Chinese Space Stations and Literary Agents


A month ago, I was pretty convinced a Chinese space station was going to fall on me.

The space station was due to return to earth, any day in an out-of-control descent. According to the experts, no one knew where it was going to land. Chances of it landing on a human: one in a trillion. Well! thought my brain. That means it’ll definitely land on me!

Because, you know, logic.

I spent the days before the landing imagining how you might outrun a space station, like, if you saw it coming, could you dodge? On the day the station was due to plop down to earth, I followed its trajectory on a somewhat-reliable site, and read scientists’ tweets about the landing—everyone in the dark and trying not to seem in the dark. Who would win in the great Space Station Landing Game? A mountain? A mountain goat? The sea? A woman in a suburb in Australia, patting her cat?

The station dropped into the ocean on April 1st. No one was hurt (including the fish, hopefully). Life went on. And I didn’t get hit by a space station, because people don’t get hit by space stations.

What I didn’t map the trajectory of, and what I wasn’t expecting, was an email five days later from Catherine Drayton, literary agent with InkWell Management, responding to my query about my YA novel.

Catherine very kindly asked to see more pages; I sent thirty of them on a Friday evening, fully imagining a no, any second, in reply. The very next morning, her assistant asked for the full manuscript. I sent that on, and then, well—of course the answer would be a no, because space stations don’t land on people and how were these not exactly the same odds?

Five days later, I got a phone call from Catherine. She loved my book, she said. She would love to represent me! she said. And there I was, completely landed on. And it felt incredible. I accepted her offer the next day. And now we’re working together. It’s amazing.

The moral to the story is (if there’s any moral at all!): It’s a whole lot more likely that someone will fall in love with your book than you’ll be hit by falling space debris. That is, as long as you keep writing and you don’t spend too long in bed, worrying about the sky.



Photo image source: Greg Rakozy


We are the storm


The thunderstorm today was wild and completely wonderful. The sunset came in a thousand colours afterwards.

Before the storm, I worked with a student. We laughed and made plans for her future; it felt like all these paths were dancing in front of her and we were playing, moulding her options into shapes, because sometimes it feels that way, that the future is something you can build with your hands. That’s true, and… it isn’t.

Sometimes the future comes at you and says, “Here, catch this.” Sometimes the future is something you never planned, and suddenly you’re sitting inside it going, “What just happened?” And then you have a new path to walk—it has trees you didn’t expect to see and a prickly underbrush, and different earth under your feet, and around the corner are caves and cliffs and maybe bears.

I don’t know what I’m saying exactly other than this: I sat with someone extraordinary later, after the storm, and told her she was loved.

I sat and talked about points of light and how love can feel like that, lanterns floating through the dark, surrounding you as you travel. I talked about mountains and how sometimes the only way to climb one is to not look at the mountain. I talked about small, good things. About the feel of your hands around a cup of tea and toweling your face after a shower. I—we— talked about love and sorrow and emptiness and music and painting and writing. We talked about holding on.

I could have talked about the storm, but I forgot. I forgot to talk about how the wind came up like witches were taking off on all their brooms and the water slammed into the windows sideways and how the sky turned electric and the garden blurred. And how the dog leaped up as I opened the back door and she came hurtling in, her whole body a thank you. How everything outside felt like it was shouting, “Here I am! Wild, uncontainable, impossible, indescribable. Here I am, all my parts and pieces, look at me, I’m whole, I’m everywhere, I am glorious and startling and alive. Here! Here! HERE.”

Here we are. There was a storm. Wasn’t it extraordinary?

Here we are—we are the storm, and all the colours afterwards.

Here we are. Here you are. You are loved, loved, loved.


Flash fiction: the marvels




We dance under the wires, fairy legs, fairy feet, can’t touch, won’t touch! Here we are, making our way through. They think the wire can keep us? We are the Folk; we are the ones with dreams and sight. We are the makers of wonder; we slide into the children at night.

Put up your wires, just try, we will still come.

You can’t end or break us; we are spun silver, we are riddle, we are gold.

In the morning, the children sit at their desks and under the drone of This and That, they draw the marvels we gave them last night.



I actually posted a different story for this prompt at first, but then wrote another one because the first one made me sad. I realised I get to do that—change my mind, change the ending. I am a writer! I choose Path B.

This is a 100-word story written for the Friday Fictioneers, an international writing community hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The photo prompt comes from Madison Woods. If you’d like to join the Fictioneers this week, click here. To read this week’s stories, please click here.

I haven’t been here for a couple of weeks, and I am sorry to have missed two whole story cycles! It is lovely to be back.

Flash fiction: free



The first day in my new world, I thought I was free.

The streets of the city went so far, I couldn’t see their ends. The buildings were long-legged birds; it was wonderful to be underneath them. Sounds were true, not muffled through double-glazed glass. Taxis lurched and wailed, people stood whistling at the kerb, and couples bickered on street corners.

It was beautiful.

The first day, I made it half a block before I was stopped.

“Lord! Girl, put on some clothes!”

I looked down.

You’ll be naked when you arrive.

Another thing the witch hadn’t told me.

This is a 100-word story written for the Friday Fictioneers, an international online writing community, hosted by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The photo prompt comes courtesy of Marie Gail Stratford.

This particular story is a modified scene from my novel-in-progress. The photo fit so perfectly, the scene had to become this week’s story. In the novel, this scene is quite a bit longer. It was a very satisfying challenge to compact the moment into one hundred words.

Please go here if you would like to join the Fictioneers this week, and go here to read everyone’s stories.

Flash fiction: under stone



The last time I saw her she was walking to the cemetery. Sunbright, arms full of daisies.

“What for?” I said. “They’re all dead!”

She did not turn; it was as if I was already gone.

Our last night, I said, “Leave with me,” and she said, “How can I? They will miss me if I go.”

I walked with her to the graves that night. I tried to kiss the ghosts from her, bring her back to life, but she kept turning to them. They called her name; they laughed at me from under their stones.

This is a 100-word story for the Friday Fictioneers, an international writing community hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The photograph comes courtesy of Ted Strutz. Click here if you would like to join the Fictioneers this week, and please click here if you’d like to read everyone’s stories.

Flash fiction: Pull me down


Gerta said, ‘If you’re to stay you must have the Lord in your heart.’

I thought, I’ll take the Lord, if it gives me a roof over my head and a place in bed with you. So I said, ‘I’ll take the Lord, gladly,’ and kissed her honey skin.

She said, ‘I’ve asked Preacher Bartel to baptize you on Sunday.’

So I said, ‘Right-oh,’ though I know the dark-hearted river will pull me down once I’m deep enough, and no Lord will save me. The water knows who I am. It won’t give me back once I’m in.

This is a 100-word story for the Friday Fictioneers, a lovely international writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo comes courtesy of Rochelle. Click here to join the Fictioneers, and click here to read this week’s stories.

Flash fiction: A good day



It’s not so much the rain that disappoints but that the roofs are clean.

Everything’s begin-again washed, tiles like new almost, but I’m partial to the coal grime and speckles of pigeon poo; it gives my toes something to hold onto. Now it’s a job to watch each step and it’s hard to balance, with the bag o’ things clanking against my legs wanting to send me over.

Boss says, every time: ‘If you fall, don’t be callin’ for me.’

If I fall, I’m dead, but he’d hear of it and come in a whistle. He’d snatch the fripperies and jinglies from my sack and call it a good day.



This is a one hundred(-ish) word story based on the photo above. The photo is by Emmy L Gant and the story is my first for the Friday Fictioneers, a weekly on-line writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Ever since I discovered Claire Fuller and her beautiful writing, I’ve been wanting to join this group. And now that I have this shiny new website, I get to be a part of it! Lovely. Click here if you would like to join in, and go here to read everyone else’s stories.