NaNoWriMo Los Angeles anthologies

I was either an associate or lead editor of the first three NaNoLA anthologies, and I wrote the introduction for the inaugural collection. Because I moved across the country in January from Los Angeles to Baltimore, I was not a part of the fourth. (I encourage those of you who have the first three to round out your collections with what has been called “the best thus far”.)

Year One brought us Believe Me Not: An Unreliable Anthology (Lemur Publishing, 2014). As I note in the introduction, the first anthology started out as a joke and grew into something the editors could barely keep hold of by the time it was published. The collection has more than 45 stories, including several from young authors.

The collection is 427 pages long and sports everything from romance to science fiction to mystery. The prompt was: write a story with an unreliable narrator and the phrase “a cuticle in the space station” and, man, the authors really pulled out all the stops to pull off readable, internally realistic stories. As editors, we were impressed.

Year Two birthed It’s About Time (Lemur Publishing, 2015), wherein writers had to take into consideration time and also create an “oops!” moment for their characters. At 538 pages, this anthology outdid its predecessor in more ways than one. Though the collection is longer, we actually received more submissions and accepted fewer stories than the first year. Again, we as editors were impressed, and we began to see our creation take on a completely new life of its own.

Year Three, the final year I was a part of the editing collective in Los Angeles, I acted as managing (lead) editor. The editors produced a 354-page collection called Meet the Systems: Stories of Regimes, Formulas, & Schemes (1667 Press, 2016). Again, we chose fewer stories than the first two years, and the anthology was stronger for it. The prompt was: write a system-themed story that begins with the phrase “Where did this come from?”

I hope that the NaNoLA editors continue to publish story collections, and I am thinking about starting a similar program here in Baltimore once I’ve settled into the writing scene on this coast. The world needs stories, and we can write them.

Proceeds from all three collections benefit NaNoWriMo and its Young Writers Program.

The Importance of Showing Up

I grew up with a true mover-and-shaker in my house: my mother. She was the one who got the kids out of bed and to school on time and though she was lax about many things, when she wanted something to happen on deadline, it happened.

College was the first real test of my self-reliance to get myself to class, and after the initial culture shock wore off (I went from Los Angeles to Lancaster, Pennsylvania), I failed miserably. That is, I wasn’t usually late to class, but I didn’t often go to class at all. I hated feeling put on the spot when I was late, and I tended to ascribe to the maxim: “Better never late” which—if I was in danger of actually being late—would be shortened to “Better never” rather than face a class (or party or meeting) that had already begun.

My senior year in college, I took a women’s studies class called “American Masculinities.” The professor was a good guy and one who wanted his students to succeed. I missed a significant portion of the course right after it began, but after six semesters of doing the same thing over and over and getting the same depressing results, I was determined to do something to keep from failing—though I had no idea what.

Desperate, I went to his office hours to (try to) explain and ask for a second chance. I don’t remember what I said except that I promised not to miss another class and to make up my missed work. He was understandably skeptical but allowed it because I seemed so earnest. Surely, though, he was expecting from me more of the same.

The very next class, my promise was tested. I got up late and didn’t have time for my usual routine. I changed clothes and washed my face slowly, knowing I would be late and dreading it. I didn’t want to go at all, but I wanted to prove to my teacher that I was serious even more.

I dragged myself to the door and, with my hand on the handle, said, “I’m only going down the stairs. I don’t have to go to class if I don’t want to. Only down the stairs.” I opened the door into the winter air and took each step down the three flights of steps very deliberately.

When I got to the ground, I said, “I’m going to the library. No worries. The library; the library.” And I slowly walked to the library, which was on the way to my classroom. My feet dragged in the snow, but I forced myself to believe I was only going to the library. I repeated the process until I was standing outside my classroom—ten minutes late—with my hand on the doorknob.

I took a deep breath and said to myself, “You’re already here, Viannah. Might as well go in… since you’re already here.” My brain screamed at me to run away, but I squeezed my eyes shut and pushed open the door. I stepped inside, almost expecting to burst into flames. None of the other students even looked up. The professor looked pleasantly surprised to see me and motioned toward a desk near the front, saying sincerely, “So great for you to join us. Please have a seat.”

I nodded, ducking my head to hide a blush, and took the seat without incident. In fact, the entire class period passed unremarkably. Nothing caught on fire; no one behind me snickered about my tardiness. I didn’t even have to answer a question for which I was unprepared. Sitting there as people packed up to leave after class that day, something hit me.

Being in class on time was important, but not nearly as important as…

… being in class at all.

It seems obvious now, but at the time it was a revelation. Showing up is the most important thing in life. Even if you’re late or depressed or not quite awake (or all of the above), show up. And make sure you’re held accountable. If I hadn’t talked to my professor and understood that he had a personal stake in my attending class, I probably wouldn’t have felt so compelled to attend. I wanted to pass the class, of course, but knowing the instructor cared about my attendance made it more important for me to get up and go.

I needed help during that time, and I asked for it, though it took most of my college career. But you know what? I eventually succeeded. And you can too.

What’s been happening in my life recently?

Well, how far back do you want me to go? I used to write a yearly update letter that I sent out to friends and family around the holidays, but I haven’t done that in at least a  couple years, maybe longer. And there’s so much to say! Let me see if I can boil it down to just a few bullet points. In semi-coherent order:

  • I left my job of more than four years at Starbucks to work for a small publishing company Digital Manga, Inc (DMI), where I headed up YaoiCon two years in a row.
  • My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and proceeded to beat it back with her usual aplomb and finesse. She is currently in remission.
  • My brother and his wife moved from Texas to Southern California for her medical residency and to be closer to our family (at least for a while!).
  • My best friend Bobby graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
  • My sister was married in September 2016, and I acted as her maid of honor.
  • After two years working in marketing and events at DMI, I moved across the country from Los Angeles to Baltimore in January 2017 to work for the U.S. Coast Guard Surface Forces Logistics Center as a contract technical writer/editor.
  • As you may remember from a recent post, I have been freelance editing for Less Than Three Press. (If you would like to hire me for editing, please see here!)

As all these life changes whirl around me, I am slowly learning about myself again in a healthy way and practicing self care. I still have a lot of anxiety and still struggle with depression, but I’m working on that with a therapist and psychiatrist, so there’s hope for me yet.

Last Friday I had my first annual work review after 10 months on the job here in Baltimore, and I’m pleased to say it went very well. My work was even described as “phenomenal” and when I asked about a raise, I wasn’t immediately shut down, which is great news for my self-esteem.

I’m still writing as well, though it comes in spurts and jolts, like I’m riding in a train car that keeps jerking as it plows forward. NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and I’m pantsing it again this year, so we’ll just see how that goes.

A to Z survey

A : What is your name? Viannah

B : How old are you? Old enough

C : Orientation? Bisexual

D : Gender? Woman

E : Are you dating anyone? No

F : Do you have a crush? Sure

G : What country do you live in? USA

H : Summer or Winter? Winter

I : How many languages do you know? 1.25

J : Have any tattoos? How many? Yes, several

K : Have any pets? How many? What are their names? Yes, one; Cleopatra

L : Ever been to another country? Yes, but not recently

M : Favorite school subject? English, probably; maybe history

N : Favorite beverage? Water

O : Favorite food? Spaghetti with marinara sauce

P : Do you prefer books, movies, or video games? They’re all good in different ways

Q : Do you have any favorite books/movies/games? Yes

R : How many blogs do you follow? Uh, many

S : How many followers do you have? No idea

T : How many blogs do you have? Just the one

U : Ever been in a physical fight? Yes

V : What do you want to do when you’re older? That is the question, isn’t it

W : Favorite fictional character? Caspian’s son, Rilian.

X : Have you ever broken a bone or had surgery? Yes to both

Y : Favorite genre of music? Alternative rock

Z : Favorite song? “As I Lay Me Down” by Sophie B. Hawkins

Editing for Less Than Three Press

 

I’ve been content editing and copyediting for Less Than Three Press for the last few years (beginning, I think, in late 2014) and have finally gotten the idea in my head that I should at least mention the stories and novels I’ve edited. Here’s a list with links as it stands today in roughly alphabetical order with links as I can find them.

From their About LT3 page: “Less Than Three Press is a strong rising presence in the LGBTQ romance community. Together with a network of highly talented editors, artists, and writers, LT3 provides quality fiction, priding itself on stories that put substance first.”

Forthcoming
Knightsgift
My Lavender Boyfriend
Welcome to Dogtown
Welcome to Me

Novels/Novellas
A Honeyed Light (ebook)
A Question of Honor (print|ebook)
All the King’s Men (print|ebook)
Angel Fever (ebook)
Bat’s Children (ebook)
The Case of the Wandering Wolves (ebook)
Checking into Sodom (ebook)
Choice  (ebook)
The Cyborg He Brought Home (ebook)
The Death of Israel Leventhal (ebook)
Dragonborn (print|ebook)
Dreams and a Home (ebook)
Dreams of the Forgotten (print|ebook)
Entertaining the Sombrevilles (ebook)
Glove of Satin, Glove of Bone (print|ebook)
Good Together (ebook)
Hag in Exile (ebook)
Help! That Chicken is Staring at Me (ebook)
Hold Fast the Knight (ebook)
I Like It Hard (ebook)
Love & Latkes
(ebook)
Masks (ebook)
Midnight (ebook)
Ner Li (ebook)
The Night Watch (ebook)
One Last Drop (print|ebook)
The Open Window (print|ebook)
The Oracle’s Sprite (ebook)
Pete and the Werewolf
(ebook)
Puss in Prada (ebook)
The Restart Project (print|ebook)
Royal Secret (ebook)
Runaway Prince (ebook)
Simon’s Cat: the Story of Puss in Boots (ebook)
Something Like Magic (print|ebook)
Storms & Saints (print|ebook)
Strange Mercy (ebook)
Tantalus (print|ebook)
Thirteen Hours (ebook)
The Unmentionables
 (print|ebook)
Unscripted: Act I (print|ebook)
Unscripted: Act II (print|ebook)
The Upsides of Anger (print|ebook)
The Warrior, the Healer, and the Thief (print|ebook)
Welcome to Your Afterlife (ebook)
When Did 30 Become Such a Big Deal? (ebook)
The Wild Hunt (ebook)
Wish on the Water (ebook)

Short Stories
“A Corgi Named Kilowatt” in Silver & Gold (print|ebook)
“After the Dust” in Silver & Gold (print|ebook)
“Bearskin” in Fairytales Slashed, Vol. 7 (print|ebook)
“Cold, Bitter, Dark” in Private Dicks: Packing Heat (print|ebook)
“The Last Petal on the Rose” in Fairytales Slashed, Vol. 8 (print|ebook)
“Lavish are the Dead” in Less Than Dead (print|ebook)
“The Memory of You” in Silver & Gold (print|ebook)
“Perilous Knights” in To the Victor (ebook)
“Pipsqueak” in To the Victor (ebook)
“The Sky Hunter and the Princess” in Fairytales Slashed, Vol. 8 (print|ebook)
“You May Now Kiss the (Corpse) Bride” in Unfinished Business (print|ebook)
“Zoey Loves Zombies” in Less Than Dead (print|ebook)

      

HippoCamp 2017

In its third year, HippoCamp will descend upon Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during the second weekend of September. If you or someone you know enjoys creative nonfiction and/or would like to see keynote speaker Tobias Wolff in person, I strongly encourage you to register now!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR HIPPOCAMP 2017

I’ve seen the conference schedule, and let me tell you: it’s got a lot of interesting classes, including:

Breakfast and Topic Tables

 Saturday is the heart of HippoCamp and a jam-packed day. That’s why we’re feeding you a solid breakfast! Enjoy a hot breakfast with lots of options. Plus, you may sit at a designated topic table to discuss a writing or publishing issue with other attendees. Meet while you eat!

Yes, I will always go for the food portion of any conference, but HippoCamp brings the topics of conversation even to breakfast!

Writing Better with Social Media

Social media–platform–building readership–too often, these feel like a distraction from our “real” work, or like we’re shouting into a void. But it’s possible to use social media to improve our writing and bring joy to our day and momentum to our career. We’ll cover using social media purposefully and meaningfully and how Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and blogging can be part of your literary world.

One reason I’m trying to post once a week on this journal is so that people know I’m still alive and creating things. Social media not only connects me to people I know, but also people I don’t know, and that in itself is a great boon.

Lessons from Failure: How to Learn, Recover, and Succeed when Everything Seems Overwhelming

Writers, both established and emerging, have faced all kinds of obstacles. Whether it’s constant rejection, a new baby, unemployment, the death of a loved one, or just the daily grind, writers always seem to face some insurmountable struggle, which often takes them away from their work. However, many are able to prevail with a bit of persistence and perseverance. Join us for a conversation about trying and trying again, about failure and success. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences and discuss how we can become better writers by turning our failures into successes.

I need encouragement sometimes, especially when the failing becomes tough. Let me just say, it’s difficult sometimes for me to keep my hopes up, but I hope this workshop will at least help me feel less alone in living life’s ups and downs.