Archive for the ‘writing discussion’ Category

Mental note
May 30, 2010

Don’t submit anything to Going Down Swinging again. Fortunately, i don’t write much non-SF stuff, so the likelihood of me needing to is very slim.

Why, you ask?

Well, let me get this out of the way first: i have absolutely no issue with form rejections. Editors are very busy people and in no way do i expect them to make personal remarks in a rejection. It’s nice when they do, but form is fine.

Except when it’s a mass form rejection entitled ‘Dear Writers and Artists’ and which then goes on to explain in detail why it would’ve been far too difficult to send out a simple ‘Dear Samuel Mae, We’ve decided not to use your work at this time.’ The explanation implies that instead of sending out a rejection when they initially read the story and decide they don’t want it they put it aside into an electronic pile and send out a mass rejection all at once. And looking at Duotrope’s RSS feed for responses reported that indeed looks like it’s the case. Feels very inefficient to me, because i truly doubt that all three editors consult each other over every story. So why not send out the rejection when the story is actually rejected? That eliminates a whole step in their process. And keep the big long explanation in the R. That’s fine. Just put my name on the damn thing.

Usually i probably wouldn’t be bothered by the mass form, but this market is very persnickety about format (and their preferred isn’t typical ms format), and requires authors and artists to fill out a whole cover sheet of details about the story and themselves. Again, this is apparently for the sake of efficiency, but i remember thinking, just over two months back when i filled it in, ‘this is all information that could be included in the subject header of the email (FICTION SUB (or whatever it is I’m submitting): name of story by my name (word count)) and what’s not should be included on the first page of the sub (name, address, email, etc) anyway.’

So, after making me jump through all those hoops (inserting their cover page into my document, filling it out, reformatting said document to their requirements) couldn’t they at least give me the courtesy of my name on the rejection?

Hmm, i’m obviously grumpy tonight.

*step away from the keyboard, son, and take a few deep breaths*

And sleep. Some sleep would be good.

Brand new pro-paying SF market
May 30, 2010

While browsing the ‘What’s New’ section of Duotrope this morning i noticed a brand new pro-rate paying SF market called Daily Science Fiction. Cool, i thought, another pro market is most excellent.

They pay 8c a word for fiction between 100 and 10,000 words. Awesome. These stories will be available free to the public. Awesome. They also plan to publish new fiction 5 days of every week. Again, awesome…

Then i thought about it. And the more i thought about it the more i wondered whether the two editors had thought their idea through thoroughly. The idea itself is admirable: bring the SF-loving portion of the public a daily (during the week) dose of speculative fiction. And they do state that they’re looking for flash fiction primarily. Even so, at 8c a word, over 260 days of the year, at–let’s say–an average of 1,000 words per story, they’ll be spending close to $21,000 on fiction, and i feel that’s a conservative\minimum estimate. Their yearly budget for artwork is much more feasible: $900-1,200 (each piece of artwork bought will get center stage for approx. one month).

Will the money for the fiction be coming from advertising, fundraising drives, personal funds of the editors? I see no advertisements on the site, and seeing as the format will be electronic, the daily advertising space will be limited. Fundraising drives work for places like Strange Horizons, but they’ve proven themselves to be very good for a long period of time (and they also diversify their material with articles, poetry and columns). I hope the author payments aren’t being budgeted from the personal monies of the DSF editors, because that’s a very good way for them to become disillusioned and poor(er?) very fast.

The money outgoing is one issue. The other is quality. Will they find 260 stories per year that are worth paying 8c a word for? Or will they end up being forced to print average to mediocre fiction to fill their quota? Looking at the other daily markets dotted around the interwebs (and there’s not many, and they usually publish all genres and pay token rates, if at all), i worry that it’s likely to be the latter.

Their is one other teensy issue that is also related to quality: saturation mixed with apathy.

I love short fiction. Love it to pieces. A good short story is, in my mind, incomparable to any other form of storytelling. But, even so, unless Daily Science Fiction is publishing firecracker stories (metaphorically, not literally) at least every other day, then they run the risk of overfilling their short story sink, which in turn will lead to readers shrugging and moving back to the markets they know deliver what they want.

This all sounds like a real downer, doesn’t it? But i don’t want it to be that way. I want this new pro-paying market to succeed. The website is professional, one of the editors has been through Clarion, and it’s always great to see a new pro-paying SF market that is aware of and willing to use technology that isn’t archaic.

(side note: props to Asimov’s for moving to an electronic submission system. The very thought fills my heart with joy.)

But i worry. I don’t want this to be a flash-bang here-for-a-year-then-gone venture. I want to look back in ten years and say ‘i remember when this zine started off and it hasn’t looked back.’

Immediately i think of another new-ish market: Brain Harvest. They specialize in stories of no more than 750 words and publish a new story every 2 weeks. They also run a critiquing service on the side. But recently they lowered their pay-rates from 5c a word ($975 a year maximum) to 3c a word. Why? Here’s what they had to say on the matter: Our gravest apologies for having to lower our pay rates, but as we rely on the generosity of our readers and our own pocketbooks to run this crazy show, pro-rates are no longer feasible at this time.

I know ‘daily’ has a certain ring to it but, Jonathan Laden and Michele Barasso, the dear editors of DSF, please give serious thought to kicking off with a weekly schedule (even bi-weekly, though i still think that’s pushing it) rather than jumping straight into a daily output. At 8c a word you’ll get good writers submitting good stories and won’t be forced to print the average stories you’ll also get, and that works out to win-win for everybody.

No matter what you do, i still hope you have success and that’ll i’ll be reading your zine for years to come.

Exercise and creativity
December 4, 2009

Yeah, we all know exercise helps creativity, don’t we? More oxygen to the brain and extra endorphins and all that.

But sometimes i forget how much exercise helps. Like tonight for instance.

Lemme give some context first.

Most of today was a real ‘i hate writing, i suck at it, why do i even bother’ sorta day. I’ve been struggling all week with stomach and digestion issues and the kicker came late last night when i got a rejection for a story that included the personal note ‘It’s written well but the storyline is a bit “been there, done that, wrote on the t-shirt”.’ Now, i realize (and i realized at the time, too) that the note — from one of the slush-readers — was not intended to be snarky, just humorous. But, given my physical and emotional state, it really hit me in the gut (not as bad as some of the stomach troubles had been hitting me, and no, you didn’t need to know that :D). This is a story that i know for a fact has almost sold to three other very highly respected markets (it’s been on sub for near 18 months and that was only the 7th market it’s been to), so i should’a just taken that reader’s opinion with a shrug and a ‘well, i know it’s good,’ right?

Yeah, should’a, could’a but didn’t’a.

Unfortunately it dropped me into the typical writer’s spiral that i detailed above. And, so, today i moped around, watched tv, grumbled, tried to write and couldn’t, tried to edit and couldn’t, tried to sub a flash piece that i’ve been fiddling with for a while and couldn’t be bothered, tried to read and got frustrated.

After dinner i finally did get into go-mode for a wee bit and got something else ready and subbed to this market: Fried Fiction.

They’re a place for old-fashioned serials, y’know, the ones where you write them as you go, not the typical serials we have today where you gotta have a finished novel or novella before you can think about serializing. I’ve been looking for a place that does old-fashioned serials for a while because i’d love to have a project or two like that to keep me motivated. Y’know, the possibility of people actually reading it and all that. Yeah, could do it on the blog, but i don’t like the feel of that for some reason and i’d have to publicize the thing like crazy, and i’d like to get paid for it. Fried Fiction pays 25 bucks for the first installment (if they accept it) and nothing yet for anything more, so serializing a whole novel with them won’t be all that financially rewarding, but like i say, it’ll keep me motivated. Might pick up a few readers, might be able to direct readers there from my other sales, and i just really like the idea of a serial novel. Course, they gotta buy that first installment ‘fore i can do anything else, don’t they? But see the enthusiasm i have here? It all comes down to that exercise i’m supposed to be talking about.

Anyhoo, i subbed something to them, but still felt mostly ‘bleh.’

Here’s where we get to the exercise. Usually i try to walk an hour every day. Because of being not so well and the weather being lousy i haven’t been walking much the last coupla weeks. Didn’t today, either, but i still got (am getting) some exercise.

It’s been raining torrents here all day. Our house is susceptible to flooding when it rains like that and tonight the garage (the bottom level of the house) began to take on water. So that meant i had to get bailing. Set up some buckets to catch the worst of it and got to bailing the stuff that made it through.

Not the greatest example of exercise, but it’s got my creative juices firing. Suddenly i’m full of ideas for a couple of projects i’ve been poking at with blunt sticks the last few weeks. And i’m no longer thinking how crap my writing is. Good times.

Don’t underestimate the value of exercise to a writer.

Right, better get back to bailing then, hadn’t i? Don’t want the house to be underwater in the morning.