Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

The Well Runneth Dry

Good morning, squiders! I started this entry last Tuesday which tells you how my executive functioning has been lately.

Every month I send out short stories. Basically I have a big spreadsheet, and it lists the story, the market, acceptance/rejection, any notes I received from the editor, how long said market turned around a response, etc. I color code stories too (green means acceptance, yellow means the story was rejected from its last market, orange means a story needs attention, either a determination to pull it off of rotation or a follow-up with the market if it’s been too long) so I can tell, at a glance, where each story is.

Anyway, I realized this time around that I’ve only got 5 short stories on rotation right now.

I would swear that I had a good dozen at one point. Maybe more.

Now, admittedly, five is a lot more doable than 12. Less markets to have to research each month, less things to keep track of. And my oldest story that I had on rotation sold and was published this year (Blackened Glass, diet milk April ’22 issue), so that’s good too.

(Though I’ve probably taken as many stories out of rotation for being unpublishable as I have sold stories, honestly.)

But what this does mean, really? It means I haven’t been writing short stories to put out there. I don’t think a single thing I’m submitting was written in the past year.

That’s not great, and paired with my issues with getting my short story done for TDP this month (STILL not done, and I’ve written a whole other story and figured out how to fix the first one, though one or the other BETTER be done before this post goes live, or I will set something on fire), does little for my confidence.

Last year (was it last year? oh god), if you recall, I was doing a prompt challenge for myself, where every month I picked three random Pinterest pins of mine (one each from the character, setting, and prompt boards) and wrote a short story with them. Just for practice. It might be worth it to go back through there and see if anything’s usable, but the whole point of the exercise was just to practice. To write not for publication.

Is this actually a problem? Not sure. Am I accomplishing my goals with short stories? In the great scheme of things, they’re probably pretty far down the list of things I should be focusing on.

But I have noticed it, and being aware of potential issues is the first step to fixing them, so. There we are.

How are you doing, squiders? Tips on rebooting your brain when it’s gone into full ADHD malfunctioning mode?

Short Story Frustrations

GUYS I am so frustrated

I’ve always prided myself on being the sort of person who can put out a story when it’s called for, whether a spot needs filling in an anthology or what have you. That I can put out a solid story (not necessarily amazing, but solid) when it’s called for, and that it will be on topic, within the word count guidelines, and done on time.

Which is why I’m going insane right now.

I had a short story due on the first. Nothing special, nothing long–basically whatever I want, about 1.5K to 2K words. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as the kids say.

Except apparently not.

When I accepted this deadline I thought for sure I’d get some great story ideas while I was in Scotland. Castles! Moors! Faerie legends!

But I didn’t. I learned a lot of neat things, but the best I got was the premise for a story. And then, once we got home I tried to milk said premise into a story, but mostly I got set-up, and backstory, and I couldn’t figure out an actual story to go along with it, at least not one that could be done as a short story.

I talked to my spouse about my story issues, and he gave me a different premise that I thought I’d gotten built up into enough story to get somewhere, but I’ve written like 4K on said story and it’s just…bad.

Like, I know that you can’t write something publishable every time, and it’s okay to throw stories that aren’t working away, but I am just so frustrated at this point. Frustrated that I’m behind schedule, and that I can’t get a story to gel, and that I spent so much time writing just to have nothing to show for it.

Now, there’s some leeway on the deadline, so I should be okay, but I’ve got to get my act together. I’m going to read back through what I have and see if it’s salvageable, but I may need to start all over. Yay.

Wish me luck, squiders. I definitely need it.

I Made You a Blooper-Reel

It’s a big day! It’s September, which means autumn should be here soon (please please please I long for sweaters and the entire state not being on fire), I have a new short story (a silly dragon one) up over at Turtleduck Press (which you can read here!), and I finally got my latest SkillShare class uploaded and published!

I always forget how long editing the videos takes. I never seem to remember that part. Some day. Maybe.

Probably not.

Anyway, the class in on genre: what it is, how it’s determined, examples of lots of different things. It’s here, if you have a SkillShare membership. I decided to do another theory class since the premise vs. plot is by far my best performing one (over finding and keeping track of story ideas and setting and reaching writing goals). We’ll see!

Anyway, while I was editing, I noticed that I make weird faces and stuff when I mess up, so I made a blooper reel. It’s just the video parts, not the slide parts, but enjoy!

We’re off to a promising start! Keep your fingers crossed that things continue in the same vein.

Announcing The Best of Turtleduck Press, Volume II

How are you, squiders? I am exhausted.

But I come bearing good news, or at least a book, which is basically the same thing.

In celebration of our tenth anniversary over at Turtleduck Press (holy carp!), we’ve put out The Best of Turtleduck Press, Vol II.

Cover of The Best of TDP Vol 2

(In case you’re wondering, The Best of Turtleduck Press, Volume I came out in 2013, on our third anniversary.)

This was a fun exercise for our anniversary, since we got to read back through all the stories we’ve written for the past six years or so (and more, in some cases) and see which were our best. Each author has two stories included–one voted on as their best by everyone else, and the one they felt was their best.

(As an aside, both my stories are from the last few years, which, to me, is a good sign, because it means I’m getting better over time. Hooray!)

The anthology is currently ebook only, and only $.99. If you’d like some great shorts to read, you should go and get it.

I hope you’re doing well despite all the turmoil in the world, squiders. Regular posting returns next week.

Foundational Books: Two-Minute Mysteries (and The Society of Misfit Stories)

(As an aside, does anyone have ideas for testing out the temporary tattoo pen I bought? My stupid brain is stuck on the dark mark from Harry Potter, and since it is hot and I am around other parents a lot, it’s not necessarily a good idea, especially if it doesn’t wash off in a reasonable amount of time.)

Today we’re going to talk about another foundational book series from my childhood, the Two-Minute Mysteries series by Donald J. Sobol (who I just learned, by researching this post, also wrote the Encyclopedia Brown series). There’s three books in the series, each of which is a collection of several short mysteries that can, in theory, be solved through logic.

Now, as an adult, I love mysteries, and I especially love ones where, if you’re paying enough attention, you can figure out whodunnit. (I am eternally proud of myself for figuring out And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.)

(As another aside, did anyone watch the Whodunnit? murder mystery show on ABC, like, five years ago? That was good times.)

At least the first book is still available through Scholastic.

These were some of the first mysteries I read, though it does probably warrant noting that these were meant to be solved by the reader, rather than what you typically see in the mystery genre. Kind of more logic puzzles, really. In theory, you’d be able to solve the mystery pretty easily (each story was about two pages long), and the solution for each was printed upside down at the end, so it was easy to check.

That being said, I remember some of the mysteries not making any sense, or not being easy to solve, and from looking at Goodreads, it sounds like I wasn’t the only one.

Still, the books were lots of fun, and I had a good time working through them. (And I did go through all three, over the years.) I don’t know that they would hold up at all for an adult audience, but if you know an elementary-aged kid who likes mysteries and/or logical puzzles, they might be worth it.

In other news, look what I got in the mail yesterday!

I’ve got a story in the Society of Misfit Stories this month! I tried to take a picture of the spine to show how substantial this issue is (it’s almost half an inch thick) but alas, I am not a good photographer.

The story in this one is called “The Good of the Community” and was actually written for the Seasons Eternal anthology Turtleduck Press put out some years back. However, when the stories were turned in, it ended up that KD and I had been pretty similar in themes and tropes, so I got the short end of the stick and had to pull my original story and write a new one for the anthology. It’s nice to see the story find another home, because I had a good time writing it and have always been fond of the worldbuilding.

(Also, I got the nicest, most complimentary acceptance email ever from them, so I’m feeling pretty good about this all around.)

Did you read the Two-Minute Mysteries, squiders? How easy did you find them to solve?

Announcing the Necro-Om-Nom-Nom-Icon

Hey, remember last year when I told you guys I’d been invited to submit a story to a Lovecraftian-themed anthology? Well, I can’t remember if I told you the story got accepted, but it did, and now the anthology’s coming out on Saturday!

Necro cover

They’re doing a release party in a town about an hour from here (convenient!) so I’m going to go. I’ve never been to an in-person release party (though I have done virtual ones) so I am equal parts excited (networking! books! coffee!) and terrified (aaaaah I will have to talk to people).

Each story in the collection has a recipe paired with it, which is silly and I had entirely too much fun making mine.

And now that I’ve seen the galley for the anthology, there’s some authors included that are up the success rung from me, so that makes me feel nice and fuzzy too.

ALSO I have a story in this quarter’s edition of Bards and Sages Quarterly, so April is very exciting here, and then I shall have nothing until the fall, unless someone buys a short story with a short lead time.

(It’s been a year on The Necro-Om-Nom-Nom-Icon and six months on Bards and Sages, which I know is fairly typical, but I think last year’s story that went into Spirit’s Tincture was accepted, like, two weeks before the issue came out. So things vary wildly.)

Anywho, links:

The Bards and Sages Quarterly issue is available here, and there’s a nice write-up about the anthology over here.

There will be more later after the anthology goes live, and the editor from B&S did email to say the issue would be available through other avenues soon, but I’ll probably just update next week as necessary.

Tips for release parties, squiders? Anything exciting happening on your end?

All and Sundry (and Your Favorite Poll)

Hi Squiders! We’ve almost run out of March already. How does that always seem to happen?

(We got a ton of snow yesterday, and our power’s been flickering on and off all day, which is very annoying, especially when one is trying to write a blog post.)

I finished the short story collection I’ve had since forever from the library last night, so now I’m down to three books! \o/ But I’m going to start another one later today. Whoops. I must stop checking things out from the library. Except we all know I won’t.

The collection is First-Person Singularities by Robert Silverberg, which is a collection of science fiction short stories told in first person from the last fifty years of his career. Never read anything by him otherwise (my husband picked up the book because he thought I’d like it) but it was pretty good. Some of the stories I thought were quite excellent, such as “Now Plus N, Now Minus N” and “The Secret Sharer.” So if that sounds like your sort of thing I’d recommend it. It came out in October of last year, so it’s only a few months old.

Writing-wise, I’ve hit the spot near the end of a book where I’m so close I can’t seem to properly focus and get the dang thing done on the Book One rewrite. I mean, I am writing, but it feels like I’m getting nowhere. I need to figure out a way to get through this part of the process in a way that is less taxing to my psyche, because it happens every book and drives me mad each time.

On that note, it’s hard to focus on the CoHaR sequel because I’m so close on Book One. Yet Siri’s waiting on me to finish my part, so…

And, probably thanks to First-Person Singularities, I’ve got a short story itch. I haven’t written one since the end of October and there’s one I’ve been wanting to write for probably five years, and maybe I should just sit down and do it…? I’ve got two coming out in various publications in April and I don’t really need any more to stick into my portfolio, but there’s something very satisfying about getting a story done in 2 or 3000 words, especially when your main project is up to 110K and probably has at least another 5K to go.

And it’s been a bit since our last nonfiction series here on the blog, so let’s get one going. We’re down to our last few topics.

10 Writing Prompts to Get Your Day Going

If you troll about the Internet, you’ll see that a lot of writing advice out there, if you want to make a career out of writing, says to be as productive as possible. More stuff written = more practice and hopefully better stories = more material to send out to readers = loyal fans = success, or something along those general lines.

Since I have small mobile ones, I’m not terribly productive, so I can’t speak to the truth of this sentiment, but I do spend a lot of time gathering writing prompts for more stories than I’ll ever be able to write, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Also, you might look into some short story challenges if you’re interested in getting some practice in. The 12 short story writing challenge has a goal of writing one short story every month for a year. That’s doable even for someone like me. If you have more time or inclination, you might try the Ray Bradbury challenge, where you try to write one short story a week (and also do lots of reading).

Anyway, on to the prompts!

Sweet Home Chicago by TheEnderling

Nokken by Kim Myatt

Creepy gif from Pinterest

Fantasy Bg 77 by Moonglowlilly

Tumblr post by mspaintadverturing

Ball Thingy by Charly Chive

Man, it is surprisingly hard to find the original artists for Pinterest pins. Just a reminder to always credit the artist!

Happy writing, squiders!

In Other News

Hey, squiders, I appreciate you guys coming along with me while I work on my nonfiction books here on the blog. It’s been really beneficial for me, and I hope it’s been beneficial for you as well! I’m pondering when the best time to work on finishing them up and publishing them will be–maybe October/November, in time for Nano? Or maybe for January, when it’s a new year and people will be committing or recommitting to their writing goals.

Anyway, not important right now.

We’ve done a lot of nonfiction lately (interspersed with some conference flailing), so I thought you guys might appreciate an update on the other things I’ve been working on.

Admittedly, I haven’t been terribly productive. We received a medical diagnosis in May that’s kind of thrown everything off balance (don’t worry, no one’s dying), so some weeks I’m not getting much, if anything, done beyond posting here. So thank you guys for being here, for giving me an excuse to write on a regular basis. It does help to know that I’m at least getting a little bit done.

(Oh! As an aside, both Hidden Worlds and Shards are FREE at Smashwords till the end of the month. Which I realize is, like, three days from now and I probably should have mentioned something sooner.)

I also just opened my yearly To Do list for the first time a few months, and of course I’m behind schedule on most things. Sigh. Oh well. We keep trucking along.

ANYWAY. Here’s where everything else stands:

  • I finalized my submission documents and made a list of agents for my YA paranormal that I finished editing last year. I admit I’m going veeeerrrryyy slowly on the querying, but it is happening. I’m still kind of in a trial and error sort of mode on it (“Is the query letter working?” “Are my pages working?”). I have gotten a partial request, so it’s not going terribly. I also got a rejection within 12 hours on one. So, you know, a range of responses.
  • I am still working on the rewrite of the first book of this high fantasy trilogy. (My husband is currently reading Book 3 and keeps commenting on how good it is, like he’s offended by the quality after reading the first two books, har.) It is still moving slowly, but it IS moving again, hoorah. It’s at just under 60K words right now and I just finished the midpoint, which probably means the book will be longer than my estimated 100K. Every time I rewrite this book it gets longer.
  • I was using the very excellent Fighter’s Block to write because I’d gotten really stuck–not plotwise, not motivation-wise, but I think just being so overwhelmed (see above medical note) that my brain simply could not focus. When I was writing, I was managing 100, maybe 200 words a day. Fighter’s Block helped me get going again over the course of about two weeks. Now that I’m going again, I’m getting in a couple 1000 word+ days a week, plus a few couple hundred word days.
  • LiveJournal going full Russian has kind of put a damper on my serial story. I have been writing it in a prompt community there for years, but I transferred everything over to DreamWidth. The community also “transferred” but in reality it’s stayed put with most people just ghosting. It’s been pretty dead. I didn’t write anything on it for a few months because I wasn’t sure what I was doing. But in the end, I’m almost to the end of the draft, and I’d to get it done, even if I don’t know if I’ll ever revise the story or do anything with it in the end. (The beginning, written seven years ago, is especially terrible.) So I wrote a 500-word section earlier in the month, posted it on DreamWidth, and then linked to it in the LJ community, which seems to be an okay alternative.
  • I have a short story coming out on Turtleduck Press on Aug 1 (entitled “Unwritten”) though I still need to do the final edits on it.
  • Aside from that and the short story in Spirit’s Tincture a month or so ago, I haven’t sold any more shorts, but I did get a revise and resubmit, which is interesting because I didn’t know places did that for shorts. I revised once, realized I made the story way worse, and revised a second time, but it still needs some tweaking and see above re: getting things done. I shall get it done. But it certainly isn’t getting done fast.
  • I have a couple of stories that have been out for over a year. I queried one months ago with no response, so I should probably pull that story from that market and put it back into rotation. The other one I queried in January, got a response (they’d switched emails for submissions and said they’d look to see if the story got overlooked) but never any sort of rejection/acceptance. I queried again a few months ago to crickets. So I should probably pull that one too. Nnnnnrgh.

That’s really about it, aside from some poking at Fractured World stuff and the usual mid-book God-I-wish-I-were-writing-a-new-book thoughts.

How are you guys doing? Anything new and interesting going on?

Cover Reveal: The Short of It

Today, Squiders, I am pleased to reveal the cover for my short story collection The Short of It: Speculative Short Stories which will be released on February 8th.

Short of It cover

(Let me tell you how many times I have typoed that as “Shirt of It.” It is a lot.)

The collection includes four previously published short stories from 2011-2013, as well as one new one. As I previously mentioned, I’m going to release the collection on Kindle exclusively, at least at the beginning, to see if there’s any merit to that particular brand of madness. The collection will be $0.99.

Stories included:

  • Time Management, science fiction, 2011
  • Doomsday, science fiction, 2012
  • The Knight in the Lobby, fantasy, 2017
  • The Door in the Attic, horror, 2012
  • To the Waters and the Wild, magical realism, 2013*

(*To the Waters and the Wild is also included in The Best of Turtleduck Press, Vol. I.)

So, tada! I’ll let you guys know next Wednesday when it goes live.

Thursday we’ll go back to the nonfic posts and jump on the madness that is self-publishing novels.