Sunday, December 5, 2010

No time to blog, Dr. Jones

I meant to stop by earlier for the post-Nano wrap up, but life has been a tornado for the last couple of weeks. The universe kept getting in the way of my writing this month, but by the Power of Grayskull and sheer bloody-mindedness, I was able to hammer through to the end. For the last week or more, I was clocking a good 2,200 - 2,500 words per day, and I still barely made the finish for a final tally of 50,211 individual words of prose.

So am I done? Not on the life of your mother.

I haven't had a chance to work on it at all for the last few days - that adventure resumes tomorrow. When it does, however, I'm still looking down the barrel of at least 80K to go before the first draft of this puppy is put to bed. Then, off to write some other things and back later next year for Draft 2.

The big question to ponder here is: does Nano still work for me? I'd have to say yes. I've done more actual writing this last month in in the rest of the preceding year combined, despite my delusional New Year resolution of "one story per month." That delusion might return next year; we'll have to see. Up on deck after the current novel is done: go back and finish "The Century War," keep my other unsold stories in circulation, do draft #9 of The Blood Prayer, and get that puppy out to market. Speaking of markets...

2010 Local Author Expo

Yesterday I attended my first ever Author Event! The Local Author Expo is an event put on by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library to give all of our self-published and indie-press writers a place to get their books out in front of the public, at least for the day. The fact that it was the same day as the SEC Championship didn't deter anyone; this was our biggest year yet, despite the fact that we had to cut the program down from two days to only one. And, most importantly of all, I actually sold books! A big thanks to everyone who attended, especially those who shopped at my booth.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

And we're off!

National Novel Writing Month begins in less than two hours for those of us on Central Daylight Time. I'm telling you now, because there won't be much time for blogging in the next thirty days, at least until I'm comfortably ahead on my word count. I've added a nifty Word Count Widget to my blog so that if I fail to maintain my daily word count goal, my shame will be broadcast across the intertubes... and no one will notice.

I've been Snowflaking as usual, and this year I've got further in the process than ever before. Good thing, too, because this book is going to be one complicated bugger and I need to stay as organized as possible. Right now I've got full character summaries for six principal characters, a five-page detailed synopsis of the plot, and a chapter-by-chapter breakdown that tells me what to write every day.

My outline has an even 50 chapters, which has to be a good sign. If you guess 2000 words per chapter, then I've got about a 100K book here, or about twice what's required for a Nano win. I imagine I'll actually get done around New Year's.

So wish me luck. If you want to pray for me, I'd suggest you pray to Crom, but he doesn't listen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A week to go...

until National Novel Writing Month. This will be Year Four for me, and the third in which I head back to the world of Majadan. You can find me here on the NaNoWriMo site masquerading as a 16th Century Danish astronomer. The working title of this year's book is The Wolves of Majadan, but I suspect that should I ever market it to a publisher, I'll probably call it The Ghost Cauldron.

Meanwhile, "The Century War" is stuck like a duck. (No celebratory pizza for me, dammit.) I did quite a bit more work on it since my last post, but the whole thing has stalled out. It's not writer's block - I know where I mean for the story to go, but I don't feel that what I've written so far can support my ending. I've been reading Writing Fiction for Dummies by the great Randy Ingermanson, and it's really helping me analyze exactly why my story is flawed. I know you're supposed to do a first draft, then rewrite, but I think I've got to rework everything that's come so far before I can push through to the end, and with November and the final assault on the Ghost Lords looming on the horizon, I just haven't got the time.

I'll come back after burning Majadan to the ground and finish the "War." I still have confidence in the underlying story; I just need to approach it better. Besides, I'll need something to do in the break between drafts 1 and 2 of Wolves.

Now: back to outlining my novel and plotting the murder of one of my characters.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Deadline: Did I make it?

Nope. Not even close.

To be fair, my current story is turning out to be over twice as long as any of my previous shorts. If it were only as long as "Dead Man's Hand" or "Rougarou" I would have been done for days. (Current word count: 8,263) Since this critter is turning out to be a novella, I'm still not there yet.

So will I renege on my deal with myself? Nope. I knew this was a longer piece going into it, and if I had been working at the pace that I manage during NanoWrimo, I would have been done with it anyway.

(Of course, the argument could be made that writing a novel is like driving on the interstate, and writing a short story is like driving through an urban area on surface streets.)

So: here's the deal. I told myself I would give up soft drinks for a week. This, I will do. However, I want to be able to finish this story and it might be a little difficult to write through a caffeine withdrawal headache, I will allow myself one (1) Diet Coke (which I hate) a day, but I must write at least 1000 words on any day that I do so.

Here we go.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Self-Imposed Deadline

Stalled out on The Blood Prayer for the moment, and it's been too long since I created something new. Therefore, since I apparently can't work without a deadline, I'm going to dive into the oil rig story that's been bubbling in my subconscious since early March. It's called The Century War, and I've got a preliminary scene list worked out and some leftover bits from my first (aborted) stab at it from before the summer.

Randy Ingermanson suggests that when setting measurable mileposts for yourself, you should reward yourself for meeting them and/or punish yourself if you don't (even a small, token fine of $5.00) In that vein--

Deadline for the first draft: September 30.
Upon completion on (or prior to) that date, I will order a Funky Q Chicken pizza from Mellow Mushroom.
Upon failure to meet the deadline, I will forego all soft drinks for a week.

I feel more motivated already.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dragon*Con Wrap Up

Well, it's been a week and at last I can move again without a caffeine I.V. Time for some pics!

Thursday, about 9:00 p.m. This is the badge pickup line that greeted me once I got into the Sheraton after waiting for three hours outside.

Allan Gilbreath, me, and Kimberly Richardson, editor of Dreams of Steam, Saturday afternoon at the Kerlak Publishing booth in the Exhibitor's Hall.

My sensei Ann Crispin and I, Sunday night, at the Pacific Rim Bistro on Peachtree Center Ave.

I spent the rest of the Con stalking former cast members of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (or anyone dressed like them) and telling people to shop at the Kerlak booth, especially those who were steampunk-inclined.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dragon*Con: Post Two

Okay, where was I?

Saturday A.C. Crispin's Master Class for Novelists! Met with all the students to go over issues we had in common: pacing, foreshadowing vs. predictability, the importance of query letters. Will meet one-on-one later for a personal novel critique.

Stood in line next to an Ozzy Osbourne lookalike for the DragonCon After Dark costume contest - a lot of waiting for too short a show. Saw Stan Lee walking by. Stayed up for a midnight screening of Zombieland, possibly the cutest zombie movie ever made, but not the same caliber as Shaun of the Dead.

Sunday Dropped a lot of money in the dealers' room. Hope to track down Kevin J. Anderson and Kevin Murphy later and get autographs. Going to dinner tonight with some friends & writers. Also, just got an email from an editor about my Time Travel Story saying it's passed the first elimination round but needs some revisions. I can handle revisions. Tonight: a late, late Cruxshadows concert, unless I really am too old to rock and roll, but too young to die.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dragon*Con: Post One

Thursday A.C. Crispin's Basic Writing Workshop, bright and early. Lots of good information, starting from the basics (just like it says on the tin). Characterization. Plot. Show-don't-tell. Story Logic. Setting and description. Point of view. Lots of handouts, lots to share with my writers group in Hoover. Bunch of websites to check out, such as the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), Caveat Scriptor, and (of course) Absolute Write. Looking forward to tomorrow. Strangely compelled to write in sentence fragments.

Then, got in line to get my badge. Let me just say, for the official record, "Oh my fucking God!" Four and a half hours in line. Four and a half hours. First, I had to completely circumnavigate the Sheraton, winding through part of the parking deck along the way. Once I got inside the hotel, they sent us to a ballroom where we had to navigate the endless rope-maze from hell. Once we got to the front, they broke us up into lines alphabetically by our last name. What never occurred to anyone organizing the check-in process was that names are not evenly distributed in the alphabet. Apparently, the biggest cluster is L-O, so while the H-K's and the T-Z's were zipping through, anyone with a name of French, Scottish, or Irish descent was stuck in eternal purgatory. For four and a half hours.

Gasp. Pant. Wheeze.

Cold pizza for dinner. Then to bed. (Or foldaway cot, as the case may be.)

Friday Writing workshop part II. A word on copyright. Writing alien aliens. The importance of research. Marketing & Networking.

Special guest Nebula Award Winner and former Writing Workshop student Eugie Foster dropped in to talk about marketing short fiction. She's sold about 100BZillion stories of her own in the last few years, including "Sinner, Baker, Fablist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast." Her new story collection is Returning My Sister's Face.

Then, ran over to the Exhibitors Hall to find the Kerlak booth and met the awesome Kimberly Richardson and Allan Gilbreath. Pictures will follow in a later post.

Chillin' for a while, then off to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reunion / Cinematic Titanic show.

To be or not to be continued...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tick-tock, tick-tock

A week from today, I'll be at Dragon*Con for the first time in three years, and my head's about to explode from the waiting. I'll be attending A.C. Crispin's writing workshop, which looks like it's going to be a blast. In the interim, I really ought to be working on the rewrite of The Blood Prayer.

Problem is, I can't stand to look at the thing. Therefore, I'm blogging instead.

I know, I know. I'll get back to it tonight, I swear. I really, really want it to be over and done with, so I can get to work on the sequel rewrite that I've been putting off for a year now. I'm aching to get busy on something new, but now it looks like that'll have to wait for November, when I dive into book III of my Majadan trilogy.

*sigh* If only it wasn't for that pesky day job.

Hey! As long as you're hanging around, why don't you slip over to Barnes & Noble and grab a copy of Dreams of Steam.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dreams of Steam is now for sale!

It's officially gone from "coming soon" to "get yours today."

Read about it at Kerlak's website and order your copy online at
Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Get to it!

Table of Contents:
Flight of the Dragon - Rachel Pixie
Dead Man's Hand - Jared Millet
The Bunker - Stephanie Osborn
Black Rhino - M. Keaton
The Ballad of Angelina Calamity - Angelia Sparrow
Endeavour of the Rose - Sidney M. Reese
Blood and Brass - Kimberly Richardson
Five Copper Bowls - Dale Carothers
For the Love of Steam - Missa Dixon
In the Mountain Skies - Stephen Zimmer
Harry Was One of Us - Sara M. Harvey
Engine 316 - Nick Valentino
An Odd Demise - Allan Gilbreath
Artificial Love - Dwayne DeBardelaben
Phoenix - H. David Blalock
Ultimate Weapon - Jeff Harris
Long Shots - Kirk Hardesty

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dreams of Steam!

Well, well, well! Kerlak Publishing's Dreams of Steam has a cover and a book trailer! It also includes a story called "Dead Man's Hand," by some guy whose name looks almost exactly like mine.

Where Was I?

Oh, yeah... Finished "The Merlin House" and set it loose into the wild (cross fingers). In a way, it's a riff on the same ideas as the "backwards" episode of Red Dwarf, only done with horror instead of humor. Also, I repolished last year's flash fiction piece "Tag" and sent it off as well.

I'd like to trim down "Venera" again before I send her back out into the slush pile jungle. It did okay at Writers of the Future, but I'm learning that I'm sending stories off to that contest before they're really ready. I'll have to make sure I take a little more time on the next one.

Also, I'm taking one last slog through The Blood Prayer. It's been long enough since the last time I swam through it that I'm finding lots and lots of stuff to fix, plus coming up with more and more ways to flesh it out. Goal: 95,000 words, more or less. Then on to the sequel, then Book III for Nano.

On another front, it looks like I've been accepted to A.C. Crispin's master class for novelists at Dragon*Con this year, which I'll be taking in addition to her two-day basic writing course. Can't wait!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Quick Note

Just got Honorable Mentioned again at Writers of the Future, so I guess I better get serious on queueing up another story.

WotF's honorable mentions are nice - they're the nicest form rejection letter you can receive - but they still don't tell much except that you're in the upper few percent of the marginally competent. What I find myself wondering, though, is if a story doesn't even make the semi-finals, is it even worth sending out to other pro markets? Logic would say "Of course" because you never know what another editor will think. Impatience says to go ahead and get it out there to the semi-pros, just so you can put it behind you.

Right now, a more polished draft of my first Wotf HM story is sitting in the slush pile at one of the "Big Three" scifi digests, so I guess I'll see how that one fares before making any rash decisions.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Statement of Intent

Now that I'm past the 100-page mark on my 7th or 8th draft (I've lost count) of Nightfall in Majadan/The Blood Prayer, I'm going to take a break for a week and start over on my time travel story, "The Merlin House." The deadline for a certain anthology I'd like to send it to is July 4, so I've got that much time to wrestle this sucker into existence.

As you were.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A bit of news:

"Dead Man's Hand" just got picked up for that Steampunk anthology. More details when it comes out. Of my short stories, this is the one that's turned out the best so far, I think. Can't wait to see it in print!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Status Update

Not much to report. Both my in-process short stories are stalled out at the moment, but it'll be easier to get the momentum going on the Oil Rig Story. Unfortunately, the Time Travel Story is the one with something of a deadline. Hopefully that'll help. Work is sucking all my energy at the moment, but that's no excuse. Jack London managed to write while working as crew on a Pacific schooner, for crying out loud.

ImagiCon is this weekend; in fact, I'm heading there in half an hour. They've got bigger names on the ticket than they did last year, but no writing workshops (that I know of). Looking forward to DragonCon in the fall. Write Club meets tomorrow, which unfortunately means I have to miss the first Lou Anders panel, dammit.

On a positive note, my research is really coming along on my 1927 project. Ideas are bursting, but right now The Facts are crowding out any fantastical story elements I have and the project is in danger of turning into a historical novel. I'll turn all that around before writing begins. Right now I'm just getting comfortable with the setting - prohibition era Vieux Carre - and I'm still at the "learning how much I really don't know" stage.

Still waiting for WTF Mysteries to come out; still waiting to hear about my Steampunk Story, still waiting to see if I get mentioned w/ honor by Writers of the Future. Until then, buy a copy of Shelter of Daylight Vol. 3, why don't you?

Much obliged. Party on!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Photographic Evidence

It exists. Shelter of Daylight #3, April 2010. "The Rendezvous" starts on page 98. Buy your copy at Genre Mall.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Official

I'm in print! The April 2010 issue of Shelter of Daylight is now up for sale at GenreMall (and pretty much nowhere else) for $10.60+S/H. It features, among many other fine pieces of fiction by a variety of up and coming writers, my story "The Rendezvous".

It still doesn't feel real - but I'm sure it will when my copy comes in the mail and I order a bunch of others to give and/or sell to people.

And I'm off work, and it's a clear blue sunny day, and not too hot outside, and I'm about to go have lunch. It just keeps getting better!

Of course, it's all going to turn out to be an April Fool's joke.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Schtick

Schtick (n.) Yiddish slang meaning "gimmick" that has come to mean "someone's signature behavior." - Urban Dictionary

I can clearly remember wanting to write since I was seven: comics, sci-fi, fantasy, and what have you. I've always thought of myself as an aspiring writer of Speculative Fiction. It never occurred to me that I'd turn into a "Louisiana Writer" but apparently I have.

The mystery story that I recently sold, "Rougarou," is set in the contemporary, albeit fictional, town of Whatley, LA (which I imagine to be somewhere in the Florida Parishes) and makes use of the Cajun werewolf myth.

The Steampunk Story that I just mailed off today takes place on the grounds of Knockwood Plantation, which I put somewhere on the Mississippi upriver from New Orleans but not as far as Donaldsonville. "Knockwood" was cobbled together from my vague recollections of visiting Nottoway and Rosedown on various school field trips, and of other old houses along the Mississippi that I've been to.

And just yesterday, while I was tightening the final screws in Knockwood's army of robots, I came across a story call for Urban Fantasy set in the Roaring Twenties. Naturally, my mind went straight back to New Orleans and the burgeoning Jazz scene. I'm committed to the story now, but I don't know if I'll send it to that particular call or do something else with it.

For one thing, the anthology they're putting together will only be published in Australia. For another, I've got this skinny little kid in the back of my head named Cleveland Cooper, and he's trying to talk me into making his story a full-length novel, not a short. See, he's stolen an angel's trumpet (Gabriel was getting hammered on Bourbon St.) and, being Cleveland, he wants the biggest venue possible. I've only known the kid for 24 hours, but I already know that he doesn't think small.

Status Update:For the first quarter of 2010, my story-a-month pledge has held. My Venus Story is currently in the running at the Writers of the Future contest, my two shorts "The Merlin House" and "Witch's Cross" were ready in time for Flash Fiction Night at the Hoover Library (they were so short, they only count as one story for the purpose of my goal), and my Steampunk Story got finished just in time for its March 31 deadline.

On tap for the next three months: an expanded version of "The Merlin House" that I'd like to shop around, the Oil Rig Story, and my Jazz Story that may or may not turn into a novel. I also need to find 15,000 more words for my first novel, Nightfall in Majadan (now The Blood Prayer) and finish the 4th draft on the sequel so I can let more people read it.

That other flash story I mentioned, "Witch's Cross", was written specifically for Flash Fiction Night. It's actually a scene from a novel that never got very far past Chapter One the first twelve times I tried to write it. I changed the context of the story so that it would stand by itself, and though I really like it I don't think it has any kind of future out in the publishing world so I'm posting it here for free:

Witch's Cross

by Jared Millet

Triss stood shaking amidst the hubbub of the Vanji encampment and felt that she was about to lose her mind. She couldn’t see past the crush of wagons and the brightly-colored pavilions, yet she felt certain that at any moment Baron Galcek’s mercenaries would crest the southern hills and sweep her back into captivity. A troop of Vanji had smuggled her away, but upon reaching the east-west road at the edge of the Baron’s fiefdom the caravan had pulled to a halt and thrown her out.

“But can’t you take me any further?” she asked Eujin, the caravan-master. He only shrugged.

“I don’t know.”

“Please,” she begged. “Arvella is only a day to the north.” She wasn't sure that her family would take her back, but it seemed her only hope.

Eujin spread his hands. “I don’t know if we’re going north. We might go east or west, or we might turn around and go back toward your Baron. You’re safe here for now. Tonight we have a dance. Tomorrow, we’ll decide.”

“Please,” she asked again. “If it’s a matter of money –”

Eujin raised his fist, but stopped himself. He pointed a finger at her nose and spoke through clenched teeth. “No money. We’re not bandits. Tonight: dance. Tomorrow, decide.”

The man walked away in a huff and Triss stood aghast, her heart racing. What had she said wrong? And why wouldn’t Eujin give her a straight answer? She looked around at the other Vanji clans that had stopped at the crossroad. Maybe one of them would be more reasonable.

“Don’t bother,” said a voice behind her. “No one will agree to anything, at least not until morning. It’s forbidden.”

She turned to see Eujin’s son, Van, leaning against a wagon-wheel. His eyes sparkled under a mop of hair that was unusually blond for one of his people. His shirt was unbuttoned to the waist and he wore the easy smile of a young man playing hooky from his chores.

“It’s forbidden for the Vanji to plan ahead?”

“No,” he said. “Usually it’s a good idea, but in this place it’s taboo. Here, let me show you.”

He took her hand and pulled her through the mob of wandering families and their animals. There was a carnival air all around, so much that she half-expected to see clowns and tumblers crossing their path. At last they came to a wide clearing in the middle of the camp. In the center of the clearing, the great eastern highway that bisected the kingdom met the road north to her home in Arvella.

“Once upon a time,” said Van, “a witch lived here. She would stop travelers who came to the crossing and predict which road they were going to take. They say she put on a good show. Once she’d convinced her victims of her ability to see the future, she would predict that some horrible fate would befall them if they went down their chosen path. Then her marks would always say, ‘But I don’t have a choice. I have to get these sheep to market,’ or ‘I have to deliver this message,’ or ‘I have to see my sick, dying mother.’ Then the witch would offer to use her powers to ward off whatever evil future she’d foreseen. She made a big deal out of it, of course, and she charged an awful lot of money for her 'services.' They say it was pretty funny to watch, actually.

“As long as she was only going after city-rubes, no one cared. But then she started pulling her act on Vanji. The Elders didn’t like seeing their kinsmen scammed, but they were afraid to make a move against her in case she really was a witch and not just a fraud. Then a boy named Jack came up with a solution.

“‘Let me go to the crossroad,’ he said, ‘and I’ll hear which road this witch says I’m going to take. When she does, I’ll just walk down a different one. That’ll prove she doesn’t have any power.’

“No one had a better idea, so they let Jack try it. He went to the crossroad ahead of his caravan and the witch came out to meet him.

“‘Well, old woman?’ he said. ‘Which way will my journey take me?’

“‘You’ll take whichever road you choose,’ the witch said, ‘but probably not the one I tell you.’

“Jack was trapped, see. No matter which road he chose, he would be fulfilling her prophecy. But then he figured a way out and smiled.

“‘You’re wrong,’ said Jack. ‘I’m not taking a road at all, and you have no power over me.’ To prove it, he stepped off the highway and marched into the wilderness. After that, the Elders drove the witch away and no one ever heard from her again.”

“What happened to Jack?” asked Triss.

“That,” said Van, “is another story. But to this day, no Vanji who comes to this crossroad will make any commitments as to where he’s going next. And every now and then someone will leave his clan, head off into the wild, and follow after Jack.”

Van stared at the hills as if he might do it himself. Triss felt the same urge. None of her options seemed good. To the south lay the Baron. To the north was her family, but would they take her back or turn her away in disgrace? She didn’t know what going east or west might bring, but poverty and starvation were as likely as any other adventure. A drop of water tickled her cheek.

“I don’t know what to do.”

“That’s good,” said Van. “That means you’re free. Hold on to that feeling. Tomorrow, decide whatever is right. Tonight there’s time to dance.”

This story is copyright 2010 Jared Millet.

It was performed on March 23, 2010, at the Hoover Public Library as part of the first Flash Fiction Night put on by the Hoover Library Write Club.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Day Back from Vacation

1. Woke up several times as a big fat cat barfed in the bedroom. You know, to welcome us home.

2. Went to work and walked face-first into the spinning fan blades of a budget crisis.

3. Checked personal email before heading home, beaten and bruised.

4. Discovered that I sold another story!

"Rougarou" is my Cajun werewolf piece that I reported "vanished into the small press ether" in a previous blog entry. Well, the small press ether finally spat it back out, and it will appear in a forthcoming anthology from Kerlak Publishing. No release date yet, but I'll post more details as they emerge.

If you'll excuse me now, I think I'll go pass out with a silly grin on my face.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The New Story Experience

So I wake up this morning with a brand new story idea sprouting out of my head. No idea where it came from. My new story will be set on an oil rig, so it may have been inspired tangentially by the fact that I watched Moon last night, but only in the detail that both are set around mining operations. Other than that, they've got nothing in common.

So anyway, my story starts forming buds before I even leave for work. I'm churning the whole thing around in my head so much that I forget to stop at Mom's and drop off her vegetables. (D'oh!) By the time I'm walking across Lynn Park downtown, I've got several levels of conflict started, and by the time I ride the elevator up to my office, I've got a piece of the resolution, some ideas about my protagonist, and a whole page worth of notes I need to jot down right this fucking minute before I lose them. I've got a story idea file for all the random thoughts that occur to me, but most of those kernels are just a sentence or two that might grow into something or might not. It's really rare that this much of a story comes to me all at once.

And it's pretty exhilirating. I've got myself all excited about it, and I can't wait for more ideas to come. I'm not nearly ready to start writing things down, though. Like Harlan Ellison recommends, I'm going to take all these ideas, toss them back into the swamp of my subconscious, and see what kind of lumpy, misshapen monster arises. As of right now, the story is a little more political than what I've written before, and runs the risk of becoming preachy. I'll have to wait and see what other concepts latch on to it. Besides, I have other things to finish first.

This is fun!

Status update: My Mercury Story has been rewritten again and submitted to the annual Jim Baen contest. My Venus Story is just about ready to send to Writers of the Future. With luck, I'll have the Oil Rig Story ready to send to them next quarter (though at the moment, it feels more like an Analog story than any other idea I've had so far). I'm about 1/4 the way through the first draft of my Steampunk Robots in Louisiana story, which is due by the end of the month. My short-short piece "Witch's Cross" is ready for the Write Club Flash Fiction Night, but I still haven't put "The Merlin House" on paper. It's all there, lock safe in my brain, I swear! It'll just take a few hours to get it down, once I escape from the mechanical men of Knockwood Plantation.

Plus there's that pesky day job, dammit. Oh, well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Status Update

One of my goals this year is to write a short story a month unless I'm actively working on a novel. That goal served me well for the four months it lasted last summer, producing: a mystery story that has vanished into the small press ether, the science fiction piece that got honorable mentioned at Writers of the Future, my first sale (yay, me!) and a flash fiction short that I'm currently not sure what to do with.

I made my deadline (barely) and finished the short story I was working on in January. I'm really happy about that, since it's the first story I've actually finished in a while. Now it's in for a polish before I set it adrift in the Great Slush Pile in the Sky. On tap for this month: two flash fiction shorts to share at the Hoover Library Write Club's Flash Fiction Night in March. (I hate using that many proper nouns in a row, by the way.) Also, I'm going to crank out draft 4 of Daughters of Majadan even though I know it'll probably never see the light of day. It's the one thing I've written that I'm most proud of, so I want to see it sanded down properly before I set it on the shelf.

Up on deck for the following month: a steampunk short that's creeping around in the dungeons of my mind and prep-work for a second stab at my once-again-untitled Hector Crade novel that I abandoned after NanoWrimo.

I may not be a pro, but at least I feel like a serious amateur. In the "neat crap on the Web" department, I just added a widget to the left hand column that shows you my most recent Goodreads reviews.

Okay, then. Back to work.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Honorable Mention

A story of mine just got Honorable Mentioned at the Writers of the Future Contest.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing it means I'm not moving on to the next round, but at least I made it past the first ring of the elimination process. It also means it's time to do another polish and rewrite on that piece and send it off to some other markets.

Writers of the Future is well respected in the SciFi community and is one of the largest paychecks possible for short fiction in SciFi and Fantasy. Hence, the competition is pretty fierce. My friend Teresa Howard (Hi, Teresa!) has been Honorable Mentioned every time she's entered, but she's had quite a bit of success publishing stories elsewhere in the semi-pro markets.

Ah, well. I've got another story I'm working on that I plan to enter in the contest, which you're allowed to do once every quarter. I expect I'll keep trying as long as I'm eligible. The only way you become ineligible is to make three professional-level short stories sales or publish a novel, so if that ever happens I won't be bitching about it.

That's all for now. Carry on!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's dead, Jim.

Time for an update, I guess. My NanoNovel this year, Waking the Sky, is dead. As in shredded to pieces and fertilizing the compost in my mind. I knew there was a chance this would happen going into it, but I promised myself I'd stick it out... at least until I saw Avatar and it confirmed my fears.

I still like my characters, and I still like parts of my basic scenario, but there are too many points of similarity between what I was writing and a certain popular movie by James frickin' Cameron and they're too embedded into the plot for me to extract them and not kill the patient.

Oh well. Back to the drawing board. I'll bring Hector Crade and his crew of kamikaze filmmakers back for another try later this year, and I've already started stirring a few ideas around on how to do it. My main goal this year is to write something marketable, moreso than my two unpublished and probably unpublishable Majadan novels. While I get that back up to speed, I'll spend the time on some short fiction.

I've got a story now that seems to be turning into a novella (or at least a novelette) set in the same post-apocalyptic solar system as the short story I currently have sitting with the judges at the Writers of the Future contest. I'll be sure and let you know how that goes to.

Ah well. The book is dead. Now that I admit that, I can admit that I never really liked it much anyway. Love the characters, though. They'll be back.