Writing

My latest publications: The stories behind the stories

I’ve been writing! I have come to accept that I’ll never be the world’s most prolific writer (Stephen King I ain’t), but I do occasionally finish things and send them out into the world – and sometimes they get published. I’ve been lucky enough to have several pieces published this year, so I thought I’d tell you about my latest stories, what inspired me to write them and how they came to be published.

If you’re interested in writing, I hope this gives you some insight into the process of going from initial idea to ‘I’ve got a story out!’ social media post.

‘Dinner with Jupiter’ – Luna Station Quarterly

Earlier this year I had a story published in Luna Station Quarterly, a magazine for women-identified speculative fiction writers. I mean, my goodness, that’s me to a T!

This is a short story about lockdown, loneliness and space. It’s about a woman living alone in the midst of a pandemic (I wonder where I got the inspiration from…) who is, once again, cooking dinner for one. She decides to add some excitement to the meal by pulling the planets out of the sky and using them as table decorations.

I wrote this one in the height of lockdown in 2020, and it had a bit of a journey to publication. I initially submitted it to a different magazine for a themed issue about space. They rejected it, but told me they liked it and asked me to resubmit it for a different themed issue. I did and… they rejected it again! After that, I felt pretty disheartened and sat on the story for several months; then I sent it out into the world again and it found its home in Luna Station Quarterly.

I’m so glad it did, because LSQ is a fabulous magazine. This is also the first time I’ve seen a story of mine in a physical magazine, and let me tell you it’s incredibly satisfying to hold a beautiful book in your hands and see your name on the cover. I’m very proud of this story, and I hope you like it too!

‘Home is where the heat is’ – Cli-Fi Imaginarium

I am a cofounder of the Cli-Fi for Beginners Meetup group, which is all about writing optimistic climate fiction. Each month we write stories based on an eco-technology that is aimed at solving climate change, and we imagine hopeful futures in which these climate solutions have come to pass.

The group is aimed at all writers, including complete beginners. I lead the second session of the month, in which I offer writing advice and exercises to help our writers craft their work into finished stories. And, once they’re done, we publish all the stories on the Cli-Fi Imaginarium, so other people can read our uplifting visions of the future.

Sometimes I write my own stories based on our monthly prompts, and recently I finished a story about district heating. This is an eco-technology that involves heating homes from a central hub, rather than each home having an individual heating system. In my story, the heating pipe for one man’s house breaks, and the community rallies around to help fix it. It’s up on the Imaginarium now!

‘My Portfolio Career’ – Mslexia Magazine, issue 94

This is a particularly exciting one! I’ve been a fan of the brilliant Mslexia magazine for years, and I’ve submitted writing to them multiple times, so to finally appear in their pages is a real thrill.

This is one of the country’s leading writing magazines, publishing articles, stories and poetry by women. Nearly every section of the magazine is open to submission by any writer, including the My Portfolio Career column, which gives one woman per issue the chance to write about the ‘mosaic’ of work they do, paid and unpaid, and how their writing fits into this.

Writing a pitch for this is quite straightforward – you simply send a few bullet points summarising each element of your work, and if they like what they hear, they may ask you to write it up into an article. Let me tell you, when the email dropped into my inbox asking me to write up my portfolio career into a full article for Mslexia, I let out a completely involuntary squeal. You can find my portfolio career in issue 94.

‘Reginald’s Party’ – After Dinner Conversation, July 2022

This brings us up to my most recent publication in After Dinner Conversation – an online magazine that publishes short stories with ethical, philosophical questions at their hearts. Each story comes with a list of questions that help you think more deeply about what you’ve read, and about what you might do if you found yourself in this world, facing this moral dilemma.

My story is about a Victorian gentleman holding a drinks party at his house – but the drinks he serves are not alcoholic, they are bottled emotions. Reginald has carefully curated the guest list and the serving order for the evening (of course, Joy must be served before Nostalgia), but the party is ruined when an uninvited guest arrives – and she’s a woman, no less!

The story gets into ethical questions about wealth, poverty, gender and exploitation, as well as exploring how we process trauma and whether pain is necessary for recovery. It took me a long time to write this story (I wrote it on and off for more than a year), but I finally finished it thanks to having dedicated time working in a café with other writers. Go and sign up to After Dinner Conversation to read it!

These are all the pieces of writing I have had published so far this year. As always, I have a couple more out for submission at the moment, and a few other things that I’m still writing. I hope you found something that you liked, and when I have more publication news, I will bring it to you here.

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