One Down, Two To Go

Citizen X
So, the disadvantage to being able to check your email on your phone means that you are never “disconnected.”  During a bit of downtime during the Super Bowl on this past Sunday, I happened to check my phone and saw that I had an email from the market where Citizen X was on the short list.  I also noticed just by the first sentence that it was a Rejection Notice (You can always tell a Rejection Notice by the way it starts–that “formality” that we all shift into whenever we have to tell another person bad news).  It didn’t put a damper on the game/commercials/fun of the evening, but it was distracting.  Something that I wished that I could have seen on Monday morning, rather than on Sunday evening.  Ah, well, that’s life.  At least, it was short-listed.

Silence Will Fall
I should probably here of SWF’s fate shortly.  The email mentioned early February is when the market whose short-list SWF is on would make a decision.  HawkeMoon was on the short-list at this market as well, but it didn’t make it, but who knows if SWF will make it or not.  I like Silence Will Fall quite a bit, but then I liked HawkeMoon as well, so its always a bit of a “crapshoot.”  There’s a movie coming out soonish that seems to have the same take on SWF (i.e., if you make noise, bad things will happen, but it looks to be a “zombie” movie, rather than a science fiction one).  I hope that the movie doesn’t render my story as an “also-ran” because mine was conceived first and deals with a science fiction concept, but the key idea of “sound” is in both which may be detrimental to my being able to market it in the future (i.e., we’ve seen that concept already in such-and-such movie).

Here Be Monsters
While this one isn’t on a short-list, it is still out for consideration at a market with an upcoming anthology.  Don’t know if the editor is going to choose this story or not.  He’s accepted one story and rejected two others, so far I believe (going by what has been reported via authors who track their stories on Duotrope.  However, my story is one of at least 17 submissions (again, based on Duotrope’s tracking) still awaiting a decision.  Nothing to do here except be patient and see what happens.

Upcoming
Rather than just resting on my laurels, I am actively working on trying to finish the rough draft of Project Skies (the short story with Skye to discover her character)–I am currently drafting section 3 of 3, revising All Tomorrow’s Children to start submitting (I’m currently revising section 2 of 3), researching my next story, Project OPaK.  I had to go all the way back to June of last year to discover the name that I’d given this project.  I also noticed that I really like to introduce Projects, but I’m much slower at finishing them (a blog post for another time).  I have photocopied research for this project and I will transition into Project OPaK as soon as I finish Project Skies.

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Two stories Shortlisted–“Citizen X” and “Silence Will Fall”

I just wanted to let everyone know that I currently have two short stories on the “Short List” at two different publishers.  I should learn of their fate later this month.

Citizen X
Citizen X was a bit of a surprise.  I wrote it around the time of Here Be Monsters, but much like HBM it wasn’t highly regarded as I submitted it.  The ending was also something that seemed a bit controversial, so I pulled it from, intending to rewrite it.  However, I began to feel that I was too harsh towards the story and began submitting it again.  I was fairly surprised that it made it to the “short list” round for a publication–I mean, I wrote it, so of course I liked it, but I didn’t publishers would.  Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for it.  Even if it doesn’t make it for publication, I have to count it as a small victory that it made it to the “short list.”

Silence Will Fall
Silence Will Fall is a story that I’ve chronicled many times on the blog–it even has its own Author’s Note where I talk about the genesis and writing of the story.  It also is a triumph of the MTSU Writing Center, as my Consultant graciously helped with a revision of the piece to make sure that the ending that I “re-wrote” made sense and matched the rest of the tone of the piece.  While I have no control of the process anymore–it is strictly in the editors’ hands–I’d love for this one to get published, if only to give my Writing Center Consultant praise for a job well done!

The Short List
In case there are any who may not know what a “Short List” is: it simply means that the story has passed the first round of initial rejections.  The editors will then make a decision for the stories included in their publication from these stories.  Essentially, stories from this “short list” will make it in.  Making it to the short list is similar to making it to a 2nd interview to get a job, or getting nominated in a category for a prestigious award, like the Oscars.  There’s no guarantee of getting the job, or winning the award, but your chances are better–you haven’t been rejected altogether.  That’s the way it works in publishing as well.  No guarantees–they both could come back with a rejection, but at least those two stories haven’t been rejected outright.

Have a good weekend!
Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

 

Read, Write, and Improve

I written on the blog before that I haven’t really been able to write like I’ve wanted to based on the demands of life.  I expect that to continue for the near future for reasons that I won’t go into here, but I’m going to try my best because I feel like I’m missing a “piece” of me by not writing everyday/reading things for myself rather than school everyday.

I was really excited after reading the article on PBS.org profiling author Jesmyn Ward called “Persist.  Read, Write, Improve,” by Elizabeth Flock.  It was a short, but informative article and it really seemed to set out a “path” that I wanted to follow for 2018 (the closest thing a New Year’s Resolution as it were).  My goal was simple.  I would persist through 2018 by reading and writing every day and at the end of the year, I would (hopefully) see improvement.

Read

This is my most favorite thing to do, but I haven’t been reading like I wanted to.  I think it is because over the break, I was able to devote an hour (sometimes up to two hours) just to read every day and make substantial progress on my books.  I just don’t have that much time in the day.  I finally decided to devote half an hour to reading each day.  Also, last year I didn’t really have anything to read because I only certain authors (the few who aren’t drawn to the Dark Side of the Force with the allure of “GrimDark”).  However, ALL my favorite authors published material last year, so I want to read all of my favorite series and I just don’t have the time and it is really frustrating.  I’m also “supposed” to be reading books for school, both books and articles assigned for class as well as books in my “field” (English) on my own.  It is hard to enjoy my “reading” time when I have to read a book called Multimodality during my “reading time”when what I want to read is Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson.

Maybe I could read school books during the week and my personal books on the weekend?

Write

This is where I really feel that I let myself down.  Partially, it wasn’t an intentional act of laziness on my part.  Forgetting the computer, one week, and the charger, the next week meant that I was without my computer for essentially a week and half (pretty much all of my time here school).  Now I did have access to the school’s computers and since I have the blog and many of my writing files online, I could have gone there to write, but the frigid weather and uncertainty of the car starting put a major damper on that, so the end result is that none of the goals that I set for January were finished.  I’d really wanted to finish a Rough Draft, Working Draft, and Edited Draft every month, but perhaps that was too ambitious based on the amount of school work that I have.

While I can’t devote two hours every day, perhaps I just need to find a way to better utilize the time I do have.  I was up early to work on the blog–perhaps shorter, more consistent blog entries and use the remaining time to work on the writing projects I have in mind?

Improve

What I really want to see from my writing and my reading is an improvement in my ability to write long.  I don’t want just write short stories–my real desire is to write novels, screenplays, graphic novels, and pilots for television (of course, Sci-Fi/Fantasy based).  While I most certainly want to improve my storytelling abilities on ALL fronts, I really feel that improvement is needed in my ability to write long and to craft stories that can exist in the long-form media in order to see success as a writer.  That’s what I’m hoping Jesmyn Ward’s advice will help me accomplish this year.

Apologies for not Posting

Last week was not great for many reasons. From forgetting the charger for my computer to my car not starting intermittently, last week was a real challenge. I should have posted to my blog, but I wasn’t able to do so easily while dealing with life.

Car

So, the car started up, but wouldn’t crank over. After two days, it finally started and I was able to get into a shop. I hope that the repairs will be enough to get me through semester.

Hacking

So, over the weekend, it appears someone is trying to hack my email account. After doing online research, it looks like someone is trying to use my email address to gain access to my Apple iCloud account in order to lock me out of it and hold it hostage for ransom (probably bitcoins). Here’s a news story on this issue. I’ve taken measures to keep this from happening, but I have to say that Microsoft helped to make this an issue. I noticed that my “gmail” account had been “cloned” via Microsoft account (not sure how it was done), but when I called their account services, they basically told me not to worry about it. I could have avoided this had they taken action and locked this renamed “gmail” account on their Microsoft email servers. When this hacker renamed this gmail account to an “iCloud” account on Microsoft servers, I decided to take action.

Writing

I lost a week of writing, but I hope to get back into the swing of it this week, fingers crossed. This blog post is a part of that desire to get back to a writing life.

Sidney

Persist.

The author Jesmyn Ward was recently interviewed on PBS.org’s website and she talked about the writing life.  However, she gave 4 pieces of advice.  I want to talk about the first one here and I’ll go into the other 3 on the next blog post.  Her four big takeaways are “Persist. Read. Write. Improve.”

Persistance
Time and again, I’ve heard the adage: “Persistence is the key to success,” so whenever I tried to do something, I try to be persistent at it, to have grit as Angela Duckworth and other educational theorists have defined it–the ability to stick to a task even when it is hard. In writing this is true as well.  I’ve seen many writers (students and non-students) give up writing after their first rejection or after several rejections, but I tried to push through and I earned my first publication nearly 20 years ago.  However, the journey from neophyte writer to a successful one has not quite gone as I’d envisioned after making that first sale.

Keep Going
Her advice rings true.  I need to simply persist.  I honestly wondered whether I should continue writing in early to mid December, but after the break I think I just need to focus on getting projects done and enjoying that aspect.  It was so refreshing to have worked on the outlines for the projects with Tana on Ship of Shadows.  Even if they are never published (even though I sincerely hope that’s not the case), I still had fun creating them and coming up with them while wrapped up in a warm blanket on a snowy day.  The sheer joy of writing, of creating, is why I find being a writer (or to be Writing to reference an earlier post) to be so much fun and liberating.  Unfortunately, “life” got in the way yesterday, and I wasn’t nearly as productive writing as I should have been–I only wrote a “note card” of one potential project and it was extremely tentative (wrote it late at night when I should have been in bed because of school) and as such, I don’t have the same “euphoria” that I did after the first Snow Day.

I must learn to be both Persistent in my writing and also to be consistently persistent.  That way, even if I can’t publish the way I’d like, I can still have fun and enjoy the challenge of creating and writing the things that I love.

Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

Drafting up a Skye (Project Skye)

So in the last blog post, I talked about planning a story for January.  In this blog post, I’m going to talk about drafting (aka writing) a story.  The story that I’m writing for January 2018 is Project Skye (the short story).

Short Story as Character Sketch
I’m writing this story as a way to examine Skye’s character.  I was tasked to come up with a character sketch for Skye by the MTSU Writing Center as I struggled to try to create a novel this past semester.  I struggled to do the character sketch because all my choices seemed arbitrary.  So, I decided to write a story which puts Skye into jeopardy to see how she would react–to reveal her character through action.

Not as Easy as it Sounds
This sounds easy–I wrote a brief one sentence outline of everything that I wanted in the story.  I wrote a beginning, middle, and end for the story.  I wrote a 1 sentence brief outline of the scenes (3 scenes) in the beginning, middle, and end.  I’m about halfway done, but I’m having problems working on it because 1) I now realize the setting actually needs to be changed (this is happening in their aircraft when it should be in “hovercars,” 2) this was to be a “prologue” event to show how they know each other (there needs to be a different prologue event and this needs to happen later in the novel’s timeline), and 3) The first section is waaaayyyy longer than I’d intended it to be (by about double–I feel like I need that length, but it is making the rest of the story unbalanced by comparison).  Basically, I can see all the flaws that I want to go back and fix (i.e., start over).  I’m going to try to trudge to the end, but when I’m not happy with the results of my writing, it is very difficult to finish.

Knowing When its “Right”
When HawkeMoon was “finished,” I knew that it was “right.”  The same is true with Silence Will Fall (although I knew at the time that I’d written away from the ending I had in mind–so that’s why I had to rewrite the ending last year–to bring it more in line with the original ending that I’d dreamed about with that story).  However, I’m not even finished with Project Skye and I know it isn’t right.  I’m going to need at least one more draft to get it where I think it needs to be.  That is the hardest part of drafting for me–having to keep going even when I know that the draft is lacking because I want to fix it immediately.  I think, because I just dove into the project, without doing what I normally do (i.e., writing a draft that is just for me–my own personal “telling” myself the story, I don’t think that I have the action as firmly in place as I should).

Lesson Learned
As I go throughout this year, planning stories, the end goal needs to be: sometime during the last week of the month I need to write out a Rough Draft in which I “Tell, Don’t Show.”  This draft is For My Eyes Only and will aid me when the time comes to turn my story into a draft for the audience where I then “Show, Don’t Tell.”  If I don’t do a “Rough Draft,” then I’m going to have to spend even more time “fixing it” with another draft later on down the line.

Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

New Year, New Project: Introducing Project Sea

So the first of the new projects that I’m planning is a new short story that I’m calling Project Sea for the moment.  It is in “preproduction” stage throughout the month of January.  I have a small book that I’m reading in addition to try to gain the requisite knowledge for it as it involves sailing vessels, pirates, and voyages on the high seas.  I’m not a sailor, nor am I a sailing person, but I would like to get the nautical usage correct.  I’m a fan of Robert Silverberg and if I remember correctly, the first book of Silverberg’s Valentine novels (Lord Valentine’s Castlefeatured an extended voyage at sea with a cast motley characters.  This is what I’m looking for in this project.

I don’t want to go too into detail or depth so as 1) not to reveal, but 2) also not to write away the surprise of the first rough draft when I finally get to writing it at the end of the month.  Right now, I’m focusing on characters, their motivations, and (surprisingly) plot as this is one of the few stories where the action of what happens is nebulous for me.  Right now, I only have the world really clear in my mind and I’m trying to flesh out some of why the world works as it does and the characters that inhabit this world.

My ultimate goal is to have characters (goals, motivations, character change), plot (beginning, middle, end) and setting (why does the world look/act as it does) planned through January and write a 1 or 2 page Rough Draft during the last couple of days of January.  I then plan on putting it away for a while and pull it out again later in the year to Revise into a “Working Draft.”

Below is the trailer to Skull and Bones, a new game from Ubisoft coming later in 2018 that is a partial inspiration to this project.  It really only inspired one potential character, but it does also give a visual sense of what I’m trying to achieve in my story.

 

That’s all for today.  I hope you have a great day!

Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec