Saturday, July 25, 2009

Read an interview, a review, and a story

This has been up since the beginning of the month, but I just found it today as I did one of those lovely, ego-boosting Google searches of my own name. This is an interview I did for the editors of "An Honest Lie." That picture is of me in my grandparent's trailer when I was about two, I think.

And here's a review of "Mars-side" I hadn't known about either.

And finally, here is the On the Premise "First" second-place contest winner, "To Wade Alone." This story comes from my unpublished collection/ thesis All Along the Pacific (the title is a nod to Bob Dylan). It is loosely, loosely based on my great-great aunt who worked in the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus at the turn of the last century. Do a search for "Bertha Carnahan" and circus or midget and you'll find many mentions of her.

Now it's back to work!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another publication

During my last semester at the University of New Orleans, my regular workshop leader was Joseph Boyden, who's not just a great writer, but a really nice guy to boot. His wife, Amanda Boyden also stepped in for a few classes. She has a keen eye and a great understanding of how publishing works. I learned a lot, even though I'd already completed most of the program.

During one of Amanda's classes, she gave us an exercise (one I'd done with Joseph the previous year). We got on a slip of paper a person in a scenario -- something totally outside our realm of experience -- and tried to write from that person's POV. Men got "pregnant woman in labor," young women got "old man watiting for social security check," that sort of thing (not actual examples from class; I just thought those up now).

The one I got was something to the effect of "ten-year-old boy witnesses parents' death." I wrote a voice piece, in my best Irish dialect, about an old man looking back into the events of his childhood in the 1780s. The Copperfield Review will publish it in the summer edition, which should be posted 31 July. It's less than one thousand words, so it should take no time to read.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Finding Beta Readers

Sometimes, I feel like such a burden to my friends and limited group of writing acquaintances. For instance, I managed, between Sunday last week and Friday, to submit seven stories. One was a reprint ("Turtles"), but the others were all new (three) or revisions(three) of old stories that I had not yet sent out. What I have to remember is that every one of those stories needs to be read by at least one other person, and preferably more, before I send them. Not having a beta reader (as I have so heartbreakingly realized) will pretty much result in a rejection.

My two beta readers -- and pretty much because they're the only people I'd ask -- are my husband, Patrick (he has hardly any web presence to speak of, so I can't link anything here), and my writing friend Zach, who attended workshop at UNO with me (I've mentioned him, and he was nice enough to post a comment below about my story). But eight stories is overload, I think. Also, while I know Zach is great at beta reading, Pat is my husband, and he knows he has to live with me after he gives he feedback, and he might be tempering his responses, even subconsciously.

So I joined this site called Reviewfuse. I saw it first on Duotrope, then on Craig's List. They have a free version and a pay version. Basically how it works is you load a story, and their software assigns three readers to review it. For the sake of reciprocity, you in turn review four stories from other writers using the site.

Now, so far it's a mixed blessing (and I've read through the forum, so I know I'm not the only person who feels this way). First, you are paired with reviewers who are rated as well as you as reviewers. When I give reviews, the writer can rate how helpful I was. I know I'm pretty darn helpful, but I don't stroke egos. I also don't make it personal. It's always about the story, what's there, what's not. Some people on this site have yet to separate their egos from their writing. If I give too much criticism, they rate me badly because I hurt their feelings. One should only get a bad rating for not giving constructive feedback on a story, not for being too honest. If my rating goes down, then I get paired with other "mean" reviewers (which could be okay) and the reviewers that leave one words reviews and don't take the time to give in-line feedback. Second, there is no age or ability level grouping as of yet. There are a lot of kids on this site, and so graphic sex, language, or violence is out. And they still have a lot to learn when it comes to writing. Finally -- and this isn't a bad thing, really, but it makes the work difficult -- there seem to be a lot of users from English speaking countries that have very different construction and convention rules from SAE.

So far, I put up one story, and got three reviews. One was good, giving the story high ratings and pointing out a few shortcomings. The second was awful, having nothing but mean things to say and offering no in-line feedback or specific examples of what needs fixing. The third was excellent, balancing what he/she liked with what needed work. I guess that probably gives me a good survey of my reading audience, too, so I think it will work in the long run. Of course, things should be better in the future; when you first join, you have no rating as an editor, so you get other newbies who, likewise, have no rating. Now that I have a "great" rating as an editor, I should get other "great" editors to review my work.

I have two stories to work on this week. First, a flash fiction fantasy piece for Flash Me magazine. This story involves a changeling. I should be able to pound it out in a day, but first I need to finish a love story for the Australian journal Etchings. I'm already two pages into that; it's set in a RV park in New Orleans. I didn't write about New Orleans hardly at all up until recently; now I suppose I'm setting everything here because I'm lazy, or because I don't get out of the 'hood very often.

As a last note, one of my "day job" coworkers and I are going to lunch this week at the Green Goddess (Neil Gaiman mentions it in one of his blog posts, which you can click on to the left). This is a recent addition to the French Quarter restaurant scene. I'm sort of excited because one of the chefs and owners is Poppy Z. Bright's husband (which is how it got mentioned on Mr. Gaiman's site). I've read Ms. Bright's work since I was in my late teens, when Stephen King got all psychological and cut most of the paranormal stuff from his writing. I particularly liked her contribution to the Crow franchise. I let y'all know how it is.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Turtles" is up

The story, link in the last post, is up to be read by one and all. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free to read story up soon!

I sold a story today which should be up very soon at Susan Neely's website. Here is a direct link to the page my story will appear on. Ms. Neely is an architect with some amazing projects under her belt. I've checked out the gallery pictures of her past work and they are really amazing. She decided to dedicate a portion of her page to New Orleans arts and culture and doing a wonderful job helping out local artists by including their work on her site.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

Today I finally finished up edits on "Gran's Prophecy" which will appear in An Honest Lie, due out in the fall. I'm definitely glad the process is over. I do have to say that it was quite thorough. Probably, due to the phone calls, emails, edits, and other correspondences, this has been the most professional publication process I've entered into.

This week, I have a post Apocolypse story to send out (due on Wednesday) and a rewrite of an old, old story about Lilith to submit to an anthology. My acceptance rate is down to 33 percent now, but I will keep working at it. Hopefully once the revisions on those are done, I'll be able to get started on something new.

In addition, if you are at all interested in having an entree to bring me up in conversation, I've created for you T-shirts on Cafe Press. Check out my store where you can buy cute "She is my favorite writer" shirts, with my Web site and blog site on the back. If you'd like to be a little cheeky, I've also made "I am my favorite writer" T's, but you will still have to put up with my addresses on the back. Ten percent of all proceeds I get from my Cafe Press store go to Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans, to help with our recovery.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Off My Game

This was a tough week for writing. I started it in Maine at a retreat for my “day job,” had a huge Fourth of July barbeque, and have since been cleaning and packing for my trip to the beach.

I also signed up as a slush pile reader (they call it editor/reviewer) with Sotto Voce. Work for free, you ask? Why yes, in this case I will. Basically, it keeps me in the know. What are other people writing? How good is it? Where do I need to grow? It's sort of like being back in workshop, where I can read a lot of stuff and be able to make a few comments about it, and learn from the process.

I did get a nice request from the editor of Polluto for a rewrite of a story I submitted. I completely changed it, hoping to nail it the second time. Other than that, I’m working on a first draft of a sci fi story for an upcoming themed anthology; two thousand words in and probably not halfway. I wonder when I became such a long-winded writer; I used to have a hard time getting to twelve hundred.

I also have a rewrite to do on an old, old story that might work for another anthology. I’ve got to bump the word count up by about a thousand on that one, though, but that shouldn’t be a problem. There’s lots of wiggle room.

It will be hard to hit my target of four stories submitted this month, but perhaps when I get back from the beach, I’ll manage it.