Submitting Seasonal Stories

A few thoughts from my writing markets newsletter! Permanent link to this newsletter in the archives:
Thoughts in Passing
I recently had a Valentine's Day-themed story accepted by Daily Science Fiction. Hurray! I submitted it in late October, it was accepted in early January, and it will likely be published mid-February. This is the sort of timeline that you're looking at when you consider submitting short stories that work well for a particular holiday. (Submitting around December adds a couple of weeks to the time, because most editors take time off around the winter holidays.) Also bear in mind that odds are good the first place you submit to is probably not going to be the one that publishes the story. So when should you start shopping around a seasonal story?
At least 3 months earlier.
So right now, you should be polishing up that St. Patrick's Day or Easter story and getting ready to send it out. Note that holiday stories don't have to take place on that named holiday, but every holiday comes with certain themes that make great story inspiration.
Chinese New Year - 1/1 - submit in early October
Valentine's Day - 2/14 - submit in late October
Mardi Gras - 2/25 - submit in early December
St. Patrick's Day - 3/17 - submit in early January
Easter - 4/12 - submit in January
Mother's Day - 5/10 - submit in early February
Juneteenth - 6/19 - submit in early March
Father's Day - 6/21 - submit in March
4th of July - 7/4 - submit in March
Halloween - 10/31 - submit in late July
Thanksgiving - 11/26 - submit in late August
Winter Holidays - 12/25 - submit in early September
New Year's Eve - 12/31 - submit in early September
(Do you have a writing question? Send it to me, either by replying to this email or by using the comment form on my website, and it may get answered in the next newsletter.)

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Well, I didn't get that handwritten story typed up in time to submit (There's a lot of it! How long is this thing, anyway??), so I'm still working on that. And I've also got a couple of short stories, as well as my last novel, in the "gathering critiques" phase. And a few more that are in revisions. While I'm mentioning this, I'm also looking for a couple of specific readers to give feedback on a short story: a Deaf person, and a drag queen. If one of those is you, let me know! Compensation: the price of a cup of coffee, a developmental critique, and/or a 30-minute professional photoshoot (Minneapolis only). Originally posted at on

What's My Beef With Pork?

Documenting food/medical stuff.

So, I tried pork. It seemed to go fine. But the next day, I had an Episode for the first time in 2 weeks, eating foods that normally haven't caused problems (but the meal did have more grams of fat than I usually try to eat in a sitting, which is a theoretical issue, although I have *also* eaten higher fat content foods without a problem). So I am not so sure pork is okay after all. It could be a trigger A (inflammatory) + trigger B (high fat content) issue. And it's not necessarily immediate.

::scowls in the general direction of food::

On the plus side, I went to Phil's work's holiday party and banquet and apparently chose wisely in what I ate because everything was delicious and I was fine afterward.

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NaNoWriMo OhMyGahNoIMeanYesIDid

This year, I did NaNoWriMo for the first time, since I thought I would theoretically have the time to finish it this year. And I did!

...Sort of. I got my 50,000-word hot mess written, and I learned a lot from the experience, but I let a whole lot of other things slide. That included getting the writing markets newsletter out on schedule.

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Recovering from the brain-burn of doing NaNoWriMo. I was seriously burnt out by the end. Now I have a story I want to submit before the end of the month to a themed anthology. But it is buried in the pages of two different notebooks that I had to hunt and hunt to find. Let that be a lesson to you ... if you write a story longhand, type it up once you're done or risk losing it forever! Or at least risk spending a whole lot of time trying to track it down in the future.

(Excerpt from Aswiebe's Market List. The personal bit. For the new submission calls and interesting links and whatnot, you can read the whole newsletter here:

... I think there's an article in there somewhere. "What a Pro Writer Learned From Trying NaNoWriMo For the First Time" or something like that. Worth a shot, I guess.
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Recipe: No-Onion, No-Garlic Spaghetti Sauce

Sadly, I'm on an elimination diet to try and see if I can control my abdominal pain (likely gallbladder-caused) that way. It really sucks. I am slowly adding foods back in. So far chocolate is on the nope list. Sob.


Today I tried tomatoes (low probability trigger), and so far, so good! This is my recipe for no-onion, no-garlic (high probability triggers) spaghetti sauce. It was delicious. Seriously, I'm making this again someday regardless.

olive oil
1/2 zucchini
2 fresh tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. dried basil


Quarter zucchini lengthwise, then slice quarters. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add zucchini, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, tossing frequently, until zucchini are soft and beginning to brown. Take out the zucchini and set aside.

Using your food processor with the grating attachment (or a box grater) grate the fresh tomatoes. Add to pan. Add the can of diced tomatoes. Add sugar, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have reduced to the thickness you like your sauce. Add zucchini back in and stir.

Serve over spaghetti.

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Secret Knowledge

(From my writing newsletter--the whole thing is here.)

Thoughts in Passing
I recently listened to the Odyssey Workshop podcast in which Elizabeth Hand discussed the idea of secret knowledge, and it makes a lot of sense to me in the context of my current short story work-in-progress. The idea is that each of us has "secret" knowledge, knowledge about the peculiarities and small details of a job, a hobby, or an experience. We may think this information is boring, but it is fascinating to a reader unfamiliar with it. This relates to the standard writing advice of making things more specific--instead of "shoe," say "blue sneaker" or "stiletto heel."

We all have secret knowledge. But we can also discover it through research. Including those everyday, how-things-work details adds realism and gives the reader the feeling of being in on a secret known only to a few. tl;dr I've spent quite a bit of time researching drag queen makeup and pest control techniques this week! Hopefully it will have the desired effect.

(Do you have a writing question? Send it to me, either by replying to this email or by using the comment form on my website, and it may get answered in the next newsletter.)

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Writing short stories, collecting critiques on the rough draft of my novel-in-progress, and generally trying to straighten out the backlog of writing-related things. Oh! And an illustrated charity anthology of odd sayings and microfiction that I have a piece in, Beer-Battered Shrimp for Cognitive Ruminations, is running a Kickstarter.
Reminder! Today and next Friday, if you're in the Twin Cities you can see me perform at Cole Sarar's Scifi Reading Hour at Bryant-Lake Bowl. Facebook event link:

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Recipe: American-style Taco Filling

This was my first try substituting mushrooms for half of the meat, and it worked perfectly. My kids loved their tacos. This makes me ponder how well a vegan half-mushroom, half-TVP version would work.

2 Tbsp. butter
1 pkg white mushrooms
1 onion
1/2 lb. ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional--I leave it out because I use a pretty spicy chili powder)
1 c. double-strength beef broth
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. cornstarch

  1. Clean mushrooms. Trim mushroom stems. Pulse in food processor until chopped into roughly 1/4" pieces.
  2. Mince onions.
  3. Melt butter in large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until onions are translucent and starting to brown. Put mixture into bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, saute meat until beginning to brown. Add minced garlic and tomato paste. Continue sauteing until thoroughly browned.
  5. Add spices and stir in.
  6. Add tomatoes and beef broth.
  7. Whisk in cornstarch. Add onion-and-mushroom mix back to the pan.
  8. Continue stirring until thickened.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with your choice of lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, olives, chopped tomatoes, sliced radishes, salsa, and cream cheese.

Originally posted at on

What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: August edition

One of my tiniest stories is now out in Changelings & Fairy Rings: An Anthology of Nature Spirits & Elemental Creatures, a collection of 40 tiny stories and poems. This is only available to purchase through
Book cover

(There's a new Aswiebe's Market List out, with lots of market list updates:

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"July" Writing Update

Thoughts in Passing
Summer is a busy time for me both personally and professionally, with both kids home from school, assorted SF&F conventions, and family gatherings. Once again, I vastly overestimated my ability to get writing done in the midst of all this. For some reason, I always imagine family vacations as a writing retreat where I'll have a chance to get more done, when in fact I end up spending almost all my time riding herd on the children and participating in planned activities.
(Yes, I got to practice archery at the family gathering this year!)
I've been squeezing writing in where I can by saying that I'll write three sentences and then I can take care of whatever other urgent thing I have to do. But I've also started attending group BICFOKing sessions (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard--and yes, the acronym makes me laugh) where no distractions are allowed and you are just writing for an hour and a half straight, followed by a half-hour or so of socializing. There's a lot of value in using multiple approaches for getting words out. And I know that in September, how I manage my time will change again. I'm looking forward to it.
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Just ambling along, as and when I can. Oh, and I did the narration for M. Darusha Wehm's "A Most Elegant Solution," which you can read or listen to here at Escape Pod. It's a short, sweet, SF thought experiment about nanobots and colonization and adaptation. Recommended.

(This is the personal bit of my writing markets newsletter, which you can read in full here
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Homemade Tater Tots Recipe

Potatoes eager to grow, unaware of their fate...
Sprouting potatoes, unaware of their fate.

Food processor, microwave

2 lbs potatoes
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp dry parsley
1 tsp. dried minced onion (or 1/2 tsp. onion powder)
1 tsp garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/2 c. flour
vegetable oil for frying


Peel and rough-chop potatoes. Submerge in bowl of ice water for 30 seconds.

Drain potatoes. Using food processor with shredder attachment, shred potatoes.

Transfer half the potatoes to a clean dishtowel and squeeze as much water as possible out. Put in a large microwaveable bowl.
Repeat with a new clean dishtowel and the second half of the potatoes.

Microwave potatoes for 1 minute, stir, and then microwave for one more minute.

Add all seasonings and stir quickly with a spatula to combine. Do not over-stir.

Heat 1/2" of  vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large pan.

Put flour in a shallow baking dish. Form small balls of potato mixture and roll in the flour.

When the oil sizzles, add the potato balls and cook, turning once, until golden-brown. Drain on paper towels.

Delicious served hot! No pictures of the final project, sorry, because I accidentally used purple potatoes and they looked a little odd when cooked.

Originally posted at on

Events! Writing! Stuff!
I can announce it now! I will be a Special Guest at CoreCon in Fargo, ND, May 23rd - 26th. The theme is cyberpunk. I'm very excited about it, I've got some excellent panels planned, and if I suddenly start talking about cyberpunk a lot, that is why! I hope to see some of you there.
Register at Fargo CoreCon.
I have a thing coming up locally, too, that may be of interest to Minneapolis folks.
On April 27th, I'll be at Books and Beer: Cider Edition, a pop-up bookstore taking place at Number 12 Cider in Minneapolis. Come say hi, have a cider, find a new favorite book!
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:
Still working on finishing my contemporary fantasy thriller-in-progress. Still so close! I am taking a leetle bit of time for a couple of smaller, quicker projects, which makes me feel less trapped-in-quicksand (while also slowing down my rate of escaping the quicksand). I wrote a quick flash piece for a contest, a very short piece that needs to be a little bit longer to properly breathe. So that's one for my to-edit stack down the road, but in the meantime, I wrote it and it is in the contest and I do think it is quite good. And later today I'm going to a draw-in at an art gallery for an art-and-writing collaboration project. I don't actually draw, but I have hopes that I have a crafting approach that might produce something that at least looks interesting.

(This is the personal bit from my writing markets newletter. To read the whole thing:
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