Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

A story of firsts - part two.

While "But Before I Kill You ..." was my first sale, between that blood-stained event (see last week's post) and the publication of the anthology, I sold a couple other stories which came out before ... and so my first publication was "The Dreamweaver's Dispute" in Leading Edge Magazine.

This story was written from a series of random inspiration - five images drawn from a fantasy art site with absolutely nothing to do with each other, and woven together into a story.  The underlying premise became:  what if the fairies came to you and told you that if you didn't fulfill your late husband's bargain with them, they would return your first-born child?  So "Firstborn" was written.

It got a few encouraging responses in submissions, including a lovely reply from Strange Horizons.  I was extremely excited when Leading Edge accepted it, and quite curious when I heard it would be illustrated, but there were a few hurdles to overcome first.

First, I had to change the title.  They had printed a story in their last issue with the same title ("Firstborn"), by Orson Scott Card.  Titles have always been a weakness of mine, so I came up with a list of every character, plot point and theme in the story, brainstorming with the help of my mother (hi!) until I finally hit upon "The Dreamweaver's Dispute" - a reference to the main character's profession.  Not perfect or brilliant, but it was catchy and would work in a pinch.

Second, for whatever reason, they didn't receive my contract, and I found about this pretty close to the publication deadline.  There were some technical issues I can no longer recall the details of - maybe the file was too big to email? - and back and forth that eventually required me to call the magazine office.  Small snag:  being a student-run publication, the office was only open a few days between 7-9pm. ... MST.  So I had to wait until 9pm my time to try them.

But finally got it sorted out just in time for Leading Edge #51 to go to print with its lovely illustrations, and "The Dreamweaver's Dispute" on the table of contents.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

Feeling nostalgic this week, so thought I would turn back the clock and talk about my first story sale - though it wasn't my first published story, the way the timeline worked out.

I had been writing and submitting short stories for a while, with some encouraging responses.  Then I saw the submissions calls for Fantasist Enterprises' Bash Down The Door And Slice Open The Badguy - humorous stories of sword and sorcery.  I had never attempted to write a story for a specific theme before and the deadline was already near, but I had an old story entitled "But Before I Kill You ..." that I had written years ago with the Evil Overlord list for inspiration.  The core of the story would remain, but I rewrote extensively, finished it swiftly, and edited it in time to hurry it off in the mail.

A little less than two months later, I received a reply.  I opened it, expecting another rejection letter, and promptly cut my finger on the side of the page.  I read the contents in shock.  At the time, I was still living at home; my mother came in and asked me what was going on because I was white as a sheet.  I stammered out an explanation.

And that was how "But Before I Kill You ..." found a home.

Check it out here:  Bash Down The Door And Slice Open The Badguy

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stardust Now Available!

My flash fiction story, Stardust, is now available in Silver Blade!  Check it out.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

This past week, I've had a modest goal of writing 500 words on my short story a day.  I haven't reached that every day, but I've generally come close - with the exception of one day when I was just utterly work-slammed and didn't even get to touch it.  I'm estimating this is going to be about a 7000 word story, which is where most of mine tend to fall.  I'm about 2500 words in and on good track to finish in time to do a bit of editing before I post it for the FWO challenge.

The joy of writing every day is hard to express.  It can be frustrating when I can't quite figure out the sequence, have to stop and puzzle something out, worry that there's not enough foreshadowing, doublecheck to be sure I have sufficient description without stopping the story cold ... but oh, the delight of the flow of words.

I know my writing time and energy will decrease again when I'm in school, so I'm pondering short projects that I can finish quickly.  One thought I had was to do a piece of flash fiction, micro fiction or even a poem every day based on a sparker, such as the word of the day or a random Deviantart / Elfwood picture.  I'm certainly open to suggestions of a good source for quick inspiration!  (Weekly may be more realistic; I'll have to think about it and experiment.)

Other writers:  what do you do to keep your muscles sharp when time is limited?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

Quick bit of non-writerly news:  for those who might have missed it, I will be starting culinary school in less than a month - first class, September 30.  I am hoping to be able to blog about the experience, so please feel free to check out Evil Overlady In The Kitchen.

Back to the topic at hand, I am currently tackling the FWO monthly challenge:  write a story in one of the "punk" genres.  Well, how could there possibly be a question?  I'll be writing a mannerpunk story.

I'm fairly fascinated by this subgenre and have even credited it with influencing Journal of the Dead - though truth be told, that is probably more of an intrigue novel.  I love the idea of political and societal manuevering and the matching of wits as the driving plot force of a novel.  It also happens to fit very well with my interest in fantasy mysteries, positively made for labyrinthine motives and alliances.  Unnatural Causes, the fantasy/mystery novel that is on hold until I get Who Wants To Be A Hero? in shape (yes, I have novel overload) is based on a fine web of conflicts and consequences ... and my two outsider detectives, the familiar and the apprentice, are doubtless going to have their clashes with society.

Assuming I ever get a chance to write it, but that's another story (pun intended).

I suppose even the culinary is good practice for all this:  in what other subgenre would it be appropriate to lovingly (but briefly!  I am not a flowery writer) describe food?

Ironically, I was rather turned off by Swordspoint, the alleged originator of this subgenre, but I will recommend a few mannerpunk books I enjoyed:  Patricia C. Wrede's Mairelon The Magician and sequel; and Barbara Hambly's regretfully standalone Stranger At The Wedding.  Galen Beckett's The Magicians and Mrs. Quent has most of the hallmarks of mannerpunk (indeed, it often feels like fantasy Jane Eyre!), but it wasn't a book I can wholeheartedly suggest.   (Check out my review here if you're curious.)

So it's off to the mannerpunk ball with me ...