Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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.

FALL AND RISING: It’s here! There’s stuff!

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YES a very merry book birthday to it and to me. This is exciting. You can pick it up here, and not only can you do that, but after you do you can get its prequel Line and Orbit (which Publisher’s Weekly very kindly called “phenomenal”) for only $.99 over here. So that’s like… That’s a lotta book, man. That’s a pretty great deal.

In case you’re not familiar with Fall and Rising, here’s a nifty explanatory blurb:

Adam Yuga is on the run. Three months ago, a miracle saved him from the deadly genetic illness that threatens the entire population of his former home, the Protectorate. Now he and his lover Lochlan are searching for a way to heal his people. When they receive a mysterious coded message promising hope, they make a desperate grab for it, and are imprisoned—by the very race they want to save.

On Lochlan’s distant homeship, a young pilot named Nkiruka faces an agonizing choice: stay with her lover Satya and live a life of happy obscurity, or become the spiritual leader—and the last and only hope—for the Bideshi. Nkiruka doesn’t want to lose Satya, but worse, she fears she lacks the strength to carry anyone through the coming storm, let alone her entire people.

Threads of chance and destiny draw the three together. With the fates of civilizations in their hands, they prepare for a final conflict that might be their only chance for survival—or that might destroy them all.

I’m also doing a blog tour over the next few days, during which you’ll have a chance to win not only copies of the book (one of them paperback and signed) but two book-inspired bracelets I made, with stone, copper, wood, agate, and glass. Here’s them:

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So YEAH. Today is a pretty good day. Watch for more.

Books and reviews and short stories oh my

NEWS. News.

  • IT IS LITERALFallAndRising_500x750LY A WEEK UNTIL FALL AND RISING, BOOK II OF THE ROOT CODE TRILOGY, BOUNCES INTO THE WORLD. A week. omg. I’ll be doing a blog tour starting then – here’s the itinerary – and I’ll be giving away STUFF, including jewelry that I made with my own two hands. In the meantime, you still have a week to preorder, which is AWESOME, because that means you get a discount of 20% on the print edition and 30% on the print/ebook package. ISN’T THAT GREAT. Yes. Yes, it is.

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  • I have a story out in Apex this month and it’s been getting some very nice review nods, including a “recommended” from Lois Tilton over at Locus. The whole issue is fantastic and you should read the hell out of it.

Aside from that, there’s other stuff, but I’m not ready to talk about it yet.

I should note that recently I’ve been very bad at using this blog for actual blogging. There are a number of reasons for this, many of them pertaining to mental health, but I think I’m clawing my way back up – I’ve taken a teaching position for the academic year, which means I’m now employed after a longish period of technically not being employed – and I hope to be around more in this specific capacity. Which means I hope to be blogging more.

Anyway, stuff is chugging along. ONE WEEK UNTIL BOOK. Yay.

the earth gives forth wonders

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art by Michael Whelan

Just finished going back through The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower book 3) and trying very hard not to cry. Not because the ending itself is emotional – it ends on a rather infuriating cliffhanger, actually – but simply because this brings back everything about these books which meant so much to me at a very, very difficult time in my life.

We escape into these worlds, don’t we? But they don’t always treat us kindly. The best ones, however, become places we regret leaving and to which we long to return. The characters become friends and companions, and they can mean almost as much to us as the “real” people in our lives. We suffer with them, we mourn with them, we rejoice with them. We learn with them and hopefully we become wiser, better people. Sometimes we’re their company when they die, unseen and unfelt – perhaps their only company.

I’m reluctant to embrace any narrative which places some ideal of “humanity” above any other way of being, but I do believe that stories and storytelling are one of the most fundamental – possibly the most fundamental – things that make us who we are. Creatures who feel and love and learn and grow, who imagine. Whose existence is bound by time but which also transcends time and exists simultaneously forward and backward along a linear trajectory.

We imagine the past, we experience the present, we remember the future. We’ve always done this. It was the first form of play that ever existed, the first form of history, the first futurism.

Tell your tales in whatever form they come. Build them, maintain them, return to them. Be glad.

The world is not cyclical, not eternal or immutable, but endlessly transforms itself, and never goes back, and we can assist in that transformation.

Live on, survive, for the earth gives forth wonders. It may swallow your heart, but the wonders keep on coming. You stand before them bareheaded, shriven. What is expected of you is attention.

Your songs are your planets. Live on them but make no home there.

What you write about, you lose. What you sing, leaves you on the wings of song.

Sing against death. Command the wildness of the city.

Freedom to reject is the only freedom. Freedom to uphold is dangerous.

Life is elsewhere. Cross frontiers. Fly away.

Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

What are my social medias and how do I use them: general information

It occurs to me that I’ve been using Tumblr in a really different way lately, as well as getting some new followers, so I figure – if anyone cares – it might be useful to summarize how I use each social media thing and what you can expect if you follow me at any of them or if you want to or if you do after you read this.

  • Twitter (@dynamicsymmetry). Day to day minute to minute shit. Screaming about emotions, links, talking about writing and politics and random opinions. Retweets that are either odd or obnoxiously political or both. I’m very, very active here.
  • Tumblr (dynamicsymmetry). These days, mostly fandom, specifically The Walking Dead (tv). Meta of same. Yelling about same. Gifsets, of that and other things. Fashion. Fantasy art (not mine). Occasional Social Justice Warrioring. Music. Fanfiction. These days I’m very active here as well.
  • Facebook (Sunny Moraine). Kind of a mishmash of the above, with more links and less fandom. I tend to use this one the least.
  • Instagram (sunnymoraine). Makeup selfies. Among other things. This usually crossposts to all of the above.

So yeah. To anyone who already follows me at one or all of those, thank you and/or I’m sorry.

2014 in Writing

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So it was a year.

It was a tough year, and that affected my writing a good bit. Last spring I found out that I was going to lose my doctoral funding – which for a variety of reasons was not handled particularly well, by them or by me. It was just… it was a sad time, guys, and it made my already-difficult relationship with my program considerably more fraught. It led to my decision to go on leave next semester and the one following. It also resulted in me being unemployed, which has been more depressing – in a clinical sense – than I expected. Especially since it’s been months and I still don’t have a job.

I find that in times like that, writing can either be a wonderful escape – in which case I’m tremendously, unusually productive – or it can suffer along with everything else, in which case being productive at all is a struggle. Except for some very up periods in terms of my cyclothymia, that’s what happened. There have been significant stretches this past year where it’s been very, very hard to write anything and where I’ve been terrified that I just can’t anymore, that I’ve done everything I can do and I’ve plateaued in terms of skill and now I’ll languish in mediocrity for the rest of what remains of my career.

Yet on paper, it was a pretty great year. And I guess I have to take paper into account in any kind of estimation I’m going to make. So here are some stats.

In 2014 I published:

  • Six short stories. A full list of these can be found here. The number kicks up to eight if you count the stories I had reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction 31 and Best Dark Fantasy and Horror of the Year – 2014.
  • One novel. Ravenfall, book 2 in the Casting the Bones trilogy. It was going to be two but Rookwar’s release has been delayed slightly. Along those lines:
  • I finished a trilogy – Casting the Bones. First trilogy I’ve ever completed. So that happened.
  • A book of essays. It’s self-published and I worked hard on it and it makes me happy when people buy it hint hint

I have no idea how many short stories I wrote – I can never keep track of that kind of thing. Nor am I sure how many I sold. Going by my “coming soon” page, it was a few. I do know that I completed three novels, one of them crashing across the finish line yesterday afternoon.

In terms of non-statistical things, in a lot of other respects it was a great year – this was my year for meeting people and making friends. In part because I did a lot of cons, at least by my standards up until now. I did MystiCon, I did WisCon, I did Readercon, I did Capclave, and then I did BarCon at World Fantasy. All of those were just so damn fun, and to everyone I met there and now consider a friend: ayyyy.

In terms of fiction I technically can’t get paid for: I crashed back into fandom in a huge way, specifically the fandom for the TV adaptation of The Walking Dead. This resulted in me writing a flurry of fanfiction in the last couple of months, all of which can be found here. I’m proud of all of it, and in fact it’s been a really interesting experience, getting back into something I mostly left behind some time ago. It’s just a very different kind of writing in a lot of ways, and in many of those ways it’s a more relaxing kind of writing, which I’ve needed very badly.

I also recorded readings of a couple of those fics, which was a lot of fun and which I’ll probably do more in the future. The two I did are here. I’m also very proud of those.

My Yuletide fic this year was “To Take Away What I Know is Mine”. It’s a piece of Uncharted fluff, post Drake’s Deception. My gift was “singularity”, a fic set in the ‘verse of the film Event Horizon and told from the perspective of the ship. I’m very pleased.

So yeah. Again, not a bad year all told. A rundown of what’s coming up – so far – in 2015 is here. In the meantime I leave you with what’s become my favorite song lately, which contains what I think is a good mood with which to look forward.

On tap in 2015

Need to do one of those yearly round-up things, which I will probably actually do on New Year’s Day since I decided to try to finish a novel before then. But now, while I have my coffee, here are some of the things you can expect to see from me in the next year:

  • Labyrinthian (January 20, preorder the ebook and/or trade paperback here)
  • Two novels I can’t talk about yet. Guys, I can’t wait until I can. It’s so goddamn awesome.
  • “Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained”, which will be in the January issue of Uncanny Magazine
  • “A Shadow on the Sky” in the February issue of Mythic Delirum
  • “Come My Love and I’ll Tell You a Tale” in the March issue of Shimmer
  • “The Horse Latitudes”, which originally appeared in Ideomancer and is being reprinted in The Humanity of Monsters which will get a November release from ChiZine. Check out the full table of contents here, there are some incredible names attached to this.
  • “It is Healing, It is Never Whole” in a future issue of Apex Magazine. The date on this one is very, very up in the air but I believe it’ll be at some point in 2015.

And those are the things that are confirmed or semi-confirmed. There are other things that are so up in the air that I can’t say anything, but I’m hoping to be able to do so soon. And of course a lot can happen between now and 2016. Looks like a pretty decent year.

LABYRINTHIAN STUFF (omg)

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I’ve been completely neglecting this book because a lot of other projects have been heating up – some of them super-secret as yet but I can’t wait to talk about them so STAY TUNED – but there’s news about my big gay mythic-SF novel: IT IS NOW UP FOR PREORDER ON SAMHAIN’S SITE.

And here’s the other thing that’s really cool about that.

When Line and Orbit was released, there was a year’s gap between the ebook and the paperback. As of the new year, Samhain is no longer doing that, so you’ll be able to buy the trade paperback at the same time as the ebook.

Which is good because I know a lot of people still prefer print. SO YOU CAN GET THAT.

Big gay mythic-SF novels make excellent last-minute seasonal presents. Just sayin’.