Monday 28 May 2012

Story Sale to Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top

Look at this lovely cover. And I'm in it! With my reprint science fiction story, 'Welcome to the Greatest Show in the Universe." I've just found out, and I'm so excited.

Edited by Ekaterina Sedia, Table of contents buddies with Ken Scholes, Peter Straub, Howard Waldrop, Genivieve Valentine, Jeff Vandermeer  and Cate Gardner.

Pinch me I must be dreaming.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Are you Walking Down the Street Naked?

Neil Gaiman's speech to the graduates of the University of of the Arts in Philadelphia has been circulating around the internet. And rightly so. Do give it a listen, if you've got a moment. All good stuff.

What got me thinking, was when he spoke about finding your voice:

"write ... as only you can, the moment that you feel, that just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself that's the moment when you might be starting to get it right."

Things that tend to snag my attention are things that I don't do. I don't feel at all that I'm showing too much of myself. I think of my stories as intellectual puzzles. I'm very interested in emotion and character but my characters are always very definitely not me. If anything I feel they are a conversation between me and ideas I've picked up along my way.

No doubt, every word, every character arc, every happy ending, is revealing a lot about me--eek. But I don't feel they are me. And of course, every writer is different and has their own process.

But food for thought. Do you feel this way about your stories? Do they expose the heart of you? How can I use  Gaiman's advice to write better stories?

Thursday 10 May 2012

Good Review for My Rocket Science Story

It's a good job that my last post dealt with rejections, becuase here's a little bragging to balance it out. A review from The Future Fire: 

Each of these stories is set in a world of very convincing scientific advancement, and while that framework is extremely important and effective in painting each individual world, it is the people, the characters, that are the ultimate focus.

In ‘Sea of Maternity’ by Deborah Walker, for example, we have an intriguing glimpse of the rigours of living in a lunar colony. Innovative ways have been developed to protect the inhabitants from lethal washes of radiation sent out by the sun. The first generation have survived and the second are growing up through adolescence toward adulthood. Yet all is not well, the children of the moon are as restless and rebellious as their earthbound counterparts. This is a marvellous story, and in a few thousand words, ‘Sea of Maternity’ gives us the vast backdrop and convincing history of the colony, and at the same time focusses tight into a fraught mother-daughter relationship that encapsulates the whole issue of lunar colonisation.


My recommendation? Even if you are put off by the term “Hard SF” and are nervous of negotiating zero-g, aphelion, radiation, weightlessness and the dynamics of re-entry, give this book a try. The hardware, the steel and plastic actually emphasise the sheer fragile-yet-iron tough humanity of its protagonists. The real winner here is the human spirit."

So, lessons learnt? Well, get more of that character stuff into my hard stories. People seem to like it. 

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Marvel at my Mighty Rejection Collection

Well it's 893 rejections in three and a half years. That's just for short stories. And I'm not the only one to have this enormous pile of rejections, a couple of my writing friends have similar numbers.

I've posted for two reasons, firstly so that you can congratulate me. Wow, I'm a good little subber.

But secondly to stress what a tough old game this is. We're competing in an international field, against thousands of other writers.  Recently I read a blog from a writer who was quitting, saying that he thinks he will never be good enough to publish in the top magazines. Fair enough. But I wondered, just how many submissions had the writer made? And mileage will vary for this. Some writers will never get as many rejections as me and publish more. (Good for them).

Another story: recently after three years of subbing and three years of form rejections, I received a re-write request from a professional publication. Now its true it would have been a better story if it had been an acceptance. But a rewrite request is still very encouraging. And this is from a publication where I've often thought, am I wasting my time?

If you've had as many rejections as me, you don't worry about individual rejections much. You just can't, otherwise you'll go bonkers. Yesterday I got a rejection, oh, so close. (You can tell from duotrope stats, and what other writers say), and I just thought, meh, oh well. Onwards.

Do you know how many rejections you've had?