“The trick with science fiction is not to prove that something--a machine, a technology, a history, a new way of being--would be possible. It's to temporarily convince us that it already exists.”
Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

13 Ways Of Looking At... Procrastination
Mon 2009-05-25 20:32:20 (single post)

So there's this One-Minute Weird Tales thing, which I may have mentioned before. At this time, there's just one on the site. Weird Tales would like there to be more, so, they're encouraging submissions. So I wrote a little something... oh, Tuesday. I think. Yeah. Tuesday.

I just submitted it today.

Why so long? Because I couldn't decide on a freaking title, that's why! Gah. But then, in a story 120 words long, the title comprises a non-trivial percentage of the text, right? Deserves a bit of thought, right? Possible not six days of thought, though. In any case, I stopped whiffling, and it's on it's way now. Go me.

In other news, I've started pulling another story idea out of the Demonbox and potentially into the light of other people's eyeballs. Kicking and screaming. See, I'm in Chicago. It's Monday night. Monday night in Chicago means Twilight Tales Open Mic! Or, as it turned out, Twilight Tales Mini-Workshop. I wanted to bring something short to share and get critiqued, just in case there was room on the schedule. So I spent much of today trying to decide which half-baked idea might profitably go back into the oven. And then, once I decided, I spent half the afternoon getting around to the blackbirds-leaving-the-wire moment of "OK, all right, time to get to work! Really!"

So I ended up leaving myself only 30 minutes to get a real draft done--as opposed to the "babble draft" that was sitting on my hard drive, containing characters with no excuse for being in the story beyond the fact that they were in front of my eyes when I wrote it. I mean, this two-year-old draft had "I Am A Writing Exercise!" written all over it. You read it, you can almost hear Natalie Goldberg's voice saying "What are you looking at? Fifteen minutes. Go." And this was not getting turned into something presentable in 30 minutes.

Which was fine. On the one hand, the event was well attended, and the last person due a turn in the hot seat ended up postponing until next time. No one was hurting for me not offering up more that my opinions on others' writing. (As to that: Gods, I'm a mouth. Sorry.) And on the other hand, the simple act of getting started on the draft was beneficial in and of itself. Now I have something else to work on during my multi-city writing retreat.

A bit about the "getting started." This came up on the Absolute Write forums: Someone started a thread called "How do you motivate yourself to write?" Someone who, much like me (more frequently than I like to admit), has a work in progress but has a hard time making themselves sit down and work on progressing it. And the thread turned into a real treasure house of strategies for beating writer's block. Writers being a varied bunch, the suggestions offered were wildly divergent. So... read it. If one trick doesn't work for you, another will. Some depend on guilt and duty, others on excitement and play. Others depend on psychology, hypnosis, mood-altering of the non-drug-related kind. Some mix and match!

My main contribution was about the "getting started" thing that I keep mentioning but not really going into. My issue is, once I get the right momentum going, it sustains itself. The trick is generating that momentum in the first place. I've got, like, rubber in my butt and springs in my ALT-TAB fingers--I sit down, I get up again; I open up my word processor of choice, I ALT-TAB away to some blog or other. What finally works is to identify the first bite of any given task: Reading the critiques. Fixing the teeny-tiny nit-picky stuff in the draft. Describing the one scene. Printing out the babble draft and scribbling notes on it. Something, some small nibble like that--it "tricks" me into entering the room where the story is, and being in that room at all will result in story happening. For five hours, if need be.

(I have to admit that being away from constant Internet access does help.)

So I'm all started now. With any luck (and discipline), I'll manage to continue the momentum tomorrow evening on the train. We Shall See.

(Boy, this entry fits under a lot of categories. Also, I'm sure we can dig out 9 other ways of looking at procrastination and make a nifty pastiche reeeeal easy. "A writer and a story / Are one. / A writer and a story and an hour of Puzzle Pirates / Are one." You can probably fill in the rest.)

Markets I Should Be Submitting Stories To, Part 1
Wed 2008-07-09 17:54:11 (single post)

In case you haven't heard about it yet, here's some submissions guidelines we should all be paying close attention to. Please note that I am not affiliated with Haunted Legends in any way except the usual, which is as hopeful author hopefully submitting a story to the editors.

Haunted Legends, to be published by Tor Books, seeks to reinvigorate the genre of "true" regional ghost stories by asking some of today's leading writers to riff on traditional tales from around the world. We don't just want you to retell an old ghost story, but to renovate it so that the story is dark and unsettling all over again.

Classic tales of the Jersey Devil, the spirits of the Tower of London, ghost lights, and phantom hitchhikers continue to capture the imagination. The Haunted Legends difference is that our contributors will tell the stories in ways they've never been told before.

We pay 6 cents a word, up to 8000 words.

The open-reading period will begin on midnight, EDT of July 15, 2008 and end 11:59p.m., July 31, 2008.

All submissions must be emailed as a RTF file to Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas at hauntedlegends@gmail.com. Please send no more than one submission. Please send no correspondence, such as queries, to hauntedlegends@gmail.com either before or after the reading period all mail sent to the address at any time other than the reading period will be automatically deleted unread.

Note that much of the anthology is full and that a large number of ghost stories, especially those with an American or UK origin, are thus already "taken" by authors who have been personally solicited for work. Your best bet for this anthology is to go far afield we are especially interested in renovations of traditional ghost stories from Africa, Latin America, and Asia, or in other tales that may not be well-known.

We also want to emphasize that we are interested only in traditional ghost stories made new again by the ingenuity of the writer. We do not want "campfire" versions of old stories, or slavish recitations. Think of new forms, new voices, new themes, new ways of considering these classic tales. Do not send us your trunk stories. It should be as though your version was always occulted within the classic rendition, but never before perceived or acknowledged.


And now, a brief AFAQ (anticipated frequently asked questions):


May I query you with an idea for a ghost story to make sure that it has not already been taken?

No, you may not. If you believe that your idea is already taken, you may wish to research another idea. Indeed, even if the idea has not already been claimed by one of the solicited authors, you may well still face competition from a dozen other variations in the slush. Novelty is your best approach.


Well, what if I query you anyway?

I may decide to give you a misleading answer, or no answer at all.


So how about if I query Ellen Datlow instead? She's the nice one, anyways.

You have misapprehended the situation. Let us put it this way: when was the last time Ellen Datlow had an open-reading period for any of her original anthologies? She doesn't want your queries either.


Can I just make up a ghost story?

No. You have to find an existing one and renovate it in an utterly brilliant fashion.


How will you will be able to tell the difference?

We are obsessive experts and we are friends with even more obsessive experts.


Is this all some kind of cruel joke?

I'd call it the end result of a large number of compromises, all of which were necessary to guarantee any sort of open-reading period.


This is madness! Why does everything have to be so hard all the time? Why are we pitted against one another in these awful competitions, and for crumbs? Crumbs, I tell you, crumbs! As if we were starving rats. I hate you!

Fools! Your despair only makes me stronger!

Don't look at me. I only copy/paste this stuff.
Hey! You! Submit to this anthology, buster!
Wed 2007-03-07 14:57:49 (single post)

So I have no real progress of my own to report, but I'm not letting that stop me from letting you (yes, you) know about a brand-new short fantasy market that wants your submission Right Now. It's over here. Check it out:

Magic & Mechanica is an anthology of high fantasy stories which chronicle the collision of magic and machines. The interaction of the mystic and the technological in a fantasy world is what we are looking for, a world alive with rational magicks and impossible machines. We are not looking for modern day or science fiction settings but those of high or heroic fantasy. Please note that time travel stories that bring even Victorian-era machines into a pre-industrial setting are not fantasy; they are science fiction stories set in a fantasy world (for without the time travel element - a purely science-driven one - there could be no story). This point cannot be stressed enough: science fiction stories will be rejected.
Half a cent per word on acceptance, no royalties mentioned. Sim-sub OK. Any word length OK. Deadline Aug. 1, 2007, subject to foreshortening should they accept their table-of-contents quota earlier--so if you're like me and don't have something appropriate ready to send right now, go pow-wow with your Muse and start scribbling!

(Caveat: I'm just summarizing the guidelines. Don't rely on me to be accurate. There's a reason I've provided the link. Click it, darn ya!)

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