Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Long and Short of It

I've been thinking about short stories lately. Not just ideas for stories, but my reasons for writing them. I started this journey with a published novel as my goal. I didn't even give short stories a second thought in the beginning. Honestly, I rarely read them. I think a part of me even thought they weren't "real" writing. How stupid, I know.

I wrote my first short story for the simple reason that I'd read it was a good idea to gain some publishing credits in order to grab the attention of an agent. The logic--if you can prove you're publishable on a small scale, then you are likely publishable on a bigger scale.

Something odd happened, though. I really enjoyed the writing! It's a different process than novel writing, for sure, but it's quite fun. I thought I'd list a few reasons I love short story writing:

1) Time. Obviously, it takes less time to write a short story than a novel. That includes critique and editing. Which means, I can get it submitted right away, and, in turn, get it published rather quickly, too.

2) Learning. Short story writing has taught me how to write concisely. When you have to get an entire story out in a few thousand words, you can't put in anything unnecessary. It has also taught me how to start the story in the right place, for the same reason.

3) Easier submission process. The submission process for a novel is long and tedious. You have to write query letters, synopses, and wait forever for responses. The submission process for short stories involves a short-and-to-the-point cover letter. You then attach the story and go. Often, you get a response in a matter of weeks, or even in certain cases, days.

4) Connections. I've made some real friends writing magazines--both the editors of those zines and other writers who also have stories there.

5) Exposure. My name is out there now. Readers who love my short stories will likely recognize my name when my novel(s) come out some day.

6) Less pressure. I can be wildly creative and not have to worry about investing too much in a story that doesn't fly. It's not like writing a novel and half-way through realizing it's not working. If a short story doesn't come together right away, it's easy to scrap it and move to the next one. I can try all those weird ideas I'd be too scared to base a novel on.

7) Variety. So many story ideas! So many settings! So many characters! I don't get stuck in one world with one set of characters.

8) A bigger novel world. I've written quite a few short stories based on my novel. I get to write about things that aren't directly related to the story in my novel, but enrich the world of it.

9) Money. Um...well, that would be one of the reasons if I actually got any! Seriously, there is potential to earn money on short stories, but paying markets are few and far between. I've got several token payments, and one $50 cash prize. I am, however, hoping that one day money for my short stories will be a regular thing. (Keep in mind, I'm talking fiction here. Nonfiction almost always pays.)

10) Reinforcement. I may have given up on my novel-writing by now if I didn't have the "proof" that I'm a good writer in the form of short story publications. When I'm having those down days, where I wonder if I'm deluding myself about being a writer, I pull out my portfolio a look at what I have accomplished. That may sound like ego-stroking, but I don't think so. I'm not arrogant about those publications--I'm grateful for them. They hold me up and keep me from giving up.

11) Cliche titles. Yep, notice the title of this post. I love using sayings and such as titles. "A Day Better Spent," "Like Stink on a Dog," and "Cat Call" are all titles I've used for short stories. You can't do that with novels--or at least you shouldn't ;).

So, there. Maybe you haven't tried short story writing and this will motivate you to do so. Or maybe you already write short stories and can attest to my reasoning. Maybe you have other reasons I didn't list here--if you do, feel free to share!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm Elsewhere Today

My latest post is up on the New Author's Fellowship. It's my Perspective on Submissions Rejections.

Click HERE to read all my posts on NAF if you haven't been keeping up over there.

And I've got the latest featured story on Avenir Eclectia. Wanna find out what a bug hunter does on a barely habitable planet? Read "The Trade."

I've got another story up over there as well, and several more to come in the near future. You can keep up with my stories by clicking on that little box to the right--the one with the space station that says Avenir Eclectia.

That's it for today. Just telling you where to find me right now!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Math-trap of a Non-morning Person

My husband normally wakes up at the crack of dawn whether it's a work day or not. He's a morning person.

I am not.

I stay up late, oftentimes into the wee hours of the morning. Dear husband is always trying to be helpful, telling me I should get up early so I can get more done.

There's a part of me that thinks he's probably right. You see, I get up and generally have several things that really need to be done at once because the morning is slipping away quickly. I'm always scattered in about seven different directions once the coffee kicks in.

My brain spins, wondering which thing I ought to do first. I mean, I really want those dishes done, and the dirt tracked across the floor is driving me nuts. But if I don't give everyone their vitamins right away I'll forget. And get a load of laundry started, because that can be running while I work on the other stuff....

Lessons! Can't forget homeschooling! If I do all that other junk first, then school gets put off.

"Sit down, kids, time to start school!"

And while they do their drill and practice math, I'm checking email and--hehe--writing this blog.

Would it help if I got up earlier? I'm not sure. There's still only so many hours in the day. I still have all that OTHER stuff to do, no matter what time I wake up.

It makes me think of all those magazine articles that declare, "In just (ten, five, two, whatever) minutes a day, you can...." Well, just six things at ten minutes each, and there goes a whole hour.

The fact is, it all adds up the same no matter what. You simply can't escape math, Morning Person or not.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Light and Serious, Dark and Quirky

I've got TWO short stories out right now. Both were published online in the last couple of days.

First, in Digital Dragon magazine is my short science fiction story "Prism." When the sun's light touches the prism, Eryk must choose which path to take. Click HERE to find out his choice. But first, look at the cool magazine cover--notice that they actually designed the cover around my feature story:

How cool is that?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Morning, a Not So Typical One

I slept in today until almost 10 am. I'm not exactly an early riser, but that's a little late for even me. The house was quiet, and I assumed the kids had followed suit and slept in as well.

Imagine my surprise when I found them both sitting on my son's bed...reading.

"Surprise?" You say. "Kat, surely your kids read all the time. You love books. You read all the time. You write books, for cryin' out loud. Your kids must love to read."

Sigh...not so true.

My son was an early reader. He started at the age of four. By the end of first grade he was reading at a fifth grade level. Now in fifth grade, he reads at about an eighth grade level. But he's never wanted anything to do with fiction. I've tried everything. Magic Treehouse, The Dragonslayers Academy. I tried reading Harry Potter out loud to him. "Boring, Mom. Can't we just watch the movies?" My heart can someone with half my DNA not love J.K. Rowling's writing?

A few books have caught his attention, so long as I read them a chapter at a time at bedtime. (One of those books is The Cat Who Made Nothing Something Again, and you can find my review of it HERE.) But in general, he'd rather hunker down with a big reference book about animals than dive into a story. Until now....

My daughter, on the other hand, was far from an early reader. At the end of second grade, and eight and a half years old, she's just now hitting "grade level." She fought against reading for so long, not because she doesn't like stories, but because the letters didn't make sense to her the way numbers do. (A curious irony that she'd have a "boy brain" like that when she's the girliest little girl ever.) "Resistant" doesn't even come close to describing her attitude before. But now that it's clicked....

So, today. Both, reading by choice! I nearly cried :). My daughter has discovered the joy of Dr. Seuss. "I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam-I-am." She can read an entire book now and sound out every word. So proud of herself, and rightly so! And my son--what finally did it for him? Well, a friend of mine, Diane Graham, sent him a copy of a book published by Port Yonder Press. The Curse of Captain LaFoote, by Eddie Jones. He's on chapter five, and so excited to find a book that is holding his interest.

Not a typical Friday morning before....but maybe from now on? I sure hope so!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Comments on Commenting

I have found myself lately pondering the art of blog commenting. I've realized I have many reasons FOR commenting--and probably more for NOT commenting. Generally, I DO leave comments because I've found the post interesting (maybe it's a controversial topic), I can relate exactly to what the author is saying, or it's an author I'm trying to help support (like if they are newly published and I love their work and want to spread the word). There are a few other reasons I'm sure, but I can't think of them right now, and that's not the point of the post.

This is the reason for the post--

Here's a list of why I DON'T leave comments. If you have a blog I follow, I suppose you'll just have to figure out where yours fits, like it or not.

1--I'm tired. I've expended what little energy I had at the time reading your blog post, and writing a comment would push me over the edge.

2--No time. I've read it, loved it, but have too many things going to formulate an articulate response.

3--The topic is something I feel very strongly about, and I want to write a well-worded response, but by the time I get it figured out, too much time has passed and your blog has moved on, or every other commenter has already said what I wanted to say.

4--I didn't like the post, didn't care about it, found it too boring or long or whatever to waste my time reading it, and do not want to encourage further discussion. (Of course, that can't be the case all the time, otherwise I wouldn't be following you in the first place.)

5--I disagree with you, but know that nothing I say is going to change your mind, and I'm not the kind of person that goes around trying to convert everyone to my philosophies anyway. It's your blog, you have a right to post anything you want, even if you are wrong.

6--Your blog gets gobs of comments without adding mine to the masses. Plain and simple--you don't need me, and I doubt you notice.

7--I simply had nothing to add. The post was fine--interesting, thought-provoking--but I felt that adding a comment was superfluous and accomplished nothing other than getting my name listed under the post.

There, now you have it. Not that you need it, much less asked for it. But there you have it, nonetheless. Feel free to comment. Or not.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Super Secret Project Revealed

I've posted a couple of times on here about being involved in a secret project. Maybe I didn't use the words "secret project" but I DID say I was working on something I couldn't talk about. Well, here it is:

No, not the image. The site that goes with the image :). Avenir Eclectia is a new project by Splashdown Books. An online zine of sorts, but not open to just any old speculative fiction story. First of all, it's mainly sci-fi (although a bit of genre-jumping is allowed). Second, and more importantly, it is set in a predetermined world, with predetermined types of characters.

All the information about the story world of Avenir Eclectia can be found HERE. A full description of the planet, space station, and underwater area are all there. As are guidelines about culture, character types, and even some specific characters to get you started.

Submissions are open. Visit the SITE and click on "Join Us" for detailed info about story length and the email to send your submissions to.

Oh, and don't forget--follow the blog so you don't miss any of the stories I've written, and am writing, for Avenir Eclectia!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring Cleaning and Summer Reading

Life has been busy lately, mostly with cleaning and raking and such. Which means I've barely had time to read. Reading gets squeezed in here in and there, and I really miss it. It has gotten me thinking about some of the books that I have recently fallen in love with.

So, I decided to list a few here. There are others deserving of mention, but a blog post can be only so long. I may add another post or two with more. Many of these I have reviewed, and some not. But these are books that have taken my breath away for one reason or another. Every one of these books is either on my shelf or in my Nook, and will remain part of my permanent collection:

Alpha Redemption, by P. A. Baines. Sci-fi. Beautiful and haunting, with slips of Douglas Adams style humor, woven together in a way that blew my mind.

A Star Curiously Singing and The Superlative Stream, by Kerry Neitz. Sci-fi. The most incredible example of "voice" I've read. Could not put them down.

Seabird, Earthbow I, and Earthbow II, by Sherry Thompson. Fantasy. A book series that I was a little skeptical of at first because I was unfamiliar with small presses. But, wow. Turns out it's one of the best fantasy series I've ever read.

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Fantasy. Super long book that will make you wish it was even longer when you come to the end. Fortunately the sequel just released. I've been waiting very impatiently!

Incarceron and Sapphique, by Catherine Fisher. Fantasy/sci-fi/steampunk. Amazing mix of genres, amazing writing, amazing originality. Loved everything about this series.

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. YA suspense. Heart-wrenching and real. Deals with teen suicide. The handling of this topic and the writing are masterful.

Nevermore, by Kelly Creagh. YA fantasy/romance/suspense. Cheerleader main character is nothing like me. But the characterization is incredible, and it's dark and twisted, and it's inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's writing. I was sucked in and didn't want to leave.

There, now you have a summer reading list :).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

And the winner is....

....not me.

This past week an excerpt from Finding Angel went up against an excerpt from another unpublished novel on Clash of the Titles.

COTT is a blog that features anonymous book excerpts for readers to vote on. Winners get a nifty button for their blog or site that says they won, and runner-ups like me get one that shows we competed. All the authors get featured on there with an interview. I think it's a rather cool little set-up.

So, click on over to read the interview that's up right now, since I was this week's runner up, they reveal which excerpt was mine. You can also check out the post that had both excerpts to see what I was up against. The winner deserved the victory, so click on the little "follow" button while you're over there so you can see the next level of competition and keep voting.

PS--no, Mom, I didn't tell you about this. It was supposed to be anonymous ;). Now you know!