Submitting Short Stories

June is shaping up to be a record month. Despite a number of other things claiming my attention, including two graduate classes, I managed to edit two short stories and submit three this month. For someone who’s been rather slim on the short stories being finished, this is definitely a lot of progress.

When one editor told me that my short was going to a senior editor, my first thought is, “Is that good?” It turns out it is, but for someone who’s still learning all this stuff, it’s a bit surprising. And also amazing. It may still be rejected, but I learned something, and that’s never a bad thing. Hearing that a story gets rejected 12-14 times on average is what keeps me going.

Short stories for me are also a bit like performing scales before playing a piece of music. It’s a good way to explore middles and ends, which are, for me, at least, the toughest parts of the story. The middle tends to get messy and the ending always seem to take forever to arrive at. Beginnings are wonderful: everything is fresh and new and it’s easy to be enthusiastic.

Someone told me that usually it’s the middle where authors lose their enthusiasm and focus, which brings in issues while working on the ending. That was helpful, because now I’ll be on the lookout for this in my own writing.

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Summer, Suddenly

2017 started slow, but time has really flown by this last month or two, especially while wrapping up the semester as a graduate student. Not to mention the mountain of grading (my day job is teaching history at the college level, so I’ve seen both sides of academic life).

Suddenly it’s summer. A day after handing in final grades, my first summer class kicked off. The second begins in four weeks. I’m halfway through the M.F.A. and on track to graduate in May 2018. Hard to believe.

In between coursework, curriculum prep and the novel, there’s also writing and submitting short stories. I’m even getting adventurous; I sent out some poetry today, something I haven’t done since high school. My best breakthrough was getting an idea during a phone call which inspired a piece of flash. Another story I’m finishing up came to me in a dream. Recently, a blog post online informed me that on average, authors find a piece gets rejected 12-14 times before acceptance. Which gives me a lot of hope as I pursue publication.

Happy Memorial Day!


Looking Back, Looking Forward

Some look back over the year gone by to see what they achieved. I think that’s a good idea.

So, for 2016:

  1. Celebrated 18 years of marriage.
  2. Earned 12 credits toward my MFA for a total of 18 credits, 23 to go. (Accomplished one of my goals from January 2016!)
  3. Accepted to and attended Viable Paradise XX. Met fabulous people and learned a lot. (Accomplished one of my goals from January 2016!)
  4. Saw my first publication credit, “Satyrday Night Special,” which was put up at Teleport Magazine. Link: https://www.teleportmagazine.com/2016/12/06/satyrday-night-special/
  5. Rewrote the first three chapters of the novel. I’ve been brainstorming a lot for world-building. (Did not meet goal of finishing.)
  6. Submitted various short stories for a total of 11 submissions. (Accomplished another of my goals from January 2016!)

So, for 2017, my goals are:

  1. Celebrate 19 years of marriage.
  2. Earn at least 6 credits toward MFA.
  3. Apply to Odyssey.
  4. See more publication credits.
  5. Complete novel and send out to revision editor to make plot as strong as possible. (Completion was a goal in January 2016, let’s see what I can make happen in 2017.)
  6. Submit various short stories.

We’ll see how all this plays out next year. I’d also like to make a few other changes, but still need to firm up some things to see if they’re possible in 2017. I figure six goals are a good start!


Breakthrough

I am so happy. December 5th, 2016 is a special day—it was the day I first had a short story published! “Satyrday Night Special” is live at Teleport Magazine. It feels good to have a publication credit to my name. Dreams do come true!

I began writing in 2013 to make reality palatable—hiding in my fantasy worlds while a lot of things were going wrong made it easier to cope. Fortunately, things began to turn around, and when they did, I continued to write.

When I went to Taos Toolbox in 2015, I was still writing for me, at my kitchen table. (By the way, if you want to be a fantasy writer, you should apply to Taos Toolbox—now. George R.R. Martin will be a special guest. And so will Steven Gould, who was at Viable Paradise, and a great teacher and writer! And E.M. Tippets has a wealth of information to offer as well!)

It wasn’t until meeting the other writers at Taos and listening to Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress discuss writing both as a craft AND as a career, that it dawned on me that it could be something more than a solitary hobby.

So, applying for Viable Paradise, I had a bit more knowledge than before, and a drive to see some of my work out there. I came back from Viable Paradise with new insights which have begun to inform my drafts.

And now, a year and a half after Taos Toolbox, I can say, a little shyly, a little proudly, “I’m published!”

It’s so wonderful to release something into the world and not have it simply sitting on my hard drive. So, without further ado, my story is live at Teleport Magazine and here is the link: http://www.teleportmagazine.com/2016/12/06/satyrday-night-special/

And if you want to apply for Taos Toolbox, here’s the link: http://www.taostoolbox.com/


Crossroads

Please forgive the month long silence. I appreciate all of you who take time to read these posts and like them. Teaching and taking classes have really pulled me away from blogging and writing on various projects. And now, the semester is rushing toward an end. The pages in the day planner are dwindling.

And, to help with long-term planning, I bought a 2017 planner this week, which is a record for me. Why? Because it feels like I’m at the crossroads and I need to make some key decisions about my writing.

The first thing I did was write (in ink!) the deadline for the Odyssey workshop. Odyssey lasts six weeks in the summer and is a HUGE commitment. There’s no guarantee I’ll get in, but it feels like this is the next logical step. The insights I gained from Viable Paradise have helped me become a stronger writer. Maybe even strong enough to get the green light from Odyssey. Only time will tell.

 

 


Post Paradise (Viable, that is)

Viable Paradise (VP) was affirming, life-changing, leveling up, and all sorts of good stuff. I can say that despite sleep deprivation.

If you are an aspiring fantasy or sci-fi writer, apply!

I made new friends, and it was fantastic. We’re all on this crazy and wonderful journey together. I’ve always thought writers should help and support one another, which was affirmed at VP. Especially since only about 30% of readers will like your work on average (and that’s on the high side). So, there’s plenty of readers who will read many works. Plenty of room for all in the sandbox.

I did not get much sleep. 4-5 hours was the norm. On the plus side, everyone was so wonderful, you didn’t mind as much as normal life. The muse woke up and she wouldn’t stop speaking to me about so many things. I wrote notes. We’re on the same page even more now, especially since I’ve slept.

My differences are my strengths, both professionally and academically, even in an MFA program. It’s okay to be a fantasy writer and I’ve embraced it.

Things I Took Away:

  1. I am a writer! Really and truly. This is not a hobby.
  2. I am a visual writer, which is why the movies run in my head while I write.
  3. Get exposition in the right place, and the movie will run in the reader’s head. *woot*
  4. Submit until Hell won’t have it!

 

 


Follow Your Instincts

For my loyal blog readers, let me apologize for the long absence. Summer and fall classes have eaten up valuable writing and blogging time. The experiences have been good—new information and craft techniques, new points of view.

And one encounter really made me think. Another student insisted that fantasy was beneath my talents and would get me nowhere. Once she heard my business plan, she was stunned. She herself had not considered the process in great depth. Hopefully she’s now revising some of her earlier views. However, she also made me realize that perhaps some of my pieces would be better served going toward a more literary market since they’re not getting placed in the fantasy ones. So, it was a great discussion.

However, that made me realize how valuable it is to follow your instincts. We’re all on our own journey. What works for one doesn’t work for all. How do you tell if you’re on the right path? Well, here are some of the symptoms that seem to turn up for me when I deviate from the path:

  1. Resentment (Why do I have to spend all this time on X?)
  2. Apathy (Who cares? Why bother?)

But when there’s flow, and the path is clear, it’s more like this:

  1. Excitement (This is cool!)
  2. Flow (Wow, four hours already? It felt like ten minutes!

Playing into your instincts generates energy. So, no matter what your dream—don’t give up and keep listening to your instincts. As for me, I’m off to pack a suitcase for my audition only genre workshop….