Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sign Me Up

Ten Holidays Writers Would Like to Celebrate

Butt in Chair Week (January 2-9): To help all writers get a decent start on all those writing resolutions they made on January 1st which they will either ignore, forget about or declare impossible by January 10th.

Hatchet Job Recovery Day (Anytime): Must be celebrated with the writer's favorite consolation activity, food or beverage as well as a very large box of tissues.

Income Tax Weepfest (April 16th): Save some of those tissues for this 24-hour period of hysterics over all those lost receipts, being unable to claim Hagan-Daaz as a deduction, having to pay twice the FICA for being self-employed, etc.

Leave Me Alone I'm Writing! Month (November 1-30th): Because calling it National Novel Writing Month has not discouraged non-writers from interrupting us while we're creating our next work of breathtaking genius, maybe this will.

Love Scene Composition Day (February 15th): Got to do something with all that personal intensive research we did on February 14th, yes?

Not Going to Nationals Compassion Weekend (July): For our writer friends who are members of RWA but are unable to afford the thousands of dollars it costs to attend their National Conference, which we all know is a huge waste of time and will do nothing for their careers but can't convince them of the same.

Promo No-No Day (Anytime): A full day and night during which the writer does not have to advertise, hand out gratis copies, hold a giveaway, promote or even mention the latest release. Not even during a casual conversation on Twitter that offers the sparkling opportunity to regale all fifteen of one's followers with purchase-enticing snippets.

Snickerfest (April 1st): The day we all get together and laugh over the latest piece of idiocy perpetuated by a colleague whose advances have outgrown their common sense. This year I vote we guffaw over any writer who claims their characters are making them write their books badly. Because, you know, characters do that so frequently.

Writer Love Day (Anytime): A day when everyone just shows us some love instead of the usual barrage of crap. Wouldn't that be nice?

Writer Prezzie E-card Month (December): For thirty-one days every member of families and friend circles will resist the urge to buy us fuzzy socks, cologne that smells like rotting mangos and the obligatory [Insert Writer Pun] T-shirt and instead present us with electronic gift cards from whatever bookseller we are currently not boycotting due to shady business practices, the ever-looming possibility of bankruptcy, or who refuse to remove that two-star review with all the damn spoilers on our last novel even when we can prove it was that envious ass ex-critique partner who wrote it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Doodle On

How doodling at your job can lead to amazing art (with narration by the artist and background music, for those of you at work):

Keep Doodling | Will Barras from James Partridge on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: The final installment of Club Denizen, with new material beginning on page 58.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: windujedi

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Off to Write

I'm unplugging today to take care of some work that needs finishing. So that your stop here was not a complete waste of time, here are the details on the Twenty-First Annual Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers Short Story Contest, which does not have an entry fee but does offer an option to get a critique if you donate five bucks:


Old Ski Nose and Der Bingle sought a metaphorical Utopia on one of their many cinematic road trips, but unlike Mr. Hope and Mr. Crosby, many of today’s practitioners in speculative fiction follow a road going in the opposite direction, a grim path leading to a bleak future full of relentless zombies, environmental catastrophes and totalitarian police states that are particularly unfriendly toward precocious teens. Dystopian fantasies, to some degree, reflect the anxiety of the times, but the reason they’re consistently popular is because they appeal to the rebellious streak in all of us. We’ll accept any oppressive regime, no matter how ridiculous the premise, because we’re hungry to see it fall. It’s so much easier to destroy than it is to build.

And that’s why this year’s contest may be something of a challenge. Cast away all pessimism and craft your vision of the ideal society or the perfect future. The more whimsical and humorous, the better. But above all, make it personal; what is the perfect life to YOU. Make it as realistic or as absurd as you want. Lord knows plausibility wasn’t high on the list of considerations for the current literary wave of 1984-wannabes. And remember to tell a good story: if flying cars represent the pinnacle of human achievement, then take the reader on a joyride. But please, no dry treatises about a Socialist collective workers’ paradise or the benefits of selfishness under a strict Objectivist economic system. Make the future fun!

Submission Period: The contest opens April 1, 2015 and closes July 31, 2015. Any manuscript received before or after the submission window will be disqualified. Multiple submissions are NOT allowed.

Eligibility and Prizes: The contest is open to everyone, no combat skills required. The top five stories will move on to the second round, judged by Hildy Silverman, Editor-in-Chief of Space and Time Magazine. The 1st Place story will be published in a future issue of S&T, as per editor’s timeline and discretion, and the author will receive the Graversen Award ($70), in honor of the GSSW’s founder, Patricia Graversen. The 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive $40 and $25, respectively. There is NO ENTRY FEE. GSSW members will receive a detailed, written critique. Optional: For a donation of $5, non-members may also receive a critique.

Format: Stories must be original and unpublished. Manuscripts must be double spaced and no more than 4000 words in length (firm). Please include contact information (name, mailing address, phone number, email address) on the first page of the manuscript.

Where to Submit: Electronic submissions ONLY. Email manuscripts as an attachment in .rtf file format to Please note the story title in the subject line.

Results: Contest results will be announced at the GSSW’s meeting on September 12, 2015 at the public library in Old Bridge, NJ. All entrants are invited to attend. For directions, please visit our website at Prize money will be issued in the form of a check payable to winner. Winners unable to attend the meeting will receive their prizes by mail. All contestants will be notified of the results via email and those who qualify for a criitique will receive theirs no later than September 30, 2015."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Walking It

Getting back to writing full time has been great in all ways except one: spending most of the day sitting in front of the computer. I take breaks and proof things out on the porch, or take my editing out to the work bench in the garage, which I use as a standing desk, but I have been spending a few too many hours on my butt in a small room. After gaining a few too many pounds over the holidays I also needed to work that off before I ended up spending all of summer in my chubby clothes.

I am not an exercise lover; my joints make most workouts impossible for me, and I'm not nearly flexible enough to do more than the very basic low-impact stuff. Also, like most people, I hate exercising. The only varieties of exercise I've always liked are swimming and walking, and since we don't have a pool and the beach is far, far away I decided to set a daily walking goal for myself. In addition to what I already walk with the dogs I would try to do an extra mile in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Two miles doesn't sound like a lot, I know. Unless you have a bum knee, arthritic joints, and a tricksy ankle that likes to sprain itself with any misstep; then you're probably quite familiar with my pain. Most days those extra two miles do feel like twenty, especially when I do mile #2 after dinner. The first week I got blisters from wearing the wrong shoes; the second I had to change my route because the late-day traffic and people driving like maniacs down my favorite country road to walk scared the heck out of me.

The benefits, on the other hand, have been measurable. I lost five pounds in the first week without any extra dieting (probably all in sweat.) I'm sleeping better, too -- deeper, restful sleep without waking up in the middle of the night. I can't say I'm full of boundless energy, but my spirits have been better and I feel more upbeat about things, which tends to make me more energetic. Being outside in the sun and seeing the flowers of spring has that effect on me; we writers often forget how beautiful the real world is, too.

Walking also inspires me to think in different directions. I took my camera on one morning walk and photographed this old shed door, and then came home and wrote on the image:

Sure, it's not War and Peace, but it made me think in a different direction. When I booted up my work file for the day I took on a scene I thought would be difficult to write, but thanks to getting creative with the pic I worked my way through it with a bit more confidence and enthusiasm.

Where you walk is as important as how often you walk. Obviously you want to go somewhere safe, but you should also consider the environment. I love country neighborhoods as much as urban developments, but I try to avoid dirt roads (the ankle -- it's super tricksy on uneven or unstable surfaces.) I love to walk down by the lake, and since they have a really cool nature trail there I also see lots of birds every time I go. If you have a beautiful park nearby your home or office that offers a nice walking op you should try to visit it a few times a week.

On days when the weather doesn't encourage outdoor walking (next month rainy season starts here) I'll either do all my walking in the morning before it usually rains, or head to a nearby mall that I've measured with a pedometer; one lap of that place equals exactly one mile. I'm also going to measure a couple of local museums where I have annual memberships to see how much of my goal I can knock off by walking through them.

How do you exercise most successfully? Let us know in comments.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sub Op

Dreaming Robot Press has an open call for their upcoming 2016 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide antho for middle grade (ages 9 to 12) SF readers: "We’re looking for stories that: Have a main character that a middle grade reader (ages 9-12) can identify with; Show a diverse set of real characters; Are well written, fun to read and encourage a love of reading science fiction; Tell of adventure, space, science. Give us rockets, robots and alien encounters, and we’re pretty happy. Steampunk, time travel, weird west and alternate history are all fine. Are between 3,000 and 6,000 words. We’re especially looking for stories: Of adventure! We love a good dystopia as much as the next robot, but remember – this is the young explorer’s adventure guide. Where the main character is of a population that has traditionally been under-represented in science fiction, e.g. girls, people of color, differently abled people; Where the main character has agency, exercises it, and isn’t just along for the ride." Payment: $0.06/word; query reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: May 31st, 2015.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lost City Treasures

My new glasses have (finally!) arrived, and I can see stuff that isn't six feet away (hooray!) So I'm trying to get out on the weekends and put my camera back to work. Here's a slideshow of my latest pics from a visit to the flea market: