Friday the 13th – Update #2

June 14, 2014 at 1:53 am (fantasy, Fervor, Links, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I’m starting to think I’m meant to stick with my semi-pro/amateur writer status after this last blitz. It has been almost entirely unsuccessful. One firm yes so far and royalty-based only. I had a couple of “maybe”s, but one did not pan out because the kick-starter campaign, while meeting its goal amount, failed to reach its stretch goal and the other turned into “we’ll put it in the next anthology in this series” offer…which I guess does count as a yes in a way. Otherwise it has been a stream of “no”s, most arriving in form letters or with feedback leaning heavily on the negative.

Have I lost my mojo along with my muse? It’s possible. I don’t think I’ve written anything to my satisfaction since that ill-fated April. I can still connect with characters I created back in the day, so my Fervor series continues to be going okay, but nothing new has had the same magic. As a lifelong dabbler, I’m starting to think the time has come to figure out the next thing to delve into – maybe something a little less overly popular this time. Perhaps I’ll move into non-fiction. Or something completely different.

On a lighter note, I finally got the ebook version of the last novel in my trilogy up on Amazon (the paperback version has been there for a while.) Now I need to set up links and tabs and put a plethora of other things in place, as well as fix a few typos/formatting issues in the first two that readers reported before embarking on promotional efforts. I plan on doing a first issue freebie offer, when everything is ready.

I also will be posting a surprise as soon as I have permission to make the announcement, a happy outcome in an annual event. At least that much has made me smile.

And lastly, I sent Victims of Circumstance, Masters & Renegades #4, off to the publisher. I’m looking forward to seeing that one in print. It is a fun, but at times very dark, romp involving some of my favourite characters and while it does involve a few standard fantasy tropes, it dishes them out in a highly unusual way.

Happy Friday the 13th

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April Submission Blitz – Disconnect

April 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm (writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Today’s a hard day for me. It has been exactly one year since I lost one of my best friends and real-life muse, Barb, to cancer. Without her the world is a bleaker, lonelier place. She was one of my few positive ties to the world at large and one of the people who made me feel like the fact that I’m different from the norm is more of a good thing than a bad one. On days like this I really get a sense of that disconnect and I’m less inclined to want to share with others. When I’m in that state of mind, the rejections hurt more, like the one I got today.

Yes – I know, I’m supposed to have a thick skin. But just because I know this doesn’t always make it so, especially when I’m raw for other reasons.

“Gaia’s Gift” is a bit of a mystery to me. It’s one of those stories I liked enough to base a novel on its post –apocalyptic ideas (Sifting the Ashes – unpublished) and I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from my test-readers, but response from submission editors has been lukewarm at best. I’ll often see my favourites, stories well-liked by those who read them before I began to submit them, rejected far more often than the ones I’m not as fond of and which get a so-so response from test readers. This may be because I’m more inclined to submit the ones I prefer to pro-rate venues, who always say no, but “Gaia’s Gift” got a no from a semi-pro venue and a charity anthology too. I’m starting to wonder if it’s destined to remain on the shelf.

Today’s feedback for “Gaia’s Gift” is that the submission editor did not find it compelling. I can’t fix that. I wrote it with a lot of heart and I thought the story was touching. Others who have read it have agreed with me on this, but there’s no guaranteeing that what appeals to you or your friends will have the same effect on anyone else.

I’ve also gotten the feedback that there’s too much background to the story. It’s hard not to set the stage for a post-apocalyptic dystopian tale without presenting background. The story wouldn’t make much sense without it. You need to know what has caused the damage and despair before you can move the characters towards new hope and find that glimmer in the gloom. At least, that’s how I see it, but maybe other people prefer to be left in the dark.

Then again, this is one of the things I’ve always wrestled with with short stories – why I used to think I couldn’t write them at all. Despite the fact that short stories pinpoint one event, when I start writing the characters become real people with extensive histories in my head. I can see all of the happenings that led up to the primary plot of the tale and can anticipate some of the consequences to follow that would never be addressed in the story. That means I often get test-readers saying “there’s so much to this – you should write a novel based on this.” I’ve written more than eighty short stories to date…that would be an awful lot of novels in four years.

I would only write novels if it were easier to get them published, but it’s not. I envy well-established writers like Robert J. Sawyer who have discarded short story writing because their novel writing is more lucrative. Not so for me. Of course, it’s not really about the money for me. If so I’d spend all my time writing erotica. It pays really well. The hubby suggested it’s because there aren’t as many people out there who can write it well, who are willing to write it at all. Maybe, but I prefer writing the tamer stuff and since writing isn’t my day job I’m going to concentrate on writing what I love…

…Like “Gaia’s Gift.” And I’ll draw consolation in the fact that Barb found it compelling.

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Submission Blitz – Day 14

April 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm (Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

Today proved to be a very difficult day, and not because of anything involving writing. This morning, I wrote my latest flash fiction piece, “In an Instant,” which was a story about a person trying to use science, time travel specifically, to respond to the death of someone she loved – someone who had died from cancer. I had just finished it when, in a horribly ironic turn of events, I got a call that one of my best friends, who had been battling pancreatic cancer, had taken a turn for the worst. Not long after that, she passed away.

I’m dedicating this posting to her, as I have all my books, because she was such an extraordinarily special person. She had this knack of finding the talent in people and drawing it right out of them. I called her my muse because she “demanded” I write for her, when I started off with one novel still in desperate need of more editing, a half finished sequel that had been abandoned for seven years, a handful of pathetic short stories and a boatload of unexplored ideas. Thanks to her – and I will always give her the credit for *everything* I ever write – I now have 20 completed novels, seven of which have been published, and 70 completed short stories, many of which have seen print.

I’m not sure where I’m going to find the same kind of motivation she gave me to write, but I know I’ll never stop writing, or give up on trying to get published, because that’s what she wanted me to do. I’m just going to have to imagine her spirit somewhere, threatening me with a giant cosmic pair of scissors. That won’t change the fact that it feels like someone has cut away a big chunk of my heart and my soul because she’s gone.

And I’m not the only one she worked her magic on. She also found an incredible talent for photography in her fiancé, Terry Crowell. She helped draw it out of him too, and I can tell you, his photographs are the best I’ve ever see.

So I’ve submitted “In an Instant” tonight to a podcast contest in her memory and I wish she could still be here to read it. The world will be a darker place without her.

Love you, Barb, and I’ll miss you always.

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Genre for the Holidays – Counting Down

December 31, 2012 at 3:07 am (Fervor, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

You don’t get to berate me just yet. I did manage to get the first item on my list from yesterday out of the way. I now have “Riot!” complete, but I have no idea where the story came from. It is nothing like anything else I’ve written and I have no clue if Ren will like it, but at least I got that task out of the way.

So now I get to reminisce about what I have managed to finish in my writing last year. I published two novels small press and successfully completed and released the first in the trilogy for my self-publishing experiment. I had several acceptances for anthologies (six acceptances, six different publishers, two UK, two US, two Canadian.) I had my second pro-rate “maybe”…and I’m hoping I can actually turn this one into a “yes”. I wrote a selection of short stories and three novels: “Intangible,” “Providence,” and “The Trading of Skin.” Not bad, but not any better than the year before and I’m running out of steam. So what to do in 2013?

As I mentioned, I’m having trouble settling on what I should work on for my next project. I’ve tossed around a few ideas. I have “Dagramar’s Zoo,” book nine in Masters & Renegades, but I told the hubby I’d wait until book five came out before I’d tackle that one and I’m waiting on book three at the moment (it’s with the publisher.) I haven’t flushed out the full plot for the next in my Fervor series. I could make a go at my planned YA book, but I’m not feeling terribly excited about that. I could do the follow-up to “When You Whisper” or take a stab at something else completely new on my to-do list. It’s a case of too many ideas and not enough direction.

So I guess I’ll wait until something prompts me – a nudge from my publisher, a shove from a test-reader or (do they really exist?) a fan, or maybe some prompting from my muse. In the meantime, I have my hands full with other things.

…Oh, and the other thing I’m counting down are the final two weeks before I can definitely say I have officially lost the Harper Voyager lottery. If I haven’t heard from them by then, I won’t be, which means “Elements of Genocide,” “Sleep Escapes Us,” and “Intangible” are free for re-submission. I wonder how many years I’ll be kicking them around before I figure out what to do with them.

Enjoy the last of 2012. J

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Adventures in NaNo-land – Facing the Blahs

November 27, 2012 at 2:16 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , )

This is going to be a short post because I’m tackling my usual mid-book blahs, although I’m actually about two-thirds through the book. Maybe it’s the NaNo momentum that carried me a little farther than when the blahs normally strike. Maybe it’s the fact that I made it past the 50,000 word mark (I’m at about 60,000 now) so I’m not feeling that same push. Maybe it’s because my beta reader/muse is not in the best of health, and can’t keep up with me or provide me with her usual feedback (get well soon, Barb).

Whatever the reason, I’m at that point where I usually feel like my effort is being wasted and I just want to drop the book and waste time on something else. It happens every time, and I push through it, but it’s never a fun feeling. Combined with a heavier than normal day-job workload, a wariness of upcoming holidays that will probably be more stressful this year because money is tight and a million changes to deal with at work and home, it has me in a bit of a funk. I don’t usually get tired, and right now I’m pretty tired.

The chapter I’m working on does end with a fairly exciting action scene, so that might help me find my second wind. If not, I’ll just keep muddling my way through it. I only have about 30,000 words left to go and plenty of time to write it. If it comes down to it, I’ll just slow down and finish at a leisurely pace. I have a couple of short stories I need to work on in December, but other than that, I don’t have any writing commitments in the works …not until the final edits come in for my short story collection or what will be my seventh published novel, Prisoners of Fate.

I may or may not have Chapter 14 done by tomorrow. If not, it should be posted on the following day. When it’s done, I’m going to validate my NaNo win for my third year running (yay!)

More tomorrow J

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Adventures in NaNo-land – The Next Big Thing

November 15, 2012 at 12:29 am (fantasy, Fervor, horror, Links, Royce, Sam, writing) (, , , , , , )

As much as I would like the world to stop in November so I can get off of it and focus on NaNo, the fact is, it doesn’t. The next in my Fervor series, Transcendence, will be released very soon, and I can’t drop the ball with my publisher. So I agreed to participate in a promotional blog hop called The Next Big Thing, to help put the word out.

It was the dynamic Autumn Birt who invited me to participate. Autumn is one of those creative free spirits who seems to have more energy and ingenuity than any three other people combined. That, and she’s one of my fabulous cohorts at the Guild of Dreams. She did the Next Big Thing last week, so make sure you go check out what’s happening with Autumn at Weifarer’s Writing and Wanderings.

So this leads to this interruption in NaNo-land. Or, in other words, “and now a word from our sponsors…”

And now The Next Big Thing! (at least as far as I’m concerned.)

1. What is the working title of your book?

Transcendence (Fervor #3 – it’s pretty well set in stone at this point)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s the third book in a dystopian science fantasy series I started because an agent had a wish-list of certain themes he wanted to see. I was inspired by a book on genetics I had been reading and used that as the basis for the story, while following his theme. Apparently, the agent didn’t want to see those themes that badly unless they were coming from an established author (I’m pretty sure he didn’t even look at my query.) Nevertheless, I wrote Fervor, my debut novel, because of him because of him, so I guess I should be grateful.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Dystopian science fantasy with a hint of horror

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

Logan Lerman would be a good Sam, but he would have to grow his hair and dye it blonde. Steven Strait would make a great Royce (clean-shaven with longer hair), and I think Natalya Rudakova (as a short-cropped redhead) fits Angela to a T (the three characters depicted on the cover.)

5. What is the one sentence synopsis for your book

Free from Fervor, but not really free at all, Sam and the other refugees face the intolerance of Windlea while trying to figure out how they will rescue their friends from the Scholars.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is being published by May December Publications

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Several people have compared the Fervor series to Golding’s Lord of the Flies or the Maze-Runner trilogy

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My real-life muse, Barb McQueen (and my publishers, who asked for it.)

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has a futuristic feel with elements of fantasy that seems to appeal to readers of all ages. There’s political intrigue, romance, action-adventure and mystery all mixed into the story as well.

And now that you’ve seen what I have coming up, here’s the hndful of folk up next on the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, fabulous writers you might not already know. Remember, their answers to these questions will be up next week, so make sure you check them out to see what they have to show you.

Ren Garcia

Steve Vernon

E. S. Tilton

And now back to our regular programming…

More tomorrow J

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