Saturday, October 26, 2013

Carrying on

Story rejection is hard. Losing out in the final judging of the Writers of the Future contest is the hardest rejection I have ever received. But I've started to bounce back much faster than I thought I would. I'm not devastated. I'm not indulging in self-pity, or burning all my notebooks. My general outlook on life is forward-looking, and that's serving me well right now. I'm looking forward to submitting my finalist story to other editors (though that's on hold until I know whether WotF wants the story as a published finalist), and I've written 2,000+ words on a new short story since Monday.

Entertainment consumption this week: I've watched the first five episodes of the first season of "Homeland," and it's fantastically good. I also watched the premiere of "Dracula" last night and was underwhelmed, mostly because of the heavy-handed stylistic approach and the overly loud, dramatic musical score. "SHIELD" continues to lose my interest a little more each week. And the shipper in me is looking forward to Emma-Hook smooches on "Once Upon a Time" with the hope that they won't be the last for this couple.

The week's stats:
Word count: 2,100
Submissions: 0
Stories out on submission: 8

I'll close with the song I've listened to a lot this week:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writers of the Future: Non-winning finalist

It's been about 24 hours since I got the You-didn't-win call instead of the Are-you-sitting-down call. I certainly didn't want to be writing this particular post, but it is what it is. First off, congratulations to the Quarter 3 winners. I look forward to reading your stories in the anthology next spring. With the rollercoaster of being a finalist now over, I thought I might share some thoughts on the experience.

When I say rollercoaster, I mean it. The past month has been full of serious ups and downs, none more so than the bookend calls to inform me that I was a finalist and the one to inform me that I will not be going to the L.A. workshop in April. There's the agony of waiting. The congratulations from friends and colleagues. The dream I had one night of going online to see that the results had been posted and I was not among them, but I hadn't gotten a call yet one way or the other.

A fellow non-winning finalist said to me yesterday, there's a special pit in the stomach that no one else really understands except those who have gotten the You-didn't-win call. Then there's the argument that, all right, I didn't win but I made finalist. That's an accomplishment in itself. And yes it is. But to get so close and not win is heartbreaking. In the end, the absolute worst submission of the entire quarter -- the person who sent in their grandmother's award-winning cookie recipe -- got the same result that I did.

I'll be honest. At this particular time, I would rather pro-out of the contest than go through all that again. Will that stop me from entering? No. I will keep sending my best stories to Writers of the Future every quarter until I can no longer do so, either from winning or disqualifying myself with too many professional sales. But I dread getting the You're-a-finalist call for a second time. The next time I get an e-mail stating my straight rejection or my honorable mention, I will breathe a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bad Lip Reading: Game of Thrones

Love this. I watched at my desk at work (shh, don't tell) and had to make a serious effort not to laugh out loud. Jazz hands!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday stuff and fluff

This week was another week of waiting. No acceptances or rejections or submissions, and not much writing done. Probably like the other seven WotF finalists, I'm focusing my willpower on my cellphone so that it will ring. The fact that the phone is not ringing only proves that I don't have that particular superpower.

The rest of my time, I've been at the day job, with most my focus on editing articles about the government shutdown. I've been trying to find new ways every day of writing headlines about essentially the same thing. Or I've been spending time with my husband and kids. So, in all, not a terribly exciting time. Next week, there's MileHiCon, which I always enjoy, and hopefully a phone call from Writers of the Future.

Fun stuff:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some love for Raygun Chronicles

The anthology "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age" is getting some nice publicity ahead of its December release. SF Signal has posted the table of contents, which it calls "impressive." And yes, that is me at No. 8. Between this release and another story publishing next month in Fireside Magazine, it's going to be a good end to the year.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thoughts on Gravity

I saw Gravity this afternoon in 3D Imax. I figured, hey, if I was going to shell out the money to see it in the theaters, I better go all the way. And I am so glad I did. This is more than a movie; it's an experience. Ninety minutes of nonstop intensity combined with an inspirational story about human ingenuity. If you have the opportunity to watch it on a big screen, preferably in 3D, then you should do so.

When I got home and turned on the laptop, I came across an article from Entertainment Weekly in which astro-experts break down the inaccuracies of the movie, mostly of the scientific variety. I find the article to be fascinating. What surprises me is how many people in the comments section decried what the scientists had to say because this is just a movie. Let's face it: Most people's scientific knowledge and their misconceptions come from movies and television. If we want a more educated public, then we need more accurate depictions of science in our entertainment.

Yes, I'm a nerd for believing that and proud of it. I like education. But I also like being entertained. And I have to say that Gravity is a hell of a movie with astounding visuals and fantastic storytelling and acting, even if some the physics are wrong.

I recommend that everyone go see the movie and then read the EW article (in that order or you will get seriously spoiled), and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Astronaut Mark Kelly has written a piece for The Washington Post about Gravity that's well worth reading. And there's also this one from Slate.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What I'm reading

The folks at SFSignal have a post to today asking the following questions. Their questions were posed specifically for science fiction and fantasy, but I'm going to open it up to all genres. Here are my answers.
  1. The last book I finished reading:  "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling, which I read aloud to my kids
  2. The last book I did NOT finish: "Fifty Shades Darker" by E.L. James. Yes, I tried to read this pile of drek. I claim temporary insanity.
  3. The last book(s) I bought: Three at the same time: "Tongues of Serpents" by Naomi Novik; "The Long War" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter; "Kitty in the Underworld" by Carrie Vaughn
  4. The last book I bought that I already owned: I don't do this.
  5. The last book I shared with someone: Do my kids count as "someone"? The Harry Potter series, then.
  6. The last book I raved about: "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn.
  7. The last book I did not enjoy at all: "Fifty Shades Darker" by E.L. James
Now I'll add in another question: What am I reading now?

Four books, actually. "Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith (a k a J.K. Rowling); "Beyond the Sun," edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt; "Tongues of Serpents" by Naomi Novik; and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling (to my kids).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Saturday stuff and fluff is waiting

I've heard from previous finalists (and experienced vicariously through a friend) about the agonizing wait between that wonderful phone call to tell you that you're a Writers of the Future finalist, and the second call that will either send you soaring or break your heart. Now I'm experiencing it for myself, and yes, it's agonizing.

I do a decent job of keeping myself busy. Kids, household chores and errands, writing, reading and the day job are more than enough to fill the hours. No matter what I'm doing, my brain inevitably strays back to the same questions over and over. Will my story hit the right buttons with the judges? Am I off to L.A. in April, or is it back to the drawing board? The problem is that there's nothing I can do about it. I sent in the best story I could in June, and now the decision is completely out of my hands. So I write something new. I play with the kids. I do the grocery shopping and go to the dentist. I go to work. I write some more. And I wait.

Stats for the week:
  • Submissions:2
  • Stories out on submission: 8
  • Word count: 3,200

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thoughts on S.H.I.E.L.D. so far

This is the show I was looking forward to more than any other for the fall season. A Joss Whedon production based off Marvel superhero movies that I have generally loved? I'm there. But so far I've been underwhelmed by what I've seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (And typing those periods every time is going to become annoying.)

Is it just me, or does this come off as a poor man's Firefly? Motley crew of misfits? Check. Giant airborne home and command center? Check.There are shots of the plane known as The Bus that reminded me of Serenity, especially the door that leads in and out of the cargo hold. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team echoes the Serenity crew except they're not as interesting (so far) and are way too young and pretty. I enjoyed Agent Colson in the Marvel movies and still like him here, but the only new character who intrigues me is Melinda May. She has personal pain. She has secrets. And she isn't annoyingly chatty or eye-rollingly idealistic.

There are good spots. The trademark Whedon dialogue is present. The special effects are good. But this show hasn't jelled yet. I'm willing to give it time to find its footing. Buffy's first season didn't wow me, either, but it evolved into something amazing. I only hope ABC gives S.H.I.E.L.D. time to find its footing, which it might, because it isn't Fox.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September stats

September was an unusually productive month for me, at least in terms of getting words onto paper (or the screen). My submission stats aren't too impressive because most of my stories on submission have been out for weeks:

Submissions: 2
Stories out on submission: 8
Stories finished: 2
Approximate word count: 7,500

I have four stories that are in limbo between acceptance and publication. Two of them have solid release dates, and two do not. There's another story that is a Writers of the Future finalist, but I don't know yet whether it's a winner or a rejection. Some of my higher-than-usual word count has resulted from being named a finalist. I've gone somewhat manic over the past week, and a lot of that excess crazy energy has gone into writing.

Also, if you're looking for some short fiction to dig your teeth into this week, I'd like to point you toward two stories written by friends and writing colleagues. Nick T. Chan's "Sisters" is up at Galaxy's Edge. This was a Writers of the Future finalist and a story that stuck so much with editor Mike Resnick that, as he says the introduction, he tracked Nick down to acquire it. Also, the new issue of Plasma Frequency is up, and Dustin Adams' "One World" is the cover story. This one has a great twist ending that you'll just have to go read. Right now.