Thursday, June 20, 2013

In This Corner: The Juggler

My juggling act is in high gear after May's short stories joined in. At least I feel like I'm accomplishing something writing related while the rest of my life spirals into long days of work and a new major time sucker: we may finally be building our dream house.

After six long feeling-like-we're-throwing-money-into-a-black-sucking-pit-of-disappointment, (aka: our land payments and extra property taxes) the stars aligned and we found a buyer for our current house that will let us live in it while we build our new house so we can maintain our home business until the new location is finished. Now the "fun" of meshing our dreams with the available funds is in full swing. While that's all going on behind the scenes--or in front, depending on where you're standing--I'm busy submitting stories.

Two novels are in submission along with eight shorts. At least with multiple balls in the air, when one falls, there's still optimism for the rest. It makes it easier to pick that one up and get it back in the air. It's definitely less painful than hinging all hope on one project at a time.

The Grinder has been great fun, as much as researching markets and sending your babies into the fray can be such a thing. I particularly love the feature that appears immediately after entering a rejection update: Find a new home for this story. It grabs your hand, hands you a tissue, and points you back toward the action. Get back in there!

One of these days I need to update my writing page with the new additions. Until then, here's the list:
The Boy
A Little Thing Like Death
Sunset Cruise
Taking A Breather

Speaking of which, I have a ball to pick up.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This is the end

After my last post, I got curious about how I really do end my short stories. Killing people comes to mind, but is that true? How do I actually end my stories? Let me count the ways:

May story 1: sad
May story 2: happy
May story 3: killed MC
May story 4: happy
May story 5: killed MC
May story 6: killed MC
May story 7: killed MC

Hmmm, *wipes fictional blood from hands* let's try my published short stories. (in no particular order)

Story 1: killed MC
Story 2: killed MC
Story 3: killed MC
Story 4: happy

Darn. Umm. Let's not go into the attic okay? And those fresh dirt piles in the yard? Gardening. I swear. So, how does this compare to novels? (in no particular order)

Novel 1: happy
Novel 2: happy
Novel 3: killed MC
Novel 4: happy
Novel 5: happy
Novel 6: happy

Whew. That's not so bad.

And, my dear characters, what did we learn here?
1. You want to be in a novel rather than a short.
2. If I don't kill you, the odds of living happily ever after are pretty damn good.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Putting on my writing shorts

After this focus on short story month, I thought I share my process on the difference between pounding out 2K of promising story and 200 words of suck.

There are couple factors at play with each story:

The Idea - The spark, the thought, the lightbulb that illuminates it all. This is the thing that breathes life into the story. Sometimes this is just an idea that pops into my head, a simple line or two of dialogue, an interstesting situation, a quick character sketch. Othertimes a prompt will light my creative fires. I have the most productive ideas from prompts, especially during May, when I attempt to get out my short story urges for the year. Thankfully for A Story A Day In May, prompts are supplied each day by email. Sometimes those caught my interest, some days they didn't. Short story markets will sometimes have a themes or first line prompts. Then there's the file of ideas I jot down when the mood strikes but time doesn't allow for writing.

The Conflict - The thing that makes this all interesting. While a novel can have lots of main characters and conflicts and resolutions, a short usually only has one of each of these. This requires a bit more planning so words aren't wasted and the story stays on track. Yes, novels need that too, but a short can't afford to wander off on subplots and characters can't take their time to find out who they really are. There's no big plot breakthrough in chapter twelve that pulls everything together. Identifying the thing that makes the story tick from the get go is important. If all you've got is an interesting character there's not much to write about.

The Ending - Be it happy, twisted, or killing everyone, we need resolution. I've noticed I'm more inclined to kill people than have things end happily. I'm sure that says something about me, but we'll save that analysis for another time. It's great to have an idea and a conflict, but if you write yourself into a corner or a plot so twisted that the resolution can't be found, the story goes splat.

These are the big three that I have to have a grasp of before I can embark on a short story. At the beginning of last month I seemed to have my thoughts in order. However, as the month progressed, life intruded, thoughts scattered, and I'd get one or two of these things down, but the rest just didn't fall into place. Over the years I've come to know when something is going to (probably) work, be it a novel or a short. Sometimes I have to push through some rough patches but it works out, other times I'm just spinning my wheels and I need to walk away. I wish I could put my finger on that deciding factor, but it's just a gut feeling learned by writing lots of different stories of lots of different lengths.

Monday, June 3, 2013

It's Q & A time

Thanks to the lovely Sidonie Helena for nominating me for the Liebster Award. We connected a couple months ago during the April A to Z challenge. Whew, that was a busy month! So was May, but now that short story month over, I finally have a chance to graciously accept my shiny award and join the fun.

What fun you say? Well, it seems that this reward entails me stating 11 facts about myself. Let's start there.

1. I haven't had a chance to color my hair in months. It's currently a rainbow of brown, blond and faded magenta.
2. Notice how I didn't call it pink? No sir, I'm not a fan of pink.
3. Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons. I love how they smell.
4. I used to be really good at sleeping. I miss that.
5. I write exclusively in MS word.
6. I've reached a place in life where I realize more stuff is just more stuff I have to clean, display, store, and move around. Less stuff is good.
7. I have two new dime-sized angel fish. (Two large palm-sized ones recently died and I missed them.)
8. A Jack Russel mix named Toby keeps me company during the day.
9. When not talking to my discarded characters, I resort to talking to myself. Working at home alone has its privileges.
10. My favorite flower is the Iris.
11. My wardrobe is mostly gray. It used to be mostly black. I'm fashionably fading.

Now I must answer 11 questions posed by Sidonie.

1.What is one thing that you can not live without?
Gum. Specifically Trident bubblegum, though I also like cinnamon and mint.

2.What was your least favorite subject in school?
Math. We have calculators for a reason.

3.Do you prefer talking over the phone or face to face?
Phone. Though, even better, email. Unless we're really chatty, then the phone is easier.

4.What is the last dream that you remember?
I'd have to have a good night of sleep to actually answer that one. Most of the time I'm dreaming about working.

5.Who is the most famous person you have met?
The only person I've actively sought out was Jacqueline Carey at a local book signing. She was very tolerant of our small gang of giddy fans asking writerly questions.

6.Where did you grow up?
Same place I live now, except about four minutes away. I'm comfortable here.

7.If you could live anywhere on earth, where would you live?
About five minutes from here on the property I've been paying on for six years. Did I mention I'm comfortable here?

8.What was the last thing you bought?
Oranges for the red-bellied woodpeckers and orioles

9.Your favorite film is...?
The Princess Bride.

10.Apple or PC?

11.Do you even like questionnaires? 
Sure. They are much easier to answer than to come up with my own questions and answers.

At this point, I'm supposed to nominate 11 other bloggers. But you know I don't play by the rules. Mwahahaa! I mass nominate all of you! If you're interested, here are your questions:

1. What is your favorite color of socks?
2. What is your current creative project?
3. Dogs or Cats?
4. Beer or Wine?
5. Where is your favorite place to relax?
6. What is the last book you read?
7. What was the last show you watched on TV?
8. Where is your favorite place to walk barefoot?
9. What is your favorite flower?
10. What is the last movie you saw in a theatre?
11. Are you a fan of organization or chaos?

Now go forth and answer.