I hinted earlier this week that I made my first sale but I wasn’t sure if I was clear to talk about it. Now I am! My first story as a professional writer (meaning that someone else paid me for a story) was sold to Dreamspinner Press for their 2014 Daily Dose. The Daily Dose is a collection of themed romantic stories that are sent out over a month that you can buy as a set or individually. This year’s theme is Mended, love stories that feature healing. “Deep Water” was my submission to this collection. DW is one of my favorite short stories and the most sweetly romantic story I’ve ever written. Pre-orders for the Daily Dose collection will be up soon, and the stories will be available on June 1st. I’ll provide the sale links as soon as I get them.
Yes, sweet readers, I’ve been a slacker. This shouldn’t come as news. I blog when the muse moves me, and she’s been a frugal bitch lately. Actually, that’s not really true. I’ve had some wonderful story ideas that I’ve been busily scribbling down. In the last month I have finished, in no particular order, a dark fantasy Christmas story (yes, really), a mermaid story, a secondary world fantasy story, and a steampunk flash fiction story. See, I wasn’t kidding, I’ve been busy! Three out of those four are out on submission right now, and the fourth should go out the door later on this week after a final editing pass.
I’ve also been doing yet another editing pass on Summoner’s Circle, with the intention that I will start agent submissions with that novel no later than April 30th. Finally, I started a science fiction story that I’m really in love with that I like to call “Last of the Mohicans in Space.” I’m not sure how long LotMiS will end up being yet, but I think it has a lot of potential so far.
Since attending Viable Paradise last year, I have received twelve form rejections, one personal rejection, and one acceptance. That’s not a bad ratio, all told! I’m not sure yet if I’m clear to discuss the particulars of my first purchased story, but rest assured as soon as I know, you will too!
Part of the increase in productivity has been my use of GMail’s tasks. I’ve been using it to keep track of my projects and goals since the middle of March and it’s changed everything about my writing life. I can actually see what’s coming! Want a sneak peak? Aside from getting Summoner’s Circle out the door, I’ve got a new novel I’m dying to work on that’s a dystopian. I’m going to revisit a science fiction heist short story called “Optical Occlusion” that has been rejected a couple of times and possibly lengthen it into a novella. I’ve also got a project slated for later on this year with the wonderfully wicked Nikka Michaels that I am SO excited about.
Honestly, I’m so damned proud of the writing I’ve been doing lately that I really want to show you some of it, but I can’t. *sad trombone* Thus is the writer’s burden. Well, one of them, anyway.
That said, I’ve managed to dig up for you something that is not recent, but does feature two of the characters from the dystopian I’m going to start work on soon. Like most of the scenes I write very early in the writing process, this will likely never make it into the actual story, but serves to help me flesh out characters and their relationships.
The boots parked under Andi’s table when she entered her cabin were familiar ones. She held back a relieved sigh and glanced over him before saying anything. He seemed intact and no worse for wear than the last time she’d seen him. His sun-weathered skin and shaggy white-blond hair made him seem older than she thought he was, though he’d never admitted his exact age to her. He had the lean, rangy frame of a man used to demanding physical work and not enough meals. The burn scars on the left half of his face always made her wince, but he insisted they didn’t pain him any longer.
“Been a while, Cole. I thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere.”
He looked up from the map in front of him on the table, his eyes a shade of green that reminded her of sea glass. “Too ornery to die.”
She smiled. Despite how weary she was, seeing him always improved her mood. “Thanks for lighting the fire.”
“I figured you’d come back with dinner. The least I could do is warm the place up.” He eyed the gutted rabbits Andi held. “I can start those while you clean up.”
Andi passed him the pair of rabbits and headed to the alcove that housed her bed. She shucked her outdoor garb, hanging the heavy pants and jacket out of the way in the hope they might shed some of the ever-present grit before she had to wear them again. She knew better. They could make a lot of things about their new lives more pleasant, but getting rid of the grit that scoured the world now wasn’t one of them. It invaded everything, digging into every crevice. Some folks said the dust was the ground-up bones of the billions of people that had once walked the Earth, but she didn’t believe that.
She used a handful of water from the basin beside her bed to wash her face, and her survival instincts complained at even that small extravagance. She wiped away the remaining grit with a soft cloth, and then slipped into her lighter house clothes.
She crossed the main room of the cabin again, pausing at the table to look over the map. The paper was yellowed and looked to be near tearing at the folds. Notes in Cole’s cramped handwriting marked several areas of the paper. “What’s this for?”
He responded without turning from his work at the single counter that served as her kitchen. “Same as always.”
So, in summary, 2014 is my year. I’ve put my flag in it and claimed it as my own. I’m good at sharing though, so if you want it too, I’ll let you have some.
Huge hearts and fuzzy puppies,
As of this writing I have four stories out on submission to various markets. I don’t mind telling you, I feel like a bit of a badass. A year ago I had only submitted two stories ever, and those only to one market each, and promptly locked my form rejections away where no one would ever see them. These days I have a different philosophy about the rejection carousel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still terrified of rejection and I likely always will be, but each time I send a story out I feel a little less like the entirety of who I am is being judged based on a few words on a page.
Steven Gould had a great piece of advice for us at Viable Paradise that has really stuck with me. As a writer one of the most important things you can do is tie your self-worth to something, anything else besides your writing. I’ve thought about this advice since October, and decided that it’s absolutely true. If every story is an integral part of who I am and I send it out to the world where it is summarily rejected and/or ignored, how can I expect to feel good about myself at the end of that process? It’s a struggle for me to dissociate myself from my work, but hopefully it will get a bit easier with time. I also have to find another hobby to pour myself into to take the place of writing, now that it’s become more of a ‘job’.
On the writing front I’ve been making good progress, but not much that I can share here if I want to send them at some point. I did have a germ of an idea for a new character over the weekend and wrote a little bit of a profile story for her that I thought I’d share.
Mikaela slipped out of the gauzy black dress with her back to the only mirror in her bedroom. She’d envied the women in the orchestra their beautiful gowns once, but not anymore. She couldn’t point to the exact moment when that had changed for her, but part of her wished she still wanted the black tie charity events and their careless elegance. More and more, the gorgeous dresses felt like a yoke holding her to a life she despised.
Despised was perhaps too strong a word. She still loved the music. When the rising and falling notes surrounded her, the charade made sense. The rest of the time, she hardly felt like a person at all. She was a work of art: a damsel in a lovely dress with her knees wrapped around an expensive musical instrument.
As she walked into the bathroom, she let her hair down from the intricate braid atop her head; the gemmed comb just another adornment that made her faceless amid the other captured, beautiful things. She couldn’t look at herself in the mirror until she’d washed off her makeup. Under the decorations, she was the woman she recognized after all.
Mikaela pulled her hair back into a pony tail, leaving the shorter pieces to find their own way about her face. She scrubbed her neck and chest with a washcloth, removing the perfume and powder that helped disguise her. When she felt completely like herself again, she was ready. She padded back into the bedroom and dressed again, this time in her own clothes rather than borrowed finery: black jeans, a white button-down shirt, and her favorite leather boots. She spared a glance for her cello case where it rested on the table, then stepped away from that part of her life, for the weekend at least.
That’s all for me. Hearts and puppies and all that jazz,
First, and foremost, applications for Viable Paradise 2014 are open! Deadline is June 15th. If you’re a science fiction or fantasy writer, you should apply. There are few better ways to spend a week of your time. You will learn so much (I’m still learning things months later) and you will meet a fantastic bunch of folks. Immersing yourself in writing for a week is an amazing experience and I honestly can’t recommend this workshop highly enough. If you’ve convinced yourself that you aren’t good enough yet, like I almost did last year, apply anyway. Let the staff make that determination for you.
Secondly, women writers: Lightspeed Magazine is doing a special Women Destroy Science Fiction issue where all of the stories and articles will be written and edited by women. Submissions are open now, and will be until February 14th. Stories have to be Science Fiction, but the editor encourages a pretty broad (bwhaha) interpretation of science fiction. There is also a kickstarter for those who would rather support than submit.
Phew, now that my slinging is out of the way, down to business. I am a horrible blogger. You probably know this already, but it’s go to drive the point home whenever possible. I wouldn’t want you to have an unrealistic expectations. I blog when something strikes my fancy, or when I remember. I’m going to try to get back into doing my science posts because I think they’re fun and I like to share awesome science stories with you.
As far as my work goes, I have three short stories out on submission right now. Two are science fiction and one is contemporary romance. I have another couple of stories done but awaiting editing, and three more in the not-quite-done stage. I go through very creative spots and very blank spots. On the creative days I’m pretty sure I’m a REAL WRITER. On the other days, I’m not so sure. What I really have to do is establish a slot of time where all I do is write, every day. That worked well for me at the end of last year but I let it slide.
Right now I’m working on my submission to help Destroy Sci Fi for Lightspeed, and then I’m going to start on my novel edits. The first draft of Summoner’s Circle is done and has been for a while. I have some pretty big plans for the second draft, including a big change to one of the more important characters. I want to get those edits done and start my agent hunt by June. *fingers crossed*
Finally, I’ll be going to Boskone this year. It’s my first convention and I’m pretty excited. If you’re planning to go drop me a line and we’ll say hello or have a coffee!
That’s all I’ve got. Hearts, puppies, and all that jazz,
One of the most enlightening lectures we had all week was by author Laura J. Mixon. She discussed a concept I’d heard about before, that of writing happening in an almost trance-like state, in different context. She posited the idea that inside all of us creative types is an “other” who is in charge of the unconscious parts of the creation process. You could call it a muse, but Laura likes to call hers ‘the beast’. Over the course of the lecture she went over various ways to care for our inner beasts and how to help the connection between the conscious and unconscious minds.
The result of all this is that I call my internal writing buddy Floyd and in my mind he looks a little like a furry purple monster-thing. Well, something I found out this week while I was driving to work is that Floyd is the poet of the pair of us. Driving helps me disconnect that thinky part of my brain from the feely part, and that’s something I’ve known about for a while–I do some of my best writing while driving. I was sitting at a red light, minding my own business, when some birds flew down from an overhead wire and all of a sudden, off Floyd went. My new story started off as a single line:
The birds flowed down from the tree in a dark stream to cover the ground in a carpet of hopping, feathered bodies.
See? Told you he was a poet! The story isn’t actually about those birds at all, but that’s the image that got me going. I wrote 1470 words on it in my two-hour writing session last night (that’s a topic for another post), but I just wanted to share with my writer friends out there how well this kind of thing works, at least for me.
More about other lectures and what I’ve learned in the days since later.
Hearts and puppies,