Finally got my registration done for the MFA program I’m jumping into. Locked and loaded. Starts October 2. Stoked, excited, fearful. Finally some smoking barrels. I’ll be working with Stephen Graham Jones for fiction and will attempt some screenwriting for my cross genre elective. This is a reinvention of epic proportions, and I’m not looking back. I’m on page 620 of GRRM’s A Storm of Swords (thanks mom) and have to choose five books a quarter to read and analyze (scatter-brained, so don’t look for transitions or segues). This list keeps changing. I am a huge fan of the grimdark sub-genre (whatever that means) and am tempted to fill those slots with steel, blood, and moral ambiguity, but there’s so much more I enjoy reading.
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is in my top slot. I grabbed it as an Audible trial pick (then cancelled) but can’t really feel the weight of it without a physical copy in my hands. I’ll go all day with audio short fiction, but novel length is a drag no matter who’s narrating. Something by Corey, Fletcher, Okorafor, and Jemisin, perhaps. That leaves out horror, but my dark ways will more than make up for it.
Zero submissions this month. Two publications coming up. Speaking of audio fiction, my short story “Spare Parts” was purchased as a reprint from StarShipSofa and should be coming out any day now (my, how the wheels turn). Their 500th episode is a piece by Harlan Ellison that you probably shouldn’t miss. Doo-doo-bee (a.k.a. our puppy) is going through it lately. Skin scrapes and steroids and runny-runs has me on edge, but puppies are resilient, I keep telling myself.
Disappointed by some pro-rate publications lately. Publicly scoffing at slush pile entries is not cool. Send a form rejection and keep it pushing. Next month marks two years with Grimdark Magazine and I’ve learned a lifetime worth. I’ll get on blogging about the value of reading slush for a strong market one of these days. Deathnote came out on NetFlix this month (or last) and I can’t help but cringe every time a live-action version of a manga series is botched beyond recognition. Stick to the hard-copies (an omnibus of the entire series was just released, pick that up for sure). Huge book haul from my favorite thrift store last weekend. Among them is a Glen Cook novel said to be one of the cornerstones of grimdark fantasy. I’ll hit the lines after Storm of Swords is done.
July was a whirlwind. It’s not over yet, but it’s left its mark. Atreyu is a little giant now. In a month or so he can finally go outside. August brings thirty years of life for my Cymphonee, five completely in love, one single day to celebrate the rest of my life. And I’ve only grown to love her more. Cheers, my honey bee!
I made a big move this month, one which slipped through my grasp in the past. But now, I’ve captured it. In nine days I completed my application to a graduate program in creative writing, specifically for genre fiction. Fevre dreams of rejection plagued me: writing sample’s not long enough, too dark, too inexperienced, no background, no future…But alas, I was accepted. Residency begins late September. Victory. My gratitude and thanks go out to Adrian Collins of Grimdark Magazine, P. Alexander of Cirsova, and more than 200 rejections last year that really thickened my skin. Dragon fire, folks.
Outlook Springs picked up my story “Ethereal Things” for their next issue, and Star Ship Sofa will be featuring “Spare Parts” in an upcoming episode. Vastly different tales from the same twisted mind. Started the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb and it’s looking good so far. I’m a sucker for fantasy with dogs. The Broken Empire trilogy arrived in my mailbox last week and I’ll start on that as soon as I finish the new GOT episode tonight. Red Sister is loaded on my Audible, as well. The reviews are insanely good. Lots to read, lots to write…lots to be thankful for.
Been in the swamps of editing/rewriting/biggest pain-in-the-ass part of writing lately. Getting time away (lots of time) from my work, then rereading with a critical eye, has been the biggest lesson this last couple months. Honestly, most of the stuff I sell is first draft quality and can be polished and reworked into more cohesive, flowing pieces. It’s a lot of work to put your best foot forward. Finishing and submitting is easy, but reworking it into something explosive and clear to any reader is the real work. A story is made in editing, plain and simple.
Cymphonee and I have a new addition to the family. We’ve been working hard to keep him in line and the crate training is going pretty well. Not sure he likes the crate as a sleeping area (mostly, he thinks it’s a kind of punishment after sleeping on the bed with us), but he’ll adapt. Atreyu is a boxador from the pound and we love him to death (when he’s not gnawing on anything in sight).
“Three times a Ronin Shouts” is available for pre-order on amazon as of now. I believe the actual release date is July 21, but you can get it now for a buck. Bards and Sages publishing did a pretty good job for this 8k word stand alone, and I hope you’ll all enjoy. Two sales in the ether right now, prospects looking good for a print and a new audio release. Finished “Gwendy’s Button Box” and I’ll have some comments or a quick review up soon.
Cymphonee recovered the old hard drive; that means 25k in the novel saved and six WIP’s recovered. Not to mention all our old photos and videos. Yeehaw! Bards and Sages Publishing picked up “Three Times a Ronin Shouts” and that should be coming out as a stand alone in July I believe. Still watching for negotiations at Manor House for September release of “What’s Done in the Dark,” and have been obsessively playing the Gwent Beta!
More to come.
April was the heaviest reading load I’ve carried so far this year. Got through Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining and am half way done with Night Shift. Picked up Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption again and have been diving back into the basics of craft. The ideas aren’t hard these days, there are plenty of them. It’s the structure and voice I’m struggling with, until a bullfrog whispered in my ear yesterday–yes, a bullfrog. Lets call him Jeremiah, and he’s volunteered to narrate a new piece I’m working on. Saves me a lot of work. If you’re working on a story and a character’s voice just pops out and speaks to you, listen, record, and keep your third eye open.
Got a new flash piece in Speculative 66 (Loverboy Android) coming out tomorrow I believe. Just like “Stay of Execution,” this one began as a 250 word account of a girl desperate for the love of a machine. Again, it was an idea piece and those can be chopped down to the bare essentials sometimes. If you can take an entire novel and chop it down to 66 words you’ve got a pitch that can save you a lot of work when it comes down to summarizing each chapter in a paragraph (this will happen somewhere down the line, best to start now). “Out Here” has made the rounds and returned with a pile of great feedback, yet no takers. Some pieces, the ones you feel you really need to tell, aren’t worth letting go of, and I drew the line with “Out Here.” Set a bar for yourself that you won’t compromise. If I don’t get at least 3 cents a word, it goes in the trunk until a new market pops up.
I hear Cirsova is in the midst of recording an audio-book version of issue #5 and I hope it’s well-received. Grimdark Magazine has some huge projects in the making, along with a new website that looks amazing. Watched episode 1 of American Gods and was blown away by the production value and how they really stuck to the format of the novel. Got through 10 episodes of Vikings season 4 (the rest will have to wait until my amazon account releases them for free) and couldn’t believe the great Ragnar met his end in a pit of snakes. Took a break from Mass Effect Andromeda (a bit disappointing) and am letting the X-Box cool down until another Dark Souls installment becomes available (I doubt it).
Keep reading, and writing, and listen to your inner bullfrog.
Review of Cirsova issue #5 from the folks at Tangent.
…a great article by one of my favorite short form writers T.R. Napper.