Weeks of Writing: 2/25/19 to 3/17/19

Well, as you can see, I fell a bit behind with these weekly updates, so I’m just gonna go ahead and get caught up all at once. 🙂

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from science-fiction and fantasy novelist Fred Saberhagen. 

“I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn’t. I have drawers full of—or I did have—drawers full of rejection slips.”

–Fred Saberhagen

I think this an interesting quote about rejection because it highlights something important. Success does not (necessarily) put an end to rejection. Sure, it might change form, but rejection is still probably a part of a writer’s life despite all the accolades they may acquire. I’ve fallen prey to this misconception myself (on a vastly smaller scale than Fred Saberhagen, of course). When I made my first pro sale, I thought, “Okay, I’ve passed that hurdle. Things are gonna get easier now.” Well, four years and a couple hundred rejections later, I’m still waiting for it to get easier. I don’t mean to be a downer here, and things have gotten easier in the sense that I have more understanding of the process, the industry, and what to expect from it. I treasure my successes, try to revel in them, and most of all, let them serve as a buffer between me and the (still) inevitable rejections to come.

The Novel

Well, I’m back on the revision wagon for my novel Late Risers. Like I mentioned in a previous update, I’m trying to be a lot more organized and surgical with my revisions this time, and I’m taking pains to incorporate my agent’s feedback in the smartest and most efficient way. Currently, I’m reading through the book, summarizing each chapter in a spreadsheet, and making note of where I need to make the big changes (which is primarily adding material). Essentially, I have a flow chart that will help me decide where the changes and new material need to go AND how they will affect later chapters. Although there’s more preparation with this method, I think it’ll make the actual revision easier and more effective.

Short Stories

I’ve been a bit more active with short stories lately.

  • Submissions Sent: 7
  • Rejections: 3
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 2
  • Shortlist: 0

This looks more impressive than it is since it covers three weeks instead of just one. Still, I’m up to 23 submissions for the year, which is a little off my pace for a goal of 100. I need to send 4 more in March to catch up, essentially, and I don’t think that’ll be an issue. The acceptance is a fun one in that it’s my first microfiction submission and acceptance.

The Blog

Six blog posts over the last few weeks, but I’ll just highlight the important ones.

3/6/19: 300 Rejections or THIS. IS. NOT FOR US!

In this post I discuss reaching the milestone of 300 rejections and what it means to me.

3/8/19: Charting the Rejection Progression

This post deals with looking at the types of rejections you’re receiving from a publisher and if they indicate any progress toward an acceptance.

3/14/19: The Rejectomantic Arts: Reading the Wait

Is there any merit to using rejectomancy on other parts of the submissions process? This posts seeks to answer that question.

Goals

It’s pretty much all revisions, all the time here, but I’d like to get a few more short stories out as well. I’d really love it if I could turn the revised novel over to my agent by mid-April, and I think that’s doable.

Very Short Stories

As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve been writing microfiction on Twitter under the #vss365 hashtag. I started on February 23rd, and I haven’t missed a day. It’s been a blast, and one of those little Twitter scribbles became my first microfiction submission and acceptance. Below are three of my favorites I’ve written in the past weeks and the ones that seemed to resonate with folks the most (based on Twitter impressions, likes, and retweets). If you’d like to read the microfiction in real time, just follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

March 2nd – Prompt: Listen

I don’t watch Lucky work. It creeps me out. My job is talking, his is making people receptive to talking. He comes out of the garage, wiping blood from his knuckles, that weird satisfied look on his face.

“You’re up.”

“Can he still talk?”

Lucky shrugs. “He can listen.”

March 4th – Prompt: Improvise

The apocalypse taught me to improvise, to use brains and instincts I never knew I had. Every tin can is a way to collect rain water, every rusted-out old car potential shelter, and every person I meet . . .

Well, let’s just say I can “improvise” the taste of chicken.

March 16th – Prompt: Question

When death came for me, I refused to go. So it asked me a question. “When should I return?” Like a fool, I said never. That was a long, long time ago, and now I spend the endless stretch of years asking my own question. “Where is death?” I’ve yet to get an answer.

Publications

Two publications over the last few weeks. The first was a microfiction piece called “Treed” with 50-Word Stories. The second was a flash horror piece called “Far Shores and Ancient Graves” with NewMyths. You can read both by following the links below.

“Treed”

Published by 50-Word Stories (free to read)

“Far Shores and Ancient Graves”

Published by NewMyths (free to read)


How was your writing week(s)? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 2/18/19 to 2/24/19

Another week in the trenches, and other week of submissions, rejections, and miscellaneous literary endeavors.

Words to Write By

This week’s quotes comes from, uh, *checks notes* Wayne Gretzky?

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

This is a quote from the greatest hockey player to put on skates (I know that, and I’m not even a hockey fan), but, damn, does it apply to just about everything, including writing. I send out a lot of submissions–one-hundred and twenty last year–and those are, well, shots I’m taking. They don’t all score, of course, but each time I send a submission I have a chance of acceptance. If I don’t submit, I have zero chance. The writing and submission gig can be a tough one. Rejections are as common as weeds, and some of them have thorns. They WILL get you down, and that’s okay, but you still gotta take those shots. Just ask Wayne Gretzky. His career shooting percentage was 17.6%, so even he missed a few, and, hey, they still call him The Great One.

The Novel

My next revisions of Late Risers is on hold while I finish a novella for Privateer Press. I wrote 8,000 words of it last week, and I’ll bust out another 8,000 to 10,000 this week.

Short Stories

It doesn’t get much slower than this, folks.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Yep, no submissions and a single rejection last week. I’m not exactly setting the world on fire in February. I did send a submission yesterday, and I’ll send a few more in the next day or so. That’ll put me up to 10 for the month, which keeps me on pace for 100 submissions for the year.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

2/20/19: A Week of Writing: 2/11/18 to 2/17/18

The usual weekly writing update.

2/22/19: The Rejection Archives: Rejection #84 (Personal)

Another entry into my Rejection Archives series. This one covers a personal rejection with excellent feedback.

Goals

I’ll finish up the first draft of my novella for Privateer Press this week, and then I’d like to get some short story submission out.

Very Short Stories

So, I’ve started writing microfiction on a daily basis on Twitter under the prompted hashtag #vss365. It’s a great exercise trying to fit a story into 280 characters and a hell of a lot of fun. I’m gonna start rounding up the weekly crop of scribbles on these updates. If you want to get these tiny tales in real time, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

February 23rd – Prompt: Lame

They call me a leg breaker, but that ain’t right. Bones hurt, but soft tissue remembers. A guy hears that meaty pop when I shred his ACL, and he knows he’s gonna hobble like a lame horse forever. If that don’t remind him what he’s done wrong, he’s always got another leg.

February 23rd – Prompt: Humble

The men who come for me with crosses and holy books are sinners in pride, Daddy says. He hurts them, and I’m always hungry after. I know it’s wrong to waste the Lord’s bounty, and Daddy makes what he calls humble pie. It’s warm and red and just what a growing girl needs.


How was your writing week? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 2/11/19 to 2/17/19

Yikes. How did it get to be Wednesday already. A little late with this update, but here’s my writing week that was.

Words to Write By

This week’s quotes comes from Sylvia Plath.

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

– Sylvia Plath

I’ve been in a bit of an acceptance drought to start the year, and the rejections have been piling up. Despite my admittedly thick hide, when rejections attack en masse they can wear me down. So, when that happens, and I feel like I’ll never sell a story again, I often read quotes about rejection from famous authors. This one is short and sweet and right on the money. Rejections are nos, certainly, but they’re meaning is greater than that. Like Sylvia Plath says, they say you tried, you put your work out there, and braved the literary minefields. Of course, if you follow this blog, then you know I think a lot of publishing is a numbers game. The more you submit (try), the greater your chances of acceptance, so it helps to think of each rejection as laying down another bit of road that will eventually lead to the next publication.

The Novel

I’ve started the next revision for Late Risers based on the notes from my agent. This time I’m going about things in a much more surgical manner. First off, I created a spread sheet that lists each chapter with a short summary of its content. That way I can treat the book kind of like a puzzle or maybe a delicately balanced Jenga tower. I can move or remove chapters and add in the new ones my agent requested. It’s been very helpful to view the novel this way, and it feels a lot less overwhelming. The first new thing I’ll write is the prologue, mostly because I know exactly what I need to do there, and the action in that bit will inform the rest of the novel. That said, this project is on temporary hold while I write the next piece of Stormbreak for Privateer Press.

Short Stories

This week was much more active than weeks prior.

  • Submissions Sent: 4
  • Rejections: 5
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0

The 4 submissions last week give me 6 for the month and 15 for the year. That puts me a bit off my pace for the 100 submissions I want to hit by the end of the year. I’m not too worried about that, though. I’ll get a few more subs out in the next week to get back on pace. Five rejections this week, and they were a little tougher than usual, mostly because I thought I had a pretty good shot with a couple of them. That’s almost always a mistake, and as hard it can be sometimes, I find it best to treat each submission like an eventual rejection, and then just treat each acceptance like a wonderful surprise.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

2/11/19: A Week of Writing: 2/4/18 to 2/10/18

The usual (if not timely) weekly writing update.

2/15/19: The Rejection Archives: Rejection #7

The second entry into my Rejection Archives series. This one covers a detailed personal rejection.

Goals

This week and next I need to bang out the words on the next Privateer Press novella. As usual, I’m shooting for something between 2,000 and 3,000 words per day, and the first draft should go very quick. Looking forward to it, and it’s always a good time taking another trip to the Iron Kingdoms.

Story Spotlight

I did manage to publish a story last week with Mystery Tribune. This is a reprint flash fiction story called “The Father of Terror.” It was originally published by The Molotov Cocktail, where it took second place in their Flash Icon contest. I made some very minor changes to this version of the story, but it’s still 95% the same story Molotov published. You can read “The Father of Terror” by clicking the link below

“The Father of Terror”


How was your writing week? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 2/4/18 to 2/10/18

After a month hiatus on the ol’ writing updates, it’s time to get back on that horse. Here’s how I did last week.

Words to Write By

This week’ quotes comes from Anita Shreve.

“To ward off a feeling of failure, she joked that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejection slips, which she chose not to see as messages to stop, but rather as tickets to the game.”

– Anita Shreve

I love this quote. Referring to rejections as “tickets to the game” feels so on point to me, because I truly believe they’re part of the dues every writer pays to grow, to get better, and to get published. Basically, you don’t get into the show without spending some time in the minors taking your licks. (Sorry, baseball analogy.) While I don’t think you need to celebrate rejection, taking some solace and strength in what rejections signify, i.e., you’re writing and submitting your work, is a good thing in my book.

The Novel

About a month ago, I sent my novel Late Risers to my agent for his first read. Last week, he got back to me with feedback. He said the novel was interesting and even compelling, but there’s some work to do before he starts subbing it to editors. I won’t go into a ton of detail here, but the highlights are essentially as follows. Punch up the beginning so the book stands apart from others in the same genre. Fix some issues that do not pass the “reasonable man” test. Add more action-oriented scenes that demonstrate certain key plot points. What I’m most happy with about this feedback is that I agree with 99% of it. More than him hating the book, I was afraid he might want changes that would drastically alter what I wanted to say with the novel. That wasn’t the case, and I feel good about where the book needs to go. Better than that, I feel like I know how to get it there.

Short Stories

Slow week, and so far a slow month.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

I only have two submission for February to date, but one of my favorite markets opens for publication next week and there are some new contests I want to enter. So, I predict I’ll end the month  somewhere between eight and ten submissions.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

2/5/19: The Rejection Archives: Rejection #1

A new feature on the blog where I’ll share a single rejection from my extensive library of no’s and not for us’s.

2/8/19: One-Hour Flash – End of the Line

Another entry into my one-hour flash series, hastily scribbled stories not quite good enough for submission.

Goals

The next revision of Late Risers will have to wait just a bit longer as I have a Privateer Press novella outline I need to work on. I’ll finish the outline soon, though, and get cracking on Late Risers again while the outline is under review.

Submission Spotlight

This week I’d like to call your attention to a short story contest hosted by one of my favorite publishers, The Arcanist. They’ve been a flash fiction publisher for the last couple of years, and this contest marks their first foray into longer fiction. The contest calls for short stories up to 5,000 words with a broad theme of magic. The deadline is 4/1/19. For more details about the contest, prizes, and whatnot, click the link below.

The Arcanist Short Story Contest


How was your writing week? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 1/7/19 to 1/13/19

Another week of writing come and gone. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’ quotes comes from Ernest Hemingway.

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”

– Ernest Hemingway

What I like about this quote is that finishing can mean different things to different writers. For example, I can finish a first draft no sweat. For me that’s a simple act of following the outline and putting one word after another. Same with the initial revision. I can take a pretty objective approach to my revisions, set a goal, and then get it done. My struggle is with the type of finishing that means someone else has to read the novel. That could be my critique partners or more recently, my agent. Because at that point, finishing means the work is going to be judged, and I will very likely have to make some hard decisions. I’m at the point now, and though I’ve done what I needed to do, letting go of the book was not easy.

The Novel

Late Risers is done-ish. What I mean is I revised the book to a place where it was ready for my agent to look at it. I spent last week finishing one more revisions, and then I sent the manuscript to my agent yesterday morning. As I alluded to in Word to Write By, this was not easy. In fact, it might be the most acute “submission anxiety” I’ve ever experienced. I expect to be making more revisions based on my agent’s feedback, but waiting to hear back from him is going to be a nerve-wracking in the extreme. So, what to do?

Instead of obsessing on a novel that’s no longer within my control, I’m going to work on another novel. It’s one I started last year and manged to get 30,000 words into it before I switched gears to the current novel. Now I’ll go back and finish the first draft, and it will be my next big project, and hopefully, the next manuscript my agent reads.

Short Stories

Got a few submissions out last week. Nothing earth-shattering, but still positive yardage.

  • Submissions Sent: 3
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0

All three submissions were to the same publisher, and the rejection came from a pro-market I’ve been trying to crack for years. One publication last week, which you can check out below.

The Blog

Just the one blog post last week.

1/7/19: A Week of Writing: 12/31/18 to 1/6/19

My weekly writing update.

Goals

With Late Risers as done as I can get it, I’ll move on to finishing the first draft of another novel. I also need to write/edit some short stories to get my submission rate up.

Story Spotlight

The story spotlight is “The Sitting Room,” a reprint published by Mystery Tribune last week. It’s definitely one of my darker pieces of flash, and it originally appeared in The Molotov Cocktail’s FlashFelon contest. You can read it by clicking the link below.

Read “The Sitting Room


How was your writing week?

A Week of Writing: 12/31/2018 to 1/6/2019

The first week of 2019 is in the books. Let’s see how I did.

Words to Write By

This week, it’s another of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing. This is #9.

“Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.”

– Elmore Leonard

This one might rankle some folks, especially those with the ability to write gorgeous prose that, honestly, I lack. With that in mind, I think it’s important to view Elmore Leonard’s rules as rules for a particular style. In fact, he said as much about his famous list:

“These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.”

So, rule number nine (and rule number eight, which is the same rule just about characters), resonates with me because it fits my style. I am largely trying to be invisible when I write a story, and I try to use a spare style to show instead of tell. It also lets me focus on things I’m better at (like dialogue) and minimize things I’m not so good at (describing people, places, and things). I do agree that Leonard’s rules can be useful to any writer, but there are certainly writers who flaunt many or even all these rules and are doing just fine.

The Novel

Almost there. I had meant to turn my novel Late Risers over to my agent at the end of the year, but I didn’t quite make it. I’m very close now, and I should be finished this week. I have a few more plot knots to untangle, but they’re not too scary, and I just have to dive in and write them into submission. Anyway, I dearly hope my next update will be that the novel is off my desk and that I’m waiting, terrified, for my agent to pronounce judgment on the manuscript.

Short Stories

Getting off to a bit of a slow start on the submission front for 2019, but it should pick up this week.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 2
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Both rejections were for stories submitted in 2018. I received my third rejection and sent my third submission for the year this morning. I’m shooting for 100 submissions for the year again. That’s roughly two a week, and, so far, I’m on pace.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

1/2/19: 2018 Review: Writing by the Numbers

In this post I reviewed my writing endeavors for that last year with lots of stats and a healthy dose of rejectomancy.

1/4/19: 100 Rejections: Achievement Unlocked

An in-depth look at the 100 rejections I received in 2018. Lots of rejectomancy here.

Goals

Same goal. Finish the final revision of Late Risers, get it off my desk and to my agent.

Story Spotlight

One of my favorite publishers, Pseudopod, recently updated their list of recommended stories for new listeners. I am very pleased to report that my baseball vampire story “Night Games” is now one of those recommended stories. You can check out and listen to the recommended list by clicking the link above or listen to “Night Games” by clicking the link below.

Listen to “Night Games


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 12/17/18 to 12/23/18

I’m late with the update for obvious reasons, but even with the holiday in full swing, I did manage a few writing-related endeavors.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from George R.R. Martin.

“Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.”

– George R.R. Martin

This quote might surprise some folks, but I’ll bet a fair number of authors would say Martin’s quote accurately describes them. It often describes me, and though there are times when I do enjoy the raw creative act of writing, there are plenty of times I don’t. That said, I think it’s important to note that even writers who don’t always enjoy writing probably still feel the need to write, the compulsion to tell that story or work on that novel. Then, when the writing is done, and you manage to publish something, that feeling of genuine accomplishment is pretty great.  I know chasing that “having-written” high is part of what focuses and sharpens my own efforts and keeps me plugging along through the endless revisions and rejections.

The Novel

I’m nearing the end of my last revision for Late Risers before I ship it off to my agent. As I said in my last update, I’m doing a fair amount of polishing with the language, much of which revolves around removing problem words and phrases. Last time, I spoke about overusing was, were, wasn’t, and weren’t, but those are only a few of the literary goblins that end up on the chopping block. For example, I also hunt down seemingly innocuous adverbs that add nothing to a sentence. I’m talking about words like still, now, just, up, down, around, behind, and so on. Of course, sometimes you need these words and some did survive the cut (often in dialog), but like any word on my hit list, they had to prove their worth.

Short Stories

Again, with the holiday, just a little activity here.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

That submission put me at 118 for the year and the rejection was number 99. I did receive rejection number 100 this morning, and I’ll post a full breakdown on that particular milestone in the new year.

The Blog

One blog posts last week.

12/18/18: A Week of Writing: 12/10/18 to 12/16/18

The usual weekly writing update.

Goals

Just one goal. Finish the final revision of Late Risers.


That was my week. How was yours?