Sandra McDonald

writing all the time

[sticky post]Introduction
Welcome! I'm the author of Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories, which won a Lambda Literary Award, was a Booklist Editor's Choice for Teen Readers, and is an American Library Association "Over the Rainbow" book. I also write the award-winning Fisher Key adventure books for GLBTQ teens (Mystery of the Tempest, The Secret of Othello, and The Missing Juliet), the Outback Stars military sf series, and many other books and stories.

My short stories include cowboy sexbots, transgender ghosts, fairy firefighters and lots more. My fiction has appeared in Asimov's, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Rosebud, Chizine, and dozens of other magazines and anthologies. Four of my stories have been on the short list or honor list of the James A. Tiptree Award for gender issues.

On my wall is a master's degree is in Creative Writing, and among other things I teach college and travel to England whenever I can. All the rest of the dirt is at Sandra

The Dark, Newfoundland, and blowing up my barracks
It's not often you get to see your former home blown up.

But seeing this video inspired me to write a story, and that story is live at The Dark magazine right now:

Welcome to Argentia

It's about ghosts, bad decisions, environmental destruction, tragedies, and the unique history of Argentia.

Not Argentina, which is where our belongings sometimes went if clerks weren't careful. Argentia was a joint American-British-Canadian naval base that prospered during WWII, kept busy through the Cold War, scaled down in the 1980's, and was on its last legs when I served there in the 90's. At the time I was mostly unaware of its history, but in the last year I've become a big fan of the Argentia community on Facebook.

The building was ugly, sure, and there were problems with plumbing, asbestos, etc, but it was my home for 18 months. It was 10 stories tall, full of the CO and XO offices, the mess, the chapel, medical, dental, a small gym where I logged many miles, and a nice lounge on the 10th deck for the officers who lived up there, like me. Here's the video of it imploding. So sad!

Malindo Lo: On Self-Rejection
Here's a valuable post from Malinda Lo in response to writings by Rose Lemberg and Nisi Shawl on the topic of self-rejection: definitely worth reading here at the start of a new year, when all of our writing and reading promises (or at least *my* writing and reading promises) are still shiny new from the holidays.

"We live in a world chock full of stories — on TV, in books, advertising, movies, online, everywhere you look people are telling stories. However, the vast majority of those stories are about a certain kind of person: generally white, usually middle class or upper class, typically male, almost always abled, 99% of the time straight. If you live in that world and are not male, middle class, white, abled, and/or straight, you hardly ever see anyone like yourself in any media. As a writer, it can be incredibly hard to imagine telling a story that is fundamentally different than pretty much everything else you’ve read."

Some updates

Hello, end of summer 2014! Over at I've been busy adding projects and publications, and here's some of my favorites-- Annie Wu is on sale for September, Ettie Ruiz is in pre-order, and Lea Boone will be out for Valentine's Day. Annie's cover is done and cover 2 and 3 are in final proofing stages.

These were a ton of fun to write, and even more fun to share.

Annie Wu April 2014 Ettie Ruiz Lea Boone Beyond the Moon

Year in Review: My Short Fiction
I had 5 new short stories printed in 2013, and one reprint.  All of them are stories I enjoyed writing and seem to have gone over well, but I can't be sure because I don't read reviews.

"The Stars Beneath Our Feet" (co-written by Steve Covey) appeared in the YA anthology Futuredaze. This was particularly fun to write because of our kick-ass teen heroine and Steve's careful attention to physics when a shuttle trip goes wrong.

"End of the Road" - Full of puns. Seriously, all puns. Post-apocalyptic artificial puns. It's in NH Pulp Fiction #3 Live Free or Sci Fi, and any day now I'll get my contributor's copies and money. Meanwhile, puns.

"Sylvia Ascending" - I wrote this for the LaunchPad anthology. Sylvia Plath in space, what's not to love?  I'm becoming a Plath fangirl. Don't tell anyone.

"Our Daughters" - my feminist broadside at Apex magazine because I'm sick of the increasing restrictions on women I'm seeing here in America (and abroad). It inspired a rant at Tangent Online and some kind reader mail.


"Fleet" - my transgender post-apoc story set in Guam. This was the third of three Guam stories that I wrote in 2012. The first appeared in Christmas anthology and the second ("Love Land") I self-published on Smashwords, where it's been downloaded (free) almost a thousand times now.  "Fleet" will be appearing in next year's Year's Best anthology ed. Dozois, which delights me very much.

Also my story "The Black Feminist's Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing" was reprtined in Year's Best 2013 ed. Horton, which makes me happy. That's a story I really enjoyed writing because of the film jokes. Science Fiction film jokes. Science fiction film jokes and an homage to legendary female sf writer Leigh Brackett.

It was a good year in short fiction, and I already have 3 stories coming out in 2014. So here's to short fiction!

Happy Birthday to my lesbian Nancy Drew book

Happy book birthday to The Missing Juliet, book 3 in my series for GLBTQ and straight teens and allies. I had an enormous amount of fun writing this --

- Key West!
- Hollywood film shoot!
- Science fiction film satire!
- Teenage girl crushes and first love!
- Boy actors in love!
- A kidnapping!
- A transgender sidekick!


Thanks as always to Bold Strokes Books for supporting these books, which got a great review in Lambda Literary earlier this year. BSB is a great publisher - highly recommended.

And now back to grading - only 54 essays left and I can call it a day.

The accidental turntable - my growing record collection.
In the big move from Boston in 2006, I got rid of many albums but kept some faves - the soundtrack to The Empire Strikes Back, Prince's Purple Rain, Styx, Disney songs from the 1960's and 70's. These were recently unearthed from the bottom of a closet. Rather than throw them out, I bought the cheapest player I could get from Amazon using shopping points.  I didn't intend to start a new collection, but just for fun I swung by a record store at the Jacksonville Flea Market. Started combing through my favorite Goodwill and antique stores. Maybe ordered a few off ebay. And now, it seems, I have a collection going again.

This big box set of Smithsonian recordings makes me especially happy. I got it for $15 at my favorite antique store but it's listed for $50 or more on ebay. Seven vinyl records full of classics starting with Bessie Smith and Sophie Tucker and moving up to the 1960's. Here's Sampson showing it off.

2013-08-23 09.26.14

I understand in theory that vinyl represents a wider range of the acoustic spectrum than mp3, though I don't personally hear a signifiant difference. There's something soothing about a spinning turntable, however. Also, during the zombie apocalypse, I'd be afraid to hook up my computer to a generator, but maybe the turntable would work. I can envision the wistful, bittersweet scene now: me and my neighbors drinking cheap wine and listening to bittersweet music while the zombies burn the cities around us.  

Awesome picture

This is one of my favorite pictures grabbed from twitter this week. The ISS against a daytime moon.

Ridiculously inspiring.

ISS against full moon by day

90 in 90, or how it's going

NASA threw me off track, as did end-of-term busyness and Mom's medical stuff and just being swamped.

Summer reading goal: 90 short stories in 90 days and tweet about them.

@sandramcdonald tracking so far: 37 stories in 48 days

Recent authors:  Tony Li, Warren Ellis, Lorrie Moore, Leah Cypress, Sam Lipsyte, Jonathan Lethem

Upcoming this week: Adam Johnson, Elizabeth Zeimska, Jay O'Connell, and more I have not read

Also been reading Tess Gerritsen's awesome novel Gravity (medical and space thriller set aboard ISS), Lisa Zunshine's Why We Read Fiction (for school), and the Rainbow Rowell YA book Fangirl.

Also been reading for online critique group and a zillion student newspapers. Also been reading every Clint/Coulson fanfic story I can get ahold of. Also been reading non-fiction articles voraciously.

Lots of reading, like cool water after a long trek.


July and NASA oh my!
July has been one of those months that slips through your fingers like sand - sometimes sparkly sand, sometimes gritty sand, sometimes sand that gets under your fingernails and irritates the soft flesh no matter how hard you dig at it.

On the very positive side, sold a story to Asimov's - yay!  "Story of Our Lives" was written about my alma mater Ithaca College and my alma city (or something like that) Los Angeles. I miss the serene beauty of upstate New York, and don't miss at all the freeway traffic of LA - but I do miss the Santa Monica pier, and not the snowy winters around Lake Cayuga.

On an ultimately life-changing positive side, I was selected to attend a NASA Social Media event at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. A whirlwind 2 day trip ensued, and my tour of JSC was amazing in all aspects. Our group visited Mission Control for ISS, historic Mission Control for the Apollo and shuttle programs, and the lab where astronauts and cosmonauts learn to use COLBERT (treadmill) and ARED ("weight" lifting machine). We met astronauts, scientists and staff, all of them gracious and helpful. My hosts in Houston were Amy Sisson and Paul Abell - Amy was my roommate ten years ago at a Strange Horizons workshop and Paul works at JSC. They are a delightful couple, with a house full of books and cats, writing and science, and I'm eternally grateful.

Here's me on the red phone of historic Mission Control. If you've seen Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks and Ed Harris, this is the room where all of the earthside drama happened.
2013-07-17 11.38.12

The trip temporarily derailed my 90 short stories in 90 days twitter, but I'm back in that saddle today. I'm also rounding up non-fiction recs, geeky bits, and links to NASA and ISS news.

Here I am on twitter
Here's my Facebook author page with some other pictures
Here's a of pictures on Google+


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