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Best short stories of 2015

This time, folks, I’m doing it right. I’m going to  keep a running tally of stories that I really liked so that when review season comes around, I won’t be scratching my head going, what did I read again? Feel free to ping me with the stories that you have read so I can read them!

Beautiful Boys, by Theodora Goss. First published in Lightspeed in January 2015.

Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Apocalypse, by Claire Spaulding. First published in Daily Science Fiction in February 2015.

Labyrinth, by Amelia Grey. First published in The New Yorker, February 16, 2015.

The Other Side of Pain, by Haley Isleib, First published in Daily Science Fiction in March 2015.

This is the Story that Devours Itself, by Michelle Muenzler, Daily Science Fiction in March 2015.

“The Prospectors” by Karen Russell, The New Yorker June 8, 2015.

The One Mission, by Patricia Russo, Daily Science Fiction, June 26, 2015.

“The Seeker: A Poison in the Blood,” Victor Milán, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, June 2015

“The Soul Remembers Uncouth Noises,” John Barnes, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, June 2015

“The Hermit and the Jackalopes,” Jane Lindskold, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, June 2015

“The Quest You Have Chosen Defies Your Fate,” Beth Cato, Daily Science Fiction, August 2015

“Little Man,” Michael Cunningham, The New Yorker, August 10, 2015.

The Demon of Russet Street, by Jessica Reisman, Three-lobed Burning Eye #27, September 2015.

Black Friday, by Rebecca Schwarz, Devilfish Review.

Who Will Greet You At Home, by Lesley Nneka Arimah, The New Yorker, October 26, 2015.

Novella Category:

Waters of Versailles, by Kelly Robson, tor.com, June 2015.

In the novel category:

Medicine for the Dead, by Arianne “Tex” Thompson. Solaris

 

Featured

What readers want

A book is like a faerie door -- enter at your own peril.
A book is like a faerie door — enter at your own peril.

Announcing a new blog series, and I’m looking for your input. What Readers Want asks readers of all genres what they are looking for in a good book (or not so good book, we don’t judge). This isn’t market research per se; no one is going to run out and write a book based on elements people post here. But it’s a fair way to get at the mystery of what makes a good book.

So readers: Are there things you miss in books? Things you love? Things you are so over, you wish the genre would move on already?

Tell us all about the characters, plots, and settings that make your heart sing or the opposite — the ones that disappointed. I want to hear from you!

What Readers Want:

What do you like in a good book?
What ruins a book for you?
I want a protagonist who…
I want an antagonist who…
I long for settings and plot that…
I like series that…
I will read anything that has…

Answer in the comments or ping me with an e-mail on the contact form.

 

Featured

YA vs NA

What’s the difference between YA and NA (New Adult)?

Depends on who you talk to. For some agents and editors, NA specifically means sexytimes, and NA is therefore shelved with women’s fiction. For other agents and editors, NA may have adult themes and older protagonists, but it doesn’t have to have adult sexual content.

With so many adult readers reading YA, it was inevitable that novels aimed at the 18-25 year old bracket would make it onto the shelves. I myself believe that it directly comes out of the fanfic and slash fandom communities. I think NA can be a fantastic addition to books for adult readers. Some YA is middle grade and younger, and while it’s great stuff, it doesn’t have the sophistication (perhaps) that can be enjoyed by older readers. Also, many 16 year olds may not want to be seen reading stuff for younger kids.

Ace fantasy book Red Gold BridgeBut does that mean that YA for older (say 16-18 year olds) is going to give way? Will there be a market for books for older teens that explores adult themes but doesn’t necessarily include adult content? Are we narrowbanding the genre and constricting it so much that we lose some of the upper-age group for this genre?

In my own books, the Gordath Wood series, they are definitely not YA, though the character of Kate Mossland is just barely 16 in the first book, and is only 17 by the third — and by then she has not only grown up, she has changed the very course of the history of her adopted country, and is embarking on a relationship with an older man. Although there is frank talk of sexuality, especially birth control, there is very little sexual content.

crow-gods-girl-front-smcrowYA or NA? I’m not sure.

What do you think of the new NA genre?

Futuristica is here!

futuristica cover (533x800)Like science fiction? This is a cool new anthology that I am honored to be a part of. My story, “Murder on the Hohmann” was a blast to write, and I am so delighted it’s part of the lineup.

Here’s the skinny from publishers Metasagas:

 

 

More News

In other news, I have been merrily writing and plotting and writing and plotting. Book 2 of the Tales of Port Saint Frey is with Agent Goloboy of Red Sofa, and I have found my way in to Book 3. As a dyed-in-the-wool pantser, it’s the only way I can do it. Outlining wastes time at the beginning; pantsing often causes wrong turns and dead ends, but I’d rather have the delays in the middle than at the beginning. I feel like outlining just makes me spin my wheels when I’d rather just dive in.

I just now finished — like a half hour ago — a new novella that I’m very happy with. It’s science fiction, it’s related to Murder on the Hohmann, and I’m all aglow with the feeling of creation and inspiration.

Upcoming Conventions

My next convention is at ArmadilloCon and I will be one of the teachers for the writers workshop. This is one of the top one-day writers workshops for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative writers. If you write and are coming to the convention, you should seriously check it out.

ArmadilloCon Writers Workshop

ArmadilloCon Writers Workshop, run by Marshall Ryan Maresca. The deadline is coming up: June 15, so hurry and get your story or chapter in.

By the way, Marshall is an alumnus of the workshop, and his books, beginning with The Thorn of Dentonhill, are fast-paced, intricate fantasy, that are fun and action-packed. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Other alumni include myself and Campbell Award nominee Stina Leicht. The workshop was ably run for many years by Wendy Wheeler and Jennifer Evans of long-time Austin writers group The Slug Tribe, and they turned it over to me, and then I handed it over to Stina, who in turn passed the baton to Marshall. I sold the first story I ever workshopped through the Armadillocon Writers Workshop to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. This workshop works, people.

 

The ritual cleaning of the office in between manuscripts

That floor is a thing of beauty.
That floor is a thing of beauty.

I believe that humans are creatures of ritual — renewal and rebirth, migration and return. We are dependent on the ebb and flow of tides and the circle of the seasons. Even now, when we are largely creatures removed from the need to hunt and forage, when we are no longer dependent upon growing seasons, we crave that sense of marking time. It’s no longer the first and last frosts, or the equinox or the solstice, or the tide and the phases of the moon. When we don’t have that instinct that it’s time to move on to the next hunting ground or to follow the sun south, we make our own rhythms and our own cycles.

Y’all, I just cleaned out my office. The manuscript is complete — well, that was done a while ago, but now, the second draft edits are done. I didn’t take a before picture because I couldn’t even stand to go into the room. It was a landfill. Paper everywhere, books everywhere,  music all over the place — it was horrendous. I couldn’t find anything, and there was stuff falling out of shelves and cabinets. But behold! A clear floor. The ritual cleaning of the office is complete. The old project is put to bed, and I have cleared space emotionally, physically, and mentally.

So you all know what this means, righ?

Time to start a new novel.

 

Catching up: Eating Authors, SXSW, other news

Lawrence Schoen, novelist, anthologist, short story writer, and Klingon speaker, has a feature in which he has authors describe their most memorable meal.

LMS: Welcome, Patrice. Please tell me about your most memorable meal.

PS: There have been a handful of meals in my life that have been the best food I’ve ever eaten, and all of them could have been the “right” answer to your question. Sure, the meal at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago was fabulous, every bite a revelation in gastronomy. I have never eaten such elegantly prepared, gorgeously presented, originally conceived food in my life. Read more.

After a lovely chat in New York with Agent Goloboy, I am excited about my new series going out on submission. I am in good hands. And this is going to be an exciting year. And I just know good things are in store.

My article, Writing and the Day Job, came out in the SFWA Bulletin in February. My short story, Murder on the Hohmann, comes out in Futuristica Vol. I in June. I hope to have more story news later this year.
Gfire SXSW 2016

And just to keep up my cool, slick persona, which you all know and envy, here is a photo from SXSW: rocker Gfire. She set up a singer-songwriter lineup of women who rock and it included performers from Austin, Ireland, and France. Gfire is my voice instructor and my inspiration. And she is one of the hardest-working musicians I know and braver than anything. After all, she is trying to teach me how to sing.