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.

 

 

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2016 Writing Season (Series 1)

creativewriter

Image Source: The Guardian.com

I’m back in the writer’s chair!

As this is primarily an author’s blog dealing with Science Fiction and Fantasy (with other miscellaneous topics thrown in), I wanted to announce that I’ve started my 2016 writing season!  Huzzah!

I just completed Chapter 1 of my 1st novel (after having already done the Prologue) and gave it to my “alpha” readers on Friday (more on that down below).  I have a short-story that I’m working on and another that I’m brainstorming now.  I just reorganized my writing space to be more conducive to researching markets in order to get a list of potential markets for stories that are finished ready, as well as to make the actual composition of the writing easier.  So, read on to find out what I’m doing/planning this year.

SERIES 1 & SERIES 2

My plan is to divide the year into 3 major parts: Series 1, Summer, and Series 2.  Series 1 runs from January to May and in it I will work on short stories and chapters from my novel.  On weekends, I will brainstorm new projects and decide which ones to write.  The bulk of my writing time will also happen on weekends (the only time when I can consistently seem to write on weekdays is Tuesdays for some reason and that’s simply not enough time.)  But, as I don’t really have as many responsibilities on the weekend, I can convert some of my free time to writing time and push through some of the projects that I want to work on this year.

During the summer, I want to continue working on my novel, but I also want to try longer works, such as a graphic novel & screenplay).  My goal is to work on each one every day during the summer (no school!) and then have a rough draft of each completed by the end.

Series 2 picks off where series one ended: short stories and working on chapters for the novel.  It will end right around the time school ends for the holidays for a break to recharge and then (hopefully) rinse, wash, and repeat, but with a new novel for 2017.

That’s my goal anyway.  We’ll see how close I come to it. 😀

PROJECT LIBRARIAN (Novel)

My 1st novel is what I’m working on right now.  I’m calling it “Project Librarian” and it is set in a post-apocalyptic world with a (you guessed it) Librarian as a protagonist.  I was a Library Assistant for 17 years before becoming a teacher, so I went with the old adage to “write what you know” for this first novel.  I’ve completed the Prologue and 1st Chapter so far so I’ve a ways to go.  One of the shows that I listen to on NPR had a guest who called the creation of a novel, “the slow accretion of pages.”  So my goal is to simply create the pages of my novel all through the year and have a rough draft ready by the end of the year.

PROJECT LIGHT (Sci-Fi short story)

This is a short story that I’ve wanted to write for the last 3 years, but the time seems right to do it now.  It is sort of the “Halo-Killer” story that I wanted to see from Sony during the Microsoft X-Box 360 days, but that Sony never did.  It is my take on the “Space Marines” genre.  I’m on the first section of the story now, but I may have to push it back.  I just reread the guidelines for the anthology that I want to send it to and they specify no planet/star stories and this definitely takes place on a planet.  The planet is crucial to the plot, so I can’t just change the setting.

PROJECT SHADOW (Sci-Fi short story)

So there is a “deep space” story that I’ve wanted to work on for a while.  I wrote down a “concept” in one of my writing notebooks, but to my dismay, I could only find bits and pieces of the concept (necessitating the reorganization of my writing materials).  I’m writing it to a deadline, but I’ll wait to post it here.  So far, I’m 0 for 3 on hitting my deadlines when I post them, but I’m 6 for 6 when I keep them in the back of my mind and just try to hit them naturally (rather than trying to force/pressure myself into hitting them artificially).  If I finish it and submit, I’ll add in the information here when I write an Author’s Note for the Project.

MARKETING MY WORK

The last thing that I’m trying to work on this year is getting better at marketing (selling) my work to various markets.  I’m going to create a list of 5-10 markets that I want to sell the story to (& that I feel are the best fit).  If “surprise” anthologies come along and the story is open, or if it comes back before the anthology closes, then I’ll definitely submit ASAP (that’s how Faerie Knight, Knight of the Wylde West were published), but otherwise I’ll stick to those 5-10 markets until I’ve exhausted them and find 5-10 more.  I’ve been using Duotrope and while it is useful, there are so many places to send stories, that it is almost overwhelming to keep up with it all on the limited amount of time that I have during the week.  So, I’m going to narrow my focus.  I’m picking a completed story, deciding on 5-10 most important markets (pay, prestige, or both) and then submitting until a market takes it or I need to find another 5-10.

I did much BETTER in completing stories in 2015 in a timely manner, but much WORSE in actually selling them/getting time published than I did in 2014.

Well, that’s probably more than you cared to know about my writing process/goals for this year, but it helps me to fix it down in print.  That way I can periodically come back to this post throughout the year to encourage myself to keep writing, no matter what!