Summer Vacation – 2021 Style

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This summer, the family took a road trip to several state and national parks in New Hampshire and Maine. None of us had every been. It felt like an extension of our time in the Smokey Mountains over Spring Break back in April. When you don’t want to catch COVID, avoid people by going to giant parks.

I often experience some of my best inspiration and motivation to write while on vacation. It makes me wonder how productive I would be as a writer without a pesky day job. (There’s also that pesky income that comes with the day job.)

Unfortunately, this was not one of those trips where I was inspired to write. Instead, I was inspired to edit. I furiously edited my middle grade work-in-progress before departing. I wanted to churn out another draft, so my daughter could read it during the trip. We also were visiting my cousin’s family, and I wanted her son to read it as well. Both are in the target audience for the book, and I wanted their feedback both overall and on the specific language used, i.e. did I use terms that 7-8 year olds understand.

During the trip, I edited a couple stories that needed revisions but mostly needed to be lengthened before they went off to their next submission. That added a few hundred words to my quarterly total, but not too much.

I also edited a novella of a fellow writer in the Northern Virginia Writers Club. The novella was set in the South, and being a Southerner, he asked for comments on its authenticity. I readily obliged.

Then I tackled a stack of magazines that had piled up. They tend to do that throughout the year until I tear through them all at once, like on this trip.

Finally, it was time to come home. Our two weeks were up, and I’d barely written a thing. I still felt productive. I often find that editing gives a similar satisfactory feeling to writing, once it’s done. It’s kind of a slog during. It’s an especially nice feeling when you reread what you wrote, realize it’s not total crap, and know you’ve made it better with the edits.

I’m still hoping to get some more words in this quarter. I have about six weeks. I would love to get a couple stories written before October when I’d like to turn to outlining my NaNoWriMo project. I’ll have more on that with my 3Q21 update.

Reprints, the Gift that Keeps on Giving

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When I first started writing – all of four years ago – I didn’t give much thought to reprints. I didn’t even know what a reprint was. I should have though. I own a bunch. Every anthology of classic science fiction stories I’ve bought through the years contains nothing but reprints. I had no idea at the time, but all those stories had appeared previously, likely in the pulp magazines during the Golden Age of Science Fiction. (As an aside, I’m currently reading Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee; so this era is very much on my mind.)

As a novice short story writer, acceptances still don’t come all that often. I’m sitting at a baker’s dozen at the moment. When a publisher accepts a story, I’m elated. I promote the release. And I move on, primarily focusing on writing new material and continuing to submit my other stories that still need a home.

Maybe I should rethink that after my most recent acceptance. The good folks at Metastellar: Speculative Fiction and Beyond accepted my reprint “Cramping Your Style” for publication on August 18. For those keeping county, I’ve submitted a total of two reprints one time each; and both have been accepted. That means I’m batting 1.000 on reprint submissions. Gotta like that average.

“Cramping Your Style” is a middle grade soccer story with a speculative twist. If you want to read it for free, come back on the 18th. I’ll have a link to the story on my Publications page. And give some love to MetaStellar on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mag_meta, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MetaStellarMagazine, and on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MetaStellar.

2Q21 Update

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Another quarter makes like a staked vampire and bites the dust, so it’s time to look back at my writing exploits (or lack thereof).

  • Words written = 2,050
    • Submissions = 29
    • Rejections = 31
    • Acceptances = 1
    • Shortlists = 0
    • Publications = 1
    • Rewrites = 0
    • Withdrawals = 0

My submissions were right in line with last quarter (28 v. 29), and I’m on track for my goal of 100 for the year. I was sitting at 57 as of the end of the quarter and have sent two more since.

Rejections were up. I suspected my rejection number from 1Q21 was unusually low. While I hoped that meant a couple submissions were under further consideration, no such luck. More likely several editors pursued other interests away from the slush pile. How dare they!

I technically had one acceptance, thus meeting my goal of one a quarter. My story, “Lottery Winnings,” appears in the Summer 2021 Journal of the Virginia Writers Club, a publication of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry written by members of the Virginia Writers Club. The bar for acceptance wasn’t too high, but I appreciate being included.

The amount of actual writing I did was pitiful. Those 2050 words went toward three projects. About half were spread across two existing stories that needed a little editing before heading off for their next submissions. The other half went to a new horror flash fiction story. It’s based on a gate that I saw while on vacation to the Smokey Mountains in March. In fact, it’s pictured in the featured image for this post. I knew the first time I drove by (it was on the way to our rental) that I needed a picture and it would inspire a great story. And it did! I just need an editor somewhere to think so too.

Other than that horror flash story, I’ll admit I’m in a bit of a creative funk as far as ideas for new stories go. However, I have been doing a lot of editing. I’m even finally editing my middle grade WIP. I went old school and printed out a copy, and now there are blue ink edits all over the clean, white pages. I prefer blue over red. My beta readers, who were awesome, for the WIP consistently had two comments. First, I should mention a couple characters early on, who play a larger role later in the story, so those characters don’t appear to come out of nowhere. The second was I should flesh out the description of a couple scenes. The latter point I had suspected and had asked my beta readers specifically to look at. I thought the former point was spot on as well, and I’ve done just that. There happened to be a perfect spot in the story early on where I could name drop those characters.

Despite consistently adding to the text, with the few cuts I also made, the WIP only grew by about 900 words. But I’ll include those in the tally for 3Q21 since I finished editing in July. I plan to ask my oldest daughter and her cousin, both who are in the target audience for this middle grade book, to be my final two beta readers. I’ll see how these harshest of critics react.

This is where I outline my goals for the next quarter, but I’m drawing a blank. Once I get comments back from my two young beta readers, I plan to do another thorough edit of my middle grade WIP. I also have an idea for a story, but I’ve been debating whether it’s of flash length or a more typical short story length. Part of this may be related to my laziness. It’s much less time consuming to work on a flash story. I should simply start writing and see what length the story wants to be. The family is going on vacation again later this summer. Maybe I can find several quiet nights to hammer out this story and see where it takes me.

That’s it on my end. How’d your quarter/month/week of writing turn out?

Apparently, I’m a Horror Author

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I’m not sure when it happened, but I write horror now. Two of the last three stories I’ve sold have been solidly in the horror genre. The most recent, “Camping with the Carnival,” was just released today in Night Terror’s Vol. 14. Check it out in eBook, print, or Kindle Unlimited. An eAudio version will be out soon.

To give you a little background, my family went COVID-camping with my sister and brother-in-law last autumn. They had been on their own weeks long camping vacation (what better way to have a social distant vacation), and we met them for the weekend at their last stop. That night, my sister described some of the stranger people they’d encountered at their campsites. I immediately thought those people would make fantastic characters in a horror story. And they did.

I’ve sold to this market before. My story “Shadow” made it into Night Terror’s Vol. 6. The odd part is my sister also inspired that story. I wonder what it is about her and horror stories.

Below is a little taste of “Camping with the Carnival.” I hope it wets your appetite for me.

***

A dark stain blanketed the tent floor. An equally dark trail ran over the entry lip, continuing through the campsite and out onto the road. Something about the ichor smelled familiar–like the blood of its usual prey–but not quite the same. This caught the intruder’s attention. It ducked inside, shaking the entire tent in the process and uprooting several of the stakes securing it to the ground. It paid no attention to the stains adorning the remaining tent walls like a gruesome Rorschach test. Licking its lips to remove the last of the sample it had tried, the figure turned back to the slick trail, following it toward the campground’s communal firepit.



1Q21 Update

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The last quarter of the first year of COVID-19 is done. This time last year, I was swamped with work as the world shut down. While work eventually became more manageable (and I am exceedingly thankful to have work), this quarter has been more of the same ole same ole. I’m still working from home and still managing my oldest daughter’s virtual school. At least this year, there is a vaccine. While I patiently wait my turn for that, let’s see how the quarter shaped up.

  • Words written = 5,405
  • Submissions = 28
  • Rejections = 17
  • Acceptances = 1
  • Shortlists = 1
  • Publications = 0
  • Rewrites = 1
  • Withdrawals = 1

Overall, I’m pleased with those numbers. The submissions are spot on to reach my goal of 100 for the year. I also received an acceptance, which met my goal of one acceptance a quarter.

The number of words written still isn’t great, though the 5400 words is more than any of the first three quarters last year. The oddest part is none of those words (except for a whopping 25) went to a new project. (The 25 went to a new micro story for a market that only accepts 25 word stories.) Most of my writing involved editing existing stories. That was another goal, and I stuck with it. Editing these stories allowed me to get them out to new markets, which helped those submission numbers. I also added a couple thousand words to a story I’m co-writing with a friend and my memoir.

The single acceptance, shortlist, rewrite request, and withdrawal all involved the same story. I expanded a 2000 word story to 3000 words to meet the minimum word amount for a specific market’s call for submissions. After submitting the story to that market, I discovered the same now-expanded story met the criteria for another call. Luckily, both markets permitted simultaneous submissions, so I submitted the same story to the second market as well. The second market shortlisted the story and asked for a rewrite of the ending. After two rounds of edits, that market accepted the story, necessitating my withdrawing it from the first market. I looked back, and that acceptance broke a 6-month long drought. While not my longest (that distinction clocks in at 11 months), it still was painful.

Anecdotally, I felt that rejections were slower to come in last quarter. I think my receiving only 17 rejections, which is off the typical 25-35, proves I wasn’t too wrong. Editors likely are feeling the same pandemic fatigue as the rest of us.

My goals for the second quarter are more of the same. I’d like to send out about 25 submissions to remain on target there. I’ve already sent out two this month. I’d also like to notch an acceptance to keep me on track there.

On the writing front, I’d like to put the finishing touches on a short story I wrote the first draft of in December. I edited it, along with two other flash stories, while on spring break vacation last week (the first trip since 2019!). Those flash stories are the two submissions I sent already this month. However, when I reached the end of the short story, I realized the verb tense was probably inconsistent though out; so I need to go back through again to correct that. I think I’m also ready to tackle a first round of edits to the middle grade novel I wrote during last year’s NaNoWriMo. Several beta readers gave me excellent comments. They didn’t identify any major issues, so I’m eager to incorporate those as they should be easy fixes.

And that my January – March 2021. How was yours?

2020 Update and 2021 Goals

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Last time, I caught up on my 4Q20 results. Now, let’s dive into how I did for all of 2020.

  • Words written = 34,027
  • Submissions = 91
  • Rejections = 82
  • Acceptances = 5
  • Holds = 1
  • Publications = 4
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

I also had a couple rewrite requests, one of which also was the lone “hold for further consideration,” and both of which turned into two of those five acceptances.

Let’s be honest; that first number isn’t great. That’s the second year in a row my total words written has decreased, setting a new low again in 2020 by about 3000 words.

Both the number of submissions and rejections were down as well when compared to prior years. The number of rejections were particularly low. I noted several markets were slower in 2020 reviewing submissions. Hey, those editors were living through a pandemic too, with all the issues that came with it. On the brighter side, I set highs in acceptances and publications. Can’t complain about that. And one of those acceptances should be published this year after a COVID-delay at the publisher.

How do those results compare to the goals set in January? I didn’t reach 50,000 words (again) and didn’t reach 100 submissions (for the first time). I did average at least one acceptance a quarter plus one! I would gladly trade fewer submissions for more acceptances.

Now for the hard part, what goals to set for 2021. I’m going with a lower 30,000 word goal. I want to focus on editing, at least at the start of the year. I have that middle grade book and several stories to go through from NaNoWriMo. Coincidentally, my fellow Northern Virginia Writers Club member, Darius Jones, who blogs over at Inside the Writer’s Mind, set a similar editing goal. Then I want to finally turn back to my work-in-progress novel, which I haven’t looked at in a year, and continue adding to my memoir. I find the latter fun and easy to write and therefore a welcome distraction when other projects get bogged down.

I’ll keep the submissions goal at 100 again. A couple stories were slow to get out last year after I finished them, which I think kept my submissions down. I need to do better at getting freshly edited stories out the door.

Then there is my reading goal. I like to include this since one of those pieces of advise you always hear is to be a good writer you have to be a good reader. For 2020, I set a goal of reading three 1000+ page tomes. What was I thinking? I got through one, and it took me from January to August, though I took a month break in the middle to read the stack of magazines that had built up. I also read (or listened to) eight other books. That latter number surprised me, so I’ll take it.

This year I’m scaling back the tomes. I’m going with reading one 1000+ pager. Then, I’ll add in another eight normal size books. That should allow me to make progress on the stack next to my nightstand that never seems to get smaller plus have room to squeeze in a couple new discoveries.

Now I’m ready to tackle 2021. How about you? Were you as productive as you hoped during the pandemic? What goals did you set for the new year?

4Q20 Update

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It’s that time of year when the writers in blog land update how they did during the prior year. Like last year, I plan to split this topic into two parts. Below is how I did in the fourth quarter. Next time I’ll write about my 2020 totals, how those compared to my 2020 goals, before finishing with my 2021 goals. Got to think about those last things though.

First, here are the numbers for 4Q20.

  • Words written = 27,201
  • Submissions = 25
  • Rejections = 31
  • Acceptances = 0
  • Holds = 0
  • Publications = 2
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

I had a monster quarter word-wise. Looking back, that’s the most I’ve written in any quarter since I started this writing journey. NaNoWriMo was good to me. I flew through writing the middle grade book that was my goal for NaNoWriMo. Since I still had eight days left in November, I hammered out two flash stories and one 2000 word short story. By then I had run out of ideas that I had developed. I’m not a pantser. Though I have numerous other story ideas, I like to develop them before sitting down to write. So I started working on my memoir. Those events already happened; no need to develop them.

Finally, for good measure, in December, I wrote a 3000 word story in response to a prompt for the December meeting of the Northern Virginia Writers Club. The prompt was to take a character from one of my existing works and put the character in a holiday setting. I got carried away and took a story idea I already had and wrote a story mirroring A Christmas Carol. Might as well borrow from a classic.

I had no acceptances this quarter, which broke my streak of at least one acceptance a quarter. That was the biggest disappointment. I did have two stories published, which is always a thrill. “Temporally Out of Service” (my first published reprint) was included in the anthology The Trouble with Time Trouble, and “Shadow” found its way into Night Terrors Vol. 6. The editors of the latter were so encouraged by the reader responses that they invited authors to submit for an upcoming volume. I took advantage and sent in a horror short story I had written over the summer but hadn’t finalized until being motivated by this submission call. Hopefully, that will lead to my first acceptance of 2021. A writer can dream.

That was my fourth quarter, a strong end to a strange, strange year. How did you end the oddest year of our lifetime?

First Reprint or Another November Story

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I didn’t plan for several of my stories to hit the market in November, but here we are. The first reprint I ever submitted was accepted by the good folks at Smoking Pen Press for their time travel anthology. I like that the editors didn’t decide on a name for the anthology until they had selected the stories to include. That way they could see what common themes came through, and they found one. Nothing good seems to come from time travel, so they titled the anthology The Trouble with Time Travel.

My contribution is “Temporally Out of Service.” If you’ve followed this blog back to its beginning, you may recall this was the first story I every wrote. It was inspired by a misspelled sign I encountered on a hotel elevator. You guessed it, that’s where the story title comes front. If you like sci-fi time travel or private detective noir or both, this is the story for you!

After the rights reverted to me last year, I happened to see this publisher’s call for time travel stories. Since reprints were accepted, I took a chance. You know what they say, don’t self reject; and I’m glad I didn’t. You can purchase the eBook here from any of your favorite online retailers. A print version should be released in the coming weeks. If you’d like a little taste, read on.

***

Not really paying close attention to the clerk beyond learning which way the woman went, I raced past the desk and headed down the hall.  I hurried by the business center on the right and then what appeared to be a tiny fitness center immediately after.  I next passed the elevator.  It was in a recessed alcove on the left with a sign taped to the door, still fluttering a little as if someone had rushed by.  On the other side of the elevator was the door to the stairs.  At the end of the hall was the south entrance, the one I did not have a view of earlier. 

All was quiet, so where did she go?  I poked my head into the stairwell.  Nothing.  No footsteps racing up the stairs.  No doors to other floors above slamming open or closed.  I opened the door to the outside and scanned the area.  Nothing.  I backtracked down the hall to peer into the business and fitness centers.  Nothing.  I started to worry I would have to go door to door and floor to floor to track her down.

Not wanting to make that scene quite yet, I retraced my steps one more time to the end of the hall.  This time when I reached the elevator I read the sign attached to the door.

TEMPORALLY

OUT OF SERVICE

THX,

MGMT

“Temporally?” I asked aloud.  “The staff can’t even spell ‘temporarily.’”  I was about to launch into a long mental diatribe about the sad state of the public education system when I noticed the sign and entire elevator door had the same sheen that had covered everything in the parking lot earlier.  If you would ask me years later why I did what I did next, I’d tell you I don’t know.  But I did it.  I pushed the UP button.  The doors opened.  I walked in, and the doors closed.

November Stories

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Many of you may be knee deep in NaNoWriMo this month. If you’re already waist deep, congratulations! I’m probably ankle deep at the moment.

For those looking to take a break, I would like to share the release of a couple of my stories. The first, “The Sea Lords Script”, previously had been published by Ash Tales. I noticed not too long ago that the story had disappeared from the publisher’s website, which was a huge disappointment. Then I get an email saying they were converting to a podcast format, and my story had been narrated and was live. Even better! You can listen here. The publisher said several kind words about the story at the start, which I am grateful for. I think he understood what I was attempting to capture with the story. A little post-apocalyptic humor anyone?

The second is a horror story title “Shadow” that I shopped around for a while, and I am glad it has found a home in the anthology Night Terrors Vol. 6. The anthology will be released on Monday, November 9, but you can pre-order it for $0.99 or read for free with Kindle Unlimited. Below is an excerpt ending on a cliffhanger that hopefully wets your appetite for more. If you do end up buying, please leave a review on Amazon, whether good, bad, or indifferent. It all helps the metrics.

***

The house is dark as Michael pulls into the garage. It is the night of Heather’s birthday party at Bria’s. The house should be ablaze as Heather gets ready. Instead, Michael opens the door leading into the kitchen and enters total darkness, at least immediately. After being under the bright lights of the garage, Michael’s eyes have trouble adjusting. He flips the light switch to his left. Nothing. He tries again. “Great, something else to add to my list,” he mumbles, not wanting Heather to hear and possibly ruin her mood for the party. “Hey, Heather, where are you, and why is it so dark?”

“In here, honey,” utters a faint voice from the bedroom.

The curtains are still open, so there is some ambient light making its way inside. Michael feels grateful for even this small a blessing as it allows him not to trip over the numerous dog toys strewn all over the floor on his way to the bedroom. The bedroom is another matter. Those curtains are drawn. He can’t see a thing.

“Where in here?” Michael tries the bedroom’s light switch. This one doesn’t work either. Did they have a power surge that tripped a breaker? The garage lights work, but maybe they are on a different circuit. He will have to go check.

“In here,” the voice insists, more persistent this time.

“Are you in the closet?” Michael takes a couple of steps deeper into the darkness of the bedroom. “What are you doing in there? Are you ready for the party? Here, let me turn my phone’s flashlight on. I don’t think our lights are working.”

As Michael digs in his pants pocket for his phone, a silhouette appears in the bedroom door behind him. Finally pulling the phone out, he activates the flashlight and shines it into the closet. The silhouette silently moves closer.

“I thought you said you were in the closet,” Michael replies, after finding the space empty. “I know you’re turning 30, but that’s no reason to act all morbid.” The silhouette extends a black appendage toward Michael and grabs him on the shoulder. “I said I’m right here.”


3Q20 Update

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Another light quarter, despite more staying-at-home. Let’s see where I ended up.

  • Words written = 3450
  • Submissions = 28
  • Rejections = 18
  • Acceptances = 1
  • Holds = 1
  • Publications = 0
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

The good news is I tripled my word output. The bad news is that’s not saying much when the prior benchmark was about 1100 words. The words last quarter were devoted to two new short/flash stories. The in-laws visited for a week, and all of a sudden I was able to be productive. If it weren’t for the End Times, that could happen more often, which my productivity would welcome.

The fourth quarter includes NaNoWriMo where I traditionally have my greatest output for the year. I’m hoping to continue that streak. My goal is to complete the work-in-progress by the end of the year. I still don’t know if the WIP will end up novel length or something shorter. After letting it sit since the Before Times, I’ve already started rereading it to familiarize myself with the work again.

I also won a registration to an upcoming virtual writing conference that included a slot to pitch an agent. The agent I was assigned doesn’t appear to be interested in my WIP’s genre but is interested in picture books and middle grade books. I have several of the former completed, and one of the latter started. Having never pitched an agent before, I needed to figure out what I am pitching. Then, I need to figure out how to pitch it.

The number of submissions and rejections last quarter weren’t my best but still serviceable. I need 34 submissions in the fourth quarter to reach my goal of 100 for the year. I haven’t hit that number of submissions in a quarter since the second quarter of 2019. I’m hoping to start submitting soon the two stories drafted last quarter. Fresh stories always increase the submissions number (and by extension the rejections number).

I was pleased my streak of one acceptance a quarter continued. I’m also hoping the single hold I received turns into an acceptance this quarter. The editor asked for a rewrite, which I happily obliged, and am waiting for the final decision. In the interim, that market solicited submissions for its next issue from presumable past and pending (since I received the email) contributors. The problems are it’s a genre I don’t dabble in often and a length I don’t reach that often any more (3-7k words). So I don’t have anything that’s a ready fit. I do have a story idea that would fit genre-wise and likely will be the right length, but I doubt I’ll have enough time to complete it before the submission deadline later this month, especially since I’m focusing on the agent pitch the first part of the month.

On the flip side, my streak of one publication a quarter ended. I had a work slated to be published in September, which would have continued the streak, but the published delayed the release until 2021. At least I’ll have that to look forward to. I have one more publication in the works, the sole acceptance last quarter, but there is no release date yet.

That was my July through September. Now it’s time to win over an agent with an as-yet-unselected-work and then attempt to finish a novel. No biggies.

How’d you do last quarter?

Incorporating Social Distancing in Writing

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I’ve debated this since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Should I incorporate social distancing elements in my writing? Should characters wear masks and stay 6 feet apart? Should they never greet each other with a physical gesture like a handshake or hug? Should more than one character even be in the same room together? Or do I ignore all that and write as if life is back to the old normal?

Stories always represent a snapshot in time. Whether it’s the language used, the technology described, or the social norms of the characters, stories inevitably date themselves. As a science fiction writer, many of my stories occur in the future; so outdated tech usually isn’t an issue. But my characters speak and use early 21st century vocabulary and not the words, or even a separate language, developed between now and when the story takes place. And say I’m writing about a colony ship hurtling toward a new planet. What about the crew’s composition? If written 100 years ago, the crew likely would have been all male and white. Not today, at least not for me. I purposefully include an ensemble cast consisting of both sexes and multiple races and ethnicities.

Whether we like it or not, our writing dates us. Wouldn’t including elements of social distancing simply further date an already dated work? Or do such elements go too far? Or would we prefer our fiction to be just that, a fictional escape from reality? Would we rather not be reminded of this unusual and difficult time we are living through?

So far I’ve written two short stories during the pandemic. Neither one includes social distancing concepts, but I thought about doing so both times. I ultimately rejected doing so because it would have interfered with the story. For example, one story takes place at an academic conference. Those are all cancelled for the foreseeable future, so that would have killed the story. The climax wouldn’t quite have the same dramatic impact if it was a virtual conference.

There is no right answer, but I’m curious. How have you treated social distancing in your writing? Let me know in the comments.

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.