Full brain is full!

I’m currently trying to readjust to reality after a couple weeks away—first for a week of writerly workshoppiness at TNEO, and then for a week of vacationy goodness down the shore. My brain’s a little scattered, so bear with me as I share the writerly randomness that has occurred during my absence:

* First, story news! My flash piece “The Little Things,” which was published in Every Day Fiction last month, will be available as a podcast (read by Izzy David) on August 13.

* While at TNEO, I finished a shiny new short story called “Memories of Mirrored Worlds” and sent it off into the world. Fly, little story! Fly!

* Speaking of TNEO, it was once again fun and full of awesome people. Lots of great feedback and brainstorming and bouncing around of ideas. Not to mention a highly hysterical evening of people trying to read bad sex scenes without laughing.

* Among my revelations at TNEO this year: I need to stop procrastinating and just revise My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel already. I’ve spent the last couple years stopping and starting and hemming and hawing and it’s all rather silly at this point. Brainstorming is all well and good, but there comes a point when the only way to figure out what works is to just finish the damn thing.

* BUT! Before I go back to the novel, I will revise a few short stories that are in need of attention. Revisions on one of those began this morning and will continue after I finish with this post. Which means now.

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The Writerly Update: “Where the Hell Did June Go?” Edition

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

* A story sale! My flash fiction piece “The Little Things” will be appearing in Every Day Fiction on July 9.

* I’ve added my short story “The Deepening” (from issue 37 of Aoife’s Kiss) to those I have available on AnthologyBuilder.

* In a few weeks I’ll be heading off once again to TNEO, a week-long workshop for alumni of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. As a result, I’ve been knee-deep in critique mode the last several weeks, but those are pretty much done now. I rewarded myself with new shoes.

And now I must sleep and prepare for Monday, which is soon to assault me with its Mondayishness.

What I Didn’t Blog About On My Summer Vacation

*taps the blog mic*

Is this thing on?

So, yeah, I’ve been rubbish about posting lately. Life has been consumed by a big busy combo of workshopping craziness, vacationing, trying to finish things up at Ye Olde Day Job before my last day (two more weeks!), and preparing for that whole wacky grad school thing I’ll be starting in September. There has been precious little time for writing, which makes me cranky.

As for the aforementioned workshopping craziness, that would be TNEO (aka The Never-Ending Odyssey), which I attended last month, and it was all manner of awesome. Awesome people, awesome feedback, and awesome moments of writing-related light bulbs going off. Like three-act structure. For some reason, I always had the hardest time getting a firm grasp on three-act structure, but this time it finally clicked and I could finally see where I had (unknowingly) used it in some of my stuff.

I had two short stories and a novel chapter critiqued at TNEO this year, and I’m totally stoked to get the revision work underway on them. It’s easy to walk out of critique sessions overwhelmed by feedback overload, especially when you get conflicting opinions. But this year, there was so much consensus as to what was and wasn’t working in my submissions and so much helpful brainstorming that I feel like I know exactly what I need to do and won’t be bogged down trying to sort through conflicting reactions.

One really helpful session we did at TNEO was a plot breakout technique. Each person presented a plot they wanted help with, after which we would do about a half an hour’s worth of brainstorming that involved lots of adding and rearranging and deleting of various plot elements, done with index cards on a board. I was looking for ways to strengthen Act 2 (now that I know where Act 2 is!) of one of the major plot threads in My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel and got lots of great ideas, including more characters to kill (always a plus in my book). My collection of index cards ended up looking like this:

That big mess o’ cards down the middle would be Act 2, with Act 1 to the left and Act 3 to the right.

Now if only life would settle the hell down and let me get in some more writing time, I could make better use of all that crazy awesome brainstorming!

Odyssey: The Before and After Shots

Tomorrow I head off to the The Never-Ending Odyssey (aka TNEO), a week-long workshop for alumni of the six-week Odyssey Writing Workshop, so my current blogging scarcity will likely become even scarcer. But before I head out, an actual post!

Gearing up for TNEO over the last several weeks got me wondering: just how much have I really grown as a writer since attending Odyssey in 2007?

Writing workshops are most definitely not for everyone, but for some of us, they can be an amazing, inspiring, eye-opening experience. And contrary to what some would suggest, not all writing workshops result in cookie-cutter stories written to some kind of formula. I’m sure there are some that do, but my Odyssey classmates and I went into the program as very different writers, and we all came out of the program remaining very different writers.

Had I not attended Odyssey and just continued writing and seeking feedback on my work, I’m sure I would have still improved and grown as a writer over time. But I think Odyssey pushed me in the right direction harder and faster than I would have been able to do on my own. The question, though: how do you quantify that?

Writing success can be subjective and dependent on factors other than talent or the strength of a story. (Sure, you wrote a fantastic story about radioactive bunnies, but Magazine A just published a story about radioactive bunnies.) And of course, sales and artistic merit don’t always go hand in hand. (Repeat to self: I will not rant about sparkly vampires.) But because I’m someone who writes with the hope of achieving publication success, sales are probably the best measure I have to go with. That, and I’m one of those sick people who actually enjoys crunching numbers.

Crunching and analysis under the cut…

The Writerly Update: Rising from the Grave Edition

Holy crap, has it really been that long since I’ve posted something? Sorry not to have been keeping up lately, but life has continued to dance on the insane side of the fence. Hopefully come fall I’ll be able to settle back into a blog reading and writing routine. Until then, I’ll probably remain my current scattershot, occasionally resurfacing self.

In the meantime, here’s the bullet points of what I’ve been up to in the writing department:

* My zombie apocalypse story “The Holy Spear” has been accepted by Black Static. This will be my second appearance in their pages, which I’m thrilled about.

* Speaking of Black Static, reviewer Peter Tennant wrote a nice post about my story “The Wounded House” from issue 20 on his blog.

* Received my shiny contributor copy of Aoife’s Kiss (10th anniversary issue) this morning. Pretty.

* Gearing up for this summer’s TNEO workshop for Odyssey alum. As of last night, all the critiques I had to do are officially done! I’ve still got a ton of other things to do, but it’s nice to put a big fat check mark next to that beast of an item.

* Unfortunately, progress on the writing front has been mostly non-existent. I got in a good afternoon of revision work on My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel a couple weeks ago, but otherwise, that’s been kind of it. But now that TNEO critiques are out of the way, I can hopefully get back in gear. I’ve got some revisions to do on a short story, several flash pieces I should probably polish up and send out somewhere (anyone have suggestions on where to send an unabashedly liberal-leaning gay superhero flash story?), and then back to the novel grind.

Escape from the Void Of Too Much Else To Do

Urgh, so much for resurfacing on the blogosphere. Well, I did resurface. I just got sucked right back into the Void Of Too Much Else To Do. I have a feeling that’s going to be happening a lot over the next few months.

So the bulleted version of what this writer has been up to:

* I’ve been encountering far too much lately that has led to forehead slapping and *head desk* moments.

* After much demanding from my brain, I returned to the slow-going revisions on My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel–so of course a short story idea immediately started jumping up and down and waving its arms around and asking for a little love. Stupid brain.

* I began my dive into the critique fest that is TNEO.

* I changed the look of my website.

* More details to come, but it looks like my story “Final Report” (from issue 4 of the sadly short-lived Darker Matter) will get some podcast love in the near future.

* The last few months spewed so much crazy all over the place that my attempts at establishing a routine were repeatedly thwarted. That really needs to change. I was determined to get myself onto something resembling a consistent schedule starting today. It’s not even noon yet and that plan’s already gone to pot.

And on that note, I think hear the unmistakable sucking sound that is the Void Of Too Much Else To Do.

The Writerly Update: The Wee Beastie Edition

A month and a half after I started the damn thing, and the de-crapified second draft of my novel-prequel-ish short story (now titled Demon Dreams) is finally done. The wee beastie beefed up to 6,700 words in the second draft. That’s what a hearty diet of more detail and description will do for one’s fictional figure. Now I just need to give the beastie a final go over, and then it’s into the critiquing pile while I start something else.

I’ll be doing The Never-Ending Odyssey (aka TNEO) again this summer, so it’s that weird time of year where I have to wait several months after finishing a story to get critiques on it.  (Well, I’ll probably throw the story at my lovely local group, the Awesome Ladies of Awesomeness, for our next meeting, but I’ll wait until I have the TNEO crits as well before making any major revisions.)  Being forced to wait is probably a good thing for me.  Even though I take forever to write stories sometimes (or maybe because I take forever to write them), I tend toward impatience, wanting to get them out the door in speedy fashion as soon as they’re done. So it’s probably healthy for me to have to sit on a few of them for a spell and see how they age.

And speaking of TNEO, I get to take on the roll of moderator this year, which I’m sure will keep me super busy on top of all the critiquing and writing to be done for it.  But I’m looking forward to it.