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writing update

So it seems somewhat silly to repost here about PodCastle’s upcoming flash fiction contest, because let’s face it, who is going to find out about the contest here that didn’t already know about it from somewhere else? However, since the prior Escape Pod contest resulted in one of my two published pieces, I can’t help but feel a warmth and fondness for the whole endeavor.

Yes, after many years, Escape Artists is doing it again: a flash fiction contest voted on by listeners. Actually, there’s a separate contest for each of the podcasts, so technically it’s three flash fiction contests. PodCastle goes first, and subs open April 1 (on the two year anniversary of PodCastle!). Get your pencils sharpened and write us something new and glorious! Editors will quietly stand on the sidelines while listeners of the podcasts vote up their favorite submissions. Each writer may submit up to two flash pieces to each contest (so two times three: that’s six opportunities to flex your succint writing powers). May the most evocative, well-written piece of flash fiction win! Details about the schedule and the rules and the voting procedure can be read in the relevant forum post. As an editor of PodCastle, I cannot participate by submitting stories (or even voting, actually), but I’ll be observing, reading, and smiling. Go to it!

Meanwhile, I’m on spring break, and instead of doing my taxes, or something useful, I took care of all the submissions that had returned to me but I had failed to send out again. Total number of items I subbed? Five. Number I already had out? Two. Five plus two? Still seven, even with new math. Which…I’m not sure about this, but I think may be the most things I’ve had ever out at one time. Pretty awesome!

Have I been writing? No, not much, not really. But I am thinking about writing. Ideas are arriving in my head uninvited. I spent thirty minutes at Sophia’s piano lesson making a list of all the things I need to know to start working on the next novel. Long list of research ahead of me. Questions to be answered, such as: are there any underground rivers or lakes with significant salinity (say, 2 percent or more) ? Some of my unedited stories have been calling to me to fix them. And the post-apocalyptic Córdoba story has recently reminded me it is not happy about being shoved in a closet unwritten. Even Chelia has been making appearances, asking me to revise her story and finish the prequel.

Also as part of spring break, I aggressively tackled the submissions pile at PodCastle. We are within ten subs of having nothing to review in the editorial consideration folder, which is the lowest pending subs point since January, when we took over PodCastle. There’s no slush more than three days old (though honestly, credit for staying current with that goes to the ever awesome Ann Leckie). In other PodCastle (and Ann Leckie) news, Ann Leckie month seems to have gone off beautifully, bringing a different sensibility and range of stories to the podcast, and showing us what PodCastle would be like if she were running it. And if we learned anything during February, it was that Ann should definitely run her own magazine! Meanwhile, co-editor Dave and I are excited to see some of our favorite story selections finally coming into the rotation (production lead time is longer than you would think), such as Samantha Henderson’s chilling “The Mermaid’s Tea Party“. We’ve got some more great stories coming up, ones that we are really eager to share. So, as always, if you have fantasy story reprints, we’d love to see them! Check our guidelines, and send us the story we wish we’d written!

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Welcome to my writing accountability post. There won’t be much here, because outside the hundreds of typed pages of notes I took at Montessori training and the hundred and fifty or so handwritten notes I did at observations in November, other types of writing mostly did not occur this year.

Writing for the blog…well, you can see the archive for yourself. Dead for about eight months.

In the area of fiction writing, I finished one story and one piece of flash, for a total wordcount of 10,000. I know that seems like a bizarrely even number, but expr, it does not lie. I could add the fitful 2008 on the story that just isn’t working yet for a grand total of 12,008 words for 2009. Some writers can do that in one day, but I’m not going to detour into I suck land right this second.

The completed story (whose title is “Object Permanence”, btw) is mammoth for me, clocking in at 9,182 words. I can thank (or curse) my invaluable crit group for that bloat, because they kept reassuring me that it was ok for stories to be longer than six thousand words. It needs major reworking for some plot stuff, but in the main, I’m pretty happy with it. It seems rescuable rather than shelvable. I’m in the middle of another story right now, one that I had hoped to have finished by the end of the year, but gah, what I’m trying to do is so complicated that I’m really wrangling with it. It’s just going to take a little more time. The flash is a toss off, for the purposes of not being empty handed at crit group, and because the story apparently won’t be finished in time.

I edited and subbed one story from the vast stockpile of stories which need to be edited, and it’s now making the rounds of subs. I believe I’m 85%ish complete on the edit of Lie Down With Dogs, which I wrote in…November of 2005? Man. I’m editing a story I wrote four years ago! I really need to be better about editing stuff. As I said in a previous post, if I do nothing but edit in 2010, I may still have a dozen or so stories in circulation, hunting down their own hoard of rejections.

I have five stories looking for homes, though only two of those are out at the moment. A lot of markets will open back up January 1, and I’ll be able to fill out those submissions figures. I also have two reprints that I’ve started sending around, to no success, but I just want to say, sending out reprints is fun and stress free, because there’s no stakes on whether they’re accepted or not. The big news is I retired no stories this year. Some have been to more than ten places. If you’ve been reading for a while then you know I usually stop sending them out at ten rejections. So officially, of stories that have ever been good enough to submit, only one is retired. The others are all still out there, plodding along, trying to find a couple of bucks and a place to stay, even with their > 10 rejections. One of the stories in particular is one I really believe in, and I’m not going to stop sending it out until someone buys it! Witness my grim determination!

I made no progress this year on the next novel, unless thinking about it and smiling to myself is progress. Nor did I revise my YA novel Cualcotel, which needs a buff and polish pass but is (mostly) structurally sound before it can be subbed. But you know, editing.

So the 2010 goal is to learn to love editing (or learn to do it even if I don’t love it) and maybe learn to do some alternate story construction things like maybe outline or use index cards or something. Writerly suggestions are welcome, since I usually use the follow the rope down method of story writing. Because this story I’m working on right now? Needs something else. Some different methodology, some different trix, some different approach.

Well, that’s quite enough accountability for one post, isn’t it?

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