July Newsletter: Aspirational Fiction

So there I was, doing jumping jacks, jumping – literally! – for joy in Pavlina’s grandparents’ garret in the Balkan Tower of Matriarchy. My toes sank into and lifted off from their plush,  gray carpet square. Pigeons cuddled on the air conditioning unit under the window. If I turned just right and didn’t clap my hands over my head, I didn’t smack into anything.

I’m usually drained after a bout of writing. On good days, it’s like after working out. My mental muscles ache because I stretched them. On bad days, it’s like I’ve been wrapped in spider silk and spent the last ninety minutes trying to tear my way free.  Sometimes I’ve just been cored, and just need to lie quietly for a while until my organs grow back. But this time, for the first time as far as I remember, I came out of writing with more energy than I had going in. Here’s what I wrote.

I’m calling it “aspirational fiction.” It’s heart-felt, it’s grounded, it shines a light on the future and shows us a way out of the present.  And I’m so excited! Other people are writing it too!

So there I was again! Yeah! This time I was in the village, on the balcony of Pavlina’s grandparents’ house. Grape leaves reaching up from their trellis. Pears growing on the tree. Goats going home. Kids stewing in the Jacuzzi. I was talking to my agent and some of her other authors, and Joanne Rixon told me about this op-ed she wrote last year for the Tacoma News Tribune.

The op-ed is 600 words about the world 30 years in the future. It shows how the people and places of Joanne’s home town have grown and succeeded. Specifically, they’ve beaten climate change, and she shows us one way to get there. Aspirational fiction.

I don’t mean escapism. Escapism takes you out of your life, but then it puts you back. What I need is something that opens a door and leads me through it. I’ve written about it before. Call it “uplifting” or “transformational” or “hope-punk.” I want more.

So, here’s my challenge to you: The 600/30 op-ed! Write 600 words about your home town 30 years in the future. Talk about how we’ve solved some problems. Give the reader reason for optimism. And I want technical details, people! This is science fiction after all.

Submit your 600/30 story to your local newspaper. And whether or not it gets published, sent it to me. I’ll keep a collection of these things (I already have two). Maybe we can have an anthology.

Whew! Okay. In other news…

I finished The Centuries Unlimited delta. That’s right, four complete rewrites. That’s an average of one a year. God, what a hairy project it turned out to be. If you usually build a house from the foundation up, I tried to build this one from the paint in. I nearly lost faith in this book, and the way I found it again was by dedicating it to someone. Finding the person (well, people) who needed to read Centuries gave me the motivation I needed to fix it.

Now Centuries is with my agent. She’ll read it and determine whether it needs another re-write. I’ll do that rewrite if I need to. I’ll do a hundred rewrites because now I know why this book is important. (Uh, but fingers crossed I don’t need to).

Protector #5 is out! In fact, my copies were delivered as I was writing this newsletter. 


This is the last issue. The end of Arc I. As for Arc II, well, we’re working on it. 🙂

I bought tickets to Futuricon. It’s a virtual conference to take place in October, and it only costs 10 euros. I’m thinking of creating a Zoom Room to hang out in while the con is going. We can get some of that fun con social experience that way. Who wants to go to Eurocon with me?

And of course everyone wants to know about Thracian! Well, I’m calling it “Vessian” now (from ves, meaning “good,” “happy,” “true”) and it’s been through a lot. Here’s what it looks like now:

Zalmoxs na irga ka beye, ” … petey shen moy ka dunam ta o avzeztam kurto velam, da par nu tu dunas ta o zures.”

“The Shrouded One comes to us and says, ‘…all are mine and I can take them when I want, but for now you can enjoy them.”*

What do you think? I don’t think it’s hissy enough :\

Anyway, here’s what I enjoyed reading this month:

The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz Miguel (I finally finished it. How not to let the things people say about you get under your skin. Much recommended.)

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport (Not as good as Make Time. We don’t need a philosophy or manifesto – we need to take control of our habits.)

Underlord by Wil Wight (just as fun the second time around.)

Scarface and the Untouchable by Max Collins (research for the Centuries Unlimited. I liked the stuff about the private life of Al Capone.)

There is no Antimemetics Division by Sam Hughes (once again I am in awe of Sam Hughes. He is consistently excellent at taking us deep into the darkness and leading us back out again. A+ characters and emotions, A+ scifi and horror! The best line: “his mind exploded like a diagram.”)

Sabine Hossenfelder (great, no-nonsense physics on youtube.)

Lieder by Adel Tawil (it’s a cool song.)

Delicious by KangNam (the theme song to Let’s Eat season 2. Yum!)

Black and Gold by Sam Sparro (a surprisingly deep song about the different things that science and religion give us – this will be the theme song of Fellow Tetrapod, my next project.)

See you next month.

*Adapted from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, trans. Janet Mills. Here’s the original:  “The angel of death comes to us and says, ‘…everything is mine and I can take it away when I want to, but for now you can use it.’”


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