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!

2Q19 Update

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Well, that just happened, three more months on their way.  Let’s see how I did.

  • Words written = 9,300
  • Submissions = 38
  • Rejections = 31
  • Acceptances = 0
  • Publications = 0
  • Awards = 0
  • Withdrawals = 1

The submissions are up, but the word count is down.  I should say the word count is down further.  I haven’t met my target word count either quarter this year.  I’m halfway through the year but only a third of the way to my word goal.

I realized recently I’ve taken on more in my personal life, such as being president of the Northern Virginia Writers Club, which has left less free time to write.  I’m also writing fewer longer stories, instead I crank out a lot of flash fiction these days.  I find I feel more productive when I can hammer out a 1000 word story in a day or two, rather than struggle to find the time to get through a 6000 story.

The submissions were up thanks to a backlog of flash pieces I finally started sending out the door.  That also helped the rejection numbers increase as those same stories started came back.

In addition, I had packaged most of my earlier sci-fi stories into a collection and submitted it to the C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize.  That got a bunch of stories out the door at once but also meant those stories stopped making the submissions rounds for a while.  I found out on July 1 that I would not be a winner.  I’ll count those rejections in the third quarter.

I did have one first — a withdrawal.  I had submitted a short story to a market in 2018 and received almost an immediate response thanking me for the submission.  Then nothing, though the market remains open.  At the year mark, I decided that was long enough and withdrew it.  It went immediately to the next market, where it sits currently.

Now I need to figure out what to do during the current quarter besides the usual rounds of submissions.  I still have the sci-fi novel I got 20k words into.  I also started plotting a middle grade novel, but I don’t want to start that one until it’s mapped out a little more.  I’d rather plug away at the sci-fi novel before starting anything else of that length.  And then there are always the random short stories that pop up.  Got to get those out of my head as they come along.

Let me know in the comments how you did with your writing goals last quarter and what your writing goals are for this quarter.

Netherlands-Belgium-Luxembourg Writing Adventure

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Last year, I blogged here and here about writing while on vacation in France. Both the cultural experiences, mostly art museums, and the setting in Paris and the French Riviera were inspiring. Though my writing had nothing to do with either, I hammered out a good many words and better yet, felt productive.

This year, the family toured the Benelux countries. There was plenty of culture to soak up, but it felt different. The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam was impressive and should be inspiring to any artists out there. My oldest daughter enjoys attempting to recreate the works of famous artists and had brought along her own self portrait to compare to Van Gogh’s numerous ones. But I didn’t feel the inspiration, like the year before.

I still managed to get some words on the screen. Most of the trip I worked on a new short story. I’m continuing to work on that one now that we’re home. It needs one more scene, which just happens to be the climax, so not difficult at all! I also wrote a flash story that’s a little political satire.

One of the last days in Luxembourg, the kids got these chocolate eggs that had a toy inside each. My wife tells me it’s a thing. Well, one of the little toys was a miniature dolphin. Like any toy these days, it came with instructions and a chocking hazard warning—in 30+ languages. This thing is like Pit Bull, worldwide.

And darned if that set of instructions wasn’t inspirational. A flash story idea popped into my head, and I got it on the screen that night with a few tweaks the next day.

Before these vacations, I hadn’t thought much about locations being inspirational, especially since I don’t write stories set in these locals. Now I know the location itself can feed the creative drive even if your story is set out in the solar system. Going forward, I need to make sure our vacations are set in the appropriate locales, and we visit the necessary sights, to get the creative energy going. I also need to read more toy instructions.

Let me know in the comments if you derive inspiration from your writing locations—or toy instructions.

The First Sentence

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How important is the first sentence? A Writers Path had a recent post on the importance of the first sentence setting the tone for the entire story. That blog also had a similar post on The Importance of a Great Literary First Impression.

Aeryn Rudel of Rejectomancy had a post as well where he analyzed the first lines from his stories that were published last year. And The Write, Already! blog recently had a series of posts promoting John Brueckner’s “892 Opening Lines” book. There’s even a publication dedicated to the first sentence called, not so coincidentally, The First Line. I’ve posted previously about that publication.

I also recall an editor of Asimov’s or Analog year’s ago discussing how important the first sentence was. What I recall, whether I remember correctly or not, essentially was if the first sentence didn’t grip him, it had little chance of being purchased.

Clearly, this is on a lot of people’s minds. So have I practiced this philosophy? I’ve certainly tried with varying amounts of success. I’ve also tried to vary my approach. Sometimes the first line is dialogue. Other times it’s the narrator speaking.

To date my favorite is from a story I’m still shopping around. Indeed, I hope to use it as the lead story in my short story collection submitted to the C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize. (I wrote about this contest here.) The line is: “The naked man ran screaming from the room.” Don’t you want to read on to know why he is both naked and screaming? I thought so; I haven’t gotten an editor to bite yet though.

Do you try to nail that first line before proceeding with a story, or do you not worry about it? Do you have any first lines you’re especially proud of? Let me know in the comments.

 

1Q19 Update

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The first quarter of the new year is done, so it’s time to check on the ole productivity.

  • Words written = 11,070
  • Submissions = 26
  • Rejections = 32
  • Acceptances = 0
  • Publications = 1
  • Awards = 0

Not terrible, but not great. A fourth of my 2019 word goal of 60,000 would be 15,000. I fell short of that one, but I did better than I thought. I found it difficult to write this quarter.  Free time was not abundant, and when I had it, I felt unmotivated to write. I even had two business trips–my favorite writing opportunities–and still got very little writing done.

So what did get done? About 4000 of those words were the result of flash fiction stories. I finished three of roughly 1000 words and then another four that were some amount less than that. In addition, I added a little to the WIP novel (1600 words) and about 450 words to various existing stories I edited before sending out again. I also wrote the first 600 words in a story I’m collaborating on with a fellow novice speculative fiction writer.  I hope to have the opportunity to keep adding to the word total in that work.

The largest chunk of writing went toward finishing my long suffering novella. That was another 4200 words. I am pleased to report that project is now done! Well, the first draft is done. This was a weird one. Most of the novella is in final form already having finished it last summer. However, the consistent critique from my beta readers was it lacked a proper ending. So that’s what I’ve worked on adding intermittently for the last six months. I’ll have to see what my beta readers think now.

My goal was to finish the novella and then break it up into its three component short stories. That way I could include all three stories in the short story collection contest I plan on submitting to by the April 15th deadline. The rules for that contest limit any one story to 15,000 words. The problem is, even with breaking the novella into three stories, the third story now clocks in at 16,200 words. Whoops! Don’t worry, I have plenty of other stories to include in the collection. Besides, the newly written part needs editing anyway before it’s ready for submission.

I also was disappointed not to have an acceptance this quarter. Admittedly, I didn’t maximize my chances, having taken several stories out of circulation, so they’d be available to include in the contest collection. Still, I’d really like to get to where I’m receiving at least one acceptance a quarter. Those are huge motivators.

I did have one publication in Issue 8 of Broadswords and Blasters. Buy the issue here!  It’s a noir detective story with a sci-fi twist.

So that’s it. How’d your first quarter go? Let me know if the comments if you had any triumphs or failures.