Kansas stories have been sent in!

June 13, 2011

So, yesterday afternoon I emailed off three stories to the other student writers for the CSSF workshop in Kansas. It was fun and a little giddy stuff, finishing my rewrite of Harry and Mars, and going over my critique tracking spreadsheets for both Landing and Harry.

The third story, ‘Survey’, on the other hand, I just dug up the most recent draft from last September, checked to make sure that the formatting looked good, and sent it off. It’ll be interesting to see if anybody notices a different between that story and the ones that I’ve put more work into revising recently.

This evening, I booked a town car service to take me from the Kansas City airport to the University in Lawrence. I’m flying in fairly late in the afternoon, none of the shuttle schedules look like a good fit, and I don’t want to have to wait around the airport, so I’ll be making the trip in affluent style. Woot!

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‘Harry and Mars’ rewrite update

June 9, 2011

Big thanks to everybody who left encouraging comments last week when I told you about my plans to do a third draft on ‘Harry and Mars’. It really helps to get such supportive thoughts from total strangers!

So – I started the rewrite from scratch last Saturday, and now I’m up to 5824 words, and I think that the climax has just passed. To my surprise, it’s all new stuff, too, I never got to a point where I thought, “okay, here’s where this bit from the first draft fits in” and copy/pasted it. I definitely had a lot of the same general scene ideas – the engineer finds out about the leaking tank, the captain issues orders to everybody, Harry and the engineer bond and talk about childhood fears, the fire in the reduction lab, Harry trying to get out the airlock – but I had different things I wanted to get out of each passage now.

I’ve also done some interesting character work, I think – I was wanting to establish the crew as being really multinational, and that didn’t come through on the last draft, so I started looking at all the countries who’ve had space programs, no matter how small, and looked around coming up with really distinctive names that obviously signify a nationality or ethnicity – and those names have informed the secondary characters and helped me flesh them out as individuals, in an odd way.

I feel a bit like I’ve been doing ‘discovery writing’ with this draft; I haven’t been trying to come up with a polished product, just get some good stuff in there, especially since I know that the Kansas crew will be able to help me figure out what works and what doesn’t. But I like the story more at this point than I thought I might.

Which is good, because there’s about five days left to finish and polish it before sending it out to my fellow CSSF workshoppers – not to mention any last changes I want to make to the Landing. Tic-toc!


Progress update, June week 1

June 7, 2011

So yeah, I figure it’s time for another post about how I’m doing with my writing goals lately:

  • The rewrite of ‘Harry and Mars’ is going pretty well – I’ve got up to about three thousand words, starting from scratch, and it’s addressing a lot of the issues from the last critiques I got. On the other hand, I’ve only got 1 more week to polish up both stories and send them in to my Kansas peeps.
  • Preparations for going to Kansas are also doing well – I’ve gotten a lot of the logistical arrangements made, including shipping off a box of linens so that I don’t need to pack them into a suitcase to take on the plane, and I’ve started to get to know the other students on the class forum.
  • I’m a little behind on the draft of “Won’t somebody think of the Children?” for the free Createspace proof – I’ve got one chapter done out of six, and I have that annoying feeling that I wasn’t paying 100% attention for the last few pages. Well, I’ll be able to get something sent off I’m sure, and if it’s not perfect then it’s not.
  • I’m back on the Nanopubye forum and getting to know some of the regulars there.
  • Posted a few more entries into my fanfic tracker, and realized that I really need to be working on that from the desktop tower, because that’s where all of my old fanfic chapters are stored, not necessarily on the laptops.
  • About half a chapter written for my Roswell/Pern crossover.
  • And I’ve been doing a LOT of blogosphere work lately, first making the rounds to try to get some votes on my next in-depth review series, (Prisoner of Azkaban still in the lead by two votes!) and visiting everybody who participated in the Fun and Games blogfest. I’m sorry that I couldn’t comment on everybody’s, but if you were on that linky list, I did come and take a look!

So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?


Doing another big rewrite

June 3, 2011

I want to rewrite ‘Harry and Mars’ by June 14th, so that I can incorporate most of the notes I got from critters.org before submitting it for the Kansas workshop. (I’m also planning to do a few more revisions to ‘The Landing’ in the same timeframe.)

Unfortunately, it looks like most of the opinions I got from critters.org are suggesting that the story has some good potential, but some serious issues. When I pull up the appropriate tab of my ‘tracking spreadsheet’, some of the first entries for Harry and Mars include:

  • Flesh out the characterization of all characters (except Harry)
  • Explain the roots and the progressions of the phobia better. The reader has to believe in it!
  • Plot relies on unlikely personal issues.
  • ‘Show, don’t tell’ about Harry in particular
  • Write with better style
  • Explore the theme of hopelessness more?
  • The ending is pointless

Now, to be fair, I sorted the list for items that I felt would require a lot of work to get these ones to the top, but still, there weren’t a lot of ‘quick wins’ and easy changes that I thought would improve the story much.

Like the title character in the story, I do feel a bit as if I’m on the edge of giving into despair and fear. I’ve already done a fairly substantial rewrite on my first draft, and despite the potential that I and other people have seen, I’m not entirely sure if there’s a great story in here that I can tell, or that I really want to tell. Still, I haven’t given up, and I’m going to give it one more try in the next two weeks. Going over all the points from that list, I’ve actually just had an interesting idea for reworking the story – getting rid of Charlie as the POV character, beginning the story with Harry attempting suicide and being stopped, and having three supporting characters each interview her to try and find out why she did it – the doctor, the captain, and Charlie, the best friend.

As tempting as it was to work in the ‘phobia of Phobos’ bit, I think that that was leading me astray too. My first draft wasn’t about a phobia, but about a crewmember on a space flight giving into depression and despair in the midst of a crisis, and I think that may be the better way to go after all. The question of why she suffered from that depression, and how no-one had spotted it earlier, can be the central question that I explore.

Wish me luck!

 


May goals update! Much accomplished!

May 31, 2011

So, checking in on my list of creative to-do items for May, I feel like I’ve really done very well:

  • Finished all three fanfic chapters I wanted to write. The new installment of “Un-brotherly love’ is a little shorter than I had planned, but it came to a good chapter break point.
  • I added four titles to my master fanfic tracker spreadsheet, which was enough to figure out that it wasn’t all that hard.
  • I submitted four stories for magazine publication!
  • I’ve finished reading and critiquing a novel manuscript from critters.org
  • I’ve visited a lot of cool blogs.
  • I had a great time with the Storywonk workshop, and posted all of the ‘homework assignments’ on the private forum.
  • I’ve completed tracking spreadsheets for all of the critters comments I got for ‘The Landing’ and ‘Harry and Mars’

This, in addition to other cool but unplanned stuff like getting into the CSSF workshop, and getting the air conditioner repaired.

I’ve started on the list of June goals to accomplish, as follows:

  1. Read the rest of this entry »

Star Patrol to the critters

May 17, 2011

I didn’t really get a chance to send the Star Patrol blogisodes over to the CSSF as a novel workshop sample – applications to the novel workshop have been closed for two months now. But I had a window of about a day and a half when I was seriously considering that, editing and proofreading the writing that I’d done so far, putting together an outline for the rest of the novel, and now I’m seriously wondering if I can get the entire book written this year.

So I decided to do something a bit new, and send the story so far to the critters workshop, along with the outline, and inviting critiques on that. Part of the way the critters structure works is that there’s very little downside in having something waiting in the queue to be sent out, (or out) all the time, if you actually have stuff that you want opinions on. You’re expected to do your weekly duty of critiques, (whether on the shorter pieces that are sent out weekly, or amortized on longer novel-length manuscripts) whether you have something waiting to be sent out or not.

My second short story for the critters, ‘Harry and Mars’, was sent out last Wednesday and critiques for it are due tomorrow, so I put together the revised Blogisodes, reformatted as chapters 1-2 of a novel manuscript tentatively titled “First Discovery”, and added the brief one-page synopsis of the novel’s plot. I’m not quite sure what kind of feedback I’ll get back from the critters, but hopefully it won’t be hard to wait to find out. It looks like if I’m lucky, I’ll get in at the end of the batch of stories sent out June 1st.


Submitting stories

May 4, 2011

I submitted a science fiction story, ‘Harry and Mars’, to a magazine yesterday. I feel somewhat good about having actually gone and sent something in somewhere, but I’m also waiting for the rejection shoe to drop.

The magazine that I sent to is called “Title goes here”, and it seems like an interesting market. I found it through the Duotrope engine.

I’m not really sure if the story is where I want it to be, but I included it in my applications for Clarion and Clarion West, so I figured that it was worth a shot. Then again, Clarion and Clarion West both rejected me already, while Odyssey, which didn’t get a look at this story, put me on wait-list. Hmm.

In a weeks time, the critters get a chance to look at ‘Harry and Mars’, so I guess I’ll see what they think then. And it’s probably a good habit to not let myself wait for a piece to be perfected before I start sending it out, at least when it comes to short fiction. Maybe one editor will like something about a story that I might change if I get a chance to do another draft. It’s more important, in the long run, to be actually getting my work out there, instead of chasing after a shining diamond standard that might be an illusory and unreachable goal…

Right? What do you think??


Nanowrimo Day 21: The NOWD has landed!

November 21, 2010

Mini-posts from the Night of Writing Dangerously…

5:30 pm Pacific time – have chosen a table and set up my netbook, made my choices for the raffle, and begun entering words.

6:45 pm Pacific time – I hit 50,000 words! I was the seventh one to ring the big bell for winning. Sarah was joking about running back and forth to announce winners all night, but I don’t think anybody’s rung in the past ten minutes or so, since me and the lady after me.

Midnight pacific time – back in the hotel, didn’t keep up with posting throughout the evening obviously. But a few high points:

  1. Chris Baty gave a great speech about “If we have it in us to write a 50,000 word book in 30 days, what else do we have in us?” I managed to catch all of it in video on my digital camera.
  2. Rachael Herron’s talk about how to move from Nanowrimo to publication was also amazing – hitting a lot of the things about revisions and query letters that I’ve been thinking about lately, with practical advice from the perspective of somebody who’s recently been through it all.
  3. I also enjoyed Jen Arzt’s talk about Script Frenzy, though it was more aimed at those who’ve never tried the Frenzy before, not veterans like me. I went up to her afterward and thanked her for the effort that she’d put into running the event, and mentioned the ‘Beat sheet’ series that I was running on this blog a few months ago.
  4. 2 other writers from our table hit the 50k mark before the night was out.
  5. I got some great material written for “Harry and Mars”, a short psychological sci-fi piece that I started at the end of September. Turns out it might be even shorter than I expected, for the first draft at least.

Good night!


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