2013: In which I actually submitted things.

Okay. So I think I’m not alone in saying ‘holy hell 2013 you’re a mean drunk’. After seeing someone summarize their year when it comes to writing on a forum I frequent, I thought it’d be a good way to see where I started and where I am now. Especially since I’ve been struggling a bit in the last couple months (yay Plague!)

The Good

Smiling Shark

Technically I submitted my first story in 2012 to The Hero Comes Home 2. But I also submitted it on Dec 31st, so I’m counting that as 2013 regardless.

Before 2013 I’d never thought I could submit anything and have it considered being close to ‘good’. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a long way to go before I am considered ‘good’, but there was this weird invisible fence that I’d made up that kept me back from trying to get published.

Then this dude came up to me and tried to sell me this lady‘s book, and got all pushy about joining this writing thing called Nanowrimo. So I went and met a whole bunch of lovely people, who told me about markets and I joined the facebook groups and learned about what kind of markets look for what kind of stories.

I’d started writing a horror story about pomegranates when the Hero Comes Home 2 crossed my inbox and so I sat down and wrote, edited and sent off the story in 5 days. #thatshowIroll. Totally expected it to get sent back with a ‘definitely not. never. ever.’ in red text. Instead I got a personal rejection.

The pomegranate story received an offer, which I can tell you was even more surprising.

Call it beginner’s luck, or call it 15 years of writing in my basement and on RP sites finally paying off, but I’ve had a number of personal rejections this year that are crazy elating.

Cons Attended: Ad Astra, WorldCon, CanCon [panelist]
Total Submissions:
23
Form Rejections: 13
Personal Rejections: 6 (including 2 ‘you made it to the final cut’ heartbreakers)
WOTF: Q3 – Honourable Mention, Q4 – SEMI FINALIST
Pending: 2
Sales: 1!!

The Bad

So like I said at the top of the post, 2013 was a mean drunk. I lost a total of 4 family members in the first half of the year alone, including my grandfather and an aunt. To say that I was emotionally exhausted would be a bit of an understatement. While at first I kept writing, I realised that grief was taking a toll on the tone in my stories, so I set it aside for a while.

Sad Cat

I didn’t want to ruin work that had potential by infusing it with a sadness when the story didn’t warrant it. I think that this was the right decision, although it did set off a cascade of missed writing goals in the last quarter of the year. Continue reading

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Nuggets – Taking Criticism

Okay, so. After my last announcement I was feeling pretty awesome, and then almost immediately after got some advice/critique that immediately deflated any burdgeoning ego.

Blobfish

My ego has self-confidence issues.

But, in all honesty, deflation like that is necessary. Without honest critique I’d hit a plateau and then end up staying there for god knows how long. Sure there’ll be some things I could improve by practice, but critique and constructive criticism is a jetpack on the hike up ‘writing’ mountain. That’s a terrible metaphor but shut up it’s Monday.

In my personal experience, learning how to take constructive criticism was one of (if not the) hardest lesson I had to learn so far in life. And that’s including my generation’s current ‘so we can’t actually do whatever we want if we work hard enough?’ life crisis. To anyone that says we can I have a couple choice words for you: Retirement, Gender Bias, Health Problems  and Saturated Markets. But that’s another post.

When I was younger, I was dead set on becoming an author/artist combo who studied sharks for a living. But I knew I had to improve my art skills somehow (my shark skills were top-notch), so I signed up for night classes. It was an adult class, and without it, I’m pretty sure I’d be an emotional porcupine whenever anyone would offer a suggestion on my work.

Lord knows I was before I took that class. The teacher was tough, and decided she wasn’t going to coddle 13-year-old Alice. Instead she vigourously pointed out mistakes, but did (eventually) offer suggestions on how to improve.

Colonel Meow

Bitch, what do you mean my art isn’t PERFECT?!

Trial by emotional fire, I kid you not. But, again, necessary. Now I’d rather hear the blunt problems people can encounter with my writing. But that’s not to say that it’s easy to hear, just that I know it’s not personal (and if it is, then HATERS GONNA HATE) and that no response would be worst of all.

What caught me the other week was the scale of the criticism. “It’s your style, the flow, it’s all choppy.” That’s not something easy to fix, since it’s not limited to one story and it’s something that I very obviously didn’t see. Or, y’know, it wouldn’t be choppy.

It took a while to absorb, and digest and I’m still trying to figure out a way around it. It’s also hard to get motivated when I’m now studying every paragraph for choppiness, or lack of flow. It’s something I’ll need to do, but not during the first draft.

While doing this, I realised that the steps needed to absorb criticism are eerily similar to the 7 stages of grief.

1. Shock or Disbelief Continue reading

Nuggets – Cover Design

Hey folks!

I promised a post a while back about Book Covers, similar to the Web Design Hell post I did for the Fictorians. But then I found Creativindie’s post 8 Cover Design secrets that Publishers use. While he’s talking specifically about larger scale publishers and practices they use to draw in readers, there’s a lot of things that he covers that are good design guidelines.

NOTE! This is useful for writers and designers as well. Pretty much anyone that ever wants to make a book cover.

What it boils down to though is the following three ‘laws’:

1. Make it clear

2. Make it interesting

3. Make it look worth the cover price.

There’s that whole saying about ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ but people do. They totally do.

Art Student Owl

I do. Why?

Continue reading

Nuggets of Knowledge

*Takes a deep breath from surfacing from work and plotting and writing*

Happy Friday everyone!

Over the last year I’ve emerged from my hermit-hole of writing and met hundreds of writers (not even exagerrating), gone to 3 literary cons, won nano, sold a story and have a handful of others floating around.

I’ve learned a lot.

Over the last couple of days I’ve seen some posts/emails made me realise how much I had learned and made me realise that the little nuggets I’ve gathered should be shared! *throws nuggets of knowledge everywhere* careful, they stain.

But seriously, ch-ch-check it out:

How To Be A Better Newbie Writer

New Internet Kid

I’m a writer!

1. Be Gracious

No one likes a new kid on the block who walks in like they own the place. Many of the professionals you’ll meet have been writing for years, decades and have a lot more experience than you. Be nice, and they’re more likely to want to share information and introduce you around.
Continue reading