A Year on Saturn

...is approximately 29.7 Earth years.


"A Year on Saturn" is the website of Shannon Fay,
freelance and fiction writer.



Science Fiction Every Day!

Posted on: January 10th, 2017 by Shannon Fay No Comments

I’ve recently had not one but two stories published in Daily Science Fiction. One is a story I wrote just this summer. I sent it to one market (where it was rejected) before sending it to DSF, where it was accepted PDQ. The other story is something I wrote in the year two-thousand and thirteen, back when I was still finding my feet as a writer. That older story was rejected at least 13 times before I remembered that I had never sent it to DSF, the perfect market for it. And it was the perfect market for it: they bought it.

I won’t say which one is the old story and which one is the new. The point is that sometimes you will find success with a submission right away, other times it might take several years and submissions before it gets out into the wider world. But however they ended up in the world, I’m glad they are finally there.

To Give you the Night Sky published on December 22nd, 2016

Goes Both Ways, published (today!) on January 10th, 2017

I will have a few posts up soon about my submission stats for 2016, but if you can’t wait you can re-read my post about my 2015 submission stats, as I suspect my 2016 post will be quite similar stats-wise (though maybe a bit more hopeful tone wise).




NaNoWriMo Week Four: WINNER WINNER CHIICKEN DINNER

Posted on: December 4th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

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NaNoWriMo Week Three: 10K Behind

Posted on: November 25th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

NaNoWriMo Week 3

My word count is 32,697, which is roughly 9,000 words behind where I need to be if I want to ‘win’ NaNoWriMo. What’s frustrating is that during any other month, 32k would be a pretty good haul, word-wise. But because this is NaNo it is a disappointment. This is what NaNo has done to me: it has robbed me of satisfaction of even what I have managed to achieve.

Despite sounding bitter, I still have hope that I can hit the 50k mark. It’s tough going, but I have been going to Write-Ins (including an all-night lock-in event at a nearby bookstore. Props to London’s hardworking municipal liaisons for putting it together). I’ve also just tried to take better care of myself. For example:

1. Eating a big breakfast. Lately I’ve been having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, which has been a big blow as morning used to be my most productive time (I blame the changing of the season, a killer cold, and the US election, and the fact that all three have just been feeding into each other like a horrible maelstrom of suckiness). But making myself actually eat breakfast in the morning has helped somewhat. Not only does it give me energy to get to lunch, it’s reminded me of two things I like doing: cooking and eating. One of the new recipes I’ve tried lately is tomato scrambled eggs from Leanne Brown’s cookbook ‘Good and Cheap’ (you can download it for free here). It’s a cookbook designed for people on low-incomes (cheap) and every recipe I’ve tried in it so far has been pretty tasty (good).

2. Taking a zinc vitamin. I’ve only been doing this for about a week now, but it seems to be helping.

3. Installing f.lux on my computer. F.lux is a free piece of software that will adjust your screen’s colour so that it will stop aping natural light once the sun goes down. Ideally this should make it easier at the end of the day to go to sleep. Of course, it can only help so much. You still have to find the will power to turn it off your computer and not write blog posts…

4. Drinking hot water. This was a habit I fell into while living in Shanghai and have only recently picked back up. In China it’s common to drink plain, hot water, rather than cold or room temperature H2O. It’s actually very relaxing. You might say ‘But I already do that! It’s called drinking tea!’ But no. For this to be a relaxing escape from the world it has to be just plain old hot water. Even chamomile is just too stimulating. Try it: turn off the news and put away your phone, pour a cup of very hot water into your favourite mug. Find a nice place to get comfy on the couch. Sip it slowly at first, carefully because it’s really hot, but as the water cools down you can drink more and more, feeling it warm you up. It is very chill, almost meditative, though it may also make you sleepy.

5. Really lose yourself in a book. Reading can be a great escape. But sometimes, when the world is being a bit much, you really have to commit to it. It’s like making a covenant with the author: I will believe everything you tell me. I will picture every character as if they were my own family. I will give you 100 percent of my attention from the moment I open the pages. You might think ‘But I already do that!’ in which case, good for you, but there are plenty of times when I am a slightly less involved reader. I don’t think it’s a mark against either myself or the book, just sometimes maybe you want to go a little faster, or you are enjoying it but don’t feel the need to really immerse yourself in it. For me, this kind of light reading usually lines up with me feeling good about things and not being particularly stressed, looking for a minor distraction rather than a major one. Well, lately I’ve been needing a major one, so deep reading it is. I’ve been reading ‘Children of Time’ and enjoying it.

Now, to end this post with some actual specific writing advice: one of the big things about NaNo is pushing yourself past your inner editor and allowing yourself to write crap. It’s important to get the words on the page: you can’t re-write a blank page. But after three weeks of writing crap it starts to wear you down. What I recommend is taking a break from the quantity over quality mind-set, just for a day, and write something that you actually like. Take time to go over the sentences and tweak them into something you are proud of. You might not hit your word count for the day but it will remind you that you still do have the goods.

I also recommend being a bit of a NaNo rebel and maybe working on something else for just a day or two (in my case, I took a break fro ma novel to work on a short story idea that popped into my head). It’s easy to get burnt out on your current project when you are barrelling ahead and it will be easier to remember why you liked it in the first place if you take a bit of a breather.

 




NaNaWriMo Week Two: In other news, the novel’s not going well either.

Posted on: November 16th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

There will be actual writing advice at the end of this post.

Last Tuesday night I huddled in my London living room with my housemates to watch the US election (among our group we represented Italy, England, Germany, Canada, and Uganda).  It was a party at first, with popcorn and rum and coke. We flipped around between different news streams: NBC when we needed shiny graphics to stay awake, BBC when we wanted actual information, FOX when we wanted to be entertained by the reporters’ bluster. But early on there was an uneasiness as Hillary’s lead never seemed comfortingly strong, then as the hours ticked by it grew smaller. Then Trump over took her and she never came back. We kept watching, making up new endpoints: we’ll go to sleep when they call Florida. We’ll go to sleep when they call Michigan. Despite the mounting urgency we started nodding off, though it seemed as though at any given time one of us would stay awake, watching the news feeds like a someone keeping watch around a campfire. Five AM was when I called it a night and climbed into bed.

And to be honest, it almost feels like I’ll never catch up on the sleep I lost that night, like I’ll always be this wrung out, this tired, this on edge. This morning I woke-up feeling like you do after sleeping on an airplane, dehydrated and sore. I have so many American friends. Just typing that made me stop and pause as I thought about them. Some will be more effected than others, but all will be effected. And what about the rest of the world? What about my home, Canada? What effect will it have there?

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Week One

Posted on: November 6th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

I love NaNoWriMo. Just seriously love it. I love that for one month of the year I can publically boast or complain about my word count and have it be relevant to the outside world (if only in regards to how while my home region is doing stats wise). I love how easy it is to find people to do word wars with online. I love going to write-ins and meeting other strangers who may have nothing in common with me except that we have both decided to challenge ourselves to write 50k in a month.

I even, usually, love the ‘more more more’ greedy attitude of NaNo, the push to reach not just your daily word count but beyond (for example, yesterday, Nov. 5th, is when the main NaNo site pushes everyone to double their word count so far).  But this year it’s been a bit tricky. NaNo hit and I was knocked down. Up until the very last moment I was ready: I had planned out a daily routine, worked on what I was going to write and written an outline (pretty easy, since I am basically using NaNo as a method to re-write a previous draft of a novel). I was pumped!

But I woke up November 1st just feeling like shit. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I had one of the worst colds I’ve had in years. I blame the night before: on Halloween I went on a ghost walk conducted by one of my co-workers and she took us to damp graveyards, dank cellars, foggy London streets and alleyways. It was a lot of fun, but I also blame it for giving me this killer cold. I still managed to hit my word count on Tuesday. Wednesday I didn’t write a damn thing. On Thursday I roused myself out of feeling sorry for my sniffly self and went to a Write-In. The Write-In reminded me of the main reason I love NaNo: it turns what is usual a solitary activity into something a little more communal. I also managed to hit my word count for the day and then some. During one of the breaks in writing I spoke to another NaNoer and complained about my cold. She nodded sagely.

“Ah yes, the NaNo flu.”

I hadn’t heard this term before, but I liked it. It makes sense: November is the time of year when people get the cough, the flu, the cold. People have gotten sick before during the month of November and they will again. It’s just something that happens. It’s nothing that you can’t recover from, both physically and in terms of word count.

Thinking about it that way made me feel a little bit better about my faltering NaNo start. I am still behind- 6321 words when I should be at 10k- but I usually write more than my word count when I make myself go to Write-Ins, so there is hope for me yet. Also, yesterday was the first day since Tuesday where I didn’t debate with myself about whether I should call in sick and actually felt somewhat okay. Whoot! Though, honestly, I think if the devil showed up right now and offered me an unblocked nose in exchange for 1000 words…even knowing how hard I worked to get them down on the page I just might…Okay, that’s a premise for a story for another time.




Thoughts on Old VHS Movie Covers

Posted on: August 18th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Lately my landlady has been telling me I should blog more. “You’re a young person, working in a major London gallery, traveling around the world, having exciting interesting experiences every day! You must have things to blog about!”

And she’s right. So, following in that vein, I present…

FIVE VHS COVERS THAT SCARED ME AS A CHILD

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Back ‘Singular Irregularity,’ a kickass time travel anthology

Posted on: May 12th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Pretty much what it says in the imperative mood above: back this kickstarter please! It has a great line up of authors, a funny editor with a vision, and a story by ME.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kgrey/singular-irregularity




On Finshing Things

Posted on: May 6th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Last week I was in Frankfurt, Germany. I had time to kill and a Museumsurfer card, so because it was right next to the German film museum I visited the Museum Angerwandte Kunst, which wikipedia describes as a museum that ‘focusses[sic] on the perception of currents and developments in society with a special emphasis on design, fashion and the performative element.’ The main exhibit on was Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘Happiness.’ It was an interesting exhibit even if it had that empty, ‘don’t worry be happy’ vibe I associate with TedTalks (Sameister has in fact done several talks on his ten year exploration on what makes people happy. I actually do think there’s lots of good advice in there: I am a total proponent of keeping a diary. But the videos also have the edge of ‘And once you gain your superpowers that come with being a privileged person, you can use them to make your corporate culture stronger!’).

Annnnnyway, in one part of the exhibit you have to ride a stationary bike in order to power a set of neon lights that will reveal some pearl of wisdom. I got on a pedaled, going all out, but nothing happened. I was getting a little frustrated and feeling silly pedaling away while the other museum goers watched me. Finally I gave up and stopped pedaling.

And in that moment the sign lit up.

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Quick life updates

Posted on: April 15th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

In the spirit of posting more often, a quick life update post:

1. Since February I have been working at the National Portrait Gallery, an awesome job that I really enjoy. I will actually be giving a talk there next Saturday at 12:30 on Cecil Beaton’s painting of John Vassall. So if you are in London have twenty minutes to spare, see you there. If you can’t make it, I will probably post my talk in some form or another soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. I have moved from Tottenham to a more suburban part of Greater London. On one hand, it’s great! Beautiful home, nice housemates, quiet neighborhood. But…it’s very quiet. A little bit too quiet. I knew I was in trouble when I was ecstatic that the local park has one of those outdoor gyms- I felt like a hamster who loves their wheel because it is their only source of stimulation. Back in Tottenham I was within easy walking distance of several grocery stores, two movie theaters, and eight hundred off-licenses. Meanwhile, my new neighborhood is still preening over the fact that a Costa has opened up on the high street (which, to be fair, Costa = the best). And, well, as nice as it is to have my own space I do miss my fellow Canadian ‘Your Everywhere Girl,’ who claims that she is studying aboard in Prague but I know that’s just a front for her diamond smuggling operation.

3. I had a birthday! On April 13th I turned 29 years-old. This has special significance to this blog as a year on Saturn is roughly 29.7 earth years. When I started this blog several years ago, it was a way to set a kind of goal post to myself, that I would have achieved something significant by the time I had reached my first full Saturnian year (and by ‘achieve something’ I meant basically be a best-selling, world-famous author. That’s all). Upon reaching this milestone I thought I would retire this blog and start a new site, one that could handle all the traffic you get when you are the next/current JK Rowling. I now see that this is kind of silly, not the goal itself but the idea that we ever reach a place in our lives where we can stop comfortably. As long as you are alive there are no ‘end goals.’ Everything is constantly changing are all we can do is our best day-to-day. Maybe I haven’t become a published novelist, but I’m a much better writer now than I was three years ago, and I also have a better idea of just how much work it takes to even get a little bit good at this business.

4. I was going to go shopping today but it is raining really hard. Like, it is like the blitz out there, but with rain. Luckily for my birthday the universe gave me the second season of Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Yay!




‘The Block’

Posted on: April 1st, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

I don′t believe in writer′s block. Or at least, I don′t believe in it as this independent, free-standing thing that sits in the middle of an otherwise perfectly ordered/happy life. In my case ′the block′ is carved out of worrying about my housing/work situation. I have been house hunting for an affordable but nice room to rent in London, which is basically the 21st century version of a grail quest. Even now that I have found one worry still puffs up, filling any free space in my brain- will I like living out in zone four? Can I afford a monthly tube pass, or should I save money and just spend 3 hours every day on the bus? (Parsimony is a dangerous sin, in that it earns the scorn of both heaven and hell).

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