Saturday, November 29, 2008

Number Two (no, the good kind of number two)

After about seven weeks in round two, I got a minor revision request from Cyberwizard for Clearing and, within a few hours of resubmitting, an acceptance for Abandoned Towers! Woohoo!

Yes, it's for the website (she gave me the choice of web or print, and I chose the this point I think I need broader readership more than another hard copy ToC); and yes, it's FTL (and we all are aware of the debate stirring around that topic... apparently that thread is still active, and, if you scroll down the bottom, plumbing new depths of pettiness and backbiting). But, like I mentioned over on Aaron's blog, this is the point in my career where I need some of that free love...of the few FTLs I've subbed to since kicking this whole writing thing off in July, I have gotten some great feedback from many of them, including early feedback from the former submissions editor for Abandoned Towers...and I am incredibly grateful. So, until I'm cool enough to sell exclusively to pro and semi (that's all I've subbed to since October or so), I'll enjoy a symbiosis with folks who are in a position to cultivate talent, and take whatever attention I can get, given that this is my second published work to-date.

To summarize: WooHoo! She said she'll put it up once she gets a hard copy contract, so hopefully in a week or so.

Also, I finished the Cemetery was a very cute book packed with Neil Gaiman creepyisms, and seems to definitely be set up for a sequel. My kids are really looking forward to the Coraline movie in February as well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ha-ha funny or Sweet-Fluffy-Jesus-No funny?

I can't seem to get back into the groove of Mojave, and I've been in kind of a funk for a couple of weeks and everything I write has ended up kind of brooding, which sucks. So, over the last few days I knocked out, re-wrote, spellchecked, and submitted a piece for Dark Jesters...I needed a laugh, and that did the trick. Hopefully they think it's funny, too...I really liked the story--so much, in fact, that even if it doesn't end up in DJ I'd like to do a series of short stories (or even novellas) featuring the MCs, kind of Arthur Conan Doyle-style.

Congrats, by the way, to everyone finishing up NaNo projects! Extra helpings of stuffing for you tomorrow (if non-U.S., you must buy a box of bread stuffing and eat as much as you can in one sitting).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life is what happens when you're busy with other stuff

I sat down last weekend to work on my full-length Mojave, on which I have not yet broken 20k (that's pretty much why I didn't do NaNo this year...between work and life, I knew it wasn't going to happen) was the end of a crap day capping off a crap week and, being a moody sort of person, I threw my big project aside to do something a little more edgy to vent some steam. The end result was a story I just finished tonight called Filtered White Light; I am obviously trying to shake off having read McCarthy's The Road this month, and this story reflects that: stark, dimly lit, short sentences, and, although there is some dialogue, not a goddamn quotation mark in the whole story. Risky to try and sell something formatted like that, but it seemed to work for the flow...but, I guess I'll find out if I'm overstepping my current state of development based on if anyone wants to read it. My bigger fear is if the story itself was too subtle, but I guess I'll find that out, too.

It was, at least, an interesting exercise to see how the story flow changed with minimal punctuation (I added and removed and re-added and re-removed the quotations about six times) really have to try harder to make it friendly on the eyes, but if you strip it down enough to make the dialogue stand out , the starkness of the format kind of weaves itself into the story, and that kind of takes it all in a certain direction.

I have one story (Mojave) in the hopper and five in the field. At least one I should be hearing back on soon, I hope. I passed the first round and was told I should hear "in a month or so", and today is like 6 1/2 weeks, which I guess is still within that range.

Am I justified in being hesitant/nervous about pinging an editor for a status? Is that considered...rude? or pushy?

Friday, November 14, 2008

...and the winner is...

Not me, but that's OK.

The winner of the Cafe Doom competition this year was an author named Jaelithe Ingold (not sure if she still uses that blog, only linkie I could find) for a great story called The Rules. It will be published by-and-by in Necrotic Tissue, be sure to check it out when it is released...

I was, however, fortunate enough to take second place in the competition--which, to me, is mind-blowing. There were some really great writers and fantastic stories this year (of the authors whose blogs I read regularly, I know Felicity, Cate, Rob, and Aaron had stories in) , and it is an honor to have not only had a few of them pick my story, Mrs. Marsupial's Tea Party, within their top three, but also to have Scott McCoy from Necrotic Tissue pick me in the top two. Just awesome. The third place winner was Monica O'Rourke's The Cellar, a good, creepy story as well (assuming I found the correct Monica O'Rourke's MySpace, she has a biblio as long as my leg).

The only bad news out of all this is that only the fastest horse gets published in Necrotic Tissue (although I now have $100 to spend at Shocklines, not to mention some mad props to cut-and-past into a Word doc and re-read when I need a little ego stroking!). So, to that end, I submitted Mrs. M. to Clarkesworld along with a cover letter telling Mr. Clarke that Mrs. M. is the best thing since sliced breadpeople, everybody already loves it, and the only thing left to complete the holy cycle is for him to buy it.

So, once again, to those who liked and voted for my story, Thank You; for those who read but didn't like it, thank you for reading it and for participating in the contest; congratulations to Jaelithe and Monica; and, lastly, thanks again to Ed and Scott and Matt for sponsoring it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

That's brilliant, Q--but can it fill plot holes for me?

Had a rough time working last night with the kids home and bored stiff, since it now gets dark at 5pm here in the Southwest. Didn't start writing until about 9:30, and even then I spent more time going back over the last couple of chapters of Mojave to try and figure out where I was heading. That took two hours, and it was midnight by the time I hit 1,000 words for the day. Sigh...

My wife and I (and our 12YO daughter, but not so much the 9YO) like Daniel Craig's iteration of Bond...Amy is going to see Quantum of Solace Friday night with a girlfriend, and I'll probably take Katy on Saturday. I've been seriously considering picking up a Sony Reader this year as I'm collecting a lot of books and magazines in PDF form (I'm waiting to see if the new touchscreen edition drives down the price for the other models...I think $299 is too much). They have an Ian Fleming edition that comes with a few Bond titles; that may be my excuse to finally get around to reading some of his work.

On that note, you needed a new song stuck in your head today, right?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Grant me the serenity...

It's been a long week already...I had to sit on a conference call for a data center move Saturday night-Sunday morning for 8 hours and didn't get to bed until 6am, and I'm still paying for it. So, I'm calling it a night after a measly 500 words on Mojave (taking me to 14.5k). Tomorrow is a bank holiday, which means I can sleep in; we're going for a short hike on Frenchman Mountain (which is about two blocks away) in the AM, and then I can spend a few hours writing in the afternoon. My minimum goal per day is 1k words, but I really want to hit 16.5 by tomorrow night, and 20k by the time I go to bed Friday.

You all probably already knew this, but short stories are addictive, like tattoos. Once I settle in on my novel, I keep thinking about how fun it would be to nip off and knock out a couple of pages on a new short...come on, I think, It'll just take a few minutes. It'll be fun. Just click "New...". It's easy. Do it now.

Speaking of short stories, I really want the Cafe Doom contest to be over so I can stop obsessively checking the site for new votes. I think voting ends tomorrow, and by my count there are still about 10 or so authors who haven't voted, assuming each story is from a unique author. There are some really fun stories up there, I'm sure a lot of them will get sold after the contest ends.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Free as in Beer, and Doldroms

Some of you may have gotten this email as well, but GUD Magazine is having a lottery-style magazine sale...I picked up the summer issue for like $.56, or something crazy like that. In addition, they sent me a voucher for some lucky individual to get a copy of same (on PDF form) for free. If you're interested in using my voucher, first one to post their email addy here can have it (I'm sure they will want to put you on a mailing list afterward, but their mail volume seems reasonable...only a couple this month).

Obviously this is a way for GUD to increase readership and populate their marketing lists, but this made me think, long will it be before the U.S. economic downturn really starts affecting the markets we all depend on for selling stories, poems, essays, and pictures? Markets come and go, but we can only hope that not too many of these good magazines and websites fold in the next year, or become FTL-only. My personal opinion, for what its worth (taking into consideration that I have spent the last decade with one of the largest banks around, and may have some perspective), is that we have another 9-12 months of doldrums ahead, and things will get better, gradually. It's just getting through 2009 that will be tricky.

This really feels a lot like the post-9/11 economic was tough and scary and full of uncertainties, but I try to remember to take the long view on what's in the bank, and the short view on what's in my pocket. I guess the point this thinking is leading me to is that one of the best things that we writers can do to help the markets survive long enough for us to be able to feed our hobbies, help us express ourselves, pay the bills, or keep working toward that career-launching story, as the case may be, is to subscribe and support. I personally need to make a list of at least 2-3 magazines that I can subscribe to and stay within my comfort zone financially (not including the occasional donation to Ralan and/or Duotrope).

I'm certain that I (and my waistline) can survive one week without eating out so that Glimmer Train can survive long enough to reject more of my stories...

(steps off of soapbox)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Gaiman-isms and Updates

I didn't write a word yesterday, due to going to see Neil Gaiman do the keynote address for the Las Vegas Lit Festival. It's funny, I spent like 20 hours with Neil's voice listening to Neverwhere last month, so hearing him in person is like being in a meeting with someone I actually knew. Weird. Neil is full of insight and advice for writers, and the target audience last night seemed to be not only fans but writers as well, and Neil tailored his talk appropriately. He talked about how he got his start in literature (lying about his resume), what inspires him (noticing things, talking to his kids), how he decides what project to work on next (whatever makes sense), and funny anecdotes from his career (apparently he spent a couple of weeks at a bankrupt hotel in Vegas while writing American Gods, and had spent time sitting on the ratty couch in the lobby watching TV with multiple Elvises in different colored jumpsuits, and had a running issue with a "defective bible" in his room). He also read two yet-to-be-published children's books of his coming out next year. Well worth staying up late to attend...he didn't do a signing, but had pre-signed most of his published works and had them for sale in the lobby (I picked up The Graveyard Book, and I thought my kids would like Coraline).

In writing news...after finishing up Contract of Men and tossing it over to GUD (they rejected Clearing pretty quick, but I think CoM might be a better fit for their mag), I was finally able to spend some time on Mojave. I was a little worried about getting back into the flow of the story after not touching it for about a week, but I broke 11k Wednesday night, and am at a point where I'm really anxious to figure out where it goes, and am enjoying the story a lot...a couple of interesting characters (I hope).

After just over 3 months, Faith, which is the second story of my would-be career and, in retrospect, not a very well put-together story, was rejected by Glimmer Train for the August Very Short Fiction contest. Ce'st la is, after all, Glimmer Train. I don't think I'll re-write that least not for a while. It's more interesting visuals and feelings but not a strong story.

Monday, November 3, 2008

October Roundup

Not a very eventful month for me, sadly...lots of words, not much submitted.

  • I managed to get a screenplay off to Hotel Guignol, but I think that was actually in September, now that I think about it.
  • Clearing was rejected by GUD, bounced by Clarksworld, but passed through the first gatekeeper at Abandoned Towers, where it currently sits.
  • I submitted a piece to Cafe Doom for their annual Writer's Choice contest...I can't tell you the name of it, as voting continues for another week or so, but I will say that of the twelve current votes, it's "on the board", so to speak. That is very exciting...really, unbelievably cool. There are some great stories up there by some excellent writers, and the fact that I've gotten any votes from that crowd is beyond flattering, even if I don't end up in the final three. I have about ten more stories to read before I can vote.
  • I knocked out 10k of Mojave, which will, hopefully, become a growed-up novel one day...but, I lost traction with the Halloween haunted house project (here are some pix, if you're also kept me off of Blogger for a week or so, hence my radio silence), Cafe Doom, and...
  • A new quickie project that popped out of my keyboard half-formed. It is called The Contract of Men, is non-speculative, and very much inspired by the humbling style of McCarthy's The Road (which I'm about halfway through).
So, there's on the docket: finish Contract of Men, keep grinding away on Mojave, and go hear Neil Gaiman speak at the library on Thursday. I did consider it, but I'm not WriMo'ing my NaNo this year...I'm scared of getting sidetracked off of Mojave again.