If you’ve come here from my LitPick interview, welcome. It was great fun to do. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my LitPick interview.  It was great fun to do. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Two weeks ago, Flash Fiction Online took my story Mamita, which crosses a big name off my bucket list. It’s about a woman who lives Dade County some 35 years from now after all of Florida south of Alligator Alley has been flooded out. The editor Suzanne Vincent patiently worked me through two rounds of edits, which not only improved the story, but which will improve all my work. She wanted to know more about why the main character was acting in certain ways, and she wanted the character’s agency to be more clear at the end. What I learned was: If I start in a character’s head, I can’t drop out and let the dialogue carry the story, which I have a tendency to do, and readers want decisions made or actions taken in conclusion, not just feel a push toward them. Very good stuff.

This week my story “Bright Lights” was one of five chosen for AE‘s microfiction contest Micro 7  on the theme “change.” It’s a 200-word story about a K-Pop star who sells her face rights. I also won last year for The First Degree of Separation, which was about a Taylor Swift-like star whose skin cells are stolen. I imagine that my story next year will be about a chorus of Georgian robots who win Eurovision.

Of course, having the paranoia of all writers, I figured these acceptance would trigger a wave of rejections–the wave rises, the wave falls–and I did get one, but I also got a hold at another very good bucketlist market. So we’ll see.

I’m now revising the first chapter of Dragon Tower, which is tougher than I thought it would be, perhaps because I’m overthinking things. Also, I totally changed the beginning, which is having ripple effects. It’s still fun, though, and that’s what counts.

I’m also still trying to write more positive SF. I read a great summation of what SF should be about: “Strong characters trying to solve intriguing problems.”  Success is secondary. Indeed, what made The Martian so engaging was that it was a series of intriguing problems solved by strong characters. In addition, I keep reading variations on a theme expressed today in Rebecca Solnit’s Harper piece, The Habits of Highly Cynical People: “What we do begins with what we believe we can do.” That is, to me, Write the future that I’d see happen. My struggle stems from not being able to see a future that isn’t shut down before it begins by selfish corporate interests or political ignoramuses. Indeed, The Martian can only occur in a world without Republicans because if they did somehow let American space travel survive that far into the future, they’d certainly shut down the government before seeing funds for a rescue allocated without their being offsetting spending cuts to schools, public healthcare and social services (provided Republicans have let those things survive that far into the future). I’d rather live in the future of The Martian, but picturing it feels like doing physics without friction, even if the party could disintegrate in the next few months.  Maybe that’s where I should start, with that disintegration and with President Obama’s incrementalist approach to the change: small gestures today lead to big effects tomorrow.

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