And now, back to writing.

I have been away. Not physically, but elsewhere in the virtual world. In spring, I host a blog dedicated to tracking the ice-melt on Lake of the Woods, south of Kenora, Ontario. Being logged on to WordPress for the Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol changes all my settings. It also takes a lot of my time: reading, writing and critiquing all take a back seat for the six or eight weeks it takes the lake to melt.

Somehow, while getting up early and staying up late, I still managed to keep my writing turning over at a trickle. Although I didn’t keep my submissions in full flow, I believe I have achieved my first professional sale. I have agreed to a contract for “Far Gone,” the first prequel story I spun off from my novel, Avians of Celadon. “Far Gone” should appear online on the first of June, and as soon as I have confirmation that the deal is done, I will post a link to the magazine. While I’m at it, I should do the same for “Freezer Burn,” the second Celadon story, which appeared in Antipodean SF in January.

How’s the novel going? Well, my Odyssey online course gave me a lot to think about, and now some of my classmates are chipping in with critiques of the opening chapter. The revision process seems to be pretty much endless, and somehow I have to persuade myself to submit each version to new agents or publishers. In the meantime, Lindsay Kitson is reading the whole thing. She is a dieselpunk author from Winnipeg; we are both pilots with an interest in what I like to call alternate aviation. She does magnetically lifted aircraft carriers and diesel powered fighter aircraft, I do solar-powered airships and counterweight catapulted gliders. We met at KeyCon in Winnipeg a couple of years ago, and I’m reading her first manuscript, Redwing. I look forward to exchanging ideas and critiques.

Speaking of cons: I plan to attend two this year. Winnipeg’s Keycon 32 will be in just a couple of weeks, and I’ve been too busy to even pay proper attention to the emerging schedule. It looks like I’ve already missed the boat on advance registration, so I’ll be joining the herd at the door. In August, I’ll be heading to Spokane for Sasquan, this year’s WorldCon, home of the Hugo Awards. None of my current favorite authors are in the running this year, and I am only just now freeing up enough time to try and get some reading done. It was a mad scramble last year to try and get ready for the Auroras, so I don’t know if I’ll be voting for any Hugos.

First I have to catch up on all the blogs I follow.

In the darkness, a glimmer of light.

My recent posts have been gloomy, as I have been going through a discouraging stretch: some curt rejections, some nicer rejections, a contest failure or two, agents who don’t write back. The usual.

Today, an unexpected flicker of validation. This summer I applied to the Speculative Literature Foundation for the Gulliver Travel Grant. The foundation provides one award of $800 annually, to be used by an SF writer for travel expenses on a research trip. I proposed to use the money towards a visit to Mt. St. Helens to learn about volcanoes and lava tubes. The guidelines call for a writing sample to be included with the application, so I included an excerpt from Avians of Celadon comprising a series of chapters about a volcanic eruption. These are from near the end of the novel, but they seemed the most pertinent. In this part, Raven flies her glider close to an erupting volcano to search for survivors on the ground, and contrives a way for an airship to rescue them.

As there is only one winner, I realized my chances were slim, but it was still disappointing to see the announcement date come and go with no email. Today, though, a few weeks after I thought it was all decided, I did get an email. No, I didn’t get the money. But I did get an honorable mention, and what appears to be a sincere invitation to try again in 2015. That means complete strangers who read my stuff liked it. One of the jurors called it, “Intriguing. A lot of action, which is good. The narrative is, for the most part, easy to follow. A YA tale with action and emotion.

I’m happy with that assessment. That juror had to dive in near the end of the book, so I knew some of the events would seem confusing without the preceding chapters. For me, it’s easy to write action, as it lends itself to showing. I am never as confident that the emotional content pushes through the way I want it to, because emotion dies if it sinks into telling.

Speaking of the whole Show, don’t Tell thing, I have applied to Odyssey to take one of their online courses on that very topic. The application deadline was a few days ago, so I hope to hear from them soon.