“There are no wrong answers” up at Podcastle


Remember the story I wrote for the What Fates Impose Anthology? “There are No Wrong Answers” is now up at Podcastle, read by the awesome Podcastle editors Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali and Jen R Albert.

I thought I had written up story notes for this, but for the most part, I gave the background to this story in the interview I had with with Jim C Hines back in 2013, during the promotion of the What Fates Impose anthology. I’ll let most of that stand for itself but I do want to reiterate:

  1. This was the first story I ever wrote from start to finish in 3 months.
  2. This might not be the last time we see Madame D.
  3. Yes Marty is real…

…huggably adorably real.

Go check out the story, and if you like it, go buy the anthology What Fates Impose . Lots of great stories in there and you can get it on Kindle for $1.99.

Plus, you’ll make Marti very happy.


Writing Goals for 2018

Now that I got my 2017 Year in Review out of the way, I thought I’d take a crack at making writer goals for 2018. Do you know the last time I ever sat down to make writer goals? 2009. So let’s get cracking…

Weeping of the Willows Novel: Finish final draft by March 31; Submit it by April 30
In case you didn’t see my announcement on Twitter, I finished the 3rd draft of my novel the last week of December. The 4th draft will involve cleaning it up, making it look pretty, and moving it from Scrivener to Word.

Because I want this to be a polished draft, I would like to get this done as soon as possible. So after a brief rest, I’m going to tackle it exclusively over the next few weeks. Also, I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a long time: I’m setting a hard deadline, because I want this baby to be done and out the door by the end of April. I’ll announce my progress on Twitter to keep myself on track and for you all to encourage, cheerlead, poke with me a stick, etc.

Write seven short stories/poetry. Have 10 stories on submission
Once Willow is out the door, I want to tackle getting some short stories done. I already have one in progress, but I want to get more written and on submission.

Read more books!
Doing the Lightspeed book reviews has re-ignited my book reading. Most fabulous! I want to keep it going by taking the Goodreads 2018 book challenge. I know in doing the books reviews, I’ll be reading at least 12 books, so 20 should be a good goal.

Get back into blogging more
This I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Facebook has grown less and less hospitable for writers. Going through previous posts made me realized how much I’ve missed blogging, and how I’ve neglected the Café in the Woods over the past few years. Now that I have free headspace again, it’s time to revive the blog.

Right now, because of the last Willow revision, I just will be posting updates like this one. After Willow is submitted, I want to do an overhaul of the website. I also want to revisit some past posts I’ve done.

Reconnect with YOU
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that I wouldn’t be a writer today without my readers. A big THANK YOU to all of those who had stuck with me this far. Once I’m done with Willow, I would like to find a way to reconnect more with readers and fans. One thing I want to look more into is Patron or maybe do something similar to the Story Calendar I did a few years back. Remember that?

There’s a lot more that I want to do, but this is a good start. See you when I start the last revision of Willow!

2017 Eligibility Post and Writing Year in Review

It’s that time once again for everyone to be posting the works they published in 2017 that are eligible for awards. And for the third year in a row, I don’t really have that much published fictionwise.

Actually, no. I take that back. I’m looking at my bullet journal Writing Management Log (one of these days, I’ll post on how I’m doing that. It’s a todo in the journal!) and hey, whatdya know! I did have a fiction piece published in 2017. The Summation of EvilCorp Subsidies HR Meeting Agenda Minutes, Compiled by Olivia Washington” was published by Fantastic Stories on January 2, 2017. This is the print version on the audio story I wrote for Podcastle, so I don’t know if it qualifies for awards, but can’t hurt to mention it.

The rest of my published works in 2017 were nonfiction. I had an essay in this year’s WisCon Chronicles40 that was based off of my Tale of Two WisCons blog post. I also wrote an essay for Uncanny Magazine, “Learning to Turn Your Lips Sideways” in their May/June 2017 issue. 

Then there are the book reviews.  I did one for Time’s Oldest Daughter by Susan W. Lyons for the Fall 2017 issue of Cascadia Subduction Zone. And of course, this year I started writing a quarterly book review column for Lightspeed Magazine 

And that’s just the published stuff. Writing wise, I pushed hard in finishing the revision of my Weeping of the Willows novel. As of today, I am revising the very last chapter. I’m hoping to finish it at this end of this month. I still have several stories out on submission, including the novella I completed in 2016. I also wrote a new short story, “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” which, much to my delight, was picked up by Fireside Fiction magazine to be published sometime in 2018. 

So yeah. 2017 was startlingly, surprisingly productive. 

As for 2018, I’m going to make that a separate post. The past few years have been pretty rough (see my 2016, 2015 and 2014 Review posts), but finally, I feel like I have enough headspace that I can sit down and plan writing goals, something I haven’t done in a long, long time. 

But first, gotta finish this draft of Willow. See you on the other side of that.


Story Calendar Now 99 Cents!

Tis the season…tis the season indeed.

As you drink your eggnog and wrap your presents, you may say, "I want to give an ebook as a gift. What ebook should I give?"

You’re in luck, because I’m dropping the price of my short story and poetry collection Into the Mist-Stained Woods: A Calendar of Tales to only 99 cents!

Mist Stained4 [Converted]


Think of it as my Christmas present to you…except, well, you’re buying it from me, so really, it’s actually a present to me…meh, don’t think about it so hard. BUY IT!

I do plan for this to be the last month the story calendar to be up. After that, I will take it down. So this is your last chance. Buy one for yourself, buy one for your friend. And then pass the word around. Twitter, Facebook, Stumblr, you name it.

And then, enjoy!


Project Calendar Update: Fundraising (sadly, it won’t involve Kickstarter)

A couple of weeks ago, I made the announcement that I will be putting together a Story Calendar ebook to raise funds towards my trip to Viable Paradise in October. After that announcement, I went on vacation, where I came down with a nasty cold and spent most of my time sleeping, eating, occasionally swimming, and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Mainly, I was trying to figure out how exactly I was going to pull this off.

A lot of writers friends suggested Kickstarter, so I took a look into it. Kickstarter appears to be a great place if you want to raise funds for a project. You put in a proposal, get it approved, and you get your own page where you promote your project. Many successful ones offer varying levels of incentives to donate: if you donate 5 bucks, for instance, you get an ebook, but if you donate 20 bucks, you get an ebook plus a printed copy of the book, and so on. Many authors have put book projects up on Kickstarter and gotten their projects funded–some going above and beyond their original goal. (btw, if you want to learn more about Kickstarter, I suggest listening to Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing Show #212, in which she talks about her Kickstarter experience.)

I studied the projects and I thought, yeah, I can see myself doing this. The key thing is incentives. How can I pull in people through incentives. You can’t just have an ebook. You need to get their attention, plus, you have to come up with incentives that people want.

So I started brainstorming. The successful projects had print copies as well as ebooks, so I added that. Then I thought, no, wait, this is a story calendar, right? What if I got actual calendars? First level, ebook, second level, a calendar, third level, a print book, and hey, let’s put my calligraphy skills to work and make the fourth level a handwritten copy of any poem or story set in the donor’s birthmonth…

I brainstormed, and I planned and I made notes. And then I did research into how much all this would cost.


I had figured I would need to raise about $1000 for my VP costs. To do this project on Kickstarter, I would have to factor in cost of calendars, print copies, paper for calligraphy, calligraphy ink (because I’m all out). Shipping for all that stuff here. Envelopes. Postage for mailing all that stuff out. Plus, factoring in Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and, that could easily kick up what I need to $5000.  Plus, there’s the time to factor in to get all of this done, making a video for the Kickstarter page (everyone suggest making a video) stuffing envelopes, ordering the print copies, making sure they all get in on time, doing the calligraphy, etc, and so forth. This would take several months of my time.

All this just to raise $1000 for one week in October.

Yesterday, it all came to a head when I realized I was seriously stressing out over it and I hadn’t even started working on the ebook yet, something that I have never done before.

Looking at the ebook projects at Kickstarter, the successful ones always offered print copies as well as ebook, or at least promised print copies. So if I just sold the Story Calendar just as an ebook there, chances are, it wouldn’t do so well, and I won’t get anything, because Kickstarter won’t give you the funds if you don’t meet your goal. If, however, I put all my creative energy into just making the ebook, put it up here, at the Café, as a limited-edition ebook, and if 67 people bought it at $15 each, I would reach my goal. That’s it. All I need to do is get the word out through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus. 67 People.

So, as much as I hate to say it, I don’t think I’ll be using Kickstarter. Not this time, anyway. At this stage, I just don’t think I’m ready, nor do I feel I’ll have a worthy enough project to sell. The story calendar idea is great, but I have yet to figure out how to format it, and if that hinges on selling, then I’d rather put my energy into learning how to make an ebook than splitting it between an ebook, a calendar, and a print book. Baby steps first. My goal is to make it the best, awesomest story calendar you, dear reader, will ever spend $15 on.

And I’m not completely writing off Kickstarter. I’m actually pretty proud of the incentives I came up for the story calendar, and I do still want to do it. Just not now. If the ebook sells well here, then I want to try it next year, when I’m not so pressured for money and time. By then, the funds I’ll ask for will go towards making the story calendar, not fundraising for something else, and I’ll have enough experience  to do it right.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to get to working on the stories of the Story Calendar. Finally!


LaShawn’s Super Secret Funding Project Revealed: A Calendar of Tales COMING SOON!

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned I had been accepted into Viable Paradise this October. Since then, I’ve been tossing around ideas on how exactly I would pay to get myself there. I took the first step today by increasing my hours at my day job so that I’m now full-time (temporarily), but I wanted to do something that appealed to my writer skills as well.

At this year’s Wiscon, I picked up The Honey Month by Amal el-Mohtar, a series of short stories and poems inspired by a sampler gift of 28 jars of honey she received. The book itself is divine–most of the stories are centered around bees, but not the type of bees you’ll find in any old hive. These are stories that are meant to be savored…they are to be read slowly, aloud, but just under your breath, and preferably barefoot.

Reading her book, it got me thinking: what if I could do something like that?  I’ve been wanting to do a special project for a long time now where I write a series of stories/poetry that have a common theme. I wanted to emulate The Honey Month’s format (emulation being the best form of flattery, I hope), but unfortunately, I don’t have twenty-eight jars of honey at my disposal. But what I do have is co-workers–Co-workers who love to take pictures.

So here’s the plan: I’ve chosen 12 photos from what my gracious co-workers at InterVarsity have sent in. I will create a "Calendar of Tales", flash stories and poetry set in each month and based on a photo. It will start off as an ebook, but I’m looking into finding a way to get it into print as an actual calendar of some sort, or at least a published book. I’m also looking into Kickstarter to see if I can offer more incentives: i.e. handwritten thank yous, handwritten calligraphy copies of the stories/poems, appearance as a character, that sort of thing.

As you can tell, self-publishing is a whole new venture for me. I’ll have to come up with 12 original stories, put them in ebook format, put together the incentives, figure out costs, work on promotion, etc, what have you. But let me tell you, I’m excited about this project. Yesterday, I wrote the first story: "Fat Elvis and Lemon Lover" (pictures taken by my friend Matt Rust) and when I finished, I sat back and thought, dang, this is going to be FUN!

Fat ElvisLemon Lover

So tell your family, tell your friends and keep watching the Café. I got a lot of work to do, but trust me, it will be worth it!


New Story & Viable Paradise XV

I’ll post about Wiscon in a bit, but first, NEWS.

I have a short story called "With Breath Too Sweet" that’s out in an anthology called "There was a Crooked House", put out by Pill Hill Press.

You can order the print anthology at Pill Hill Press for $14.49 or order the ebook for only $3.99 at Kindle or Nook.

Now, for the second bit of news. I’M GOING TO VIABLE PARADISE!


I’ve been selected along with 23 other SF writers to head over to Martha’s Vineyard in October to be part of the 15th class of Viable Paradise. Our instructors will be Elizabeth Bear, Debra Doyle, Steven Gould, James D. Macdonald, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Steven Brust and Sherwood Smith.

As you can tell, I’ve been sort of stalling on Willow, so I’m hoping the workshop will give me a swift kick in the pants to finish it. In fact, even sending in the application helped me out–I had to send in an outline for Willow, which I’ve never actually sat down and did (well, I did something like it Writer’s Café, but not an actual document).

First step to all of this is figuring out logistics. I’ve gone from OH MY GOSH I MADE IT mode into holy crap I’m in how exactly am I going to pay for it mode. I’m tossing around some ideas, talking with some people. I’m thinking about doing a fundraiser, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to do so. And stay tuned to the Café over the next couple of weeks. Big things are afoot.

Last October, I was hanging out with Neil Gaiman. This October, I’ll be in Martha’s Vineyard. This is going to be great, folks. No. This is going to be awesome.