2021 Roundup

With three days left of the year, I’m making my last post of 2021 a summary and a celebration. It’s been a crazy one for many reasons, but I’ll focus on my writing achievements… Of which I’m feeling quite proud!

At the start of the year, I sent On Solar Winds (Archivist Book One) out for query. I actually received a few offers–which ultimately were not for me–but that kept me feeling good for a long time. However, I received some really useful feedback in September (and I’d learnt a lot more about the state of the publishing industry by then), so I took the book off query to edit it again. Next year, I’ll be submitting it as a Young Adult novel rather than adult-YA crossover. I’m really excited for this change.

But what else? I also completed first drafts of On Lascian Seas (Archivist series Book Two); Colossus (YA Jack and the Beanstalk scifi-solarpunk retelling novella); Road to Karratha (Australian urban fantasy roadtrip novel); and a whole lot of short stories.

Of these, I published 23 stories and five poems right here on this blog. Seven came about as entries for the Australian Writer’s Centre’s Furious Fiction competition–a monthly competition I will sadly miss when it changes to quarterly next year. Others were writing prompt responses, though poetry most frequently was off the top of my head.

I’ve found that the more I write, the more I love writing and the creative process. I’ve been blogging for two and a half years now, following my journey to publication with the Archivist series. This year proved to me that I have begun to get the right level of skill for this next stage of sharing my words. Obviously, I know that there is still so much to learn, but every time I receive an acceptance from someone else–that someone else wants to publish my work!–I do a little happy dance and feel a little more validated.

Learning

The fantastic Fight Like A Girl: Writing Fight Scenes for Female Characters by Aiki Flinthart was a must-recommend craft book this year. Two other highly useful texts were The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, and The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma, both by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Plus How To Be An Author: The Business of Being An Author in Australia by Deborah Hunn and Georgia Richter was essential when navigating the tricky contracts of my first book offers.

The Australian Writer’s Centre has many excellent courses. I have just started their newest, Romance Writing… and though I am not planning to become a romance author, it is really useful for understanding genre conventions and reader expectations for a love story, which I do like to include in some of my work.

I also attended a course with Writing The Other: Creating Diverse Characters. Authors Nisi Shawl, Piper J. Drake, and K. Tempest Bradford taught about “intersectionality, character relationships, avoiding stereotypes and tropes, and depicting people from different genders, sexualities, classes, ethnicities, ability levels, and religious backgrounds.” This was an extremely valuable learning experience and one I would highly recommend for anyone planning to write characters who are different from yourselves.

The other thing I did this year was start to attend genre conventions. The first was Flights of Foundry, a virtual convention for speculative creators (and fans). Several talks stood out to me: Using Psychology to Deepen Character Development by Grace Chan; Writing Post-Colonial Science Fiction by Fabio Fernandes; Worldbuilding from the Ground Up (panel); and Ways to Decolonize Your Fiction Writing by Vida Cruz. Some of these are available on YouTube. Later in the year, I also attended the Rockingham Writer’s Centre Convention. A highlight was a workshop on editing short fiction with Deborah Hunn.

Thirdly, I attended SwanCon 2021, Perth’s science fiction and fantasy convention, in which I was also on two panels! One was all about Anne McCaffrey, an early sci-fi author I loved, and the other was with the fantastic Claire G. Coleman and Stephen Dedman, considering how to decolonise our sci-fi. I loved using my year’s learning to contribute. I definitely want to do something like that again.

Fantasy magic book - an open text on grass coloured red, purple and black, with small flowers and green and purple lights around
Image by Yuri_B

Publications

The Two Of Us
Lakelands Community Competition Winner, Poetry, February 2021

In a great start to the year, I won a local competition to write a love-themed poem. It was printed on a poster for all the community to see – and has been up all year! 🙂

Hotel de Mort
AntipodeanSF, Issue 271, May 2021

My first short story published elsewhere than this blog. A piece that started life as a Furious Fiction response, it was longlisted in November 2020, giving me the confidence to submit it elsewhere. Hotel de Mort is a dark and humorous sci-fi that I also narrated for an episode of the AntipodeanSF Radio Show.

My Thursday Morning Walk, One Week Later; Restrain Yourself, Kitten; Last Words
The Write-In, June-July 2021

These flash pieces were responses to a National Flash Fiction prompt write-in, and subsequently published on their blog. I loved playing with different forms of prose.

School Sports Carnival
Flash Fiction Magazine, October 2021

I had a lot of fun writing School Sports Carnival, and I learnt a lot from the editing process, too. This one started life as a Furious Fiction entry as well, though it didn’t place. It just goes to show that what doesn’t attract one audience (or judges) can still make the cut elsewhere.

Coffee, Red
Curiouser Magazine, Issue 2, December 2021

This one was super exciting: my first paid short story! I can’t wait to receive my contributer copy; you can bet I’ll be posing with it all over social media. The editor called it a ‘strange and spooky tale’. I hope you can get your hands on the magazine; it’s filled with fantastic stories.

Other

In October, Etherea Magazine interviewed me about my querying journey, and what it’s like ‘in the trenches’, as we say on Twitter. I also joined the AntipodeanSF volunteer narrator team this year, with my own short story, and 333 Years by contributor Susan Cornford, appearing on the AntipodeanSF Radio Show.

fountain pen on a letter, next to a pile of envelopes wrapped with a red ribbon
Image by Julie Edgley on Flickr

Blog Stats

– Total posts made: 53 (including this one)
– Total comments: 230
– Total likes: 356
– Total visitors: 1871
– New followers: 55 via WordPress, 4 via email, 1065 via Twitter (welcome all!)
– Most viewed post: ZomCon, AKA My First Convention

Looking Ahead

2022 is going to be a busy one. In January, Aphis’s Gambit will be published online in The Piker Press, a story about hope and perserverance from an unusual perspective. On Assignment in Birdsville, QLD will be in the next issue of Etherea Magazine, in which a cryptozoologist nearly goes a step too far.

February should see Friday Afternoon, Third Trimester at AntipodeanSF, a look at pregnancy in the multiverse. The narration for Friday Afternoon, Third Trimester, will also appear at some point next year on the AntipodeanSF Radio Show. Phantom Queen is coming out at Crow & Cross Keys, in which a teen has a memorable encounter by a Scottish loch. Then Savage Planets will have Clean Slate arriving in April, a story about identity, memory, and the struggle for perfection.

Another story I am excited to share with you is Weathering, where a single mother in a magical, alternate version of my local city struggles with depression and the search for who she is. Coming to Deadset Press‘s Where the Weird Things Are Volume 1, I’ll update you with an expected publication date when I know more.

And that’s just the first quarter of the year.

I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store. I’ll continue sharing flash fiction and poetry here, though you might expect a few less as I go about the extensive editing I have to do. I really hope to have a longer story out there next year, and of course I have my fingers crossed for the new version of On Solar Winds… All in all, I’m feeling positive, and looking forward to another productive year of writing.

Thank you so much for joining me this year. I hope you enjoyed the words and the writing talk, the occasional garden post and the frequent murder stories.

All the best for the last few days of the year that was 2021, and hope you will continue to join me next year.

Fireworks
Image by Ichikawa Yosiko from Pixabay
Header image by mohamed_hassan

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