Monday, November 30, 2009

Monthly Status Check

I started my adventure of becoming a published author October of 2008. To help keep my momentum going I've decided to start a monthly status check of my submission and activity

There are some industry standard way of building your author name and your readership. Getting flash fiction, short stories, and novella's published in magazines and anthologies is one great starting point. This method also helps to learn and gauge your audience and story trends. In example, one thing I verified through this method is that Space Opera's are virtually nonexistent in today's market.

Okay, to kick it off here are my stats and progress to date. Then going forward I will only report on my progress for that month at the end of the month.

Story Ideas by Length:
Flash Fiction: 2
Short Stories: 14
Novels: 2
Novellas: 4
Series: 1

Story Progress Status:
Outlined: 9
In progress: 2
Halted: 3 (in queue to finish after "in progress" are completed)
Complete: 6
Archived: 2 (1 contest done, 1 not marketable/good)
Published: 1

Agent Search:
Queries: 33
Requests for Partial: 2
Rejections: 33
(Efforts halted until revisions complete and more magazine/anthologies published)

Submission Status:
Submissions: 24
Accepted: 1
Revise & Resubmit: 1
Contest Placed: 1 (2nd place)
Rejections: 15
Waiting Response: 6

There are my stats from October 2008 to date. Good writing all!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remember It's a Business

I spent years just wanting to write and only daydreaming about people actually reading my work. I wrote what I wanted when I wanted without a care about industry standards, ettiquette, or timelines.

When I decided to become an actual published writer I faced many realities. One of these was that being a writer is not a business, but being an author is. Being an author - or aspiring author - means binding yourself to the industry and working within its boundaries.

No matter how much the writer in me wants to continue flitting away with Galileo, the author see the deadline for the Wizard short story anthology and knows I need to pick up Sorcerer's Carnival and finish the final draft.


How to change your train of thought? Well, as a newbie aspiring AUTHOR, I'm still figuring this out. I've gotten focus, revision, and ruthless editing well on its way...but all within the frame of what my muse wants to write.

Okay, okay...enough whining to you. This is what I've started to develop in reference to forcing my muse to work within my needs (don't tell her it's forcing...because it's more like "persuading")

I allow myself about 30 minutes to just brainstorm what my thoughts - or my muses thoughts - have been on her favorite story at the moment. Then I tuck those notes away, gently and with much praise to my muse on the creativity, and open up the manuscript I need to finish.

At this point my muse is a little confused and deciding whether to stalk away or sit and pout. To ease her interest in my direction I review the storyboard and feign excitement over the original idea she put in my head (usually at 2 in the morning on a weekday).

She will then do one of three things: jump into the idea and start going with excitement, sniff in reluctant acceptance and start working with me slowly, or she'll be a bitch and stalk off until I work on what she wants.

The first two are what I'm always hoping for, because the third option leaves me sitting at the laptop wondering what to do next and begging her to return for the day.

So, that's my semi-tip for the day. I'm off to...persuade my muse and jumpstart Sorcerer's Carnival.

Good writing all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Galileo Chapter 22

Galileo Chapter 22 is complete...for the second draft edit that is. I had to modify some subplots to match the earlier revisions. It's starting to look good. I'm very proud of it. I lost about 600 words to put back in 1200. My chapters were running 3300-3500. I broke them all up and now they're running between 1500-2200.

Tomorrow will be the start of Chapter 23. For tonight I'm putting away the machete and lovingly tucking my laptop on the shelf.

Until tomorrow folks. Good writing all!


Every writer faces it...the dreaded word count. We sci-fi and fantasy writers, seem to have an added stress. No only do we have the same word count restrictions of standard genres, but we have to build worlds and connect the reader to unusual settings and characters.

I've heard it over and over through my writer groups, online, and in industry resources. Science-fiction and fantasy stories frequently end up between 100-130 K, or even more. what?

Do we force through and try to get 100-130 K published, industry standards be damned? No, that's been tried before and failed miserably.

Do we break it up into a series and submit them as such? Well, yeah...if your established and proven with sales to back it up. But if you are, you wouldn't be worried about the word count. And if you were established, you wouldn't be reading this newbies blog. As a rookie, like me, you can't get away with trying to submit a series unless the first in the series is independent enough from the second, third, and so on. The plain fact is you just aren't a sure bet yet to the agent or publisher.

What to do, what to do? Here's what you do.

  • Rip out your love for the story (this usually can be done if you tuck your story away for several weeks)
  • Get your mental machete.
  • Tear through each sentence, each paragraph, each scene, and each chapter...slicing and dicing.

Start with the blaring stuff. Are there two sentences in a paragraph that describe the same thing? If so, can you mold the two by cutting words and gathering them together in a tighter sentence.

Are there multiple paragraphs describing simple, everyday actions. Does it really take two paragraphs for the character to enter the dang door? Cut it down and show what you need in one intense paragraph.

How about things you just over described by using too many adjectives?

Once you do your first pass with the obvious stuff you got to get tougher. Are there points in the storyline that just don't matter to the reader? Have you written half a chapter describing a place you'll never take a character? Or explaining a technology the characters wouldn't notice in their everyday life. This happens a lot when sci-fi writers are describing the technology of the future. It can be neat and as a sci-fi reader I can soak it up...if it fits within the storyline.

But if you're describing a travel jump to the minute details, only to have the characters blocked by the law and having to use traditional space travel...well, what was the point? The reader is now frustrated that they don't get to see the technology in action or the reaction/result to the character afterwards.

If you really want to be published, you have to remember that you've entered their world. They haven't asked you in, you're demanding to be in. So play by the least until you're famous. Then you can write two paragraphs about the color of the stupid floor, like Stephen King.

Good writing all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Organization is Important

I walked home from work yesterday figuring out a sticking point in Galileo. By the time I got home, I was all excited with several different ideas for fixing it. I sat down, turned on my computer, checked my email for any rejections...I mean acceptances (let's think positive here, people).

It was at this point I remembered receiving the rejection for Poseidon. That's okay, I was thinking, I'll just quickly open up my writing spreadsheet, note which place I had slated next for it, and send it off. Then I could get on with my unsticking.

Ugh, I opened the darn spreadsheet and realized I hadn't updated it in weeks. Needless to say, I could not close the workbook without updating it. that would violate all ingrained project manager instincts in my body.

I spent the next two hours updating my submission table, my 2009 calendar, setting up my 2010 calendar (some responses weren't due until February 2010). It didn't stop there, I had to then update my work in progress (WIP) table.

I did manage to send Poseidon off to its next potential home; and I have to admit I felt pretty proud of myself for "spring cleaning".

Maybe tonight I can get back to the meat and potatoes....writing.

Good writing all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Short Story Rejection

It's amazing how comfortable rejection becomes as a writer, like a badge of honor. I woke up to rejection from an Anthology for Poseidon's Cube.

Poseidon's Cube started out as a novella. A very long winded and fluffed out novella. The anthology was a great challenge to streamline and strengthen the story. So, I bled my fingers cutting out the frivolous points, mercilessly killing two subplots, and then revising the middle and end to align better with the anthology's wants.

The end result is something I'm very proud of and the second real short story I've written. It took quite a while for me to understand the mechanics of short story writing and Poseidon's Cube was like an applied exercise.

Here are my thoughts on short stories:

Length: 2,000-10,000 (varies by publisher and targetted market)

Plot: Usually a single event with few scene changes

Characters: Small. Recommend no more than 5, and that's if they are involved throughout the whole story. If the MC is going to meet characters along the storyline, have it early and less than 4 characters...maybe 2 or 3

KISS (Keep It Simple Silly): You don't have a lot of words so cut out anything unneeded. The sentences should be tight and impactful. Make each of them count.

Surpringly to me, I believe short stories are what jumped my writing development. It challenges and teaches you as the writer the essential ingredients of your story. You might try it and see what you come up with.

Let me know how it goes and good writing to all!

Monday, November 16, 2009

An End to the Beginning

Many of you know from an earlier post that I finally let go of the original concept for Galileo. Running on the tails of this development I cut the beginning chapters of my story. I reworked what I could in later parts but nixed the Earth-starting two chapters.

The original chapter 1 started with a readers' introduction into Annie and Danny's friendship and a description scene of Earth in the future. At a point where I could objectively look at the big picture needs of my story. The fact that Earth barely has any reference in this space located novel, I realized readers don't need a "first hand" experience of Earth. The detached references to Earth give more of the impact I was trying to originally go for.

I also changed Annie and Danny's relationship. The point of their relationship was to showcase a pure love in a time of chaos. I wanted it positive and engaging to show that all relationships don't have to start with a Moonlighting dynamic. In the end, I felt I could still show this positive relationship dynamic between them and still have them meet and fall in love during the story.

For chapter two, I had Nettie starting out with her friends and getting her militia assessment. I felt her carefree and high energy personality could still be shown without having her start on her home planet.

These changes have some repercussions for a subplot towards the end of the story, but I'll cross that bridge when it comes. Who knows, it might work itself out. I've already got some great revision ideas brewing for it.

Good writing all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Progress, Progress, Progress

Yesterday was one of the most accomplishing writing days. Along with the progress mentioned in yesterday's entries, I continued into the evening and rocked.

  • Added 1504 words
  • Removed 347 words
  • Broke several long chapters into manageable ones
  • Finished revising a subplot
  • Changed the motives of two secondary characters
I am all set today to keep the momentum going on this creative rush.

Good writing all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Editing Warrior!

The morning was spent focusing on Galileo's Chapter 13 and realigning a subplot. I feel like I'm moving in the right direction and glad I revised the storyboard.

After burning myself out working on Chapters 13, I turned to editing chapter 1-3 and I've accomplished it. They are polished for this draft version and I can put big, fat checkmarks by them in my excel progress tracker.

I'm so juiced I think I'm going to keep moving on Chapters 4 and 5.

This must be how Attila the Hun felt after conquering a village...

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Galileo Sisters

Last night, while editing, I became engrossed in a few pages of the story. It was a section I hadn't read in a while. The scene was a real character development moment for Nettie, the older sister.

At that moment I paused with a realization. These two character's have been almost like a lifelong companion to me. From the beginning in my teenage years through now, I've watched and help mold their growth.

Annabel (Annie) Matterville is the younger sister and the first of the two to come into my creative realm. I dreamed her story first when I was in my early teens. As I feverishly worked to write the story, she slowly came into existence. Almost like a piece of me was torn away to bring her to life.

Annabel was the only one in the Galileo Wars Story (originally named The Knight and the Warrior) for almost a year. Then I had a dream about a girl names Antoinette (Nettie). When she was first created, she wasn't part of Annabel's story. I worked hers on a parallel track for months.

That is until 'The Dream', which I believe was spawned from an argument I had with my own sister. That night I dreamed of Nettie and Annie together, in the midst of war. Their relationship was tense, but their love and bond to each other was tight. The final puzzle piece fell into place and I knew they were related and connected in my creative plane of existence.

Their both fierce in their own ways.

Nettie is an outgoing, assertive girl with a strong athletic energy. There's a fire in her soul that seeks excitement, fun, and people. In the beginning she doesn't like to be alone and she doesn't like it quiet. Over the course of her story she grows into a woman of strength and integrity. Her powerful essence and confidence in her abilities allows her to exude a strong leadership quality only surpassed by her loyalty to comrades, friends, and family.

Annie starts out as an introverted, artistic, soul-seeking girl with daydreams and wishes. She's been placed in this boxed stereotype by her family. Shipped to the Mars training facility, she finds the expectations from home did not follow her. It is a blank slate and one she can explore and test. She excels in her training and finds a natural athleticism underneath her artistic layers. She grows into a strong defender of the weak. Her sense of loyalty to her people and her drive to save them, sends her on a journey that calls for great personal sacrifices.

I am so proud to have developed these characters. They have not stayed the same characters that were born from a teens mind, but have grown into strong women. Their story has evolved to showcase their strength and loyalty.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Starting at a New Place

Last night I was working on my blog entry for this site at its original spot on wordpress: . I was trying to put my creative touches onto the site and realized that I couldn't do everything I'd want to do. Wordpress has it's advantages but I think for my personal preferences blogspot is more my style.

So...long story already told, hello and welcome to my new blog for Adventures of a New Sci-Fi Writer.

At this point I'm going to continue blogging as if I hadn't just moved. Ready. Set. Go...

Tonight I hope to work on editing more of Galileo but work has followed me home. The juices have been flowing really well and I'd hate to disrupt that. I'm currently eyeballing the revision of a subplot. It's good and I like it, but I think I can make it better.

I let you all know how it goes tomorrow. Good writing to all!