Friday, July 29, 2016

Update as of 07/29/2016

Story submissions so far this month: 3

1. "A Lively Imagination" to Morgen Bailey - Pending.
2. "Choosing Chains" to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - Declined.
3. "An Arduous and Beautiful Duty" - Phobos Magazine - Pending.

I have gotten at least one reason as to why "Choosing Chains" keeps getting declined: It begins in a tavern, which is where all good (and bad) thinly-disguised D&D campaign stories start, with the assembly of the party. Doing this was a completely newb mistake.

Now, I am well aware that editors don't want to see thinly-disguised D&D campaign stories. It honestly never occurred to me that the story starting in a tavern might be a problem. Tarran lives in a tiny riverside fishing village. Its tavern is where people hang out--either there or at the well on laundry day. Every year on his sister's birthday, Tarran goes to the tavern to grieve, because he is always otherwise obligated on the anniversary of her death each year. He goes, and he drinks a pitcher of their strongest alcohol. It never helps him to forget, and he goes home once he's done drinking the contents.

It just never occurred to me that the location where he does this would be considered so much of a cliche that the mere use of it in the beginning scene of a story might turn anyone off. I had thought people might be turned off because the story is dark, bitter, sad, and horrific at various places. I also think it's funny in places, but that's sick, twisted me.

So one of my upcoming projects will be to redesign the story with the beginning in a more original location. I have no idea if that will help, but it certainly can't hurt. Many thanks to C. C. Finlay for pointing this out to me, or I would never have even thought of it.

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"An Arduous and Beautiful Duty" is what I finally decided to call my Fomorian story that takes place in the waters of the Minch, off the west coast of Scotland. Hey, at least it's a more original setting! I am still not entirely satisfied with this story, but deadline was too close, and I will be busy this weekend, so I wanted to get it out. There are always other places I can send it if Phobos declines it. I haven't mentioned this story by name previously in my blog because I didn't have a title for it, and I try to categorize my stories by title so I can look up posts in Blogspot easily.

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I read in an interview of him in Deep Magic that Brandon Sanderson often writes the endings to his stories first.

You all might not know this, but Sanderson is the god before whom I bow down and cry out, "I'm not worthy!" That used to be Marion Zimmer Bradley, but, well...ahem. Anyway, Sanderson's Mistborn novels blew me away with how good they are and with how he uses a common fiction trope to make the reader think one thing is supposed to happen when, in fact, the complete opposite is the case. Seriously--read Mistborn. You will never see the plot twist coming until it smacks you in the forehead with the force of a sledgehammer. I am still in awe. Mistborn is the best novel I have ever read.

Part of the difficulty I have with writing stories to deadlines is in figuring out what the story is that I want to tell. I do a plot outline based on the submission criteria for whatever market I'm submitting to, but very often it doesn't satisfy me. I have always thought that I needed a road map, but maybe what I really need is to see the solution so I can work backward from there. So I'm going to assign myself the task of writing three or four endings a week, using story ideas I want to write about, and see if those satisfy me (and potential editors) better. I like that this will force me to think very hard and in some detail from the outset about my characters and their motivations.

Have any of you ever tried this technique? How has it worked for you? Has it helped?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Progress on the Fomorian Story, A Submission, and Amazon Author Page

I now have an author page at Amazon.

I'm still working on the Fomorian story. I read more about Fomorians. There's not a whole lot to learn, and information varies wildly. Are they hideously deformed giants, or are they small, dark-haired people? I decided to do something completely different with them and went the sea-demon route, whole-hog.

What I'm finding more fascinating is reading about the genetic ancestry of the Irish, who have recently been found to be descended from Basques and from people of northern Spain and eastern Europe, presumably the Milesians mentioned in the Book of Invasions.

I decided it was time to work on tension and stakes in the story, so that's what I'm doing now. I want a good, satisfying ending.

Regarding the recycling of my character Kiernan: It looks like the chief of the Blue Men is not exactly Kiernan MacAskill of Braighe. I was surprised that that happened. It's fun when the story or the characters surprise you.

Submissions: "Choosing Chains" to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Recycling a Story

One of the two stories I submitted for the Witches and Dragons anthology was not accepted, so I now need to find a different market for it--or recycle it.  I've decided to recycle.  I am going to use elements from "The Witch of Braighe" in this new story, which I plan to submit to Phobos Magazine for their Deep, Black Sea issue.

A challenge I will face is that the word limit is 2500 words, but the story idea, which will involve a volley of rhyming couplets, might need more wordage than that.

I am also going to reuse a character.  My idea is, what if a character in "The Witch of Braighe" had made a different choice?  What if this character had valued slightly different things and been angrier?  I'd like to explore that other choice path.

I will say that it helped me very much that Phobos gave clear and vivid examples of the kinds of stories its editors want.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm in a guessing game when it comes to figuring out the types of stories desired, so having this clarity is something I appreciate.

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Submissions Today:  "A Lively Imagination" to Morgen Bailey.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Story Accepted: "Weight"

Today I received notice that my short story, "Weight" has been accepted for the CBAY Books anthology, Witches and Dragons, which is part of their Fairy Tale Villains Reimagined series.  The book is scheduled for publication in June 2017.  This will be my second short story publication with them, and I am delighted that they accepted my story!

I also wrote a story last night called, "A Lively Imagination," which I will submit to Morgen Bailey's blog.