Thursday, August 30, 2012

Celebrating a Year of Writing & Monthly Goal Checkin

(I'm on a blogging hiatus until September 10th. Enjoy the end of August and the start of September!)

Today marks the 365th day since I officially started keeping a Daily Writing Chain. In any year but a leap year (which this happens to be), that would mark one full year. In celebration of keeping to my routine on a daily basis for all of that time, I've put all three of my Kindle-published items on sale for today, Friday, and Saturday.

"Write Every Day" is only 99 cents (regularly $3.99) for that time period and the two short stories I've e-published are both free. I hope that you'll download one or all of these and that you enjoy them if you do so.

Write Every Day ($0.99)

Levels of Trust (Free)
(Crime/Thriller short story)

Gravity's Pull (Free)
(Science Fiction short story)

Overall, the last 12 months of writing have been very productive. If my numbers are correct, I've written first drafts of 63 short stories, 1 novelette, and 1 novel in that time. Focusing specifically on the 63 short stories:
  • 17 have sold.
  • 20 are currently out on submission
  • 17 need to be revised and submitted
  • 4 were posted as freebies on my blog
  • 1 was self-published
  • 4 have been retired/"trunked"
I'm comfortable with many of those numbers, but the 17 which need to be revised and submitted is irritatingly large to me. Fully 11 of those come from the last few months. Until I get that number whittled down dramatically, it needs to be my primary writing focus.

This leads nicely into a discussion of my writing goals for August and September. How'd I do in August?

1) Keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain, blogging schedule, etc. - Essentially on target. (One "Write Every Day" blog post got up slightly into the next day in my time zone. While I try to post on the calendar day the post is intended for, I don't really consider this a serious "miss.")

2) Write at least one new story.  - Done. I've written four new stories this month, none of them flash.

3) Submit at least three stories for the first time. - My goal for today and tomorrow is to make this happen, even though I'm still at zero. I'm going to say that I'm going to get it done and if I don't meet up to that, I'll acknowledge that when I'm back from my blog hiatus.

4) Write 10,000 words of new fiction. - I'm just under 10,000 words at this point. Like with #3, I intend for this to get done before September rolls around.

5) On 8/31, 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'm at zero here. This is a low-priority goal for me at this point. If I get done with #3 and #4 before the end of the month, I might try to get this done.

6) Get a revised version of my novelette out to beta readers. - I made more progress on edits but it's unlikely I'll send this out before the end of the month. Still, it might happen.

7) Launch at least one new eBook. - This isn't going to happen this month.

So, a big incomplete right this moment, but with the potential to still hit a majority of my targets with some effort today and tomorrow.

And now, my goals for September. These are very much focused around trying to fix the things that feel broken in my writing process right now. Also, note that September is a #writemotivation month, so I'll be putting up goal status reports every Monday starting on the 10th.

1) Keep my Daily Writing Chain going. - This should be very revision-heavy this month. (A while back, I added the option to do 45 minutes of focused revisions for my Daily Writing Chain goal. It's a good idea, but I've done a poor job of using that option to get things done and out the door.)
2) Decide on and publish revisions to my blogging schedule once my hiatus is complete.
3) Submit at least six of my previously-completed stories for the first time.
4) Write a story and submit it to Criminal Element. - This is kind of a specific goal, but it's time-based and something I want to accomplish, so I'm including it.
5) Write the first draft of my story for the Codex Halloween contest. - Again, specific but time-based.
6) Get a revised version of my novelette out to beta readers. - If I get feedback from them early enough in the month that I think I can launch the eBook of this novelette, I'll do that in September as well.

That should be enough to keep me busy. Good luck with all of your goals, big and small!

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Reviews

There's been a lot of chatter in the past day around an article in The New York Times which talks about authors buying reviews for their books. The title of the article, "The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy" rather neatly sums things up. There are any number of depressing quotes one could pull from this article. Among them:
  • One author estimates having spent $20,000 on review services in an attempt to "make the difficult leap ... to 'being a recognized author'"
  • One paid reviewer said that for 50-word reviews "she could find 'enough information on the Internet so that I didn’t need to read anything, really'"
  • Robert Locke, one of the first widely-touted e-book self-publishing success stories, bought reviews and while he doesn't credit them with a large portion of his success he does say: "it’s a lot easier to buy [reviews] than cultivating an audience."
And on. And on.
Reviews obviously come from any number of perspectives, motivations, etc. Many are undoubtedly completely honest. Others come from someone with an axe to grind or other motivations. And maybe I should have expected there to be a cottage industry of people who would supply reviews to people anxious to get a boost in the appearance of their work's credibility. But I didn't think it was as widespread as it apparently is.

So. A pledge to my readers. I will not buy reviews, now or in the future. If you see a review for something I've written, then you don't need to wonder if it was a purchased opinion.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Links: August 26, 2012 Edition

We're down to under a week before the end of the Kickstarter campaign for Unidentified Funny Objects. This is the speculative fiction humor anthology which I've been working on as one of the Associate Editors. We're also down to under a week before the end of the submission period, so if you've got something you want to get in for consideration, please don't delay!

As I mentioned last week, I'm going to be taking a short blogging hiatus in early September. After looking at the calendar and making various plans, I've decided that the hiatus will run from September 1st through 9th. So there will be regular Monday and Thursday posts here on the 27th and 30th of August and then the next post after that will come on September 10th. So, this will be the last Sunday Links post before September 16th. By then, I should have quite a few links which I want to share.

I'll still be writing during that hiatus. In fact, September 1st will mark the first day of a second year of writing every day (Barring anything unexpected happening in the next several days, of course; though, considering all the unexpected things I've dealt with in the past year and still managed to keep to my writing routine, it would have to be a real doozy!)

Related to coming up on this one year anniversary, I'll have an announcement on Thursday. That will be my 365th day of writing every day. Friday, August 31st will be the 366th, given the leap day earlier this year in February. The announcement will be related to my book "Write Every Day."

But that's for Thursday. For now, here are this week's links; I hope that some of them are useful to you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Writing Process Course Corrections

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about "Three Signs Your Process Might Not Be Working." This was not a wholly abstract topic for me. While I'm generally having fun and the amount of time I spend on writing activities feels about right, I am running into issues with point number one from my list: "You're ending up with lots of unfinished work."

A few months back I was introduced to a site which has a weekly timed flash fiction contest. You see the contest prompts, you have 90 minutes to write and upload your story. After the weekend, all the entrants critique and vote on each others' stories. It's a fun activity (Yay for "having fun!") and I've written a LOT of new stories as a result. But.

But they've mostly ended up half-formed in the first draft due to the time constraints. And critiquing the other stories usually ends up eating up my writing time for one or even two evenings, depending on how many stories there are and how busy I am with other activities. Between that and doing a lot of blogging, I've actually been writing very little fiction besides what I write for these every-weekend contests.

Even that wouldn't be a huge issue if I was still getting the stories whipped into shape and out the door. But that mostly hasn't been the case. Between those stories and a few others I've got literally a dozen stories where I've gotten feedback from other writers on them but I haven't gotten the stories polished and out the door. And that's just not useful for me.

So... When you find you're getting off-course, what do you do? Correct your course! And that's what I'm going to do now with the following three items:
  1. Draft my September goals heavily around story revisions and NOT new words. (Remember that I've got an option in my Daily Writing Chain to do a 45-minute block of focused revision activities as one of the ways I can meet my goal for the day. A month filled with a lot of blocks of time like that would help me get many of these stories out the door.)
  2. Only allow myself to participate in the flash challenge if I've written and submitted at least one story of my own devising (meaning, not prompted by this specific challenge) within the past three weeks. I'll start this rule with the first full weekend in September. This is to make sure that I'm continuing to come up with organic stories from my own thoughts, not just relying on this prompt activity.
  3. Consider the amount of time I'm spending on blogging and see if I want to adjust my blogging routine (between this site and my Write Every Day site).
The first and third items there will be part of what I really look at when I take the blogging hiatus I mentioned recently. I hope that when I come back, I'll have a slightly revised course which will help me move efficiently towards my goals.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

September/October 2012 F&SF
cover by Kent Bash

When I first started reading science fiction and fantasy short stories, it was mostly in anthologies that I picked up as a child at science fiction conventions. I'd wander the dealer's room halls (I think "huckster's room" was common terminology back then.) and pick up just about any collection of short fiction I could find cheap. This would have been in the early 1980's, when I was right around 9 to 11 years old. (So close to that "Golden Age" of science fiction -- 12.)

Among the anthologies I remember owning were collections of short stories from individual publications, often printed in the 1950s and 1960s: Astounding, Galaxy, F&SF, etc. At that age, I recall finding the Galaxy ones to hit my reading "sweet spot." The stories from the vintage F&SF stories were sometimes entertaining to me back then and they seemed to have a certain sophisticatedness at times that I remembering wanting to enjoy but didn't always "get." Of course, for "not getting it" as a youngster, nothing topped the old collections from the British New Wave publication "New Worlds." Full of authors I'd mostly never heard of and with stories that totally didn't match my then conception of "science fiction" or "fantasy", at that age these quickly moved into my "don't buy these" list.

Time went on and interests waxed and waned for me and along about the late 1980s, I got back into SF/Fantasy and had the desire to start not just reading the stuff but writing it. At that point, there were a handful of significant print magazines. Some of them, Amazing Stories and Weird Tales in particular, have had sporadic existences since that time. Some others, such as Science Fiction Age which didn't pop up until the early 1990's, came and went. But three remain, constant in their operation. Fantasy & Science Fiction (founded in 1949), Analog (founded in 1930 as Astounding), and Asimov's (a relative newcomer, founded in 1977).

Having a story appear in the pages of any one of those three would be a major life accomplishment for me. Two of them (Analog and F&SF) have connections back to some of the earliest SF I've read and Asimov's has an impressive track record, all the more so for coming into existence decades later than any surviving major digest fiction periodical. Of the three, I think that F&SF publishes fiction that most closely resonates with the me of 2012, though I enjoy items from each of the three.

Today, a copy of the upcoming issue of F&SF (September-October 2012, with stories by Peter Dickinson, Ken Liu, Grania Davis, Andy Duncan, Richard A. Lupoff and others) arrived in my mailbox. The magazine asked for bloggers who would be interested in writing about the issue and offered to send a copy for them to write about. I don't do formal reviews generally on this site, but that wasn't one of the requirements. What I will do is make a story from this issue my #storyeachnight every night until I've read the whole issue. So there will be tweets from me about every one of the 11 stories in this issue over the next couple of weeks. At the end, I'll pull it all together into a second blog post.

Regardless of whether this issue has a lot of stories that really strike a chord with me, F&SF in general is a publication that I wholeheartedly recommend and one that I hope continues to be a part of my life for many years to come.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Links: August 19, 2012 Edition

It's almost back-to-school time here in Ohio. Our kids have one more week of break but my wife starts up her classes this coming week. A busy time and a reminder that I've been writing seriously for over a year now. In fact, in less than two weeks I'll hit the one year mark of writing every day. I've got something special planned to mark that occasion, so watch for an announcement in the next couple of weeks along those lines.

Also, around the end of August and beginning of September I'm going to take a short blogging hiatus for a week to ten days. I haven't worked out the timing exactly, but I'll publish dates for the hiatus both here and on my Write Every Day blog. I'll still be writing, but I'll be spending that time focused on my fiction. I also expect that I'll be doing a fair amount of work relating to the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology at that point in time since it will be the end of our submission period which presumably will mean a flood of submissions and also the need to have final discussions within the editorial team on which of the stories that have been held over for possible inclusion will make the cut.

Look for official hiatus dates to show up in my Sunday post a week from today.

Below are the links I've found relating to writing which I want to share with my readers. If you have come across any interesting links recently, I'd certainly be interested in knowing about those as well!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I'm So Keen on Discipline

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to live inside someone else's head.

I know that's not a particularly novel thought, but it still seems very true to me. It's literally impossible (with today's technology) to have any idea what it's truly like to be another person. Not what you see on the outside, not what the person says or does or how they act in various settings. But that constant interior monologue and those inner moods that you and only you can experience.

For me, all too often, that monologue and those moods would lead me into wasting time and other unproductive neighborhoods. I've been very fortunate in the past decade or so to have some good influences and also, in more recent years, to have read some helpful books specifically on the concept of happiness. Those things have helped, but they're not a panacea. I still have those innate tendencies that would have me utterly frittering away hours. Days. Weeks.

And this is why, for me, having discipline in my life is so important. I've talked about this before, but there are plenty of days on which I don't feel like writing. In fact, today has been one of them. And yet, here I am, taking the time to put these words down on the screen. And, for the moment at least, I feel good. I feel productive. The only interior monologue is the one that's helping me craft these words. Are they necessarily the most insightful words I've ever written? The more useful? Probably not. But I'm not giving in or giving up; I'm pushing through the temptation to do nothing and moving forward even if only incrementally. And perhaps someone else will read this and recognize themselves and find some benefit.

I'm finally using this approach for something other than just writing. There's a whole chapter in "Write Every Day" about using the philosophies and practices behind the Daily Writing Chain to develop a daily routine for other things in your life. I've recently managed to do just that for something relating to the small business my wife and I run and at this point, I'm up to almost 50 days on that other goal chain, though I did take one "mulligan" day on that chain during Pulpfest. (Still no mulligans on the Daily Writing Chain and that's up to almost a year now!) Again, that feels good.

And that's the truly frustrating thing -- getting these things done almost always feels good! I sit there and think "I don't feel like writing. I don't feel like working on the business. I'd much rather just sleep." But having the routine helps me to get past that and when I'm done I generally feel better than when I started.

In a way, I wish that I didn't need these tools. I wish that I would just naturally feel full of energy and directed towards my goals without that extra impetus. But, in the end, I suppose I'm simply grateful that I've found tools that work for me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August Mid-Month Goal Check

The middle of the month is coming up quickly and I thought today would be a good day to see where I stand in terms of my writing goals for this month.

1) Keep all my writing routines -- Daily Writing Chain, blogging schedule, etc. - On target. Assuming nothing goes badly awry, I'll get to celebrate a full year of my Daily Writing Chain on August 31st.

2) Write at least one new story.  - Done. I've written two new stories this month, both over 2,000 words.

3) Submit at least three stories for the first time. - Hrm. I need to get on this. At zero at the moment.

4) Write 10,000 words of new fiction. - I'm nicely on target for this, though not a lot ahead of target.

5) On 8/31, 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." - No progress on this so far. It's not a high-priority goal, but at the same time, it's the sort of thing where if I don't do it and need it, I'll regret not having done it. I will say that adding the "Write Every Day" blog has complicated my blogging schedule more than I had envisioned originally. I'm considering tweaking the schedule for that other blog but haven't made any decisions yet.

6) Get a revised version of my novelette out to beta readers. - I need to get back to this; as it is, it's getting late enough in the month that there's a fair chance I won't be able to get feedback on it in time for it to be my August eBook.

7) Launch at least one new eBook. - No news on this front.

Overall, I'm somewhat disappointed with where things stand. I've got three goals that I'm on-track for but four that I've made little or no progress toward. That either means I'm not using my time well or I'm not defining my goals well. More thought will be required on this matter...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Links: August 12, 2012 Edition

The weeks feel like they're going by faster than ever. Here it is (late) Sunday night again. I've got links to share but first I want to remind everyone about the Kickstarter for Unidentified Funny Objects. As one of the Associate Editors, I've read most of the stories under consideration so far for the final Table of Contents. I think it's going to be a very fun anthology and I hope that people who are interested in humorous science fiction and fantasy will take a few moments to check out the Kickstarter and consider backing the project.

Here are this week's writing-related links:

"Audition Your Cast of Characters" (Julie Musil) - Julie talks about ways to understand the characters you are going to write about. One of the things that struck me as interesting in this piece was her differentiation between "stayers" and "changers." (Both have their place.)

"How to Succeed as a Writer" (David L. Day) - David jumps off from a blog post by Jeff VanderMeer and combines that with his own experience in the corporate world to build a set of principles for succeeding as a writer.

"All Work and No Play is No Fun and No Good" (Kristen Lamb) - Kristen talks about work ethic and balancing work with other activities.

Along with those links, here are the items I posted on my blog this week. It's been a busy week!

"Interview with Scott Bartlett: Author of Royal Flush" - Monday, I posted an interview with Scott Bartlett.

"'Ars Gratia Artis' is Live at Sorcerous Signals" - Wednesday, I linked to my most-recently published short story on the webzine Sorcerous Signals.

"Three Signs Your Writing Process Might Not Be Working" - Wednesday, I cross-posted this article from my "Write Every Day" blog about ways to identify if your approach to writing might not be working as well as it could.

"Short Story Sale: 'Other Kinds' to Nine" - Saturday, I announced a short story sale to the semi-pro ezine Nine.

"Pulpfest 2012 Day One" , "Pulpfest 2012 Day Two", "Pulpfest 2012 Day Three" -Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I wrote about my experiences at this year's Pulpfest convention.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pulpfest 2012 Day Three

My third and final daily report on Pulpfest. If you haven't seen the first two entries, they are: Day One and Day Two.

The bug that's been floating around my house this past week finally caught up to me, so I decided not to go back downtown for the evening panels. Part of what I missed was the presentation of the Munsey Award ("presented annually to a deserving person who has given of himself or herself for the betterment of the pulp community") and the Rusty Hevelin Service Award ("designed to recognize those individuals within the pulp community who have worked long and hard for the pulp community with little thought for individual recognition"). The winners of those awards were:
  • Munsey Award - Matt Moring
  • Rusty Hevelin Service Award - Jack & Sally Cullers
The Pulpfest committee's writeup of the award presentations provides more details both about the awards themselves and those who won them this year.

I did make it to the convention earlier in the day to take another look at the dealer's room, this time bringing my father (who introduced me to Pulpfest in specific and conventions in general) along. I picked up a few more items for my collection and did a lot of window-shopping. One of the things that I got to look at wistfully from afar was the three volume set of Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin stories.

More within my price range was Jim Beard's intriguing collection of stories about the adventures of Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker.
"Part detective, part occultist, Janus is himself a man of mystery whose own past is shrouded and the motivations behind his calling kept hidden. Within this volume you will find eight tales as narrated by his clients, each with his or her own perspective on this uncanny hero and his amazing career."
A glance through this book intrigued me and I'm looking forward to starting to read it very soon.

Jim Beard displays two of his books.
One very nice display in the dealer's room showed various awards and mementos from Rusty Hevelin. Rusty passed away late in 2011. I never knew him to any significant extent, but he was a familiar face when I went to conventions in my younger days and he was in attendance at last year's Pulpfest. The three photos below are from that table.

Display of Rusty Hevelin awards and mementos.

Painting of Rusty Hevelin

A poll (with Phil Foglio illustrations) asking whether Rusty
should grow his beard back out or not. (Date unknown)

The convention's dealer's room will be open tomorrow morning, but I've spent what I planned to spend (and, well, a tiny bit more) so it will be 2013 before I have more of a Pulpfest experience. It was, as always, a good experience this year and I look forward to next year's convention.

Short Story Sale: "Other Kinds" to Nine: A Journal of Imaginative Fiction

I received word earlier today that my dark fantasy/crime short story "Other Kinds" has been accepted for publication in the upcoming issue #3 of Nine: A Journal of Imaginative Fiction. I had sent the story in about a month ago and received a quick reply back indicating that they were intrigued by the story but wanted some revisions. I turned the revisions around in short order and then sat in to wait while the staff went through the process of building the Table of Contents for this issue. I was very pleased to get the news today that my story was accepted. The first two issues have both had some good stories in them and I'm looking forward to reading the stories which I'll be published alongside.

Pulpfest 2012 Day Two

Pulpfest continued today with the dealer's room officially opening at 9 AM. I wasn't able to be there right at the open but I did have a chance to stop by on my lunch break since the convention is being held a five-minute walk from where I work this year. There was a lot of activity (as you can see in the picture below) but the room was spacious enough that nothing felt crowded or cramped. I picked up a couple dozen (mostly science fiction) digest magazines for my collection.

Pulpfest 2012 Dealer's Room
After work and a quick run for dinner, I went back to the convention. As luck would have it, Guest of Honor Mike Resnick and I struck up a conversation in the hall and while most of the rest of the convention attendees were off at dinner, he and I had a conversation for 20 or 30 minutes. It was a lot of fun talking with him about various conventions he'd been at, authors we both liked, etc.

Before long, though, it was time to head to the room where the panels are being held. The first panel was part of FarmerCon VII (the Philip Jose Farmer-themed convention running concurrently with Pulpfest). Paul Spiteri moderated a discussion with Christopher Paul Carey and Win Scott Eckert about the Wold Newton universe, their own experiences collaborating with Philip Jose Farmer, and more.

From left to right: Paul Spiteri, Christopher Paul Carey & Win Scott Eckert
After that, Mike Resnick gave his Guest of Honor presentation to the audience. It was very entertaining with lots of fun anecdotes and reminiscences.

Pulpfest 2012 Guest of Honor Mike Resnick
The next session was a panel discussion about Mars in the pulps. Ed Hulse moderated and four others discussed the subject, with each of them focusing on one particular author. Henry G. Franke on Burroughs, Garyn G. Roberts on Bradbury, Will Murray on Otis Adelbert Kline, and Stephen Haffner on Leigh Brackett. With five people up there, this was a fast-paced discussion with lots of opinions around the room about both the individual writers and their works as well as just why Mars was such an object of attention to pulp writers.

Left to Right: Franke, Roberts, Hulse, Murray and Haffner
The final speaker of the night was David Saunders who presented information about artist James Allen St. John. St. John was the illustrator for many Edgar Rice Burroughs works. Some gorgeous color reproductions displayed as part of the presentation were a highlight.

David Saunders

The final event of the evening was a film program. The first item shown was some test footage from a proposed animated version of the John Carter stories dating back to 1936 with Bob Clampett and John Coleman Burroughs (ERB's son) involved. The project did not get funding, though, so these brief snippets are all which was made. After that, a short movie titled Last Flight, shot in New Zealand and set on Mars was shown. The documentary I, Tarzan was the final screening for the evening, but with midnight fast approaching, I decided not to stay to watch this one.

Another exciting day of Pulpfest 2012 is over but there's more fun yet to come!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pulpfest 2012 Day One

The annual Pulpfest convention began tonight here in Columbus. I've been attending this show for several years now and I always have a good time at it.

I plan to go on three of the four days this weekend: today, Friday, and Saturday. I thought a brief write-up of what I see at the show might be of interest to some readers so I'll be featuring this over the next several days.

Rick Lai prepares for his panel on
the influence of French literature in the pulp traditions.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Three Signs Your Writing Process Might Not Be Working

"Three Signs Your Process Might Not Be Working" is my Wednesday List post on the Write Every Day blog for this week. Since writing process-related items are the sort of thing I've talked about often on this blog in the past, I thought it was a good one to crosspost here.

"Ars Gratia Artis" is Live at Sorcerous Signals

My short story "Ars Gratia Artis" is live now on the Sorcerous Signals website. This is a short fantasy flash fiction blurbed as follows:
"Larry has a dying request of his friend Malcolm. Will Malcolm help him create his final work of art?"
If you get a chance to stop over and read it, I hope that you enjoy the story.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Interview with Scott Bartlett: Author of "Royal Flush"

Scott Bartlett recently released his prize-winning novel "Royal Flush" and he and I spoke recently about this book and his writing process in general.

MH) Was there something specific that inspired the writing of Royal Flush?

SB) Royal Flush began as two-and-half short stories that I wrote in high school and my first year of university. I'd originally intended to write four--"The King of Hearts", "The King of Diamonds", "The King of Spades", and you can probably guess what the last one is called. These became the novel's four parts.

The short stories were born from a single idea, which ended up being the climax of the first one. As I walked from the school bus to my house, a scene occurred to me in which a man lies on the ground with his chest bared, demanding that a nearby woman remove his heart with a scalpel. The woman spurned him recently, you see. I envisioned writing the scene as comedic melodrama, and that's what I did. The man in that scene turned out to be the King--the main character in Royal Flush.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Links: August 5, 2012 Edition


I'm absolutely drained tonight. Our oldest just finished up her fourth experience with the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir. The final concert lasted for two and a half hours and that didn't include the slideshow afterwards or the extended period where 200 high school kids who have spent 18 days living and singing together hug and cry and say goodbye. So if my links descriptions tonight are a bit shorter than usual, please excuse me.

But I will share with you one of my favorite songs that the AOSFYC did this summer, "Let the River Run." This isn't my video, but I'm glad to be able to share it all the same. Consider it a special link for this week!

With the fair and everything, I've had an especially hectic go of things this week, so my writing time each day has been fairly limited. Still, I've made progress on several things, getting critique feedback from two people on a story I wrote recently, and keeping busy with a variety of other writing activities. I also managed to write a relatively-lengthy story (for the time allotted) for this weekend's Liberty Hall flash fiction challenge. I'm happy with the story arc, though I suspect it's still rather rough around the edges. I'll look forward to hearing from the other competitors as to what their thoughts are on how I can improve it.

One last thing I'd like to draw my readers' attention to before I get to the rest of the links is the Kickstarter for Unidentified Funny Objects. In my position as one of the Associate Editors for this project, I've read most of the stories which are under consideration so far for the final Table of Contents. I think it's going to be a very fun anthology and I hope that people who are interested in humorous science fiction and fantasy will take a few moments to check out the Kickstarter and consider backing the project.

Now, without any more preliminaries, here are this week's writing-related links that I wanted to share with my readers:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Write? -- Revisited

A few days back I hit the one year mark since my re-entry into the world of writing. I've done a fair amount of thinking about this past year as a result. In that time, I've written on the order of 200,000 words of fiction and another 50,000 or more words of non-fiction. I've written more than 200 blog posts, nearly 70 short and short-short (aka "flash") stories, a novelette, and a novel. I've sent about 50 of those short stories out to publications for their consideration; many of the rest are awaiting final revisions before going out. I've also self-published three items for the Kindle.

I say all that not (just) to brag, but to note that this is something I've invested a lot of effort into. I would guess that my pure writing/editing time for the past year is over 400 hours and that's ignoring time spent on submissions and other correspondence related to writing. Writing has been one of the three most major parts of my life in this past year, along with family and work.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Podcast of "An Unsuitable Job for a Human"

I woke up to a little surprise today. Nature podcasts one of their Futures stories from each month; Geoff Ryan chooses his favorite of the stories published that month and reads it. He did a really nice job with "An Unsuitable Job for a Human" and -- as before -- it was a lot of fun hearing someone else read my story aloud.

It's short -- under 10 minutes -- so if you have time, go ahead and check it out!

Guest Editing the October Kazka Press Flash Contest

There's some exciting news in my writing world. I'm going to be guest-editing the October flash fiction contest run by Kazka Press. (The stories will be published on October 1st with submissions running from September 1-20.)

The theme I've chosen is "Love Beyond Death."  The publisher of Kazka Press asked me to say a few words about what I was looking for and I wrote:
The best thing I can say is: surprise me! There are some obvious directions this theme could take: ghosts, other paranormal beasties, personality-on-a-microchip/uploaded-brain type stories, etc. I’m not saying I won’t take those if they’re great, because we want to provide great stories for the contest’s readers. But if I’ve got the choice between a great ghost story and a great story that took the theme in a direction I couldn’t have anticipated and that made me say ‘Wow!’ I know which one I’ll pick every time.
Interested? Check out the general submission guidelines for Kazka Press and feel free to let me know if you have any questions!