Author Archives: smessengerwords

Sara’s 2022 Recommended Reading List


This year, I didn’t read a lot of novels. I mostly read short stories and poems, some novelettes, and some nonfiction, all encountered sporadically throughout the year. As always, the amount of amazing work out each year is inspiring and astounding, and this list cannot begin to cover it all. I don’t keep a regular magazine reading schedule, so these works are not selected out of a more regimented reading practice, and this list does skew heavily toward what is freely available to read online.

This list draws from everything I’ve read this year—it isn’t restricted to only work published in 2022. However, works that were published this year will be marked with two asterisks (**) and presented first in each category as awards eligible.

(**) Means the work was published in 2022 and is eligible for SFFH awards consideration.

Novels & Craft Books

Poetry Collections


  • ** The One Body Problem by Meg Elison, Uncanny Magazine
  • The Bad Dad Redemption Arc Needs to Die by Nino Cipri, Uncanny Magazine
  • Seduced by the Ruler’s Gaze: An Indian Perspective on Seth Dickinson’s Masquerade by Sid Jain, Uncanny Magazine


  • O2 Arena by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, originally published in Galaxy’s Edge #53, reprinted in Apex Magazine
  • You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay by Alyssa Wong, Uncanny Magazine

Short Stories

  • ** Dick Pig by Ian Muneshwar, Nightmare Magazine
  • ** Annunciation by P. Akasaka, Strange Horizons
  • ** Lakeboys by Sean Chua, Baffling Magazine
  • ** What Are We If I Stay by K.S. Walker, Baffling Magazine 
  • ** The Bone Pickers by Kelsey Hutton, Podcastle
  • ** One Day the Cave Will Be Empty by K.J. Chien, Fantasy Magazine
  • ** Christopher Mills, Return to Sender by Isabel J. Kim, Fantasy Magazine
  • ** To Hunger, As with Perfect Faith by Radha Kai Zan, Uncanny Magazine
  • ** Ribbons by Natalia Theodoridou, Uncanny Magazine
  • ** Letters from Roger by Emily Sanders, Apparition Lit
  • ** Death Work by K.S. Walker, The Deadlands
  • ** Mouth and Marsh, Silver and Song by Sloane Leong, Fireside
  • ** I Will Sing Your White Bones Home by Cat Hellisen, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • ** The Stars We Raised by Xiu Xinyu, translated by Judy Yi Zhou, from The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories: A Collection of Chinese Science Fiction and Fantasy in Translation from a Visionary Team of Female and Nonbinary Creators, edited and collected by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang, Tordotcom

(Now for the short stories published pre-2022!)


  • ** stream of dreams where my mouth asks not be blood-light by Sodïq Oyèkànmí, Strange Horizons
  • ** How to make contact with a lost star system by Henry Farnan, Strange Horizons
  • ** Salvage by Hedgie Choi, POETRY, February 2022
  • ** God-Country by Tina Chang, POETRY, November 2022
  • ** Against Pink by Dara Yen Elerath, POETRY, December 2022
  • ** Things I Left You by Dara Yen Elerath, POETRY, December 2022
  • Jessica Gives Me a Chill Pill by Angie Sijun Lou, Muzzle Magazine
  • i find my body and my body by Shaoni C. White, Fantasy Magazine
  • Stranger Organs by Shaoni C. White, Apparition Lit

So that’s my 2022 recommended reading round-up! I’m grateful to have read so many incredible works this year. Do consider reading these works, and speaking well of them, and nominating them for awards! And please consider supporting and subscribing to short SFFH publications. Every bit of funding does make a difference.

If you’re interested in my work from 2022, my award-eligible story “Potemora in the Triad” is free to read in Fantasy Magazine, and I have a mailing list here. I look forward to the work I’ll be encountering in 2023!


Potemora in the… Year’s Best Fantasy, Vol. 2!

Super excited (and still a little disbelieving) to announce my first ever sale to a Year’s Best, for my June 2022 Fantasy Magazine story, “Potemora in the Triad”. The Year’s Best Fantasy, Vol. 2 is edited by Paula Guran, and it’ll be out by Tyr Books. Just realized this is my first anthology sale, reprint sale, and physical copy appearance, too!

Paula Guran sent me an e-mail that I had to reread several times. I didn’t expect it at all, since I didn’t sub Potemora to a portal for consideration, but also, I didn’t expect this career goal to happen to me for many years. In my mental goals category, Year’s Bests happen to the many authors I look up to, not to me!

And the TOC of writers I’ll be published alongside– holy moly! Everyone is so incredible!!

My many many thanks to Arley and Christie of Fantasy Magazine for believing in Potemora, to Paula Guran for selecting it, to my crit partners who helped me hone it, and to everyone who has read the piece and loved it. I love this story, and I think it’s the best, and most ambitious, short story I’ve written as of yet. I’m so excited that it’ll be reaching a new audience in The Year’s Best Fantasy.

Adapting to Writing With Chronic Pain in My Arms (Voice Dictation)


I used to primarily write spec fic novels, then, because of health issues in my arms, I began exploring shorter form, like poems and short stories. It’s often not awesome to type– if I’m typing I’ll use a tilted ergonomic keyboard over my flat laptop keyboard, or if I want to forego typing altogether, that’s where voice dictation comes in. I now write a lot using voice-to-text, and it’s helped significantly with not feeling like a bad day can halt my writing.

If anyone is thinking of exploring voice to text for similar reasons, I promise the switch is not insurmountable or doomed to feel unnatural forever. And it doesn’t produce innately ‘rougher’ or ‘worse’ work– that’s a myth! Around two weeks in it began feeling as natural to me as typing, and my prose quality hasn’t suffered for it.

My Voice Dictation Software:

I use a free downloadable software called Talon Voice I prefer it a lot more to Microsoft Word’s voice-to-speech, or Google Docs’, which I both used when I was starting out. Talon is primarily marketed as a tool for programmers who for one reason or another want to control their computer and type using voice. But it’s not just wired for coding and putting parentheses, though– you can

  • type in most any text box (Google, Word, Scrivener, Twitter, the url bar)
  • dictate sentences or paragraphs ( “Say I like roses period” will write out I like roses.)
  • specify types of capitalization (“Title red yellow” will write out Red Yellow)
  • spell out words letter by letter by utilizing keywords for each letter, like that Alpha Charlie radio alphabet system (“harp air trap” will spell out hat)
  • verbally insert spaces, paragraph breaks, periods, parentheses, hashtags etc etc.
  • backspace, select, and delete words (“delete” will backspace one character, “delete tenth” will delete the ten characters previous to your cursor, “clear line” will delete the line of text you’re on)
  • verbally control where your cursor moves through a document (“go left fifteenth” will move your cursor fifteen characters to the right, “go down” will move your cursor to the line below it, “end” will move your cursor to the end of the line you’re on)
  • scroll up and down a page (“wheel up” and “wheel down” or, if you want a continuous scroll, “wheel upper” and “wheel downer”)
  • wherever your mouse is, left click and right click (“touch” for left click, “right click” for right click)
  • verbally prompt copy and paste selected text (“copy that” and “paste that”, or if you want to copy all text, “copy all”)
  • if you’re really needing to click somewhere without using your mouse, you can verbally prompt a mouse grid and say out loud which area of the screen to click
  • if you’re a bit savvy or motivated you can personalize by adding new keywords to do new things, by doing a bit of coding yourself, which is great for programmers looking to personalize or streamline
  • and more!

I want to add that these commands and capabilities are not just the base Talon Voice install, but the base Talon Voice install plus the knausj_talon download. The documentation will direct new users to download knausj_talon under the Getting Scripts section anyway.

So Talon has this flexibility and versatility I really value. It just makes my life easier and better. And because of its strong capability for precision and control, I can write for long periods of time without taxing my arms on a keyboard or stopping every two seconds to correct typos, in contrast to GDocs.

My History of Using Voice-to-Text (Compare and Contrast):

I started voice-to-speech writing using GDocs, then moved to Microsoft Word’s inbuilt one, which is pretty good if you’re just starting to get used to voice-to-text, but I grew tired of saying everything within the word document and than copying and pasting places. Talon allows you to type wherever is typeable, basically. The url bar in your browser, Moksha, your e-mail, wherever. You also don’t need an internet connection after you download it, versus Word and GDocs where you do.

I also find Talon is more accurate at picking up what I’m saying and translating it to the correct word. (GDocs was worse than Word, so worst overall of everything I’ve tried. I’d rank it Talon > Word > Gdocs.) There’s also a Slack community of Talon users where you can ask for help if you’re having trouble with it, and documentation for new users on the Talon website.

One thing to be aware of, I would say, is that Talon has a higher learning curve than, say, Microsoft’s built-in speech-to-text, where you don’t need or have as many keywords. But Talon has a higher learning curve because of its more diverse functionality, and once you begin learning and get some things down I’ve felt like it starts coming pretty naturally, like riding a bike and glancing at documentation every so often, so I haven’t minded it.

If a writer is looking for a dictation option that’s kind of grab-and-go and requires very little of a learning curve, or they want to start with a software to try voice dictation before moving on to a more capable software, I’d recommend Word. But yeah. I prefer Talon!

(Also, my version of Word is Microsoft® Word for Microsoft 365 MSO (Version 2204 Build 16.0.15128.20210) 64-bit. A pretty recent and upkept version, basically. I got it through my college. I don’t want to assume that everyone has the same version of Word, so I’m popping this in here.)

(And maybe GDocs improved significantly since I last used it, but I don’t know– I was active on it around March-June 2021.)

(And on the voice dictation landscape– there’s an expensive (hundreds of $) voice dictation software called Dragon NaturallySpeaking that gets advertised that some people use. I was thinking of shelling out for it once, but then I found Talon and I was like. Okay this is zero dollars and unarguably great.)


So yeah that’s all! Had this written up and thought I’d slap this onto ye olde blog in case its a helpful resource to anyone out there. If you have chronic pain that interacts or interferes with your writing process, you are not alone at all. I know there were periods of time I felt alone, but you aren’t.

I hope that was helpful!

Sara in the Fantasy Magazine

My second story sale ever is now up at Fantasy Magazine! It was also one of my Clarion West application stories, until I had to withdraw my app. It’s called “Potemora in the Triad” and it’s about a girl trying to escape her really shitty divine fate, as overseen by the massive snake god whose back she lives on… who is also her dad. It’s also about her younger sister, who he’s raising to become a twisted god-killing assassin. But her younger sister gets to have a really cool diamond sword? So maybe it’s okay?

I also got to do an author spotlight, which I’m massively chuffed about. I talk about Sofia Samatar and Seth Dickinson and anime showdowns! It’s a good time! Check it out! Author Spotlight: Sara S. Messenger – Fantasy Magazine