Posts Tagged submissions

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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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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State of the Writer: June 2011

I got an email last night from Hydra Publications, the house putting out the Steam Works anthology that’ll mark my first actual publication, asking for an Author Bio.  There’s nothing I find more daunting to write, especially early in my career when I can’t easily pad it out with other publications.  That also means that the anthology is still moving forward, and they are still looking for a July publication.  As always, I will keep people in the loop with what I know right here.

So that was a positive note to end a rather positive month.  The month also saw me get rejected from Mammoth Book of Steampunk, but turning the story right around and sending it back out the door.  I got my story done and sent off for Bad-Ass Faeries 4.  Both stories were sent off for June 30th deadline competitions, so there won’t be any news on them until, hopefully, sometime in July.  Also with a June 30th deadline is Future Lovecraft, and I’m up to my elbows in that story.  It’s not turning out to be the smoothest write, but I’m hoping to clean it up a lot, and quickly, in editing.

Had another anthology come across my desk after getting followed by its Twitter account.  It’s called The Memory Eater, and I would pass along more details, but its website looks to be down this morning.  Deadline is July 15th, I remember that much.

Successfully completed two Fortnightcaps, and entered #5MinuteFiction every week this month.  Yay for keeping my brain rotating.

State of the Writer’s Beer: The first bottles of Mustache Cat went into the fridge, and the first has now come out again.  It was a little more bitter than I expected, and the yeast is still in solution, yielding a slight bready flavor, but that’s also Vitamin B.  Strawberry flavor is undeniable, and hopefully everything will mellow out some more with time.  Sat in on a home brew panel at Balticon, and it’s great to see the overlap between brewing and writing.  It’s all about creation, I guess.

Next batch is supposed to arrive at my door step today.  It’s a Lemongrass Ginger Ale that I’ve taken to calling “Space Ale” as whenever I say the name out loud I’ve been saying “Ginger Space Ale” to distinguish it from a non-alcoholic ginger ale (which, yes, also has a space in it, but the point gets across).

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Week of Action

Here was the preliminary schedule for my week of action.  I’ll keep this up to date through the week as I do things:

  • Friday: Edit and submit Queen of Belmeth
  • Saturday: Identify market and submit Sleep
  • Sunday: Identify market and submit Div!0 or The Rustler
  • Monday: Edit Capsule, chapter 1
  • Tuesday: Edit Capsule, chapter 2
  • Wednesday: Edit Capsule, chapter 3

Things got to a slow start, as editing Belmeth took more time than I anticipated.  I did the editing Friday night, but as it was getting late, decided I wanted to give the story one last read-over while well rested.  I did one last pass this morning, and sent it off to the contest at around 12:30.  I’m still planning on getting Sleep sent out this evening to catch up to my schedule, probably to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.  It’ll be easier to send out because I’m just going to give it a quick read-over rather than a full edit.

Updates as I have them.

Update: Saturday 9pm.  Sleep submitted to ASIM.

Update: Sunday 5pm.  The Rustler submitted to Hyrda Publications for the Steam Works anthology.

Update: Completed an editing pass on Chapter One of Capsule.  Can’t promise that I don’t want to do another before an editor saw it.  No longer plan to have a copy of the first three chapters on a thumb drive to hand to someone.  That was a somewhat silly idea anyway, no one would be willing to read it but unwilling to wait until the end of the weekend.

Update: Completed an editing pass on Chapter Two.  Even if I’m not entirely thrilled with the results quite yet, it is getting me back into the story.  Yay!

Update: Today’s editing felt the best.  I don’t know if it’s because the original was in better shape or if I’ve just been getting more into an editing groove.  I heard once the idea of writing that you take something through to the end and then start over the first quarter because by the end you’ll have finally found your voice.  Anyway, week of action: epic win.

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