What’s Up Wednesday? Back from TNEO!

August 6, 2014

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

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Well, more ‘Season 9’ Buffyverse graphic novels, Iron Druid ‘Shattered’, and Elizabeth Moon’s Command Decision.

I enjoyed a lot of Escape Artist stories on my way to Odyssey and back for the TNEO workshop, mostly PodCastle just because their episode numbers were lower, but some Escape Pod as well. It was really cool visiting all those fantastic worlds as I drove down the Mass turnpike and across New York State, with my little palm TX plugged into the AC outlet on my dash so that it didn’t run out of battery power. Once I was home, and recovering from the workshop and the driving, I devoured Bryan Lee O’Malley’s new graphic novel “Seconds” in one afternoon.

What I’m writing:

Finished my  Brain transplant story with the help of some workshop brainstorming. Haven’t really written or revised anything since I got home, because my brain’s still spinning with all the new stuff I learned and the revision possibilities for “Think of the Children.” Hopefully I’ll get back to the grind soon.

What inspires me right now:

All the character and plot stuff I learned in New Hampshire, and the fabulous writers I met! Also, once again, Bryan Lee O’Malley!

What else I’ve been up to:

Umm, let’s see. The workshop was amazing, really busy, full of critique circles and other small group activities and writers reading their stuff aloud and gathering over snacks to chat about internal editors, adversaries and allies, driving off in all directions to wander through bookstores (of the both dusty and clean variety.) Oh, and my lecture really went well, several people told me that they really enjoyed it and/or learned cool new stuff.

Since I got home, I’ve mostly been crashing and relaxing, getting back into the office routine, grocery shopping and that kinda stuff.

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

What’s Up Wednesday? Lecture crazness…

July 23, 2014

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

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Umm… a Buffyverse graphic novel, Elizabeth Moon’s “Command Decision”, an Escape Pod podcast, and some more Analog stories via the library and Zinio on my tablet.

What I’m writing:

Reached 10k for July Camp Nanowrimo, didn’t quite finish the  Brain transplant story. Haven’t written in a few days, because I’m busy with other stuff… Maybe I’ll finish the story while I’m at the workshop.

What inspires me right now:

Character growth and transformation! I’m finally digging into this lecture I need to have ready for TNEO, two days before I leave, and it’s great stuff, even if I’m a little frazzled.

What else I’ve been up to:

Catching up on some Vampire Diaries and Revenge. I’ve got a replacement credit card already, and the scam charges will probably get straightened out in due time. And I’ve been getting ready to leave for New Hampshire, though I still have packing to do…

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

What’s Up Wednesday? Odysseys on my mind…

July 16, 2014

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

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Let’s see. I already finished the latest Iron Druid book I borrowed from the library, “Hunted”, and I’m on hold for the most recent one as soon as the library ebook is available. Loving those stories! I’m still reading stories off my Zinio copies of Analog, and I got back to the Elizabeth Moon Vatta’s war series recently.

And I’m still listening to podcasts a lot, but I did get to a nice PodCastle story in my playlist the other day: “Gazing into the Carnauba Wax Eyes of the Future”, by fellow Codexian Keffy R.M. Kehrli.

What I’m writing:

Finished the Neural Rewiring story, and started another idea from my April A-Z challenge: Brain transplants!

What inspires me right now:

Well, it just occurred to me today that this is the last week of Odyssey 2014, and I wonder how the new class of Odfellows are feeling at this point and what I’d say to them if I had the chance. I’m going to be leaving for “The Never-Ending Odyssey” workshop in a little over a week, and I’m really excited about that. Also, Storywonk podcasts, Star Trek Into Darkness, and the Vampire Diaries.

What else I’ve been up to:

Dealing with a scam on my credit card, (I’m on hold with the bank disputed charge hotline as I type this,) and hanging out with my family over the weekend. Also, exchanging critiques with my Team Ambitious buddies for the first time since April or so, whoo-hoo!

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

IWSG: Submissions and The Race

December 4, 2013

Hi there! It’s Wednesday, it’s the first week of the month, so that means it’s time to meet with the Insecure Writers Support Group! Today, I wanted to go back to talking about submissions, and something a little scary that I’m going to try: Race points.

It can be really intimidating to send your shorts to a market, where it’ll get judged in the slush pile for all kinds of things you might not know about, and discouraging to keep sending anything out after a rejection.

I hadn’t submitted anything to an actual market in years before this fall. When I was at Odyssey this summer, everybody was really encouraging about submitting, and talking about how it might take up to 100 rejections for a good writer to make their first sale. A lot of my Odyssey classmates are full of plans to become ‘Centurions’ (ie reach their 100th rejection) by next Summer.

Sigh. I’ve made two submissions so far in 2013; got one rejection back, and the other is still in the slush pile.  I think I’ve made progress on letting go of my perfectionism and refusing to leave stories in the trunk because I don’t know enough to fix the flaws I see in them.

I used to be intimidated by Race Scoring, maybe because I felt there was something I was missing, and maybe because I’d come across some really high Race target numbers, (like Dean Wesley Smith’s, which is 60 points! :-o.) The idea with Race points is just to keep your points up at a high level for as long as you can; you get one point for every story that’s submitted and out on the slush pile, you lose the point when it’s rejected or when you get paid for the story. There’s some ‘equivalent points’ stuff to factor in submitting novels and other stuff, but that’s the basic idea. And part of the reason I’m drawn to Race points now is that they’ll keep me from targeting markets that have a really quick turnaround time, as opposed to really good markets where I’d like to make a sale, and that I think are a good fit for my stories.

I think I may keep count of my rejections as well, just to turn something that could be depressing into a badge of honor as a writer.

So, what about you? Any followers out there who are also struggling with the submission grinder?

A change in the Calendar of Goal Tracking letter lineup.

September 21, 2013

Okay, I guess it’s nearly 21 months that I’ve been working on my ‘calendar of goal tracking’ productivity trick. 🙂 Over that time, I’ve added a few new letters, and one multiple-letter code, to record new activities that I’ve been time-slicing, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever completely redefined a letter, until now.

Ever since the ‘Team Ambitious’ critique program started up, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on critiques for my Odyssey friends, and learning a lot from them. However, I think I’ve noticed that I’ve been spending less time and effort on drafting and revising my own pieces because of this, and that really does need to change. One of the places to get that change started, I think, is on the calendar. Somewhere along the way, I told myself that working on somebody’s critique was enough to get me an ‘E’ for the day. That stops as of yesterday. E is only for editing my own stuff, just like W is only for doing my own writing, and so on.

But I wanted to keep tracking the Team Ambitious critiquing stuff, and I fussed over what letter to use. T is already in use for the Thinking Sideways course, and A is for my Art exercises, so I couldn’t use either of them, and trying to use them both together could be really confusing. C is for Cleaning, and so on.

But I’ve made a decision. O was originally for Outlining new story ideas, but I’ve never really used that much, (even though I have some outlining to do soon on the Steampunk Roswell/Area 51 idea!) As of yesterday, O stands for Odyssey stuff instead.

And hopefully that’ll mean a few more Ws on the calendar, and some E’s that actually mean my stories are closer to getting submitted!

IWSG: Facing rejection and accepting ‘as good as I can make it now’

August 7, 2013

Okay, it’s time for the August 2013 edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Apologies for not participating in July, but I was pretty ragged with Odyssey writing that week, and my blogging was down to the minimum.

It’s nearly two years now since I last submitted anything to a publishing market. At the time, I told myself that I needed to concentrate on the craft, but really, that was probably just my insecurity, finding a way to avoid rejection. Well, I’ve definitely learned a lot about the craft of writing, and I while I was at Odyssey a lot of people told me that I should be submitting a lot, that I was ready for it. Jeanne told me, Sheila Williams told me, Nancy Holder told me, I think Patricia Bray told me, the resident adviser told me and my fellow students told me. So I’m doing it. I’m going to submit again before August is finished, and I’ve set a tentative goal of reaching 42 new rejections in the year after I left Odyssey.

Part of what I’ll need to get me to that goal, as well as a willingness to face the rejection again, is a willingness to accept something short of an ideal perfection in my writing. Basically, if a story’s as good as I can make it right now, then it doesn’t get to sit on the hard drive for months as I learn more about writing; I pound the digital pavement and start sending it out. Yeah, I’m going to learn more about writing in the meantime, and use what I’ve learned to write better stories; maybe I’ll be able to revise something in between rejections, or maybe it’d be better not. But I can’t let the process bottleneck at the end. Keep writing, keep revising, keep submitting.

Discovering a new revision process

August 2, 2013

It’s often hard for writers to figure out what process works for them. Natasha posted to a blog chain sharing a few thoughts on her process a few weeks ago, and Storywonk Sunday devoted most of their podcast last week to talking about process, including their concept of the ‘Frog Box’, which I love; it’s a feature on their website that prompts you with process ideas to try, that other Wonks have sent in.

I stumbled across something new in terms of process for revising while I was at Odyssey, and apparently it’s stuck with me. The first thing you need to understand is, I’ve done a lot of critiquing before going to Odyssey, but aside from the few in-person writer’s circles I’ve gone to, most of it has been with electronic manuscripts; the novel swaps forum on Nanowrimo.org and the CSSF short stories workshop rely on email, and critters.org has a hybrid system where you can get manuscripts emailed to you or download them off the website, and send them in either way as well.

At Odyssey, everything was hard copy. You printed out your story when it was ready, Jeremy the work-study writer made fifteen photocopies, stapled them, and handed them out to everybody at the morning lecture. We made notes in pen on the hard copy, typed up and printed our overall critique of the story, and handed in the critiques and the marked-up manuscript back to the author after everybody had said their piece in the circle.

It’s a system with a lot to recommend it; there’s no confusion over possible multiple copies emailed out, or any possibility of somebody not getting the manuscript critiqued because the college wifi decided it didn’t like their laptop. Also, it means that it’s a lot harder for anybody to keep copies of somebody else’s work, which I can understand a lot of workshoppers being concerned about.

I have issues with pens. I’ve been holding them an unusual way ever since I was little, my handwriting is horrible to read, and for most things, writing in pen on paper saps my creative energy like a black hole sucking up everything that comes near. But marking up a printout in pen is never the worst thing. I’ve been able to critique in pen on paper before, and I did some of my Block Revision last summer with pen and paper–but when I needed to write long passages I had to switch over to the Alphasmart.

When I was working on a story to submit in week 2 of Odyssey, after I’d come up with a first draft, I was having a hard time looking at what I’d written on the computer screen and figuring out what changes I needed to make before I submitted it. So, somewhat whimsically, I printed it off and tackled it with my official Odyssey pen as if it were somebody else’s story I were critiquing, and that worked quite well. Like with Block Revision, I wouldn’t write many words on the manuscript, but generally with just a short scribbled phrase I could tell myself what I needed to know to expand on a scene or insert new action. I did that with every piece I submitted for the rest of Odyssey, and for the story I abridged to read at the Flash Fiction Slam in Nashua.

I guess I hoped that after being home from Odyssey for a week, I could go back to editing by staring at the computer screen. Either that, or I entirely forgot about this new approach. But I went back to the paper and pen approach for my new revision of ‘Masterpiece’, and it’s still working great. Something about having a pen and a printout really brings the best out of my Inner Editor; who’d have thunk it. Maybe he’s just trying to find his own thing and emphasize how different he is from my Inner Pantser, who’s all about fingers on the keyboard. Whatever. As long as he’s willing to perform, I don’t mind killing a few trees for him.

A bad Camp Nanowrimo omen

July 22, 2013


Hey there, I’m back from Odyssey, good to see you all!

I haven’t really been doing that well for Camp in July. I set my goal for 10,000 words, and got off to a pretty good start, clocking up over 6600 in the first 8 days. But those were for Odyssey submissions, finishing up “That which was Caesar’s,” (which I started in June,) and writing “Frigga’s Masterpiece” over the first weekend in July. But then Masterpiece was submitted, and I haven’t really been pushing myself to write that much since.

I got a little more written over the last two weeks of Odyssey, and I actually got started on the end of “The Aurigae Express” last night. But I was going to my car this afternoon, pulled out the keychain – and my Camp Nano key fob broke! I don’t even know how it happened, I just pulled the keys out my pocket and what was left of the fob bounced on the pavement. It still looks very pretty, but there’s really no way to put it on a keyring anymore. 😦



It’s the square one that says ’50K’ with the bullseye that I’m talking about, not the round fob with the bird tweeting ‘Nanowrimo.’ Yes, I have an embarrassment of OLL riches and shouldn’t let the loss of one keychain fob get to me so much. But those would be easier words to live by after I’d made my camp word count goal. Sigh.


Quick Odyssey prep update

June 7, 2013

Less than 36 hours until I leave now! Tomorrow will be the big day of marathon preparations, including packing many suitcases, getting money, and mostly clearing out the fridge.

Today I got some important stuff taken care of. It was my last day at work until July, and that went over pretty well. I also finally got my new glasses and clip-on shades, and I had dinner with my mom and went over a few things like her picking up my mail and turning on the air conditioner before I get back.

It’s getting so close, whoohoo!

IWSG – Chase dreams and you just might catch one!

June 5, 2013

It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group time again, and I feel like I don’t have any new insecurities to bring to the table. Sure, I’m still nervous about leaving for Odyssey in just a few days, but I think I covered that pretty well last month.

But I’ve still got plenty of excitement and inspiration to share, I think. And it’s occurred to me that a lot of writers from all over the world applied for this. If I looked strictly at the numbers, I might have thought that it wasn’t worth the effort to put together my application and mail it off. I certainly wasn’t feeling too hot about my chances after three other workshops rejected me in March.

Still, I got in! That’s made me think about other things that I thought I wasn’t ready to try for yet. I’ve submitted some stories to magazines, but I gave it up after getting a half-dozen rejections or so. Maybe I should be more like Elizabeth, pushing the race points month after month, looking for new places where I can submit my writing, and I can build up a few nice little publication credits. And there are other dreams that I’ve let slip away, that I’m still scared of typing into this blog where everyone can see them.

But I’m not going to let them stay one step ahead of me forever. Those dreams can still run, but sooner or later, I’ll give them the best chase I can manage. (Hmm, considering how lousy my knees are, maybe I’ll need some sort of hovercraft to hunt my dreams in.)

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