My sickly sweet short story about the torments of social media and comparing oneself to others is now up at Apex Magazine for free! Check out “Candyland” here.
In other news, I just signed the contract with The Cellar Door to have my spooky woodlands tale about ghosts and the ways community can hold us down appear in their Woodland Terrors issue coming sometime 2022! Woohoo! “Circles” is a story I’ve always really liked, but proved hard to place. I’m thrilled it’s found a good home with the folks at Dark Peninsula Press.
Here is it, September at last, and I must say, the two-ish month hiatus has really helped. I think this quote from my last post (found here) really sums it up:
“I honestly hate trying to create “content” that will get hits and likes. It’s just not why I blog, and I think trying to do that has really drained my creative reserves.”
This is absolutely what was bothering me before, and it’s going to guide my posting here moving forward. Starting this month, I’m only going to post once a month with a general overview of what’s been going on, and any specific news. I’ll put my current reading pile into these monthly posts, as well as my goal reviews. I want a living site, not just a splash page with my bio and bibliography, but I’d rather spend most of my time writing fiction.
I keep a fairly regular presence on Instagram, with little glimpses of my notebooks, capsule closet, and random other things (like miniatures!), so if you want to see what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis, that’s the place to go.
After two months away, I feel like I’m back in a good spot. I finished the rewrite of FROSTHAVEN, and wrapped up a class, and am now ready to dive into editing, submitting, and planning for NANO this year. I haven’t done NANO since 2013, and I don’t know if it’ll work–kiddo-wise–but I’ve got a project I want to spend some focused time on, so I might as well try!
But thanks for your patience and understanding. I may pick up blogging more often someday, but for now, monthly is about all I can manage.
I do have a bit of news! My story “Candyland” is coming out in the September/October issue of Apex Magazine, which is quite exciting. This is my second story with them, and as always, it’s been a delight to work with the team. And the cover art-!
I’ve also just heard that I’ve sold my woodsy zombie-ghost story, but no contract in hand yet, so I can’t share much more detail than that.
Monthly Goals Review
New Submissions: 3 / 4 New Rough Drafts: 9 / 5 New Summary Drafts: 0 / 1
Total Word Count: 146,247 / 100,000 Books Read: 31 / 52
Submission Attempts: 20 Personal Rejections: 0 Stories Sold: 2
Well, this week was a conflagration of bad luck which only mostly threw me off my game. Naps went out the window for several days for no obvious reason (Toothing? It always feels like it’s toothing…), which meant no writing time those days. Then Wednesday, Thing 2 came down with a stomach bug. I did manage to write that day, but only the bare minimum of 500 words. Thursday, Thing 1 napped, and Thing 2 was back to his old self, but I was feeling weird, so I hammered out about 750 and crashed for a nap of my own.
Friday was actually the first good day in a while: Thing 1 napped, Thing 2 was happy, I had a game-plan, and I managed to jump right in and make some serious progress on this week’s short story. I hammered out 2k Friday, which felt GREAT after a week of struggling to get any time at all.
So in the end, it wasn’t as much of a wash of a week as I’d expect, but it wasn’t nearly as comfortable as I would have liked. It also highlighted a problem I’ve been sensing lately, but which really came to the fore these past couple weeks.
The problem? I don’t have the mental space to both write and regularly post content here.
Maybe it’s pseudo-post-pandemic slump. Maybe it’s the sudden uptick in socialization that’s draining my general energy. Maybe it’s just the combo of ages my boys are. Maybe it’s just the June-time slump I ordinarily hit around this time of year. It could be all of them, or none of them.
In truth, I’m not much of a modern blogger. I enjoy blogging as a public journal, a glimpse at my process, a place to keep up with friends and fellow writers, and a place to track my own progress. I like having a landing page for people looking for more info about me and about my writing. I love that this blog goes back to the very beginning of my career almost (if not more than) ten years ago.
But I honestly hate trying to create “content” that will get hits and likes. It’s just not why I blog, and I think trying to do that has really drained my creative reserves. I’m absolutely itching to write and submit some new short work. I’ve got a book rewrite to finish which is proving as challenging as expected. I need to start a new book.
It’s all taking chunks of that limited creative mental space, and given that even finishing a single thought without being interrupted most days is incredibly unusual, I’d like to spend that mental space creating fiction.
So, for the next couple months, I’m going to take a hiatus from posting. If anything really exciting happens–sales or new fiction coming out, I’ll do quick updates, but otherwise, I’m going to save my mental energy for writing. If you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing, feel free to swing by my Instagram account, which I update every weekday with little posts and thoughts on writing, bullet journaling, cutting back my closet, and occasionally other odds and ends.
Come September, I’ll pop back in and hopefully by then I’ll have a little better grip on what *I* need this blog to be. I really enjoyed using it as a daily writing progress check-point and documenting goal progress, so we’ll see.
In the meantime, be kind to yourself, set reasonable goals, and keep on keeping on! It’s been a weird, weird time, and however you need to handle it is okay. Find things that bring you joy. Hug your loved ones if it’s safe to do so. Enjoy the summer (or winter, if you’re in the SoHem). Read something. And if you write, write! :)
What if a new life support tech could animate the comatose and keep them healthy, while also training AI?
I also want to give a shout out to Lucy Snyder, writer extraordinaire, who critiqued this story early in its drafting process and whose comments absolutely helped me sell this story. Not only that, she has a sharp eye for general weaknesses that I’ve since applied to other stories with great success. Check out her website and her impressive list of publications sometime!
Not a bad week, though it was full of stressors in its own right! Thing 1 had his first in-person field day on Wednesday, which meant coordinating drop-off, packing lunches, and making sure he had everything he needed (Crap, where IS his mask?!) for the day. But it went really well, and I didn’t forget anything, and he had a wonderful time hanging out with his remote-only classmates for the first time.
Then it was also me and Andy’s 13th anniversary, which we both nearly forgot, but we’d decided early on to count the new bed as our anniversary gift to each other, so that was easy enough. We ordered take-out Thai which was…okay? Let’s just say we’re still on the look out for a fantastic Thai place.
And today is my bestie FIRST HUG SINCE THE PANDEMIC day! Can’t wait. I’m rocking some comfy hugging clothes, so I should be good to go. XD
Accomplished this week…
Finally managed to have what feels like a productive week. I hit my required word count for the novel thanks to a psychotic 3k day (WHA-?!), and wrapped up the edit on the first 5k I’ll need to submit for my novel writing course in a couple weeks. I also managed a first pass at a short story that I may try to get back out again, so we’ll see how that goes.
Inspiring me this week…
Oh, Sims, how you drag me back in. Okay, partly this is my fault because I happened to look on the Origin’s site and saw that a few of the expansion packs I’ve craved in the past were having a 50% off sale, so how could I not? Also, I haven’t played in weeks, so don’t judge me. XD It always strikes me as interesting how important connecting to a Sim ends up being in wanting to play. Like, you can create a houseful of people who are all moderately interesting, but it really takes that one specific Sim to connect to your heart and make you want to check in on them over and over and over again.
In unrelated media, I just want to give a shout-out to Zootopia, which Thing 2 just discovered this week, and which has become his go-to pre-nap viewing, as it usually holds his attention just enough to knock him out after about 20 minutes. THANK YOU Zootopia! Also,having rewatched it several times this week, I gotta say, it’s just a fantastic movie. That, and Wall-E, holy crap: masterclasses in plot and character development. And SO rewatchable, even after having seen them dozens (literally DOZENS) of times. XD
For next week…
I need to finish up a proofreading project this weekened/early next week, and keep chipping away at the novel (now, thankfully, back to 3k/week). Beyond that, probably just prepping this short story for submission in July, and hopefully not a lot else. School just got out, so I anticipate next week being a bit of a cluster as we all reorient to the new summer schedule. I need a vacation! XD
Phew, well, started to form a new routine for the summer over here at Chez Slater. Thing 2 has decided AM naps are totally lame and for babies, which he is SO NOT, now that he’s around eighteen months, which means a total schedule shake up. We still haven’t quite settled into the new iteration, but it’s looking like morning walks, as usual, but no nap, and mid-afternoon 2/3-ish naps for a couple hours. But at least he’ll take them on the couch next to me instead of on top of me, so I’ve actually still managed to get some writing done. Woohoo!
Now, I’m just waiting for some out of town friends to arrive, and can I just say how flipping stressed out about this I am? Like, just as of this morning, like WOOSH. Anxiety. I mean, I am 100% looking forward to seeing them, but I did not anticipate the pseudo-post-not-really pandemic stress of meeting up with folks again. *breathes in, breathes out* But it’ll be ok!
Accomplished this week:
Chipped away at the novel and rewrote the opening to better capture what I think I want it to do. Now just doing a clean sweep pass to get it in grammatical shape and cut some unneeded words.
Inspiring me this week:
Been watching entirely too much Married at First Sight on Hulu. Otherwise, just chipping away at the books on my nightstand and playing Minecraft with Thing 1 when the opportunity arises.
For next week:
Looking to keep adding words to the novel and finish polishing the first 5k submission for the class, which is due at the beginning of July.
It’s been a busy start to June, and I’m just now catching up on my Poly-Reader notes! I started a number of new books last month/beginning of this month, but there are still some trusty standbys still kicking around.
The Power Broker – While I do have the audiobook for this bad boy, I really haven’t been listening to audiobooks before bed these days. I suspect this may just be one I have to chip away at for a while, in various formats, though reading it in print would be easier.
The White Spider – Haven’t chipped much out of this one yet (still in opening chapters). I like the style, but I just haven’t been all that motivated to read it just now. That may change, though, as the weather gets hot and reading about ice on mountains starts sounding fabulous.
How to Write Funnier – Haven’t picked this one up in a while, either, in part because I really wanted to establish the habits recommended in How to Write Funny, but that’s been out of my reach lately. May pick this one up again in a few weeks, when I have time, but I’m not in a rush.
Harriet the Spy – Swapped The City of Lead and Gold for this one after the former just draaaaaaged. The pacing was just too slow for an almost seven year old, so we dumped it for this one. This seems to be much more in his range, and he seems very curious about the story and the sneaking around.
The Dark – Love, love, love this collection so far. I mean, I’m always a sucker for ghost stories, but these are just awesome. Haven’t picked it up recently, because I’ve been plowing through some other things, but looking forward to jumping back into it!
The Luminous Dead – Charging through this one, and am almost halfway done. I suspect this will be one of the ones I finish this month. I’m enjoying it so far, though it’s taken a little while to get itself off the ground. At times it *almost* feels like a short story/novelette that outgrew itself, but I do like the caving. I think the challenge is that the main character is wearing an all-encompassing suit, which dramatically limits descriptive detail of the caves, and therefore can make generating a sense of place difficult. I might have liked it if the author had included more interspersed scenes of the before-times, so we could get to know Gyre a little more in-depth. But it is picking up, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. The spookier the better!
Before and After the Book Deal – Making progress through this one, and its snarky tone is a wonderful balm. It definitely answers a lot of questions about the publishing process that I’m learning I’m quite ignorant about, despite perhaps knowing a bit more about small press and its processes. Hoping this will be a finisher this month, too.
Writing in the Dark – Haven’t picked this up since finishing the last short story, but I need to, because it’s fantastic, and I really want to ingest–I mean, finish–this one. And major congrats to author Tim Waggoner for his Stoker win for this one! I knew it’d win. I’m so smart. XD
Notes from a Small Island – Haven’t picked this up for a few weeks, just haven’t totally clicked with Bryson’s style. It’s fine, and soothing compared to some of what I’ve been reading, but it’s not yet a book that I’m dying to read. So we’ll see how it goes.
Freezing People is (Not) Easy – I forgot to add this one to my current reading list on Goodreads, and forgot to post it yesterday. This is the first of a huge pile of books related to cryonics and lunar colonies I’m reading to gird my loins (ew) for a novella rewrite that may become a novel. So look forward to looking for more cryonics books in the future!
(And I’ve already learned it’s “cryonics” when referring to freezing people, not “cryogenics” which has some slightly different meaning. Curious!)
This week has been…abnormal, to say the least, but not the worst. Mostly, it was a combination of things all hitting at the same time that just made planning to be at all productive almost impossible. For one thing, the long weekend meant writing off getting any work done on Monday with all my peeps home. Then Wednesday, I got my second Covid shot, and had figured I’d feel pretty crummy after it (Andy was knocked flat for a day after his; neither of my folks had any negative reactions at all, so I wasn’t sure what to expect), but I actually got 500 words done that day, and only had a few minor periods of shivers and then some significant (but short-lived) body aches the next day that ibuprofen took care of well enough. I’m back to feeling good again today, so that’s a relief.
I only had a little panic yesterday about how I should probably replot the entire second half of the book, but came to my senses when I started to realize that the plot already in place is surprisingly functional, and that changing it dramatically (at least at this point) might make it more complicated than it needs to be. We’ll revisit it on the next rewrite (sob).
Accomplished This Week:
I got back on the horse, novel-writing wise, and chipped away a little over 2500 new words on it. Really, I need to probably focus on writing 1k/day for the next couple weeks to get where I need to be by the end of June, but I’ll worry about that next week. I also need to rewrite the opening sequences to make sure it’s captured some of the things I need it to do/people it needs to introduce before I need to submit it at the start of July. But-! That’s word “to do,” not work done. I got back on the horse. That’s the main thing.
Oooo! And I’ve got the contract, so I can announce that my dark/weird story about the pros and cons of living your best life on social media, “Candyland,” will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of Apex Magazine! Woohoo! Can’t wait to be in Apex’s pages again, and thrilled to have another pro-sale under my belt! ^_^
Eh, it’s been a rough week. I’ve been mainlining Married at First Sight which is bizarrely interesting in terms of personality study and what makes a good relationship. Usually when I start mainlining TV, though, it’s a sign the depressive slip is starting to kick in, so I need to be a little more cognizant of that moving forward.
I did watch an amazing documentary on CuriousityStream (we finally cracked and got a subscription, because Thing 1 and I are suckers for documentaries about volcanos and extreme weather) about fungi, which was incredibly fascinating and made me realize how little I actually know about mushrooms and that whole category of life. Very interesting.
Also got to listen to my own music when I drove in and back from my vaccine appointment on Wednesday, which made me realize how rare it is that I get to listen to that sort of thing anymore. Driving to and from work used to be my major “writing think” time, largely driven by music to suit a mood or a theme or a story, and I miss that a lot. I’ll have to try to find a way to fit that back in.
I also started my research reading about cryonics! I’ve got a novella that needs some love and attention, and I’ve realized that to write it the way I want to, I need to know a lot more about both cryonics itself, but also about the stories that have already been written about cryonics and life on the moon (tip: there are a LOT of books about these things, so I’ve got a STUPID amount of reading to do, but I’m excited about it). I also have a stack of space opera classics I need to chug through, so we’ll see when THAT happens.
Also been enjoying playing Minecraft in Survivor Mode with Thing 1, which often involves a lot of reminding him not to be too bossy about what everybody’s doing at any given time, and also reminding him that if someone’s spent a lot of time building something, and he goes in and changes it a bunch without telling them, it *might* make them annoyed and not want to play. Minecraft life lessons, folks.
For Next Week:
This weekend is a madhouse because it’s Thing 1’s birthday (at long, long, long last–he says), so we’ll be pretty busy. But starting Monday, I’m going to aim for 1k/day for a week, and possibly look at reworking that opening scene. I need to read what I’ve already got, and make some notes about what I need to change about it.
And the month of May is just about over! What a whirlwind. I covered a lot of the writing related achievements in my Monthly Goals Review – May 2021 post, but to sum it up: I wrote a lot. Like. A LOT.
I managed to wrap up three short stories, one of which is already on submission, one of which will *hopefully* be on submission as of this weekend, and one which is cooling its heels until it’s ready to be revisited. It’s actually pretty rare that I write a story that I also end up submitting in the same month, so I’m pleased!
I made good progress on the novel, hitting 50k of the rewrite, which I’m hoping will put me in good stead for progressing into the second half over the next few months.
I also managed to finish four books (hooray!): Gideon the Ninth (A), Dark Tales (A-), Your Seven-Year-Old (C+), and The Accidental Creative (B: a reread, but worth revisiting).
Gideon was so good it drove me into a depression for a few days because HOLY CRAP, to be able to write like that-! The first act is a touch slow, only because (like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) it has a FREAKTON of world-building to accomplish in that space, but once the download lightens up, it really flies.
Dark Tales is a wonderful collection of Shirley Jackson’s short stories, so if you like her work, you’ll like this one. “The Summer People” is one of my new favorite short stories. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading anything but “The Lottery” in high school, do yourself a massive favor and try some of her other short work, which in my opinion is just as good, if not better.
I picked up Your Seven-Year-Old because I’ve read several of the other books in the series, and taken lightly, they can be pretty helpful in determining what of your kiddo’s behavior is considered age-appropriate and what not to freak out about (like grumpy gloominess and an obsession with fairness at seven: check and check!). But there are a lot of things in these books that are pretty darn out of date, gender-wise, and some psychology things that I’m not entire sure are things anymore (ectomorphs?), but your mileage may vary. Generally worth it, not quite as eye-opening as the last few were.
The Accidental Creative is one of those books I thought I ought to come back to someday, like Work Clean and Atomic Habits, but I’m not as impressed the second time through. I feel like there *are* very useful things in here for writers (unnecessary creating, for example, and establishing a study habit), but they’re heavily buried in the corporate creative mindset (geared towards managers and marketing executives) which really slows the pace down. It might be more useful for a writer to dive into The Artist’s Way or The Creative Habit which both touch on a lot of the same things, but without the obsession with minute goal-setting. Not that there’s not merit in that and I like the idea of quarterly reviews/determining where and how you’ll spend your energy, but I think TAW and TCH both tackle it from the truly artistic POV better than this one does. Worth reading once–not sure it’s a repeater, like Atomic Habits is.
Month-wise, we’ve finally started getting a taste of summer weather. We had a wonderful thunderstorm the other day, with proper wind, rain, and lightning + thunder. We’ve attempted a bit of planting our garden, only to have the wood rat decimate our lettuce (not precisely unexpected), and Thing 2’s naps have gotten squiffy.
That last bit has been the biggest challenge this month. Whereas before, I could pretty readily count on a nice 2hr nap at minimum, he’s really started flaking out on me. Sometimes he sleeps crazy long (4hrs the other day!) and sometimes he doesn’t sleep at all, or only for about ten minutes. The unpredictability has made getting in my usual run impossible, since I don’t dare leave him with the folks at home and run for 30 minutes, just to return home to find he’s woken up and any writing time is gone. So instead, I started flaking out on my run, just so I’d be home and could focus on writing for a bit even if he woke up a half hour later.
That’s…not great for me. I really need the running to regulate anxiety, and without it, I tend to get a lot more wound-up and cranky. But if I got the run in and skipped the writing, that’s a proven recipe for swinging me (especially at this time of year) towards a depressive episode. So it’s been tough. I need to get the run back in; I need to make sure I keep steadily getting words on the page, neither are all that easy right now.
But at least I can look back at May and recognize that I got a FLIP-TON written, which does help a little.