Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Links: September 30, 2012

The calm before the storm...

I have three stories coming out later this week. Web-based stories at Interstellar Fiction and Buzzy Mag and the email pre-release of my story at Daily Science Fiction. (The latter will go live on their website next week.)

There's also the October issue of Kazka Press going live on Monday; the stories I selected as guest editor for their flash fiction contest will all be up on that day.

So I'm going to be blogging and tweeting quite a bit about these stories as they come out this week. I hope that you enjoy any which you end up reading.

Before I get to this week's links, here's a quick rundown of my writing goal progress for the month. I don't have my October goals fleshed out yet. I'll aim to have those up soon, quite possibly Monday.

1) Keep my Daily Writing Chain going. - Done.
2) Decide on and publish revisions to my blogging schedule once my hiatus is complete. - Done.
3) Submit at least six of my previously-completed stories for the first time. - Didn't happen. I'm somewhat disappointed about my lack of progress on this one.
4) Write a story and submit it to Criminal Element. - Done.
5) Write the first draft of my story for the Codex Halloween contest. - This didn't end up happening. It's going to be a close thing at this point to see if I get something submitted.
6) Get a revised version of my novelette out to beta readers. - Done.

I'm calling this "fair." I did get some good work done this month but I've also let some things slip and for one of them (the Codex contest) I'm running out of time.

But that's the month that's passed. For now, let's move on to this week's writing-related links; I hope that some of them are useful to you.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Brief Context Convention Report

One of the science fiction conventions here in Central Ohio is Context, now in its 25th year. I'd been to the convention once or twice in its early years and then once as a bookseller about five to seven years ago. But I hadn't gone as a non-dealer attendee to this (or any science fiction convention) in about 20 years. The only cons I'd been to in that time were a few Pulpfests and many Cinevents. And while those are fun, they're both very different from SF cons.

Being that the convention is local, it was very easy for me to get there (with, of course, the assistance of my wife in terms of kid-wrangling for the day). Being that it's local, it was also "easy" for me to decide that going for a single day, today, made more sense than signing up for the whole weekend.

So how was it? In brief, I had a great time. I got to meet people I'd only conversed with online and also got to meet some people I didn't know at all before today. There were also several local writers (mostly from the Writeshop Writing Workshop) who I'd already met so there were some familiar faces, too.

I attended quite a few panels, had lunch with Nicole Cushing and Brady Allen, saw the interview with Fantasy Guest of Honor Alex Bledsoe and listened to multiple readings. I came home with only one new physical book but with lots of new reading recommendations.

I would write more about the convention but I'm completely beat at this point and my brain is only capable of vague, mushy thoughts right now. But I will say that I'm very much looking forward to the next convention I attend. (Barring anything unforseen, that will be Philcon in November.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Five Things I Learned Reading Slush

Driving home tonight, something occurred to me. I won't necessarily be reading any slush anytime in the near future. After several months reading for Unidentified Funny Objects followed immediately by three-plus weeks of reading for Kazka Press, this was sort of a surprising revelation. And, to be honest, a bit of a relief.

I don't begrudge either of those publications any of the time I spent on them. I hope that the comments I provided Alex Shvartsman for UFO were helpful in production its Table of Contents. And I also hope that people enjoy reading the stories which I (Alone. Eep.) selected for the Flash Fiction portion of the October Kazka Press issue. I enjoyed working with Alex and L. Lambert Lawson and both were excellent experiences.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two Tidbits

Tidbit #1: I have a guest blog post up today on Nicole Cushing's blog about #storyeachnight. Stop over there if you'd like to read about what short fiction means to me and what I feel like I've gotten out of #storyeachnight. There are also posts about #storyeachnight by Victoria Hooper and Nicole herself on the occasion of having completed one year of reading a story each night.

Tidbit #2: It's here!

The page from The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes
on which my story begins.
Today's mail brought my contributor's copy of The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes. This is the first honest-to-goodness book that my fiction has ever appeared in. Something to hang on to, indeed!

Free eBooks! (Mine and Other Folks')

You may have seen the little badge on the right hand side of my blog the past few weeks advertising the Codex Writers Promo today and tomorrow.

What this consists of is a total of 12 Kindle eBooks which will be available completely free of charge from the 26th at 3:00 AM EDT until the 28th at 3:00 AM EDT. One of these is my short story "Gravity's Pull." The others are short stories, collections, and novels from other writers who are part of the Codex Writers' Group. Codex is specifically oriented toward "neo-pro" speculative fiction writers, those who have had some professional sales but are still early in their writing careers. (If that description fits you -- if you have one or more SFWA-qualifying sales or have attended one of the major workshops such as Clarion -- it's worth applying to join Codex. If you have any questions about this, let me know.)

The easiest way to snag all of these freebies is to go to this handy Amazon list of all 12 titles. You could also go to a site where each of the titles is described in greater detail.

I hope that you find some things you really enjoy reading from these free eBooks!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Three-Quarter Mark September #writemotivation Checkin

A quick check-in with my Monday #writemotivation status. Technically this is the last one for September, but there's still a decent amount of month left.

By the way, it looks like next week I'm going to have a ton of cool things to share with everyone. Not only will the issue of Kazka-Press I'm guest-editing the flash fiction for come out, but it looks like I may have as many as three stories of my own releasing next week. I'll post links as I have them.

While my monthly goals aren't going fabulous (more on that below), I am going to meet one of my goals for the year this weekend by attending the local science fiction convention Context. I'm only planning to be there Saturday, but that looks to be by far the busiest day. If you're going to be there and want to say "Hi", let me know! I am also planning to be at Philcon later this year.

Now, as far as this month's goals have gone...

1) Keep my Daily Writing Chain going. - Doing just fine here.
2) Decide on and publish revisions to my blogging schedule once my hiatus is complete. - Done.
3) Submit at least six of my previously-completed stories for the first time. - I'm officially bailing on this goal for the month, in favor of trying to accomplish goals 4 and 5.
4) Write a story and submit it to Criminal Element. - I have a first draft and someone who's agreed to critique the story for me. Now I need to get a second draft done (tonight, most likely), send it to the critiquer, and then work with their feedback. I might not make 9/30, depending on the speed of my crit partner and how long it takes me to work with their changes. But I feel much better about this goal than before.
5) Write the first draft of my story for the Codex Halloween contest. - No new progress here. I may be able to get this done later this week.
6) Get a revised version of my novelette out to beta readers. - This is done and I've also received feedback from one reader. The other reader will likely have feedback to me within a few days.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Links: September 23, 2012 Edition

Kind of a quiet week on the writing front. I've spent a fair amount of time reading stories for the Kazka Press 713 Flash Fiction Contest and will be making my final selections there in the very near future.

Speaking of final selections, the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology table of contents has been announced in the past several days. Lots of good stories in it; if you didn't pre-order during the Kickstarter, there will be opportunities to buy it later this year.

Here are this week's writing-related links; I hope that some of them are useful to you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Short Story Publication: "Consequences" at Fiction and Verse

My short-short crime story "Consequences" has been published today by Fiction and Verse.

I've mentioned before that Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine runs a monthly fiction contest for 250-word stories which I've entered quite a few times. It's fun, but they only print one story a month and presumably get dozens of entries. And while I've gotten an honorable mention more than half of the times I've entered, there aren't a ton of markets looking for 250-word crime stories. As a result, "Consequences" is the first of these to see print. I hope that you enjoy reading it if you stop over by their site to check it out.

Writerly Growing Pains

A recurring theme of quite a few of my recent goal-check posts has been that things haven't been going as well as I would have liked. There are, I think, multiple reasons for that. One is that I'm trying to adjust to some new routines in my personal life, particularly since we now have one fewer person around the house on a regular basis who is able to help it with transportation and some other things that need to get accomplished. There are also some things I need to get caught up on even from earlier this year when a whole bunch of family issues occurred at once; things I was able to put off then need to be revisited now.

But there are other things, too. Things that are writing-related and that I need to be the one to work on fixing. One was putting more time into blogging than I felt I could afford; I've already made progress on that by decreasing the frequency of posting on the Write Every Day blog. I'm still struggling some with cycling back to revisions on previously-finished work. For the most part, my NaNoWriMo project from last year aside, this isn't something I'd had a major issue with before this summer. Part of this I attribute to trying to get a new handle on my own level of writing competency and what I consider to be a "good" story for me to have written. But even that feels like an excuse sometimes.

I'm going to keep moving forward and keep setting goals for myself. But for a few months, I might dial down their ambitiousness a bit, in the hopes of having a few "wins" to record. The meta-goal, then, would be to turn things back up toward the start of 2013.

I also need to make some hard choices about the "writing-ish" things I choose to take on. Most of those I don't really regret, but it's impossible to argue that they haven't taken up a lot of time. I need to make sure that when I'm committing my writing time to something that it's something I really want to be doing.

I suspect this is the sort of "growing pains" lots of writers go through over time, but it doesn't necessarily make it any more fun.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday #writemotivation Goal-Check

September is a #writemotivation month so with it being Monday, that makes it time for goal-check! This is also about the time I usually do a check at how I'm proceeding towards my goals for the month, with it being mid-month.

I'll put the gory details below, but I'll cut right to the chase. My progress stinks. Stinks, stinks, stinks.

There are a variety of reasons for this but mostly it boils down to having underestimated the amount of work I needed to do for several writing-related tasks which weren't on my list below combined with worse-than-usual time management on my part. There are other factors, too, but those are the two biggies.

So, what I need to do is make better choices going forward. I've made a bit of progress there. As much as I enjoy the weekly Liberty Hall flash fiction contest I skipped it this past weekend and I think I'll probably skip it again this coming weekend unless I've made miraculous progress on the goals which aren't going well for the month. 

1) Keep my Daily Writing Chain going. - No issues so far. A lot of my writing time in the past week has been critique work for various groups I'm a part of. This is all good work to be doing, but between not using my time efficiently and having that work, it means my own productivity hasn't been what I would have liked it to be.
2) Decide on and publish revisions to my blogging schedule once my hiatus is complete. - Done.
3) Submit at least six of my previously-completed stories for the first time. - I haven't made any progress on this at all. In a way, this is one I'm really frustrated about because it means I don't have new stories going out the door. On the other hand, this is one where there's no time element except what I choose to impose upon myself. Which brings me to...
4) Write a story and submit it to Criminal Element. - As I mentioned last week, I had one idea, started developing it and decided it didn't feel like a good fit. And I haven't gotten back off square one. I really want to make this my top writing priority for the next week. (I do still have other writing-related things to work on which I can't just set aside, specifically reading the submissions for Kazka Press and critiquing the rest of the stories from this month's Shock Totem flash fiction contest.)
5) Write the first draft of my story for the Codex Halloween contest. - I still have an idea for this story which I think will work but which I haven't fully fleshed out yet. I'd like to get the first draft done by 9/30 since the story is due in by 10/6, but if I had to push it all into those first six days of October, I probably could stand to do so.
6) Get a revised version of my novelette out to beta readers. - This is done and I'm just waiting on feedback from one version before I call this done and get it put online. One thing that I spent a LOT of time on this past week was going through iteration after iteration of possible cover designs with some people online. On the one hand, I seem to have a much better cover plan than I originally had and I did get some good new resources for fonts. On the other hand, I'll be spending a bit of money on the art and I spent multiple hours working through various versions of the cover in the last five to seven days. Ultimately, this is probably time I could have spent better or, at the very least, I could have prioritized this effort further down my list. But, that's why I do these write-ups. To see where I've made poor choices and try to learn from them and not repeat them!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Links: September 16, 2012 Edition

It's been a while since we've done one of these. With my blogging hiatus in early September, this is the first Links post in three weeks.

Before I get to the links, a quick reminder that I'm guest-editing this month's Kazka Press flash fiction contest with the theme of "Love Beyond Death." Submissions are open for several more days, through the 20th of the month. So, if you have a story of 713-1,000 words on that theme that you'd like for me to consider, now's the time to be submitting it. The stories I select will be part of the Kazka's October issue and I'll put a link up to them once they have been published on the first of the month.

Here are this week's links; I hope that some of them are useful to you. If you've come across an interesting link about writing recently, I'd be interested in hearing about it. Feel free to post it in the comments below.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fantasy & Science Fiction September-October 2012 Issue

As previously promised, I'm collecting my #storyeachnight tweets about the September-October 2012 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction in this post.

Here are the stories, all 11 of them in the order I read them, and my tweets:
  • "Where the Summer Dwells" by Lynda E. Rucker. Atmospherically foreboding, two sets of friends with one friend in common explore a decrepit set of train tracks.
  • "A Diary From Deimos" by Michael Alexander. A clever-enough reimagining of the American Civil War as a conflict between Earth and colonists on Mars. But to what end? Felt like it hit the same notes rather frequently. I see that there is a historical "A Diary From Dixie" which this presumably is intended to reference.
  • "Arc" by Ken Liu. An interesting story to read on the night of having taken your eldest child to college though maybe moreso with me, personally, than for some others. A very personal examination of the first person to receive hyper-longevity treatments. 
  • "12:03 PM" by Richard Lupoff. Story of a man wandering in time and space. He gets some answers but also some new questions. Third in a series of stories by Lupoff.
  • "Give Up" by Richard Butner. Story of a man climbing a virtual Everest in his back yard. It has a fantastic beginning and middle but I found the ending to be underwhelming.
  • "The Sheriff" by Chet Arthur. Entertaining Old West story with light fantasy elements.
  • "Close Encounters" by Andy Duncan. An old man reluctantly revisits his prior experiences with aliens.
  • "Theobroma Valentine" by Rand B. Lee. Strange story of psych workers orbiting a world of cacao farmers. Had a sort of mystery vibe to it along with the SF. 
  • "Troll Blood" by Peter Dickinson. Charming story. Took a few pages to hook me but once it did, I was hooked all the way.
  • "The Goddess" by Albert E. Cowdrey. Pre-(US) Civil War story with Kali potentially influencing events.  Alas, despite that appealing description, I wasn't crazy about this one.
  • "Father Juniper's Journey to the North" by Grania Davis. Gods (and devils?) at work in 18th Century California.
As you can see, it was a solid issue, well balanced with six science fiction stories and five fantasy stories. There were no stories I out-and-out disliked though there were several which I wasn't overly enthralled by. Still, I enjoyed reading the vast majority of them, and even ones which weren't among my favorites generally had some interesting aspect which made them worth the read.

Of the stories, the ones by Liu, Arthur, Duncan, and Dickinson were my favorites. If pressed to pick a single favorite, it would most likely be the Peter Dickinson story, though I could imagine myself picking a different one in a different mood.

Fantasy and Science Fiction is the one of the "big three" which I was still picking up on the newsstand rather than getting it via subscription. I say "was" because after completing this issue, the next thing I did was go to their website and subscribe. If you have an interest in short fiction in the speculative fiction genres, this venerable publication is well worth your time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"No Way But the Hard Way" is in Print

My science-fiction short story "No Way But the Hard Way" is in print now, as part of The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes.

This story was one of the first ones I wrote when I returned to writing last summer. The best way I can describe it is that it's the story of a frontier town worker who has to fight to win his freedom -- and the frontier town is on an asteroid!

Among the other folks in this anthology are Mike Resnick and Milo James Fowler. I'm looking forward to seeing my contributors' copy when it arrives. This is my first book publication (as compared to print or electronic periodical publications) and it will be very neat to hold a physical book with one of my stories in it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

End Hiatus, #writemotivation Check-In, and Revised Blogging Schedule

My blogging hiatus is over. On the one hand, it was nice not to feel time pressure to work on blog posts and to use all of my writing time for fiction work. On the other hand, there were some nights when some low-stress blog writing might have been more enjoyable than trying to make something work that wasn't wanting to work fiction-wise. (Whether that latter is actually an "other hand" or just another way of describing the blog post work as being something which "keeps" me from fiction is a debatable matter.)

But, anyway, I'm not planning to extend the hiatus at this time, though I may choose to engage in them a bit more often than I have in the past if it feels appropriate/necessary.

I am making changes to my blogging schedule but they have no impact on my Monday/Thursday/Sunday routine on this blog; the changes are entirely on the Write Every Day blog. That blog will be shifting to a Wednesdays-only format. Details are in this blog post.

September is a #writemotivation goal-check month. Here's how I'm doing with about 1/3rd of the month gone.

1) Keep my Daily Writing Chain going. - No issues so far.
2) Decide on and publish revisions to my blogging schedule once my hiatus is complete. - As described above, done.
3) Submit at least six of my previously-completed stories for the first time. - Sigh. Zero so far.
4) Write a story and submit it to Criminal Element. - I had one idea, started developing it and decided it didn't feel like a good fit. So I'm back to square one here.
5) Write the first draft of my story for the Codex Halloween contest. - I have an outline of the story but haven't gotten any farther than that.
6) Get a revised version of my novelette out to beta readers. - Done! Hurray! One reader has provided feedback already and it was largely positive. Waiting to hear back from another reader before making (final?) revisions to it.

On the whole, I feel fairly good about this. Two of the six are firmly checked off the list and a third is in a good place. But there's still a lot of heavy lifting to do if I want to get all six done this month so I'd better get to it!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Three Short Story Sales: Space & Time + Kazka Press California Cantata anthology + Interstellar Fiction

The blog hiatus doesn't preclude me from stopping by for a quick announcement...

I received word late last night of not one but two short story sales. Venerable semi-pro zine Space & Time has accepted my science fiction short story "State of the Union" and Kazka Press has accepted my fantasy short "Counting It Up" for their California Cantata anthology.

(edited to add: Make that three short story sales! Interstellar Fiction will be running my science fiction baseball story "Out With the Crowd" in their October issue. Perfect timing, with the World Series coming up!)

No specific publication date yet for the Space & Time story. The California Cantata anthology is projected to come out sometime around the first of the year. Links will be provided when they are available.

Speaking of Kazka Press... This would be a good time to remind everyone that I'm guest-editing their flash fiction contest this month. Submissions are open now through the 20th of September on the theme of "Love Beyond Death." When asked to describe what I was looking for, I said:
"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."