Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A PS to Update May 26

A PS so soon.

But I was able to work on my Novel--”Two Struggles” if anyone here remembers my pervious posts on that novel...of course a few won’t. 

But I’m also stuck. I said I could use some help with figuring out where background info should go, well, I’m at one of those points. My MC’s Mentor was a Secret Service agent and now works for a clandestine boss. But I think that bit of detail breaks up the flow too much where I have it. I’ve already moved it twice--keeping thinking.

I couldn’t help myself today at work I started a story on the 12 seconds premise. I will probably finish it tomorrow or the next day. It’s has a different way of using that term and maybe is a touch humorous. It probably won’t go far though since it’s very simple even though different for me.

I mentioned that I forgot to place a stamp on my last SASE to Fantasy and Science Fiction. Well they did place their own stamp on it an included a handwritten pointed note about it.  It’s the only personal note for the story of course. But Scot P over there will have a week without my story, wonder if he will enjoy it a bit if he notices at all.   

My Reading: "The Iron Wyrm Affair"

"The Iron Wyrm Affair"  by Lilith Saintcrow

Interesting in that there is an interview with Ms Saintcrow in the back of the book.

But before I get into more on the book, that last name would make an interesting premise for a story. I may use it some time.

Anyway, the book is steampunk, Lots of magic. Ms Saintcrow did a great job in forming the world and characters. She did her own way of magic, guards and augmenting humans and animals.  The adventure was great and she was able to put her MCs (Yep, she has two) into more and more danger. Even though she may not be as skilled at that as some writers but still it is a well done book and worthy of being read. Well, the world is very dark which for myself lessened my enjoyment but still I will get the next one, which is out. She also keeps the characters separate both main ones and a couple of minor ones are each very unique to each other.

She used a dragon in a unique way and some time I will borrow that idea even though of course with my own twist.

Check it out http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-iron-wyrm-affair-lilith-saintcrow/1106244224?ean=9780316201261

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Update May 26

  I was able to do some work on my to be E-published novel during the memorial day weekend but I rediscovered something. Chapter two needs a lot more work than I recalled and I somehow lost the connection or bridge to ch. 3. I had been thinking I could be done with Two this weekend but now it might take at the very least two more weeks with the other stuff I am working on.

    Of course the  WotF Q3 story can wait, since I have another month to do it. I just have one more crit, could be two soon, to go over. I thought I had most if not all of the misspelled words fixed but evidently I added a bunch more. I have no other stories to crit at this time, that could change soon though. All that means that I should have some time to work on the novel this week combined with what I get done on Memorial Day maybe I could be done with the chapter in one week but we shall see. 

    One problem is that I could use help with Chapters Two and Three. In both I have some of the background and previous adventures of my MC. It’s hard to figure out where to put that info. I originally had most of it in ch. One but it made that chapter way too long and broke up the adventure she was having. So I placed most of that in ch. Two but yet again it still made it way too long and broke up the progression of the story. Some of it can be fed to the reader a bit at a time over the length of the book. I have noticed that published writers do that. But which details and exactly where do they go? 

    That is the problem I am having, the rest of the novel is Okay--well, I’m sure there are many writing issues but at least I know where things go and how to do the scenes. I could really use some help with those chapters Two and Three though.  Preferably by a published writer but I doubt I’m going to be getting such so I guess I will just march on. 

One more thing about this week. I belong to a writer’s forum that has a challenge every year. The winner gets the latest Writer’s of the Future Anthology--number 29 in this case-one that is signed by the top winner. For those who don’t know WotF has three winners every quarter but they also have one top winner every year. 29’s top winner is going to sign the book for the winner of the challenge. For those who haven’t been reading this blog for long I gave up on all of the challenges put on by this forum. There’s usually five or so per year. I got tired of landing on the bottom most of the time. The rest of the time I landed in the middle.  Obviously they don’t think much of my writing and/or stories. Which is normal, editors don’t either thing much of my writing either. 

Anyway, the entries are down this year, which is a surprise, they usually have a ton for this challenge. So I thought maybe I will give it a try. Just have to write a story by May 31 having to do with 12 seconds--anything at all. That premise was chosen because the top winner’s story is titled “12 Seconds”. I will think on it and see if I can get something I think is unique. I figure it will be a thousand words or less, which gives me time to write it and revise it. I may have to put aside the stories I am working on at the moment-which includes that novel--but I think I can do it. But I have done that before so it’s not a big deal, except for the novel. (Shoulder shrug), it’s a challenge and I like to take on writing challenges--and sometimes other types. But we shall see what I come up with. I could cheat, I have one story that could have 12 seconds added in without changing the main story. 

In a previous update I mentioned how many stories I have out. Make that one less. One market most have changed their address while I wasn’t looking, so I need to find the new one and resend that story next week. Along with a new story to F&SF.  Oh, that reminds me I also have to revise that story this week. I have done some work on it and I don’t think it needs a lot more so it probably doesn’t need much more. 


Seems like there was something else I could say but can’t recall what right now so more than likely there will be a PS as usual.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Venting on Seanan McGurie's book "Ashes Of Honor"

A bit of venting here this time at one of my favorite writers.

The other day I was thinking of a certain scene in what I think was one of Seanan's books.  I was explaining the use of the five human senses to another writer and how Seanan handled the sense of taste in that scene. I find that one hard to figure out in most cases. While reading Seanan's book I noticed how she used it so I described to this writer how Seanan put it in.

However that got my mind on Seanan and her last book. That reminded me of something that happened in "Ashes Of Honor" that did not sit well with me.

Now I am going to be very general with my comments here because I don't want to have this be a major spoiler so they may not make as much sense as I want them to make. However if you read the book I believe you will understand what I am referring to.

In Ashes, Seanan puts in a very minor character, not at all unusual or bad, but she does something with this one that isn't good. At least for me. The character does something to help--I won't go into details--but something bad happens to them.  Again not totally unusual and even not necessarily bad. However in this case it almost seems like Seanan forgets about that character.  Daye, the MC of the book, spares that character a thought but it seems added on and incomplete.

Bad things have happened to other minor characters, in various books, even characters that help the MC but as I said this it stuck me wrong and again as I said it feels incomplete like Seanan forgot and had to go back and quickly add something.  This person is a hero and heroes should not be forgotten.

Of course it's possible that it could be fixed in the next book, I shall see if so.  

Even with all this said, I am going to keep reading the Daye books, Seanan is still a very good storyteller--even if this was a mistake, and I will keep recommending her.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Another May 12 PS

Okay sent in a new one to F&SF. But oops I believe I forgot the stamp on the SASE. Not sure how F&SF deals with that. Some markets would never contact me. A couple would go ahead and use one of their stamps. I believe I did this a couple of years ago but I forget what happened. 

So we shall see next week.

I wonder what Scott P. At S&SF thinks about all the alchemy tales he is getting from me lately.  The one I sent last Saturday was one, and even though I’m skipping next week, the one after will be one and probably the week after that.  

And still working on me Q3 WotF story.

Recently received a new crit for that story...now this one is the one I wanted. Lots of nitpicks found. The last three crits had a total of six nitpicks which I found amazing if true. This one has like eight and more per page. Some pages have so many side comments that the list goes beyond the page--have to click on an arrow to get more. 

As I said I wanted it but at the same time Ugh, so many. That's after I tried to find them.

Some are missing words--some of those are done on purpose--I noticed that many pros skip and-s and then-s.

The person who did this crit also split some of my sentences but a few or those were done on purpose to--we tend to think in phrases not whole sentences especially during action. 

I feel better about this story than my Q2 and some of the others I sent in. I think it has everything it needs, is the right length, good descriptions, try-fail cycles and even some angst. Of course I have thought that a time or two before and I ended up with no evidence that anyone else agreed with me.  And it's my writing so even if it is better--in writing and in story--than previous tales I sent in that still may not get it very far. But neither of those thoughts interfere with how I feel about it.   

Okay, an addition to my ranting last time.

I forgot to mentioned that when Dean Wesley Smith called me to say that I was a natural born storyteller he said that I had one problem that could be fixed. Grammar. So I bought some grammar books and read them--reread them--reread certain sections. That is when my writing improved for a while. Maybe that ingredient that I keep getting wrong is grammar. I might have reforgotten something after that period of time. 

I have also wondered if I tried too hard to do what editors want and lost my voice.

I don’t know if either of those things is true or if fixing them would help that much. (Shoulder shrug) wouldn’t hurt to reread the grammar books a couple of more times though. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Changing Sands of Indie-POD publishing

Wow, read this rather long post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Busines-Rosch blog


If you are thinking of Indie publishing or are doing it Read It.

Things have changed dramatically.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Update May 12 PS and Ranting

    Okay, I have 14 stories out right now-could be more I sometimes forget a story or three that I sent out. The number is changeable as soon as one or more comes back in a day or three.  It’s not as many as I used to send out on a regular bases I would have 16 to 22 out at one time. I’ve had more a time or two but I forget what the highest number has been, probably around 25-26. 

         I used to send out stories every week, now it’s when I remember and/or when I get around to it. I’m just not as excited about it as I once was, which might be why I tend to forget. And why I haven’t felt like writing the last few days at home. I  have done some at work but almost out of habit. 

       People are impressed with the numbers--even though I have known people who make my numbers look small--of stories I send out and if stories I write--writing most days gets you a lot of stories. I’ve impressed two editors with my numbers of both.  I’ve also been told by other writers that they are envious of the number of and types of ideas I come up with. One pro editor called my to say I’m a natural born storyteller. 

But all that is practically useless. I get nothing for it. All of that is the easy part of writing in comparison. As I have mentioned before I’m stuck on a plateau half way up the side of a mountain. Nothing I do gets me higher--well, a couple of feet maybe not far enough to get to the next level.  

For a while I tried hard to find the “sliver” rule that would get me selling. There isn’t one. Writing is more a mixture like a recipe. A good or bad technique changes the whole. Like making strawberry shortcake from scratch. 

I can come up with a new recipe: add cinnamon to the shortcake and a touch of lemon to the whipped cream that sounds good. I can find very good strawberries, use a nice butter, but then I use cream that is slightly sour, and use corn meal instead of wheat flour for the shortcake. It probably would look funny and taste bad, as a whole. 

To make it better I find a good butter to use, great fantastic strawberries, figure out that I used soured cream, so I fix that. But still use corn meal and this time I bake the shortcake at a slightly lower temperature. Still not right. Next I try even better butter and a top cream, still use corn meal so still not right.  

Next I try adding craisins because I see that three pro bakers use them and people love it. But no one likes them in mine. Maybe no one wants to tell the pro bakers they don’t like the craisins, I use too many or not the right brand, or the people love the rest of the shortcake so much they don’t mind eating tiny bits of what they don’t like. 

Still using corn meal though and I don’t know it. 

***This is all me, the vast majority of people who work on writing improve so keep working on it: practicing and learning.***

Sometimes I think I’m closer to giving up on publishing, not writing, again. I did give up once but I worked on the story I ended up writing for me still trying to do my best so I ended up sending it in anyway and off I went again. Oh, this feeling of giving up isn’t unusual evidently most if not all writers-including pros go through it sometimes.  It seems natural. 

And all this comes from not just a few rejections.  I sometimes post a story on the Universe Annex section of Bean’s Bar...it a forum for the publisher Bean Books. The annex is a paying market they have for short stories, They have one assistant editor and other posters crit the stories with the idea that with enough revisions the story will become buyable. It has worked for some--not me. I have probably posted over 25 stories in three or so years. A few have had between 7 and 9 revisions with crits from the writers and editor. Nothing. Well, there was one three years or so ago--they were not buying at the moment though. Before and since I haven’t even come close..no one even says that my story was great with good writing as they have done for other posters.  

I belong to one forum where the forumites have challenges every so often. I’ve tried around ten challenges, First, second and third places and I don’t even come close. In those that I know I was either bottom level or middle at best. I gave up on them. 

Even though I know of writers who get personal comments by some editors I don’t even though those I’ve sent over fifty stories to. Which is suppose to make a difference.   

So I keep using corn meal and don’t realize it which means I keep working on the wrong areas.  

One more thing for those who don’t know me. About six years ago I had a period of time I did good. Used wheat four and everything came out as it should pretty much. No awards but a Master chef said what I produced was good--twice. He even bought one of those. Three stories I wrote during that time received Honorable mentions at WotF. HMs are the first level of three of four on the way up to winner. Obviously my stories still needed work but at the same time they showed improvement. But somehow I forget something and dropped off the cliff. Landed on that plateau I have referenced. Can’t get back up even that far.  

Another book WotF 29

Great stories in this here book. Even if they may not be all to your liking the writing is great and there is at least one essay on writing by a top pro.

Here  for B&N.

And here   from the source.   Check out the rest of the site.

It really is worth it and you can get  new calendar from WotF too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New book on history

This here book is different for me. It's non-fiction.
For history lovers there is.

 Savior Generals

A new book on five generals who not only beat their enemy but saved the day by doing so.

Victor Davis Hanson is a long time farmer, historian and Political commentator. He's taught collage and has other bragging rights. With this book he goes back to history, I've heard many interviews with him and he knows his history.   Ancient and contemporary--knows his politics also but this book is history.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Writing update May 12

Okay another update, as I mentioned in my last post.

As I said I sent in nine stories Saturday-three by snail mail six by internet. Would have been ten but got blocked at Asimov’s. Sheila Willaims finally rejected my last story so I decided to go ahead and send one now. But when I went online to send the story I found they had my old E-mail address which isn’t anymore. I searched but couldn’t find anyway to change it, I went over certain pages three times and couldn’t find anything. I might have zoomed by something obvious or something a little subtle but I still couldn’t find anyway. I sent an E-mail asking help. 

One of the snail mail markets is one I haven’t sent a story to for over a year. It wants specfic types of stories. Most of mine do not fit, but every now and then I write one I think might be close to what they want. I have two, this one I sent and another that is sort of the same. 

Got back a crit for my Wotf Q3 tale. The critiquer really marked nitpicks. The last three critters found five or six this person found that many per paragraph in some places. Going to be busy fixing them all. A glance makes it looks like a lot of them are commas. 

A holiday is coming up, I may go out on a lunch and shopping date with my wife and a couple of other things but I might be able to spend three to five hours working on revising one of those novels that I need to work on. 

Probably will be a PS or two. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Followers Thanks

According to my side app I have either one new member or two. The number keeps changing.

On top of that I don't recall three names. So did someone change their pic or drop off?

In either case thanks for the new person(s) I appreciate that.

Another update soon...I just sent out nine stories today and have another three or five to revise for the first time.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Yet another april 27 PS

Forgot to say in my last long note that I spent sometime today doing me stuff online.

I bought 10 songs from iTunes, took some time to search them out. Found out they now have all of the Love Song albums.  I assume most of you do not know who they are. They are who could be the very first CCM band to be recorded. Back then it was called Jesus Music. I can't say for sure they were the first because they were less known groups and a couple back East who recorded about then but they had to be close to the first--most well known at the time. Today they sound like they have country flavor to many of their songs and at least one album was listed as Pop not CCM. Few songs that could called rock I believe but yet most people loved them. Great words and some great music too even though not as good as many today.

And I spent time online along with my Nook to finally buy one E-book and one E-story I have been trying to remember to get for months. I ended up with four. One I think is from another E-writer, even though I don't know them. The first two I do know through the WotF forum. I also bought one pro book for 2.99. I wanted another one also but couldn't find it this time around.

However. I ended up forgetting three other E-books, all from writers on the hatrack Forum.

  This is writing related because I spent time doing that instead of writing, might have finished that one story I referenced last note if I hadn't but I finally kept a promise and got something I've been wanting awhile.

April 27 update PS

    A short bit here, I had planned on saying a couple of things but forgot one, so there could be another PS soon.  Probably should have made this a new update since it's May already but (Shoulder shrug) it still feels like a PS.  


 Working on my story for Q3 of WotF--for the new people that is Writers of the Future contest. Four contests each year. I added a plot line because they at WotF seem to like stories where the MC has overcome something from their past as well as the problem at hand. I sent it out to four people to critique--part of the hatrack writing forum--but even before I received the first crit back I decided to take out that plot line. It didn’t seem to fit as well as first did. And I was reminded that Dean Wesley Smith says Do Not Second Guess yourself or the editor. And I was reminded that he also says trust your instinct when it comes to story, especially later when you feel like revising it to pieces. So I ripped out the threads of the plot point. The stitches on that addition didn't really fit in with the tapestry I am making after all. And I believe there are a couple of minor changes too. 

How good the story really is will have to wait. Well, the story is good--the writing is another matter. 

Got three stories I'm actively working on now. I've been told I'm a natural born storyteller even even if that doesn’t help with writing. The other night I decided I needed to work on a story instead of critting, thought about starting a new one with lots of action- as in space battles, things blowing up and lasers and blasters firing a lot, but ended up working on one I hadn't worked on for a week and a half at least. I did the opening during that online workshop--Dean Wesley Smith said it was a powerful opening and I should do the rest of the story but try to what he calls crash different genre together. I thought about it for a few weeks finally decided to go with my original idea for it. But I'm not quite sure about one plot point. Would it really fit or not. It would make the story more complicated and longer but is it really needed? Can I explain another plot point without it? This story is basically like another story I just did. This one is realtionship-UF-paranormal with a touch of horror. The other one had more than a touch of horror though. I feel like I should go with the more complicated tale even though I'm not quiet sure of one other point. The MC has to go all out to save people and his wife, way beyond what he has thought he could go. Not at all unusual in stories but readers still like that plot. I realized though to put in this mysterious plot point--take too long to explain here--I had to go back to the near the beginning to put in something that hints at what is about to happen. And a couple of hints that my MC has had battles kinda like this before but on a whole lower level and with help. 

Decided I needed to rant at my writing.

I just can't get past that plateau I've been on for the last four years, as I have said before but I'm still there. Stuck half way up that mountain--again I thought I was making headway and again haven't moved. I forget if I said it here but someone on the WotF writers forum said that Mediocre was originally a mountain you had to climb. So okay this plateau I’m on is half way up that mountain. Need to find my voice again or stop doing the same mistakes I keep making. 

Thought I would send another story to F&SF this past weekend but it is longer and needs more work than I remembered. Of course it needs work--lots of it but I mean work I can do on it. Give Scott P. there a longer break which he might appreciate even though he probably doesn't read my stories all the way through anyway. 
Thought about sending that story Scott rejected cleanly but can't figure out where to send a just under 10,000 word story. I just sent one to IGMS, so I can’t send it there. 

And OH Boy got that one back in record time.  IGMS or (Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show) usually takes four to eight weeks to get back to me. This time it was two. Funny thing is that I know of two writers who received a personal rejection in less time than it usually takes for me to get back a regular rejection. Sara Ellis over at IGMS probably knows my writing by now and what to expect. That was one of my better, as in writing, newer stories too. But it's still my writing so that isn't saying much.

IGMS is one of the few markets that take a very long time. Tor.com is one even though they have evidently cut their response time in half which still makes it one of the longer ones. Analog is taking a very long time these days. The old editor-Stanley Schmidt retired and evidently took a few staff people with him. So supposedly it is taking so long now because everyone new person has to figure out their jobs. Hopefully that is the reason so it will speed back up soon. And funny thing is Asimov's is taking as long too. Same company owns both, they have the same building, so maybe what happens to one slows the other down.  

Which of course means that I can send that one story to IGMS now.

Okay, amazing this note isn’t short, longer than some of my regular updates, but hopefully it’s not too boring.

That’s it for now.  

Anton Strout---"Alchemystic"

Short review here so far but I'm only in a few chapters.

An alchemist-romance combo I believe so far. Not bad, a very interesting world designed by Anton, there are mysteries that need explaining but he's taking his time in doing that, which is good and shows his writing ability. A worthy read.

Pardon the long sentence there.