“The people who need what you have to say are waiting for you and they don’t care that you think it's boring, unoriginal or lacking in value.”
Havi Brooks

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover Art for Apex Magazine 124 by Martina Boscolo
it's release day and i'm all hype
Tue 2021-07-06 21:33:31 (single post)
  • 3,453 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hello, the blog! Have I got some news for you! Today is July 6, and July 6 is release day for Apex Magazine #124. Check out that gorgeous cover art. Check out those contributor names! (How did I end up in such astounding company?)

So the way Apex does it is, the whole issue is available for purchase and to subscribers now. But if you wait long enough, the whole issue will be free on the website. My story, "Survival, After", will be released on August 3. Meanwhile, the first story that's been released on the website is "Eilam Is Forever" by Beth Dawkins. It is, in part, a story about things going spectacularly wrong on a generation ship. It's also, very poignantly, a story about loneliness. You should go read it right now. Go on. This blog post will still be here when you get back.

Excited yet? Need more hype? Author Leah Ning has livetweeted her way through the whole issue, and her mini-reviews are super hype. (I'm so very, very thrilled by what she said about my story! Hearts and flowers and rainbows!)

If after reading that thread you just! can't! wait! for the stories to all trickle their way onto the website, you can buy the issue, subscribe, or become a Patron to get instant access in varying shapes and sizes.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Apex Magazine's Kickstarter, launching on July 19, that will help support their continued existence through 2022 and, hopefully, beyond. Visit that link to be notified when the campaign goes live.

So that's what I've got for you today. Tomorrow I may have a certain amount of whining to do about my extremely inefficient writing process. But today I got nothing to make but happy noises. Hooray!


views of both the re- and the inter- variety
Thu 2021-05-27 21:44:16 (single post)
  • 45 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hey y'all! It's been a FULL week, a week very much full of things--most of them good! if ultimately tiring!--but I think I can sneak half an hour to blog about some fun stuff surrounding my latest poetry publication.

Y'all remember that my poem "Apotheosis" was reprinted* in The Future Fire #57? (*Original publication here.) I know I at least blogged that it was going to be reprinted, and then, when the issue came out, I did at least post briefly about it on social media. Right? (Yes. I kind of suck at self-promotion. We know this.) Right.

Well, since then, TFF have been posting mini-interviews with that issue's contributors on Facebook and rebroadcasting the links on Twitter. It's been lots of fun! Here's the mini-interview with me, and here is the mini-interview with Toeken, who created the gorgeous illustration that accompanies my poem.

Meanwhile, Charles Payseur has reviewed TFF #57 (alongside a truly ginormous amount of other material also reviewed in that self-same blog post, because Charles Payseur is quite possibly the hardest-working reviewer in SFF, and it is only right and just that Quick Sip Reviews is a finalist for the 2021 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine) and, as always, he has lovely and insightful things to say about the whole table of contents. If someone were to ask me what my poem is about, I'd be hard-pressed not to just point them to Payseur's review. "That," I'd say. "What he said. It's about that."

Now. There still remains some workable time in the day, and I have a new short story--the one I mention in my mini-interview--that I'm trying to feel my way into. Guess I'd better go work on that.

i get interviewed, then i get sappy
Wed 2021-02-10 22:34:08 (single post)
  • 14 words (if poetry, lines) long

In these weeks since Departure Mirror Quarterly Issue 2 went live, they've been publishing a series of Author Spotlight features on their website, focusing on the contributors to that issue. Mine just went up today!

In it, among other things, I reveal a little of how "Reasonable Accommodations" came to be written. I tell probably the briefest version ever of my How I Fell In Love With Roller Derby story. I also give a shout-out to the two teachers who gave me an early education in how freelance writing and publishing works. I didn't name them in the Author Spotlight, probably because I was trying to be brief, but those two wonderful humans are Betsy Petersen and Chet Day. I gave them a shout-out also, nearly ten years ago, in the blog-up to the announcement of my very first pro sale. I really do owe them so much.

I had the pleasure of running into Ms. Petersen on campus, during Alumni Weekend, on the occasion of my high school class's 25-year reunion. (And here I'll pause to acknowledge how very, very lucky the class of 1994 was. If we had been the class of 1995, we couldn't have had our reunion--or worse, we'd have probably gone ahead with it anyway, and become another superspreader statistic.) We watched the high school play together, a performance of Mamma Mia! starring some of her current students, and I got to tell her during the intermission about my recent publications and successes. I felt like such a kid, so needy to show my teacher how I'd done good with what she taught me! I get like that a little around my first roller derby trainers too. Look how good I can skate backwards, y'all! Look how bravely I can do a turn-around toe-stop these days! And without falling down and smashing my face anymore!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my Author Spotlight interview at Departure Mirror Quarterly. And if you haven't read Issue 2 yet, go download yourself a free ebook copy! Lots of great stuff in there.

It occurs to me that I entirely forgot to promote my blog in that interview. I did mention the Friday Fictionettes Project, and I'm going to mention it here too because finally all the December releases are out. (Jan 1 is out, too, and Jan 8 will probably go up Friday.) So it's time for a Friday Fictionette Round-up:

  • December 4, 2020: "Hostage" (ebook, audio) In which extraterrestrial ex-boyfriends are the worst.
  • December 11, 2020: "Always Make Sure to Put Your Toys Away" (ebook, audio) In which things don't always stay put in the place you left them.
  • December 18, 2020: "Culture Clash" (ebook, audio) In which human social taboos are incomprehensible and also toxic to visitors.
  • December 25, 2020: "Good Intentions" (ebook, audio) In which it is, once again, a thoroughly bad idea to try to change history. This is the Fictionette Freebie for December 2020!

My big idea to catch up to schedule is to try to release two fictionettes a week. This has not happened. I am still about four weeks behind. I can get one release completed over three or four days, but then I find it weirdly hard to get any writing done Friday through Sunday. I'll be getting my Sundays back, though, having written this past weekend my fifth and final contest entry story for Weekend Warrior (see previous). Maybe that'll help. Maybe I'll be smart and use the time I had been using for Weekend Warrior stories, for Friday Fictionette production. Maybe!

Tomorrow (assuming I get to blogging tomorrow) - I have thoughts on structure and time management! They aren't brilliant! Also I cooked a thing! Aren't you just in all the suspense? Stay tuned.

first publications and appearances for the new year
Fri 2021-01-22 21:00:03 (single post)
  • 45 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 3,453 words (if poetry, lines) long

If I'm being honest, my initial impulse is to announce these things in a manner something like this:

WHEEEEEEEE TWO ACCEPTANCES IN ONE WEEKEND and OMG I SOLD A STORY TO AN ABSOLUTE DREAM MARKET AAAAAAAAAA!!!!! I'M GONNA FAINT--

but that seems unprofessional. All the authors I admire tend instead to calmly and professionally post matter-of-fact announcements about where you can find their writing and/or hear them read their writing. So I'm going to try to be a professional about this.

*deep breath*

"Apotheosis" (poem) to be reprinted in The Future Fire - "Apotheosis" was originally published in the Summer Solstice 2019 issue of Eternal Haunted Summer. It was the first poem I wrote, and the first poem I published, after a poem drought of about twenty-five years. (I really don't know why I spent so much time not poeming. It seems rather silly of me in hindsight.) It will now be the first of my poems to be reprinted.

When will it be out? Current rough estimate is April. Emphasis on "rough." Might have a firmer estimate in a week or so. Stay tuned!

"Survival, After" (short story) to be published in Apex Magazine - This is where I start hyperventilating. Apex! Effing! Magazine! *wheeze* After I got the acceptance letter, I spent the rest of the evening emitting screams and other strange noises at random intervals, startling the bunny and making myself hoarse. It's a good thing John wasn't home at the time. I was insufferable.

And this story! I love this weird little story with all of my heart. To have it finally find a home--and for that home to be Apex! Effing! Magazine!

It began as a 750-word entry in a Codex contest, where it fared relatively well. (Codex contests are the source of a not insignificant portion of my published works. Codex is made of awesome.) Then it sat around in the "I really should revise this" pile until Shimmer Magazine announced its imminent closure and kicked me in the butt. But of course my time management is on point (that was sarcasm) and so I barely touched it until deadline day, when I pulled a five-hour forced march of panic and despair to create and at last submit the new 3,500-word draft. As history shows, it did not get accepted on that outing. The editor, who'd once sent me a revise-and-resubmit request which did not ultimately result in a publication (hey, it happens), sent me the kindest and most wistful of personal rejections, regretting that we would not get to work together on a Shimmer story after all. I regretted that too. But hey, now I had a new story ready to be submitted to all the other places!

I submitted it to twelve of the other places over the following ten to twelve months. And then I submitted it to Apex. And here we are.

This, too, I do not yet have a firm date for. I'm told it'll likely be in Issue 124, maybe 123. That's just an early estimate, though. As scheduling firms up, I'll let you know.

I will be featured in an upcoming episode of The Story Hour - One of many examples of how the pandemic is why we can have nice things, The Story Hour began as a way to pierce our shut-in, isolated bubbles with live story-sharing. They put out a call on Twitter recently for published authors who might want to participate, and, as it happens, I've had some things published recently that I'd quite enjoy reading to a live audience. So I volunteered.

Of course I had to go and choose two stories which both make me cry at the end. I knew that already, but then I did a practice read-through in order to get a concrete idea of how much time each of them takes to read, and I found out it's worse than I thought. Well. I'm just going to have to practice a lot until I get better at holding it in, or until I've read these stories enough times to have worn out the effect.

The Story Hour airs live on Facebook and Zoom every Wednesday evening at 7:00 PM PST (so 8:00 PM here in Boulder, Colorado), and if you miss an episode live you can listen to its recording via Facebook. This one I have a date for! Unless something changes, I'll be reading on May 5, 2021. It's a ways out, but I'll remind you as we get closer.

And that is my first Upcoming Author Appearances and Publications post of 2021! Ta-da!


what all of mine got published in hell year
Thu 2020-12-17 23:18:58 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 22 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 34 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 100 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 983 words (if poetry, lines) long

Just a short note today, because my day started late and went slowly and now I'm tired. But there is Actually Writing content, so yay for that.

Way back in April, I woot-wooted over having a poem newly accepted: "The Ascent of Inanna", originally a short-short then reimagined as a 22-line poem, was purchased by Dreams & Nightmares for publication in Issue 116, then-upcoming in September 2020. I am happy to report that my contributor's copy reached me safely despite this year's postal wonkiness, and it has been added to my Happy Shelf. While I wish I could just give you a link you could click to go read the poem (and the rest of the issue), there's something kinda fantastic, in an old-school way, about having a copy I can hold with pages I can riffle through. (Exceedingly affordable copies are available for purchase from the editor at the link above.)

Captain Holland, of course, has demonstrated a predilection for chewing on things made of paper. To keep the production of the above photo tragedy-free, I put my copy of the magazine inside the clear-sleeve front cover of a three-ring binder.

I am reminded by my colleagues on Twitter that it's time to make Awards Eligible posts. That is, to list all the things I had published this year, so that you can go read them and, if you wish, nominate them for awards. The very thought makes all the brain-weasels in my addled pate rear up and holler, "Who the hell do you think you are, suggesting that people nominate your drivel for awards? The nerve! The effrontery! The very idea! Hmph." So, OK, here is a list of things I had published this year, so that you can go read them. If you wish. The end. OK? *Nervously glances at brain-weasels* OK. (And I'm only including the word and/or line count to give you an idea of how much of a time investment reading each involves.)

Short stories

"The Rarest of Prey" in Daily Science Fiction (102 words)

"One Story, Two People" in Community of Magic Pens, print anthology, Atthis Arts (2600 words)

Poetry

"The Mardi Gras Tree" in Eternal Haunted Summer (34 lines)

"The Ascent of Inanna" in Dreams & Nightmares, print journal, see above (22 lines)

Reprints

"The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner" in ep. 431 of Cast of Wonders (980 words)

I do not think that reprints are award-eligible. But this is not an Awards Eligible list. It is a list of stuff I had published in 2020, that's all. So "Soup Witch" belongs on that list.

So now I have fulfilled my promise to blog about Actually Writing "tomorrow" and thus may go to bed with a clear conscience. Huzzah! (There'll be more in days to come, of course; this was all I had the oomph for posting tonight.)

the turning of the year brings more poetry to your ereader
Mon 2020-11-02 21:04:35 (single post)
  • 14 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 22 words (if poetry, lines) long

I've spent most of October running as fast as I could to stay only marginally behind, which is why blogging didn't happen. Blogging is kinda low priority. Except I really shouldn't let more time pass before announcing this:

"Reasonable Accommodations", my sonnet about a were-deer in corporate hell, will be included in the Winter 2021 issue of Departure Mirror Quarterly. Look for it in January!

Departure Mirror Quarterly is a brand-new magazine of speculative fiction and poetry. Its content is meant to reflect the belief that, in the words of editor Arthur Robert Tracy IV, science fiction and fantasy "is a genre that transports us out of our reality while giving us a medium to reflect on our reality and to consider what can and should change. It’s both a departure from and a mirror on reality. It's a Departure Mirror."

I am honored that they considered my poem a good fit with that philosophy.

The first issue, Fall 2020, is live and available in three ebook formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI). You can download it for free from this page here. Its table of contents is sparkling with gems, some bittersweet, some uplifting, all well worth your time, eyeballs, and brain-space. And do spread the word! Even in the best of times, brand new publications live or die by word of mouth, and COVID-19 has put its thumb on the "die" side of pretty much every scale (except maybe for Zoom futures, if Zoom futures are a thing). So download yourself a copy and tell all your SF-loving friends to do the same!

Meanwhile, I see by the editor's blog that Dreams & Nightmares #116 (the issue that includes my poem "The Ascent of Inanna") has been printed and subscriber copies have hit the mail. If you are not a subscriber, you might consider becoming one. A six-issue subscription is $25 to North American addresses and $30 elsewhere, and a lifetime subscription is $90 wherever you are.

In other news, I am still two weeks behind on the Friday Fictionette schedule, so there will be no October round-up just yet. I will be scrambling to catch up for the foreseeable future. That notwithstanding, I do plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month, after my fashion; but more on that in another post. Good night!

on becoming a little wonder
Thu 2020-09-24 22:15:23 (single post)
  • 983 words (if poetry, lines) long

And now, a more cheerful post: My story, "The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner," is live at Cast of Wonders!

It's one half of Episode 431, "Little Wonders 27 - Old Ladies". The other half of the episode is C. M. DiGirolamo's "Grandma Geraldine Sees a Dragon," a story that alternates effortlessly between the comic and the numinous. I enjoyed it very much. And I was surprised to see this was her Cast of Wonders debut, too; I was sure I recognized her name. A quick internet search jogged my memory: I'd read her excellent and moving "Monster-Killer" at Daily Science Fiction.

I'm so pleased and proud about this publication! Adam Pracht does a gorgeous job narrating my story, unhurried and understated and matter-of-fact, the better to sneak that punch to your heart in at the end. I'm envious of how he manages to get through the last line--I can't get through the last line. I tried. I had to pause and take several deep breaths and I still choked up. (It's sort of embarrassing.) (What's also embarrassing is how wordy that earlier version at Patreon is. Ouch.)

Host Katherine Inskip has lovely things to say about my story. I'm still blushing.

Please go check it out, and make sure check out other recent episodes as well! Cast of Wonders has long been a favorite podcast of mine, and I'm beyond thrilled to get to be part of their line-up.

reporting from the personal writerly bright side of 2020
Tue 2020-09-01 16:37:53 (single post)
  • 22 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 983 words (if poetry, lines) long

Happy September all! I have a couple of things made out of words coming out where you can see/hear them this month, and I thought I should let you know.

"The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner" - Cast of Wonders: This story, originally a Friday Fictionette, was accepted and contracted for reprint back in January. This immediately helped guaranteed that, whatever happened, my 2020 was going to have a bright side. This past weekend, I received word that the story is with its narrator and is slated for publication in a September episode.

Cast of Wonders is the leading voice in young adult speculative fiction, podcasting a new episode every week. Most recently they have been serializing "The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz (and her Exceedingly Tiny Dog)", written by Alex Acks and narrated by Sandra Espinoza. It's up to Part 5. Part 1 is here. Go check it out!

"The Ascent of Inanna" - Dreams and Nightmares: Originally a flash fiction story entered in a Codex contest in early 2020, then whittled down to its heart and soul and reimagined as a poem. D&N accepted it back in April and scheduled it for their September 2020 issue. And now it is September 2020!

Dreams & Nightmares is a long-running print magazine of speculative poetry and flash fiction. You can buy single issue (I obviously recommend the one for September 2020) or subscribe. Subscriptions are available in two flavors: six-issue and lifetime. Lifetime sounds like a bit of a gamble until you figure that A. it's only $90 and B. the magazine's been printing issues since January 1986. The landing page of the magazine's website is a blog whereon the editor posts something tiny every day. Usually it's a tiny poem. Sometimes it's a tiny something else.

The numbers! Publishing even a small amount of stuff is largely a numbers game. Which isn't to say it's not also a matter of craft and quality. Just, the more manuscripts of craft and quality that one submits, the more chance of a manuscript happening to cross the desk of an editor inclined to purchase publication rights. Here are my numbers for 2020 so far, including a few submissions and rejections already logged for September:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2020
Submissions: 10 10 15 8 5 9 11 7 3 78
Rejections: 8 11 13 9 4 11 6 7 1 70
Acceptances: 3 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 5

Next time: the August 2020 Friday Fictionette round-up.

insomnia forces a body to prioritize
Wed 2020-07-22 18:04:40 (single post)
  • 520 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 22 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 100 words (if poetry, lines) long

Oh, hey, so, speaking of recovery days after insomniac nights, I had one of those on Monday night/Tuesday afternoon. And I'm not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg here, but two things were going on: it was very hot, making it difficult to sleep, and also I stayed up stupid-late reading. We're going to say that I stayed-up stupid late reading in order to not be bored while I couldn't sleep, how's that?

The book in question was T. Kingfisher's A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking. It stars a fourteen-year-old wizard whose magic only ever works on dough and baked goods. Bread, cookies, sweet rolls, great. Lightning, fireballs, not so much. Nevertheless, this turns out to be surprisingly useful in many ways, even after it becomes clear that this is a story about political intrigue and war. Also, this wizard's familiar is an omnivorous sourdough starter colony named Bob. Bob has a temper, which also turns out to be useful. Do you want to read this book? YES YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK.

Just try not to stay up all night doing so unless you can afford to sleep all day the next day. Because I did, and I couldn't, and, well.

It wasn't so bad. The crash didn't hit until well after my writing group's critique meeting was over. But it was bad enough. The crash hit while I was holding down a table at Collision Brewery waiting for the Volt to finish getting its leaky windshield wash fluid reservoir tank replaced. Falling asleep at a restaurant is Not Done, especially in pandemic season, so I did my best not to. I drank a lot of coffee. I tried (and failed) to work. But just as soon as I got home, and got my scheduled Bunny Care Chore done, and spent a couple minutes playing Katamari Damacy to sooth my rattled and caffeinated brain with peaceful absurdity, I collapsed in bed and stayed there until late evening.

And that was a small problem because I had a story due that night.

I'm participating in another Codex contest. This one's called Flash: Savior of the Universe. It's a lot like Weekend Warrior, in that each round consists of a handful of writing prompts and the assignment to write a new piece of flash fiction on an absurdly tight deadline, after which point everyone gets to vote and comment on the stories. But the word count for FSOTU is a touch roomier (1,000 instead of 750), and the deadline is less absurdly tight. And thank goodness I'd been actively working on my entry every day since the prompts landed, because I did manage to get that thing submitted, and even slightly polished, with about twenty minutes left before the 1:00 AM Mountain Time deadline. I wrote nothing else that day, but I got that much done. Huzzah!

But hey woo bad timing on the insomniac night and recovery day thing, yeah?

(Hey writers! Contests like these are one of many reasons why you should join Codex the moment you qualify. You get motivation to write new fiction and/or poetry. Plus you get instant feedback on said fiction and/or poetry. This can easily lead to more published fiction and/or poetry. It's a great racket! Remember my announcement that "The Ascent of Inanna" was going to see print in September? That poem originated as a Weekend Warrior short-short story. Remember "Other Theories of Relativity"? Weekend Warrior 2012. And the piece I just submitted to Daily Science Fiction, about which crossed fingers--hey, they liked something of mine before, maybe they'll like this one--that was from Weekend Warrior too.)

(Join Codex, join Codex contests, write more, publish more. That's typically how it goes. See you there maybe?)

StoryBundle!
look ma i'm in a storybundle
Thu 2020-07-16 17:38:08 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long

May I introduce you to the Glitter and Hope StoryBundle? It's curated by author Cat Rambo who introduces it thusly:

Hope can find its origin in friendship, whether on an alien planet or a New York street corner. It can come from writing, in a myriad shades as multi-colored as the ink in which it's inscribed. It glitters at the bottom of Pandora's box, waiting to escape. Waiting to provide comfort and lightand renewed vigor for the fight.

So this is a bundle centered on hope with a touch of glitter, rather than grit, and I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I did.

Of course the bundle contains Cat's rambunctious Nebula-Awarded novelette Carpe Glitter. which I think is a fine example of hope in both the glitter and the grit flavors. It contains a lot of other stuff I haven't read yet and am really looking forward to reading. I'm told that The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus by Alanna McFall is a wild ride. And I'm eager to explore M. Darusha Wehm's take on generation ship science fiction.

Included also in that bundle is the anthology Community of Magic Pens, which you'll remember contains my short story "One Story, Two People." BABY'S FIRST STORYBUNDLE INCLUSION! I did not know that was on my bucket list, but there it is, and now I can check it off.

If you're new to the whole StoryBundle thing, here's your briefing: You pay what you want (minimum $5) and you get a bunch of ebooks. If you pay more than a particular threshold amount (in this case, $15), you get a bunch more ebooks (the ones marked BONUS). You get to decide how much of your payment goes to StoryBundle.com (so they can keep offering amazing book collections) and how much goes directly to the authors (so they can keep writing/publishing amazing books). You can also choose to have a percentage of your payment go to non-profit charities that StoryBundle supports (at this time, that would be Girls Write Now).

This is an especially important time to support independent publishers, many of whom lost their most important retail opportunities to the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that Atthis Arts, the publisher behind not only Community of Magic Pens but also the two Diamondsong books and Traveling Triple-C, have been hurting bad and are facing uncertainty as to whether they will exist this time next year. Any income this StoryBundle sends their way can only help.

So I'd encourage you to chip in a fiver or more. You'll get lots of good reading and also that warm fuzzy feeling of having created extra hope in the world (with a side of glitter).

(Full disclosure, in case you're wondering: no, I don't stand to make any money off this. The anthology contract was for up-front payment only, not royalties, so I've already earned what I'm going to from the sale of first rights. I mean, yes, of course, I'd love it if more people read my story and said to themselves, "Gosh, that LeBoeuf gal writes a good read; where can I find more?" But mainly I just want to see this bundle do well so that the publishers and authors who do stand to earn a little extra income thereby get to do so.)

So with that, I am off to take my own advice!

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