Sunday, October 31, 2010

Business Time

Do you feel that? That slight pit of uncertainty, maybe even a bit of fear? That would be the last few minutes of Halloween, and October passing us by. The last few moments before a month of hard fought creation.

This will be my 4th year participating in NaNoWriMo. I am coming off of a victory last year, and hoping to start a trend. I love my plot, I love the energy, and most of all, I love the competition. I may someday be able to put 50,000 words or more together in a timely manner without peer pressure, but for now, it works.

Anyway, if you are on this blog, then there is a good chance that you will be taking the plunge with me, and I won't take any more of your time. Good luck.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Shave November

In an effort to increase my efficiency for NaNoWriMo, I will be skipping shaving until my first draft of Augmented Genesis is finished, or November is over. I may have to do a little bit of maintenance trimming in order to avoid looking half nuts. Especially since Halloween is the only time I can get away with scaring kids, especially in my school.

Will there be anyone joining me in No Shave November?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Odd Attention

So, news of my first publication made the rounds where I work, and in what seems terribly odd to me, I have been asked to guest speak as a “published author.” I split my time between two schools doing tech work, and members of each school have asked for me to do this, and for different grade levels.

Besides having only a very short time to prepare, I feel that the first one went pretty well. The 5th graders were attentive as I tried to tell them about pre-writing (which I hardly do) and the importance of prompt editing (yeah, like that happens). I hit on character sheets, and showed them how to outline Mort the cowardly Viking, which promptly turned into an assignment. I had them laughing a few times, and scored some points for my annual review. Good times were had.

I will be doing a few more sessions this quarter, and hopefully they will be a bit smoother. The teacher saved me a few times from running out of content with relevant questions. Without her I would have stumbled into a stuttering mess of wasted time.

This is really all very weird to me though. Having a short story accepted, not even published yet, somehow makes me an expert at writing? I guess it makes some sense, but anyone who reads this blog knows that my mechanics are terrible, and that my content drags a bit. Either way, I feel a small and nagging pressure to write more due to this attention, maybe even a bit of pressure. It seems to be helping though.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flash Fiction

Flat out, flash fiction is underrated. Each day, several stories are delivered to my RSS program (google reader), and I enjoy them in short breaks between work and other projects. At this time, I probably read more words weekly of flash fiction than I do novels and standard length short stories.

I haven't decided if this appreciation is a reflection of a short attention span.

When I first started writing, I thought that keeping a story under a 1,000 words would be much easier than writing full length fiction, but it really isn't. Other than the time of completion, everything else is harder, and every word is weighted. In a novel, I can meander a bit, really place a scenic image before driving into a story. With flash, its all content, a quick scene, and the readers imagination. Being concise can be an entirely different challenge.

The available format may be flash fiction's best feature, as it is comfortable to read on a computer or phone. Longer stories can often get tedious when scrolling or moving by hand. I find myself trying to find time to read longer short stories, often putting them off until I forget about them. With flash, I can usually push whatever I am working on back a few minutes, and simply finish.

Anyway, this post got a little long. I will try to make a short post soon of my favorite flash sites.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Waking Up to a Happy Inbox


So, it finally happened. It only took a few months longer than I expected (and by few, I mean almost a year), bur I finally have a story being published in a paying market. Zombies Have No Respect for Plumbing will be featured later this year at short-story.me.

I opened the email, happy that they responded quickly, but almost certain that it was another rejection. I already had three other markets lined up for this short, and had the emails saved as drafts pending the story being declined. Imagine my suprise when contingency markets weren't necessary.

I immediately grabbed Kelli and forced her to read the email, and proceeded to do the same with my roommates and friends. My hands were shaking my normally reserved personality gave way to excessive amounts of rapid babbling. After receiving months worth of rejections, it feels like a ton of pressure has been lifted. I know I still have a ton of work to do, but this is a wonderful confirmation that I am progressing as a writer.

Though it isn't official until this hits their website, I wanted to take a minute to thank short-story.me for the chance to write for them. I will update you all when the story is available in the near future.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The New Age of Short Fiction? Maybe.

This morning, Amazon announced a new mini e-book section called "Kindle Singles." They have requested well crafted stories, essays, and articles ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 words to be added to this new platform.

Now, I can't say that I am an author of any chapbooks currently, but I have recently bought a few. I enjoy being able to sit down and read an entire story in one sitting. I might even consider running with a few stories that seem to be of dubious length.

I can't shake the thought that this could be an excellent beta test for self publishing. Not just for me either. There are tons of authors out there who are sitting on novelas, and figure they will never sell due to the short length.

The implications of this could be far reaching in publishing. If a small name author were to publish a novella, and say it sells a few thousand copies, it would most certainly help their chances of finding a mainstream publisher. It could also help make them a little bit of side money in the process.

I doubt I will get it done this month, but I may have an idea that would work for this. If I send a story out, I will report my experience.

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On an odd side note, my blog and NaNoWriMo story have been mentioned on a site about synthetic biology. Though this is a major theme in my next story, I am really not sure what to think of this attention. I was asked to write a synopsis (Oh how I hate doing this, especially before writing a story) and provide a link to this blog.

Check it out here: http://2010.igem.org/Team:British_Columbia/HP_nanowrimo

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Permanent Choice

Nothing stymies my creativity like reading agent’s blogs. Constantly I have read about the long odds of being published, about how being able to send out 400 query letters is just as important as the writing you are trying to sell. That quality writing is valued far less than marketability.

Quite frankly, it is enough to drive me away from the standard route of publishing. I haven’t made the decision yet, as it will probably be a permanent one if I do, but going indie is sounding like the most attractive option.

Being in control of my own project is a big part of the allure, as is making much more in profit per sale.

I’m not sure that zombies will be hot in two years, but by the time my book is ready to query, and if by chance an agent accepted it, then a publisher, the process before it hit print would take multiple years. With this, I can finish my novel, beta test it, rewrite and polish as many times as needed, and push my book out in a much more timely fashion.

If I listed my books at a 2.99 for an ebook, and made 70% profit, as are the rates on Amazon, I would earn more per sale than a 10.00 dollar book through a traditional publisher. In some cases, a whole lot more.

Also, I work full time, so an advance isn’t as necessary to me as others. From what I hear, the advances are becoming much more dismal as time goes on anyway. If I am not working, I can’t muster any new fiction. I’m not entirely sure why, but that has been covered in several blog posts.

The risks aren’t being ignored. Self-publishing a book that fails can destroy my long-term ability to find a publisher. From what the industry says, I might as well hang it up if a project doesn’t sell. Lord knows that I need help with editing, and they have professionals who could provide that.

The problem is, I’m not sure I could ever reach the long odds. Even if I write a book that would sell, it would most likely get passed over. Interns will reject stories over their morning coffee, agents and editors will never pull it out of their slush piles, and so on. I’m sure they are all well-meaning people, but trusting them with my future writing career does not seem like the right choice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Anticipation

I realize now that waiting might be the hardest part of writing. I can control my output, at least to a point. I can control the quality of a query, or edit a short story thirty times, but I cannot control how editors receive my writing, or how long it takes them to respond.

I know that Duotrope's is not an exact science, but it has been very close to accurate so far. So now I sit, watching as the average response time for a rejection passes. Then I with heavy anticipation, I watch the average acceptance day pass. It has been a week since I saw that.

Now, as a new writer, I am unsure if this means that I am on the short list, if they are going to accept it, or if my email somehow got lost in the interwebz. I have checked my sent box and spam boxes a dozen times. Everything looks kosher from what I can tell. I formatted it to their specifications as well, so I doubt they flat out tossed it.

So now I sit here, waiting, and watching the pending submissions drop, and their rejection rate increase. Yet I am still in the queue, and creating a new record for response time, either by rejection (by about double their usual), or a few days by their acceptances.

I need to put it out of my mind, and if it hasn’t come in two weeks I should probably follow up. The anticipation is killing me though. At this point, I just want to know, win or lose what the answer is.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WIP Wednesday: A Side Project

The biggest thing I am working on fiction wise is editing Human Echoes. I ripped through a good portion of it yesterday. I can't shake the feeling that I am a horrible slacker for not doing it before now, but I can't focus on that.

I’m not sure if this is a business endeavor, or busy work, but I have been writing small articles on basic computer repair. I am sure there are other websites that have all of this information, and probably much more detailed, but it might help someone. It might also help the old adsense meter. Altruism is overrated.

Essentially I am putting a few tools of the trade out there, The simple things that can be disabled, tweaked, or modified in order to make your computer run faster. Also, there will be a little information about hardware installation and network setups.

My technical writing and blogging skills are at a pretty low level. I take much better care with my fiction, but with blogs always being so casual, I usually only give a quick edit and move on. A website like this could help sharpen those skills. As far as this blog goes, I need to work on my creativity a little bit, otherwise I am going to run out of post ideas.

I haven’t decided if I will have it be a standard website format or a blog. I should probably do both though.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

General Election Fun


Oh politics, how I won’t miss you after the 2nd. Before I can dismiss you for the better part of a year though, I must address a few of the issues in my community.

It seems that the people who draft new propositions do not want me to have a job. They have this harebrained scheme to lower property taxes, most specifically, the ones that relate to school funding. Proposition 60 in Colorado, along with 61, and 101, would effectively decimate the public school system.

“But Tony,” I hear you cry, “Why can’t they just cut costs and cope?”

Well, that would be because funding has been lowered for several consecutive years. Millions are being cut each term, and at this current moment, the school system is running fit and trim. I believe that the occasional budget crisis can help efficiency, but that crisis has already been festering for several years. Pay freezes and funding cuts have already hacked deeply into the various school districts, and these measures simply go too far.

The superintendant of the Thompson School District believes that 1 in every 7 jobs would have to be cut. Classroom sizes would increase substantially, some of which are already in the 30s. Several neighborhood schools may have to be shut down, at least, over the course of a few short years. This may or may not include my own schools and job, but I don’t like those odds.

In other words, cut waste where waste is apparent. School districts are notorious for making due with less, but the cuts can only go so deep. The substantial loss of jobs alone should merit a second look at the bill. Hundreds of teachers and staff across the state without work would sure help that ailing economy. If you are a Coloradoan, please vote no on Prop 60, 61, and 101.

Keep in mind that I am a conservative and am asking you to not cut taxes. That is how serious this is.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Preparing for NaNoWriMo


Yes, I very much realize that NaNoWriMo is still a month away. I also know that writing anything before 12:01 on the first of November is cheating. There is nothing that dictates we cannot work on preparation and outlines.

As I have stated before, Human Echoes was a fly be the seam of my pants style project. For my second novel, Augmented Genesis, I am going to try with a pretty stout outline. Stout is a relative term though, as I have seen some authors with detailed enough outlines that they can skip between chapters and write out of order. This will be more of a reminder to stay on track, and to keep the project within 80,000 or so words.

Also, for the entire month of October, I am trying to rebuild the lost 1,000 words a day habit. It simply vanished, poof, gone, for a very long time. If I can rebuild that, bumping the word count up to 1,667 should not be that difficult.

I am also reviewing a few new pieces of technology for this year. When I decide on which word processor I will use, there will undoubtedly be a post on it here. So far the winner is FocusWriter, which tries to eliminate all distractions. All I see when writing is white text on a black background, and it seems to help. I will need to test this for a bit longer before a formal endorsement. Evernote will also be a large part of this year’s project, but I already talked about that.

Is there anyone else out there that will be participating this year?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Wasteline Test


Often times, I feel like my writing is clunky. I worry that I have issues with flow and word choice.  I heard about The Wasteline Test last year while doing NaNoWriMo, and the test agreed with this assessment.

On my most recent WIP, which is finished by my standards, I was able to achieve the score above. I realize this test does not say a whole lot about my writing in general, but it’s nice to see considerable improvements.

You can find the test at: The Wasteline Test

On a side note, running this blog post through the test had terrible results. I have more work to do.
 
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