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?

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New Year, New Goals

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year to you, friends and followers! I haven’t been that wild about the number 13 for a little while. It didn’t really start as a superstitious thing; I just started to dislike it when I began messing around with number theory and factoring; I tend to prefer numbers with lots of factors to primes, and there 13 is, not just a prime, but coming right after 12, the first number to have five different factors other than itself. 😉

But since we’re stuck with 2013 for a whole year, I’ve decided that I need to learn to love it, and part of that is my ‘Lucky 13’ goals list for the year – 13 things I want to accomplish in the year. Here’s the list:

  1. Apply for Summer workshops: Odyssey, Clarion West, Clarion, and CSSF Novels.
  2. Finish ‘How to Revise your Novel’ lessons.
  3. Submit revised “Won’t somebody think of the children” for critters.org RFDR and nanowrimo.org Feedback/Critiques forum.
  4. New novel-length revision project – get through Block Revision at least.
  5. Finish lessons 1-8 of ‘How to Think Sideways’ (given to me by my sister.)
  6. Finish working through ‘Drawing on the Right side of the brain’
  7. Read 104 short stories (2 per week)
  8. Spend 2 hours cleaning/tidying apartment every week
  9. Polish 50 chapters of completed fanfic.
  10. Complete 2 fanvideos
  11. Write 15 new short stories
  12. Do short story shrine revisions on 4 stories
  13. Start online dating

And, I’ve come up with a short list of steps I want to take in January – not definitive, as I expect I’ll also be working on things like the cleaning and short stories in every month…

  • Finish lesson 20 of ‘How to Revise your Novel’
  • Review critters feedback for ‘Gnomes’ and revise sample chapters accordingly.
  • Flesh out five-page synopsis for ‘The Gnomes are Missing’
  • Cut Block Revision draft of “The Storm Mirror” down to 6500 words.
  • Proofread “Time Bubble Trap” and submit to critters.org queue
  • Get feedback on ‘The Storm Mirror’
  • Earn a critters mpc credit
  • Finish updating 12 stories on fanfiction.net

How about you, have you got anything already on your to-do list for 2013?


A quick trip to the Short Story Shrine

December 10, 2012

First off, the Hamilton region TGIO was last night, and I had a really great time. The food was awesome, the company even better, the prizes and raffle seemed to be enjoyed by everybody. It was the perfect night to wrap up my first tour as a Nanowrimo ML.

I got some good progress made on the short story revision yesterday, and now I’m ready to go to the Short Story Shrine, which is the equivalent of the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ Monastery. As I said last spring, the Writer’s Monastery is not a place but a state of mind. Doing the Monastery exercise means leaving many things behind – you leave all previous drafts of your story out of sight, and all your notes, and don’t refer to them. Ideally, you leave behind most of the internet, all television and videos, and any music with lyrics. You don’t talk to other writers, or complain on your blog, or read other books.

You just take what you know deep down in your heart about what you want your story to become, and you write it down as a rough synopsis, one sentence or short paragraph per scene, from beginning to end, doing your best to write with care but not second-guess anything.

The Shrine is probably going to be less intimidating than the Monastery was, both because I’ve been through the Monastery and I really like what I got from it, and because ‘The Storm Mirror’ is shorter and won’t have as many scenes in its outline. But who knows! I’ll give you an update whenever I post next.


Short story revision process is underway!

December 8, 2012

Okay, I finally got started on my modified revision process for ‘The Storm Mirror’ this morning, and I think it’s working out pretty well so far. I’ve finished the lesson 1 exercises, more or less – I didn’t want to go through the Despair worksheet the same way, so instead I just took my printed pages and marked them with highlights in different colors to represent the different parts of Despair – Green for the ‘Keeper stuff’ that I really like, Orange for broken elements that need to get cut or fixed, blue for worldbuilding issues, and purple for character issues.

I decided to either mark character/worldbuilding positives in green or ignore them, because I didn’t have enough extra colors to keep them all straight, and using the same colors for positive and negative elements seemed like a recipe for trouble when I wasn’t doing the full worksheet. Yellow was supposed to be the ‘So boring I skip over it’ color, but I’m pleased that I didn’t need to use that once. 😉

I also did the third target worksheet for Lesson 1, where you imagine your ideal story and put your finger on the three biggest changes you need to make – they lined up rather neatly ind the end, middle, and beginning of the story respectively (but they’re not the WHOLE end, middle, or beginning.)

I’ve decided that for reasons of time I’m going to pick and choose which lessons I’m doing with Storm Mirror, so lesson 2 is a skip – I’m happy with the characters, don’t think I need to do much work with them. Step 3 is the scene inventory, and hopefully I can get some more work done on that this evening before I turn in.

Onward!


Post-Nano interview approaching.

December 5, 2012

Well, I’m still in gliding mode, working on archiving the old Stringing Words, trying to figure out how to apply Holly Lisle’s revision program to a short story, and learning the ropes of the new wordpress.com dashboard upgrades. But there’s something new that I wanted to let you know about.

Rhianna was one of the wrimos that I did a spotlight interview with in late October,  and she’s asked me to return the favor now with a post-Nano interview for her blog. She’s sent me the questions and it looks like a fun interview, but it won’t be scheduled until January.

Still – I wanted my friends and followers to be the first to know!


Goals and Resolutions update, September 2012

September 21, 2012

Well, now that I’ve finished my Block Revision, I’ve got a bit more time to look at some of the other goals that I set myself for this month. I don’t think I’m in too bad shape, but I’ve got enough to keep me busy until October. 😉

  1. Start lesson 18 of ‘How to Revise your Novel.’ I’ve sortuv done this already, in that I’ve read the lesson. It’s all about fairly low-level editing; voice and style and grace and elegance (that’s actually a bad one!) and how to place commas correctly so your reader doesn’t want to kill himself or you. I’ll need to organize what I had left from Block Revision before I start in earnest, but that’s cool.
  2. Read 3 short stories – I’m already at 2, both courtesy of the F&SF free magazine subscription on my Kindle; one was an issue that I thought I missed when June switched to July, before I figured out the way to access back issues.
  3. Submit two critiques for critters. Done! One was sample chapters for a longer book that you could critique for extra credits, and I liked the opening, so I’ve requested the full manuscript. Hopefully I can critique that before November.
  4. Exercise every day (at least 30 minutes) and stick to my 2500 calorie diet. Doing pretty well so far…
  5. Cleaning and tidying the apartment. I’m on track here too, over 5 hours tracked out of eight. If I stick to 20 minutes cleaning a day, I’ll be great, can even take one day off. And at least a lot of the cluttered receipts are dealt with.
    I just realized as I was writing that that when I was going through backlog mail and flyers this evening, I didn’t remember throwing old receipts out of my wallet, which is something that I want to do before tomorrow, so that I have room to bring extra cash to the Toronto Doctor Horrible screening and auction! I’ll have to remember to do it before I go tomorrow morning
  6. Organizing files on the netbook computer. Also doing very well, an hour and a half spent out of my target two hours.
  7. Posting a new, edited story up on fanfiction.net – well, I’ve gone through my files, found a story that’s already partly edited. Need to get my butt in a higher gear on this one.
  8. Critique homework stories from the other CSSF workshop writers. Sent in one critique, started on another, out of six. Again, I need to work harder here.

Do you have goals that you’re working on this month? How are they coming along?


Missing a Camp Writing day?

June 18, 2012

First off, Happy belated Father’s Day, all. I had a good day yesterday, spent some time with the family, went up to the cemetery with my brother. For some reason, while we were there, he felt moved to talk to me about some strip clubs that he’d visited – uh, okay, whatever. 😉

Now, it’s almost 10pm, (which is close to my bedtime, believe it or not,) and I haven’t got any writing done on story #7 of my Summer of Shorts challenge, ‘Marketing the world’, or in fact and Camp Nanowrimo writing at all today. Beyond a usually busy day at work, this is mostly because I’m getting into the groove of critiquing for the CSSF workshop – I finished first read throughs on the last 2 stories this morning, and wrote out critique stories for 4 out of 24 stories this afternoon and evening. I’m not sure if I’ll reach my stated goal of finishing all the critiques before I get on the plane Sunday, (plus Camp Nanowrimo, plus packing, etcetera…) but I’m already further along than I was when I landed in Kansas City last year!

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to slice my time well enough to get something written for Camp too, or I might just stall out. But I feel good about getting the ball rolling with the first critiques today.

Do you find it easy to balance between writing and other creative jobs, (critiquing, editing, anything else?) Or is it something where you can only focus on one or the other?


Only hours left until camp!

May 31, 2012

The June session of Camp Nanowrimo is set to start on June 1st, which is just under two and a half hours away by my local time. I’m really excited, and not quite sure what to expect.

Because I’m off to Kansas for the last week of June, I didn’t think that I was up to the 50k challenge, and plus, I’ve been wanting to concentrate more on writing short stories than novels. So, my rebel camp challenge is this: Write eight short stories, (that is, first drafts of new short stories,) in June, with a minimum of 2000 words each.

That isn’t a huge word count target – 16k total as opposed to 50k, but writing shorts is harder than getting into the novel groove, so I felt that this was a good place to set my goal. For one thing, it can be harder to be brief than to write at length, and if all of my stories end up stretching to an average of six thousand words – then I’d be at 48k. I’d be a bit frustrated if that happens, but finishing the count is the important thing.

I completed three shorts in May, along with a lot of other goals I was working on, but I was generally pretty focused on a short story if I had one on the go. “Tough Love” was finished over a two-day weekend, while  “A Prayer for Healing” and “Northward Ho” each took four consecutive days – for Northward, they were all weekdays, and ‘Prayer’ ended on a Saturday.

So… if I can manage to finish off a short every three days or so while I’m in Canada, then I’ll be almost finished when I leave for Kansas on the 24th, and will be able to squeeze in just a little time writing in between workshop sessions, or on Saturday the 30th.

Last August, I did the Camp Rebel thing, (and even gathered a group of like-minded rebels into a cabin, as I have done again this year,) but in terms of rebel progress, it was a pretty big failure. Part of it was that I had a very vague goal, “Rewrite this manuscript and change the character of Ereyu in this way…” and the Storywonk revision class that I was taking, although it was great and I learned a lot from it, wasn’t quite concrete enough to get me on the step by step path that I needed – in fact, my head was swimming with all of the stuff I learned but wasn’t quite sure how to put into practice, and it wasn’t until I discovered the other revision course, the Holly Lisle one, that I was able to find that path.

I thought about doing a rebel Camp session for Holly Lisle HTRYN classes, but figured that it might be tempting some bad juju to declare myself a rebel camp editor again – and anyway, I did plenty of that in March for NaNoEdMo. So June is about the journey of short stories.

Are you signed up for Camp Nanowrimo? If not, do you have other goals in mind for June?


May goals update

May 12, 2012

Well, after doing National Novel Editing Month in March, and Script Frenzy + A-Z challenge in April, I went back to picking my own stretch goals in May, and I think that they’re going pretty well so far…

Back to ‘How to Revise your Novel.’ It’s taken me a little while to get back up to speed with where I left off in this Holly Lisle course, but I’ve finished off lesson 14 and done the reading for lesson 15 now. They’re both relating to timeline stuff: 14 talks about the ‘simple’ chronological timeline and the importance of getting that straight, and then 15 suggests different exercises with complex timelines to see what they can add to your book – flashforward openings, flashbacks to the beginning, backward scene-by-scene chronologies, and parallel structures where you go through each character’s timeline one by one. I’m not sure that any of those are the ticket for ‘Children’, but I want to go through the exercises and see if I can make any of them tell me something new about my story.

Drafting short stories. I’m still not quite crazy or confident enough to try ‘Story a Day in May’, but I’ve committed to writing three new shorts in May, and as of tonight I’ve finished two, including one that I submitted to the SDMB short fiction contest! 🙂

Cleaning my apartment. I need to keep on with this too, but I’ve gotten a good start – my kitchen is pretty much in good enough shape that the air conditioner guy can get some work done in there, which is very important at this time of year.

Reading and critiquing stuff. Doing fairly well. I’m all done with my slush pile responsibilities for James Gunn’s Ad Astra, until a new batch of submissions comes through. I’m keeping up with ‘two stories a week’ for Elizabeth Twist’s short story reading challenge, and – well, I’m not sure I’m going to get anything in for critters.org this week, but I’m going to do some critting before May is over!

Preparing for Kansas workshop. Some progress – I have my new passport, which was important as the old one would expire before I had to fly. I’ve sent in my registration form for the workshop session and the dorm room. Still need to – book flights, send in payment to the University, and revise the stories that I want to get workshopped. 🙂

How much have you accomplished so far this month?


Not blogfesting today – again.

February 10, 2012

I’d hoped to join into the I’m hearing voices blogfest late with a flash fiction, but it was a long day at work and I just don’t think I’m up for a flash fiction now, sigh. (So much for the promise that we’d get to go home early on Friday, sigh.)

But I’ve been thinking about emotion in short stories lately, mostly because of my still-untitled story in progress. (Maybe I’ll call it ‘Mirror of Storms’ for the time being.) Happiness, unhappiness and grief are all definitely driving engines of this idea – one character, Sarina the witch’s granddaughter, has used a magic mirror that was supposed to rid her of unhappiness, but at a cost. Whenever she has gets angry or sad, the mirror sucks the bad mood out of her, turns it into a storm, and releases the storm over her house. Unfortunately, she lives by the sea, and when one of these storms went out on the water, my MC’s big brother got washed overboard.

Oh – and there’s a curse on the mirror too, of course. 😉 If it’s broken or taken out of Sarina’s vicinity, then the storms will stop, but she’ll be unhappy for the rest of her life. When she’s truly happy, though, that will stop the storms too, and the mirror will crumble to dust.

What do you think so far?


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