Crime & Mystery Anthology

I’m incredibly pleased to announce that my short story, Skitter & Click, will be appearing soon in this gorgeous anthology, Crime & Mystery!

Flame Tree press makes amazingly beautiful books and I couldn’t be more chuffed that my story will be appearing next to stories by luminaries like Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mark Twain as well as some amazing new writers like Tony Pi, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Dan Stout, and Ruth Nestvold.

The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is absolutely one of my favorite writers out there right now and her TED talk on the dangers of telling a single story is incredibly moving and important.

I spend a decent amount of time thinking about writing, how to write well, why to write, etc. This talk has probably had more impact on me than any other single piece of advice on storytelling — especially in terms of writing about people “not like me.”

Maya Revival indegogo

“Today’s Maya regaining their history and culture by learning the glyphs and calendars of their ancestors and spreading the knowledge in their own communities.”

That’s the goal of this new indegogo being run by a fellow UCLA anthropologist, Bruce Love. I’ve heard of the organization “Mayas for ancient Mayan” before, but this is the first time I’ve seen their actual work in action. And I’m THRILLED that this is happening, especially that it is driven, not by Dr. Love, but by Maya communities themselves in their desire to revive ancient knowledge.

One of my biggest issues with modern archaeology and anthropology is that it is usually driven by outsiders, usually American or European scholars that set the research agenda in indigenous communities. I am always very excited to see internally driven projects that address issues and questions being asked by the people being “studied.”

Also, not incidentally, this is exactly the issue the novel I just finished addressed – the power inherent in having access to and knowledge about you own history. Though, of course, in my fantasy book access to ancient knowledge allows people to perform magic…

My first publication!

Well, it’s official. My flash fiction piece Ixtab Takes a Day Off was posted up at Abyss & Apex Magazine!

I wrote this as an homage to one of my favorite stories, Dostoyevsky’s Dream of a Ridiculous Man, which is about a man contemplating suicide who changes his mind after an encounter with a little girl.

This was my first real attempt at flash fiction. It literally took two hours to write the first draft and I’m still happy with the piece, so yay!

I’m actually experiencing all kinds of emotions. Intense pride. Excitement. There might be a little fist-pumping boogie around the room to very mediocre pop music with my 4 year old happening.

Though I also feel a little…let down or something.

I’m beginning to suspect that every milestone along my writing journey will feel like this. Every time I achieve a goal, I see the next goalpost in the distance. Being an obsessive, type-A person, I just move right on to the next thing. Finish a book. Get a short story published. Edit a book. Query agents. Done and done.

Next is getting an agent and starting the publication process. Then publish a book. Then pen my best selling series. And then I RULE THE WORLD…okay that last part isn’t a realistic goal. To be fair, none of this feels realistic. But it’s happening so I figure I’d better pay attention and make sure I’m enjoying the journey!

PS Profanity warning in the story…sorry mom.

PPS Haha, just kidding, my mom actually taught me how to curse.

Yeah Baby! NaNo worked!

Well, NaNoWriMo worked and I have officially finished my first full novel – a young adult contemporary fantasy done at 56,000 words (followed closely by a second novel that I’ve been working on for over a year). I’m thrilled! Something about the little NaNo achievement graph really motivated me. It needs a ton of editing, but it is the first book I’ve ever finished and I’m doin’ a little dance.


Alright, I’ve heard about it for years.

I’ve pondered the bloated corpses of half-finished novels floundering on various hard drives. I have just received an email asking to buy a piece of my fiction. (also, HELL YEAH! WOOT WOOT WOOT I SOLD SOME FICTION!) These events convince me that I might be an okay writer after all, and thus I should probably, you know, finish a book.

So, rather than farffing around with the three different works I currently have in progress, I have officially declared my intention to focus on one piece and just git ‘er done. One of my works in progress is a young adult urban fantasy type thingy with only a few thousand words written. I suspect it will end up being around 55-60,000 words. Perfect for a National Novel Writers Month project where you join hundreds of thousands of other writer in a sprint to puke up 50,000 words during the month of November.

Therefore, in a challenge to myself, I hereby declare my intention to finish a draft of this book by the end of the month. Let the writing commence!

Why I Write

I’ve realized my blog is fairly impersonal, and figured that the most personal thing I could discuss is why I’m writing these days.

Because, although I have always loved writing and have always spent some of my free time writing (yes I have 3 half finished novels on various hard drives), it was never a serious personal goal of mine. Until recently, of course.

Instead, I spent twelve years working toward a career as an academic. I love anthropology, love history, love the way the human mind works. My Ph.D. allowed me to combine the study of these things that I love. I traveled the world. Got to live in places that few Americans even know exist. There were some detours along the way (ehem, law school, professional dog walking, video game writing, etc) but my real career goal was to become a professor at a small liberal arts university.

And I did! After a few years foundering (during which time I meet Rockin Hubby so yay for foundering), I got my dream job as a tenure track professor at a school that I love (Go St. Eds!). I loved my department, had the most roxor dean in the world (thank you Dean Hopper) and loved every single one of my amazing colleagues. Even better, I got to teach my dream classes about human rights, social justice, international conflict resolution, and best of all, the history of globalization.

But there were issues. Rockin Hubby and I were having terrible allergies in Austin. And then we had our son, Danger Monkey. This isn’t a post about juggling motherhood and career (I could write a book) but I will say that I was not achieving work/life balance. Our little Danger Monkey had fairly serious medical issues and we were not able to effectively eat, sleep, take care of ourselves, and work full time.

Then Rockin Hubby got a great job offer in the Bay area. Life crisis ensued! I loved my job, but Danger Monkey was getting older and still needed extra help. If we moved, we could live comfortably on RH’s salary alone. The Bay area suited us and our chosen way of being in the world (especially me being a lefty-nerd/hippy hybrid). All I had to do was quit my beloved job.

Which I did.

We moved away from family, my job, and our friends, back to the bay area. This is home for Rockin Hubby, and we have a wonderful circle of friends here. We love the weather. The parks. The resources. The people.

Although I do miss teaching (and plan to go back one day), I don’t regret our decision for a second. Between medical issues and some language processing delays, Danger Monkey turned out to need a lot of extra time. Though I wasn’t sure how I would adjust, I have actually loved having the ability to stay home and raise our son. I am grateful that we have the financial security and good insurance allowing me to take a few years off and give Danger Monkey the extra attention he needs. Plus, I actually have fun with him. (Good gods do NOT take that as a comment about working parents. Every family makes decisions that work for them and I think they are all totally valid and I support every family making whatever decision is best for them!)

That said, transitioning to stay at home mom-hood was hard for me. While I enjoy the company of Danger Monkey, the sudden lack of adult conversation and mental stimulation, plus some identity issues of my own making, made me feel isolated. Suddenly, rather then being constantly immersed in heated debate and social justice activism, mentoring amazing students and working to create a place of learning, I spent my days with a three year old. All of a sudden I didn’t have anything to talk about other than poop and playdates.

Over time, things with Danger Monkey have gotten better! His medical issues are resolving (thank you universe and Lords of Science). His language is improving (thank you therapists!). Over the last year, I occasionally found myself having a few moments to do whatever I wanted.

In those moments I rediscovered writing.

Writing gave me something totally my own. Writing gave me something to think about, something to do in those rare stolen moments when I’m not driving to the park, playing with finger paint, or running after our preternaturally coordinated toddler.

Writing has saved my sanity.

Of course I began writing just for fun, something to fill the space in my over-active mind. Then I started a book. And got really far into it before realizing I had some work to do. I think my writing is good enough, but am just shite at story telling and character development.

So, about a year ago, I shifted to short stories to work on my writing. I’ve been trying to write at least one short story a month (most months I actually manage two) and it turns out all those things people say about writing are true.

As I’m writing I’ve been submitting my work to various magazines. At first I got nothing but form rejections. Then I spent the last few months trying to write a story in each of my favorite genres. I’ve been submitting those, and lo-and-behold, now I’m getting mostly personal rejections.

I am actually getting better with practice!

I don’t know if I will ever sell a short story (of course I hope I do), but I am really proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m proud of the decisions we have made as a family. I’m proud of Rockin Hubby for being an amazingly supportive partner and father. I’m proud of the hard work I’ve put into writing and that I am getting better at it.

Finally, it turns out that I LOVE writing. Love it just as much as anthropology. Which is really saying something.

My writing as music video

What I want my writing to be like.

That is, I want it to be immediately dark and powerful but also somehow sweet and you don’t quite know what’s happening but you want to know more.

What I think my writing is actually like.

That is, really slow building, interesting but also maybe a little treacly sweet at first and you basically have to get all the way to the end to find out how totally messed up it is.  Though to be honest, I don’t think my writing is as luminous and beautiful as this video cause that might be ok then.