new year, new whiplash

still holding onto that breath we definitely know we're holding

When I sketched out an outline for this newsletter early last week, it was a very different beast. I drafted thoughts about goal-setting (my favorite new year ritual!), about fast-drafting techniques, about getting back into the familiar grind of my work-work balance. I thought I was being enormously clever drafting my newsletter with plenty of time to spare. After all, I have a deadline for a manuscript on the 15th, right? Better get the newsletter done ahead of time!


To send that chipper, goals-filled draft out now would be hideously disingenuous. I am currently a blob. I’ve spent the last week feeling like I did during that awful, liminal period between November 3rd and November 7th. The work of an hour or two takes all day. I can’t hold more than three thoughts in my head at any one time, and one of those thoughts is just a running ticker of COVID numbers in states where family members live.

I might be back in survival mode, but deadlines still need to be hit. New stories and worlds remain to be explored. I have a stack of books to be read a metaphorical mile high on my Kindle. (It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single reader in possession of a good list of library ebook loans must fall victim to all those loans hitting at exactly the same time.)

I can do everything I need to do… but you know what? I can do it slowly. I am allowed to do it slowly. We all are.

My sisters have often warned me that my binge-drafting, binge-revising strategies are not sustainable. Whether I like it or not, it looks like 2021 will be the year that I learn to draft slowly and steadily. A year where I listen to my limits and don’t push myself straight into burn out.

Part of that involves not diving into a long craft newsletter when I’m still reeling from horrifying political news and other emotional train wrecks that hit my family last week. So I guess I’ll take this opportunity to re-adjust the schedule of this monthly newsletter. The next issue will go out on the 1st of February, and on the 1st of every month after that. How’s that sound? Great! Now on to some news!

Publication News:

Last Monday, I signed the contract for a story! I sold a novelette to the online fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which for years has been one of my favorite places to read immersive, literary fantasy stories. I’ve submitted four or five stories to them over the last three years; I’m thrilled to finally have worked with Scott Andrews on a dark fantasy story that is really just a fanfic of the 14th-century Old Anatolian Turkish prose epic (Danişmendname) that forms the backbone of my dissertation. (Plus vampires.) (Because of course.) It’s called “A Land of Saints and Monsters” and it will appear online this summer!

From the Archives:

“The Weight of a Thousand Needles” (Lightspeed, June 2019) was my first pro sale, my first publication, and, remarkably, the first short story I wrote since high school. (I’m still shocked, honestly.) Two bits of trivia: first, I wrote it when I should have been taking notes in my Byzantine history class. Second, it’s the only thing I’ve ever written that holds the distinguished honor of having made my husband cry. (Victory fist pump.) If you’re interested, I was also interviewed for an author spotlight where I talk about the folklore inspiration for the story and the influence of Roshani Chokshi (who is, in my opinion, one of the foremost prose stylists writing YA today) on my writing.

That’s it, folks. Keeping it short and sweet today, but as I said, I’ll be back in your inboxes soon!

P.S. I teased it in the least newsletter, but I’ll tease it again: I have some big, juicy news to drop next month, and newsletter subscribers will be the first to hear it! —xx

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