Thursday, October 27, 2016

Writing Goals

"...I don't know what your goals are for your writing..."

I don't remember what my mother said before or after this (I'm assuming it was something like "You should try to make a lot of money." I know; I'm trying). All I know is this line stood out because I realized that I also don't know what my goals are.

I've been published. That was literally the only thing I ever wanted and I really didn't expect it to happen this fast, so I didn't plan further.

Am I supposed to have goals? Other than "get something else published" and "figure out how my plot works when Nikola Tesla actually died five years earlier than would be convenient for me" and "make my characters stop eating soft pretzels with her pretty crush while the fabric of time is literally being torn apart"?

What else is there? Becoming Rowling-level famous and having movie deals? Okay. (Actually not okay. I'd be fine with movies, but I really don't want to be famous.)

So I've made a list of writing goals.


  • Earn enough money to buy a house.
  • ...and adopt all the cats in the shelter to live in it (if not forever, then just like an in-home kitty adoption agency where I get to keep all the really awesome ones with extra toes and name them all after Nobel Prize winning scientists. (Anyone who says they don't want a thumbed cat named Madam Curie or Werner Heisenberg is a liar)).
  • Have fans dress as one of my characters for Halloween.
  • Have a fan? Like, someone I've never interacted with.
  • Movie adaptation (as long as I can veto if they pick an actor I don't like to play my favorite character. (I'm probably kidding, if you're a movie studio person reading this in some weird version of the future where we're actually in talks about a movie deal. I'm an extremely nice and undemanding person to work with.))
  • I think it'd be awesome to have a Lego set based on the spaceship from FreakShow. I'm completely serious about this one. I want my books to be Lego-popular.
  • Figure out how my plot works when Nikola Tesla actually died five years earlier than would be convenient for me. (Not kidding, this is my major plot problem right now. Well, this and the fact that my characters are casually eating pretzels during the time travel apocalypse. I think someone is going to end up going back in time to kill him so isn't alive during the Roswell crash and doesn't become a time traveler who helps himself revolutionize electricity. (If that sentence makes sense to you, congratulations.))

So I'm obviously taking this extremely seriously.

I don't know what my goals are! Write and hope people like it.

What more is there?


(Also, in case anyone was wondering, my story that was in a contest? It was in Cast of Wonders' flash fiction contest, which I can now say because it did not move on to the semifinals. The stories that did move on were so good, though, that I totally get why they beat me. (And one commenter said my story was their favorite. :D))

Monday, October 17, 2016


I've never actually gotten much criticism of my work.

Family and friends and teachers might say they didn't "get" something, and rejection letters from publications are usually form letters or "we enjoyed [specific thing], but don't feel the story is the right fit."

But right now, one of my short stories is in a contest. And members of a forum are voting and commenting on it. The stories are anonymous, and the comments are honest.

I won't link to the site or be too direct with my paraphrasing (so I don't accidentally un-anonymous-ize it), but so far the comments go along these lines: The writing is good but repetitive, I liked the story, but the writer could explain less and be more subtle."

I don't know what I expected to say, and I don't know how I expected I'd feel reading honest comments from strangers.

And I actually still don't know how I feel. Kind of sick to my stomach because I'm a perfectionist and I don't want to do anything even a little bit wrong. Sad because I disappointed the readers with something less than perfect.

But at the same time, these are not awful reviews and they aren't telling me anything about my writing I'm not already aware of.

And they did say they liked it and the writing is good!

In a way, I really don't care what anyone thinks of me or my writing. Which sounds like self confidence but actually stems from my lifelong lack of desire to fit in (I communicated primarily by meowing when I was 8, if that gives you an idea of my social life). But it also hurts something awful to know, however subjectively, someone didn't like something I did. (And the weird thing? The specific line that people didn't care for? Those are the ones I thought were clever.)

I think the moral of this story is "don't read reviews unless you're really emotionally stable." Or possibly "nothing good happens in the comments section." (But then, I don't like stories with morals. Because everyone's tastes are different!)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go check the polls to see how much I'm losing by.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Writing Log

Copies of Circuits and Slippers are making their way into people's homes (my grandparents got theirs Monday, and I've signed a copy that I'm sending to my aunt, and STRANGERS who aren't related to me are reading my story!), and even though I'm pretty sure mine is the shortest piece in the book, it's still very exciting.

Anyway. I keep a writing log. It's where I write what I've submitted where, whether it's been rejected or is pending, and, on occasion, long ranty rants about how I'm the worst writer ever. :D

Because I still can't wrangle my feelings about being published into a coherent post, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at my journey to publication in Circuits & Slippers by way of my writing log. Because what's the point of a blog if I can't use it to amuse myself? (Today's comments in parentheses and italics)

Monday, January 11, 2016 (Eleven days after I decided to start submitting my stories to editors and publishers. I actually had success quickly, but I wouldn't know it for months)
Submitted Scrapefoot to Lyssa Chiavari's Slippers and Sprockets sci-fi fairytale anthology, after writing it specifically for it based on an idea I already had. (Lyssa was originally an editor for the project. As for the title, I don't honestly know if it was called Slippers and Sprockets in the beginning or if I'm the doofus who couldn't remember the title two seconds after submitting to it.)

Tuesday, 19 April, 2016The Circuits and Slippers people have extended their deadline to May 6 (I had actually forgotten that I submitted to them, but something reminded me and I started checking the site every day) and anticipate all notices will be sent by May 20. BUT they say that stories they know they will pass on will have been notified by April 8. I am not getting too excited, but I did not get a definite no yet!

Friday, May 20, 2016 (aka "I get ramble-y and philosophical when I'm anxious")
May 20. The day I should hear from Circuits and Slippers. And morning finds me with an unread message in my inbox. I will never assume anything is good news, that I am going to be picked or that they will love my work. I am not going to be the kind of person who expects good things and is constantly disappointed. I will accept that, statistically, it is unlikely a certain story will be chosen, but that it has happened before and will happen again. It's cautious optimism, and right now that email could be anything from anyone. It's Schrodinger's cat, only it might not even be a cat. Could be Schrodinger's friendly automated response dolphin letting me know some submission has gone through or someone commented on my blog.
Now I'm afraid and excited in equal amounts.
Oh, it's [a rejection for a story called Siamese, about a cat]. Hey, lookit that. Schrodinger's cat was a cat after all, just a different breed than I expected. (How much of a dork am I?)

Saturday, May 21, 2016Scrapefoot was accepted.
AAAAH! Off to email everyone I know! AAAAAAAAH!
I mean seriously. Is this happening to me? I've gone to check to make sure the email is still there, and that it hasn't changed its words while I wasn't looking. Don't need a quantum state issue today. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. (Apparently I am very much a dork.)

Monday, June 6, 2016Got my C&S contract. Addressed with purple ink and with a Batman stamp. (Because my editor is awesome. I knew right then that it would be an enjoyable experience working with her. And I was right.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016We have cover art for C&S! AND. IT'S. AWESOME! Our names are on the back. My name is on a book! Aaaaaah!
Saturday, August 6, 2016C&S is on 36 people's TBR on Goodreads and I'm only related to one of them! (This was even more exciting than the first time my blog got a view that wasn't me!)

Thursday, September 8, 2016 (After I got an advanced download copy.)
This book is so good; how am I allowed to be in it?

Monday, September 19, 2016Publication is so close. Ten days. It's really happening, isn't it? I mean... me, with my words being read by strangers. My words becoming real, existing on paper outside of my head. I'm a writer. An author. And I feel like Jodie Foster in Contact because I think "they should have sent a poet". I can't even begin to explain how this feels. This stupid little hobby that has dominated my life. These silly little stories that I spend so much time and energy on. They're about to put my name into the world. And yes, it's an anthology being sold online and my story is undoubtedly the shortest and I'm not going to get famous from it. But there will be a book in someone's home that has my name on the back cover. And my words on pages 221 through 229 (that's where they were in the advance copy; might have changed slightly). And when I say that means everything to me, it is not hyperbole.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016Tomorrow. In 24 hours, I will be a published author. I'm trying not to think about it, honestly, and just get things done. I've got a blog post and email announcement to go out to family. I'm sure they're sick of hearing from me EXCEPT THAT IS THE DEPRESSION TALKING AND I AM ACTUALLY AWESOME AND MY FAMILY LOVES HEARING ABOUT MY EXPLOITS IN THE WORLD OF FICTION WRITING. (When in doubt, scream at the depression.)
Jaylee got the proof copy of the book and posted a video and you can see my name on the back and as she's flipping through you can totally see my story for half a second! It's super blurry and you can't really tell it's mine but I know it comes right after Christopher Walker's and you can clearly see his bio on the page before my blurry page so I know it's mine! AAAH! (When I sent the video to my aunt, she wrote back saying "If you pause it just right, you can see your name in the table of contents, too." My family is the best. Sidenote: I've been saying "AAAH!" so much lately that spellcheck now believes it's a real word.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016 (I was - and still am - in shock that it actually happened and so didn't write much.)
WE. ARE. PUBLISHED! Have to go blog and email. AAAH!
I've gotten 13 emails today and it isn't even noon. Jaylee sent out a mass email to all the authors and we've been hitting "reply all" and screaming in excitement at each other all morning.
And now I'm up to 21 emails in a day. (beating my previous record of five. I don't email much.)

So now we know exactly how dorky and excitable I am. (AAAH!) Do you keep a writing log or journal?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Full Review of Circuits & Slippers

Circuits & Slippers has been out for a week, and we're getting some great reviews on Goodreads. I posted a review over there, but figured why not put it here, too?

I wish I had a book like this when I was younger. A book that tells us it's okay to twist your favorite stories into something new, that a princess doesn't have to sit around and wait to be rescued.

I think my favorite stories are China White and the Seven, by James Wood, which takes the story of Snow White to a delightfully disturbing place; and the adorable and quirky Rapunzel-inspired tale Compatible, by C.M. Lloyd.

Some of the stories didn't grab my attention as much, but that's just personal preference and I still enjoyed them.

There's a ton of diversity represented in this book. Off the top of my head, I can think of stories with an asexual character, gay Latinas, a trans girl, and androids that use gender neutral pronouns.

I wasn't familiar with all the stories retold here, but that didn't make Le Trotteur or Some Assembly Required any less enjoyable. 

I didn't know what to expect in terms of sex and violence, but there isn't much of either and what there is isn't superduper graphic.

I love the little details, like the fonts and the way scene breaks (usually denoted by asterisks) are a graphic that looks like circuitry.

Jaylee James put together something special here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

IWSG: Is it Ready?

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities. (And I don't know why Blogger isn't posting these on schedule like I tell it to!)

For me, the answer is very simple: When I don't hate it anymore.

I'm very critical of myself. Everything I do is terrible, or at least less good than it should be. This is not a healthy way to go about life by any means, but I've been like this as long as I can remember, and don't expect it to go away anytime soon.

It's helpful - or at least less harmful - in real life, where results are cut and dry. That picture is crooked and I won't give up until it's straight. My estimation was off, so I'll do the calculations and get it exact.

But writing is an art. It's subjective, with no clear right or wrong.

And yet I hate every word I write.

And I do mean hate. When I read something I've written, I cringe at phrases I thought were clever once. I find every fault in every character and I imagine all the dialogue being spoken in really cheesy, overly dramatic ways.

The thought of letting someone read it at this point physically makes me feel ill, and usually around now I start wondering why I even bother writing since I can't come up with a plot that I didn't steal from some TV show or video game (if you read my Notes from the Editing Room posts, you can generally gauge how unedited the writing is by how many bad things I say about myself: first draft is "you're so stupid; you think you're so clever BUT THIS CHARACTER IS SO OBVIOUSLY BASED ON HAN SOLO!" whereas the final drafts are more along the lines of "aw, you're such a dork.")

So I edit. I change or fix everything that makes me feel bad feelings about myself. And then I do it again. If I'm lucky, some of them become things that make me feel good feelings about myself, but as long as the bad feelings are gone, I know it must be okay. Not perfect, but good enough that I feel confident letting people read it.