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Winding down

How to begin the end of 2014:

  • Yoga
  • A few pages of a Guy Gavriel Kay novel
  • Coffee
  • Pie
  • Selling a story

I am pleased that as rough as this year was I could still write something someone wanted to read, and even to pay money for. (Who am I kidding: good year, bad year – always thrilled that someone wants my fiction!)

Details to follow.

The year in writing

2014 was the year of personal rejections: of the six stories I submitted, five either sold or received personal rejections and/or were short-listed. I only finished two new stories in 2014, but I suspect I can be forgiven for that. My overall numbers weren’t too unlike earlier years.

I’ve been submitting stories for six years, and in that time I’ve written fifteen stories that have made it to a submittable state. I’ve made 45 submissions, and five sales.

In that time, I’ve also written one and a half YA novels, and started an adult speculative historical novel and an adult urban fantasy novel in the same world as Horn. I have 13 short stories in progress; some of them have been that way for four or more years. I should add start date to my metadata. 

Submissions by year

  • 2014: 10 submissions of 6 stories; 4 shortlisted, 1 sale
  • 2013: 11 submissions of 7 stories; 2 shortlisted
  • 2012: 13 submissions of 6 stories; 2 sales
  • 2011: 6 submissions of 4 stories
  • 2010: 4 submissions of 4 stories; 2 sales
  • 2009: 1 submission, 1 story

Submissions by story

  • 2014: 1 submission, sold 2014
  • 2014: 2 submissions, shortlisted 1
  • 2013: 1 submission
  • 2013: 3 submissions, revised to editorial request
  • 2013: 3 submissions, shortlisted 1
  • 2013: 3 submissions
  • 2012: 1 submission, sold 2012
  • 2012: 8 submissions, shortlisted 1, sold
  • 2011: 8 submissions, shortlisted 2
  • 2011: 3 submissions
  • 2011: 4 submissions
  • 2010: 1 submission. sold 2010
  • 2010: 1 submission
  • 2010: 1 submission, sold 2010
  • 2009: 5 submissions, sold 2012

Pleasantly boring

My life has been pleasantly boring the past couple of weeks. I’m back at work full-time, I’m eating pretty much whatever I want and as much as I want, a couple weeks of light yoga have left me feeling somewhat less fragile. Most things are straightened out again after two months of ignoring them, and the cats still love me.


I don’t even have any doctor appointments for the entire month of December, except a 10-minute visit to get my oil changed, I mean mediport flushed.

Temporary normality, what a lovely change.

The creative part of my brain is the first thing to go when I’m stressed or sick, and it’s finally starting to come burbling back. I managed to revise a story and come up with a lovely new title. You should, if all goes well, get to read it and admire the title in early 2015.

Oh wait a minute, I am the world’s most horrible medical blogger. Really truly horrible! Because you know what? My CEA cancer marker was 1.5 at my last blood test right before Thanksgiving, but I got involved eating pie and watching Casablanca (and the lethargy involved in recovering from being really sick) and didn’t share the tremendously good news. You see, normal is anything less than 3.5. Fuck yeah! (My personal high was nearly 4000, so this is rather impressive.)

Okay, right. Moving along…

It being December, it’s finally time for Christmas music, but only the best for my loyal readers.

(via BoingBoing)

Here’s another must-see video, this time via Phil Plait at Slate:

Wanderers – a short film by Erik Wernquist from Erik Wernquist on Vimeo.

Short stories

I just finished a new story and submitted it, making three that are out now (and four that have not yet been resubmitted after rejection).

It seemed like a good time to look through the stories in progress, and do a first-lines meme a la Elizabeth Bear. It turns out I have eleven stories that have words written (not just notes or outline), and here they are (some with final titles, some with working titles):

The Antonym of Rainbow: A can-can line of blue elephants gyrated through the wormhole void.

The Dirt of Denela: Loredana Ney’s troubles ended here, up against a red-toned crater wall, with the dirt of Denela under her fingernails and poison lining her throat.

Learning to be Terrestrial: I cupped the full mug of coffee in my hands, the memory of warmth enough to keep my fingers wrapped around a cold cup.

Tapestry: The angel arrived in the afternoon.

Kitchen, Arthur, Fragile: The kitchen glowed. Sunlight streaming through the windows blended with the shine of the small fire on the hearth and both bounced off the clean whitewashed walls until the whole room shone with directionless radiance.

All the Leaves on Mars: Whisper-thin sheets of stainless steel piled to the ceiling, compulsively stacked, impeccably organized.

Alpha Says Omega: Misha laid her hand over Tom’s, formed a smile so practiced it appeared spontaneous.

The Future is Drawn in Maps of the Past: The knock echoed through the office. Jim jumped, long and painful experience pulling his hand away from the paper taped to the drafting board.

Oyster: “I’m going to find a blue one!”

Gray: The sky was gray, as smooth as if it had been airbrushed, the same shade as the dishes she slid into the matching cupboard.

Carnival Glass: I tied a bandana over my hair, glad I was alone in the house so nobody could see it.

Snowmen in August

The Clarion West Write-a-thon ended Friday. I haven’t totalled up the words yet, but am pretty sure I fell a bit short of my 5,000 word goal. I missed a couple days of writing, too, for Confluence, and another day lost to exhaustion.

Tamie not just agreed to having her story posted, she insisted that I post it.

So here you go, a quick lunchtime flash. The prompt words were: chard, middle, snowman, hairball, frizzle-inator.

Winter Wonderland
by Sarah Goslee

Parsley curls were not good snowman hair: the poor guy looked like he’d been hit by a frizzle-inator. She wanted her winter lawn art to
look edgy but attractive, not like a hairball left by a giant vegetarian cat. The snowman anchored the middle of the display,
flanked by a snow platypus and a snow pangolin with sculpted scales. If she could get the hair right, her punk snowman and companions would
be the hit of the winter festival. Her neighbor Sam was sure his snow velociraptor was going to win, but dinosaurs were so 2013. Mel looked
around to make sure the tarps were still shielding the yard from view; she didn’t want Sam to see the parsley disaster. She’d never live it

Mel dashed for the kitchen, returning with a handful of chard. Rainbow mohawk, and best of all, she wouldn’t have to eat the stuff.


The Clarion West Write-a-thon ends Friday, and I am NOWHERE NEAR my 5,000 word goal.

Or am I?

I have 2,694 words of outline and prose so far, just over half of the 5,000 word target.

But I also have 2,351 words of character notes, 7,766 words on place notes, and 41,485 words of other research notes. Ahem.

I really can’t count those unless I go through and sort out my words from those copied from other sources, since the research notes chunk especially is both my notes and things I wanted to save verbatim for later.

I also have a mind map, though I have no idea how to translate that into equivalent words.

I’ve done better on the “writing every day” plan, though a few days were more research than outlining. I also took a break this weekend while at Confluence: I have not enough brain and energy to do the con and write both.

So pretty good on that front, but I have a lot of words to write by Friday!

To distract you from my lack of progress, here’s the first 150-word sponsor story. All of you lovely people who sponsored me, you need to give me your ideas! Otherwise I get to pick, and, well. Heh. This sponsor chose weaving, perfume, and alchemy, and this is what resulted.

Peace Surpassing
by Sarah Goslee

Strands wound together in a riotous tapestry, under and over, with areas of around and through where soumak mixed with plain weave. The warp of plain white linen was nothing special. The weft, though, was an alchemical marvel, beauty and science blended. This portrait of the city skyline would be the focal point of a new museum exhibit of science-inspired art. Each distinct color of yarn carried not only visual impact, but an olfactory message as well. The weaver meant her tapestry to be touched: a gentle stroke of fingers across cloth would release a carefully-tuned symphony of scent evoking the strengths of the city and its myriad cultures: its food, its gardens, all supported by undertones of concrete and steel. Lurking beneath the perceptible, embedded pheromones would permanently rewire the brains of all who toured the gallery, encouraging them to tend their home and make it

Oh. My.

The table of contents for the Genius Loci anthology, edited by Jaym Gates, just went live.

I’ve known since about 3am (yes, I check my email in the middle of the night if the velocikittenraptors happen to wake me up) that I have a story in the anthology.

What I didn’t know was the whole table of contents. That’s quite a list, yes it is. Quite. A. List.


*is ded*

*reanimates as a zombie with a bad case of impostor syndrome*

I’m utterly thrilled, of course, to be part of this ToC and to be working with Jaym again.

Wow, you all!

I’m amazed: I signed up for the Clarion West write-a-thon on a whim to provide motivation for myself. I didn’t expect anyone to actually sponsor me, and yet here you are. 

Thank you! Inordinately! 

 I really do want to write you all stories, but you have to pick the topic. Otherwise I’ll choose something, and it will probably be utterly inappropriate. 

So how’s it going, you might ask, being entitled as a sponsor to investigate my writing progress.

Well, let’s see. My goal is to have a complete outline of Book of Phantoms by the end of the write-a-thon, of at least 5000 words. I have six weeks to do this thing, from June 22 to August 1.

So far: I have worked on the outline every day since June 22. Some days that involved hours of research, brainstorming, and note-taking, while other days contained only a few minutes of jotting. Still, every day.

And the 5000 words? The outline itself is currently 539 words, and I have 1403 words of actual prose that I’m totally counting. Why do I get to count that? I need to write the characters to understand how they react, so that I can do more and more evil but realistic things to them later in the book. So that would be 1942 words, or 39% of my goal, as of July 9 (I haven’t written anything other than science and blog posts yet today), or 42% of the time. So I’m a bit behind, but not too bad. 

Oooh, wait! I’m not behind at all, because I have more outline on the iPad that’s not counted in the total. There might even be the 158 words I need to get caught up.

I also have a LOT of words of character and place descriptions and historical background that will make it into the main text in artfully placed tidbits here and there, but I’d have to sort out my own words from those copied from various sources to count them, and I’m too lazy. Also, I’d rather spend my time writing than 

I have a complete if sketchy outline of the main plot, and am filling in subplots around it while also expanding the main plot. Novels have a lot of chapters. Never is that more obvious than when you’re trying to figure out what each of them should contain.

I’m still totally in love with this book, or at least the idea of this book. (Someone remind me of that when I’m slogging through the middle of the first draft, okay?)

In other writing news, none of the five stories I have out right now has been rejected yet, and one is actually shortlisted for the anthology for which it was written. 


Confluence, to be held in Pittsburgh on July 25-27, is effectively my home con. I’ve only been going for a few years, but I’ve only been going to cons for a few years, since I started actually selling stories (my first was WFC in Columbus in 2010, immediately after I attended Viable Paradise).

Confluence was also the first con that let me participate in programming, and they’ve done so again this year. I think they may be trying to kill me (five consecutive hours on Friday night??!!), but there are some lovely things here, and some that may be… controversial. I’ll be packing my asbestos overcoat.

I’m quite thrilled to be on a panel with friend and neighbor Daryl Gregory, and very excited about the Saturday worldbuilding panel, as that’s a topic I pitched (and a panel I hope to see happen at WFC in Washington DC this fall as well).

I hope to see some of you in Pittsburgh at the end of the month!

Fri 6:00 PM Marshall Is SFWA Still Relevant? Bud Sparhawk (M), Sarah Goslee, Christie Meierz, Denise Verrico

Fri 7:00 PM ??? Kaffee Klatsch Michael Arnzen, Sarah Goslee

Fri 8:00 PM Pine The White Man in SF – A new look at diversity and alternative lifestyles Sarah Goslee, KT Pinto, Tim Liebe, Denise Verrico (M)

Fri 9:00 PM Pine A Pack of Apocalypse – How realistic are end-of-Civilization scenarios Ken Chiacchia (M), Alan Katerinsky, Daryl Gregory, Sarah Goslee

Fri 10:00 PM Marshall Social Networking – Talking about it really Does make it better Eric Beebe, Jacqueline Druga (M), Sarah Goslee

Sat 2:00 PM Pine Foods, fabrics and Fancies – Other worldbuilding Foundations Sarah Goslee (M), Wiliam H Keith, Tamora Pierce, Cindy Lynn Speer

Clarion write-a-thon and works in progress

I submitted four short stories this morning, for a total of five out: I’m feeling rather proud of myself! That makes only two previous subs that are languishing, and both need some work before they’re ready to face the world again. (I have innumerable stories in progress, of course.)

I’m working on a new novel, science fiction set in 10th century al-Andalus, working title Book of Phantoms. Right now I’m in the research and outlining phase, and have one more major plot point to figure out. SO MUCH FUN!

To provide some external motivation, I signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon, a fundraiser for the writing workshop. The write-a-thon runs from June 22 to August 1, and my writing goal is to complete a 5000-word outline for Phantoms. (That’s not a very ambitious goal, but the timespan is almost exactly coincident with chemo-radiation, and I wanted to choose something I could manage.) So far I’ve worked on the outline every day since the write-a-thon began, which is pretty good for me. I’m not normally an every day kind of writer. Here’s to external motivation!

If you sponsor me, I will write you a 150-word short story on the topic of your choice.