Journal, Publishing/Editing, The Zombie Feed, Writing

Zombies: More Recent Dead Announcement

ZombiesMoreRecent-200Hooray! The news is up on the Prime Books website, so I can now proudly and with happy-dancing proclaim that my zombie short story “A Shepherd of the Valley”–originally appearing in The Zombie Feed Anthology Vol. 1–is going to be reprinted in Zombies: More Recent Dead. This is a huge deal for me, in part because it’s my first reprint sale, and secondly (and perhaps more importantly) because my little zombie tale will be appearing alongside some truly amazing talent–Maureen McHugh, Joe R. Lansdale, Neil Gaiman, Caitlín R Kiernan, Genevieve Valentine, and Cat Rambo among many others. I’m so excited to be included in this project, and can’t wait to get my copy when the book comes out this September. I’ve read a couple of these stories already (particularly Maureen McHugh’s “The Naturalist” which alone is worth checking out this anthology to read), so I anticipate an amazing set of stories.

EEEEEK! So excited about this! This was the good news I came home to after the wedding in April. ^_^ Hooray! Hooray! Happy dance time:

Dancing Bear Gif


Day 21 – Think, Think, Think

Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch something of a pattern in my creative life unfold: I appear to cycle through times of editing/submitting and times of drafting new work. 

I believe it all started in college when I attempted what my mother (also an aspiring writer) and I both called a “Chekhov Year” in which we tried to write one new short story a week. These weren’t polished stories, as Chekhov would have written in his suggestion to his brother to write a minimum of a short story a week. My no! These were ratty, crazy, usually whipped-off on Friday afternoon in a panic kind of stories. Overall, I managed to write 46 short stories (or mangled corpses of short stories) in that single year, and I have to credit that attempt with teaching me a huge amount of what it means to both conceive-of and then execute a short story. Of those stories I wrote, one was “Mimicry” which eventually saw publication in Leading Edge Magazine (the second story I wrote that year). There are others still kicking around in my tub o’ fiction that contain ideas worth revisiting, even if the writing wasn’t up to snuff that week. The biggest lesson I learned, however, was that I could come up with ideas at the drop of a hat. They weren’t always good ideas, but clearing out the crappy ideas also opened up whole new realms of awesome ideas that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten around to thinking about. It was something like a creative mental purge–get all those crusty, dusty story ideas that have been clogging up the creative pipes out on paper, and see what’s lurking behind them. It was liberating, and exciting. Over that year I developed a much better grip on how to think about a story before I wrote it so that I could make sure it didn’t automatically devolve into a novellette or novella (as previously they had been prone to do). I learned how to pare down a story at it’s seedling-level before I even put a word on paper so that I knew I was writing a short story and not biting off too much for one week.

The trick with writing so many short story drafts is that they’re still–at the end of the year–drafts. They’re not ready to be submitted, they’re barely ready to be read by beta readers. They’re scruffy messes, and they need dedicated time and care to fix.

Lately, I’ve been in an editing kick. The last two years, I’ve done very well writing new words every day and pounding out a lot of drafts of short stories and longer works. Problem is? I haven’t spent almost any of that time editing. I’m not as confident approaching edits. I’m not as experienced in fixing problems I see in my work. But lately, I’ve been feeling the submission itch. Wanting to submit has driven a number of rough drafts to my attention that with some work might be worth polishing up. I spoke about this earlier when I decided to drop the one-new, one-edit per week plan late last month, but it does seem that at least at this point in time, I can either edit short fiction or I can write it, but I can’t do both simultaneously on different projects.

It’s made me think about my mother’s comment a few years ago that I seem to go in cycles: writing lots of new work, and then spending a lot of time going back to those previously written works to fix them up and get them submitted. Who knows if this’ll be my process for the long-run, but I’m trying to let the writing take its own course on this, and see what happens. 


ImageEDITING PROJECT: Ghosts and legends and Bluebeard, oh my! The cold Maine coastline! Haunted grounds! Ribbons and bitter, ghostly wives! Dueling secrets! True love? Perhaps!

Current Editing Project: Nobody Here But Us Monsters (Revision Edit–2nd Pass)
Accomplished in Edits: “Think, think, think.” So I finished the full rewrite on this a couple of weeks ago, so it’s time now to revisit and try to whip it into submittable shape. The verdict as of today: Oof. There’s going to be a lot of work to do. Spent most of my writing time today re-reading what I rewrote before and trying to wrap my head around even the most basic tasks at hand for this one. This is what I’ve come up with so far:

1) I’d like to pare it down to around 5,600 (currently at 7,400), which is about a quarter shorter. It’s pretty verbose, though, so I’m not anticipating too much challenge on that part. 

2) I’d like to go through with Jim Butcher’s Scenes and Sequels checklist and see if this story adheres to that, at least on a rudimentary level. I feel like this might be a useful exercise anyway, and it might reveal some of the problem spots I can feel lurking there, but just can’t quite visualize. 

3) DONE!I wanted to go through and check the word-count per scene, and take a look at the 25/50/25 split between what would be considered Act One, Act Two, and Act Three.–At the moment, the tail end is a bit heavy, and the middle isn’t maybe as weighted as it could be. Ideally, it’ll split closer (though likely not exactly) 1400/2800/1400, and I’m not too far off from being able to achieve that, especially once I pare the whole thing down a little. 

So some good thinking progress, but it’s always a bit daunting at this early stage when it seems like *everything* is a little bit wrong, and so few things seem even a little bit right. Joy, joy, joy. :)


Day 11 – And Week Three Begins

Monday is as Monday does: bit of a slow start, but it’s looking like a promising week. I’m starting on a brand new short story, aiming at 4k if possible, and trying to hoist in a 3.6k short story into a 1.5k flash fiction. After last week’s smashing success getting all those pesky little writing goals done, I’m mildly optimistic about this week, though there’s more than enough work on the table. 

That, plus some Apex work that needs to be wrapped up, and some sociality on Tuesday/Thursday, and the week is more limited than I might like to admit. Still, looking forward to the challenge and all that implies. 

Also: it’s a boy! :D Somehow, knowing I can call “it” a “he” makes the whole thing seem that much more real. 

WRITING PROJECT: Tech-savvy, chatty octopi! Pink hair! Extra-aqua breathing apparati! Willamette fishermen! Pet store antics and budding romance! And all of it in Southeast Portland, Oregon! 

Working Title: The Octopus Story (not very original, I know, but maybe as I work on it I’ll get a better title)
Added Words: 3.5 handwritten pages (I’ll have a better count end-of week, but I’m trying something new)
Total Words (to date): See above.

Happening Today in the World of Fiction!: Something odd in a bucket! Has it fallen in love with Molly’s pink ‘do, or is it trying to tell her something? Plus, a handsome pet store employee. Mmm, tattoos. :)

Notes: I’m trying something a bit new with this one: I’m writing it by hand (GASP!). It’s an odd experience, because my brain works much faster when I’m typing, but when I’m scribbling words out by hand (and horribly spelled, I might add–OH LORD, THE ERRORS), I have to slow down a bit. I’ve tried this before for stories I needed to keep tight. I tend to underwrite when I write by hand, and overwrite when I type, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m hoping I can beef it up if need be later, and can already see some fixes that will definitely need to be addressed for efficiency, but hey–it’s a rough draft. That’s for the editing. :)

EDITING PROJECT: Interstellar space travel! Memories of Earth and AI! Mechanical trees and millions of seed clones! Pulsars and deadly radiation! Mother-daughter bonding and rescue! The color blue! It’s all there and more. 

Current Editing Project: The Miracle of Jane
Accomplished in Edits: Didn’t get very far on this. I think I’m scared. First step is going to be to dissect up the chunks of the story and label each one to see what’s *actually* necessary, and what’s not. I’ve got to cut it as close to the climax as possible, and still get some of that mood and zone across. I think it can be done, but it’s going to take some mental puzzling for sure. Looking to get a better start on this tomorrow…


Day 2 — Son of 2014 Goals…RETURNS!

Phew! It’s been a day. Didn’t get half as much done as I was hoping, general life-wise, but I did manage to set down some time for both the current New Project and the Editing Project. Have some extra-curricular work coming up in the next few days/weeks, so that’ll probably slow some of this momentum down, but so long as I’m still getting words and time in, I’ll try not to feel too bad about not getting the same numbers. Numbers are numbers are numbers, right? 

WRITING PROJECT: In a world where wars are waged in shadow and the separation between man and machine is shrinking by the day, a war-droid wielding cyborg-girl begins a secret battle against those who would control her and destroy the only chance of a future she’s ever had.

Working Title: Shadow Games: Book 1 of the Shadow Engines duology
Added Words: 2,672
Total Words (to date): 88,857

Happening Today in the World of Fiction!: Sarad takes out a little pent-up brotherly aggression, a good bit of blood is spilt on polished tiles, a secret elevator revealed, and a fight is definitely brewing. Expect more bloodletting tomorrow!

Notes: Once I got myself in the chair, fingers to keyboard, the words flowed moderately well. The scene feels a bit bloated and slow, so I suspect there will be some significant trimming later, but meh. It’s moving forward, even if slowly, so I’ll take it. It’s something!

EDITING PROJECT: Ghosts and legends and Bluebeard, oh my! The cold Maine coastline! Haunted grounds! Ribbons and bitter, ghostly wives! Dueling secrets! True love? Perhaps!

Current Editing Project: Nobody Here But Us Monsters
Accomplished in Edits: Finally took the time to get a pen-and-paper outline of the revised plot down (which is pretty similar to the rough draft I’ve got, but does shift the POV), which helps me to get a grasp of what I have left to do. (A lot. Like OMG whoa a lot.) At least I don’t think this one’s going to evolve spontaneously into a novella like others have (Scientific Term: “Spontanovella”).

Got down another rewritten-from-scratch scene with the new POV, and I’m loving it. For the first time, I feel like I’ve got enough distance from both the Bluebeard character and the New Wife character to actually show what they’re both going through as the story progresses. And can I just say, I love, love, LOVE bitter ghost wives? They’re so fabulous. They make it so much fun to write. So *that’s* good! ‘Cuz there’s a lot of story left to go, though the word count is managing itself rather well for a change. Yay for staying short! :D