Reflection: Nanowrimo 2021

Well. It’s the last day of Nanowrimo. I have five-ish hours to write about 1,200 words in order to reach my EXTREMELY modified goal. Originally the goal was the legit, old school Nanowrimo target: 50k. It became apparent very early on that I would not be making this goal. 

Given the past two years of Pandemic Bullshit™ and the fact that I haven’t written anything super long since I finished the Tavi rough draft in spring of 2019, I’m not surprised that this Nano was a major struggle. I expected it, honestly.

The fact that I could reach 15k on a single project in a month is a major win for me. Breaking 19k total for the month is a HUGE win. It’s more than I’ve written the rest of the year combined. I refuse to feel bad about such success. 

They say that comparison is the thief of joy, but we forget that it applies to not just the world beyond, but within as well. Comparing my output to years past is an exercise in disappointment, when really I should be celebrating this productivity that’s leaps and bounds beyond what I’ve done in recent memory.

I’m headed in the right direction. Shocko Elf GIF - Shocko Elf Shock - Discover & Share GIFs

Beyond Nanowrimo, I have MORE news! Say what?!

My microfiction piece “Unforgettable” made its way into the City.River.Tree. 2020 Anthology. I may have missed the email about the anthology’s release, and I’m just now realizing it. Whoops.

Point is! My story is available in print! And that always feels amazing! As indicated by all these darn exclamation points!!!!

Ahem. Anyway. That’s the news. If you’d like to read my story, you can find it online here. OR you can support a small, indie microfiction magazine and buy the 2020 Anthology. It’s like, $8. Just sayin’.

All right. That’s enough procrastination. It’s time to get these final words on the page. See you soon, Bloggarts.



Week 6 Summary

As promised, I have come to tell you about this week’s Write About Dragons lecture.

This week we had ANOTHER guest lecturer, Nebula award winner Eric James Stone. Google him, he seems like a cool cat.

So, this week we talked about short fiction, because that’s what Eric James Stone writes. He’s never published a novel, yet makes a living writing. That’s pretty awesome in my opinion.

Ok, so the notes look something like this:


The What and the Why of the Short Fiction Market

And then there are just tips and tidbits littered all over the page. I actually really enjoyed this guest lecture. I’ve had modest success in the short fiction world, and have been a bit sad imagining that I’d never write a short story again. I’m not quite sure why I thought I wouldn’t, but I just imagined that if I wrote novels, there was no way I could write short stories too.

And then there’s the first tidbit:
Submit short fiction while you’re working on your novel.

Wait. What?

And it was as if the proverbial lightbulb exploded from a sudden surge of realization. My mind immediately started racing through my current short stories I’ve shelved in order to commit to this novel. And I don’t think that was a poor decision. I’ve yet to actually finish a novel, and I need to really focus and commit to this story to see it through to the end. Which has worked. The end is in sight, and I actually have an understanding of how I’m going to get there. And so, once the first draft is done, I’ll return to this short works and get them ready for spring submissions. And once that’s done I’ll start the rough draft of the next novel, and then the revision process of Vessels will begin.

So, more excitement on my part about writing. It’s a different kind of excitement than I’ve ever felt in relation to anything else, and I truly don’t know how to explain it. Hit me up in ten years. Maybe I’ll know how then.

Below this genius idea given me by Eric James Stone is a disclaimer. You don’t have to write short fiction if you don’t want to. There’s a misconception, especially in creative writing classes, that the best way to start writing is by starting small. It’s what I did. And I don’t regret it. I learned how to write well and to lay out scenarios and plots quickly, which is a major hurdle for most new writers. But, if you don’t like to read short fiction, and you don’t want to write short fiction, you’re going to hate writing if you try to write short fiction. I’ve found that I really just like writing. It doesn’t much matter how long it’s going to be. If the characters are alive and have a tale to tell, I’ll follow them until they’re done.

Stone follows this disclaimer with a rule. If you want to write short fiction, READ short fiction. Which is exactly what Brandon said earlier on in the course. Although he said it in the reverse: Why are you writing short fiction if you’re reading novels? Same concept. Read what you want to write. It’s the best way to learn.

And so, to help us read more short fiction, Stone lists some Sci-Fi/Fantasy magazines in circulation. I’ll do that for you here, for those who’d like to check it out.

  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact
  • Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
  • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
  • Clarke’s World Magazine
  • Strange Horizons

This is also brilliant because it gives us a place to send submissions. Do I think for a minute that Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show will publish me? Not really. But, it can’t hurt to try. Also, Eric James Stone is an editor there, so that’s cool too.

Stone also recommends that we buy a book titled Year’s Best SF, or Year’s Best Fantasy. They are anthologies of what editors have decided is the best in Science Fiction or Fantasy for that year. Think Best American Short Stories, but with a fun genre twist.

Then Stone goes on to give Tips on Keeping Short Stories Short. 

This was mostly stuff that I already know, either from previous classes, or have directly experienced in my work. For instance, enter scenes late and leave them early. I literally wrote beneath that, with an arrow, “I’ve heard this from Patrick a million times.” Patrick being my creative writing instructor and department chair at Chandler Gilbert Community College, Patrick Michael Finn. You should google him too, because I know for a fact that he’s a cool cat.

If you really want more details from this section of the notes, leave me a comment and I will either reply with the details, or edit them in later for you.

Tips on Submitting Short Stories and Category Length

Here Stone mentions something I’ve not heard. He recommends the Writers of the Future contest. I guess he won it, having never been published before, and it launched his professional writing career. Basically, if you win, you get prize money, published, a trophy, and flown out for a week long workshop with professional writers.

I haven’t looked into all the details yet, but it’s definitely piqued my interest. Food for thought.

Then he mentions a website with a pretty painful URL. Basically, it acts like Duotrope, but for free. You can search for magazines with calls for submission based off all kinds of criteria.

And then Stone reminds us that we WILL get rejected. Don’t let it get you down.

After that, he lists Category Length. Which is basically the lengths for categories in award competitions, etc. I posted this a long time ago but it’s nice to hear it from a pro.

Novel = 40,000 words +
Novella = 17,500-40,000 words
Novelette = 7,500-17,500 words
Short Story = 1,000-7,500 words
Flash Fiction = <1,000 words
Micro Fiction = <100 words
Nano Fiction = Ridiculously Small

Q&A opened up after that. My favorite answer was to the following question:
Q: How do you know when a story’s ready for submission?
A: When I can’t think of a way to make it better.

     Q: Where do you submit Novellas?
A: Intergalactic Medicine Show, Analog, and Asimov’s will publish on occasion, usually as a serial.
He then admits that novellas are really hard to sell.

     Q: Self Publishing?
A: Also hard to sell, though novellas have a better chance. Short fiction has a really hard time selling as ebooks. You could bundle them and sell as your own collection.
He doesn’t recommend self publishing as a first attempt. He reminds us that, once you get published conventionally you can always go back and re-release work in ebook format. Which is not a bad idea.

The last note I have is a pretty important one. It reads: Stop putting work on the blog! This one makes me a little sad, but it has to happen. Anything I post here, because it is public, counts as first time publishing. Most magazines, upon deciding to publish your piece, ask for first time publishing rights, which I wouldn’t be able to give them if the work had appeared here. So, from now on, no more original fiction will appear in this blog, at least not anything I intend to publish.

It hurts me a little, but I think it’s important, and so I will stick to it. I’ll just be here talking about my works a lot more!

Anyway, this blog is long enough now. I need to stop avoiding chapter 16 and get on over to it. Thanks for your time and patience Blogland!


The Word Count Discussion


I thought I’d spend my time today talking about something pretty important that, as of yet, has not been tackled on this blog.

Word Count!

Word count is a tricky thing, in that it can be encouraging and completely daunting all at once. But first let’s talk about some basic rules of thumb for word count.

So, what’s a good word count for a novel? I wish I could give you a nice, tidy graph of exactly how long your work should be, but of course it’s not that simple.

Wikipedia (I know, I know) says that a novel is anything over 40,000 words. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) sets a goal of 50,000 words. And most small presses seem to agree that 80,000-100,000 words for a debut novel is best.

I don’t want to excluded any one’s writing here, so here’s a rough guide for other forms of writing, as according to Wikipedia:

Novel = 40,000+
Novella = 17,500-40,000
Novelette = 7,500-17,500
Short Story =  0-7,500

If you want to talk Microfiction, it can vary completely on where you’re submitting. Personally, I think Microfiction is anything under 1,000 words, but magazines have categories like ‘Flash Fiction’, ‘Microfiction’, and ‘Short Stories’, all with separate requisites. So, try and find a magazine that fits your work, not the other way around.

Now, if you’re writing YA Fiction, your word counts will be slightly less than that of an adult novel. Don’t let this daunt you though, remember that Harry Potter was rejected due to length.

What I find really interesting is, when I Google ‘word count’, all I see are posts from writers whose word counts are too high. Numbers like 135,000 all the way to over 200,000 are pretty common.

Those numbers are absolutely staggering! The longest thing I’ve ever written is currently at 24,000 words and is over halfway done with the rough draft. That puts it at less than 50,000 words by completion. Then take into account editing, which almost always lowers word count as you cut out the unnecessary, and I’ve got one tiny book.

Which is why I haven’t written anything for it in several months.

I let word count concerns keep me from writing my book. I was obsessing over it. Every time I sat down to write, my eyes kept wandering to see how many words I’d written. If I’d been working for two hours, but hadn’t written 1,000 words, I’d start berating myself for not writing better.

And so the novel sits, abandoned on my laptop. Not quite abandoned in my brain, because Kevin Foxx is still very much alive in my mind, but still, he’s neglected.

Then this new idea hit me, Val’s story. I started writing, emphatically. I couldn’t get my fingers to type fast enough. And then, chapter 5 really threw me for a loop. I fought with it, and fought with it. But, I refused to give up. I told myself that the chapter was NOT allowed to end until it was over 2,000 words. And I did it!

But, it’s only 2,009 words, and suddenly the nagging worry that my writing was failing hit me. I started to fret, out loud, that I would never be able to write a full fledged novel.

Thankfully my Fiance was sitting at the computer desk playing Runescape while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and paused his show to look at me.

“Just write the book,” he said.

I was floored. It was so simple! Just write the book! You’ll never know how long it will be if you let word count worries keep you from writing. And so I’m taking his advice. I’m just writing the book.

But, I have made a commitment to each chapter, that they will be at least 2,000 words. Because, really, anything less is only part of the story.

And so, for a sense of conclusion, let me say this. Word Count IS important. It’s EXTREMELY important. But not until the first draft is done. Worry about word count when it’s time to trim. Or in my case, add.

Anyway, it’s ridiculously sunny out right now, and all I truly want to do is sit on the patio of my Starbucks and read The Well of Ascension.

So, that’s what I’m gonna do. Have a great day Blogland,


Submission Update


I submitted both ‘Wild Turkeys’ and ‘You’ve Always Been Good at Crazy’ to the Gila River Review! Hopefully I’ll hear something before too long! Naturally these stories are going to be removed until I find out their publication status.

Still no word from Damselfly Press, though they just finished their submission period on the 15th, so I’ll have to give it some time.

Is anyone else submitting this season?