Staying Motivated

January 9, 2018 at 1:31 am (writing) (, , , , , , )

My January submission blitz is going exceptionally well and I’m meeting my monthly editing goals. Only a week into the month, I had already completed 17 submissions (now 18) out of 31 and completed 8 chapters of editing. The only thing I haven’t met yet are my writing goals for the month.  I can thank a genre writers group for getting this far already and they may have also offered up a writing challenge to serve as a motivator for my writing.

I’m going to try completing the Ray Bradbury 52 stories in 52 weeks challenge.  I’m a week behind because I just found out about it, but I fully intend to make that up at some point in the 52 weeks.  In any week that time might be an issue, I’ll shoot for some micro-fiction.  Since I’ve had successful sales with them in the past, they seem like a worthy endeavour.  If anyone wants to suggest themes, I will add writing the micro-fiction to those themes as part of the challenge.

I should have an anthology announcement for you soon as the editor e-mailed they will be sending along edits for review shortly.  I’m pretty excited about this one and look forward to the anthology’s release.  I’ll let you know more as soon as I can.

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WiH and Other Things

February 23, 2016 at 12:49 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , , )

wihm2016fbprofileI feel a little guilty that I haven’t blogged anything for Women in Horror month so far this February, but I’m still recovering from a few weeks at my day job that have been extremely taxing. Staff on extended holiday, new trainees and the prolonged loss of an administrative employee as the result of a medical emergency, plus the usual winter colds and storm day closures, have put some strain on me and my co-workers. It seemed to suck away any motivation to do anything requiring any effort, particularly creative effort, when I got home. I still have to help around the house and do my share of cooking so my artistic output and support work, like blogging, were put on hold. With some vacation time to recharge, I’m going to strive to get back on track and at least contribute something for the last week.

I also haven’t been involved in much in the horror genre lately, aside from my participation in a Christmas charity anthology. My latest endeavours have been fantasy, steam punk, dystopian, comedy and dark fantasy, so I feel a little out of touch with horror at the moment. Of the six anticipated releases I have coming out over the next few months, only two of them I’d describe as horror – one’s a fairy tale mash-up and the other more of a “weird tale” horror than the standard type. I even have a very non-horror children’s story that will be included in a charity anthology…definitely not my usual fare.

Instead of my shared pages offerings I’ve posted in past Februaries, I’m going to pick my favourite local/Canadian female horror writers to spotlight for a week. I haven’t participated in an all female anthology this year, but I have been paying particular attention to other folks this far North, especially those who live nearby. I think it would be great to have a little local writer convention for speculative fiction writers. Since there isn’t one, I have to find other ways to celebrate my peers.

So keep an eye out. We have some great talent up here that I will be pleased to showcase.

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October Submission Blitz 2015

October 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm (horror, writing) (, , , , )

So as I’m staring down Halloween and our local fandom convention, I’m embarking on my regular semi-annual submission blitz. I have several stories from prior blitzes soon to make a published appearance (one fantasy, one sci-fi and one dark fiction) and that gives me plenty of motivation to do this again. I started of my blitz yesterday with a flash fiction submission to one of my favourite literary horror venues and I’ll be scoping out possible options for today after posting this.

I’ll have a few treats and tidbits to share as I go, including a few reviews and my ABC Scary Little Girl of the day.

Today’s A lass is Alessa Gillespie from the Silent Hill games/movies.  This unfortunate one has ties to cults, witches, alternate dimensions, doppelgangers and psychic powers, suffers at the hands of bullies, a molester and ignorant townsfolk and ends up severely burned during an attempt at a “spiritual cleansing.”  She is definitely a spooky little lady.

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All Was Quiet on the Home Front

December 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , )

xmas5How many times have you sent a question out into the universe and actually expected to get an answer? Usually such questions are more an act of despair, not really anticipating a response. But then sometimes life will surprise you.

I hadn’t written anything in over a week, and I did not submit the last three stories I had considered submitting. Why? This year has been a struggle to maintain motivation. I had failed to make any of the progress I had been hoping for and suffered some serious setbacks. My publisher’s managing editor had encountered some delightful success with his own writing (go him!) and his financial manager spouse had met some serious family troubles that left her wanting to cut back on her workload (my sympathies), so they decided to focus on his work and release the majority of their authors.

My novels are now all in limbo, with the exception of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. Most are just sitting on the shelf. Two are still with my old publisher but I’m expecting them to come down eventually. The others are mostly unavailable, many of them waiting on a release in writing, and a couple of them sitting with a Canadian publisher for review (they have been there for about a year.) It feels like everything has just stalled out. And it is not very encouraging.

I did have a few short story acceptances this year, but the pickings were slim. One of my stories also got picked up for a theatrical reading for Halloween, a new one for me. But mostly, I was looking at a handful of stories put on hold and then turned down by pro-rate venues (I did appreciate the “maybe”s and the feedback I did get was useful) and a big bag full o’ rejections. My creative process is fueled by feedback, preferably positive, and this year I was facing a drought.
To top it all off, I had failed at my new year’s resolution. My aspiration to get a pro-rate sale this year died with the rejection letter this month from the last pro-rate venue that still had one of my stories on hold – the one I considered my best shot. I was starting to believe the universe was trying to tell me something because my hard work seemed to be yielding little in the way of returns. There’s a saying in accounting about throwing good money after bad. The same thought could be applied to effort, especially when you find yourself moving backwards. Was all of this worth my time?

It doesn’t help that I’m not very good at marketing myself. I try, but I’m not a natural salesperson. I lack the gift of schmooze. That can make or break you in the publishing industry.

I figured I’d step back from writing until I had shaken this off. Either I’d come back to it fresh and ready to start writing just for fun again, or I’d move on to something else. I stopped blogging, wrote my last couple of short stories for a spell, and threw the question out there into the cosmos. “Is this worth it? Give me a sign?”

I’ve lived my life as sort of a cosmic joke, and this situation proved no different, because the cosmos’s answer got filtered right into my e-mail junk folder twelve days before my chance to succeed at my resolution would come to an end. Call it what you want – the powers that be…fate…coincidence or just dumb luck. Call it a good thing that I check my junk mail folder on a regular basis. Anyway, rather than finding my first pro rate sale, it found me.

There it was, mixed in with the spam about pills that could improve the size of my manhood and princes from Nigeria needing help to access their inheritance: an e-mail from a big publisher wanting to buy one of my stories, and a reprint at that.  I hadn’t even submitted anything to them.

I answered back right away. The e-mail had already been sitting there for three days. The going price they were offering was pro rate. So now it is just a matter of settling out the contract and providing them with the extra bits they need for promotional purposes (photo, bio, etc.).

If any of you were wondering why my blog had gone quiet, now you know. It won’t be quiet anyxmas1 longer. Right now I want to sing (and do a series of happy dances.) I’ll have a Christmas treat for you coming up and some links to share.

Happy holidays, and I hope you have your own reasons to happy dance as well.

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Edit Fest – Working to a Goal

May 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm (Fervor, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I find I make the best progress when I set a distinct goal to reach. With the work I’m doing for Providence, I decided to get things done by next weekend. I’ve finished the review of the final edits, written the preface, acknowledgements, and back cover blurb, updated the character list for the book and completed seven illustrations so far. I just need to finish a few more illustrations, and then I can ship the whole lot off to MDP to wrap up the package.

We don’t have a cover for it yet. I’m not sure how involved I’m going to be in its creation. I did the cover artwork for Fervor and The Blood Runs Deep, but I’m more of a black and white kind of illustrator. I’m willing to work on something, but I don’t have near the talent of the other cover artists they have used. I have the heart and the motivation – I just don’t have the skill.

I will give you a peek at one of my favourites from what I’ve drawn so far, from the ones that are actually scanned in.

And I’m happy to say for my submission blitz update that I received an acceptance for Rev-Ursal. That makes four so far for thirty. Fingers crossed there will be more.

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Submission Blitz – Day 11

April 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm (writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Today I sent off “Velveteen,” submitting it for an anthology. I figure this one will be a difficult one to place. Not only is it on the weird side, with a dose of dark humour, it is also seriously risqué. I’ll only be able to submit it to venues that say they are very open to things new and strange, with no reservations regarding mature content. Some might even find the story offensive.

No further word back on any of the other submissions out there. I did finish “Sanae’s Garden” today; it came in at just a smidgen over 5,000 words. I’m going to miss that story. I really liked Sanae and Haruo. It had me teary-eyed as I was leaving the bus. It’s not quite ready to go out yet – it still needs a bit of fact checking and a few tweaks – but I will be submitting it tomorrow. I then have to come up with some flash fiction ideas for the weekend, something under 1,000 words involving time travel and something comical involving aliens (or at least UFOs). Then I start my second Japanese-themed short that has to come in under 3500 words.

I figure I’m doing well. I have enough submission material to last me a few more days even if I didn’t write anything more for the month. Maybe I’ll plan on doing this once a year every year when things are amassing dust on the shelf and my submissions are lagging. It certainly has proven to be great motivation when I was feeling uninspired.

-Back to prepping “Sanae’s Garden” for tomorrow’s send-off. J

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Inspiration and Motivation

March 4, 2013 at 2:14 am (fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I received an e-mail today with a thank you and a free copy of an e-book in which I had participated in a very small way. The anthology, Deep Cuts, is a tribute to female horror writers and I contributed a short blurb about how my favourite female horror writer, Tanith Lee, had inspired me, along with a recommendation of one of her short stories.

I’ve read a lot of horror in my day, despite being primarily a fantasy reader in my teens and as a younger adult. I’ve indulged in some of the well known horror writers like Stephen King, John Saul, Anne Rice, Peter Straub and Dean Koontz, but I think I drew more inspiration from some of the lesser known horror talent. I have a fine collection of horror anthologies and short story collections (Tanith Lee’s and Frederic Brown’s are the most worn from being re-read.) The influence was there before I started trying to write horror, it just took me a decade or two to realize my writer’s brain works the way it does.

The inspiration has always been there but the motivation has been harder to come by. I used to write when I didn’t have much going on while I was between jobs or semesters. I wrote to keep from going crazy on maternity leave. I wrote to try to make sense of things when I had two friends commit suicide within a year. But I also wrote, once my life got too busy to offer any sense of ennui, because I had a dear friend who has read everything I’ve ever written, given me constant feedback, both good and bad, and pushed me when I wasn’t up to pushing myself. Even my husband hasn’t managed to keep up with her (although he tries).

Now she’s facing challenges of her own, and it’s up to me to do what I can to inspire and motivate her. I can’t begin to understand what she’s going through. Offering her a similar amount of encouragement is going to require tamping down my typically pessimistic nature. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it, but I’m certainly going to try for her sake. It also means finding motivation for myself elsewhere because she won’t be available at times for various reasons. I haven’t figured that one out yet either.

And speaking of motivation, I have my winner for my contest to help me choose my next project. I did go with “Sifting the Ashes” and the winner is atalantatheargonaut – I’ll be e-mailing to find out your prize preference. Congrats J

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