Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January and February Goals


I think January is going to have been one of my least successful goal-meeting months since I got back into writing. On the one hand, I've had an impressive amount of first/second draft productivity having gotten initial versions of seven short stories written this month. On the other hand, I haven't directed nearly as much energy toward my stated goals for the month as I should have. I could give explanations and make excuses, but the bottom line is this: I've gotten some good work done but I haven't gone in the direction I intended to go.

January Results
  1. Submit four stories for the first time. - A complete whiff. This isn't good since my goal for the year is to get 36 stories out for the first time. On the bright side, I've still got 11 months in which to do that work. But I can't afford many more months like this one if I'm going to meet that goal.
  2. Read fifty short stories. - I'm sitting at 26 right now with a few days left in the month. If I can manage it, I'd like to get that up to 30 before January is out. We'll see.
  3. Submit programming interest form for Marcon. - Completed.
  4. Publish a revised blog strategy. - Completed.
  5. Reply to all Kazka Press flash fiction submissions by the 25th. - I was on good track for this but then ended up not getting the last of the responses out until the 28th. I basically am okay with this, since the pattern of stories coming in this month seemed to be very different from when I guest-edited -- in brief, about 2/3 of the stories which came in arrived within a day or two of the deadline on 1/20. Still, next month is a short month. So this was my month to learn and next month will be my month to meet the goal.
  6. Have some point during the month where all of my stories which I consider to be on submission are out the door to a market. - Not even close.
February Goals

For a variety of reasons, I'm going to take it a bit easy in February. Some of the things which ate up time in January will continue to eat up time in the beginning of February, it's a short month, etc.
  1. Submit three stories for the first time.
  2. Read twenty-five short stories.
  3. Develop a convention schedule for the year.
  4. Reply to all Kazka Press flash fiction submissions by the 24th.
  5. Make twenty submissions of non-reprint stories. - I still want, some month, to do the "get everything out the door" goal. But having a purely numeric count might be easier for February. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ARCANE II and More of The Next Big Thing

Mondays and blogging just aren't working out this month. Apologies for the belated post.

Speaking of Monday posts, they're generally going to be goal-oriented but I really don't have a lot of goal-related news so I'm going to just present a few bits of news here and then skedaddle.

First off, This is apparently the month in which my stories appearing in horror anthologies get released. On the heels of last week's DEEP CUTS release comes the release this week of ARCANE II. In this volume (available for Kindle, Nook, and on Smashwords) my flash-length story "In the Paint" appears.

Also, related to my The Next Big Thing blog post from last week, here are two other writers' Next Big Thing posts. Both of them, as it turns out, are related to the upcoming release of another anthology in which I have a story, Sidekicks!
Seeing as how I originally got into the Next Big Thing blog hop through Sarah Hans' post and she is the editor of Sidekicks! I am sensing a definite theme here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

300th Post: The Next Big Thing

First of all, this is going to be my 300th published post on this blog. Wow! When I started blogging some of my thoughts about writing I had no idea where it was all going to take me and I can only say that it's been a great ride!

There's a blog hop going around called The Next Big Thing where writers talk about their current projects. It appears to have originated mostly with novelists, but there's nothing that says that other folks can't play, too. Sarah Hans, a member of my local writing workshop and the editor of Sidekicks! (in which I have a story) released her own The Next Big Thing blog post last week (focused on, wouldn't you know, Sidekicks!) and as part of it she tagged me to be one of the next people for the hop.

So, I present to you... The Next Big Thing

FYI: I have adjusted the original questions somewhat since my projects are all short fiction and, as usual, I have multiple ones in flight. I chose a story I feel particularly fond of which is still a work in progress for this post.

1: What is the working title of one of your current stories?

"Written on the Skin". I suspect it will end up being a 1,750-3,000 word long story after I take it through further drafts.

2: Where did the idea come from for the story?

There's a writers' site called Liberty Hall that runs a weekly contest where people are provided two prompts and then have ninety minutes to write a story based on one or both of the prompts. One week recently there was an image of a fingernail painted with music notes. I looked at that and thought for a bit and had the idea of a woman with music tattooed over much of her body. Then I had to figure out why.

3: What genre does "Written on the Skin" fall under?

Post-apocalyptic science fiction.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I've been fond of Jennifer Lawrence since I saw her in "Winter's Bone." I think she'd be a good fit for the main character in "Written on the Skin" though I doubt her agent would want her showing up in another post-apocalyptic thing on the heels of The Hunger Games.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?

A young woman whose parents and siblings have all died and is about to become a mother herself works to keep alive the memory of the family members she has lost.

6: Will your story be self-published or represented by an agency?

Short fiction is almost never represented by an agency. There are, to be sure, some exceptions but generally speaking authors are "on their own" to market their short fiction. Once I have a final draft of this in hand, I'll start it out to the periodicals and/or anthologies which seem like a good fit for it.

7: How long has the editing taken you?

I wrote the first draft in 90 minutes. The basic story arc is there but there are some aspects which probably require expansion and at least one element I think I need to change.

8: What other stories would you compare "Written on the Skin" to within your genre?

I'm struggling to think of a specific story that I would compare it to. What I will say is that I hope it will -- like many of the stories I have most enjoyed reading -- depict a person working to navigate the often-difficult paths of relationships with their fellow humans.

9: Who or What inspired you to write this story?

The person who provided the prompt described above.

10: What else about your story might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope that it ends up in a publication which readers know they can rely on for consistently high-quality fiction. That, to me, is the best way for a new SF/F short fiction writer to interest potential readers.

Thanks for reading! Now for the people I am tagging as part of the blog hop; many of them are primarily short fiction writers as well. I made an attempt to check that they hadn't participated in the hop yet, but if I missed their post, I'll update this to reflect their previous Next Big Thing posting.

Alex Shvartsman – Alex is the editor of Unidentified Funny Objects and he has had dozens of short stories published in recent years. He's also been a great mentor to me in the world of writing and I am happy to call him a friend.

Alexis A. Hunter  – Alexis and I have talked some online and met briefly during the Context convention here in Columbus last fall. She's young and, like Alex, has had dozens of short stories published in recent years.

Robert Lowell Russell – Robert is in the same writing group that Sarah Hans and I are in; in fact, he's the person who recommended I look into the group. He's written a number of stories that I've felt have a really solid emotional core and which I expect I'll see published in the not-too-distant future. He also has the ability to write humorous stories and was one of only a handful of recipients of a three-star rating (the highest rating awarded) for 2012 short stories by Tangent Online in their Recommended Reading List for his very funny story "The Flittiest Catch" in an issue of Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Beth Cato – Beth is the only one on this list I haven't met. She lives in Arizona and I live in Ohio. Amusingly, though, she lives in Buckeye, Arizona and Ohio is The Buckeye State. She's had numerous short stories published in recent years and also is an avid writer of poetry. Additionally, she enjoys baking and blogging her recipes; around Christmas I made a batch of her snickerdoodles which turned out wonderfully!

All four of these authors are ones I can imagine doing great things in the years and decades to come. I hope that all of them can be... The Next Big Thing!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Awaiting the Captain's Ghost" in DEEP CUTS & Goal Updates

The horror anthology "Deep Cuts" is live now on Amazon.com. This book includes 19 short stories including my own Civil War-era tale "Awaiting the Captain's Ghost." I've been working occasionally on writing stories which are inspired to one degree or another by English and Scottish ballads such as those collected by Francis James Child. [SPOILER LINK WARNING: Clicking the link in the next sentence and reading about the related ballad will give hints as to where the story is going, in part.] "Awaiting the Captain's Ghost" explicitly references one such ballad, "The Knight's Ghost."

I'm very happy with how this story turned out and looking forward to reading the other stories in the collection. I hope that if you purchase this book (or if you already have it on its way via their Kickstarter effort from last year) that you enjoy the book and my story.

And now, for goal updates! Here's where things stand for January as a whole.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 Writing Stats and Reflections

What a difference a year makes.

At the onset of 2012 I had a total of four fiction publication credits in the 21st Century for which I had earned a total of less than $15. I had made 70 short fiction submissions in 2011, garnering 67 rejections and 3 acceptances. (That's actually a fairly-decent ratio, though one of those was a twitter-length fiction and the other two sales were a pair of flash stories to the same market.) Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine that in 2012 I would make over a half-dozen pro-paying sales, become eligible to be a full Active member of SFWA, and have a story of mine selected for reprint in an anthology being edited by mystery and crime editing legend Otto Penzler.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Updated Blog Schedule

One of my January goals is to adjust my blogging schedule/strategy to something which I feel better fits my current big-picture goals.

I've actually slightly implemented the strategy starting yesterday by NOT having published a Sunday Links post. My new blogging schedule will be as follows:
  • Mondays: Goal-related Posts
  • Thursdays: Everything Else (could be writing tips, comments on news in the world of fiction, links I want to draw attention to, etc.)
  • As Needed: Announcements of story sales, etc.
So, stop back Thursday and I'll have an "Everything Else" post of one flavor or another. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Two Story Sales and More Goal Updates

I ended 2012 with two more short story sales. My story "Act of Penance" was accepted for the December 2012 Kazka Press Flash Fiction contest. I'm very pleased to have had one more story accepted there before I take over the editorial reins for the monthly contests. This story should go live today or in the very near future.

Also, "Back to School", my zombie teacher story, has been accepted for publication by Plasma Frequency. It will be in the fourth issue of that publication, due in early February.

Now to close out December's goals and declare goals for January.

For December...