“Some days you battle yourself and other monsters. Some days you just make soup.”
Patricia McKillip

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

in which i help you catch me in reruns
Wed 2021-05-19 22:13:24 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 983 words (if poetry, lines) long

Heyyyy! Two blog posts in two days--spiffy. And I'm doing this even though I'm already over my five hours of writing and writing-related tasks for the day, and 4thewords.com is telling me that I've surpassed 8,000 words. It's cool. Like I said yesterday, shit-ton of overdue things. On which I am making progress. Which takes time. So.

One of the overdue things is telling you about my recent appearance on The Story Hour! That happened on May 5. I didn't manage to get a blog post out to let y'all know (other than the heads-up wayyyyyy back in January announcing that it was going to happen), but I did holler about it on Facebook and Twitter, so I didn't neglect my own PR entirely.

Anyway, when I volunteered for it back in January, I decided on which stories I was going to read--mostly based on their adding up quite neatly to no more than 30 minutes--and sat back and waited for the calendar to cycle. I'd chosen two stories, one short ("One Story, Two People"), and one very short ("The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner"), and, knowing that they were both tear-jerkers, I intended to practice a lot in hopes of inuring myself somewhat to the feels. And then suddenly it was April 30 and I hadn't practiced hardly at all, and, well, panic.

I did manage to sneak a little practice in during that last week, and a good thing too, because in addition to the danger of crying over my own fiction, there were also voicing challenges. I'm pretty OK at giving characters distinct voices, but in "One Story, Two People" the two titular people appear at every stage of their lives from ten-year-old children to women in their 60s. So each of their voices, in addition to being distinct from each other, needs to sort of age as the story progresses. I'd love to hear what a real trained narrator could do with that story. I did my best.

And I only cried a little at the very, very end. So I guess that little bit of practice paid off.

ANYWAY. If you missed the reading live, you can go back any old time you've got an hour to spare and watch the video on Facebook. (No Facebook account necessary to view it.) I read during the second half-hour. But don't skip ahead--Lora Gray reads during the first half-hour, and you do not want to miss that. The three stories they chose to share were amazing and wonderful, full of family and transformation and identity and power both overt and quiet, lots of heart, unexpected gentleness, and rich detail you can lose yourself in. I do hope you check them out and become as much of a fan of their writing as I have.

And I hope you consider becoming a Story Hour regular, like I have. I started listening earlier in the year, feeling that if I was going to be a featured artist, I should also be a regular audience member. Karaoke and open mike etiquette, right? Be the audience you want to see. And now The Story Hour has become an integral part of my Wednesday nights. Sometimes I'll work on a hands-on project while I listen--Postcards to Voters tonight, cross-stitch or crochet or knitting other nights, and, hey, maybe I should spin, when did I last pull out the spinning wheel?--and sometimes I'll just kick back with a drink and a handful of treats in case Holland drops by. It's just such a nice way to end the evening.

And now the evening is indeed ended, more or less--and I need to sneak in some of my PT exercises before bed. Off I go!


what all of mine got published in hell year
Thu 2020-12-17 23:18:58 (single post)
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Just a short note today, because my day started late and went slowly and now I'm tired. But there is Actually Writing content, so yay for that.

Way back in April, I woot-wooted over having a poem newly accepted: "The Ascent of Inanna", originally a short-short then reimagined as a 22-line poem, was purchased by Dreams & Nightmares for publication in Issue 116, then-upcoming in September 2020. I am happy to report that my contributor's copy reached me safely despite this year's postal wonkiness, and it has been added to my Happy Shelf. While I wish I could just give you a link you could click to go read the poem (and the rest of the issue), there's something kinda fantastic, in an old-school way, about having a copy I can hold with pages I can riffle through. (Exceedingly affordable copies are available for purchase from the editor at the link above.)

Captain Holland, of course, has demonstrated a predilection for chewing on things made of paper. To keep the production of the above photo tragedy-free, I put my copy of the magazine inside the clear-sleeve front cover of a three-ring binder.

I am reminded by my colleagues on Twitter that it's time to make Awards Eligible posts. That is, to list all the things I had published this year, so that you can go read them and, if you wish, nominate them for awards. The very thought makes all the brain-weasels in my addled pate rear up and holler, "Who the hell do you think you are, suggesting that people nominate your drivel for awards? The nerve! The effrontery! The very idea! Hmph." So, OK, here is a list of things I had published this year, so that you can go read them. If you wish. The end. OK? *Nervously glances at brain-weasels* OK. (And I'm only including the word and/or line count to give you an idea of how much of a time investment reading each involves.)

Short stories

"The Rarest of Prey" in Daily Science Fiction (102 words)

"One Story, Two People" in Community of Magic Pens, print anthology, Atthis Arts (2600 words)

Poetry

"The Mardi Gras Tree" in Eternal Haunted Summer (34 lines)

"The Ascent of Inanna" in Dreams & Nightmares, print journal, see above (22 lines)

Reprints

"The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner" in ep. 431 of Cast of Wonders (980 words)

I do not think that reprints are award-eligible. But this is not an Awards Eligible list. It is a list of stuff I had published in 2020, that's all. So "Soup Witch" belongs on that list.

So now I have fulfilled my promise to blog about Actually Writing "tomorrow" and thus may go to bed with a clear conscience. Huzzah! (There'll be more in days to come, of course; this was all I had the oomph for posting tonight.)

on becoming a little wonder
Thu 2020-09-24 22:15:23 (single post)
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And now, a more cheerful post: My story, "The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner," is live at Cast of Wonders!

It's one half of Episode 431, "Little Wonders 27 - Old Ladies". The other half of the episode is C. M. DiGirolamo's "Grandma Geraldine Sees a Dragon," a story that alternates effortlessly between the comic and the numinous. I enjoyed it very much. And I was surprised to see this was her Cast of Wonders debut, too; I was sure I recognized her name. A quick internet search jogged my memory: I'd read her excellent and moving "Monster-Killer" at Daily Science Fiction.

I'm so pleased and proud about this publication! Adam Pracht does a gorgeous job narrating my story, unhurried and understated and matter-of-fact, the better to sneak that punch to your heart in at the end. I'm envious of how he manages to get through the last line--I can't get through the last line. I tried. I had to pause and take several deep breaths and I still choked up. (It's sort of embarrassing.) (What's also embarrassing is how wordy that earlier version at Patreon is. Ouch.)

Host Katherine Inskip has lovely things to say about my story. I'm still blushing.

Please go check it out, and make sure check out other recent episodes as well! Cast of Wonders has long been a favorite podcast of mine, and I'm beyond thrilled to get to be part of their line-up.

reporting from the personal writerly bright side of 2020
Tue 2020-09-01 16:37:53 (single post)
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Happy September all! I have a couple of things made out of words coming out where you can see/hear them this month, and I thought I should let you know.

"The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner" - Cast of Wonders: This story, originally a Friday Fictionette, was accepted and contracted for reprint back in January. This immediately helped guaranteed that, whatever happened, my 2020 was going to have a bright side. This past weekend, I received word that the story is with its narrator and is slated for publication in a September episode.

Cast of Wonders is the leading voice in young adult speculative fiction, podcasting a new episode every week. Most recently they have been serializing "The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz (and her Exceedingly Tiny Dog)", written by Alex Acks and narrated by Sandra Espinoza. It's up to Part 5. Part 1 is here. Go check it out!

"The Ascent of Inanna" - Dreams and Nightmares: Originally a flash fiction story entered in a Codex contest in early 2020, then whittled down to its heart and soul and reimagined as a poem. D&N accepted it back in April and scheduled it for their September 2020 issue. And now it is September 2020!

Dreams & Nightmares is a long-running print magazine of speculative poetry and flash fiction. You can buy single issue (I obviously recommend the one for September 2020) or subscribe. Subscriptions are available in two flavors: six-issue and lifetime. Lifetime sounds like a bit of a gamble until you figure that A. it's only $90 and B. the magazine's been printing issues since January 1986. The landing page of the magazine's website is a blog whereon the editor posts something tiny every day. Usually it's a tiny poem. Sometimes it's a tiny something else.

The numbers! Publishing even a small amount of stuff is largely a numbers game. Which isn't to say it's not also a matter of craft and quality. Just, the more manuscripts of craft and quality that one submits, the more chance of a manuscript happening to cross the desk of an editor inclined to purchase publication rights. Here are my numbers for 2020 so far, including a few submissions and rejections already logged for September:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2020
Submissions: 10 10 15 8 5 9 11 7 3 78
Rejections: 8 11 13 9 4 11 6 7 1 70
Acceptances: 3 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 5

Next time: the August 2020 Friday Fictionette round-up.

Cover art incorporates and modifies illustration from page 7 of Mjallhvít (Snow White), an 1852 icelandic translation of the Grimm-version fairytale, via Project Gutenberg.
on the benefits of high pressure fiction practice; also a recipe
Thu 2020-02-06 18:12:43 (single post)
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Hey, I just posted another overdue Friday Fictionette yesterday! It was the release scheduled for January 17. It's called "The Huntsman's Assignment" (ebook, audiobook) which, yes, is a reference to the dude who gets sent out to kill Snow White and bring back her heart in a box. It isn't a Snow White retelling, but the assignment remains. Look, it comes with a content note for suggested harm to children. Best go in knowing that.

Now I'm working on the January 24 release in hopes to push it live tomorrow night. It's looking like Momo fan fiction. You know Momo? The lesser-known children's novel by Michael Ende, author of The Neverending Story? The little girl who listens, and the Men in Grey who convince everyone to "save time"? Ok, so, the Jan 24 story-like object is about her, but all grown up and living in a complicated world, and, well, apologies in advance, but I'm about to commit mild character assassination.

I do not always write grim cynical things! OK, the drabble forthcoming at Daily Science Fiction is pretty cynical. But the stories forthcoming at Cast of Wonders and Community of Magic Pens are sweet! Bittersweet, maybe. But they are guaranteed to contain a significant portion of your daily recommended intake of hope and heart! Promise! But... sometimes the grim stuff comes out. You're not surprised, right? I also write horror. You know this.

On a related note, I'm realizing yet another benefit I'm getting from the Friday Fictionette project: behind schedule as I am, I'm still getting a lot of practice at producing presentable story drafts in a very short amounts of time. The Magic Pens story has my Friday Fictionette practice to thank for its existence. Mostly written all in a single evening, but still polished enough to submit and sell? That's not something I could have done without some five years' practice writing four short-shorts a month.

So the project is stressing me out some as I scramble to get back on top of the release schedule, but my writing skills are improving in all sorts of ways because of it. And of course now I have this huge stable of reprintable flash fiction, which has led to two paid publications to date. So. Conclusion? Worth it.

All right. Time for a recipe. Let's talk West African Peanut Stew

I've been making a lot of this lately. And eating a lot of it, too. I could probably eat it three meals a day for three weeks and not get bored. It's hearty, nutritionally dense, and full of complex flavor and texture. It's super easy to make, and it's a great excuse to haul out Mawmaw's big iron gumbo pot.

(Gods I love that pot. Me and that pot, we talk chicken fricassee, we talk mushroom bourguignon, and we definitely talk gumbo. But, yeah, we've been talking peanut stew a lot.)

From looking around the internet, I can see this recipe from Budget Bytes is only one variation on a wider theme; the Wikipedia entry for peanut soup led me to a couple that look really interesting. But the Budget Bytes recipe is convenient, as it's not particularly time consuming or difficult to prepare, and its ingredients are all readily accessible at any bog-standard mainstream U.S. grocery store. I don't have to plan too hard about it. All I gotta do is pick up some sweet potato and a bunch of collards on my regular Friday grocery run. Maybe a can of tomato paste too, since I don't have much on hand all that often. It's also vegan and gluten free, which means I can make it for pretty much anyone I know who isn't allergic to peanuts. And as long as they like things like sweet potatoes and collard greens, I guess.

My vegetarian husband doesn't care too much for sweet potatoes and collard greens, which means 1. more for me, and 2. I can carnivore it up if I want. Last time I made it, I added bacon. I cooked three big slices of bacon until the grease covered the bottom of that iron pot. Then I took the bacon out, chopped it up, and set it aside to be added back in along with the broth, peanut butter, and tomato paste. So basically I substituted bacon grease for olive oil, because I fear no cholesterol (thanks, genetics!). But the other adjustment I made was to throw the chopped-up collard greens in to sautée with the sweet potato chunks, because I'm less interested in collards boiled in soup than I am in collards fried in bacon grease and then boiled in soup.

Meanwhile, I'm making the brown rice in the multicooker. This last time I actually used the BROWN RICE function, not the PRESSURE function. I still don't know how the two functions differ, but it worked just fine. 2 cups brown rice to 2-3/4 cups water, set the timer for 22 minutes, turn it off when it beeps and allow it to sit 20 minutes longer before releasing the pressure. Definitely turn it off; leaving the multicooker to KEEP WARM for too long resulted in burnt, dried-out rice that one time I made that mistake.

Also, don't mistake the BROWN function for the BROWN RICE function. "Why? Why are you beeping at me? What is your emergency? ...Oh. RIGHT. Got it."

It took me maybe three days, maybe less, to get through all of it. Now I am ready to make more. And tomorrow is Friday! Friday is grocery day! How convenient!

Cover art incorporates and modifies 'Mirepoix' by Matthew Yglesias (CC BY-SA 2.0)
i reveal more details. i also jump up and down a bit.
Mon 2020-01-27 23:48:05 (single post)
  • 990 words (if poetry, lines) long

So this past Friday I received an email indicating that the contract I signed Tuesday was complete, all parties had signed it and everything, so this thing is real and I can tell you everything now:

My very short story, "The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner", originally a Friday Fictionette and the Fictionette Freebie for March 2018, will be produced and podcast by Cast of Wonders, part of the Escape Artists podcast family and the leading voice in young adult speculative short fiction. I do not at this time have a specific air date, but I will report the moment I receive one.

Or at least the moment I have a moment to blog after that.

I may have mentioned that this is one of my dream markets? Very much so yes. I've been listening to a lot of their recent episodes, pretty much every time I've got a drive of at least twenty minutes' duration--and January is a great time to listen to Cast of Wonders, since that's when they replay their favorites from the previous year with all new commentary from the staff member who fell in love with each story--and I keep telling myself, "This is awesome wonderful fantastic fiction and someone decided my story is good enough to hang with them."

I can't quite get over it.

The acceptance letter includes a reminder that, hey, obviously we like your stuff--please send us more the moment we're open to submissions again! So OK. I shall.

I'm currently writing this post off-line. Every other Monday I'm in Longmont for the evening, charging the Volt at Village at the Peaks and putting in a work session at The Post Brewing Company in Longmont. The chicken is amazing, the beer is tasty, and the bartender is good company. Unfortunately, their wifi has been kaput for a couple months now. But! I have a new flip phone! It's an Alcatel Go Flip, rather an epiphany after the 8-year-old Samsung M360 I was limping along with until it took a fall onto cement a couple weeks ago and cracked its housing and severed the connection to the display. And this brand new flip phone, it has a wifi hotspot as long as I don't mind spending my entire teeny tiny data plan allowance on it. So I was able to do today's Submissions Procedures session and enjoy the Post's amazing roast bird with garlic mojo--right up until I ran my phone out of battery. At which point I switched to composing blog posts offline.

(Update: I will probably be increasing my data plan just a little. Tonight's hotspot session used about 45 MB mobile data, and my grandfathered plan only includes an eensy 25 MB. Which was more than sufficient when I had a phone that never did more with data than send or receive the odd photo, when the sending or receiving of photos could actually be bothered to function. It didn't always. Hell, the Samsung couldn't even surf the web without choking on SSL. But things are different now, and I'd better adjust.)

This phone--well, it's kind of like when John and I got the Volt. We simply could not get over the fact that we now owned a vehicle with modern features like cruise control. I can't get over that I have a phone with wifi and an mp3 player and viable import/export of .vcf format contacts over bluetooth and the ability to access its storage via my laptop over USB. Things any old modern dumb phone ought to be able to do. Things that should not be so exciting except that I'm enjoying them for the first time now. Whee! "Hey, who else is available to time someone's 27-in-5?" says the coach, and "Me me me me!" says me. That's how stupidly excited I am to have a stopwatch with a lap counter on my phone. (The Samsung did not have a stopwatch. It did not have a timer. It had a function called "Countdown" which was exactly the same as a calendar reminder only without the ability to input a text memo.) Listening to podcasts in the car is a lot simpler now; the phone has less storage space than my laptop, but it's a hell of a lot less clunky to deal with at stoplights. Also it doesn't fool the car into thinking I have a passenger who forgot to buckle their seat belt.

Oh! So, if anyone out there reading this is familiar with the Alcatel Go Flip: I found one review claiming that it can handle .m3u playlists, but it didn't go into detail, and I can't for the life of me figure out how. Meanwhile I'm kludging playlists by editing tracks' Album metadata. If anyone is able to share a more graceful way to make the Alcatel Go Flip do playlists, I'm all ears.

All for now--I'm trying to keep my blog posts short and sweet so that 1. they don't take me an hour and a half to write a post, and 2. I stand a chance blogging once daily rather than weekly or, gods forfend, monthly. More tomorrow AND I MEAN THAT THIS TIME. Good night!

collecting data and assembling furniture
Thu 2018-05-10 22:06:47 (single post)
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So... let's not talk about yesterday. Well, OK, let's; it's a very short story. The story is this: Brand-new epiphanic schedule reversals can only do so much when you're so bone-weary from the previous evening's off-skates workout that you can't get out of bed. (Seriously. How do my teammates do all those things and still go to work the next morning like functional adults?) It's fine--I did a little of most everything on the list. But it was an uncomfortably late start.

Today was much better. It was pretty much perfect. Well, except for that part where I totally forgot I had a 4:45 appointment in Longmont. I was hip deep in polishing tomorrow's Friday Fictionette offering when the 4:15 reminder went off. This is why I make myself reminders. Other than that, things were awesome. I have logged another great day's worth of evidence supporting the new schedule theory, and it isn't even 6:00 yet. (I've begun this blog post from the bar of the Outback Steakhouse next door to the building that houses Cafe of Life, where my 4:45 appointment was. I expect I'll be finishing it later tonight, after scrimmage, though.)

This morning I was bubbling with ideas for today's short story revision session. I wound up taking those ideas on a short walk around the block, talking myself through them out loud and getting weird looks from neighbors. Then I sat down and spat out notes about those thoughts all over the story draft. (This would be another example of learning from self-observation: having learned that I work best by alternating periods of writing with periods of thinking about writing, I'm now deliberately scheduling time for the walking-around-thinking phase of the cycle. I'm counting it on my timesheet, too. YOU CAN'T STOP ME.)

During the contest I wrote it for, "Survival, After" got some feedback along the lines that maybe we need to see what life was like before. This is a fantasy story, so we can't just assume mundane here-and-now reality before the apocalyptic event. Also, in order to make the story an actual story and not just a verbose outline of a story, I need to give the protagonist a real, tangible life that got interrupted by the apocalyptic goings-on. They need to have memories that mean something to them and add emotional and thematic content to the story. Those are two problems in search of the same solution, which I began implementing today.

It's a little like architecture, or maybe like assembling prefab furniture according to blueprints I'm writing as I go along. Insert tab A into slot B. Assemble boards and nail them together just so. Open bag labeled COMPACT FLASHBACKS and affix contents to the story where indicated.

strike that. reverse it.
Wed 2018-05-09 00:07:13 (single post)
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I HAD AN EPIPHANY YESTERDAY. About the extreme difficulty of getting to the short story revision part of the day. About my entire work-flow. ABOUT HOW TO FIX IT.

First up in the equation is time.

I write more efficiently and productively in the mornings. That's just a given. The long day is still ahead of me, I'm awake, I've just had my first mug of tea and done all the morning-wake-up things, maybe I've had a little walk around the block, I'm ready.

I do not do so well in the afternoons. I have a hard time circling back around to the writing after a couple hours not writing--whether it's making lunch or going out and getting it, doing household chores or running errands, or even just having a well-deserved play break. Two o'clock comes round and everything about me says "noooooo." Sometimes I wind up just crashing from sudden fatigue. The afternoon shift quite often doesn't happen.

And then there's tasks.

It's easy to get my "daily gottas" under way. They are rote, they are mechanical, they have the inertia of habit behind them. The stakes where they are concerned is low. Fictionettes are not guaranteed to be sparkling undying literature, and freewriting is no-holds-barred crappy-as-you-want-it idea generation. It is play.

It's so much harder to jump into the revision process. The stakes are off the charts. Making things perfect becomes my job, and it is a scary job.

There you have it. We have two times of day, one that lends itself more effortlessly, more energetically, to the writing than does the other. We also have two types of writing tasks, one that is much easier, brings lower stress, and feels more fun than does the other.

So.

Here's where I *facepalm* forever:

I have been pairing up the unfriendly time of day with the more difficult writing task. WHY. WHY AM I STUPID. Why would I do that to myself? Why would I take a hard thing and make it harder? That is not a nice thing to do to myself! That is not what we call reasonable expectations! Seriously, this is basic self-observation, writing efficiency, Rachel-Aaron-2K-to-10K stuff: Gather data, find out how you work best, and then work that way! Do not attempt to work in a less-than-best way! That way lies less-than-best work. Sheesh.

So! In the name of getting out of my own way already, today I tried reversing the workflow.

For my morning shift: Submission Procedures and Short Story Revision.

  • I submitted "Soup Witch" to a new market. A big one! Big enough that I've never submitted to them before, but always thought, "No, this isn't good enough for them." But, hey, DON'T SELF-REJECT, we have people to do that for you, they're called editors. (I kid. Except I don't.) Anyway, they happily take second publication rights, they don't seem to care where the first rights were used up, and they specifically publish for a younger audience. IT'S PERFECT.
  • I reread the Cast of Wonders submission guidelines for Banned Books Week and this time my eyes snagged on the bolded words new stories only. They in fact they don't want reprints for this particular call. Whoops. (In my defense, I don't think I'd looked at the guidelines on Submittable before, but only at the very brief guidelines at the CoW website. So. I guess I will not be emergency-editing "Making Friends" for them after all.
  • Upon not finding anything in my searchable manuscript list that's unpublished, less than 3,000 words, and in any way to do with libraries, I resigned myself to returning to the rewrite of "Survival, After." Which is fine. Honestly, I feel like I was using EMERGENCY DEADLINE REVISION DISTRACTION as a way of avoiding it, because it's hard. All revisions are hard.
  • So I worked on the bit in "Survival, After" about the singing beef jerky. (It gets its own scene in this longer version.)

For my afternoon shift: Freewriting and Fictionette Prep

  • Freewriting. Yay! For a writing prompt, I turned to InspiroBot, who gave me this creepy beauty. Be strong! Don't die!
  • Fictionette. Drafting is coming right along. It's too long, but that's OK; Tuesday is early days. I've already condensed two characters' functions into a single character, always a welcome development when writing flash fiction.

And for my lunch break, I...

  • Did some household financial chores.
  • Played about an hour of Spiral Knights!
  • Then spent an extra couple hours avoiding getting back to work.

So the rearranged schedule is not a panacea. But! It helped. I did not at last look at the disapproving clock and decide there was no point trying to fit a meaningful session of (difficult, impossible, nebulous, ill-defined) short story revision into the hour and a half remaining before I had to get ready for derby. Instead, I thought, OK, 25 minutes for freewriting and another, oh, 45 minutes for fictionettes. Golden! And off I went. I damn near made myself late for derby because I was not going to put down the fictionette draft until I'd soundly defeated the possessed Villager and taken their stash of Dust and Wood (4TW brings all the motivation), but I did it.

One day does not constitute a sufficient body of evidence, but it'll do for proof of concept. Let's see how well it works tomorrow.

a tent door closes, a submissions window opens
Thu 2018-05-03 14:00:26 (single post)
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The April 2018 edition of Camp NaNoWriMo is over. Toward my goal of 40 revision hours, I got about 10.75. Toward my story submission goal of getting all five Weekend Warrior contest entries revised and submitted, I got a whopping zero. I started one revision but still have not finished it. Still, I did revise and submit something else along the way! So. Not ideal, but toward my meta-goal of "have a healthier daily workflow that regularly moves my commercial publication goals along" goes, it's a dang good start.

I've had to put "Survival, After" on hold again, though. Cast of Wonders has reopened for submissions! But not for general submissions, so I can't simply resubmit "The Soup Witch's Funeral Dinner" there (my one completed revision and submission in April) as the folks at Podcastle suggested doing. I ought to have submitted it during their most recent general submission period. I could have done! Podcastle sent me the rejection letter with that suggestion the day before the April 15 deadline, and then by the morning of deadline day I had received the rejection letter from Cast of Wonders for the story I'd had on slush with them at the time. So I could have submitted it without it being a simultaneous or multiple submission! I had about half a day's window to get it in. But I didn't get moving until late that night, however, at which time I discovered that they reckon end-of-day according to Eastern Time Zone hours.

Alas.

Cast of Wonders's next general submission window is probably going to be August 15. That's kind of a long way off, so I'll be looking for some place I can resub "Soup Witch" in the meantime. It would have to accept Patreon reprints of about a thousand words in length that either read a little young or a little like a fairy tale. There must be somewhere, right? Quick! To the Submission Grinder!

Meanwhile, here's what the current Cast of Wonders submissions window is about (in case you want to play along at home). They're preparing for Banned Books Week by inviting submissions appropriate to the theme of libraries. So I've dug through the Friday Fictionette archives for a potential reprint more likely to fit the bill: "Making Friends," in which a lonely orphan child, having learned the pros and cons of friendship from reading through her guardian's carefully curated library, tries to put those lessons to work.

It is not going to be simple. On reread, I'm struck by what a mess it is. The beginning rambles. The ending abruptly cuts things off just before the two main characters can meaningfully interact. It is not made clear what the protagonist's situation actually is. Also the role of the Duchess's library could be heightened just a bit, just to give the story a clearer connection to the theme, but only once I've cleaned up the major malfunctions.

The good news is, with a maximum word count of 3,000, I've got all sorts of room in which to let the story unfold. The bad news is, once again, I'm going to need to generate new draft. It'll probably take me right up until the May 15 deadline to finish.

Well, if it does, at least this time I know not to leave it until ten o'clock at night.

lather rinse whine repeat
Thu 2018-04-05 00:33:42 (single post)
  • 1,097 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 727 words (if poetry, lines) long

I have been slowly working my way through the revision of "Survival, After." It was under 750 words when I first wrote it; it had to be, given the constraints of the contest I wrote it for. Now it just has to be whatever length it needs to be in order to succeed at what it wants to do. Turns out it needs to be longer than it was; no surprises there. New scenes need to be created. Existing scenes need to be fleshed out more, their implications teased out. New rough draft needs to be written. And that's not fair! This teeny tiny short-short story was supposed to only need a quick once-over before it was ready to submit somewhere! I don't want to write new rough draft! New rough draft will itself need to be rewritten! Where does it end?

Fiction is frickin' fractal.

Today I wound up working on something different. Yesterday, during the submissions procedures portion of my work day, I discovered that a market I want to submit to is in the middle of a submission call for themed fiction under 1,000 words. And this market is not only reprint friendly--reprint encouraging, in fact--but it's also Patreon reprint friendly. I think "The Soup Witch's Funeral" might fit the theme pretty well, but I'll have to trim it down to two-thirds of its length first. I got a start on doing that today. Looks like when I get through this first pass it'll have gone from 1550 to maybe 1250, and I think I can do a second pass to tighten it up the rest of the way tomorrow. Then I'll be able to submit it.

And then I'll go back to writing brand new rough draft for the "Survival, After" rewrite. And rewriting the new material. And whining about it.

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