Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Forward

With 2015 almost upon us, it's time to sit down and make some goals.

This week on Author's Answer, we discuss our writing goals. Mine involve settling in to my new writing room - after all the packing, moving, and oh, finishing the darn house would be helpful - and getting some editing done on the couple projects I had going before construction started. Then it's off to submissions and either editing other projects in my virtual pile or writing something new. We'll have to see how close the whole 'settling in' phase gets me to May as that's my short story writing frenzy month.

As for my usual one word resolution, let me see how the last year went. *searching posts*

2014: WRITE. *smacks forehead* Thanks to the house construction, that one was a total fail. So I'm declaring a do-over, full knowing that I won't get to dive into that resolution until spring. But hey, it's good to have goals and the one word thing really has worked for me in the past.

What's your one word for 2015?

Friday, December 19, 2014

All I Want For Christmas

Wondering what to get for Christmas for the writer in your life? This week on Authors Answer, we ponder this question and offer suggestions.

With NaNo over, writing has come to a complete standstill. However, I have stolen some time from my overbooked schedule to do a quick edit of A Broken Race before sending it back out. I've been bouncing this one around in submissions for a year and, in getting it reformatted for yet another stab at publication, I started reading the first page.

Yes, it's all downhill from there.

This novel has been around the editing block a few times. It's gone through an intensive round of critiques. It should be all shined up and pretty. It was. I swear. And yet...fresh eyes. They found a sentence on that first page that made me cringe.

And so I read a couple pages further and then put on the brakes, backed up to the beginning, and got to editing. I'm two thirds done now and looking forward to getting that one back out on the playing field.

Other than that, I have mortar all over my fingernails from installing cement board in preparation for all of the tile at the house. It's been a long and exhausting job. We have a lot of tile going in because we have radiant heat under the floors. One bathroom is tiled. Another is mostly done, and the last one has yet to be begun. Then there's the mudroom, the laundry room, the hall, the kitchen and the foyer. But let's not talk about all of those or I'll feel overwhelmed. Oh crap. Too late.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Repurposing a First Novel

This week on Authors Answer (which I forgot to post a few days ago. Oops.), we talk about Foreign Language Novels.

Also a few days ago, that I'm just now finally catching up on, author Jim C. Hines did an entertaining presentation at our NaNoWriMo regional TGIO party. He has a new book out that is also an entertaining read. Having seen him in person, the commentary on the page comes alive.

He had a fun idea with this new book, Rise of the Spider Goddess. After successfully publishing a shelf full of books, he went back and pulled out his first novel that never made it to publication. Like most of us, he know realizes that first novel sucked.

Rather than putting it back and trying to forget it ever happened, he decided to publish it as is, but now with commentary sprinkled throughout as to why it sucks. Think of it as a self-depreciating guide to what not to do. I thought it was a rather creative and productive use of an old project. We've all been there so his mistakes were easy to relate to. Learning to overcome the mortification of their existence to the point where one can laugh at them is also a good thing. If you're looking for a laugh along with the opportunity to possibly learn a few things, give it a read.

Friday, December 5, 2014

November In Review

It was an eventful November to say the least. Hectic sums it up nicely.

Your picture taking has awoken me, worthless human! Now go away so I may sleep more, and then you shall serve me more food and clean my litter box and let me out if I so choose, but I shan't be rushed in my choosing. If you do not do these things, I shall knock another glass off your counter and watch in amusement as it shatters on the tile floor. Mwhahahaha.

We now have a cat. Sort of. It decided this was its home. He had a home at one point because he showed up with a collar. But this skinny young fellow gets along well with our dog and he wasn't micro chipped or reported missing. He's a beautiful tabby, sadly not neutered or declawed, which means he has to be watched carefully because he seems to think my newly recovered couch is a scratching post.

When I sent him out with a note taped to his collar inquiring whether he had an owner, he came back without a collar. I guess that means I touched him last so now he lives here. We weren't really seeking a cat, being dog people now, but the new owner of this house does want a cat, so we're cat sitting, in our house, that isn't really our house anymore, for a guy who wants the cat. We'll enjoy him in the meantime.

The early feet of snow have melted and we're back to frozen but not covered in snow, which is normal for this time of year. This means work on the siding of the new house can continue. Hooray for that.

My unexpected two-week sleeping-on-my-writing-couch house guest has left, though my two week cold lingers with a nasty chest cough. I'm really sick of coughing.

NaNoWriMo has come to an end for another year. My goal was 10K. I ended up feeling pretty happy with my effort ending at 25K for the amount of time I had to write. Both stories I was working on have promise, they just need my full attention - which no one has right now.

Work has picked to an insane pace, as is usual with the holidays approaching. This means my days go something like this:

Wake up
Run kids around after school
Work on house
Go to bed

Occasionally there's time for a rinse, mostly it's a repeat.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dream Interview

This week on Authors answer: If you could interview any author, who would it be and what question would you ask?

This week in NaNo progress: Not much progress. I managed to catch a nasty cold from the guy doing our trim work. He had sounded terrible last week, coughing and such. And now, guess what? So do I. Yay. So now the time before bed when I usually try to squeak in a few hundred words is taken up with sleeping because that's all my body wants to do after long days of work and working on the house.

House progress: The kitchen cabinets are unboxed, most of the trim in installed and most of the house is painted. Now flooring and finish plumbing are the last major projects. Then its finishing up all the other little things we've got mostly done and the exciting details like door stops and wall plates. At least it feels like the end is finally attainable. Eventually.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Character Beliefs

This week on Authors Answer: How difficult do you find it to write characters who have vastly different beliefs than you?

This week in NanoWriMo: I managed to make 10K thanks to a big write-in day on Sunday and then went for 15K and now I'm aiming for 20K. We'll see how much higher I can go. This is really frustrating for me because if I had the time I'd have 50K by now easily. My story is practically writing itself when I have the free moments to give it thought. If only I had the time to write it. Damn you, house!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Guilty Pleasures and Snow

While I'm up to (way past really, but I'll dial back for the sake of staying in the cliché)my eyeballs in house building, and snow...holy crap, what is up with the snow already? It's barely November. Winter just finally ended what, like three weeks ago? I swear it seems that way.

Excuse me as I rub some feeling back into my numb feet that are incased in thick wool socks.

Anyway, *glares out the window at the falling white evil* as I was saying, while I'm busy with house and NaNo, which is going so sadly this year, but yes, that was expected. I still don't like knowing I'm not going to get to 50K, but it is what it is - my time for the effort this year, that is. I abandoned by intended story, not because it was bad, but because my focus wasn't there. Amazing, I know. Having gotten this far through this post already, you see what I mean. I'm now plugging away at a short story related to my novel, Trust. It's coming along...

The snow is plummeting down! Seriously. We're now at four inches in the past three hours. Not cool, nature. Not cool at all. Well, ok, ha ha, smarty pants nature, it is cool. Really freaking cool. Let me rephrase that, not nice. But when were you ever known for being nice?

Before I go wander off in search of a warm corner curl up in while I methodically smash my head against the wall, I will finally get to my point. Today's Author's Answer feature is Guilty Pleasure. And no, don't feel too guilty, my mind also leapt to several other topics before the one that this post actually pertains to: Is there an author who is often criticized that you love to read? Click, read and enjoy (and stay warm).

Friday, November 7, 2014

My Dream Writing Room

Well folks, it's getting closer to being a reality. We're busy hanging doors and installing trim. The painter is arriving in a week to put some color in my very white house. My writing room will have one cranberry wall and the rest will be soft grey. A new desk is sitting in my current garage, waiting to be unboxed. A big desk, with plenty of room to spread out notes. I'm very much looking forward to that.

What else does this room include? Jay Dee Archer asked the same question. Find out what ten other authors also have to say today on I Read Encyclopedias for Fun. A new question and host of answers will be up every Friday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's November. You know what that means

I send you greetings from the land of NaNoWriMo. Not only am I way overwhelmed with building the house (we're installing doors and trim now, in case you're keeping track of progress), I'm again MLing for National Novel Writing Month.

Am I also writing? Sort of. The odds that I'll make it to 50K this year in the midst of all the stress I've already got going on and the time involved with organizing events and overseeing my region, are fairly slim. Instead I'm aiming for a much more attainable 10K. If I get more than that, yay me. As of this moment, I'm sitting at 1600 words.

With that already under my belt, it sounds like 10K should be no problem, except that the majority of the work on the house from this point onward is in our court. Doors, trim, cabinets, plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc. And I can't move in until that's all done. Did I mention I need to move in as soon as possible? Yeah, I kinda have my work cut out for me.

So what am I writing? Damaged takes place in the same world as Devolution (a short I wrote years ago that is currently looking for a good home).

Gabriel and Nina are thrilled to learn they are having twins until a checkup reveals that one of them is at high risk for developing violent behavior. They are given a termination notice. Not knowing which of the twins is defective, the couple is not willing to sacrifice the other. Signing a life-long contract to be responsible for all damages done by their questionable offspring, they embark on a journey to prove the prognosticators wrong.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Available today: Healer

I'm pleased to announce the my short story, Healer is out on Acidic Fiction today.

Jillian is tired of being bound to her healing gift. When a desperate mother with a critically wounded child invades her room, she discovers that her gift is both a curse and her salvation. For more details about Healer, please see this previous post. I hope you enjoy the story.

If you're looking to submit a short that sounds like a good fit for this magazine, I highly recommend you give them a try. The editor was awesome to work with, had the fastest acceptance to publication time I've experienced, and on top of all aspects of the publication and submission schedule. I don't usually gush about editors, but really, this was a great experience.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Estate of Waiting Update

I'll have a story to announce next week, but for now, I figured I'd do a little update on the house project. I wanted to share a nice photo of the house, but we're at a point where nothing exciting is happening on the outside and, well, the inside is a friggen mess.

For the last few weeks, this is the first thing I see when I pull in the driveway. What are those? Septic tanks. No the faces aren't really there. Well, the eyes are, but that's what I imagine on them every darn time. I'm tempted to run over there with some spray paint and make it official. But I haven't yet. 

Why are they still there? We'll, that's a good question. The guy who is supposed to install them hasn't gotten around to it yet. After another email, I've been informed that he will be there this week for sure. But he hasn't been there yet. One more week and my imaginary faces on the feces tanks are becoming real.

The rest of the project is coming along slowly. Yes, we're still in the Estate of Waiting theme. Drywall is going in this week and next. The paint is purchased and waiting in the basement. The trim needs to be ordered and I need to pick out tile and flooring next.

Construction debris is building up everywhere and the concrete guy would love the garage to be cleaned out so he can get that poured. However, the garage is full of the doors that can't go in until the drywall is done and siding*. A dumpster is arriving tomorrow to help alleviate some of the mess that's making me twitchy. And yes, that's a temporary furnace in the middle of the family room. Charming isn't it?

*Our siding guy quit a quarter of the way though the project. He was a friend who did handyman stuff and was going to build our deck next spring. Turns out he got a day job and suddenly didn't need the handyman job anymore so he was done. Just like that: done. Neato.

So now my house is stranded like this. Without the ladders. He took those. Which means now we get to hunt down a new siding guy. Or hunt down the old one. Maybe both.

Monday, September 29, 2014

To be Published: Healer

I'm pleased to announce that Healer will be published on Acidic Fiction in the near future.

Jillian is tired of being bound to her healing gift. When a desperate mother with a critically wounded child invades her room, she discovers that her gift is both a curse and her salvation.

Healer came into being four years ago. I don't recall the exact circumstances except that it was around the time I got my first acceptance on a short story and I'd figured out that those came far more often than on novels. So I'd started writing more shorts.

Why did it take so long for Healer to find a home? Shortly after completing the story, NaNoWriMo 2010 hit and I was thrown into novel mode. When December came around, I sent the story off to a few sets of eyes who looked it over, made suggestions, and then those suggestions were implemented or not depending on how much I agreed with them. With high hopes, I threw the story into submissions.

After a couple form rejections, I was disheartened, set the story aside and started working on others, along with revising a couple novels. The story languished in my back burner file for a long time.

Over the next couple years, as more of my shorts found published homes, I came to the realization that a rejection merely meant that I hadn't submitted to the right market. Unless the story really did need lots of work. I will admit to occasionally being wooed by sparkly new stories and sending them off before they are truly ready. That fact often becomes apparent upon the third form rejection when I read through the story to find out what these editors are missing about my beautiful, awesome story. "Ooooh", I say as I remove my beer goggles and back away slowly while reaching for my back burner file.

When I eventually did take Healer out of the file, dusted it off, and reworked the rough parts, it was ready to head back out into submissions. And here we are. Acceptance.

In summary: Rejection doesn't mean your story sucks, it just means you haven't found the right market. Unless your story really does suck, in which case, fix it, and then get it out there and find the right market.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Shorts: The submission game

With a handful of short stories in submissions at any given time, the process does begin to feel like a game, or maybe a lottery, while performing a constant a juggling routine. Keeping track of them can be a big job. The Grinder has made life a lot easier. It's free. Go make yourself an account right now.

Once I have a short written, edited and ready to go, I go to manage pieces and enter the title, genre and word count. From there, I can run a search. In that menu I can pick what kind of pay scale I'm looking for, and specify only magazines that accept electronic submissions, because I don't do postal submissions. I can also specify whether I want magazine that accept sim subs or reprints. Then it's just one more click and the wonderful and almighty Grinder generates a list of magazines for me to dive into.


This is where the process becomes a little more intensive, because I need to click through to any market's page to find what exactly they're looking for. Each market gets their own page and it contains a lot of very useful information: A blurb of what they're about, links to their submission guidelines and website, what genres they accept, word counts, and the most useful of all, all the submission stats.

The Market Response Data is my favorite area. You can see how many other people using The Grinder have submitted to this market in the past twelve months. How fast (or slow) the response times were, and how many ended up as dead letters. Beware the markets that have lots of dead letters.

This area also shows how the market responds: whether they often issue form rejections or if you'll perhaps get a personal one (should you not get accepted, because yes, that is the desired response). You can also see if they often issue rewrite requests or never do and their acceptance rate. Then, at the bottom of that list of stats, you can see how many people are in the waiting pool with you. Sometimes it makes the wait more bearable to see that there are 44 other people also trying not to stare at their inbox.


At the bottom of the market page, there's a nifty chart that illustrates the response times and where your submission is within that. Some markets have pretty clear peeks where you can see the first readers kicking stories out. Others vary greatly. You can play speculation games with yourself while you wait for a response. Having passed all the peaks to the plateau before the zone where there are a few green lines, does this mean you're submission is on the editor's desk? Or did your submission simply get lost?

If you've been submitting stories for a while and watching the market responses or new market list, markets can begin to all sound familiar. Thankfully, any submissions you've done with that market will show up at the very bottom of the page. No one wants to accidentally send multiple submissions. You can also see what the stats were for your previous submissions to help gauge whether you'd want to try that market again.

Another great passing-the-time feature is the My Market Response List. All the markets that you currently have submissions out with show up in this list. You can easily see when markets are currently processing submissions and whether you have a valid reason to be stalking your inbox.

The home page of The Grinder also features the daily activity of all the listed markets, both rejections and acceptances. It helps take the sting out of rejections when yours is one of eight that day. It's like virtually commiserating with others.

However, that commiserating stage should be short, because The Grinder picks you right back up upon reporting a rejection with the great search suggestion: Find a new home for this submission? Why yes, thank you. Let's get right on that. This story isn't going to sell itself tucked away in a folder on my hard drive.

Should a story sell, there is also a place to enter your earnings. The Grinder keeps track of that for you too.  So many stats to ponder while waiting to hear back on submissions. Yes, I should spend that time writing, but there are stats to make one feel special and stats to make one feel not so bad as one of many. It's all in how you need to look at it on any given day.