because i said so

Before the Mast and on The Deck of the World

I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now. 

~ Henry David Thoreau


A couple weeks ago, I found myself at a place I consider more home than the house where I grew up. In that place, there is a rocky beach and access to a large swath of the upper Chesapeake Bay.

Believe me when I say that I know how lucky I am to have that place. I do not think I would be who I am without it. I doubt sincerely that I would be here at all.

When I first came to that place, I quickly earned the nickname “Mouse.” At eight, I was very small indeed. I did not speak much, and when I did, it was quietly. And I was afraid of everything.

A couple things happened over the course of many years to change Mouse into me. One of those was that someone showed me how to sail a small dinghy, called a sunfish. They did not *take* me sailing. I was not crew. After teaching me the basics on a larger boat, they put a tiller in my right hand and a mainsheet in my left and the sent me across the water on a calm summer day. (more…)

Here Be Deadlines

This is a flyby post because I’m on deadline (What happens when you go to a writers’ retreat and give a talk about why you love deadlines? You get bigger deadlines.)… which means really good things for 2015, but for right now … aieeeee.

So have some picspam and links to nibble on -

Sheila Williams, the venerable editor of Asimov’s, and her daughters answered 10 Questions for GeekMom. How cool is that? She talks about growing up in science fiction and fantasy, the ins and outs of the editorial process, and the amazing Dell Magazine Award.  (But wait, there’s more! Is Sheila Williams a Geek or a Nerd? Find out!)

My story, “Like a Wasp to the Tongue,” appears in Asimov’s this month. A couple reviews already!

And I’ll be talking about wasps and tech with SFSignal very soon too.

Here’s where I was last week, a writers’ retreat in the Pacific Northwest:


Hard at work at RWV2014 (photo: Andrew Williams)

And here too (Powells Book Store, in Portland OR <3 <3 <3). (more…)

Writers’ Workshops – Which One’s Right For You

(This article has been reprinted from Apex Publishing’s archives. It was originally published there on February 7, 2014)

When you’ve reached the point in your writing career where you’d like to connect with other writers and improve your craft, it might be time to start exploring your options with regards to writers’ workshops.

For science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers, there are a range of options. There are six-week residencies and year-round online communities. Workshops vary in number of students admitted, costs to attend, and application procedures, so please visit their websites for the full scoop.

Nota Bene: Writers’ workshops can mean considerable expense, both in money and time spent. They are not for everyone, and they are not a guarantee of writerly success. What they are is an opportunity to focus on craft in the company of other writers, including more experienced writers. This can be a powerful experience.

Here are a few of the workshops available in the United States and online for adults and, separately, for teens, along with insights from program organizers, teachers, and students when possible. (Note, while I’ve done the gathering, errors happen and are entirely the blogger’s fault – please consider each workshop’s website as the final word.) (more…)

On Campbell Award *Ineligibility* and The Eligibility of Others

This year marks a new milestone. I’m no longer eligible for consideration for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. And I’m totally fine with that. Mostly.

I’ll tell you why: During the period when I was eligible, I published approximately 2500 words across three flash stories in Nature (2012) and Daily Science Fiction (2011). I enjoyed writing these stories; I learned from writing them. I heard from readers who said they enjoyed them too. That made me happier than I can possibly sum up with words.

It felt something like this: 

For a new writer, acceptance in a publication that pays pro rates is something of a milestone. I didn’t totally understand the full ramifications when I sent “Everlasting” to Daily Science Fiction in spring 2011 and they accepted it. I’d written a flash-length story, was looking for places that would publish flash-length stories and that had published other stories that I enjoyed. “Everlasting” was my first published short story, anywhere. And dear dog it felt good to have someone pay me for my words. (more…)



WIP, with coffee.

  • Colorwise, #309157 is a soft evergreen. Closest web-safe color is #339966.
  • 309,157 is the 26,736th prime (this is me, squeeing because: prime number).
  • US Patent #309157 was awarded to one Eliphalet O. Norton of Boone, IL in 1884 for an improved hay-carrier. Which does exactly what it says.


Dragons! SF Mind Meld & SFWA reblogs Cooking the Books

This week, I’m a guest at SF Signal, where we’re talking Dragons – What makes dragons appealing? How do you use dragons in your own writing? What are your favorite depictions in fantasy?  You should go check out the excellent answers from all the guests: Authors Scott Lynch, Sherwood Smith, Jon Sprunk, Peter Orullian, A.M. Dellamonica, Jamie Wyman, Tessa Gratton, Stellar Four’s Meghan B., Courtney Schafer, and L. Jagi Lamplighter.

The SFWA blog has reprinted my Cooking the Books interview with Saladin Ahmed – What Heroes Eat. Saladin was a great guest, and his books are amazing. If you haven’t already, give that a peek as well.

I’m wrapping up the year, trying to finish as much of OtherNovel as I can before I dive back into Bone Arrow and its kin. There should probably be a numbers post, like last year. Adding that to the list. Meantime, I hope your end of year goes wonderfully, and that I’ll see you next year!

Why I Run (Slow)


In Zombies Run, I’m food. Know what? That’s ok.

My friends Kyle and Kelly wrote about why they run after The Oatmeal comic on the same topic a couple months ago. I wrote something too, but I didn’t post it. I’m not always comfortable talking about physical stuff. I’d rather talk about flying. Or sailing.

Kelly says post it. And it is good to listen to Kelly. So, here we go.

I don’t run far*, and I don’t run all that fast. That’s ok.

When I was a toddler my feet pointed inward so much that I not only got the clunky corrective shoes; I also wore a special pair of boots to bed. These were made of stiff white leather and had a metal bar bolted between them. SUPER stylish.

I remember climbing out of bed and swish-walking down the hall, listening to the sound of my clunky feet.

Man, I hated those things. But I was happier when I figured out how to move in them.

Happier still when they came off and, after a year flailing around in ballet, I started gymnastics and figured out how to fly. (more…)

LoneStarCon Wrap-Up and Picspam

Tor editor Miriam Weinberg, and me with all the Tor pins that I stole from the party because Teresa said I could.

Tor editor Miriam Weinberg, and me with all the Tor pins that I stole from the party because Reasons.

Sunil Patel.

with Sunil at the Tor party.

Kelly Lagor & Nicole Feldringer, besties.

Kelly Lagor & Nicole Feldringer, besties.

My Labor Day weekend was a blur because I was on the program at WorldCon. So were a lot of other people I know and love (though not all, because this weekend was also DragonCon). What this meant was much time spent rushing back and forth from hotel to convention center in San Antonio heat. They take their heat seriously in Texas.

The weekend was made much more interesting by virtue of last week’s announcement. More on that in a minute. (more…)

Now I Can Finally Tell You…

Last October, I wrote about my novel, Bone Arrow, as part of the Next Big Thing meme. I alluded to the story and the world in October 2011, as part of a post called The Thing. You see, Bone Arrow began as part of a story written during a 1-day challenge at a workshop called Viable Paradise. From the very beginning, there have been bone towers, wings, secrets, and dangers. There have been fierce young women and men who lived their lives above the clouds. When the story was read aloud to the writers on Martha’s Vineyard, I knew I wanted to keep writing in this world. And so I did.

Bone Arrow came up again in May when I introduced you to my amazing agents, Russ Galen and Rachel Kory at Scovil, Galen, Ghosh, Literary.

The world of Bone Arrow has been on my mind a lot over the past two years. There’s so much about this place and the people who live in it that I want to share with you.

And now I can finally tell you that you will get to see it all.

Books, you guys! There will be books!

Tor LogoToday, with the help of Russ, Rachel, and my ultra-fabulous new editor, Miriam Weinberg, I can finally tell you that I’ve sold Bone Arrow and two more books to Tor!

You’ll be seeing them over the course of the next three years.

Here’s a little peek at Bone Arrow:

On a morning like this, fear is a clear blue sky emptied of birds. It is the smell of cooking trapped in closed towers, of smoke looking for ways out. It is an ache in the back of the eyes from searching the distance, and a weight in the stomach that is as old as this city.

The early light filters through our balcony shutters as my mother selects her wings. She turns her back to me so that I can cinch the woven straps tight against her shoulders. When two bone horns sound low and loud from Mondarath, the tower nearest ours, she stiffens.

I pause, wanting to look through the holes in the shutters, but she urges me on while she trains her eyes on the sky.

I’m so grateful to my friends from Viable Paradise, Taos Toolbox, the Liars’ Club in Philadelphia, and to my family and my friends for their support.

I’m grateful for you too.

I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens next.

(If you are of Facebook, here’s a very early author page to like. If not, no worries. You know where to find me.)