A friend in my writer critique circle asked how to go about submitting short stories for publication. There’s a lot of information out there on this subject, but I thought it might be helpful to collate the information that has been helpful to me, as well as throw in some examples from my personal experience. In this post I’ll describe where I find markets, the submission process, and what goes into a cover letter.
Category Archives: Writing
Our move to Virginia from Boston about five months ago has had a hugely positive effect on my writing. That’s no slight to Boston, a creative city with a long literary history, that I do miss dearly. However, now that I’ve had some distance from the move, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the factors that have made a huge difference in my ability to regularly put words to page. I’ve discovered that specific mental patterns and habits have led to more creativity, and my hope is that others can find ways to carve out spaces in their lives for these ways of thinking as well.
It’s just a few days to July, and I’ll be using Camp NaNoWriMo to jump-start a first draft of the sequel to Red Soil Through Our Fingers. Having moved from Boston to a much lower-stress pace of life in Virginia a couple of months ago, I’m now through the post-move transition and ready to draft some fiction again! Incidentally, Camp Nano was what led to the initial draft of Red Soil as well, so it’s fitting that the sequel will begin its life the same way. I’m also excited that several members of my writing group are joining in, plus some friends of ours as well!
Here’s my working “back cover” premise:
Yoo Sun-Hee has been left in charge of Hellas-Dao, a Mars colony caught in a power struggle that now ripples across the solar system. Surrounded by enemies and unsure of her allies, she must somehow defend the colony against all comers and navigate a path to freedom. Meanwhile, the thousands of colonists under Sun-Hee’s watch don’t see eye-to-eye on the best course for the future. As governments and mega-corporations battle for supremacy of interplanetary space, those living on the red soil of Mars descend into infighting and faction. A single spark could set off violence that will destroy the colony — or its hopes — from within.
Questions I’d like to explore:
- How do we construct a functional society from factions that vehemently disagree over fundamental values, to the point of active hatred and violence? Is separation the only/best choice?
- When loyalty to principle conflicts with loyalty to those we love, how do we decide which takes precedence?
- When is it morally permissible to disobey legitimate orders or reveal secret information you promised not to reveal? (Thinking about Ed Snowden, Reality Winner, et al here.)
- What is the line between freedom fighter and terrorist, and who gets to decide? Is the difference truly just in the eye of the beholder? Are there ends so important that they justify morally questionable — or even reprehensible — means? (This is a touchy one… I’m by no means intending to justify terrorism, and I do believe there are both hard lines and gray areas. I find the broader question interesting though, from a social, political, historical, and not mention contemporary perspective.)
- If we truly had an opportunity to “reset” a government/society and shed generations of precedent, what would we build?
I’m excited to begin!
If you still haven’t ever picked up a copy of Book 1, Red Soil Through Our Fingers will be FREE at Smashwords from July 1 to July 31 as part of their annual July Summer/Winter sale.
This post is the first in what I intend to be several recaps of some of the most thought-provoking moments during this weekend’s Arisia science fiction and fantasy convention.
First of all, I have to thank Andrea Hairston. As a panelist and audience member, moderators have consistently been the most significant factor affecting the experience of con panel. Andrea was our fearless leader during this panel and I think we all owe her thanks for her energetic and positive management of the conversation.
Panel Description: Is Optimism Just Nostalgia in Disguise? – Marina 2, Literature, Sun 11:30 AM: We are hearing, after a long sojourn in dystopia and postapocalypse, that optimistic SF is making a comeback. Is it really the case or is the optimism of yesterday just another type of nostalgia? When climate change, postantibiotic medicine, and resource depletion are major factors in our lives (topics that are not always as well addressed in optimistic SF), is there a way to temper our optimism and inspire those who might be able to face these problems? Panelists: Andrea Hairston (mod), N.A. Ratnayake, Matthew Kressel, T.X. Watson, M.J. Cunniff
I was happy that the conversation could begin with every panelist answering the titular question in the negative: no, optimism is not just nostalgia in disguise. We had different perspectives as to why and how to move forward, but it was great to have that connecting thread. I won’t (and really can’t) give a transcript or summary of the conversation as it happened, but here are some of my key conclusions that I took away.
[SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t yet seen Star Wars: Rogue One, skip the section “Positive Stories in Negative Spaces.”]
I recently published my first novel, Red Soil Through Our Fingers, which was a major personal accomplishment. In the aftermath, I’ve been looking back on the process, and trying to determine what practices I should carry forward and try to improve and which practices hindered my progress. In addition to thinking about my overall writing process, I’ve also been reflecting on the resources and supports that helped me start, sustain, and finish my first novel.
I recently filled out an author interview at Smashwords, and one of the questions had to do with my approach to the writing process. I’m posting the answer to that question here on the blog, since there was some interest in the question after my commentary on the release of Draft Beta. I answer this and nine other questions in the full interview, so check it out!
One week behind schedule for Camp Nanowrimo, I have finally completed a first draft novel, tentatively titled Red Soil Through Our Fingers! This is a major milestone for me. I’ve tried many times, via Nanowrimo and otherwise, to finish even one draft of a novel, but have never made it through the “murky middle”. Having made it to the other side, wow. It really does get better after roughly the 80% mark. Here’s what it means for what I’ve got and where it’s going.
I’ve tried several of the minimalist word processors out there. For Windows only, I’d say Q10 is my favorite — clean, simple, and fast. However, I’ve been on the go a lot and find myself using all three major platforms (Windows, MacOS, and Linux) during the course of a typical day. If I want to sneak in a bit of writing at any moment, a cross-platform solution has turned into a must. I also realized that I do miss certain features that many “minimalist” word processors might consider extravagant.
I’ve fallen in love with FocusWriter for drafting new stories. It is not only cross-platform, but comes with a greater degree of control over the writing environment, without sacrificing the simple and clean approach to the writing itself. Put a different way, it’s actually not minimalist — it has everything that a fiction writer would want, and simply nothing more. Features: full-screen mode, instant word count, daily targets, session timers, scene dividers, and customizable themes.
Below is a screenshot of the custom theme I created to work on my Camp Nanowrimo novel, working title Red Soil Through His Fingers. Since the novel takes place on a Mars colony, the writing environment lends to the mood. (Don’t judge the writing sample too harshly… its a first draft idea dump…)
The background is a shot from one of the Mars orbiters, with blue-grey Georgia 16pt on 85% opacity black in the center. Ping me if you want the theme file.
I’m back from a very refreshing week in Vermont and Maine, the latter with other writers (and a lot of fried clams and beer on the beach). Compared to the day to day survival stance that first-year teaching forces on the mind, how I feel now is nothing short of fantastic.
I’m ready for a summer of writing.
I had a chance to parse through and reflect on the year or so of work I’ve put into Vihara, the novel I had in progress. I realized that I’m trying to say too much with it. I had at least three major premises: 1) the sociopolitical consequences of corporate control of space, 2) the idea of what Buddhism looks like in a spacefaring society, and 3) an exploration of quantum graphity as a cosmological theory.
In other words, there isn’t really any one particular thing that Vihara was about, just an overlay of ideas that I find interesting. That doesn’t mean that the work was wasted — it helped me think through these ideas and the characters.
So a few things are happening. I pulled out the first layer and refined it: What happens to ordinary people if a weak public space policy allows corporations to run the show in space colonization? Then I “zoomed in” within the Vihara worldspace and fleshed out one particular location: a Mars colony situated near the Hellas Planitia. I defined three new main characters (using a cool new method I’ll talk about in a later post), and feel like I am in a good position to make a character-driven (as opposed to world-driven) story.
Finally, to give myself some fun motivation, I’ve signed up for the Camp Nanowrimo summer writing challenge with my writer friend Brian. We’re both aiming for a 50,000-word rough draft by the end of July. Working title: Red Soil Through His Fingers.
An interplanetary homesteader accepts a deal with a Mars colonization company to start a new life on humanity’s bold new frontier in the solar system. But staunch idealism turns to unease when the fine print becomes more than it seems. To what lengths will a private corporation go in the balance between human lives and profit? An exploration of the consequences of weak public space policy during this, our dawn of the private space age.
(And if you’ve seen George Lucas in Love, yes, this is actually an agricultural space tragedy.)
I’ll put up a widget or something to help track progress.