Thursday, May 30, 2013

What to do with all these new short stories?

AKA: How easily distracted I am (in a productive way this one time)

Not even quite halfway through short story month (May) I received a rejection on a short currently featured in my juggling routine. This led to some brief mourning the loss of Duotrope as a free site, and a resigned sigh as I referred to my own market spreadsheet hurriedly gathered in my final days on Duotrope.

This then led clicking on a link for a market to which I'd never submitted. There, a listing of tracking sites on which they were featured on caught my attention. So I clicked through to find a new site very similar to Duotrope. And there was great rejoicing.  The Submission Grinder has all the features I've been missing since January. I'm excited about submitting shorts again!

There's a joke about shipping my shorts in here somewhere but my brain is too fried to formulate it.

If you're a short story writer and are also reluctant to spend the few bucks you happen to make on a short story sale on a couple months of Duotrope membership, I highly recommend The Submission Grinder. They also have listings for novels and everything in between. Go on, check it out. It's free.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Writing Hard(ly) in May pt 5

Day 23: Using the idea I got over the weeked, I was off to a good start first thing in the morning. Then, 450 words in, I realized that my awesome idea wouldn't work in the pov of the person undergoing the physical change I'd implimented. It's hard to be the pov character when you're unconscious for a couple weeks while the interesting stuff is happening. So I had the idea to switch the pov to a new character observing the change. Just over 660 words in I was staring at a page of "meh". The light had gone out. Story fail.

Day 24: I still like the seed I had started with yesterday but it needs a new pot to grow in. Using a secondary prompt, I'm giving it a second go. Blarg 200 words in and this isn't working either.

Day 25: Gave up on the not-so-awesome idea. Tried something completely different. That didn't work either.

I think I've reached the point in the month were my brain is too focused everything else I have going on. When I sit down to write, I play out the story in my head enough to find out that: a) there's not enough conflict b) there's no spark of life in it, or c) nothing really interesting is happening. At any of those points, my fingers freeze on the keys and I realize I'm wasting my time that I don't really have to write as it is and I should just stop for the day so I can get done what I really need to get done.

Not that I'm giving up entirely, but unless something really grabs me, I'm going to focus on getting done what needs to be done so I don't have to be up working until 10pm.

I've ended up with what I think are a handful of fairly good stories and two full revisions that will allow me to get a couple more submissions into my juggling act soon. Yay for that!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writing Hard(ly) in May pt 4

May is short story month for me for those of you just tuning in. In an effort to keep myself motivated, I'm reporting my daily progress.

Day 17: Was out on installation work most of the day so I wasn't even near a computer to get words in at lunch. In fact, I didn't even get lunch. Then it was a frenzy of packing and getting on the road with the kids for a Boy Scout family camping trip across the state. Though, I did brainstorm on the ending for yesterday's story.

Day 18: Figured I owed the kids some one on one time and I really needed a break from work so I didn't bring my laptop. There's no urge to check email that way. Of course, that also meant there was no writing. I don't to writing by hand. It's just a mess even I have to struggle to decipher.

Day 19: While watching an imax movie about butterflies with my daughter at the Henry Ford mueseum, I got an idea for my next short story. Spent the three and half our drive home outlining it in my head. Now I just have to find time to actually get it written.

Day 20: Playing a major round of catch up at work. I take a couple days off and work piles up. Boo! No writing. No breathing either. My allergies are awful right now.

Day 21: Okay, this is getting really frustrating. Allergies are better, however work is completely overwhelming and stressful.

Day 22: FINALLY. Thanks to some rain, an afternoon installation got cancelled, allowing me to catch up on some other work...which allowed me to sit down and finish the story from Day 16. It took me nearly until midnight to do it, but coming in at 3k, my character prompt story is done! Hooray!

Current monthly effort summary:
5 new shorts
2 shorts revised

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Writing Hard(ly) in May pt 3

May is short story month for me for those of you just tuning in. In an effort to keep myself motivated, I'm reporting my daily progress.

Day 11: Um. No.

Day 12: Received two rejections on a couple shorts in my juggling routine. Spent some time researching new markets. While on one publication website I found a link to a new submission tracking site. Huge yay! Then I found some new places to send work to and submitted four stories. Oh yeah...writing. Not so much, but least this was the productive kind of distraction.

Day 13: Devolution wraps up at 6,000 words. Just in time, because here are some fun prompts this week that I want to try.

Day 14: A migraine morning. Monitor brightness turned down low. Using the write for a market spec prompt. One new 1,800 word short completed.  Hooray!

Day 15: Migraine still here. Blarg. Character prompt effort today. Got 1,000 words in before work took over.

Current monthly effort summary:
4 new shorts
2 shorts revised
1 new short in progress

Friday, May 10, 2013

Writing Hard(ly) in May pt 2

May is short story month for me for those of you just tuning in. While I'm not doing so well with the whole: write a new short story every day, I have been making some progress. I like progress.

Day 6: Got everyone out the door at 8am. Checked email, saw there was a prompt for the day...and never even got a chance to see what it was. Work took over, allowed me fifteen minutes for lunch, run required errands and finally was done with me at 9:50pm. Loooong day. No writing. :(

Day 7: I didn't sleep well, and after a long day yesterday, decided I deserved a little downtime in the morning. Work would be there in a couple hours. I wrote. My brain, being a bit fried from all the long days lately, suggested today would be a good time to rip into finishing up one of those rewrites I'd been meaning to get to. Mission accomplished. Coming in at 5,400 words, Healer is back in working order.

Day 8: Please refer to the previous long busy days where no writing happened. Though, I did do some thinking about another short that needs some plot redirection, so hey, that's something.

Day 9: Editing and revising of Devolution got underway to the point of deciding where I want to take the story. The original ending got a big "meh" from crit partners so I need to find a new spin on this thing. 2,300 words in and I finally was able to outline where I intend the story to go. This one might take a day or two to reach the end.

Day 10: Added 1000 words to Devolution. It's still needs a lot of words, but I'm still liking it and I can see the ending in my head.

Current monthly effort summary:
3 new shorts
1 short revised
1 short revision in progress

Monday, May 6, 2013

Writing Hard(ly) in May

So yes, May is short story month for me in case you haven't been following along. I'm attempting to follow some the supplied prompts this time, mostly because I only had time to gather a few ideas in my folder before May hit. With this challenge, prompts arrive in my inbox each morning. Gotta love that.

While I won't be sharing the fruits of my labor (they're not ripe yet, trust me), I will share my progress throughout the month.

Here's how week one is shaping up so far:

Day 1: 100 word story. Done during breakfast. Feeling accomplished today.

Day 2: Use a Flicker Photo for a story prompt. I found a picture of a cute little boy. Wheels are turning. 200 words in, work starts to pile up for the day. Then there's picking up kids after school, and a track meet that goes until 7:30pm. Out to dinner. Finish up some work. Oh crap, it's time for bed.

Day 3: Set aside today's prompt in the hopes of finishing up yesterday's. Can't decide on creepy, happy, sweet, horror, fantasy? Where the hell is this thing going? Screw it, get work done. Pick up kid 1, remember I have to create new parade props before next week wednesday. Take prop inventory at school. Go home and deal with customers for three more hours. Pick up kid 2 at 7:30pm. Make dinner. Go to store to by prop materials. Do some Google research for prints I need to make for props tomorrow. GAH! It's 10pm already! By midnight, a 1,500 word story is done. I went for happy and sweet. They can't all be dark or creepy.

Day 4: The weekend strikes. This means my normal morning quiet writing time does not exist. Ponder today's supplied prompt. It doesn't strike me to so I consult my own prompt list. Inspiration hits! Oh, but husband wants to work on the new garden fence right after breakfast. Damn. Okay, work on fence. Kids want to go play laser tag with their cousins. Arg. Spend three hours chatting with my sister while kids play and spend too much money on stupid arcade prize candy. When I return home, the fence project is still waiting, as is the parade prop project. Both those and dinner wrapped up and its almost 10pm. Again. I just start writing and the local festival fireworks begin. My writing room (on the second floor) is invaded so we can all watch the fireworks from the comfort of home (through the trees...almost a mile away, but without bugs, jostling for a good spot and annoying people). 1,100 words in and my eyes were closing.

Day 5: I spent an hour and a half in bed finishing up the short I feel asleep on the night before. It came in just over 2,500 words. I'm happy with this one, though it needs some smoothing out in places, as my mind informed me throughout the day as I was working. I did glance at the day's prompt, but then it was off to work for a couple hours, then the rest of the day went to completing the garden fence project and planting flower seeds. The day ended with yet another late dinner and some well deserved tv time with the husband. At least I got yesterday's story done.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Closing thoughts on the April A to Z Challenge

I've already launched into A Story A Day In May, but thought I'd pause my short story frenzy (aka: extreme headdesking as I try to pull something together in a day with very little time to write), for a little retrospective.

Taking a tour through a smattering of my characters served to light the fires of want. I want to work on these stories and play with these characters again. Some were from published works and some from works in submission right now, but others have been languishing on my hard drive for years. How unfair of me. Of course, they're going to be put off for another month while I bring some new characters into the world, but I do want to get back to them sometime soon before those fires turn back into embers.

In visiting some of my A to Z neighbors, I found some fun new blogs to follow. Yes, they're all writers. Surprise! As much as I tried to expand my horizons...well, I didn't.

A big thank you to those of you who came back day after day with comments. I love comments. They make me get excited to check my email. It's not so exciting to check it when you're generally just waiting for rejections to come in. Not that this prevents me from obsessively checking it. It's just nice to get some positive things in there too. So thank you for that.

What surprised me most was how many people dropped out throughout the month. I moved almost a hundred places on the list. A big cheer to all my blog neighbors who snuck up through the ranks with me. None of the blogs I'd been visiting dropped out. Virtual high fives all around!

The feature I enjoyed most was the category listings on blogs. It made it much easier in my limited time to hunt down blogs that had a possibility of being something I'd find interesting. While I did regularly visit several of my blog neighbors who were not writing oriented, those who reciprocated visits (both neighbors and otherwise) were mostly in the same category. In that regard, I wonder if it would be even more effective for those, like me, who are in specific category to have category lists rather than one giant one with everyone together. I admit that after the first week, (other than returning comments) I skimmed the big list and sought out only those with my category tag. I probably would have visited more of my category if they were all in one easy to access place.

I would like to do the challenge again next year. Obviously I will need a new theme. I can't very well share another twenty-six characters who just happen to have names starting with every letter of the alphabet. It would be intentional this time and that just sucks the fun out of it. Good thing I have a year to come up with something. The ideas are already forming.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is short story month

It's May, and that means it's time for my second attempt at A Story A Day in May. This is where I set out with the intention to write a short story every day in May. Which means I should end up with 31 short stories. In theory.

This didn't work out quite so well last year, but I did end up with a handful of stories that I was happy with and have sold, or still have out in submissions. Because of my somewhat sucess, I'm giving it another go.

Will I write 31 short stories? Most likely, no. I will try each day to make something happen. That's the best I can do. If I end up with another handful of stories that work, I'll be happy.

As a back up plan for days when the ideas just aren't coming, I have a couple shorts that need revising. I'll pull those out and make some progress, or at least attempt to. I prefer to call it: Focus on Short Stories Month.

Well that's the plan. Wish me luck. In fact, even better, join me. Go on. Do it.