Life and seconds – slowly working up the courage.

Here’s a mini-confession (and it annoys me that it feels like a confession at all, because I don’t think it should): I’ve been writing a lot of fanfiction this past year.

Like. A lot. A frankly embarrassing amount. Or anyway, I am embarrassed by it.

It’s been a rough year. This stuff has become incredibly important to me, so I want to write about it here on my writing site, but I’m very nervous, so I’m still trying to get myself together enough to do it without being convinced that everyone will conclude that I’m unprofessional for putting so much time and effort into this when I could have been writing things for which I could be paid, and they will never speak to me again and never publish my things anymore and shun me at cons.

This is silly – I hope – but I still feel that way.

However, how I tend to manage things like this is to close my eyes and jump. So soon I’ll probably go ahead and do it, and damn the consequences. The shunning and whatnot.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of the most important one, because I was just rereading it. Because.

He measured his life in weeks.

That was wrong. We divide our lives up in all kinds of ways – decades, years, months and weeks and days, and there are those few of us fortunate enough to look back and count one full century – and each incremental measurement is a form of perception, a way of knowing, but the truth is that lives are lived and should therefore be measured in seconds.

Seconds are all it takes for everything to change.

Seconds to meet someone, to speak to them. Seconds to start down a road you don’t even realize is there, seconds to get into something and have no idea what you’re getting into. Seconds to hear a voice, touch someone’s hair, skin; seconds to inhale and breathe them in. Seconds to break something open, something you’ll never be able to close. Seconds to see something and never see anything the same way again.

Seconds to look at someone and see only them, and never want to see anyone else for the rest of your life.

There’s a story – not this one, but you may know it. Death is in that story, and one day, accompanied by her brother, she does her work. Makes her rounds. She visits people, she takes their hands and leads them away, and one man gets philosophical about everything. He looks around and says that he had quite a run, didn’t he? Fifteen thousand years, in fact. That’s pretty good.

Death tells him that he got what everyone gets. He got a lifetime.

We only get one of those, and it’s wild. And it’s so precious.

Because it’s seconds long.

Sword and Star cover reveal!

As usual I’m behind getting something here on the actual blog, but the cover for Sword and Star, the final book in the Root Code trilogy, is now out there in the wild (kinda already included it in my Award Eligibility post). Soak in its pretty:


It’s also up for pre-order. Release date is December 21st, so it will be available for presenting to yourself or loved ones or just anyone you feel like slinging a Big Gay Space Opera at.

Personally I think that’s a nice thing to do in just about every case.


here are my stories what are award-eligible

If you care; I always feel weird about making these, but here we go.

I had a pretty good year, short-story wise. Had a pretty good year novel-wise, in swordandstar_1200x1800hrthat I had one come out – the (VERY LONG AWAITED, AT LEAST BY ME) follow-up to my debut Line and Orbit, Fall and Rising. Publisher’s Weekly called it “a satisfying and provocative hybrid”, and said the relationships were “honest and engaging”, which is very nice.

There’s also the final book in the trilogy, Sword and Star, coming December 21 (and available now for presale) – juuuuuuust in time for Christmas.

In short storydom:

  • “Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained” in Uncanny Magazine kicked things off for me this year. Story about a woman who finds herself fitted with a prosthetic limb after an accident, and the limb doesn’t fit well – psychologically and emotionally, not physically. I wanted to write a story about human relationship with intimate forms of technology, and where the line between “real” and “artifical” lies, as well as the value judgments we make when we draw those distinctions.
  • “A Shadow on the Sky” in Mythic Delirium. This is in many ways yet another installment in what’s becoming a series of what I’ll call “drone fiction” on my part – explorations of the relationship between humans and unmanned aeriel vehicles. A woman suffers tragedy when her home is destroyed and becomes a kind of goddess of vengeance, capturing enemy combat drones and making them into an army of which she’s the queen. Some people make a pilgrimage into the desert to find her and hijinks ensue. Bad, dark hijinks.
  • “Come My Love and I’ll Tell You a Tale” in Shimmer. Probably one of the most relentlessly dark things I’ve ever written (a huge amount of what I write at present is very dark, in fact). A slow-burn and somewhat chaotic second-person narrative set in an unspecified post-disaster world, desperately yearning for the world that was while being forced to confront the world that is and the unimaginably terrible thing the character is contemplating doing in order to survive.
  • “eyes I dare not meet in dreams” in Cyborgology. This one… Guys, this one is weird, and I’m not talking about the story itself – though it is also weird. Cyborgology is not a traditional short story market at all; it’s a group sociology blog run by some friends of mine to which I sometimes contribute. It does do fiction, and I wrote this in a fit of annoyance about the treatment of female characters in fiction and posted it. And it took off a bit on Twitter. I’m immensely proud of it, and in fact I think it’s my favorite thing I published this year, as well as the best. Given its publication place and circumstances, however, I’m a bit nervous about it being overlooked. So if you read and like it, please please spread the word about it. Normally I really get uncomfy with overt campaigning, but I think it might be warranted in this case.
  • “It is Healing, it is Never Whole” in Apex Magazine. Written after a family member committed suicide, and I think part of an attempt to process. In a strange and vaguely industrial afterlife, spirits collect the souls of suicides and transfer them to a train that takes them on to points unknown. But one worker finds a soul that connects with them on an entirely new level, and wonders what it all means.
  • And finally: “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” in the Queers Destory Horror! edition of Nightmare. This is the other story I’m most in love with, and it rivals “eyes I dare not” in terms of my Nightmare_37_October_2015estimation of quality. I think it might be one of the best things I ever wrote, in fact. It’s certainly incredibly personal. It’s about graduate school, mental illness, connection and disconnection, technology, and hope battling hopelessness. It’s incredibly dark, and very triggery for anyone who has issues with graphic depictions of suicide. Really it’s kind of a snapshot of a particular mental state. A graduate student finds themselves being consumed by their dissertation in ways that go far beyond the norm, as they immerse themselves in the history of a year of an epidemic of documented suicides – a year they lived through.

So yeah. Them’s my stuff. If you read, if you consider for any awards, if you just like the damn things, thanking you kindly. Again, I think this was a pretty good year in this respect. A hugely difficult one, but good. Hope the next one is also good sans at least some of the difficulty.

filling holes in the world

by Elizabeth Leggett

by Elizabeth Leggett

Today “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” – my story for Nightmare’s Queers Destroy Horror! issue – went live, so you can read it here. If you want. If you do, fair warning: it’s about suicide, so if that’s a trigger for you, proceed with caution. Mental illness is also in there.

I’ve been writing less in the way of short fiction recently – disappointing, a little, because I love the form – and I think there are a variety of reasons for that, but I think one of them is that the kind of short fiction I write has taken a darker turn, and it’s more difficult to stay in that place for any length of time. It’s more difficult to go there at all. A lot of my fiction has always been dark, but at some point, a little over a year ago and maybe more, I made the decision to finally turn inward and write things with material pulled from some of the rawest and most painful parts of my psyche. The first true result of that was “Singing With All My Skin and Bone”, also published in Nightmare. It was terrifying to write. It was incredibly cathartic. It came very quickly; I finished it in about an hour and it needed very little work afterward.

It was terrifying in part because it’s about dermatillomania, which is a disorder that isn’t much talked about and isn’t well understood – by people who don’t have it; the people who do understand it all too well. It’s an incredibly difficult kind of mental illness to talk about, because it involves compulsive behavior – which we also don’t understand very well – and because it involves self harm in a context we don’t usually see it. I hate and am not playing the Mental Illness Olympics game, but as a culture I think we have an easier time talking about self harm as a result of depression than self harm as a result of literally not being able to stop.

Enjoying it, even. As a kid I found it soothing. Painful but soothing. Still do.

Continue reading

My Capclave schedule!

It is thus:

Friday | 5 PM-5:50 PM | Where Are The Happy Futures?
Friday | 6 PM-6:50 PM | Writing in Multiple Genres
Saturday | 10 AM-10:50 AM | Survival of the Short Form
Sunday | 12 PM-12:50 PM | What To Do After The Rejection Letter
Sunday | 1:30 PM-1:55 PM | Reading

For my reading I’ll probably be doing my story in Queers Destroy Horror! plus something else if time permits. I also plan to have cookies or cupcakes, I have not decided which. :D

Very late blog post roundup

My blog tour in support of my latest book release – Fall and Rising – has concluded (a while ago, d’oh) and I thought I’d real quick do a thing on the posts I wrote for it, because I’m pleased with them and you may be interested.FallAndRising_500x750

Fall and Rising didn’t have the easiest path to publication (and I’m very, very grateful to Riptide for giving it a chance). Its precursor, Line and Orbit, was purposefully left open for a sequel, though I and my then-coauthor weren’t completely certain there would be one. But we eventually decided to try to write one. We ran into trouble when she needed to spend more time with her dissertation (she’s since graduated with her PhD, which is so awesome), so I ended up taking the project on alone. The initial draft of the book took a few months to write and I was reasonably happy with it, but once it was finished it struggled to find a home. It wasn’t quite right for the publisher of Line and Orbit, so I had to take it back and stare at it and poke it for a while, and consider what my next move should be.

And the decision I came to – and it was not in any way an easy one – was that it didn’t work.

Here’s a thing about Writer Brain that’s kind of fun and interesting (and in fact this is true of almost all brains): it’s plastic. You can train it; you can subtly alter the way it functions. Habits form themselves, but they can also be formed. Sit down to write every day, and after a while writing every day gets easier. Your brain gets used to the idea that this task is going to be regularly expected of it, and it adapts. Start with minimum target word counts, and you may find that over time those word counts increase as you’re able to write more words, faster. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it has worked for me and it may work for you as well.

I knew these places, these people, this history and this lore, but I didn’t walk back in with any particular ease. It took me some time to settle and feel comfortable again. I had to get reacquainted with the layout. I had to have conferences with some characters. So what’s up with you right now? What’re you doing? What’s your goal here, what are you hoping to get out of this?

I came out of fandom, as a writer. Fanfiction was what taught me to write (I still write it), and fandom was my first literary community. It’s literally why I’m writing this now. Among other things, a lot of my first fic was slash – fic focused on the development of queer relationships. I discovered that it was possible to write these kinds of stories through my first encounters with slash, and it was a revelation. I quickly picked up the fact that for people outside fandom, fanfiction was often disparaged and made the butt of jokes – along with the people who wrote it – and this was especially true of slash fic. I think there are a lot of reasons for this, but I think some of it – maybe most of it – is because we aren’t supposed to be telling these stories, and these stories don’t matter. They’re silly. They’re worthless. They’re also inherently poorly done.

I knew that wasn’t true. It irked me. So very early on, before I had the language to articulate what was happening, I came to see this kind of writing as resistance. Not only as resistance, but as a way of taking existing stories and making them queer. Almost a way of remaking the world.

Because stories matter.

[W]hat helped me wasn’t taking a step back so much as thinking back, to the book that preceded it and to the process of getting to know the world and its inhabitants, and trying to remember why I fell in love with it all in the first place. Why I wanted to spend time with these people, and why it felt like a story worth telling.

Because generally you don’t get through writing an entire book that you then feel is good enough to publish without loving the world in which you’re working.

FALL AND RISING news/updates

Book release weeks are always a bit nuts. More nuts when they happen to coincide with the first week of the semester, and – yes – I’m teaching again. Didn’t expect that, but honestly it’s kind of nice to be back in the saddle.

Except the grading. That will never ever ever ever be nice.

ANYWAY. Stuff has been happening. My blog tour is still going on – today is the last day – which means two things: You can still enter to win a signed copy of the paperback and two bracelets I made, or a copy of the ebook (giving two of those away). AND it means that Line and Orbit, the book’s prequel/book 1 in the trilogy, is still $.99 over at Samhain.  So this is a pretty nifty package deal of goodies and sundries.

And yesterday was very nice because RT Book Reviews gave Fall and Rising a lovely nod:

The contrast of intimate exchanges with high risk, momentous events and a highly detailed interplanetary setting is sure to keep readers’ imaginations and hearts engaged…

So wow. Yeah. It’s been a week. And there’s other stuff that I should write about, but I think it may have to wait.