Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer
“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 3
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“The History Within Us”
Future Science Fiction Digest - Issue 0
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Smokopolitan nr 10
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“In Memory of a Summer’s Day”
Mad Hatters and March Hares
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“Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?”
Nightmare Magazine 63
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“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Bifrost
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“Love Engine Optimization”
Lightspeed Magazine 85
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“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Tor.com
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“The Singularity is in Your Hair”
Cyber World
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2016
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
XB-1
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Nebula Awards Showcase 2015
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“Demon in Aisle 6”
Nightmare Magazine 38
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“The Problem of Meat”
Grendelsong
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
科幻世界 (Science Fiction World)
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“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies”
Clarkesworld Magazine
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
World Chinese SF Association
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“Cameron Rhyder’s Legs”
Clarkesworld Magazine #98
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“The History Within Us”
XB-1 Issue 11/2014
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Космопорт (Kosmoport)
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
XB-1 Issue 8/2014
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“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”
Clarkesworld Magazine #92
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“Pheth’s Aviary”
Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue 133
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“The Last Probe”
Launch Pad
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“The History Within Us”
Clarkesworld Year Four
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“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Lightspeed Magazine and io9.com
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“The Great Game at the End of the World”
After
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“The Suffering Gallery”
The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Three
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“The Hands That Feed”
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk
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“The Bricks of Gelecek”
Naked City
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“The Hands That Feed”
Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories
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“The History Within Us”
The People of the Book
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“The Suffering Gallery”
Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue 57
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“The History Within Us”
Clarkesworld Magazine #42
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“The Girl in the Basement”
Apex Magazine, Vol 3, Issue 3
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“The Spaces Between Things”
Electric Velocipede 17/18
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“The Girl in the Basement”
Hatter Bones
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“Saving Diego”
Interzone #221
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“The Sembla”
A Field Guide to Surreal Botany
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“The Writing’s on the Wall”
Farrago's Wainscot #5
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“Marie and the Mathematicians”
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #26
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“The Thing in the Refrigerator That Could Stop Time”
Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest
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“The Last Novelist” is a Eugie Foster Memorial Award Finalist

I am very happy to announce that “The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)” has been selected as a finalist for the Eugie Foster Memorial Award. The finalists are:

From the Eugie Foster website:

The Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction (or Eugie Award) celebrates the best in innovative fiction. This annual award is presented at Dragon Con, the nation’s largest fan-run convention.

The Eugie Award honors stories that are irreplaceable, that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. We will be looking for stories that are beautiful, thoughtful, and passionate, and change us and the field. The recipient is a story that is unique and will become essential to speculative fiction readers.

I am honored to remember Eugie Foster in this way.

 

 


Health and Happiness for Writers: The Writer’s Ego

At the Nebula Award Conference this past weekend, I was on a panel with Patrick Rothfuss, Theodora Goss, Erin Roberts, Rekka Jay, and Lara Elena Donnolly called “Health and Happiness for Writers.”

Because I felt we had barely touched on some subjects, and because this is an issue I feel strongly about, I thought I would continue the discussion here on my blog, where I might share some experiences and struggles I’ve had with “health and happiness,” and some techniques that have helped me maintain both physical and mental health in the past. 

Patrick Rothfuss, Matthew Kressel (me), Theodora Goss, Erin Roberts, Rekka Jay, and Lara Elena Donnolly; Photo by Diana M. Pho

Today I thought I’d focus on a mental health aspect: the writer’s ego.

When I speak of “ego” I mean it in the psychological sense, that is, one’s sense of self and their place in the world. From my own experiences and my many conversations with writer friends, I know that we all often struggle with ego issues.

Here are examples of things that might “bruise” a writer’s ego:

  • Getting a rejection letter
  • Getting a negative review
  • Getting a harsh critique of a story
  • Doing a reading or signing and having few people/no one show up
  • Seeing your peers “succeed” while you do not
  • Seeing your peers win awards

The latter is especially close to me at this moment, as I was just up for the Nebula Award in the Short Story category, but just lost to Rebecca Roanhoarse’s (definitely worthy) “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” This is the third time that I have been up for a Nebula, only to lose to another amazing story.

The danger is the negative self talk. “Oh, I’m not worthy.” “I’m not good enough.” “I suck.” No one likes losing (except maybe masochists?) and it can be especially frustrating to get so close to something and not attain it.

The solution, for me, has been gratitude. I tell myself how lucky I am to even be here. I tell myself how grateful I am even to have had the opportunity to be on the same ballot with all these amazing people and stories. Just to have had the experience of being a nominee at the Nebulas.

But what about if you’re not a finalist? You have written fifty stories and none of them have sold. Or your sprawling epic fantasy has chalked up thirty agent rejections of, “Nice, but not for me.” Or you published your first story and you got really excited, and you did your first reading at a convention, and only two people showed up, and one of them left early because they discovered they were in the wrong room.

These things hurt. I have experienced all of them. And I think that in the past I did some really destructive things to avoid feeling that hurt. I got angry. I blamed (someone, anyone). I drank. I did other substances. I got extremely jealous of others.

The key is, for me at least — and I would like to note that I still struggle with this — the key is to let yourself feel. I think as a Generation X male, I was conditioned that men shouldn’t feel. Or at least, if we did, we did it privately. In the public space, I always tried (with varied success) to show how strong and fearless and teflon-like my ego was. The truth was (and in some ways still is) that I can be as sensitive as a mimosa plant.  And I have found that simply allowing myself to feel the hurt, however painful it is, is the first step to overcoming it.

I hope that doesn’t sound pat or condescending. There is a statement you may often hear in certain therapy circles that the only way out is through. I allow myself to feel the sadness, the hurt. I let myself accept it. This is a part of who I am, even if it makes me uncomfortable to be vulnerable. 

And you know what? Letting myself feel, letting myself be vulnerable and open to feel this feeling I so badly wish to repress has allowed me to overcome a lot of my self-doubt. Because on the other side of that pain is a form of self acceptance I never really allowed myself before.

I cannot say this technique will work for you. It doesn’t even always work for me. Sometimes, I just feel bad, and nothing will change that. But in general I have found this technique to be extremely powerful.

Important Note: As Patrick Rothfuss said in the panel, there are some things that we cannot do on our own, and there is no shame in getting help. Please seek out therapy (both for physical and emotional issues) if you feel you cannot solve these issues on your own.

 

 


Nebula Conference

I’ll be attending the 2018 SFWA Nebula Conference in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania from May 17-20th, 2018. And I’ll be doing panels and podcasts and autographs and (hopefully!) doing some sightseeing around Pittsburgh, since I’ve never visited the city. Here’s my official schedule:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Users Guide to Writers’ Workshops, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Speakers: Mur Lafferty • Fran Wilde • Curtis C. Chen (Curtis C. Chen) • Matthew Kressel (Tyrell Corporation) • John Kessel, Moderators: James Patrick Kelly
Marquis B

Health and Happiness for Writers, 2:30pm – 3:30pm, Speakers: Rekka Jay (writing as R J Theodore) • Lara Elena Donnelly (Ms.) • Matthew Kressel (Tyrell Corporation) • Patrick Rothfuss
Moderators: Theodora Goss
Marquis B

Skynet, Matrix, Other: Where Will AI Lead Us?, 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Speakers: Kenneth Chiacchia (Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center) • David D. Levine • PJ Manney (PJ Manney) • Matthew Kressel (Tyrell Corporation)Moderators: Martha Wells
Marquis B

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mass Autographing, 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Sam Linton Grand Ballroom

Hope to see all you crazy cats there!


Paula Guran on “Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?”

Over at Locus, Paula Guran reviews recent horror fiction and has this to say about my recent story, “Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?” in Nightmare:

“There are a number of the dead in Kressel’s tale. They are a melancholy bunch, always waiting for life to find them again. It has been said that horror is about the unknowable and that death is the greatest unknown of all. Kressel paints a good picture of death that anyone is sure to fear.”

You can read the full review here.


“The Last Novelist” nominated for a Nebula Award

I am beyond thrilled that “The Last Novelist” has been nominated for a Nebula Award! I can’t believe it! I’m super grateful to Ellen Datlow, for choosing and editing the story, to Tor.com, for publishing it, and for everyone who voted for and shared their love for the story on social media. “The Last Novelist” is about pursuing one’s art even when it seems no one is paying attention. It is about carving out an artistic niche even when there are too many other worrisome things going on in the world that want to take precedence. Though I wrote “The Last Novelist” over a year ago, and it takes place in the far future, I believe it couldn’t be more apt to today’s political climate.

I am also honored to be nominated alongside such amazing talents! I have read many, but not all, of the nominated works, so I can’t wait to dig in to all the great stuff!

This is my third Nebula Award nomination (I haven’t won a Nebula so far), and I have to say getting nominated is still one of the Most Exciting Things™ to ever happen to an author. So, thanks a bunch! You guys really are amazing.


Another Year’s Best

I’m delighted to announce that my short story “Love Engine Optimization” (originally in Lightspeed Magazine). will appear in Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2018 Edition. This is my second ever Year’s Best inclusion (the first is for “The Last Novelist” which also came out in 2017). I get to share this amazing table of contents with Rich Larson, Charlie Jane Anders, Suzanne Palmer, Samuel R. Delany, Michael Swanwick, Maureen McHugh, Tobias Buckell, Kameron Hurley, Sofia Samatar, Yoon Ha Lee, Linda Nagata, Sarah Pinsker, and so many others.

I’m glad this story got noticed, and not just because it’s been included in a year’s best. The story concerns the overwhelming amount of data collected on individuals, often without our awareness. It seemed to me that people were (and still are) too comfortable giving up their personal data for a bit of convenience. And it seemed to me that often people had (and still have) no idea what was/is being collected on them and how it might be used. “Love Engine Optimization” is my attempt to show what one pernicious actor might do with access to such data. If one person can do this much harm, imagine what powerful nation states might do with all this information. The more technology becomes integrated into our lives, the greater the potential that technology might be used against us in malicious ways. 

I work in IT. I see technology daily bringing immense benefit to the world. But it can also cause great harm if we don’t consider how it might be abused.

If you’d like to hear me discuss more about “Love Engine Optimization,” you may want to check out the Alan & Jeremy vs. SF podcast episode where I was invited on to speak about the story.