Prepping for Submission

I've dug my way through many submission policy pages, and now I think I know a few places to submit Tropacetic to. Now, after I'm done laying in edits (which I've been avoiding), I need to reformat properly, which is to say, like a profession. This is a skill that I need to know. After that, it's slapping together the paper and the envelope.

I'll be sending to a magazine that says "we don't get enough humor." I didn't write it for them, but I think it's a good match.


After a warm day yesterday, it was a dump of rain today. The only difference between this and a blizzard is that it isn't March.

WIP (work in progress) has reached 20k words. I'm now into the middle of the story. I'm starting to feel how its going to turn the main character right about now, getting her to a new place.

Picnic Madness

Picnics  took over the weekend.

On Friday, we got to the cherry blossoms before the rain rolled in. There were lots of people, of course, but not an insane number. Miss Dash played with the fallen petals, of course, went playing hide-and-go-seek in some forsythias (and we couldn't find her), and a Marine Corp. helicopter seemed to be shuttling out folks from the White House as it kept flying out and back.

Saturday evening was a picnic with some church friends. There was a stream. There were children. All other entertainment was moot.

On Sunday evening, Miss Dash wanted to go to the park, so Jenny picked up our date night food from Boston Chicken and we had a picnic at the local park.

The weekend capped with Miss Dash getting sick. She brushed her teeth without being asked and got ready for bed. Yeah, that's how I really knew that she was sick. She only woke up once at night.

The days themselves are now warm to hot. Windows were opened. Cars were washed (with the aid of three children). Cats were amused. (By amused, I meant that I made the mistake of laying down for a nap and the cat joined me.)

I put in some fencing for the back yard garden. I've gotten three lines in, with the bottoms buried 8 to 12 inches down. The ends still need a bit of fudging to keep hungry critters from squeezing through. I still have one line of fencing to go, and it's the doozy.

Jenny wrapped up her edits on Tropacetic. Now I get to lay in the edits, then slice out about 500 words to bring it into submission range for magazines. A well known name could get away with 10.5k, but I'm not a well known name. I'd rather get known for playing well. In the end, that makes you money.

I've gotten through most of the main Skyrim quests. (I never plan to do some of them, like vampire, werewolf, or assassin.) I'm now starting to play with mods. Once I've explored everything, the game starts wearing off for me.

Saying Something

I want this daily discipline of saying something to say something, but some days, I just don't want to talk.

Miss Dash has been playing Minecraft lately. Winx Club is slowly receding. We still tell two Winx stories per day, but the demand isn't quite so 24x7. We can now do breakfast without providing a story. This is the same trajectory as MLP.

We'll be having visitors over the next few weeks: Jen's parents, Jen's friend, and another set of Jen's friends. It'll be a bustly few weeks.

My work in progress progresses, now being 18k words. The working title is "Dragons are forever but people aren't." I won't be keeping the title, but the title sure does get to the right frame of mine about the work. It's a dragon rider book, with the basic presumption that dragons outlive their riders, or sometimes just kill their own riders, and playing out those implications. It's been both fun and brutal.

The real question after all of this is whether I can beat the manuscript into something worthwhile.


I ordered some glasses last month, and they came in wrong. Too much trapazoid stuff happening, so they glasses folks kindly reground them to the same exact result. So, I then went in and they rechecked my eyes and everything came out the same. The trapazoid stuff was simply because of my progressive lenses.

Say what?

I hadn't ordered progressive lenses. Problem found. My glasses are far too small for progressives, unless you LIKE getting both distance and reading at the exact same time. I don't like that motion sickness feeling, and I don't get motion sickness. Anyhow, my glasses should be in in about a week.


Taxes Done

I've gone and done my taxes, but not before I cleaned up my office for an hour, taking care of things that had been there for years, because I'll do most anything before taxes.

This year, I wrote off writing expenses. I got my books in order for last year and this year, so I'll be better at my writeoffs next year. My only large expense was getting that writing laptop last year. Outside of that, I kept losses in line with expenses. I hope that next year is less lopsided. I hope.


More gardening happened this weekend at is usual wayward pace.

I redug some of the fence poles because they were not down. One hammered in pole it an 18x24 in rock. I kid you not. It must have been pulled up when the basement was originally dug out. The other pole hit a knot of roots from an old, unfindable stump. I ended up hacking out a place for it. Good enough.

I hacked down some grasses as well, because those elephant grasses needed hacking. All that hackage went to the old garden area, which we have decided to turn into a wildlife zone. The grasses will be part of a brush pile for the birds and other critters.

I moved the f***** wood pile. It's now off to one side and not blocking the yard. I still need to dig out the sassafras that had grown under it, taking it up by the roots.

Jenny got the tomato beds cleared up, then dug out the soffit beds, putting a top layer of icky dirt over the new corn bed. Eventually we will get a better layer of dirt for the soffit beds.

Still lots to be done, but at least we are advancing against the ages of neglect in the yard.

What didn't get done were taxes. I must do taxes.

What didn't happen was snow. Yay no snow.

What DID happen was GREEN. Everything that was ready to start turning green and blooming has dashed off, starting this race into spring. Damn, it's good to see green stuff again. Yay flowers.

Story Fun

I am smug about a few innovations for my daughter's bedtime stories. I include a solar bear in one story (including little solar bear cubs) and a lava monster rock concert (Lavapalooza).

Groan if you must, but they were fun stories to tell.

Definition of Success

I've been reading through Katherine Rusch's book on freelancing and hit the section on success, and that's gotten me thinking.

So, what do I call success? That is, what am I defining as writing success right now? Or how did I define it in the past for my writing.

Here are a number of successes that I've had in the past:

  • Completed a novel.

  • Complete novel worth reading twice

  • Created paper version of novel.

  • Created epub version of novel.

  • Sold one copy of a novel.

  • Received royalty payment. ($12)

  • Getting Amazon selling rank below #100,000

Here are some successes that I am aiming for now:

  • Write sellable short story.

  • Sell sellable short story.

  • Break even.

  • Receive a review on Amazon.

  • Receive stars on Amazon.

  • Create audiobook of novels.

  • Sell more than 10 copies of a work.

  • Sell 50 copies of a single work. This is the average number of sales for a paper based self-published publication.

  • Sell a novel.

  • Increase my writer blog viewership by any amount.

  • Increase my writer blog viewership by a steady amount.

  • Invited as guest to a con.

Here is my dream:

  • Write a timeless classic.

You'll note that I tend to have goals close to the future, and most of my goals are in my own control, but not all. You have to wonder, don't I want more than that? Sure, I do, and I call those things dreams because they are pie-in-the-sky stuff. That doesn't mean that these dreams aren't achievable, but it does mean that I don't currently know the path to them. For the items on my short list, I either know the path to them or I am actively involved in learning that path.

"Write a timeless classic" is the dream that directly drives every iteration of my writing. Everything that I write makes a tilt at that windmill. That is an ambition that I work towards every word and every chapter. What makes a timeless classic is skill and luck. I can't provide luck but I can certainly increase me skill.

My 20 year success story has me retiring from my current work, then writing to supplement my income. My practical goal is to build my business into something that can provide for me after the end of my first profession. Five years into this 20 year plan, and I have no effective income.

What's holding me back right now? Ignorance. I don't understand the business well enough. I don't understand short stories well enough. I don't understand contracts well enough. In almost every direction, I see my own ignorance, which means that I've been learning.

Ignorance of the market holds me back. If I write a short story, who do I send it do? How do I decide this? If I want an agent, how do I actually find one? Even this "first steps" leave me feeling a bit panicked.

Fear holds me back as well. I can get over fear and I will. I do fear rejection, but another fear is of losing control of a good work. It's fear of success, because success leads me into a newer and even more unknown world that leaves me feeling a little panicky. Its fear of opportunity cost.

All these things are surmountable. Given time, I will surmount them all, and they will be replaced with more goals to surmount. Writers with 30 years of experience have things to learn and goal to surmount, so having these challenges before me is no issue.

I would lie if I didn't tell you, I want it all right now without any more work. Just give it to me. I think that everyone is like that. We all want the maximum reward for what we feel is our maximum hard work.

What I don't control is the market itself. I can write a fantabulous book that folks don't want to read. I adore All The King's Men, but how many readers of fantasy would share that love with me? Some, I'm sure, but very few. That doesn't make Robert Penn Warren's book bad. In fact, it's so good that it won awards, but not fantasy awards.

What I don't control is timing. Would On The Road be a success if published today, or was it just the right product at the right time? Fashions change.

In many ways, we writers are part of a natural ecosystem where writers are going in every direction at once, each trying to find our niche and the most energy. That ecosystem isn't static, just as the weather is not static. Some areas of the ecosystem find great success while other areas languish. The writers have not change, but fashion, culture, and history have. I am part of that ecosystem, and fashion might turn my way, or it may turn away. I may follow the market, following the lucre, or I may write what I love, because I don't like the lucrative markets.

That is to say that there are factors beyond my control, but how I respond to those factors is in my control. For now I am staying in the "write what I want" category because I just don't see finishing anything that I don't like. I also have my creative style, and like it or not, it doesn't play genre well. I've tried. I have to trust that it leads me somewhere good, but I'll be damned if it doesn't vex me as much as reward me most days.

Stiff Voice

As I began this latest novel, I found that my voice had stiffed back into my earlier voice, the one that I had written the earlier Endhaven novels with. I had just spent several major projects writing in other voices in order to expand and out fill out my voice, yet I went straight back to the stiffer voice and I did not like that.

In the middle of last week, I said to myself, "F* it." I then had my main character curse and stopped giving a damn whether it sounded like a fantasy novel or not or it had any particular tone. That broke me out of the stiffness. I had this subconscious idea of what a novel sounded like, and I knew that my editor would question the tone. Until I stopped caring, that care froze my energy and my verve.

I have no illusion that I have the correct tone for the work. I think I both need to loosen it up more in some ways and tighten it up in others. What I really needed to remind myself was that this was a first draft and I can go crazy on it in any way that I please. I'll sort out everything else later.

And I will sort it out.