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Archive for the ‘plans’ Category

New Year, Specifically

So first, more info on my short story sale.  It’s to Alienskin Magazine and is (of course) a flash fiction piece.  I’ll be posting a link when it is up, which will be for their Feb/March issue.  I’m really excited.

Secondly, I figured I’d post a little more specifically on my goals for this year.

1. Write 4 novels and submit them

2. Have at least 30 short stories in my folders and keep them out on markets until they sell or have nowhere to go

So, both of these goals require writing more stuff.  I broke it down to wanting to write about 465k words this year.  Which seems like a huge number of words.  But if you break it down, it’s only 1,275 or so words a day.  Which would take me maybe an hour to an hour and a half to do.  Not so bad.  But…   I can’t write everyday.  That’s just not the way I or my life works.  So I decided I’d calculate what I need to write a week to reach my goal, which works out to about 9,000 words per week.  I can’t write every week either though, since stuff comes up or I go away places, etc…  So I decided what if I write 35 weeks (or so) out of the year? That gives me plenty of time off if I need it.  This works out to about 13,000 words per week that have to get done to meet my goal.

Then, I don’t write everyday, remember? I take weekends off most of the time.  13,000 words 5 days a week is 2600 or so words per day.  2-4 hours of writing a day, 5 days a week.  That, that I can do.  See? Now it’s manageable.

I think I’ll start… Monday 🙂

New Year’s Resolutions, Early!

That’s right, I’m bucking the trend baby.  I’m posting my writing resolutions early.  Sit back and be amazed at how high my expectations can soar.  Though I am keeping the goals/resolutions limited to things within my power.

1. Write 4 novels and submit them

2. Have at least 30 short stories in my folders and keep them out on markets until they sell or have nowhere to go

3. Finish everything I start

4. Submit everything I finish

5. Keep track of receipts and other things for taxes (I was abominable about it this last year, sigh)

6. Try writing at least three things outside my genre comforts (mystery, horror, erotica, something…)

7. Keep going, never look back, never surrender and all that

That’s it.  Well “it” is pretty relative here.  That’s a lot, I think, but not out of the realms of possibility.  And it will get a lot of things out there were someone might see them, which is a good thing if I want to ever actually make any money at this whole “my job” thing.  Yep.

Holiday Blues and Sundry

Had a small slew of rejections come in, and while I’d love to turn the stories around and submit somewhere else, most of the markets next on my list are closed right now.  Stupid holidays.  I guess I’m taking a couple weeks off submitting until things open back up.  In some ways this isn’t so bad.  It means that I three stories I can choose from for the first quarter of WotF if I decide I can’t get the novella formerly known as Werewolves in Space done in time to send it in.

Made a new spreadsheet for tracking submissions as well.  Before I just had a single rather messy page in excel with stories down one side and markets across the top.  But I kept adding stories and markets and it started to look like a giant mess.  So now there’s a master list of stories on the first sheet, and then each story has its own sheet with markets listed down the side.  Each row has room for date submitted, date rejected/sold (wishful future-thinking there), and a place to put any editor comments that might come back with it. (“graceful” “unexpectedly moving” “writing is top quality” always followed by some version of “this ultimately didn’t work for me, good luck elsewhere, send us more!”).  I have about 25 markets listed, not all pro-rate of course, but the few that aren’t are either damn close or else highly regarded.  This means that even if I wrote nothing new (which is practically impossible), it’ll be more than a hundred rejections before I run out of markets for my current 12 stories.  Not every story fits every market, of course, but each has at least 10-14 it can go out to.

In more thrilling news, or not, I finally have a working title for Chwedl that actually sounds readable.  So novel project #2, formerly known as “Chwedl” is now called “A Heart in Sun and Shadow”.  That sounds appropriately fantasy I think and somewhat captures the themes/images within the novel.  If I manage to sell this thing, I doubt that will be its final title, but hopefully this new title will catch the eye better than “incomprehensible word” did.

Now, if I could just figure out the title to novel project #3, and a good title for formerly “werewolves in space”.  Originally that novel was going to be called “Predators”, so I suppose I could title the novella such until its written at least.  Titles are funny things.  A good one makes me want to read something, a bad one might turn me away (though rarely).  This is even more true with short stories for me than books.  And yet titles are my least favorite part.  I suck at them.  I have a hell of a time thinking them up and always feel like I could have done so much better.  Just part of my process I guess.

Well, happy holidays.  I’m going to be right here, at the computer, busting my ass to try to make “A Heart in Sun and Shadow” into something someone might want to buy someday.  “Busting my ass” of course might also mean “working on novel project #3”, but hey, it’s all work, right? Right?

Mind: Blown

Went to Orycon this weekend, spent too much money on art (damn you awesome artists at conventions, why do you tempt me?), and attended some panels where I learned some things, had other things I already knew drilled deeper into my head, and generally had a decent time.  The insomnia issue meant I had a very short energy buffer for dealing with people, but I adjusted (and spent Friday night sitting in a hotel room playing Magic the Gathering).

Also had lunch with an author/friend who was very reassuring even if yet another story of 10+ years of toil= overnight success is somewhat daunting.  But after 10 months of trying to be a working writer, I suppose I shouldn’t complain yet.

Came home to yet another ‘nice’ rejection and felt like tearing my hair out and giving it all up for the ghost, but decided to haunt the internets instead.  On a suggestion from aforementioned writer friend, I signed up for Dean Welsey Smith’s novel workshop in Feb.  I Hopefully that’ll get me on a good path to selling this thing.  As prep I decided to read all of his blog last night.  Mind blown.  Seriously.  There is some fairly tough to hear information contained in his posts, and I’m not sure all of it would work for me, but there are things I think I should give a shot.

What especially called to me was the publishing as numbers game.  I agree wholeheartedly that writing is practice, and rewriting/editing isn’t really practice, though I do think some things can benefit from a pass or two.  But the only way to get better that I’ve found is to write new things taking what I’m learned worked or didn’t work from the stuff that came before.  I also was floored by the whole goals side of things on Dean’s blog.  I like the idea of having a sort of shoot for the moon longer term goal and then shorter term goals entirely within your power.  I started this blog to record my journey to write ten novels in ten years, but really, wouldn’t it be cooler to publish ten novels in ten years?  According to Dean, that means I should write 3 novels a year.

At first, that number looks crazy daunting.  But really, is it?  At the pace I write novels, I can get 100k word novel done in about 2 months.  Then take a month off to let my readers weigh in and have a month to revise/clean up.  Send it out, rinse, repeat.  Really, not that bad.  And I could use the month off between edits and writing to work on short stories.  I aim to have 30 shorts making the rounds by next year, I’ve got 10 now, with two more that will be sent out in about a week as soon as I take another pass at them to catch the last (hopefully) typos and such.

So that’s where I am.  Going to revise Chwedl this month, write a couple new stories, get something in for 1st quarter WotF, and get started on this new novel.  Hello December.

NaShoWriMo in Peril?

Well, I think I can safely say that day one of my crazy story plan was a bust.  I have two paragraphs written on a story.  I first conceived of this plan over a month ago, before I finished my novel even.  I figured it would be a good way to keep my writing production up while I’m taking a break from novel writing.

What I didn’t count on was a major depressive episode (I suffer from clinical/unipolar depression) which has meant, among other things, that I’m not sleeping.  For the last three weeks I’ve been getting an average of 1-2 hours of sleep a night, with some 24-36 hour periods without any sleep at all in there.  Some nights I take sleeping meds to get 4-5 hours of sleep in, but they zombify me the day after and leave me mentally and physically useless, so I try to limit how often I use them.  This, sadly, effects my ability to write.  The less sleep I get, the harder it is to focus on things or retain anything in my brain.

It’s very frustrating, because I know that as a writer I’m fully capable of completing this challenge.  I have notes galore on stories I’d like to write, and my novel writing output is generally 2-5k words a day.  But with my brain addled from lack of sleep (plus the other fun side-effects of depression), I’m finding it very hard to run at full capacity on this.

I’m not giving up, however.  I might just revise the goal down to 12-20 stories.  I think with effort and focus and hopefully my antidepressants kicking in soon (they take a couple weeks to really start working, alas), that I can still manage to get a lot done.  So, back to work.  Since I’m not sleeping, I might as well be writing.  Slowly.

Reflections and Going Forward

I’ve now been writing full-time for over a year, technically. I say technically because this time last year, I’d just started graduate school, and it was eating my life while I sat confused and miserable wondering how something that had seemed like such a good idea at the time could go so wrong.  In the end, I determined the program I was in wasn’t a good fit for me.  I gave it a year, and thought about pushing through the final year.  However, I wanted to know if I could actually get a decent amount of writing done without grad school, since my production while in it was pretty poor (about as bad as when I was working 70 hours a week, really).

So I quit.  This summer was full of moving, vacations, family obligations, and Worldcon.  Even so, in the last four months I’ve managed to write two short stories, get all 10 short stories currently on submission polished as best I’m able, and finish a novel.  It’s not been the smoothest going, nor the easiest thing ever.  There are days when the rejections stream in (today there were two more…) and everything I do feels like it’ll never amount to anything at all.  I even start scanning the job listings wondering if anyone will hire someone who has been out of work a year and has two pretty useless degrees (unless you need some Anglo Saxon translated?).

Then something happens to remind me, to nudge me back onto the path.  Some days it’s schadenfreude, I’ll be honest.  I read a forum post, or a workshop story post, or I’m talking to someone, or occasionally see something in a magazine and think “god, that’s stupid/terrible/sad, I’m totally not that clueless/bad/pathetic.”  Some days it’s seeing how far I’ve come, the days when I read over a line or a paragraph and think “hey, that kinda works, what I did there.  I think I understand foreshadowing now!”   Some days it’s other people like my first readers who read my stuff and tell me they like this or that, or that they can really see improvement.  And some days, the best days, it’s the writing itself, when it grabs me by the brains and I race along the story with every piece falling into place like a master level Go game on fast forward.

And looking ahead, I think I can keep going.  I’ve got a novel done, and three people have already finished reading it for me, with two more due to finish in the next week or two.  They’re compiling lots of information and commentary for me to sift through so I can make it the best it can be.  And reading about the market right now, I’m sort of happy I decided to work on this novel, which is a fantasy with pretty strong romantic elements, instead of trying to finish Casimir Hypogean.  Debut science fiction seems like it’s a tough sell right now, so breaking in with a fantasy novel might be easier.  Of course, there’s no way to know if Chwedl will even sell.  But I’m glad I’m making this the first effort the world might see and saving the more complex stuff for later.

Novel project 2 will have to start in a couple months, as soon as Chwedl’s query is out the door to agents.  I’m not sure what to do.  Part of me really wants to finish Casimir Hypogean to polished draft and then do roughs of the other two novels in the series just so I have them done enough that if by some chance the first sells, I won’t be coming back years later and tackling that world cold.  However, while I think the novels have great potential, I think in some ways the steampunk mysteries I want to write might be an easier pitch.  Local alternate history, alchemy, airships, murder, clockwork cats, and quirky characters?  I mean, how can I lose?  The Casimir story is in my head right now, however.  It’s been coalescing for a few years now, ever since I wrote that terrible rough draft.  I’m not sure how the third book ends, but I know how the second one goes, and how the third begins.  I figure by the time I get there, it’ll be clear how it has to go.  The steampunk book will take a lot of research, the Casimir books almost none (and what research there is I can keep doing as I go).

So I have some thinking to do.  Meanwhile, I’ve been researching and doing rough quasi-outlines/notes for stories for my crazy short story month plans.  It’s definitely time to start thinking about the workshop applications too.  I want to apply early this year to all of them, get it out of the way.  In some ways, I’m stressing about it more this year than I was last.  Last year I really wanted to go, but it was mostly because I wanted to work with the people at CW.  This year, I want to go for me.  I think that either the Clarions or Odyssey could help push my writing to the next level.  I’m clearly on the threshold, if my “nice” rejection stack means anything.  I want to get past the personal rejections and make a sale, to write the kinds of stories that editors can’t put down.  I think the workshops could help with this, could help me find out what I need to learn or practice to get closer to where I want to be as a writer.

I’ll likely be posting very boring somewhat daily updates during November about my short story mission.  Stay tuned for the crazy!

Crazy Short Story Plans

Still no word on my WotF third quarter entry.

Which means I really need to distract myself.  I’m between novels at the moment, so the best way to keep up my writing habits is to work on short stories.  I’ve got 9 out on the market right now.  I need more.  I want to saturate the market with my work, plus starting in January I’ll be super busy trying to write an entire trilogy in six months while querying about my current novel.  And I have three workshops to apply to, all of which want slightly different word counts etc…

Inspired by Jim C. Hines post, I’ve decided to push some stories at more anthologies.  Writing to a specific theme isn’t really something I’ve done before.  Even with the Shine anthology, which I was very nicely rejected from recently, I wrote a story that I’d been wanting to write and thought it might fit (it didn’t, which once it was written I knew it was a long shot).  So I think it would be an interesting challenge to myself as a writer to write for some anthologies.

I went through ralan.com’s anthology calls and made a list of all the ones that interested me and pay at least 1 cent per word.  I have a notebook now full of deadlines, requirements, and submission information for each.  I’ve picked out about eleven, most with deadlines around early next year, though a couple have deadlines coming up very soon.

I read somewhere, and I honestly can’t recall where though I think it was linked to off of sfsignal.com in a post there, that when writing for anthologies, you don’t want to write the first idea that comes into your head because that will be the one that everyone else thinks of also.  I believe the advice said to pick the 17th idea.  So I’m currently brainstorming all sorts of ideas, and trying to aim for a good blend of crazy enough that it might not have fifty clones in the slush but still something I’d want to write.

This decision to write for anthologies as well as working on the giant list of ideas I already had is timely.  November is coming, traditionally National Novel Writing Month.  I’ve done nanowrimo twice and “won” both times.  However, I think that my last nano will be my last nano.  I learned I could write at length and on deadline.  Nano (not that I want to start a war if you disagree with me here…), but you don’t get a novel out of it.  Well, maybe if you’re writing middle-grade, because then 50k words might work.  But 50k is too short for what I want to be doing.  And while I imagine I could write 100k in a month,   I think, for myself at least, I’ve learned what I could and it’s time to move and do novels my way (you know, a novel in two to three months instead…).

But don’t think I’m not going to be silly crazy in November.  Oh no, I’m going to invent my own tradition.  NaShoWriMo.  National Short-story Writing Month.  My goal is to write a short story a day.  Yes, everyday.  I’m not limiting the length, though I’d dearly like to write at least a couple decent ones under 4k words to make my life easier come Clarion sub season, but I am holding the minimum to 1,000 words.  I figure if I even get six stories worth cleaning up and submitting at the end, I’m ahead for a while.  And it will be fun, a chance to experiment and get some random ideas out.  I’m planning on using the anthology calls as fodder.  I can write the 5th, 14th, and 20th ideas I have for any given theme and then pick the one I want to send.  Sounds like crazy fun right? Right?

So, my goals for October are to write up the novella formerly known as Werewolves in Space (which will be my 1st quarter sub for WotF most likely), and finish two themed anthology stories that are due by the end of the month.  A fairly light load, all things considered.

November is when the real exciting stuff gets going.  A story a day.  NaShoWriMo.  If anyone wants to join me in my insanity, bring it on.  I usually write short stories in a day anyway, just not generally consecutively.  And I’m pretty sure my typing limit is around 12-13k words in a day (10k is really more my comfort limit, and 3-5k my cruising speed), so at least my stories won’t be crazy long.  We can hope.

That’s my plan.  In December I’ll collect the notes from my first-readers and try to make my novel outstanding before the queries go out in January.  Until then, time to fill up my short story basket.  (Just think, I’ll get to 500 rejections much much more quickly if I have 50 stories out than 9…)