Thursday, October 19, 2017

Microfiction on Zathom!

Three of my microfiction stories have been bought by the editorial team running the Zathom app, which goes live on Friday, October 20.  The stories by me are called "Masked," "Suspect," and "Two Weeks and No Utilities."

The third story is somewhat autobiographical, relating to 16 days without electricity that my husband and I experienced after Hurricane Ike in 2008.  The weather afterward was still hot and steamy in the mornings, and I'm sure we both looked like the great unwashed.  We certainly felt it. 

The first two stories are purely from my wild imagination, using words provided by Zathom's editors that had to be included in the stories.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


I am working on a novel idea whose working title is Strayhaven. It's an earldom in a fictional country called Comhar, which uses elements of Irish culture for its setting. I'm starting the world-building and plotting now. It is my hope to have enough of the pre-writing work done by November 1 that I can successfully complete this as my NaNoWriMo novel for this year.

I haven't posted to this journal in a while because I hit a creative dry spell and was doing nothing but RPG (role-playing game) writing.  A couple of weeks ago, however, I found out about a story-writing app called Zathom that is in development.  Once the app is rolled out, it will be a platform on which users can write flash fiction stories of either 55 or 415 words in length, using certain words chosen by the Zathom organizers.  For their roll-out, the designers were soliciting a whole slew of 55-word stories.  So I submitted about 24.  I will let you know if I sell any of them.  

The Zathom work has been somewhat of a jump-start for me.  it convinced me that I could still write and that I could still come up with interesting ideas.  I really needed that emotional shot in the arm.

Also helpful was reading an excellent book on writing by Marshall Dotson, called The Story Structure Secret:  Actions and Goals.  This is the kind of information I have been needing all of my writing life.  It has been of more help to me than even Donald J. Maas' Writing the Break-Out Novel and James Frey's How to Write a Damn Good Novel.  It is because of Dotson's book that I feel able to work on Strayhaven and to feel that it has more than a snowball's chance in Hell of becoming a good story.  Dotson's book is giving me a very clear road map and is allowing me to see that I will be able to finish what I start.  That in itself is a great relief.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Military Information - Time in Service vs Time in Grade for Naval Promotions

I was curious how long it takes to be promoted from one naval rank to another, so I looked it up in terms of the US Navy and found these stats:

ENS to LTJG:  TIS:  2 years.  TIG:  2 years
LTJG to LT:  TIS:  4 years.  TIG:  2 years
LT to LTCDR:  TIS:  9-11 years.  TIG:  3 years
LTCDR to CDR:  TIS:  15-17 years.  TIG:  3 years
CDR to CAPT:  TIS:  21-23 years.  TIG:  3 years

They want their higher-level officers to have much more experience than the minimum time in grade would indicate.  I call BS on Captain Kirk being promoted to captain at age 34.  He should have been a lieutenant commander at most.  :)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

'Dragons & Witches' Now Available for Pre-Order!

Dragons & Witches, the next anthology in which one of my short stories will be published, is now available on Amazon for pre-order!

The link goes to Amazon Smile, which donates a small portion of the book's price to the Texas Masonic Retirement Center to help support the nine elderly ladies who live there.  If you would prefer not to support a cause, you can pre-order Dragons & Witches here at the usual Amazon site.  Whichever way you might choose to purchase the book, you have my sincerest gratitude.

My short story, "The Eyes of Death" was declined for the anthology, The Death of All Things.  Back to the drawing board!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Status - "Where To, Ma'am?"

Good news and bad news!

My short story, "Where To, Ma'am?" was declined by Flash Fiction Online, but I did receive a note from editor Suzanne Vincent that it had reached the final round of their selection process before being rejected.  I take that as a good sign.  Ms. Vincent offered me the chance to receive some feedback on the story, so I have accepted the offer and will use the feedback I receive to, I hope, improve the story and my writing.

In other news, I decided to back the launch of Cloaked Press, a small, independent SF/F press run by author Andrew M. Ferrell, who lives in Wisconsin.  You can visit its Kickstarter page and give it some love here.

Final bit of news:  I have been invited to submit a short story to a middle-grade children's anthology, so I will be working on that.

Good night!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Submission to Flame Tree

This evening I submitted my short story, "Choosing Chains," to Flame Tree Publishing to be considered for two of their 2017 anthologies:  Heroic Fantasy or Supernatural Horror.

"Choosing Chains" is an odd story.  I personally classify it as dark high fantasy with a horror element, but I have no idea how anyone else would classify it.  I want to find it a loving home, preferably one that does not involve me self-publishing it.  And if I can find it a good home, maybe Hand of Vengeance might find a home in the same place.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

I will look through my stockpile of other stories and see if there's anything else that might be suitable for Flame Tree.  I do, however, want to also write them a nice sword & sorcery story, because that's my favorite genre to write.  Let's see if I can finish one by February 28, 2017.  Wish me luck!

Actually, no, don't wish me luck.  Wish me self-discipline, please.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Monthly Checker - Morgen Bailey Entry for January 2017

The prompt for Morgen Bailey's January 2017 100-word story competition was to write something based on the title, "The Monthly Checker."

I actually wrote two stories for the January competition.  The first one, "Where To, Ma'am?" was just awful when whittled down to 100 words, so I let it be as long as it needed to be and found that it turned into a pretty interesting story at about 1300 words.  I submitted that version to Flash Fiction Online and am waiting to hear back from them.

I was able to come up with a 100-word story for Morgen with the requisite title and submitted it.  It was "highly commended."  It is probably also the story Bailey mentions that was, "eek-making, in a good way!"  It features a woman with proprioception issues involving her breasts.  And then it turns out that there is a non-neurological reason for her lack of proprioception there.

Now that the contest for January has ended, and I am free to give the story my preferred title, I will call it "Xenomelia."  I can use the slightly longer draft and send it out to possible markets.

Xenomelia is defined as, the oppressive feeling that one or more limbs of one’s body do not belong to one’s self."  Breasts are not exactly limbs, but it was as close as I could get to an accurate name for the condition.  If you are interested in learning more about this condition or mental state, I highly recommend that you read Dr. Oliver Sacks' book, A Leg to Stand On.  Sacks was a brilliant writer, and I always find his books about neurology fascinating.

Every time I enter one of these Morgen Bailey competitions I learn something new.  The striking thing I observed in the stories that won in January was that not one of them read as if it had been whittled down.  The language in each of them flowed naturally, yet all three told a succinct story in 100 words, an impressive accomplishment by their authors and one that I will strive to achieve for February and for my future writing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Possible Story for 'Chicken Soup'

This evening I looked over a list of upcoming titles of books to be published by Chicken Soup for the Soul and decided to contribute a story for the Step Outside Your Comfort Zone book, whose deadline is March 31 of this year.

I completed an 1100-word first draft this evening, called, "There Are More of Them!" but I can already see things I believe I should do to make it a story more fitting with what they're probably looking for.  Among those things is, I really ought to read one of their books!

Yes, I have so far gone through my entire life without having read a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.  I know, right?  What planet have I been living on, all these years?

The story I wrote chronicles some of my experiences while working for my former employer...which is kind-of, sort-of my current employer, only not, exactly.  It's a long story; there was a legislative session and a sunset committee involved.  So another thing I need to do is find out if I am even permitted to make money from telling a story about my work experiences, in the first place.  I don't name anyone I worked with or anyone I served, but I feel enough uncertainty that I should ask.  I am unsure if this would constitute a conflict of interest issue.

If that turns out to be an impassable roadblock, I will simply look for somewhere else to submit my story.  I'm sure there are plenty of non-paid markets that would accept a story/essay of this type, so I'll look there.

Anyway, I had a blast writing the story, and I do hope I will be able to get it published somewhere, though I hope it can be at Chicken Soup.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Submission: "The Monthly Checker"

This evening I submitted "The Monthly Checker" to Morgen Bailey's 100-word flash-fiction competition.  The story prompt for January 2017 was the title.  This story is about weirdness involving a woman with proprioception issues.  If it doesn't place in the contest I will expand upon it and submit it under a different title to a market that accepts flash fiction.

Monday, January 16, 2017

First Submission of 2017

My first short story submission for 2017 was to Flash Fiction Online today.  The story is called, "Where to, Ma'am?" I originally wrote it for Morgen Bailey's January 100-word competition, but the story was terribly disjointed with so much meat taken out.  So I put the meat back in, and now it's in the ether.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Idea Generation

Where do I get my ideas from?  Apparently writers get asked this question often.  No one has asked me yet, so I'm going to just be brazen and come right out with it:  I read--a lot.

I have found that I get a lot of ideas and help with difficult plot problems simply by researching stories.  The more you read and learn about a time period or a culture, the more ideas you get.  For instance, a line from a poem gave me the idea for my short story, "Strands of Grass."  Reading about the Greek custom of eating mezedes (snacks eaten while drinking ouzo), gave me the idea and setting for a short story called, "Stavros."

I have gotten ideas by reading short stories I have already written, because I see things that the characters in such a story might do in the future.  I find that I like to write series of short stories featuring the same characters--not necessarily in a seamless story arc.  A lot of these are stand-alone stories.  I sometimes don't want to stop writing about certain characters just because their first story ended.

Some stories come to me when I ask myself a question.  For instance, I was in awe of the truly impressive amount of gold that Smaug had collected in the movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  It was every fan's ultimate wild fantasy of how much gold a dragon could collect.  The dragon could have swum in it, he had so much gold.  And then I asked myself, "What would be a logical reason for dragons to hoard gold?"  So I came up with a reason.  My reason also came to me because of an awesomely simple and brilliant therapeutic item made for children who have autism, but the main impetus for the idea was the question.

Reading about medicine gives me ideas for stories.  I had the greatest fun reading about the actual health problems of giants, and my giant, Kiernan's, health problems in "The Witch of Braighe" figured prominently in the story I wrote about him.  He and his friend, a witch named Triona, are other characters whom I want to write more about.

Do I ever feel like I've run out of ideas, that I can't possibly come up with new ones?  Yes.  But then some idea surprises me, and I realize that, no, thank goodness, the well hasn't run dry and never will, as long as I continue to have an inquisitive mind.

So where do you get your ideas from?

Now Out: ARC Proofs of 'Dragons and Witches'

Today in my email I found the advance reader proofs of Dragons and Witches, along with an image of the front and back covers!  This is the initial proof, unedited, which is sent to book reviewers so that they can write reviews before a book's publication date.  In about a month, I and the anthology's other contributors will receive our final proofs, which will incorporate whatever edits we specify from this current draft.  The anticipated publication date for Dragons and Witches is June 2017.

This book was titled Witches and Dragons up until now.  I am rather fond of dragons, however, so I don't mind the change.  :)

While reading the proof I came up with an idea for a further story featuring my two main characters, Merka and Emarys.  I look forward to writing it.  This new story will allow me to develop Emarys' and Merka's world more.  They are going to travel to the kingdom of Navethia to return a stolen item.

I'm trying to be good and am waiting to read everyone else's stories when the book is actually published.  Yeah, we'll see how long that lasts.  It's a long time until June!