2015 Year in Review, Quiz Edition

2015 is ending! *runs around like a headless chicken* I can't really talk about this year yet, since I haven't given myself the headspace to reflect on things. It was pretty insane. Lots of amazing things happened, and I met so many cool people, but there were also some really difficult moments. I may touch on that more once I've got my thoughts sorted, but in the meantime, I can talk about a bit about writing.

2015 was definitely lower-volume for me, in terms of both writing and submitting. I focused on some stretch projects (read: stuff I'm bad at, stuff I felt were super-risky) and got terrible first drafts done. They are hot messes, but at least I have some groundwork that I can build on for next year. There are also some 2016 projects I'm incredibly excited for, like the Hurricane Heels series I'm writing for Book Smugglers Publishing (it'll have jello shots, blob monsters, wedding shenanigans, and lots of fight scenes, in case that's your jam); and at least two more stories that'll be in anthologies. More news to follow soon. :)

I also have some good news about 2014 stories:

  • A Cup of Salt Tears, my story about grief and onsen that first appeared on Tor.com, was republished in The Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume 2 (edited by Kathe Koja, series editor Michael Kelly), and The Apex Book of World SF Volume 4 (edited by Mavesh Muhrad, series editor Lavie Tidhar). I'm incredibly grateful to be in both these volumes - representing the Philippines in the latter (gah!) and getting to call myself a 'weird writer' with the former (woo!).
  • Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez, my Catholic schoolgirl ghost story that first appeared on Nightmare Magazine (this was also my first pro sales!), made it to the list of 2015 Notable Stories for the inaugural issue of Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy (edited by Joe Hill, series editor John Joseph Adams).

I attended three cons in the UK: Eastercon, Nine Worlds, and Fantasycon. While tiring (as all cons are), I'm glad I got to meet many kind and encouraging readers, writers, and fellow fans at those events. I also enjoyed many readings and author events in London, including those in Waterstones Piccadilly and the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club in Holborn. Of course, the random coffee meet-ups I've had throughout the year have been wonderful too. I've had many engaging conversations about stories, what it means to be a creator, and even fandom throughout 2015 that I know will continue to impact how/why I write from here on out.

Sometime in the year I got angry about a thing but it made me tweet about a couple of Filipina poets I love, so that was productive. I also had some thoughts on the hissy voices of self-doubt and writing American girl protagonists as a kid - if they're useful reads to anyone, that makes me glad!

I had some stories and poetry come out this year, which I'm really grateful for. This is my second and last year of eligibility for the Campbell Award (for Best New Writer), so if you enjoyed anything I wrote this year, I appreciate the consideration. I know everyone's pressed for time, so I created a handy quiz below to help you pick an Isa-2015-thing to read based on your own preferences! (The full list is at the end of this post.)

If I were to recommend one particular story I'd like people to consider for the awards season, I would say The Oiran's Song, which is a novelette containing blood and snow in Uncanny Magazine. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, or if you're looking for something shorter, I'm really proud of Milagroso (to me it will always be the little story that could).

I only got through this year because of the support and kindness of countless people - to all of y'all who cheered me on, especially in the tough moments, I'm incredibly grateful. Thank you, happy holidays, and here's to a bright 2016. <3

PICK YOUR POISON [I broke this quiz moving my site from Wordpress to Squarespace T_T ...I'll attempt to fix it when I can! In the meantime you can view all published works at the end of the page!]

1. I'm in the mood for...
a. some poetry please
b. short fiction please

2. Your typical preferred mode of transportation is
a. trains or buses, you're all about the commute
b. driving
c. by foot, preferably on grass

3. You have a soft spot for characters...
a. that are extremely responsible and just a little bit shy
b. that make you feel at ease but have a slightly insane side

4. Which of the following is more panic-inducing?
a. being in the middle of a super sweaty crowd
b. your entire extended family coming over for Christmas

5. Would you be okay with some pretty graphic violence/disturbing imagery in the story?
a. That should be okay
b. Er, not my cup of tea

6. Pick one:
a. You have the ability to fly...but with just your upper half.
b. You have really good fighting skills...but you can't show anyone.

Your recommended 2015 work is:

The Multiple Lives of Juan and Pedro in Apex Magazine (Issue 71/April) the blood in the sugarcane fields the butterfly clips the stoplight the song they sang in mass that day

After the Moon Princess Leaves in Uncanny Magazine (Issue 2/Jan-Feb) I taught her that, Otousan says, fingers skimming the characters for goodbye.

Apologies for Breaking the Glass Slipper in Uncanny Magazine (Issue 4/May-June) I’m sorry if the people darting by get their feet cut, but I’ve learned humans are great at sidestepping.

Milagroso on Tor.com (August) No one believed the sensational coverage on TV Patrol at first, but then the owners of the winning house started selling chunks of food as proof: a bite of real corn, a handful of real green beans, a cluster of real juicy grapes.

Find Me in Apex Magazine (Issue 76/September) There were cracks on her ceiling where they’d once found Nessie, strawberries, a rabbit like the one in the Madeleine books. She leaned back in her chair and traced the shapes with her eyes, wondering if he was doing the same.

Good Girls in Shimmer Magazine (Issue 25/May) “So you were flown all the way out here to stop eating babies,” Sara repeats. Her gut churns, and a voice in her brain goes no, no, no.

The Oiran's Song in Uncanny Magazine (novelette) (Issue 6/Sept-Oct) Her obi, tied at the front, is golden–yellow, and matches the pins she has threaded through her hair. She holds her shamisen lovingly, the instrument’s circular body white as her powdered throat.