I have a quick one for you today. My flash story “Polynesian Disbursement” will be published at http://www.gohavok.com on Tuesday, May 23. Set your reminder. It’ll be free to read that day. I’ll also be responding to comments. Please feel free to stop by, give it a gander, and let me know if you have any questions. Normally, I’d go into more details about the story here, but I’m saving that for the commenters that day. Here’s hoping for a quiet time at the day job.
Tag Archives: writers
The first quarter of 2023 is in the bag. It didn’t start well with my continued recovered from COVID, but it got better–at least health-wise. Let’s see what the numbers say.
- Words written = 978
- Submissions = 35
- Rejections = 39
- Acceptances = 3
- Shortlists = 0
- Publications = 1
- Rewrites = 0
- Withdrawals = 1
The number of submissions and rejections are pretty standard. Both have me on track to crack 100 by year’s end. Most of those submissions were made in January and February. March was much slower, but by then I had gotten plenty out there. Early on, I was on pace to break my rejection record, but those slowed in March as well. I ended up with only my third most rejections in a quarter.
On the down side, I had my lowest amount of writing since I started tracking such things. I like the one flash piece I wrote. It’s a campfire tale I told to my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop. They weren’t impressed, but I liked it enough to write it down and start submitting it. Hopefully, an editor somewhere will be more impressed.
On the plus side, I had three acceptances. That’s almost to my 2023 goal. One of those acceptances was published right at the end of the quarter. Spring Into SciFi: 2023 with my story “Mutual Destroyers” was released in March. I’ll provide more details in a future Behind the Story blog post, but for now, if you like space opera in the vein of Star Trek: TNG, this story is for you.
The ultra low number of words last quarter wasn’t entirely a result of my slacking. I’ve been spending a lot of time editing. Another of those three acceptances went through three rounds of edits with the publication’s editors–for a flash piece! I also edited the middle grade book I wrote back in November. Now I’m ready to read the entire trilogy together to make sure everything is harmonized. And I just finished editing the story I co-wrote with a friend. A shorter version of that story received its first rejection, so now it’s time to polish the longer version and get that out doing the rounds.
Q2 will be more of the same. I plan to keep my submissions up, but I also plan to be deep into editing my first short story collection. I just got the last edits back from my editor this week. I need to go through those and get this collection ready to self publish. There’s just a few minor details left to work out, like a title and cover. Like I said, minor.
That’s how I began the year. What were your writing triumphs and failures to start the year?
Behind the Stories – Instructions for How to Buy a Tent and Quarantine Blues
I now realized I drafted this post during NaNoWriMo 2022 but never finalized and published it. Such is the time demands during NaNoWriMo. Every free minutes goes toward getting words on the screen and not much else. But, as they say, better late than never.
I have a twofer for you this time, and neither are my usual. “Instructional for How to Buy a Tent” is creative nonfiction; “Quarantine Blues” is a poem. But first the background.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a member of the Northern Virginia Writers Club, itself a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. The state club conducts the Golden Nib Writing Contest every year. However, to reach the state level, an entrant must place first in their chapter-level contest. There are three categories: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
For the 3.5 years prior to this year, I served as my chapter’s president and therefore was disqualified from participating – mainly because I picked the judge, who happened to be very familiar with my writing. Now that I’m no longer president, I took advantage and submitted an entry in all three categories. I had to make up for lost time.
If you’re reading this blog, you likely know I’m a fiction, specifically speculative fiction, writer. Guess which category I didn’t place in. That’s right, fiction! Whoops.
“Quarantine Blues” took third place at the chapter level. While not qualifying to compete at the state level, it’s still included in the 2022 Golden Nib anthology. As the title suggests, I wrote this during the heart of the initial pandemic when many of us where stuck at home for long periods with our families. It’s in the style of a blues song, a music genre I love and which I always felt amounted to poetry.
My nonfiction piece “Instructions for How to Buy a Tent” took first place at the club level. Right at the chapter level contest deadline, I decided to throw my hat in the ring in the nonfiction category. Searching my hard drive for anything that would work, I found this piece. (I haven’t written much nonfiction, and what I have had previously been published.)
I wrote this one in 2019 as part of a flash fiction writing workshop hosted by the NVWC, so it was only fitting I now would submit it to the chapter level contest. The prompt was to write about a routine process. I had recently undertaken the subject of the piece, i.e. buy a tent to use when the family went camping, so that also seemed fitting. And, as I’m realizing I’ve done regularly in my works, I injected a little humor. Even though I was at a deadline, it’s short at 445 words; so it didn’t take long to polish up before sending off.
And this piece took third place at the state level! That’s twice now that I’ve won third place at the state level. The first time also was for a nonfiction piece. As I mentioned, I don’t write much nonfiction. What I have written has either won a prize or been published. I see the trend too. Maybe I should rethink this fiction writing business. 😜 This also makes me a “multi-award winning” author. Such accolades!
Check out both “Instructions for How to Buy a Tent” and “Quarantine Blues” in the 2022 Golden Nib anthology. It’s time to start thinking about my entries in this year’s contest.
4Q22 Update and 2023 Goals
I started seeing people post (on Twitter) their year-end writing numbers early in December. It seemed a little premature. There was so much time left! I understand the excitement of sharing one’s accomplishments (*cough* this blog), but hold your horses people. I’m glad I did. Having to quarantine with the family over the holidays due to an illness led to a late surge in submissions, two new flash stories, and lots of reading time. I also received a shortlist notice with mere hours to spare on New Years Eve. I’m glad I was awake (for a change) for that one! Here are the full numbers for 4Q22.
- Words written = 17,347
- Submissions = 36
- Rejections = 33
- Acceptances = 4
- Shortlists = 1
- Publications = 4
- Rewrites = 0
- Withdrawals = 0
Those quarterly numbers are pretty good. Fourth highest number of words written. Fourth highest number of submissions. Third highest number of rejections. Most importantly, highest number of acceptances and publications in a quarter!
As is typical (for me) in the 4th quarter, the bulk of the quarter’s writing (about 17k) went to the middle grade novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo. The rest consisted of additions to two existing stories, a new sci fi poem (my first!), and those two flash stories mentioned above, one of which was a tribute to my paternal grandmother, who passed early last year. Probably like most writers, I thought the best way I could honor her was to include her in a story. The story idea came to me on Christmas night after we missed the Christmas dinner gathering at her house due to the quarantining. I started writing it on my phone the next morning while my daughters played on the beach (this was in Florida, though it was still cold) and finished it that afternoon while the kids watched TV. I love it when a story comes together that quickly, and I think my grandmother would have liked it too.
Now, let’s look at 2022 as a whole.
- Words written = 32,473
- Submissions = 129
- Rejections = 104
- Acceptances = 7
- Shortlists = 1
- Publications = 6
- Rewrites = 0
- Withdrawals = 2
Those numbers are a mixed bag. The second lowest number of words but the highest number of submissions, acceptances, and publications. And one of those acceptances/publications resulted from third place in the Virginia Writers Club’s 2023 Golden Nib Writing Contest in the nonfiction category. November and December were so busy that I haven’t even blogged about that yet. My first goal of 2023!
Whether I achieved my goals for 2022 also was a mixed bag. 100 submissions. Check. Averaging one acceptance a quarter. Check. 40,000 words written. *crickets chirping* Even though I haven’t written 40k in a year since 2018, it always seems feasible. I either need to accept that it isn’t for me at this time in my life, or try something different. Another 2023 goal! While I did let go of one volunteer position in 2022, I took on two more with my younger daughter joining her older sister in Girl Scouts. I’m hoping to jettison one of my other two Girl Scout volunteer roles in 2023. That, at least, will free up a little more time in the autumn.
My goals for specific projects in 2022 turned out pretty well. I finished a draft of the WIP started during NaNoWriMo 2021. A friend and I finished the short story we had started years before and sent that off in response to a submission calling for co-written works. And I wrote, and fired off, several more stories. Though not a goal, I expanded and/or shortened several stories to enlarge the pool of markets those stories qualified for. That met with remarkable success. Several of my acceptances last year stemmed from these changes.
The goal I didn’t achieve was taking another pass through my first middle grade manuscript and possibly getting that off to an editor. That was intentional. I decided last year that first manuscript would be the first of three, the third of which I wouldn’t write the first draft of until NaNoWriMo. Only then, after all three were drafted, would I revise the trilogy together and get the lot off to an editor. Another goal!
That leaves my goals for 2023. I’ve already mentioned three. I’d like to continue my Behind the Stories series of blogs about stories that have been accepted. I’d like to complete a first edit of my third middle grade manuscript. Then, I’d like to fix any consistency issues in the first two middle grade manuscripts and get all three off to a developmental editor.
On the short story front, I like my usual 100 submissions goal, though that may be a little harder to achieve this year due to another goal taking many of my stories out of circulation. I’d like to finally publish my first short story collection. I’ve already come up with the theme and compiled the stories. I’d like to get this off to a line/copy editor for a final polish. While that’s in process, I want to learn how to format the book and design the cover. No biggie. I consider this good practice for when I eventually publish the middle grade trilogy.
What bout the all-important words written goal? I’m not sure about this one. I could set it at 40k again and likely fall short. Various stories throughout the year will chip away at that total, but I’m not sure I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo. I have an idea for the start of a new middle grade series, but I’m not sure I want jump into that yet with my other middle grade series still in its relative infancy. I could instead spend NaNoWriMo 2023 doing a thorough edit of my existing middle grade series. A friend did something similar during NaNoWriMo 2022. Instead of writing new material, she set a goal of spending 50 hours in November fixing (i.e. editing and untangling plot lines) what she had as far as a manuscript for the fourth (and possibly fifth) books in her existing series. What the heck, I’ll set my words goal at 36,000. That’s 3k a month. Let’s do this.
That’s looking back at 2022 and looking forward to 2023. How’d you do, and what will you do this year?
NaNoWriMo Recap 2022
Another NaNoWriMo is in the books, literally. This is the fifth year I’ve participated, but only the second year I’ve been successful (mostly). Let me explain.
As many of you know, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in November, essentially a short novel. I’m never going to be able to write that much. I get maybe an hour a day to write. At 500-800 words an hour, which is my usual speed, you can see the math doesn’t add up.
My goal for the last three years has been to finish the first draft of a middle grade book. The first two of these wound up in the 15,000-20,000 word range. Now that is doable for me during November.
This year I achieved that goal, for the most part. Technically, I didn’t finish the first draft of this year’s middle grade book until this morning. It turned out I only needed another 200 words to finish. I’ll count that as a success.
I averaged 517 words a day during November, and the manuscript sits at 15,718 words currently. I find I don’t often need to cut large chunks from my WIPs. Instead, I often need to flesh out the word building. I already know this is true for this WIP. I’m guess I’ll add a couple of thousand more words when editing the first draft.
Once I’ve finished that first edit, it’ll be on to my first reader for these middle grade books — my oldest daughter. In the past, I read each chapter to her as I finished writing it during November, and then she read the entire book herself after I’d completed a first edit. This year she wanted to wait to read the entire manuscript once I finished. I think she really wanted to spend the time writing her on story during NaNoWriMo, which she did. She got down 3633 words. Not bad for an 8 year old. She says she has a long way to go. I hope she keeps going.
Whether you officially participated, unofficially participated, or did your own thing, how’d your NaNoWriMo go?