Lovely Fall Break 

I am currently on fall break. While I have a lot of things to do, I also want to make sure that I take time to rest. The first part of the semester has been very intense, so I want to be sure that I don’t burn myself out.
I am also trying to recover some writing time, meaning that I’m trying to rediscover a time to simply draft.  I only need a little time–anywhere from half an hour to one hour–but it needs to be consistent.  I’m more dedicated when I can tie my projects to something that I already have to do. For example, I finished Kristen Britain’s The Green Rider just this weekend by reading a little bit each day with the nightly snack that I eat each day.

This is what I need for my drafting–to find a simple time when I’m at my most creative and just draft.  I may just have to do something similar to what I’m doing now, which is to compose on the phone.  It is more convenient, but it is also much slower.  Hopefully, I’ll find a good time/activity to help me get back into not just creating projects/revising projects, but also drafting projects.

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Whale Song Revision

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MTSU Writing Center, Image Source: Tucolla.Wordpress.com

Another short (and late) blog post.  I went to the writing center yesterday as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post entry and it was EXTREMELY helpful.  I had a short-story entitled, Whale Song that I’d sent out for a while before becoming frustrated by the rejections.  Specifically, when markets gave feedback on the story, they mentioned that the protagonist felt very “high-handed” and didn’t come across as sympathetic.

During the session, I mentioned this and brainstormed ways to combat this impression while keeping the core of the story intact.  With the help of my consultant, I was able to think of ways to both change the character as well as the structure so as to better tell the story that I wanted.

I will post an Author’s Note here when the revisions are complete.  There is an anthology that I’m hoping to submit the story to and its deadline is Nov. 1, so (in addition to the graphic novel and the rough draft of the short story I’m trying to create), I will be revising the story with this deadline in mind.  I keep you posted on my progress.

Using the Writing Center

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Writing Center, Image Source: Towsend.edu

So–yes another shorter blog entry–I’m going to the University’s Writing Center today to workshop a short-story.  The story is called Whale Song and I’ve submitted it frequently, but I’ve been told that the main character comes across as a bit of a jerk.  I didn’t really know how to fix it, so I stuck it in the “drawer.”

Well, there is anthology that is open until Nov. 1st, so I want to polish it up and send it out.  My goal is going to be to find out if the main character is a jerk and if so, brainstorm a couple of ideas that I have for a revision.

For some reason, my students are reluctant to go to the Writing Center in order to improve their writing.  I guess they see it as a mark of “weakness” or “failure” if you need to get extra help.  What I’m trying to get them to see is that the writing center gives them knowledgable people that they can bounce ideas off of.  No writing center can “fix” a paper because the paper is the tangible expression of the writer and (generally speaking) we don’t go around “fixing” people.  Maybe through my example, my students will become more used to going to the Writing Center to help themselves become better writers.

(Not) a Short Fiction Market Renaissance

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Science Fiction Fantasy Writers Association Qualifying Markets Word Cloud, Image Source: KLWagoner.com

I was listening to the Writing Excuses podcast and one of the presenters mentioned that there is something of a short fiction renaissance market happening right now.  The presenter mentioned that there were more fairly well paying markets for short fiction (speculative–sci-fi/fan) right now and that in the past there used to be only the big three (such as Asimov’s, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Analog).  As someone who is currently “in the trenches,” I have to take a bit of an issue with that characterization of the market.

With all due respect to the presenters on the podcast, they are named authors.  They don’t have to worry nearly as much about the fierce competition from all of us unnamed authors trying to earn recognition and money in this system.  No matter how much people may say having a recognizable name doesn’t matter, it does.  I received another rejection letter yesterday (it noted that the story was well-written, but the publisher decided not to publish it (one of these days I may do a postmortem on a rejection letter in a blog post, but I digress).  That lowered my average acceptance rate (tracked via Duotrope) to 7.9%,.   Try going to your boss and telling him or her that you have succeeded in 7.9% of your tasks and because you’re doing more than others, you deserve a raise.

Also, what the presenters on the podcast don’t realize because they are both named authors and they don’t have to try to make a living at selling short fiction/this isn’t their primary “gig” so to speak, is that only half of the markets are available at any given time. Sure, there are a lot of markets, but many of the higher paying markets that they are alluding to are either “on hiatus” or “temporarily closed,” or worse yet, “permanently closed.”  Some even have fairly ludicrous submission requirements just to limit the number of submissions that come in.  Nearly half of the places where I’ve submitted stories to in the past are currently unavailable for submissions and those that are available either pay little to no money or are brand new on the market place (& usually can’t afford to pay writers or pay them very much as they have no audience yet).

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Fantasy Scroll Mag Cover (currently listed as DNQ on Duotrope at the time of this writing).  Image Source: nerds-feather.com

For example, Lightspeed, a well paying market is temp. closed and has been for most of the year.  The Leading Edge (where supposedly a couple of the named authors on the podcast got their start as listed in mag’s description on Duotrope) has 0.00% acceptance rate of authors who have tracked their submission through Duotrope and currently has an astounding 444.9 day(!) response time to authors who submit stories to them.  That’s a year and half (approx.) for short-fiction.  Imagine waiting 444.9 days for your next burger and fries!  One magazine is only open for submission 4 weeks out of the year (one week in Apr., June, Sept., and December) and if you miss those periods, too bad.  One magazine is only open for submissions between for about 24 hours every Monday/Tuesday, and I could go on.  Looking at my list of submissions, I see so many Temp. Closed, On Hiatus, Closed, Defunct, and Does Not Qualify (DNQ–the publisher has made some change, no longer lists guidelines, no longer accepts submissions from unagented writers, etc) listings that it gets harder and harder to find places that I haven’t sent the story (that actually pay money).

So, while I enjoy listening to the podcast and I have learned a lot about writing, and being successful in writing, I simply must take issue with the characterization that we’re in short fiction market renaissance.  I respectfully submit, having been in the trenches for way longer, that the waters are as turbulent as ever for writers trying to make a name for themselves through short-fiction markets so as to make the jump to the more lucrative novel writing profession.

Skin Deep Published in Aurora Wolf!

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Source: Aurora Wolf – A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy (aurorawolf.com)

SKIN DEEP PUBLISHED!

Just wanted to let you know that Skin Deep, a short-story that I’ve worked on and detailed on the blog has been published by Aurora Wolf – A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Please head over to their website, read my story, rate and comment on it and (while you’re there) perhaps, read and comment on other stories that I are listed.  Right now my story is on the from page (with the above image – thanks to Aurora Wolf for letting me use the image!).  There is no cost to read the story, or  in other words, its FREE!

Skin Deep has been very much of a long-term passion project.  It was one of the first stories  I wrote with the intent of getting it published.  The story that is published in the 3rd major draft of the story.  My first draft came in the 90s and I submitted it to several markets found in Writer’s Market & Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market.  I only remember one piece of feedback that I received for it from an editor who thought the Psionics (mind powers) in the story strayed too close to magic for her tastes.

I put it “in the trunk” for a while and then I rewrote it substantially around late 2013 – early 2014.  The basis of the current version came from this rewrite.  I had the plot and most of the character, but something still didn’t feel right about the character and her motivations.  I put it up again (not submitting it significantly) until I revised it mid-2015.

As I noted in the blog about the story,  I changed the main character’s name, and really worked to increase the setting of the story and I think that’s what was missing from the 2nd draft–not enough setting to really ground the story.  In all, I’m glad I got to tell Mahalia’s story.  Please go read it if you have a chance–best of all, did I mention its FREE!

CHILDE ROLAND PUBLISHED!

In case you missed it, Childe Roland was also published late last year.  It is still up and, like Skin Deep, it is also FREE!  Please head over to ElectricSpec.com to give it a read as well if you have the time.

OTHER PROJECTS

Lastly, I’m still writing and working on other projects.  As you’ve no doubt realized by the slowness of the blog, I’m really overwhelmed with coursework and classes, but I’m trying to get a handle on the massive amounts of reading and grading that I’m having to do.  I will post more about other projects that I’m working on in the coming months.  Like a business, I need to refresh my sold “stock” with new “stock” if I’m going to make my writing career work, so I have lots of new projects in the wings.  More on these soon.  Well, that’s all for this week, and I’ll try to have a new post up next week (I promise, I really will TRY!).  See you next post!

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!

Author’s Note: Silence Will Fall

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Source: Wikipedia (The Rover–from the TV show The Prisoner)

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Source: David-Stimpson.blogspot.com

AUTHOR’S NOTE: SILENCE WILL FALL

So I finished Project Silence this morning and I’ve officially titled it, Silence Will Fall.  The title comes from a line in Dr. Who (New version with Matt Smith playing Dr. Who) where he must defeat an enemy known as The Silence.  That line stuck in my brain for some reason (as has the enemy’s name of The Silence which I may use/revisit in another story some time in the future.)

STORY’S GENESIS

The genesis of the story is both simple and complex.  Simply speaking, the story originated from a dream where I saw the protagonist at a dam defeating a Floater in a novel and unique way.  With a few minor tweaks here and there, I tried to capture both the feeling of the dream and the actual events as best I could in the story.  The more complex version the image of the Rover (see above illustration).  My family has always been into PBS, and while I don’t watch period shows like Downton Abbey, I’m my uncle would have as he was hugely into Masterpiece Theatre.  However, somewhere along the lines, I must have seen The Prisoner (on PBS as rerun most likely as I remember the bounding ball of the Rover and I remember it killing someone) as a child.  That image has also stuck with me although I don’t think I consciously thought about it.

However, after that dream, I wanted to write about a “ball of death,” and see if my protagonist could defeat it.  I knew I wanted the story to be post-apocalyptic because that’s what I saw when I dreamed, but I also didn’t want to create a huge backstory for the Floaters.  I thought about Independence Day 1 & 2 and other invasion movies that tried to explain the aliens and I didn’t want that for this story.  So I decided that they would just descend from space down to Earth as if space was simply water and they were traveling from world to world (reef to reef to continue the water metaphor) in search of food.  The key is they are hunters of noise.  Any noise attracts them, so for humans to survive, we would have to be silent (hence the title).

KEEP IT SIMPLE 

So I wanted to try to keep everything in this story simple.  Three parts (Beginning, Middle, End) and about a 1,000 words for each section.  I managed pretty well with the 1st and 3rd sections, but I needed to have some dialogue between characters as well as to have the protagonist discover a potential solution to the story’s problem.  The 2nd section clocks in approximately at 1,800 words–a little longer than I would have preferred, but if it works, so be it.

I wanted to finish this story quickly, but right after I finished the 1st section, I started Orientation at MTSU for their program.  I don’t seem to handle transitions well and when the weekend came, I was mentally exhausted.  I didn’t actually pick up the story again until two weeks after school started (so approximately four to five weeks elapsed between the 1st & 2nd sections), but once I picked it up again, it took about three weeks to finish it.

REVISION

I don’t intend to submit this story immediately, although I think that it is one of my better pieces.  I want to “put it on the shelf” for at least a month and then look over it and revise it.  I still may not submit it for a while though because I have a “backlog” of stories out.  I currently have (with Silence Will Fall) ten (10) unpublished stories, with five (5) stories currently out.  I don’t want to try to have more than 5 out at any one time because with school, it gets too hard to coordinate markets (finding ones that are open and are good, and then formatting the story(ies) for those markets all take time that I could use for schoolwork).

My hope is that I can just submit my “backlog” of stories and hold off submitting this piece until the first of the year (2017).  I do reserve the right to revise this plan at any time however.

NEXT UP

So I have started two stories.  I want to start a longer project–I’m leaning toward the 1st issue of a four issue (or 3 or 5 issue) comic book mini-series.  I’ve got about 3 or 4 options, but I’m still deciding which one I want to go with first.  I think I may work on one more short story while deciding, or I may start on the long one and then switch to the story once I get a rough draft done.  I’ll decide after I finish the schoolwork for this week–at least, that’s the plan.  We’ll see how it goes.

Until next time.