Thursday, July 2, 2015

Daycare Isn't Dull now up at Aurora Wolf

I have a new short story up over at Aurora Wolf : A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
It's called Daycare Isn't Dull.

For a time, I took care of my infant niece. She was not a fan of naps and it was a great source of frustration for us both. Later, when she went to daycare, I wondered how the caregivers there managed with so many children all with their own problems. Then I started to wonder how they would handle a child with even bigger problems. . .

So go check out my story, as well as some of the others over there. It's a free site for readers, but I did notice a 'Donate' button if you like what you find.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Things I Love - Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

When I find something I love, I have the urge to share it with someone. It occurred to me, that would be a great use of this blog.

So, to begin with, I give you Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.

Shadow Scale is the sequel to Seraphina: the story of a young musician (named Seraphina) who is in a unique position to bridge the increasing divide between dragons and humans at a time when years of peace between the two groups is growing strained. In Shadow Scale Seraphina has to take her mission even further and travel to other lands in search of other half-dragons like herself.

I loved the first book so much that I was waiting with great anticipation for the second. Part of me was a little disappointed in the sequel, but for a strange reason. In the first book, I was captured by the wonderful world and characters, and a decent amount of the text is spent on developing and introducing this world as Seraphina goes about her business. It's the sort of story world I love to just wallow in. I had looked forward to that same feeling in the second but didn't quite get it. We are introduced to many new lands and a lot of fascinating characters, but I didn't get to wallow. So much happens that the story doesn't pause enough to just lounge around in this beautiful world as much. Seraphina moves on a to a new place and new characters before we ever get to feel settled. Although I feel like complaining that the story moved along too well as a backwards sort of complaint. Instead, I will fill my need to spend time in this world by rereading both books at some point.

I believe these are marketed as Young Adult books, but I feel like there is more than enough depth for full on old adults like me to enjoy. I have a dragon-loving tween who I think would enjoy it a great deal, but I think I will wait a few years before offering it to her. Not that I don't think she could handle any of the content or follow the story, but I think there are things (like the innocent, bitter-sweet romance) that she would appreciate more a little later on.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What I Read in 2014

I have really enjoyed these lists in the blogs I follow, so thought I would do my own. I know, I'm such a follower. In 2014 I finally let myself buy a voting membership for the Hugo awards, so there are a fair number of items that were for that. Also, some of these may technically qualify as short stories, and yet others are short story collections where I don't list each story individually. If my lack of consistency bugs you, I'm sorry. This is how I kept track of them as I read, so this is how they will be listed here.Some are kids books that were for the book club my kids and I belong to. I only included the kid books if the was the first time I read them myself.

Hugo works will be in italic, audiobooks in bold, and my favorites from the year in green.

Conversations with J K Rowling by Lindsay Fraser
Night Echos by Holly Lisle
Goblin Hero by Jim Hines
The Inheritance by Robin Hobb
At Any Price by Brenna Aubry
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Dolye
The Red Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville
Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville
Clash of Kings by George RR Martin
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M Valente
Opera Vita Aeterna by Vox Day
The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang
The Exchange Officers by Brad R Torgersen
The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Waiting Stars by Aliette de Bodard
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
Parasite by Mira Grant*
Holly Lisle's Create a World Clinic by Holly Lisle
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachael Aaron
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Winnie-The-Pooh by AA Milne
Sand Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Dark Whispers by Bruce Coville
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
Songs of Love and Death edited by George RR Martin
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Now that I've typed it out, I am tempted to go back and get rid of the green classification. Some were very hard to decide about, and there are lots of great books that just were not for me. I tried a lot outside my usual reading sphere this year. So a lack of green does not mean I think it's a bad book. In fact, I don't think any of these were books I actively disliked or was not happy that I read. This may be obvious when several books in a series are listed, but not green - I liked them enough to read more. The green books were just a better fir for my personal taste or ones I especially loved. So maybe the green is not useful, but I'm leaving it for now.

* One thing I found extra fun in this is that it takes place in/around the Concord/Clayton and Greater Bay Area in  California, and recognizing landmarks as I read is neat. So I recommend this to local folks for that reason.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Failed Nano, but Still Writing

Although it is probably clear for anyone looking at the word counter on the last post, I did not succeed with NaNaWriMo this past November. I am generally happy with what I wrote, but there just wasn't enough of it. I won't go into my reasons (or excuses depending on how you view these things), but I believe I did the most I could at the time, so I will end there.

I took a writing break for most of December to focus on other crafty projects that I needed to finish before Christmas and used up the same pockets of time I usually use for writing. I knew that was going to happen, so again, I'm not upset about it other than my constant dream of having more time all around. 

Where I do have some disappointment is in the publishing end of things. The group of short stories I've been submitting have not yet found homes. A couple years ago I promised myself that I would only send my stories to paying markets. I figured if no one would pay me for them, I would rather post them here for free than have someone else post them for free. This year I decided to up my game (or try to) and send first to higher paying markets. I am sure that's why I'm having a harder time. I have gotten some very encouraging rejections but no bigger sales yet. It also feels like the turn around is slower, so I am waiting a lot longer to hear back. I suppose that makes sense in that the bigger markets probably also get a lot more submissions.

So I'm trying to keep from being discouraged, and keep submitting since there are still many markets that would fit that I haven't tried yet, and still a few I'm waiting to hear from. I try to remind myself that this is how I will grow.

Also, one of my goals this year is to keep up with my critique group better. I've not been participating as much as I should be, and more feedback can only be helpful. (I hope)

That in a nutshell is the state of my writing at the dawn of 2015.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's NaNoWriMo Time Again

. . . and again, I'm participating despite the feeling that I'm setting myself up for undue stress and disappointment.

 I'm karabu at the NaNo website. Send a friend request if you're NaNo-ing too.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Too much information?

I've been a good little writer lately in that I have finished several short stories, and more importantly, I have sent them out. In fact, I have more stories out on submission right now than I have ever had out before. I may have more out right now that I have ever sent out in an entire year. Not that I have a huge number of submissions out - just that I am usually so bad at finishing and being brave enough to submit at all. There are usually months of getting up the nerve to research markets and all the rest of the process. I'm going to go even further in patting myself on the back because two stories were rejected last week, and I already have them back out again. Maybe this isn't all that impressive, but it is a step forward for me, so I'm telling you about it.

I use to find markets and track my submissions. One of the neat features of Duotrope is their statistics. They have the percent of submission from their users that are accepted or rejected for each market. Further, they have the average time it takes for a reply, and the average time for a rejection versus for an acceptance. From the markets I've looked at, it seems like rejections tend to come a lot quicker than acceptances. However, I have found myself paying way too much attention to how long my story has been with a particular market - is it closer to the rejection time, or the acceptance time? I check on that much more often than can be healthy.

There is writing advice I've heard frequently to finish your story, send it out, then don't think of it - just write the next thing. I thought that as I wrote more (like I'm doing now) that would be easier. Turns out, I'm actually obsessing more though. I think when I sent one thing out every 6 months or so, and I wasn't doing much writing in between, it was easier to forget about. Now that I write every day and send things out as regularly as I can manage, it isn't ever far from my thoughts. Still, you don't move forward or grow as a writer doing things they way I was doing them before. I have to hope, and believe, that this is better, even if it's stressful.

Maybe stories really are like children in that way. Having more of them doesn't mean you care about each individual one less.  It just gives you more to worry over. Or I'm just a person prone to excess worry.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I Won Books!

Recently Jim Hines, an author I like and follow on various social media, mentioned a giveaway for some of his books that I have not yet read. I clicked through to a site for S.J. Abraham (geeky writing - sounded right up my alley) and found myself completing several of the tasks for entries before I realized I was wasting my writing time. I wasn't going to win anyway.Although he had good short stories on his site, so I put it into my blog feed for future reference.

I was happily surprised to get a notice the next day that I had won. I was even happier when the books arrived a few days ago. I have actually won a couple of other online giveaways from an author and a crafter, and not received the promised prize. Hint - that didn't help convert me into a fan.

So, this is just a public thank you to Mr. Abraham. I recommend both his and Jim Hines stories if anyone is looking for a fun read.

On another note to follow up on my last post - my story was accepted to the anthology, but the whole project folded shortly thereafter. So I sent it back out to avoid pouting about it. These things happen. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Still Writing

A couple of months ago, I submitted a story to an anthology. I was shocked to see, according to my Duotrope submission tracker, that it had been almost a year since I had submitted anything. Then I remembered receiving a rather harsher rejection on my last submission than I had received before. What was worse was that I sort of agreed with the points it made, and I felt embarrassed for submitting that story. However, I remember thinking, that I would just do better next time.

Looking back now, I see that I was not as thick-skinned as I thought I was. I let that stop me. I felt none of my stories were ready, or good enough. I have several short stories in finished first draft form that I have never bothered to go back and polish up for submission. It is well past time to get over that and submit again.

On a more uplifting note, I got a note that the story I sent in has been short-listed for the anthology. Not an acceptance, but enough to help me feel braver with continuing to send my work out.

For a long time now I've heard, or read about Holly Lisle's writing classes, and found myself at last looking around her site. The How To Write Flash Fiction The Doesn't Suck class is free, and even though I feel fairly comfortable with flash fiction, I decided it was a good way to see if I liked her classes before spending money.

I am not finished with all the lessons yet, but so far the class is just plain FUN! I'm writing stories that I know I would not have come up with in my usual method of sitting around thinking up ideas. Some are very silly, some maybe a little too heavy for the length I'm trying to work with. One turned out to have no Sci-Fi or fantasy elements in it at all. I have no idea if they will turn out any good, but writing is a lot more fun than is had been for me lately. I think I will definitely be looking at some of her other classes to help me through some problems I'm having getting my novel moving.