Friday, July 22, 2016

Progress report

A month ago marked the beginning of the grand experiment of me as a full-time writer. Or rather, me writing an urban fantasy novel between leaving one day job and starting the next one.

In one month, I've written 42,000 words. That's a record.

About 10,000 of that got dumped in the trash for various reasons. About 1,500 is a short story. The rest, about 30,000, is novel.

I've written at least 1,000 words every day since June 21. Also a record.

There are 3 1/2 weeks left before I leave for WorldCon, and my goal is to have a first draft done before then. I'm not writing a long novel. I'm aiming for 65,000 to 70,000 words. To finish the draft, I need to write 10,000 a week. That breaks down to about 1,400 words a day.

Starting today, my minimum word count per day will be 1,400. Before this, it was 1,000 per day. I'm upping the ante.

Another reason I plan to push harder: I've reached that point in the novel when I'm dragging. This happens to most writers, or so I hear. It's the point where you're convinced no one will ever want  to publish this thing you're writing, so why bother.

This reminds me of when I ran cross country in high school, and I would reach the halfway mark of the race with my lungs burning and my legs leaden, and I wanted to stop and walk. Of course I didn't stop. Instead, I pushed my body harder and faster. I had to prove to myself that I could do it.

So this is me, pushing harder, proving to myself that I can finish the book.

In other news: The deadline to vote for the Hugo Awards is the end of July. That's coming up fast. If you're eligible to vote, please do so, in whatever form that takes.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Publication Day! "Goosed" at Daily Science Fiction

Today marks my fourth appearance in Daily Science Fiction, with my fantasy story "Goosed." If you're not a subscriber, you can read it on the DSF website right here.

I wrote this story as part of a Codex Writers group challenge called Weekend Warrior, in which you write a story every weekend for five weeks. Each week you choose from a prompt. The prompt that produced this story was "Write about someone who gets a second chance when it seemed impossible." I wrote about a woman who curses her cheating lover but then gives him another chance to do the right thing and apologize. But by the end, I had to wonder whether my protagonist was the one getting a second chance: to show kindness and forgiveness.

Out of the five flash-length stories I wrote as part of this year's Weekend Warrior, "Goosed" is my favorite, and I'm glad it found a great home.

Friday, July 8, 2016

#amwriting

Two weeks ago, I left my newspaper job. Suddenly, I have 9 to 10 hours a day back in which I can do anything. Within reason. So what am I doing?

First, I'm writing. Yes! I'm putting down at least 1,000 words a day, working on a as-of-yet untitled urban fantasy novel that combines two of my favorite things: magic and journalism. If you were to ask me what my book is about, I would describe it as "'Spotlight' with magic."

I write for about an hour or two a day. I could do more, but I won't. That's because I don't want to burn myself out by pushing too hard, too fast. In running, I'm a long-distance runner, not a sprinter, and I'm a long-distance writer, too. At a steady, comfortable pace, I can keep going forever.

At this pace, I will have the book done by the end of the summer. Woot! I love the characters, the storyline, the concept. I'm excited to write every day. That's half the battle right there.

In addition to writing, I'm also looking for a new career and am exploring a lot of different options. I spend a good chunk of every day checking out the openings in the Denver metro area, writing cover letters and sending my stuff to potential employers.

The rest of the time, I'm enjoying life.

I'm spending quality time with my husband and family, taking walks with my dog, doing yoga in the living room, cleaning the house (which is long overdue), and reading books. I'm on my third book in two weeks.

The two I read before, which are both excellent and I recommend:
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet

Now I'm reading The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher, which is a fun read so far, despite being a large enough volume to use as a doorstop.

Let's see. What else to report?

My fourth story with Daily Science Fiction will publish on Monday, featuring the meanest protagonist I've ever written. If you're one of the 11,000 subscribers to DSF, I hope you enjoy getting it in your email box.

And I've sold a story to one of my very favorite markets! Stay tuned for more on that, when I have details to share.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Well, I'm back

I've been gone from this blog for a long time. Over the past year, my job ate my life, but for a good cause. I'm afraid that blogging was toward the bottom of my priority list, and therefore it just didn't get done.

As of a week ago, I'm no longer employed at The Denver Post. The separation was voluntary. I looked at my options and chose the best one. The lesser evil, if you will.

I already miss the newsroom, and my fellow journalists in the bunker.

I don't know yet what's next for me. I'm peering down a lot of different paths and thinking about which one I want to walk. There are plenty of options out there for a good writer and editor, and I am a damned good writer and editor.

In the meantime, I'm writing. A lot. And reading. And spending time with my family. And starting to catch up on a year of television viewing that went by the wayside (because TV shows, like this blog, fell too low on my priority list.)

My worries aren't for myself. I'm going to be fine. My worries are for The Denver Post and the journalists who are still down in that bunker, fighting the good fight.

The enemy isn't one you might expect.

The Denver Post and many other newspapers operate under the umbrella of Digital First Media, which is owned by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that has shown by its actions that it doesn't care about maintaining healthy businesses. It's only interested in squeezing out every last penny of profit for its anonymous investors.

DFM's owner is killing it.

Those of you who say newspapers are dying anyway are wrong. Dead wrong. The Denver Post made a big profit last year. Yet the newsroom has gone through two rounds of staff reductions in the past year, losing nearly 50 people. That's both young, hungry journalists and seasoned veterans who have been in the industry for decades. That doesn't include the job losses among those working on the press and in advertising and in IT.

A healthy press is critical to a healthy democracy.

Yet this country's press is under siege from greedy hedge funds.

If you want to learn more, go to dfmworkers.org. Make sure you sign the letter and read the article "How Alden Global Capital has pillaged the news -- a tale in 19 Tweets."

And support your local newspaper because

#newsmatters

Monday, April 4, 2016

Publication Day! In Fireside Magazine

Hi guys.

Long time, no see.

Let's see. What's going on right now today.

"The Memory Who Became a Girl" is live in Fireside Magazine. This is my second appearance in Fireside, the first being about 2 1/2 years ago. Issue 32 also includes stories by A.E. Decker and Jordan Taylor. You can link directly to my story from right here. And a taste of what you'll get:
At one time, people launched the ashes of their loved ones into space. Now they launched memories.

Those memories were uploaded after death and stored on a chip in a box. A digital urn. An echo of life. The boxes were loaded by the thousands onto the massive generation ships leaving Earth. Engineers. Doctors. Scientists. Those whose knowledge would be of help on the journey’s other side.

The girl was different.

Other things going on:
  • I've sold my fourth story to Daily Science Fiction! "Goosed" will probably appear there sometime this summer or fall.
  • My current writing project is a short story for the anthology "Joe Ledger: Unstoppable." I'm excited about this story; it's turning out very well.
  • Last week I did my writerly duty. I voted for the Nebula Awards and nominated for the Hugo Awards.

That's about it. Happy April, everyone!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Publication Day! At Galaxy's Edge

Happy New Year's, everyone!

Last year, I celebrated the new year with the publication of my story "Star Box" in Flash Fiction Online, which I think it is one of the best pieces of flash fiction I've ever written.

This year, I'm celebrating with the publication of a much longer story "The Bone-Runner" in Galaxy's Edge. This is the second time my work has appeared in the pages of Mike Resnick's magazine, which means the first one wasn't a fluke. Now my goal is to go for No. 3.

The story will be free online for the next two months. You can also buy ebook or print versions of the magazine. Information is on the Galaxy's Edge website.

A little backstory on the story (because I'm always interested in how stories come about):

In January 2015, my online writers groups held an annual contest in which the participants write a flash story (750 words or less) each weekend for five consecutive weeks. Each week, we'd get four prompts to choose from to write the story.

In week four, we got what has become the most popular prompt: rummage title generator. The lovely folks who run the contest come up with hundreds of titles, and you pick one and write a story to fit. I chose the title "Running Down the Bones." I wrote a 750-word story about a brother and sister who are scavengers in the ruins of a city (called "the bones") whose very air is poisoned by a chemical cloud, a remnant of some long ago war. The siblings find a lion cub whose mother has died. The sister wants to save it, and the brother to kill it.

I posted the story to the group. The main response: This needs to be longer.

So I made it longer. More than 5,000 words longer.

That flash story is still in there, though modified to fit the larger story I was telling.

(Side note: I wrote in four of the five weeks of that contest, and all four stories are now published. The others are: Transference in Nature Futures, Prime Time in Nature Futures, and Found Day in Daily Science Fiction. This year's contest starts next week.)

I hope you will go read my story, and the many others in the new issue. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Busy month recap

Happy December, everyone!

A lot has been going on. It's time for an update.

For starters, last month's National Novel Finishing Month was a success. I have a completed first draft. I have a lot of revision ahead of me, but the novel exists in word form now instead of just in my head.

Fireside Magazine will be publishing my story "The Memory Who Became a Girl." The editor kindly called my story beautiful and heartbreaking. This will be my second publication in Fireside; it's been almost exactly two years since "Catch a Fallen Star" also appeared there. The new story will publish sometime in the first half of 2016.

Galaxy's Edge will have my story "The Bone-Runner" in the issue that goes live Jan. 1. The editor there called this one moving and lovely. This will be my second story in the pages of Galaxy's Edge. The first was "Shore Leave" earlier this year.

Stupefying Stories will be publishing "The Witch's Key" in its newest publication Theian Journal. I approved the copy edits a couple weeks ago, so I think that one is imminent.

Digital Science Fiction has "Catch a Fallen Star" and nine other stories in "Cosmic Hooey," which is one of the more imaginative titles I've ever seen for a collection. You can find that right here. And also Digital SF has accepted another of my stories for reprint, "Malfunction," which originally appeared in Ray Gun Revival.

And in a last bit of news,  World Weaver Press has nominated "Masks" in the Far Orbit Apogee anthology for the Pushcart Prize, which honors the best of the small press.

Whew.

This weekend, I'm writing up my pitch for the "Joe Ledger: Unstoppable" anthology, in which I get to play in the world created by the super talented Jonathan Maberry. Amazingly, this book already has a Goodreads page, which you can go check out and goggle at the amazing writers whose work will be collected in these pages.

With all that going on, we're also getting ready for Christmas in the Hicks household. And today is also my husband's birthday, which means I now have to sign off to go finish making a nice breakfast. Happy birthday, Michael!