Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Crunch Time

Well, two days (ish) left of Camp NaNoWriMo. I've got some few thousand words left but, I can do it. In theory.

I ran into a local writer-acquaintance, and she asked how my NaNoWriMo had gone. I mentioned lowering my wordcount goal, but also that I'd written and worked on other stories in that time. She pointed out that those words counted. So maybe I'm closer to the overall original 50k than I thought? I don't think every additional project I touched adds up to 20k fresh words, though, so I'm happy with my July goal of 30,000 words added to the new fantasy novel.

This week's Chuck Wendig challenge is a three sentence story. I got one comment on my entry, so we'll see if I'm selected as a winner. This week, he's selecting a handful of people to receive electronic copies of his writing books, so that's pretty cool. I do like seeing what people achieve in these flash challenges (...I mean, obviously. Or I wouldn't participate, and I wouldn't post about them nearly as often as I do).

Monday, July 28, 2014

It isn't personal. But it always feels that way, right?

Apparently Clarkesworld magazine is just too good at reading through their slushpile. This week they said, both on Facebook and Twitter, that the pile was running low. I happened to have a story I'd considered sending them anyway, so polished it (again) and sent it along. My rejection came on the same day! Exciting to get eyes on my work so quickly. Not exciting to have such a fast form 'no'. Clarkesworld stories are lovely and well written. I haven't yet seen a Clarkesworld story which made me think "this is crap I don't want to read".

The Submission Grinder has been fun to play with, and really encourages me to submit. It's terribly useful to have all of those venues listed there, and searchable, either by magazine name or by other criterion you have in mind. I get a list of professional paying markets which accept fantasy short stories with just a couple of clicks, and they even list story style, from "absurdist" to "transgressive".

Rejection is one of those things you get very wrapped up with as a writer. Even with a form rejection, we seek meaning in every nuance. How fast, how slow. I got what seemed to be a form rejection lately, but at the end, they said "sorry it took so long" (paraphrased). Does that mean I got far in the consideration? No idea. Maybe all the forms say that, it's my first rejection from this place. I have gotten a couple of personalized rejections in my life; one of them was from One Story recently, which made me happy with my story and eager to seek another home for it.

Because that's what you need to do when you get rejected. Read the story again, polish it some more, and submit it again. The people rejecting your story are rejecting the story, not you as a person. Your story wasn't what they needed in that moment at time, or didn't have the flavor they look for overall. That's cool. One day, it'll be "yes".

Friday, July 25, 2014

Progress reporting ~ July 2014

Hello!  Not much bloggery here this week. Ah well. It happens, right? Right.

So, I've lowered my expectations for this session of Camp NaNoWriMo. Too many other ideas, too much sickness and/or headache harshing my mellow, that kind of thing. I am not abandoning this fantasy novel, as I am enjoying it, and am fond of my main characters, but my new goal for July is 30k. Still an appreciable total. Less of a crunch. I'm at about 22k, so I feel much happier about that, more relaxed. Fantasy novels are supposed to be long anyway (loooong). Can't rush epic.

In other news, my writing workshop has gone well. The participants were less novel-y than I expected, but they got writing done, which was thrilling. They loved doing writing prompts during the sessions (one of the most amusing ones: Buying a crossbow with a 20% coupon from the newspaper), and they all wanted to read out loud, which was cool. I was rather laissez-faire, didn't want to force anybody into anything, and it resulted in a fairly open group with good dialogue. This week we brought 2-3 pages from home, working from one (or more) of four prompts I gave them at the end of the prior session, (I say "we", but I didn't bring pages), read them aloud, and did a bit of critiquing. I'm happy to say that, with every piece, I wanted to find out what happened next in the story.  And the smiles on peoples' faces when they heard that was terrifically rewarding.

This has gone well enough, in fact, that I'll be running another workshop in November, for the "real" National Novel Writing Month (also, NaNoWriMo is hiring a Chief Operations Officer. Apply by August 15!). I'll perhaps push for more of a cogent continuing work, as opposed to mostly doing prompts and prompt reading, but I'm happy to play the hand I'm given. We also talked about publishing, more than I'd anticipated, and I was happy to realize how much I'd learned, from the Query Shark and also from Absolute Write. I am not a lawyer, and I''m not a "real" expert or professional, but I can talk the talk well enough, and tried to direct them appropriately to good resources. We talked about rights, and submissions, and shot story markets today, which was cool.

So how about you? How was your July writing, be it for Camp NaNoWriMo or otherwise?

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Silver Lining

If you haven't heard of it before, check out The Submission Grinder. I already keep a spreadsheet of my stories and where they've been submitted to (read: rejected from), but the Submission Grinder keeps track of how long the work was on submission, when it was rejected, form rejections versus personalized, etc. It's a neat resource to look at.

Unfortunately, what I've been clocking since I signed up has been rejections. Granted, that's what I've gotten since I started submitting, so I'm used to it, right? Pretty thick skinned by now, I'd say.

As the rejections roll in, it's occurred to me to stop subbing for a little while. I think I'm going to take the cue from Michael Seese and submit stories throughout an upcoming month. He did it last October, a sub a day, so that's 31 pieces of writing. I don't think I have quite that many that are "worth it" at the moment, but I've been piling them up as time goes on.  On Monday, I wrote a story that is not my Camp NaNoWriMo project. It needs editing, of course, but I'll wait a bit before reading it over again. This one can go in the "submission pile". There's a couple of rewrites I have in mind for stories which have been submitted at least once. There's a couple rewrites I have in mind for flash I've done in the past but never put anywhere.

So, we'll see how many I get written and fixed, and see how many venues I can find/think of which will be open at the time. Onward and upward!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Finish this story your past self started

I woke up this morning with a story in my head that was not my Camp NaNoWriMo novel.

No, this story is a short one, and I should be working on it instead of blogging about this random inspiration, so I can write it and get back to the novel. But you know how that goes.

It isn't often I have a short story idea that occurs beginning-middle-end in my mind. I won't say it's already complete and I just have to get it down, but I definitely have more of a framework than I normally would otherwise. My hard drives are rife with stories which have started out well (more or less) and then I stopped. So I have no idea where I was going. I may never know. Occasionally I look at these stories, and I think I do intend to finish them all, somehow, some day. Good intentions and all that.

But it's a writing exercise in itself, isn't it? Finish this story your past self started. That's your only clue.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Assorted Twitter and writing fun

Every once in awhile, people come up with pretty perfect things. They might be kind of simple, really. But perfect.

An example: The Worst Muse Twitter account. Pure fried gold. Go look! Tell your friends! Each tweet is damn funny, and also inspiring, in a good way. Perhaps in the worst way? No. Whatever. Writing is supposed to be fun, have fun. Play first, polish later.

Another (and this one got crashed one night because Neil Gaiman used it): You Are Carrying. You tweet the word "inventory" to is, and get an @ mention back with your, well, inventory. What you're carrying. This one is a Chuck Wendig prompt; we'll see if I can shoehorn that into my rife Camp NaNoWriMo schedule. My wordcount goal is still 50k, but we'll see if I get there or if I have to change it. I've been behind a couple of times in my still Untitled Fantasy Novel. I'm still having fun with the random name generators, though.

The Camp NaNoWriMo workshop I'm doing at the library is going well. I think only of my participants are actually doing a novel; most of them are people who really just want the time and motivation to write, and maybe some accountability. For the meetings, we've been doing a variety of writing prompts I come up with ahead of time. Some are the run of the mill "here are 5 words, write for five minutes" type, and others are based on stuff I spotted in the paper. A fun one this past week was "I've never bought ___________."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm not like other writers. I'm exactly like other writers.

I'm reading MFA vs. NYC right now. It's an interesting read, though not what I thought it would be. Truth be told, I don't know what I thought it would be. Vindication that I had not gone for an MFA? Some kind of cosmic "It's all right you didn't get an English degree, you'll manage publication anyway?" Nobody but me made me get that Psychology degree. Arguably, I would've gotten better grades and been happier without it.

These answers are out of left field, I know. The book is essays on, you guessed it, NYC experiences and MFA experiences. New York City, because arguably that's where the hub of publishing has been for a good long time.

picture from Wikimedia Commons, of the "Metropolitan Tower, the Russian Tea Room, and Carnegie Hall Tower looking south from Central Park"

Friday, July 4, 2014

A history of my character naming in role playing games

I was thinking the other day: I remember almost every character I've ever created for tabletop roleplaying game. I say "almost" to cover my ass.

I have a problem coming up with character name a lot of the time. I have little disparate scraps of paper all over the place I try to write names on that catch my eye. When creating a character for a game, I come up with name last. Frequently, it's also the case with my writing. In the fantasy novel I've started, I'm using a Fantasy Name Generator for the fun of it (there's also a crapload of variety in name generators here). Find and Replace is a boon to writers.

But anyway, I thought it might be fun to list the character names I've had/used for roleplaying games, and what kind of character it was ("class" for Dungeons and Dragons, and White Wolf categorizes differently).

unicorns from NYPL digital collection

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Recent Flash fiction Entries (no winners yet!)

I know I talk about Janet Reid a lot, but what can I say? She's professional and informative, both of which are invaluable in pretty much any industry.

Well, every once in awhile, she'll do pretty regular flash fiction contests on her blog. She gives us 5 or whatever words to use, and a 100 word limit. I posted once before about getting a favorable comment from her on my entry.

I haven't gotten any more honorable mentions just lately, but I figured I might as well share what I'd come up with.

Most recently was the Get Well Soon Writing Contest, with key words "Evil, mono, virus, piper, blush." Here's my entry:

Black hat means never having to say you're sorry. Not that I'm evil. The shrink said I had certain sociopathic tendencies. I told him it wasn't a real diagnosis, and besides, he just wanted to sleep with me. Very Freudian.

But that kind of binary morality doesn't last past the first blush. Maybe I am a socipath, but it doesn't mean I don't want to hold hands in this monochromatic monotone drone of a Gibsonite future. None of my viruses were damaging, per se. After all, who doesn't like bagpipes? I thought police did especially, until the handcuffs snapped shut.

Winners found here, and congrats to Donna Everheart, because hers was great, and followed my thoughts for the rest of the day after I read it!

Prior to that was the Face Off Writing Contest, with key words "rose, berry, child, parker, finder". My entry:

Mrs. Parker had cuts on her hands; he noticed when they lit their cigarettes. "I never wanted children," she said.

"Haven't found the right woman." Too involved in his work, they always said.

"Is that how you became a people finder?" Missing toddler, dropping temperature. The golden flag of Drift's alert. The berry bramble tore up his arms when he lifted the little girl out, cheeks rose red.

"I guess."

"Will she be okay?"

Not with you, he thought, finishing his cigarette, stubbing it out. "You'll have to ask them."

When he left, she was still out there, smoking.
 Winners found here.

I have a lot of fun writing these. I also have a difficulty writing a complete story, beginning middle end. I seem to end up with oblique referential pieces, or things which seem to be pretentious gestures at O. Henry. Practice makes perfect, that's for sure, and I'm going to keep doing it.