May 5, 2013
My office, which is actually a spare bedroom, has a sliding door closet right next to where the desk is situated. As a result, there’s not a lot of wallspace on which to hang things. (I’ve tried taping things to the sliding door, but they get almost instantaneously shredded when the doors overlap). As a result, lots of things that I’d like to keep up within line-of-sight, reminders say, get piled on the desk. Hence the frequent statification.
I have Pixar’s 22 rules of writing, and no place to put it. And I still have nicely marked-up pages from the FogCon writing workshop. Last month was brutal, and this month was better, if only because things had nowhere else to go but up. There are things more important that writing–family for instance–and taking care of these things takes time and energy. The trick is to get things running smoothy enough that it doesn’t take every spare second of your day.
So I finally got to the end of a brand new story, and set in on the second pass of another story that I drafted late last year. Neither one is ready to go out yet, so that puts my pace at far less than two stories in two months. But I’ll take it.
Desk-wise, I am accumulating a large number of empty mint tins (mostly not on top of the desk). If anyone has a use for these, I’d like to hear it.
Food on desk: two kinds of xylitol mints, and on the opposite corner, a selection of teas and yerba mate.
Electronics: Kindle fire, old iPhone, old iPhone case, and a handful of cables.
Not all that bad, considering.
April 5, 2013
There are some months when just getting through them is a major accomplishment. This was one of those months.
March 3, 2013
Flash, (ahahhhh) Saviour of the Universe
Queue up the catchy Queen soundtrack, I’ll be participating in a panel on Flash Fiction at FOGcon, Sunday at 10:30 am.
Last year, I read slush for Flash Fiction Online, and this year I’m dabbling in reading for Shimmer–two very different experiences, of which I hope I can use to add some insight to what the incomparable moderator Jamie Henderson and co-panelsists Vylar Kaftan and Ann Wilkes have to say.
If you’ll be there, be sure to Tweet and Bookface (I think that’s what the kids call it these days) with the hash tag #FlashSaviouroftheUniverse
(And what’s with the spell-checker-confusticating spelling of ‘saviour’? Is that a British variant as a nod to Freddie Mercury? Guess you’ll need to attend to find out! :-)
March 3, 2013
Well, that went by quickly.
Another month past, complete with a crushing day-job workload. Writing-wise, I had one rewrite request from a market I’d love to be published in–this may or may not go somewhere. Otherwise, it was a revisit to my novel, to weave in few more changes to balance things out and ready it for a round of agent submissions. As soon as that’s done, back to short fiction for a while.
Desk is holding up under the weight of all the crap piled on it. As part of the novel work, I had to go back to my printed notes, which are stacked on the work laptop at the moment, as are two manuscripts for the FOGcon writing workshop taking place next Saturday. I have the distinct pleasure of being in David Levine’s group again, and I submitted a fresh, original story.
Drinking Malta, which is essentially unfermented beer. It’s kind of gross.
A bit more news about FOGcon, which I’ll put in a separate post. Back to the word mines…
February 9, 2013
My story Ritchie Boss: Private Investigator Manager has put me in the running for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This is my first year of eligibility.
Now, the circumstances of this story aren’t your typical Campbell-fare. I can’t recall academic publishing ever being mentioned in the context of this contest (though I welcome correction from historians). The other unique thing about this story is that it’s released under a Creative Commons license (and I’d love to see what someone else can do with it).
Here’s my Writertopia page.
My story also appears in the great 2013 Campbellian Pre-Reading Anthology, which you can download free for a limited time.
So there it is. I’ll probably end up promoting this more than I’m comfortable with and less than I should. Blog post ends.
February 3, 2013
This is the way the month ends / this is the way the month ends / this is the way the month ends / not with a bang…
It’s shocking how easily a month can get away from you. I had a week away for work travel, upon which return I promptly came down with some kind of sickness, a vicious form of “conference crud.”
So I got FOGcon all booked, and made it through edits of a bunch of my December stories, then not much else. Even so, I managed to turn the crank and send off several things in the submission pile, as well as get one rewrite request from [cool market I admire], so that’s a plus.
Hectic-wise, February isn’t looking much better. To start out, there’s all the backlog from being sick the last week in January… So desk conditions have deteriorated predictably. The little scraps of paper have made a resurgence, as have larger sheets scribbled with numbers from solving KenKen-style puzzles. Also on the mathematical front, I’m reading David Foster Wallace’s Everything and More: A Brief History of ∞, which is fantastic.
January 1, 2013
Somewhere, a 12 changed into a 13 and life goes on much as it always has.
My desk is noticeably cleaner than a month ago, due largely to the great water glass tipping of late 2012. No electronics damaged, and only one book, but a thick stack of papers got completely drenched, including about 25 of the page with all of my notes for my embryonic novel-to-be. On one hand, yeah that sucks, but on the other hand, if there are important things I need to say, they’ll find their way into the finished book, even if their first instantiation on paper at my hand is now a blurry smear.
And now for an important health announcement. Posture. I picked up a Belkin CushTop stand that despite it’s giggle-inducing name, helps keep things better aligned during computer time.
At some point in early December, because the time seemed right, I switched to the Jay Lake Story a Week program. I found that a story-per-week just slightly exceeds my available time, at least during a hectic December. In four weeks I wrote three fresh stories, and revised 1 (almost 2) others. I find that time-to-first-draft isn’t a problem for me as much as time-to-final-draft. It’s good to get stuff down but I cast about to find the story’s true core. I need a bigger pool of first-readers to challenge me, which is something I’ll be working on going forward.
Desk: 10 sticky notes visible. Kindle, new iPhone, old iPhone (still figurig out what to do with this 5-year-old device). 2 pens. 3 cables. A stack of honey varietal flashcards from a mead appreciation class. Licorice-flavored xylitol. Yerba Mate. One Amazon Local voucher for chiro. And it’s that time of year–fingerless gloves for when it gets chilly in here.
December 31, 2012
Some facts and figures from my 2012.
Goodreads: I read 115 books this year, for a grand total of 38,888 pages. Purely electronic books/magazines don’t add to the page count, nor to things only partially read (that is, abandoned) so the true figure is probably over 40k pages. As I mentioned before, this is a significant upward bump attributable to more time on public transport. I am attempting, though, to spend more train time writing as opposed to reading.
Duotrope: 93 submissions (7 during December), 4 acceptances. [Note: a 5th acceptance isn't listed on Duotrope because it wasn't a listed market. Shame, at better than 12 cents/a word...]
Current submission days outstanding (not counting novel sub): 363 / 65 / 47 / 39 / 19 / 6 / 1.
Novel submission status: zero response after waiting 6+ months. I can no longer resist the urge to fix a few things I’ve come to see (with the help from external readers) as flaws, and then it’s agent-finding season.
December 30, 2012
Writers, if you use the site Duotrope, the time is at hand to get ready for some changes. They are switching to a paid format beginning Jan 1, which several others have written about.
What that means in practical terms is:
- Go back up your data now. On the submission tracker page, click the large “Export to Excel/CSV” button. This is a good idea, whether or not you’re planning to continue using the service.
- Unless you pay up, most features of the site won’t be available anymore. Market listings will, however, continue to be indexed by Google, so if you use the right query, you can still find all these pages (minus useful statistics).
- If you’re interested in following market news, you can still subscribe to their newsletter and/or Twitter feed. It sounds like possibly the newsletter is a grandfathered-in feature, so if you want it, best go subscribe before Jan 1 rolls around.
- They also claim the RSS feeds (all activity on markets-where-you-have-a-sub and all activity on markets-you’ve-favorited) will go behind the paywall, but this will require a security change that the vast majority of RSS reader software can’t handle–so we’ll see what happens. You might want to bookmark the link behind the text “Special RSS Feed of your Pending Submissions” on the submission tracker page.
As for how the transition ends up in the long run…we’ll see. I know of at least two competitors now in formative stages. I respect the admins’ efforts to make this something they can earn a living from. Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. Truth be told, I’m a little jealous. In my day job, I make tools to build these kinds of data-driven apps/sites, and I’d love to be doing it 100% independently.
And a few predictions to close: Their going rate of $50/year will fall, I predict–I don’t see the market bearing that over a sustained period. The market segment they’re going for right now appears to be “anyone who might pay us $50/year” but that will get more refined and segmented over time as well. If done right, they can make it up on volume. Several free or cheaper competitors will spring up in the short term, but more than half of them will fail. Doing this kind of site–and doing it well–requires a huge amount of work that’s easy to underestimate on the back of a napkin.
P.S. Keep your eye on Submitomancy, which looks like the strongest of the new competitor sites.
December 24, 2012
On Goodreads, I reserve a 5star rating for books that change my life or way of thinking, or books that demand that I re-read them before I die. Ratings can and to change from time to time, so if your favorite book isn’t on the list, don’t worry, be happy (and go write your own list).
I’m on target to read maybe 114 books during calendar 2012. This is an uptick, largely attributable to increased frustration with driving and subsequent use of public transport (coupled with my relative failure to get work done on the train).
The fiction list
- Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry) Oh, Gus. If you’ve read it, there’s not much I can add here. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Thanks to Miranda for the recommendation.
- Life & Opinions of Tristam Shandy (Laurence Sterne) Not for everyone, but if you can get past the digressions in the digressions, it’s a rewarding read.
- Movement (Nancy Fulda) Short story with a powerful perspective on the autism spectrum.
- Dune (Frank Herbert) OK, I’ve seen the weird movie, several times (and I still don’t think I get it). Last year, I even watched the Sci-Fi (SyFy?) network version, which is better in some ways, worse in others. Happy to say, the book is better than either. I bought this on paper and can’t wait to re-read.
- Selected Stories (Philip K. Dick) I’m kind of a Dick-head, by which I mean huge fan of all things PKD. This is some of the best. Must re-read.
- Lightspeed: Year One (John Joseph Adams editor) I don’t read as much short fiction as I should. Ashamed to say, sometimes a month would get by without me reading any Lightspeed. This collection proved that to be a mistake. I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.
- American Fairy Tales (L. Frank Baum) This is just off-beat enough to resonate. If you’ve read any of Tolken’s shorter pieces, there’s a lot in common, but this has a different flavor. Not a mistake that they put ‘American’ in the title. This one is worth looking up. My library had it as an online-borrowable book.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig) Maybe it was the environment–I read this while actually on a road-trip (non-motorcycle, and during stretches of someone else driving, thank you very much) but this book made me think more deeply than any other in recent memory.
- Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K. Jerome) I came to this by way of Connie Willis, and it’s still a contender for funniest book I’ve ever read. Listened to this in audiobook format during the aforementioned road-trip.
I’m trying to read a little less (and write a little more) now. We’ll see how that goes.