Tag Archives: acceptance

Short Story Sale!

I’ve just sold a sci-fi humor detective story to Galaxy’s Edge. My first story with this venue is set to appear in the September issue, so I’m very glad to have another one in the works.

Happy dance time.

~Marina

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Good News!

Part two of the WotF workshop overview will be up next week.

This week I wanted to crow a little, if you’ll indulge me.

First off, I sold a story to Mike Resnick over at Galaxy’s Edge after a minor (but really needed) rewrite.  I’m super excited about this, as it’s my fourth professional-rate sale.

Secondly, my story “Sojourn for Ephah” won second place in the InterGalactic Medicine Show readers’ poll!  To get positive feedback from editors is great, but this is the first time I’ve been able to see what kind of an impact my work has had on readers.  I’m extremely pleased that the story was so well received.

Well, that’s it, just a batch of good news.  All in all, April’s been a pretty good month.

~Marina

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Writers of the Future Workshop Week and Gala, Part 1

Ok, I’m nearly back on schedule.

The Writers of the Future workshop week was wonderfully educational.  We had two amazing primary teachers, Dave Wolverton and Tim Powers, and a plethora of secondary speakers who all gave their take on different aspects of writing fiction professionally.

When I arrived I was picked up at the airport at the same time as Stephen Sottong (Author of Planetary Scouts), who along with Tina Gower (Author of Twelve Seconds and our Gold Award winner!), was my quarter-mate.  Tina ended up being my roommate for the week, which was fantastic.  After long evenings in the hotel lobby talking to night-owl judges, we’d often go back to the room and stay up a few hours more talking.

The group stayed at the Loews hotel, and walked a few blocks down Hollywood Boulevard every day to the Author Services building.  The writing workshop was taught on the fourth floor, while the illustrator’s was taught on the first in front of the stage for the L. Ron Hubbard Golden Age Theater (where live radio plays of Hubbard’s works are preformed.  We got to see one on the Monday before we left, and it was very well done).

The ASI fourth floor is beautiful, and the area we were taught in is basically one big library (the majority of which is devoted to Hubbard’s works, but there is one wing devoted to the works of WotF winners).  There, Tim, Dave and company instructed us on the ways of the professional.  We received both lessons in craft and in business.

The most amusing thing about the workshop was the constant intrusion of the photographers (who were very nice).  Those pretty pictures you see on the WotF website and newsletter?  They didn’t get that well composed by accident (most of them, anyway).  We were constantly having our table tops rearranged, papers hidden, and drinks removed.  This constituted a bonus lesson in photography.

The most stressful thing about the workshop was by far the twenty-four hour story.  We were given an object, a trip to the library, and a stranger (ok, we had to find the stranger, none were given to us) to inspire a story, then we were expected to produce a completed story(as in, written to the end, not necessarily submission-ready) in twenty-four hours (that’s twenty-four hours writing time.  The inspiration points happened over the previous forty-eight hours or so, so we did have time to think and digest before having to produce words).

On our first workshop day we received our objects.  I was given a box of who-knows-how-old raisins out of Tim’s grab bag.  A few of the other objects included a floppy disk, a magnifying glass, and a hotel room key.

For me, the stressful part came not when we were given the go-ahead to start typing, but when we had to go talk to a stranger.  As a confirmed introvert, striking up a conversation with a random person is not my thing.  But I did it.  Thankfully my stranger was a very nice sunglasses salesman from Turkey (Alisa Alering [Author of Everything You Have Seen] also spoke to a sunglasses salesmen from Turkey–oddly enough, they were not the same person).  A few other people (ahem, Tina) had much more awkward encounters.

The actual writing part went smoothly for me.  I think this is because I’ve had some practice writing stories in a day.  We started writing at 4:00pm and were expected to have our story printed and turned in by 4:00pm the following day.  I was able to write ‘the end’ on a 4,000ish-word draft at around 12:30 or 1:00am, while others were up most of the night.  The next day I edited at my leisure, making sure to strengthen themes and descriptions– other people did not have the same opportunity to rework.

Again, I don’t think writing the story went well for me because of any extra craft skills I possess.  I think it had 100% to do with having written that way multiple times before.   I was able to plan and pace myself accordingly.  If there is one piece of advice I’d give to future workshop attendees, it’s to practice this method ahead of time.

After we turned in our stories, Dave and Tim chose three for us to critique as a group.  For some people, I think this might have been the most stressful part of the twenty-four hour challenge.  A few seemed to dread the thought of their story being pulled from the pile.  Tim and Dave could of course chose whichever stories they wanted by whatever method they wanted, and they joked about throwing the manuscripts down some stairs and picking the ones that flew the farthest.  Apparently mine was quite aerodynamic (a fine quality in a story), as it was picked along with Tina’s and Chrome Oxide’s (Author of Cop for a Day).

I got some very insightful feedback, and have since reworked the story a bit more.  I submitted it for the first time on Tuesday.  If you get a chance to participate in this workshop, do your best to make sure the story you write isn’t a throw away.  Don’t complete the challenge just because you have to–aim to get at least the beginnings of something submitable out of it.  Every story you write is practice and the Big Game all at the same time.  So, it’s ok if you try something and it doesn’t work for you (like writing a story in one sitting), but always do your damndest.

I will return next week with Part 2 of my recap.  There might end up being a Part 3, we’ll just have to see.

If you’ve got any questions about the workshop or twenty-four hour story in particular, feel free to ask!

~Marina

P.S.  I’ve sold another story!  Details soon.

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Updates on Submitomancy and The Submissions Grinder

These are the two Duotrope alternatives I introduced a few weeks ago.  That post is here if you’d like to familiarize yourself with it.

Sadly, we’ve lost Submitomancy before its launch.  Its Indiegogo campaign was unsuccessful, meaning they did not receive the funding they needed to get off the ground.

Though Submitomancy frequently posted aesthetically pleasing screenshots of the possible site on both their Indiegogo page and their facebook page, I’m afraid not having a working model to sample hurt them.  When Duotrope closed to those who could not or were unwilling to pay their subscription fees, those who fled were ripe for the picking.  I believe the Submissions Grinder ran away with the bunch, since it launched in about a week after Duotrope’s pay model went into full effect.  Because there was already a free, functional alternative, and there was no working model of Submitomancy to test, I believe most people did not see a clear reason to donate to the cause.  Why pay for something that looks pretty but may not work at all?

Perhaps if its creators ever decided to take another shot, they might put up a basic, functional version to heighten their appeal to donators.

The Grinder, on the other hand, is in full swing.  It’s highly functional as a sub tracker and market database, and they’re adding new features all the time.  I have to say, I’ve never seen a nonprofit venue work so hard to accommodate every user.  If you’d like to see a function, just suggest it.  If it makes practical sense, it will go on a to-do list.  I really hope they can keep their customer service up, as it’s run by just two individuals (that I’m aware of) in their spare time.  Their mission statement declares that their users will never have to pay a mandatory fee for an account–but man are they earning their donations.

Two things really excite me about this site.  First, the one thing I’ve longed for in a sub tracker are graphs.  Bar graphs, line graphs, stem and leaf charts–anything to make the data more accessible to the visually-oriented.  I always meant to suggest it to Duotrope, but I could never find a suggestion box on their site (if they had one, it wasn’t very obvious).  Right now the Grinder has histograms that display response times on each individual market page.

The second thing I’m excited about is a feature not yet available.  In addition to submissions tracking, they also want to add sales tracking–which is brilliant.  Only tracking submissions means that tracking ends with either an acceptance or a rejection.  But that’s not helpful to those who actually sell their stories.  There’s a world of things to keep track of afterwards: edits, publication dates, payment, rights reversion, etc.  To the professional, having a system to track these things accurately and consistently is priceless.

So, if you do use the Grinder, I hope you’ll seriously consider donating.  They are working hard to make writers happy, and they know that not everyone can afford a subscription.  Here’s their link again, if you haven’t tried the site yet: The Submissions Grinder.

~Marina

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Being SMART With Your Goals

Ok, I might be a little late here.  A goal-oriented post usually belongs at the beginning of January, not at the end.  But…

I want to discuss setting real goals vs. setting non-goals.  You’d be amazed (or, perhaps not) at how many writers I’ve seen this month declare non-goals for 2013.  Non-goals don’t help anyone, least of all the person who sets them.

Non-goals are more easily defined as dreams–something you wish would happen, but don’t actually have any control over.

A real goal is entirely self contained and under your control.

Example of a non-goal: Qualify for SFWA.

Example of a real goal: Write ten short stories and submit them to SFWA qualifying venues.

See the difference?  Some people don’t.  At least, not right away.

There’s a well known model for goal setting that has circulated widely in the business world.  Which, naturally, means that writers are the last to hear about it  (I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but if you want to SELL something you’re in a BUSINESS, so we artsy types can all stop acting like ‘business’ is the eight-letter ‘b’ word).

This model is called SMART.  It’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound (actual words may vary depending on who you’re talking to, but the system remains the same).

Specific.  This one’s easy.  It’s the What, Where, Why and Who portion.  What are the requirements and restrictions? Where do I have to go/send/be in order to accomplish this?  Why is it important that this goal be accomplished?  Who is involved in making this goal happen (hint: if the goal requires someone in addition to yourself they have to be working towards the exact same goal.  Most editors are not working towards the same goal as you are, neither are agents or publishers.  They do not count as goal partners)?

Measureable.  This means you must have a concrete way of assessing your progress towards the goal and the goal’s completion.   You are looking for quantitative, not qualitative criteria.  How questions prominently figure in here.  For example:  I must write X number of stories and submit them.  Not: I must write a bunch of good stories and submit them.

Actionable.  This means the goal can be implemented and attained through your direct action only.  Which means it must be within your power to attain.  It is not a goal so lofty that you cannot reach it.  Nor is it only attainable if outside forces or circumstances happen to aid you.

Relevant.  Is there a point to this goal?  Will your career suffer should you fail?  Will it be aided should you accomplish it?  If the answer is no, it’s not really a relevant or worthwhile goal.  Is the goal of stamping and addressing twenty envelopes in a row relevant to your career as a writer?  The action might be necessary at some point, but it should not be a focal point.

Time-bound.  This one is especially important, I think, to writers.  It’s all about When.  How many people do you know who say, “I’m going to write a novel one day”?  I’m guessing a lot.  Most likely those people will never write that novel (they might never even start it, let alone complete it), because they have not deemed it important enough to put a time frame on.  A worthwhile goal must be constrained by time.  I will write ten stories someday will most likely leave you feeling unaccomplished come 2014 when you’ve failed to meet that non-goal.  Whereas if you say, I will write ten stories by June first, you have given yourself a time limit, an area of temporal space in which to work, and most importantly, complete your task.

So, it might be time to reevaluate your most recent goals.  You’ve lived with them near a month by now, how far along are you?  How close are you to completion?  When will you finish?  What is there still to complete?  If you have no way of concretely answering such questions, you might want to scrap your non-goals and set some real ones.

Non-goals only leave you with heartache when they are left incomplete.  We all want to have real goals that pull our dreams down to Earth and help make them our reality.  Otherwise, what’s the point of setting them?

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Was this post helpful?  Did you reexamine your goals?  Were your goals solid the first time around, or did you need to change a few things?  I’d love to know!  Leave me a comment.

~Marina

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What Kind of Stories does Writers of the Future buy?

Recently, over on the WotF Forum, there’s been a lot of submit-o-mancy.  What does the new coordinating judge want?

I think the greater question is, what does the contest want?  Yes, David Farland is master of the gate, he opens and closes the door, but then there are four more judges to please before you get to see this through to a win.

Having read the most recent volume of WotF, plus two of Q1’s winners (not to mention many past volumes), I think it’s safe to say the same kinds of stories are going to win under DF as they did under KD.  For David Farland’s specific likes/dislikes, nits and more, see his Daily Kicks (He’s had several recently that focus on the contest specifically).

Several past winners have made lists of what they think a winning story must have, and I largely agree with them.  Of special note is Brad R. Torgerson’s list.  You can find it here.

Below are my points.  Most are basically the same as what others have said, I just phrased them a bit differently. As I’ve said before, I think learning the same information over and over again in different ways helps solidify it in the mind.  Plus, perhaps the way I lay it out might resonate better with some, while Brad’s, etc., might resonate well with others.

Here are the basic requirements I’ve identified.  There are occasional exceptions, but around 95% of the published WotF stories I’ve read have contained these:

1. Original idea or original handling of previously used (but not overdone) idea.  Also, the Bigger the Idea the better.

2. Layered conflict.  Big picture conflict plus either personal conflict or inner conflict (if you can get in all three, that’s even better).

Big Picture conflict equals something like: human understanding of the universe will change because I discovered X, and people are trying to kill me before I reveal it.

Personal conflict equals something like: I must rescue my mother who sold herself into slavery so that I wouldn’t go hungry.

Inner conflict equals something like: I accidentally shot my best friend when I was a child, and now I must learn to forgive myself.

I always try to identify these layers in every story I write.

3. Wow factor meets human factor.  The closer the tech or magic relates directly to a very human desire/behaviour the better.

4. Characters who Believe.  Not necessarily in a deity or anything (though this definitely isn’t a venue where that’s taboo. My Q4 finalist had a very religious main character) but characters who have a very strong point of view and strong values that are confronted within the conflict.

5. Stuff has to happen. I’ve read great stories that were very moving, but essentially nothing happened.  The character wanders around, observes some stuff, then makes up his/her/its mind about something.  A story like that wouldn’t be a good fit for the contest.  When a reader gets done with a WotF story, they feel like they’ve gone somewhere, be it physically, emotionally, or psychologically.  And they’ve all gotten there through some form of action.

6. Discovery.  In almost every WotF story a character makes a discovery about their immediate environment, or the universe, or a community, or an organization, or their personal origins, etc.  The character didn’t know or understand something in the beginning and it is uncovered by the end.

I find that these are just good things to include in any story, but I’ve read venues where Big Idea stories were few and far between, and there are venues where characters don’t have to have strong feelings about any one thing in order to move through the plot, etc.

But, it’s also good to keep in mind that while there are venues that don’t require all of these elements, there’s also proven crossover between WotF tastes and other pro-venue tastes.  Finalist and semi-finalist stories have appeared in Analog, IGMS, and Clarkesworld, just to name a few.

So, I highly suggest that anyone who hasn’t read Vol. 28 pick up a copy. Not only is it a great read, it’ll absolutely help you get a feel for what kind of stories WotF buys.

Or you could wait until Vol. 29 comes out…  Not like I’ve got a vested interest in anyone reading that volume, or anything.  😉

If you find these points helpful, please let me know!

 

ETA: If you’d like to enter either the Writers of the Future contest, or the Illustrators of the future contest, please visit: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/

~Marina

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Best Submissions Week Ever!

Without any ado: I won second place in Writers of the Future!  I won’t be able to reply for a while, but if you leave a comment, thank you in advance!

And big congrats to Stephen Sottong who won third, and a major rip-roaring congrats to Tina Smith who ran away with first!

Here’s the blog post: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/node/722

ETA: If you’d like to enter either the Writers of the Future contest, or the Illustrators of the future contest, please visit: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/

~Marina

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Short Fiction Sale: Mirror Shards Vol. 2

I am happy to announce that my story, Rats Will Run, will appear in Mirror Shards Vol. 2, an augmented-reality themed anthology edited by Thomas K. Carpenter.

This is my first short fiction sale, hopefully just the first of many.  And remember that 100 rejections I was “aiming” for?  Well, I hit 94.

The deadline for Mirror Shards 2 submissions is May 5th–So you’ve still got a few days!  Link to guidelines below.  If you’ve got a story that fits the theme, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

http://blackmoonbooks.com/mirror-shards/

~Marina

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