Tim Susman

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Tim Susman

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My Progress

5,277 words as of 6/28!

12,392 words as of 7/2.

26,668 words as of 7/11. Here’s an excerpt:
“Penfold.” Bayard leaned forward. “Adams has laid out the case for you to join independence; let me tell you briefly why you should leave the Empire.”
Kip nodded in his direction. Bayard, a man with a thin face and hooked nose, continued on. “Because we hold the home ground. We have fought on this land and we fight for our freedom. If we gain our independence without war…” Here Mr. Lawrence and Master Kolis both snickered. “Then those who supported the Empire will have cause for regret.”
“We will not force anyone to leave this country,” Adams put in. “The benefits of our campaign will be available to all, even those who do not recognize their necessity.”
“But the positions of leadership,” Bayard persisted, “will go to those who have supported independence. And if it does come to war…” He closed his fist and set it on the table, and his eyes when they met Kip’s were hard and cold. “We will win.”

The crackling of the fire sounded very loud in the silence that followed this declaration. Kip’s self-assurance weakened, but against the certainty and authority of these men, he reminded himself, he should set all the masters of the College as well as the might of the Empire. Next to such institutions, the crusade to overturn them took on a quixotic air.
Update! Finished! 40,074 words!!

Here’s an excerpt from near the end of what I have now:

They had entered the dining area, a large room with tapestries hung around the walls and a dozen or more long wooden tables around which clustered people in black robes with various colors of trim around the sleeves and collars, filled with the smells of bread, roasted fowl, boiled vegetables, and tonic water. The oldest people sat at a table removed from the others to Kip’s left; he assumed those were the masters. White-shirted students sat in pockets here and there but did not seem to be separated from the apprentices. And every single one of the people at the tables was human.

Kip stopped for a moment but Cott pulled him forward, still talking about their Christmas feast and how the hall would be decorated for it. Around them, heads turned and conversations stopped as Kip walked by, keeping his tail tightly curled against his body. As they passed, his ears caught mutters from behind, swiveling automatically to focus on the words until he consciously pointed them forward again. “…bringing his new calyx down…” “…never know what he’ll do next…”

“Come on.” Cott pointed toward a table whose end was empty. “Just sit and they’ll bring you lunch.”

The woman who came to serve them dropped a plate of food in front of each of them and walked off without reacting to Kip’s presence at all. Cott, despite his earlier worry about the kitchens not serving Kip, talked cheerfully throughout the meal.

Throughout the hall, as Cott talked, Kip watched apprentices and masters walk up to each other, or walk up to greet someone sitting to eat. The whole gathering felt very collegial in a way that his dining tent never had, and he envied it. He also noticed that nobody walked up to Cott, not for the entire duration of the meal.

As they got up, Kip asked, “Is Master, ah, Gogin? Is he here?”

“Gugin? Oh, yes, the spiritual work.” Cott peered at the farthest table. “No, but I can take you by his quarters. Oh, Master Albright is here. Master Albright!”

He called across the hall, and from the far table one of the people lifted his head and then rose to meet them as Cott pulled Kip across the room. As they drew closer Kip made out a face that reminded him of Patris’s, with silvery hair in a large mane, but Albright also had a long beard and an olive complexion and a more pensive expression, where Patris always looked nervously angry.

“Penfold, is it?” His voice felt like it emerged from the bottom of a gravel quarry.

“Yes, sir.”

“Albright. Pleasure to meet you. Thank you for bringing him over, Cott.”

“Of course, of course.” Cott beamed.

“I hope you might be free for a meal tonight, Penfold. I have one or two matters I would like to discuss that you may be able to shed some light upon.”

This was something of a surprise; Kip had expected another “how does a Calatian learn magic” dinner. “I will do the best I can, sir.”

And then Albright spoke in a very low growl in the back of his throat, a sound that Kip’s ears picked up but that Cott, standing two feet away, did not appear to hear at all. “Cott will try to come,” Albright’s whisper-growl said, “but you must not allow him.” And then in his regular voice he added, “Meet me at sunset at the base of Lord Winter’s Tower, the side facing the village. Do you understand my instructions?”

“Yes, sir,” Kip said, his ears sweeping back.

“Very well. I will see you then.” And Albright turned and strode back to his meal.

“I did explain about you being indisposed last night,” Cott said as they left the dining room. “But he’s not angry. He always sounds like that.”


“Thank you.” Kip stared down at the top of Cott’s head as the sorcerer led him from the dining hall. Was it possible that the people in the hall were staring at Cott rather than him?

What I Write

Writing Sample

Here’s the beginning of my QDSF story, “Two By Two”:
Desperation is hope turned sour. Before we’d even gotten over the Sierras, the solar-electric bus was full of it, Vijay and I no less than any of the other hundred passengers. We took turns standing in the aisle so everyone had a chance to sit down, and we never had to ask to reclaim a seat; one was always offered. When our volunteer conductor wanted to nap, Vijay and two others took shifts in the driver’s seat in case the bus ran into obstacles not marked on its software map.
Our spirits lifted as dawn broke in Nevada, where the browns and golds and mauves of the desert were all we expected. Staring out at them, we could fool ourselves into thinking that California’s grey, dusty slopes had been a moonlit aberration, that the news reports had exaggerated the spread of the blight. We broke into a traveling song, complained about the bus’s suspension and the smell of the chemical toilet as though those were our biggest problems, and exchanged names and carefully edited stories. More than half the people on the bus were going to New England, all to the same place, though nobody said its name; Vijay and I admitted we were going to Houston “to visit relatives,” which earned us lots of concern and admonitions to be careful. By tacit agreement, we ignored the reason we were together on this bus.
Most of us, anyway. “Look,” Vijay said to me, pointing out a dusty feathered carcass halfway up a hill. “Nothing left to eat the scavengers.”
I dug a chocolate-flavored synth cube out of our pack and handed it to him. “Lucky we’re not scavengers.”
Then we came to Utah and western Colorado, and the skeletons of trees dusted with decomposing leaves silenced us. We drove through those graveyards and crawled up the mountains that looked like a special effect, scenery rendered in grayscale under a shockingly blue sky. The silence of the all-electric vehicle highway made it worse somehow, though we’d been living with silent highways for two years.
After that, abandoned settlements through the Rockies, looking peaceful because whatever was left of the cannibal riots remained invisible from I-70. Down from the Eisenhower tunnel into the ghost towns that had been Denver suburbs, and then Denver itself, where finally we passed people on the streets. White gas masks with grey-brown stains on the front showed on most faces even though no haze hung in the air; we could see the sharp outlines of every building and the mountains to the west.
In Denver a handful of passengers disembarked, and a handful of Denverites took their place. Outside the windows we watched our former fellow travelers hug those who had come to meet them, leaving behind the hollow-eyed crowd staring at the bus in the hope that someone else would get out, leaving a precious space free. Behind that was the hope that somewhere, anywhere, would be different. And behind those people were the people who knew better.
“There’s another group coming tomorrow,” our conductor said, closing the doors. Our engine purred to life and then we set off down the highway, northeast to Nebraska and then down I-29 into Missouri.
Grandma messaged me just as the sun was coming up again in the Missouri hills, as naked as Colorado’s mountains: Just making sure you didn’t get eaten.
“Be in Kansas City in a few hours, still on schedule.” I sub-voed, not wanting to wake Vijay, but when I put the phone down, his dark eyes were open and bright in the dim bus interior.
He saw Grandma’s picture on the phone before it went dark. A moment of quiet, and then he reached for his minitab and brought up a screen on which he typed, Still have spots on the ship? His hand hovered over the screen to hide it from the people behind us.

I stared at the words; he saw my reaction and added, If we want them?

“Yeah,” I said, and then looked away under the weight of all the other things we couldn’t air out on this crowded bus.

What I Write

I write mostly fantasy and contemporary fantasy with a focus on personal relationships. I like including animal themes (under a pseudonym I write furry fiction as well) and exploring non-traditional relationships.


“Two By Two,” in Lightspeed Magazine’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction

“The Lovely Duckling,” in Kaleidoscope

“Chasing the Spotlight,” ROAR Volume 4 (Coyotl Award Winner)

“Erzulie Dantor,” Apex Magazine


Common and Precious, Sofawolf Press


My Write-a-thon Goals

Writing Goals

A few years back, I worked on a novel draft called The Tower and the Fox (since renamed The White Tower), and while that book looks for a publisher, I’m getting to work on the sequel.

Tentatively titled Demons Within and Without, it follows Kip, our fox-person protagonist, through his time at Prince Philip’s College of Sorcery in 1815, as talk of rebellion heats up through the American colonies. Kip’s people, called Calatians because they were created by a sorcerer named Calatus back in the early 1400s, are a tolerated underclass and none has been a sorcerer before, but Kip’s obvious talent and the desperate need of the college have brokered an arrangement. Now an apprentice, Kip still strives to be taken seriously as a sorcerer. His mastery of fire is a blessing and a curse; it’s a rare talent, but also one he must wield with great caution, because the headmaster is itching for any excuse to expel him. The fire of rebellion is similarly dangerous as it spreads through the college, and the enticement that a free American government might treat Kip’s people better puts the fox in a serious dilemma: support the Crown and be loyal to his profession, or support the rebels and be loyal to his people? Throw in Kip’s friends with their own troubles (including an otter-Calatian, an Irishman, and the first female apprentice), a mysterious attack on the college that the sorcerers haven’t yet found the source of, a voice that speaks to Kip from the walls of the tower, a ghostlike apprentice who lives in the orchard, and Kip will have plenty to keep him busy at school.

As you can tell, the second book is mostly ideas. I’m attending a workshop at KU’s Center for the Study of Science Fiction during the last two weeks of June, during which I hope to get the plot hammered out better. Following that, I’d like to get 40,000 words done on the manuscript by the end of the Write-A-Thon period.

Fundraising Goals

I’d love to raise a thousand dollars for the Write-A-Thon!