Third Place! Not too shabby!

The short story (well, one of the TWO short stories) I submitted to that contest came in 3rd.

Can't complain about that... it wasn't a huge pool of submissions (about 30), and, personally, I think my short story was a little stronger than at least 1 of the 2 stories that beat me, but all in all I'm happy that I got a podium position.

I'm going to submit another one for the next round of short story submissions, probably... but again, short form has never been a forte of mine.

Still, nice to stretch those muscles once in awhile.

But not today! Today I have a lot of writing on the novel to catch up on. I was stuck at a sorta boring part o the work, and I'm just going to muscle through it, get the thing finished, and then worry about cutting or adding in words later. Just gotta focus on putting words on paper.

Anyway! So that was nice news for last week, hope to do better this week!

An Ode to Long Weekends

Oh Long weekends,
When I don't have to work,
Well, I still have to work,
But at the work I love but don't get paid much for,
But is definitely still work,
And I do it for all the days I'm not at my other job,
Which pays,
But i don't love,
... where was I going with this?

-MH Questus

Yeah. Just being a bit silly, really. This is a civic long weekend, so I worked on Saturday and I go back to work on Wednesday, which is pretty sweet, except it's already Monday and I've only gotten a few hundred words written.
Granted, I have the rest of the day to write (and I will!), and literally nothing else I need to do. There's food in the fridge, including a variety of beverages (no coffee, tragically, but I suppose I could make some if I really wanted), the cats are behaving themselves, and I have about 20,000 words to go before I call today a win.

So let's do this! Novel 4 is sitting at 17,000 words right now, let's see if I can get it up to 40,000 by Tuesday! Go team!

Still At It!

I mean, that shouldn't come as a surprise, one hopes. Yes, I received a rejection for Starconvoy, and no, no other agent has responded to it yet.

But that's okay. That's just a step on the path. The goal is still the same: make at least an approximation of a living off of writing. That requires rejection (lots of it), and heartache (no shortage there), and hard work.

So at the end of the day, come what may, there's always more hard work to be done.

Anyway, the writing continues. The goal I'm setting for this approaching weekend is to finish Novel 4's first draft. It'll be a lot of work (about 15,000 words/day), but it is certainly attainable. I've done it before, and I don't have anything else I need to do over the weekend, AND I have 3 continuous, uninterrupted days to do it! Those are the best days.

Sadly, after this there's just one more long weekend before the end of the year, which is still months away. But that's okay! That's okay. Just gotta keep at it.

Hopefully I get good news about the two short stories I sent in to the competition... I'll post them up here regardless, hopefully people like 'em. They're pretty fan-fic-ish, but I think they're pretty good regardless.

Hope you're having a great week, whoever/wherever you are!

Another Rejection. Ah Well.

So the agent I was hoping would represent me sent me a rejection. It was very kind and positive in many ways, but again, no luck.

Such is life.

I've already sent that novel out to two other agents (the day after I learned she wasn't interested), which means I have sent it to every Sci-Fi agent in Canada.

Yup. All three of 'em.

Anyway, no point in worrying about that. Next stage is to send my next novel (thankfully "finished"... still waiting for beta reader feedback, but otherwise done) to that first agent. This one is a different tone and pace from the last one, so hopefully she and her colleagues will be more excited to take it.

As for Starconvoy EH-76... we'll see if anyone else is excited about the story. You can only have one agent, so if they're excited about it, I may have to decide to work with them instead, but such is life. I really just want to be published and make a small, humble living.

Anyway! Anyway. Turns and roundabouts. Ups and downs. We just move forwards, I suppose.

Short Stories are Weird

I've been thinking again about my love of long-form fiction ("Novels"), and my general inability to write good short-form fiction ("Short stories").

Which is weird, because my most successful, best paid gig ever was a short story I had published. I'm still very proud of it, all things considered. But doing short stories has always been a struggle for me, whereas novels flow much easier.

Now, that stated, short stories are a DREAM to edit compared to a novel. Hard word limits are actually really good in most cases, because I can focus exactly on how close I am to being done overall, rather than trying to make sure that each strand of the story is completed satisfactorily and that I don't leave too much hanging. Plus, on a good day I will crank out 5k words, easy, and most short stories require me to only write for a day or two before the first draft is done and I can move on to editing.

All of those are good things. And yet.

I mean, it's mostly irrelevant. I've only submitted two short stories in the last year and a half, and both of them were for the same short story contest (links will show up on this here website when I have links to share!), whereas in the same time I've submitted three novels and am working on a fourth. But still! I miss having time to write short stories without feeling like it was "taking me away" from the work I also wanted to do.

I guess that's part of my recent drive to get the Writers Group back off the ground. That was fertile ground for short stories, both to write and to give feedback on.

Anyway.

I'm continuing work on Novel 4 right now, and it's coming along pretty well. I'm approaching the portion of the Tintin story which I'm basing this one off of that's a bit mystical (Tintin ends up on an alien asteroid floating, for some reason, in the ocean and it starts doing weird and zany stuff, none of which makes sense in a modern understanding of science), but I can probably fix that with weird sci-fi-y-ness, as I usually do. At least, that's the current plan! We'll see where Tintian leads us... just figure out what your hero wants, and then follow her.

On Writing Groups

I'm currently in the process of trying to form a new writers group. Or perhaps resurrect our old one... I'm not sure which, honestly, but it's what I'm trying to do.

It was always a neat group of writers, each with their own goals and motivations. Some of them were, honestly, brilliant and talented people who I admired for their capability to both produce excellent writing and provide thoughtful feedback.

We would occasionally get the person who would show up once, get honest feedback, and we'd never see again... many people want to have written, very few people actually want to write. But for the most part, it was a solid core group, and I miss 'em.

But it's a lot of work. I'm going to send out a few emails tonight, see if the old guard are still interested, maybe look to introduce some more variety into the group, and then start settling on the important (but boring) administrative tasks of finding a location, setting a time, and hashing out a mission statement.

Still, it is exciting! It will be nice to have that sounding board back, and that motivation and encouragement, plus of course the intelligent criticism. All important stuff!

Submitted Another Short Story!

Phew, two short stories in about as many weeks! That felt good.

Of course, they're both for silly little contests, but still! Writing is writing, and it's been years since I've had a short story published (still my only paid writing gig to date... *sigh*... damn shame the website that published it went into hiatus). So it was nice to flex those muscles again.

Plus, still waiting on my noble and amazing beta readers.

Well, can't wait forever. So today I'm going to tackle my 4th novel again, in between doing some airbrush painting and maybe a little baking (bread, mostly). It's pretty hot outside, but it's cool in the house where I work/paint/write, so that's okay. And I don't think I have anything else I need to do or anywhere I need to be, so that's helpful.

Now, the only question is to work on the next Tintian novel, or to switch gears for a little and work on The Spinward Expanse? The only problem with the Expanse is that, as a short story, it's already been published YEARS ago through a now-defunct app, and I'm not 100% sure I own the full rights to it. I could consult a lawyer, but that's a tonne of money and time for something that may never again see the light of day... pity, too. It was a good foundation of a story.

I could just rewrite it from scratch, of course. Different characters, updated tech, that sorta thing... hmmm. That's a thought.

Anyway! Enough rambling for today, and back to writing! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Happy Canada Day!

Man, I love long weekends. Especially those that fall on Mondays., since that gives me three GLORIOUS days to write.

Although, full disclosure, I only used 1 of those three days to write this time. And that was today.

I cranked out another short story for that competition (not quite done yet, going to edit it tomorrow, see if I can tighten it up a bit... it's 1,900 words right now, want to crunch it down to a solid 1,500), and did a bit of work on Novel 4. Overall, very satisfying (although always bitter-sweet, since it's also a reminder of what my life could be if I actually wrote for a living... which is to say, amazing).

Anyway! Back to the paying job tomorrow, which is fine... I mean, less than amazing, but fine. It's fine.

*sigh*

Anyway! Happy Canada Day, everyone, and here's to the next long weekend (in August!).

Submitted a Short Story!

Ah, the heady, glorious days of 2016, when I was submitting stories everywhere (well, a LOT of stories at least) and gathering rejections like ripe fruit.

2017 saw my focus shift, by matter of necessity, to longer pieces that were pushed out (and rejected) less frequently. I was always more comfortable in long form anyway (I struggle to say in 100 words what can be said in 1,000), but I do miss writing buckets of shorter works. Partially because I miss writing (I mean, I still write, but I average about 2-4k words a week, and in 2016 I would do that in a morning), but also because it's nice to exercise different muscles sometimes.

This particular short story is basically fanfic for a particular game I play, hosted by a podcast that is by no means a "legit" writing contest, but I had fun with it. I'm planning to do another in July (the contest ends August 1st, and multiple submissions are allowed, but I don't want to inundate them with stories and would rather craft a couple really good ones rather than crank out a dozen).

In the parallel, I'm also submitting a model I'm painting for their painting contest, not because I have the faintest hope of winning (I don't), but because I'm really looking forward to the feedback I'll get to improve my craft. The painting contest is done by a couple professional painters that work with the podcast, and they've said they'll give feedback on the entries. So that'll be nice. I took my "before" pictures today, and hopefully in a week or two I can be mostly finished an then work on some final details.

So a busy week. Long weekend this week too, which is awful nice... but for now, back to Novel 4!

Argh, 10 Days!

Phew, time really flies sometimes.

Nothing really new and exciting to announce. Still waiting on the agent with my 2nd novel, still waiting on my beta readers with my 3rd novel, still writing the first draft of my 4th novel.

All moving along in its daily pace.

I was thinking about branching out a little on novel number 5. Maybe a little bit of quasi-mysticism in the sci-fi. Nothing too crazy, but a little touch of magic, or techno-magic, in with the lasers and spaceships and stuff.

I mean, it works for Star Wars, right? Space wizards are awesome!

Anyway, just idle thoughts.

In other news, my jaw hurts a bit so I probably have to go see a dentist (wooo...), but otherwise stuff has been busy, exhausting, but basically okay. Globally, things are going to hell, but hopefully this is a blimp in our slow climb towards compassion, and nothing more.

We shall see, I suppose.

The Need for Good Sci-Fi

I love good sci-fi. I mean, I really, really love it. In my bones, in my blood, if I believed in souls I'd say in my soul. And there are lots of reasons... cool spaceships, the love of exploration, of finding something new, of going past the horizon, of beating impossible odds, and because lasers swords and explosions are really cool.

But at the core of all that is an important, simple, message: resist.

Sci-fi is all about standing up to impossible odds. The Empire versus the Rebellion (or the newer Order versus the Resistance). The small plucky kingdom versus the massive corporate superpower. The single smuggler versus the planetary governor. The kids versus the government.

It's all about resisting the way things are in favour of the way things can (or should) be.

In the words of the amazing Neil Gaiman, "Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten."

Right now, with American (and Ontario) politics the way it is... we need to remember that no matter how big or stupid the empire, that it can be defeated.

A Relaxing Weekend

I am pleased to report I had an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

I spent some time sorting through a handful of old comics to see if any are worth anything (short answer: maybe!), but otherwise just painted and played all day.

Tomorrow I go back to work for the day, and then Tuesday I resume writing on my day off (after yoga practice in the morning).

Ooh, and I may buy an airbrush to help me paint stuff better/faster. I am really looking forward to that!

But overall, it was a good day. And that's nice, because there are far too few of those many days.

I've had a handful of my beta readers confirm they are working on Novel 3, but it's far too soon to expect feedback for another week or two. Still, even when resting, there is progress.

Hope everyone is doing amazing!

That Wasn't So Bad, Was It?

And done! Opening chapters rewritten, and the novel is off to a few of my beta readers for feedback and comments.

Phew!

So now we wait. We wait for the agent I really hope likes my work to get back to me (about another month to wait), we wait for the beta readers...

Actually, probably not much waiting in a vacuum. Instead, I continue writing Novel 4 (another Tintian!) while I wait. I'm about a third of the way through that one, so with some luck I can get it finished up before the end of the summer (at which point I will have, hopefully, saved up enough to pay for the editing on that one!).

No rest for the weary, my friends. But at least this one is done for now.

Opening Chapters: A Brief Rant.

As I evolve as a writer, I continue to learn more and more about my "style".

Style is a dangerous thing, for the record. I don't believe that everything a writer considers style should be thought of as such... for example, while I enjoy adjectives, that's not to say my writing isn't better when I take them out.

But that's aside. The reason I bring this up is because my "style" focuses pretty heavily on action scenes. I'm good at writing battles of almost any scale, I'm a deft hand with chase scenes or duels... but what I'm not good at is opening chapters.

My usual trick so far has been to write the entire book, and then delete the first 3 chapters, since it usually takes me about that long to flesh out the universe, but nobody really cares about that stuff. Once I've started, the pace of a story tends to be pretty solid (period of action/tension, release, repeat), but those opening chapters... rough.

I bring this up because I have to rewrite the first chapter(s) for Novel 3. The rest of the book is great, and the conclusion is solid (to be honest, I like *most* of the mid-field as well, although there are some slower parts I'm not super happy with), but I haven't figured out exactly how to hit the ground running with this one.

And, perhaps more critically, when I cut my first three chapters, I removed a critical plot point that's only referenced again 30 chapters later... which is a double failure (every critical plot point, in my opinion, needs to be mentioned at least TWICE before it's used).

Anyway, that's my goal today. Write the first couple chapters in an engaging, exciting way, and work in those critical mentions that I flubbed last edit.

Wish me luck!

Just Letting Everyone Know...

... I finished editing Novel 3.

Now I "just" have to rewrite the first two or three chapters and send it out to beta readers... but that hopefully won't take too long!

Book done by the end of May, maybe!

Ah, Long Weekends. A Writer's Best Friend...

Well, that and maple whiskey. But mostly long weekends.

Why, I hear you ask? Mostly because it (finally!) gives me time to get into the weeds. To really sit down and crunch through all the editing for hours on end, which, let's be honest, is what I need.

So today and tomorrow I'm finishing up the last 50 pages of Novel 3, and then rewriting the opening chapters (again). It'll be nice to be finished.

Amusing side-note: I went to check if I have a response from the agent I sent Novel 2 off to, because she asked for 12 weeks and it's been about 12 weeks, right?

5 weeks. It FEELS like 12 weeks, but not even half yet. Waiting is such torture.

But! But. This means she's still considering it, and I'm taking that as a VERY good sign. So! Onwards and upwards and all that.

Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekends, if you're lucky enough to have one!

Wow. A Whole Week of Sick...

I mean, I'm mostly recovered by now. Mostly.

I honestly didn't expect it to put me on my butt for as long as it did, but here we are. I missed a day of work and several days of editing (too tired when I got home to do anything but sleep), but I'm back on my feet and more or less ready to go.

Which is good! Because time waits for no human. And I have many things, but time isn't one of them.

In other news: finished reading the first book in the "Collapsing Empire" series by John Scalzi. That man... gods I love his work. It wasn't perfect, but it was really good. Great fodder for my own work, and good encouragement that maybe I can be as successful as he is someday.

That'd be nice. Anyway! Back to the grindstone!

Being Sick Sucks

A rampant flu decided now would be a good time to put me on my ass.

Whee?

I've recovered pretty much (although it is 2:15am and I can't sleep... so... not a complete recovery just yet), but I still lament the 2 days I basically lost to sleep for the sake of healing.

Ah, mortality. You bitch.

Only 2 Months Left to Wait... Probably...

As we leap into May (and what a glorious start to the month... I don't know about where you are, but HERE in Southern Ontario the weather is absolutely perfect), I am reminded that I submitted my novel to an agent on April 5th, and she requested 3 months exclusive rights to think about it.

Only 2 months to go!

I'm going to put up a holder image on the front page of the site... just to show that something may be coming very soon (wouldn't that be amazing!). And because it's been a long while since I had a full novel available other than ye olde Tintian!

So May is off to a solid start... but I also have a sore throat, so no getting sick, self! No time for that nonsense!

Gosh Darn It!

Seriously, why is it always so hard to keep a sane schedule!?

Sorry for the mild disappearing act, folks. I've been pumping the time and energy I should be using for this here blog-update-thingy on editing. Pros: I'm 200 pages into the 300 pages of editing for Novel 3. Cons: I need to rewrite the first three chapters (AGAIN) and I think a fair chunk of Chapter 20 is gonna need some love.

That's okay! That's okay. All part of the process, really.

Anyway, that's about it from my end. I hope people out there are enjoying the new Avengers (Infinity Wars, I think?)... I probably won't see it until I comes out on the little screen, but I do hope to catch the new Star Wars (Solo) when it comes out. Not opening night or anything like that... I'm not a huge fan of crowds, and I don't really need to be the "first" when seeing stuff... but I do love my laser-swords-and-space-wizards.