My Daughter is a Published Author!

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For NaNoWriMo the last two years, I’ve challenged my daughter to write a book while I worked on my novel. Though only 4 years old the first year, she completed the challenge both times, whereas her father has yet to finish his first novel.

Her first book was called The Little Witch about, you guessed it, a little witch. She enjoyed it so much, she immediately wrote a second book called The Head Monster. This one you might guess was about the leader of some sort of monster group. This time you would have guessed wrong. Instead, the book was about a monster, who only had a head! I thought this book was awesome. Unfortunately, we can’t find the book she wrote during last year’s NaNoWriMo, nor can we remember the title.

One thing these books all had in common was my daughter drew the pictures but had to dictate the story to her parents. This year she started kindergarten and began the process of learning to read and write. Then quarantine shut down schools. Many aspects of her education took a hit with the move to virtual learning, but her reading and writing didn’t. Both have improved dramatically. So much so, she wanted to work on another book and write the text herself this time.

Also, during this time, I was submitting a series of stories to a flash fiction market, Smokelong Quarterly. While doing so, I discovered this market accepts stories written by children that are posted on the publication’s website in a series called Fridge Fiction. So I submitted her quarantine work. To all of our delight, her story called Who Will Win the Race? was accepted. Yep, not only was she accepted by a market I have yet to crack, she was accepted on her first try. (No, I’m not jealous. Why would you think that?)

You can read her story here. Congratulations, Amara! (I’m taking credit for the awesome author photo.)

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to work on my next story in the hopes of getting my own acceptance rate up.

Image via Pixabay.

2Q20 Update

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I did better getting this quarterly update out much sooner than last quarter.  I’m still busy at home working the ole 9-5 or what sometimes becomes 8a-9p.  Regardless, below is what I managed to squeeze in this quarter.

  • Words written = 1146
  • Submissions = 27
  • Rejections = 21
  • Acceptances = 1
  • Holds = 0
  • Publications = 1
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

After setting a new low for my written word total in 1Q20, I did it again last quarter.  And most of those few words were added to existing stories as part of revisions to get them out the door to new markets.

Those of us with small children have not found stay-at-home orders to be relaxing or productive. If you are in the same boat, I sympathize. If you are one of the lucky ones with no kids or older, self sufficient kids, I secretly despise am jealous of you.

On a more positive note, I doubled my number of submissions (and rejections) from last quarter.  Several flash fiction markets, which had been closed, opened again, and I took advantage.

I’ve already written about my short story publication this past quarter here.  This story means a lot to me. It’s YA/middle grade, and I borrowed my oldest daughter as the main character. Also, the editor, who ended up accepting it, originally asked for a rewrite (my first). I was intimidated by the prospect and took nearly a week to get back to the editor, likely jeopardizing my chances of eventual acceptance. The editor later stated she was holding a space for my story and was running up against her own deadline. That allowed me only a few short days to do the rewrite. I was fortunate, this time.  Lesson learned: get back to editors more quickly!

That’s half the year behind us.  How was your productivity during quarantine last quarter?

Acceptances 2.0

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Acceptances are what it’s all about, right? Whether you’re shopping a novel to an agent or publisher, or like me, shopping short stories to various markets, it’s all about being accepted. (Really, for me who does not write for a living, it’s about validation; but we can explore that another time.)

My goal for the year, as with prior years, was to receive four acceptances. I’m pleased to say I’m already there. With two acceptances by token markets and two more by non-paying markets, I’ve reached my four. I must say I’m grateful and surprised. Last year was a little sparse on the acceptance front.

I’ve already blogged about my first set of acceptances from the two non-paying markets this year here. Both can be read for free. Check out the links on my Publications page.

The two more recent acceptances are from token markets. The first is Spaceports and Spidersilk. The editor for this one provided my very first rewrite request. I was pleased that she gave me the opportunity to transform my work into what she was looking for. I took on the challenger, and it apparently worked because she accepted the revised story.  I also think the revised version is a better story. Writers rarely like to admit it, but editors often know what they are talking about. 

My story in Spaceports and Spidersilk is a young adult science fiction piece. You can purchase the entire issue here directly from the publisher. It’s also available through Amazon and can be found on my Author Central Page.

The last acceptance is a story I had written for a very specific prompt from another market. Needless to say, that market rejected it. After reworking the story and shopping it elsewhere, I’m pleased Frostfire Worlds accepted it for the September issue. I’ll post a link to that issue on my Publications page when available. If you enjoy humorous sci-fi, this is the story for you.

So there you have it. Two more acceptances, and the year is but half over. I’d love to double that up. My output has fallen off this year, but I continue to submit what I have. None of the four accepted this year were new works. I just need to continue to make the rounds with what I have and attempt to supplement those with more stories as time, and ideas, permit.  (I’d also take an acceptance from a semi-pro or pro market, but I’ve always treated this journey as a marathon and not a sprint.)

How goes your acceptances journey this year? Let me know in the comments.

1Q20 Update

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I am way behind on posting my quarterly update.  Unfortunately, I am not one of those people faced with boredom as life moved completely online.  If anything, it’s been the opposite.  Really, that is an excuse applicable only to March, but let’s see how I did for the entire quarter.

  • Words written = 2230
  • Submissions = 11
  • Rejections = 12
  • Acceptances = 3
  • Holds = 0
  • Publications = 2
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

That word amount is the lowest I’ve written in a quarter since I started seriously writing in 2017.  I took on a third volunteer position at the start of the year that has eaten even more into my free time.  Still, that’s not a great excuse.  I will be the first to admit I have not made writing a priority.  I’ll discuss that more below.

The submissions, and by extension the rejections, are down by about half.  At this rate, I will not make my goal of 100 submissions in 2020.  I need to pick that up.  I have plenty of unpublished stories.  I just haven’t spent the time needed to research markets and submit to them.  I don’t have an excuse for that either.  The Authors Publish Magazine sends an email every month listing numerous markets open to submissions that month.  I recommend signing up for their emails.  It’s a valuable (and free!) resource.

The best part of my quarterly numbers is the three acceptances and two publications!  I set as a goal only four acceptances for all of 2020, and I’m already almost there.  That’s incredible, and I am grateful for each of those markets.  I’ve listed them on my Publications page.

Of the three, the one that has not yet been published is my first pro sale!  For those who have followed me from the beginning, my overarching goal is to become a full member of the Science Fiction Writers of America.  For short story writers, such as myself, that requires three pro-sales.  Now, I’m 1/3 of the way there!  Hey, I’ll take it.

For 2Q20, I’d like to write more, you know, actually make writing a priority.  I expect my volunteer positions to quiet down over the summer months, though that may be more true in 3Q20.  Regardless, it’s time for my annual pivot back to the WIP novel anyway.  I’d really like to finish a first draft of that by the end of the year and not rely on this year’s NaNoWriMo to do so.

I’d also like to get submissions up.  I don’t know if I can make up for lost time to reach 100 on the year, but I’ll give it the ole college try.

That was my first quarter.  How was yours, especially during this strange time in which we live?

 

Acceptances = Free Stories

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Everyone likes free, right? Good! We’ll get to that.

But first, there’s the good news. I’ve had two flash stories accepted already this year. After missing my goal of one acceptance a quarter last year, I’m already 50% toward the same goal in 2020. Both are online only magazines, but I’m not complaining.  Both are fun publications, and I encourage you to read their content, after reading my stories first, of course.

The first of the two to be published, The Sea Lords Script, went live today at Ash Tales. This is a market devoted to post-apocalyptic stories.  I got the idea for my tale while on vacation in Luxembourg last year. Not wanting to spoil the story, I’ll say I found inspiration in something that came with my daughters’ Kinder Eggs.

The second story, All Rhodes, will be posted March 13th by Fudoki Magazine, so mark your calendar. This market is dedicated to myths, legends, fairy tales, and the like. The story features the architect who designed the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, in ancient Greece. I did a project on the Seven Wonders way back in elementary school, and that has stuck with me to this day. I consider the story to be my first stab at historical fiction. While the architect and the Colossus of Rhodes were real, I took several historical liberties from there.

What do these two stories have in common? Besides my enjoying writing them, they both have comical twist endings. And best of all, both are/will be free to read!

2020 Goals

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Before getting to my 2020 goals, here are my numbers for the entire year.

  • Words written = 37,016
  • Submissions = 125
  • Rejections = 134
  • Acceptances = 1
  • Holds = 1
  • Publications = 2
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 2

How does that compare to years past? The word count is way down and the lowest of the three years I’ve been writing. The submission total is almost identical to last year’s, while I have almost 30 more rejections in 2019. I had the same number of publications as 2018 but only a third of the acceptances (1 v. 3). The hold was my first, so I added that category in 2019.  Unfortunately, it eventually became a rejection.

The words written represent a hodgepodge of projects. In that 37,000, there were 12 flash fiction stories and one longer short story (about 5700 words). The rest went toward the work-in-progress novel and a short story I’m co-writing with a friend.

I was not pleased with the drop off in words written. I took on several more time consuming volunteer projects in 2019. Those ate into my writing time and will continue to do so into 2020. So I’m going back to my 2018 goal and see if I can’t hammer out 50,000 words in 2020. I already have 700 of those thanks to a flash fiction story idea that popped into my head on Monday.  Only 49,300 to go!

I’d like to stay at 100 submissions again. To do that, I think I’ll need some new material though. The old stories have made the rounds, and I’m running out of markets. I’m also toying with the idea of putting the old stories together into a collection this year. Now that will be a big project, but it will be great experience for when I want to self-publish the WIP.

I was more successful with my other goal in 2019: reading one book a month. Before kids, I’d read 2-3 books monthly but hadn’t had as much luck since. Last year, I not only had the goal of reading one a month but reading those books I already owned. Most of these reads were physical books, though I slipped in a few ebooks, again if I already owned them. I’m pleased to say I passed this goal and ended with 19 books read.

For 2020, I plan to do the same, except instead of one a month I plan to read several large tomes collecting dust on my shelves. These are the 1000+ pagers that are difficult to hold and impossible to carry around. I’ll set a goal of reading three of these and hopefully can slip a couple smaller ones in here and there.

That was my 2019 and my goals for 2020. How did you end last year, and where do you want to go this year?

4Q19 Update

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The start of the new year is the time to look back and see how I did in 2020 (like every other writer, am I right?).  But first I want to review how the fourth quarter went.

  • Words written = 9263
  • Submissions = 29
  • Rejections = 27
  • Acceptances = 0
  • Holds = 0
  • Publications = 0
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 1

The word count is almost exactly my quarterly average for 2019, which is much lower than my 2018 average.  The submissions and rejections were slightly down from my 2Q19 and 3Q19 numbers but in line with 1Q19.  The lone withdrawal was an odd one.  The market withdrew my submission stating it was closing its doors.  It’s the second time I’ve had a submission turned away because the market went belly up.  That’s more disheartening than a straight up rejection.

Once gain I didn’t have any acceptances, which is starting to weigh on me.  I’ll get to whether I achieved my acceptances goal in the next post, but (spoiler alert) I didn’t.

Most of the words this quarter went to the work-in-progress novel and were written during NaNoWriMo.  Actually, all but 50 words went to that.  The last 50 went to a dribble I wrote and submitted to a contest on a whim.  It was fun and may look to do more of those.  I already had the idea for a longer story and simply reduced it to 50 words.  I’m not a fan of writing anything lengthy on my phone, but there I was one night in bed furiously tapping with my thumbs and counting words over and over.  I still hope to expand the story to a longer form.

Next week, I’ll recap how all of 2019 went and set those goals for 2020.  How’d you finish off 2019?

 

3Q19 Update

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Another quarter is down the drain (or up in smoke or has passed us by or insert your favorite saying here). Let’s see how I did.

  • Words written = 7383
  • Submissions = 32
  • Rejections = 44
  • Acceptances = 1
  • Holds = 1
  • Publications = 1
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

You’ll see I added the new “Holds” category, since I receive my first of those this quarter. The words are down again (for the third straight quarter). The submissions are down slightly, but the rejections are up. I did finally have my first acceptance and publication of the year.

If you’ve read my (infrequent) posts this year, you know I’ve struggled to find the time to write. I’ve struggled to blog this year too. I find the two related. The more I wrote last year the more ideas that writing generated for blog posts.

After beating my 2018 words goal, I am no where near the pace needed to finish with that amount again with a fourth of the year left. I’ve gone from 1100 to 9300 to 7400 over the last three quarters. The numbers show that whatever I was doing before no longer worked, so I’m trying something new.

I’m attempting to steal 15 minutes a day to get 100-200 words down. I realize that’s not even a page a day, but it’s something. And I’ve made progress.

To get motivated, I reread the novel I started during last year’s NaNoWriMo. First, I had the disheartening discovery that I lost about 1600 words due to an errant backing up procedure. Once I cried a little, I set out to give the manuscript a once over. It needed it just to be readable. Due to the speed required to attempt NaNoWriMo, I had left numerous character and place name blanks simply because I couldn’t remember what I’d used before and I didn’t want to spend the few seconds to go back and look.

That initial polish also served as a reminder of what I’d written, which had mostly escaped me. It got me excited about the story again as well.

I’m happy to report the 15 minutes/100-200 words a day has worked pretty well. I still haven’t managed it every day, but I’ve managed to add about 5000 words already. I even managed to rewrite the lost 1600.

My goal is to sustain the 100-200 words at a time up to this year’s NaNoWriMo, and then see if I can do another 15,000-20,000 during NaNoWriMo like last year. I know some people write that in a week or two, and I say more power to them. I’d love to have time and motivation for that. I lack both currently, but I’m alright taking the tortoise approach. I’m only racing myself.

How have your goals gone with 3/4 of the year behind us? Let me know in the comments.

My First Hold Response

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My writing career is still new enough that I continue to rack up a series of firsts. Earlier this month was my first published Drabbel. Now comes my first hold-for-further-consideration response!

You know, that response from a publisher that is not quite an acceptance but also not quite a rejection. I finally received one. For some reason, I find that response nonetheless a cause to celebrate. My story made it through at least one round of review and is still in the running to be published. Given my dearth of accepted stories this year, I’ll take it.

Of course, there is no guarantee the story will be accepted. Also, the publisher gave no timeline for when a decision will be made. That leaves things in limbo, which is not always the best feeling. I’m willing to deal with that though. Several publishers have rejected this story since I started submitting it last year, so I’m pleased to be one step closer to finding it a home.

There was something a little different about this submission. I don’t generally reread a story following a rejection before sending it to the next market. This time I did. This market had a lower word limit, so I needed to trim about 100 words. Normally that is not an issue. This time was a challenge. The story was already fairly short, and after rereading it, I realized the language was fairly tight as well. But I did it, and as usual when I’m forced to cut from a story, it is better for for it. I especially like this one as it’s one of my humorous stories. It had been so long since I read it, the story was new enough to me to laugh at several parts. That’s a good sign!

Have you had any writing firsts lately?  Let me know in the comments.

My First Drabble

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It’s been a while since I had a publication to announce, so I’m pleased to share one. Today, The Drabble published my drabble (an exactly 100-word story). Check it out here.

Thanks goes to my oldest daughter for the story idea.  I had just heard about drabbles as a type of story and was looking for inspiration.  She stepped up one weekend while we were doing laundry.

I hope you enjoy it!