Posts Tagged Beyond Light

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I’m going to actually link to my resolutions post from 366 days ago, just to keep myself honest.  And I’m going to be honest with some responses to it.

Resolution 1: Finish the first draft of Capsule.  This did not happen.  Largely because I hit a point where I realized the book I was writing was not the right book to write.  It needed to be divided into two books, because I was telling two completely different and unrelated stories.  I’ll come back to both of these books one day, but probably not until 2013 in all honesty, certainly no earlier than October 2012.  But I learned a lot from walking away, such as recognizing when something isn’t working and why it isn’t working.  I also stepped away to work on a novel that has a lot of promise, so again I can only beat myself up so much.

Resolution 2: Three short stories out at all times.  This was a lofty goal for someone who went into the year with a limited number of stories ready to go out.  And then came the fantastic problem of having two taken off the market by sales!  Yay!  I tried to keep the stories that were ready for publication circulating, but probably could have done more.  Some of them, like Sleep, are just hard to find markets for.  I do have two out with long-response publications right now (Vampires of Mars and Face of the Serpent).

Resolution 3: Write from-scratch stories for six anthologies.  I did five.  One sold (Home Again), one wasn’t sent due to quality problems (Back Half), two were rejected (Vampire of Mars and Beyond Light), one is still out for consideration (Face of the Serpent).

Resolution 4: Fortnightcaps.  This was a fun project for a few months, and I had intended to keep it going through the year.  What stopped me?  Discovering other flash fiction contests, and realizing that I was burning story rights without anything to show in return in terms of readership.  So anyone who was paying attention might have noticed they stopped in September, but since I never had a single person ask me “hey, what happened to those Fortnightcaps,” I suspect no one was really paying attention.  This showed in the readership dips on those days.  I’m not blogging solely for readership numbers, but it is nice to not send stories out into the void where no one is reading them when I could make something more out of them.

So it was a mixed bag, but even in my failures I feel like I learned a lot about writing in general, and specifically how I write, in this past year.  I wouldn’t trade a single bit of the experience.

Last night at CVS we sat down and talked about resolutions going forward.  I wrote down five at Day‘s insistence, but it was secretly just three.  We followed the SMART acronym used by most corporations in determining yearly objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  For example, writing 10 novels is specific and measurable, but isn’t attainable or realistic.  So from that perspective, my resolutions break down to the following categories:

Completion.  Complete Nickajack to a condition where it can be queried, then query it.  There are a lot of steps involved in this (such as, ya know, finishing it), and “Query Nickajack” really is my overarching resolution for 2012.  Each month’s State of the Writer for 2012 will start with those words and my progress towards that goal so I don’t lose sight of it.

Research.  I’ve made a specific goal of reading three non-fiction books about pre-to-post Civil War era, and two fiction books with as similar a setting as possible.  Which is tough.  Southeastern US Steampunk is not a common market segment.  One of the fiction books will likely be How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove.  It’s not Steampunk, but it is Alternate History, and I’ve always preferred Steampunk that falls under Alternate History more than Fantasy.  Recommendations are welcome!

Man Up.  I need to get over my crippling con introversion, the one that border lines on social anxiety.  To make this goal measurable, I’ve taken it upon myself to find 6 people to provide prompts for the 2012 Flashathon.  With the event being expanded to 18 hours, that means I’m on the hook for a third of them.  This is, by far, the hardest of the resolutions I’ve set.  Which says a lot about me that I consider talking to six people, just six, at a convention as more of a challenge than finishing a fucking novel.

And with that, this blog will likely be dark until the New Year.  Everyone enjoy the festivities.  I’d caution to not do anything I wouldn’t, but that would make for a boring weekend, so go out there and do at least one thing I wouldn’t but is still legal.  It’ll be more fun that way.

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State of the Writer: July 2011

I’m going to come right out and say it: the state of the writer is good.

On a writing front, I’ve got three stories out the door to anthologies and contests that had deadlines at the end of June, and plan two more submissions this coming week.  That will mark the first time I’ve ever had five stories out for consideration at once.  Hell, this marks the first time I’ve had three stories out for consideration at once.  Out the door already are Face of the Serpent, Beyond Light, and Vampires of Mars, and getting ready to head out the door are Sleep and Home Again.  I have high hopes that one of those will land in its current market, with a potential ceiling of three of them landing.

Yup, I’m getting all excited and optimistic, but I already wrote that post.

July is going to see a change of direction.  I’ve been working on short stories for awhile, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  But I’ve left Capsule languishing for far too long now, and it’s time to get back into it.  Especially since I’m already starting to world build my next novel, and I don’t want Capsule to get steamrolled and forgotten.  I like the story too much to let that happen.  So it’s going to be back to work on that, trying to keep a strong pace going.  Really, I’d love to have the first draft finished by no later than the end of August, and then it’ll be a process of figuring out what to do next.  That might be turning right around and editing Capsule, that might mean making another go at Conqueror Worm, or it might mean starting Nickajack.  Really, that’s going to be more a subject for September’s State of the Writer.  I hope.

It’s an exciting point in my push to be something more than just an amateur writer.  First short story is still due out soon-ish (though I’m honestly thinking July is unlikely, even if the anthology hasn’t officially said so), and so much more hopefully on the horizon.

State of the Writer’s Blog: June was a great month for readership.  I didn’t quite hit the record views of May, but I didn’t miss by much.  This was aided by the last day of June being the best single day for viewership since the relaunch of this blog back in December.  So yay!  Google Analytics also tells me that I collected my first views from six states this month: Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio, and South Carolina.  That leaves 13 states that have never visited my blog: Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine.  I’m hoping to hit all 50 states before too much longer, so look for me to start pandering!  Woo!  Do you Dakotans know just how sexy and intelligent you are?

But seriously, I’m going to try to set my two July Fortnightcaps in states that have yet to show up, just to see if I can’t push viewership.

Update: Hello, Omaha!  That’s another state down.

State of the Writer’s Beer: We have now drunk 4 of the 24 bottles of Mustache Cat, and it’s getting better with each bottle.  A few more weeks, and I’ll be glad to share some.  The bitterness that it had when brand new is mellowing out nicely, and there’s a very strong strawberry aroma and aftertaste.  This weekend it’s going to be bottling time for Lazarus Ale, which I’m going to try and have the self discipline to not crack a bottle of until August.  Next batch is still being planned, but I may take a week or three just to give us time to catch up on the drinking process, because this is becoming a lot of beer.

So.  We’ve passed the solstice, the days are getting shorter but no cooler, what better time of year to avoid the outside, and instead write?

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Scheduling

Alright, that was fun yesterday, and I’ll probably do that again.  Not on any real schedule, but every few weeks or so when inspiration strikes.

So then, this is a lot of week.  I need a schedule.

Today:  #5MinuteFiction (everyone come and play!), then getting my submission to Future Lovecraft finalized and sent out the door.  Did the final editing pass yesterday, today is about finalizing format and getting the cover email assembled.

Tomorrow: #HumpDayChallenge (everyone come and play again!), Wednesday Writerly Words, then…gosh, it’s a weird hole in my week.  Future Lovecraft will be out the door, my Memory Eater story will still be out for review with my fellow Cat Vacuumers, and my wife will probably be writing like crazy to get two stories out the door by week’s end.  So it’ll probably be alternating between Wii Sports Resort and plot noodling on Nickajack.

Thursday:  Fortnightcap (everyone come and…read!), hopefully people will indulge me as I go non-fictional this week, a story that I really want to tell but want to do it more narratively, hence doing it there.  Then get critiques for Memory Eater.

Friday: State of the Writer, and then BALLGAME!

Three day weekend: Edits to Memory Eater with any eye to getting it out the door by Monday.

Then…Capsule.  I know, it’s exciting.

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The Barrel of a Shogun

For those of you who don’t know the story, “barrel of a shogun” was perhaps my single most infamous typos.  In part because it was so persistent.  It survived not just edits of the story that spawned it, but even the transition from a short story to a short teleplay.  The word was meant to be shotgun, but because I am my own worst editor, and Word never thought to mark it with one of the red squiggly lines I overuse as a crutch, it just kept thriving.

I tell that story not to provide a cautionary tale about editing, or warning about reliance on spell checkers that can’t necessarily understand context, but more as a distraction to myself as I realize what phase my writing career is about to enter.  It did so gradually, without me being aware of it, which is probably how it’s supposed to happen.  I realized this weekend that I already have two stories out for consideration, two in progress that will go out between now and July 15, and another story that just got rejected and will likely head back out again soon.

Depending on response times for the three stories for anthologies with June 30th deadlines, I may soon have five stories simultaneously out for consideration.  And all in the month when my first short story publication is supposed to drop.

Madness.  Absolute madness.  And yet, it’s a point where I needed to get to, that point where I get over the jitters of submitting and have a solid stable of stories ready to venture forth into the world.  Most of them even have secondary or tertiary destinations if they miss their primary targets.  But I will say with confidence: one of the five will hit.  I’ve been told for years that as an author one shouldn’t set goals that are outside of one’s influence.  Which is to say never set “publication” as a goal.  But I’m feeling just that good about where I am now that I see limbs and I want to walk out on them.  So that’s my limb.  One story.  20% success rate.  If it was a major league hitter he’d be sent down to the minors, but for a starting out writer it’s probably hoping for far too much.

But if it weren’t for optimism, I wouldn’t be sending out stories at all.

So out on the branch I go.  Just watch out for me, cause if I miss and go zero for five, this branch is just high enough for a noose.

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The strange places inspiration comes from

I mentioned last week that Urbex intrigues me.  Over in the Ukraine there exists the hole grail of Urban Exploration: Chernobyl.  It’s been getting a lot of press recently due to the disaster at the Fukushima Plant in Japan, mostly in attempts to explain the present by exploring the past and in efforts to quantify one disaster against the other.  It is, after all, vitally important to know which is the bigger disaster.  I guess because the nuclear disaster Olympics are coming up, and this will serve as a qualifying event.

So I started doing what I often do, poking around Wikipedia and following links in articles that intrigue me.  And when it comes to starting with the Chernobyl article, there’s plenty to find.  There’s the city of Pripyat, evacuated just weeks before a new amusement park was set to open.  Abandoned so quickly there are still lesson plans written on the chalkboards in classrooms, and textbooks strewn everywhere in school hallways.  There’s the sarcophagus, a structure that is heading towards failure, tasked to keep the still quite dangerous nuclear rods in place.  There’s just the fact that this area will be uninhabitable by humanity for centuries to come, even under the best of circumstances.

And that’s somewhat amazing.  It’s in part what led to my Fortnightcap Take Me Back a few weeks ago.  The idea that a piece of land could be almost erased, though in a far less literal sense.

And then, in all of that, emerged a story.  And it’s a Steampunk story.  So that’ll be added to my queue, along with stories planned for submission to the next two Innsmouth Free Press anthologies.  I love all three concepts, going to have to figure out a good way to determine which one gets to be told first.

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