One Writer On Revision

I’m in between projects at the moment (literally; if I don’t get my critiques back this evening I’m going to pull a writing prompt and start a new story), so I wanted to share some thoughts I had on revision. I like my revision process. I have two elements of writing, the muse, whom I often envision is a blip of fuzzy blue light (she has no voice, just an overbearing presence at times), and the editor, he is also intangible, but he’s got this enormous red pen wherever he goes, so it’s easy to draw him in: I just pick up his red pen.

I love revising. The second draft is where the story truly comes alive for me. My subconscious did a lot of work during the bang-it-out-fast first draft, and this is where I go picking through the treasure. The step is read the story, and this is where muse and editor dance, sometimes in unison sometimes in the most discombobulated imitation of a pre-k dance recital. Amusing, yes, but not productive. That’s because not every story really works. Some stories can’t be fixed. Those stories were practice. But I still do this process for those because it’s experience I can learn from. (That doesn’t mean I spend the week inputting those changes: it’s the analysis that’s important).

Back to the reading: as I do, I outline each scene on a sheet of notebook paper, just using the left half of the page. As I’m reading, I realize where the scene went wrong or missed something, so on the right side, I record/outline what the scene should be, aligning it to fit the story I wanted to tell, rather than the story I told.

During this read-through, I’ve got my red pen and I circle grammar and misspellings; paragraphs that cover the right material but need to be rewritten because the writing is crap, those paragraphs get a vertical red line in the ride margin. I don’t worry about fixing these until the input phase because I need the muse to put the puzzle back together. The editor is just telling us what’s wrong.

I prepare another sheet of paper, unlined if possible (lines are too constricting for this part). Ideas are coming to me–the muse is starting her dance–things that needed to happen that didn’t, mentions that were never born, or elements that repeat throughout the story. I number these down the page. It can be something as small as “change hair to long and blonde” or “foreshadow the tools she needs for her self-rescue”. Anywhere in the manuscript this needs to come up, I write the number in the margin on the left and circle it. I’ll refer back to this sheet during the input phase. I should mention that this kind of stuff, story elements rather than writing mechanics end up in blue ink. The manuscript is so marked up, it bleeds.

It keeps the muse happy, just as the red keeps my editor happy.

It takes me about 2 – 3 hours (about 2 writing sessions) to get this part done. The inputs take about a week. Then I pass it on either to a crit group if I’m feeling good about it, or to a friend or two if I know something is off but can’t quite figure it out. Reader comments often shine a light on something I missed, so it’s helpful. Then I can go in, fix these items, then present the story to one of my crit groups or buddies.

While I’m waiting, for feedback, I’ll either work on another smaller project or work on doing critiques for other people. But when the feedback comes back, I print the clean manuscript, and mark it up with the comments (or just circling). I then get to see where the holes are and were something bothered a lot of my readers. I take a few days to make, brainstorm, research, and polish. I have a checklist that I review during the polish to make sure I reviewed my weak areas plus a reminder of short story basics (sometimes those disappear if I’m too excited – it’s good to make sure they stay in the story.) Then I submit it. I do like to wait a day before submitting. Sometimes something will jump out at me or hit me overnight in my sleep.

I thoroughly enjoy the process. It’s the perfect balance of analysis and creativity that doesn’t exist any place else in the world for me.

 

Rolling With Change

The universe is testing my will to write again, or more specifically, my desire to be a good mom and a good writer are at conflict. The school year has gotten off to a good start, we’re enrolled in after school activities, I’m trying to keep myself fit, and I’m trying to keep the writing constant. Again, I’m reminded I can’t do it all, despite the fact that before, it seems like I did.

Bottom line: I’m losing my after work writing time. Every hour my daughter spends in after-school care costs me more money. After school activities cost me time.

By the time I get the little ones in bed and settled enough that I can migrate to the basement for the evening, i am so tired that my productivity slows to a screeching halt. Maybe not so dramatically, but enough that I’m trying to think of new ways to find time in my day.

THERE ARE NO NEW WAYS. There are only the ways that cost me energy. I’ve been failing at the early morning wake-ups. So I’ve been writing at lunch instead of working out, or staying up late and taking 2 hours to do what I used to in twenty minutes. I just need to get myself in gear and wake up earlier. The first step is admitting that I’ve truly lost that after work writing time. I can’t tell you how much this saddens me. The flip side is that I’m spending more time with my kids and taking them places where they can experience things and become better people and happier children.

I need to start the 4:15 wakeups. I think I should do it military style. Throw myself out of bed and onto the floor and force out 20 pushups and situps. Get the blood flowing, right?

Maybe not. 🙂 But I do need to get down to my computer and start typing. This post is the first step. It’s worked before, and i’ll do it again, I just need the push. I can do this. If my writing is going to survive, I have no other choice. I want to be awesome at two things which require more time than I can spare.

Starting tonight, 10:15 bedtime, 5:00 wake ups.  After a week or two of this and judging my productivity, I’ll see how much earlier I need to move this.

Anyone else depriving themselves of pre-sunrise sleep? I’m sure I’m not alone…

Rating The Writer: My Strengths

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

So now you want to rate myself? That really is what this topic means. One a scale of 1 to 10, where am I a 10? Or at the very least, an 8? This is all a matter of perception of course, so if you’ve read my writing, feel free to comment on how wrong I am.

10: Ideas. I always seem to have these awesome world or conflict or character ideas. Every story I finish is fun to write (sure, some are tough trying to make my ideas actually, you know, work.) or rewarding in some way. Most of my stories begin as an idea story and develop into something more.

9: Dialogue/Description: let’s face it, these guys are best buds. If you’re lacking one, the other has to compensate big time.  Dialogue. I’d like to think my dialogue is clever and snappy. Some of my older stories are a bit lacking; the dialogue really was just a way to convey information (unartistically, I might add). I’ve gotten better at it, and I think my current stories has the dialogue a bit more natural but still advancing the story. Description. I try to treat my setting as a character to the point of why is it in the story in this manner and what effect does it have on the story. As such, I try to incorporate it into the narrative from the get-go. Some stories have had better results than others. Fortunately, there’s always the next revision to fix what I’ve missed.

8: Conflict. I always have conflict and often try to place it on two of  a possible three levels: a) how it affect the character physically, b) how it affects the character mentally (internal conflict), and c) how it affects the world. Sometimes I do overcomplicate it with all three, and have to tame it back down to two. (Three is okay in a novel, just overwhelms a short story).

7. Characters. My characters usually have rich, complicated backgrounds filled with childhood trauma or angst of another nature.  I’m still playing with how much to show and sometimes how to show it.

6. Worldbuilding. I like to think my fantasy and science fiction is unique in its own way, whether it’s the magic system or a religion I created. I’ve had a couple of early flops, and my editorial feedback has been “generic fantasy”. I’ve been working on that!

5. Voice. I have to be honest, voice is something that either pops in my head full blown (both my published and accepted stories came into being this way), or I need to spend time growing the character and learning their voice. Some of them, I never quite hear myself. Those are the stories that need more work, but alas, I’m trying to work on these in my next stories.

4. Humor. I suck at humor. One of my better stories has a humorous edge to it, but it was a complete and utter accident. I didn’t do it, my character did. I keep asking him for help with my other stories, but he’s off somewhere having a drink.

3. Twist Endings.  These are extremely difficult. Endings are tough in general, but getting one that really snaps into place takes a lot of work. I’ve gotten the perfect ending a few times, and some simply feel right, but I need to keep working on these.

2. Horror Stories. Seriously. I am so afraid of scaring myself, I have to be careful what I write. I will never ever in a million years write horror. Well, maybe dark fantasy but not straight hell-demon fiction. No way, mama.

1. Sex scenes. Fade to black, FTW. Sex is one of those things that I know my characters do, need them to do for their romance subplots to work out properly, but do I need to sweat out those details word for word? The way I see it, you’ve got just as active an imagination as I do. You want a sex scene? Then you take that fade to black and knock their socks off. Or yours. Just don’t tell me about it.

This doesn’t include every element of writing, of course, but enough to know I’m keen on what I need to work on. I hope I’m on the right track.

Happy Reading & Writing!

Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic, What I Do Best (My Writing Strengths)”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Bonnie is up next at Cowgirl in New England.

How That Voice Can Change

It starts with a voice that resembles the ‘you can’t do this’ whisper, but it’s slightly different. Before, the voice told me the story wasn’t good enough. The story was the best i could do at the time, so it went out into the world. About sixteen mnths later, the voice still says the story isn’t good enough, but it gave me more details. The story isn’t complete; there’s more to this character’s journey. She’s defeated one demonic unicorn who has brothers out there destroying innocence and beauty. She’s the only one who knows. It wasn’t enough to see her defeat the one who consumed her innoncence with his hunger; we need to go with her through the healing process, see what she does while she’s trying to heal.

This story, and four others in a similar situation are being pulled from my submission pool. I have a new folder on my harddrive for short stories that need to be written into novellas/novelettes. I’m not ready to do it now, but I’ve got a lot of learning over the next few months: Worldcon (later today!!!!) and Viable Paradise in just over a month.

I’m glad I’ve recognized what these stories need, and I’m on the brink of being ready to dive into it, but I need to sharpen some tools first.

UFO Publications’ Alex Shvartsman

Have you checked Duotrope or Ralan lately for speculative fiction anthology markets that pay professional rates? If you have, you’ll notice two things. First, that the number of open markets as much smaller than it was five years ago, and second, that there is a new market, one that fills an uncommon niche: science fiction and fantasy humor. It’s called Unidentified Funny Objects.

I know when I see a new market, especially one with the ‘fledgling’ label slapped on next to it, I become suspicious. We’ve had too many scams come through these sites lately to really trust a new market without first researching the editor and publisher and figuring out just what their deal is. I’ve got the scoop on this one: the market’s legit and trustworthy and you’re in for a treat.

UFO Publications–Unidentified Funny Objects–is putting out an anthology edited and managed by Alex Shvartsman, a name that’s been creeping up from out of the aspiring writer trenches. Alex’s recent work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Bards and Sages and a dozen more. He’ll be attending this year’s Viable Paradise workshop in October.

So he’s a good writer. You might be asking about his editorial skills. His work on UFO has attracted writers such as Mike Resnick and Jake Kerr. Encouraging, yes? Well here’s the good news. Alex allowed me to grill him with the dozen questions burning in my mind. I’m sharing his answers with you today.

 * * * * * * * * * *

DMB: Where did the first spark hit you for UFO and did anyone look at you oddly?

AS: There was no “Eureka” moment. The idea coalesced over time.

My desire to put together an anthology grew out of dissatisfaction with how things are often done in the industry. Slow response times, insultingly low pay, and budget production values are not quite the norm, but more common than they ought to be. I thought that I might be able to do better.

There aren’t a lot of spec fic magazines or anthologies specializing in humor. I decided that it would be a nice niche to fill, especially since I enjoy both reading and writing such material. Given the overwhelmingly positive response from the community thus far, I’m not alone in this assessment. I’ve had some wonderful help and advice every step of the way and there are many people eager to read the anthology.

Now I just have to deliver on the promise of an excellent book of humor. No pressure, right?

DMB:What types of stories are you still looking for to fill the anthology, or if you prefer, what have you had your fill of, or seen too often?

AS: I want to print stories that are funny, optimistic and upbeat. And while some submissions miss the mark (and boy do they miss it!) I’m also getting tons of truly excellent submissions to select from.

So far urban fantasy has been the most popular. I’m up to my eyeballs in werewolf, vampire, zombie, and demon stories.
With the submission deadline looming so close, I would still like to see more SF and more quality flash. I only bought 3 flash stories so far and there are just a few more in the final round of consideration.

DMB: How did you requisition the cover art?

 AS: I always intended to make the book look as good as anything TOR or BAEN might put out. This most definitely meant getting an amazing piece of art for the cover. I reached out to Dixon Leavitt, who is a professional illustrator and cover artist and who also drew a great illustration for my Conrad Brent stories.

I asked him for a “Dogs Playing Poker type painting with trope SF and F characters around the table instead of dogs.” He said that his style was significantly different from “Dogs” but felt he could come up with something I’d like. He wasn’t wrong!

DMB: You’ve commented online via your blog and twitter that you spend about six hours a day working on this anthology. Can you shed some light on what kinds of activities this entails, and where your headaches and shrieks of joy come from?

AS: The most time consuming part of the project by far is reading submissions. We’ve read over 700 submissions in less than 3 months and I try to read a lion’s share of them myself. I also try to respond to people in less than 48 hours and often provide at least a small bit of personal feedback. This takes a *lot* of time, but the true joy comes from occasionally discovering a gem among all the submissions – a story that I *know* I’m going to buy on the first read.

Other activities involve working with accepted writers on preliminary edits and rewrites, handling contracts, setting up distribution channels for the physical book and fundraising. Promoting a Kickstarter campaign takes a lot more time than I anticipated.

I come from a business background and know how to run a tight ship and juggle all these things efficiently. But, no matter smoothly I set everything up, there are still only 24 hours in each day. I do vaguely recall a time when I used to sleep for a luxurious 7 hours a night.

DMB: Previous to your UFO project, have you had any editorial experience?

AS: I worked as an editor in chief at two short-lived national gaming magazines (Mage and Hero Gamer) and an editor at a few more publications, both online and in print. I’ve been writing game-related non-fiction for many years. However, I have zero editorial experience when it comes to fiction. This is my first such project.

Having said that, I’m not completely unqualified. I’m an active member of SFWA with 30+ short story sales under my belt, all since 2010 which is when I began writing fiction. I have also been accepted into the Viable Paradise workshop and will attend in October. So I can argue that I have at least some decent idea of what a good story looks like.

DMB: Are you receiving any editorial assistance with this anthology – or is this your solo project?

AS: I’m getting a ton of help. Every submission I deem good enough to “pass up” is then read anonymously by a board of trusted associate editors. Their number has grown from the initial four to eight as I’ve shamelessly recruited several of the writers whose stories I bought for the anthology to help out!

The associate editors are Fran Wilde, Leah Cypess, James Beamon, Nathaniel Lee, Cyd Athens, Anatoly Belilovsky, Michael Haynes and Frank Dutkiewicz. They’re all excellent writers in their own right and bring a ton of experience and diverging tastes, which allows me to “test” stories on a great sample audience.

I would also like to mention Elektra Hammond, our copy-editor. I’ve encountered a number of copy-editors over the years as both a fiction writer and a non-fiction one and she is, hands down, the best I’ve had a privilege of working with.

For UFO stories, I’ve asked Elektra to CC: me on the copy-edits she sends to writers – not because I feel I should (or can) micromanage, but because I enjoy and learn from the insights into the process. She regularly catches things I totally miss.

She also does freelance projects, so if you’re looking for someone really, really good to edit your book, seek her out.

DMB: Aside from the stories you’re compiling for UFO, do you have a favorite humorous story, and can you share why it sticks with you even today?

AS: Can I admit something? I sort of hate the ‘what’s your favorite ….” question, because there’s rarely just one. There are many humorous SF stories and novels that I love, and they are all different from each other. Novels by Douglas Adams and Mike Resnick, short stories by Robert Sheckley and Fredric Brown. And I would be remiss not to mention “The Stainless Steel Rat” series by Harry Harrison, who just passed away recently at age 87. Those were among the first humorous SF books I ever read, and they had a tremendous impact in establishing my tastes for SF and humor.

I linked several “sample” stories from the UFO Submissions page, because I would have bought those stories on the spot had they been submitted to me. Of those, my favorite is “Wikihistory” by Desmond Warzel. I love the non-traditional format and humor of that story, as well as the fact that it is, in fact, a solid SF story and not just a delivery vehicle for a bunch of jokes.

DMB: Now that you’re both writing and editing, which calls to you more?

AS: It’s apples and oranges, and I enjoy both very much. Both writing and editing, that is. I’m indifferent toward oranges.

The quantity of my writing has suffered due to the time commitments described above. However, I think I will become a better writer due to this experience. Finding faults and flaws in other people’s stories teaches me to look at my own with a more critical eye.

DMB: Are there differences between your ideal “writing space” and “editing space”?

AS: I do the bulk of both in a small office room at my house. However, I’m not a “picky” writer or editor. I can write in hotel rooms, on the plane, anywhere where I’m not constantly interrupted by other things.

DMB: Knowing what you do now after all this work you’ve put in, is there anything you’d handle differently?

AS: Not at this stage, no. In the future I may abandon reading round 1 slush and rely on associate editors for that. But I’m glad that I took it upon myself to do it the first time around. It gave me a really good idea of what to expect from submission and valuable experience evaluating and commenting on stories.

DMB: For many writers, humor is one of the toughest stories to write. Any advice on how to connect with our inner comic/comedian?

AS: It’s incredibly difficult to teach someone to write humor. You either have a funny bone, or you don’t. However, there are a couple of suggestions that come to mind based on my experience this summer:

  • Don’t sell yourself short. Many writers assume they can’t do funny, so they won’t try. I had to convince Jake Kerr to try and write something for UFO. Inspiration struck him and he wrote a story in one sitting that is among the funniest in the book. You can read it for free at ufopub.com/twitter
  • “Humor” isn’t the same thing as “light.” I get a ton of stories that are light-hearted and don’t take themselves too seriously, but a few funny lines do not make the story a “humor” story. You need to work harder.
  • Comedic timing. A joke can be hilarious or a dud, based on how it’s timed and presented. I could repeat a Patton Oswald routine but it wouldn’t be even remotely funny, but when he does it, it’s hilarious. Because it’s all in the delivery. As a writer you don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of some of the tools available to stand-up comedians in the visual (or auditory) presentation of their humor. So you have to lean extra heavily on the timing. James Beamon is particularly good at this in his writing. Everyone interested in learning more about comedic timing should read a James Beamon story or two.

DMB: What are you plans post UFO — will there be more?

AS: This really depends on how well the book sells. I already have several projects planned out for 2013, assuming that sales of UFO and interest in the project justify going forward. My 2013 business plan culminates, naturally, in the release of UFO #2!

But honestly, the time for reflection and evaluation hasn’t come yet. I’m still incredibly busy putting this book together. When all is said and done I can analyze it and figure out what I can do better the next time around. For now it’s a great learning experience and if readers love this book half as much as I do, it can turn out to be a huge success, too.

DMB: Thanks for your time Alex and best of luck with UFO.

 * * * * * * * * * *

That’s what I’m hoping–and I’m not alone. UFO Publications has a Kickstarter set up with a goal of $5000. To date, Alex has raised $3599 toward this goal. If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a means of donating money toward a project — and that money doesn’t leave your possession until the goal is met.

If it’s met.

You’ve read the fine print–the bit about the deadline? Alex has 8 days left to raise another $1401. Until Saturday September 1st, we can help fund a new anthology and grow a new professionally paying science fiction and fantasy market.

Write Happy, Edit Happy, Read Happy.

Dawn

The Ever Growing Reading Queue

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

 

Reading is almost more important than writing. Think about it. Writers likely wouldn’t have the desire to write without ever having read something that sang to them. Readers, who spend a good chunk of their time poring over (and sometimes screaming at) what writers dream up and write down, are the targets of our writing. Without them and their love for the written word, writers would be worthless.

 

My reading is critical to me, first as a means to understand what’s been written before and understand what the current market is like, and second as my form of enjoyment. Therefore, my reading comes in two forms: books I read to learn from, and books I read to for the sheer enjoyment.

 

At the moment, I’m listening to “So Long and Thanks For All The Fish” because I’d read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (audiobook) recently and was delighted to see another book in the series sitting on the shelf in my library. I checked it out and am enjoying it immensely despite missing at least one more book in the series between the two. It’s having the side of effect of anything humorous I read having an English accent in my head.

 

I’m reading Elizabeth Bear’s All The Windwracked Stars, which is heavy reading. It’s slow going because I’m trying to absorb so much of her massive world which is a place I can’t imagine having come up with on my own. And she always does this with her worlds, at least so far as I’ve read.

 

I’m also in the midst of reading several speculative fiction anthologies: Way of the Wizard and Lightspeed (year 1) by John Joseph Adams, Triangulation: Last Contact, and several Writers of the Future anthologies. I also have issues of Analog and Bards & Sages stashed in various activity bags and in the car. I do enjoy reading one story at a time, and leave the book in particular places in the house. When I’m there, I read a story from that book. It’s odd, but very often I cannot leave my son alone while I take two minutes, run up the stairs and grab a book. Disaster can and has happened during that very short time. He’s getting better at being left alone as he’s getting older, so I imagine this is going to streamline my reading a bit later on.

 

Over the next six months, my reading will be work from the following authors:

  • George Martin (how can I watch the series without having read the books?!)
  • Sherwood Smith (I picked up her books because she’s an instructor at a workshop I’m attending in the fall and now I’m hooked).
  • Mike Resnick (because he’s been offering such helpful advice that’s made an impact directly on my writing practice)
  • John Scalzi (anxious to read Redshirts, then ship it off to my dad when I’m done)
  • Steven Brust (another workshop instructor whose fantasy novels sound fascinating)

 

 

What I’m really looking for, is more science fiction along the lines of S.L. Viehl’s Stardoc series, and Tanya Huff’s Valor series, and something with unicorns, and animal bonding… oh you get the idea. My reading list is one thing that will never, ever be done. Joy!        

 

What are you reading these days? Anything you’d recommend?

 

Happy reading!

Dawn

 

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic “ What’s On My To-Read list?”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Bonnie is up next at Cowgirl in New England.

July Results / August Goals

July Results

An insane month, but mostly for good reasons. I feel like I’ve done more, but I can’t seem to find it.  Oh, there were nonwriting goals and challenges – I gave up cola for good and started seriously exercising. I resumed my morning writing sessions this past week via  a carefully layered alarm sequence. (A post for another day). I’m feeling better – the exercise is giving me a boost that I used to get from the caffeine. It was a rough few weeks (including a cold), but I’m getting there. I also started slush reading for a F/SF zine, and am participating in a “450 Crit Swap” on the WOTF forums where we swap the first (you guessed it) 450 words of a story and provide feedback. I like them, but they’re challenging.

  • Winter Warrior (fantasy novel) – 4k words written
  • Novelette: DDR 1st draft in progress (novella) – 4k written
  • Reading: 2 – Sherwood Smith’s Once A Princess and Twice A Prince
  • Rejections:  13
  • Resubmissions: 11
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Minicrits: 2

 

August Goals

Now that I’ve got a groove going on, I’m going to focus on the novel and the novella. Two writing sessions for the novel at about 800 words each, and then one session for the novella and other writing related tasks. I would really like to finish the novel before Chicon7. It’s my first convention and I’m prepared to be overwhelmed – I just don’t want it to screw over the novel finale.

  • Novel: Winter Warrior (v01) – 1600 daily
  • Novella Draft: DDR
  • Read x2 (Currently: All The Windwracked Stars –E.Bear; So Long And Thanks For All The Fish– D.Adams;)
  • Crits x4 (OWW return crits)
  • CHICON7

Short Story Acceptance

I’ve had a short story accepted by Schrodinger’s Mouse. I’ll share publication details when they are available.

 

/happydance/

 

 

Sound Advice

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been reading, recharging, and working slowly on a short story (while I mentally wrestle with the reminder that I should be writing my novel). It’s been a good week. I’ve decided not to shoot for the 2k a day wordcounts, but lowering it and taking my time with the novel. It isn’t a race. Taking 4 months to write a first draft instead of 3 really doesn’t make a difference in the turning of my world.

Then I ran across some advice from Mike Resnick this morning which clicked with the instant awesomeness of fitting that last piece into that crazy 1000 piece puzzle you thought you’d never figure out. Paraphrasing here, he offered his approach that while he writes several novels a year (because they pay the bills, not the short stories), that he breaks from those novels to work on short stories.

My poor brain has been trying to do that, and I’ve been throwing buckets of guilt at it. So I’m embracing Mr. Resnick’s advice. I’m going to allow myself a few days a month to indulge in the short stories without feeling guilty and poking my brain the wrong way. It doesn’t take long to write a short story — unless I’m torn about it. And that guilt has screwed up my productivity.

No more guilt. I’m going to get this story finished up today and tomorrow then throw myself back into the novel.

I owe Mr. Resnick a big thanks. I might have to go buy one of his books and have him sign it at Worldcon. The only problem is, he’s written so much. Where the hell do I start? 😀

So what about you? Has someone given you advice when you were floundering that just instantly grounded you?

Happy Writing!

Dawn

 

 

The Wheels Spinneth

And not in a good way. I’m floundering in mud and have no traction. I’ve been making blunders all over the place, and my writing is suffering because I’ve started to fear making stupid mistakes. Not a good way to write.  I just sent out my 199th submission the other day. I knew I’ve been sending a lot of subs out, but this number caught me off guard. I’d already been starting to doubt my short story writing as I haven’t gotten a nibble from WOTF in a long time, but really, that’s just THAT VOICE that I’ve mentioned before, the one I’ve specifically instructed you to ignore. I’m tired and all the negative thoughts are starting to circle with little shark hats on.

I’m going to take a few days and read, get some extra sleep. I’m still going to write, and maybe even crit, that tends to pull me out of this. (It also helps that the hubby gets back from his business trip this evening and I get some help with the kids).

Back in a few days.

Dawn

 

Countdowns:

  • Chicon 7- 7 weeks
  • Viable Paradise – 12 weeks

My Earliest Writing Dreams — And What’s Happened To Them

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride.

When I was younger, I didn’t dream about writing and being a writer; I just wrote. My first story was when I was six, written on the back of 3×3 yellow luggage tags. No one understood it but me, but it pleased me. The following stories were just as horrible and I had one particular teacher vehemently telling me that a person cannot make a living on writing short stories. It was good advice, but without any other direction and my parents not taking it seriously from a twelve year old, I went to high school to pursue art. Which is funny because I only took the required art classes. I took a lot of math an extra year of foreign language. I wrote some joint articles for the school paper and was asked to be the editor one year, but I had plans to graduate early. I didn’t want to stick around high school, I wanted to be a grown up and do grown up things.

I wrote through all of this, of course, even while I pursued a criminal justice degree. Halfway through the program, I considered declaring a dual major so I could add “English” to my degree so I could be an editor or an English teacher and ‘write on the side’. It would have added an extra year to my undergraduate education, so I dismissed that option.

After graduating and temping in the NYC area, I started to realize the pull of writing and signed up for some correspondence courses. I started submitting short stories (dear editors: I humbly apologize for the crap I sent you all those years ago). It was at this point, reading Dean Koontz and other suspense writers, that I knew writing was important to me, more than to be a side gig, but I had no place to learn more. I applied to an MFA program, but they had no interest in me or my fantasy writing.

I liked Star Trek and Star Wars, and even joined a Star Trek based role playing group online where my writing literally exploded. A friend from that group encouraged me after I commented that I’d role played enough characters to fill my own ship. She told me to do it. Fill my own ship, write that story.

I did. And it was awful. But I wrote it. The dreaming started.

I started to understand what it took to write a novel, what made it work, and what broke it. I understood the time and dedication and craved more. I was living alone at this point in my life and my writing became my best friend during the workweek, and abandoned on the weekend for my college-town boyfriend. It was a fun time. My guy encouraged me, his family encouraged me, and my parents finally joined in.

I’ve always written because it made me happy. My readers often disappointed me because a) my writing stunk so they didn’t get the story and b) my early readers didn’t take me seriously because my writing stunk. Because of this, my writing has always been mine first and foremost. Same thing with my art. The difference between the two is that my art exists to support my writing. My writing knows no bounds, is not defined by genre and rules made by someone else.

I write to please myself. I’m happy to learn the market and write in a direction that other people will love (so long as I’m still loving it). The moment this becomes a chore, torture, or otherwise unpleasant, I’m done. I don’t see that happening though. At times, it’s difficult and trying because I’m exhausted from trying to do too much, and other times it sucks me in so deep that the blood sweat and tears are truly part of the manuscript. I love it and will never stop loving it.

I write because it pleases me. I continue writing to increase my happiness. My dream is to write–write better, write more–but my plan is to share it with as many people who will enjoy it. I hope this journey brings you the joy it brings me as you experience the worlds and lives I’ve created.

Dreams don’t need to be farfetched or grandiose.  They need to be yours, foremost, but they can’t exist in a bubble in your subconscious. They need and deserve to be realized and acted upon. Yes, the hard work begins then, but nothing else makes it taste so delicious.

I have the privilege of posting this topic on a day that is significant to dreams of freedom and autonomy to my nation. Today is the realization of dreams.

Have you had a chance to recognize or realize your dreams? Are you working toward achieving them?

Write Happy,
Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic “Earliest Writing Dreams”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.  Bonnie is up next at Cowgirl in New England.

June Results / July Goals

June Results

I focused on the novel this month, at least until the 18th when I received my very awesome VP acceptance. I spent some time on short story revision after that, in preparation for the 6/30 WOTF deadline. I’m unhappy with the state of my short stories and due to my indecision on what to revise, I wasted time, something I hate. I usually commit to a story and deal with it regardless of how long it’ll take, but I got wishy-washy, and bounced between three stories, submitting only one.

  • Winter Warrior (fantasy novel) – 14k words written
  • Reading: 2 – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Adams) + Jumper (Gould)
  • Rejections: 9
  • Resubmissions: 10
  • Critiques: 1
  • Travel Arrangements for VP

 

July Goals

I have a schedule that’s working and writing that needs to be done. July is going to be awesome. I finally get to work on a science fiction story and make another submission to a particular science fiction market that likes one of my other stories enough that they haven’t yet rejected it. I think they’re waiting to see more from me, so I’m going to follow my instinct here and submit something new and awesome. (there’s that word again!)

  • Novel: Winter Warrior (v01) – 1800w daily
  • Short Story Drafts x1 (DDR)
  • Short Story Rev x2 DDR + TLO rewrite & submission
  • Novella Expansion:  Surrender (this one is pushing it, I think, but I’d like to try to fit it in)
  • Read x2
  • Crits x4

(edited to remove story names)

Crazy Week

It’s been a crazy week since last Monday. It’s been an emotional roller coaster starting with the VP acceptance, the medical update on my Dad, work issues, and the upcoming WOTF deadline I just can’t seem to handle at the moment. The short story scene has been bugging me.

I think my editor’s eyes have developed well or taken a jump recently. Every short story I’m looking at is utter crap. To fix it would require 2+ weeks of my writing time based on available time, continuing with the novel, and my other responsibilities. I don’t want to submit crap. But I don’t want to skip a submission opportunity.

Someone suggested I take a previous Honorable Mention story and resubmit it under the new judge. I’m not comfortable resubmitting the same story twice, but this was a story I’d tabled for two years because of a massively thorough critique I’d received. Bear in mind, it wasn’t the critique itself that stopped me from revising; it was that the story needed more from me than I could give it at the time. So rather than waste a story I loved, I tabled it until I was ready.

I’ve been reading it, figuring what the core of the story is, and grew it from there. Most of the story has changed focus; a lot of the tangents I took are being cut. I need to extract the few paragraphs that uphold the central idea and then build around those, scene by scene. I’ve already reconstructed the outline, I just need to start working on the individual scenes. I wouldn’t do this for every crappy story I have now: this one sings to me. This one needs to see the world. I can’t explain why.

I could probably turn this one (eventually) into a novel based on what I know of the characters, magic and the troubles their land face socially and physically. But I don’t want this story to be that. This is about one young woman and how she dealt with some pretty bad events. I need to rewrite this.

So that’s my goal this week and then I’ll pick the novel up again, and only the novel until it’s complete. Novel writing works so much better when I’m not drafting or rewriting something else. I’m not going to submit this before I’m ready. If this isn’t ready, I do have something I can send in as plan B.

What are you facing this week that your brain and heart and pestering you on?

Guess who’s going to Viable Paradise? And no, it’s not my cat.

It took three years of applying, but I refused to give up. I guess they figured they’d better take me or I’d never leave them alone.

Don’t just dream. Fight for it.

And I’d like to extend congrats to my fellow VP 16 classmates. Well done, and I can’t wait to meet you all in person!

Writing Progress June 15th & 16th

June 15th

  • Winter Warrior 1392 words

June 16th

  • Winter Warrior 32 words to tie off a chapter;
  • Winter Warrior brainstorming/planning chapter 6
  • Short Story Dante – brainstorming/replanning: I felt like I was losing direction on this one, and looked over everything I wrote. I figured out where I lose focus and made notes on what needs fixing, then planned what’s really coming next. The divided attention is definitely making this more of a challenge, but it’ll get there.

Since today is Father’s Day and Sunday, I get to focus on the family. See you later.

Writing Progress June 13th & 14th + Projects Update

My brain has finally settled into multi-tasking, though I think I had to trick it a little bit. Whatever, it worked.

 

June 13th

  • Winter Warrior – 2347 words

June 14th

  • Winter Warrior – 868 words
  • New Short Story – one page handwritten (the opening I’d been stuck on!)
  • Etherea In Her Veins (short story) – reviewed an analyzed for revision.

 

The big deal with the short stories is that I don’t want to abandon them. My earlier post about trunking really got me thinking. What if a story was actually worth the time to revise? This one is. I love it. Not only that, but this was the one that earned me the semi-finalist in WOTF a few years ago. I took risks with the story and despite its flaws, it’s gotten good reactions wherever I’d sent it. But the personal rejections mirrored the feedback given to me by KD Wentworth, and I was on a mission to make this story perfect. I broke it in the process, I think. I’m going back two versions to the one that earned the personal rejections and the semi-finalist and fixing that version. Eventually, I can probably write this into a novella or novel, depending on my mood. But for now, it deserves to see the world.

The novel is going well. The latest chapter is learning the motivations of a secondary character. I’m still learning about him too, so I know this one is going to be heavily revised later. I’m just trying to pace myself so he can talk to me while I type.

Dante. The new short story is one of the outlines I created during May. It’s been difficult to pick up the mood I felt then, but the heart of the story is there, I’m just tweaking what needs to happen. I can usually choose a project and focus, busting the story out within a day or two. This isn’t going to be that. But a page a day while the kids are playing around me is good enough. It’ll get me a first draft, but one on paper, which usually makes up for the extra time in stronger coherence.

One more short story is in the queue, waiting for revision. It needs a serious revision as it’s only in first draft form. I was trying to do way too much with the first version. I’ve set a lot of that aside for the novel (yes, it’ll be my next SF novel probably), but this story is about a dying woman and her mom and I’m re-centering the story on their relationship from a military SF angle. It’s weird, but I’m having fun with it.

By multitasking, I’m obviously lowering the word count on the novel, but I can handle the pace. By handwriting the short story, I’m actually sneaking in an extra writing session without stealing time from anyone else.

Back to the writing. Have a great day!

Dawn

Weekend + Winter Warrior June 11th & 12th

  • Weekend = short story work
  • Monday June 11th = 0 words (relating to day job; writing time spent on short story submissions)
  • Tuesday June 12th = 1127 words

It’s getting there, and I’m building up to some information discovery that’ll cause some serious friction, just when my characters were starting to get along. 🙂 

To Trunk or Not To Trunk?

I’ve been submitting short stories since 2009, published one of them in an anthology, and have been working relentlessly to get more of my work edited and out there. Some of the stories have been floating around the short story market for 3 years. Some far less. My strategy has always been to aim high: aim for the markets that pay the most and have the best exposure. As the author, I seem to be least skilled to judge the quality of the story — so why send what might be a pro-level story a nonpaying market? Let the editors decide.

I’ve started receiving feedback on some of my stories, mostly from semi-pro markets. It’s encouraging that someone took the time to provide their insights on my stories. What’s troubling me about this feedback, is that they’re right. When I first sent these stories off into the world, they were the best I could make them. I submit, get rejected, resubmit to another market. Rinse, repeat. Now that I’m getting feedback I can use, feedback that resonates with me in many instances, I have to question my handling of these particular stories.

On one hand, no story is perfect. If someone liked it enough, would they ask for a rewrite, regardless if it’s this version or the next one that I’m planning to revise? Is it a waste of time to keep resubmitting a story that clearly several editors keep offering similar advice on?

Or is the waste of time going to be that revision? Is this advice a lesson I should learn, tuck the practice ground material (the story) into my trunk and just plod on forward?

I’m on the fence. As I sit here, working on my weekend short stories, I’m staring at the words on my screen asking myself if they really are good enough, or will I trunk it two years into submissions? It’s not stopping the writing, but it is distracting because it’s a valid question.

Am I growing as a writer? Or am I looking at the affect of time and distance between the story and its last revision?

I have a feeling part of the answer might be on DWS’s website somewhere, and I’m going to go searching for it this week between writing sessions. In the meantime, I’ve got three stories on a hold status: back from subs and not going out just yet until I can decide.

I write because I love it; I submit the stories because I want to share my characters and worlds with people who will enjoy them. That is the heart of why I have trouble trunking a story. It’ll languish in a drawer, get forgotten. But if I promise myself I’ll come back to them, they aren’t forgotten: they’re in the back of my mind.

The problem with that, is that the back of my mind is busy simmering with my current projects. When I start hanging on to too many thoughts and threads and issues, my unconscious workings get muddled. I’m sure I’m not the only one this happens to.

Have you run into this? Any of this? Do you trunk stories and why? Have you read a story you wish the author had trunked?

The other really big question this brings me to is my focus. The feedback from many of the stories are the same regardless of story: “this could be better told in a longer version”, “explore this in longer form”, etc. It’s not the same as my original issue writing short stores, that the ideas were really novel ideas in disguise. I think this time, I’m exploring deeper issues, in big worlds that leave a short story in the shadow of the bigger world issues.

The question it begs is this: am I spending too much time on short stories now? Should I really be focusing on novels? It’s not that I’ll deprive myself of the joy of writing short stories, but the answer would direct where I spend 80% of my writing time. I find it difficult to write a short story and a novel at the same time. I can do it, but it impacts my speed.

Part of the joy of writing a short story is that I build a world slowly; I plant a seed and it becomes Jack’s Beanstalk. It happens over time, unlike novel world building, which is more like Puss In Boots: searching for the beans that’ll give me Jack’s Beanstalk. I like exploring different people and cultures, even if I made them all up in my head. It becomes a much bigger responsibility in a novel. More work and less play, perhaps? I don’t know.

Until I do, I’ll keep writing. The novel is going well, though I’d like to pick up the pace a little bit. The short stories will mostly wait until the novel is done, then I’ll go nuts on those for a few weeks before I turn back to the novel for a revision. It seems like a good strategy. The hold queue will be dealt with, one way or another. I’ll figure that out, too, I suppose

Happy Writing!

Dawn

 

 

Winter Warrior: June 7th & 8th

Thursday June 7th: 873 words

Friday June 8th: 1033 words

Current Total: 15,390

Update: I’ve learned this week that I can wake up and five and be functional enough to write, though I need breakfast first. My 3 year old wakes up halfway through my hour, but I think breaking this up into a short writing session that ends when he wakes, I can have him eat breakfast while I work with my dumbbells. There’s more to the schedule revamp, but this is my focus over the next week. At first I felt this was an interuption, or a complication, but the cascade effect it has on the rest of my day could be good. And I’m on track for completing the novel by July 16/17th.

Winter Warrior: June 5th & 6th

Tuesday June 5, 2012

Writing: 2065 words on Winter Warrior

Fitness: 5am wake up; light dumbbells for 20 minutes

 

Wednesday June 6, 2012

Writing: 602 words on Winter Warrior (work deadlines killed the after work writing session)

Fitness: N/A (stayed up too late and didn’t wake up that half hour earlier.)

Writing and Life Balance

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

When I graduated college and was job/career hunting, and writing took up most of my time, I had a lot of fun with it. I was casual and reckless with my midnight to three am writing sessions. Unfortunately, as creative as my stories were, they were lacking something I now know is depth.

These days, I’ve got the depth and the life experience. The trouble is I no longer have the luxury of spending hours writing and staying up all night on a whim (although I will do it for a deadline if it comes that close). I’m a responsible adult with a house, pets, kids, husband, career, and family. These all require time and energy that will sap my creativity if I don’t plan well. For instance, on the days I try to work out during lunch, I lose my lunch time writing, and my afternoon writing session (because working out during lunch means taking a shower and drying my hair before returning to the office and that time needs to be made up). If I lose my lunchtime writing and my after work writing because of a workout, then that leaves evening writing. To be honest? I’d rather slam my head into a brick wall than START my writing at 8:30pm when I’ve been up since 5:30 am living my life.

Does this sound familiar?

I keep trying to wake early, but the day job and parental responsibilities wipe me out. It’s a wretched circle of not working out so I can write during lunch and after work, then fighting the exhaustion to work out after dinner or in the morning. So something loses.

I’ve tried the Monday/Wednesday/Friday workout plan, but then I only get two solid days of writing time. I could do the opposite but then the workouts suffer.

Balance is difficult. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve faced.

Fortunately, I can write anywhere. I can write anytime. I don’t mind writing at night, but I can’t start with that as my first writing session. At least if I am able to take 10 – 15 minutes during the day and review my outlines and character notes, I can using driving time to prepare my frame of mind. It helps.

My six year old gets that I like to write. She does as well, and sometimes we’ll sit at the kitchen table together working on our separate stories. This is how I get writing done on the weekend (while the three year old naps).

What I really need to do is kick myself out of bed at 5am and work out right away. Then I’ll have lunch and after work AND evening time to write.

In the spirit of true balance and proving that it can work (and daring you to call me a liar!), I’m going to do it this week. I’m going to prove that just 30 minutes of fitness in the morning will reset my writing schedule. It helps I’m writing a novel now on a self-imposed deadline: I have momentum.

Here’s the plan: starting next week, Monday through Friday I will wake up at 5am. M/W/F I will either run or walk; T/TH I will train with my dumbbells. The first week I’ll probably be tired. But starting the second week, it should reestablish sleeping patterns which means quality sleep, and I’ll wake up refreshed and ready to go. The writing time will be awesome. No more guilt over the workout I skipped to get the next scene done.

So tell me: have you mastered balance? Have any tips to share? Or do you want to join the “I Want Balance!” Club?

Best of luck to you.

Stand by for many posts about running and writing and some 5am tweets proving I made it out of bed. 🙂

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic “Writing and Balance With Life”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour

Winter Warrior: June 3rd & 4th

Sunday June 3rd – Not a novel day; spent some evening time on the short story.

Monday June 4th – Winter Warrior – lunch time writing and after work writing totalling 1400 words.

Winter Warrior: June 1st & 2nd

June 1st: The first day of my nano went all right. This was one of my exception days due to family events. I ridiculously hoped for 1k but at least made 500 words.

June 2nd: Saturdays are errand and home-with-the-kids day, but moving my writing area to the kitchen while one napped and the other colored, I got in over 1300 words.

My general strategy is aiming for 1 – 2k weekdays and using the weekend either for other projects or making up words if it was a slow week.I’m captable of about 10k a week this way. I’ve done it before though not for Nano.

May Results / June Goals

May Results

Based on the past six months, my prior definition of insane is inaccurate. I accept that chaos is the new norm in my life, and I’m promising myself that it will not get in the way of my writing.  Between the work deadlines, the last-minute trip to see my parents, and handling year-end school matters, I had to improvise a lot. I think it worked.

I not only wrote 7k on the novel, but then revised it so I could submit it with my workshop application. Since that was my priority, I didn’t have the time to also write short stories. My improvisation there was to draw the prompts and write outlines. It was a fun and interesting experiment.

  • Winter Warrior (fantasy novel) – 7k words written and revised
  • FM Writers Short Story Workshop – continue providing support to workshop participants
  • FM May Challenge: Story A Day – 12 outlines prepped for writing
  • Reading: 2 novels by Tanya Huff
  • Rejections: 7
  • Resubmissions: 6
  • VP Application written and submitted

 

June Goals

I’m going to keep it simple for June. I signed up for Camp Nano. I can write fast when I have an outline, and this one is pretty solid. I plan to write 1 to 2k a day in June (with the exception of a few days where family matters take precedence). I do need work on a short story for the WOTF deadline at the end of the month. I have to decide which story that will be, but I’m leaning toward science fiction this time.

  • Winter Warrior (fantasy novel) – continue writing (expect 40-50k)
  • Short Story Revision & Submission
  • Critiques
  • Reading

The One Thing

The one thing I wanted to complete this month, more than writing short stories, was my VP16 applicaiton.

For better or for worse, some talented writers and editors will be reading my chapters and judging me. It’s a scary feeling, but I’ve done my best.

I’m looking for proof that 16 really is my lucky number. Results are expected in July. Until then, more writing!

 

A Very Strange May

I love short story writing, I love May Story-A-Day, so what I’ve been doing has been downright torturous.

I’m on a deadline, trying to write some novel chapters and revise them so I can use them as part of my workshop application. Time is running short on me (speaking of Merry Go Round Topic, “Deadlines”). It’s an interesting challenge. I’m loving the novel; the outline and worldbuilding complete enough to write, and the first chapter is mostly done. (One more scene to go). Based on its length, I’ll write one more long chapter and then revise them plus the outline.

This in the midst of family, travel, and health (not mine) issues. And SAD.

Rather than be upset, I’ve improvised. The first ten days of May, I pulled a story prompt and created characters and an outline. I have 10 SADs plus one other short story I’d been working on ready to be written. At this point, they’ll take me about 3 – 4 hours each, about 2 days of writing time. Once I’m done with the workshop application, I’ll be diving into these stories. They may not all be done in May. I’m a little dissapointed with that, but I’m very happy that I pulled the prompts and prepped the stories. If I hadn’t done that, I think looking at today’s date and knowing I haven’t even started a short story… I don’t want to go there, thinking about the level of that dissapointment.

So, novel chapter, revision, then stories. I’ll have them. I will. The characters are rising up out of my notebook to haunt me.

Writing Results & Goals

 It’s more important to be writing than reporting on the writing, isn’t it? That’s why this post is so late. I make goals and promises to myself, and try my best to be honest about what happened in achieving or failing to achieve my goals. These past few months, it’s been a combination of work, family, and the inability to balance multiple projects. I’ve been focused primarily on the novel, and my short story writing suffered. It’s a necessary sacrifice; even if I start indie-publishing my shorts, my path to writing success requires novels to be written and revised.

 

Writing Results (March + April)

  • Short Story Revisions 2 (1 in March, 1 in April)
  • Reading 2 (1 in March, 1 in April)
  • Rejections 16 (10 in March, 6 in April)
  • Submissions 18 (12 in March, 6 in April)
  • Novel Research and Outlining (March + April)
  • Short Story Workshop on FM (March – writing; April – hosting)

 

May Goals

  • Short Story Writing – FM SAD Challenge (goal of 15 stories)
  • Winter Warrior – write first 3 chapters
  • Prep VP application
  • Continue the short story workshop on FM

 

Did I mention I love short story writing? May is usually the month I get to be self indulgent in my writing and my family lets me get away with it. It’s probably why I haven’t done Nano comfortably. I already have May.  I’m also continuing the workshop. I have one more  post to put up for the members, and I want to follow them all through to completing one story.

 

I hope your May is going well.

Busy Busy Busy – and it’s May

I’ve been too busy to post regularly, but I’m still around and writing, in addition to handling some unusual family matters and travel issues. My Merry Go Round post was delayed by the travel and family matters, but I will post soon on it. Oddly, the subect is deadlines. Blew that one, didn’t I?

Those of you following me for a while know how I excited I get over the May Story A Day challenge. I usually get 4 – 10 brand new short stories for the month. This time, because of the time issues, I’ve been pulling prompts every day and working on character and outlines. So far, I have 7 outlines ready to be written into short stories in a decent smattering of fantasy and science fiction.  I’m eager to type them up and get them posted on www.fmwriters.com.

I’m still working on my short story workshop. I’ve had six writers sign up for it, and so far at least 3 of them have completed short stories. We’ll keep going through the month of them and see what progress gets made.

Winter Warrior was put on hold for a few days; novel notes were too bulky (and precious) to travel with me. But I’m starting up with it tomorow morning. I need to hurry and get the next few chapters written so I can revise them before the workshop deadline. I need to also get my letter/application in shape. I’m also eager to get this novel written. It’s by far the most interesting one I’ve planned in a long time and I want to fit the pieces together and see what it looks like.

More updates to come. Hope you’re happy, reading or writing away…

Dawn

The Writings…

I see a dinstinctive difference in productivity between my short story writing vs my novel writing. Novels are scarier to screw up, so I’m much more careful with the world building and outlining. Which means it takes me as long to outline and research the novel as it does to write it. Part of it is in short stories, I have to measure my worldbuilding carefully, and in a novel, I can go crazy.

Except that I shouldn’t. The writing phase needs to start soon. I can’t worldbuild forever. I could, but that wouldn’t get the novel finished.

So this week I’m going to focus on the environmental details and get this book started. I just need to confirm how they live, the food chain, shelter, etc, all within an acceptable level of make-believe. That’s the fun of fantasy, but it still has to be grounded in a reality that makes sense for the book.

In addition to this, I’m trying to revise one short story for a contest deadline at the end of the month. I just started a new short story (2 days in, I think I might come close to finishing it tonight), and I’ve been making time to read.

In between all this, I’m putting the finishing touches on a short story workshop I’ve written and am going to teach on  FMwriters at the end of the month. It’s designed to help people who want to write a short story and for whatever reason (I have some theories), just can’t. I’ve had so much fun with my short stories, that it just kills me to hear someone say they can’t write one or they don’t know how. I’m constantly writing, editing, revising, studying, trying to write better. I’m happy to take a few days away from it to help other writers type “the end”.

Tick-tock, my friends, I’ve got to get to that story.

Happy Writings!

Dawn

Creative Influences

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

What would it be like to be compared to a great writer? I’m not sure I’d ever believe the words if I heard them, nor have I even thought about this before the topic was raised.  That’s slightly off the mark. I’ve been told by two people that my writing reminds them of Robin Hobb (who I haven’t the privilege of reading yet, though my husband has enjoyed her stories) and Raymond Feist. I’ve read and enjoyed some of Mr. Feist’s work, and can see a connection between the character and world development.

Playing along, because that’s what writers do, I’ll have to go after my early influences. Mercedes Lackey introduced me to the fantasy genre with her Heralds of Valdemar series. Honorable heroes wielding magic riding fantastic horses. Her weaving of the different kinds of magic and how they affect so many people so vastly amazed me. It’s a concept I’ve taken in my own writing, treating magic almost like a character itself. In my current novel, I’ve gone one step further and actually made it a character. It doesn’t get any lines, but it simultaneously amazes and conflicts with anyone who has ever encountered it.

Jennifer Roberson has influenced me with two of her series. Tiger and Del, the Sword Dancer series has shown me how important a weapon is, magic or otherwise, and the weight it holds upon its wielder. Weapon choice matters. What it does to those who either have it or want it, matters. Her Cheysuli serious plays with animal bonds and transformation, two elements that fascinate me to no end. As children, we’ve pretended to be animals, to have animal abilities, and in her series, we get to experience it. As much as that magic can bring us wonderful experiences, it can hurt too, and there are dire consequences to denying it, to hiding it, or taking it too far.

Reflecting back on this post, it’s clear to me that despite my love for science fiction, the fantasy I’ve read has influenced me more. My short stories are varied in genre, but my novels are predominantly fantasy. I did write science fiction first, then started reading fantasy, and since then I’ve been lost to it. I do try reading new things — I’m finally reading Tanya Huff, some of the most delightful military science fiction I’ve encountered — but reading it doesn’t make me want to write it. I’m just enjoying the ride.

Has your taste in reading influenced your writing or art? Or have your creations influenced what you like to read? It’s a delicate balance isn’t it?

Happy Writing and Reading,

~ Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic ‘Influences”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.   The next Merry Go Round writer is Bonnie. She’ll be posting her take on this same topic on the 5th for your reading pleasure.