January Updates

I’ve been quiet, partly because the news is overwhelming, but mostly because I switched web hosting providors and that plus my surprising web incompetence put my site out of commission for longer than planned.

While I was away, I’ve had some miscellaneous good news.

My story “A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover from the Bottom of the Sea” came third in the 2017 Strange Horizons Readers’ Poll.

JC Hoskins recently wrote a very kind review of this story:

Though I don’t know if the author intended it, personally I read it as a story about depression, and loving someone with depression, and the deep dark place that that can be.

From that reading, both the hope and the ferocious tenacity of the protagonist really connected with me.

(I was not, in fact, thinking specifically of depression, but I do think that the depression reading is a good one to which the story’s beats and details are well suited. The same goes for readers who have identified the story as being about addiction. I’m glad that readers with many different life experiences have been able to connect with this one.)

Fran Wilde included “A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover From the Bottom of the Sea” on her list of favorite works from 2016.

Nerds of a Feather added my other 2016 prose work, the “The Scrape of Tooth on Bone”, to their Hugo recommendation longlist for novelettes.

I’ve sold another poem to Liminality Magazine, so now I have not one, but two works forthcoming with them. We’ll see which one lands first and what happens with it.

Most excitingly yet, a work that I collaborated on with Merc Rustad has been accepted by Lightspeed Magazine. “I Sing Against the Silent Sun” is a novelette about poetry and resistance, and it’s set in Merc’s Principality Suns universe. I am a fan of the Principality Suns, in which everything is really weird dark passionate queer space opera all the time, and it was an honor to be asked to collaborate and create things for that world.

I’ll post more about “I Sing Against the Silent Sun” closer to its release.

Reviews of “A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover From the Bottom of the Sea”

My overly personal little deep-sea story in second person is picking up some acclaim around the Internet.

Charles Payseur of Quick Sip Reviews had some kind things to say about it:

…I like that, that the story really isn’t about fixing someone or saving someone. That it’s about being with someone and creating a space where they might want to move. Might want to break free.

Payseur later added the story to his Monthly Round of favorite stories from November, pairing it with a Vanilla Stout:

It is a slow kind of spell that the narrator casts, that the narrator asks the reader to experience. A spell that resists the common tropes and implications. That something can be fixed just by waving at it. That some things can be fixed at all.

Benjamin Wheeler at Tangent Online praised the story, despite admitting he doesn’t like second person:

With the active language, great descriptions and melancholy you could cut with a butter knife, this story really cinches what the author tries to accomplish.

Greg Hullender at Rocket Reviews was less impressed:

Although it’s a fine statement, it doesn’t make for much of a story.

Maria Haskins listed the story on her list of 12 awesome spec stories from November:

Wow… Hoffman’s prose is exquisite: it sings and flows and dances. Outstanding and captivating from start to finish.

And Nin Harris tweeted the story as one of her 30 favorite stories of the year.

If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, the story is here.

A year in review post will happen later in the month; I still have another short fiction publication lined up for December, so I’m waiting for that, first.

March and April updates

Charles Payseur was kind enough to mention my story, “The Scrape of Tooth and Bone”, a second time – this time in his Monthly Round, in which he pairs his favourite short speculative fiction from February with an adult beverage.

Indeed, even with the other amazing stories this month, I’m not sure any can live up to the sheer number of different awesome elements crammed into this tale. Steam-powered archeology featuring a queer neurodiverse female protagonist interacting with the ghosts of dapper sentient dinosaurs while acting as a double agent and getting double crossed and navigating some heavy misogyny and it is all just so good.

The Scrape of Tooth and Bone’s official drink pairing is a rye IPA. Not being a drinker myself, I had to look up what an IPA was, but I am quite flattered.

Meanwhile, I am pleased to report some new and very exciting poetry acceptances.

“Snowflake”, a love poem, will appear in a future issue of Through the Gate.

“Million-Year Elegies: Tyrannosaurus”, the poem where the entire idea for the Million-Year Elegies series comes from, will appear in a future issue of Uncanny Magazine.

“Million-Year Elegies: Edmontonia” will appear in an issue of Mythic Delirium.

February news and reviews

The Scrape of Tooth and Bone” has garnered some delightful attention from reviewers.

Maria Haskins added it to a list of weird and wonderful science fiction and fantasy short stories, along with work by Ursula Vernon, Angela Slatter, Nnedi Okorafor, and more:

This is a highly entertaining and uniquely imagined short story that mixes archaeology, dinosaurs, spiritualism, and…robots.

Charles Payseur had some kind things to say about it at Quick Sip Reviews:

The story just does a great job of really fleshing out the world and making Lilian, the main character, deep and layered and compelling… The way in Lilian is both kind of unreliable and yet entirely genuine is charming and endearing and gets across a nice sense of danger and adventure and wonder.

Bogi Takács featured the story on #diversestories on Twitter.

“The Scrape of Tooth and Bone” has also somehow sprouted its own Goodreads page. I think because GigaNotoSaurus stories are also released individually as ebooks?

Penny Stirling added an older story of mine, “How My Best Friend Rania Crashed a Party and Saved the World“, to their list of free online aromantic and asexual fiction. “Rania”‘s narrator is an aromantic teenage girl.

Since the year began, I’ve sold two new poems – one to Breath & Shadow, and one to Asimov’s. More on them later.

Finally, this news is a bit old, but I have an author tumblr account now. For the foreseeable future, I plan to use it pretty lightly (mostly for reposting my WordPress posts, and occasionally reblogging autism stuff), but anyone who likes tumblr and wants to follow me there is free to do so!

Updates

These were meant to be my end-of-November updates, but either life happened, or I procrastinated; I am increasingly unsure if there is a difference. It seems that every meaningful activity takes time that could be used by some other meaningful activity; this does not negate its meaning. Life is, by and large, going well. As my mental health and personal life slowly and painfully improve, as my ability to get things done at school slowly improves, as my private writing life also improves, my ability to be present and available in my writer persona on social media has deteriorated. I do not know why.

Anyway, my poem “Octopi Viewing a Submersible” has garnered some positive attention. Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews had some flattering things to say about it. Diane Severson Mori at Amazing Stories also gave the poem a nod in her “Women Destroy Hard SF Poetry” post (which is not affiliated with Lightspeed Magazine’s “X destroy Y” series).

Charlotte Ashley has also posted an interview with me to help promote the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest. In this interview, I discuss my story “The Mother of All Squid Builds a Library“, which won the contest in 2013, and went on to be published in Strange Horizons. I also say a little about what is going on in my writing life now.

A tiny poem

Niteblade #30 is now out, and with it, my tiny poem “Abominable Snowman“. (Yes, the lines visible after that link are the whole poem – though with Niteblade that’s generally not the case.)

If you go here you can see Alexa Seidel, Niteblade’s poetry editor, saying some very kind things about the poem (and about my poem “The Mermaid at Sea World”, which was published in Niteblade earlier in the year).

Though I do have a small correction – “Abominable Snowman” isn’t a haiku. The number of syllables is wrong, and some other stuff (if you are a Japanese haiku traditionalist) is also wrong. It is merely a tiny three-line poem, but I am okay with that. 🙂

Please do check out the rest of the issue as well.