Thursday, May 31, 2012

Six More Time Management Tips for Writers

One of my most popular blog posts is an entry from last October titled "Eight Time Management Tips for Writers." With another half-year or so of experiences to fall back on, here are six more tips for writers who would like to find ways to improve their time usage.
  1. Don't just have "a" goal, have "goals." My first tip last time was to have a goal, and that's a good starting spot. Without a goal and a way to measure progress towards your goal it's really hard to have a sense of how well things are going -- you can easily delude yourself either negatively ("Oh, I'm getting nothing accomplished" when you really are.) or "positively" ("I'm making fantastic progress" when, if you looked at it objectively, you might not be making good progress relative to where you hope to be. However, just having a single goal is a rather narrow way of looking at your writing, certainly if you're thinking of it in terms of a career (first, second, or third) but also even if you're thinking of it in terms of a hobby/avocation which you still want to approach seriously. Better is to have multiple goals and for some of them to be short-term and others to be long-term. How you define "short-term" and "long-term" is somewhat up to your own comfort level. Personally, I've liked having my short-term goals oriented around a month and my long-term goals oriented around a year. That doesn't mean I don't sometimes have to shift plans mid-month, but it's a place to start and gives a certain rhythm to things which I personally find appealing. As with any of these tips, don't be afraid to play around with different ways of implementing them and seeing which (if any) of those ways works for you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Great-Uncle's Visit" - A One Sentence Story

Twitter is a heck of a lot of fun sometimes. I know a lot of really cool writers there and though I haven't spent as much time keeping up on things the past week or two as I usually do, I somehow managed to not quite entirely miss out on the #1ss hashtag conversation which popped up last week. 1ss stands for "One Sentence Story" and began with Alex Shvartsman finding a sentence unbearably long when he was critiquing a piece by Anatoly Belilovsky. That sentence spawned a conversation which spawned a challenge and -- voila -- the #1ss hashtag! Writers were challenged to create the most interesting story consisting solely of one sentence.

M. Bennardo has kindly put together a list of all the resulting stories which were made publicly accessible for everyone's reading pleasure.

As far as my attempt, it is below.

Originally I had thought about trying to add a massive Degree of Difficulty aspect to mine by having the first word start with "A", the second with "B" and so on with repetition (or reversal if I wanted the real challenge of putting two "Z" words back-to-back) until done. So, that story might have started "After being certain David escaped from Galt House..." But my attempts at that proved too contrived and I abandoned that idea for the one which turned into the following story. According to Google Docs, it's 334 words long. (Good luck diagramming this sentence!)

Without further ado, let's slip back in time a bit and eavesdrop while a boy patiently listens an elderly relative during...

Great-Uncle's Visit

These things which we have discussed happened far in the distant past, back beyond your father’s day and his father’s day and that of his father’s father, back so far that when anyone tells these stories today they always begin the telling with “This legend” or “This myth” or “This fairy tale” but as I have told you such descriptions are themselves the myths, themselves the fairy tale, as all of these happenings were real and all of these things I spoke of are as real as you are -- as real as I am, even -- and should not be consigned to the category of stories with which to amuse; rather, these stories should be ones to catch the breath and prickle the skin and worry the soul for they are the real history of our world and the things which walk among us all and if the power of these creatures pales somewhat in light of modern technology, a position which I hope you will pardon me if I find somewhat lacking since this newfangled television which you are always watching with its Howdy Doody and its Mickey Mouse Club and its Davy Crockett is not as wonderous as a djinn (though the real Crockett was indeed a fearsome man and I know full well that he would understand the import of these histories which I am sharing with you) and neither are the most modern firearms any more deadly than a ravening pack of ghouls or ogres but even were I to concede that these creatures are no longer the most powerful forces on Earth that would not be the same as to say that they were powerless for, indeed, nothing could be further from the truth and I speak not just from a theoretical perspective but from one which is all too personal and so I ask you for the last time, boy, would you please keep that damnable pizza away from me -- the garlic gives me hives!

Monday, May 28, 2012

May #writemotivation Wrap-Up and My June Goals

I'd say something about this having been another challenging week for me but, well, that would feel a bit redundant -- haven't they all of late? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Eh... Maybe.

I've managed to keep my Daily Writing Chain alive throughout the weekend through sheer stubbornness combined with a gentle nudge from my wife. I really think I would've declared Saturday my first "mulligan" day if she hadn't encouraged me to put the effort in to getting words down for the day. I really appreciate her willingness to encourage me in this sometimes-crazy-seeming activity.

This will be my final #writemotivation check-in post for May. I've done a poor job of keeping in touch with my hashtag cohorts but hope that it's been a good month for all of them and I'll look forward to July when -- if all goes well -- I'll be more active.

Without any further ado, here's the status on my May goals:

1) Except for a Memorial Day Weekend blogging hiatus, keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain (aka Seinfeld Chain), blogging schedule, etc. - As I mentioned above, I've done this. Just barely some days, but I've done it.

2) Write and submit one or more short stories for the first time. - Everything is as it was last week. I've completed the "write" portion. The "submit" portion looks shakier by the day, though if I can dedicate two hours or so to taking a final pass through a story, I should be able to meet that goal.

3) Make revisions to my non-fiction project based on feedback and my own editing of it. - Also where it was last week, no editing has started. However, I did a bit of tangentially-related work last week, writing some new words which will probably go into the final draft of the project.

4) Write 7,500 words of new fiction. (REVISED GOAL: Write an additional 2,500 words of fiction between 5/21 and the end of the month.) - 3,138 words of fiction written in the past week gets me to a total of 11,701 for the month, meeting both the original and revised goals

5) On 5/31, have two non-time-sensitive blog posts written and ready for future use on a day when I'm not able to post something "new." - This one should be fine. I have a new post for 5/31 partially completed.

6) Launch at least one new eBook - Done. "Levels of Trust" is live on Amazon.

Before we close the books on the goals for May, I want to define my June goals. And here they are:

Friday, May 25, 2012

My First Podcast! "The Morandini Genie" is Live at Cast of Wonders

I just had the fantastic experience of listening to someone else (Graeme Dunlop, to be precise) read one of my stories aloud. "The Morandini Genie" is today's entry from the Cast of Wonders podcast site. I'm very impressed with the presentation. The art on the webpage is neat and Dunlop did a fantastic job of characterizing and dramatizing the piece.

Longtime readers of my blog may recall that this story was originally the first entry in my (very short lived) "Call and Response Flash Fiction" contest/challenge where I opened the floor to readers to provide prompts for me to write a flash fiction based upon. I would pick my favorite, award the winner $5, and then write a story based on the prompt. David Powers King was the first winner of the contest with his prompt:
"A child finds a candlestick in the gutter on her way home from school."
David was thrilled with the story which I came up with from his prompt and I was very pleased when the Cast of Wonders folks said that they enjoyed it, too, and wanted to run it as a podcast.

And I've also learned something from my first podcast experience -- if you're doing a podcast with potentially-unfamiliar names, it might be good to make sure the pronunciation is clear to the podcaster! Graeme's intro mentions different potential ways of pronouncing "Morandini" depending on if you're from the UK, US, or Australia. The rhyming nature of the title provided the needed hint. Alas, I didn't rhyme "Jeter" (as in "Derek Jeter") with anything, so his name comes out rhyming with "sitter" rather than "Peter." It didn't disrupt my enjoyment of the piece, and -- like I said -- a good lesson learned! After all, I hope to have more podcasts in my future.

I hope that you enjoy listening to the piece if you click over. It's under ten minutes and, hey, here in the US it's a long weekend so finding a spare ten minutes shouldn't be too hard.

Enjoy the weekend and if you are traveling, be safe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Microfiction Live on trapeze magazine

The micro-fiction accepted last week by trapeze magazine is live on their site today. I've only written one micro-fiction/twitter-length fiction since returning to writing last year. (The one which ran on Nanoism last year was originally written several years ago.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Levels of Trust" eBook Short Story Released

I mentioned previously that I'm looking to release one eBook per month between now and the end of the year. My May eBook release is a 2,900 word crime thriller short story titled "Levels of Trust." Here's a brief excerpt:

I went to the kitchen and fixed myself a drink. When that one was gone, I fixed another.
My phone — not Kurodi's — rang. "Unknown Caller" the display said. That was a bloody lie. I knew who was calling.
"Hello," I answered.
"Good evening. Do you have news for me?" Just hearing Evan Martel's voice made my pulse race.
"Yes. We're on for Saturday."
"Well done, Lawrence."
"Look, Evan, I've done my part. How about you don't drag this out. You know, for old time's sake?"
The son of a bitch laughed. "You're the one who wanted to put old times behind you, chum. Make sure things go off without a hitch Saturday. You'll get what you're owed afterwards." He hung up.
I set the phone down and noticed that my hands were trembling. There were a couple of inches of liquid left in my glass. I finished it off quickly, trying to chase away the sound of my old boss's voice.
I'd heard his voice twice now since leaving Durban and leaving his employ. The first time was two days ago, when he called to tell me about the job he had for me to do, using Kurodi's gang to cripple another bunch of crooks without getting his own hands dirty. I'd told him to sod off, that I didn't owe him a damn thing after how the last job went down. Being left a widower, I told him, was payment in full. I expected him to remind me that it hadn't been his fault she'd died; in fact, he might have tried to argue that it was my fault. That I was the one who'd gotten sloppy and left a trail.
But he didn't make that argument. "It was a shame that Elizabeth died like that," he'd said, his voice unctuous. "It seems to me that the only thing worse than losing a partner would be losing a child."
And here's the cover art.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday May 21st #writemotivation Check-In

Like I said in my Sunday Links post, the month has flown by for me. There's been a ton of great writing news, which is awesome, though I feel like I've been running short of time to do a lot of new writing work in the last several days. I did do critiques on about 20,000 words of fiction not too long ago and both of the people that I sent notes back to seemed to find them useful. So, that's been good. But since finishing a new story last Monday I've only made a small amount of progress on one of my ongoing fiction projects. I've still been writing every day, one way or the other, but I'm beginning to get a slightly "itchy" feeling about not having made much headway on fiction for almost a week.

And, on the whole, I feel like that's a good thing. It certainly could be a bad thing if I was letting it turn into negative self-talk or otherwise letting it get me down. But I think of it the same way that I hear some people talk about feeling antsy if they haven't exercised recently. It means that my brain is expecting me to be doing this thing and is reminding me that I really should spend some time on it soon! And since this "thing" is something that I really, really want to continue to make progress on, I'm not going to complain about that.

I'm going to do one thing, though, to give myself a bit of an extra nudge. I've already well surpassed my monthly fiction writing goal (as I'll discuss further below) but I want to take the last 1/3rd of May and aim to add an additional 1/3rd to my goal word count. So another 2500 words of fiction for May for me. There's no reason this should be hard, but it will be another little carrot out there to keep striving towards.

With this being Monday, it's time to update my goal status for the month for #writemotivation. Next Monday (or thereabouts) I'll have a final wrap-up for the month and also define my June goals.

1) Except for a Memorial Day Weekend blogging hiatus, keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain (aka Seinfeld Chain), blogging schedule, etc. - This has been going just fine. There've been some days recently when I've done close to the minimum 500 words for my Daily Writing Chain, but that's why I keep the number at that (relatively) easy target. The days I need to be able to have lots of time for other things, I do.

2) Write and submit one or more short stories for the first time. - I've completed two new stories this month, though neither has been submitted yet. There's a slim chance, I suppose, that I'll miss the "submit" portion of this goal as both the two I've completed are off with beta readers. If that happens, it happens, though I'll certainly keep the goal in mind as I plan the rest of my work for the month.

3) Make revisions to my non-fiction project based on feedback and my own editing of it. - I received feedback on this but haven't started on revisions yet.

4) Write 7,500 words of new fiction. - Even with several days recently with little or no fiction writing I'm at 8,563 for the month. If I meet my "bonus" goal above of another 2,500 words I'll be over 11,000 for the month.

5) On 5/31, have two non-time-sensitive blog posts written and ready for future use on a day when I'm not able to post something "new." - This one should be fine, unless I have to use one of my two reserved items for 5/31 itself.

6) Launch at least one new eBook - Earlier this week, I thought it was a bit less likely that I'd do one this month. However, there's a short story that's a reasonable length for a standalone $0.99 short which might be a good candidate for ePublication. It's a mystery/crime story which, on the one hand, means that it doesn't "fit" with my first ePub in terms of being a natural followup in the same genre. On the other hand, that means there's a dearth of good short fiction markets for it. I like this story quite a bit but couldn't find anywhere that I'd want to send it. I'm going to sleep on it for a day or two more, but I might go ahead and... if you'll pardon the saying... pull the trigger on making this one my May eBook.

Finally, an additional piece of news. As you may have seen, I've had an absolutely phenomenal run of sales recently to various publications. This news isn't a "sale" per se since no money is involved, but the one and only micro-fiction (Twitter-length story) in my inventory has been accepted by trapeze magazine and will be run on their site in the near future. I generally don't submit to non-paying venues but there are only a handful of paying venues for micro-fiction. Trapeze is run by Stephen Ramey, and I'm glad that he wanted to publish it on the site. As always, I'll let everyone know when it's available to read.

#writemotivation folks and others, have a fantastic week and be sure to be safe if you're traveling over Memorial Day weekend!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Short Story Sale: "Getting By" to Roar & Thunder

Australian webzine Roar & Thunder has accepted my short story "Getting By" for future publication. No specific date has been given, but I'll be sure to let everyone know when the story is live on their site.

Sunday Links & the Week in #storyeachnight: May 20th, 2012 Edition

May is absolutely flying by. I've been incredibly busy with any number of things this month. Our oldest is graduating high school in a couple of weeks but between now and then is the classic film convention which my father has been a major force behind for 43 years now. It's called Cinevent and every year well over 600 people come to watch movies, talk about movies, buy and sell movie memorabilia and so on. It's older than I am and I literally grew up with it.

This year the preparations for the convention have been extra "interesting" for me since my father was injured in late February and while he was convalescing I was tasked with doing a lot of the communications work which he would normally have been doing for the show. It's been a learning experience, that's for sure. I'm glad that I've done it to help him, the rest of the convention committee, and the attendees. It's also reminded me why I have little interest in being a convention organizer on a regular basis! And, for those of us who attend conventions -- science fiction, film, comics, what-have-you, it's been a reminder that the staff put in a heck of a lot of time and effort and voluntarily deal with no small amount of frustration to help put together a great experience for their attendees. (And, yes, sometimes a "great" experience isn't what ends up happening. But most cons I've been to in the past have been good or better.)

Speaking of conventions, I'm still trying to decide which one I'm going to make it to as part of my goals for the year. I'll be at Pulpfest almost for certain, but I barely count that since it's something I've been going to for years anyway. Context and Bouchercon both have a certain appeal to me, but I'll have to see as things get closer to the date for both of those.

A quick programming note: There won't be a Dissecting the Short Story post for May. Since I said I'd give the new format with reader votes, etc. at least two goes, I'll do one again soon, most likely in June.

Now with all that out of the way, on to first my weekly #storyeachnight rundown and the list of links I've found interesting for the week:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Short Story Sale: "Pherusa Among the Stars" to Fantastic Frontiers Magazine

I've received word that my flash fiction "Pherusa Among the Stars" has been accepted by Fantastic Frontiers Magazine. It will most likely appear in their August issue, which should be the second for this new publication.

One interesting thing about this is that they request some form of multimedia "bonus" relating to the story/author. (This could be as simple as -- and I'm paraphrasing slightly here -- a photo of me in my "natural habitat." So it seems like it's one of those things that's as much, or as little, work as you want it to be.) My plan is to record a short (1-2 minute) video of myself talking about the origin of the story. I think that will be a fun thing to have out there for readers to watch.

DIY: Creating My Own eBook, Part Three - Lessons Learned

Late last month, after publishing my first eBook ("Gravity's Pull"), I wrote two posts about the process. The first was a general post on what I did and the second was specific to creating the cover art.

I promised a third post, discussing things I had learned and what I might decide to differently in future eBook publications. With a few weeks having passed, now felt like a good time to do that. I'll caveat all of this that I'm going off a single "experiment" here and that I'm generalizing from it. If you've experienced something dramatically different from what I've described, I'd be very interested to hear about it.

The first thing I've learned is that my supposition about what sales would be like was correct. In my first post, I said: "I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple more sales trickle in through these channels over the next couple of weeks, but unless I put more effort into getting eyeballs to the eBook it's probably going to have very, very few sales from month to month."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Short Story Sale: "Sequence" to Grand Science Fiction

Grand Science Fiction, a new pro-paying venue for flash fiction stories (of either exactly 100 or 1000 words, in particular), has accepted my 1000-word story "Sequence" for publication. This is my second pro-rate sale though as a new market, this sale won't count for SFWA credentialing until such time as the market met the criteria to be considered a qualifying market by SFWA. And I believe that requires at least a year of consistent publication, so the earliest that would happen would be mid-2013.

May has been a somewhat bogglingly-good month for acceptances for me so far. I'm not complaining in the slightest, but I know better than to consider this some sort of "new normal."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reprint/Podcast Sale: "The Morandini Genie" to Cast of Wonders

I've received word that Cast of Wonders has accepted "The Morandini Genie" for an upcoming podcast. This is my first "reprint" sale (though not a story which has been "sold" twice as the original publication was right here as part of last year's short-lived Call & Response Flash Fiction series.) I made some minor revisions before sending it off to them, so the final version is slightly different from what appeared here last year.

This is also my first podcast sale. I'm really looking forward to hearing an audio version of one of my stories. I'll make sure to let everyone know when it's available for listening.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday May 14th #writemotivation Check-In

Each Monday in May I'm posting a check-in status for my monthly #writemotivation goals. This is an opportunity for me to reflect on how things are going with the month and also to communicate with other writers participating in the #writemotivation mutual-encouragement activity.

1) Except for a Memorial Day Weekend blogging hiatus, keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain (aka Seinfeld Chain), blogging schedule, etc. - Going fine so far.

2) Write and submit one or more short stories for the first time. - I have written one new story (about 1000 words) but will not be submitting it right now. It's for a private forum competition and I'll be waiting to see what feedback I get from that before sending it out for a regular submission. I've got a couple of new stories in process as well.

3) Make revisions to my non-fiction project based on feedback and my own editing of it. - I'm expecting to get going on this later this week.

4) Write 7,500 words of new fiction. - I didn't have any one breakthrough day this week but I did get up over 5,000 words for the month which puts me well above pace.

5) On 5/31, have two non-time-sensitive blog posts written and ready for future use on a day when I'm not able to post something "new." -On target

6) Launch at least one new eBook - Still intending to do this, assuming I have an appropriate item to prepare and launch. I'd say this is down to about an 85% probability, as it depends on multiple factors. Still, it's high on my priority list.

Whether you're part of the #writemotivation community or not, I hope that your goals for May are off to a good start. Lots of month left, let's get some great things done!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Links and the Week in #storyeachnight: May 13, 2012 Edition

Has it really been a week since last Sunday? I guess it has. Things are hectic as ever around here, but I've been able to keep moving forward on various writing projects, so I'm feeling good about things.

A quick note: I've lagged behind on getting organized around doing a Dissecting the Short Story post for May. If I get a list of choices together in the next couple of days, then I'll still do one this month. Otherwise, I'll defer it to June.

In addition to my writing, I've been reading at least one story each day recently and tweeting about them under the hashtag #storyeachnight. I've noticed that several more people have joined into the #storyeachnight tweeting recently, which is cool to see. Here are this week's entries from my reading:

5/6 - "Out of the Storm" by William Hope Hodgson from 100 HAIR-RAISING LITTLE HORROR STORIES. Atmospheric story, told via telegraph, of nightmares out at sea.
5/7 - "Notes From The Apocalypse" by Stephen Graham Jones from WEIRD TALES 359. I don't say this often, but that was an interesting zombie story.
5/8 - "City League" from the 5/6-12 F&SF. Starts out a bit slow but it builds to a horrifying scenario. I'm glad that I kept with it. All sorts of themes of baseball, fathers and sons, memory & reality. The stuff that pushes my buttons. (* Despite the slow start, this was my favorite of the week.)
5/9 - "We Make Tea" by Meryl Ferguson from SHIMMER 14. A tea plantation's robots carry on in a post-apocalyptic world.
5/10 - "Liberty's Daughter" by Naomi Kritzer from the 5/6-12 F&SF. Engaging MC and interesting world-building. I had a bit of trouble buying the MC's job & her dad's role was a bit too mysterious for me but neither was a deal breaker. (As a fellow writer noted to me on Twitter, it felt somewhat like the first chapter/portion of a novel rather than a self-contained story. I would mostly agree with that. Still, we both enjoyed it.)
5/11 - "Asylum" by Albert E. Cowdrey from the 5-6/12 F&SF. A New Orleans ghost story, I basically enjoyed this. Two secondary characters were one of my favorite parts, though I wonder if they overshadowed the main character a bit at time.
5/12 - "Wrong World" by Steve J Myers from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION.

Now, on to this week's writing-related links:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Using Index Cards To Plan Short Fiction Submissions

I've talked before in posts like my "Life of a Story" post about using Duotrope to research markets and track submissions. I've always handled sending a story out to market in what seems like a somewhat time-intensive manner. When a story is rejected or is going out for the first time, I run a Duotrope search, go through the list of possible markets (excluding ones I already have a story out to) and then submit the story. This can be very quick or somewhat tedious. And I ended up looking at a lot of the same markets' information repeatedly.

Recently I've started doing a bit of pre-planning around my submission. I think that this will help me save a bit of time on resubmissions in the future. Here's what I've done.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday May 7th #writemotivation Check-In

It's a #writemotivation month again, so every Monday I'll be blogging about how things are coming with meeting my goals for the month.

Some Mondays I might talk about some other things too, but today's been rather hectic, so I'm going to keep this brief.

I hope that everyone in #writemotivation is off to a good start; I will see about getting around to see your check-ins soon myself.

1) Except for a Memorial Day Weekend blogging hiatus, keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain (aka Seinfeld Chain), blogging schedule, etc. - Well, no interruptions so far.
2) Write and submit one or more short stories for the first time. - I have written one new story (about 1000 words) but will not be submitting it right now. It's for a private forum competition and I'll be waiting to see what feedback I get from that before sending it out for a regular submission.
3) Make revisions to my non-fiction project based on feedback and my own editing of it. - The person who is planning to look at the first draft of the main portion of this project is intending to get to reviewing it in the next few days. Once I get that feedback, I'll see about trying to move forward with it.
4) Write 7,500 words of new fiction. - I'm standing at 1,722 words for the month right now which is almost exactly on pace. I'm hoping to get one good writing day in this weekend and get several thousand words written.
5) On 5/31, have two non-time-sensitive blog posts written and ready for future use on a day when I'm not able to post something "new." - I've done the work to get to having two of these ready to go now. Let's see if I can "avoid" having to use them between now and the end of the month.
6) Launch at least one new eBook - I don't know which will be my May eBook, but I'm still intending to meet this goal, probably very late in the month.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Links & the Week in #storyeachnight: May 6th, 2012 Edition

What an exciting writing week it's been! I've blogged about all this already (and the links are below) but I've got to say that it's a really good week when it includes a publication of a very well-received story, two short story sales, my first time trading guest posts with another writer, and my first-ever review.

I've been reading at least one story each day recently and tweeting about them under the hashtag #storyeachnight. Here are this week's entries:

4/29 - "Possible Monsters" by Will McIntosh from the 6/12 ASIMOV'S. A didn't-quite-make-it ball player gets a jolt when he comes back home & finds out an alien had taken up residence. Maybe a bit long on prelims but very good. Great ending.
4/30 - "Bad Moon Risen" by Eric Del Carlo from SHIMMER #14. A well-done werewolf short story with a small town under siege.
5/1 - "Through Bleached Bone" from by Cate Gardner from GOLDFISH GRIMM'S SPICY FICTION SUSHI Issue 3.
5/2 - "Duck Hunt" by Joe R. Lansdale from 100 HAIR-RAISING LITTLE HORROR STORIES. Didn't go where I was expecting, though I can't say that where it did go left me that impressed. I really enjoyed the imagery of her story, especially the Ghost Beast and the cityscape setting.
5/3 - "Repairmen" by Tim Sullivan from the 3/4-12 F&SF. Didn't really do a lot for me but I could imagine it making a decent one-act play or short film. Almost all dialogue in one room.
5/4 - "The Shadowcrafter" by Ken Liu from NINE Issue #1. I enjoyed this historical fantasy.
5/5 - "Tomorrow's Dictator" by Rahul Kanakia from the 5/12 APEX. Life in a world with personality adjustment.

Now, on to this week's writing-related links:

Friday, May 4, 2012

My First Review: Jeff Chapman on "Vacant Thrones"

I received a very pleasant surprise in my email this afternoon. My first ever honest-to-gosh review!

My story "Vacant Thrones" published back in April by Kazka Press was the Story of the Week on Jeff Chapman's website. He had some interesting things to say about the story including digging up a bit of mythology which appeared to potentially have some relationship to my story. What he found was purely coincidental, though I wish I could claim credit for having subtly slipped it in.

Thanks to Jeff for taking the time to write up my story.

Woot! I've been reviewed!  :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guest Post: "Around and Around the Writer's Carousel: Comparisons Are Evil" by Brenda Stokes Barron

Fellow writer Brenda Stokes Barron and I are exchanging guest posts today on each other's blogs. She posts at The Digital Inkwell and tweets at @digitalinkwell. She's also half of the editing team (with her husband, Matt Barron) behind Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi. Yep, that's the publication which just ran my "Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping" earlier this week, though the timing is just a coincidence.
If you want to read my thoughts on the subjectivity of writing advice, stop by her blog to see my guest post there. For the moment, though, let's take a ride on the carousel...
Trying to sell stories and make it as a writer can feel like a ride on a demented carousel. It starts out pleasant. The fittings are polished brass and the gentle round and round of write-submit-rejection is amusing, almost fun. Then you make your way around the carousel for the thirtieth, fortieth, hundredth time. The polished brass is looking a little green. The horses are turning their heads back at you and snarling. The music has gone tinny and off-key.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Short Story Sale: "Ars Gratia Artis" to Sorcerous Signals

And I have a second sale to report today!

My flash story "Ars Gratia Artis" will run in the August 2012 issue of Sorcerous Signals and their companion print publication "Mystic Signals."

This is the first time I've had two separate publishers purchase stories from me on the same day, so I'm quite pleased! (Kazka Press purchased their two stories of mine which ran on April 1st this year on the same day, so it's not the first time I've ever had two sales in one day...)

Combined with the reception that "Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping" received yesterday and some good feedback I'm getting from critique partners on my most recent story I'm definitely feeling a bit of a "writer's high" at the moment.

And, here in about twenty minutes, I'll have my first ever guest post here on the blog for you all to read. (He said, teasingly.)

Short Story Sale: "Special Ops" to Ray Gun Revival

I woke up today to an acceptance from Ray Gun Revival for my short story "Special Ops." I'm looking forward to seeing this story on their site; they said it should be released sometime over the next few months, probably in June or July.

"Special Ops" represents the first rewrite request I received from a publication. They liked the premise and character but had some concerns about the execution. Given that this was one of the first stories I wrote when I dove back into fiction last summer, I wasn't surprised when I opened it up to tackle the rewrite and saw exactly what they meant.

The rewrite itself was surprisingly fun -- I had enjoyed writing the story and working with this character the first time around and a chance to take a second crack at it with some more experience under my belt was enjoyable. I'm pleased with the outcome; their suggestions definitely helped lead to a better story. And of course I'm very pleased that they agreed that the story was improved and elected to buy it for an upcoming issue of RGR.

I'll post a link to the story this summer when it's live on the Ray Gun Revival site.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Story Live on Goldfish Grimm and April/May Goals

First off, my short story "Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping" is now live on Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi as part of their 3rd issue. There's also a short interview with me on the site.

With a new month just about upon us, it's time to do a final check-in on my April goals and set my May goals. In April I had planned to: