Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Waiting and Voting

October brings great anticipation of seeing A Broken Race in print. I hope to have cover art very soon so I can share it with you. Brewed Awakenings II will also be out shortly, which means more stories to hold in my hands.

I've heard from two editors this week on other projects. It's nice to have activity going on there as well. Hopefully this means I'll have more announcements in the near future. I'd say I was crossing my fingers, but it's hard to type that way.

While we're sitting around waiting, I'd be grateful if you could take a moment to cast a vote for my short story Late, which appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly. The stories with the most votes will be included in their annual anthology, and as you may have gathered, I'd love to be included.

And now it's back to market hunting for me. I've got a few more short stories in my folder that need homes.

Monday, September 21, 2015

I found time to read a book.

This is a wonderful thing. It's even a book there's no way in hell I can finish in a day. Or two. Maybe three if all I did was read.

I've been saving Stephen King's Under The Dome for over a year. It came to me from a box of books meant for the book resale store, but happened to be on the top and land in my hands before it made it there. Not usually a King fan, I had actually been interested in this one because of the tv show. Another show that I haven't had time to see. I'll get there eventually. But first the book. Because that's how it should be done. (because I said so.)
As I said, I'm not normally a King fan. I've tried. I wanted to be. I mean, he's got a lot of work out there. Unfortunately, after a promising start, it took me two years to finish Pet Sematary. It just dragged. For me, anyway. I'm sure there are readers out there who loved it. I've tried a couple others over the years but just couldn't get into them. This one, so far at least, has been great. I don't want to put it down. But at over 1,000 pages, I have to. It's heavy. And yes, I have a kindle, but I like paper on occasion, this being one of them.

The characterization is excellent. And there are a lot of characters to characterize. I can't imagine the work of getting into each one as the POV changes with every scene. And there are a lot of scenes. And people are dying left and right in all sorts of interesting ways. Even the animals aren't safe.

So while I await cover art on A Broken Race and to see what lands on the cover of the Brewed Awakenings II anthology, I'm just sitting here, percolating my NaNoWriMo project, juggling submissions and reading. Good times.

Looking for more authors to check out? This week on Authors Answer, we discuss our blogs and websites. Who knows, you might find someone new to virtually hang out with.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

So you want to write a short story

A friend recently asked how to go about writing a short short story. Short is a relative term, but generally I'd call that 3,000 words or less.

Cramming a plot into a small word count package can seem challenging. Having come from insanely long novels, to more reasonable sized novels, and all the way to cramming a story into 100 words, I figured I'd share what worked for me. Depending on how you write, it might not work for you. We all have our own methods for creating a story and making it work. Or not work. I've got plenty of those virtually crammed in a back burner folder. But length doesn't have to be the reason why they are there.

If you've started with writing novels and want to try short stories, think of a short as a scene from a novel. You're getting the plot from point a to point b in an entertaining and meaningful way. There is a character, setting, uses of senses, opening, middle and ending, and all the same details you'd write in a larger work, but you need to learn to use less words to do it. Every word has to count.

This is also a useful skill to learn if you've never written the synopsis for a novel, because it's much the same process. Write a novel, boil that same novel down to three pages, then to one page, then to one paragraph. Those three lengths will prepare your novel for most standard submission packages.

But for a short story, we need to first write that story and we don't want to sound like a summary. We want a full story with all the necessary details.

Write a 3,000 word story. Keep it simple for this exercise. One or two characters, getting from plot point a to plot point b. It needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Full resolution, no cliffhangers. If starting out with a word count goal feels more like a collar choking your creativity, just write the darn story however long it ends up being. It gets easier to stay within a word count after doing this process a couple times.

Now read that 3,000 word story. Distill that same story down to 1,500 words. This means you'll have to perhaps lose some of the intricacies of the plot, characterization and description. Maybe the story will have to start a little later or end a little sooner, but it needs to be essentially the same story, just more compact. Tighter. Stronger.

Now read that 1,500 word story. Cut it to 500 words. What is the core of the story? Use only the words you need to make it work in a tiny package. It still needs to be interesting and have a resolution. Keep the feeling. Make every word burn with purpose.

For bonus self flagellation points, take those 500 words and make them 100.

Now you can see what really makes the story work at each length. You can focus each and every word, knowing it's there for a reason.

Next time you start a story, think of what you want to say, what needs to be said, as you write. Have a target word count. Knowing your beginning and ending before you start is immensely helpful.

Don't let the constraint of a word goal stifle your creative process, but staying close to the goal will save a whole lot of editing afterwards.

Good luck and happy writing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Things Are Happening!

Time for another positive post. If you've been following along for awhile, you realize the novelty of this occurrence.

The first good thing: I met with my editor last night to go over the publishing details for A Broken Race. We chatted about books and writing and authory (it's a word, work with me) things. He's working on the cover art. I'm working on the back cover text. Edits are done on my end and getting finalized on his. We're looking at a release in early October in both print and e-book.

Then, we talked about the Brewed Awakenings Anthology, which includes my short stories Mother and Giving Chase. The Anthology is slated for release in late September in both print and e-book.

I'm excited to have two print projects to add to my published works shelf in the very near future.

We have baby grass! Okay, so grass doesn't go through the baby phase. Whatever. I'm giddy to see tiny hints of green in our "lawn" after eight months of staring at dirt. It was a major workout leveling the construction mess and getting it to a point where I could seed and fertilize all the spots that needed to become one with the existing grassy spaces. Soon we can get our land permit signed off on and the house, as far as permits go, will be done!

I got half of the remaining rock work done on the house last weekend. We officially no longer have the work Tyveck visible anywhere on the house. Now I just have some concrete to cover, and that's not near a much of an eyesore.

Other than installing some insulation in the ceiling of the unfinished section of the basement, finishing the rock, spreading the other half of bark mountain, and planting some dune grass on a hill, all the big sweaty projects are done. The end of all-weekend-long projects is on the horizon, and damn, I'm really looking forward to that!

(Yes, this post contains excess exclamation points. It deserves them.)

This week on Author's Answer: How do real world events influence your writing?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What's This? A Hint of Normal?

It's been so long that I've forgotten what a normal day feels like. I think, though, that this week, I've come close. It's a very strange sensation to quit work around 5ish and do normal people things. Things like make dinner at a leisurely pace, eat it, sitting down and as a family and then, the best part, descend into my writing room for not one, but often two or more hours before returning to the family zone to either watch tv or go to bed. I could get used to this.

This week, I've caught up on going over critiques I received over a year ago. I've worked on editing Sahmara, a novel I haven't touched since building the house began. I really like this story. I want to work on it more and get it ready to submit.

I've had time to finally do a thorough read-through of A Broken Race and fix all the typos that resulted in my mad rush to get the revised content to the editor on time while hosting an exchange student and finish up on the house

I've even considered reading a book. Yes, sitting down and just reading. After having time for writing. What is this madness?

It's been a couple years for this too, but I'm actually looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year, the whole diving into writing part, instead of just the seeing all my writing peeps again part. The whole experience. As of this moment, months in advance, I have energy and enthusiasm. It's been a long time since I've had either of those things, even before the house building began.

Landscaping is happening! This is my favorite part. I love playing in the dirt, even if that means encountering snakes. Which is has. Several times. But this part of the making this our home process has taken the longest to get to, so I'll take the snakes and go on my merry planting way.

For this week, at least, life is good.