Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another nice rejection

I tell ya, all these kind and helpful rejections are neat, so it's hard to complain.  But three days in a row and one last week--woof!  Between stories I'm revising because I thought of something that might bring them up to the next level, and stories that just came back, half my inventory is at home right now, festering.

Stories fester when they're at home, you know.  They need a wild ride in the mail or through the phosphors and then they like to wait on desks or in editorial hard drives where they can chat with other manuscripts and drink too much and party.  Sometimes, when they've just come back, they're lively and have lots of things to say to the other stories who've been stuck at home, but they quickly grow morose.  Then the festering begins, usually with some discoloration, and then the smell.  If that doesn't get your attention, they can ooze like nobody's business.

It's easier to avoid the whole festering thing and keep them in circulation.  Everyone's happier that way.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another one for the collection

I have a new rejection slip today, a coveted signed and personalized rejection slip on white paper from a market well known for it's half-page "blue rejection slips of death."  As an avid collector of rejections, it's always fun to get a new kind, especially a hard-to-procure sort.  BTW, those blue form rejections are a neat collector's item in and of themselves, since they're the only ones on colored paper I get.  I've heard a rumor about one for a poetry market that has a poem and is quite lovely to look at.  If I wrote poetry I would totally submit to that market to get one (assuming that I didn't make the cut and get a sale.  Hmm, would I then be so bold as to request that they send me a form rejection with my contract so that I can have a copy?  Hee--I'd love to have those kinds of problems.)  

Anyway, now I have to get these stories back out.  Rejection slips come in waves, I've noticed, so after having nothing to do but write for a long period, I suddenly have to start shoveling things out the door before they pile up.  My marketing muscles atrophy between waves, I suspect, because I don't have a deep enough portfolio of fiction.  That'll change as I write more short stories, but it won't change fast.  Although I think I've improved my craft in the short story department, I'm still a novelist at heart, therefore I spend most of my writing time on novels.  Eventually I may have enough short stories in final form that I'll be sending stuff out all the time.  Hmm.  That may not necessarily be a good thing.

It's hot hot hot today, a good day to stay home and write, especially if you have AC or a nice basement office.  (Mmmm, basement ....)  But first (I guess, *pout*) I will see about sending my stories back out into the world.  Stay cool today, INKers and Friends of INK.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Catching their attention

I got a nice rejection today.  Part of it said: 
The story caught our attention but after consideration we’ve decided it’s not a piece
we can use.
Not too shabby, I say.  

My distractions are piling up, but writing is still happening.  I've been mainly editing novels and frowning at my legless story.  It'll all come together.  The part that's sticky right now is that I've got all of four days to send out an agent query or I'll have failed my goals for the month.  Ackity ack acka ack.  I always procrastinate with those things.  But I haven't been idle.  I've been reading Query Shark, and thinking about what the strongest thread in my novel is so that I don't muddy the synopsis with dumb stuff.  You know, the stuff that everyone, especially me, feels is so critical to the story but everyone with a few synapses firing in their brains and a somewhat-accurate memory of what the novel is about knows is just window dressing?  That stuff, the stuff I want to leave out.  If only it was color coded or something.  

Anyway, I'll get it done soon.  I'd better, or I'll owe the group a buck at a time I really ought to be saving my bucks.  Four days may seem like a lot of time, but it really isn't, especially since I want to try a fresh take on that synopsis.  It's not quite right as it stands.  I can do better.  I will, and I must do better.  

Gee, I haven't even got to the hard part yet, you know, the part where the book is out and I'm trying to build interest while still working on other books.  This is the easy part, y'know, even though it drags on and on.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Write What You Know...

... but maybe not the way you know it.

 "Write what you know" is an adage for both fiction and non-fiction writers, but there is another side to it. When you really know something, especially something that is based on precise, immediate action in very tense situations a lot of 'what you know' has to be forced down to a subconscious level.  It develops a psychological shorthand.  Things that are esoteric to outsiders are too obvious to be worth mentioning to insiders.
That's the thing- if you are writing for outsiders it is all about the things that aren't worth mentioning to insiders.  There are things that I have forgotten how I learned.  That's a problem with 'write what you know'.

The critiques are trickling in from the first readers, and they are doing exactly what I need. 

My first readers are pointing out the jargon, the places where I skipped steps in explanation (remember your algebra teacher in high school saying "show your work" and you only cared that the answer was right?).  A few places where there is some darkness behind what I have left out or masked with some grim humor that won't play... because the lessons are in the dark things that I don't want to say, the things that pro to pro would be considered seeking validation or attention.  Professional to outsider the dynamic is different and there's not a lot of experience here. Which is why there is a market for this book.

I'm actually starting to get very excited about the re-write.  But it will wait until I can synthesize all the critiques.

Thanks, readers. 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

First Draft

Smoking a nargilah with orange tobacco as the sun set over the Pir Magroon mountains, I finished the first draft of "A Citizen's Guide to Police Use of Force".  It is a good day.  A fine Islay scotch, Ardbeg or perhaps Smokehead would make it better but, alas, I am not in the place for that.

The manuscript is done- for now.  Not yet dead with a stake through its heart and buried at the crossroads, but for now, she is no longer a threat to the poor villagers.  I have contacted the First Readers, that secret cabal of SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), professionals, writers and concerned citizens who will show me the flaws.  Some will brave the challenge, some will come up with whiny little excuses about not having time- such is the way of all quests.

It's a pretty good feeling.  And fellow INKers- you're drafted.  We don't accept no stinking excuses from our own!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Next INK - July 17th.

Next INK meeting is coming up, July 17th to be precise, at the usual summer venue in Vancouver. Deadline for critique material is one week beforehand. That means today, up until midnight, stuff for critique will be accepted. So far (10 a.m. Friday July 10th), there is nothing on tap to critique.

Don't you just hate it when time sneaks up on you?

At the last INK meeting, writer Mark Jones pulled off what I personally felt was missing in my own writing life -- Talking with excitement on the Joys of Submitting Stories. Thank you Mark! I don't know what exactly you said but it got me up off my butt and I've submitted three stories in the past week. Still looking for a market for a fourth but I'm confident that I'll regain my, um, confidence in that regard.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fever Blabber

The bombs bursting in the air must have inspired a dark streak in me.  I wrote and shipped off a flash tonight.  Again, it's another one of those will or won't work situations that I don't think I ought to be wasting critique group time with.  Yea or nay can come from an editor.

I'm feverish and snurky.  Stupid cold.  My kids are all better, but I'm just starting to get really sick with the being tired all the time and cough and sneezing and ongoing drainage.  I fell asleep on top of my covers in my clothes last night, woke up at 5am feeling like hash browns that had fallen onto a burner that had just been switched off.  I ended up going back to bed a few hours later, and didn't wake up until 2pm.  Feels like my whole day was wasted, and yet, writing happened.

In marketing news, Brain Harvest is putting on a little contest.  Check out the specs at the Brain Harvest Mega Challenge page.  Jeff VanderMeer will be the guest judge.  It doesn't get much more awesome than that, and yet, there's the possibility of winning a hand-knitted mustache in addition to the cash and accolades.  I'd like to see some INKers and Friends of INK use this contest as an excuse for writing a story based on a prompt (or several prompts.)  Who will take the challenge?  Kami wants to know.  The contest runs from July 15-August 31, so there's plenty of time and therefore no excuses.  Embrace (or eat) the Nike ad.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Flash Bang

Last night I got the most hilarious, inspiring rejection evah.  The awesomeness cannot be described without going into long descriptions of the story combined with evasive language in relation to the contents of the letter.  Alas, I don't think it would be a good idea to post the rejection here even though it probably wouldn't cause problems in the highly unlikely event that this got back to the editor.  But I think the greeting says it all.  Not hi, not dear ms, but argh!  Complete with exclamation point.  

I love my job.  Heh.

Near misses, no matter how kewl or how close, are still misses, so the little flash got sent out again to an actual print magazine.  I had a wonderful, grinchy idea in regard to this story, so if it misses again, I may have to do evil unto it.  I like the story the way it is, so I'm reluctant to play with it, but at the same time I think the idea is sound, so another rejection will be my excuse to open up that file and open up new scenes.  Sadly, once that happens, it will never be a flash again.