Underwater Inspiration

Underwater New York wants you to write a piece in 500 words or less that is inspired by one of the items on their list. Here’s the call for submissions. The list is definitely an eclectic assortment of items and I’m sure you can find at least one that gets your writer brain ticking.

Click on over to the list, check out some of the pictures, and get writing. The deadline is May 1st.

Happy Writing!

Short and Sweet

“Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” – Blaise Pascal

Or, translated, it means, “I made this letter long, because I did not have time to make it short.”

A perfect introduction to this week’s prompt. I recently found The Postcard Press, which is a fun flash fiction (or short poetry) concept. The press publishes in postcard format and you’re strictly limited on how long your piece can be, because, well, it has to fit on a postcard. We’re talking about Terry Pratchett’s marvelous, wacky fantasy, and The Postcard Press has a call for submissions about magic. Submissions are due by the end of May.

Check out submission details at their website and get cranking on your magic.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday Post of Accountability!: Submissions and an Injured Finger

Every Tuesday you will be subjected to regaled by the writing progress I have made over the last week. But! I insist that I not be the only one exposing myself sounding off. Let your comments reflect what kind of suffering butt-kicking you have done too!

Okay, here’s my progress report:

1. Wrote rough draft of a three page short story I’m calling “The Last Typewriter in the World”…inspired by the fact that my mother just got me a typewriter for a Kerouac-like experiment that I shall be conducting shortly.

2. Submitted to four magazines. These are really my first submissions of the year. Working on novel-length pieces doesn’t leave you a whole lot of submittable material, but I spruced up a couple flash pieces and we’ll see how they do.

3. Thought about editing another short story and just wound up looking at it for a little while.

4. Worked on typing in handwritten chapters for TL, realized I was going to have to rewrite a chapter from another point of view and haven’t worked on it since out of frustration. (Plus my right index finger still hurt from all the handwriting…I really think I strained something and will try to take it easier on my hand by mixing the handwriting/computer entry a little faster.)

5. Finished blog posts for the week…and they’re lengthy so I think that counts as writing work.  =)

All writey guys?

Random Post of Accountability!

Been awhile since I’ve done some accounting for myself.

Here’s what I’ve been doing writing-wise:

1. Figuring out what the heck I wanted to write. A couple months ago I hit that point where it was time to work on a new project. I don’t know if you’re anything like this, but I have project after project after project in my head. So it came down to What did I want to write? Initially I decided to work on a story I call The Line. Then I was having a really hard time figuring out where I wanted to go with it. So I went to another project, The Manager, but discovered I didn’t have the writing skill to pull off what I wanted to do. So I switched to another project, which I call Members of the Club. But I didn’t actually start on that one, just brainstormed around and went back to the first one. This back-and-forth took up about three weeks of my time.

2. Figuring out how I wanted to write. At first, I thought that I would write my masterpiece on the computer, because I was having such success with short stories that way. Turns out, writing a short story and writing a novel are two different things and I have two different processes. Switched to handwriting on the novel and it’s been trucking right along. (I wonder why this is? A mental thing, I’m sure.) Plus, my computer crashed, so I was without that for a little bit. (It’s back on track now, for those who were concerned.)

3. Playing around with Word. I figure, speaking of writing on computers, that I should really know about the software I’m using. Every now and then, I’ll open up a new document just for playing. I play with setting indents and tracking changes and formatting and all of the goofy stuff that this program can do. Learning a lot.

4. I submitted some poetry around. I’ll let you know how that goes. This is really the first time I’ve ever submitted poetry. I’ve written quite a bit, but never released it. So fingers crossed, and we’ll see about racking up some rejections in the corner.

Come on, my writerly people? What have you been up to?

Short story hook question

There’s been lots of talk about how important a good hook is for a novel–because that leads to better query letters, etc., and that way people have a good grip on what you’re writing.

But how about with short story queries/submissions? As a rule, you put your whole story into the mix and let the magazine decide based on the story. Some writers don’t even put a cover letter in their submission package, let alone worry about a hook. However, would they be better served with a cover letter telling all pertinent details of self and story (word count, etc.) along with a hook line like the one you’d use for a novel? Obviously, the sentence would be shorter, at the very least.

For example:

Dear SuperMagazine,

Enclosed please find “The Story Aaron Told”, a short story of 2,000 words. It’s a story-within-a-story about two writers figuring out the mystery of ‘where stories come from’ as they decide the fate of Paolo, their character, and the twin babies he sews together.

Etc. so on a so forth,
Jenny SuperWriter

When I was an editor, I admit to not reading all short story submissions to the end and disregarding ‘animal’ poems out of hand. Sometimes I didn’t even get past the first paragraph of a story before going, “Not happening”. I realize so many things depend on the writing of the story itself. But what if I’d had a really great hook telling me what the story was about? Would I have finished some of those disregarded stories? Would the writer have turned it all around and impressed me?

What do you guys think?–and how have you submitted short stories? Cover letter? No cover?

Do you want to know how stupid I am?

Here I am, sitting at the computer, day after day, checking my email, bemoaning the fact that no one is requesting pages and pages of my genius, when, low and behold, a request comes through for pages.

All together now: Yay!

However, this isn’t what makes me stupid. What makes me stupid is that in the introduction paragraph of this particular query letter, I mention the fact that I won “Best Tension” after being judged by a panel of celebrated authors. This is the only query letter where I mention said award and drop the names of Carol Berg, Charles Kaine, and Barbara Samuel (now writing as Barbara O’Neal). You would think that I would be smart enough to mention that in every single query. But no! I have tried to be funny and cute and all the other things that you’re not supposed to do while proving that you’ve heard of the agent/agent’s clients.

All together now: Arghh!

But perhaps this agent will come through and I will not have to worry about sending more queries? Fingers and toes crossed…Hope springs eternal!

April Goals, March Sum-up

I didn’t do too bad in March. Got some queries together and off. Got some new pages written–not as much as I wanted, but enough because it helped keep me from going insane while the queries were doing their thing (and they still are, by the way). All the critiques for both groups got finished.

April, I think I will take a little lighter, just for my own sanity’s sake. Here’s what I have:
1. Gotta finish the Round Story. Yes, it is almost done. And I have to say that I’m proud of what the Underground Writing Project has accomplished. What were there? 9 different authors? 10? I’ll have to take a look. And we’re actually going to finish a really large project that forced us all to write outside our comfort zone and allowed those of us who haven’t finished a novel before to see the process…even if we never do another one and if nothing else comes of it, that was worth all the time and effort. Last chapter to me!
2. Keep on moving on La Llorona…I’m shooting for at least 10 pages, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it.
3. Read! I’m going to finish Julia Alvarez’s Saving the World and P.D. James’s Children of Men.
4. All the critiques, which were pretty mild this month. There were still four in the UGWP, but they’re 2 pages each.
5. Gonna work on my submission package some more. Just went over what I sent in earlier and discovered a typo, a typo!, on the second page that I somehow missed. Even with everyone circling and highlighting and underlining. I still missed it. Ugh! Well, let’s just wait for those rejection letters to come on in and get the new package put together….

And the smackdown came fast.

Rejection #1 for the year. Short, polite, and to the point.

Glad that’s over with. I thought I’d feel more, I don’t know, dejected or whatnot. Yet suddenly it is just like short stories. Reality checks are healthy and now I’ve been brought back down from daydreaming.

Time to submit and then submit again.

I’ll throw in some short stories too.

Oh God, Oh God, Oh God

I just hit the ‘send’ button on the query/five pages submission, and about passed out.

My brother is laughing uproariously in the backgroud–ranting about how the first submission is always rejected.

I’m trying to think of it all as a short story submission. I’ve just been working on this short story for a couple years, that’s all. Right? Right. And it’s just one submission. One thing in one space of time. You can’t win it if you’re not in it. Cowboy up. Suck it up. Move onwards and upwards. Etc. Etc. Etc. Yeesh.

But, hey, I did it!

Got a submission ready

Okay, so it’s not the full story, but even partially done, the beginning is running at 6 pages. This is gonna be a long one, so I don’t feel bad anymore about splitting it into–probably 3–different submissions for the Sunday group.

Of course, in my excitement I forgot page numbers…off to do that by hand!