A Moment of Silence

I was going to post a list of story recommendations for my family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. I still am.

But right now, I’m going to take a moment of silence.

Then I’m going to support The Ferguson Public Library Donation Fund

(There’s also The Ferguson Defense Fund |  The St. Stephen’s Food Bank)

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Podcast: “Tell Them of the Sky” is now live!

Cast of Wonders was wonderful enough to record this little story. And it’s now live here. Peter Newman does a fantastic job narrating (apparently this is his first podcast narration too.)

Hope you enjoy!

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Tag! You’re It! The 777 Challenge Edition

Hooray for friends prompting me to write blog posts occasionally. Tam MacNeil was kind enough to tag me for the 777 Challenge.

The rules are simple: Post 7 sentences of your work, start on page 7, count 7 lines down. But because I’m a rule breaker and/or don’t want this sample to end mid-thought, I’m going to post a few additional sentences. This is a short story I’m working on with the placeholder title: A Non-Hero’s Guide to The Road of Monsters.

I climb the nearest tree, which is not an easy feat one handed, let me tell you. But what I lack in abs I make up in triceps and quads of steel. Within five minutes I’m sitting in the tree’s crown looking down at the most amazing monster I’ve ever seen.

Forget its enormous size and its many, many talons on its many, many feet (that’s what heroes notice first, anyway), it’s neither a newt or hawk or even a snake.

It’s all of them.

From my perch, the monster looks like a starfish, with each arm containing the torso, forepaws, and head of a different creature. (You’ve guess it, a lion, a snake, a newt, a hawk and a hyena.) I can see now why the heroes were so confused. From the ground, depending on the angle the monster stood at, it either would appear to be one of these animals or a combination of a few of them.

Most heroes would be shaking from nerves or adrenaline or whatever right about now. But me, I’m wearing a smile that stretched ear to ear. I have yet to meet a monster that I couldn’t reason with and this one was going to make a fantastic blog post.

And now I just need to figure out how the silly story ends. In the meantime, I’m tagging (challenging?) Karl Dandenell, John D. Murphy and Laurel Amberdine next.

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Popcorn and Podcast

This is partially a test to figure out how to post a picture. This is also a post to announce that “Tell Them of the Sky” will soon be featured as a podcast in the Cast of Wonders. It should be going live in a few weeks! I’ll post the link here when it does.

In the meantime a picture (hopefully) of the popcorn I’m eating.

photo

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Writer’s Blog Tour: Four Questions

And here we are! I was tagged to answer some questions about my work and process by the wonderful Casey Blair. If you haven’t already, you should check out her thoughtful post.

What Am I Working On?

I usually have several stories in progress at any given time, all in different stages of creation. The one I’m currently fighting working on is about a young woman stuck in a time machine that can only travel backwards in time. Originally, it was only supposed to be 750 words, but that length didn’t do the story justice. So, it’s growing. I can’t say much more about it yet because it’s still in that OHMYGODWHATAMIDOINGJUSTKEEPGOINGFIXITLATER stage. But I think it’s going to have a happy(ish) ending.

How Does My Work Differ From Others in the Genre?

My stories are by no means reinventing the speculative fiction genre as we know it. That takes too much effort. (I jest, but Blair MacGregor makes a good point about novelty here.)

But I love taking different slants on tropes and I like experimenting with voices and point-of-views. I also try to keep characters unburdened with physical descriptions; I won’t tell you the color of their eyes or skin and I definitely won’t tell you how tall they are. Lately I’ve been experimenting with keeping their gender ambiguous too. The way I see it, this way the reader can make the characters their own. And it gets me around the obstacle of having to describe appearances – something which I’ve never enjoyed writing. For me, I hear my character’s voices, see their world from their eyes and know what their hands and mouths are doing. But their faces, for some reason, never stay with me.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

Snarky answer: Because I can.

Less snarky answer: Because each story is an experiment and an attempt at pushing my abilities in some way. Each one is written for a particular reader in mind – whether it’s a friend or my younger self. (Not that I ever tell anyone which one is which – always keep your readers guessing.)

My stories tend to be pretty dark and/or sad because I have a hard time caring about a character unless their situation is dire and the odds are stacked against them. Mostly, I like to write about protagonists who are fighting for something they’ve lost – or are going to lose. It buys them sympathy, even if they don’t deserve it.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

Very slowly. Stories of substance usually take a month to write. Or six.

My stories usually start with a seed – an image or phrase. The first draft is always the hardest for me. My demon is the endless, daunting white page that needs to be filled. Which is why I start most of my stories scribbling fragments in an old composition notebook. Not a fancy journal – a mass produced, squat, cardboard bound, wide ruled notebook. Basically, my notebooks are not allowed to be prettier than my words at this stage. At this point, there is a lot of jibberish and many crossed out lines. There are character profiles in the margins and notes to myself. Line edits are done on the fly while sentences are constantly being reworked as I transcribe them into Word. Which is why my grammar is always off.

Revisions, though, are a little easier. After the first draft, I have something to work with, there are words on the page and it’s no longer so daunting. Every story goes through a beta reader, sometimes many beta readers. Every story is revised. Some stories only need two revisions before I’m happy with them and some need five.

One of my instructors at VP told us that you never learn how to write a novel, you only learn how to write this novel. And to a certain extent, I think that’s true of short stories as well. Every time I sit down to write a new story, I have to learn how it wants to be told.

***

Phew. I did it. Now it’s my friends’ Bernie Mojzes, Sarah Pinsker, and Jessi Cole Jackson turn. Check them out!

And if you’re interested in even more blogs on the tour, I’ve already mentioned Blair and Casey, but Nicole Lisa, Tam McNeil, and Fran Wilde have wonderful posts up too!

ETA: My VP classmates and friends Debra Jess and Arun Jiwa are also participating. Check them out!

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Writer’s Blog Tour Post (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

I just got tagged by the talented Casey Blair and will have my answers up hopefully tomorrow evening (5/28). Consider this a place holder until then. 

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Updated and News – February 2014

So it’s been a while since I posted last. In the last few months I’ve been traveling and visiting friends and of course, writing like mad. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for that last bit soon.

So, briefly two update:

1. My story “I’m Still Here” is coming out in Buzzy Mag tomorrow! It’s crazy to think that I started writing this story two years ago. I remember thinking that there was no way I could pull this story off. Glad I was wrong.

Will post the link when it goes live. (And it’s live)

2. The 2014 Campbell Anthology is now out and available for download for free here. It’s a collection of stories by new writers who have published professionally in the last two years. So basically, it means FREE STORIES. And lots of them. There are 111 different authors in it. And one of them happens to be me, which is kind of completely awesome.

And that’s it I think? Maybe. Hopefully. Probably not.

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Philcon Oct 8-10th 2013

I’ll be at Philcon this weekend running around between the different panels. This is the second year I’m attending and I’m looking forward to it.

I have exactly one schedule event: I’m going to be sharing a reading with Alex Shvartsman on Sunday at 11:00 am in Executive Suite 623!

If you would like to meet up, feel free to send me an email or tweet.

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Story Link Love – James D. MacDonald and Debra Doyle Edition

If you’re in need of some good stories, but have all ready blown through your book allowance for the month, I have a solution. Two of the instructors from Viable Paradise are offering some of their E-books for free for a limited time.


Doyle & Macdonald E-books

You can find all these titles on Smashwords:

Val Sherwood, Werewolf
Your coupon code is BF49C (not case-sensitive).

Two From the Mageworlds
Your coupon code is RM33C (not case-sensitive).

Looking For Futures
Your coupon code is GH96Z (not case-sensitive).

Vampires and Shapeshifters
Your coupon code is FH79D (not case-sensitive).

Ghosts and Legends
Your coupon code is PX95A (not case-sensitive).

Witch Garden and Other Stories
Your coupon code is EB52M (not case-sensitive).

The Confessions of Peter Crossman
Your coupon code is VW94F (not case-sensitive).

Note: All coupons expire 17 November 2013

Enjoy!

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Publishing Update – October 2013

Just a quick update to report some good news. My story “I’m Still Here” just got accepted for publication at Buzzy Mag! This story was my submission to Viable Paradise last year and I’m thrilled that it’s found a good home.

Special thanks to the Bridge people and to the instructors and fellow classmates at VP who gave tons of useful feedback as well as lots of encouragement as I worked through the early drafts of this thing.

I don’t have a date for publication yet, but I’ll keep you updated!

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