Archive for the ‘being a “real” writer’ Tag

“Mother of Waters” now available in Crossed Genres Magazine   Leave a comment

Happy March! And a very happy March it is. I don’t usually get to announce good news again so quickly, but my story “Mother of Waters” is out in the March 2013 issue of Crossed Genres Magazine. Here’s a taste:

She shaped the mud into a tiny manikin, a baby-doll with stubby little legs and arms and a large head. She knelt in the streambed with the dolly in the palm of her hand and pressed her thumb to its forehead and said, “You are Shasa. You are precious water. You are life in the desert. I mark you with the name of God.” Then she swallowed the mud baby.

Eighteen weeks later, she gave birth to me.

Crossed Genres Magazine is kind of fascinating. I already knew their name from some very interesting-sounding anthology calls when they ran a Kickstarter to re-launch their magazine as a monthly release paying SFWA professional rates. But there’s a twist: each issue has a theme. March’s theme is myth.

You can read “Mother of Waters” and the rest of the magazine on the web for free. Each issue is also released in e-book format, and every six months they collect six issues’ worth of stories into an anthology that’s available in both electronic and dead tree formats. So if you like my story or or the magazine or both, consider a donating or subscribing so they can continue as a professionally-paying market after this Kickstarter-funded year is done. They offer two subscription options, one strictly electronic format, the other for both paper anthologies in addition to the monthly e-book issues. It’s kind of a fascinating model and one of the best editing experiences I’ve had with regards to short stories. I’d really love to see them continue it.

Signal Boost: If you care about the future of SF/F…   2 comments

In case you’re not familiar with him, Jim C. Hines is a terrific writer of fantasy and an incredibly thoughtful blogger on a variety of issues. A couple days ago, someone drew my attention to a post he titled “SFWA Presidential Election Thoughts” by stating that if you’re a member of SFWA (I’m not, but hope someday to be), you should read this.

I’d go a little farther. If you care about the future of SF/F in the US at all, read the post. It looks like it’s on the long side, but it reads very fast. The supplemental links…read slower. But as someone who requires articles and opinions to be reasonably well-sourced before I trust them, I appreciated having them there.

In a nutshell, Beale may just be a troll. But in a world where there is a men’s rights movement that legitimately believes women are the evil enemy plotting to take everything from morally right and well-deserving [usually white] men and incidentally causing the downfall of Western civilization in the process…he may not.

The most legitimate of his first five platform points is splitting the Nebulas into two categories, with separate awards for science fiction and fantasy. Speculative fiction has been a lot broader than that for some time now, which tells me he’s out of touch at the minimum. Combined with his assertions (which may be tongue-in-cheek, but I really don’t get that vibe) that women either don’t or shouldn’t write science fiction, I find just the fact that he’s seriously running concerning, let alone what he might be able to accomplish if he actually won the position.

You may not personally vote for the SFWA president, but SFWA does have an impact on how SF/F writing and publication are accomplished in the US, and leadership does matter.

So does public opinion. Forewarned is for armed, and I no longer take for granted that absurdity cannot be elected and determine policy in US and state politics. I really don’t trust that SFWA is somehow better than that. *wrygrin*

Posted February 3, 2013 by April L'Orange in Uncategorized

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Word Counts and Page Numbers   Leave a comment

I know I’ve been quiet–sorry about that. A romance release and some editing work have been conspiring against my schedule lately.

Some fellow writers over on Twitter were bemoaning the fact that, pre-publication and especially with an e-book, it’s hard to know how long your book is in terms of page count. Which is always seemed fairly irrelevant to me, as word count is a much more reliable number, but it’s been pointed out to me that page count is the thing potential readers often want to know. So I decided to see what I could find out.

It’s impossible to have an exact conversion between word count and page count, of course, because page count varies based on writing style, form factor, and formatting, but I did find some comparative counts that can be used as a general guideline. Approximations for mass-market paperbacks:

80,000 words = 250 pages
100,000 words = 290 pages
130,000 words = 350 pages

Pages in e-books tend to be a little longer, so page counts tend to be a little shorter at the same number of words:

35,000 words = 90 pages
50,000 words = 150 pages
100,000 words = 250 pages
120,000 words = 300 pages

Trade paperbacks are the real doozy, because there are several different standard sizes and publishers have been known to…creatively adjust margins, font size, and pitch to make a book they feel is “too short” look longer. Looking at a random sampling, in general, the word count stew not appear to be too far off the counts from e-books. Hardbacks may accommodate a few more words per page, but we’re talking a difference of about twenty-five pages between a 130,000 word e-book and hardcover, so it’s probably not worth worrying about if you’re just providing a general word count to a reader before the book has reached final formatting.

Posted October 19, 2012 by April L'Orange in Uncategorized

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The Nature of Small Publishing   Leave a comment

This is the kind of thing I usually blog about in my editing blog, but this time I’m caught a little more squarely in the damage path than usual. Yesterday I received notice from Escape Collective Press that effective immediately, they are closing their doors. This means, among other things, that the anthologies containing my short stories “Crash” and “Stop Errors” are no longer available.

Without meaning any offense to the Escape Collective, this isn’t particularly surprising. Not because of anything they did or didn’t do, but just due to the nature of small publishing. I liked their concept. I worked with a very good editor there. And while I wasn’t always completely happy with the quality of their anthologies in terms of producing a polished product, they learned from their mistakes. But any such operation is the effort of a very small number of people, and anything from a health problem or family emergency to a simple falling out can bring an end to the business.

I don’t know what In particular ended the Escape Collective, and I don’t need to. That’s their concern, not mine.

It does mean I need to wedge some time into my schedule, hopefully no later than this weekend, to take those anthologies off my page of available books, and then I will need to begin shopping those stories around again. I’ll need to refer to the general guidelines to figure out whether I would still market them as first rights properties or as reprints–that usually depends on the number of copies sold or circulation numbers.

I know some people who’ve told me his eight far rather work with a small press and then a large one, usually from some combination of feeling like they aren’t just a number and the fact that small presses tend to have a shorter production time from acceptance to publication. But this is the trade-off: You never know when some small thing will result in the press going under, and then all the work that went into selling, publishing, and marketing the story in the first place has to be done over.

Posted August 30, 2012 by April L'Orange in Uncategorized

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The Challenge of Short Stories   Leave a comment

I confess, most of my short stories have been sitting, gathering dust since early this year. There’s just been too much editing taking my time and too much work on the genre romance side of the Force. But the editing has let up a little in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve slowly begun sending things out to markets again.

The hazard with short stories is that for many of us, they are simply a hit-or-this medium. Don’t let anyone tell you that a short story is somehow easier or less than a novel. It’s fewer words. It may or may not take less time to write, revise, polish, research markets, and submit. The short length leads to having to compress all of your story elements, while still working them in. You have to make the reader care about your characters, provide the exposition and setting that SF/F usually requires, and build an acceptable plot and ending, all in no more than 7500 words, and usually less.

Endings in particular are the curveball that seems to slip right by some readers, no matter what the writer does. I say that as both a writer and a reader. In college, when I was doing upper-level fiction seminars, we all bemoaned the difficulty of ending short stories. The general consensus, from both the class and the instructor, was that you can either end a short story on a particular thought (often conveyed in dialogue) that makes everything fall into place for the reader, or on an image which relates thematically and gives a sense of closure.

Notice how neither one of these sounds much like the sort of ending you’d expect in a novel.

One of the markets I have a short story out to right now takes submissions in a workshopping forum. There is no other way to submit to that market, so you have to be prepared for the possibility of feedback from readers along the way, and those readers may or may not “get” your story. It’s not going to hit for everyone. The particular story I submitted is a science fiction quest story with a twist at the end. After about two weeks on the forum, I have exactly one comment, from someone who doesn’t feel the ending is working. Someone who feels too much is left unresolved.

I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. It could be good that in two weeks, no one else has had any constructive criticism for me, and the one person who did didn’t think there was anything wrong with what I had, only that she wanted more.

(Incidentally, I don’t find that an unacceptable reaction at all–the story wraps up, and I feel good about the ending I gave it, but it does, in fact, set the stage for future stories. I told the story of a revelation. Anything subsequent will be the story of the resulting revolution.)

It could also be a bad thing. When you’ve written something with nothing wrong with it, except it just doesn’t grab people… Well, sometimes it’s just not the right fit for a particular market, and very often that goes back to what type of endings the editors at that market are drawn towards. If that’s not the case, it may mean that you–I–have written a perfectly acceptable story which suffers from the ultimate damning judgment: it’s okay. Not bad, not terrible, but also not great, not exciting. Bad can sometimes be fixed. Uninteresting, almost never.

It’s only one market, and it’s only been two weeks. it’s only one story. I’m not exactly panicking. But the long silences bring out self-doubt, and I start to wonder if I’ve committed the tragic error of being…just okay.

Posted August 3, 2012 by April L'Orange in Uncategorized

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“Just” Fiction   Leave a comment

A friend of mine used the phrase “just” fiction to describe something recently. The context isn’t really relevant, but I had some thoughts about the way fiction affects us in response, and I wanted to get them down here, not just let them disappear into the ether.

I find that it’s never “just” fiction. The best fiction shows us something about ourselves. Sometimes something we already knew. Sometimes something we really didn’t want to know. So to me as a writer, it may be fiction. But it’s fiction containing emotions and reactions and personal interactions, and those things evoke real life. They’re meant to, no matter what I’ve based them on.

When people respond to what I’ve written with the ways they were personally touched by it, that can be uncomfortable. It’s like being trusted with the secret. Sometimes, it’s like having opened the window to let in the breeze and seeing someone outside naked–it’s more than I really wanted to know. But we should never write it off as “just” fiction. Because “just” fiction writes off some people’s personal and very emotional experiences in the process.

Just because it wasn’t real to the writer doesn’t mean it wasn’t real to the reader.

What I’m Writing – WIP   Leave a comment

I owe y’all a couple of book reviews, but life has been hectic. Hopefully this coming week. In the meantime, have a sneak peak at what I’m tearing my hair out over today. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll keep the pronouns the way they are or not. It’s one of those things I need to do for me as I’m writing it, which I may then change as a mercy to the reader later on.

For anyone who’s ever wondered, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been writing, there’s always a stage (at least one stage) where you think that what you’re writing is crap. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes not. But it all feels the same at the time, and it can be really hard to tell the difference until it’s had a chance to sit and meld for a while, like a good salsa. What you think–is it the kind of opening that would draw you into a story or drive you away? What kind of story are you expecting, from these few paragraphs?

*

“When people first came to Arquets, it was a bitter moon. But with nanobots to begin the terraforming process . . .”

A tiny picture of a snake squirmed its way onto the bottom of my desk display while Sl. Tiane droned on about ancient history at the front of the class. I pinched the snake between two fingers, and it expanded into a line of text: “Can’t sleep over. On restriction. Meet at treehouse.”

Being careful not to roll my eyes–Sl. Tiane had caught us passing notes that way before–I replied, “I hate you,” and sent the snake on its way.

Three seats away, Mebek grinned at me. Han knew I’d be there. Meb was always getting on restriction, and since han had been my only friend since we were four years old, it made my life very dull, except for sneaking over to see han. Of course I’d meet han there. It wasn’t as good as a sleepover, but hans parent, Teler, either hadn’t caught on to our meeting in the treehouse or didn’t care.

A moment later, Sl. Tiane asked han what was so funny, and why didn’t han share with the rest of the class. I bit the inside of my lip to keep from smiling.

I might be Karse who Wasn’t Quite Right to the other teens, but I understood how the world worked.

#

Posted March 11, 2012 by April L'Orange in Uncategorized

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