Author’s Note: Ship of Shadows (Science Fiction Short-Story)

So, I did not write a blog entry last week because I was knee-deep in “Project Shadow” trying to finish it by Feb. 15, 2015 for an Anthology’s deadline.  I did finish it (hurray!) on time, but not without errors (boo!), so I thought I do a quick deconstruction of the story’s genesis, creation, and issues that came up.  I also learned quite a few things about my writing process from work towards this deadline, so future blog entries (the next 2-3 weeks) will be trying to reflect on what I’ve learned as a writer.  Without further ado, the Author’s Note for “Project Shadows”:

Author’s Note – Ship of Shadows

LostinSpace Spiders
This story has been kicking around my brain for a while. It comes from a scene from the movie Lost in Space. There was a scene with spider-like creatures that attack the crew when they investigate a lost ship. I’ve only seen the movie once and I can barely recall what happens in the movie as a whole, but that scene has stuck with me.

I’ve wanted to write my own version of this type of “Ghost Ship” story for a while as I’ve always been fascinated with “mystery ships” like the Mary Celeste. I was given a book about the Mary Celeste as a child and I’ve watched with interest any documentaries on the ship for clues as to what could have happened to her crew.  I’ve also had books on/seen documentaries on things like the disappearance of the Jamestown settlers and the Hindenburg disaster.  These “historical mysteries” are fascinating to me (note to self: I should probably read more of them to mine for story ideas).

As I am a Science Fiction /Fantasy writer, I thought that I’d take the whole “space spiders” idea and put it into a story about space ships using these “spider creatures” as an antagonist and put my own spin on it.   This idea has been baking in the back of my mind now for a couple of years.

Then I saw a listing where Lillicat Publishers had an anthology called “Visions IV: Space Between the Stars” that was looking for stories, I decided to write this story for it.  (Actually, that’s not entirely accurate–the true story is that I was starting on another Sci-Fi project called “Project Light” and had intended to submit that one to the anthology, but upon rereading the guidelines for the anthology, I discovered the story had to take place in Deep Space (hence the “Space Between the Stars” part of the title), where “Project Light” was to (mostly) take place on a planet.  So, I had to put that project aside and “Project Shadow” was the only one that I had been thinking about that was set in Deep Space, so I wrote that instead.)

I’m not sure I will do this again, however. Trying to write to a deadline was very hard for me. I ignored grading, reading, and video games (basically things that I either needed to do or that I should have done to relax) in order to get this story written by the deadline.  I essentially had to give up President’s Day in order to get the story finished.  I was only halfway done by the beginning of Feb. 15 and I had to write for the rest of the day to get it finished.  I didn’t really have time to give it a proper editing pass so there are probably typos in the story (something that publisher appears to hate based on their guidelines), so its prognosis is probably not good.

I’m also not to sure of the main character. I don’t think I put enough of her emotions in and she may seem like too much of a cipher. Again, that comes from writing quickly, trying to get it all down and not necessarily dramatizing it as well as I could.

I’m going to have rethink the writing to a deadline for now (while teaching) as it has put me well behind where I should be for grading and other things. My other stories that were published in anthologies were written to suit me and then I submitted them to the anthology if the theme matched my story. Trying to write to match a theme may not be suited to my writing style, but I also HATE missing out on opportunities for publication because I’m too slow and the anthologies’ deadlines pass me by before I can finish a story for it when I know I have an idea that might fit.  I’ve missed submitting to three different Sci-Fi anthologies from World Weaver Press (all of the Far Orbit anthologies) because I could not manage to finish a story by the editor’s deadline.  I made it a point to finish “Ship of Shadows” for Visions IV by the deadline, but I can’t say that I’m completely happy with the results.




Project Shadow Update

This will be a shorter post–work has interfered with both my personal life and writing life, and I’m struggling to catch up.


I’ve completed the 1st scene (out of 3), but I plan on the 2nd scene being the longest.  I have a roadmap (loose outline) for the whole story, now I just have to find the time to write it as the deadline is looming (2/15/16).

I am off on President’s Day, but I’d really like to have it done by Friday (2/12) so that I can give it to my Beta readers.  Two scenes in one week, though, is a tough ask.  We’ll see what happens.


I’ve been more conscientious about submitting.  I’ve made a list of publishers/markets for the stories (about 5-8 markets) and I have ALL my stories out to 1 market at a time.  When any stories come back with a rejection (3 this week), I wait until Saturday night or Sunday night, look at the guidelines for the next market on the list, prep the submission, and send it.  When I run out of markets, I’ll simply make a list of 5-8 more.

I’m also trying to be more conscientious about following up with markets that have had my stories beyond their stated time.  I don’t want to pester the markets, but if they had it longer than a specified time and they say to ask, then I’m probably not going to wait until my buffer time (which was a long 120 days, or 4 months) before I inquire about it.)


Games Wizards Play

Finally, one of my favorite authors has released a new book this week.  It is called Games Wizards Play and it is Bk. 10 in her Young Wizards Series (which is my favorite series and one I discovered as a child).

Now this is book 10 in the series, so if you haven’t read any of the books, I would NOT advise you to start here.  Rather, start with book 1, So You Want To Be a Wizard.  It starts off quite a bit as a children’s/YA book, but “grows up” pretty quickly and the resolution and ending is one of the strongest that I’ve ever read.

Like all series, I like some books more than others, but I spent all of last year collecting copies of all 9 books to add to my classroom library.  This year, I think I’m going to try to collect them all for my own personal library–starting with this one!