Still Slammed…But Loving It

No apparently salacious bar graph this time, just the hard numbers. A bit crooked, but what can I say?

These are my stats as of yesterday for the year, and you can see I have been submitting like a hummingbird hits the flowers–here, there, and everywhere. Some results have been great, some have been not what I would have liked. I’ve got some good stories that can’t seem to find their forever home, and others that I didn’t think ever would now have. Several of those 184 rejections later became acceptances, as nothing gets to wallow in self-pity. Almost everything gets chucked out the door again within a week. Unless it’s been rejected so many times I finally let it rest for a while.

Last year, I was lucky to get my 12 Ladies of Horror flash pieces done. This year I’ve made 316 submissions before the year is half over. And while working on self at the same time. I’ve lost over 10 pounds since March through Noom and walked 26.5 miles of a 46.4 virtual challenge in 18 days.

It’s amazing to me what a good year this has been so far after the debacle of 2020. I feel like my work is improving on so many levels, even if the new stuff is getting rejected as much as the old homeless stuff.

  • I have been accepted into SFWA and HWA, as well as joining the SFPA.
    • I have sold two of my 300 word contest flash pieces that didn’t make the cut to other markets.
    • I have been a finalist twice in the Crystal Lake Publishing monthly flash contest.
    • I have been in the voting gallery for the London Photo festival twice this year.
    • I have written dozens of new poems, several flash pieces, and at least one new short story.
    • I have attended my first in-person faire in over a year.
    • I have begun revisiting my WIPs in my head and hope to get at least a couple polished up.

Even looking at the list makes me tired! But in a fantastic way. I can’t believe how well the year is going. How about yours? Leave me a list in the comments so I can cheer on your successes!

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Quarterly Update (Why I Haven’t Been Around Much…)

I always make these huge, sweeping goals. Like do a blog post every week on each of the four blogs… Yeah, that didn’t happen.

But another goal for the year I am DETERMINED to achieve, and that is at least one sub a day. And that’s going pretty well. In fact, in February, I upped my game to TWO subs a day. And this month, I am shooting for THREE subs a day. (But I have promised myself not to up it every month. That could get ridiculous…)

Anyway, I am proud of my progress, and though it isn’t quite the end of the quarter, I thought I would share the Year to Date totals:

Submissions: 157 (not counting today, because I am procrastinating and haven’t done any yet.)

Rejections: 70

Acceptances: 10

Publications: 5 — One of those being Startling Stories (Amazon link), which I’m particularly proud of…

Still working on moving the rejections and acceptances closer to center, but all and all, not too shabby. It’s barely halfway through March after all.

So far, a majority of my submissions have been old pieces looking for homes, but I have had several brand-new poems accepted, and there is a new short story making the rounds.

Plus, I’ve sent things to Analog, Apex Magazine and Rattle, so it’s not just For the Love markets this year.

I have submissions out to publications in Ireland, England, and Australia for sure, and maybe a couple of other countries. (Already had a flash piece accepted for a British market — $27 for 336 words.)

One thing I’ve found interesting is that most of the acceptances came after a few tweaks to the old piece I had submitted. Gives me hope that more of the unpublished stuff just needs a bit of polish here and there.

And now, I am off to make those submissions for the day so I can get back to the current edit for Horrified.

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Busy Little Bee, Me!

It’s been a fruitful week. I’ve been maintaining my self-instituted pace of at least one sub a day, and I am almost out of old pieces that have never found a home, so it will soon be writing everyday as well.

Right now, I am finishing up an edit for one publisher and need to get back to one for the other. When those are done, I can focus on new materials.

I have also been writing a poem a day, but most of those are just for me–though I have submitted one of them, and I quite like another and will probably send it out soon.

I hope to soon have The Conn-Mann Chronicles available in this charming indie bookstore, Dragon’s Lair Artist Emporium, in Canada. The website looks amazing. (I’ve already ordered a tea tin.)

And, except for skipping a RieView last week because I couldn’t decide what to talk about, I’ve been keeping up with the blogs.

2021 is looking a whole lot better than 2020. (Though I will say this about last year–since my only sales were the Etsy bookmarks, and I remembered to write down my tax account info when I HAD to file online last year, I got my sales taxes in on time and they were under $10 without the $50 late penalty I usually have to pay…)

Back to work now.

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Time For the Yearly Wrap Up Post…

And that just about sums things up.

It wasn’t that nothing got done last year. I did get Strangers released for 13 O’Clock, and Forest of Bones (paid link) edited for Mocha Memoirs. Aside from that, pretty much nothing for the year.

I got my Ladies of Horror flashes done, and signed a contract with Dragon Moon Press to reprint four of my out-of-print books. Aside from that…not much.

I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo this year for the first time in at least five. I didn’t finish any Poetry Month challenges. I just didn’t.

Looking back at my submission records, I found it wasn’t only 2020 that was lacking. There wasn’t much submitted in 2019 either…but there was the trip to Ireland and the surgery, so there were a few mitigating circumstances.

Still, it won’t do THIS year. Things are needing to ramp up again. And, so far, they are on track. I have almost finished my first edit of the year for Mocha Memoirs. I have sold my first story of the year–and been paid for it–and I have submitted at least once a day so far.

How is your year going so far? 😉

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Folk Tale Research Share

My schedule is all off kilter these days, but in my sorting, I came across some notes from a class I took on Folk Tales, and I thought that they might be of interest to some of my readers. 🙂 This is all I have at the moment, so some of the details may be sketchy…

Folk Tales are stories told by human beings in the context of everyday life which usually have been handed down to the present storyteller.

These texts follow conventions of form and style and do not strive for originality. These fit well with everyday experience.

4 QuesTIONS FOLK TALES ARE STUDIED TO ANSWER:

  1. History — genetics, birth, growth, adaptation
  2. Form — syntax — “grammar” of tales
  3. Meaning — What is the message of the tale?
  4. Function — What purpose does the tale serve?

Two main aspects of tales: Textual and Conceptual

6 Points which stimulate questions; shared characteristics:

  1. Folk tales are artistic behaviors
  2. They tend to be formulaic
  3. They adapt to fit context
  4. They are products of social acts in natural context
  5. They are intimately related to real live of inhabitants
  6. They are usually employed in moments of celebration and/or disjunction

Folk Tale types:

  1. Fairy Tales
  2. Novellas — adventures, long, travel world plane
  3. “Hero” tales — tend to cycles
  4. “Sage” — legends
  5. Origin/explanatory tales
  6. Myths
  7. Animal tales
  8. Fables — make a point
  9. Jokes

4 Clarification Schemes:

  1. Stith Thompson — above list of types
  2. Linda Degh — 3 Types: 1. Tales; 2. Legends; 3) True Experience
  3. Roger Abraham — Continuum
  4. William Bascom’s Scheme — most useful (but no details in the notes…)

Axel Alrik’s 14 Epic Laws of Folk Tales:

  1. Patterning:
    1. parallelism
    2. contrast
    3. inversion
    4. chiasmas
    5. framing
  2. Repetition:
    1. internal redundancy
    2. incremental repetition
  3. Law of 3: Euro-centric pattern of triple occurrences
  4. Contrast: Sharply contrasting binary structures
  5. Twins: Paired characters/ Groups of characters
  6. First/Final positioning: two positions of most import
  7. Two-to-a-Scene: French scenes with two characters interacting
  8. Law of Opening and Closing: Beginning and End calm
  9. Unity of Plot: Continuous interrelated storyline
  10. Single-Strandedness: Few sidetracks to the main thrust of plot
  11. Concentration on leading character’s POV
  12. Tableau scenes: Highlight important events
  13. Character Revealed in Action: Seen not discussed
  14. Own logic: Tale is true to its inner self

We will continue this discussion later. 🙂

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There’s a Lot of Correlation Between Editing and Sorting…

…so that’s why I am doing both at once…

It’s been really hard to make myself stop cleaning (see Here’s the Clean for more on those adventures) and write these blog posts–as you may have noticed. But they really are a lot alike.

When you are editing, you do a lot of pruning. A word here, a word there–a rearranging of sentences–a removal of a scene that isn’t working.

When you are sorting through boxes, you do a lot of the same. Is this memory worth saving that piece of paper? Do you remember who is in that picture? Is that snippet of writing something that can be expanded into a short story or novel or something else?

I have actually found a lot of bits of writing that I am very excited to rediscover. I have been working on a novel for over twenty-five years. I just can’t seem to get it right. One of the things I found in a box was the first full draft of that novel. I can’t wait to re-read it and see what my original plan was for the story. I think it might help me to get the train back on the track…

I also found a long Ladyhawke fan fiction story I thought was lost to the ether. That story was one of the things that taught me how to write description, and was one of the longest pieces before I actually finished a novel. It was one of the things that gave me the self-confidence to write novel length in the first place. (And I think it is one of my strongest bits of writing ever…that almost no one has ever seen. And I might be able to remedy that now.)

I’ve got a lot more boxes to unpack. I can’t wait to see what else I find–between bouts of editing the next Horrified anthology I am working on. And getting ready for November. 😉

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Missed Yesterday…

Photo by Luna Lovegood on Pexels.com

…but that was because I was doing a lot of things at once.

I have the Strangers anthology off to the publisher for formatting. I have started the edit of X 6 which is the next Horrified anthology.

I have also been going through boxes that have been packed since I moved in with my husband almost twenty years ago. I realized I didn’t need those notes from Chinese class in 1996. I didn’t need the Certificate of finishing a training class in 1995. I didn’t need the outdated marketing materials from when I started in 2000. Those things were tossed.

On the other hand, the correspondence I had with Lis Sladen when I was doing a Sarah Jane Smith fanzine and a fan club for her I am keeping, even if some of the pages have gotten damaged over time. They are irreplaceable. I put them in an envelope which should add more protection and make them easier to identify.

Breaking down all those old boxes is very satisfying. 🙂

I am getting a lot done, but the writing isn’t moving as quickly. Hopefully this will even out soon. After all, November is coming. 😉

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Welp…that week off stretched to two…

It was a lovely break from blogging, but I am back at it. Still not writing much, but I have been really busy!

While I haven’t been writing, I have finally been pushing through to get the edits finished for the next Horrified Anthology. I’ve been struggling with this for months, but now the corner has been turned, and the end is in sight. Just waiting for the last few approvals and then it is off to formatting. 

The cover is based on another of the amazing images of Stefan Keller care of Pixabay.

I am very proud of it, and I’m sharing it here for the first time except for the authors…

This is going to be a great anthology. I think you will like it. This is my fifth anthology for Thirteen O’ Clock. There are that many again in the queue, so I have a long way to go!

I’ve got a lot of other projects on my plate, so we’ll see how quickly everything comes together as the world is finally starting to look ahead to normal again.

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A Bit About Time Travel…

In writing, especially a novel, it isn’t likely that everything you want to say is linear in time. It MIGHT be…but there is a good chance that you want to tell something that happened in a characters past–or flash forward to what might be in their future.

Getting this back (or forward) story into the book without bogging it down can be very difficult. It’s a fine balance to walk.

Lately, I have been binge-watching Orange is the New Black, as I’ve mentioned before. One of the things that makes this show so fascinating is the weaving in of the back story. You eventually see what brought most of the regulars to be where they are now. And it is done subtly and smoothly without slowing down the action. I’ve also just finished watching Babylon 5, and it features several scenes going the OTHER way, with flash forwards and premonitions. Again, they are handled subtly and without disrupting the flow.

Now, of course, these are both examples of media productions rather than static words on the page, but I think that by studying good examples like this we can learn to incorporate the time slips into writing.

I am not advocating a lot of flashbacks–they can really irritate some readers–but getting the information out of the past and into the present can be done many ways:

My husband’s favorite way is through dialog. Have the character whose past you want to explore relating the story to an interested party.

Have the character looking through a scrapbook or diary and remembering the incidents documented within.

Have two OTHER characters discussing the past.

Or, if absolutely necessary–in extreme moderation–have an actual flashback.

Going forward, there are also multiple options:

Have the character dream about something that later comes true.

Have a fortune-teller relate a vision of the future.

Have an ancient prophecy foreshadow the character’s path.

The important thing is not to disrupt the forward flow of the story with a break for time travel–past or future. The time jumps need to be seamlessly woven into the action so that no one realizes they’ve been elsewhere until they look back on your genius. 😉

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RIEVIEW: Orange is the New Black

Think of all the roads
Think of all their crossings
Taking steps is easy
Standing still is hard
Remember all their faces
Remember all their voices
Everything is different
The second time around

–“You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spector

I asked my husband today if he was ready to watch the final season of Orange is the New Black, because it was yet another of the series we have started and not finished. He suggested I could start it over instead…

And, since I have no problem rewatching things I’ve already seen, I thought that was a great idea because it would give me a change to reconnect with the characters before we got to the new episodes (well, relatively new…new to us.)

The theme song takes on an entirely different meaning when you go back through the series. Everything IS different.

You don’t have all the big surprises–because even I can remember the major revelations, but there are a lot of “Oh, yeah…I remember that” moments. The acting is still incredible, the characters are all still memorable, and the way the writers dole out backstory is still really phenomenal, as you find out bits and pieces of all the roads that brought the inmates to Litchfield.

And now, you can greet the characters as…well, maybe not friends, for the most part, but acquaintances you are happy to see again. Their tragedies bring sorrow, their triumphs a sense of hope.

I don’t want to spoil a first viewing for anyone, so I don’t want to give details of action, but there really are some amazing performances involved. It is worth watching the series just to see the way Uzo Aduba lights up the screen as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. Taryn Manning’s Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett is the girl you love to hate, but learn to sympathize with as you find out more about her. Yael Stone’s Lorna Morillo and her wedding plans… And, of course, Kate Mulgrew is brilliant as “Red.” (These are just my favorites, but all of the women–and the men, to a lesser extent…they don’t have as much screen time–are excellent.)

I watched the first four or five episodes today as I was working on a project, and I am very glad to know that I have enough to keep me busy for a week or two. If you haven’t gotten to know these women, I highly recommend it. As a writer, I am really getting inspired by the way the characters develop.

(I don’t have a measure for this one…handcuffs, maybe? Whatever it is, I give it 4 1/2.)

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