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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Life Beyond Writing

Believe it or not, I do have a life outside of my writing. I almost never talk about - mostly because it's so boring it's almost lethal. But it seems that it may soon be intruding upon my writing, more than it already does. The last thing I want is another "hiatus" the likes of which I took late last year; it was well into February of this year before I could get myself out of that idle state, and as a writer, down time of that length is wasted time.

I will finally be graduating from college early this May. It's been an effort a long time in the making. I started classes in fall of 2002, attended a year, then took a year off. Then I went back for the fall of 2004. After that, I did 4 years in the Navy, and wasn't able to get back to classes until fall of 2009. But now, finally, I'm a month from being done.

I also have some job opportunities opening up. Right now, the plan is to go back to work in my usual summer job, but there may be other opportunities as well. They're in the works. Suffice it to say that the entire month of May is probably going to be a no-go for writing, simply because I'll be so busy traveling around the country on trips related to school and work, and I'll be attending work-related classes and courses.

All this to say, if I drop off the face of the earth in May, don't worry, I'll be back.

If you've been keeping an eye on my project tracker, you'll see I've been making some slow progress on "Abyss." I'm still working on it, and I hope to get some more writing done on it this afternoon. I've got a ton of ideas for it; the challenge now is to make them fit together into something that is both interesting and coherent without getting bogged down in all the little details. And that, my friends, is what I have trouble with in my writing: avoiding detail overload. It's a common problem among writers who are struggling to make the transition from amateur hobby writers into published professionals, but it's a heck of a problem to get fixed. Especially when every detail I come up with is "just so interesting." Hopefully I can learn some thing with "Abyss."

More as it happens.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More Short Stories

Last week, I completed the first draft for the rewrite of "The Wall," a short story about the dehumanizing effects of long-distance space travel. It came in at about 2,600 words, just slightly shorter than the 2,800 I'd planned on. I'm not entirely happy with it, though. While science doesn't factor too much into it, there are more scientific details in the manuscript than in any of my other current projects. Even if there's only a little bit of science in there, I'd like it to be at least plausible, and right now, I'm not sure that what I have in there is plausible. A second look at it will determine whether or not I need to make the science plausible, or if I should just take the science out and let the reader fill in the gaps with their own imagination. In other words, is the science really even necessary for the story?

That question promised to be a difficult one, so I decided to let the manuscript rest for a bit, and move onto something else in the meantime. I'm currently working on another short story tentatively titled "The Abyss." It's about a civilian technician who has contracted with the Civilian Corps of Engineers to maintain "accelerator stations" in deep space. These stations are critical to interstellar merchant and military traffic, and when the largest network of the stations spanning a vast, starless sector of space known as the Rift starts malfunctioning, she's called into fix the issue. But there are two problems: a huge civilian passenger ship is transiting the bridge, heading straight for disaster unawares. The other problem is, this main character recently lost her best friend to an extra-vehicular accident, and now she's terrified of working in vacuum and has been ruled mentally unfit for her job. In addition to these main issues, I'm hoping to explore aspects of the human mind in relation to the vast and dangerous universe we seem to think we own and rule. There may even be sub-currents of faith involved.

That's a terrible summary, I know, but I'm not making a sale pitch here. The story itself is still in flux.

No news on the Writer's of the Future Contest yet. I'm expecting it will be at least a month and a half before I hear something. Seems like a long time to wait for news on a short story, but I believe this contest to be worth it. Nothing new to report on The Serenity Solution either, except to say that perhaps after finishing the first draft of "The Abyss" and hopefully polishing up "The Wall" I might start work on the rough draft of the rewrite. I'm hoping to participate in Absolute Write's Flash Fiction Challenge tomorrow at 9pm EST; that usually produces some interesting ideas for future projects, so we'll see what comes of that as well.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Madness

I've actually got stuff to blog about this week. I won't be scrounging around for little tidbits of info to make a full post out of. I guess that's an accomplishment in its own right!

So the first bit of news it, I after getting the rejection last week on "Exequies," I tweaked it just a bit (tried to make the opening paragraph stronger) and submitted it to the Writers of the Future contest. I generally don't make a habit of saying who I'm submitting works to, just because I don't believe in throwing names around until/unless I'm actually going to get something published with them. But contests are a little different, I think. For those unfamiliar with it, the WOTF contest is one of the premier competitions for science fiction and fantasy short stories. If by some miracle I actually won the competition, it would be amazing. Even if I just made quarter-finalist that would be significant. For me, anyway. I probably won't know any results until May or June, so it'll be a bit of a wait, but worth it. Refer to the link at the bottom of this post for more information on the contest itself.

In other writing news, if you hadn't been able to guess by watching the non-moving word count tracker on the right hand side of this blog, "The Unfound" hasn't been going anywhere. However, I have started working on a different short entitled "The Wall" which I believe has much more promise. "Unfound" needs some more planning work, but "Wall" is already planned out, and should clock in at around 2,400 words. It started out as an 884 word flash fiction piece for the Absolute Write Water Cooler weekly flash fiction challenge, but I was intrigued by the idea I'd come up with, and wanted to expand it. So that's my current project.

Still getting beta reading feedback for The Serenity Solution as well. The literature professor who is reading it has completed the first six chapters, and is eager to read on. So, the diagnosis that the story is good just a little slow to get to the point is probably accurate. More on that as I get it.

Writers of the Future Contest

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Next On My List

Well, "Exequies" officially got its first rejection from my top pick of SF magazines. In hindsight, it probably shouldn't have been my top pick, but as I've said many times before (and continue to relearn repeatedly) in the writing business, sometimes you just have to learn as you go. I did several hours of market research online (multiple evenings), and I read the magazine itself. It seemed like it might be a good fit, so I went with it. All the effort got me was a form rejection.

But, that being said, that's just one magazine, and there are several more out there. So, now it's back to the research to pick my next target. I think most of the ones on my list now are US-based, so perhaps I won't have to wait as long between attempts. Although 3 weeks for a UK magazine really is not bad.

As for other writing, well, it just hasn't been happening. I'm still in that paper/project crunch time before Spring Break, which is now only a week away. Hopefully over the break itself, I can get back into some writing. In the meantime, I'm probably going to stick to Beta reading, market research/submission, and perhaps some brainstorming or research for other projects. If anything spiffy happens, I'll let you all know.