Series Disappointments

As a writer, I look to many different sources for inspiration and for learning about my craft.  Most professional writers will tell you that screen writing informs fiction writing, whether it’s episodic television to short stories or chapters, or full length movies to novellas and novels.

I love television.  I know that there are some writers out there that vilify the medium as a time-waster and brain killer, but I try to look at the quality of the story, the plausibility of scientific elements in sci-fi, the depiction and development of character, and so forth.

I’ve told you how I read as a writer in the past.  I’ve also reviewed a few movies on here and the lessons I’ve taken away from them, well, now I’m going to talk about television series.

Phil and I are fairly critical in our television watching.  If something doesn’t make sense, one of us will be the first to lambaste it 😛

This year, we’ve unsubscribed from the movie network cable package.  It was the one that allowed us to watch Game of Thrones and True Blood.  But now, we’re just not interested in what’s on offer.

The past

Phil holds up Babylon 5 as his favourite series.  I agree that J. Michael Straczynski is a masterful storyteller and B5 is one of the best series I’ve seen, but I’m also a little more critical about B5 than Phil is.

I know that JMS planned the entire 5 year arc of the show before he started working on it, but it’s fairly obvious where real life events required accommodation and revision.  Still, until the rights struggle, of which I shall not speak, started to affect things, the show was fabulous.

The fifth season was less than stellar, though, because of the afore-mentioned struggle, I think, Excalibur, the series that was intended to fill in some of the detail pre-B5 only lasted one season, and the hoped for Tales of the Rangers never got off the ground.

In the end, I was disappointed, but not because of JMS—he’s brilliant—but because of the creative differences that prevented the world he created from being explored further.

One of my favourite series of all time is Buffy the Vampire SlayerJoss Whedon took a slightly different tack, creating seasonal arcs, because of the fickle nature of network television.  Buffy changed networks, mid-run, but managed to revive.

The title character’s death at the end of season 5 was to have been the end of the story, but somehow, two more seasons were wrangled.

There are inconsistencies in Buffy.  I’ve watched the series enough to know, but they make the overall story no less enjoyable.  The way in which details from earlier seasons eventually led to lovely pay-offs in later seasons spoke to how well Whedon understood his creation.

When Angel got his spin-off after the third season of Buffy, I also watched it.  Phil is a little fonder of Angel than of Buffy, but both series were made of similar stuff.  Whedon is a very different kind of storyteller than JMS, but no less compelling.

Again, Whedon seems to have had poor luck with the networks after Buffy and Angel.  Firefly did not even have a full season aired (except on Space and Syfy) and Dollhouse was dropped after a second season.

A more long-standing love for both of us is Doctor Who.  We’ve both been fans for years and although Phil has, on principle, a problem with time-travel stories, the writing behind Doctor Who allows him to suspend even his hefty disbelief and enjoy the story.

Other than those few series, many of the shows Phil and I hopefully latched onto over the years seem to have lost their storytelling ways.

Phil and I loved the first season of Heroes.  We were avid fans and shared our DVD’s with everyone we could think of.

Then the second season aired with plot holes big enough to consume the entire cast.  Even George Takei couldn’t save the show.

We were sceptical about the remake of Battlestar Galactica, but once we started watching the series, we were taken in.

Which is why we were also severely disappointed by the last 2 seasons and though we watched Caprica, we couldn’t regret its demise either.  The “ending” answered fewer questions than BSG’s.

Lost lost me as a viewer before the second season ended.  I could see the ridiculous factor increasing, and the writers withheld information when they should have revealed it, and revealed information that had no importance to the plot in the long term.

Phil never watched Lost at all.

Supernatural turned out to be mostly monster-of-the-week and Sam and Dean never really evolved as characters.

There was the short-lived Dresden Files series, which we both loved, but then it went out of production.

I was enjoying the adaptation of Tanya Huff’s Blood Books, Blood Ties, but it, too, was dropped.

The present

I’ve continued to follow the adventures of Buffy and Angel through Joss Whedon’s graphic

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight V...

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight Volume One, written by Joss Whedon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

novel continuations of both stories.

Phil and I are both happy enough with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and hope that it breaks the television curse for Whedon.  We’d like to see more of his wit and style on television.

Phil and I continue to watch and enjoy Doctor Who.

True Blood was okay to begin with, but after the first season again, we found the story wandering and not necessarily in a good direction.  Unlike some other books turned into series, TB departs fairly distinctly from the Sookie Stackhouse novels on which it is based.

We have, so far, come back for the next season and each season seems to begin well enough, but then certain events are just drawn out for far too long only to end precipitously and in many cases, in a dissatisfying manner.

Consistency isn’t the best, either.

We knew, when Russell Edgington was encased in cement rather than shown the true death, that he’d be back, but we couldn’t stand it when he did.

The ending of this season left us completely cold.  Sookie’s waffling and bemoaning of her fate got old very quickly.  And Eric sunbathing instead of trying to stop the distribution of the Hep-V tainted True Blood?  It made so little sense.  If he did burn, he deserved to.

Mind you, not having seen the ashes, I’ll assume that he and Pam will be back, if not next season, then at some point thereafter.

Being Human.  My advice: watch the British version.  It was always better.

We are quite happy with Game of Thrones.  Now this is a different bit of storytelling, because the novels have already been written by George R. R. Martin.  The artistry of GoT is that the show runners have to pick and choose what bits to show and how to show them in a way that is truthful to GRRM.

And he’s consulting to keep them as much on script as possible 😉

Phil was enjoying The Walking Dead, but found that it too, was getting a little lack-lustre in its plot by the end of the last season.  He’ll be happy to watch it in reruns when we re-subscribe to the movie package in the spring.

We watched the Netflix series Hemlock Grove and were impressed, though admittedly, the denouement  seemed a little rushed.  We are hopeful that future seasons will be at least as good.

Once Upon a Time.  Not Phil’s bag, but I like retellings of fairy tales.  So far, so good for me, but they are in danger of losing me if they get to far off track.

Grimm.  More fairy tale-related shenanigans.  I like the German take, but was so not impressed with how long it took Julia to deal with her recovered memories last season.  Seriously?  Plus, I wanted to see more of Nick’s mom.  She kicked ass.

Lost Girl.  Again, this is something that Phil doesn’t go in for, but I’ve been enjoying.  I’m glad that it continues to be in production.

Arrow was another surprise for me.  Though I enjoyed Smallville, I watched most of the episodes in rerun.  Plus, Smallville started to draw out the origin story of Superman far too long.  I was irritated with that.

Arrow is not taking the Green Arrow from Smallville, but focusing on the character independent of Superman.  It’s a bit grittier and darker.  I like it.

Orphan Black.  This one was a surprise for me, but I definitely like it.  Don’t have any other clone/genetic engineering conspiracy stories out there at the moment.  Phil wasn’t so impressed, but I’m willing to give it a go again next year.

Defiance was a show that Phil got hold of by virtue of his interests in gaming.  The concept was unique: a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG, or MMO) and a television series developed concurrently in the same world.

The game would start up earlier, feed into the hype, but when the series started, the developers promised weekly game upgrades based on story developments in the series.  It sounded interesting, so we both tuned in.

Phil quickly tired of the game, in which the promised content was not made available.  He gave up some time in the summer when none of the series-based content had yet been added.

The depiction of the alien people were different between the game and the series as well.

The Irathients were analogous to indigenous peoples in terms of spirituality in the series, but good warriors and tactical thinkers in the game.  Not that they couldn’t be both, but both were not clearly options in the game and the series.

The Indogenes in the game were similar to Vulcans, dominantly logical and emotionally repressed, while in the series, they turned out to be political schemers and shape-shifters.

The last straw for Phil was that for two episodes in a row, they played the “s/he’s an Indogene” card.  He cited it as derivative of the equally irritating “s/he’s a cylon” ploy in BSG.

Story-wise, it’s about as satisfying as “it was all a dream,” or an ending where the big bad, after waging war, and having the subjects of his rage in his sights, commits suicide instead (another BSG disappointment).

Sleepy Hollow.  I’m liking the angle the writers have chosen and tying it all in with the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the end of days.  We’ll see if it lasts more than a season.

The future

Right now, the only thing we’re both looking forward to is JMS’s Sense8, his Netflix series.

I’m going to check out Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, just ‘cause, but I’ve learned not to pin too many hopes on new network series.

I’m also going to check out the Tomorrow People and Almost Human.  We’ll see if either of those series live up to my expectations.

What series have you loved?  Which have you hated?  What are you looking forward to?  And what shows have you learned from as a writer?

Continuous learning 🙂  That’s what it’s all about.

Workshop alert: Lauren Carter Oct 6, 2013

You may remember that I’ve become a member of the Program Committee for the Canadian Authors Association.

The committee is responsible for the annual conference, the Literary Awards, professional development of the membership, and something called the Roving Writers program.

I volunteered to be on the sub-committee for the Roving Writers and our first event will be in a scant week!

Author Lauren Carter will be coming to Sudbury as part of her book tour.  So on Sunday, Oct 6, from 1-4 pm at the Parkside Older Adult Centre in the YMCA building, she will be delivering a workshop on Deep Character.

Here’s the poster with the deets (including how to sign up):

RWTP_Carter Poster

The CAA office will be sending me a copy of the participant list and I will be taking payment (cash or cheque only, please) at the door. The discounted fee of $25 applies to members of the CAA only.

Light refreshments (fruit, muffins, water, and juice) will be provided.

I can’t thank the Sudbury Writers’ Guild enough for their assistance in getting this event off the ground.

Following that, on Monday, Oct 7, Lauren will be at the south end branch of the Greater Sudbury Public Library as part of the first LUminaries reading series.  This has nothing to do with the CAA or the Roving Writers, but I thought I’d spread the word.

She will, of course, have copies of her dystopian literary novel, Swarm, available for sale and signing.

Have a lovely evening!

Caturday Quickies: The launch of Spooky Sudbury

Spooked authors :)

Spooked authors 🙂

Barnaby

Barnaby

What was I up to today?

Between 11 am and 1 pm, I went to Chapters to celebrate the launch of Mark Leslie and Jenny Jelen’s Spooky Sudbury: True tales of the eerie and unexplained, which just happens to feature a wee tale from yours truly as well as a number of my friends: Kim Fahner, Mat Del Papa, Charlie Smith, Rob Sacchetto, and a pile of other local contributors.

Upon my arrival, the gracious Mr. Leslie brought me my contributor’s copy and my Spooky

My Spooky Sudbury swag

My Spooky Sudbury swag

Sudbury Swag Bag.  I met Jenny, and hung out with Scott Overton, Kevin Closs, and a crowd of other people.  Really.  It was a crowd.

An hour into their three-hour stint at Chapters, Mark and Jenny were sold out.  Fans were heading down to Costco to buy copies and bring them back for Mark and Jenny to sign.

This afternoon, Mark and Jenny were at Coles in the New Sudbury Centre, and tomorrow morning, from 10 am to 12 pm, they will be at Costco.  This will be your last chance, Sudbury, get your copy of Spooky Sudbury before they’re all sold out and read the true tales of the unexplained through the month of October.

Getting interviewed-yes, the media was there too!

Mind you, you can always go online and order a copy.

Either way, it’s scary stuff, kids (in my best, Count Floyd voice)!

What writerly fun have you been up to this weekend?

Caturday Quickies: Brian Henry workshop Sept 22, 2013

Last Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, I attended a Brian Henry workshop here in Sudbury.  The Brian HenrySudbury Writers’ Guild brought him up for a visit.  This will have been my fifth of Brian’s workshops, I’m thinking?

I used to attend the workshops he delivered in North Bay, take the drive over in the morning with my mom, drop her off at the mall for a day of shopping, and pick her up at the end of the workshop.

Brian Henry is an experienced editor who now teaches at Ryerson University.  He also conducts workshops on a regular basis across southern Ontario.

If you don’t know about it, you should really visit Quick Brown Fox, Brian’s blog.  He blogs about agents and editors and publishing opportunities for Canadian writers (here and in the States).  Sign up for his newsletter.  It’s full of great information.

Brian has also been instrumental in developing the talent of some well-known authors – anyone heard of this woman named Kelly Armstrong?

This workshop was about plotting short fiction and novels, the differences, and markets.  If you have access to one of Brian’s workshops in your area, I would recommend attending.

As a fellow member of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild says, you have to be open to learning about your craft, even if you’ve already been published.  It’s a lifetime commitment.

Oh yeah, he set us an assignment to write a short story (preferably one of the ones we worked on in the workshop and submit it to CommuterLit.com.  We were supposed to do it before the week was out.  I don’t have much time to get cracking on my submission 🙂

Have you attended any workshops recently where you learned something new about your art or craft?  Maybe it reminded you of something you already knew, but temporarily forgot?  Please share 🙂

Quitter’s chronicles

It’s been three weeks now since I quit smoking, and Phil didn’t.  He cut back substantially, though, and I have to be thankful for that.

Ultimately, 1 pack a week (approximately $10) is much better than $168 a week, which is what we were spending.

Confession time

You’re all going to be so disappointed 😦  I gave in and had a cigarette last weekend.  It

Stop for no smoking terror

Stop for no smoking terror (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

wasn’t that I was having that bad of a nicotine fit, or anything.  I felt that if Phil got to be weak, I would get to as well.  I didn’t even enjoy it particularly.  I just got tired of being the good girl.

That probably had something to do with me starting smoking in the first place.

I’ve forgiven myself.  You’ll just have to as well.  I’m back on the wagon.  It’s just difficult when your partner is still indulging.

Cleaning up

I’ve been tackling a room a week and cleaning it top to bottom in my efforts to get all the residual smoke out of the house.

The bedroom was fairly easy.  My office?  Not so much.  I took all my books off the shelves and dusted them.  I shelved all the books that I’ve picked up or purchased recently, and really cleaned out my storage.

I was going to set up my desk as a standing desk.  Several writing bloggers have recently documented their experiences with back and neck pain, or with repetitive stress injuries.  Then there was that study that came out last year that said too much sitting is actually worse for your health than obesity or smoking.

The desk wouldn’t be easily adjustable, however.  I’d just be stacking a couple of old crates on top of my existing desk to bring my keyboard and monitor up to standing height.

Phil has suggested I try out a health ball first.  Joanna Penn uses one, and apparently it helps to keep your core strong because you’re persistently balancing.  So I’m going to see about sourcing one of those first, and if that doesn’t do the trick, I’ll try my standing desk idea.

In the meantime, my newly cleaned, de-cluttered, and organized desk is lovely.  Let’s see if I can keep it that way 😉

The physical part

One of the many difficulties with quitting is the munchie factor.  You tend to eat more and gain weight.  Food smells and tastes better.  It’s hard to resist.

I’m already overweight and I don’t want to gain much more.

So I’m starting to walk a little more.  I walked home from work once last week.  Yay me.

And I’m going to try out Yoga again.  I tried it once, years ago, but wasn’t fond of the instructor.

Now, I’m going to be attending a class with a friend and that should help with the motivation.  We’ll see how that goes.

I’ve also started doing some simple exercises when I get really twitchy.  I mean this literally.  My right leg in particular seems to be getting “restless” in that restless leg syndrome kind of way.  So when I can’t keep it still, I go do a few lunges, or sit ups, or whatever.  It’s not a formal workout, but maybe it will help.

The addiction part

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading some interesting articles.

One was about how a group of scientists has been deciphering the neurochemical pathways of heroin addiction in the hope of being able to shut down the cascade, or find a way to reverse it.

Of course, my first thought was that maybe the research could be applied to other kinds of addiction.  It’s where my head is at these days.

I’m also reading The Introvert Advantage.  In it, author Marti Olsen Laney describes the neurochemistry behind how both extroverts and introverts get their incentives.

Interestingly, nicotine stimulates both dopamine (for the extroverts) and acetylcholine (for the introverts).

The things you learn 🙂

Other stuff

Finally, I am suffering, aside from the restless leg and the overeating, massive breakouts as my body tries to detox, and a whole pile of aches and pains.

It’s fun—so NOT.

Will keep you apprised of my progress.

Coming up: I’m attending a Brian Henry workshop tomorrow and trying to pull together another workshop for the Canadian Authors Association’s Roving Writers Program for October 6.  I should have Sarah Lashbrook’s interview ready for posting in the next few weeks, and I’ll have another interview with another Sudbury author coming up in the future.  Finally, I’m going to be posting about television series and how that landscape, like the publishing and music landscapes before it, is undergoing transformation.

I guess change really is the only constant 😉

Until next week!

All’s quiet on the work front

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about the day job.  The reason: I’m burnt.

Crispy critters.  Toasty-oats.  Done like the proverbial dinner.

I’ve been burned out since April or thereabouts.  It was about the same time that two things occurred to me:

  1. Regardless how well I plan and how hard I work, someone will inevitably ask me to throw everything out the window and do something completely different.
  2. Regardless how well I do, I will never be a regional consultant on a permanent basis.

I was just coming down off the high of achieving my training certification and eager to begin the next phase of my development as a certified trainer.  First, I’d have to assess a few other candidates, and then I could begin to coach.

In the next breath, I was told that the certification program was on hold.  Our internal college was in transition and it was unknown when the program would resume.  To date, I have heard nothing.

Though my performance and learning agreement (PLA) was fairly glowing, I knew I would not remain with the team.

I knew this to begin with.  My assignment was part of a deal and was never intended to be permanent.  It was difficult to hang onto this reality when everyone on my old team was telling me that I wouldn’t be returning.  My star was ascending.

Everyone on my new team was eager to keep me.  To his credit, my  new manager never so much as implied there was a possibility.  Fair enough.

I applied for two other positions, both of which I was screened out of because I lacked the requisite experience.  The only way to gain said experience?  At-level assignments, staffed through unofficial expressions of interest.

By the time summer arrived, I didn’t really want to remain a consultant, at least not in the position of regional training coordinator.  The landscape of the program I administered was ever-changing, and, as I mentioned above, all my hard work was largely disregarded.

Then I had to work even harder, and those efforts, too, ended up going to waste.

I began to hope that I would return to my substantive position, despite the reduction in salary.

Unexpectedly, the consultant pool I was in was extended to the end of August, incidentally the end of my acting assignment.  A couple of consultants had retired, and I felt that I might obtain one of those positions.

Until I learned that regionally, consultants were being centralized.  Now, if I wanted to be a consultant, I’d have to move, disrupting Phil and his job, and leaving both of our mothers (still independent, but aging) without a significant part of their support systems.

I’d already made it clear when I made the pool that I would not be moving.

So now, due to geography (ridiculous because most of our work is virtual) I am out of the running, even though my pool has been extended again, to the end of September.  It’s sad, because I have skills that are in demand.

Despite fishing my wish and getting back on the training team, it’s not the same.  I can’t help but feel that it’s a kind of failure.  I know that this is not the case, but my feelings are what they are.  I also feel bitter.

There was a time when I thought I would never be able to rise very far in the ranks.  Though my office is a hub, there weren’t very many opportunities for advancement.

That changed and I moved up two pay grades in as many years.  Now I feel that again, I’m “stuck.”

Don’t get me wrong, the training team is great and our manager is awesome.  The phrase “force of nature” comes to mind when I think of her.  I used to be so happy.  I thought I’d found my work “home” and was content to stay there.

It’s hard to go back when you’ve had your world expanded, though.

I’m just totally burnt out.  Most days I wake up asking myself if I can, in fact, go to work.  I’m so disappointed when I can’t find a reason to stay home.

So I’m going to be taking some time away from work starting October 15.  I’m hoping that the time off will allow me to address some of the negative feelings I have and return to work in a positive and productive frame of mind.

Priorities.  While I have debt, I need to keep them straight.

Does your day job get you down?  Do you have any options that can help you to recapture your love for your job?

Sundog snippets: The shape of things to come

The gazebo is finally up.

It’s been a bit of an odyssey.

Last year, Phil thought he’d like to put a permanent gazebo up on our patio.  He set about drawing up plans and figuring things out.

This spring, rather than building the wooden gazebo with roof and shingles, Phil opted to purchase a metal gazebo.

It was supposed to be 10’ by 12’ and our patio was only about 10’ by 10’.  After we got the birches and the poplar removed in the spring, Phil determined that he would dig down and pour sono-tubes full of concrete to serve as footings for the new gazebo.

Then it rained.  Then it got super hot.  Then it rained again.  Then Phil bought Bucket.

It wasn’t until August that he got those footings poured, 10’ by 12’, on centre, levelled.  They should have been as perfect as Phil could have made them.

Then Phil opened the boxes (there were several) and located the instructions.  The first issue was the manner in which the directions suggested the gazebo be assembled: put the roof together, and have 6 people on ladders hold it up while 2 more people assemble the structure beneath it.

We both had a hoot about that.

Phil chose to put together the part of the frame that should have confirmed the proper placement of the footings.  The gazebo turned out not to be 10’ by 12’, even though every measurement in the instructions and on the boxes indicated that it was those exact dimensions.

It was 9’ 7” by 11’ 7”.

So Phil went out and got even bigger sono-tubes, excavated the ones he’d poured, stripped off the cardboard so that the new cement would adhere to what he’d already poured, and positioned the tubes so that the expanded diameters should have supported the posts.  Even then, the posts rested on the very edges of the footings.  He’d have to start over.

Phil was not a happy camper.

So more sono-tubes and more quick-crete later, and the gazebo is finally up.

Phil putting the roof on and Nu in the shade

Phil putting the roof on and Nu in the shade

It's up!

It’s up!

As I was helping Phil out yesterday (handing him roof struts and bolts), I found this lovely little heart-shaped stone.  I think that says it all.  He still loves me 🙂

The random, heart-shaped rock I found

The random, heart-shaped rock I found

I’ll show you what the finished, finished gazebo looks like next week with the curtains and the patio set.  I’ll have my outdoor office for fall.

Any reno-misadventures to share?

Sundog snippet

Sundog snippets: Two things I’ve figured out about myself

This is just a quickie to let you know I remain smoke free, and that so far, I’ve not suffered too much in the withdrawal department.  Spending the week out of town did help significantly.

Phil is not doing so well, but he smoked for 34 years.  And, his motivation is monetary.  Mine is too, but I’ve only been smoking, off and on, for about 20 years, with stretches of intermittent quittage mixed in.

In the process I’ve discovered something.  I’ve started dreaming again.  This may only be a withdrawal issue and therefore transitory, but I’ve been dreaming like crazy this week.  Wild, creative dreams that seem to last all night, so I’m not sleeping well, but I’ll take the dreams over sleep any day.

My dreams are where a lot of my story ideas come from.

The dreams of Saint John Bosco

The dreams of Saint John Bosco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought I’d just stopped dreaming as much because I was getting older.  This gives me hope that my brain is just as messed up as it ever was 😀

It’s also another motivation for me to stay off the devil weed (as one friend calls it).

The other thing I figured out earlier in the summer, but I didn’t want to write about it so soon on the heels of my “Life Sentence with Mortal Punctuation” series.  It just seemed too serious.

I’m fortunate.  Phil cooks for us.  I don’t like to cook and my efforts in that area have dwindled to nothing in the last few years.

I now have a good idea why: my ideation.  Even though I know how to address and subdue the beast, it doesn’t mean I want to think about cutting myself, or anyone else, every time I pick up a knife.  So I’m really very grateful that Phil cooks.

I’m also grateful for take-out, ‘cause every man has his limits.

Have you learned anything interesting about yourself lately?

Sundog snippets: The other thing

Sundog snippet

Real quickie here.

Just posting to let everyone know (and hope that you all keep me accountable): I’m quitting smoking.

Phil is too, and already this morning, we did the circle and snarl.  This evening he snapped at the dog.

Day one is almost over though.  It can only get easier.

Other than feeling a little “floaty,” I think I’m doing well.

Come Tuesday, I’m heading out of town, training for the day job.  My hope is that by the time I get back, we’ll be done our initial and respective detoxes, and things will be looking up.

Our motivation?  Phil added up what we spend on cigarettes between the two of us for the year: over $8,000.  That could have covered all our contingencies this year (Nuala’s ALC repair, the gazebo, Bucket).  Instead, we put everything on credit cards and then transferred it to the line of credit after.

We really couldn’t afford all this.

With the elimination of smoking, though, that $8k can go toward the line of credit and/or the credit cards to keep our debt down and eventually reduce it to $0.

The goal is lofty, but we’re going to do our best.

Wish us luck!!!!!

Stop Smoking - Quit Smoking

Stop Smoking – Quit Smoking (Photo credit: Free Photo Fun)

My progress on the Just Write Challenge (and some other writing stuff)

I signed up for Kasie Whitener’s Just Write Challenge in December of last year (I think).  The goal was to write 13 original short stories in the year.

Later, Kasie amended the rules a bit to include revised stories.

The goal was to have everything ready to submit in the fall.  Well, I’ve been submitting my stories all along.  I don’t think that disqualifies me, but I just wanted to come clean.

Here is my progress review:

New/original fiction

  1. Nothing’s Perfect – flash fiction – posted to my blog for one of Chuck Wendig’s challenges – January 2013.  No acceptance or rejection carried with the challenge.
  2. Beneath the Foundations – short story – completed and submitted to Innsmouth Free Press Sword and Mythos anthology, February 2013. Subsequently rejected.
  3. Molly Finder – short story – completed and submitted to In Places Between, April 2013.  Subsequently rejected.
  4. The Broken Places – short story – completed and submitted to Fearful Symmetries anthology, May 2013.  Subsequently rejected.  I can now say that I’ve been rejected by the likes of Ellen Datlow.  Not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing 😉

Revised fiction

I’m so glad that Kasie changed her expectations, because, whew, I kind of petered out after June 😦

  1. Downtime – short story, revised and submitted to On Spec, January 2013.  Accepted! (2014 schedule)
  2. A Terrible Thing – short story, revised and submitted to Tesseracts 17, February 2013.  Subsequently rejected.
  3. The Gabriel – short story (approaching novella), revised and submitted to Writers of the Future, March 2013.  Subsequently rejected.
  4. Cicadas – short story, revised and submitted to the Rannu Fund Prize, June 2013.  Outcome unknown at this time.
  5. Night Traffic – flash fiction, revised and submitted to Mouse Tales Press, July 2013.  Accepted! (October 2013)
  6. Killing with Kindness – flash fiction, revised and submitted to Gigantic Worlds anthology, July 2013.  Subsequently rejected.

So, with 4 new and 6 revised, I’m up to 10 stories written or revised and submitted, yielding 3 acceptances, 5 rejections, 1 neutral, and 1 outstanding response. That’s not bad.

Previous year’s submissions

Submissions last year resulted in acceptances of my poetry to The Atomy (July 2013) and Enhance (March 2013), the inclusion of a creative non-fiction piece in Spooky Sudbury (October 2013), and the acceptance of one of my photos, also to Enhance (January 2014).

Poetry

My poetry has also been accepted by Sulphur (date of publication as yet unknown).  This was the only poetry submission I have made this year.

WIP

I have finished what I thought was going to be my last revision of Initiate of Stone before querying, but I’m still quite a bit over the maximum word length generally considered by agents and editors in my genre.

As my goal is to obtain representation and a traditional deal (if I can), I’m parsing again, but am 3/4 the way through that process as well.  I may need one more go-though to trim those last few thousand words, though.  I’m getting to the point that it seems naked!

Once that’s done, it’s beta time*, preparation of my synopsis and query, sending to interested parties from a pitch conference last fall, and the slow agony of the querying process.

Other writing goals

I’m going to be attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference this year and entering their fiction contest.  It will likely be a revised story.

There is another contest in early September for which I will likely revise something.

If I’m able to get a self-funded leave (this is a work thing—lots of stuff happening, or not, on that front, but I’m saving it up until I have a better idea of my fate), I will be revamping my blog and moving to self-hosted WordPress (eek!).

Once my current WIP is into the querying stage, and until I hear from my betas, I will return to Gerod and the Lions, my MG fantasy, just for something different.  I’m going to be on the lookout for more anthologies and interesting calls to see if I can get some more original fiction written.  Again, this may depend on whether I get my self-funded leave or not.

Once GatL is drafted, I’ll return to my Ascension series, either revising IoS based on beta/other recommendations, or moving on to Apprentice of Wind.

That’s all I have on the go or in the plan for now.

What have you been up to recently?  Have you joined any challenges?  How is it going?  Working on a novel?  Short stories?  Poetry? Creative or other non-fiction?  I’d love to hear about your creative adventures!

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*I have several people in mind, but if you are interested in epic fantasy with a female protagonist, drop me a line at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com.