babarnett: (muppets)
After a nice and relaxing week down the shore, I'm back home and emerging from my vacation-induced LJ hiatus.  I'm not even going to try to catch up with flist posts, so my apologies if I've missed anything terribly exciting.

Reading Update
Finished Writers of the Future XXIV. Now that I've read the whole thing, my favorite stories from my last reading update still remain among my favorites and are now joined by "Cruciger" by Erin Cashier ([livejournal.com profile] therinth ).  There were a few pieces that left me disappointed by the ending or with a general feeling of "meh" toward the story as a whole, but overall, I enjoyed far more of the stories than not, so that made the book worth the read.

Submission Land
Seeing "I am sure another editor will snap this up" in rejections should be encouraging, but for me it has become the Mark of Doom.  Or at least the Mark of Don't Hold Your Breath Because You Will Not Be Selling This Any Time Soon.  One story of mine is currently sitting in its eighteenth slush pile two years after receiving a comment like that while another is in its seventeenth slush pile three and a half years later.  And I never did find an agent way back when despite that lovely handwritten note on one rejection that included a similar Mark of Doom (though that may be a good thing in retrospect given the massive overhaul that novel is getting).  So now that I've recently received not one but two Marks of Doom on a flash story, it's time to come up with a really long list of potential markets for it, 'cause it's gonna be a while. 

This is why I've come to prefer "I hope this one finds a good home soon."  As well-meaning as it is, whenever an editor is "sure" or "certain" of my story's good luck, my instinct now is to crawl into a corner and cry.

Other Writerly Updates
I've added "To Worship Death" (from issue 4 of Fictitious Force) to my stories available for purchase at AnthologyBuilder.

The other day I got the proofs for my story in Shimmer's Clockwork Jungle Book issue, which now looks like it should be coming out in early September.  Looking forward to seeing my little lemur on a dirigible in print!

Cuteness
One of my favorite parts of my yearly shore trip is the Stone Harbor Craft Fair.  This year, I found this little guy (from Cutesy but not Cutesy), whom I have dubbed Unifish:


babarnett: (doctor who chair)
Been feeling rather blah this whole week, and not even lovely weather and backyard chipmunk sightings seem able to cure it. It looks like I'm going to have to write off any hope of productivity and hand this round to the slug.  I've kept up with the exercise and the piano practicing, but I haven't done any reading all week, and writing-wise I've only managed a sentence or two.  I can't even use the excuse that I've been overly busy.  I've just found it hard to get my brain to focus, let alone produce something useful.  Doesn't help that I haven't been able to sleep for crap lately.

Also not helping is the fact that May seems to be turning into a month-long reject-a-thon.  Since the beginning of the month, I haven't made it more than 3 days without another rejection arriving in my inbox. I even had an oh-so-lovely streak of 5 days in a row going on there.  Hard to stay motivated in the face of that much morale bruising.

As for that sentence or two I've managed to write this week: I don't know why it's taken me so long to realize this, but one of the things I've finally learned about myself as a writer is that I really suck at starting new scenes.  I'll spend forever agonizing over those first few sentences. Sure, I could skip the opening and continue with the rest of the scene, but that, I have learned, only delays the head-meets-desk process.  Eventually, I'm going to have to write that opening, and since it's going to be just as painful later as it is now, I might as well be done with it.
babarnett: (angel wesley crazy fu)
This week has been strong with the bat-shit crazy side of the Force, making that whole productivity thing a challenge. Some of the things keeping me busy were good things (Easter with the in-laws, seeing a production of Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo, a reception where my dad got a firefighter-of-the-year award from the local VFW).  But other things...well, I think my brain exploded a few times.

Now onto what I actually managed to accomplish amid the crazy:

Reading: I'm partway through chapter 10 in Bitterwood.  As for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I gave up. I reached my library renewal limit on it and was just going to copy the remaining discs onto my computer last night, but then I realized that I still had 12 discs left. It's an entertaining book, but it's not that entertaining. So I took that long-winded puppy back to the library today and checked out the audio version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.  Only six discs total.  Ah, blessed brevity.

Exercise: Fell off the wagon Tuesday and Wednesday thanks to the crazy, but stuck to it the rest of the week.

Music:
The usual rehearsal schedule, but fitting in practice time on the piano proved tough. I was all stressed out at my Wednesday lesson as a result, which didn't help.

Writing Business: Bored with the rejections-a-plenty/several-months-long-dry-spell-when-it-comes-to-sales combo now. I'm feeling particularly disheartened with one story. It's a flash story I wrote a while back, and while not brilliant, I think it's a good little piece. When I first wrote it, a fellow writerly type thought very highly of it and said, "If Strange Horizons doesn't take this, I don't know what they'll take."  Well, they didn't take it, and neither have the 27 other markets I've sent it to. I've never had a story get shot down that many times, and it's depressing, especially since it came close at a few places, which gives me confidence that the story doesn't suck. Unfortunately, I'm almost out of decent markets for it.

Writing:
I spent much of last weekend figuring out what I needed to move, add, axe, and rewrite in chapter 4 of My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel, which was fun and exciting and I couldn't wait to start writing.  Then, Sunday night, I sat down to write, and nothing. I spent an insane amount of time rewriting the opening sentence. I didn't get back to the chapter again until Wednesday, when I finally managed to push past that block. But because I had so little time for writing this week, I'm only about 500 words into the chapter. Blah.

On that note, it's onto the weekend for me.  I'm going to get in some more work on the novel tonight.  Tomorrow AsYouKnowBob and I will be driving down to Washington DC--the chorus we're in is singing at the National Gallery, and afterward we'll be making a Maryland pit stop to have dinner with some of my friends from college. Sunday will be singing at church in the morning, writing group in the afternoon. And if I'm not too exhausted, I might squeeze in some more writing before Monday rears its ugly head.
babarnett: (muppets)
I've actually managed to ease back into productivity mode these last few days better than I would have thought.

Reading: Read two more stories in Prime Codex. "Tides" by Tobias Buckell was sad but lovely, with some truly wonderful world-building. "Urban Renewal" by Tom Pendergrass was a fun little tale in which the little old lady who lived in a shoe meets modern bureaucracy. Only three more stories in the book to go.

And so that I can feel productive while driving to and from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I've decided to give audio books a try. I browsed through the selection at the library today and picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Exercise: Wii Sports counts, right? My right arm and shoulder sure tell me it should after all the tennis and baseball. And the boxing certainly feels like good cardio, though it took until today to finally get an opponent who put up a fight. I knocked out the five before him in the first round. This one at least lasted until the second.

Music: Lots of piano and singing.

Writing Business: Another nice but frustratingly close one from Cemetery Dance: "Nicely written throughout, and good emotion. This one came very close for me--please try us again with something new when we reopen to submissions in 2010."  I will crack this market, damn it. Also a nice one from Shimmer for a different story: "I think it's very well written and I love the evocative details of the piece, but..."  Ah, the ever popular "but" of death.

Writing: I haven't been able to do any writing since last Wednesday, so it was tough getting back into the groove today. But I managed a little bit more on the zombie story, so here's hoping I can pick up steam and find that awesomely productive zone I was in before real life reared its head last week.
babarnett: (doctor who chair)
Blog time seems so much longer than real world time.  I was just thinking, "Wow, I haven't posted an entry in ages."  But then I looked, and it's only been two weeks.

Anyway, there's not a heck of a lot to post about at present--unless you want to hear me wallow in self-pity, which I doubt you do.  So I figure I'll take a stab at doing one of those monthly progress reports some of my fellow writerly types do.

NOVEMBER
Books Read: The Secret History of Moscow
Stories Revised: 2 ("The Perfect Instrument" at 7,400 words & "A Song Never Tasted" at 4,700 words)
New Stories Written: 1 ("Black Cat Redux" at 2,200 words)
Submissions Sent: 9
Total Stories Out: 16
Acceptances: Big fat zip, putting the current dry spell at a few days shy of 4 months
Rejections: 9, including a very nice one from Cemetery Dance: "Beautifully written and nice take on the haunted house story. This one came close for me--hope to see another one sometime soon!"  Of course, other things came along soon after to crush my ego after that minor boost. *shakes fist* Khaaaaaaan!
Novel Revision Progress: Halfway through tinkering with chapter 1 to give one of the characters a much-needed personality transplant
babarnett: (ash boomstick)
I'm actually feeling something resembling productive on the writing front--despite being crazy busy with chorus rehearsals and concerts , critiquing commitments, stuff that earns me a paycheck, that looming Grinch-inducement that is Christmas, and stuff that I never should have volunteered to do because it makes me want to bludgeon both things and people.

I found a few moments these past two days to start revisions on a yet-to-be-renamed short story that originally bore the generic title "Legacy" (or for you Odyssey '07 folks, the orgy story). I had been putting this one off because a stack of critiques and line edits on a 6,100 word story is a scary, scary thing to look at. But now that I've poured through all those crits, I've realized that this actually isn't going to be too bad. One of the headaches in revising is when you get conflicting comments about what works and what doesn't, or you know what doesn't work but don't how to fix it. But with this story, there was actually something resembling consensus in the crits. And better yet, I actually know how to address the problems. This feels entirely too easy, so there must be a catch.

As for stories out there in submission land, I'm still seeing nothing but a sea of rejection (ok, a water-related metaphor probably isn't the most apt one I could come up with to describe a dry spell in sales...no wonder I get rejected), but the past couple weeks have at least brought rejections of the non-sucktastic kind, which is a nice change of pace. It's nice to feel like I'm not a total waste of a writer. Let's see....

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December 2013

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