Annual Round-Up and Awards Eligibility

So… it’s still January, right?

Just.

I’m not sure where this month has gone. I’ve been meaning to write this post all year. Better late than never.

2016 was an amazing year for my productivity. I wrote ten short stories (more than ever in a single year!), made some good headway into my previously-languishing novel, and sent out 120 submissions. That’s about three times as many as the previous year. As a result of all that writing and submitting, I have more current subs out than I’ve ever had at once, which makes me feel like I’m doing this writing thing properly.

I also had four publications: two originals and two reprints, which is nice and symmetrical. My stories ‘Her Glimmering Facade’ and ‘Candy Comfort’ appeared in Deep Magic and Daily Science Fiction respectively. ‘Daddy’s Girl’ was reissued in glorious audio form at The Overcast, while ‘Rule of Five’ had its third publication in the all-female horror anthology Killing It Softly.

‘Candy Comfort’ and ‘Her Glimmering Facade’ are both awards eligible this year. If you’re reading for awards, I’d love you to consider them. ‘Candy Comfort’ is available to read for free via the link above, and as ‘Facade’ is behind a paywall, I’d be happy to send a copy to anyone who’s planning to vote. Just let me know in the comments.

2017 is off to a good start, as I’ve already written four flash stories and sent out thirteen subs. Let’s start as we mean to go on!

 

 

Advertisements

Don’t Go It Alone

Writing, for the most part, is a solitary process. We sit at desks or in comfy chairs typing or scrawling words that no one but us will see for days, weeks, months… or ever. Once we’ve revised and polished, our words go out into the world to await editorial judgement, and then they come back to us and we send them out again until one day, hopefully, somebody buys them. It can all be very insular and isolating.

Most of us have supportive loved ones, but unless they’re writers too, even the most encouraging spouse or friend is an outsider to the process. They cheer us on, but with little understanding of the immense effort we’ve put into our work, or the true rollercoaster of the submissions process. There’s no reason for a non-writer to understand the ins and outs of various markets. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be constructive critics. Even when we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by people who believe in us, we can still be alone in our understanding of what it’s really like to be an emerging writer.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. One thing writing has taught me above all else is that as writers, we’re all in the same boat. Connecting with other writers, who do know how hard it is to nail a character transformation, or refine complex worldbuilding, or lay on that perfect ending, is invaluable. It’s invaluable in ways I never would have imagined before I made those connections and found writers I could gel with and exchange critiques with and celebrate/commiserate with. Nobody understands the sting of a close-but-no-cigar rejection better than another writer. Nobody understands the high of finally cracking a tough market as well as another writer. Nobody understands the incomparable satisfaction of finding your story’s arc and soaring with it the way another writer does. And being able to share those things makes the journey so much easier.

That’s not to mention the immense benefit of having a trusted critique partner (or three) who not only knows your style, but can immediately see the strengths and weaknesses you can’t see for yourself. Invaluable doesn’t even begin to convey the benefit of that. Nothing has improved my writing and my stories better than giving and receiving critiques.

So I’m here to say that if you don’t have another writer to lean on and offer support to in return, find one. Find a few. Seek a local or online writers’ workshop. Join writing forums. Reach out… make some friends. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the writer I am now, with the successes I’ve had to date, without my trusted writing buddies. And watching them flourish and find their own success is truly wonderful. The rewards flow in all directions. When you know how much your successes mean to you, you know how much they mean to others in the same boat. It’s like a triple bonus when three of you have great news at once. And when you don’t… when rejections are weighing heavily and stories aren’t cooperating and you’re in the inevitable dip of the rollercoaster, there is no better sympathiser than someone who’s been there themselves, and no better rallying cry than the cheerleading of writer pals who’ve got your back.

You’re the only person who can tell your stories, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

 

Happy 2016 to All

Here we are again, at another of those yearly roundups. When I look back on my previous ones, all I can do is smile. My writing progress has remained steady and on an upward trajectory, and that’s really all I can ask for.

I sold four stories in 2015, and all four were published the same year. Two of them went to semi-pro markets, and two to pro markets. One of those semi-pros was my first paperback publication, in Liz Grzyb’s awesome anthology, Hear Me Roar. The other, Sci Phi Journal, featured my dear, departed dog in its cover art. Seriously, wow. I wouldn’t have believed either of those things this time last year.

As for the two pro sales, both are freely available online in excellent magazines, and oddly, both are stories I wasn’t convinced would sell. ‘Flare’ had a couple of personal rejections that made me doubt whether I was hitting the right mark, but Urban Fantasy Magazine sent me a lovely, encouraging rewrite request and swiftly bought the revised version.

The other pro sale was my final publication of 2015, and appeared in Flash Fiction Online last month. ‘Fibonacci’ is an experimental sci-fi story that got in my head and drove me crazy. It’s under 1000 words long, but it is the most difficult story I’ve written to date. Not only did I set myself the insane challenge of structuring the whole piece around the Fibonacci sequence, I also gave myself a strict word limit (it had to be flash) and a complex, science-driven story. It needed both plot and character arcs. It had to be a proper, fully-fledged story and not just a gimmick. But once the idea got in my head it wouldn’t let me go, and after what felt like a wordsmithery wrestling match, I tackled it into submission and ended up with something I could actually be proud of. It got picked up on its second sub, and I’m delighted it found such a well-renowned home. Its December publication was a lovely way to round out the year, and left me on a momentum high that I fully intend to keep going.

I wrote five meaty short stories and a good chunk of my novel-in-progress. I critiqued a whole bunch of pieces for fellow writers, and established some great writing friendships this year. I discovered some terrific new markets. I joined Codex. I submitted stories 42 times and received 4 acceptances (nearly ten percent! Woo!).

Yep. It’s been a great year. I plan to carry its positivity into 2016 and watch all kinds of new wonders appear.

May all my fellow writers and readers have a magnificent year ahead!

New Reading Material; New Submission Venue (oooh…)

I’ve recently discovered a new story market with a great angle: Sci Phi Journal. In their own words, they’re ‘… an online science fiction and philosophy magazine. In each issue you will find stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes.’

I love sci fi. (May have mentioned that.) I also love philosophy. While there’s a lot of room for philosophy in science fiction, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a publication that focuses on that connection specifically. This magazine looks set to be a great read and an excellent potential venue for submissions. The Amazon reviews of their first issue are outstanding.

I’ve just submitted something to them, and must go and download their current issue. New magazines frequently enter the publishing sphere, but it’s rare to come across one with such an interesting premise.