Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The One with the Year Ending

This year was, to be all cliché about it, a roller coaster. BIG GOOD THINGS alternating with BIG BAD THINGS in a way that I haven't really experienced before, most years. I'm not going to get into the bad ones, because I dwelled in them at the time and I don't want to dwell anywhere near them anymore. I think I've learned some things from them, at least, and I'll be using the knowledge I've gained for the rest of my life, which should turn out to be helpful. I think that's the best way to look at it.

So. In my writing and editing news, the good thing that's the most current is my story for Steampunk World, a multicultural steampunk anthology that's now in the last days of a popular Kickstarter campaign! "The Emperor Everlasting" is an alternate history story in which the Incas were much more successful in the world than they were in the actual past you may have learned about. Intrigue unfolds as a royal Deviser is thwarted in her every effort to complete the most important job in her nation's history! Who wants to read about a country that features battle llamas? Maybe you? Then here's what you need to know:


Featuring stories by Jay Lake, Lucy A.Snyder, Ken Liu, Nisi Shawl, and many more!

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My most exciting professional development was editing my first anthology, What Fates Impose, which was published after its own successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. The fundraiser allowed the publisher to pay professional rates for all of the stories, because paying writers well for their work was one of the top goals for the project. And so we created this anthology of new tales of divination!

 
Featuring stories by Cat Rambo, Ken Scholes, Lucy A. Snyder, Tim Waggoner, and many more!
 
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2013 included the planning stages for TWO new editing projects for me, so I'm looking forward to doing that work in 2014! I will write more about those projects as more of the details are sorted out.
 
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There's only ONE MORE MONTH left to get copies of two soon-to-be-discontinued science fiction anthologies that contain stories of mine. It's not great news that they'll be gone, but at least there's time to grab them! Because they contain many wild stories about life in space, including my own "An Assessment of the Incident at Camp Righteous" and "Running in Wonderland."
 
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I did some good reading this year, too! My project of reading a Story Each Day for the whole year fizzled out at the end of August, but by then I had read over 250 stories, so I still feel good about it. That's approximately a million words of fiction, at minimum, which is around ten novels' worth. That's in addition to the other thirty-four books I read! Some of the best books I read this year were:
 
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon
  • Salvage and Demolition, by Tim Powers
  • American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • At the Edge of Waking, by Holly Phillips
  • Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, by Sarah Monette
  • The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
  • World War Z, by Max Brooks
  • Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville
 
(I realize that I was WAY LATE to reading many of these, but they were definitely as excellent as everyone had been saying!)

This concludes 2013! Best wishes and good luck for 2014! I'll leave you with a recommendation for my favorite blog, which offers science-backed recommendations for living well and being happy:



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Two Books I'm In Will Soon Go Out of Print!

I got a letter this week that told me the company which published a couple of my stories will be dropping most of its books. It's a struggle to run a small press, and often the profits don't even come close to matching the level of work involved, so the decision is understandable. But in case you're interested in grabbing some books that may be rare collector's items one day (I CERTAINLY HOPE), I'll post the links below. The books will be discontinued as of January 31, 2014, so order before then because it's your last chance! I will get a tiny cut of any sales that transpire, but more importantly, I hope to get more copies out into the world because soon they'll be gone forever...



Space Grunts: Full-Throttle Space Tales #3 is a military science fiction anthology edited by Dayton Ward. It contains my short story of a militant theocracy gone terribly wrong, "An Assessment of the Incident at Camp Righteous." The story is set in a prison camp for native aliens on a planet that's been conquered by humans.



Space Tramps: Full-Throttle Space Tales #5 is a science fiction anthology about vagabonds in space, edited by Jennifer Brozek. It includes my novelette, "Running in Wonderland," which is about a mentally ill refugee who must navigate through the criminal parts of a huge space station as part of her quest to find a home on a frontier planet.

In other news, I AM MOVING. I've lived in my current house for over twelve years, which is the longest time I've ever lived in the same place, and I've accumulated ABSOLUTELY TOO MUCH STUFF. Sorting through it and getting rid of the excess has been taking up lots of my time, but that's a good idea in itself AND the new house is in a much more convenient location, so the effort is worthwhile. The official move will be in early January.

I hope you'll enjoy any holidays you celebrate, and also all of the other days coming up!

Friday, November 15, 2013

NOT DEAD YET

Hi everyone!

I got a comment on my last post that noted that I hadn't posted anything since August, and wondered if this blog was dead. Answer: NO. I have been busy. I planned and executed my first trip to England! And things, and stuff. I did not blog. I intend to blog. I will. I will definitely blog.

So that's something to look forward to, right?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: You, by Austin Grossman (SPOILERS)

RATING: 2 out of 5 stars

I went into reading this book with high hopes, because I thought a novel about making video games, with a mystery involved, would be interesting. But...

The first problem is that whoever wrote the jacket copy made false promises. The main character, Russell, gets a job with old high school friends at their company, Black Arts Games. The book's description says, "But mostly he needs to know what happened to Simon, his strangest and most gifted friend, who died under mysterious circumstances soon after Black Arts' breakout hit." This is a lie. Russell reminisces about things they all did together back in their high school days, but hardly gives a thought to the circumstances of Simon's death. The false expectation set up there IS NOT THE AUTHOR'S FAULT, but there are plenty of things that ARE the author's fault, and he is not helped by the way the cover sets readers up for disappointment.

To start with the positive, as far as I can tell Grossman gets everything right when he describes the video game industry in the late 1990s; I've known many people in that field since the early 1990s, and I was tickled to see mentions of a couple of people I met long ago, John Carmack and John Romero. But describing an industry accurately does not necessarily make an interesting story. Russell is a very low-energy main character, who sort of drifts into his job as a game designer without really caring about games, and then he gets an undeserved promotion to lead game designer when a bunch of the company's employees leave. He does develop some motivation and job satisfaction along the way, but then the book wanders into long, long, long descriptions of him playing through the whole backlist of the company's games, and having conversations with the games' characters that could be interpreted as either imaginary or magical.

The most interesting thing about the book is the hunt for a mysterious "bug" that goes through all of the games, occasionally causing the appearance of a devastating weapon that wreaks havoc and does things it should not be able to do. However, I found it difficult to stay interested through the looooooooong sections of game summary. There's hardly any dialogue in the entire book, and few scenes with conflict, tension, or action that's shown directly. Russell spends a lot of time pondering the nature of games and wondering whether it's okay to like his job rather than preferring to work in a more conventional profession, such as being a lawyer (he's a law school dropout), but he never seems to fully engage with his life and move forward.

And another thing! There are many places in the book where Russell describes things that he wasn't present for, such as events in Simon's life, so he shouldn't know about them. They could possibly be interpreted as vivid imaginings, but they're not presented that way. They're told as if they're facts and Russell is an omniscient narrator. That bothered me every time it happened. I was not as bothered by the shifts between Russell's first-person story and the sections of second-person "you" describing the player in a video game, but the third-person omniscient sections took it too far.

The book was just barely engaging enough to keep me reading all the way to the end, but it took a lot of work to get through the second half, and I kind of wish that I hadn't.

Check out my Goodreads page to read more of my opinions about books!

Monday, August 5, 2013

When Depression Strikes at the Worst Possible Time

Real depression is rare for me—like maybe one short bout every few years, due to circumstances. This summer I had the highest number of simultaneous high-importance deadlines of my life, and in the middle of those I had a sudden and painful interpersonal drama from the least likely direction, and then because of those things all at once, I strained my neck from sitting in front of the computer for way more hours than usual, under way more stress than usual. And then I took prescription pain medication for that and worked in a fog for several days, and then discovered this new dance craze called "withdrawal symptoms" (not actually either a dance or a craze).


So what did I do about it? And what can you do about it if a similar thing happens to you?

First, I took a couple of days to just rest. I did whatever I felt like doing. If it was crying, fine. If it was getting into bed and alternating between napping and staring at the wall, fine. I started with the easy ones like those and ended up with more enjoyable ones, like reading The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (because although it's grim, it gave me perspective on how my life wasn't really so bad), and listening to Maria Bamford's new comedy album, which is GREAT, and perfect for anyone who occasionally goes to the dark side in their thinking. I was still depressed at this point, but I started to feel it lifting slightly.

Then I listed all the things I thought I SHOULD get done, and narrowed the list down to only the things I HAD TO get done, with completion dates. I figured nothing was going to be much fun for a while, so I might as well just methodically go through my work step by step and stop having to worry about those obligations. That helped. I get a lot of satisfaction from checking items off a list.

Still in a funk, I added in exercise: taking long walks in the mornings, before it got too hot and sticky outside. I also fixed my nutrition by adding in more fruits and vegetables and reducing junky, fatty, and sugary foods (not eliminating, mind you, but cutting down). That's when I started to have longer stretches of feeling better, especially for the few hours after the walks. Those walks also gave me good opportunities to think through my problems and decide how I wanted to handle them. It's much easier to think when I'm away from my usual environment, which is full of chores and time-wasters like Facebook games. Which I had been playing too much in an effort to just not think about it for a while. That escape was probably helpful at first, but after a while it's time to stop hiding and make some changes.

This whole issue was why I delayed my Victory Mohawk. I wanted to be able to feel sincerely victorious for those pictures! And I did.

Now I am back to my usual level of cheer, with some new insights, and my energy level is back up. So! If you have occasional funks or depressions, following a similar process may be helpful. If you have serious depression frequently, add a call to your doctor ASAP, because frequent, intense depression is an illness that needs treatment just like any other serious illness.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Have Messed Up My Neck

I spent a lot a lot I mean a LOT of time at my computer over the last two weeks. I didn't realize how incorrectly I had been sitting until about a week ago, when that neck I mentioned started to feel sore. But at that point there was still so much computery stuff left do do, with deadlines, that I rearranged the way i was sitting and just kept working. 

I'm testing the Blogger app on my phone from my bed today because that was not an effective solution! For one thing, my neck really needed more of a break, and for another, I kept catching myself back in the same old bad position every time I got absorbed in what I was working on. So today I shall rest this neck in the least painful position I can find, with occasional breaks to gently stretch it and move it around, and I'll avoid sitting at the computer. 

But hey! If this is the price of victory, I'll pay it! Because two big and awesome things are done now: the funding for What Fates Impose, AND my new alternate history story of Incan Steampunk, "The Emperor Everlasting." That required so much research, but I learned a lot of actual history and ended up with a story I love.

This means Victory Mohawk pictures will be slightly delayed (wouldn't want pained grimaces smudging the Victory of it all), but you'll definitely get them! I promise!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Amanda C. Davis

Note from Nayad: Last interview of the series! I've been posting interviews
with authors contributing to my speculative fiction anthology, WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination, which is all about the conflicts and problems that make people want to predict the future, followed by the new problems that come from trying to find out what's next.

It's also the last day of the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign for WHAT FATES IMPOSE, and although we are fully funded (yay!) you can still get in on it to pre-order the book and get awesome rewards until 8pm Central TODAY, July 14th, 2013. All extra help we get will go toward the finishing details for the book and making more books like it possible, because we want to keep on creating anthologies and paying authors the pro rates they deserve.

You can easily tell your friends about the project by using this page to give us three clicks. Time's almost up!
 

Amanda C. Davis writes short stories in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her work has appeared in Shock Totem, IGMS, three Triangulation anthologies, and others. She works in the combustion industry by day and spends her nights baking, live-Tweeting horror movies, and embarking on the occasional harebrained scheme (with varying results, but at least her failures make entertaining blog posts).

Amanda's story in WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination, "The Scry Mirror," shows how managing one's expectations is a crucial element of happiness, and it digs into some seriously creepy depths.

Here's Amanda with her thoughts on writing and what looks like an awesome egg recipe: I'm going to have to try it! *for a solid three minutes, mirrors around the world reflect the wrong images*

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Depends. Put enough coffee in me and I'll lecture for hours. On the other hand, I'm constantly telling my crit partners that I'm always wrong about everything. I'd probably better just stick to that for now.

Which subjects and themes do you write about often, and why?

I'm definitely one of those writers who pulls the same themes over and over again. I love sacrifice and loss, dread, the realization that you've been wrong for a really long time. Following your duty to a terrible end. I like to treat magic like science and science like magic. And I've got this stable of character types who keep appearing in various shapes and sizes, to the point where I've named them, and can recognize them and their hybrids even where I didn't expect them. I couldn't speculate on why. It'd just get embarrassing.

What's your favorite story of all the stories you've written, and why?

I don't necessarily have a number-one favorite, though within genres, I'm more satisfied with some than with others. Can I pick two? People seemed to like "Drift" and "Shimmer."

What do you like and dislike about the process of writing a story for a themed anthology?

I pretty much love everything about it. I thrive on deadlines, and I approach prompts and themes as puzzles where I have to find the approach that's maximally appropriate, unique, and interesting to write. The only downside might be that stories written to theme can be harder to place elsewhere, which is why (shh, trade secret) I often incorporate a second or third element that's in regular demand. And anthologies! I adore them. Don't get me started. I'm so excited about the table of contents in What Fates Impose, so excited to read it.

Where can people find other published work of yours?

All my published work is linked from my bibliography. Earlier this year, World Weaver Press released a collection of my sister Megan Engelhardt's and my fairy-tale retellings, available in a vast bouquet of formats, and we're very proud of it: http://worldweaverpress.com/books/wolves-and-witches/

What else would you like to tell people about any subject?

One egg. Quarter teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper. Half tablespoon crumbled feta cheese. Two tablespoons chopped baby spinach. Scramble, fry on medium-high, flip when the bottom holds together on a spatula and the top is solid enough not to slide off. Fold in half. Top with ketchup or hot sauce according to taste, but you don't need it; that's a lot of black pepper.

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Last day to get involved! The WHAT FATES IMPOSE Fundraising Campaign closes TODAY, July 14, 2013, at 8pm Central. Join us and be a part of making history!
AUTHORINTERVIEW: Erika Holt



Saturday, July 13, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Erika Holt

Author Interview: Erika Holt Note from Nayad: The series continues. This week I'll post interviews with authors contributing to my speculative fiction anthology, WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination. If you want to read twisty tales about struggles with destiny, this anthology is for you. I hope you enjoy these author interviews!

As of this posting we have only 30 more hours to go on the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign for WHAT FATES IMPOSE, and WE ARE FULLY FUNDED. Yay! We're up to $5,185 from 217 Beloved Backers!

You can still pre-order the book and get awesome rewards until 8pm Central on Sunday, July 14th. All extra help we get will go toward the finishing details for the book and making more books like it possible, because we want to keep on creating anthologies and paying authors the pro rates they deserve.

You can easily tell your friends about the project by using this page to give us three clicks.


Erika Holt lives in Calgary, Alberta, where she writes and edits speculative fiction.  Her stories appear in Shelter of Daylight Issue 6, Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead, and Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales.  She is also co-editor of two anthologies from EDGE and Absolute XPress: Rigor Amortis and  Broken Time Blues: Fantastic Tales in the Roaring ’20s, and assistant editor of Nightmare Magazine. I can give you my personal guarantee that she's fun to drink with!

Erika's story in WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination is called "Murder of Crows," and it's a chilling tale about the nature of trust, belief, and terrible choices.

Now here's Erika to tell you about her methods of developing stories, some of her favorite writing themes, and her thoughts on divination. *all the crows in the world startle into flight*

Victory Mohawk Progress Report

WHAT FATES IMPOSE is fully funded! There's still time to get in on the pre-orders and rewards through 8pm on Sunday, July 14th, but right now I'm working on something I told you I would do.

As promised, I am on the path to posting Multicolor Victory Mohawk pictures of myself on the internet! To let you know that I'm serious, here's a photo of my hair at the bleached-out stage. :)


What's next, you ask? How about some blue, turquoise, and green? I have to write a big chunk of my next short story before I get to start putting on the colors, but the colors and the photos will be along within a few days at most.

Friday, July 12, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Andrew Penn Romine

Author Interview: Andrew Penn RomineNote from Nayad: The series continues. This week I'll post interviews with authors contributing to my speculative fiction anthology, WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination. If you want to read twisty tales about struggles with destiny, this anthology is for you. I hope you enjoy these author interviews!

As of this morning we have only 57 more hours to go on the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign for WHAT FATES IMPOSE. We're up to $4,862 from 202 Beloved Backers. That's a thrilling 97%, but we still need $138 to get to $5,000. The Countdown Is Happening! We're SOOOOOO CLOSE. :)

Thanks to everyone's efforts, we have unlocked a new bonus for backers! Everyone gets two bonus art downloads for contributing any amount from $1 on up. You can easily tell your friends about the project by using this page to give us three clicks. Will you help us? Because we would love to create this book and pay our authors pro rates for their work.




Andrew Penn Romine lives in Los Angeles, where he works in the visual effects and animation industry. A graduate of the 2010 Clarion West workshop, his fiction appears online at Lightspeed Magazine and Crossed Genres as well as in the anthologies Broken Time Blues: Fantastic Tales in the Roaring 20s, and Rigor Amortis, and in Fungi from Innsmouth Free Press.

Andrew's story for WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination, "Ain't Much Different'n Rabbits," is, I believe, the most disturbing story in the whole book, AND I LOVE IT.

Here's Andrew, explaining himself. *swarms of fireflies all light up at once*

Thursday, July 11, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: David Boop

Author Interview: David Boop Note from Nayad: The series continues. This week I'll post interviews with authors contributing to my speculative fiction anthology, WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination. If you want to read twisty tales about struggles with destiny, this anthology is for you. I hope you enjoy these author interviews!

As of this afternoon we have only three more days to go on the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign for WHAT FATES IMPOSE. We're up to $4,663 from 192 Beloved Backers. That's an amazing 93%, but we still need $337 to get to $5,000. The Countdown Is Happening. We're SO CLOSE. :)

If you'd like to help out, you can easily tell friends about the book by clicking here. If you contribute any amount from $1 on up at our Kickstarter page, you will get our first bonus art download in addition to whatever rewards you choose, and we're only 8 backers away from making that TWO bonus art downloads. Will you help us? Because we would love to create this book and pay our authors pro rates for their work.

 
 
David Boop is a novelist, short story writer , and super-friendly guy. I first met him after he was on a panel at NorWesCon. I don't remember the topic of the panel, but I remember the title of his book, which was such a good title that I needed to compliment him on it: She Murdered Me with Science. He's is also in a table of contents with me in Space Grunts: Full-Throttle Space Tales #3, edited by Dayton Ward, as well as having stories in a bunch of other tables of contents! He offers flash fiction critiques for one of the reward levels in our fundraising campaign.
 
David's story for WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination is called "Dipping into the Pocket of Destiny." It shows how trying to get an edge over the competition depends on both the quality of your information and the context around it, so you need to keep an eye on cause and effect.
 
Here's David with some context for you! *as the strand of fate that brought you here is woven into place, Events of Significance begin to play out*
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Cat Rambo

Author Interview: Cat Rambo Note from Nayad: The series continues. This week I'll post interviews with authors contributing to my speculative fiction anthology, WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination. If you want to read strange tales about predicting the future, you've found the right book. I hope you enjoy these author interviews!

As of this afternoon we have only four more days to go on the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign for WHAT FATES IMPOSE. We're up to $4,356 from 183 Beloved Backers. That's 87%, but we still need $644 to get to $5,000. The Countdown Is Happening. But we're so close!

If you'd like to help out, you can easily tell friends about the book by clicking here. If you contribute any amount from $1 on up at our Kickstarter page, you will get our first bonus art download in addition to whatever rewards you choose, and we're only 17 backers away from making that TWO bonus art downloads. Will you help us? Because we would love to create this book and pay our authors pro rates for their work.

Author Interview: Cat Rambo
 
(Photo by On Focus Photos, http://onfocusphoto.com)


Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Tor.com. Her short story, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” from her story collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012.

Cat's story in WHAT FATES IMPOSE, "To Read the Sea," is a powerful and unsettling flash fiction story about the magical objects that come from the ocean, and the dark motivations of the people who want them.

Here's Cat to tell you about divination and the many ways to do it, as well as her thoughts on writing. *tides around the world impossibly rise all at once*

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Remy Nakamura

Note from Nayad: The series continues. This week I'll post interviews with authors contributing to my speculative fiction anthology, WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination. If you want to read strange tales about predicting the future, you've found the right book. I hope you enjoy these author interviews!

As of this afternoon we have only five more days to go on the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign for WHAT FATES IMPOSE. We're up to $4,267 from 178 Beloved Backers. That's almost 85%, but we still need some help to get to $5,000. The Countdown Is Happening.

If you'd like to help out, you can easily tell friends about the book by clicking here. If you contribute any amount from $1 on up at our Kickstarter page, you will get a bonus art download in addition to whatever rewards you choose! Will you help us? Because we would love to create this book and pay our authors pro rates for their work.



Remy Nakamura is a graduate of the Clarion West workshop, and one of the excellent writers contributing to Inkpunks, and I personally covet at least one of his shirts (the one he was wearing when I met him in the middle of the night at WorldCon in Reno). His story for WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination is called "Pick a Card." It features Tarot cards and a tortured man in prison who seeks a way out.

I'll let Remy take over now to tell you about his reasons for using Tarot cards, his themes, and the way he came up with the idea for his story.
*Ferris Bueller-style group dances start up on stairways across America*

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jamie Lackey

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jamie Lackey Note from Nayad: The series continues. This week I'll post interviews with authors contributing to my speculative fiction anthology, WHAT FATES IMPOSE: Tales of Divination. If you want to read weird stories about fortune-telling, this is the book for you. I hope you enjoy these author interviews!

As of this morning we have only five more days to go on the Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign for WHAT FATES IMPOSE. We're up to $4,116 from 171 Beloved Backers. That's 82%, but we still need some help to get to $5,000. The Clock of Let's Get Serious is now ticking.

If you'd like to help out, you can easily tell friends about the book by clicking here. If you contribute any amount from $1 on up at our Kickstarter page, you will get a bonus art download in addition to whatever rewards you choose! Will you help us? Because we would love to create this book and pay our authors pro rates for their work.



Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cat. Her fiction has been published by over a dozen different venues, including The Living Dead 2, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction, and she has appeared on the Best Horror of the Year Honorable Mention and Tangent Online Recommended Reading Lists. She reads slush for Clarkesworld Magazine, works as an assistant editor at Electric Velocipede, and helped edit the Triangulation Annual Anthology from 2008 to 2011. Her Kickstarter-funded short story collection, One Revolution, is available on Amazon.com.

Jamie's story in WHAT FATES IMPOSE, "Another Will Open," gives us a look at the difference between easy answers and hard choices, and how to pick a direction. Here she is with her thoughts on where that story came from and some advice for aspiring writers.