2018 Year in Review and Eligibility Works

2018 was a bizarre year for me.

In order to explain this year, I need to back up a bit to the year of 2016. There was a whole bunch of stuff going on that year that I couldn’t really talk about online. The only way I could cope with it was by writing. So I wrote. A whole lot.

One particularly bad day, I was checking the twitters when this thread from Rachael K Jones popped up on my feed. And then, she wrote this:

That tweet stayed with me through the craziness that followed: selling our house, buying a new one, day job insanity, the election of 45. And then 2017, where I continued my push to finish the novel and got back into publishing nonfiction. All the while, the dayjob got busier and busier, and I was coming home more and more exhausted, until in May 2018, I realized that that if I was going to write more, I needed to find another job. Either one that was less intense or less hours.

So I started looking. It took way longer than I thought, considering that I hadn’t really looked for a new job in ten years. But I’m happy to say starting in February 2019, I be starting a new admin position. Same place, still full-time, but I’ll get two afternoons off to write while keeping my benefits.

It’s a start.

Oddly enough, in 2018, as I searched for a job that will allow me to write more, I got a surprising amount of fiction and non-fiction written and published. In April, my short story “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” was published by Fireside Magazine. In July, my novelette “Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good” was published by FIYAH magazine (this was originally the novella I wrote in 2016 before I cut it down to a more readable length). I also wrote a third short story that will be coming out soon, but that hasn’t been officially announced yet, so shhhh! But both the two stories mentioned above are eligible for awards, so read, enjoy, share, etc.

I also wrote a bunch of non-fiction articles, including an exploration of Nisi Shawl’s Filter House on Tor.com, a review of Janelle Monáe’s album Dirty Computer in Apex Magazine, and…heh hehe, another article that remains secret for now, but will be published sometime this year. And all of that while writing cover letters and filling out job applications and updating my resume.

Of course, with all the above, my editing input on the final draft of Willow tanked. As of today, I’ve only managed to complete 68% of the final edits. Which, actually, isn’t so bad, considering that I worked on it on top of all the other things I worked on last year but still. I laughed out loud when I saw the deadline I had originally set for myself, which was March 2018. Yeah, that sooooooo didn’t happen.

But it’s now 2019. I got some time freed up. I don’t have any writing projects pending for the next couple of months. Well, one, but it’s a quick one. And, before 2019 ended, I fixed the last major chapter that needed serious fixing (chapter 27). So all the edits from this point on should technically go fast. I’m resetting the Willow Final Edit clock to March 2019. At 68%, I know I can do it. You can cheer me on at @tbonejenkins on Twitter. And then once I’m done, I can finally tackle the goals I had written for 2018.

Butt in chair, eyes on the prize. Let’s go.

Story Notes: “Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good” available at FIYAH Magazine

Should’ve posted this earlier this month, but yes! I got another short story out! “Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good” has been published in FIYAH’s Music issue, which you can buy now! It also comes with a poppin’ Spotify Playlist and another gorgeous illustration!

Ain’t that gorgeous?

If you’ve followed me on Twitter, you’ve heard about this one a lot. A few years ago, I stumbled onto the rockin’ blues gospel music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, which I didn’t even know was a thing. That got me listening to more women who played guitars in the 1930s and 40s, and when I came across Memphis Minnie, I knew I had to get them into a story together. Also, I am so stoked that this was published a couple of months after Sister Rosetta Tharpe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. Now if we can only get Minnie inducted…

I also wanted to write a story featuring my hometown, specifically, the south side of Chicago where I grew up. Fun fact–the real Sister Rosetta and Minnie actually did live in Chicago in different parts of their lives, but there’s no evidence that they’ve ever interacted. Seeing that most gospel musicians considered blues artists as heathens, I’m not surprised. On the flip side, Sister Rosetta came under a lot of fire for putting gospel hymns against “devil music”, so who knows.

The story give a couple of callouts to the history of the Chicago’s South Side: The Regal Theater, which was big for black entertainers in the 30s and 40s; the Ida Wells homes, a series of low-income housing mostly populated by blacks, and the Bronzeville and Bridgeport neighborhoods. And my favorite: Rita Moy, daughter of Frank Moy, mayor of Chinatown, who really did like to dress in men’s clothes. There’s even a picture of her!

Finally, I wrote this story because I wanted to show a relationship between two women of different beliefs. Sister Rosetta was an evangelist through and through, and she was also queer. Memphis Minnie, on the other hand, had a rough life: busking on Beale ave, doing a stint with Ringling Brothers Circus. Although Rosetta and Minnie never met in real life, it was fun imagining the sort of conversations they could have. You can read more about these women in their biographies: Shout Sister Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Woman With Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues. (Also for Minnie, there’s a description of her written by Langston Hughes)

And finally, listen to these women songs. I can repeat myself enough: they…are…AMAZING. Here, I’ll even get you started.

“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.

Upcoming story in Fireside Fiction

Fireside Fiction just posted the list of stories they bought from their September submission period. Guess who’s on it? MEEEEE!  “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy” will be appearing soon on their website. Details forthcoming, click the link below to see the lineup of stories and authors.

https://firesidefiction.com/september2017-submissions-results

New story! “Sun-Touched” up at Kaleidotrope

I have a new story up! You can now read "Sun-Touched" for free over at Kaleidotrope.

You can thank Neil Gaiman for this one. In 2010, I was invited to attend “The Gathering of American Gods” at the House on the Rock. I was trying to think of a cool costume to wear and, well, okay, I was looking for an excuse to dye my wedding dress with tea. I came up with going as the Moth Queen, because I had a pin shaped like a butterfly, but this party would be at night, so moths fit better.

Well, the costume idea petered out, (I wound up going as a vaguely steampunk lady). But the idea of a Moth Queen stuck with me, and I began to play with the idea. How I went from a Queen to a Princess, Queen and Dowager, I don’t remember. but when I came up with the idea of butterfly people (papilion) being enemies of the moth people (doptera), and how the moth people are attracted to light, I knew I had a story.

I will confess, coming up with the backstory and history of the world was somewhat difficult. After I finished it, I shopped it around. One of the rejections I got mentioned that it was a very good story, but the editor wished the doptera and papilion were more insect-like. And this is true. But I had no clue how to make them more insect-like without making them relatable. And besides, I had a selfish wish to keep the figurines as is, which play a part in the story.

Hmm. Writing that though makes me wonder. Can I make a lead character that’s not human, completely alien, and yet make them relatable? At the time I wrote Sun-Touched, I didn’t think I could. Now? I might be able.

In the meantime, enjoy "Sun-Touched", and let me know what you think!

New short story! “21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus 1)” up at Strange Horizons

It’s now up! “21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus 1)” is up now at Strange Horizons! It has an illustration! It has a podcast! It is so cool!

The inspiration for this story came one day when I was on Google Plus (why yes…I do go there from time to time). Someone had posted an album of different spiral staircase pictures, and when I clicked on the album, it posted all the staircases at once. Seeing all those staircases and spirals got me wondering: what if spiral staircases appeared at random, with no reason whatsoever. What would be at the top? And then I wondered…if spiral staircases could appear out of nowhere, who to say it’s just a normal staircase? What other materials could it be made out of? How fanciful could I make these staircases?

Oh, I had a fun time coming up with the different kinds of staircases. But I didn’t have much of a plot until I came up with the idea that the staircase was a metaphor for epiphanies and enlightenment. Around this time, I had visited my folks back in Chicago, and wound up watching the Help with the womenfolk of my family, including my grandmother, who is awesomely badass. Talking with her and my own mother about growing up and raising kids, made me want to commemorate their strength, while at the same time showing how opportunities seem to open up more for each generation. So I decided to make the spiral story more personal.

The Momma in the story is a mash-up of my mom and grandmother. There are other true parts too; if you know me, you’ll figure it out. I never snuck out of my house, for instance. But the boyfriend part? That’s mostly true. So was the feeling of optimism. My dad never wanted to join the circus though.

Anyway, check it out and let me know what you think. What would your spiral staircase look like?

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…)

"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!

New Short Story: "Future Perfect" up at March 2010 issue of Ideomancer

Fresh on the heels of ““She’s All Light“, my short story “Future Perfect“, has been published by Ideomancer, making it the second story I’ve published with them. While “She’s All Light” was my first professional sale, “Future Perfect” has the privilege of being the first science fiction story I ever wrote.

It’s also the first story that is dedicated to someone: my husband Jon, who helped me nail down the technical terms. “Future Perfect” is a love letter to him of sorts. It may not look like it–in fact, you’re probably thinking, “Um….how does this qualify as a love letter and not, oh, I don’t know, stalking?

Well, you just have to read the story to see.

Enjoy the story! And Jon, you are my best friend and my partner in crime. Thank you for accepting me for who I am, what I am, and what I can be. Thank you for loving all the parts of me: the confused oreo, the giddy Japanese school girl, and the Black Queen. Most of all, thank you for asking me to always be by your side. Twelve years later, I am still saying, “Yes.”

Oh, and by the way, you rock so much harder than that other dude who shall remain nameless.

Edit: And now you can hear it too! Hop on over to Escape Pod to hear Future Perfect narrated by Dani Cutler. It’s futuriffic!

LaShawn’s Writing Project Status Update for February 2010

I missed the boat on creating my new year resolutions at the start of 2010. That’s because I was busy writing. Can’t come up with a better excuse than that.

So, Willow-wise, what have I been up to? I feel like I’m finally starting to pick up speed on the revision. Currently, I’m on Chapter 12. At first glance, it looks disheartening. Seeing that I started rewriting Willow in March, it almost looks like I did only a chapter a month–and with about 60 chapters planned, if I keep at that pace, it will be a long time before Willow is finished. The thing is, I don’t feel so bad.

I’ve said before in my Willow updates that I knew the first opening chapters were going to be hard. I would be basically establishing everything that would be coming after, and this included fine-tuning the world to be consistent and in some cases, starting a new chapter over from scratch. I believe I’m getting past that stage…the last chapter I worked on went much faster since the story was now established and things were finally moving.

I’m also perfecting my revision method. At the beginning, I just rewrote and rewrote the passage I was working on until I felt like I got it right. Now, I’ve been utelizing the comment feature in Word 2007 and highlighting areas that I feel needs more work to come back to later. I’m finding that instead of wracking my brain to come up with something right away, highlighting it give me a chance to continue working on the passage without losing my flow. And chances are, the right words will come to me later and I can easily plug them in. Now it’s just figuring out when’s the best time to do that.

So basically, I’m 20% into the second revision of my book. If I finish my short story for WOTF on time, then I plan to make April an "all-Willow" month, meaning that the only project I’ll work on will be Willow. I don’t have a set end date planned, but if I can finish by the end of the year, I’ll be happy. We’ll see.

And with that, I’ll lead into my short story status update. Back in September, I ran out of short stories out there on the markets. At the time, I decided to quick edit 5 stories and get them out on the market by October 9; I was only about to get four out: two poems and two short stories (I also promised to put up a progress meter; that didn’t happen.) At least I do have stuff out there now. I’m also hard at work with my next WOTF entry, which I have dubbed "Cotton Picker". I’m hoping to get it done by the March 31st deadline—and that’s coming up pretty fast.

The good news is that "She’s All Light" had been published and received rave comments and a good review. And I have another story coming up in the March issue of Ideomancer called "Future Perfect", which is actually the first science fiction story I ever wrote. This will be my second story published with Ideomancer, and I’m quite pleased this one made it in.

One final thought: I’ve been feeling a little burnt out on the creative side of things. So when Mur Lafferty announced on her I Should Be Writing podcast that she was starting a Facebook group on The Artist’s Way, I immediately jumped on board. I’ve always wanted to do The Artist’s Way, specifically the morning pages. I tried to to do a version of them on my own, but that didn’t last long. I’m hoping with the actual book and a community, I’d be able to get back into it. Feel free to join if you’re a writer or any kind of artist. Or even if you’re not an artist. From what I read so far, The Artist’s Waycan be used for anyone wanting to bring more creativity into their life.

While I’ll participate in the Facebook group, I’ll also post most of my thoughts on Twitter (my handle is @TboneJenkins). Feel free to follow along and let me know what you think.