IWSG: My Race Score Sucks

September 4, 2014

Well, it’s time for Insecure Writers’ Support Group again!

I said, a little earlier this year, that I would submit lots of writing and my ‘race score’ would soar to incredible heights. If you haven’t heard of it, the race score is basically just one for each story you have out at a market, and it’s one of a few different ways to ‘gamify’ the submissions grind. There are a few other rules; I think simultaneous subs, if you do them, don’t count for extra race points, and longer things like novel partials and full novel manuscripts (out at an agent or directly to a publisher) count for multiple points.

Just at the moment, my race score is 1, thanks to ‘Return to Civilization’, which has been in the Analog slushpile since January now. The other two stories I’ve submitted over the past year, (including “Love is a Masterpiece” that got an Honorable Mention with Writers of the Future) are in this weird limbo hold where I don’t know where to submit them now.

I even had a two-step plan for how to bring my race score back up, but both steps are lagging. I was going to fast-track revisions on “TimeBubble Blues” and “Gotta Have That Look” so I could start sending them out–and I’m still not feeling confident in the revisions. And I was going to start scouting out new markets that I could submit to.

I’m not even sure why the scouting part is something I’m hitting so much resistance on. I love reading genre short stories. I really like finding out new places to read shorts and figuring out what kind of stuff they want most.

At least I think I like it, so why haven’t I been doing any of it lately? 😦

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What’s Up Wednesday? Lazy Summer Days?

August 13, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

I’ve been listening to some great podcast stories from ‘Escape Pod’ and got “Luck of the Draw” (the Xanth book) from the library on the weekend, and I’ve been enjoying it quite a lot. I also got “Warm Bodies” from the library, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read it through. I’ve skimmed through a lot of it comparing with my memories of the movie. The library also has a downloadable audio version of “Warm Bodies”, and I may give that a try.

And I read a few Analog stories on my Nexus, both via the library Zinio archives, and my own Kindle issues. Today I started the last arc of Angel and Faith, season 9.

What I’m writing:

Well, I started a story for the Xeroxxing Xylophone idea, having fun with it so far! I know I need to get started with revision stuff, but–well, see above under lazy. 😉

What inspires me right now:

Actually figuring out a secret identity long before it gets revealed in the book I’m reading, hehe.

What else I’ve been up to:

Hanging out with my mom a little, cooking and catching up to the last levels update in ‘Angry Birds Epic.’ Pimping the Nexus tablet out with VPN setup and Remote Desktop apps, so that if a work emergency comes up while I’m in Toronto for Fan Expo, I can use the Nexus to solve the problem. The hero travels light, whoohoo. 🙂

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.


In which my Kindle goes back to the USA for magazines

August 5, 2013

Not physically. Let’s see… I was at Williams by the Pier in Hamilton with Elizabeth Twist, catching up and doing our Evensies (even Sundays,) write-in thing, and happened to mention my frustration with Amazon.ca and magazines. Elizabeth’s immediate reaction was that I should send out angry customer support emails until they got my Kindle account switched back to amazon.com, as the best part of having the Kindle, in her experience, was for the magazines.

I don’t tend to default to ‘angry’ with my customer support emails, but I sent out a plea for help to Amazon.com right there in the cafe, and also read her the email I’d sent to Amazon.ca last week and their completely unhelpful brush-off form letter.

Somewhat to my surprise, an Amazon customer support person by the name of Naveen replied within four hours, including very helpful instructions on how to navigate the Amazon.ca website to migrate my account back to Amazon.com – thank you very much Naveen! I have brand new issues of Analog and F&SF on my Kindle, and I’ll be starting a subscription to Asimov’s as soon as they get a new issue out. (The issue that’s currently up on Amazon.com is the same one that Sheila was handing out for free back at Odyssey, so I thought I could read that in print and wait a month.)

Thank you very much for pushing me to try again Elizabeth!


Why can’t Amazon Canada sell me Kindle magazines?

August 1, 2013

So… I think it was back in March or April that I finally clicked on the prompt in Amazon Kindle management that had been nagging at me to flip my Kindle account over to Amazon Canada. I think I made the final decision because I could save a few bucks on a Jim Butcher book I wanted to buy, “Ghost Story.” There was a notification saying that I’d lose any magazine subscriptions, but I didn’t really worry about that; I’d been getting the F&SF free digest for about a year, enjoying the free short story every two months, but I was a little down on short stories just at that point anyway.

What a difference a few months make. I came back from Odyssey all fired to catch up on the major genre magazines, and was assuming that I’d be able to load up on Kindle subscriptions. Imagine my fury when I found out that not only did I lose the subscriptions I had when I flipped the account, I couldn’t resubscribe to any magazines because Amazon Canada doesn’t do magazines or periodical subscriptions! And there doesn’t appear to be any way to flip my Kindle back to an amazon.com account… at least not without a US based credit card. 😦

Now, things aren’t as bad as they might be. Of the genre magazines that amazon.com sells subscriptions to, several of them both offer their stories free online and sell their own .mobi format subscriptions. A couple, namely Asimov’s and Analog, have other options that I can read on my smartphones or a tablet, if I buy a tablet. Only The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction appears to give me no options to read their stories but amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, and dead trees. Sigh.

I’m left full of questions, especially about the options for Analog/Asimov’s. I’ve tried a free trial of Analog through the ‘Magzter’ iphone app, and it seems to be slightly frustrating because the page layout is fixed, so I have to zoom in on every page, then scroll down each column and then up to the top of the next column–but at least that’s doable. I haven’t been able to find those magazines in the apple Itunes newsstand, or under the Xinio iphone app. And I’m not sure if I should hold back on getting a yearly subscription for an iPhone solution if I might be getting an Android tablet soon, in which case I could go with Google Play Magazines. Then again, Magzter and Xinio probably have Android apps as well.

Anybody have words of wisdom about this stuff?


An Odyssey Favorite

May 25, 2013

I’ve been busy doing Odyssey prep stuff lately. This morning I went through a ‘dry run’ of packing the car, figuring out how many suitcases, storage totes, and cardboard boxes I could fit where, so that I know what to pack my stuff into. Once the car was unpacked again, I  took it through a car wash, went to CAA to renew my membership, buy travel insurance, and get some maps. And I bought some new running shoes at the mall.

One other thing I’ve been working on is an assignment where we’re supposed to bring a photocopy (or printout) of a favorite short story along with some thoughts about why we like it so much. I wasn’t quite sure what to do about this for a long time, but I’ve gone through my bookshelves for anything that would have short stories in it, and thought about some other favorite short stories of mine, like the Beowulf Shaeffer stories by Larry Niven. I have those on audio, and also in Fictionwise multiformat e-book formats, including PDF, so I suppose I could print from the PDF format.

But I’m leaning towards a particular story for sentimental reasons, including the story of how I got it. When I was young, I was a voracious reader, but I didn’t read many short stories, and definitely not from magazines. There were Isaac Asimov collections around the house, (and probably some mainstream short story anthologies that didn’t appeal to me at the time.) I definitely picked up a few science fiction anthologies at school libraries and probably public libraries too; I distinctly remember one story set after the fall of the first Terrestrial Empire, where Earthmen shaved their heads for some reason and were kept as status symbols in the courts of alien kings.

But in my late teen years, when I was starting to get interested in writing, I came across the following pieces of advice, which was pretty good, especially at the time:

  1. If you want to get published in science fiction or fantasy, you should start with submitting stories to magazines.
  2. Before you submit, or even write the story, you need to buy them and read them to see what they’re publishing.

And that was more of an adventure than you might think. In my suburban, respectable neighborhood on the West side of Hamilton, you could get a lot of magazines at the corner store, but they didn’t stock science fiction or fantasy magazines. Neither did the libraries, or even the hobby store, (though that had tabletop gaming magazines!) And being that it was the early nineties, you certainly couldn’t go and order them online. I’m sure that if I knew the right phone number or mailing address I could have gotten a subscription, but I didn’t know where to find those out.

Eventually I found a news-stand downtown that had what I needed. I think it was in Jackson Square mall, but I can’t be 100% sure about that detail. And the magazine I picked was the August 1993 issue of Analog. (That means I was seventeen going on eighteen at this point, though I’d still be in high school for another two years, which is a very different story.)

There are quite a few stories in that issue that I remember well, but the one that has stayed with me the most, and I’m considering bringing, is ‘Swan Song’ by Gregory Bennett. It’s a tale of disaster and survival on a supply run from Earth to Mars, with a really cool AI computer and cool themes about the value of family, when to take chances, and how to never play fair with Lady Luck.

🙂


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