Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores Submission Period Begins — I’m Planning on Submitting

CREScoverpageWP

Submissions Open

So, later this week, the submissions open for Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, an online magazine that I’ve submitted to in the past.  My very first submission was one that the editors wanted me to revise and resubmit.  While I wasn’t adverse to do that, some of the suggestions that were made to make the story better, while well-meaning, seemed to take the story in a different direction than what I envisioned, so I didn’t actually make the edits.  I’ve submitter 2 or 3 other stories, but they’ve pretty much declined all my other stories.  However, since they are going to open, I need to resubscribe to Duotrope (I’ve let my subscription lapse) and see what stories I haven’t submitted and try one of them.

Getting Back on the Wagon

I’ve submitted perhaps 1 or 2 stories in the past six months.  One the thing about the drafting process is that I’m slow at it.  Right now, I’m just on the 2nd Draft for The Independent so that one won’t be ready in time.  I still have the 1st Draft of Project Skye and I’m just now working on the 1st Draft of Project Star, so, again, these will not be ready in time, so I’ll have to go with work that I’ve already completed (which I don’t think is my best).  Still, while there’s very little chance that the stories I send in will be taken, there is 0% chance they’ll be taken if I don’t submit, so I’m going to have to get back on the wagon and get back to submitting, even if I’m not confident in the story’s chances.

Writing With Confidence (or, Fake it Until You Make It)

Technically, I HAVE made it as I’m published and received money for my works.  There are so many writers who don’t make it that far.  However, I’ve not yet reached my own personal goal of full time writing/novelist.  I get 2-3 publications in a year and then spend another 2-3 years waiting on the next “set” of publications.  No one can build a career that way.  However, not submitting is a SURE-FIRE way of NOT getting my writing career off the ground.  So, regardless of what I think of the quality of my stories, until I have a better idea to revise it, I need to make sure that I have a story out at all times.  In my case, fake it until you make it again.  Hopefully, next week I can update you on which story I sent out.  Have a great day!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 25)

 

 

Advertisements

Character Sketch: The Independent (Ryn)

Authors Note: My character is NOT based on Ginger Howard–my character is African American, female, and wears a “baseball cap.”  That is the ONLY similarity to the above image (still, I thought it would be cool to highlight Ginger Howard’s accomplishments!)

So, today I finished the character sketch for my 2nd Draft of my short story, The Independent.  I won’t go into too much detail here, but I do want to tell a little bit about the process.  I’m trying to create a character that resembles a real life person (who is larger than life).

Family Heirlooms

One of the things that I decided was that I wanted to make sure that I did was to give Ryn a “history.”  I’ve tried to do that by creating a link between her and the past generations of her family by giving her a family heirloom that she uses in the story that gives her  an emotional hook to both her past and her present.  I’ve done that by giving her a “baseball cap” that is her father’s and is really important to her and her father.

Space Story grounded in “Reality”

In Star Wars, Mark Hamill is said to have been concerned about the unreality of the story, but Alec Guinness was supposed to have helped him by reminding him that even in fantasy, their has to be a link to reality.  That’s one of things that I tried to do with this character sketch by making sure that I gave Ryn a true “reality.”  I hope that it is a not a trite reality, but I wanted to try to create something that is more “realistic” than what I normally write.

One Surprising Thing

One thing that surprised me as I was doing this character sketch was the background section.  The background for Ryn came together in a surprising way and I was surprised that I came up with this particular background for her.  I don’t know that it will stick (ie that I will keep it or use it for the story), but I really think that it us both unique and quite strange (for me).

Anyway, I found that Ryn was a great character to come up with a Character Sketch for my 1st (well, 2nd time) out in a while.  I intend to make this step something that I do for my 2nd drafts and hopefully this will making my stories better.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 25)

 

 

 

1st Try

So far, I have only sold one story on the first try: Dragonhawk One of the reasons why I believe that it was so successful is that even though I had the plot for the story in mind when writing the story, I also used (for the only time time since I restarted my writing “career” by buying Storymill and then later Scrivener) the Character Sketch Template Sheets provided by Scrivener.  One of the things that the character sheets forced me to do was to think about my characters from the external and the internal

External

So, on the Character Sheets, there is a place to fill out all of the external characteristics of the character.  What do they look like, what is their background, etc.  All of the things you might ask yourself when filling out a biography for a character.  Sure, it isn’t much, just spaces where you can write a paragraph or so, but I did that for both of the main characters in the story: Kelfryn (the young man who was a Hawkrider, but wanted to be a Dragonrider), and Scryfe (his mind-bonded hawk, who didn’t understand his rider’s obsession with dragons and dragon eggs).  It really didn’t take that long to write out each one–maybe half an hour to one full hour for each one.  However, when it came to describing the characters and knowing the history, my mind was able to weave a narrative around them that made them seem (to the editor who bought the story, and hopefully his readers), well, alive in some undefinable way.  It also made it easier, for me, to come up with a reason why  he was doing what he was doing that seemed both rational and in keeping with the character.

Internal

Perhaps the most important point is the fact that the character sheet provided a place for internal conflicts–i.e., what is the character struggling with internally.  For Kelfryn, he wanted so much to be a Dragonrider of old and to have the status of a Dragonrider.  His great grandfather had been one as had countless generations before that and in the world I created, even though there were no more Dragonriders, there was still an air of mystique about them and a reverence.  Even though he knew it was forbidden in his culture, his desire to bring them back trumped his good sense and he (pardon he pun) “hatched” a plan to steal an egg, thus setting the story in motion.

Concluding Thoughts

As I said earlier, this is the only story which has sold on the first try–and I didn’t even like the story all that much (the kid learns his lesson while I wanted a fun adventure story).  While I may never have another story accepted on the first try, this incident is trying to tell me something: good characters need both internal and external conflicts.  To help me, I printed out several character sheets.  My goal, of course, is to use them for each of my projects to help get at the inner conflicts and to create well-rounded and dynamic characters. I’m starting this with The Independent.  I’m working on the 2nd Draft now and I’m hopeful that a Character Sketch Sheet will help me to create Ryn (the protagonist) into a round and dynamic character.

Perhaps, one day, I can even reach the rarefied heights of getting back to getting a publication on the first try.  It’s something to shoot for anyway.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1)

Writing To Learn

So, I’m still learning how to be a good writer AND a good blogger.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  And part of this is admitting that I still make mistakes.  The blog is a great example of that.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write it, but rather that the time it takes has overwhelmed the time I had to give it and I did not make allowances for it.  What do I mean by this?  Simple.  I used to get up early and write and blog entry.  However, I found that untenable because it routinely takes an hour to 1 1/2 hours to write an entry because I’m so meticulous.  To me, a blog isn’t a way of expressing your thoughts, but rather it is more of a mini-essay that I craft.  Sometimes these mini-essays go quick, but more often than not, I’m at 500, 750, and 1000 words before I realize it and then I have to cut it short because I’ve run out of time.  When I’m already pressed for time in the mornings, this created some real stress.

Solutions

So, I came up with a way around this by trying to do them all on the weekends.  This way, I get all my entries done for the week and I wouldn’t be so stressed about having to rush to get them done.  That worked, except it ate up the time that I needed for other things such as reading, gaming, and “life” outside of school and work. So, it became harder and harder to get it done during the weekends.  Now, however, I’m trying to simply work in the spare time that I have (which during August was pretty much nil).  I should be reading for class, but I’m going to finish this post and “bank” it so that it shows up on Monday and pretty much do this everyday (or at least 6 days out of the week) so that I can pretty much have content going up daily without all the stress of trying to get it done on the same day.

Short and Sweet

I’m also going to work on shortening the posts and try to keep them in the 250-500 word range by having (like a story) a beginning, middle, and end (or for you non-fiction buffs out there), an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion (which is what you’re reading right now).  While I may not be able to go into as much depth and detail as I (personally) would like, it will still help me to get back into writing consistently and ordering my thoughts in a way that will be helpful to get me back to writing creatively which is something I’ve also struggled with during the past month.  Mistakes happen–it’s how you deal with those mistakes and how you get back on the horse after the mistake has been made that helps to define you. I’m hopeful that readers who have stuck with me during this past month will find new and varied content in the coming months to end out the year.

Have a great day!

Word Count: 226 Words (Graphic Novel – Ship of Shadows) — added 1 comic book page to the story for a current total of 24 pages of script.

Sidney


Inhabiting Characters

character-poster-elements-of-literature-round-flat-characterization

PowerPoint Slide showing various types of characters and topics in characterization. Image Source: The Cutest Blog on the Block (http://beccab8.blogspot.com/2015/06/characters.html)

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Revision Month (i.e., “2nd Draft” Central)
    Trying to figure this month out as I was sick and exhausted yesterday, so I worked on the rough draft of a new project, “Project Captain.” At home, I have two 1st Drafts I’d like to work on, “Project Dog,” and “Project Paradise”, in addition to three 2nd Drafts I’d like to focus on “Whale Song”, “Project Sky,” and “The Independent.” I have to decide how I’m going to proceed as there’s no way that I’m going to be able to get through all of those in one month.
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)
    (Researched an article on Whaling, think that I have the two characters–a brother and a sister who are on the opposite sides of the issue.  Still, no Writing so far). Need to find a place to work in revisions–I can draft new material just fine, but I don’t seem to have any time to work on “drafting” revisions.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    The Belgariad David Eddings
    Last week was NOT a good week, so I needed some “comfort food” for reading and my go to book for “comfort food” is the Belgariad (followed closely by Diane Duane’s So You Want To Be a Wizard.)
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 5 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 6 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Wrote out a fairly extensive list of possible research topics to explore from chapter 5. Really intriguing book.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Librarians Lead the Way

So, on the first Saturday of the month, I stopped off at the Chattanooga Public Library to talk to some of the librarians who I once worked with for a few moments. I happened to talk with another librarian who also writes fiction and I was reminded about why I write and the importance of character in stories.

Swapping Stories

When I dropped off my Graphic Novel script, she happened to mention a story that she was working on that, while not genre (Fantasy/Sci-Fi), was still quite intriguing and would be something that I’m sure readers will enjoy when she writes it and gets it published.  However, I was struck by her focus on characters and characterization.  Even at the idea stage, she was really focused on how characters acted in the story, their motivations behind their actions, and the interactions between the characters. This blew my mind! And, I made sure that I told her so–her conceptions of characters and characterizations at the planning stage were light-years beyond what I seem to be able to do, so I learned from her and I’m really going to double down on characters and characterization from now on.

Developing Characters

One of the things that my librarian friend was really good at was drawing characteristics and traits from real life people and then applying them to her characters in a way that made sense for her story. She is really good at figuring out the motivations for what people do and the history involved in their lives and then applying that to highlighting what she needs to for the plot. For the rest of this year, this going to be something that I practice–looking at people in real-life and seeing if I can figure out a possible history for them and motivations of the traits that I see them exhibit. I used to be fairly good at that, but I don’t think I really applied them to characters. So, you’ll probably see lots of posts on characterization as I try to improve and get better at it.

Have a great day!

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

Writing It All: Roughing It, Writing It, Revising It, Submitting It

original-3304077-1

The Writing Process. Image Source: Teachers Pay Teachers – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Circular-Writing-Process-Chart-3304077

 

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 17 (+1)
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft) (Researched Article, No Writing so far)

Goal = 5 Pages a week.
Actual = 1/5 Pages done so far this week. I added a page to the 1st issue last night.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: FINISHED!
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 3 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 4 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Here is a summary from Amazon: “In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book’s topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.”
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Writing It All

This year is all about trying different things to jump-start my writing career. Yes, I said career, as I would like to grow myself to become a novelist in addition to a scholar, but right now, one thing at a time.  I realize that I simply don’t have the time (at the moment) to devote all my energies and resources to writing, but I’m really good at focused work on 1 project at a time. My goal then is to rough draft a story, write a story, edit a story, and submit a story once per month (1 X 12).  I’ve come to the realization that I’m slow in terms of writing speed and the level of detail that I want in my writing takes time. Even these blog entries take a while to develop–the writing/drafting isn’t bad, but “tagging” it, slotting in categories, finding an image, sometimes linking to YouTube or Amazon, and well, I can sometimes spend an hour to hour and a half creating one blog post.

Roughing It

For me, this is probably the easiest part of the writing process. I can come up with tons of amazing ideas. Two Saturdays ago, I came up with 4 separate ideas that could become projects later on down the line (of course, I only wrote down 1 of these, so the other 3 still exist in the nebulous realm of my mind taking up space and brain power–note to self: need to jot them down , put them on paper, and out of my mind’s eye). My goal is to formally “rough draft” a project monthly which means that I simply write down a (possible) beginning, middle, and end for a project that month.

Drafting It

This is where my focus has been for most of the Spring and Summer. I’ve really concentrated hard on trying to get WORDS ON A PAGE. I’ve worked diligently on this and have completed 2 First Drafts and I’m working on the script of a graphic novel (1st issue in comic book terms). I’m working on getting it more consistent by doing it “daily.”  Right now, I write for four days a week (M-Th) and I try for 250 words in a session = 1000 weekly.  Now 600 words is about where I top out at in one session, so my goal is to try to slowly increase over my time in grad school to 500 words and maybe boost that to 5-6 days a week, but that’s an aspirational goal–I’m not there yet.

Revising It (“Re-visioning”)

This one is where I’m really up to snuff yet. I’ve done some preliminary research on a story that I’ve wanted to rewrite for while (every since I received feedback on it at MTSU’s Writing Center), but I haven’t had the time in the past two weeks due to the large paper that I had to write. I find myself wondering if it is even worth “saving” or if it is beyond hope and to put it away as a learning exercise and move on to revising a different story?

Submitting It

This too has been a weak area for me. Now that I understand that I’ve probably been submitting my stories too soon in the writing process, I’ve decided to slow down in my submissions. I currently have 0 stories out at the moment. This is probably too harsh. The way I’m presently writing, this is going to take me months to create a story with the level of polish that I hope (keyword = hope) will make me 1000% more competitive in the writing market while other stories that I’ve written will languish until I can get to them. I need to find one place a month and just submit a story that I feel good about and that matches the guidelines of the market. If I submit more than one, great, but you can’t be a published writer if you never send anything out to publishers.

Well, that’s all that I wanted to highlight today: showing some of places where I’m strong in the writing process and some places that need work.  Reflecting minds want to know how well they’re doing and what strategies that they can use to improve and if there’s anything that I love reflecting on, its the writing process.

Have a good day

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Characters–Now with Faces

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 12
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)

Goal = 5 Pages a week.  Working on Rough Draft for the next 5 pages on Fridays/Over the Weekend.
Actual = 1/5 Pages done.  The writing process went fairly smoothly and I completed the page before going to bed.  It wasn’t particularly hard or easy, but just a basic drafting session.  Four more to go.

  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 3 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 4 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Here is a summary from Amazon: “In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book’s topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.”
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Scrivener’s Character Sketch Feature

So, I’ve known about Scrivener’s Character Sketch Template for a while now.  I’ve actually used it to great effect.  I did a character sketch for Scryfe and Kelfryn years ago and it is (to date) still the only story I’ve ever sold on the first try.  However, I’ve recently discovered a way that other writers are using the template that never occurred to me and I think that it is pretty useful, so I thought I’d share.

Drag and Drop Characters

Scrivener, like many pieces of Mac software, allows you to basically drag and drop images from your computer or the web into the program with just the click of the mouse (or touchpad these days).  While I’ve done that and used the feature for the “Notes” section to help me visualizing places that I wanted to describe in my fiction, I’ve recently seen other writers dragging in images for their characters.  They are sort of “casting” their stories much like a director/casting agent “casts” their movies.  I think this is “aces” (slang for “a bloody brilliant idea”)!  I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t think of that–sure, you might not find that perfect image that is a one-to-one match for the character in your mind, an image that is close would definitely help the writing process.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

The only potential problem that I see with this is that if you get your work published, you should find someway to acknowledge the art/photo that helped get you there (if at all possible), especially if it was an artist’s sketch.  That’s why, whenever I use an artist’s image in the cover image for a post, I always try to credit the artist’s name and promote their website in that blog post.  I don’t promote artists as much as I probably could (i.e., use more artwork from artists) because I know what its like to produce your work, but not paid for it.  I’d like to showcase it, but I’m not a gallery and don’t have the resources (aka funds) to license work for extended periods of time, which is why I do it sparingly.  However, as a member of communities like Deviant Art , I can tell that there are some AMAZING artists out there that I would LOVE to work with at some point.  Here is a Pinterst post to prove my point (click to see more images).

So, writers out there.  If your story gets used/picked up by a publisher, how about throwing a few dollars back to the talented artists and photographers that helped to inspire your work by, perhaps, buying some of their work as well?  We may not all be doing the same type of creation, but at the end of the day, we’re all creators together.  Let’s help each other out, shall we?

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.