After writing the post about newsletters, I began to go through my feeds list--and cut ruthlessly the blogs that hadn't been updated for a while, weren't providing me with content I could be bothered reading, or were just talking hot air (with have enough greenhouse emissions without me encouraging them).
Some I kept don't get updated regularly either but they have a purpose for me so they remain. As I said with what newsletters you subscribe to, so goes for feeds - different strokes...
I have also reordered them by their importance to me.
HorrorScope remains on top because I need to know what my fellow HorrorScopers are doing. SpeakEasy comes into second spot and is extremely unlucky not to be heading the list. There are constantly good posts here for every level of writer. Do yourself a favour and subscribe to this feed or at least visit the page relatively often for updates. You won't be disappointed.
A couple of industry blogs come next followed by a bunch of authors blogs that I find amusing, interesting and helpful (probably in that order).
Check them out, subscribe if you're so inclined, recommend others if you find some. I'm always open to suggestions :)
Well some suggestions anyway.
Monday, June 30, 2008
After writing the post about newsletters, I began to go through my feeds list--and cut ruthlessly the blogs that hadn't been updated for a while, weren't providing me with content I could be bothered reading, or were just talking hot air (with have enough greenhouse emissions without me encouraging them).
I receive quite a few newsletters. Some weekly, some monthly, bi-monthly, some infrequently, and some very occasional. I used to get so many newsletters, I never got around to looking at them all.
When I first started researching this industry of writing, I subscribed to everything--and I mean everything. My email used to fill so quickly, only a full time secretary would have been able to keep up. And strangely every single one of them said they had the good oil on becoming a writer.
99% of them are full of bull!
0.2% have the occasional bit of useful information but taking the time to find it seems hardly worthwhile when it can be found elsewhere.
0.4% continually spout the same rhetoric but it's stuff new writers need to have ingrained. It's not earth shattering secrets, writing doesn't have any (it's all been done before), but it's stuff new writers need to know.
0.3% Are full of little bits of helpful technical hints. Obviously these are also things new writers need to know, perhaps even more so than new markets or plot creation or character depth as found in the 0.4% mentioned earlier.
That's 99.9% of the newsletters covered for those of you not keeping count.
The final 0.1% of newsletters are gems and something all writers need to subscribe to. There are newsletters that fit into this category for all levels of writers, the trick is to find the newsletters you gain the most out of.
Why haven't I given you any examples? Because I'm not you. What newsletters I find most useful may not be useful to you. I'll will give you some examples of what I mean.
If you write for the love of writing and only ever intend to show your work to a very select few, or no one at all, then newsletters from Duotrope or Ralan will be useless to you. If you're new to writing then Technical Newsletters from Tim North (Better Writing Skills) will be invaluable, but if you're a seasoned professional, then Australian Bookseller and Publisher may suit your business needs more fully.
So the best advice I can give you is two fold.
1) Decide on what type of writing career you want first.
Many will tell you that freelance writing covers both the writing of articles for cold submission or query to markets such as magazines and newspapers, and fiction writing, the cold submission of your stories to magazines and other types of print and online publications; and they'd be right--kind of. I prefer to differentiate between the two.
Articles based on facts, on real events that are intended to inform the reader, or sell an idea or a product to the reader--I class that as freelance. To me, the selling of that type of informative article is true freelance. Story writing is art.
Now they are both part of the craft and many would argue that there is a form of art in the creation of a good freelance article as I have defined it, but these types of articles will never spring from nothing. Stories often do.
2) Once you have decided on the type of writing career you want, be it freelance, or the type where you're only trying to sell fiction, or both, then you can carefully select the newsletters you'd like to receive. Or try the machine gun approach as I did. You'll soon unsubscribe from many of them :)
You'll find that many points are covered in most of the newsletters. If one of them doesn't mention anything new from others you receive, unsubscribe. Take your time, weed through them, slowly. Start with the basics and work from there till you begin gaining regular acceptances. If your writing is good and everyone is telling you so, then you're either not showing the right people or you're aiming too high.
Nothing wrong with aiming high, just remember to work all the way down your submissions path. There's a home for everything somewhere. That may be your own website or another free low reputation magazine, but there is always somewhere.
This has turned into a sermon, hasn't it?
And it all started out by me wanting to give you a heads up on a couple of newsletters I've just received.
PROJECT GUTENBERG OF AUSTRALIA July 2008 newsletter arrived in my inbox during the early hours of the this morning with all sorts of interesting news, including a short story by Henry Lawson. All this for free! Go to the website to subscribe.
Duotrope has also recently arrived with more possible anthology markets. If you want to sell your work, then you need this newsletter. I imagine Ralan's will arrive in the next day or so (it's usually around the beginning of the month), this is another one I wouldn't be without.
I also like getting newsletters with technical help in them such as Tim North's Better Writing Skills. Most often I find I'm already aware of his topic for the month but sometimes a refresher isn't a bad thing.
I do get a few others but I'm not going to try and influence you further. Go to the different writing communities out there. Many have newsletters. Go to the sites about the business of writing or writers sites, many of those also have newsletters. At worst, type newsletters into Google and you'll have over 113,000,000 to search through. Narrow that down with key words like short story, fiction, freelance, etc, etc.
And lastly, get to know the business side of your industry. Not all the best news sites have newsletters but many have subscribable (is that a word?) feeds for blogs and the like. I have a few of the best one's I've found already listed on my sidebar. Go take a look. ----------------->
I hope some of this info is useful.
Good luck and happy hunting for your perfect newsletter.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I've got a new friend. Mr David Such added a comment requesting a link exchange. No sooner said than done. I imagine anyone who finds their way to this blog is probably looking for writing related content. If that person is so inclined to spend hours in isolation scribbling to the dark (or not so dark) gods of the written word, then who am I to say no to a simple request for a link?
So if you'd like to exchange links, leave me a comment.
On a different note but still thanks to David, I've learned about a new submission tracking tool called Sonar, I'm going to try out. I originally found out here (David - turn on individual pages for your posts so I can link directly to it ;)) but the software from Mr Hal Spacejock himself (Simon Haynes) can be found here. I am really going to have to put some time aside to go through Simon's website. I've just started using yWriter4 and just received my promo stuff for Spacejock, but still haven't found the time to have a good look at all the other software he's created. Don't wait for me to report on it. So far his yWriter software is brilliant, therefore I'm guessing his other titles will be as well. Do yourself a favour and go try them out. And donate to the guy seeing how he's supplying all this good stuff for free.
And while I'm spruiking the virtues of free software to help you in your writing endeavours, a member at TPN has put me onto another gem. Wordweb is free as long as you don't fly too much and add to our already overwhelming global greenhouse issues. A free resource for you to help with your writing--how cool is that!
Now get to work.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Tonight I've been working on my latest short story which has a working title called "Wamphyri" - cool title! Look it up on the net and you'll soon figure out what it's about.
Anyway, this short is also the one I'm looking at incorporating for one of the 2nd semester modules in my course titled "Write Fiction 1 (Short Story)" which is all about writing the short story--obviously.
Assignment 1 of the module was to rewrite a short story they provided in a different POV. I've done the first draft of that. Assignment 2 was coming up with an outline for the short story using a table they provide you with. I'll see if I can get a scan of the suggested table formula and host it on the website. I've done the first draft of this as well. Assignment 3 is doing a "get to know your main character" type of thing. I've now done the first draft of this as well. On top of that, I've done a huge amount of background reading so I know the people, the political arena and the type of environment. I have a pretty good story mapped out.
Now I just have to be able to write it. If it all comes together as I see it in my head, then it may just be the type of story Potters Field is looking for as well.
One last thing. I would be remiss if I didn't mention this story was inspired by "Dur Wulf" by Tim Curran. I read it in Dark Animus Issue 10/11 as a review for HorrorScope. An excellent story that got me thinking. So there you have it, reading widely and often, is good for your writing.
Have at it.
Good luck with your writing.
How rude! Fancy work invading on my writing time. Yesterday, we had a major malfunction within the system. I run two networks for and one of them gave up the ghost. I have suspicions that someone has been tampering but there's no real way to prove it.
So I received the phone call on my way to work yesterday morning and stayed there till late last night repairing, cursing and eventually rebuilding the whole environment.
The overtime will be nice but I'd rather have been at home.
It is also the reason I didn't blog yesterday - sorry about that.
Today, I've finished repairing all the lose ends apart from the documentation - that can wait till next week. It's Friday after all!
I've managed to do two quick crits and a read through of another piece for TPN team members so the day hasn't been a total bust. I'm looking forward to working on my new short later tonight and some more reading of my next module in regards to short story writing that I'm going to use it for.
That's about it for now.
Write at you later.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday night, I was in hospital hooked up to an ECG machine. I had terrible chest pains but no idea why. All the tests came back negative so the medicos have no idea why either. Tuesday I spent at home relaxing and recouperating while all sorts of dramas unfolded within my crit group.
One member has now left and two others have promised to try harder. It has definitely opened up the forum for discussion and shaken things up a little. Strangely, I've still only seen work posted by myself and one other, the same culprits who post every week. System Failure has been up there for three days now and I haven't had any crits yet. Plenty of shake up and talk but still no action yet.
Found a possible new market that ties in well with my module on writing a short story, so I'm intending on structuring it around that. I have a couple of ideas for the premise, new ideas so that's exciting. I wrote the first 1000 words of it tonight before reading and writing the first draft of one of my next assignments. The second semester hasn't started yet and I've already drafted the first two assignments--cool!
Anyway, I wrote the first 1000 words of my new short story and then went to pickup the lad from footy training. As I sat in the car waiting for him, I picked a number of holes in what I'd already written and have now decided on a different setting and a different trope to use. All good stuff. I'm going to seriously work on setting in this story. I can do action and I can do dialogue, but a few people have mentioned I need work on setting. So in this story, I'll work on setting.
Still no return of my final two assignments for module 2 from semester 1. Last time there was this big a delay on my grade, it wasn't a pleasant surprise. Lets hope history doesn't repeat.
Lastly, down toward the bottom of the sidebar over ----------------------------------> here, you'll see another new addition. It's called the live feed bar and it shows who else is on my blog when you're reading this. I still get a huge kick out of seeing people from all over the world coming to read my partially insane rants and raves. And I love to get comments. I'm more than happy to exchange links with just about anybody, just ask and I'll paste you into the link exchange widget and I'll add you to the feed list if you happen to be a writer of the dark arts. I add people to both on occasions so please recheck who's there regularly as I don't always announce it. Just like I hadn't announced the addition of Felicity Dowker who is an emerging spec fic writer who has had some exceptional success over the last few months. I'm not green with envy at all! Seriously, congratulations Felicity and may you find many more markets for your scribblings.
Well, that's it from me this evening. I'm going to do a little more reading and then hit the land of nod, and hopefully it doesn't hit back.
Good luck with all your submissions
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Four days since my last post! Sorry about that. I have no real excuses either.
I've been reading a lot. My review for Alex Bell's The Ninth Circle is here. I'm about halfway through reading Dark Animus 10/11. I hope to have that review up in the next day or so. I must say that to this point, I'm very impressed.
I worked late Friday night and again yesterday which is part of the reason I haven't blogged or done a lot in my writing, but things are in a state of flux anyway so there's not a huge amount to report on.
I received a response back from PARSEC. I didn't make the cut to the final 21 let alone manage what my friend Amy Treadwell did. I am happy to announce that Amy scooped the pool in this years contest winning the first and second prize. I'm also happy to announce that Amy is my mystery critiquer known as The Teacher. Until these results were made public, I didn't want to go rocking the boat, but as Amy has put news of her win on her website and I've officially received news, then there can't be any harm. Congratulations Amy!
So The Winged Shepherd of Innocence crashed and burned. It was a piece of dark fiction that received comments like "the story had a downward arc". They were looking for positives and yet it is a story of a downward spiral. It is dark fiction. Yes, the punctuation wasn't good and there were some typos I missed in the rush to get it out, but in the end, the organisers of the contest are looking for feel good stories with a happy ending. Not an easy thing to achieve in dark fiction. An important thing to remember for future attempts at the contest. Yes, I will be entering again next year.
Winged Shepherd was an expected casualty due to the rush in trying to get it ready. So It's already been revised (although it still doesn't have an uplifting tilt on the story). I'm doing a final polish and it shall go back out to market - a dark fiction market this time.
I downloaded yWriter4 last night. This is created by Simon Haynes, an Australian who is also behind the Hal Spacejock books. I began by looking for a word frequency counter. I couldn't find a free one and then discovered yWriter has one inbuilt. It has plenty of other benefits as well. So I've transferred Tigers Eye into it as well as Voodoo.
Now this has all the hallmarks of great procrastination. I get to play with some new software, spend copious amounts of time doing character profiles, scene descriptions, plot explanations, etc, etc.
But it is also something I need to do. I need to get back in touch with the world and characters I created in Tigers Eye. It is very foreign to me at the moment. Setting Voodoo up will be much easier as I've only written two chapters in that one.
I'm going to continue working through my back log of shorts while doing this. No great rush though. I'm going to take down the progress meter for Tigers Eye because I don't know when I'll get truly stuck into it, and seeing the continual lack of progress is simply depressing. I will work on Tigers Eye and Voodoo in the background. The diploma is the number one focus. I enjoy writing short stories so I'll continue with them. Besides EULA needs to find a home. :)
This sounds like I'm going back on decisions I've made and breaking promises I've made to myself and announced here on the blog. I sound very much like the weak willed, wishy-washy, useless, insignificant little turds, I cant stand to be around. Guilty as charged :(
This is the frame of mind I'm currently in. I've worked hard over the last six months to firstly, get back into writing at all (there was a time there where I almost gave it away), and secondly to get seven short stories (three of them new) to the point where they are ready for market or contest submission.
On top of that I've completed my first semester in academia for over 20 years and performed quite well, receiving credits in both first modules. I've also continued to provide reviews for HorrorScope and worked on articles for SA50s+.
If can gain some short fiction sales during the remainder of this year, then my writing has taken a step forward from last year. I know my writing has improved, i.e. the technical aspects of my writing has improved, but I only made three professional sales last year--and I didn't get paid for one of them (Antipodean SF), and the other two weren't short stories.
I had two erotic shorts accepted into an anthology, but that's not due out till next year. That may yet fall through so I'm not counting those.
I do ramble when I get started, don't I?
Bottom line is: I'm still writing and I'm still growing in my ability to use the craft. The business side of writing is still a long way from providing me with an income. The enjoyment is still there. The feeling of writing something good is still a rush (even if I think it's crap six months later).
I'm not going away, I'm not downgrading my dreams and goals. I am extending my deadlines though. I work for a living and will have to keep doing so for sometime to come. Writing will probably never support my family on its own.
However, I do say probably, not definitely.
I will continue to write, regardless. I will continue to submit, regardless. I will continue to work on the "great Australian novel", regardless. I will complete, and pass well, my diploma, regardless. I will continue to expand my freelance writing and find new avenues to get paid for it, regardless.
Regardless of what? Regardless of what life may throw at me, regardless of the ups and downs in self esteem, regardless of publications credits that may or may not come, regardless of perceived success or lack thereof.
I'm a writer...and writers' write.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
My lecturer has agreed to my proposal. Yay team.
One of the modules for the second semester is called Writing Articles for Publication, in other words, freelancing articles for a second string income. This is something I've wanted to get a handle on for a long time. I very hopeful that I'll learn a great deal from this module.
My proposal concerned me being able to use SA50s+ as my viable target market. As followers of this blog will already know, Mr Stone is adamant the target named in any assignment be a real one. I was required to resub my very first assignment on this technicality. I tend to learn from my mistakes and really dislike making them over and over again. Especially mistakes that require me to do whole sections of work again. I don't have enough time to spare as it is.
Now that my proposal has been accepted, I think I will find this module a great deal easier. I will still look for additional markets for my articles but at least I will always have a fall back plan.
In other news: I finished a crit off for a member of TPN leaving me one other to do. That will have myself and one other member up to date--out of six members :(
Starting to wonder if I'm getting full value for my input here. It's summer in the USA and holidays should be on the horizon meaning more time for writing. If the members decide to go away instead then they obviously aren't as serious about the writing as I am. I don't begrudge anyone a holiday--lord knows I'm looking froward to having one myself, but if you can't put in the effort during the year because of work and time management issues, then surely holidays is when you should be looking to get some progress forward happening.
I'll be taking my laptop and a couple of books with me on holiday. When (if) I have spare time, I'll write. If not then I won't care because I'll be enjoying myself anyway.
My review copy of Dark Animus arrived today. Typical. I started reading The Ninth Circle last night and nearly got halfway through, and now something else for me to read has arrived. I should be working on my novels for the rest of this week but I'm going to leave it. I'm going to relax while I have no assignments due and catch up on my reading. I know I'm finding all sorts of reasons not to work on the longer projects at the moment, but I'm serious when I say I want to clear the decks of everything accept my assignments and the longer works.
Enough of my blogging for now. I may log back in later to add more if I finish The Ninth Circle.
Speak to you later.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Just a quick post tonight. As soon as I'm finished here, I'll be looking at reading The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell for reviewing purposes.
I submitted to another two competitions today, neither requiring a much work from me.
I entered the Allen & Unwin win a manuscript assessment worth $500 by Selena Hanet-Hutchins competition for Tigers Eye and I entered the Win an uncorrected copy of Catherine Jinks' Dark Mountain. To enter either competition, you will need to sign up to receive the newsletter called The Bookmark. They even have a competition for that over the next few days so be quick.
And good luck.
Just before I go, I finished a revised version of System Failure today ready for posting on TPN.
That's it, I'm off to read.
I haven't been asked to post this specifically. I've been out and about looking for markets for System Failure and stumbled across it. The payment is good and the first volume received good feedback. This could be a good venue for your next submission. If I have something stil hanging around come October, I'll definitely be submitting.
The Interstitial Arts Foundation will be publishing a second volume of Interfictions. The first volume was edited by Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss. I’ve been asked to fill the co-editor seat for this second volume, and am excited to be along for the ride. Below are the guidelines for the next volume. We would love to see work from you all, so please distribute these guidelines near and far to help spread the word. And then send us your best when the reading period opens this coming October!
More information on the Interstitial Arts Foundation can be found by clicking here.
Interfictions II: The Second Anthology of Interstitial Writing
Editors Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak
What We’re Looking For
Interstitial Fiction is all about breaking rules, ignoring boundaries, cross-pollinating the fields of literature. It’s about working between, across, through, and at the edges and borders of literary genres, including fiction and non-fiction. It falls between the cracks of other movements, terms, and definitions. If you have a story idea that’s impossible to describe in a couple of sentences, it may be interstitial.
We’re looking for previously unpublished stories that engage us and make us think about literature in new ways. Rather than defining “interstitial” for you, we’d like you to show us what genre-bending fiction looks like. Surprise us; make us see that literature holds possibilities we haven’t yet imagined.
We are also open to graphic stories of about 10 pages.
Who We’re Looking For
Writers in all genres of fiction (contemporary realism, mystery, historical, fantasy, whatever) who have an idea that challenges generic tropes and expectations. If you’re not sure whether a story is interstitial, send it along anyway.
Our submission period will be from October 1, 2008 to December 2, 2008. Please submit electronically only. Send your stories as .rtf attachments to: email@example.com. You will hear from us after January, 2009.
Overseas submissions are welcome. Stories previously published in other languages may be submitted in English translation for first English language publication.
Please follow standard manuscript formatting and submission conventions: ie, double-spaced, with 1” margins, and the name of the story on each page. No simultaneous or multiple submissions. Word count is open, but the ideal range is 4,000-10,000 words. Payment will be 5 cents a word for non-exclusive world anthology rights, on publication, along with 2 author’s copies.
Any questions? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Two more out the door.
Mobile has been submitted to the AlienSkin contest. If I try and do any further alterations, I'll be going around in circles. I love the story as it is. I'm now placing it in the same category as Dark Rose and Too Late the Rain--it will take a very strong argument for me to change anything ever again.
Idolatry has also been submitted, but not before a minor heart attack. In filling out the entry form sent to me by the course coordinator for my Diploma, the very last line before I signed it stated the deadline for submissions was the 30th of May 2008! I did a double take. I was working away under the false belief that I had till July. I was devastated.
I logged onto the net and hunted down the online entry form to be 100% sure. Just as well I did. The latest entry form has a deadline of the 10th of July 2008. Now that's more like it. The two forms are exactly the same except for this one line. Phew.
Idolatry is also highly unlikely to ever be changed again.
These five stories: Grimoire; Too Late the Rain; Dark Rose; Mobile; Idolatry--will now do the rounds as is until I find a place for them to call home. The process involves the creation of a submission path, listing the best paying, highest reputation publications at the top and working my way down to copy only paying publications of note. I work all the way through the submission path with each story until it's sold.
If it doesn't find a home, it goes into a file. As new anthologies come into the market, I'll check to see if I have something that works under that theme. If I do, out she goes again.
The last story in this batch is System Failure. This received a full revision today. It will go off to The Teacher tonight. If it comes back in time (no pressure), it will be posted on TPN this weekend. This story is now fast approaching 5000 words. It is written in ten scenes which could be a difficult sell for a short story. If this proves to be the case, then it will need more of the scenes joined together. This will require additional writing making the story grow very quickly past 6000 words. I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. We'll see what the critiquers have to say.
Last item up for discussion tonight: I received a reply back from my lecturer in regards to my next module. It looks promising although, he put a qualification on the end, as he normally does, which could throw a spanner in the works. I've traded emails and now await his next response. I really want to learn a lot in the article based module, as becoming a freelance writer could depend heavily on having that string added to my bow. Stay tuned.
Please offer up good thoughts to your divine being on my behalf that I gain good results from my submissions.
I shall do the same for you.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Have organised to review Issue 10/11 of Dark Animus. James Cain has kindly offered to send me a copy to review for HorrorScope.
Have offered to look at a story for Benjamin Solah.
Have done a final polish for Mobile and Idolatry. Just waiting on any final crits before sending off, just in case I've missed something.
Have done a good polish on Winged Shepherd. Just waiting for final comments before I find a market for her as well.
Have started a full revision of System Failure. I hope to have this ready for TPN either this week or next.
Semester 2 for my diploma doesn't start till July 21st. I should be fully prepared and up to date on my course reading by then. I'll also have a few assignments in the bag. Cool. Had a letter back from administration today alluding to me maybe already having paid for my 2nd semester. If that's true then that's another bonus. Need to phone the Adelaide Centre for the Arts to confirm. Fingers crossed.
Had a message on my phone today from a friend at work. In his spare time, he does some wonderful photography. Have a look in my link exchange section. Graham Watson is his name. He does weddings as well if you're in the Adelaide area. He's mentioned he'd like me to write the captions for his photography book. Cool.
No answer back from my email to Jonathon Stone regarding assignments for Module 2 next semester.
My review of Infected by Scott Sigler will be up on HorrorScope on August 14. I need to wait 4 weeks after Black magazine hits the stands. I get two credits for that review, one online and one in print. Cool.
My article for SA50s+ is also due out in a couple of weeks so that'll be another credit to add to the bio. All good stuff. Now if I can just sell a story!
I have the Ninth Circle by Alex Bell to read and review plus the Dark Animus issue coming soon.
Plenty to do.
Still need to make sometime to look at Tigers Eye some more and start chapter 3 of Voodoo.
Time to take some writing to work.
Good luck with everything you're doing.
I managed to critique a new story for The Teacher and posted Winged Shepherd up to TPN. I received a crit back from a TPN member on Mobile which picked up something no-one else had.
And I did a lot of reading for next semester. I've already done a draft of the first assignment and have done an outline for the first assignment of the second module. I've also read the first four sections of the first module.
Writing Fiction 1 is all about the writing of short stories. For this module I am to write a short story to the point of having it ready for publication. The formulation of this story is to take place over the whole semester.
It normally takes me two months to write it and have it revised, including passing a few times through different critique and feedback avenues. Not sure how I'm going to stretch that out to nearly six months.
There are other assignments that take place during that time as well as the other module - Writing Articles for Publication. I've emailed my lecturer, Mr Jonathon Stone, to ensure I can use my spot on SA50s+ during this module. I can't see why I can't use the publication as my target market. True, no other first year student would be able to as they don't accept freelance submissions but the editor has mentioned that she'd be interested to see anything else I have to offer. Does this potentially give me an unfair advantage - yes - but that's not my fault.
We'll see what Mr Stone has to say.
Lastly - if you're not yet aware Black Magazine has now been announced. It will hit the news stands next month. Subscriptions are available from the website.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
This was originally targeted at the recent PARSEC contest. I still haven't heard anything back yet. I wasn't happy with it so I'm not expecting anything.
So I've rewritten it, and revised the rewrite. It has then been critiqued and then revised again. It is now up on TPN for final comments before a final polish and submission to market.
I finished the second chapter of Voodoo and finished revising the first chapter of the same novel.
Tigers Eye, chapter 1 still sits partially revised next to my desk.
Oh - big news on the diploma front. Mr Jonathon Stone has sent back my last assignment. I finally cracked the top marks with an A-! Unreal. That gives me a definite credit in module 1. Now I've set a mark I need to live up to for the next three and a half years.
Mobile and Idolatry will go out this week to their respective competitions.
System Failure has been commented on by The Teacher. I'll be looking at revising that one this week.
So hopefully by the end of this month I'll have:
Dark Rose submitted (already out there)
Too Late the Rain submitted (already out there)
Grimoire submitted (already out there)
Wild Flowers submitted (already out there)
Idolatry submitted (almost ready)
Mobile submitted (almost ready)
System Failure submitted (hopefully)
Chapter 2 of Voodoo revised and chapter 3 started
Chapter 1 of Tigers Eye revised and critiqued
Prologue of Tigers Eye revised and resub'd to The Teacher.
First two assignments for next semester completed and ready for posting.
Lots to do and that's not including my reading.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
What do you think of the new title for "The Idol Con"?
It came to me on the way home last night after picking my boy up from Football training. The new title prompted some new suggestions from TPN that intrigued me. So I rewrote it, adding in bits here, taking away bits there, until it grew to be 2250 words.
Then I checked the competition guidelines. Max word count = 2000. :(
Not happy Jan. So I revised, and managed to cut it down to 1998 words. Excellent! Then I realised I was still counting the title and my contact details; an extra 21 words!
1978 words. It's now a word shorter than when I started the new version! I'm doing no more tonight. I'm tired and obviously not thinking straight. Just as well I saved the longer version before I chopped it. I'll go back over it tomorrow in time for a final posting on TPN for comment this weekend. Then it goes to The Teacher and then off to market.
I'll change all the labels from The Dark Con or The Idol Con to Idolatry for easy reference.
Time for bed.
I waited in a doctor's office for three hours today. My little girl has the flu and the reappearance of a sty over her right eye. I was in the actual doctor's office for less than five minutes. And I forgot to take a book. Not happy!
I received two assignments back in the mail, both from module 2. C and a B which cements double credits for semester one as long as I gain passing grades for those still not yet returned.
I finally received an answer back from administration in regards to next semester. Unfortunately my battles with Mr Stone will continue :( Last day for submission of assignments is June 27th. I finished last week! I have no idea how I ended up so far in front. I've also done the first assignment for next semester.
My AHWA card arrived so I'm now a fully fledged, card-toting member. Very nice. I was also informed that membership fees are going up - not so nice, but each member will be receiving free ongoing subscription to Midnight Echo - very nice - the same mag that rejected Dark Rose (downer).
The last issue of my subscription to Aurealis arrived - yay. Now I need to either renew my subscription or buy a new horror anthology - sorry Aurealis.
So, all-in-all, I've ended up on a pretty flat emotional level. too many ups and downs all in one day tends to drain a person. Instead of writing tonight, I think I might take my wife shopping.
Best of luck to you.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Dark Rose was rejected from Midnight Echo :(
That was very disappointing. She has now been submitted elsewhere.
I need a title for The Idol Con. Yet another comment has come back about it from one of my readers. It's one of those problems that you look at for ages and end up playing the same words over in your head. I need to go for a walk and not think about it or work on other things. I have a couple of weeks left before I have to submit it. Hopefully something will occur to me before then.
System Failure has been sent out for comment and I'm slowly editing chapter 1 of Tigers Eye, while revising the first and second chapters of Voodoo. Things are moving forward.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I think I finally got on top of things a bit more today.
The Idol Con has gone to The Teacher for comment.
Mobile has been re-posted to TPN for final comments.
The Winged Shepherd of Innocence has been revised and sent for comment.
Grimoire has been submitted to a new market.
I finished reading Scott Sigler's Infected and emailed my review for consideration.
I also wrote a longer version of the review for HorrorScope (not sure when I'm allowed to post this yet so stay tuned).
Received The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell for review. I'll start reading that one soon.
Maybe another week or so and all my dark shorts should be out the door. Hopefully I can then find the discipline to really get stuck into Tigers Eye.
By anyone's standards, that's a fair bit done in a day. I'm tired but somewhat satisfied.
I hope you've managed to move forward in your writing endeavours.
My self esteem is lagging a little at the moment making it hard for me to work. I'm finding all sorts of things to put off actually writing.
The task of making Tigers Eye readable is daunting. We all look back on things with rose coloured glasses firmly in place, highlighting only the good things. Well Tigers Eye, is a good story--told very badly.
Rather than a revision, it's turning more into a rewrite. To say I'm disappointed in my previous ability to write, would be an understatement. It keeps making me think, "If I thought I was writing well back then, and now I know I wasn't, due to my increased knowledge, what about now? I think I'm writing some fairly good stuff now. In another 12 months, will I look back at this work and think it's only so much dribble?"
I need a shot in the arm. I need some of my assignments to return with good grades. I need to send out the few remaining shorts in my current batch. I need a sale. I need to write some new stuff.
It's been pointed out that I need to work on my scene setting. Apparently I've always been fairly good at action and with dialogue (although Jonathon Stone would beg to differ on the last part).
How does one set a scene and not use the sweeping vista image? Especially at the start of a story. And if one is having difficulties starting a story, then how does one write anything at all?
Isn't learning and growing in the craft of writing fun??
Okay, enough self pity. Time to get to work.
I said I needed a sale to boost my flagging esteem, so I need to finish my last few shorts and get them out to market. I can't do that while playing on the net. Time to get to work.
Good luck with your writing.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Most people would think this would be wonderful. An extra day off work to do whatever I want.
It's winter in Australia. It's cold and I hate the cold. My fingers hurt when it's cold. It's hard to type with cold fingers.
I've managed to do a crit for The Teacher, a revision of Ch1 (see previous post), and not a lot else. I've not heard back anything from the coordinators of my diploma, I've not received any assignments and have no idea how I'm expected to proceed. I have reviews to do but the material didn't arrive in Friday's mail. A long weekend means no mail tomorrow either.
Not a lot else to report :(
Second pass on Ch1 will happen tomorrow and I'll get some reading done. I need to organise my rewrites of my current batch of shorts in preparation to go out. I think I've done most of them but I'm losing track. My memory has been terrible and is getting worse. Not good.
A lot of writers seem to give themselves a target of writing 2000 words a day. I'm revising over 3000 words a day. I hope that counts.
Good luck with your writing/revising/submissions.
I've posted the revised version of the prologue for Tigers Eye on TPN. I've also reverted my progress meter back to the original 130,000 words.
I don't know how long this story will finish up being so I'll work with what I've got and qualify my progression with my posts.
The prologue grew by the time I'd finished revising it, adding in some extra detail in the areas I'd cut too deeply on in other revisions.
Today, I revised the first chapter. It has shrunk on first pass. By nearly 700 words. But it's only the first pass. I'll now print it out and go through it with my red pen poised making additions and corrections where necessary.
I did a lot of telling and not a lot of showing when I first wrote this. Lots of changes. I practically took each paragraph and rewrote it.
Not an easy thing to do.
Chapter 1 now stands at 3162 words. I won't add it to the progress meter yet as I want to do at least another pass on it before it can go to TPN.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Today, I worked on the prologue to Tigers Eye--again. If nothing else, it's taught me to get my revisions done early in the week and send them off to The Teacher quickly, because the reply will require a lot more work.
The basic idea is still good. My writing skills are adequate. With the help of others, I'm given the ability to move forward. With the help of others I see things differently. It's a good thing.
The prologue is now revised--again. But back to thick & fast email.
The Teacher and I are still sorting out how this new collaborative is going to move forward. I got to read her WOTF honourable mention story today. It's excellent, far out stripping anything I've read from her in the past--of course. I need to pickup my standard to what it once was. My writing skill has improved but I've cut too far. I loved to go into expansive description in my work once upon a time. Now I cut to the bone and sometimes beyond. I need to get back to a more poetic (I can't believe I just wrote that) form of writing prose.
With the help of others, I think I can. I know I can.
So I wait for an answer to my last missive to The Teacher. If she agrees, I'll continue to revise my book but she and I will revise the remainder of my short stories (in conjunction with TPN). I will work with her on her short stories while she writes a sequel to a work I helped her with last year.
Once we are both happy with the short stories, we will submit them to relevant markets. By that time, we should have a few chapters of each book (her sequel, my Tigers Eye) to begin working through for each other.
Talk of the devil--touch wood. Just got an email in the middle of typing this blog. It's a go. I've sent Mobile for her to look over.
I'll start work on the first chapter this weekend.
Good luck with your writing
Thursday, June 5, 2008
The final assignment has been packaged up and will go out the door tomorrow. Phew!
After nearly 20,000 words in 16 assignments, semester 1 was a lot of work. I resubmitted three assignments (one of them twice to make four resubmissions) that made it the equivalent of 20 assignments containing nearly 20,000 words in 17 weeks! That's not including research and draft versions.
I am currently waiting on six assignments to be returned. Two from Module one (Assignments 7 & 8), and four from Module two (Assignments 3, 6, 7 & 8). I need a minimum of a C grade or higher in module 1 to gain a credit and at least one B grade and the rest need to be a minimum of a C grade to gain a credit in Module 2.
I'm taking at least a week off to allow the remaining assignments to come back and to relax a little. I'm guessing I should receive a letter of some sort informing me of the process for commencing semester 2.
It's nice to finish the first part of this marathon though. Only 7 more semesters to go!
Under the progress meter, you'll find a new table. It lists all the current chapters in my completed first draft. It once said 5th revision but I never really completed a full revision of all the chapters. Only the first six have had any work done on them since they were first penned. Till now, I've been kidding myself.
Now the second draft is on in earnest.
The prologue has been revised by me and sent onto The Teacher for revision. Once she has finished with it, It will be submitted to TPN for them to have a look at. Then it will go into a draw until all the chapters have been completed in this draft.
Once done, I will go through and fix any plot holes and any logic issues, The Teacher, TPN or myself have found. Obviously the final vote on changes is mine--it my name that's going on the end of it.
At the completion of that process, I'll be looking for a few Beta readers. Start posting comments now and give yourself a chance to get to know me and I could be asking for you. I only want two or three and you must like reading epic fantasy type fiction. Tigers Eye is not dark fiction. If i can't find anybody online, I have a number of people in mind who would be ready to read it.
The progress meter will be updated when I've finished revising a chapter and passed it onto The Teacher.
Been another slow day at work today. The good part about that situation is the extra time I get to write, or work on writing related things.
Today, I've managed to revise "Grimoire" and "The Idol Con".
I'll be sending off the prologue to "Tigers Eye" to The Teacher tonight.
It gives me extra time to polish my final assignment and send that off tomorrow. The final assignment for module 1 went yesterday.
Things are falling into place. Of course I have an urgent review coming up that I need to get done. Read a full novel and post a well worded review in next to no time :) There's always something.
I have just been browsing around and was feeling a little down about my counter. At the writing of this it stated that 877 unique individuals had visited my blog.
I went and checked the counter stats and found these:
877 unique individual visitors
1981 visitors in total (so a few of the 877 keep coming back multiple times)
603 visitors are from Australia
41 Unknown (I'm sure you know where you are :))
6 Canada (I have a soft spot for Canada)
3 Ireland (have a soft spot for the emerald isle too)
Which somehow adds up to 864??? I double checked. So I checked by OS type = 866????! 854 by different browser type??????????!!!!!!!!
On checking the graphs, I've had close to 460 visitors in the last month, 220 unique individuals. Most of my traffic is steady between 5-10 people a day (which is great). On the 26th May, I hit an all time high with 20 unique visitors and nearly 70 visitors in total.
Now according to the cluster map, I've only had 296 visitors since 3 Mar 2008. I'm guessing this means unique individual visitors - they can't be that different in the count--can they?
So I guess it's pretty much, throw a bunch of numbers up in the air, place your left finger on your right ear, hold your breath and count to 5 or 16 (your choice) and spit out a number to place on the website.
And people put great credence on web counters to judge the amount of traffic.
I'm switching from unique visitors to hits. I'll keep the map because I think it's nice to see people from all around the world come to see me. The numbers pretty much mean nothing.
More comments would be nice, of course.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I guess I come across to people a little brash at times, perhaps a little arrogant. I don't mean to be. I'm no shrinking violet but I don't want to be overbearing either.
Sometimes tongue-in-cheek just isn't as funny when you're not the person who spawned the original intention, and usually, email isn't a good medium to have a conversation in.
On a couple of occasions recently, either I, or another person communicating with me, have been taken out of context in a phrase or meaning (within an email). What we would normally say as an offhand remark, doesn't have an opportunity to slip past when it's written down or have the accompanying gestures to clarify intent.
"But we're writers," you cry, "we should be able to communicate effectively with the written word." If I was writing to somebody as if I was writing to a publication, then hopefully that's true, but when it's just boring old me, I let the walls of good writing come crashing down, and just type what comes into my head. Like I'm doing now. It's like having a conversation with the keyboard that you know others will be reading as soon as you press send (or publish in the case of this blog).
What I am beginning to do though, is go back and read what I've typed before I press send. I try and take away vague suggestions and playful humour. I try to be be open and honest and forthright. Too many things can be taken the wrong way otherwise.
If you ever get an email from me, please remember that if I don't like you, I'll tell you (if you ask), if I write something you're not sure the meaning or context of, ask me--I don't bite. Hell, if I didn't like you, I wouldn't have emailed you in the first place.
For everyone else out there that I'm not likely to exchange emails with--be very selective with your choice of word and your turn of phrase within emails. If in doubt, and you're able, use the phone for clarification or go and see the person. Email wars just aren't worth the aggravation.
This has been a difficult assignment. Finding a viable market, coming up with a viable idea and then creating the proposal for a book deal.
Most series within the dark fiction genre, are by invitation only. Actually, most series full stop, are by invitation only. So after spending nearly a week searching for one, I gave up and looked into the non-fiction side of things.
Those of you who come here regularly, have heard me talk about a dark fiction readers list I've been playing around with. Now I've come up with a concept to present that to a publisher as a book proposal. Truthfully, I don't think I have the publishing credentials to be taken seriously, but it should fulfill the assignment criteria enough to get me a pass.
Tonight is reading night, so I'll polish it up tomorrow and send the final assignment of my first semester out the door.
The lecturer is a long way behind on sending out my grades in this module so I have no idea where I stand in regards to my passing mark. I'm hoping a credit is still possible but I've been wrong about things in this course before.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Module 1 has been completed. I was intending on doing module 2's final assignment before this one but I've hit a snag (more on that shortly).
Mod1Ass8 dealt with life writing and wasn't too difficult although it took me a couple of attempts to get the final draft right.
The last part asked me to: Write a brief discussion of what you have learned about writing while studying this module (200 words).
This was my answer.
During this module, I’ve had the fundamentals of the craft further instilled into me. The importance of drafting my work, revisions and instilling routines, has taken my writing a step forward. It has driven me to go further in my attempts to become a better writer.
Lessons on dialogue intrigued me. I considered it just speech between two characters on a page and was surprised it was more. Introductions to style, realisation of clichés and different ways to simply waste words was a real eye-opener.
Practising descriptions and finding I was falling short of what I thought I was achieving in this area, was a wakeup call, and has made me think harder about how I construct paragraphs.
I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone and tried new forms of writing like: speeches, scripts, and poetry. They’ve proven to be challenging. I failed to appreciate poetry, but I’ve gained new insights into play-writing.
Over all, I’ve learned that I could have a future in this business if I continue to apply myself. I have some aptitude for it. I have lots to learn but I’m willing to go the distance to learn it.
This module was only the first big step.
I began writing this feeling like it was a bit of a corny answer, but as I continued, it rang true. I have learnt a lot during this module, even if Mr Stone had to drag me kicking and screaming through parts of it. I learnt that I can write and I could have a future in this business. I've also learned what I want to write and the beginnings of how I want to write it.
The last assignment will go out the door tomorrow or the day after. Including this one, I'll be waiting on the return of two grades for this module before I know if I gain that credit I'm after.
Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Good luck in your writing endeavours.
The benefits of being a regular here just never stops.
I've added a new list for you. The Competition List. What I'm looking for are competitions that have either: a decent prize pool; prestige publication; a legacy; good well-known judges; some if not all of the previously mentioned criteria :)
I want to grow this into having two or three permanent listings for each month with a couple of others thrown into the mix.
They must be: annual; have no fee (AHWA is free if you join); accept email submissions (especially from Australian entrants(thank you PARSEC)); and lend themselves to a dark theme.
I'll be looking into creating an awards list too, if for no other reason than so we can all dream together.
The format of the listings will be "NAME - Month" which will equate to "Name of competition or publication" and "The month submissions will close" - got that! The month is not when it opens. I suggest you have a good look at all submission guidelines and leave me comments if any links become broken. I list these comps because I'm likely to enter them, not because I endorse them.
Nothing is more annoying than being a member of a critique group, spending hours going over another person's work (instead of doing your own), trying your best to help them grow as a writer, and then seeing supposedly revised versions being posted back to the group with the exact same errors and logic issues.
People, please! If you are going to join a critique group, with the thought being to try and improve your work, at least listen to the basics - at least run a spell checker over your submissions before posting. Have some courtesy please. If you cant take constructive criticism, then don't join a group. If you're not willing to learn and improve, don't join a group.
Not only are you wasting your time but every other members time as well.
Having vented - I am again up-to-date on my critique requirements for TPN. Guess what caused my outburst :)
I've had no feedback from The Teacher about the critique I did for her either. Here's hoping I haven't offended another friend by trying to be honest in my appraisal's. There is a diplomatic way to express concern over a fellow person's work. This is not the same as saying, treat others as you wish to be treated, as I've come across some who believe their work is superior and therefore don't expect someone to rip it to shreds, but they don't mind doing it to someone else because "if" their work was bad, they'd expect it in return. I remember having a very satisfied smile on my dial when I returned the favour one day, many months ago (not at TPN). The recipient howled for days. Then I carefully explained why he should no longer do the same to others. I hope he learnt his lesson. We have never critiqued each others work since.
You need to build trust with those you are asking for help from. If you don't find a level of trust, move on. If you don't agree with what's being said about your work, move on. But thank everyone for taking the time to look and comment on your work. I haven't come across a crit site/group yet that I've had to pay for feedback. In the end, you're getting exactly what you paid for!
Listen, learn, grow!
Monday, June 2, 2008
I've made a slight adjustment to my progress meter. I currently have a manuscript that is a little over 130,000 words in length. Last night I worked through the first 2901 words and reduced that down to 2551.
I then added that to the progress meter. Great. But my target isn't 130,000 words so 2551 isn't 2% of my real target.
So, using the formula, I've reduced the 130,000 by 10%. My new target is 117,000 words. If I can get that closer to 100,000, even better, but 117K is realistic. I've reduced the prologue by a touch over 12%. If I can keep that up, I'll get the book down to less than 115K which brings it into the realm acceptable by a lot more agents.
Lots of numbers and percentages which is not what writers want to be thinking about.
A story will take as many words as it takes to tell the story properly.
I can't remember where I heard or read this gem of advice but it needs an addition.
A story will take as many words as it takes to tell the story properly in the first draft.
In second and additional drafts, through revision, from learning your craft, from being succinct, from buddying up to Strunk and White, and many other factors, your story will take as few words as necessary to tell, and still convey exactly what it is you're trying to convey, in a manner that your ideal reader will find wonderful to read.
At least that's the goal--isn't it?
I was recently told some good advice and then given some suggested examples to expand upon that advice.
Mort Castle told me: "[The] ending [to a short story] must be inevitable and unpredictable"
Now that may sound like common sense to some, may sound like total contradictory tripe to others which is why he followed it up with the examples to show what he meant.
"For models, Updike's A&P or Barker's IN THE HILLS, THE CITIES."
So I went out and brought Barkers Books of Blood and have now found Updike's A&P here. I'm looking forward to reading Barker because A&P didn't help clarify what Mort was talking about.
Wikipedia gives this explanation of the story which explains Mort's idea a little. It seems to me that the ending may not have been what the main character was fantasizing about but it was exactly what the reader expected, at least the sequence of observations and actions after the character quits. Him up and quitting was unexpected but I wouldn't say it made the story. I hope Mort's advice was centred more around the readers expectations, at least that's what I'm taking it as.
Back to Mort's suggested endings for short stories : "[The] ending [to a short story] must be inevitable and unpredictable"--so the main character quitting was unpredictable but everything else was inevitable and very much expected. In the end, I found the story to be pretty ho-hum and not something someone would tout as an example of what to do. I was disappointed. I'm hoping Barker is a better read. I've read some reviews of "IN THE HILLS, THE CITIES" and they weren't particularly inspiring.
In the end, I think this validates my thinking of recent times. Everyone's opinions differ on all aspects of writing. If you try to pander to others opinions then you'll never be true to yourself. You must write what you want to, how you want to. If it's not commercial, and doesn't sell, then does it really matter? If you're writing fiction because you want to make money, then you're writing for the wrong reasons.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Completely out of sequence, I've started reading for Module 2, Assignment 8 when I should be doing number 8 for module 1 this week.
Why? I'm glad you asked.
Mod2Ass8 (I'm getting tired of writing the whole thing) is about creating a book proposal. I'm supposed to do one assignment a week, but this is a lot more involved than usual, so I'm taking extra time to get it right.
As part of this assignment, I'm reading a children's title, "Quentaris"--review to follow--I need to do some additional research, but it could be a promising market. the writing definitely doesn't look too taxing from what I've read so far.
I'll let you know.
The editor for SA50s+ liked the article I submitted. She's even suggested it might make the front page. Not a bad promotion from back page to front page. Unfortunately it means I won't have my bi-line included but for a shot at the front page, I can live with that.
I need to cross reference some figures I included and try to organise some photos tomorrow, but no mention of revisions or cuts.
It's been a good day!
Today is June 1st! In Australia it's the first day of winter although it was nice and sunny today. It is also the first day of my big revision of the entire manuscript titled "Tigers Eye".
I made a promise to myself and to the whole world, that I'd begin it today and so I have.
The prologue is done. It is a snap shot set four hundred years in the past from when the rest of the novel takes place. It explains why a community exists which becomes pivotal in events within the book.
It began at 2902 words. My goal was to employ the formula "2nd draft = 1st draft - 10%", leaving me with a target of 2611 words. I've exceeded that cutting the prologue to 2551 words. My overall target is to complete one chapter a week, so I'll let this sit for a day or two before giving it a final once over. I'll then submit it to The Teacher. Next weekend, I'll submit it to TPN.
2% of Tigers Eye revised. It's a good start.