Making Some Changes

Conveniently, this post comes at the end of 2016, but I promise you, that’s coincidence. This is NOT a New Year’s Resolution Post. For real! This is a post I’ve not had time to write for two months. Also, I’m a teacher now, so the end of the year comes in June. December is a reality break, not an end or a beginning.

Anyway, a lot of things changed for me in the last few years. The last year has been especially full of super serious life changes, and I’ve done a lot of contemplating how to deal with it all. I finished getting my license in Special Education 2.5 years ago and I’ve been teaching ever since. My first job was pretty laid back–adult students and only on the clock four days a week (and let me tell you, I miss that schedule sometimes, even if they did pay me a pittance). I only worked about 36 hours a week, so I had lots of time for writing, and with every Friday off, conventions were a breeze. I continued to attend 8-10 conventions a year, and got a lot of writing done in my off time.

But I didn’t get to teach in that job, as great as it was in other ways, so ultimately I left to pursue a position at a school where I could do the thing. I don’t want to say that switching schools was a mistake–more on that in a minute–but the second school was not a good fit for me. It made me question whether I should be a teacher. Hell, it made me question whether I should be a person. I felt inadequate in every way. I started having weekly panic attacks. I noticed that I was more exhausted than everyone else, exhausted all the time, down to my soul, the kind of exhaustion that made me feel like I’d never stop being tired. I’d been fatigued before but never like this.

The upshot is that I went to a psychologist and got a new diagnosis: ADHD. I was skeptical until I talked to friends who have it (which, as it turns out, is like, most of my friend circle? Because of course it is) and read a book about how untreated, undiagnosed ADHD can manifest in adults. Once I saw how highly I rated on both the inattentive and hyperactive scales, I thought, well shit. And when the psychologist explained it to me–ADHD is an inability of the brain to prioritize and control impulses–I thought, well double shit, that describes me completely. I cried in his office. Not because I’m sad, but because I’m relieved. There’s a reason I’m like this. It’s not my fault, and now I can finally do something about it, something that’s more than just treating the symptoms.

I also got a new job. And this is why I don’t regret Job #2, even though I was miserable there and my boss made me cry more than once and I thought about jumping out a window every day. Because without Job #2, I wouldn’t have gotten Job #3. And this job, you guys. I love this job. I love the school where I teach. I teach in a beautiful building with amazing coworkers and supportive administrators and the kids are tough but that’s why I love them. Because nothing worth doing is ever easy.

This post is getting long. Still with me? Okay. You get a gold star if you’re still reading. I’m getting to the point.

I love my job now, but holy cow the long hours. This is a for real teaching job. I go in at 7:30 and I’m lucky if I leave by 5:30. I usually work six days a week. For the first two months, I was working every waking moment. They changed my job responsibilities, so now my schedule has gone from 80 hours a week to about 60, which is an improvement, but that’s still a lot. I barely see my friends and family. I don’t get much writing (or editing) done. I have a panic attack every Sunday, like clockwork, as Monday looms.

The point is this: my life has changed, so now some other things need to change. My time is suddenly very, very precious. I still want to be a professional novelist,  as I always have, and my focus needs to be like a laser instead of scattershot to make that happen. Here are the changes I’m implementing:

  • Fewer conventions. I used to enjoy going to small conventions where I barely break even on book sales, but now I find them really stressful. If I attend a convention, it needs to be one where I can network and/or benefit my craft.
  • More writing retreats. If I’m going away for a weekend, it needs to have purpose. I need to get shit done, especially if I’m taking a day off work. Retreats help me do that. Plus, they’re relaxing AF.
  • No more short stories. My focus can only be in one place right now, and that needs to be this novel. I’m going to finish the collaboration I’m currently working on, and then I’m done with short stories until I have a finished novel in my hands. I’ll continue to submit works I’ve already written, but I won’t be writing any new shorts.
  • No more editing. I’ll complete Steampunk Universe and then that’s going to be it, maybe forever. If you want to know all the reasons, buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you all about why I don’t really want to do it anymore.
  • Medication. For ADHD, specifically. Hopefully soon I’ll be less of an anxious wreck and better able to get long projects finished because I won’t get inexplicably bored after writing the outline.

Thus, for a while, at least, I’ll be turning down invitations to conventions (as a panelist) and short story anthologies (that pay less than pro rates). I don’t want to turn them down. It kills me to say No to anything, because some part of me still feels, after 5+ years, that I’m still a beginner in this writing game and I shouldn’t turn down any opportunity. But things have changed for me, and now I have to turn down anything that’s not going to get me from Point A to Point B. I don’t think I’m too fancy for your anthology that pays $50/story or your convention that has 300 attendees. I just can’t afford to take detours from the main route anymore, no matter how much I may want to.

Onwards and upwards in 2017. Here’s to a finished Young Adult Horror novel. I leave you with a picture of my dog, Princess Sophia McSnarfles, aka Tiny Bites, who I adopted in September, and who is pretty much the best dog ever and kept 2016 from being a total shitshow. Thanks for reading this far. In the comments, tell me about your goals for 2017.


Eldritch Embraces and other news

Eldritch EmbracesI’ve been so busy with my day job, I haven’t had time to tell you that Eldritch Embraces is out! If you missed the crowdfunding campaign, now is your chance to get a collection of Lovecraftian romance that features a story by yours truly. I promise there are no tentacles in my story. Check out that awesome cover!

In other news, I’m proud to announce that Tade Thompson’s story from Steampunk World is available for your listening pleasure on the prestigious Escape Pod podcast. Please give it a listen and tell the author how much you loved it.

Speaking of anthologies, here’s your reminder that you have less than two months remaining to get me a story for Steampunk Universe. The revised Call for Submissions is here. If you’d like to know why the Call was revised, you can read about that on my publisher’s blog, here.

Now that the school year is drawing to a close, things are calming down at the day job and I have some fun blog posts planned. So stay tuned for Hopefully More Content! LOL.

Happy reading and writing! 🙂

2016 Convention Schedule

Here’s where you can find me this year:

Cleveland Concoction – March 11-13, Cleveland, Ohio

International Steampunk Symposium – April 7-10, Cincinnati, Ohio

MARCon – May 6-8, Columbus, Ohio

Motor City Steam Con – July 22-24, Detroit, Michigan

Imaginarium – October 7-9, Louisville, Kentucky

World Fantasy Convention – October 27-30, Columbus, Ohio


The Smoking Nun

I’m super thrilled to announce I have a story available for you to read, no purchase required! It’s been a while since I had one of those available. It’s called “The Smoking Nun,” and I had a hard time selling it (probably because of the second person POV?) so I’m very grateful to the amazing Jennifer Brozek for giving it a home at EGM Shorts.

In other news, if you want to read another story of mine, you can back this IndieGoGo Campaign for Eldritch Embraces, an anthology of Lovecraftian romance. I had a little too much fun writing my story, “When The Stars Are Right,” my first gay romance that also features Nyarlathotep. The project also benefits a really worthy charity, so please throw a little money at it if you like animal rescues or romance or the unspeakable horror of the void.

Thanks, as always, for your support!

Imaginarium Schedule

This weekend I’ll be attending my first-ever Imaginarium! Yay Louisville! Here’s where you can find me:


2:00 Reading

3:00 Keeping YA Fiction Relevant

4:00 Mental Health and the Literary World

6:00 So You Wanna Edit An Anthology?

9:00 Subgenre Spotlight: Horror

As you can see, I’ll only be doing panels on Saturday, as I won’t be able to arrive until late Friday evening. For the reading on Saturday, I’ll be sharing the time slot with romance authors, so I’ll be reading from my latest weird romance, “When The Stars Are Right,” which will be appearing in an anthology shortly. I hope to see you there!

Familiar Spirits and other news

Familiar SpiritsMy latest story, “The Cold Earth,” is appearing in the ghost anthology Familiar Spirits, edited by my good friend (and Sidekicks! contributor) Donald J. Bingle. The anthology is currently on Kickstarter, so if you like spooky stories, please back the project, so the contributors can get paid! Just check out the gorgeous cover!

In other news, the humble bundle featuring Steampunk World has only about 24 hours remaining, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to get about $190 worth of books and comics for $15 and support worthy charities in the process.

Thanks for your support! Time for me to go back into the salt mines…#amwriting

Humble Bundle Madness

In case you haven’t heard yet, Steampunk World is part of a Humble Bundle going on for six more days! All the books featured were funded via Kickstarter, and Steampunk World is in some very illustrious company. For less than the price of the anthology alone ($10.04 as of this posting) you can receive over $190 worth of digital books and comics, and help out the charities Electronic Frontier Foundation and First Book. I’ve purchased Humble Book Bundles in the past and found the system very easy to use. Your purchases are saved forever in your personal Humble Bundle library, so you never have to worry about a server crash or alien invasion destroying your bundle!

I recommend buying the bundle right away. Don’t wait, because the average has already increased two dollars since the bundle was first posted! If you pledge more than the average now, then you get everything, even if the average increases later. Thanks for supporting Steampunk World and these great charities!

Special Call for Submissions: Steampunk Universe

Much like the award-winning anthology Steampunk World, Steampunk Universe will be a multicultural anthology of steampunk stories. But this time, the anthology will focus on characters who do not identify as abled or neurotypical.1

This call for submissions is aimed particularly at marginalized writers, especially those who are identify as members of a minority, LGBTQ, and particularly those themselves who do not identify as abled or neurotypical.

Stories are due by June 1, 2016 to Ideally, decisions will be made by July 1, and the anthology will be crowdfunded shortly thereafter. Writers will be paid $.06/word for original stories. I’m not looking for reprints at this time. Deadline extensions will not be granted. Your story should be submitted in Standard Manuscript Format (please check and double-check that your name and email address are on the first page!) as an email attachment in .doc, .docx or .rtf format. The subject of your message should read [Submission: Story Title by Author Name]. If your submission doesn’t conform to these specifications it may be deleted unread.

What I’m looking for:

  • Your story should take place in a non-White and preferably non-Anglophone culture.
  • Your story should contain and have as a focus a character with at least one disability. It should be a major element of the story. I want to explore how steampunk technology changes the lives of people who are aneurotypical or disabled, for better or for worse. I’d love to see characters who are also members of other marginalized groups (such as LGBTQ characters).
  • Your story should contain steampunk elements. I get a lot of submissions with steampunk exoskeletons and dirigibles, but not many with spaceships or submarines. I’d really like authors to stretch themselves and instead of just writing alternate history, set the story in a parallel universe or on another planet. Read Tobias Buckell’s excellent story “Love Comes to Abyssal City” for an example.
  • I have already committed to stories taking place in North America, England, and China. While we may commit to more stories featuring other cultures in those regions, we strongly encourage you to explore stories that take place in the diverse cultures of Central/South America, Asia, and Africa.2

I’m unlikely to buy stories that:

  • Feature a disability as a superpower, such as the trope of the autistic super-detective.
  • Feature characters with prosthetic limbs, steam-powered hearts, or who are blind (I already have stories featuring these elements)
  • Involve the protagonist bravely sacrificing himself/herself at the end of the story so the characters without disabilities can survive (seriously, this is becoming a cliché)
  • Are longer than 5,000 words (bonus points if you can keep it under 4,000)
  • Contain graphic sex or violence, rape, women in refrigerators, etc. If the content of your story means you wouldn’t be comfortable reading it to your eleven-year-old, don’t submit it to me.
  • Have only magical elements and no technological ones. I love a good gaslamp fantasy, but this is not the market for it. I want gadgets and goggles!

The fastest way to get responses to questions is on Twitter. Questions may be directed to @steampunkpanda or @AlliterationInk. The best way to tell what kind of story I am likely to buy is to read Steampunk World.

1 So what happened to the original term here? Long story short, we were attempting to use a positive and inclusive term. We failed in that effort. After a lengthy discussion, the wording above was settled upon as a far better one that is inclusive, not demeaning, and respectful of the community.
2 This wording has been changed to emphasize that we are looking to maximize diversity from all regions and peoples in the limited space we have, not minimize or erase any group.

– Steven Saus, publisher

Origins Game Fair Schedule

This weekend I’ll be at Origins Fame Fair participating in the Author Library. I’m really excited about some of these panels!


1:00 Writing From a Feminist Perspective


2:00 Creating a Steampunk Setting

4:00 Flash Fiction

5:00 Diversity in Speculative Fiction

6:00 Story Time


11:00 Crowdfunding Your Novel

12:00 Writing YA and Middle Grade Fiction

When I’m not at panels you can find me in the dealer room hanging with the other authors in the Library. Sound off if I’ll see you! 😀


Writing is a pursuit full of setbacks and disappointments, which is why it’s extra super important to celebrate those rare successes, especially those that are first-time events. I’m not sure where the road to writerly success is leading me, but here are some milestones along the path I’ve recently passed. They tell me that I’m going in the right direction, even if I’m not quite there yet:


My story “Sa fè lontan / Long Time, No See” was in the coveted first spot in the anthology That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do edited by Lincoln Crisler. The anthology was actually released (with a gooorgeous cover, OMG) in January, but I was so busy that month I didn’t have a chance to say anything about it. I get paid royalties for that story, so if you buy a copy of the anthology a few pennies actually go straight into my pocket, which is pretty neat.


I sold my first reprint a few months ago to Whispers from the Abyss Vol. 2, edited by Kat Rocha, which should be released soon. The story is “Shadows of the Darkest Jade,” the first story I ever sold, to Historical Lovecraft, way back in the day. “Shadows” is arguably the story that started all this, so it’s particularly poetic that it’s my first reprint sale. The antho also has a spectacular cover! I’m thrilled to be included in what looks like a really great horror anthology. I can’t wait to see the Table of Contents!


I’ve saved the biggest, best news for last! Steampunk World took home the 2015 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award for Best Fiction a couple of weeks ago. I’m so proud of the team of authors, publisher, cover artist, and editor (that would be me, haha) who earned the popular vote. My thanks go out to all the people who voted, because I never expected to win the award for my first nomination. There’s nothing quite like the endorsement of your chosen community to encourage you to do another volume! I’m so over the moon about this, words can’t really express it. So I’ll link you to this video of Kermit flailing so you can get an idea of what I was like after I’d heard.

I’m also working on a novel that I hope to finish soon, so I’ll finally have that to add to my list of milestones. It’s important to remember one’s accomplishments, because there are long dry spells in writing where one feels like every email is a rejection and every review is negative. So, dear reader, what are some milestones you’ve achieved recently? Tell me about them so we can celebrate!