Post #39 – A French Writing Adventure, Part 2

9/20/18

Last week I detailed a laptop battery issue that kept me from writing for several days while on vacation in Paris. Before leaving the U.S., I had grand plans of writing every night once the family went to bed. Since that wasn’t happening, what’d I do instead? I read! And it was luxurious.

I don’t get much free time to read. I don’t get much free time at all. What little I have I mostly use to write. From a reading standpoint, I’ve been working my way through the same two books all year. For some reason, I tend to read a physical book and an ebook simultaneously. I hope to finish reading both by Christmas. Then I can get an early start on my two for next year.

I also have subscriptions to two sci-fi magazines: Galaxy’s Edge (it’s free to read online) and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (purchased a year’s electronic subscription on sale for $5 on Amazon). Before this trip, I don’t think I’d made it through an entire issue of either.

I’m pleased to report I’ve now read an entire issue of Galaxy’s Edge. I’m still working on the MFSF issue. Even once I resolved the battery issue, I continued reading in the evenings after everyone went to bed. Following a day of walking and chasing two kids around the beach (we’d moved on to Aix-en-Provence and finished in Antibes on the French Riviera), I was too tired to write at night; or the logistics of our accommodations didn’t permit me to keep a light on. (My next laptop needs a back-lit keyboard.) I usually could finish a story or two before nodding off.

as an aside, before kids, when vacationing, my wife and I each would take a book to read and then we’d share a third book. Even then, we often bought one or more books from a local store. We were prolific readers. Good times.

Once in Antibes, we stayed at a great Airbnb with a second story terrace. There, during a couple nap times, I managed to hammer out a few more words. The three painters we experienced in Provence (Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Picasso) were not that inspiring for my writing, but the opportunity to write in the open air on a terrace was. I finished the first draft of a short story that had languished for a while and started a flash fiction piece. I also wrote several hundred words for the latter on my phone while waiting for takeout one night. Got to take advantage when the inspiration strikes.

Words written in Provence = 5000. (Some of these I wrote on the flight home, but I’m still counting them as written in Provence.) Words written on the entire trip = 6500. Not a novel, but I’ll take it. This will go a long way towards meeting my quarterly goal of 12,500 words.

Let me know in the comments how you relax on your vacations. For those writers, do you write, read, or a mix of both?  Or do you focus on eating, drinking, sleeping, and being merry?

Photo credit: SoleneC1 via Pixabay

Post #40 – First Publication!

Featured

9/28/18

It’s finally here. The first time my words appear in print. The Fall 2018 issue of Stinkwaves Magazine contains my story “Cramping Your Style” about a boy whose soccer injury may cause unintended consequences. The issue will be published October 1, but feel free to pre-order here! There are print and ebook versions. Both versions also are available through Amazon here.

If you have a child falling in the middle grade age range (or read up to that range), treat them to the Fall 2018 issue of this fun literary magazine. Back issues also are available through the magazine’s website and Amazon.

Added bonuses:

  • The magazine is published by, thus purchases support, a small, independent publisher.
  • I finally can establish an Amazon Author Page.

If you do purchase on Amazon, please leave a comment with your thoughts on the magazine.  Thanks!

Photo credit: kconcha via Pixabay

Post #38 – A French Writing Adventure, Part 1

9/13/18

I recently took a trip to France with the family. Keep in mind, any time traveling with kids is a trip not a vacation.

We traveled to Paris and Provence. Though I’ve been to Paris before, I was excited. I don’t normally take my laptop transatlantic, too much weight, too likely to lose or damage, and too likely to get searched upon arrival into the U.S. This time I decided to do so at the last minute. My fantasy football draft would happen while I was abroad, plus I could write in France!

Think of the company I’d share–Dumas, Voltaire, de Saint-Exupery, but most importantly Jules Verne. I could write in the birthplace of the grandfather of science fiction!

We planned to stay near the Eiffel Tower because my oldest daughter was enamored with that piece of architecture. Having booked our hotel well in advance, we set out. Going transatlantic is always difficult. It’s essentially a red eye. It’s harder with kids because they sleep on the plane. Normally, I do too but not this time.

We arrive at the hotel at 8:30a (or 2:30a by our internal clocks). Somehow they have a room available. It’s not what we booked, which was one with two double beds. There are four of us. Instead what was ready, and what we readily took due to exhaustion, was a room with one double bed and a trundle bed, meaning two singles, one on the floor that tucks under the one at sofa level. I didn’t know it was called that. My wife had to tell me.

I was excited because we were on the 11th floor, and there was a small table next to a window. I instantly fantasized about writing there overlooking the city.

After seeing a couple things that day, including the Eiffel Tower from street level, we went to bed early. The next morning the family slept and slept. Conveniently positioned on the sofa, I got up and decided to write. I finished a flash fiction story and added two scenes to my novella-in-progress. All that was missing was some French coffee.

Once the family final woke, we left and took in some more sites. Only when we got back did my wife look out the window and note we had a view of Notre Dame and the Pantheon, two of the sites we saw that day. The window had a weird angle, which we thought was odd, until my wife looked to her left. That’s when she notice we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower! I spent the entire morning staring out at beautiful Parisian rooftops when I could have moved the table a little to view the Eiffel Tower. I know, rough life.

Here’s the bad news. I didn’t bother plugging my laptop in that morning and drained the battery. When I went to recharge it, it wouldn’t cooperate. I have one of those sets of travel plugs to convert various outlets around the world and the accompanying surge protector. Using both, the battery would charge for a couple minutes and then stop, but it worked fine for our other electronics. I was devastated. How would I write? Do I hammer out words in the note app on my phone? Do I buy a notebook and try longhand?

For two days, I tried different plugs in our room and changing the angle of the plug converter, surge protector, and laptop plug. Nothing worked. Then my wife said something that made me realize I didn’t need the surge protector. Sure enough, plugging the laptop cord directly into the plug converter worked. The laptop began to charge! Crisis averted.

The final tally from my four days in Paris: 1500 words written. Without the recharging debacle, exhaustion, and a sick kid the last night, it likely would have been more. I’d have to make up for it on the rest of the trip. We were on to Provence to be inspired by three great painters.

Photo credit: Pexels via Pixabay

Post #37 – Paradoxes and Other Fatal Flaws

9/6/18

The first two short stories I wrote involved time travel. I know, it’s arguably a tired trope, especially how I used it. There was no grand scientific achievement. No new method of defying Einstein’s theories. I merely used time travel as a plot device, a way to set up conflict for the characters.

Using such a routine sci-fi trope didn’t bother me, but both stories also featured a paradox caused by the time travel. The paradoxes in these stories did bother my beta readers and at least one magazine editor I submitted them to. My first reaction to their reaction was, it’s time travel. Paradoxes happen. Get over it. How do we know how time travel will work? Nobody has done it yet.

I was partially vindicated when a magazine accepted one of these stories for publication. I say partially because the other story has not yet found a home. The latter story was part of the novella I’ve spent much of the summer on. I saw was because I’ve since made it a stand alone story again.

When my copy editor (my very understanding wife) read through the novella, she pointed out the paradox. She had pointed it out when she read the original short story, but I hadn’t done anything with it. However, this time she commented that if I took out a particular sentence then the paradox was not so apparent. That got me thinking. If I tweaked a character’s reaction in one scene to be a little more ambiguous, I could avoid the paradox altogether and at the same time foreshadow how a forthcoming dilemma was resolved. So that’s what I did.

Of course, this made me wonder why I hadn’t considered it before. Wasn’t it a fatal flaw in the story, or did I just not view it as such? A criticism of almost every time travel story is it can’t work because of a paradox. I assumed a paradox was inevitable and accepted that without considering ways to avoid it.

Have I accepted other fatal flaws in my stories, knowing or unknowingly? I hope not. None of my beta readers have pointed out similar flaws in other stories. They’ve provided valuable feedback, but nothing along the lines of this story won’t work because of [insert fatal flaw here].

That’s why I have beta readers. Given the number of typos my wife finds after I’ve been through a manuscript however many times, I know how important a second set of eyes are. My beta readers’ eyes are needed to detect those fatal flaws I don’t see because I’m too close to the story. I’ve said it before, but thank you beta readers for your support and for keeping my stories from failing.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve written a fatal flaw into a story and whether you realized it or needed it pointed out. And let me know if you still ignored it or fixed it.

Photo credit: geralt via Pixabay