Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #12

Blogland,

This was a pretty uneventful week, which is exactly what I wanted after the week of travel.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Clean the office

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • Nope. There was progress, but not half so much as there should have been.
  • Clean the office
    • Yes! I did this right after posting last week’s Goals Summary and it has been so wonderful to have my space tidy and… clear? It was spiritually freeing to have my room back in shape.

Weekly Word Count: 1,479

So, yeah… about this week. I honestly am not sure what happened. I just didn’t find much time. I didn’t make time. My free time was spent making delicious dinners with my husband, reading short stories, and watching Jeopardy. And… it was pretty nice.

The Walk ‘n’ Talk on Thursday was a long one, as expected, but we discussed a lot of great stuff and I think Madhu is very close to querying and getting her story out in the world. Trev and I went to video game trivia and came in 4th, just the two of us, so that was pretty neat. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the David Barker signing like I’d hoped to because by Friday I was pretty worn out.

I have a tiny bit of news in regards to submissions. My newest short story “That Which Illuminates Heaven” has been sent on to the final round of consideration at a very well-respected Professional Market! While this is insanely exciting news, it also means I’ll be waiting even longer to hear back about it, so my nervous energy has ratcheted up accordingly.

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This was a great email to wake up to Friday morning!

But, the best news I have is that I finally made the decision to quit my second job! This week is my last week working at Starbucks, which means next week is going to have a lot more free time to get work done.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Keep reading!

And that’s it. I’m working something like 47 hours this week and I just don’t think it’s reasonable to expect more from myself than blogging and writing. I’ll be reading a short story a day still, and if I’m focused I’ll hopefully finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. city in the middle of the night

But, that’s it for this week. Focus, get work done at a steady pace, and prepare to bust ass in April.

I’ll be around this week with a bonus Craft Discussion, and maybe a book review if my book just grabs me and refuses to let go. Next week will be a busy one on the blog with the usual weekly update, the monthly recap, and the reading round up.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

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Let’s Talk About S…

Submissions! Duh. What did you think I was gonna say?

Maybe you saw the tweet that went viral lately, about the woman who made it her goal to get 100 rejection letters by the end of the year.  She’s having trouble reaching her goal because she keeps getting acceptances instead! Which is awesome! Good for her.

This year I also set a goal: submit two short stories for publication.  I set the bar low on purpose; it’s been almost five years since I last published anything, and I wanted to keep the pressure to a minimum. Which was smart of me since I’ve been low-key stressed about it this whole time. I’m pretty high anxiety, if you haven’t noticed, and trying to hold myself accountable for something as beyond my control as short story publishing is a recipe for disaster.

nervous kermit

Before I get into the nitty gritty of how this whole process is going for me personally, let’s talk about how I even decided where the hell to submit in the first place. It can be a daunting process. You have a story, you’re proud of it. You worked hard, brought it life, fostered it into the best you possibly could, and now you want to share it. But how?

There are some questions you’re going to need to ask yourself:

  • What is my story’s genre?
  • What length category does my story fit? Micro? Flash? Short? Novelette? Novella? You get the picture.
  • What pay-rate am I willing to accept? Pro? Semi-pro? Token?
  • How long am I willing to wait to hear back from a magazine?
  • How many attempts will I make before I call it quits?
  • Am I willing to revise per editor feedback?

There’s probably more questions that will come up as you move on in the submission process, but these are some good ones to have a prepared answer for before you even begin. Once you have a good grip on the above there are some resources to help you wade through the incredible ocean of publication options.

First and foremost is The Submission Grinder. This website has it all! Authors create a free account to track their submissions, and the website compiles the results into numbers other authors can use to make educated decisions about their own submission process.

This is the data on a magazine I am currently submitted to:

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.49.03 PM
The black dot is my submission.

The site also keeps track of all your personal submission stats. Where you’ve submitted, how long it was out, the outcome, if you received your pay or not, etc. You can search for markets (publishing lingo for magazines/sites/publishers, etc.,) based on genre, word count, whether they’re currently open for submissions or not, and their pay-rate.

Really, the only negative for The Submission Grinder is that it is only as accurate as the information it is provided. Not all authors use the site, so you never know if you’re really seeing the whole picture. But, it’s still a fantastic resource and it’s been my lifeline this year.

The second resource I use most is Ralan.com. This is a genre specific resource, a catalog of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror publications that is updated constantly. It’s been active since 1996(!) and though it definitely still hangs on to its early internet roots, it has been a really great way to find markets I might not have discovered otherwise.  There’s also pages for writing tips, links, and all kinds of related media. Markets are organized by pay-rate, and then alphabetically.

I would suggest Submittable next, mainly because a ton of publishers use this software to accept and organize their submissions. Make an account (it’s free!), and then start trawling through the Discovery page. That’s where markets have opened their submissions, and you might find an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Moksha is another submission management software/website that some publishers use. It’s very similar to Submittable, and chances are you’ll end up with account on both. Submittable is a little more author -friendly, whereas Moksha is publisher focused. You won’t make an account here until you try to submit to a publisher that uses it.

I’ll recommend a new resource to me: QueryTracker is a website that helps writers connect with agents. I haven’t used it much yet, mainly because I don’t have a novel ready to submit to an agent. There’s a free and a premium option, but since I’m not actively seeking an agent, I’m just using the free service. You can search for agents based on whether they’re open to queries, what they want to read, and where they are based out of.

A recent discovery of mine is a magazine called The Writer. I found it at my library, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. They have a classifieds section as well as a segment towards the end of each issue that lists upcoming conferences, publication opportunities, agents, and workshops. It’s a rotating theme, so each issue offers something different. Maybe it’s not as comprehensive as some of the websites listed above, but I think it’s worth recommending.

So, I have all these resources… how’s the submitting going?

Well. I think. Although it doesn’t always feel that way. Rejections sting, especially when the story makes it into the final round of consideration. Generally my stories are performing well, but not well enough to get that acceptance letter yet.

yearly submission data

I’ve submitted thirteen times this year so far, two currently pending, four personal rejections and seven form rejections. The Cost of Rain has made it to the final round of consideration twice, and Lifelike has done so once.

The Cost of Rain submission data
This is why The Submission Grinder is the literal best.

As you can see, different magazines have very different turnaround times. I think that’s been the biggest challenge for me, personally, because the waiting is just killer. I’ve been submitting since March and The Cost of Rain has only been out eight times. Lifelike‘s been out for submission since April and it’s only been to five markets!

Lifelike submission data

It had a really great run right out of the gate and made it to the final round, but just got eked out of acceptance. That was hard. That hurt, because there was so much hope. The longer it was out the better I felt my chances were, and therein is my biggest challenge with submitting.

No matter how good the charts and numbers look the odds of rejection are just as high, if not higher, than those of being accepted. There are no guarantees, the statistics only mean so much. Publishing is not an objective endeavor. Your story can be great, but if you don’t find the editor that feels that same way, it won’t matter. Storytelling and reading are subjective by nature. Taste and preferences will always play a role in the selection process.

This is why you hear stories about authors submitting manuscripts dozens and dozens of times. This is why you keep submitting until you don’t have any other options left. What do you do after that? Well, I don’t know yet, but I’ll be sure to tell you once I find out.

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It’s a datapad! I got it in a themed LootCrate and I have no regrets.

Thanks to The Submission Grinder I have a list of markets that I can send each story to. I wrote them down, and once I send them the story I cross them off the list. That way, if I get the dreaded rejection, I can pick another one and send it right away. No lingering, no pained searching for the next thing. Just open my Mass Effect themed notepad, pick a market, use The Submission Grinder to be sure they’re accepting submissions, and off the story goes.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

My biggest takeaways from this process so far are:

  • Submitting takes a long time
    • Very, very few magazines allow for simultaneous submissions. You have to submit to one market at a time and wait for their response. This sucks. Just keeping it real. But it’s the way of things right now, so be prepared to know what markets are open when so you can plan your submissions accordingly.
  • Rejections hurt, but they do get easier
    • Form rejections suck. Mainly because it’s a form rejection. Your story wasn’t selected, and it didn’t stand out enough for the editor to offer any personal commentary. Laaaame.
    • Personal rejections are good. I mean, they also suck. Like, the big one. It hurts more, because they usually include the editor saying how much they “liked the story, but…” I don’t want to read “but”. I want to read, “We’re happy to inform you…” But, personal rejections are good because they almost always tell you why they decided not to take the story. There’s an explanation of what scene didn’t quite work, or why the ending fell flat, or whatever the case may be. There’s constructive criticism and it’s helped me make subtle changes to address weaknesses in my stories I couldn’t recognize on my own. So, yeah, personal rejections suck, but they’re also good.
    • If you prepare yourself, have your handy-dandy notebook with markets to send to, submitting gets easier. You’re armed with a list of opportunities, of potential. Oh, this magazine didn’t want my story? Well, here’s a list of 15 more that might want it! Hooray! So, enjoy your pity party ice cream/popsicle/alcoholic beverage of choice while you pick the next market, and then get on with your day.
  • Every author you’ve read has been here and done this
    • Okay. Maybe not literally every author, there’s always those weirdos that make it big out of nowhere, but the vast majority had to duke it out over and over again with their short story submissions. They had to earn those professional sales and wage wars with themselves to keep fighting on. Don’t believe me? Check out the #ShareYourRejections thread on twitter. You’ll bSam J Miller rejectionse surprised at the rejections some authors have received! 
      This is just you slogging through the story you’ll tell to a whole generation of newbie writers some day. So believe in yourself already.

Submitting this year has been a HUGE learning process. I’ve worked really hard not only on editing my fiction into a level of polish that I believe will earn a professional sale, but in organizing myself in such a way that feels… professional. Submitting is teaching me the skills I need to keep writing and publishing, the skills I’ll need to turn this passion into a career. Skills like time management, setting and meeting personal deadlines, discipline, fortitude, and strong organization, virtually (my files), physically (my desk/papers), and mentally (navigating this crazy publishing world).

I hope my tips and transparency in this process are helpful for you. I’m learning my lessons and want to share, because maybe they’ll help you when you’re feeling low at the hands of your rejections. And maybe this post will help you move on to the next opportunity.

Good luck, Bloggos!

 

BZ

The Recap – February 2018

Hello Everyone,

I can’t believe February is over already! I think I feel this way each year, because it’s difficult for me to understand how missing a couple days of the month makes such a big difference. Two or three days should not make February feel like a blip on the radar of the year.

But, it does, and it makes working toward my goals that much more frantic.

What were the goals?

  • Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Get Lifelike submission ready
  • Keep Reading

How’d I do?

  • Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Yes! I worked really hard to get two chapters edited on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means I finished 4 chapters in February and one in January. I’m feeling good about it.
  • Finish Sanctified
    • Nope. But, I’m close. Only a chapter and half left.
  • Get Lifelike submission ready
    • Yes? I’m not sure. I did another edit of it last night. I switched the POV from third to first person and added a much needed tweak to the ending, but I’m not sure if it’s ready for submission just yet. I like it, it’s headed in the right direction, but it needs fine tuning. I’m still calling this a win.
  • Keep reading
    • Yep! I read something like seven books in February, boosting my Reading Challenge and giving me plenty of fodder for book reviews.

Total February Word Count: 6,623

Any icing on the cake?

  • I published 10 blog posts in February
    • 3 weekly summaries, 5 book reviews, 1 monthly recap, and 1 craft discussion
  • Applied for a scholarship to the Oregon Writers Colony 2018 Annual Conference
    • I’m trying not to think too much about this, because I’m nervous and excited, but it’s constantly in the back of my mind. They’ll announce award recipients sometime in mid-March. Prepare yourselves for that post when it comes.Audient Void issue 4
  • The Audient Void #5
    • I’ve taken on more duties with AV, helping the graphic designer look through the proofs before he finalizes and prints. This is always exciting, because it means another issue is about to drop!
  • Sharing revisions of The Steel Armada
    • As of 2/26, Madhu and I are back to swapping pages for feedback. She’s working on something new, while I’m sending her the reworks of my novel, per her feedback from our previous swap.

March Goals

  • Edit five chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Submit The Seasons
  • Continue prepping Lifelike for submission
  • Keep reading!

Thoughts

I’ve got a lot of them. They’re bouncing around my brain and keeping my anxiety up. Mainly, I’m anxious about submitting The Seasons. I haven’t submitted a piece of short fiction for publication since… 2014? And I’ve never submitted a piece of genre fiction.

Caladria logo
RIP, Caladria

Okay, yes, there was that stint with Caladria where I wrote a handful of Fantasy short stories and they were published. But that was more like a volunteer effort. They asked for writers to pump out content, and though I got some great experience writing on a deadline and feedback from editors, those stories are no longer available for purchase. They just sit in my “Caladria” file folder, collecting virtual dust.

So, this feels much more real and scary. I like The Seasons a lot. I think it’s strong. I think it’s ready. But, I just don’t know if it’s pro status. And that’s the real issue. I’m only submitting to professional markets. I want paid for my work. I don’t want resume padding and feathers in my cap. I want monetary proof that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

And so, I’m terrified.

I’m also anxious because I really want to go to this writing conference in April, and I’ll find out in a couple of weeks if I’ll be able to attend or not. I know the time will fly by, but until I know for certain whether I’ll be going or not, I’m on eggshells.

Lifelike is coming along nicely. I did some quality reworking on it last night. I actually let my husband read it, which is something I almost never do. He’s not a big reader, so his feedback isn’t critical or experienced, but he’s smart and can give a good sense of what works and what doesn’t in a story. At least, from a reader’s point of view. I’ve also sent the story back to my friend Matt, who read a previous version of it, to see what he thinks of the rework. I’m going to let it stew for the next few days and come back to it next week and see what it needs.

Other than that, I’m just reading and editing. The Steel Armada is coming along well enough. It’s a big job, and there’s some major changes that take a considerable amount of time and rewriting. Characters are getting cut/absorbed into other characters, everyone is getting fleshed out more. Backstories and motivations are becoming clearer, to me and to the reader. And holy-moly there’s so much world building! I’m worried about pacing a little, but I figure that’ll get sorted in the next draft. Right now I just need to get everything out on the page and really nail down what’s happening and why. I can clean up the mess later.

The good news is that I’m editing about 2 chapters a week. If I keep the pace up, I’ll have this draft of The Steel Armada done by June. And that is some exciting shit. If that does happen, I’ll let it sit for a month or so, and really focus on writing. I’ll either return to writing From the Quorum, or write a new short story, depends on how I feel in June.Oathbringer

As for reading, I’m doing well. I’m currently two books ahead of my target, and I’ve got four more in the pipeline. Hopefully I can keep up the pace and pad that Goodreads Reading Challenge before I finally crack open Oathbringer. 1,233 pages is no joke, and it’s going to take considerable time to get through it all. I don’t want to fall behind because of it, so I’m reading smaller titles and graphic novels for the time being.

So, that’s my thoughts/feelings/concerns etc., etc.,  about March. There’s a lot going on, but so far my efforts to piecemeal everything out into Monthly and Weekly goals is working. I’m getting shit done. And that’s really all that matters.

I’m off to work on Sanctified. I’ll be back over the weekend to share my review of The Stone Sky, so make sure you stay tuned!

 

BZ

It’s That Time Again!

Blogland!

It’s spring… ish. And you know what that means! It’s time to get stories ready for submission!

Granted, I only have one story that’s ready for spring submission. The only other story I have, I’m aiming for fall submission date.

So, Fallen Star, my Department Chair’s favorite story of mine, is the last one left. The only of my completed stories to not be published. I’ve searched the internet tonight, looking for Journals and Magazines accepting submissions and have chosen 16 to submit to. Most will get back to me by late April or May, which is pretty good.

So tomorrow will be spent working, and then coming home to do any final tweaking, though the story has been ready to go for some time now. And then a couple hours of submitting, and keeping track of likely response times…

It’s always so exciting!

I also found a journal that publishes novel excerpts only. I think it’s a great idea, and might even send a few chapters from the Foxx novel… why not? The worst they can say is ‘no’, right?

Anyway, have a great night all. Hopefully you’ll hear from me soon.

 

BZ

Submission Update

Blogland,

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?

Thanks,

BZ

Relapse and New Beginnings

Blogland,

Sorry for the gap in posts. I’ve been a bad little writer. I’ve ignored my novel for a solid month. I didn’t finish it by today, and so in the spirit of being bad have extended my personal deadline to Christmas. I know… bad decision. But sometimes you have to shoot yourself in the foot a little.

In the interim I’ve focused on life here in Oregon. I’m making new friends and missing old ones. I’m enjoying a life that suddenly feels so more adult. So many milestones, most small and only important to me. Having my own car and medical insurance policies chief among them. It’s taken more out of me to adjust to life here than I’d originally anticipated. What I thought was life settling down, was really just my brain realizing that this is where I live. And after that came accepting it.

I’ve spent the last month or so being intermittently morose and euphoric. A pride and joy like I’ve never known has filled me with every wooded view and cool breeze, and yet, in the still of the night I imagine the dry warmth of Arizona evenings. A sheer layer of sweat covering my body in a way I may never know here. The embrace of desert crickets, so much more high-pitched in their cries than the wood dwelling one in the bush outside my apartment here. And stars… drive into the middle of nowhere in Arizona and I could point out constellations to you from muscle memory. But here the heavens are cockeyed and foreign. It’s the little things that tell me that I’m farther from home than I bargained for. And so, as often as I’m thrilled in learning this new land, I’m saddened at all I’ve left behind.

But enough of my griping. This is a blog about writing!

Today is the first of September, meaning that fall is just around the corner, and most schools are back in session. This means that Literary Journals and Magazines are opening their pages to new works! And this means that I need to get to editing and submitting stories! Which is exactly what I did today!

I have three stories I’m prepping for submissions. Wild Turkeys needs quite a bit more work before I’ll send it, but it will be ready before the month is out. You’ve Always Been Good at Crazy is nearly done, but a piece as short as that one, every word must be carefully considered, so it still needs more attention. And then there’s Fallen Star. Just a single line needs added and it’s ready to go. I’m not sure where I want to send this story, because I think it’s great… But I’m not sure I have the self-confidence to send it to any magazines I feel are “above” me.

Anyway, once these are all ready and out, I’ll get back to the novel. Because it’s not until the novel is done that I’ll let myself start writing anything new. But, I know which work is next in line! I’m really excited to try it out. It’s a great idea, but complicated in application. The story is paranormal in nature, and my friend December will be excited to know that this story is the next one I’ll be working on. She’s been waiting a couple years to see it finished.

Outside of the novel and this one story I have a novella/teen piece, a Fantasy trilogy, a teen novel, and another Fantasy series planned. Obviously this is several years’ worth of work, but at least I know where I’m headed!

If any of you readers are writers looking to submit this Fall, don’t forget to consider The Gila River Review! I’ll be posting about it, so keep an eye out for more info. And if you’d like more lists of journals and magazines, check out this website!

 

Anyways guys, thanks for reading, as always. I really do appreciate it.

 

BZ