A Week of Writing: 4/22/19 to 4/28/19

Seven more days down. Here’s the writing week that was.

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from Louis L’Amour.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

— Louis L’Amour

I come back to this quote a lot when I’m struggling with a story, a novel, or especially a novel revision. You see, the hardest thing for me is getting started. I have a tendency to build up whatever project I’m working on into this terrifying monolith of impossible work that I psyche myself out before I even start. So, what I have to do is grit my teeth, open that Word document, and just START. Sometimes that’s as simple as rereading and revising what I worked on the day prior, and almost always the fear fades away, the goal becomes clearer, and I can get to it. It’s not exactly writer’s block, but I think it stems from the same place: fear. I’ve found that fear is kind of like fire; it’ll spread if you give it more fuel. So I take Mr. L’Amour’s advice, turn on the faucet, and put out that fire.

The Novel

The revision of Late Risers continues, and last week I again made good progress. I’m about a third of the way through, but I expect my pace to accelerate once I get past the first act where the bulk of the revision is happening. My focus remains on adding new material and then making everything downstream fit that new material. Last week this meant completely removing some chapters and moving others around (with slight adjustments). The result, so far, is a first act that moves quicker and gets to important plot elements as they are happening instead of the characters finding out about them second hand. Anyway, I hope to get to at least the halfway point this week.

Short Stories

Still lagging a bit with submissions, but I did manage to get one out last week.

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

Though I only managed one submission, an acceptance and two publications kind of makes up for the lack of activity. The acceptance was my second microfiction acceptance, and the publications were the aforementioned microfiction and a reprint flash piece. You can check out both publications below.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

4/22/19: Weeks of Writing: 4/15/19 to 4/21/19

The usual weekly writing update.

4/26/19: The Random Rejection Generator v1.0

This is just a bit of fun rejectomancy where you randomly generate your own form rejections.

Goals

Still chugging along on the novel revision and trying to get short story submission out. The focus remains on the former.

Publications

Two publications last week. A microfiction piece called “His True Name” at 50-Word Stories and a flash fiction story called “Big Problems” at Jersey Devil Press. You can read both by clicking the links below.

“His True Name”

Published by 50-Word Stories (free to read)

“Big Problems”

Published by Jersey Devil Press (free to read)


And that was my week. How was yours?

The Random Rejection Generator v1.0

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I like to have a little fun with rejections (it helps keep me mostly sane), and I’ve created a number of activities writers can do with their nos and not for us’s to make the process less heart-breaking. My last creation was Rejection Bingo, but this time I want to give authors the chance to create their very own rejections with my new Random Rejection Generator!

Here’s how it works. Just grab a six-sided die and roll it once for the INTRO, once for the BAD NEWS, and once for the CLOSING to generate your random rejection.

INTRO

1) Thank you for submitting [story title] to [publisher], but
2) We appreciate your interest in [publisher], but
3) Thank you for considering [publisher], unfortunately
4) Thank you for thinking of [publisher], alas
5) Thank you for sending [story title], but
6) Thanks for giving us a chance to read [story title], but

BAD NEWS

1) this story is not what we’re looking for at the moment.
2) we are going to have to pass on this one.
3) your story does not fit our current needs.
4) this one is not for us.
5) we will not be using your story in this issue.
6) this one didn’t quite grab us.

CLOSING

1) Please keep us in mind in the future.
2) We look forward to your next submission.
3) Best of luck placing this elsewhere.
4) We wish you all the best with your work.
5) Best of luck finding a home for this.
6) We appreciate your interest in our magazine.

So, for example, if I rolled 1, 2, 4, my random rejection would be:

Thank you for submitting “When the Woodchipper Whispers Your Name” to Buckets-O-Blood Quarterly, but we are going to have to pass on this one. We wish you all the best with your work.

Or if I rolled 6, 3, 5, my random rejection would be:

Thanks for giving us a chance to read “Vegan Vampire Vengeance,” but your story does not fit our current needs. Best of luck finding a home for this. 

How might you use the Random Rejection Generator? Well, for fun, mostly, but, hey, if you get a no-response rejection, feel free to roll up a random rejection on the table for some closure. Of course, the current version of the Random Rejection Generator only produces standard form rejections, but keep an eye out for a new and improved RRG with options for higher-tier rejections.


Roll up your own random rejection and post it in the comments or throw out suggestions for the RRG v2.0. 🙂

A Week of Writing: 4/15/19 to 4/21/19

Another week in the books. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

The quote this week is another of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing.

Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people.

– Elmore Leonard

I think Leonard meant this literally, in that it’s an old cliche best avoided, but I think there’s something else to be gleaned here from “The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people.” What I get from that is, basically, open the book (or story) with characters doing and experiencing things rather than static descriptions. Like all of Leonard’s rules, these are useful guides for writing in a particular style, and may not be a perfect fit for everyone. They work for me, though, and I tend to use his rules as a kind of checklist when I’m reviewing my manuscript. In fact, the original opening to my novel was a little, uh, weathery, so I revised it and opened with characters doing stuff important to the plot. The new opening is one I hope prompts readers to ask: Who are these people? Why are they doing these things? More than that, I hope it prompts folks to read further in search of the answers to those questions.

The Novel

I continue to make good progress on revisions with the novel. Its going slower than I’d like, but I feel like the changes are good. Last week I added a lot of new material, made adjustments immediately downstream for that new material, and plotted out where further changes would need to be made. This week, I’m adding more new stuff, cutting some of the deadwood, and, again, making changes to existing chapters to fit with the new stuff. The main thrust is that I had a very talky novel, and while some of that talking was interesting and important and will remain, it needed more “people doing stuff,” especially in the first act. At this point, I’m gonna stop setting deadlines for this revision and default to a simple “soon.”

Short Stories

After getting back on track in the weeks prior, I’ve derailed this week.

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

Yeah, not great. My focus has been on the novel, and I think that’s where it needs to be for the moment. I’ve got stories ready to submit, and I might send out a few this week, but if I don’t, I’ll catch up next month.

The Blog

Only one blog post last week, but I got more planned for this week.

4/15/19: Weeks of Writing: 3/24/19 to 4/14/19

A big catch-up post of the past three weeks of writing and submissions.

Goals

The novel is priority and will command the bulk of my writing time. Though I’ll try to get some short story submissions out, I won’t beat myself up if I don’t.


And that was my week. How was yours?

Weeks of Writing: 3/25/19 to 4/14/19

Well, I fell behind on these again, so here’s a three-week catch-up of the weeks that were.

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from Stephen King

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.”

– Stephen King

I’m kind of a fitness nerd, so likening the imagination (and the writing process) to a muscle that must be exercised on a regular basis make a lot of sense to me. Like working out, it’s something you have to do even when it’s the last fucking thing you want to do. If you want that literary muscle to get stronger, you have to use it, and though the first thing King lists, writing, can be hard enough, it’s those other things, especially the failing and revising, that really stimulate literary growth for me. As I continue to revise my novel, I’m definitely learning, getting better, and next time I’ll be stronger and faster because of it.

The Novel

Well, my goal for finishing the revision of Late Risers by mid-month was a little optimistic, but the extra time I took was mostly planning and additional outlining, and that’s paying dividends now. I’m in the thick of the revision, and I like where things are going. The story feels stronger, more cohesive, and the changes and additions I’ve made are leading me to some very interesting and, I hope, compelling places. In short, I feel good about how the novel is shaping up, and even though my writer brain is screaming at me not to trust this feeling, I’m gonna run with it and hope it gets me through this round of revisions.

Short Stories

What’s below accounts for roughly three weeks of submissions, and I’d say I’m back on track for the most part.

  • Submissions Sent: 10
  • Rejections: 8
  • Acceptances: 2
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0

So, those 10 submissions put me at 34 for the year (6 in April). That puts me on pace for around 120 submissions in 2019. I need to get out three or four more in April to stay on target, but that shouldn’t be difficult. A fair amount of rejections in these past three weeks, and a few of them were heart-breakers, but the acceptances and a publication softened the blow somewhat.

The Blog

Here are the blog highlights for the last three weeks.

3/27/19: Submission Top Ten: Shortest Waits

This is a list of my quickest rejections and acceptances, including what I consider an unbreakable record.

4/1/19: A Month of Microfiction: March 2019

Just what it says on the tin. This is all the Twitter microfiction I wrote last month.

4/8/19: Micromanagement: 4 Benefits of Writing Tiny

In this post I explore some of the benefits of writing microfiction.

Goals

I’d like to finish the revision of Late Risers by the end of the month, but if it takes a bit longer, that’s okay too.

Publications

One publication over the last three weeks. I took 3rd place in The Arcanist’s Magical Story contest, and you can read my entry, “Paint-Eater,” by clicking the link below.

“Paint-Eater”

Published by The Arcanist (free to read)


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

Submission Statement: March 2019

March has come and gone, and here’s how I did for the month.

March 2019 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 12
  • Rejections: 7
  • Acceptances: 3
  • Publications: 2
  • Submission Withdrawal: 1

Okay, this was a pretty good month. A dozen submissions is great, three acceptances is even better, and, hey, seven rejections isn’t too bad, especially since a couple of them were “good” rejections. I also had a couple of publications for the month, which I’ll link at the bottom of the post. I did have to withdraw one story after my status queries went unanswered, but that just happens sometimes.

March’s totals (and one in April) give me twenty-nine submissions for the year, which puts me back on pace for one-hundred. I’m also up to five acceptances, which is roughly the same pace I was on last year. Of course, I hope to exceed that.

Rejections

Seven rejections for March.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 5
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 1
  • Personal Rejections: 1

I did receive a nice personal rejection and a very nice upper-tier rejection, which is the spotlight rejection for the month. (As usual, I’ve removed anything that might overtly reveal the publisher, the story, or any personal information).

Dear Aeryn,

Thank you for considering [publisher] for your story, [story title]

Unfortunately we have decided not to accept it.

As much as we wish we could, we can’t publish every good story that comes our way. Truthfully, we’re forced to return a great many stories with merits that make them well worthy of publication, including yours.

Your story did, however, reach the final stage of our selection process–one among an elite group. Less than 5% of stories make it this far. That is no small feat.

We wish you the best of luck finding a home for your story elsewhere, feel confident of your success in doing so, and hope to receive submissions from you in the future.

This is my second close-but-not-cigar rejection in a row from this pro publisher, so as disappointing as it to get this close again and not make it through, I am definitely getting a very good idea of the types of stories I need to send. Hopefully, my next attempt (or the one after that) will end in an acceptance.

So, what should we take away from this rejection? Well, the most obvious thing is what has pretty much become my motto here on the blog: good stories get rejected too. Even though I didn’t get published here, I feel confident I have a good story, so I subbed it to another pro market, and if it’s rejected there, I’ll sub it to another, and another, and another.

Acceptances

Three acceptances this month, one of which is new territory for me. My microfiction story “Treed” was published by 50-Word Stories. I just started writing microfiction, so that’s some nice validation I’m doing something right. If you’d like to take a gander at the microfiction I’ve been writing, I gathered all of March’s micros in this post.

The second acceptance is with Jersey Devil Press for my reprint flash fiction story “Big Problems.” This is a new publisher for me, so it’s great to get an acceptance on my first submission. That story will be out in April, and I’ll point you all to it.

The last acceptance is from my old pals at The Arcanist. My short story “Paint-Eater” took third place in their Magical Short Story contest. That one will be free to read sometime later this month.

Publications

Two publications this month, the aforementioned “Treed” and 50-Word Stories and a flash piece called “Far Shores and Ancient Graves” at NewMyths. Both are free to read by clicking the links below.

“Treed”

Published by 50-Word Stories 

“Far Shores and Ancient Graves”

Published by NewMyths 


And that was my March. Tell me about yours.

Submission Top Ten: Shortest Waits

Last week I showed you my ten longest waits for submissions. This week, I’m gonna flip the script and show you the ten shortest waits. So, without further ado, here they are:

Time Elapsed Result Sold
1 10 minutes Rejection
2 17 minutes Acceptance Yes (2)
3 46 minutes Rejection
4 49 minutes Rejection Yes
5 1 hour, 37 minutes Rejection
6 1 hour, 52 minutes Higher-Tier Rejection
7 2 hours, 30 minutes Rejection
8 2 hours, 58 minutes Rejection
9 3 hours, 22 minutes Rejection Yes (3)
10 4 hours, 6 minutes Higher-Tier Rejection

Instead of going through each one of these (they’re all pretty similar), I’ll just give you the highlights.

  • Yep, 10 minutes is my record, and it’s one I’ll probably never break. You might be thinking, “Wow, they must really hate your work,” but that is apparently not the case, as they’ve since bought a story from me. This market is just one that rejects quickly, and they could likely tell within the first paragraph the story wasn’t going to work for them. You might also be wondering if I just really screwed up the formatting or missed some other crucial guideline. I thought the same thing, and I went back over the submission with a fine-toothed comb. As far as I can tell, the submission was formatted correctly.
  • My second shortest wait was an acceptance, which is another record I doubt I’ll ever break. They bought another story from me a few weeks later, but the response took almost THREE DAYS, an eternity compared to the first submission. 🙂
  • There’s ten spots here, but they only cover four markets. One of the markets has five slots, and another has three. These are both well-known for rejecting (and accepting) very quickly.
  • Three of the stories here I’ve gone on to sell to other markets, sometimes multiple times as reprints. I’m only pointing that out because the speed of rejection often has a lot more to do with the market than your story.
  • Most of these are form rejections, but there’s a couple of higher-tier rejections, and I’ve even gotten full-blown personal rejections with tons of feedback on next-day responses. So, just because a market responds quickly doesn’t meant they didn’t read your story or gave it due consideration.
  • You might be wondering if these speedy rejections bother me. They don’t. I appreciate how quickly these markets respond, as it means I can send the story out again (or make revisions) almost right away.

That’s my top ten shortest waits. Tell me about some of yours, especially if you’ve beaten my record time for a rejection or an acceptance. 🙂

A Week of Writing: 3/18/19 to 3/24/19

Back on track with the weekly writing updates. Here’s the week that was.

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from the incomparable Ray Bradbury

“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”

– Ray Bradbury

I touched on this a bit last week, but I think it’s worth talking about again. Obviously, if you want to make it as a writer (at any level), you have to learn to accept rejection. That’s a given, but what might Mr. Bradbury mean by “rejecting acceptance?” I think what he’s not saying is don’t enjoy acceptance or success. Those little (or even big) victories are important to celebrate (though, admittedly, I suck at it). What I take away from this quote is you can’t rest on your laurels or believe an acceptance, even to a prestigious market, means you no longer need to work on your craft. I think it’s about an attitude of stopping for a moment to revel in success, but always with a mind to what’s next? What can I improve? How can I get better?

The Novel

I’ve finished with my chapter summary spreadsheet, and it has been an enlightening process. I was really able to pinpoint where I need to do the most work and how best to incorporate my agent’s feedback. This week I’m going to plot out the new material, add it into the spreadsheet, make notes of changes it’ll create downstream, and then start writing. I think my mid-April goal is still a possibility, but I don’t want to rush the process. I’d rather take a bit longer and do it right than give in to the urge to finish, finish, FINISH! 🙂

Short Stories

Not exactly burning it up this week.

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

Yep, just one submission, but it’s a story I’ve been working on and revising for–I shit you not–seven years. So getting it to the point where it’s ready for submission felt like a victory. Still time in March for me to send a few more submissions and hit my numbers toward the goal of 100 submissions.

The Blog

Three blog posts last week.

3/18/19: Weeks of Writing: 2/25/19 to 3/17/19

Catching up on the weeks I missed.

3/20/19: Why I’m Not Writing: Procrastination

This post deals with the ever-present bane of deadlines and finished manuscripts: procrastination.

3/22/19: Submission Top Ten: Longest Waits

In this post I took a look at the longest I’ve had to wait for a response to a submission and how it turned out.

Goals

Broken record time: continue with revisions to Late Risers and send out more short stories.

Very Short Stories

Had a pretty good crop of microfiction last week. Here are the top three, in my humble opinion.

March 20th – Prompt: Pseudonym

He does his job under a pseudonym. Sometimes he goes by cancer, or stroke, or heart attack; other times he’s car accident, killed in action, or simply victim. No matter what he calls himself today, his true name is writ large and bold across each of our frail bodies.

March 21st – Prompt: Magnify

A demon walked into Lucifer’s office with an idea.
“I’ve invented a way to magnify human evil so it’s easier for them to be terrible to each other,” the demon said.
“Wonderful! What’s it called?”
“That’s the best part. It sounds harmless. I call it ‘social media.'”

March 23rd – Prompt: Assassins (theme not word)

He began his career with a gun. When it got too easy, he used a knife. After that, he just strangled his hits, and we thought we’d seen the pinnacle of the hitman’s art. Then they found Jimmy Moretti, eyes wide, mouth open, not a mark on him, literally scared to death.


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