It’s NaNoWriMo-time!

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Nov 2, 2014 in Writer's Life

Words are being written. Characters are being created. Worlds are coming into fruition. It’s my favorite time of year! I’m 1748 words into this, and already it’s taken some turns that I didn’t expect. For one, I’ve decided to face my biggest writing fear and use gender neutral pronouns. The ey, em, eir, eirs, eirself set, which hopefully 50,000 words from now will feel like second nature, because right now, I have to look at a chart each time, and if I have to keep that up, it’s going to be a looooooong month.

Anyway, no time for blogging, but here’s a sneak peak at my novel, code name “Awesome Twin Awesome Novel.” Don’t ask. That’s just what I put into the NaNoWriMo site, and I’m sticking with it:

Here’s a brief excerpt:


The quease of longing empties from my gut as I spy Kassir through the glass door of his classroom. Mrs. Maven paces at the front of the class in road-worn orthotics, her facial features as precisely angled as the writing across her chalkboard: Heed the Narrow Season, and a Fruitful Year Renewed. Her greetings may be merry, but the lines drawn on the foreheads of her students are not. Eyes gaze down at paper, pencils scribble furiously. Sweat drips from worried brows. Finally, Kassir feels my proximity, and sighs in frustration. He places his test pencil on his desk, then glares at me.

“What?” he mouths.

“I’m going out for a smoke with Geona. Meet us when you’re done,” I mouth back.

“What?” he says again. We may be twins, but he can’t read lips for shit.

“I’m–” I point to my chest. “Going out–” I make exaggerated swings with my arms and walk past the door. When I pop back up from below, a few other students have taken note of my presence. I catch a few half-smiles. “For a smoke–” I take a puff on an imaginary clove cig. “With Geona–” I cup my hands beneath my muscled chest and sashay like I’ve got the rack of a centerfold. This gets stifled giggles from a few students, and the mellow brown of Kassir’s cheeks flush red beneath.

Mrs. Maven stops her pacing, and as her eyes dart to the door, I duck out of sight.

“Concentrate, class,” I hear her say. “This exam will count for fifty percent of your final grade, and partial answers will not be accepted.”

I heave a sigh, thankful that I’d drawn Mr. Brerelle, fresh out of university, as my Bio teacher instead of Mrs. Maven. Bet he didn’t think, graduating from a Primways university, that he’d end up at some third-rate secular school, teaching sacrilege to a bunch of kids from one of poorest Comfies in the Coralease. He’d skimmed over so many chapters that we’d had our final exam weeks ago–all multiple choice. I’d aced it, but then again, it had been so easy that nearly everyone did.

“Mr. Okoye,” booms a deep voice from behind me. I look up from my crouch and panic when I catch a glimpse of Principal Boro’s reflection in the glass, bulky arms folded firmly across a laced lapel revealing just a hint of eir even bulkier chest. I forget how intimidating Boro is up close and personal, and somehow I resist the urge to ask for eir workout regimen.

“Principal Boro,” I stammer, then turn, “I was just–”

Boro plucks the cigs peaking out of my shirt pocket. “Getting back to class,” ey finishes for me. “And button that up. You’re in violation of dress code.”

“Yes, Principal Boro. Right away, Principal Boro.” You’ve never seen buttons get fastened so quickly. I’m out of there and running down the hall, so fast, Boro’s voice has gone soft before I hear that baritone “Walk. Mr. Okoye!” chasing after me.

I don’t walk, and I don’t return to class either. The narrow season has already started as far as I’m concerned. As soon as my feet hit pavement outside the school, my proximity with Kassir breaks and the quease is back–just a small granule buried an inch behind my navel. I feel my anger welling up, and all those things I’d wanted to cuss at Boro fill my saliva with bitterness. Finemister know-it-all, stole my cigs, and is probably smoking them now. I grab the collar of my uniform shirt with both hands, and tug until all the buttons pop loose. “Yes, Principal Boro, Right away, Principal Boro!” Sometimes I hate the person Kassir makes me, but left to my own devices, I’d be sitting in detention right now, or probably worse.

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Short Women in Space Recap!

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 31, 2014 in Writer's Life
Short Women in Space

Space Woman Art based on photo by Zaprittsky, Creative Commons

This month I had the pleasure of reviewing 23 tales about women ( and other genders) living life in the void of space. It was eye-opening, the amount of good space fiction out there, and interesting to see how we envision ourselves as we trek across the stars.

Below are the gems I found. There’s a lot of variety–deep space travel, martian colonies, whacky aliens, interstellar war, so there ought to be something that tickles your fancy.

So check them out, and seek out more from these authors. I know I will!

Space Travel Loses its Allure When You’ve Lost Your Moon Cup by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

Salvage by Carrie Vaughn

Lysistrata of Mars by Tory Hoke (Nicky’s Pick)

The Things They Were Not Allowed to Carry by Helena Leigh Bell

The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter by Damien Angelica Walters

Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind) by Holly Black (Nicky’s Pick)

Found by Alex Dally MacFarlane

The Rocketeer by Rebecca Hodgkins

Dancing by M. E. Garber

Special Delivery by Maddie Engelfried

Communion by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Nicky’s Pick)

The Mythology of Salt by Octavia Cade

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Monkey by Ruth Nestvold

What Purpose a Heart by Rachael Acks

The Gaps in Translation by Andrea Corbin

The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23 by Rhiannon Rasmussen (Nicky’s Pick)

Deep End by Nisi Shawl (Nicky’s Pick)

The Symphony of Ice and Dust by Julie Novakova

The Speaking Ground by Erica Satifka

Primrose or Return to Il’maril by Mary McMyne (Nicky’s Pick)

Red Dust and Dancing Horses by Beth Cato

Threads of Pearl, Writhing by Gwendolyn Clare (Nicky’s Pick)

Heroic Relics by Catherine H. Shaffer

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Heroic Relics by Catherine H. Shaffer

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 24, 2014 in Reviews

Buzzy Mag
Author Website:


Sabrina Smith has settled nicely into her second career as a veterinarian. She finds working with animals much more rewarding than her former paper pushing job as an army intelligence analyst. Her work is intense, yet predictable, that is until she receives the strangest pair of visitors at her clinic:

She was examining a llama in the back pasture of her clinic when she noticed two men, who definitely didn’t fit in, standing at the rail. They obviously wanted her attention, but she let them hang while she decided who and what she thought they were. With their black suits and sunglasses, they looked like government types. More likely, they were lawyers. They didn’t have an animal with them, so that was a pretty big clue they weren’t customers. The taller one looked impatient, like he had some place else he needed to be and soon. The shorter man looked more relaxed, almost like he was enjoying the view.

Curiosity finally got the better of her, and she handed the llama’s halter to her assistant technician. She walked over to the fence and addressed the taller visitor. “If you’ve brought your friend here to get neutered, I’m all booked up until Tuesday.”

The taller man chuckled, and the shorter one flushed. “I’m Roger Sears, NASA mission support specialist. We came about your application to the astronaut corps.”

“What? I filled that out ten years ago,” Sabrina said. Now it was her turn to blush. She’d applied to NASA in a manic period between the army and vet school. It had been kind of a crazy thing to do.

“Well, we have a job for you.”

“I don’t understand,” said Sabrina. “I thought the manned space flight program was disbanded, ever since the Soyuz accident.”

“It was,” said the shorter man. He hadn’t introduced himself yet. “But something has come up.”

And something definitely has come up. An alien ship has landed on the moon, and they need Sabrina’s vet expertise and security clearance to help transport the alien back to Earth. Growing up, she’d always wanted to be a veterinarian-spy-astronaut-princess, and if she takes these MiB up on their offer, she’ll be almost all the way there.

This was a fun, lighthearted piece, so I kinda feel bad for poking holes in it, but I had a really hard time suspending my belief for this one. I liked that they picked a vet over a doctor, since vets would be more versed in different physiologies, and it was fun to see someone’s childhood fantasy come true in the weirdest of ways. But everything just seemed too convenient, as if the plot were driving the story instead of the characters. The conversations seemed overly scripted for a laugh, technology failed right when it was supposed to, and worked right when it was supposed to. There were a couple hilarious moments with the alien, (space suits!), but that could have been so much deeper. Sabrina is the first one to meet a person from a different world, but she seems about as excited as she would be setting a dog’s broken leg.

In any case, if you’re looking for something whimsical and space related, give this a read. It’s nice having something to counteract all of the heavy/depressing pieces, but I just wish this had been a little more believable for me.

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