Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger is a warm-hearted return to characters that series fans love, and it manages to also have a story of its own (which not all tie-in novellas or short novels do, not by a long shot). Contains estranged but still longing lovers, unexpected babies (not theirs), pivotal curtain dilemmas, and werewolves gaining self-assurance. Too slight to be a strong introduction for new readers, but recommended for fans of the series.
Story: Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger
Genre: Historic paranormal romance
Published: November 2017, published independently
Length: Novella or short novel
How I got it: I forked over the cash moneys.
Biases: I'm a fan of the Parasol Universe, and I'm fine with M/M romances.
Why would a woman no longer be in possession of what should be one of her most cherished possessions? As a point of honor, Jack Reacher must know. The Midnight Line has much of what I love in Jack Reacher books, but with an atypical-for-this-series ensemble of investigators working together. The refusal to give up on a goal no matter what, the hurling of himself into physical danger with the kind of advance knowledge and awareness of his own abilities that makes it not a rash action--the signature of a Reacher story is there. But the mystery in the book takes twists and turns and shows us how people's hopes and fears influence what they find. This one is more mystery than thriller. Recommended.
Note: The Reacher books are highly episodic. This can be read out-of-order with no problems.
Story: The Midnight Line by Lee Child
Published: November 2017, Delacorte Press
Length: Sure, it's book-sized.
How I got it: Goodreads giveaway.
Biases: I'm a fan of the Reacher books, and I have been for ages.
This story fits nicely into the "FBI procedural mystery with supernatural elements" category, and if that isn't a category, it should be, because I would like more please. It follows the "vampires as humans with additional abilities and drawbacks that can also make them go a bit around the bend and be serial murderers" idea of a vampire. The characters are engaging and well-drawn, especially given the shortness of the story. I want to spend more time with them, and I'm interested in seeing what happens with the relationships and the bigger picture problems.
Story: Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson
Length: Short novel
Published: July 2016
Subgenre: Urban fantasy
Stand-alone: Yes, but has sequels.
This is not exactly rejectomancy, but it is mucking about with submission numbers data and how to predict what kind of competition your submissions are getting. THIS IS NOT REALLY USEFUL FOR A WRITER TO KNOW. RUNNING THE ODDS STRICTLY BY THE NUMBERS WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY. But it is interesting.
I've been curious about what percentage of writers is represented by the submissions tracked at Submission Grinder. (Tl;dr = 10%.) So!
A recent interview with Uncanny Magazine said that they got 1,000-2,000 submissions per month. They've had two monthlong submission periods in the past 12 months, with a total of 417 submissions tracked on Submission Grinder. Figure 209 submissions/month. This means that roughly 1/5 to 1/10th (21%-10%) of the writers submitting to them in those months used Submission Grinder.
The day before yesterday, I submitted a story to F&SF. At the time, it was #239 in the queue (today it is 139--*gulp*).
So 100 people got their responses. In that time, 13 people recorded responses on Submission Grinder (13%).
Updated for more accuracy: Charlie Finlay let me know that the day-before-yesterday's queue was not average. F&SF's average daily submissions received is about 35. Submission Grinder has tracked 1820 completed reports in the past 12 months, for an average of 4.99 submissions/day (14%).
In 2015, Clarkesworld reported what looks a lot like about 40 submissions/day. They were already well-established at the time, so let's say submission numbers remain about at those numbers. Submission Grinder reports an average of 4.48 submissions/day in the past 12 months. Again, we're hovering just above 1/10th of writers recording their subs in Submission Grinder (11%).
By this extremely unscientific math, the number of submissions shown on Submission Grinder is probably 10%-21% of the actual number of submissions the publication received. The 10% is probably more accurate because of the data it's based on.
Why am I specifically curious about this now?
I submitted a story to the (now closed) Into the Black contest, which was a fairly high profile one-off contest that has a hefty $12,000 prize and no entry fee. I would expect there to be a lot of entries, even with the strict theme and wordcount limits. Only 12 submissions were recorded on Submission Grinder, which seemed super-low. I'm guessing part of that is because they probably got many entries from people coming from the universal basic income movement, instead of only writers coming from the "here's a neat writing contest" side of it, but still. Huh.
(BTW, if you're at all interested in the idea of a Universal Basic Income, go read the contest page. They have ALL the links.)
Allergens: Dairy-free, contains eggs, gluten.
Original recipe source: Epicurious.com
3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
1 large lemon, for 1/2 tsp. lemon zest and 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 tsp. rosemary
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use (or toss, because really, who uses one egg white?!?)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
9x9 square pan
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease pan with some olive oil, then line with parchment paper*. Oil parchment.
Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1/2 teaspoon and whisk together in a bowl with 1 c. flour and 1/2 tsp. rosemary.
Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
(OPTIONAL: reverse the order of the next two paragraphs, whipping egg whites first in the actual mixing bowl and then hand-holding another large bowl for the yolks, angling it as needed to help it blend properly.)
Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.
Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Transfer batter to pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then remove parchment and transfer to serving platter.
Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours.
Whisk together 1 c. powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice. Texture should be thick. Drizzle across cake with a spoon. Wait 15 minutes before serving.
* Do not substitute wax paper. It will catch on fire in your oven. Do not ask me how I know.
Asian BBQ Chicken
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Asian black sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more if you like heat)
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
(optional) 2 scallions light and dark green parts only, thinly sliced
Can make an additional half-recipe, warm until sugar melts, and use as extra glaze over the top after cooked.
In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the chicken and scallions. Place in a zip-lock freezer bag with the chicken thighs. Be sure the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade, then place the bag in the refrigerator (in a bowl in case of leakage); let marinate for 3-4 hours, rotating occasionally.
Preheat grill to high heat.
Grease the grill. (IMPORTANT: Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; then, using tongs, carefully rub the towels over the grates several times until glossy and coated.)
Place the chicken on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned and done (chicken breasts will take significantly longer). Transfer the chicken to a serving platter.
(Optional) Top with extra (not meat-contaminated) marinade and sliced scallions.
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Per serving (4 servings)
Make the lime cabbage 4-24 hours in advance for this recipe, to allow marinating time.
2 c. cabbage chopped into 1/4"-1/2", packed in the measuring cup (about 1/4 head of cabbage)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh parsley
salt to taste
1 1/2 c. uncooked rice (about 3 c. cooked)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 c. chopped lime cabbage (about 1/4"-1/2" squares), packed in the measuring cup
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced or finely grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. fish sauce
Chop, mince, beat, and measure all the things in advance.
Cook rice with:
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
Heat oil over high heat in a wok or your largest pan. Add:
Stir constantly until vegetables are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add:
Stir for another minute.
Heat a little more oil (about 1 Tbsp.) in the middle. Add rice and stir until thoroughly coated.
Make a well in the center of the pan by pushing rice to the sides. Lower heat. Pour eggs into center and stir eggs constantly until mostly cooked. Then stir all the contents of the pan together.
Combine in a small bowl:
Drizzle sauce over rice and mix.
ed. Cin Ferguson
In this mixed genre group of eco-tales, thirty-two authors from around the globe offer up some lessons in why it's wise to be kind to Mother Earth. Read and take heed. Your very life may depend on it! From my story, "The Miracle Material":
I tell myself that Meredith is safe and happy. We came from the sea, the scientists said. When there were scientists. What could be more natural than for us to return to the sea? I tell myself that she is safe and happy within the bosom of the sea.
I know I lie.
Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads
My first attempt was the Malai Chickpea Dumplings. The recipes have a few amounts or ingredients left deliberately vague. "Indian spice blend," for example, or "fresh ginger" without a quantity. I went with 2 tsp. garam masala plus 1/8 tsp. turmeric and 1/16 tsp. cayenne for the spice blend. I used 1 1/2 Tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger. I also used about 1/4 c. parsley as a sub for the cilantro (we hates it, precious). And I used 1 can of light coconut milk + 1 can of regular coconut milk because holy calories, Batman!
The sauce was rich, creamy, mildly spicy, and pretty darn good. Two thumbs up for an Indian vegan recipe that has that particularly Indian blend of spice and buttery mouthfeel. BUT. The chickpea dumplings basically dissolved in the sauce. They were not very dumplingy at all. Maybe I did not make them large enough or cook them hot enough? I don't know. Also, the pilaf was a disappointment. Turns out that if you dump almonds and raisins into cooked white rice, it tastes like that's all you did.
There was SO MUCH DRAMA at the dinner table because the kids wanted plain white rice, which was not available. Curries are usually a thing that works to feed the kids in my house, but this didn't work. It might if I also made plain white rice and offered the option of having the rice and curry in a chapati, burrito-style.
Vegan yogurt is really expensive. It takes much longer than you might think to make chickpea flour in a food processor. Spinach sauteed in olive oil with a little bit of onion and salt and pepper ends up tasting pretty good! (Even if it contributed to the SO MUCH DRAMA from the kids.)
Might make the sauce again, but it's too calorie-heavy to be a regular meal and the dumplings and pilaf are a no-go.P.S. Malai means 'cream', if you were wondering!
Picture from Purple Carrot
In which there's a super-awesome short fiction contest about the idea of a basic income (and the prize is one!), and I ponder how writing time disappears.
But! This cover! It's lovely, but I interpret it as maybe fantasy, maybe romance, but not specifically urban fantasy. Expectation mismatch.
Summer is ending and autumn is almost here. The kids are going back to school. I put Cassius on his school bus today at 9 AM. Next week, Theia starts going to preschool 5 mornings a week. This means I get time to write and do writingy stuff! Today is a misc writing stuff day, so I'm tracking big goals and updating my writing to-do list.
Doing the math! Theoretically, if I get myself ready for the day before the kids are out the door (not something I've always succeeded at!), I'll have about 3 1/2 hours to myself every morning to work on writing, plus whatever I can scrape together at other times. Theia's been really uncooperative about staying quietly in her room during afternoon quiet time and bedtime recently, so that time is not as useful as it used to be. Phil usually gives me a couple of hours one evening during the week and also one weekend day.
3.5 morning hours * (5 writing days - 1 misc writing stuff day) + 1 afternoon/evening hour * 6 + 3 bonus weeknight hours + 4 weekend hours - 5 hours weekly of cleaning/bills/paperwork during regular writing time
3.5*(5-1)+1*6+3+4-5 = 22 hours/week to write, max
22 hours seems really high! It's something to shoot for, though. I don't think I'm going to get that much, given my other housework/parenting/social commitments. My estimate of only 5 hours of writing time weekly sacrificed to bills and paperwork and cleaning is probably low. I'm also not very productive in the first hour of a block of writing time.
I am really looking forward to finding out what my writing rate is when both kids are in school, at least in the mornings.
Project 1: Space Marine Midwife anthology short story, "Mother of Nobody" ("Mother of No Child" "Mother of None" "Mother of No-One"). Figure this will probably eat a month of regular writing time, between plotting, writing, critting, and revising.
CURRENT STATUS: I have some ideas.
ETA DUE: Submission period is maybe "late autumn." Hey, I need to get started on this one!
Project 2: Scorpion Dance. My main novel project.
CURRENT STATUS: 70,719 / 100,000 written.
ETA GOAL: Complete draft by 2018, which means 10,000 words in three-quarters of the months remaining. Oh! That's a lot, given everything else I'm doing (yet not much, considering that a full day of writing should net me about 2,000 words--if I ever got a full day of writing) and the various complications of life.
Project 2: The Unkindness of Ravens short-cut. Finish cutting novella down to under 25,000 words. Start sending it on the submission rounds for places that pay enough to make it worth it (i.e. no $100 advance or royalty-only small presses).
CURRENT STATUS: Over halfway done.
ETA: I expect to finish that project this week (by 9/1/2017).
Project 2b: Draw up project timeline, budget, and task list for self-pubbing novella, to be executed either after exclusive period from publication or after exhausting the limited well-paying options for novellas (up to 9 months). Remember to include sequels.
CURRENT STATUS: Not started.
ETA: Tentative, 9 months of collecting rejections would put it DUE BY 6/1/2018.
Project 3: Destroy revisions backlog, starting with "You May Also Like Gas Masks." Current rate for redmarking = 3-4 pgs/week. Then I'll need to make the marked changes (time = ???) and do a final read-aloud draft (1 day). Says something that I don't even know about how much time this process takes me.
CURRENT STATUS: Ongoing project. 13/23 pages redmarked for "You May..."
ETA: About 5 weeks from now to finish the redmarking, estimate 10/5/2017 to finish redmarking.
Project 4: Dragon Succubus, the fluffy side-project novel. The whole point of this project is that it is the thing I'm working on when I don't have anything else to do or when I have only a smidge of time and so I can't work on anything too complicated.
CURRENT STATUS: 56,246 / 80,000 words
ETA: I've been fiddling with it on and off since November 2015, sooooo maybe draft ETA 10/31/2018??
In the next couple of months, I'm also teaching a class at the Loft. I've run it before, so I don't need to come up with the lesson plans, but I need to make a couple of tweaks, do publicity, etc.
I want to get the pseudonym's stuff in the pipeline, but I think that'll have to wait.
And I've been thinking of poking at Circus of Brass and Bone, updating the layout to reflect the episodic nature of it, adding reviews to backmatter and interior, maybe trying some ads and seeing if that boosts sales, trying a bookbub or putting it in Kindle Unlimited. But those things take time and/or money, so. Not putting it on the official goals for the next 3 months, 'cause I have enough things there for now!
I'm in the middle of a massive hack-and-slash on a finished novella project, cutting 29,200 words down to 25,000 so that I can submit it a shorter version to a particular place. That means I need to cut enough words that they would make a good-sized short story all by themselves. I'm about a quarter done. I approach this project in the spirit of taking out everything that I possibly can, from adjectives to not-entirely-critical character interactions to whole scenes that can be summarized or omitted.
That is not how I normally approach editing. I don't believe that cutting down to the bone is best for every story. You can lose a lot of your personal voice and style that way. (I still cut my fair share of weasel words and plot going nowhere and bits that only exist to get from Point A to Point B, I assure you!)
I held back on announcing this, because reasons, but I have a new publication to announce! My short story, "Miracle Material," appears in Mother's Revenge: A Dark and Bizarre Anthology of Global Proportions.
(Read the rest of this Aswiebe's Market List update here: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/
The concept of the Sin du Jour novella series is that there is a catering company that works specifically for the high-powered supernatural set. Yes, the dietary requirements and ingredient quests are as hair-raising as you might imagine. It's also great to see a behind-the-scenes look at a (highly unusual) catering company and what the day-to-day life of the people who work there is like.
In Greedy Pigs, the caterers find themselves double-booked for two inauguration ceremonies, one human, one not. They have to adjust on the fly. Meanwhile, one of their own is not acting like himself. It all comes to a head at the inaugurations. There is a certain amount of commentary on our political system, but not to a degree that should push away readers who are sick of the political news cycle right now.
This book pays off on a lot of the interpersonal stuff that was set up previously in the series. To which I said, "At last!" The motivation for the main plot depends on it. Although this series is intentionally episodic, you probably want to read at least the previous book (Idle Ingredients) before this one. I recommend the Sin du Jour series if you're interested in something that's funny, dark at times, a little crass, and rooted in the lives of everyday working folks. Most of the books stand alone quite nicely.
Disclaimer: I'm a fan of Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace's Ditchdiggers podcast about writing, so I went into this story hearing his voice reading it and also with a lot of outside context about the author, which changes things a bit.
Read if: You like stories with working class protagonists.
Skip if: You hate novellas or politics.
First Published: Tor.com Publishing, May 2017.
How'd I get it: Won it in a Goodreads giveaway.
As a panelist at conventions, I am fortunate enough to be put in a position where I need to intensively study a certain story-related question. It changes my reading list. It changes the way that I read my reading list. It changes the way I read things that are not on my reading list. Maybe you're not on any panels. Maybe you don't go to conventions. You can still benefit from a narrow focus on the topic. Find a nearby convention, choose a panel that you're interested in, and plan as if you're going to be talking on that panel: questions, observations, and reading lists. You may be surprised by how much you gain from this.
I recently wrapped up a short writing project. I've gone back to working on my novel(s), except the next 6 weeks are full of conventions, related convention panel prep, and teaching classes. Classes! I am teaching classes! If you are interested in these, register. If someone you know in the Twin Cities area would be interested, please pass this information along. Register now!
We are in the thick of the part of the year known as "convention season." This is a mixed blessing for my reading list. Reading books is panel prep! It counts as working! On the other hand, I try to keep distractions out of my reading list and so there are all kinds of wonderfully tempting books that I'm postponing reading for the next couple of months.
This summer, I'm on panels at 4th Street Fantasy Convention (next week!) and CONvergence. I'm also teaching a couple of one-day classes at The Loft Literary Center, but they aren't the kind that require reading whole novels.
Stealth Characterization via Setting (https://www.loft.org/shop/
Writer ... With Kids: Finding Time to Create (https://www.loft.org/shop/
Interested? Go register!
For 4th Street, I'm reading urban fantasy. I've started with a re-read of War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. It's been a few years since I last read it, but I know I'll enjoy it.
My 4th Street panel is the very first panel of the convention: Even in Byerly’s, You’re Not Out of the Woods.
Panelists: Holly Black, Pamela Dean, Casey Blair, Dana Baird, and me.
I'm on three panels at CONvergence. Two of the panels are discussing writing techniques, but I'm going to need to brush up a bit for the third one, which is about the surveillance state in reality and fiction.
Thursday, Jul 6, 8:30 PM
Soul of Wit
Description: Short story and flash fiction authors discuss their writing techniques and provide tips on how to make the most of a limited word count. Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Aimee Kuzenski, Ben San Del, Elizabeth Bear (mod), Roy C. Booth
Friday, Jul 7, 5:00 PM
What to Do When They're Watching You
Science fiction writers have long been concerned about a surveillance state, but recent technologies have made this fear more and more realistic. What technologies are watching us and what does science fiction tell us to do about it? Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Dave Walbridge, Craig A. Finseth, Jamie Riedesel, Eric Zawadzki (mod)
Friday, Jul 7, 7:00 PM
Pixar's Story Writing Rules
Pixar has published 22 rules to aid in writing stories. Which ones work? Do any NOT work? Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Melissa Olson (mod), John Heimbuch, Dave Walbridge, Tex Thompson
Do you have any recommendations for good SF about living in a surveillance state? Let me know! The setting can be near-future or far-future. I am especially interested in stories that came out within the last few years.
Do any of the panel topics raise questions in your mind? What are they? I want to be as prepared as I can be for what the audience might want to know.
Finally, if you know anyone who might be interested in the productivity or advanced characterization classes, please point them that way!
Inspiration: chance operations, love and loss, many worlds hypothesis, alternate timelines, wave function collapse, and choice strategies.