Check-in, Re: Goals

As you may be able to tell from the graphic I’ve chosen for this post, my first submission of “Legal Aliens” has been rejected. No problem. It will be sent back out — better than it was, because it’s been edited — to another market. Probably tomorrow.

I have met all of my goals for the Codex Weekend Warrior contest. I’ve submitted three new 750-word flash stories. The contest is still on, and I don’t want to blow my Nom de Guerre by revealing the names or even exactly how I’ve done, but I will say this: I’m scoring consistently as far as my rating out of ten. All three are within .4 of each other. Voting’s not complete for round three, so that could easily change before round three is done by 9 pm tomorrow.

I did not meet my second submission deadline. The story simply wasn’t ready (see below), and rather than send out something that I know will be rejected, I’d rather send out my best effort. It will be ready for sending out by Monday, so I’ll just have to hustle to get the one after that ready in only one week.

My second story is one I’ve been working on for a long time. It’s a humorous fairy tale noir story I’m tentatively calling “The Case of the Playboy Prince.” I wrote myself into a corner sometime back before Viable Paradise and it simply had no ending. It languished in Scrivener waiting for inspiration. Which finally hit one morning about a week ago in the shower. I hacked out about 3000 words, wrote 2400 new ones, and it stands at 11,300+ words. Which is maybe a bit long for the market, but . . . there’s a scene at the front I can cut, distribute some of the exposition to later scenes, and maybe get it down below 10,000 words. We’ll see.

I’ve begun to work on revamping an older novella (“The Surrogate”) that I didn’t know how to end (do you sense a pattern?) as a candidate for my Q1 Writers of the Future submission. It can be as many as 17,000 words. Of course, I have selected to revamp a story that came out to 23,000+ words the first time through, so I foresee more gutting in my future. :)

Anyway, there is progress. I’m gonna hang on to that image up there, just in case. And I’m going to optimistically look for one that says “Accepted” on it.

Unidentified Funny ObjectsUnidentified Funny Objects by Alex Shvartsman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my goals for 2013 is to read more short fiction. This collection definitely fit the bill. I love short fiction, and I love well-done humor. This anthology is nicely balanced. The humor ranges from puns with elaborate set-ups that are a great deal of fun to more subtle humor that doesn’t make you laugh out loud, but may make you chuckle. Evilly, even.

I think there’s definitely something in this collection for everyone, no matter what your sense of humor. The comics are a nice addition I wasn’t expecting, although my one complaint is that they’re awfully hard to read on the Kindle edition. Luckily, I have a print edition, as well, so I can see them there.

I was just looking at the table of contents to see if I could pick a favorite. Harder than I thought.

“El and Al vs. Himmler’s Horrendous Horde from Hell” by Mike Resnick is definitely in the top few. Resnick is one of the masters of short fiction, and this story kept me giggling throughout. Just imagine Albert Einstein as a wizard fighting Himmler . . . and you still don’t really come close. You need to read it.

I also really enjoyed “The Alien Invasion As Seen In The Twitter Stream of @dweebless” by Jake Kerr. If you’re on Twitter, you’ll doubly appreciate the humor.

“The Velveteen Golem” by David Sklar also satisfied by providing an entirely hilarious story that surprised me at the end with a deplorable (meaning really good, in this case) word pun that I should have seen coming but didn’t.

I think of all of them, Jody Lynn Nye’s “The Worm’s Eye View” and Ferrett Steinmetz’s “One-Hand Tantra” were my favorites. Nye’s story is a good hard sci-fi story that manages to weave humor into it in a way that doesn’t detract from the science fiction. Kudos to her for that.

Steinmetz’s story…ah, what I can say about this that won’t get me banned from Goodreads? :) “Hilarious!” That works. I mean, who knew masturbation could be a magical power?

You’ll definitely find something here to tickle your funny bone.

View all my reviews


Legal Aliens and [REDACTED]

Submit #2 (Ozone) by ndanger, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  ndanger 

I’m happy to report that the first two short-term milestone goals I set for myself are now met. I completed a 750-word story based on two of the prompts given for Codex‘s Weekend Warrior flash contest, and submitted it well in advance of the deadline (which is 3 AM, my time). My immediate goal is not to edit it anymore. It’s done. Alas, I cannot tell you the title or anything about it because they’re submitted anonymously.

I also spent several hours relentlessly cutting down my Viable Paradise The Horror That Is Thursday™ story, “Legal Aliens,” and submitted it to a paying market. I should hear back within a month.

I have an entry in my “Subs” spreadsheet! <beams at entry>

Meanwhile, I now need to read between forty and fifty 750-word stories on Codex and rank them (1-10). I have until Friday night at 9 pm. And edit my next short story for submission by Monday, January 21st. I haven’t decided if the next one will be “D Is for Dragon” or one of the other NaNoWriMo 2011 stories, yet.


Writing Goals for 2013

Royal KMM ”Magic Margin” Typewriter by Twylo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by Twylo 

I am resistant to making resolutions for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is that they are so often too difficult to keep.

"Well, make better resolutions!" is the answer. To which I reply, "Still easy to ignore."

What’s needed is not a resolution, but a goal. But not something nebulous. A SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).

Now, I’ve tried this before. And failed.

"But, this year will be different!" is my utterly predictable reply. And I even believe it as I’m typing this. This year is different. Really.

Last year, 2012 (for those of you not keeping up) was a good one for me, writing-wise. I applied for Viable Paradise and actually got in against my expectations. And I met so many wonderful writers, there, and learned so many things.

As part of the "graduation ceremony," we (the VPXVIers) took a solemn oath: "I, state your name, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will write, that I will finish what I have written, that I will send it out — to paying markets only — until Hell won’t have it! And I will tell everyone that VP is the best workshop evah!"

This was a binding oath. Uncle Jim had us hold our hands up and everything, so I’m fairly sure that it’s binding in all fifty states and potentially Guam. Dire consequences await if I don’t keep the oath.


My point is this: I have only submitted once. Ever. To a non-eligible market. And got a very encouraging personal rejection. (A case could be made that submitting to Viable Paradise and being accepted counts as an acceptance, but I had to pay them, so I don’t count it.)

This year, dammit, that changes. I have a bunch of short stories finished or partially written that just need editing / finishing or slight rewrites. I know what one of my main problems is because I’ve heard the same critique over and over: "This needs more conflict." I mean, you don’t have to hit me over the head with a brick but about four or five times before I finally get the point.

I have ideas for several more stories floating around in my head. The existing ones are languishing on my hard drive right now in various states of unreadiness. I have one almost ready to go (my eye problems earlier in the week have kept me from finishing it), and since it is the story that came out of The Horror That Is Thursday™, it seems fitting that it should be the first(ish) story out the door for me.

I have given this a lot of thought.

My immediate goal (Goal the First)  is this: Submit Legal Aliens to paying markets starting no later than Monday, January 7th, 2013. Keep submitting it until it either sells or Hell Won’t Have It.

Goal the Second: Meanwhile, edit/write more and submit those to paying markets. I’m going to submit one every two weeks on a Monday at first, and let’s see how that works out. I might do better. I won’t type the alternative so as not to give it power. :) This means that I have to submit different stories on January 21st, February 4th, February 18th, March 4th, March 18th, April 1st, April 15th, April 29th, May 13th, May 27th, June 10th, June 24th, July 8th, July 22nd, and August 5th. I’m going to stop, there, because I’m getting tired of doing calendar math and because I may find that I do more than that and that I have to revise my goal. Note also that this goal is about new stories. Any that are rejected during the interim can be submitted immediately to the next available market without regards to it being Monday or whatever.

Why this specific goal? Because I know I can write a short story in less than two weeks. Heck, I can write one in five hours. With motivation.

My long-term goal for 2013 is this: Make every effort to sell a story – any story – by at least two weeks before WorldCon 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. Why? Because if I sell a story to a qualifying paying market, I’m eligible to join SFWA (The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) as an Associate Member. Why? Because as an associate member of SFWA, I will be (Note positive verb choice!) eligible to get into the SFWA parties at WorldCon. Why two weeks before? Because it takes them a while to process new applications, and I want to give them plenty of time to add me to the rolls before I go to Texas. :)

Oh, did I mention? I’m going to WorldCon 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, over Labor Day weekend. Sent in my check on the 29th.

Another short-term goal (Goal the Third) is to read more short fiction. I write short fiction, but I seldom read much of it because I’m usually either on Facebook, YouTube, reading a novel, or whatever. I think it helps to see successful, published stories because I often think, "I could write a better story than that."

Well, do it. Then submit it.

Another short-term goal is to participate in Codex more. This is a hangout for writers who have attained a certain level, such as selling stories or successfully completing certain workshops. I got in because of Viable Paradise. The first five Fridays of the new year (starting tonight, January 4th, 2013), Codex is doing the Weekend Warrior contest. Four prompts will be posted. We’ll have 55 hours to write a story of 750 words or less, inspired by one of the four prompts. It doesn’t even have to be speculative. But they probably all will be. And because Names like Ken Liu and Samantha Henderson and Vylar Kaftan (to name three of many) often participate in these, all submissions are anonymous: all the entries are attributed to pseudonyms. I could tell you mine, but then I’d have to kill you.

Another goal is to blog about my successes and failures here. I used to blog a lot. I mean a lot. But I kind of quit doing that when Facebook got shiny. I want to get back into that. So . . . we’ll see. Facebook is still terribly shiny. :)

I have entered all these short-term goals into my Google Calendar with reminders. It will hound me. I have announced publicly what I intend to do, so you folks will be witness to my shame if I don’t do them.

There’s also a novel lurking in there, somewhere. But I’m not ready to state any goals associated with it, just yet. I have to let it percolate a bit. So I’m going to get started on these goals and think about the novel.

Yay! Onward! 2013 awaits.

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