Potpourri: The Writing Life


Today’s blog will be a short one on a few things that happened over the weekend pertaining to my writing life.  These are mostly updates that I feel are important milestones, but each one isn’t really so important that it requires its own blog post.  So, in no particular order, here we go:

Submitted All Tomorrow’s Children

So I submitted All Tomorrow’s Children (ATC) to its first market over the weekend. The market is a “major” market in the Science Fiction and Fantasy short fiction landscape, but I doubt they’ll accept it.  While they say there never receive enough Sci-Fi (and ATC is Sci-Fi), their Acceptance rate is .09%.  That means they reject 99.91% percent of the stories that are sent to them.  Still, I had to try as they are one of the “new” big publishers of Sci-Fi/Fantasy stories.  If the market doesn’t take ATC, I have two more publishers that I consider “big” to send it to and then I’ll step down a tier to the mid-level markets.  You never know until you try.

“Blogging” My Way to 250 Words-a-Day

So, I have a confession to make.  I have several Word Processors–Pages, SimpleNote (Mac App & Website), Scrivener, IAWriter App, and a couple of lesser Word Processors (and have access to Word through my school account and on their computers).  However, I found over the past few weeks, that for fiction, I really just like the ease and simplicity of SimpleNote (which I’ve mentioned in the past), but also, just the WordPress Text Editor that I use to create my blog entries.  While I used to draft in SimpleNote, I’ve now switched to the WordPress blog editor because I can quickly see the word count and when I reach my 250 limit for the day, I then copy and paste the work over to SN.  One I have a completed draft, I then copy and paste that over to Scrivener and make my major edits there.  Scrivener makes compiling a submission draft a breeze and that’s the draft I use to submit.  It was this workflow that helped me to get All Tomorrow’s Children off my computer and out the door to a publisher.

Finished (FINALLY) the Rough Draft of “Project Skye”

I finished this over the weekend as well.  It clocks in at about 4,000 words, but really needs some substantial TLC.  This was an exploratory draft and written “by the seat of my pants” because 1) I wanted to get an idea of the character and 2) I thought I knew enough about the world in order to just write.  The draft is a “poster child” for why I don’t write without outlining.  There are plot threads that just drop out, there are character motivations that don’t work, there’s setting issues, there’s a storm that never develops, etc.  This draft is an absolute “mess” and I will most likely have to rewrite the entire story from beginning to end rather than what I did with All Tomorrow’s Children which was “build” the story from the ground up.  This illustrates the difference in my writing styles: ATC was fun to write for me, while Project Skye was an absolute slog.  I can’t even show it to the Writing Center consultant to illustrate Skye’s character (which is the reason I wrote the story) because it really isn’t a “story” yet (at least, not in the way I think of “story”).  But its done–that’s the best part.  And what do they say?  If you’re at the bottom, you can only go up from there–hopefully, by the summer, I can put together a draft that I feel proud to show off–because it isn’t there yet!



Being a More Prolific and Professional Writer

So, this will be a shorter post today, but I wanted to riff on something that I read today.  I found a writing prompt that I would like to use with my students–Simile But Different.  There is an extra box in the Pdf version that talks about being a better writer and not comparing yourself/competing with other writers and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Being more Prolific

The advice that the article mentions is that if you want to be more prolific, you need to set aside more time for writing.  This is the change that I’ve been making for the past few weeks and this has helped immensely.  I tend to wake up early on most days, so I try to get up and just draft.  Sometimes that means working on the blog and sometimes it means working on my fiction.  I really need to find a way to shorten the time it takes to write the blog so that I can get both blog and fiction done at the same time.  I have a tendency to either 1) write long or 2) spend too much time trying to get everything just right that it also takes more time to write and I end up either giving my fiction not enough time or not working on the fiction at all.  I still have a lot of downtime where I’m waiting in lines at the store or something similar where I could whip out my phone and pop a couple of sentences/paragraphs out, so I still have some work to do.

Being more Professional

The second piece of advice that I really liked in the piece is that is argues that if you want to be more professional, you should makes sure your work is edited and revised before you send it out.  I’m going to have to work on this myself.  Here Be Monsters has had 25 submissions so far without a sale, so I decided that I should probably relook at it and I found so many issues that I could have sworn that I fixed in the original editing pass.  Since it had so many problems, I also decided to do what Rhonda Parrish had me do with Faerie Knight which was to cut essentially 1/3rd of the story.  Rhonda Parrish also had me look at the ending and essentially end it without any falling action–just climax, and one sentence of understanding/epiphany and then end the story.  While I wasn’t able to quite get there for HBM, I did rework the ending to make Rafe (the main character) more appealing than he was originally (one market didn’t like HBM because they didn’t think he was a very sympathetic/appealing character and this change was to alleviate this problem).

Anyway, that’s all for today.  Have a good one!



Author’s Note: All Tomorrow’s Children


I’ve actually already written an Author’s Note on All Tomorrow’s Children, but I probably should have called it more of a “Rough Draft” Author’s Note because it really only discussed the inspiration of the story and some of the genre aspects of the story.  Now that I’ve finished the Working Draft of the story and just need to edit and polish it before I start submitting it to various markets, I wanted to do a full and complete breakdown on just what the story is just as I did for Here Be Monsters and WarLight.


The Title

So this title has been kicking around in my mind almost sense I joined the Chattanooga Public library way back in 1996.  It was always around connected to a set of people using Psionics (mental powers–telepathy, telekinesis, etc.).  The original conception was around a group of kids who, in the future, were dominated and controlled by a fascist state.  They escaped and rebelled and fought agains the regime.  It was supposed to be a graphic novel, but I could never get it to come together.  A couple of years ago (my third year as a 6th grade teacher) a new idea came to me about a family of Psionics rather than a group of kids.


So, in the summer of last year, Sky News (British TV station) did a special report on JIHADI BRIDES and how many of them were lured into the camps of Jihadis based on elaborate promises made to them by these organizations.  Yes, super controversial, I know, but this is when the idea for the story finally crystalized.  What if one sister was lured into and recruited by jihadis for the cause of freeing Psionics from being discriminated vs the other sister who only came to lend her psychic talents to heal and make things better?  This is where/when I began the story in earnest.  It has undergone multiple revisions just to get to this point.  I see it as violence vs non-violence (Malcolm X vs Dr. Martin Luther King Jr).


So this story isn’t very long and isn’t filled with a whole lot of details.  Outside of the mental powers, there’s not even a lot of “sci-fi” going on. I wanted to keep it short and simple, but I may have made it too short and not enough sci-fi.  On this final polishing pass, I may look for places where I can add in future technology to help distinguish as a sci-fi story, rather than a modern day story.

Time to Create

This took a long time to write–I’ve been working on it pretty in some form or another after I saw the video.  I’ve working on it in-between working on my school work, working on grading papers and teaching, working on it while doing many other things.  Also, I’ve had a really hard time writing it and a really hard time finding the TIME to write it.  That is why Jesmyn’s Ward’s advice in Elizabeth Flock’s interview Read, Write, Improve was so timely for me because she said: “Persist. Read, write, and improve: tell your stories. Accept rejection until you find acceptance, but don’t become disheartened, stop writing, and remove yourself from the conversation.”  I realized that I’ve simply become to wrapped up in the day-to-day world of living without giving myself space to write, so every day I try to carve out a small slice of time (even if it is only half an hour) to 1) read, 2) write, 3) edit (aka Read, Write, Improve).  Sometimes I can’t do all three, but I try to at least do at least one of the 3 and all three, if at all possible.  I generally wake up earlier now–and that’s what has allowed me to finally finish the Working Draft of this story.

Research–Jihadi Brides

So I’ve mentioned it before, I had an idea, but scrapped it and based the majority of the story, idea, and characters on the YouTube video by Sky New–Jihadi Brides.  There are a couple other videos that Sky News did related to this subject that also informed this story, but by and large, much of impetus for the story comes from that YouTube video.  I hope the story isn’t too derivative, but I tried to capture both the essence of the culture and the “lure” of fanaticism that I saw in the video, just in a world where mental powers exist.  If you want to see the report, I’ve included a link below for context:



 I originally had 4 main characters–Yeva, her sister, Javan (the husband), and a “Spiritual Leader,” of sorts, but I rolled the leader and husband into one for this draft to simplify things for me.  I also originally had planned for Yeva and her sister to be twins with similar names (Yeva and Veya) as twins do, but it became too confusing for me to keep their names straight and if I, the author, couldn’t do it, I realized it would be difficult for readers to do so, so I changed the sister’s name to something more relatable.

Up Next

I am almost finished with the Rough Draft of a short story for the “Project Skye” short story.  I can see the home stretch/finish line with it.  It is very “rough” as I jumped in without planning and boy, does it REALLY show!  The story is all over the place.  I estimate I’ll need AT LEAST two more drafts before it even resembles something which I would be proud to attach my name to on a submission copy.
Well, that’s all I have for now and thanks for reading this long Author’s Note!  Have a great day!


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Submissions Every Day This Week (So Far)

So, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve submitted a story every day this week.  This is sort of just an update post of sorts.  I won’t belabor this post, nor name the markets, but I did want to let readers now that I’m giving it my all after the depressing defeat last week of both my stories that were shortlisted being rejected.

Citizen X

I just sent my story Citizen X  out to a market today.  I’m sure it has 0% chance of getting in the magazine, but I wanted to send it today as today is their last day for allowing submissions for this reading period.  As they have 4 periods a year, I want to try to make sure that I submit each period even when I’m pretty sure that they won’t use the story.  Still, what is the old “saw” for people who play the lottery: “you can’t win if you don’t play.”


I submitted HawkeMoon to an anthology that had a theme.  The story matched very well with the actual anthology, but I’m not sure how much it matched the theme of the anthology.  I think that it might work for the theme of “Shards” and I revised it a bit to make that idea more explicit, but I’m really not sure its going to work for them.  They did, however, push their date back from Feb. 1st to March 1st, so I wanted to be sure to get the story to them and let them make the ultimate decision.  We’ll see.  Depending on how well they think that I interpreted their theme, this probably has the best chance of all of the ones I’ve submitted so far (of course, if they don’t think I hit the theme, it will probably be the exact opposite–oh well, we’ll see)


Dragonhawk has already been published by Tales of the Talisman and you can find it on Amazon if you’re curious.  However, there are several podcasts that are looking for stories (preferably reprints) that they can have narrators read as part of their podcasts.  There is a Fantasy version, Sci-Fi version and YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi version.  I sent this to the YA one, but it didn’t work, but I was determined to submit it to the Fantasy version when it reopened.  I’m determined that every story that I do that gets published will go to these podcasts for consideration.  I’ve not had much luck with the reprint market unlike other writers, but I like and listen to podcasts, so I’d love to have my work featured.

Silence Will Fall

So, Silence Will Fall just went to the same market that shortlisted Citizen X.  I’ve had some success with this market, but it isn’t a given (as one can see by their rejection of CX).  I really like SWF (I like all my stories, but of the recent ones, this is probably one of my favs) and I hope they take it, but the movie that I blogged about recently may hinder it from getting sold, but I’m going to do my best.  We’ll see and I’ll keep you all updated on this (and all the projects) that are being submitted and in the works.

See you next time!


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And Then There Were None

rejection_Lyn Fairchild Hawks

So, originally, this post was supposed to be entitled, “And Then There was One,” but I’ve heard back from the final publisher who had a story in consideration (“Silence Will Fall“) and by the image, you can pretty much see what the result was for the story.  I wasn’t really going to cover this in any great detail–just mention it along with the other rejections and move on with a generalized post on rejections–but there was a development over the time that I sent this story in and it was rejected.

A Quiet Place

So, in between the time that I submitted Silence Will Fall (SWF) the trailer for a new horror movie debuted called A Quiet Place.  While I had no idea that it was in development, nor did I even know about it until the trailer was released, it (coincidentally) shares many of the aspects that SWF has in it: 1) the idea that one must be super-quiet in order to be avoid being hunted, 1) the idea that noise attracts the “hunters” 3) both even features the characters using sign language, for Pete’s sake (although I assume that’s a natural outgrowth as I–and I assume, the filmmakers–both reasonably extrapolated that human communication would still need to happen and the only reasonably detailed system that works reliably would be some sort of sign language).  Now, the trailers don’t show the enemy, but they appear humanoid from the snatches of images that you get to see, while mine are completely and utterly alien in construction.  Still, I have a feeling that this trailer pretty much sank the chances of my story and I’ll detail why in a moment.  For now, here’s the trailer:

Brandon Sanderson’s Law

So, this is probably more a truism than an actual law, but as Brandon Sanderson articulated in Book 1 of his Stormlight Archives series, The Way of Kings, people don’t value originality and distinctness, so much as they do timeliness.  If two people invent something at roughly the same time, people valorize and praise the first and denigrate the second, considering it an also-ran.  History is replete with examples from the scientific community where scientists, working (unknowingly) on similar projects, papers, and discoveries have published their work/findings mere days apart and in pretty much every case, the glory of the find went to the first, even if the second was a more detailed or better formulation.  It also occurs in sports, in art, in pretty much every human endeavor–we valorize the first, regardless as to if it is the best.  I’m even doing here, as Sanderson was the first articulation I’d heard of this idea, and even though I already knew it implicitly, since he was the first one to say it explicitly, I’m naming it after him (for my purposes, at least–hence, Sanderson’s Law).

Silence Will Fall vs. A Quiet Place

Unfortunately, I feel that SWF probably fell victim to Sanderson’s Law and will continue to fall under its sway.  I didn’t “copy” A Quiet Place as SWF was from a dream–one where I can still see the final image in my mind’s eye even as I type these words.  While I’m pretty caught up (I feel) on Pop. Culture, I had no idea this movie even existed until the first trailer hit–and then my heart sank a little.  Of course, I can’t prove that the rejection was influenced by this, but I’m sure that if the editor(s) saw the trailer (and being that they are a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror publication, it is likely that they did), it certainly didn’t help.

Will I continue to submit the story and hope for a publication, knowing that Sanderson’s Law is in effect?  Yes–but what else can I do?  It represents countless hours of story planning, drafting, revising, and editing, in addition to the time spent in the Writing Center and from my “Alpha Readers” getting feedback on it.  I can’t just abandon it to sit in a drawer somewhere for fifteen years or twenty years until people “forget” about A Quiet Place.  In this era of divergent and multitudinous options for content and content delivery, there has to come a time when more stories, even if they are similar, are accepted and published without regard to other media available.  One wonders how one ever become popular and mainstream if the “gatekeepers” never actually open up the gates?


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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.

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.

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!
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