The Writing Life: An Update

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Image Source: Really Deep Stuff

Before I start this blog entry, I’d like to say thanks to the bloggers who read (& liked) yesterday’s post).  It was really gratifying see that people really responded to it so much!

And now, on with today’s blog.  So, after last semester, I managed to have four stories out to markets that I was proud of and didn’t think needed major work (in terms of revision).    In other words, I had them in a state where I thought they were strong stories and marketable to markets that deal in Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I’ve got some news on them, so I thought I update you how where they stand currently.

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Image Source: Haiku Deck

HAWKEMOON: Just heard from this market today.  It is currently on the “maybe” list.  If it holds up well against the other stories that come in during the reading period, then it has a chance to be published.  This is actually very good news.  It’s sort of like going to a job with two Interview components and passing the first Interview.  If HawkeMoon passes the second “interview,” then it gets the” job” (to extend the metaphor).  It is also a lesson in persistence; this is the 10th story that I’ve submitted to them (they’ve actually seen my entire catalog except for Silence Will Fall & Citizen X), but this is the first time that I’ve gotten onto the “maybe” list!  Wahoo for small victories!  (I won’t name the market until they actually accept the piece, but fingers crossed that the “maybe” turns into a “yes!”)

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Image Source: Seriable.com

SILENCE WILL FALL: On this one, I actually wanted to revise it and did so last semester with the help of the MTSU Writing Center (where I also worked as a Consultant, in addition to teaching a Freshman English Class).  I knew that I wanted the ending to more closely match the ending of the dream that had originally inspired to the story, so I rewrote it and made sure (via the Writing Center) that it made sense and have started to submit it again.  It received a rejection letter (again just this morning), but I’m happy with the way the story ends, so I will continue to send it out until I find a market that likes it (see above about persistence).   Will be sending it to a new market this weekend.

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Image Source: Pinterest

I, MAGI: So this one went out to the market in January and I still haven’t heard about its fate.  According to Duotrope, it has been out for about 150 days.  The market is still replying to submissions, but I’m probably going to have to request an update for the story over the weekend.  Now, I’m patient (I’ve waited over 9 months for a response for one market before), but they do say to query if they’ve taken over 45 days to respond and  I would like to send I, Magi back out if they aren’t going to use it.  If they don’t respond, I’ll probably give them another 30 days and then move onto the next market.

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Image Source: Pinterest

HERE BE MONSTERS: The market for this one unexpectedly went on hiatus this week with my story still under consideration.  I’m usually pretty good about sensing a market’s imminent change in status (this is actually only the 2nd time this has happened to me in over a 132 total submissions tracked by Duotrope).  However, this one caught me off-guard.  There was nothing to indicate there was anything out of the ordinary happening, until I checked the listing on Duotrope and saw that the website was no longer functioning.  Alarm bells began ringing at that point and I hoped that it was just a temporary hiccup, but no, it looks like the market just didn’t have the resources to continue.  So, I’ll pick a new market and resubmit this story over the weekend.

So there you have it–a (mostly) complete update on the status of the four stories that I currently have out at the moment.  Lesson to take away = persistence, persistence, and more persistence.

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One is Not Enough, But Five is Too Many

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Found listed on Quotesgram.com

TWO MARKETS–JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT

So, I received a rejection this week on Here Be Monsters.  It stung particularly hard–not because it was a rejection or what was said in the rejection letter.  I was able to compartmentalize and objectively take the rejection in the spirit it was given: to help improve my writing for that specific market.  No, what stung was that I wanted to send it right back out, but I didn’t have a market ready for it to go to at the time it was rejected.  I had to wait (the WORST thing for me when I get a rejection) in order to send it out again.  That’s when I discovered a flaw with my submission process.  One market isn’t enough (& leads to the situation I just found myself in with HBM) and five (5) markets is too many.  Trying to decide where the story should go next, what market is open, how long it takes, do I have another market ready if this comes back too quickly, will this be out too long to keep if from going to this new anthology?  Questions like that make it too difficult to try to have a reserve of markets available to submit to after a rejection.  So, I’m going with just two (2) markets per story.  I submit to one and then have a backup market ready to go if the story is rejected.  Once I move on to the second market, I’ll then find two (2) more markets to submit to if it is rejected that second time.  This way, I will (mostly) have a market ready to send a story to immediately and I won’t feel so stung by a rejection–kinda’ hard to obsess about a rejection when you’re already hopeful that the next market will see the potential in your story.  As the quote above indicates–“adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.”  I know obsessing about rejections doesn’t do me any good, so now I need to adapt a system that works for me and minimizes the time spent obsessing about a specific rejection when I should be getting the story back on the market.

WARLIGHT ACCEPTANCE (TENTATIVE)

This week hasn’t been all bad–I just found out that Carrol Fix, the editor behind the Visions series at Lillicat Publishers, has just ACCEPTED my short story entitled, WarLight!  It should be published in Visions VI: Galaxies!  It will be published fairly soon, the middle of November.  I’ll keep everyone posted on this exciting development and will blog about it again when the anthology is released.

CHILDE ROLAND ON SHORTLIST

Also, received an email letting me know that Childe Roland has been “shortlisted” for a market (that I will not name just yet).  Shortlisting means that it survived the first round of rejections and made it to the “short list” of potential stories.  This particular market will have a 2nd round of “voting” for stories and if it survives this test, it will be accepted for publication.  This is the 2nd story this year that has managed to make it to the shortlist (I, Magi made it earlier this year for a different market, but didn’t ultimately make the cut.)

So, I’m really concentrating hard on both the creative side of writing–I’ve finished two stories since summer, and on the business side of writing–refining my submission process and managing two publications (so far) this year!

Potpourri ( . . . a little bit of everything)

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So this blog post contains a little bit everything (hence the title).  I will try to keep this post shorter than normal; it (hopefully) will be just an update post.

WRITING

I was really happy with the way “Here Be Monsters” (HBM) turned out.  I haven’t heard a response from the 1st market that I sent it to yet, but having the setting allowed me to focus on the characters in a way that I haven’t been able to since “Dragonhawk” (DH).  I actually like HBM a quite a bit more than DH although they have a lot in common.

READING

Finished “Conquistadors” (finally) after struggling to read it all summer and fall.  I shouldn’t complain because it gave be the initial idea and setting for HBM.  I loved learning about the Conquistadors and the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca.  It’s just that I’m so stressed from teaching that it is hard to pay attention to an in-depth non-fiction work. For the past couple of years, I usually read Fantasy (David Eddings, Brandon Sanderson, and Diane Duane) or Science Fiction (David Weber, Elizabeth Moon) in order to “de-stress.”

Picked a new “history” book from the back of the Conquistadors.  It is the Condottieri. Hopefully, lightning will strike twice and I’ll be able to find an awesome story from this time period.  I just ordered a used copy from Amazon.com today.

REVISION

I plan on revising Rocketman for my next project.  It will follow the same 3 act structure (beginning, middle, end) as HBM, but I think I need a short half a page prologue/epilogue to completely get it where I want it.  I think I’ve settled on an epigraph to highlight the theme.  More on this later.

SCHOOL

I really want to see if I can raise my game and go back to school.  I’d like to perhaps teach in Higher Education and for that I’ll need a PhD.  I’m going to apply to PhD programs this year in hopes that I will be accepted.  Much of my “free” time will be spent studying for the GRE and preparing applications for various schools, so my writing output will be reduced temporarily as I try to accomplish this goal.

NEW STORY

The creative process will not wait, however.  I’ve begun to write down ideas for my next story.  I don’t have a title yet (although I have a tentative grasp of some of the characters and some of the plot.)  All I can say at this point is the inspiration that inspired me to start planning out the story.  One was a dream that I had last night with a gunslinger.  The other was a phrase that I wrote down about a month ago while still working on HBM: “Jedi Gunslingers.”  More on this later!

That’s all I have at the moment!

Author’s Note: Here Be Monsters

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I finished a new short story!  It is entitled “Here Be Monsters.”  I tried several new things with this story, so I wanted to do an in-depth Author’s Note about the story to detail some of the things that I tried.

AUTHOR’S NOTE – HERE BE MONSTERS

Title

“Here Be Monsters” is the title of the story that I said that I was working on under the name “Project Monster.”  I’ve always had HBM in mind as the title of the story, but I used Project Monster as a code-name in case I decided to call it something else during the creation of the story (I rarely change titles once I decide on one, but it has happened.)  My concern that the title, when paired with the epigraph, may make the story’s theme too on the nose, but I like the way it works with the theme, so I’d rather not change it if I can avoid it.

Theme

This is the first story that I’ve called out what I think the theme is based on an epigraph (quotation of a famous person at the beginning of the story).  I’ve only used an epigraph once before–an article that I wrote on rough drafting–but I like the fact that Brandon Sanderson uses made-up epigraphs in his Stormlight Archive books.  Every story that I can find a suitable epigraph for it will probably have a epigraph from now on out.  I will definitely create a theme for every new story in the Rough Draft phase–I really like the way I create when I know the theme ahead of time.

Length

So, this story isn’t the shortest that I’ve done, but it is the shortest that I’ve done recently.  This story clocks in at approximately 4,100 words.  HawkeMoon was 5,600 words by comparison.  Considering that quite a few markets have a 5,000 word cap, this story would be able to be submitted, while HawkeMoon wouldn’t.  It has a beginning, middle, and end, and that is the way I created it.  I didn’t try to do a 5 scene structure and I think the story works better for it.

Time to Create

So, this took as long to create as other stories–but that was because I was sick for most of the month.  I finished the 1st scene right after Labor Day and then didn’t come back to it for nearly 3 weeks.  I finished it in the last week of Sept., and 1st week of Oct.  I think that I would have finished it in about 2-3 weeks.

Research

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So I’ve mentioned it before, but this book is one that I’ve been reading that directly influenced this story.  I minored in History, but I don’t think that I’ve really used my history degree.  I have quite a few books on history, but this is the shortest one that I own, so I thought I’d try to give it a read to cut down on the stress of teaching.  I really liked the book and the series and I’m looking to buy more on Amazon.  I have a book on Florentine history (much longer) and a book on Scandinavian history, so I can definitely try to mine those for ideas, but this was a revelation.  Instead of trying to create everything from scratch and ending up with a generic pseudo-european mishmash fantasy, I was able to give specific names to armor and weapons, the setting was influenced by real life and I was able to really get into the characters and their emotions.

Characters

So, I limited myself to 3 characters–the protagonist and his 2 companions.  I tried to keep the enemies fantastical, but keep the characters grounded in reality.  As I mentioned above, I wanted to really go deep into my characters and emotions.  I think these characters are as complex as the ones I wrote for Dragonhawk.  The characters have an arc and they seem to react appropriately based on their natures.  What I didn’t want to do was be disrespectful.  The culture is not my own, so I wanted to portray the conflict in an “everyman” kind of way, so as not to be disrespectful to another culture.

UP NEXT

I liked writing this way so much that I plan to revise a story (Rocket-Man) and put it in this 3 scene structure and give it a theme (already looking for an appropriate epigraph).   Once finished, I’ll start submitting it again.  Then I’ll start on a new project (probably a Weird West project that has been percolating since I started Here Be Monsters).