I’ve decided to actually go and read all the stories on the list, because they look awesome!

Congratulations to everyone who made the list. I feel awfully humble and proud to be listed among these great stories.

+++

So, that was all I was going to post, but as I was writing this, I got an email with news I’ve been wanting to post forever.

Last year, I put in a bid at the Carl Brandon Society’s Con or Bust Auctionfor a guest post on Tor.com. I was quite surprised, therefore, to learn I won.

Yesterday, my guest blog was put up. It’s a joint post with Kate Nepveu in her reread of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In addition to the books, she also watched the movies, so my contribution was a review of the last movie, Return of the King. The extended version, of course. That was a lot of fun.

So head on over to Tor.com to check it out and post in the comments section what you think. Some good conversation happening there. And while you’re at it, check out the forums at Escape Pod and check out the conversation happening there on Future Perfect. It’s been really cool to see what things people are seeing in the story, stuff that not even I considered.

And finally, I swear, I don’t think I have anything else in the publishing hopper coming out. The fact this is all happening around my birthday makes me think, yeesh, what would happen when I turn 50…

(Hopefully Willow comes out much more sooner than that…)

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"Future Perfect" is now up at Escape Pod!

It has been an incredibly eventful week at the Café. Wednesday marked my 40th year of walking on this earth. Today, I got a belated birthday surprise: “Future Perfect“, my first science fiction short story, is now up at Escape Pod! And boy oh boy, is it ever yummy listening goodness! So what are you waiting for? Go listen! Go now! Enjoy!

I don’t suck as a writer…really I don’t (or let’s learn about LaShawn’s Writing Process)

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been driving myself to finish editing a short story before the next Writers of the Future deadline (3/31/11). I’ve been working on this story for several months, and until Thursday, had worked on it solid for nine days, including weekends.

On Thursday, the day of the deadline, my mind went on strike.

I knew what I wanted to do. I have the outline of how the story went. I knew where it was going. I just…couldn’t…put…it…down. It was like my creative processes said, “That’s it. No more. We’re shutting down and refuse to do anything until we get some sleeeeeeep!”

I looked at the remaining ten pages I had left to edit, and reluctantly conceded that I would not made the deadline. I then spent the next 24 hours in an absolute funk.

I know in my head I did the right thing. Even if I did sit down and forced myself to finish editing those last ten pages, it would have been very sloppy edits. On Wednesday, I looked at one of my scenes and thought, meh I don’t need it. Yesterday morning, while thinking on it more (because my mind refuses to stop thinking about the story, even though it won’t let me work on it anymore), I realized it had been a key scene that sets up the main characters actions for the rest of the story.  If I had left it out, readers wouldn’t understand how she goes from acting one way to acting another. It’s little mistakes like that that makes a difference between an Honorable Mention and a Finalist.

I still felt like a failure, though.

Today I thought why I felt so sucky all weekend and what went wrong. I realized that part of the fail was not realizing where I was in my writing process.  Although I’ve been writing professionally for almost seven years now, I never wrote it down because I was still in the process of figuring out what it was. Well, now’s the time. So here’s how my writing process goes:

1) When I get an idea for a story, I write it out either longhand or in the notebook section of Writer’s Café. I don’t even consider it a first draft. I just want to put the idea down on paper.

2) I write up the first draft in Word. Usually it involves cutting and pasting, but I also flesh out parts that needed. I use the commenting section to make notes.

3) I use Scrapbook in Writer’s Café to look at the story from the outside, figuring out the theme, the characters, everything I can think of. I do a lot of freewriting in this stage. I also identify what research I need to do.

4) I let the story rest while I do research. I give myself about a couple of weeks for it.

5) I look at how my research impacts the story and what, if anything, needs to be changed. I use Storyboard in WC to draw up a second outline.

6) I write another draft incorporating all the research and changes I’ve decided to do. I also flesh in details and make the prose stronger. Out of all the processes, this one takes the longest because I’m thinking about how each word, each line, each paragraph impacts the story; how it fits with how I want the story to go and the characters to act according to the rules I’ve set up. It’s usually here that characters may act differently than the first draft, certain plotlines become stronger while others get weaker, or even get dropped altogether. Strangely enough, this is also my favorite stage, although by the end of it, I am absolutely sick of the story and just ready to send it out.

7) I send the story to beta readers to make sure that what I wrote isn’t crap, which I usually think it is by the end of the previous stage.

8 ) When I receive feedback, I either adjust the story accordingly or leave it as is if I feel it’s important. Mostly, I revise for clarity.

9) I do a final revision which cleans up grammar, spelling, work with few last stubborn sentences that don’t sound right.

10) I submit it.

Looking at this, it all makes sense. I would say that my story is still on Stage 6, which is the longest stage in the process. I should’ve recognized that the story wasn’t nearly ready as it should’ve been, but at the same time, I could see why I pushed myself. It’s usually in this stage that I get impatient to finish the story, and oftentimes I have to force myself to slow down to think things through.  If there are certain events coming up that take away from my writing time, the urge to finish the story gets stronger.

Such as OdysseyCon happening this week. And in two weeks, my 40th birthday. And Easter. And Daniel being on spring break…

That was what made me push so hard to finish the story. And that was why I got so burnt out. I simply do not do well being rushed. Especially during stage 6. If I was in stage 8 or 9, I probably would’ve made the deadline. But I’m not.

So. Deep breath. I have to stop beating myself up over it. I don’t suck. I need to rest my brain. Refill my creative cup. Then start working on the story again tomorrow, but go back to my regular schedule, not the crazy write-every-single-chance-I-get schedule.

Maybe I’ll finish in time for my birthday.