Wednesday 25 May 2011

No Comments

Blogger isn't letting me comment under my name. I'm getting so frustrated, keeping typing comments only to be denied. And I feel bad about this, my friends. Unless you've got your anonymous option turned on, I can't comment on your blogs.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Brag post, Enchanted Conversation and Ladies and Gents of Horror

Got my contributor's copy of The Ladies and Gentlemen of Horror anthology this morning. It's always fun to get oversees mail. It good to see many of my writer friends in it, and I'm looking forward to reading it.  

And I got my Snow White poem, 'Remember Winter' accepted by Enchanted Convesation. The next call is for Cinderella poems and stories, and it opens in a month. Get crackin'.

Issue Three: "Cinderella" theme, submission window opens at 12 a.m., EST, June 27, and closes at 11:59 p.m., June 30.

Submission Frenzy

I set myelf a challenge today, to submit ten stories. I've got plenty hanging about, and there's also reprints to think about.
I rather enjoy subbing, searching duotrope, reading online stories, maybe making a few edits to my stories. After around two hours, I'd managed five. They take longer than you think. 
  1. Where Are We Going speculative themed antholgy closes 31/5
  2. Murky Depths -- dark speculative fiction
  3. Untied Shoelaces of the Mind Anthology -- accepts reprints and multiple subs
  4. 2nd sub to Untied Shoelaces
  5. Space Squid accepts reprints if they're awesome
I'm a bit bored of subbing now. But I'll try and do a few more later. Do you ever set yourself mini-challenges like this?

Here we go, a few more:
  1. Dunsteef Audio Fiction Magazine take reprints
  2. LingerFiction
  3. Cosmass Infinites an audio venue that takes reprints
  4. Spinetinglers -- just one more to go.
  5. Aofie's Kiss
This is doing wonders for my race-score. You know about race-score, right? It's a way of scoring the number of subs you've got out. Here's an article I wrote about it for Flash Fiction Chronicles.

6pm, and I've got my second wind. Ten subs in a day is great, but fifteen would be even funnier. I should be packing, but packing's boring and subbing is fun-- onwards:
  1. The Gloaming
  2. Daily Science Fiction

Thursday 19 May 2011

Eschatology Story Acceptance

Reporting a five hour acceptance from Eschatology. Fans of Lovecraftin and apocalyptic fiction should check it out (Yes, you in the back, with the long hair, don't be shy).

I love old school weird. My story was a rather strange envisioning of the End of Days, featuring monstrous zeppelin queens, tentacles and disturbed realities.

Next stop: Weird Tales

Thursday 12 May 2011

How I Write . . . Rejectomancy

In response to your short story submission, you'll get an acceptance, a re-write request or a rejection. A rejection can either be a form rejection or a personal rejection.

Rejectomancy is the dark art of studying your rejections and trying to decipher their hidden meaning. Some say that it's pointless, but I think you've got to get your fun where you can, especially in this game.
I've been inspired by Sam, who's been posting some interesting stattage, to look at my own figures.

For the last 50 submissions to professional short story markets (all of them Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror) I've had 1 acceptance (tough old business, isn't it)? and 8 personal rejections. That's quite encouraging, I hadn't realised I'd had so many.

Form Rejections

This is a standard response that can be sent out to everyone. You've got to be careful. Some form rejections appear personal, they might say things like: I enjoyed reading your story or this is a good story, try it on another market

The only real way to tell is when you've had more than one response from a market, or if they say something specific that wouldn't be applicable to everyone.

Not All Form Rejections are Equal.

This is fun and something that I didn't realise for a long time. Many of the markets have more than one form, so you'll get a basic not right for us letter, then if your story merits it a more encouraging letters saying something nice.  They're still forms, but they can appear personal.

Different Types of Personal Rejections

I know writers who generate detailed, encouraging personal rejections from editors. Mine tend to be the close but no cigar types,

What does it all mean? I've no idea. I feel encouraged that I've had more than I thought. How's your rejectomancy, readers? Do you indulge, or do you think that it's a fool's game? Any good tips?

Thursday 5 May 2011

Interview with Luc Reid -- and Free Flash

Today, I'm interviewing Luc Reid.

Luc Reid's been published in some mighty fine venues (Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex to name a few). He's a Writers of the Future's winner, author of  'Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures', a founding member of  The Daily Cabal where he's published over a hundred flash stories, a former radio commentator, and a columnist for Futurismic . His blog, features posts on writing, and reports on motivation and habits drawing on recent psychological and neurological research

Luc's wonderful flash fiction collection: Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Storiesfeatures Cinderella's divorce, inventions gone wrong, the Robot Insurrection, thinking teddy bears, colliding universes, lightbulb theft, love in hotel corridors, and more.

Luc has selected 16 apocalyptic stories from BAM! and is making them available in a free eBook: 17 Stories About the End of the World.

djw: What’s the best piece of writer’s advice you’ve ever heard?

LR: You know, I think it would be something I didn't even learn in relation to writing: it's the theme of the book Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, and it boils down to the importance of deliberate practice, that the way anyone gets really good at practically anything, writing included, is to do a lot of it in a way that constantly requires stretching yourself and trying things that are difficult, and to get clear feedback on how well you're doing as you go. This wraps up the importance of writing a lot with the importance of sending out your work and of pushing yourself to learn about writing, and it includes a built-in confidence boost: there is no question of whether you have the talent for writing or not. The only question is whether you've pushed yourself to the point where you're doing really good work.

While I mention Colvin's book, I got most of this advice in one form or another long before I read it, when I attended Orson Scott Card's first Literary Boot Camp in 2001.

djw: What’s your favourite movie?

lr: My priorities and preferences are so many and interwoven that I have trouble selecting single favorite things, so I'll take advantage of the fact that you're not here in person to stop me and name several favorites. I love the complex interplay and development of characters in American Beauty; the dark entertainment of Brick; the beauty in motion of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; the humor, pain and reassurance of The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; the character-driven action of Serenity; and others. Oh, but I do have a favorite screenwriter: William Goldman, who wrote two of my favorites and much else worth admiring.

djw:  What’s the best short story you’ve ever written, and where can we read it?

lr: There's that favorite thing again, but I'll choke back my natural urge to answer with a dozen titles and instead recommend "In the Elevator with Albert Einstein," the very last story in Bam! It's also available for free in 17 Stories About the End of the World, or you can read it online in its original form at Daily Cabal.

djw - my favouirte is Secret Runner.

djw:  What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

lw: I was a dishwasher at an upscale restaurant in Burlington, Vermont during my first summer home from college, when I was 17. In addition to scrubbing pots, pans, and plates, I had jobs like hauling nauseatingly odorous garbage out to the dumpster and cleaning live maggots out of mop heads by dousing them with bleach. One of the chefs enjoyed making me the butt of jokes, like the time he tricked me into eating a jalapeno pepper. Another chef, who was about 30 years my senior, seemed to be lecherously interested in me. One day the job got to me so much that I faked illness and left early--not a particularly upstanding thing to do, I admit. On the way home I saw the cheap theater was showing Out of Africa and went in to see it: utter bliss. When I watched the movie again years later, I was astonished at how boring it was. Any port in a storm, I guess.

djw: Whose blog should we be following?

lr: Depending on your interests, some great bets are Nathan BransfordMaya LassiterHow to Kill Your Imaginary Friends (medical info for writers and other fun stuff), Futurismic (sort of an online magazine as well as a blog), and XKCD, which isn't a blog, but is arguably better than one in that it's geeky, heartfelt, clever comics updated three times a week.  And while I can't recommend my own blog, as that would be a conflict of interest, I would certainly urge readers to give it a whirl.

djw: What’s the best meal you ever ate?

lr: Hey, I think I may actually have a favorite in this category! It was dinner at a Mexican-Caribbean restaurant called Marsala Salsa, which is in Waterbury, Vermont, and it was in late January 2010. I think I may have had the Grilled Island Shrimp, but I couldn't say for certain.The food was very good, but the thing that made the meal epic for me was that it was a first date which in a sense has never really ended--although it certainly gets interrupted on a regular basis--in the 15 months since. I'm all for delicious food, but the company is what really makes a meal for me.

djw: How can I write great flash stories?

lr: That's the same question I keep asking myself. I'll offer some of the answers that have been useful to me in hopes that one or more will be useful to you:

- Only write stories that are fascinating to you
- Find just one action or shifting point to build the story around (though this doesn't apply in every single case)
- Try breaking some rules: you can get away with a lot at very short lengths that would be irritating at short story or novel size
- Write a lot
- Find a way to get people's feedback: outside perspective is hugely valuable

djw: What are your favourite markets for flash?

lr: I'm terrible about sending my flash out these days; the amount of time it takes to submit a story and keep it in circulation, even though it's not huge, cuts into my very limited writing time. Thanks for the reminder! But I don't have a well-informed answer to this question.

djw: Where are you going on holiday this year?

lr: Montreal. It's 90 minutes away (not counting extra time at the border, which sometimes happens), is in a different country, is full of French-speakers, has great food, and offers an indoor zoo.

djw: Do you have any odd writing habits (I used to have a lucky hat; but I lost it).

lr:That sounds very unfortunate. Were you wearing the hat when you lost it? I'm guessing not.

My one odd writing habit that I can think of is that I often come up with writing ideas while driving, so I'll take the notebook I keep in the map pocket of my driver's side door, put it down on the arm rest between the front seats, and try to scrawl down my thoughts, never glancing at the page for more than a fraction of a second to try to keep the writing from overlapping. It's not something I would recommend and would probably be looked upon with disapproval or outright censure by the Vermont State Police, but I never get around to transcribing recordings, and it's impossible for me not to come up with detailed writing ideas in the car.

djw: I'm not very motivated at the moment, can you help me?

lr: Very likely, yes: read "Don’t Feel Motivated? 10 Ways to Find Motivation Right Now." If you don't have time for that, the quickest and easiest way to get motivated that I can suggest is to go out walking, ideally somewhere where there are plants and running water, and try to answer this question: What's the single most exciting thing about what I want to be doing?

For a greater understanding of writing motivation, try The Writing Engine: A Practical Guide to Writing Motivation, available free on my blog, or for 99 cents at the Kindle store.

Thanks again for the opportunity to do this interview! 

djw: Luc, the pleasure has been all mine.