Awesome Contest!

May 26, 2010

So if you're not already following YA Highway, you should be! And if you need incentive, they're currently holding a totally wicked contest.

Go forth and enter!

Rejection is an Opportunity

May 25, 2010

So remember how I submitted my short story Songs of Humanity to a magazine awhile back? I got a response a few days ago—a rejection. A very nice form rejection. It wasn’t surprising (I did submit to one of the biggest SF mags out there), but it was disappointing. Is rejection ever anything but?

It’s my first rejection in a while, because it was my first submission in a while. I swallowed hard, sighed, then filed the rejection with my others. I allowed myself to mourn for fifteen minutes or so, then sat down at my laptop and made a few revisions.

And I thought, you know, rejection is an opportunity. Now that I know this magazine doesn’t want my story, I’ve got a whole list of others that might! It was that easy to get all excited about submitting the story again.

SOH is now in the hopeful pile (sounds so much better than slush pile, doesn't it?) again with another magazine. And if it gets rejected, that’s just one more opportunity to get it to the right place.

Dystopian Writers Blog

May 24, 2010

Check out this awesome new blog from up and coming dystopian authors! I love it already.

Did you ever wonder…about sailing in space?

May 14, 2010

POEL is currently on hiatus as my brain busily works away at how to de-suckify certain portions. I've got another dystopian project in the works, though. More to come...

Now, in honor of Jessica Watson‘s youngest ever solo, non-stop, unassisted circumnavigation that will come to a triumphant end tomorrow, let’s talk about sailing. What does sailing have to do with science fiction? Solar sailing, of course! A maiden voyage of a solar sailing ship will take place next week. Now, the idea of sailing on solar winds is nothing new, but there’s nothing wrong with a sci fi classic.

So what can we do with this one? Well, there could always be the journey of a young solar sailor out to accomplish a great feat on a solo, non-stop…oh, wait, that’s Jessica’s story! Adventure on the high seas (er, spaces?), mutiny’s, sailing races…any of them could make a good basis for a story. Okay, what about an alien society who does all their traveling in solar sailing? Why would they, and how would humans who interact with them– possibly with more powerful technology– interact?

That’s just one idea. Got any others?

Titles You SAY You'd Never Read

May 13, 2010

Tonight, I was bored. This happens very rarely, so I don’t really know what to do about it. I was bumming around on Facebook, and decided to post a link on my page.

That’s when it happened.

The Security Check box popped up. You know, where they give you two random words in a funky design that you have to type in to prove you’re a member of the human race? Well, the one in front of me read “Upgrading Imagaki.”

Hm, I thought. What on earth might an imagaki be? Or who? And why is he being upgraded?

And that’s when I thought Upgrading Imagaki would be an awesome title for a story about a Chinese man (so sue me, I know the name’s not Chinese. Just roll with it…) from some middle-of-nowhere province who’s brought in by an evil Chinese mastermind for secret military testing to upgrade his brain. Then a beautiful U.S. scientist breaks him out and ships him to America to save him from the horrid experiments only to find his upgrades have made him violent. He goes on a killing rampage in, uh, Detroit, and the beautiful scientist must team up with the evil Chinese mastermind to stop him. I’d totally read it.

I smiled to myself, and just as I was about to type in “Upgrading Imagaki,” I noticed a button on the security check box. “Try Different Words” it said. And so, with writerly curiosity, I clicked. Then again. And again. For like twenty minutes. And I found enough hilarious book titles to last me a lifetime. There were even a few good ones that could actually work as titles: Mistimed Matters, Rambling Far, Hazard Legacies, Time Restorer, In Cahoots.

And then, there were these:

On Stinking: A self-help book on how to detect and avoid the dreaded stink in all its forms: stinky feet, stinky armpits, and even a stinky (as in crappy) life. Critics call it “Surprisingly insightful.”
Carcass Year: New sheriff Shandra Plimpton must face not only the recent untimely death of her mother and the disrespect of a small town who doesn’t believe a woman can be a proper sheriff, but the trying case of desecrated carcasses of the town pets that are mysteriously appearing all over town.
Menfolk Problems: Published in 1765. A book especially for women about to be married on various physical, emotional, and psychological problems they should expect to find in their husbands, and discussions of how to accept and ignore them with grace.
The Squatted: When Tony Jarvis is magically transported to a world where only the rich may use a bathroom, he must make a harrowing choice. Either he suffers in constant constipation, or he joins the heinous underground rebellion of The Squatted.

Yeah. I had too much fun!

The Balancing Act of an Aspiring Author

This week, I finished my outline for the travel memoir I'm working on, and I’m telling you, ladies and gents, that whole Freemind tool is one of the coolest outlining helps ever. Added to this busy-ness was my first Mother’s Day (yay for moms! and for me I guess…), a teething baby, a change in my work schedule, and the discovery that five of the oldest kids at New Life International Children’s Home in Ghana are going to high school. This includes Michael, an amazing kid I’m very close to. In Ghana going to high school isn’t a given, it’s a rare privilege you have to work hard for, and it’s expensive.

And most of all this week, I’ve had a dilemma of the writing sort.

I’ve always written. Literally, always. I was composing pages of careful circles by the time I was just under a year old, and been writing actual stories since elementary school. And I’ve always assumed that someday, I would be published and be a real author. When I took a writing class this previous winter, I began to learn about the publishing industry, and realized there’s more to it than just mailing my book to a publisher. Over the months, I gave myself a crash course on the entire industry and what I need to do. Reading, networking, querying, marketing, conferencing, blogging, Twittering…oh, and writing.

I’m a little on the obsessive side, and I began to do all of this in earnest. So much in earnest, that it began to eat into my personal life and my writing joy. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy all of this stuff too, and it has its place. But I was focusing on it too much, and I had to remind myself yet again that I don’t have to do it all at once. I can take it slow. So I took several days off– minimal tweeting, blogging, blog-reading, not even writing a single word. I focused more on the rest of my life– my husband, my baby, my work, the impossibly messy house, and my other neglected hobbies.

And you know what? It was awesome.

I’m ready to go back to writing. And blogging, and twittering, and all that other junk. Just slower this time. I don’t have to read every single agent blog out there every day, or make sure to connect with all of my Twitter peeps every few hours. Because I don’t have to be published tomorrow. Or even next year.

Will it mean any less if my first book is published when I’m 36 than when I’m 26? I doubt it. In fact, it’ll probably be a much better book, and I’ll probably have decidedly fewer gray hairs. I think that’s something we can all get behind.

The Plotting Tool for Pantsers

May 4, 2010

The time has come.

The time to outline. The time to plot.

Now, part of the reason I like the pantsing-with-a-bit-of-plotting method is that I love the freedom and creativity of it. So what’s a pantser to do when she has to plot (REALLY plot)? How about using this amazing method? The author of the Hal Spacejock series and creator of Ywriter shows a great, visually organized method for plotting using a tool called Freemind.

I gotta tell you, people, I am in love. It’s easy to use, it’s visual, it’s organized, and it’s FREE. Never did this pantser think that plotting could be done so creatively. And yet, I’m plotting like I was born to do it. It doesn’t even feel stifling. In fact, in some ways, it’s a bit freeing.

Even Tennyson approves. And when the Muse-fish speaks, I listen.

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