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?

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

Another update on the writing week that was.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from Edgar Rice Burroughs.

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.

– Edgar Rice Burroughs

This is pretty much my writing and submission philosophy in a nutshell. I’ve written a lot of stories, and some of them are very bad. That said, even the bad ones taught me something, something I could apply to the next story and make it a little bit better. Those incremental improvements add up over time, and now if I write, say five stories, one is bad, three are mediocre, and one of them might be publishable. Still working on that ratio.

The Novel

I’m still in the middle of the final revision of my novel Late Risers and it’s going well. I’m primarily focusing on cleaning up the language, adding clarity and simply sharpening the prose. I find this is largely a process of subtraction, and I have a hit list of words, phrases, and other stuff that’ll get the chop. For example, I often overuse the “was” sentence construction, which can create unwanted distance, especially in action scenes. So, I search for every instance of was, wasn’t, were, and weren’t, and see if I can’t find a more descriptive (and active) verb. Of course, was is a perfectly fine word to use, and my novel still has plenty of them, but those that remain have earned their keep.

Short Stories

A little more submission activity last week than the week before.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 4
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

The four rejection last week put me at 98 for the year. So, getting close to my 100-rejection goal. Here are my current stats for 2018:

  • Submissions – 117
  • Acceptances – 19
  • Rejections – 98

I’d like to hit 120/20/100 for the year, and I have about two weeks to pull that off.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

12/10/18: A Week of Writing: 12/3/18 to 12/9/18

The usual weekly writing update.

12/14/18: A New Rejection Record

This past year I set a number of personal submissions and rejection records. This post details one – most rejection by a single publisher.

Goals

Keep pushing on that final revision of Late Risers for the hand-off to my agent at the end of the month.


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 12/3/18 to 12/9/18

Another weekly update on my writing woes and wins.

Words to Write By

This week it’s another does of wisdom from Elmore Leonard.

All the information you need can be given in dialogue.

― Elmore Leonard

I like this quote because it’s how I generally write. I use a lot of dialog, and it’s my favorite way of conveying the story and plot going on around the characters. Generally, I avoid long passages of exposition, but that’s not to say all exposition is bad. This is more of a stylistic preference. Of course, if your dialog is thinly disguised exposition, that’s not gonna work either. The characters need to sound natural and authentic when they’re talking to each other, and I think if it’s done right, you can deliver a lot of info to the reader without them even knowing what you’re up to.

The Novel

This week, I’m returning to Late Risers. I’ve addressed most of the big problems (I hope), and this next revision pass will largely be cleanup. I’ll work on fixing the little inconsistencies in the story as well as sharpening up the writing. Then I’m gonna give the manuscript to my agent, cross my fingers and toes, and hope for the best.

Short Stories

Not exactly a banner week for submissions, but I did manage to get one new story written and submitted.

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

One submissions puts me at 115 for the year. I’ve really slowed down this last month, but I’d like to hit 120 submissions before the new year. The shortlist letter I received is from a publisher that’s new to me, and it’s for one of my longer short stories. That’s be a nice one to end the year on if it comes through.

The Blog

Just one blog post last week. As with submissions, my blogging output has suffered a bit in the last month.

12/4/18: Submissions Statement: November 2018

My monthly report card for submissions, acceptances, and publications.

Goals

I’m back to work on Late Risers and pushing to squeak out a few more submissions.

Acts of War: Stormbreak

I sent in the final draft of the first part of my project for Privateer Press. It’s called Acts of War: Stormbreak and it will complete the story I started in the novels Flashpoint and Aftershock. We’re telling the story in this third installment in a unique way, and here’s more about that from Privateer:

Beginning with the upcoming Winter Rampage event kicking off in January 2019, the ongoing contest for control of Llael will continue—and the shape of the Iron Kingdoms to come will be decided by you, the players. Connecting the Winter Rampage, the spring narrative league, and culminating at a final climactic event at Lock & Load 2019, the Stormbreak storyline continues the Acts of War series penned by Aeryn Rudel (Flashpoint, Aftershock) and will conclude the saga of the liberation of Llael. Written in four parts, the Stormbreak fiction will be published online for free, setting the scene for each of the Organized Play events that it covers. Key factors reported by the players of each event will not only influence the next event but the storyline itself, as Rudel reactively writes each of the segments following the Organized Play events to illustrate the changing world and the shifting storyline based on player feedback. Ultimately, Llael’s destiny will be revealed, and the player-driven outcomes of events will decide the fate of key characters featured in the storyline, including whether or not they survive the final battle and what form, if any, they may take in future battles of WARMACHINE and HORDES. We’ll also see in the introduction of a new technology that will change the shape of warfare in the Iron Kingdoms, forever. (If you’ve read Watery Graves by Chris Jackson or “The Devil’s in the Details” by Miles Holmes, begin speculation…now!)

Full details here. Keep an eye on the blog for more information about Stormbreak.


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 11/19/18 to 11/25/18

Hey, all, here’s another week of writerly workings.

Words to Write By

This week I return, once again, to the hallowed wisdom of Stephen King.

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

― Stephen King

I love this quote because it exposes the often brutal truth of the writing experience. Well, for me anyway. Yeah, sure, there are times when I feel like stardust and sunshine are flowing from my fingertips onto the page, but that’s pretty rare to be honest. On the other hand, the shoveling shit thing? The writing when I don’t feel like it? That I am very familiar with. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m not great at judging my own work, especially when I’m churning out the first draft. That feeling of the unknown, of god, I hope this isn’t total garbage, can really color my emotions when I’m creating. Despite those emotions, I have to do what Stephen King says. I have to go on, and I usually do. Invariably, when I go back and read what I’ve written the next day, it’s never as bad as I feared. Hell, sometimes it’s even pretty good.

The Novel

I finished the first draft of my project for Privateer Press and sent it off. This week, I’ll dive back in to revisions on Late Risers while I wait for notes from Privateer. I’d like to finish revisions of the novel by the end of the year. I think that’s doable.

Short Stories

Like last week, I was pressing to finish my project for Privateer Press. Add to that the Thanksgiving holiday, and, well, I didn’t get much done with submissions. Despite that, it was a pretty good week.

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

So, the one submission and pair of acceptances put me at 113 submissions for the year and 18 acceptances (I’ve since received a 19th). I’m still at 97 rejections for the year, but I have 10 submissions pending, so I should break that 100 mark in the next week or two.

The Blog

Again, sadly, just one blog post last week. I’m back on track, though, so count on at least two this week.

11/20/18: A Week of Writing: 11/12/18 to 11/18/18

The usual weekly update on submissions, rejections, acceptances, and other writerly things.

Goals

It’s back to work on the novel and maybe finish up a new short story or two.

Submission Spotlight

This week I’d like to call your attention to the latest flash fiction contest from The Molotov Cocktail. This one is called Phantom Flash, and here’s a bit about what they’re looking for:

Time to get weird. The Phantom Flash contest focuses on the strange and surreal, on the otherworldly and unsettling, on the things that just don’t have any rational explanation. Let your minds wander to the darkest corners of your imagination, where the fluidity of dreams pours over concrete realities. The parameters for this contest are as boundless as the cosmos.

Final deadline on this one is 1/31/19. Full submission details in the link below.

Phantom Flash Guidelines


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 11/12/18 to 11/18/18

Late again and missing a week, but I’m back on track with another weekly writing update.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from comedian, actor, producer, and writer Carol Leifer.

“As a writer, the worst thing you can do is work in an environment of fear of rejection.”

—Carol Leifer

I think it’s important for a writer to envision every story they send out getting accepted and published, and, at the same time, accepting there’s likely going to be a rejection or two (or ten) along the way. Carol Leifer’s quote resonates with me because while you have to expect rejections, you can’t let the prospect of getting rejected keep you from writing and submitting your work or submitting your work to the best and toughest markets. You have to keep writing, keep submitting, and come to an understanding that rejection is just a part of the process. It helps you get better, it helps you find the best markets for your work, and it helps you develop that thick skin every creative person needs. In my opinion, that’s nothing to fear.

The Novel

Revisions on my novel Late Risers is on hold for a bit while I work on a project for Privateer Press. Last week, I wrote 10,000 words on that project. I’d like to tell you more about it, and I will soon, but for now I’ll just say it’s nice to step back into a familiar story. 🙂

Short Stories

With the new project for Privateer Press and a few other things, I didn’t get a lot done submission-wise last week.

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

With this tiny bit of activity, I’m at 112 submission and 97 rejections for the year. It would be nice to end the year with 100 rejections and 20 acceptances (currently at 17).

The Blog

Just one blog posts last week.

11/16/18: Submissions: No Accounting for Taste

In this post, I take a look at how editorial taste can influence rejections and acceptances.

Goals

I’m going to finish up my current project with Privateer Press this week, do that Thanksgiving thing, and then get back to work on the novel.

Story Spotlight

My flash fiction story “The Last Scar” was published by Trembling with Fear last week, and you can read it for free by clicking the link below.

“The Last Scar”


That was my week. How was yours?